7 March Stress Busters

We’ve made it to March, y’all! Not only does that mean the worst of winter is surely behind us (fingers crossed!), but here on my blog, a new month means it’s time for another installment in my Stress Buster blog series. I hope you’re finding it helpful and also fun as we think of different month-appropriate ways to lighten life’s stresses.

March always promises to be filled with activity, doesn’t it? The coming attractions include March Madness, the coming of spring, Spring Break, and even Easter weekend falling on the last couple of days of the month this year. Could it be that a teeny bit of stress will creep in as we squeeze extra activities into our already busy lives?

So to combat the stress that may try to march (hee hee) against us this month, here are some stress busters especially for March. Hope they make a difference for us!

7 March Stress Busters

  1. Get into the spirit and enjoy some March Madness. If you’re a die-hard basketball enthusiast, you may fill out a bracket and the whole nine yards, but if you’re not a big fan, you can still choose a team to root for and enjoy a game or two of some of the best basketball that’s played all year. Plus, snacks can be involved!
  2. Hang some wind chimes on your porch or from a tree in your yard and let March play you a medley of tunes. The sound of wind chimes can provide a welcome distraction from the pressures of the day. Let their music put a song in your heart.
  3. Look for signs of spring every day and rejoice in them. Whisper a prayer of thanks over each one or sing a song of praise. You could even snap photos or jot down your spring-sightings in a journal and then look back and remind yourself of them when things aren’t going well.
  4. Treat yourself to a short getaway. Sometimes the only way to get away from stress, particularly work-related stress, is to leave town, if only for a day or two. If you have a spring break in your schedule and can take extra time away, do it. Enjoy a change of scenery and a change of pace.
  5. Take advantage of a warm day and enjoy one of your favorite outdoor activities. Go to the zoo or take a nice long walk or a bike ride. Break away from your indoor confines and soak up some sunshine.
  6. On one of March’s colder days, spend some time dreaming and planning for summer vacation. That’s right, winter will probably stage a last hurrah this month so combat it with thoughts of warm summer days and what you might do for vacation. Spend some time looking online for possible destinations or grab your sweetie and daydream options together.
  7. As Easter approaches, sing or listen to favorite hymns or praise choruses celebrating the season. When you feel stress building, hit pause and turn your heart to the Savior and sing for him. Let him be the Prince of Peace in your life.

If March has come in like a lion for you, my friend, I pray that these stress-busting strategies will help it go out like a lamb. May God bless you with all the best this month has to offer!

“Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” 2 Peter 1:2 NIV

*Which of these stress busters sounds the most appealing to you?

*Have you subscribed to Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue? If not, sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, just scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by Fimb, Creative Commons License

7 February Stress Busters

*I’ll be taking a blogging break during Valentine’s week. Happy Valentine’s Day to all!

With the flip of the calendar to February, it’s time for another installment in our Stress Busters blog series. I started it in September and I pray it’s been a blessing to you. Hopefully you’ve discovered some new ideas for reducing stress as we think of strategies especially appropriate for each month of the year.

Since February is the month of love, some might think stress should disappear, but alas, the expectations of Valentine’s Day can actually add stress to some of our lives. Combine that with the other stresses that invariably rise up to drag us down, and yes indeed, it is a very good idea to consider how we might reduce our stress levels.

So here, my friends, are seven stress busters for your February days:

  1. Say “I love you” to someone every day this month. Whether saying the words, writing a note, or posting a meme on someone’s Facebook page, brighten days for others and lift your own spirit as you share love. See how many different people you can touch.
  2. Perform a random act of kindness. Offer an encouraging word, hold a door, leave an extra generous tip, or pay for the person behind you in line. Surprise someone unexpectedly. Not only will it make you happy, but you might just change the course of someone’s day, week, or life.
  3. Offer a comforting touch or hug as often as an opportunity presents itself. Loving touches have a way of helping stress melt away for both parties involved. Bless others—and let others bless you—with a hug.
  4. Show yourself some love with an out of the ordinary treat. Get a massage, indulge in a candlelit bubble bath, order your favorite dessert, or take a day (or afternoon) off to do something fun. Enjoy yourself!
  5. Make a list of the things you love about your life. The biggies will come to mind first, but nothing is too small to include. If it brings you joy, jot it down. As you do, whisper a prayer of thanks.
  6. Call a friend or family member you rarely get to see and share some love and laughs. Sometimes hearing a distant loved one’s voice soothes our spirits the way nothing else can.
  7. Read and reflect on a passage from the Bible—God’s love letter to us—each day. Let the Word of God infuse your spirit with peace and joy and wisdom. Let it refresh and recharge you to deal with the demands of your life.

Your stress is sure to diminish if you put these ideas to work this month. As you do, may your February be filled with love and joy. And chocolate. Don’t forget the chocolate!

“Love never fails . . .” 1 Corinthians 13:8 NIV 

*Which of these stress busters will be the easiest for you to carry out? Which will be the biggest challenge?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out last week. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by Tania_Cataldo, Creative Commons License

Winter Trees and the Church: Beautiful Support

This may sound odd to some people, but I see a unique beauty in the naked trees of winter. Many would describe them as stark, drab, or depressing. I, on the other hand, think they have a beauty all their own when winter strips them of their leafy glory.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the leafy glory of trees as much as the next person. Watching trees bud out and turn green in the spring holds a special excitement for all of us. Summer then brings lush, full trees to pleasantly fill our landscapes before autumn arrives and sets them ablaze with color. I delight in each of these seasons and the changes they bring to trees.

But I think trees are beautiful in winter as well. Some might think it’s like looking at skeletons, but I see what looks like arms and fingers reaching for and pointing to God. I love looking out and seeing the intricacies of the branches. Winter allows us a view of the support system of the leaf laden trees we enjoy the rest of the year. Without the drab looking branches, there could be no beautiful leaves.

Winter trees actually remind me of other support systems in our lives as well. Just think about our bodies and all that’s working together beneath the surface to keep us up and running. The same can be said for just about every company, group, or organization we might name.

Consider the church. Many programs and people are highly visible, but there are just as many or more serving behind the scenes. And it’s the behind-the-scenes-type activity that makes it possible for the more visible ministries to take place. Everyone needs to do their part to keep things running smoothly—and more than that, to enable growth.

What role are you filling in your church—or life in general? Are you a part of the highly visible, leafy-glory, or is your role a part of the vital support system that’s needed? Maybe a little of both? Just keep in mind that neither is better. Both are needed and valued.

So take another look at the winter trees. Beautiful, huh?

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10 NIV

*What support systems in your church, workplace, or organizations are you most thankful for?

The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out Feb. 1st. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by Oakley Originals, Creative Commons License

*I hope you enjoyed this revised encore post from January 2008!

Winter and Life Extremes: A Time to Hunker Down

Do you get any of winter’s deep freeze days where you live? You know, those days that start in the single digits or below and if you’re lucky climb well into the teens? We shiver our way through days like that each winter here in southeast Kansas. And I am not a fan.

In fact, I’m not a fan of winter in general, but I must admit, like everything else, winter has its perks. One of those perks for writers like me unfolds as nature speaks something new to us, something we can share through the written word. And sometimes those words come out as poetry.

So here’s my latest poem, friends—inspired and served up by Old Man Winter himself. I hope it blesses you. Even if you shiver a bit while reading it!

A Time to Hunker Down

We all notice the day
when winter blows in,
when autumn’s refreshing nip
takes a frigid turn.
Jackets and sweaters give way
to gloves and down,
and we all settle in
for Old Man Winter’s stay.

And then one night
the cold becomes colder
and we’re plunged into
deep freeze days,
days when nature itself hunkers down,
when nothing moves or makes a peep,
when frozen silence is all we hear.
Yes, nature holds its breath,
shuts down and waits it out.
The bitter extreme calls for a break.

As ever, we can learn from nature.
Let’s take our cues, follow its lead
when bitter extremes hit our lives.
We too might benefit
by stepping back and taking a breath,
by getting quiet and waiting on God.
We too may need to hunker down,
we too may need to take a break.
And one day the sun will come out,
one day sweet life will go on.

“. . . ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’” Mark 6:31

*When have you had to hunker down?

The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*My photo

Theme Word 2018: Listen

Any other theme word junkies like me out there? Yes, I am indeed hooked on the practice of choosing a theme word for each new year. For a goal-oriented gal like me it seems only natural to have an over-arching word—a quality, an attitude, or an action—that I can focus on and that can give me direction throughout the year. 

In November and/or December I start thinking and praying about what my word for the upcoming year should be. Some years I think I know what it will be and then the Lord brings another word to mind or to my attention through multiple avenues. When that happens I know God is at work directing me to the word he has for me in the upcoming year. I so appreciate his guidance. After all, he knows the future and he knows what I need to help guide me through it.

This year the Lord has directed me to the word listen. As usual at this early stage, I don’t know all the ways God will use this particular theme word in my life over the next twelve months. I just know it’s a word I’ve been noticing and that has been resonating in my spirit. And so, I want to listen to those inner nudges and begin to focus more on listening this year.

So here’s hoping by the end of 2018 I will have grown in my listening skills. Listening more often and more attentively to God, to my loved ones, to others, to the natural world, and even to myself—to what my body or spirit may be trying to tell me.

And as ever, it will interesting to see what God has in store this year and how he will use listen in my life. He has a way of surprising us, doesn’t he? So I say, “Lord, help me keep my ears and my spirit wide open so I don’t miss a thing!” 

“. . . Everyone should be quick to listen . . . ” James 1:19

*Have you chosen a theme word or anchor verse for 2018? If not, feel free to adopt mine!

The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*Flickr photo by mpeterke, Creative Commons License