Stressed?
As a community (blogging and beyond), we’re a mixed bag of nuts (some of you a little nuttier than others – actually, maybe I’m the nuttiest of them all…I digress)…but, I think there is one thing that we can all agree upon – we all live with some sort of stress. Of course, we all deal with stress in a variety of ways…from stress balls, exercise, eating, sleeping, massages, manicures, pedicures, prescription medications, etc. In fact, did you know that in the United States, we spend roughly $1Billion a year on anti-anxiety medication? I heard that figure in church over the weekend and from what I’ve read online, that number may be low. How do you deal with stress?

Like all things, the bible (specifically Jesus) teaches us how to handle stress in John 14. He actually teaches us how to deal with a “troubled heart,” during the final hours of his life while speaking with his disciples. In John 13:33 Jesus says, “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.” As you might imagine, this caused an incredible amount of stress for the disciples. And if we relate this statement to our lives, there are three areas in our lives that consistently cause stress: 
  1. Death – whether it be the prospect of imaging our own death or the death of someone we love. 
  2. Daily problems of life – and not necessarily anything that in the whole scheme of things even matters, but our daily troubles can create anxiety (finances, schedules, relationships, etc). 
  3. Failure, sin and disobedience – usually occurring in the wake of a bad decision (as we’ve discussed in previous weeks – You Think You Know…But You Have No Idea) creates guilt.
Each of these things creates even more stress, and by Jesus telling his disciples that they cannot go where he is going creates a lot of stress – the simplest of which being that they weren’t sure how they could go on without him. 
Trust in God RS
Even though Jesus “died” hundreds of years ago, his message remains relevant to us today. So bearing that in mind, how does Jesus say that we can live without stress?
  1. Personal Faith in a Personal God brings Personal Relief. John 14:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” It all starts with a personal relationship with God. Trust in HIM and keep believing that he has our best interest in mind. He’s got our back!
  2. While preparing a place for us, Jesus is also preparing us for that place. John 14:2-4 “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place or you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Perhaps like me, you’ve also doubted that you really know where Jesus is – is there really this place we call “heaven.” To that, Jesus responds (John 14:6-7) “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” In Raleigh, we’re starting to see billboards sponsored by the Freedom from Religion Foundation. And while I do not support this organization, Jesus didn’t really like religion either. Let’s not forget…Jesus was not a Christian. He does not care if we’re Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, whatever. Again, it goes back to the first point, a personal faith…a personal God…a personal relationship with Jesus Christ will bring relief.
  3. God is working in your life. This principle really builds off of the previous one…God is doing work in us and through us. Sometimes that includes pain and suffering…even hard work. If you’ve made a personal commitment to Jesus, you certainly know this to be true. Job 23:10 “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” He’s not going to forget us and he’s not going to leave us hanging…and regardless of the pain we may be feeling right at this very moment, he promises us that if we just trust in him that we’ll come out on the other side in better condition that he originally found us.  Granted, I am far from perfect (HE is definitely still doing work in me and through me), but I am a much better person today than I was without HIM in my life.
  4. John 14:13-14 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” Although this piece of scripture is often misquoted and misinterpreted, we should be thankful for all the times that God does not give us what we asked for. I think we sometimes like to think of God like a genie in a bottle…that if we just ask for it, he’ll deliver. Unfortunately (or rather fortunately), that’s not how it works. Would it be too cliche to queue the music: Garth Brooks, Unanswered Prayers anyone? However, if we pray for the Father to be glorified…anything is possible. 
  5. You are not alone – you have a helper! John 14:15-17 “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” For many of us, one of the biggest stresses in our lives is the idea (or even the reality) of feeling alone with no one to help you…in fact, it’s the quickest trip to depression (I’ve been there – I know). But, we are never alone, wherever we are…we have a counselor/helper along the ride to comfort and help us along. 
  6. Our lives our inseperately linked to Jesus. John 14: 19-20 “Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” Once we make a commitment to Jesus, God will protect us…he’s not going to let anything outside of his plan for us to happen…he will protect us.

With all of that said, how do we apply these principles? 
  1. When we begin to apply what we know, our stress and anxiety will be relieved. It’s not enough to just read the bible or even just making a commitment (remember the days of alter calls where new Christians were born each Sunday?) – we have to practice the Word. We have to live our lives in the way Jesus has taught us. 
  2. Obedience to Jesus is the greatest stress reliever of all. John 14:21 “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” John 14:23-24 “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” Again, Jesus doesn’t really care what denomination you are, but obedience – a willingness to carry out the will of the father, that does matter. 
How does your life really measure up to what HE has called you to do? When we’re obedient, that’s when we experience a life of joy, peace, happiness and free of stress. But, we’ll never experience this until we commit to trust, follow and obey.
      Photography love...    Sweet Shot Day 

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Disclosure: the above message was adapted from my church’s sermon this  weekend. To listen to the original message, click HERE. 

This is my SOOC shot. I made a quick adjustment in Adobe Camera Raw, applied Nice and Easy followed by the Daybook action Shannon created, and then layered a couple of textures by Kim Klassen. Have an incredible, blessed and stress-free Tuesday!
IMG_3463
PS: I know I tucked it into the text, but if you have a moment, listen to “Only You” by David Crowder Band…so many songs I wanted to include, but this one touches my heart. I’ll have to start including at least one song in these posts.
62 COMMENTS

    The big things I can handle alright. My faith has allowed me to be prepared for these, even the ones I’m unprepared for (really, that makes sense.) It is the little things that gradually add up more and more without me realizing it that cause the most stress. It is important for us all to remember to pause, take time, listen. It is then that we are most likely to hear God’s calming voice.
    nellie

    Beautiful post and photos!
    Happy Tuesday ♥

    What a great read with my morning coffee:).

    Great song! I a am a big David Crowder fan! This is a beautiful post Ashley. You nailed it when you said if we are obedient to Jesus we will lighten our stress. He teaches us that he will take care of us and supply all of our needs. If we really believed that we wouldn’t have anything to worry about! Great stuff today!

    love that song too and this post!

    ashley you know what – this post made my heart smile!

    praising Him for your heart turned directly focused on Him this morning!

    hugs for your day!
    jill

    Beautiful post!!! I have a hard time letting go of my stress…it’s everywhere…it’s something I’m trying to work on!

    such true words -
    I walk around with my shoulders scrunced up and don’t even realize it!!!! Thanks for the encouragement and words of wisdom we need to be reminded of at times.

    Beautiful post & gorgeous sky photo!

    I always love your inspirational posts and photos. I think that’s a wonderful way to look at that verse. Thank you for a much needed bit of reality this morning!

    Awesome post Ashley!

    This is a nice post.
    Love the video.

    God is good. No need to stress.

    What a beautiful post! So true!! Love the gorgeous photo as well!! Hope your day is happy!!

    GREAT post. Love your shot!

    Great post Ashley! I agree that sometimes we get too wrapped up in the differences of the different branches of Christianity–Justin and I have had to answer MANY questions about going to a Bible Study at a different church, but at the end of the day, the differences in belief about baptism, etc, are not the major tenants of our faith!

    What an inspiring post. Thank you for sharing ~ from His heart to yours to ours.
    Lovely photos. You have such an amazing gift.

    Here’s my sweet shot for the week:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/upliftingwordsonline/5591666799/

    Girl, I love it! I thought about linking up with an overview of my pastor’s sermon this past Sunday. It was excellent.

    You need to start linking these to my Journey of Faith Friday, so I don’t miss them. I rarely have people link up, but I keep it open as I know it is something God has called me to do.

    Thanks for sharing!!!

    I really need to get back on track with God. My life has been so stormy lately, and I haven’t fully given my problems over to him. I am still trying to do it myself. Sometimes it’s so hard to let go. Sometimes I don’t know how to start over.

    I love these types of posts that you do. Great inspirations all the time. I’m totally inspired by all of your sky pictures now. Too bad it’s thundering outside right now. :(

    Beautiful post, and such true words! Thank you for passing this on. I drank my coffee, read this, listened to the music (both online and to the boys chatting in the background), and I am renewed :)

    I love this post. Thank you for taking the time out to write this, A.

    beautiful post, both the words and the image. thanks for giving me some good, hearty food for thought today.

    One of the best worship experiences I had was at a David Crowder concert! Luuuuuuuv his authentic heart and love for God that just pours out of his music. Beautiful post! I choose relationship with the sovereign God over ‘religion’. Freedom in Christ! Woooo Hooo!

    Thanks for sharing Ashley. I always seem to be stressed out and it’s usually over stupid little things. I need to take these words to heart and maybe come back and read this post when I’m getting overwhelmed.

    Marla @ http://www.blueskiesphotoblog.com

    Beautifully written, Ashley. The tiny stressors are what eventually tear me down. I’m really focusing on handing it all over to God. These scripture references really hit home for me today.

    Beautiful and inspiring post, Ashley. Loved reading this today!

    Nutty? Stressed? Me? :-) Oh yes, so true. LOVE what you wrote…SUPER love your edit. It’s just gorgeous. I’m going to click over to the action you linked. OH! And I forgot to say…looky who’s making actions now, huh? Go you! :-) I remember reading that on my phone in FL..and forgot to say yay. So YAY! :-)

    Once again a very inspiring post! Thank you!

    Favorite part of this post was your amazing photo and scripture!

    Beautiful!

    Favorite part of this post was your amazing photo and scripture!

    Beautiful!

    Beautiful post, stress is such a problem in todays society.

    Once again Ashley you have posted about something so significant in our lives. Beautifully done! You really said it so well!

    A wonderful and encouraging post, Ashley! And what a beautiful photo – both SOOC and edited!

    Thank you!.. I could say a bunch more.. but Thank you thank yoU! will have to suffice

    Great post :) my stress tends to land me in the bathroom for half a day :( how i cope? I get regular massages from my honey <3, drink a little extra coffee, take a Xanax (usually only on a particularly bad day), and snuggle with my babies :) (thats the best medicine!)

    You ask about my frames and I have bought them from designersdigital.com. There is so much very nice templates etc. if go there don’t freak out, you will want to shop a whole lot:)

    awesome post, thank you!

    Pretty words and photo! TY!

    Amazing post, I really needed this today & the past weekend. Thank you =) xoxo

    With Sam’s recent sickness and all of the renovations/installations in our home, this just came up…and Neil even quoted that scripture. Great choice, Ash! :)

    Love that song.

    I so look forward to these every week. These kind of posts have enoucouraged me to steop out of my box and proclaim my beliefs a little more. And I wholeheartedly agree with the whole non-religion thing. I think that the denominations and “rules” that go with each one are driving people further away from Christ than anything. Beautiful words…and all so vitally important! Thanks for sharing girl!

    love your edit, ashley! Simple, but beautiful. and good scripture to go along with it. you always pick the best ones for your photos!

    i love the brightness and contrast you bumped it up with! :)

    You are amazing. Thanks for lifting us up today!

    This is exactly the message I needed to hear today. Sometimes we get so caught up in the small minutia of our lives that we forget to step back and remember the life that God is continuing to sculpt and create for us. If your life doesn’t look so pretty right now, it’s probably because He isn’t done yet! When life isn’t easy, and when you think it can’t get any worse is when God is doing the most work for you and within you. Molding and sculpting can be painful and rough on the clay, but it creates something beautiful in the end.

    Thanks for the encouragement! Lovely edit on the photo too. :)

    this is such a beautiful post thank you so much for this it helped gratefully.

    Great photo and edit!! You took it from ordinary to a whole other level!

    I needed this post. Thanks for blogging about it and as always, your photos are amazing.

    Love that scripture. I need to do that I’m always stressed over the dumb things and need to give it all to god and let it go!

    What a great post, at just the right time in my life! Thank you so much. I enjoyed reading this. :)

    That photo and scripture verse say it all…

    look at you little mrs. preacher, love it! so encouraging.

    great capturing of His heart!

    Thank you so much for sharing this!

    “If we pray for the Father to be glorified anything is possible” < --- exactly! Great post, Ashley!

    Love the words…beautiful post!

    Hi Ashley!
    Neat post! Just thought I’d tell you that I’ve posted the interview of you on my blog: feel free to go and check it out!
    http://jjyourstruly.blogspot.com/2011/04/interview-with-ashley-sisk.html

    I love this! Thanks for sharing it. I needed that reminder.

    that was so lovely to read Miss Ashley!

    My most favorite verse ever — I repeated all year long as a mantra last year, and it kept me steady though some pretty rough times.

    Thank you, Ashley — I always find so much beauty in pictures and prose here!

    Great reminder! :D I’ve been pondering that lately, too.

    LOVE the edit, too! I need to start playing with texture more…

    Thanks for the message lady. So so true. And LOVE the photo!! Very soothing.

    I needed this right now! Thanks so much. Only you is one of my favorite songs, I just had a desire to listen to it while journaling the other night. Such powerful words. Love it.

    Oh Ashley,

    This was beautiful!! And I just love-love-love that song.

    Thank you♥


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