Intention Dare for Lent: Replace Stress with Joy

(written by Melissa Fagan)

I have been a Mom for a little over 20 years. Parenting and my journey as a Navy wife (and I guess as a woman, in general) has been marked with times of poor stress management and sometimes full-blown anxiety. I am currently in a good season and I am managing my stress well. God has used these uncomfortable and sometimes downright sick times to mold me. To desperately seek comfort from Him and admit my need to others.

I think I could write a 10 part series on all the ways He has molded me in this particular area. And the setting of the first chapter is taboo in some circles – the potty. But we are Moms and “potty talk” is part of the conversation when you have small kids, right? My most visible sign of unmanaged stress is an irritable bowel. And when I would feel stuck in the bathroom with kiddos outside the door NEEDING me, the anxiety would escalate.

One of the first verses I memorized as new Christian in those young-kid years, was Philippians 4:6-7.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

These verses are so wonderful and I’d like to say I recite them and my panic immediately goes away, but when I am really feeling sick, I can’t think that straight. But I have learned to call out to God in my anxiety.

You know what works the best?

I just say one word: Jesus. Then breathe.

In less desperate situations, I have implemented the directives in the verses more elaborately.

Talking more specifically to God through prayer.
Being intentionally grateful.
Allowing Him into my heart to guard it.
Resting in His peace.

Allowing myself to be loved and even loving myself also reduces stress … my flawed, broken, beautiful self.

At Moms at Hope {PM}, Anne Floyd, Hope Church’s counselor, spoke on physical, emotional and spiritual self-care. She gave us a list of ways the we can love ourselves, because to love others we must first love ourselves. I have implemented most of her list over the years and it has been instrumental in molding me into a less anxious woman. I really shouldn’t put that in past tense. It is a daily endeavor. In fact, my Internist gave me a document when we were discussing medication and I was also concerned about someone that was under stress:

CAUSES All sorts of life events may cause stress. An event that causes stress for one person may not be stressful for another person. Major life events commonly cause stress. These may be positive or negative. Examples include losing your job, moving into a new home, getting married, having a baby, or losing a loved one. Less obvious life events may also cause stress, especially if they occur day after day or in combination. Examples include working long hours, driving in traffic, caring for children, being in debt, or being in a difficult relationship. (Elsevier Interactive Patient Education ©2016 Elsevier Inc, emphasis mine.)

I’m guessing you noticed “caring for children.” *wink* I think one of the best ways to relieve stress is exactly what you are doing here at Moms at Hope – finding community with other moms.

And today, I have a tool for you. It’s a perfect opportunity to jump on for Lent and reduce stress. I dare you to replace your stress with joy!

Lent, the 40 days preceding Easter, begins this Wednesday. Growing up, it was a time to give something up. I only recall being successful once. And it was a big one…no TV! For a 6th grade girl … home after school unsupervised… no Brady Bunch or Speed Racer! It was a challenge between my neighbor friend, Meg, and I. (Pre-teen girl competition can be effective accountability. Who knew?)

Last year, I was introduced to a new idea ——> reverse lent. Author Karen Ehman, blogged about this proactive spin and I loved it.  (You can read her challenge here.)

This year I want to be intentional in preparing to celebrate Easter.

So this tool that I am inviting your to “take on” for Lent addresses one of the treatments in my Doctors document, time management and setting priorities, while at the same time incorporating gratitude and prayer. It is “The 5 Minute Way to Start My Day” tool.

Here’s the format:
3 for 3 in 5 minutes ——-> 3 categories with 3 bullets each

  • Today I am grateful for:
  • Three things I want to accomplish today:
  • Who I am praying for today:

I invited friends to join me and it has been so helpful. So now I invite you!

“Embrace the awesome feeling of taking control of your day before a bad attitude or annoying mood hijacks your joy!” Nicole Unice on Instagram

Because I have embraced it. And replaced stress with JOY!

If you would like to join the Facebook accountability group CLICK HERE and request to be added. 

Click to download the 5 Minute Way to Start My Day Handout



2 thoughts on “Intention Dare for Lent: Replace Stress with Joy

  1. Reblogged this on XO, Melissa and commented:
    The 5 minute way to start your day has become a daily habit for me. 6 months strong! And for several others as well. Tracey Simpson posted a on Instagram yesterday about it and I have had several requests to purchase the notepads. I am not running this as a business but I would love to send out this resource to people. I personally love the notepads and the simplicity of the smaller space. (with a journal, I would not finish in 5 minutes!) SO… I am reposting the blog post from Moms at Hope and providing my email address. If you would like to order a 5×7 notepad with the sheet printed on each page, email me at and we can work out payment and delivery.


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