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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Your suggestions for beating those bleak midwinter blues ....

.... were just great! This mini-series on how to alleviate the dreadful January blues has been extremely helpful - to me and, it seems to you lots of you too.  And here we are, almost half way through January already.  How has it been for you?

Many of us can sometimes have those SAD feelings at this time of year: so we've looked at making Resolutions that energise us, living as well as we dare, getting enough sleep (or hibernating!) and realising that lots of hugs and cuddles can have a very salutary effect upon us - as well as being rather fun sometimes. At least three hugs a day!

Then there is the summer to look forward to - planning a trip, and especially, planning a Pilgrimage, to walk the Via Francigena in Tuscany! A vacation with a difference  - led by my husband and me; and already one week is nearly fully booked! Come too?

And the ideas keep coming. Today a friend sent me this great link to the gift of sleep, by Julie Ackerman Link in Daily Bread. Julie writes:

I’m sometimes tempted to believe that the work I do when I’m awake is more important than the work God does while I sleep. But refusing God’s gift of sleep is like telling Him that my work is more important than His. If we do not come apart and rest awhile, we may just plain come apart.

Oh yes.  That's me.

I loved the idea of special things to do at this time of year, from Sarah:

I read on a blog somewhere ideas for establishing routines/traditions that you do ONLY during the dark winter months — enjoying the season for what it is. The two ideas that I can recall at the moment are stringing white twinkle lights on your mantel and turning them on as soon as you get home (or when it turns dark) and routinely dining by candlelight. Very cozy, which sounds like a good theme for January!

We love cozy!  And lovely scents - 

Another beat-the-January-blues idea — buying special hand cream/lotion/soap, scented candles, bath salts, etc., in scents that are pleasing and cozy — and use them only in the winter months (and it so happens that post-Christmas is a good time to get them on sale!). I think this goes along nicely with the “live as well as you dare” theme! 

And Joy (from Words of Joy) wrote about hugging:  I am one of life’s huggers. My friends and family willingly submit to my embraces –others I allow time to get to know me and relax about it first!  Cuddling, hugging and embracing are all symbols of our love and care for others. They enhance life emotionally if not by years. Consider yourself ‘virtually hugged’, Penelope!

And what not to do?

On the list of things NOT to do can you please add: lounging in front of the TV watching indiscrimately any daft old program at the same time as munching on junk food and drinking too much alcohol.. very bad habit to get into but easy to fall into this trap in the Winter evenings..  So one vote for enjoying countryside and writing poetry and a NO vote for tv !

So there's a choice - yours and mine, as Mandy wrote:

It is a conscious choice and when I allow myself time for a hot bubble bath, pjs and bed at a sensible hour with a hot water bottle, it is so much better than when I listen to the lure of social media or reading just a little more. Thanks for the reminder that we only need to be who God calls us to be.

And perhaps the best comment?

I, and two little girls, are available for hugs whenever needed. 

Those two little girls are my granddaughters. They hug the best!

What are you doing to help alleviate the bleak midwinter? I have to admit I'm now cheating - I'm in Florida!