7 October Stress-Busters

After posting 7 September Stress-Busters last month, I thought it might be nice to offer month-appropriate stress busters each month throughout this next year. Stress certainly doesn’t take a vacation, so many of us might benefit from some fresh stress-busters at the beginning of every month, huh?

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

October Stress-Busters

  1. Enjoy a fun fall activity with some favorite kiddos in your life. Visit a pumpkin patch, collect colorful leaves, or carve pumpkins for Halloween. Enjoy the season like a kid again!
  2. Decompress with the beauty—and awesome autumn scents—of candlelight. Light candles in various spots in your house so their soothing beauty and comforting aromas will refresh you as you move from room to room.
  3. After the leaves change color, go on a walk in the woods (or your favorite tree-lined street or park.) Let the awesome oranges, reds, and golds fill your spirit with joy.
  4. Spend an entire day (or morning or evening) in your favorite comfy pants and cozy socks. As you change into your relaxed attire and let it comfort your body, take off the stress of the day or week as well. Let your spirit and soul relax and be refreshed.
  5. Plan a coffee or lunch date with friends and treat yourselves to some special foods or drinks offered during fall. Get that pumpkin spice latte or apple cinnamon muffin. Slow down and savor a taste of autumn.
  6. Watch for an especially cool evening and start a fire in the fireplace or firepit. Sit for awhile and soak up its warmth and relaxing beauty. And don’t forget to roast some marshmallows or make some smores. Fully enjoy this evening respite.
  7. Let the cool evenings of October give you permission to curl up on the sofa with your favorite hot drink and a good book (or a must-see tv show.) Lose yourself—and your stress—in a compelling or funny story. Enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labor.

Along with these stress-busting strategies for October, let’s not forget to turn to the One who knows every stress we face and is willing and waiting to take the load from us and let us relax in his arms. No better place to be—no matter the day or month!

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Deuteronomy 33:27

*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 dan.kristiansen, Creative Commons License

The Divine Lookout

Are you on the lookout for a certain item at all times? Some of us are always quick to notice a good recipe while others gravitate toward a great coupon, a super bargain, or maybe a giveaway or an e-book temporarily offered for free.

Some of us also stay alert for less tangible things like a recommendation for an amazing book or tips on a particular area of interest. Since I’ve started blogging, I’m always on the lookout for new material for blog posts. In fact, my family and friends now live with the reality that some of their interactions with me might just make their way to the blog!

But we’re not the only ones on the lookout. God is on the lookout, too. He’s on the lookout for people. He is our Divine Lookout.

Consider these scriptures to see who God searches for:

“‘. . . who is he who will devote himself to be close to me?’ declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 30:21b

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’” Isaiah 6:8a

“For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9a

And we must not forget the parables in Luke 15 about the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son—all of which illustrate God’s continual efforts to go after and save the lost or to scan the horizon, waiting with open arms to welcome a returning child.

Where do each of us fall in the sights of the Divine Lookout? Are we among those who are lost, who have never given our hearts to him in faith, or is he watching for us because we have strayed away? Maybe he’s seen that we are fully committed to him, and he stands ready to imbue us with his strength. Or possibly we’re the ones who will answer his call for devotion or go in his name to the place where he sends us.

Let’s never hide from the Divine Lookout. Let’s always be ready to be found or answer his call. There’s no better place to be than with him.

“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:11

*I hope you were blessed by this encore post from Sept. 2011!

*Flickr photo by Dave Morrow’s Custom CreationsCreative Commons License

Rock-Solid Words of Hope

Many around the world are in need of hope today. Their situations look bleak if not impossible. They are struggling to hang on to hope.

Right here in our country, countless folks in Florida and Texas are dealing with the aftermath of hurricane force winds, tornadoes, and the floodwaters that came with Irma and Harvey. Some may feel that all hope slipped away with the winds and waters that wreaked such havoc on their lives. And in yet other parts of the country, people are battling wildfires.

Others of us may be in need of hope right now for different reasons. If you fall into that group, this post is for you as well as for all of those struggling to regain their footing after their foundations literally got blown or washed or burned away.

The truest and most powerful words of hope I can share with you come straight from the Word of God. God’s Word is a firm foundation. His promises are rock-solid. May the following scriptures inspire fresh hope and strengthen your faith today, my friends!

“. . . I am the LORD; those who hope in me will not be disappointed.” Isaiah 49:23

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

“‘There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the valley of Achor [trouble] a door of hope.’” Hosea 2:15

“As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.” Psalm 71:14

“Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.” Zechariah 9:12

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him . . .” Romans 15:13

Praise God for the hope we have in him!

*Which of these verses speak to you most powerfully today?

*Since September is an exceptionally busy month for me this year, I’m taking a short break and will be back on the 26th. Maybe you can take a look at my list of Favorite Posts (sidebar) and read some posts from there. Blessings!

*Flickr photo by Our Enchanted Gardens, Creative Commons License

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

*Which stress-busters 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.