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Stress, Worry, and Joy

Chapter 8 in Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts, she talks a lot about stress, worry, trust, and joy.

It got me thinking, and please feel free to let me know what you think (just don't preach sermons, LOL).  So I've wondered, is there any time that stress is sin?  Or is stress neutral and our reaction to stress could be, but isn't always, sinful?   Sometimes I have stress because I've made poor choices, such as by taking on too much.  But sometimes I have stress because of things outside of myself....such as church burnings, a loved one falling sick, a sticky situation arising at work, or kids going through a difficult time.  

But how do I react when I'm going through stress?  Can my reaction be sinful:  worry, lashing out at others, cutting myself off from others rather than living in community, and retaliation are all things the Bible clearly tells us to not do. I saw an article on the internet called Be Stressed Out and Do Not Sin. I like that!  (It's a good article and I encourage you to read it.)

Whew, it's a complicated subject for sure.  For me, it comes down to whether or not I am fully trusting God in the circumstance.  Do I believe He is faithful?  Do I believe He is in control?  Do I believe He gives me what I need to handle the stress?  I think when I can honestly answer "yes" to those questions, the effect of the stress on me diminishes.

"I know an untroubled heart relaxes, trusts, leans assured into His ever-dependable arms.  Trust, it's the antithesis of stress....  I've got to get this thing, what it means to trust, to gut-believe in the good touch of God toward me because it's true:  I can't fill with joy until I learn how to trust."  --Ann Voskamp

Monday -- We traveled to Galmi for Orientation and for another meeting I needed to attend.  We are always thankful for big shady trees where we can get out and stretch our legs and have a picnic.  I couldn't help but remark what a perfect climbing tree this was and how Daniel and Suzanne would have been up in it.

Tuesday -- I'm thankful for our mission planes that transport people from one place to another, especially when they can't go by road for whatever reason.  Also, the plane buzzing the station, friends going to the airstrip to say hello or good-bye, and the sand blowing on take-off are all nostalgic of my childhood.

"All anxiety is not spiritual.  And yet I know and haltingly confess:  Much of the worry in my own life has been a failure to believe...a wariness to thank and trust the love hand of God." --Ann Voskamp

Wednesday -- There are a lot of missionaries living on the compound in Galmi, so there is a one-room school house for the kids K-6.  Last year there was one teacher and she was so stressed by the work-load.  We prayed for help and the 2nd half of this year she has TWO qualified teacher's assistants.  Another teacher arrived tonight to cover for her while she takes a short home assignment.  And we have a 2nd teacher lined up for next year.  The school had an open house while we were there and we got to see all of their art work on display.  Wow!  What a creative bunch.  It was fun to see how much the kids love their teacher, "Auntie Janet", and how they thrive under her direction.  The kids were so excited about their projects, explaining to anybody who would listen which projects were theirs and how they made them.  I'm thankful for this glimpse into daily life at the Galmi MK School.

Thursday -- Somehow I neglected to take photos of our orientation.  But Thursday night, to end our time together, we had a potluck supper.  It was good to get to know some of the new arrivals a bit better.  Our group this time was a bit smaller and was unusual in that all the attendees are short-termers (less than two years).  We enjoyed our time with them.  (This is not the full group.)

"Every time fear freezes and worry writhes, every time I surrender to stress, aren't I advertising the unreliability of God?  That I really don't believe?"  --Ann Voskamp

Friday -- Stopping by a bush on a blistering afternoon....  This photo may look a little over-exposed, but that's just how bright the sun really is here!  I'm so thankful John got the mechanic to fix the air-conditioner before our trip!!

"We take the moments as bread and give thanks and the thanks itself becomes bread.  The thanks itself nourishes.  Thanks feeds our trust."  --Ann Voskamp

Saturday -- OK, technically I took this photo on Sunday, but henna on hands and feet is a common sight here.  I love the creativity that goes into this beauty ritual.  It kind of looks like a melange of languages here:  mari love.  Mari is husband in French, so husband love??  

Sunday -- I'm glad I can help John with his research.  I just wish I could help him more.  Today he interviewed the women and I recorded some of the answers.  And took pictures, of course.

I think the problem with stress is that my reaction to it is most often fear and worry.  Ann Voskamp recounts sitting with her child on her lap and her deep love for her child and imagines herself then sitting on the Father's lap and the Father saying to her, "All fear is but the notion that God's love ends.  Did you think that I end, that My bread warehouses are limited, that I will not be enough?  But I am infinite, child.  What can end in Me?  Can life end in Me?  Can happiness?  Or peace?  Or anything you need?  Doesn't your Father always give you what you need?  I am the Bread of Life and My bread for you will never end.  Fear thinks God is finite and fear believes that there is not going to be enough and hasn't counting one thousand gifts, endlessly counting gifts, exposed the lie at the heart of all fear?  In Me, blessings never end because My love for you never ends.  If My goodnesses toward you end, I will cease to exist, child.  As long as there is a God in heaven, there is grace on earth and I am the spilling God of the uncontainable, forever-overflowing-love-grace."  --Ann Voskamp

The best thing to do when stressed?  "Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy-laden and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn of Me, for My yoke is easy and My burden is light."  --Jesus  

Crawl up into His lap and let Him handle the situation!
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