7 December Stress-Busters

December dawned a few days ago, but is it possible during this “most wonderful time of the year” that we’re actually feeling a teensy bit of stress? I’d say not only possible but probable—and not only a teensy bit but a pretty big chunk. A chunk that seems to grow, in fact, as the days tick past on the calendar.

If ever there’s a month where my blog series on stress busters appropriate for each month is needed, December has got to be it. So let’s get right to it. May the following stress busters prove to be an early Christmas present for you, my friends!

December Stress Busters 

  1. Take some time each day—even if just two or three minutes—to sit and gaze at your Christmas tree. Take a deep breath, relax your body, and enjoy your tree—the beauty, the nostalgia that Christmas invokes, and the sense of joy and worship that Christmas trees have a way of inspiring.
  2. Plan for simple meals. Fix one meal for dinner each week that will be enough for at least two nights then throw in a night of take-out and go out to dinner once as well. Give yourself a break where you can.
  3. Don’t just listen to Christmas music—sing along. I’m willing to bet it’s impossible to stay all balled up in stress if you’re actually singing the words to your traditional Christmas favorites. Sing while you wrap presents, do laundry, or bake for the holidays. And sing the carols of Christmas during your personal worship time. It will add a whole new dimension of joy and peace to your celebration of Christmas.
  4. Hire a young teen to wrap your Christmas presents. You won’t have to pay as much and the teen will be glad to earn some extra spending money. And as you reduce your work-load, your stress will shrink as well.
  5. Set aside one night each week to watch one of your favorite Christmas movies. Not only will this give you some extended relaxation time, but it will provide a full-circle kind of contentment as you participate in one of your well-loved traditions.
  6. Enjoy the lights of Christmas—both candlelight and twinkling lights. Candlelight is always soothing but seems to take on an extra measure of beauty and peacefulness during Christmas. And the twinkling lights of Christmas? Get outta here. Be sure to go on a light-looking adventure one night and your stress will get lost along the way.
  7. Read Twas the Night Before Christmas and other classic Christmas books and stories to a child. Stress can’t reign if you’re sharing the magical and wonder-filled joy of Christmas with one (or some) of your favorite littles. And if children aren’t in your holiday picture, read aloud to yourself and slip back in time for some Christmas nostalgia.

So there you have it, friends—some ways to trade your stress for joy and peace this holiday season. And remember, over all these methods and any others you may employ, our best stress-relief can be found in spending time with and worshipping the Savior whose birth we celebrate. Come and adore him and you’ll find your stress melting away!

“In him was life, and that life was the light of men.” John 1:4

*Which of these stress-busters will you use this holiday season? What else can you add to the list?

Have you subscribed yet 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.)

*Flickr photo by Jonathan Stonehouse, Creative Commons License

Ask Wedding Guests to Unplug During Ceremony

Mother of the Bride, if you haven’t done so already, be sure to ask your sweet couple if they do or do not want guests taking photos during their ceremony. Some won’t care while others will definitely want to discourage photos while they’re tying the knot.

Banning photo-taking during the ceremony can actually be a very positive thing. The bride and groom will be spared a paparazzi-feel during the holy moments they are becoming man and wife, and the guests will be freed from the personal compulsion they feel to snap photos of the big event in progress. Instead, they can be fully present in the moment, watching everything unfold unhindered rather than watching through the screen of a phone or other camera.

A simple Unplugged Wedding sign like the one shown above is all it takes to make such a request of your guests. You can purchase ready-made signs or make your own, and a variety of wording gives the couple an opportunity to state the message in the exact way they wish.

Pinterest, of course, offers several examples of Unplugged Wedding Signs and where they can be placed. And simply Google Unplugged Wedding Signs to find places to purchase the signs. A quick glance shows me that prices can vary anywhere from less than $10.00 for printables to as high as $65.00 for handmade wood signs. Not all wood signs are that expensive, though, so be sure to check out the various options.

Why not share this post with your daughter, MOB? Find out if she and the groom want everyone to unplug with them!

*You might also like to read Just Married Sign and Photo Idea, Flower Girl and Ring Bearer Serve as Sign Bearer, and Include Venue Signs in the Wedding Photos.

*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.)

*Photo by Stephtphotography

Standing is Victory

As believers in Christ, we face spiritual battles daily—attacks from the same enemy who enticed and deceived Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). Some refer to him as the devil, others call him by name—Satan.

Satan is a formidable enemy and comes at us in a multitude of ways, sometimes as a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8) and other times masquerading as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). And he is not alone. He leads an army of evil forces (Ephesians 6:12).

Scripture tells us we need to put on the full armor of God to do battle against this enemy of our souls (Ephesians 6:11, 13). With the armor of God firmly in place and with God’s help, we can withstand Satan’s onslaught and gain victory over him and his spiritual forces of evil.

Sometimes we may not feel like we’re gaining victory, but I love what author Sarah Young has to say in her devotional Jesus Always:

“When you’re in the thick of [spiritual] battle, declare your trust in Me—your confidence that I am with you, helping you. You may feel as if you’re losing the battle, but don’t give up! Hold tightly to my hand, and just keep standing. This is victory.”

Sometimes victory is simply standing. As weak as we may feel when we pull ourselves to our feet one more time, we are indeed victorious as we stand and refuse to let Satan keep us down.

Are you struggling to get to your feet spiritually today? Take hold of God’s hand. He will help you stand.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. . . put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Ephesians 6:10, 13 NIV

*What have you found helps you the most when you’re in the midst of a spiritual battle?

The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early November. One lucky subscriber (new or current) 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! (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 pic fix, 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

Casting a Shadow

Shadows. They can be scary, can’t they? They hold the unknown. They sometimes even hold danger.

In life, we encounter shadows of a figurative kind. The menacing ones seem gigantic. Things like cancer, terrorism, financial problems, loss of loved ones, and divorce. Shadows like that can nearly suffocate us.

But not all shadows in life are negative. This time of year—in the heat of summer—shadows provide shade and welcome relief. We don’t run away from them. Instead we run to them. Some we welcome with open arms.

Loved ones cast a comforting shadow when we’re hurting. Mentors provide the shade of experience and encouragement as we try to grow. Friends offer the shelter of companionship when we’re lonely or needing some fun. And the Word of God stands ever-ready to give us whatever kind of refuge we need. No, not all shadows are negative.

The question we need to consider is what kind of shadow are we casting today in the lives of those who know us? What would they say about our influence or our impact on them if given the opportunity?

Do we bring others (or maybe just certain people) down by our negative or critical attitudes and words? Do we add a dark cloud of worry wherever we go? Or instead, do we lift people’s spirits with our happy dispositions and words of encouragement? Do we cast a ray of sunshine instead of an unwelcome shadow?

If you’re like me, it may be a mixture of both. Sometimes our families get an up-close and personal taste of the negative side of our personalities. Hopefully, those are balanced out by all the positive influences we bring into their lives.

Let’s make sure our shadows—whether with family or with the world in general—are the kind people run to, the kind that provide shade and welcome relief.

Let’s cast shadows that people welcome with open arms.

“O LORD, you are my God . . . You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.” Isaiah 25:1a, 4a

*Who has cast a positive shadow in your life?

*My photo