7 November Stress-Busters

The calendar has turned the page to another new month so that means it’s time to offer you another set of month-appropriate stress-busters. I hope you’re enjoying beginning each month with some ideas designed to help you relax and refresh in the face of stress.

Whether dealing with the normal daily stresses of life or additional major stresses, we all need ways that can help us step back for a few minutes and intentionally put that stress on a back-burner. If we do that often enough, we may find our overall feelings of stress diminishing as we learn to better cope with them day by day.

May the stress-busting strategies below come in handy in November when you find yourself in need of refreshment and relief. Be blessed, friends!

November Stress-Busters

  1. Take a few minutes to watch the leaves fall from the trees and dance their way to the ground. As you watch them float gently down, imagine your stress falling from your head, your shoulders, your arms, your hands, your legs, and your feet in the same way. Consciously relax your body.
  2. Before going to bed each night, jot down at least one thing that happened that day for which you’re thankful. Gratitude has a way of changing our perspective and lessening the worries of the day. By the end of the month, you may decide to keep a gratitude list or journal year-round.
  3. As you begin thinking ahead to Christmas, decide on at least two ways you can simplify your life or the celebration of the season in the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. If you can go beyond making two changes, wonderful. Anything you can do to ease the increased demand of the holiday season will be well worth it.
  4. Enjoy some Thanksgiving nostalgia. Recall and share with family or friends some of your memories of childhood Thanksgivings. Welcome and listen to others’ stories as well. End by sharing your most memorable Thanksgiving whether long past or fairly recent. Let the comfort of past joys soothe your spirit today.
  5. Head outside for some impromptu physical activity. Get in a little leaf-raking therapy or go on your own little turkey trot around the neighborhood. Or you might grab some loved ones and challenge them to a quick game of basketball or touch football. Let your adrenaline pump that stress right out of your mind and body.
  6. Reach out to someone hurting or in need and in the process watch your stresses fade into the background. No question about it—you will be blessed as you bless someone else.
  7. Simplify at the end of a busy day and have breakfast for dinner. Set aside an evening of time-intensive dinner prep and cleanup and fix pancakes and bacon or scrambled eggs and sausage instead. You’ll still enjoy a hot meal with a touch of comfort to boot.

Add to these November stress-busters the ultimate stress-buster of dropping your burdens at the feet of Jesus and peace will be your portion this month rather than worry. Can’t beat a trade like that!

“‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.’” Matthew 11:28

*Share with us—tell about your most memorable Thanksgiving or mention what you’re thankful for today. We’ll all be blessed!

*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.)

*Flickr photo by Vijay Gunda, Creative Commons License

Fall Comfort

Fall is a season of comfort for me. The comfort of comfy things, the comfort of nature’s beauty, the comfort of a Father who is always near at hand no matter the season.

When I thought of the phrase “fall comfort” not long ago, I thought “poem.” So here is my latest poem, friends, brought to you courtesy of Autumn herself. I hope it helps you enjoy the season even more than you already are. Fall blessings to you all!

Fall Comfort 

The oven-hot heat of summer
finds us longing for fall’s arrival,
the comforts of a cooler season
taunt and tease us from a distance.
Then one morning the air carries a nip.
We call “Fall is here!”
and pull out a pair of cozy socks
as we ready ourselves for the day.
If the chill lingers all the day through
we declare more fall comforts in order.
Mom’s chili in the crock pot
home-baked cookies cooling nearby,
comfy pants for easy living
and a favorite hot drink in hand.
Then add a scented candle
for the perfect finishing touch.

Of course, nature’s beauty in fall
holds a comfort all its own.
God’s splendor on display
for all to see.
The brilliant colors, short-lived as they are,
cause us to cherish autumn days
cause our hearts to be warmed.

And what comfort to be found
in our Father in heaven,
the Creator and Sustainer
of not only nature’s seasons
but the ever-changing seasons of our lives.
He is always near at hand,
he is never far away.
Comfort for fall and beyond.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,” 2 Corinthians 1:3

*What things about fall bring you comfort?

The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out this week. One lucky subscriber (subscribed by noon Oct. 30) will receive $15 gift card to Barnes & Noble 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. Giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue! (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 niseag03, Creative Commons License

Unprotected

My husband takes his chances when it comes to sunburns, but not me. I don’t like them. Sunscreen is my friend and never more so than when I’m in higher elevations. In fact, I bought a new tube of sunscreen just before our trip to the Tetons and Yellowstone a few years ago. And believe it or not, I even remembered to take it with me and use it before each outing.

One day, though, I somehow missed applying my trusty protector to one particular area—my left wrist and hand, just below my watch. I didn’t notice the effects of my negligence until the next morning. I could feel the burn and my hand resembled a bright red paw. Good grief. Just the look I wanted for vacation, huh?

You wouldn’t think my hands would be in the line of direct sunlight, would you? However, we’d been in Yellowstone the day before visiting Old Faithful and other points of interest, and I had been a picture-taking fool.

While manning the camera, I’d held my hands in an upraised position much of the day—especially at Old Faithful, where I waited poised and ready for any action. Unfortunately, I was also poised for the sunburn I didn’t see coming. You can bet I didn’t neglect protecting my hands after that.

Sometimes we fail to protect ourselves spiritually. The enemy of our souls is on the prowl, just looking for chinks in our armor. He watches for areas where we’ve neglected to cover ourselves with the Word of God and prayer.

We may think we’re not at risk in a certain area or get too busy or distracted to turn to God’s Word or call on him for wisdom, help, and protection. We may submit most areas of our lives to his leading but hold onto a few for ourselves. Or maybe we’re rather half-hearted and take a hit and miss approach to time spent with God. Worse yet, we might neglect him completely, taking our chances and assuming we’ll be able to deal with whatever comes down the pike.

We may not notice the effects of our negligence immediately, but if we continue on in our own way, we’ll soon be dealing with the consequences of a spiritual burn. And by that time, it may be visible to others as well.

Let’s be alert to the dangers that threaten our spiritual lives. Let’s be diligent to apply the protection God offers us. Let’s cover ourselves with the Word of God and prayer.

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Ephesians 6:11 NIV

*What area of your life do you sometimes forget to protect?

*Hope this slightly updated encore post from Aug. 2012 blessed you today!

The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out earlier this month. 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.)

*Flickr photo by *~Dawn~*, Creative Commons License

Tuning Our Ears

Do certain sounds capture your attention while escaping the notice of other people? For example, a distant cry of “Mom!” may find you turning your head instinctively. Or if you’re my little grandsons, the sound of the garage door opening is not just another outdoor sound, but it means that Daddy is home. And they hear it every time. Their ears are tuned for it.

While hiking and exploring recently in Colorado, my ears perked up to the songs of nearby birds, but my traveling companions didn’t take particular notice of them. For them, birdsong was just a pleasant part of nature’s backdrop, but for me, it signaled a chance to capture some photos of birds I may not regularly see. Since I enjoy taking photos, my ears and eyes are tuned to opportunities, just like my grandsons’ ears are tuned to the sound of their daddy coming home.

We tune our ears—and our eyes for that matter—to the things and people important to us, don’t we? Since we have different loved ones and different interests, it follows that our ears will be tuned to different things for the most part.

For those of us who are believers—children of God—let’s ask ourselves if we’ve made sure to tune our ears to his voice. Whether he’s speaking through his Word, through the voice of the Holy Spirit within us, through the wind or the waves or the birds singing overhead, or through the timely word of a friend, do we hear him? Do we take notice? Are our ears tuned to God?

Let’s tune in. We don’t want to miss hearing from our Savior and our God!

“. . . love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.” Deuteronomy 30:20 NIV

*What helps you tune in to God’s voice?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out earlier this month. 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.)

*My photo

Guest Post: The Pruner’s Knife

I’m thrilled to share a guest post by my dad, Duane Hoy, today. He is eighty-three years young and has known the Lord since age twelve. May his insightful words and message bless you in a special way today!

The Pruner’s Knife

As I sit at my breakfast table and look out the sliding glass doors, I’m able to look a few feet beyond my patio and see my new young Royal Star magnolia.

It is not to be confused with other large varieties of magnolia trees. It is more naturally a bush but can be trained to grow more like a tree by cutting all but the strongest trunk and letting it grow like a small tree. It’s a very early bloomer being covered with snowy pure white blooms, this spring starting in mid-February.

My landscaper planted mine a year ago in the spring after I spotted it at a nursery in west Tulsa on the other side of the Arkansas River.

My heart was immediately set on getting one for my backyard, fulfilling a very long-held desire. I enjoyed three wonderful weeks of glistening snow-white blooms this last spring.

I am so wonderfully reminded of a beautiful individual who had a small to medium size Royal Star magnolia in his backyard.

Bro. John Howard and his wife Grace lived in a small block house on N. Grand in Pittsburg, KS, where our young family had moved in the early 1960s.

After thirty years of missionary service in India, Bro. John and Grace came back home to Pittsburg. He never owned a car but walked his routes in  Pittsburg, still being a missionary for another thirty years.

A very kind and gentle man, he would walk to our house way out on the north end of town to pay a short visit and pray for us and especially our four little girls—that they would develop into the godly women they are today. Then I would drive him back home. Needless to say, he was indelibly printed on my heart in a forever way.

As I observed my magnolia a few weeks after its blooming, I noticed the new growth was coming out in more of a horizontal direction. As it is yet only four to four and one half feet tall, I wanted it to grow in an upward direction, so I took the sharpest blade on my knife and made several studied cuts, removing the end growths on some limbs, hoping for the best. Some weeks later here in mid-June with plenty of rain, quite a bit of new growth is flourishing. Sure enough it is reaching in an upward direction.

This caused me to reflect on my own life and maybe you too have experienced some difficult circumstances, ones that might cause us to wince and cry out in pain.

Could it be that our master gardener is seeking some upward growth in our lives, reaching up to Him?

“‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener . . . every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.’” John 15:1-2 NIV

How has God used his pruner’s knife in your life lately?

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.)

*My photo