Thursday, April 1, 2010

Book Club Thursday- The Confident Woman Chapter Thirteen

This week's chapter was entitled "The Relationship Between Stress and Fear". Again it was very insightful. As always, quotes from the book are in bold type. Don't forget to check out Kristi's blog to see her thoughts and insights on this chapter.

Everything is so fast-paced, loud, and excessive that our mental, emotional, and physical systems stay on overload. When I was single and teaching, I kept myself very busy by being involved in many ministries at our church. One reason was that I didn't want time to sit and think about how I wanted a husband and family of my own (I was the oldest person in my Sunday school class and I was still single, while those younger than me were married and having children), so I overloaded myself.

I was teaching full-time, coaching our school's cheer leading team (I have absolutely no physical coordination so that was interesting. I was basically the adult supervision while my girls who actually knew what they were doing coached our squad.), gave piano lessons, was involved in our church's bell choir and bell ensemble, praise team, special music singing solos, choir and every production our choir put on, small ensemble, a youth leader, and ran our school's after school detention. Needless to say, I burned myself out.

One day, I felt God asking me how I was supposed to fit the man He wanted to give me into my schedule. I told Him that when He gave me the man, I would drop the schedule. I felt God saying, "Drop the schedule and I'll give you the man." Within a year of backing off on a few of the items on my plate, God brought Brian into my life. Eventually, most of the items were dropped off of my plate and at this point, I don't have any of them.

During my pregnancy, I had promised my students that I would bring Addie in to see them on the last day of school. As I was making my rounds that day, one of the parents came up to me and said, "You look so happy! You always looked happy, but you look even happier. What happened?" By the grace of God, I was able to eliminate stress (teaching can be a very stressful job!). When dinner is your only deadline, stress is pretty much a non issue.

I don't believe that what we do creates stress nearly as much as how we do it. This is very true. Once I was married, teaching, detentions, and musically related ministries were the only extra things I was doing. However, I was able to manage them fairly well because of how I did them.

Because I am a planner (bet you didn't know that), I would have my lesson plans done at least a month, sometimes two, in advance. My breaks were spent in ways that would ensure that I was prepared. I had folders for each day of the week on my wall where I would put all of the photocopies for the week. If I needed a sub, I didn't have to worry about them having to go run something off. All classroom preparation was done a week in advance. My students were on a schedule (some things never change) and after they had taken a test, I would immediately grade it and record their grade. Every week, I would enter their grades into a grading program I had at home that would automatically average their grades so when report card time came, I didn't have to worry about anything. After school before I went home, I would put my teacher's guides, any photocopies, and lessons in order in my podium so the next day I wasn't having to run around the room trying to pull things together.

I would clean my house in the mornings before I went to work (woke up at 5:30 a.m.) so that when I left work I could come home, have a restful time waiting for Brian, get dinner ready, and enjoy my evening with Brian. My stress did not come from my home or my actual job. Stress for me usually came from things out of my control- like people.

If you are stressed out all the time something will have to change in order for the stress to be relieved. I love this quote, but at the same time it makes me nervous because I don't like change too much. During my first year of teaching, I worked nonstop, even on the weekends. I brought work home all of the time, and I really began wondering if teaching was for me. Something had to be done, so I went to the classrooms of teachers that had been teaching far longer than I had, and after school I would pick their brain about everything. I would then go back to my classroom and change things in my schedule, lesson plans, grading methods, etc. to see if the things I had learned would work for me. Over the first two to three years of teaching I was able to eliminate a great deal of stress (those were also the years I was able to stay at work until 6:30 in the evenings and longer to put in the time needed for change to happen). By the time I began dating Brian, by the grace of God, I had a good handle on teaching, who I was as a teacher, and where I wanted to take my students educationally. I was also able to leave work around 3:30-4:00.

Now that I am a stay-at-home wife and mother, I am always looking for new ways to do the things that I do everyday. Things that will help me do my job more efficiently, methods that will benefit not just me but my family as well, tricks and tips in home care and child care, and ways that I build my marriage. I am willing to change things in my home, methods, and ways so that I can relieve stresses that can pop up once in a while.

One thing I have been working on in my own life is sitting and doing nothing (don't laugh, that is actually really hard for me to do, just ask Brian). I have been taking Addie girl outside every day if it isn't raining. I take a blanket, juice box, water bottle, cell phone, bubbles, a ball, and, for some reason, Elmo has to come too...and I just sit there and enjoy the great outdoors. I watch Addie run all over the yard. I blow bubbles for her. I kick the ball around with her. We pick flowers- okay they are weeds but we call them flowers. Yesterday I was tempted to pull up some of my dead plants, but I had to remind myself that I was not out there to work. I needed to be still.

Is there anything that you can change in order to relieve yourself of some of your stress? Delegating some of the responsibilities you have? Saying "No" to another item for your plate? Changing the way you are doing somethings? Ask God to give you wisdom in the things that need to change in your life so that your days are peaceful. Remember the saying, "If Mama ain't happy ain't nobody happy!" If you are stressed, frazzled, coming undone at the seams, that is what your husband will come home to and what your children will have to deal with. Our homes need to be places of rest and peace, and it starts with us.

There are only four more chapters left in The Confident Woman for us to go through. As soon as we have a new book, we will let you know in case you would like to read that one along with us as well.


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