Wednesday, January 18, 2017


"But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord's praise, for he has been good to me."
 —Psalm 13:5-6, NIV

The gray days of winter can dampen our spirits, especially when we fail to maintain a healthy focus.

Our North Carolina winters are mild. There are seldom days when people are housebound due to inclement weather. Personally, I’m a homebody and can stay secluded in my home for a week and never develop cabin fever. Thankfully for me staying in is still a choice. I might respond differently if circumstances such as illness, tragedy, or personal loss dictated my actions.

People who suffer from depression in the winter months, a condition known as SAD (seasonal affective disorder), can experience anxiety, fatigue, and weight gain. Though the causes, symptoms, and severity of SAD may vary, researchers agree that those who suffer have one thing in common—an acute sensitivity to the lack of light.

Although there are other ways to lessen the effects of SAD, I’ve listed a few below to aid in your return to happiness.

o   Go outside as much as possible. Sunlight generates the production of Vitamin D, the body’s natural antidepressant. If physical circumstances limit your ability to go outdoors, sit by a window as much as possible or invest in a sun lamp equipped with special fluorescent tubes that mimic the sun’s beneficial rays.

o   Exercise. Yes, it's that dreaded eight letter word, but regular exercise is a natural and healthy way to counter feelings of depression. Vigorous exercise releases a hormone called endorphins which elevate your mood and make you feel happy.

o   Avoid coffee. Caffeine can cause you to feel stressed and anxious. Green tea, a natural antidepressant, is a healthy alternative. Loaded with antioxidants and nutrients, it improves brain function, fat loss, and potentially lowers the risk of cancer, Type II Diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Drinking a cup of green tea an hour or so before bedtime will serve as a wholesome sleep aide and relax you.

o   Eat plenty of fruit and fiber. Fruit is also a natural antidepressant. Whole grains, brown rice, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and whole wheat pasta are all good choices as they aid in the release of serotonin, a brain chemical that plays a significant role in mood, anxiety, and happiness.

And lastly...

o   Sing. Yes, I said—sing. A 2013 article in Time magazine stated that singing has been scientifically proven to lower stress and reduce anxiety. When we sing our brain releases endorphins and oxytocin, both hormones found to relieve depression. The additional good news don’t have to be a good singer to reap the healthy benefits of singing.

Scripture substantiates the fact that singing is an excellent antidote for depression. In Psalm 42:5, David is in a mental and emotional battle to rise above his negative emotions.

“Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God—soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God” (MSG).

David spoke to his soul, reminded himself of his hope in God and returned to praising him.

I have a dear friend who has a unique way of measuring her level of despondency. Though times in her life may be tough, I often hear her say, “But the little bird in my heart is still singing.”

Is the little bird in your heart singing today? If not, help it out. Make a joyful noise unto the Lord and watch your spirits soar.

Now it's your turn. What is one way you counter the winter blues?

I always welcome your comments.

Praising Him,

Monday, January 16, 2017


Prayerfully selecting a verse for the year and narrowing it down to one word has been my New Year's tradition since the year 2000. It's not only amazing to see the verse or word pop up throughout the year and the ways God speaks to me through it, it's remarkable to see the timing of its appearance. I'm always blown away.

Now it's your turn. If this isn't a tradition for you, I challenge you to make it one. It's never too late in the year to select a verse and/or word that is meaningful to you to see what God will do with it. Once you've made your selection, please share it here.

I always welcome your comments.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

In The Beginning

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
Genesis 1:1, ESV

My husband and I recently visited the Creation Museum in Northern Kentucky as well as the Ark Encounter, its sister attraction.  As we strolled through biblical history, we observed man’s amazing interpretation of God’s original creation—a picturesque universe—vast, unspoiled, and serene.

Genesis 1 conveys how God spoke the world into existence in six days. At the end of each day he looked over all he’d fashioned and “saw that it was good.”

Sadly, it’s impossible for God to observe today’s world and say it’s good. Thanks to the first man, Adam, and his lady, Eve, life in a perfect world is no longer an option. In fact, our world’s corrupt condition bears little resemblance to its idyllic beginning.

As an artist, I can't imagine placing my finished work, my masterpiece, into the hands of a small child. A child who has no appreciation for the time, heart, and emotion I’ve invested into the creation process. However, God did exactly that. The Master Artist crowned humanity with his glory and entrusted the work of his fingers into our hands—hands of mere children.

Am I a faithful steward of his creation and the days he's entrusted to me? Are you? As we stand on the threshold of a new year can we look back over 2016 and say it was good?

America just weathered the nastiest election season in our nation’s history. I dare say all of us, irrespective of our party affiliation, would eagerly shout with one resounding voice, “good riddance” to 2016. But let’s look at the year from a personal perspective.

Perhaps you’ve experienced blessings that far outweigh your sorrow. For you, releasing the year to an unknown future is difficult. For others who’ve experienced great sadness, personal tragedy, and loss, you’re more than happy to bid a hardy farewell to the last 365 days.

None of us know what 2017 has in store, but its days spread out before us like a primed canvas. Unspoiled by human touch, it offers us the hope of a brand new start. How can we be faithful with the time God’s allotted to us and use it for his glory?

In 1 Corinthians 3, the Apostle Paul communicates that a builder must be careful how he builds. “No man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (v.11).

If we establish 2017 on the sure foundation of Christ, we’ll be able to look back at the end of the year and say, “It was good because in the beginning, God. . .

Oh, that I would trust him as much as he trusts me.

Now it's your turn. What is one aspiration you hope to initiate for "good" in the new year?

I always welcome your comments.

Happy New Year!

** This article was first published in Thrive magazine, January 2017