I Killed Angus!

A few months ago, I bought a plant. A succulent. I have never had this kind of plant before in my life. Mind you, my mom is the one who used to grow plants (and flowers) while I was growing up. Occasionally, I would try my hand at African Violets, and I remember having a Boston fern when I was in my 20s. I did alright with those.

I don’t consider myself to have a green thumb, but I do like to try keeping plants around for a little while. Mostly since I’ve been married for the past three years, we have not had any plants in our home because neither my husband nor I have been overly successful with them in the past.

That changed when I got the succulent. I named it Angus.

I looked for information online to help me take care of Angus, and it seemed like it should be an easy type of plant to keep. You didn’t have to water it much, and it didn’t like direct sun. I did great for a couple of months.


Then, one day, I was examining the bottom of the pot for some reason, and saw watering holes in it. I got the “bright” idea to water the plant from the bottom (put water in a tray or container and put the plant in it so that the water would soak up through the bottom). That way the leaves wouldn’t have to be moved (I was afraid of breaking one off).

So, I filled the bottom of the “decorative” pot it also came in part way and let Angus drink. I think it might have been too much, and the water may have been a little colder than I intended as well, but I’m not totally sure on that.

The result: I killed Angus.

I think watering it from the bottom was the mistake. The soil soaked up too much water and within a few weeks, I started noticing that what had been new, green, healthy growth on Angus was now dark, almost black. And that growth was now soggy and goopy. Other leaves on it became soggy and started dying as well.

I was heartbroken, and nearly cried!

I want to get another one to try again, and this time not water from the bottom, but I am a little apprehensive. I feel like I would be throwing money away if I were to get another one to try.

My walk with God can be characterized by a similar aspiration way as well. I start out with a desire or have excitement to start something – a Bible study, reading the Word every day, praying deep and meaningful prayers, wanting to tell others about Jesus, helping people, etc.

I get so excited and begin putting some effort into it; my relationship begins to grow and blossom, and then gradually I up my game and add or increase things to help me grow even more.

And then it happens. I get “water logged” and soon I am drowning in all that excitement and desire. I burn our and end up killing my commitment and my desire. And, once that happens, it can be so hard to get back into the swing of things, which is what the enemy wants.

Recently, I purchased a couple more plants (at separate times). One was not too long after Angus, when he was healthy and alive. This new plant is a Croton, aka Joseph’s Coat. I called this one Baxter, and so far he is doing well. I’m a little fearful, though, that I will kill this one as well. And, not too long after I began working on this post, I purchased a Dragon Fruit Cactus (the spikes on them are soft to the touch). It’s supposed to be very easy to take care of. I’ve named this one Carter.

I really hope that I can keep these plants alive (so far so good), but more importantly, my prayer is that I never give up striving to grow in my relationship with the Lord and to not become stagnant, or kill off the desire to produce the fruit that comes with this relationship.

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5 Ideas To Spark Creativity In Writing

5 different ways to help spark creativity in writing.  Writers get writer's block from time to time and these ideas might help spark something!

I have so many story, article, blog, and general writing ideas floating in my mind. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed so much that I can’t even put word to paper – or computer screen.

I’ve jotted down parts of a poem so I wouldn’t forget it, made notes about a topic to write about, researched some ideas for blog posts or future articles, and yet…I feel stuck. And sometimes I feel overwhelmed with what I want to write, that I freeze because I don’t know where to start.

I had hoped to have way more of my book written at this point than I have. I seem to be focusing on one particular area than the others at the moment. Maybe that chapter is almost complete. Or, maybe I just need to keep writing about that particular topic and make it into a full book.

And, on the flip side of the coin, I get writer’s block. And then I don’t know what to write or how to proceed.

It’s the life of a writer, I guess.

I know I’m not the only one in this predicament and I’m pretty sure all writers have experienced it at one time or another. The point is, they didn’t stay stuck. They worked through the blockage and were able to produce novels, articles, blog posts, poems and so much more.

And that’s what I need to do as well. I need to “keep on truckin’” as the old quote says.

I’ve read some ideas elsewhere regarding situations like this and the following are some suggestions that I have tried, or will try, to help with writer’s block or trying to not keep so many ideas floating around my brain:

  1. Free writing – this idea can be fun and might help spark some ideas. In free writing, you take a specific amount of time (can be as little as 3 minutes or as long as 15-20 minutes) and just write. When you start the timer, simply write whatever is on your mind. Don’t stop to correct spelling, grammar, punctuation or anything. Just keep writing. It doesn’t have to make sense, and if all you can write is how you think this method doesn’t seem like it would work, write that. When the timer goes off, stop writing. Who knows, the free writing might spark an idea for that novel you’ve been wanting to write!
  2. Classical Music – I took some painting classes in 2001/2002 and the instructor always had classical music on. At the time, I didn’t really care for that genre, but since then I have grown to like it. I remember hearing at some point after those lessons, that classical music is good for people who write or do some form of art. And as well, drawing/art is said to help those who write. I believe it has something to do with getting the creative juices flowing. There’s more to it than that, science and what not, but that isn’t my area of expertise, so I won’t get into that here. It’s worth a try, though.
  3. Poetry – Recently, I tried my hand at poetry again. I’ve written a few in the past, but never felt that I was a poet and I stopped. I wanted to change things up a bit, because I was stuck about what I wanted to say next in my book, so decided to do a smaller piece of writing. It’s by no means perfect, and I don’t think I followed any “rules/guidelines” for poetry writing, but I think it did help me. I mentioned this to a friend a week or two ago, and she said something about how changing things up can help get the creative juices flowing again.
  4. Reading – This is one I have heard about for a long time. All good writers read – a lot! There are various reasons for using reading to help, from helping to spark ideas, to help you find your own writing voice, and more. Reading and writing go hand in hand. By reading, you are exposed to grammar, spelling, and punctuation. I’ve also read recently that it’s a good idea to read books from the genre of writing you are doing to help you reach that particular audience.
  5. Writer’s Note Book – Having a note book for writing is a great tool to have. In it, you can jot down ideas so you don’t forget them, character descriptions, definitions of words, story ideas, parts of poems, quotes that speak to you, and so much more. This would be handy to have beside me when I am writing and get other ideas that I don’t want to forget while I’m working on my book or another writing project.

Those are a few ideas to help with writing. The goal, of course, is to write and most writers want to create something that others will enjoy reading. The only way to do that is to write. Which is what I am heading off to do!

Have you tried any of the above methods, or others, to help your writing? Let me know as I’d love to have more ways to help me as well!

On Writing With Pen and Paper

I remember the days before writing on a computer was a big thing. Mind you, I’m sure it was done, after all, it was only in the 1980s. But, at least before I started using a computer for writing, paper and pens were my go to.

During the mid to late 1990s, I was big into the Victorian era and reading L.M. Montgomery’s journals. Her journals were collected and assembled into books, but I had seen pictures of her actual journals. I’d read about other men and women, while doing research for my family tree, who kept diaries and journals. I found it fascinating to read about what life was like in “the olden days.”

I wanted to be like those men and women. I wanted to keep a record of what life for me was like. I wanted to have something for my descendants (and maybe others) to read and see what it was like during my lifetime.

I started with one of those little girl diaries with a lock and key. I didn’t keep it locked, because nothing I wrote was secret. This diary was white and had a cute little kitty cat on it. I started making a record with each entry of what the weather was like that day, and then discussed what happened or who came to visit, how we were related, etc. Over time, I transitioned into notebooks so that I could record more information, more details.

And eventually, my journals turned into the typical kind where I would vent my frustrations and fears, my hopes and joy.

Over time, I stopped recording in my journals and turned to the computer instead, beginning my blogging journey. I want to say that my earliest blogging began in 2005, and I don’t think I have used a notebook style “journal” since. Though, to be honest, there are some days that I think about keeping one again, just to record more private things. So far, that hasn’t happened.

What I like about using the computer, is that I can type faster and record my thoughts almost as quickly as they come. When using pen and paper, I would get the thoughts coming, and by the time I had written some of it down, I’d forget what the next thing was that I had wanted to record! I can certainly type much faster than I can write!

As much as I now prefer to use a computer for writing, there is something that draws me back, from time to time, to the old fashioned pen and paper method – especially now that we have so many pretty coloured inks to choose from, so many different styles of pens to use, and a vast collection of notebooks and journals to choose from.

I want to set a “goal” for myself. OK, it’s not really a goal per se, but, I want to start doing a little writing from time to time using pen and paper. Some form of writing different to what I’m doing now. To be honest, I do have a small prayer journal that I write in with pens, but I want to keep a notebook of writing as well, something I can carry with me to record descriptions, jot down a quick poem or thoughts and ideas.

I want to keep this for no other reason than the fact that I enjoy using pen and paper!

Do you have a preference for writing with a computer or pen and paper? Why is that your preferred method for writing? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesdays Are For Writing

In The Beginning

I remember when I was young and in school, we often had to do short pieces of writing for class. I don’t remember if I used to enjoy this or not, but I do remember not being very good at it. I had a difficult time coming up with something good that didn’t sound like I had copied it.

When I was in grade 5, in 1978/79, we read a short story about a ghost who caused mischief. We had to write our own ghost story afterwards and I remember that I didn’t understand it had to be our own creation. In my little piece of writing, I used very similar situations and the teacher wrote on my paper that it was too close to the story we read. I didn’t know anything about plagiarising at the time. Mrs. G also got quite angry with me for calling the woman in my story a dame. In a brusque tone, she informed me that, “That is not how we refer to women!”

My real love for writing began when I was in grade 11 and I began writing stories and what I had hoped would be novels. Some of these would be what we refer to now as fan fiction. Again, I had no training, no writing class; I just wrote for the fun of it.

These were horrible pieces!

I do remember what I enjoyed the most (and still do) was in creating my own characters, places, descriptions. I didn’t worry about spelling and punctuation as I wrote (which was fine, because that is what editing is for); I just let the ideas flow from my mind and onto the paper.

Cringe-worthy Discovery

Many years later, as I was cleaning out my mom’s house after she died, I came across the notebooks I had used for these stories (put away in a box in my old room) and I sat on the floor in the bedroom and read them over. Definite writings of a high school girl – terminology and all! I think I consistently cringed as I read through every page. They were certainly not worth saving so I readily tossed them in the trash!

Drawn to Creating

Over the years, I felt drawn to creating, drawn to recording the plots and characters I gave birth to. I’ve written several short-short stories (of around 700 words each), a couple of poems, and attempted a couple of novels.

More recently, I wrote a piece of non-fiction for an anthology called, Carpe Diem (see the Published Writing tab) which was published and released in March of this year. The book hit best-selling status in the self-help category on the release day!

I am now a published author, and I am working on my own non-fiction book!

Growth

I have learned a lot and grown since I first began writing. It’s all part of the process, and all writers go through it. I want to include a writing portion on this blog – likely on Wednesdays (hence the title of the post). These posts will be anything from sharing pieces of my writing, discussing the writing process, referring other writing blogs and/or podcasts, inspiration – anything writing related.

What have been your writing experiences? I’d love to hear about them! Let me know in the comments.

Going Deeper With God

Just a short post today.

Early last week I finished doing my study of the book of John in the Bible. I’d like to say I worked on it every single day, but that would be a lie.

Something I noticed, as I looked back over the notes I took, was at the beginning of my study I was more detailed and made more notes, highlighted more passages, etc. I don’t know if along the way I “forgot” that I was making detailed notes, or if I just didn’t put as much into it toward the end. I certainly think that not focusing on it every day was a factor! None-the-less, I did gt a lot out of this study.

Recently, I have felt a strong desire to grow deeper into the Word and with my relationship with God – deeper than I have before. And, now that I have more time, I hope to set my priorities and spend this needed time with God.

I have been feeling like I have only let myself go just so far into my relationship with God, possibly because I let fear control me. I have been afraid of what God might tell me, what He might reveal, or what He might want me to do. I mean, what if it doesn’t line up with what I want to do?

I do believe I am doing what God wants me to, but what if I dig deeper and find out otherwise? Or what if God wants me going in a totally different direction with what I am doing? Am I prepared for that?

I guess fear is trying to overcome me. That sneaky devil is trying to have his way! I’m not going to let him win, though. I AM going to go deeper in my walk, no matter what it reveals to me! I want to be the woman that God wants me to be, and I definitely desire to go grow deeper with Him.

If God is for me, which I know to be true, then who can be against me?

What is something you would like to improve upon in your walk with the Lord? Let me know in the comments!

Updated to add link to the post on Apple Blossom Ministries that resulted from this post.

Your Sin Is Worse Than Mine…

purple flowers with a green background and the words "Your Sin Is Worse Than Mine" and a link to appleblossomministries.ca

I don’t know how many times I hear of people, and have had it said to me, that someone else’s sin is worse than whatever their sin is. It’s like people believe there is a big list ranging from number one to…however many sins there are. And on that list is ranked the least sin to the greatest, with the greatest as being number 1. “Well, what they did is way worse than my lies, or my speeding, or my (fill in the blank)…,” they say.

I don’t know why we do that. I guess it’s human nature. Maybe we try to make ourselves look better, or take the focus off our own sins and put it onto someone else so that we don’t have to face, or give account for, our sins.

The Adulterous Woman

In John 8 we read about the adulterous woman. The Pharisees were always trying to test Jesus, and this time they (and the scribes) brought a woman caught in the “very act” of adultery to Him. They quoted the Law of Moses in which the Israelites were commanded to stone the woman and then asked Jesus what he had to say about it.

Reading further, we find out that Jesus simply bent down and wrote something on the ground. I’ve always been curious as to what he may have written. Did he write, “Not Guilty” or did he write a scripture?

When He stands up again, Jesus says, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her (vs. 7).” Then He bends down and wrote on the ground again.

Just Walk Away…

Those who were accusing this woman began to walk away, one by one, beginning with the older men. When I was in university (my degree is in Biblical Studies), a prof once told us that the understanding as to why the older men were the last to leave, was that the younger men would have had less sin than the older ones. This was, of course, due to age; the older men had lived longer and would have had more time to commit more sin.

The men all left until Jesus was the only one remaining with the woman. None of the scribes and Pharisees condemned her, because they had sin in their lives as well.

Jesus Has No Sin

Note that Jesus is the only one who has absolutely no sin in His life. Yet, rather than stoning the woman (and He could have done that since His command was that those who had no sin could throw the first stone), He told the woman that He also didn’t condemn her, and that she could go, but His only stipulation was to “sin no more.”

One thing that has interested me about this story, is that only the woman was brought to be stoned. Last time I checked, adultery involves two people. So, where was the man? Why wasn’t he being brought along to be stoned?

But that’s a post for another time…

There Is No Condemnation

In this post, I want to focus on the fact that Jesus didn’t condemn the woman for her sin. And, just like he her, Jesus doesn’t condemn you for your sin either. He also doesn’t condemn me for mine.

My friend, Jesus went to the cross for you. He took all your sins on Himself, and died for you. He doesn’t condemn you for the things you have said and done. He loves you!

“I do not condemn you, either.” Jesus says.

You do need to be aware, however, that just because God does not see one sin as being worse than another, that doesn’t give us liberty to keep sinning. Jesus told the adulterous woman to, “Go. From now on sin no more.”

We still have to do our best to refrain from sin, though it will happen because we’re human, but it doesn’t give us an excuse to purposefully sin.

Friends, I want you to know that it really doesn’t matter what you have said or done. The Lord does not condemn you, and if you ask for forgiveness, you will be forgiven. Jesus loves you so much, and He is waiting for you to reach out to Him.


Take His hand, and feel no condemnation.

That Old Familiar Feeling…


The other night, I felt a familiar feeling begin to creep up on me. I sensed it crawling up my spine and slowly branch out across my back and over my shoulders, encircling its arms around me, tightening its vice-like grip…

That old familiar feeling of anxiety was back.

While I’m getting much better at identifying when it hits, I don’t always clue in quickly enough to try and stop it from taking over.

What did I have to be anxious about that night? Absolutely nothing!

So, what was up? Why did overtake me if everything was fine?

Examine What Leads Up To An Anxiety Attack

I think it’s important when we are dealing with anxiety that we take a step back and examine what leads up to an attack. For me, the other night, I realized that I had been comparing myself to others. Basically, I was comparing my beginning to their middle or end results. How crazy is that?

The more I think about the situation, the more I feel that the enemy was pushing my buttons, and even though I know how crazy it is to compare myself to where someone is in their walk, in their life, with where I am, I let the deceiver whisper in my ear.

And I found myself believing him.

But not now. As I sat reflecting and writing down my thoughts on the situation that night, I honestly felt the anxiety slipping away. I felt myself coming to my senses.

Stop Comparing Myself!

For me, comparing myself (which is not something we should be doing in the first place) to others is never a good thing. It never ends well for me, and I usually end up anxious or depressed, or both.

I’ve been guilty, in the past and even the present, of looking toward an end, a solution or what have you, and wanting that result and then feeling like a failure because I am not there, I’m not where I want to be. What I fail to look at, or remember, is that in order to get the end results, I need to take the necessary steps to get there.

A Long Process

Usually, results don’t happen over night. Sometimes it’s a long, hard process; other times the journey is quicker. But regardless of how long it takes, The journey must begin with a single step, followed by another and another until we get to the solution, the end, the goal.

How many times do we, as humans, desire something and then when the going gets tough, or we realize the process is going to take us much longer than we anticipated, do we give up instead of pushing on? I’ve read, or heard, of a saying (I can’t recall where, though) that talks about how if we really want to achieve something, we will put the necessary work into it.

Put One Foot In Front of the Other

So now, in order to get to the place I wish I was at (the results I am desiring), I need to put one foot in front of the other, so to speak, and do whatever it takes if I want to succeed and see my dreams come to fruition.

And, a day or so later, I took the next step down a new path. It’s scary and exciting, but I’m doing it!

How do you head off an anxiety attack? Let me know in the comments!

New Year Blessing

mountains, lake, water, man looking out over water,

We have come to that time of year again – December 31st!

For many people, this is a time to reflect on the past year. Memories are often front and centre on this day as we come to an end of the final page of this chapter in our lives. We think about all the good times we had, and even the painful ones we encountered. Sometimes there were a lot of struggles that were endured, missed opportunities, and many tears. Other times consisted of successful accomplishments, happy tears, and lots of laughter.

On this day, we look to the future and wonder what the next year will hold for us. We hope for good things, and that nothing bad will come our way. We make plans, we makes lists, and we wonder and dream of what’s to come.

As we embark on a new year, 2019, I wish you all the best and pray that this will be the year for you to grow stronger, and deeper, in your relationship with Christ, that you will seek him with your whole heart.

As we leave 2018 behind, grab hold of Jesus’ hand and move forward with Him by your side.

Be blessed, my friend!

Shelley

Remember the Reason for the Season

Christmas ornaments and lights on branches of a Christmas tree; the words, "Remember the reason for the season!" in the upper right corner.

It’s Christmas Eve today, and like most homes at this time of year, we have had our Christmas tree up for awhile. The colourful lights glowing, decorations hanging, and the angel watching over everything. The top section of our artificial tree is leaning some, because the part it’s stuck into has a piece broken off causing the top portion to not stand up straight. I’m reluctant to give up this tree and get a new one.

This tree belonged to my mom. And when I look at it, I think of her. Usually my thoughts are happy and pleasant, but in all honesty, sometimes I feel sad.

I have always struggled at Christmas with my emotions for as long as I can remember. I vacillate between feeling happy and cheerful, and depressed and discouraged.

I remember feeling depressed many times when I was young (though at the time I don’t think I was aware that was what I was experiencing) and telling my parents I didn’t want anything for Christmas, because I didn’t deserve it. There were times when I would plaster on a smile, because that is what we are supposed to do at Christmas. It’s a joyful time of year, after all!

In my adult years, I have struggled with the thoughts that present themselves in my mind when I hear others trying to help with comments of “Cheer up!” or “It could always be worse. There are others who are in far more serious situations.” And, while I know people mean well and are trying to be helpful, they really aren’t. Not when my depression has made an appearance. Sometimes I just have to ride it out.

There were lots of silent, hidden tears shed at Christmas in my past. But, I am thankful that the last few Christmases have been great – no tears, no feelings of not deserving, no depression.

In all honesty, there are a number of things that have helped me with this – my medication, having a loving husband who is very understanding and supportive, changing my attitudes and thoughts, and most of all, the love of a Saviour who was born to die and give me eternal life.

Christmas is not about the presents, the tree, the lights or decorations. Christmas is about celebrating the birth of the Messiah, Jesus. And if depression is something you deal with, particularly at Christmas, please don’t suffer in silence. You aren’t alone in this, and your struggle is real. Reach out to someone, take your meds (if you are on them; if not talk to your doctor), don’t isolate yourself. Reach out to the Lord; ultimately, He is the only one who can help you overcome this.

And, I pray that this Christmas, you can feel the joy that only He can give you.