Solutions for Stressful Seasons // Ep. 012

 

This is episode 12, and today we’re talking about solutions for extra stressful seasons. No matter what the cause, there are times when we have to focus on what’s most important and put everything else on autopilot.

First let’s look at what the Bible says we are to focus on no matter how busy we are, and then let’s talk about practical ways to make stressful seasons go smoother.

Listen to Self Care and Soul Care for the Caregiver on iTunes or the link at the end of the show notes.

Quick links from the episode:

Feb. 24 Episode 012 – Solutions for Stressful Seasons

This is self-care and soul care for the caregiver, and I’m your host—Sandra Peoples. To us, self-care isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. We want to take better care of ourselves so we’re able to care for our loved ones who rely on us.

This is episode 12, and today we’re talking about solutions for extra stressful seasons. There are times in all of our lives when the stress level goes up a few notches. Maybe your son is in the hospital. Maybe you’re moving. Maybe your daughter is trying a new medicine and you can’t get the dosage figured out, so she isn’t sleeping and doesn’t want to eat. No matter what the cause, there are times when we have to focus on what’s most important and put everything else on autopilot.

We just finished up a super busy week around here. I cohosted a disability ministry and family conference here in the Houston area. There were so many details to handle in the days leading up to welcoming over 100 parents and ministry leaders to our event. Plus, I spoke three times, so I had to prepare those sessions and be ready. And of course, my people needed food to eat and clothes to wear. Life doesn’t stop when something gets added to your schedule!

Whether your stressful week happens due to a surprise (like a trip to the ER) or something you’ve had planned for months, like my conference, you can be prepared with the help we’ll talk about today.

First let’s look at what the Bible says we are to focus on no matter how busy we are, and then let’s talk about practical ways to make stressful seasons go smoother.

My friend Stephanie McKeever had an extra stressful season when her teenage son with disabilities was diagnosed with leg cancer. They were in and out of the hospital for chemo and all thoughts of menu planning, laundry folding, and even getting her hair cut were out the window. Most of her days were spent in her son’s hospital room, keeping him as calm and comfortable as possible. But she’s an inspiration to me, reminding me of the most important things to focus on when life is extra stressful. It’s a lesson Martha, friend of Jesus, learned too. Let me read to you from Luke 10, verses 38-42:

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:38-42).

What Martha was doing was important—she had a house full of people to feed and care for. Hospitality was vital in that day when people relied on each other and not hotels and restaurants when traveling. But she wasn’t just serving, she was so preoccupied with serving, she forgot why she was serving. She forgot to enjoy the people who were visiting, especially Christ. He left the full room of friends to seek her out and remind her not to be anxious or troubled, but to focus on what was most important. That day it was fellowship with Jesus, the good portion.

My friend Stephanie set that example for me as well. She focused first on Christ and spending time with Him each day in that hospital. Then she moved on to what else was most important, her son and his treatments. Even if you aren’t living in a hospital at the moment, you can learn from her as I have.

There’s a quote from Martin Luther that always makes me pause and think. He said, “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” You likely aren’t able to follow his example, but You can read a Psalm on the Bible app on your phone, you can make a playlist of worship songs that help you focus your attention on Christ and play it in the car (I’ve even made one for you that I’ll link to in the show notes), you can take a couple minutes to pray over your day and your situation, reminding yourself of the truth in John 15:5, apart from Him you can do nothing. Don’t let stress or busyness distract you from what’s truly important—the only thing that will last into eternity.

Now that we’ve set the foundation, let’s talk through three more lessons I’ve learned during my own seasons of extra stress. I have three pieces of advice:

First, ask yourself, “Can anyone else do this?” and if the answer is yes, then say no. I only do what only I can do. Only I can be a wife to Lee and mom to David and James. But someone else can volunteer to go on a field trip or teach Sunday school for a week. Our favorite pizza place can cook dinner. It might be a good time to check out the curb delivery service at your grocery store or use Shipt like I do to get your grocery delivered. There are ways to focus in on what’s most important when you have to, but that starts with saying no to any extras. Last week there was a women’s event happening at church. I really wanted to go, but I didn’t have to go. And I just couldn’t fit it into my schedule. I had to remember that the rest of the women’s ministry team had it handled and say no to it so I could say yes to working on the messages I needed to get ready for the conference (because no one else could do that for me).

Second, allow for help and ask for help. This isn’t my favorite. I like to be seen as competent and having everything under control. But the truth is, none of us do 100% of the time. Can a friend can pick up your daughter from soccer practice since she’s there anyway? Can a family member bring dinner over on your busiest night? Can you let someone at church know what’s going on and what would be helpful to you? I know it’s hard, but as Ed Welch writes in his book, Side by Side (affiliate link), “… weakness—or neediness—is a valuable asset in God’s community. Jesus introduced a new era in which weakness is the new strength. Anything that reminds us that we are dependent on God and other people is a good thing.” I had to ask for help a lot last week. My parents picked up James from therapy one day and then had both boys the entire day of the conference. I asked my special-needs ministry volunteers to help stuff 100 bags for the conference participants. I needed help and had to ask for it. Don’t be afraid to do the same.

Third, rely on those routines you’ve already established. This is where you put everything together that we’ve talked about for the last few weeks. What habits did you establish after episode 8 on habit triggers? What decisions did you put on autopilot after episode 6 on decision fatigue? Have you started menu planning like we talked about last week in episode 11? Then you can wear the same shirt every Monday because you decided on a Monday uniform to decrease decision fatigue. And you can lay out the ground beef from the freezer on Tuesday morning because you know you’re having tacos for dinner that night, like always. When life is extra stressful, I’m especially thankful for the routines we already have in place. It frees up my mind to focus on what’s truly important. And my people still get fed and have clean clothes to wear!

In times of high stress, we are reminded of what’s most important—relying on God and others. And those lessons are important to carry with us when life gets back to normal again.

Let me pray for you, especially if you’re in an extra stressful season right now: God, thank you for the reminder in the passage we read about Martha and Jesus that even when we feel busy and pulled in different directions, you gently point out to us what’s most important. We can rely on you for strength when we have none. We can also say no to things You haven’t called us to do, ask for help, and rely on the routines we’ve established. Thank you for Your many gifts in our lives and for how you are producing fruit even in this difficult season. Help us to focus on You! In Jesus’s name, amen.

Thank you for listening to this week’s episode! I know you’re as busy as I am, which is why I keep the episodes short and to the point. But I know even taking 10-15 minutes to yourself can feel like a lot some weeks, so I’m especially thankful you’ve chosen to spend this time with me today.      

In addition to a new podcast episode each Monday, I also release a bonus episode there each month just for my Patreon supporters. This month I’m talking about how to care for those who often feel neglected because we are caregivers. You know, like our spouses and our typical kids. When you support me with $5, $10, or $75 a month, you also get access to the spring Bible study I’m starting on Thursday, Feb. 27th. It’s called Jesus Is Better and it’s a look at how people we meet in the Old Testament point us to Christ. Jesus does what they couldn’t do. We’ll go through the study each week leading up to Easter. Be sure you check out patreon.com/sandrapeoples to learn more about how to become a financial supporter and get access to all the great resources there.

And don’t forget to join our weekly discussion on the Self-Care for the Special-Needs Mom Facebook group! Over 1,500 moms like you hang out there each week for encouragement and prayer! We’d love to have you join us! Find the link in the show notes at sandrapeoples.com/thepodcast

Thanks again for listening! I’ll meet you back here next week for episode 13!

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