7 September Stress-Busters

With Labor Day behind us and summer officially over, let’s kick off the rest of September with a few stress-busters to keep at the ready. With the return of regular routines and full schedules, stress is bound to creep back in as well. We might as well be prepared, right?

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

September Stress-Busters

  1. Pull out your fall décor and celebrate the coming change of season. A new season has a way of invigorating and refreshing us, especially when it involves the cooler days following summer. Even if you’re not seeing or feeling the signs of the season yet, joy and fresh energy will bubble up as you light your favorite fall candle and look forward to the season.
  2. Take a break and enjoy your summer photos and videos. Sometimes we’re so busy squeezing in as much summer fun as we can that we don’t have time to enjoy the photos we captured in the midst of it. Give yourself a chance to do it now. Relive your memories. Smile, laugh, and linger over all your precious remembrances—of the summer and even earlier times as well. Enjoy!
  3. Attend a sporting event and root for your favorite team. Whether it’s football, soccer, or late-season baseball, re-energize yourself with the fun of cheering on your team with like-minded friends and family. Leave any stress behind and just have fun!
  4. Take a drive outside of town and go down a road you’ve never taken before. Let the milder temperatures inspire you to explore new territory. You won’t have to go far to find a road you’ve never traveled. Stop along the way and snap some photos or simply enjoy the sounds of country life.
  5. Enjoy some of your favorite fall comfort foods. When cooler days present themselves, bake your favorite cookies during down time at home or start a pot of chili or favorite soup before you head out the door. Savor each warm and yummy bite.
  6. Treat yourself to a nap. Sometimes all you need to bust stress before it takes a firm hold is a little extra rest. Grab your pillow and snuggle down on the sofa. If it’s cool enough, grab your favorite comfy blanket or afghan as well. Close your eyes and give in to sleep, glorious sleep.
  7. Step away from the demands of life and enjoy your favorite hobby. Whether it’s reading, biking, knitting, or taking photos, it’s important to carve out some time to do something that recharges your spirit. When you come back to your to-do list, you’ll feel more relaxed and energized for your tasks.

Along with these strategies for September, don’t forget the ultimate stress-buster that works year round—quiet time with the Lord. Reading his Word, pouring out your heart in prayer and praise, and enjoying quiet moments with him outside in his glorious creation will all certainly refresh you and set your heart at peace. With him you’ll find true refreshment and relief!

“‘I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.’” Jeremiah 31:25 NIV

*What stress-buster works do you most look forward to this fall?

*Flickr photo by infomastern, Creative Commons License

Guest Blogger Julie Gillies: Let’s Choose Brave


I’d like to welcome writer friend and author Julie Gillies to my blog today as she shares an excerpt adapted from her recently released book From Hot Mess to Blessed. I’ve already read the book and it’s filled with biblical wisdom, encouragement, and hope. I pray Julie’s words bless you today!

Let’s Choose Brave

Bravery has ripple effects. We rarely consider this (at least I don’t) because we’re so caught up in the everyday and the here and now. Life’s daily battles are intense, and sometimes it’s all we can do to remain focused and keep plowing forward. Yet our courageous choices act as a gleaming machete, slicing a path through the thick jungle of fear that entangles and trips.

Choosing brave helps us fully believe and embrace and pursue God’s promises while inspiring those around us and making a way for those behind us.

A key component in learning to embrace bravery is praying brave prayers—prayers that focus less on avoiding fear or keeping fear away from us and more on courage and confidence and holy mettle. Though we might not always feel fearless, by praying for specific qualities from Scripture, we can fear less.

– Instead of praying that fear will be far from us, we can pray for strong, bold, and very courageous hearts (see Joshua 1:9) when fear comes near.

– Instead of asking God to remove all the sources of fear in our lives, we can pray for His grace to run toward the big, scary things with great courage (see 1 Samuel 17:48).

– Instead of praying that fear will leave us alone, we can pray that when we are afraid, we will have confidence and put our reliance on God (see Psalm 56:3).

– Instead of asking God for all fear in our lives to vanish, we can pray that His peace that surpasses all understanding will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus—and supersede all fear (see Philippians 4:6-7).

– Instead of feeling alone and fearful, we can pray to consistently remember God is with us, and we don’t have to fear. King David declared, “The Lᴏʀᴅ is for me, so I will have no fear” (Psalm 118:6 ɴʟᴛ).

I think I need to write the above verse on a Sticky Note and attach it to my forehead. If I had it my way, I’d never wrestle with fear again. It would be completely and permanently eradicated from my life (Can I get an amen?). But this side of eternity, I don’t know how realistic that goal is. I think we will all have times when we must battle fear, but it is always for a purpose.

Facing down fear teaches us how to engage the enemy, to fight, to stand, and to prevail. So be beautifully clothed in His mighty strength and the holy dignity He lavishly provides. Laugh without a care, free from fear’s taunts and digs. I see us—hot messes though we may yet be—laughing beautiful, musical laughs, heads tossed back, and hearts lifted toward heaven because we have nothing to fear.

This is an adapted excerpt from the book, “From Hot Mess to Blessed: Hope to Propel Your Soul and the Promises that Change Everything”, Harvest House Publishers 2017. Used with permission.

*Question from Cheryl: What situation in your life is God calling you to choose brave for today?

Julie K. Gillies is the author of From Hot Mess to Blessed: Hope to Propel Your Soul and the Promises that Change Everything and the devotional, Prayers for a Woman’s Soul. Healed from a traumatic childhood, Julie’s message helps women pray, know, and believe God’s Word. Julie is the joyful wife of Keith, mom of two soldiers and one civilian, and Grammy of four. She loves bicycling , any day without humidity, and hanging out with the entire family at home, especially on days when her house is clean. Find FREE resources and connect with Julie at www.JulieGillies.com .

*Photos courtesy of author.

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

Ever-Ready Refreshment

Have you noticed how we set our sights on the summer months for periods of rest and refreshment, for times to recharge? We take breaks from regular activities and make efforts to get away from home for a while, whether to a vacation destination or a trip to see family or friends. We long for a change and a chance to catch our breaths.

Sometimes that works for us and sometimes it doesn’t. Life may have other plans. We may not get to go on that getaway. Or sometimes we go, but for whatever reason, it doesn’t provide the rest and refreshment we desired and needed.

Whether our plans to refresh and recharge work for us or not, we can take comfort in the fact that nature’s ever-ready refreshment is within our grasp each day. And that, my friends, is a truth that inspires poetry. Hope my latest blesses you!

Ever-Ready Refreshment

Just outside my door I find it
nature’s own remedy,
a ready retreat
an instant vacation
the ever-ready refreshment I need.
When my body needs fresh energy
or my spirit needs a lift,
when my soul cries for God’s own touch
the great outdoors soon beckons me.
A few steps and moments later
the very air around me changes
as I pass from indoors to out,
as I breathe in nature’s tonic.

The miracles in God’s world around me
never disappoint,
as I listen for the song of birds
or hear the wind sashaying through the trees.
The sights, the smells, the sounds, the feel,
and yes, the taste of God’s ever-ready refreshment
set my weary heart to singing,
re-energizes me once again.
And I found it all
just outside my door.

I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” Jeremiah 31:25 NIV

What aspect of creation particularly refreshes you? The ocean? The mountains? Maybe the wide-open fields or the forest? Perhaps flowers? Do tell!

The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, comes out tomorrow. It’s not too late to receive it (though you won’t be eligible for the giveaway until the next issue.) 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

A Prayer for Your Summer Plus My May Blogging Break

As I mentioned in my Spirit and Soul Refreshment for Busy Lives post a couple of weeks ago, May can be one of the busiest months of the year. And this year is no exception for me. Probably not for you either, huh?

To do my part in allowing a little breathing room, I’m taking a blogging break the last half of this month. So no worries if it appears I’ve abandoned my blog over the next couple of weeks. I’ll be back with regular weekly posts sometime when June is bustin’ out all over. Let’s say June 6th. June should be in full bustin’ mode by then, right?

Before I break away, though, I’d love to pray for us all as we prepare to head into summer and all that it holds. May this prayer be a blessing to you as we gear up for the upcoming summer season. Feel free to keep it handy to give needed encouragement and refreshment as the days and weeks unfolds.

Pray with me, won’t you?

Lord, you are the Maker of every season and we thank you for the gift of summer. It’s a time to break from many of our normal routines and enjoy more time outdoors in your glorious creation, more time with our families and friends, and more opportunities for travel adventures. Thanks so much for such a wonderful gift.

Guide us, Lord, as we make plans. Help us not to pack so much into the fleeting weeks of summer that we end up feeling stressed rather than refreshed. And please grant your blessing, Lord, that all logistics for special activities and travels will flow smoothly so we can have truly refreshing times instead of those marked by frustration or disappointment. We don’t take mercies like this for granted so we ask humbly and thank you in advance.

Please protect us, Lord, as we do things like hike and swim and play sports. Watch over us, please, in our travels so that we will arrive safely at every destination. Protect us as well from our enemy Satan as he continues to try to undermine our relationship with you and with others. He doesn’t take a season off. Please surround us with your protection.

And finally, Lord, please bless us with lots of sweet times with you and with loved ones this summer. Grant us memories that will make us smile for years to come and also grant us periods of rest that will refresh and re-energize us to get back to normal routines in the fall. And may we shine the light of your love everywhere we go and in all that we do. May you be glorified in our summer, O Lord! In your precious name we pray, Amen.

“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us” Psalm 67:1 NIV

*Do you have any special plans or activities that you’re looking forward to this summer? I’d love to hear about it!

The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out early this month. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*My photo (taken in the Cleveland Botanical Garden)