The main thing I have learnt this January

How to stave off the annual blues of deepest darkest January?

I've been posting regularly throughout January about  alleviating the bleak midwinter blues - learning about the Revd Sydney Smith, hugs and hugging, living as well as you dare, twinkly lights, sleep.....  check the January post archives if you missed anything.

And now January is coming to an end - its's February on Friday!  So, in this last post on the winter blues, what has January really taught me?

What I think I overlooked or forgot is the encouraging fact that January is a new beginning!

A fresh start.

A field of pristine untrodden sparkling snow awaiting the first footprint. 

photos taken whilst I was on the Captivating Conference in Colorado in February 2012


A fresh start is almost always exciting – as a child, that thrill at the start of the school year with new pencils to sharpen, new books to get ready, new uniform clothes, the eager anticipation of seeing friends again, that sense of adventure, heartpounding thrill and newness.

And inhaling the faint air of exciting possibility.

Even now, starting a new journal – opening to a blank page, wondering what the words will be describing as the year progresses, what adventures and emotions will be committed to the paper.

Maybe it’s to do with the fact that we have a God who also enjoys new things.

“This is what God says: ‘Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history.  Be alert, be present.  I’m about to do something brand new.  There it is!  I’m making a road through the desert…’”  (The Message).

“Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.  I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness …”  (NRSV)  Isaiah 43:19

God is always doing new things and moving us on and changing us to be the people He wants us to be.

He wants to make a road through (THROUGH!) the desert – not take us out of the desert but enable to cross it and He does a new thing to enable this to happen.

But sometimes the new is scary.

That newness at the beginning of a school term could be scary too. Would we like the new teacher? Would we be in the same class as our best friends?  Would we fit in? Would we cope?

The anticipation is tinged with anxiety and apprehension.

What will happen this year?  Will we cope?  Will we like the changes? And even – where is God in all of this?

But there’s help for this, too, in Hebrews 13:8

For Jesus doesn’t change – yesterday, today, tomorrow, he’s always totally himself.” (The Message)

Or, as many know it,

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (NRSV)

Jesus is the same: all may change but Jesus never.  And THAT’s where our security lies, that’s where we can find our stability and confidence.  The Lord Jesus never changes; He is always there for us, always loving us, always there to talk to.  We trust in Him, look to Him, and know that we will never be shaken when we keep Him at the centre of our lives.

So there’s the best, proven part of my survival kit.

Putting Him at the centre of my life.

Not just for January but for the whole year.

And not just for 2013, but for the rest of my life.


What are you taking from January into the rest of this year  - to help and inspire and encourage you?

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Alleviating the January Blues - part one

January is such a LONG month. Christmas is over. The days are  short and dark and cold. The news is gloomy and I’ve eaten too much recently. Summer warmth and balmy days seem a distant promise.

How to stave off the annual bleak midwinter blues of January?

The trick is to prevent them before they have time to begin. To have a survival kit ready to pull out at a moment’s notice.

So, over the next few days, I’m putting together my suggestions. I've already blogged about how to make sure you can keep those New Year Resolutions; now comes the survival kit!

First, I’m following another rather more famous cleric – the Rev Sydney Smith, who also suffered from low spirits in the winter and who wrote to a friend in 1820 offering ideas for winter solace.

“1st,” he wrote, “live as well as you dare.”  I like that.

He then advocated cool showers, the avoidance of poetry, music and serious words, and not to expect too much from human life. Those I am not so keen on.

But what about some of his other suggestions:

-       amusing books

-       being as busy as you can

-       attending to the effects coffee and tea produce upon you

-       being as much as you can in the open air

-       making the room ‘where you commonly sit gay and pleasant’

-       don’t be too severe upon yourself

-       keep good blazing fires

-       ‘be firm and constant in the exercise of rational religion’

-       ‘short views of human life – not further than dinner or tea’

-       see as much as you can of friends who like you – and of acquaintances who amuse you



My survival kit now has a few good things in it. What might  you add to the list?

But yet, it's not enough....  so come back  later this week for  parts two and three - why not sign up to have them delivered straight into your inbox?