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10 Tips for Reducing Stress: Part 2

Anastasis Faith
It was finals week at my university. I was trying so hard to maintain my 4.0, but I was on the edge in a couple classes. My family was trying to sell the house--and we had three showings that week.
If you have never moved and never shown a house, just know that it's rough. You may have less than 24 hours to drop everything and clean the entire house. My family had a big house because we are a big family. Three of those in one week was bad.
I also had a plantar wart in my foot that made walking extremely painful and the removal treatments were not working.
And we were leaving for Europe in a week where we would be walking miles every day.
Oh, and I was trying to finish writing 30 Days of Surrender so I could edit on the plane.

I felt like I was living and breathing insanity.
Then, my hands, elbows, and feet broke out in the biggest, itchiest, most painful rash I have ever had. 
Eczema.
Walking was torture. My toes were so swollen with the rash that I could not bend my toes. And they were unbearably itchy. Plus the aforementioned plantar wart made every step agony. I had one pair of shoes that I could wear--my dorky cushioned flip flops. But I needed the cool air circulating for the rash and the cushion for the wart.
It was ridiculous, painful, and I felt so high maintenance and overwhelmed.
I knew, then, that something HAD to change.
Realizing that stress was actually anxiety and discontentment with a different label helped me identify the root issue: distrust in God. This has helped me troubleshoot this large character flaw in my life. 
10 Tips for Reducing Stress

Last week, I posted tips 10-6 for reducing stress. To read that post, 10 Tips for Reducing Stress: Part 1, click HERE!

Here are today’s top five tips for reducing stress!


5. Get up early and go to bed early.

         During the school year when I found myself being overwhelmed with homework, I started getting up at five am. This was one of the best habits I have ever developed. I still get up at five every day except for Saturdays and Sundays, when I usually get up at six or seven.

Getting up early helps me get on top of the day, knock a chunk out of my to-do list before the sun rises, and spend some time with God before the craziness of the day ensues.

My goal is to have the lights out by 9:00 since that’s about the time my brain shuts down. Especially recently, I’ve been having trouble maintaining this goal. However, when I do get to bed by 9:00, it gives me enough sleep to be able to get up early and go hard most of the day.


Also, a twenty-minute power nap in the afternoon is totally worth it if your schedule allows. :)

4. Look for time-wasters and distractions and eliminate them.

         What occupies your time? Are you stressed because you can’t get your homework done—but then you spend three hours on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, or other social media? Do you watch a lot of movies?

Time-wasters are different for everybody. Discover the easiest ways for you to waste time and set goals to limit or get rid of them. Maybe you only get on social media after everything else on your priority list is done, and you set a timer and as soon as it goes off, so does the social media.

You may find that you’re really stressed because you’re not making the time to do the things that you need to do. Eliminating the things in your schedule that aren’t necessarily will give you a lot more time every day.

One large distraction may actually be your to-do list! This was hard for me to realize at first, because a to-do list is supposed to regulate and help me manage my time. However, when I started jumping around, distracted by all the other tasks I was supposed to be completing, I got far less done. 

Choose one task at a time, focus on it, and get it done.

3. Don’t cut your quiet time. If anything, make it longer.

This is your fuel! Whenever I don’t get my quiet time in, my whole day is wrecked. I’m usually really emotional, grumpy, and just overall not pleasant. When I do get my quiet time in, I find myself far more cheerful and far more efficient with my time.

When you start off the day with God, you tell Him that He is most important to you. He gives you focus and strength for the day. 

And I promise you that spending extra time with Him every day will be more than valuable as your schedule gets crazier.

When the root issue of stress is not an overwhelming schedule but a lack of trust in God (and a lack of Godly discipline), it is easier to see why spending time with God is so important in fighting this sin.

2. STOP. Just stop and pray.

I remember being overwhelmed by school a year ago and rattling my to-do list off to my friend. This friend patiently listened to me fret, worry, and prattle on and on. Then my friend stopped me and said, "Just stop. Calm down. Take a deep breath." I am glad I listened.
I had to stop, pray, and take a step back to view the situation. When you’re overwhelmed, you have to pause, reorient, and reorganize your life. Find out if you’re not managing your time well, not getting enough sleep, not spending enough time with God, having wrong priorities…etc.
Once you’ve diagnosed the problem, you can solve the problem must faster. Just stopping to think—even for five minutes—can help reduce stress tremendously.

1. Remember that even if your world is crazy, God is still on His throne.

         Even when you feel like you can’t catch up, or you’re being slammed and there is just no let up, God is still God. He is still Lord, and He is still in control.

I couldn’t seem to get on top of my to-do list and was feeling overwhelmed. But just remembering that everything is part of God’s plan calmed me down.

Being stressed sometimes can mean we don’t trust God. If we’re working our tails off and things aren’t getting done, we often find ourselves stressing that it never will get done. It’s times like that we just need to trust God that He has given us the time we need. We only need to be good stewards of that time.


There you have it! Ten tips for reducing stress! Which ones are you going to try? Share in the comments!

10 Tips for Reducing Stress: Part 1

Anastasis Faith
I wear my stress.
Literally.
Whenever I get stressed, I break out in painful, itchy eczema all over my legs. And I break out in cystic acne.
I hate being stressed.
I have always been a decently high-strung person. Each day I have my own agenda and when someone overturns it, or I am not able to accomplish everything I need to, or something happens that I'm not ready for, I responded with stress.
I called it stress, but there is a better name for it.
Anxiety.
It took me a long time to realize that stress was really a new label for anxiety. The root issue is a lack of trust in God, a lack of dependence on God, and a disbelief in His character. We are given stressors, but then we respond with anxiety.
At some point, I hit a wall. I was done with stress. I hated living a high speed life. I hated the pressure to perform. I hated not being able to rest.
And I was exhausted.
This has led to a number of habit changes in my life. I cleaned out my closet, I rearranged my desk to allow for less junk and more studying. I simplified my room so I would have less stuff and put things in better, more accessible places. I decided to fight laziness in the moment. Don't throw the clothes on the floor, put them in the basket.
One of my goals for 2018 is to work harder and play harder. I want to intentionally rest and refuel more.
Most importantly, I want to intentionally seek out Christ and build my life around Him, instead of trying to fit Him in around my life.
So here are some of the things I have found helpful to reduce some of the outer stressors as well as calm down the inner anxiety.
10 Tips for Reducing Stress
 

10. Be ready to leave, early

Few things are more stressful than being late! So get ready long before you have to leave so you can just grab your purse/backpack/whatever and go. If you pack a lunch, maybe you pack it the night before. Set out your clothes. Set your alarm earlier. Whatever you need to do, putting aside a habit of being late will serve you well.


9. Plan better

Planners are not just for moms! They are for you and me! Take fifteen minutes each day to plan how you want the day to look. It will help you be more focused and more efficient.
Sometimes at work I will put a sticky note on my computer with my current task. This helps me when I get distracted to stay on track. Plan ways to minimize distractions and plan ways to overcome those distractions.
You'll save more time at the grocery store if you have a list and you will forget less.
Write things down, cross them off, and reward yourself when things are completed.
If you live at home--which I know most of you do--then make sure your list is manageable with your family's schedule. If you are creating things to do that are impossible to get done, then that will only stress you out more. So don't necessary plan more, plan better. Plan with distractions, interruptions, and the unplanned in mind.

8.  Clean your work area and room

The messier my room is, the more cramped, tense, and overwhelmed I feel. It’s another thing on that mental To-Do list and it’s not something that I can escape. Even if it takes a couple hours, it’s totally worth it to have a clean room. It makes me feel like I’ve got everything under control. It also motivates me to get other things done.
This also deals with laziness. Fight laziness each moment. If you fight it in the small moments, it will be easier to overcome bigger temptations to be lazy. Do not make laziness your lifestyle.



7.  Make a To-Do list and prioritize it

You’ve got a billion things to do zooming around your head. It’s hard to process. But when it’s down on paper, you’ll be surprised at how short it actually is compared to how long you thought it was.
After I get everything I have to do down on paper, I can prioritize them in order of what needs to get done today and what I would like to get done today. Then I always know exactly what I’m supposed to be doing when I’m supposed to be doing it.
This helps particularly when you are at home and you do not know what things might pop up that day. I've also heard of having a "slush" day where you pick up the slack from the rest of the week. Maybe you write tasks down for Monday through Thursday, but then leave Friday open so that anything that didn't get done earlier can be done that day.


6. Don’t worry yourself to sleep.

Once you’re in bed, you can’t do anything about it, especially not by worrying. As soon as the lights go out, stop thinking about what you have to do. Worrying late at night will rob you of sleep, which will probably result in a more exhausting and stressful next day! 
This also applies to when you’re in the car, on the elevator, etc. Basically, whenever you can’t do anything about it, don’t worry about it. 
Live in such a way that does not require you to stress while in bed. But more importantly, trust in a God who is bigger than your to-do list and bigger than your problems.
When we have a small view of God, we have big problems. When we have a big view of God, then we don't have problems--only opportunities to worship and glorify Him.


Next week we will cover the top five ways to reduce stress!


What do you think? Are you a super stressed person? Or are you pretty chill? How do you relieve stress? Which ways listed above seem the most helpful? Share in the comments!

6 Misconceptions about Purity

Anastasis Faith
Something as simple as scrolling through social media can confuse our perception of purity and its importance. Our culture has a lot of misconceptions about purity. As a result, many Christian girls growing up today in America are being trained to believe lies about purity. It’s so hard not to believe these lies because they’re so subtle—and they’re all around us.

Misconception 1: Purity is less fun
First of all, just because you say no to flirting, dating around, kissing, etc, doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy your single years. It doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your guy friends. It just means that you can enjoy your guy friends in a more God-glorifying way.
Secondly, the “fun” that the world defines is a messy, dirty attempt to satisfy yourself by using other people. The results have many messy, dirty consequences. On the outside, a flirty girl who always has a guy with her seems like she’s having fun as she laughs at every joke—funny or otherwise—that escapes his mouth. On the inside, however, she may be trying to piece together her broken heart that has been shattered by so many worthless relationships. The girl who finds herself pregnant in high school isn’t going to live a “fun” rest of her life dealing with the consequences of her decision to “have fun."
Purity isn’t less fun. It’s more responsibility, but all of your friendships—with guys and girls—will be truer, deeper, and based on a platform of respect instead of desire for attention.

Misconception 2: Purity is just more rules/regulations.
Purity doesn’t mean there are more rules for you to follow. Purity isn’t a set of rules. It’s the condition of your heart. Do you desire to pursue Jesus with your whole heart? Do you desire to honor your future husband by keeping yourself pure for him? Do you protect the guys around you as your brothers in Christ?
If you do, it will be reflected in your behavior. You won’t have to worry about being a flirt because your intentions are pure. Your behavior is fruit of your heart.

Misconception 3: Purity is a burden.
This kind of goes along with the last point. Because purity isn’t more rules, and because it’s the condition of your heart, purity isn’t a burden. Pure actions flow out of a pure heart. It is a breath of fresh air to those around you. Purity should never, ever be a burden. If it is, then you are believing a lie from Satan that if you lower your standards a little bit, you will have more fun. You’re believing Satan when you say that purity is cumbersome. You’re believing Satan when you decide to let it all go.
Purity isn’t a burden. It’s a delight—a reward. If you don’t believe that, then you are believing lies.

Misconception 4: Purity isn’t only outward behavior.
Again, purity is about the heart. It is your outlook on life. The thoughts on your mind. The words on your tongue. The desires of your heart. Purity is about your whole being. A girl with impure intentions will not come across as pure even if she tries to behave well. However, a girl with a pure heart before God who loves the people around her will be able to enjoy her friends in a harmless way that will reflect her pure heart.

Misconception 5: Purity is something you will regret.
I promise you—you will never, ever, ever regret the choice to be pure before God and people. Honoring God and honoring people is something that will come back to reward you. God will bless you mightily if you choose to obey His call to purity.
You will look around and see those girls who decided to “have fun” and threw purity out the window. There may be days when it is hard to continue with your convictions. However, Matthew 5:8 says, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."
Purity is something you will never regret.

Misconception 6: Purity is easy
This is probably the least common of all the above misconceptions, but it still is present. Purity is hard. Purity is about controlling your entire body—even your thoughts—and striving to honor God with every ounce of your being. That is hard. But God will not leave you alone to do it. God will be right there beside you, giving you the grace and the strength to do it.
Purity isn’t easy, but purity is so worth it.

What are some of the misconceptions you have had about purity? What are some of the lies you have believed? What course of action do you plan to take now? Share in the comments!

How Waking Up at Early Helps Me Fight for Purity

Anastasis Faith
I attended a conference one year where a speaker challenged everyone to wake up at 5am every morning. I was like, “HA! Oh sure. Try getting me to do that! Maybe I’ll try to wake up twenty minutes earlier. Not two hours earlier. LOL.”

What time did I wake up this morning? 5am. What about yesterday? The day before? The week before? The year before? My routine is to wake up at 5am on weekday mornings at the least, though often I will do at least 6am on Saturdays and Sundays, depending upon how late I was up the night before.

How Waking Up Early Helps Me Fight for Purity

I initiated this pattern because I needed to get more accomplished. However, when I did, I had no idea of the benefits I would reap. In fact, my fight for purity took a whole different turn when I started waking up at 5am. I was winning the battles in my mind far more easily. I was seeking the Lord more. I saw more clearly how His way is better than my way. In fact, the days and weeks where I gave in to my desire to get more sleep, the more ground I lost my battle for purity of mind.

How in the world could waking up at 5am help me fight for purity?

1. I start the day off with self-discipline

The alarm clock blares, and I have two choices: 1) follow my flesh and go back to sleep, or 2) crucify my flesh and get out of bed. This suddenly isn’t a simple question of how early I wake up. This question is now a question of whether I will indulge my flesh.

Quick disclaimer: I’m not saying that you are in sin every time you sleep in. We need rest and during some seasons of life, getting up that early just may not be possible. I’m also not saying that you must wake up at 5am. You know your schedule and your body and you need to make your own decision with regard to your sleep patterns. Neither am I saying that if you wake up early, your struggle with impure thoughts or actions will be over. I’m using specifics in my life in hopes that you will glean patterns and principles to apply to your own life in accordance with God’s Word. For me, if I’ve gotten eight hours of sleep and my alarm clock is going off, I would be indulging my flesh to hit the snooze button.
When you start your day off with self-discipline in this area it makes many other areas a lot easier to conquer. If I get out of bed at 5am, I am more likely to win against my flesh and go running. If I go running, I find that often it increases my ability to control my thought life. You see, I am training my body to fight indulgence and pursue discipline instead. Waking up early is fighting indulgence in my life in the area of sleep. This one decision to wake up early every weekday morning has made me realize that patterns of discipline lead to holiness whereas patterns of indulgence lead to sin.

If you are struggling in your fight for purity, ask yourself if there are any other ways that you are indulging your flesh. Is your room messy? What are your eating habits like? What are your sleeping habits? How is your schoolwork? Are you reading your Bible every day? See if there are some things you can start working on to discipline yourself and fight those patterns.

To read the rest of the post, click here.

10 Tips for Beating a Crush: Material for Sacrifice

Anastasis Faith

Today is the very last day of 10 Tips for Beating a Crush series! Before we leave this subject, I have a few final things to say.
I wanted to share this story from a sixteen-year-old girl that talks about many of the things we’ve discussed thus far here on Morning Glory.

One time I had a crush on a guy, but then was thrown into a situation where I wouldn't be able to see him anymore.  It was a temptation to feel sorry for myself, and to start asking God too many questions, such as "Why me? Is this Your will? Why did You let this happen to me?"
That's when it really hit me: having a crush on a guy is more of a choice than it seems. I could have kept my focus on him, nurturing my crush on him and letting myself daydream.  I have could continued to allow myself to give my heart away, or I could, as I saw him less and less, slowly take back my heart.
And for a while, I didn't guard my heart. And the more gave my heart to this guy I wouldn't see anymore, the more it hurt.
That's when I started to open my eyes to my friends. True, I wouldn't be able to see this guy friend anymore, (and I had been trying to work on seeing him for what he is; a friend and a brother) but God graciously allowed me to spend time with my other friends. I can't even begin to explain how much of a blessing it was, and still is, to have godly friends that I know have my back. I'd encourage anyone to nurture and focus on friendships with godly girls and guys. Don't spend so much time nurturing a crush! Nurture your relationship with God, and look for ways to help others.
Now that I look back and see the crush I had on him, I realize now that so much of my daydreaming was pointless. Giving my heart away in ways I shouldn't have was pointless, and it hurt so bad.
Please, don't give your heart away too soon. Don't focus on him; focus on God and other people. It's safer to open up your heart to God and to your friends, not to a crush! Now I realize that all the time I was wanting his company, I could have been doing other things; better things, like serving harder in ministry, giving more time to my friends and family, working more diligently in school...etc. Don't waste your time focusing too much on guy, because, like with me, it might end up being a pointless endeavor! I'd encourage anyone who spends any good amount of time focusing on their crush to turn their gaze to other things, because you never know how the future will work out. Of course, this doesn't mean that having a crush on someone is sinful; but it can be dangerous if you give your heart away too quickly and spend too much of your God-given time wishing he was around.


This young lady’s story demonstrates all these points we’ve been making in this series. Crushes are not sinful in of themselves, but they can waste our time, energy, thought life, and give our hearts away too soon. Having a crush is a choice, despite what people may tell you. It’s your choice to daydream. It’s your choice to view him as there to satisfy you. It’s your choice to have a crush.
Yes, it doesn’t feel like a choice. It feels like we’re involuntarily falling in love and out of control. But unless it’s the God-planned romance we’re all waiting for, you can choose to save your heart. You can choose to fight.
However, don’t expect to win every battle. You may, through God’s strength, win the war. But the battles will be slow, painful, and exhausting. Let me tell you that you will feel like quitting. Trust me, I know the feeling of wanting to quit and give in. Yet, I want to tell you that no matter how many times you fail—no matter how many battles you lose—remember that God is still Lord and He will always be faithful. He will get you through this and He will never leave you alone.
I love these lyrics by Matt Redman in his song, Never Once.

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God
You are faithful.

Sometimes, when we have a crush, the tempting response can be, “God, why won’t You take this away? I can do so much for You if I didn’t have this crush!”
But recently, someone said something that struck me hard. She told me about the concept of “material for sacrifice.” This is the idea that God gives us something, like a crush, so that we can have something to give back to Him. God asks us to trust Him in everything. Our love for Him is evident in how much we are willing to trust Him.
Are you brave enough to trust God with everything? Even your crush?

Samuel said, "Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.
1 Samuel 15:22 

Our sacrifices to God are when we choose to obey Him with our everything—even our emotions. We are called to obey God; we are called to sacrifice our desires to Him. God doesn’t want us to offer up literal sacrifices because Jesus already was the sacrifice. But He wants us to sacrifice ourselves to Him through obedience.
Before we leave the subject of crushes, I have two more things I would like to share.

First of all, I said in an earlier post but I’m going to say it again: crushes are not a sin. However, it is an opportunity to sin. That is why we spent thirteen posts talking about beating a crush. My very wise mother told me something very important the other day. Even though it may sound like a contradiction to what has been posted thus far, it is not. But it is the flip side of the coin. She says this:

While we should not look to a guy to satisfy us and we should always find our satisfaction in the Lord, He also created us to not feel complete alone. He says it is not good for man to be alone. So while He is all we need, He also did create a longing for a spouse that is good, natural and right. It is unnatural to not long for true, lasting love.
Some people are given a special gift of singleness, but for most of us, we have been created to feel incomplete without a spouse (when we are old enough for that to apply). In one sense, giving someone a loving relationship with a spouse is one way the Lord does fulfill us and satisfy us. Marital love is a gift from Him. (That is why having crushes is completely natural.)

This is a very important concept to grasp. God created us with a desire for a boyfriend and, eventually, husband. There is nothing wrong with this desire. However, for many of us who are in junior high and high school, we cannot do anything about this desire except take it to the Lord. Right now, we need to be preparing ourselves for a future relationship by building our character and deepening our relationship with God. As someone once told me, “Developing characteristics of a godly wife doesn’t begin once I’m a wife—it begins now!”
Finally, the last thing I have is an important piece of advice from Bethany.

As Christian girls we need to make Jesus our God, not ourselves, not a guy, not the opinions of others, and certainly not how many guys "like" us. Whenever we're tempted to idolize someone, let's remember the three things involved: feelings, you, and the guy. Take care of your feelings. Take care of yourself. And, if you really do like someone, take care of him. Be respectful. This may be an easy feat for some and yet very difficult for others. But we can do all things through Jesus Christ! He gives us strength!

Remember, always give God first place. Put others before yourself. And then run after Jesus with your whole heart.

What final thoughts about crushes do you have? Any tips that you have discovered for beating a crush that wasn’t listed? Stories? Share in the comments!

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