Depression · Refreshment · Winter

Ten Ways To Refresh a Dreary Winter Day

Did you know that “January Funk” is really a thing people deal with? “Funk” is a state of depression. It can be very mild, with just a feeling of the blah’s. It can feel like a gray day has settled in your heart.

I am a lover of warm, sunny days, so wintertime can often feel dreary to me. However, I have a list of ten things that really do bring the sunshine in and lift the winter weariness!

  1. Bible Reading – Shortly after rising, I love to get my coffee, a comfy chair and a lovely view, and start the day with my open Bible and my journal! It gives me something to meditate on all day long! Even though my Chronological reading plan has me in Job right now (not exactly a lifter-upper Book) I am seeing so many wonderful character traits of my awesome God! That’s what I’m meditating on each day!
  2. Light – I let in as much natural light as the temperatures allow. Curtains open, blinds up and when it warms a bit, the front door is swung open! I also have lamps on throughout the house to brighten up dark corners.

3. Plants – Flowers and plants also help to brighten my heart. Sometimes I cut greens from my yard. Sometimes I pick up flowers at the grocery store. I also still love my Wick plants! They are thriving beautifully!

4. Candles – I usually ALWAYS have a candle burning. Right now you can find great deals on candles, so stock up! This three-wick candle smells amazing and cost me $6. It adds light, aroma and warmth to the room!

5. Media. We have an Alexa in three rooms of our home. I have it playing my “Favorites” and I love the variety I hear! I also listen to several podcasts each day. At lunchtime my husband and I also usually always watch Andy Griffith. You just can’t be gloomy when you watch Barney’s antics!

6. Hobbies – It’s no secret that I love to bake. I’ll bake for company coming, or for a friend in need, a neighbor, or even put things in the freezer for later use. I never regret having something baked and stored away! I also work on my watercolor painting hobby, sewing, or scrapbooking. It’s fun to get creative!

7. Productivity – Getting up and getting things done is helpful in improving my outlook. If I get supper in the crockpot early in the day, pop in a load of laundry, work on a radio broadcast, or write a card to stick in the mail, I get energized! It’s great to get things accomplished and even work ahead!

8. Exercise – It was 22 degrees most mornings this week, but also sunny and I decided it was perfect for a walk! I bundled up three days in a row and walked 2.25 miles while I talked to the Lord. It felt good to exercise, talk to the Lord, and get some fresh air!

9. Fellowship = Our small groups are reconvening this week and I think we’re ALL excited about it! Those pies you saw were made for our small group. I usually make something pretty simple, but wanted to kind of celebrate getting back together after a long holiday break. The fellowship with others is so important in encouraging your heart! This is one reason why the Lord wants us to meet together as a Church Body. We need the fellowship and the encouragement, the worship, the corporate prayer and the building up of one another!

10. Ministry to others – It’s easy to get so focused on our own dreariness that we fail to see that others outside our home might need some encouragement, too. Ask the Lord to show you who needs you to reach out to them, and then recognize what their needs might be. As Proverbs 11:25 says, Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.

Friends, God cares about your burdens. He created you and He created the seasons. Talk to Him if you’re feeling down. Ask Him to help you have a right perspective about your season, your surroundings and your sadness.

I hope you’ll add one or more of these ten suggestions and watch your heart be encouraged…even in winter!

What do you do to encourage your heart in a funk? Share it in the comments.

Family life · memories · Refreshment · Vacation tips

The Grace Gift of a Family Vacation

Who doesn’t LOVE going to Pigeon Forge in the Smokey Mountains?! Last weekend we were blessed to gather there for a family vacation. After all the restrictions, I have truly rejoiced each time a planned event actually gets to happen! This time away was our 2020 Christmas gift to our children and their spouses, so we’ve been planning this for many months. What a precious time it was and how full our hearts are after four days and three nights together! This is hard, but I’m just going to share five highlights of the many fun moments we shared.

We opted to have all but one meal in our condo. We divided up the days and mealtimes and each contributed food for that meal. The first night we made it easy and brought pizza in since we had just checked in an hour before. I added a salad to round out the menu. Here is everyone (except my husband who’s taking the picture) at the table. We were a happy clan!

Whitney and I both have September birthdays, so we celebrated with a delicious Lemon-Raspberry Cake from Blackbird Bakery in Bristol, VA. How special to have the whole family there to celebrate with us! That in itself was a precious gift!

For a little added fun, we had a game competition that lasted the whole weekend. That was Whitney’s idea and it turned out to be a great plan! We played Sorry, Dutch Blitz, Spot it, Miniature Golf, Scrabble and Taco, Cat, Goat, Cheese, Pizza. That last game is hilarious and great for a crowd!!!

I loved our game time because it kept us connected even at hours when we were really tired. Instead of scrolling on our phones, we were playing games, laughing ourselves silly, and pushing up our competitive sleeves to gain more points on the scoreboard! Whitney kept an ongoing tally of the winner and second place contestant of each game, and then awarded the first and second place champions on Monday morning. Who do you think won???? Keep reading!

it was really great that the condo has a putt-putt course on site. Beside it is a playground, and just up the way was the pool. It was all literally outside our door! Our little guys enjoyed all of those fun activities and the Lord was gracious to give us beautiful days in which to enjoy it all.

We had several special times in God’s Word and prayer as a family. How sweet to gather together to thank the Lord and also leave our burdens and requests. I’m so thankful for a family who loves Jesus. Equally special was seeing individuals open the Bible in their own little space and spend time with the Lord before our day began. Yes, my heart is full.

I’m not boasting and don’t desire to make you envious of our family time. It was truly a gift from the Lord and we praise Him for it. There are heartaches and burdens, needs and concerns in our family, just like in yours. How precious to be reminded even this week that as the Lord heard Hezekiah’s prayer and told him that He saw his tears, our God hears us and sees our tears, too.

Whatever may be grieving your heart today, refresh your spirit by remembering that the Lord cares and is at work in your life. Cry to Him as Hezekiah did, then watch to see how He will comfort you.

I pray your weekend is refreshing as you fellowship with believers and worship our great God!

Oh, wait…the first place winner of our game competition was Alli, and anyone who knows our family will not be surprised at that! Second place was awarded to her equally competitive mother!

What are some ways you keep everyone connected during family times?

Eternity · Refreshment

Beautiful Things

With so much hardship and struggles in life, it’s easy to overlook the beauty that is all around us. As I took a look back on my week of photos, I found five pictures that reminded me of some beautiful things the Lord allowed me to see this week.

Roses – How gorgeous are the roses above? I purchased them at Kroger and took them to my mom when I visited her and my dad for a few days this week. I cut the greenery in their yard. I love the pink on the edges of the leaves; it just brings out the pink of the roses!

My dad’s love for my mom – After church we went to Applebee’s for dinner and I snapped this picture of him rubbing her back – one of many loving gestures I saw him do for her while I was there. Sixty-six years and counting!

Golden Hour – This stained glass piece at my parent’s is beautiful – especially when the sun is shining through it at sunset.

Morning light – The last morning I was in Kentucky, I looked out my window and the sun was hitting this tree just right. How gorgeous a new day is! How blessed to see the sunrise and watch the light creep into the yard like a little child slipping from their bed and rising to greet their parents.

This is not my obviously not my photo; it belongs to Tara Leigh Cobble, who is leading a tour of Israel. I took a screen shot of her Instagram photo. Since I’ve had the blessing of going to Israel myself, when I saw this picture, I knew immediately that they were on the Sea of Galilee. That boat ride was the highlight of my time in Israel. Its’ beautiful, but it’s also amazing to be on that water and think about Jesus walking on THAT water!

Jesus is the reason for any joy I can experience in this world. Because I have peace with God through Jesus’ finished work on the cross, I can have true joy, even if the day seems bleak and there is no visible beauty. The fact that I am His and He is mine reminds me that this is not all there is. One Day I will live with Him and reign with Him forever. I pray you have that assurance and that joy in your life as well.

Refresh your day by seeing the beauty around you, given by the hands that died for you.

Health · Refreshment

My Fifteen Minute Calisthenic Routine

Oh man, this post is WAY out of the zone of my comfort OR my expertise! Please know that I am no fitness guru as I share this with you! I’m sharing this post because several asked to see my 15-minute routine when I shared this recently about how all the little things add up (and they really do!).

I simply snapped a few photos of what I do to get a little exercise, to keep limber and slightly toned! I’ve been doing these for years. I also try to walk two miles at a brisk pace several times a week. That’s not a lot, but it’s enough to get me outside, keep me moving, and help with bone strength and wellness.

So, if you’re ready, I’ll take a breath and share my simple routine.

Starting with the top left and going across, here’s what I do:

  1. First and second pictures are my sit ups. I do about 30. Hands are at my side so I”m not tempted to pull myself up as I would if my hands were behind my head.
  2. Third picture on top is a stomach killer leg lift. Lay on back and lift legs slowly up and raise until you can touch your toes. Then lower slowly to the floor. I do as many as I can handle, increasing each time.
  3. Long rectangular pictures is a simple routine of touching my toes, side to side. I do 100.
  4. Bottom row, first picture is a squat. Feet slightly apart, keeping spine straight, squat to a slight sitting position, then stand. I do 30.
  5. Bottom row, second picture is a curl from side to side that stretches and trims the waist.
  6. Third pic on bottom is a plank. Hold the position you see in the picture for graduated/increasing times. I’m up to about 1 minute 30 seconds.

Again, I’m no expert, and I’m sure I could be greatly instructed by someone one proficient, but you asked, so there you go!

Are you one who needs to exercise, one who wants to exercise OR are you someone who does exercise? I’d love to know!

Refresh yourself with some calisthenics!

Refreshment · Sabbatical

Sabbatical Fun!

Busy lives don’t lend themselves for time to pursue hobbies. However, our recent sabbatical offered the time to refresh a favorite pasttime.

When I was in high school I took two years of art – not because I was gifted – but because I wanted to learn how to paint. It has been years since I’ve painted anything, but recently I had an itch to try my hand at watercolors. I’ve had so much fun! Here’s my first painting using the cheap watercolors I had on hand from Target! I did purchase watercolor paper so I could blend the colors.

We have so many beautiful barns around us. I decided to snap photos and paint some of them. Here’s the barn that is on my daily walk…

Wow, time painting has been such a blessing. I have a weekly plan to work on my watercolor techniques. I’ve found some great tutorials online that I’m planning on watching. I’m trying to remember that we can each create sabbatical moments! What hobby to do you love that you haven’t taken time for?

We also had the fun of time with my family. We hired a photographer to come and take pictures at my parent’s home. We had never had professional photos taken together. It was a fun and very special evening! I especially love the picture of the back of my parents. Isn’t that sweet?! My mom made the quilt that is in the background (it’s one of MANY she’s made!). Which photo is your favorite?

When we left Kentucky and headed home to Tennessee, we decided to stop for the night in Berea and enjoy the Boone Tavern. I’ve mentioned it before, but this is a super-special place. It is very southern, very elegant, and very restful! Also, their dining room serves amazing meals. If you ever visit, be sure to try their Kentucky Hot Brown! We always leave refreshed and wanting to return! Do you have a special hotel you return to over and over again?

We love sitting outside in the front porch rocking chairs or on the side yard in the shaded garden area. We enjoyed having our morning Quiet Time out there the day we left.

It seems we are always looking for the outdoor spots wherever we are. We love the sunshine and the fresh air!

That’s a wrap for the second week of sabbatical. I hope you’re getting the idea of our time away. Restful, fun, refreshing, and restorative! How we needed it and how thankful we are for that time!

Again, let me remind you that though you many never have a 30-Day sabbatical, we each need to create sabbatical moments. Our minds, hearts and bodies need it so we can press on and serve with strength, energy and a full heart of love for God!

I’d love to hear your answers to the questions I posed in the post!

Refresh your own heart with some fun!