With winter comes cold weather. Cold weather means I bundle up even more than usual. It also leads to our 6-month old puppy not getting as many walks. That translates into a bored, more destructive puppy.


Tired of our socks and Kleenix being demolished at every turn, I braved the cold weather and walked the dog this week — consistently. Okay, I know it hasn’t been that wintry in our area yet, but I’m chilly when it’s 55 degrees!


I’ve enjoyed the cold walks. Granted the first half mile I walk a more brisk pace in an attempt to keep hypothermia at bay (perhaps a slight exaggeration). Then the next two miles, I start unzipping my coat and wish I hadn’t worn so many layers.


As the dog and I stroll along, I’ve felt a peace. All the worries or stresses of the day melt away as I observe the beauty of God’s creation around me. With school in session and technology interruptions left at home, nothing intrudes on my time to just be.


It’s been a good reminder to me that in the midst of life’s daily demands, there is tremendous value in taking time out to enjoy the simple things in life. Whether it’s only fifteen minutes or an hour, the benefit is terrific. It gives us a chance to gain a bit of renewal, so we can continue our day with rejuvenation.


So take time to refresh yourself today. You’ll be glad you did!


Recently I remodeled my home office. The before pictures resembled a perfect case for the clutter police.


Apparently there was a time that I must have thought more is better. My walls were plastered with so many things my head spun looking at them. Paperwork piles spilled onto my floors like a gigantic bucket of Legos dumped onto the floor. My craft table held a plethora of items — none of which had to do with crafts. And at one time, I even fit a treadmill in the cluttered room. This room has always overwhelmed me.


It was time to attack it once and for all and dig in. My husband beamed when he saw me bring out trash bag after trash bag. My daughter wondered who stole her mother as she exclaimed, “This isn’t like you mom!”


My husband graciously built me closet organizers, and painted my walls while I shopped for the perfect wall decor — not too much, nothing overwhelming. I wanted a room to relax for my quiet times, a room where I would want to escape and write, and even melt when the stresses of life overwhelmed me.


After four months, my office is done. It’s perfect! My love for the beach is my theme. The colors are soothing while the message to “Relax” is tactfully placed on each wall. Not too much, not too little. I can melt in my beach-type sitting area. Now I look back at the before pictures and wonder how I existed with so much clutter in this room just a few short months ago.


It’s easy to allow our lives to fill up with clutter. We get accustomed to how it feels and looks and it becomes our normal. When we recognize it, overwhelming feelings can threaten to take us under. But don’t let them! Keep your head up and get out the garbage bags to remove what weighs you down!


Time flies faster than anything. The demands of life are relentless. Schedules overflow. In the midst of it all, our children grow up quickly. Precious moments in time with our children threaten to loose their memory as the next thing barrels in.

Time snatchers. They come when you least expect them, sneak up on you, and threaten to steal your moments. Sometimes they win, other times they fail. How can we let them fail more often? Here are few helpful tips:

1. Overcommitted? Repeat after me, “No.” “No!” “NO!” Understand the world won’t fall apart if you say no to a good thing. It just allows another person an opportunity they didn’t have before.

2. Overloaded schedule? Does your day-planner resemble a Chicago O’Hare airport departure monitor? Hit the delete key and truly ask yourself what can be rescheduled? What isn’t that important? A hurried person is a stressed person. If you fall into that category, see #5 below.

3. Overwhelmed? Society’s pace brews this automatically. Take moments to just be. Remember to breathe. Listen to some calming music. If small children make this difficult, put them in bed a few minutes earlier so you have an opportunity to relax in the evening. They aren’t tired, you say? Give them a book to look at or read in their room. It teaches them the value of down time as well.

4. Worried? Let those buggers go. Let God take care of those things–you don’t have control over them anyway. Glenn Turner said, “Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere.” John Lubbock refers to a day of worry as being “more exhausting than a day of work.” So, let it go.

5. Stressed? Are demands causing you to squeeze the stress ball until it burst? Relax. See #3 above. Give God your day before you start and let go of those things that cannot be accomplished. God may have ordained them to be done in a few weeks–not now. “A time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.” (Sydney J. Harris)

Lily Tomlin gives this advice, “For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.” Easier said than done, I know. Life does not give out free time. Instead, it steals our time like a vacuum. So, what can we do? Unplug the power cord! It is possible. Go for a walk with your kids. Play catch in the backyard. Go for a family bike ride. Who knows, you might even have some fun!