How We Can Spark Our Creativity

Spending time being creative

Do you need to kick start your creativity? A few years ago I wrote this post. But right now I needed to read it again. Maybe you do too.

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The last month has been one of change — in my thinking, in my reading, in my writing and most of all in my decision to try to spend more time with my creative side.

After running and organizing a small Vacation Bible School this summer for the 7th time, I finally realized that this is what I LOVE. Truly love. But I also realize that I am not as young as I used to be. Physically the week pushed me beyond my limits. Thankfully God is good and in His strength I excelled.

Creativity

Creativity

Where do I go from here?

My desire is not just for myself. I want others to join me to find their creative side — parents and children.

I have decided to restart my 33 dots challenge (inspired by Meg Konovska). This time I would love others to join me. Who is interested? Even if you don’t share your results, the experience is exciting.

I am going to try to do 33 dots for 33 pictures. But I don’t plan to do this in 33 days. I have a number of them already. But yesterday I started again. I will do 33. And I will share them too.

The Plan of 33 Dots – One way to stir creativity

Take any sheet of white paper, and put down 33 random dots. Don’t look. Then after that, take a look and draw connecting lines between the dots without crossing any lines. Then look at the result. Turn the paper around. See if you can “see” anything. If not, put it down and come back later.

Since I am a Christian, I love to do this with prayer. I pray first. Then look. Then decide what I see. I know sometimes I have had to put it away for a time and come back later.

Step One — the dots and connecting – on the way to creativity

Creativity

What do you see?

Step Two — the drawing

This is the part where I need to “see”. What can I see with those shapes and lines?

Creativity

I add other shapes as well. But the basic contour is still there.

Step Three — the colouring

This is the result. I used watercolour on 140-pound paper.

Creativity

Everyman — Perseverance

Step four — the interpretation

I have learned that listening to God helps me see what He wants me to see.

I have called this painting “Everyman — Perseverance”.

These are my thoughts. You may seem something entirely different.

I notice that his hands are out and facing up. To me, this is lifting everything to God. And I try to make that posture.

Do we get distracted in our daily lives? I do.

This is all the stuff that is around me and why I am pitching more and more. What do I really need anyway?

His eyes show me excitement and exhilaration. He is happy and anticipating good things. He is moving step by step.

But I also see one leg is lagging — almost being pulled along. I know this from the way things distract me. I want to keep moving forward but I am held up sometimes. Thank goodness my leg is attached to the rest of my body. And even though I might be straining at times, I will move forward.

My prayer:

All photos are my own.

Join us at Monthly Art Creations on Facebook and do a month of Prompts. We will also help beginners. Let’s be creative.

Other posts on 33 dots. – Rabbit

Another post on 33 dots – A snuggly

 

 

The Mighty Planner – a poem

A Poem

The poem, “The Mighty Planner”, below was inspired after reading scripture.

Mighty Planner

From Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabernacle

Lord God
Mighty Planner
Ruler of all

From Creation
through to 
New Creation

You knew
everything
before it happened

The Tabernacle
built to
Your specifications

Every part of it
every detail
made for a reason

Even John the Baptist’s
death with his followers
lost and confused

But John’s legacy 
and teachings
prevailed

Foreshadowing 
what would happen
after Jesus’ death

His resurrection
The Holy Spirit helped
his followers prevail

Through persecutions
through the millennia
Right up to the time of His New Creation.

©Janis Cox 2020

I visited a live reenactment of the Tabernacle while visiting Arizona. You can read about the experience in The Tabernacle.

Written after studying:

Psalm 99; Exodus 39:32-43; Matthew 14:1-12

Join me in reading through the Bible in three years.

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Happy Thanksgiving 2020

Happy Thanksgiving 2020 and a Poetry Linkup

Wishing you all God’s blessings today and always. May you cherish God’s creation, friends and family. Thanksgiving 2020.

Thanksgiving 2020

We will be celebrating Thanksgiving online this year. Photo is from Haliburton United Church, Canada.

If you need prayer, please email me at Janis.

Blessings

Janis

Another Thanksgiving in 2015  – 

Here is my poem for today. Another abecedarian.

Peace

Another
Beautiful
Calm
Day

Enlightenment
Followed
Giving God
What happened

Inside
Jumbles had
Kept my 
Life
Messy

Not God, as He
Opened
Peace
Quietness

Restored my
Spirit

Touched my soul
Unfurled the
Veil
Which
Exposed my
Yearning for a 
Zealous God

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Four Lessons Learned

Four Lessons from “The Little Engine That Could”

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A while ago I wrote this article on another platform. I thought you would enjoy it and learn what a little book can teach us. It’s amazing what lessons we can learn from children’s books.

This past weekend I had the delightful job to read to my 3-year-old granddaughter. She chose “The Little Engine That Could”. Not only do I remember reading this book to my children but I remember reading it as a child. And I remember reading to my grade ones when I taught school.

The history of the book goes through several versions until Arnold Munk with the pen name of Watty Piper, wrote and had it published in 1930. Lois Lenski did the first pictures. An updated version, published in 1954 had colourful illustrations by George and Doris Hauman. This is the version I remember and the one that is on the children’s bookshelf.

As I read the story to my granddaughter I got excited about how the story built up emotion and taught lessons on the way.

The story is about a little train who wants to bring presents over the hill to children in another town. They are patiently and excitedly awaiting their gifts. However, on the way to the town, the little engine breaks down. The toys are very upset and the funny little clown sets off to find another train to help them.

As they go to the different trains asking for help, I thought about all the things we put faith in here on earth instead of what God would want us to.

Four Faith Lessons from Four Trains

We put much status into buying new things. There is always a new widget or gizmo that we want to have. Cellphones and computers top the list for new innovations and the need to have the latest model.

This release of new gizmos is gaining momentum each year.

When I stop to think about it we purchased our first computer in 1989 — it was an amazing TI99 4/A. And we watched it on our TV. (Hubby and I are trying to remember all this.) I know we purchased a used Apple IIe after that. I think I did some early programming on that machine. It couldn’t do much but it fascinated me.

Lessons

TI99 4/A similar to the one we had.

Lessons

Apple IIe like our second computer.

But ever since those first computers, things have moved swiftly forward. Newer and better.

Do we look down on things that aren’t perfect and shiny; that aren’t new?

Personally, I love refurbishing old things to make them new. I like things that are made of wood not plastic.

Lessons

My grandfather’s end table that I refurbished years ago.

When we were younger we didn’t take a car loan. Instead, we bought used cars and saved our money. As long as the car ran that’s all that mattered. We still often buy used cars because the depreciation on a new vehicle is ridiculous. Check it out before you decide on your next vehicle.

But the shiny New Engine didn’t want to help the little toy train because he was too special — too proud. He looked down on the little train and said a resounding “NO”.

2.) Next comes a Big Engine:

We always think might is right and power makes things happen. But if we look throughout history we see the powerful fall from their towers. They topple down. They can’t keep up the illusion.

“Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’ “But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day (Deuteronomy 8:17–18, The Message).”

Bigger is better, right? Let’s look at the monster homes of this age.

Why do we need so much space? What’s the purpose?

When we downsized from our family home (the first time), we bought a small townhome. I enjoyed the two years we lived there. There was more time to get out and do things — not being tied to looking after a big home.

Bigger isn’t better. Look at your needs, not at your wants. Enjoy what you have now. Save for the future. Take experiences (playing in the park, walking somewhere new) instead of putting out big bucks for new and big items.

I thought about the Christian church — bigger is not always better. In fact when you get so many people joining how can you be sure that they are in fellowship with one another?

I love this article:

But the Big Engine says he is too important and won’t “pull the likes of you”.

Sometimes we do get tired and defeated. We figure we are too old, or not useful. The defeatist attitude stalks our every moment.

I think these thoughts need to be taken captive as I have learned that Christ gives me strength.

Here is a great article on Crosswalk.com about taking your thoughts captive:

A couple of years ago I volunteered to run a VBS at our church. From the first day, I caught a really bad cold and cough. I didn’t know how I was going to keep going. I kept praying. And I kept going.

The minister set up a microphone system so I could talk softly into it and the kids could hear me. Actually, I found the entire week filled with peace. The kids sensed the need to work well and quietly. We had fun.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13, NIV).”

But the Rusty Old Engine sighed and said he could not. He was too tired and weary.

A Little Blue Engine comes chugging merrily along. The dolls and toys don’t have to ask this train for help, she asks them what’s wrong. She tells them she isn’t very big and has never been over the mountain.

Do you sometimes feel that a job is too big for you to handle?
Do you feel overwhelmed with the details and difficulty of the task?

Well, this little engine can teach us lessons.

She thought of what the kids would be missing if this little train didn’t bring the gifts to the boys and girls on the other side of the mountain.

And then she said: I think I can. I think I can. It was a supreme effort but she kept chugging along saying — I think I can.

If there are times you don’t think you can do something — ask Jesus. He is right there to give you the strength, courage or inspiration to get the job done.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might (Ephesians 6:10, NIV).”

If there are times you need to go somewhere or do something you have never attempted, remember from scripture:

“but the righteous are bold as a lion (Proverbs 28:1, NIV).”

Lessons

Bible Art by Janis Cox

And the Little Blue Engine pulled that train up the mountain and down into the town to deliver the presents to the boys and girls.

These were my discoveries as I read this book to my granddaughter. Certainly, there are 4 good life lessons to get from this tiny book.

  1. Don’t be swayed by new things.
  2. Bigger is not necessarily better.
  3. Even when you feel unable to do a task, Jesus can strengthen you.
  4. Say: I think I can. Then be bold and do it.

Repossess -LinkUp – Poetry

Can God Really Repossess Me When I’m Old?

It’s remarkable to me that God did find a way to repossess me when I got older. I hope that happens to all those who haven’t met Him yet.

Repossess

Photo of Janis as a baby

This is a poem of reflection.

Repossess

At birth, I knew God
And He knew me

As we separated
I tore away into the world

Throughout the next years
We met occasionally
Through children’s books
Sunday school songs and stories
Church activities

Through marriage vows
Births of three children
I felt Your power and magnificence

Then it happened
The world and evil intervened
I felt anger and pain
I blamed me and You, Lord

For 17 long years, I held You at arm’s length
I cried out to You only when I needed to

Empty
Forlorn
Stranded

You came along
You led me
You taught me

Then you caught me
Repossessed me
You changed me
And are changing me still

Wholly Yours
I no longer fear
No longer pull away

I seek You every moment
For strength and guidance
For healing and Your power

Thank You for loving me
And wanting to repossess me

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Living in Time Today

Living in Time Today – a Poem

time

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Living in Time Today

Want, desire
The need for more and more.

Stop.

Trying to keep up and
Striving
Hurts the soul.

What is time?

This moment is
The time to live.

Look around you
Count the gifts
Record them.

God says to
Seek Him first.

Then look at the world and
Friends.

Seek caring
Companionship.
Be strengthened
In your faith.

Then you can
Go forth
And speak the
Good News to
All the world
In love,
Grace,
Mercy,
Forgiveness and
Humility.

Today is the
Day to reflect
Pray and
Be transformed.

©Janis Cox 2020

Reading Romans 12:1–8

  1. Offer yourself to God.
  2. Be a non-conformist.
  3. Let God transform your mind.
  4. Find God’s will for your life.
  5. Do not think more highly of yourself.
  6. We are many in Christ, each member belongs to all the others.
  7. Use your gifts wisely.
  8. Use your time wisely.

We can change the world if we join together.

Reading from the stories of Joseph and Moses

To be worthy we need to use the gifts given to us and be content where God puts us.

Remember Joseph — he did not fret while in jail. He used his time wisely. Eventually, he saved the Israelites from starvation.

Moses could have died shortly after birth, but he was saved by his mother and sister. He grew up in the palace. God was preparing him to lead His people.

God is gathering the world together, through the Internet. Let’s not rant and rave.

Let’s write to show others Who God is.

Reading Psalm 124

Praising God for His Help and getting us out of trouble.

Praise the Lord,
who did not let their teeth tear us apart!
We escaped like a bird from a hunter’s trap.
The trap is broken, and we are free!
Our help is from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 124:6–8, NLT)

Blessings,
Janis

May I pray for you and me?

Lord, help us to use the time You give us — wisely. Help us to look to You for direction as our help is truly from the Lord. Guide us, prepare us, transform us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


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Pivot- How God Can Change Our Lives

And To Pivot is Good

It’s been quite the changeable last 6 months. But the last month has really swung me away from what I was doing and allowed me to pivot in a different direction.

Pivot

A sign I bought in a Tennessee book store.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1–2, NIV)

Things are changing — not just in our world but in my life.

Read my poem where this all began.

God is moving me forward but in another direction.

He is taking me on another adventure — a creative one.

For many months, I have felt stifled

I felt something was missing.

I prayed. I prayed more. I listened.

Even though I enjoy this Medium platform I felt something missing from my creative side. Looking at stats — became a game. Posting in groups — another game. But I wasted my time.

All of these things took time away from what God wanted me to do.

I am not sure if I’ll stop writing on Medium (a platform for writers and readers) but certainly, I don’t want to be tied here.

The ropes are off. The chains are gone. I feel free to see where God leads next.

Pivot

Artwork by Janis Cox

Let’s break the chains and let Jesus set us free.

Here are some things that God has led me to do recently. Definitely a pivot from what I was doing.

More Bible Art

This week I have painted and written two pieces in my Bible Journal.

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Bible Art by Janis Cox. Free course available.

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Bible Art by Janis Cox. Free course available.

Tadeo Turtle

I have made a second edition of my first children’s book, Tadeo Turtle. That meant learning InDesign and publishing through KDP.

Tadeo Turtle, winner of The Word Awards in 2013, is a story of a turtle who longs to be different. He is frustrated not being able to run around like some of his friends. This is a story that helps children to know that God created them perfectly.

A review on Amazon from a verified purchase show how much this little book can help children with different abilities to live happy, successful lives.

I love Tadeo Turtle. 🙂 I actually bought him on my kindle to read to my little nephew this Christmas, but my 10 year old daughter fell in love with him as well, so we’ve transferred to her kindle, which is fancier and has better showcase of Janis’s artistic talents. 🙂 My nephew is in kindergarten and he has Autism.

He has already memorized the book and quotes it to his friends. I don’t know if he quite realizes how much it fits for him, with his autism, but the grownups in his life sure do, and we appreciate it! Tadeo’s shell also called to mind devices that help the disabled (since I am disabled), like wheelchairs, leg braces, etc.

Those are things that we may feel self-conscious of, as children and as grown-ups, but they are God’s blessing to us to help us be all that we can be. This would make a perfect book marketed for special-needs children, as well as a great self-esteem book for all. ~ Renewed Hubby

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Cover of my new book, Tadeo Turtle.

US Amazon
Canadian Amazon

I am working on getting my second children’s book, The Kingdom of Thrim, republished.

Publisher

Me? A publisher? That is a pivot from writing on a blog.

I have a publishing company named, Butterfly Beacons.

There is a story behind the name. The butterfly symbolizes freedom in Christ. The beacon is the Light that He shines in this world and I am trying to shine it too.

Sunday Stillness Link – A poetry linkup

There is a link for others to share poetry from Medium or their blogs.

Sunday Stillness is for poets who are Christian. Join us and read poetry from others. Remember to use your friend’s link if you link to your Medium post.

God made us to be creative.

Where does your creativity lie?
Is it buried beneath stuff?
How will you work to release it?
Do you need to pivot from what you are doing?

Deanne Michelle Welsh called me a “Creativity Catalyst”. I want to get back on that path. I strayed too far on the social media, admin side. Now I am free.

Blessings,
Janis

May I pray for you and me?

Father, we wish to be in your will for our lives. Help us to focus on You first. Then help us take a leap of faith and go where you are calling. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

From the Beginning to End

From the Beginning to End – an Abecedarian Poem

From the beginning to end

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

After reading my scriptures for the morning, God inspired me to write this abecedarian poem. Starting from the beginning with “a” and running to the end with “z”.

The scriptures were: Psalm 119:97-104, Numbers 11:1-9, Romans 16:17-20.

From the Beginning to End

After the
Beginning of
Creation
Death
Entered.

Fast forward.

God
Has a plan
In order to save us.

Jesus came to
Keep our relationship alive.

Love
Moves
Neighbours to
Open their hearts
Partnering with God.

eQuip others with life.
Rescue those who don’t know HIm.

Salvation is for anyone.

Teaching
Understanding by

Visions and by the
Word.

Excitement abounds for
Young and old

Zed – the End.

©Janis Cox 2020

Psalm 119:97-104 is about paying attention to the Word of God. It’s an acrostic poem with the alphabet in Hebrew. This one is MEM – meaning water.

I thought of how God’s Word waters our souls.

Numbers 11:1-9 talks about the grumbling of God’s people. God is very angry and sends fire that burns the surrounding area. Fire – the anger of God.

Let’s remember not to complain. We can set our requests before God but do not grumble.

Romans 16:17-20 is the theological application of the story of man’s fall.

From the Beginning to the End – Alpha and Omega.

The Deceiver smooth-talked Adam and Eve into disobeying God’s rule. But the last line says that:

“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet”. (NIV)

Discontent can ruin our lives. God’s peace and grace saves our lives.

Blessings,
Janis

May I pray for you and me?

Father, we thank You for Your Word. We know it waters our souls. We know we shouldn’t grumble but trust in Your plan and wisdom. You can see everything from the beginning to the end. Creation to New Creation. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

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How Can I Hear From God Today?

To hear from God we need to be still.
Hear from God

Stillness – How to Hear from God

Being still
So hard to do

Stop
Pause
Release

Drop shoulders
Slow heart rate
Focus on Jesus

Come, Lord Jesus

Deep breath
Then another

Feel the tension ease
Let go of all thoughts
Except for Jesus
He is My Strength
And My Shield

The cares of this world
Bounce off His shield

I am protected
His power flows
Through my body
He and I are so close

Sh h h

God says,
“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper.” (Isaiah 54:17, KJV)

You, Jesus, completely cover me

Peace
Put
Everything
Aside
Christ
Enters

©JanisCox 2020

Written after reading morning scriptures.

To hear from God comes from waiting. It comes from reading God’s Word. It comes from prayer.

Psalm 28

You are my strength and my shield from every danger.
When I fully trust in you, help is on the way. (Psalm 28:7a, TPT)

Matthew 8

Even the wind and waves obey his Word. (Matthew 8:27, TPT)

Blessings,
Janis

May I pray for you and me?

Father, thank You for teaching us through Your Word. Thank You for bringing us to understand Who You are. Help us to slow down and find peace in listening to You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Janis is a writer, podcaster and author/illustrator.
If you want to join in reading the Bible in 3 years, join her Facebook group, Growing Through God’s Word.

Today is Sunday Stillness Linky Party – for Poetry. Add your poems and read others. To make sure you always get the email reminder sign up here.

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Stress? 9 Simple Ways To Reduce It

How Do You Handle Stress?

Stress had grabbed my entire body.

Stress

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Recently I realized I had been making my days to be full with no time to just sit and breathe. I would either be on the computer, painting, doing woodworking, making meals, seeing shows, dancing, going for walks or at the gym. S

I read the newspaper during breakfast.

I checked my phone at lunch.

It was only at dinner that hubby and I turned off our devices and concentrated on talking. That usually led to fact-checking on the computer. lol 🙂

My husband and I seldom get mad at each other — certainly not yelling. But this week it happened. I lost my temper — big time.

I felt tired, anxious, upset and mad.

This had happened before!

I wrote about how I felt and how not to get into that situation again. I was stressed.

I’ve written before about that lesson. I have to keep reviewing the lessons myself.

Why Do Fights Start and How to Stop Them?

But I realized seeing the stress is not enough.

I needed to look at this deeper. To look at days gone by and learn again so I don’t go down into this mire again. God teaches us to remember in His Word.

Remember your history,
    your long and rich history. (Isaiah 46:9, MSG)

Former memories

This past week reminded me of years ago.

As soon as we started our business, I went back to work as a part-time teacher because there had to be some income and extra health benefits and life insurance. In our second year of business, I went back to full-time teaching while still helping with the business. I also took courses for credit in my teaching profession. And I signed up to be the one in charge of all the athletics in our school.

Family Life

We had three kids ages 14, 12 and 8. They were in three different schools at one time; high school, junior high and public school. Juggling all those balls took a toll on me, and wrecked my body because I didn’t know how to stop taking on too many things.

I didn’t know I needed to stop.

I didn’t know how to stop.

Over the next five years, my health took a slide downwards.

I couldn’t walk upstairs (knee problems). Lifting my hand above my shoulder (writing on the blackboard became increasingly difficult). I developed TMJ (Temporomandibular joint dysfunction) so my jaw was very sore. Because I clenched my teeth at night,  my whole body ached.

I got angry easily. I yelled. I complained. I ranted.

I was fearful, and not healthy.

I felt stressed every minute of the day.

I was a mess.

Stress

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

I decided to take a half-time position in teaching to see if that helped. I visited a physiotherapist and massage therapist.

But I still kept doing things.

I didn’t stop.

I decided to take a leave of absence from teaching for 2 years. But I went back to our business and upgraded our technology, expanded our office space, and hired two employees. I didn’t stop.

It took some time but finally, I understood.

Two things happened

  1. I saw the problem.
  2. I worked at the problem.

A decorative plate reminded me to “stop and smell the roses”. This is what finally helped me — to slow down, take breaks, be still.

We still have this plate in our collection.

stress

From my personal collection.

In this world that seems to be running faster and faster, we need to STOP.

The quality of time you have for downtime is important to your mental and physical health. It helps deal with stress.

Here are 9 ways to reclaim your peace and health and reduce stress

  • Take breaks during the day. Even 10 minutes can refresh your spirit, mind and soul. Take a stroll (notice I didn’t say walk) through somewhere green — with life surrounding you. Dance around for a few minutes to release tension.
  • Take deep breaths once an hour to bring in the needed oxygen to your brain.
  • Plan vacations. Even small times away can refresh our bodies and spirits.
  • Date nights. If you are married, plan date nights with your spouse. Honestly, we forget to do that in our hurried lifestyles. Soon we drift apart. Be there to just be there, to enjoy each others’ company.
  • Turn off social media. This has been something that takes away from life — it doesn’t give life. We crave the dopamine that it elicits and we want more. We check our phones way too often. [I am guilty of this.]
  • Make a list. Sit down and look at all that you do. List everything out. Then circle the things that give you pleasure. Put a line under the things that have to be done anyway. See what remains. See if you can drop those things.
  • My Quiet spot. Whatever you want to call this — find time to be in a quiet spot. If you are a Believer, then sit with Jesus. Discuss things. If you are not, then sit with yourself and talk to yourself. And in both cases LISTEN to what you hear.
  • Read. Get a good book and plan time to sit and read. Not scan like we tend to do on computers. But read the book for enjoyment — not for what you can write about it later. lol 🙂 [I am at fault for this.]
  • Listen or play music. That has a very calming effect on our souls. Classical music is wonderful to enjoy.

I am not there yet. As I read over my thoughts I need to do at least 4 things. Hopefully, as I do these my mind, body and spirit will recover. I especially need to focus on number 6.

 

To keep stress at bay I need to stop and smell the roses.

How about you?

My favourite verse from the Bible:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV)

May I pray for you and me?

Lord, there are so many opportunities to “do” things. All may be good but all might not be in Your will or purpose for us. Help us to focus on Your voice so we can choose only those things that will do Your will. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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If you want to join a group that studies God’s Word together come over to Facebook, Growing through God’s Word.

Watch for Sunday’s post – it has a linky for sharing your Christian poetry.

Blessings,

Janis