77% of Americans say they REGULARLY experience physical symptoms due to stress.73% say they REGULARLY experience psychological symptoms due to stress. 42% feel they are living with extreme stress. 52% reported laying awake at night due to stress. 48% say that stress has had negative effects on their personal life and relationships.

There are more and more shocking statistics on stress in America and the truth is "stress" does not come as a SHOCK to God. Over and over and over in the Bible we have verses to help us, guide us, and encourage us on how to handle stress in our lives. Life presents opportunities for stress, but the Word presents solutions for it.

I was talking to a friend a couple of weeks ago when she said, "You seem really stressed, what's up?" Of course my immediate answer was, "I'm not stressed" and then my big mouth kept going (LOL) I'm just having trouble sleeping, I feel overly emotional, I feel on edge, I don't have much of an appetite, and I'm just fighting to get through a tough season. My friend laughed and said, "Jess THAT'S STRESS"

What a wake up call! Here I was coming home from an INCREDIBLE MISSION TRIP. How was I stressed? I don't think you're supposed to be stressed after an awesome two months of daily ministry, I didn't think that was possible or is it? I had been in a war torn nation, battling transitioning home, dealing with crazy emotions, various trials that presented themselves on my return, confusion, some hurts and disappointments, busyness, and issues among those I care about etc.... and somehow I'd become, STRESSED?!?! I'll be honest, these side effects were new for me, for the majority of my life I've been a go with the flow kind of gal, I've never had trouble sleeping, rarely feel on edge or emotional, and I definitely don't have a problem eating. Over a few days I had become more and more stressed and for the most part was oblivious to the bright flashing sign of effects it was having on me. It wasn't until about the 25th person had asked me if I was okay and I couldn't shake the gnawing agitation in my gut that I finally gave in and admitted... I'm stressed. I'm overwhelmed. And I need help!

I know that we all face various trials and tribulations. We live in a culture that works on overdrive and often neglects our spiritual, emotional, and physical needs. Hard times come. Frustrations, disappointments, hurts, cares, tribulations, trials, tests, attacks, and yet through it all we have such a loving, merciful, giving, and patient Father who is always near.

He's always leading us onward. He's always giving us hope. He's given us community and support. He's giving us His peace and His joy. His Word provides answers. His presence provides peace. He's ready to jump on our faith and provide breakthrough.

"Do not let your hearts be troubled, trust in God, and trust also in Me" (John 14:1)

As I realized that I was allowing stress to affect me and those around me I began to dig into the Word for answers. I sought counsel and found encouragement in community. I chose to surround myself with things and people that made me laugh. I spent time soaking in His presence being infused by Him. I asked Him to search me and purge me of characteristics and qualities that weren't of Him. I found sermons on JOY, overcoming stress, HOPE, and affirming my identity in Christ. Not all of the situations and root of my stress are gone, but I've found peace, hope, and joy in Him.

Jesus told us that we'd have trials, we'd have tribulations, you'd have stressors come your way, but He said we could take heart, because He has overcome the world. The temptation for you to allow stress to affect you will not leave, but you can change how you choose to handle life's pressures. We can allow stress to affect our health, our emotions, our relationships, our jobs, our families, our sleep, or we can learn how to cast our cares on Jesus and trust His Word.

I'm believing for the body of Christ to walk in complete victory over the stressors in their lives. That we'll begin to tell our mind what to think rather than letting our minds tell us what to think. We'll begin to tell our emotions how to feel rather than them telling us how to feel. We'll begin to speak to our mountains and see them cast into the sea. And we will choose to think, feel, and act in accordance with the Word. Obedience to the Word ALWAYS produces victory.

"May the God of your hope so fill you with ALL joy and peace in believing that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and overflow in hope! (Romans 15:13)

Be Blessed, J. Tate

***You may have noticed that I have been blogging more frequently. I have had the dream for years to write a daily devotional and as many of you know I began work on that last summer. To be more diligent to finish this task, I am working towards writing shorter, topical, and more frequent blogs than I have in the past! Working on the SHORTER part LOL. But hopefully this blog will become something that you can add to your daily readings in the morning or night and it won't be too overwhelming! Thanks for living life with me.