Annual Life Notes Subscriber Appreciation Giveaway!

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Have you subscribed to Life Notes, my free quarterly inspirational newsletter, yet? If so, you’re in luck. Why? Because it’s time for my annual Life Notes Subscriber Appreciation Giveaway! If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can join the lucky bunch right now. Just sign up for Life Notes on the right sidebar of my site under “Free For You.”

One lucky subscriber will be awarded a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble in mid-November—the perfect time to give a gift of thanks. And, of course, I’ve got to admit I’m hoping the giveaway will be a good way to grow my subscriber list, too!

Here’s how the giveaway will work. All those who are currently subscribed to Life Notes will automatically be entered in the giveaway, and any new subscriber who signs up by 6 p.m. (CST) Nov. 12 will be entered as well. Sign up is to the right on the blog sidebar—and yes, it’s free! You don’t even have to leave a comment on this post. Just make sure you’re signed up for the newsletter. I will announce the winner in my November 13 Midweek Morsel post.

So have you all joined the lucky bunch of Life Notes subscribers now? My heart’s desire is that it will be a blessing to each one who reads it—and I hope that includes you!

“Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants. I will proclaim the name of the LORD. Oh praise the greatness of our God!” Deuteronomy 32:2-3

*I’m thankful for each and every Life Notes subscriber. Who are you thankful for today?

*Flickr photo by Lucas (Back to the Roots), Creative Commons License

Instant Vacation

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Sometimes we need a vacation long before our vacation days arrive, don’t we? Responsibilities pile up, monkey wrenches get thrown into our plans, and stress mounts. We’d like nothing better than to walk away from the pressures and problems pressing in on us.

So what can we do when we need an instant vacation, a ready retreat that will refresh our spirits, souls, and bodies? How can we find the fresh perspective that will calm us as well as the recharged batteries that will reenergize us for the situations at hand?

One thing we can do is simply go outside. We may not be able to walk away from our stresses permanently, but we can take a desperately needed breather from them by spending a few minutes soaking up the beauty and wonder of the world around us. Just call it nature’s own tonic and remedy for those in need of refreshment.

Here are a few simple ideas for an instant vacation:

1. Go for a walk in your neighborhood. Take your camera along and watch for wonder, be alert to beauty. Snap a few vacation photos.

2. Spend some time relaxing in your yard. Plan ahead and have a personal sanctuary of sorts at your disposal—a porch swing, a chair on your patio, a bird bath and feeder in place, flowers planted, a fountain set up, etc.

3. Take a bike ride to a nearby park or another refreshing spot. Enjoy the breeze on your face as you ride and revel in the beauty around you.

4. Throw a blanket on the grass, lie down, and enjoy the sky. Marvel at how birds wing their way from place to place and look for fun shapes in the clouds.

5. Sit on your doorstep, close your eyes, and tune your ears to hear each and every sound. Enjoy them as if it’s the first time you’ve heard them. Also take special note of what you’re feeling physically—a light breeze, a strong wind, the warmth of morning sunshine, the heaviness of clinging humidity, the brisk bite of cooler temps, etc. Before you forget all you heard and felt, jot down your impressions in a notebook, a journal, or the notes feature on your phone.

If you weren’t already longing for an instant vacation, I’d be willing to be that now you’re suddenly thirsty for one, huh? With ideas like these on our minds, it’s no wonder we all want to head out the door!

Let’s do it—let’s gift ourselves with instant vacations on a regular basis. Let’s take advantage of nature’s tonic and ready retreat. Maybe we can head some of the stress off at the pass. Maybe our real vacation days won’t seem so far away.

“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.” Psalm 23:2-3a

*What’s your favorite way to enjoy an instant vacation?

*Flickr photo by shoothead, Creative Commons License

Midweek Morsel: “Guard” Theme Word Applied Again

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“Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3

Now that we’re into October—the last quarter of 2014 (yikes!)—what better time to consider our theme words one last time. As with New Year’s resolutions, it can be easy to choose a theme word for the year, and then let it slip into oblivion as the year rolls by. Let’s not do that this year. Let’s keep applying our theme words.

Guard has been my theme word for 2014. When I chose it, I knew one of its applications could relate to my tongue—to guarding the words that come out of my mouth. The verse above is the perfect exhortation from scripture to reinforce the need to actively guard the words that we say.

Other important applications of guard have taken center stage for me so far this year, but I don’t want to neglect applying guard to my mouth as well. To be honest, guarding my tongue has been important to me for years, but I’m oh-so-far from mastering that small part of my body that James called “a fire” and “a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:6,8) In fact, I’ve probably blown it as many times as I’ve controlled it.

Would you want to join me in asking God to help us by setting that guard over our mouths? We need the Holy Spirit keeping watch over our lips, don’t we? Let’s do our best to heed his warnings.

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

*Did you choose a theme word for 2014? Are you still trying to apply it?

*Flickr photo by demandaj, Creative Commons License

9 Ways to Journal Your Remembrance

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“A scroll of remembrance was written . . .” Malachi 3:16b

Do you like to journal? Or has it crossed your mind that you should write down some of your thoughts or family history for your kids, grandkids, and the generations to come? Since Bible times people have seen the need or felt the urge to record events, information about people, blessings of God, and so on. In Malachi’s day, a “scroll of remembrance” was written. Today we grab journals to record our personal scrolls of remembrance.

As a writer, I love to journal in a variety of ways. You might think I keep a daily diary of lengthy entries, but I don’t. I take a more topical approach. I keep different journals for different purposes.

I have a gratitude journal that is indeed daily, but each entry may be only a sentence or short paragraph. I also have a seed journal for my writing ideas, a “Mighty Things” journal where I record the mighty things God has done for me, and a “Beautiful Words” journal that holds beautiful and amazing-to-me phrases, sentences, or passages from whatever I’m currently reading. And believe it or not, I’d like to start a travel journal sometime soon as well. Plus, I can’t wait for the day when I get to start a grandparent’s journal. Do you think I might have a journaling addiction?!

If journaling sounds overwhelming to you or you’re afraid you might not follow through, here are several ways you can journal your remembrance. Maybe one these will work for you!

1. The classic daily journal or diary—no rules, no set length, just record daily whatever you want.

2. A daily gratitude journal—write down at least one thing you are grateful for that day. This journal has the added benefit of changing your entire outlook on life.

3. A video journal—this is a great option for those that writing doesn’t appeal to.

4. Topical journals—like my “Mighty Things” or “Beautiful Words” journals, just choose a topic and write according to whatever schedule works for you.

5. A travel journal—this has its own built-in time frame. Whenever you travel! Also, rather than writing about your journey, you could fill your journal with souvenirs (see souvenir journal photo above).

6. A journal with ready-made writing prompts—there are a variety of these available. Some are for moms to write for their kids, grandparents to write for their grandkids, sweethearts to write for one another, wedding journals, etc.

7. A prayer journal—write out your prayers or write down your prayer requests and then record the answers as God gives them. And by the way, I forgot to mention earlier that I keep one of these, too!

8. An art journal—if you like to sketch more than you like to write, this could be the journal for you.

9. Journal in your Bible—record insights, happenings, blessings from God, etc., in the margins of your Bible near scriptures that are especially applicable or have been meaningful to you. Or you can write special remembrances in those front or back blank pages.

Why not choose one of these journaling methods and give it a try? I think you’ll be glad you did—and I’m sure a future generation will!

“Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord.” Psalm 102:18

*Did these ideas spur any other journaling ideas for you?

*Flickr photo by Paper Relics (Hope W. Karney), Creative Commons License

Midweek Morsel: A Light for the Darkness

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Some of us may find ourselves in dark places today. If you’re struggling with fear, depression, grief, or life circumstances that seem hopeless, please know that you’re not alone. All of us have been there at one point or another.

The good news is that there is a Light for the darkness. If we will but look, if we will but lift our eyes, the Lord will be our light during our darkest moments. He will be our guide, our comfort, our hope. May these verses point you to him, my friends. May hope be your portion today!

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” John 8:12

“Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light.” Micah 7:8b

“You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.” Psalm 18:28

“‘I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth.’” Isaiah 42:16

*When has the Lord been the light in your darkness?

*Flickr photo by jeet_sen, Creative Commons License