10 Ways to Bless away the Stress

I mentioned in a previous post that by being a blessing and serving others, the focus was off of me and my ‘issues’ that were leading to anxiety. I literally was able to bless away the stress. To be quite honest though, that was not my intent, but it was the fruit of it all.
Now mind you, the motive is key.  If you bless others hoping to get something from them in return, you can be very disappointed and if you are not careful it can sow seeds of resentment.

10 ways to Bless away the Stress

1. Get involved in a local fundraiser in your community.
If you are not able to give financially, you can see if there is an area that needs your involvement through volunteering.
My favorite events from the past have been fundraisers for child abuse prevention, cancer research, rare disease awareness, newborn advance screening efforts,  youth groups, pregnancy counseling, school supply drives, and holiday gift baskets.

2. Send texts, cards, or letters of encouragement.  One of my hardest seasons left me very lonely, so I wrote letters to strangers. I encouraged them and shared what was on my heart. I had a PO BOX set up specifically. Remember the key is to encourage and edify, building someone up.
I had many replies back and corresponded for some time. I even obtained a very close friend as an added joy.
If strangers are not your thing, perhaps a pen pal to soldiers, prisoners or the many efforts asking for cards to those that are ill.

3. Leave flowers or your favorite craft on a doorstep to surprise someone. You may want to leave them for a friend, neighbor, or even local business that you frequent.

4. Serve someone that is ill or has a recent loss in the family. Meals, babysitting, dog walking, and house cleaning are all ways that you could bless someone with this need.

5. Give health packs to the homeless. I have handed out packs with water, wipes, soft granola bars, feminine products, socks, hand warmers, etc.

6. Visit the elderly. You could ask the staff at your local elder care facility if there is anyone that has a need for visitors. Or you can offer to set up activities in the common area. We have held Christmas Caroling in the lobby.

7. Far and away. It can be life-changing for you and a blessing to those you serve, to go on a mission trip. There are many options out there to serve all interests. If you are not one that feels comfortable or able to travel, consider supporting someone else’s trip financially.

8. Purchase gift cards and give as the needs arise. Often if families are out of work or have loved ones in the hospital, receiving gift cards can ease the burden.  Grocery stores, Gas stations, and restaurants are some of my favorites. If you know someone that has been under the weather, gift cards for self-care are great too!

9. Engage in conversation. Some of my most blessed moments are conversations in the grocery store with the clerk or encouraging my waitress in some small way. You don’t have to talk for hours. Just a kind word and a thank you can go a long way.

10. Host a community event giving others the chance for connection: Christmas caroling followed by hot chocolate,  lead a bible study or book group at a coffee shop, organize a block party for your neighborhood, or host a game night at a local meeting place are some examples.

I would love to hear more creative ideas, so please share!

Disappointment in the gift

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We have a full yard of white clover at our new home. I love the wild craziness of the flowers. I am one that does not like to spray the yard with chemicals, especially with a new puppy that likes to chew on the grass.
I will often take a few minutes to see if I can find a four-leaf clover when I pass by the patches of green. For me, it is like a little treasure hunt, looking for the unlikely in the midst of a million possibilities, as the chances of finding a four-leaf clover are 1 in 10,000.
Tonight the thought again crossed my mind that I wanted to find a perfect four-leaf clover, a gift set aside just for me.
I bent down and saw all the tiny perfect little shamrocks with their heart-shaped leaves.
There, right in the midst of them, was my find. A large four-leaf clover. At first, I was elated to have spied one, finally. But then…

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As I examined my four-leaf clover I was disappointed in the straight leaves with no heart shape. I was disappointed it wasn’t tiny and cute like all the sprouts of three-leaf clovers in its midsts. The leaves of my clover were all different sizes and not at all what I had pictured a four-leaf clover would look. Without taking a moment to truly enjoy the treasure I had found there was quickly a disappointment in the gift. 

I knew it was silly to feel disappointed and a knowing rose up in my soul. How often do we get exactly what we hoped or asked for, but when it arrives and it looks different than we expected we have disappointment in the gift? Or how often do we look with disappointment in our own gift within us if it does not look like the shiny gifts and talents that others seem to have?

The phrase ‘be careful what you wish for” comes to mind. Or in my case, pray for. When you seek open doors and new opportunities, It is important to be mindful that what you pursue may come wrapped in a different package than expected. Yet there can still be beauty in a treasure that is uniquely your own.

Looking closer at the four-leaf clover I see a sweet etching of a smaller clover inside. I see that there is a gift within that I almost missed because my mind was clouded with my own expectations. I was thankful for the treasure. Thankful for the moment and no longer had disappointment in the gift.

The next day I was again outside with the puppy. Without any searching, I felt the tugging to look down. There at my feet was another four-leaf clover. Smaller and closer to the ideal in my mind. My heart swelled at the thought, there are many treasures to behold. There is no limit to what can be revealed. Sometimes the treasures come when we are in a place of contentment and not even searching. Will we be observant enough to notice them?

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