Lesson in the LeavesI wanted to share with you some AWESOME advice from my friend, Trina Bresser Matous, who is our featured guest blogger today. I personally needed to read this post today because my procrastination, my “tendency to not be early” and my inability to say “no” cause me TREMENDOUS STRESS.  So, without further adieu, here’s Trina!


Too soon … way too soon. Every year my neighbor’s maple tree started turning color – which I love – in August – which I didn’t love at all. The tree was a reminder far earlier than I wanted that summer was coming to an end. I’d see the first tinge of red in mid August, while every other tree was still green. By the end of September, when most trees were just starting their color transition, this tree had lost most of it leaves.

Then, one year, the tree didn’t turn color in August. A fluke, I thought, but the next year, the tree again didn’t turn color in August. Curious, I asked my neighbor. It turned out he was using a weed trimmer to cut the grass around the tree. Not only was the grass trimmed, the bark at the bottom of the tree was repeatedly gashed. Loss of the tree’s protective bark meant the mid-summer heat and low rainfall caused a higher level of stress on this tree than a healthy tree experienced. Who knew?

Once my neighbor allowed the bark to grow as it should, the tree wasn’t stressed and was able to retain its green leaves longer.

That got me to thinking about stress. I wondered if there were any similarities between the tree and me. And I realized there were. I experience stress. Some of it, like the summer heat and lack of rainfall, is beyond my control. Yet other stress, like gouging the tree’s bark, is within my control. Could I, like the tree, flourish better in the circumstances I found myself in if I minimized the controllable stress? The answer seems to be yes! Here are three areas I unduly add stress to my life.


  • Procrastination I hate to admit it, but I am a procrastinator. I often seem to put off what needs to be done until only days or even hours before it needs to be done. My quick assessment of the time something will take is always an underestimation. When I finally get to absolutely having to get the project done, I generally haven’t left enough time. The first step to changing just about anything is recognizing that a problem exists. As I recognize my procrastination and more importantly, the resulting stress, I can begin to take action. Knowing I work best under deadlines, I now break projects into parts and set a deadline for each part. I have also begun to allow more time than I think I need. Finishing ahead of schedule is much less stressful than being behind!


  • Leaving Late I am almost always late. I have joked that I was born two weeks late and have never caught up. But the joke has serious stress consequences. More than once I have driven like a maniac trying to shave two or three minutes off my travel time so I won’t arrive quite as late as it looked like I would be. Why am I late? Generally for a combination of two reasons. First, I underestimate (again!) how long it will take me to get ready. Second, I try to squeeze one more task into the few minutes I have before I have to leave. To combat the first, I plan to leave at least 10-15 minutes earlier than I think I need to. This gets me moving earlier and leaves the bit of margin I need to walk out of the house with enough time to arrive on time. Dealing with the second is a bit harder as I just need to recognize when I need to be leaving and leave without adding the one more thing. It helps to know my tendency and decide in advance that I don’t want to deal with the stress of leaving late.


  • Saying Yes I used to think it an honor to be asked to help with whatever someone was asking me to help with. I’d fill my time with all kinds of tasks and leave no room for getting to the things the Lord was calling me to. I’ve learned that saying no is not a bad thing and I don’t need to feel guilty about saying no. I still love to help out when I can, yet am much more willing to say no.


How about you? Are there stresses in your life that are within your control? Can you make a few adjustments that will remove some of your stress? Are there ways you can add some margin to your life?


By Trina Bresser Matous

Meet Trina: Trina has a Masters of Arts in Christian Ministry from Ashland Theological Seminary and is a passionate Bible teacher and writer. For over 20 years, she has shared Biblical truths in compelling and memorable ways as a Bible study leader and a member of the Restorative Prayer Team at her church. Her three week, 2,400 mile trip through Turkey in a rental car visiting historic sites including Istanbul, Ephesus, Cappadocia, Haran and Antioch, as well as two trips to Israel’s holy sites bring reality to Trina’s teaching and writing. Additionally, Trina is an avid birder, loves to cook, travel, work in her garden, and knit, especially lace. She and her husband live in Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan.

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I Love Trina’s New Release! Paul’s Letters to the Early Church (Click here to see my book review)

Reading and studying Paul’s letters can be a daunting task. Verses often require a great deal of study, prayer, and meditation in order to gain an adequate understanding. But don’t lose heart! God reveals His Word to those who earnestly seek Him (Jer. 29:13). Paul’s Letters to the Early Church is designed to assist you in your relationship with God, help you understand difficult passages, shed new light on familiar verses, and gain an appreciation for statements made within the confines of ancient cultural practices. You will learn about Paul and his intense desire to see both Jews and Gentiles not only know about the work of his Savior, Jesus Christ, but also personally experience the love, grace, mercy, and redemption offered by the Father through the sacrifice of the Son. As you learn more about the history and purpose of each verse, you will find yourself growing in wisdom and knowledge.