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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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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.

Blogging · Uncategorized

A “Separate” Blog It Is…

Welcome back!

You may remember a recent post I made, about not using this blog and just using the one I have on Apple Blossom Ministries.  Well, after much deliberation, I have decided to reverse that decision. And I removed that post.

Quite simply, I just wasn’t feeling it. It didn’t seem to be the right time for that change, and quite honestly, I was letting the world dictate how I should be doing my ministries. No more.

So, I will be continuing to use MacKenzie’s Musings for my blog, and Apple Blossom Ministries for my ministry.  The two aren’t entirely separate, but for now, I feel this is the best fit for me.  I do have this blog on my website, and I will always promote Apple Blossom Ministries here.

 

Uncategorized · Writing

Jumping Back In

apple blossom jumping back in pinterest

Today is my last day of a 10 day vacation I took with my husband – though a couple of the days were work related for him.

I really enjoyed my time off because I had been feeling stressed from work, and I think I was taking on a little of my husband’s stress as well.

Directing More of My Time To My Ministry

sunset beach people sunrise

While away, I was able to come to the conclusion (from talking with my husband and a friend) that I want to jump into my writing more.  I want to start directing more of my time with my ministry, following my dream and what I believe is my calling.

I need to get more serious about it than I have been.

The Need for Focus

That means I need to be more focused, and now that I have had some time away, with my husband, to relax and rejuvenate, I feel encouraged to continue with my writing, and with my direction for Apple Blossom Ministries (come check out what I have so far).

Today’s “focus” involved spending time on my blog post writing, and with creating the first few instalments for my Thankful Thursday series (debating on whether or not that will be featured here on the blog, or on ABM). I also started working on another project I have in mind for ABM.

Please keep me in prayer regarding all of this. I want to serve the Lord and help other women along in their journeys as well.

What do you need to take more seriously and focus on? Let me know in the comments.

 

Christianity · Thankful Thursday · Uncategorized

15 Things For Which I Am Thankful

apple blossom thankful

To me, Thanksgiving isn’t just a holiday that happens once a year.

During Thanksgiving, we often tell others what we are thankful for.  I don’t think that should be limited to once a day in October or November, depending where you live.

Really, we should be thankful every day.

What It Means

To be thankful means to express feelings of gratitude, to appreciate something, or someone.

Sometimes, when life throws us for a loop, it’s hard to see the good. We tend to focus on the negative aspects.  But, even during those trying times, we can be thankful for something.  Focusing on the good can help redirect our thinking to something more positive.

I know, normally, people tend to list what they are thankful for at Thanksgiving.  It’s not Thanksgiving now, it’s already passed for us here in Canada.  But, I’m going to list some things that I am thankful, or grateful, for.

affection appreciation decoration design

My List:

  1. Jesus
  2. My salvation
  3. My husband and step-son
  4. My other family members
  5. Friends
  6. My home
  7. My church
  8. My job
  9. Living in Canada
  10. The beauty in Nova Scotia – lots of gorgeous places to see and explore
  11. The leaves changing colour this time of year (gorgeous!)
  12. I can see and hear
  13. I can walk (have the use of my legs)
  14. I can read and write
  15. The generosity of others

Those are just 15 things I’m thankful for.  Of course, there are many more people and things, but this is just a start.

Thankful Thursdays

I’d like to start a regular series on the blog to help remind myself to be thankful in all situations, like Paul talks about.  I think it’s a good way to help me redirect my focus during those difficult times.

And I’d like to be able to share that with you, to help you as well.  I’d like you to share the things you’re thankful for on Thankful Thursdays as well.  I think this would be a great way to help us be more encouraging to others so that we can be reminded that there is always something to be thankful for, every day – not just at Thanksgiving.

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So, even though I’m a day late because it’s Friday, let’s get the ball rolling.

Leave a comment with something you are thankful for today.

Uncategorized · Writing

Ah, I See You’re Back!

action blur car child

I have been on vacation with my family for the last week. It’s been a much needed time of rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation.

Recently, I submitted a piece for the True Wellness Project, a part of the Well Christian Women blog, and while I was away, my article was published on their site.

I’d love for you to read my submission and then come back and leave your thoughts on what you read in the comment section here.

two man and two woman standing on green grass field

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A Powerful Tool

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”

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I remember repeating that when I was young. I don’t know if I was trying to convince myself of this, or others. It doesn’t matter, though, the meaning of that statement is a lie.

 

 

Words are a powerful tool. They can be used to build up others, or tear them down.  They can encourage or discourage. They can be kind or mean.  The choice is ours on which ones we choose to speak to people.

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.   Ephesians 4:29

Words can have a lasting effect – both negative and positive.  I remember as a young child being told by a classmate that I was ugly.  I also remember a few years later having two other kids, girls I thought were my friends, both saying that I was pretty ugly.  Those words devastated me and have had a lasting effect on me for many years. For most of my life, I believed what those kids said to me. I believed that I was ugly – and most days I still believe that.  I’m growing though, and now there are days when I don’t believe it.

Words are powerful. Not only do our words affect others, but they can also affect us, too.  Our self-talk is just as important to examine.  Do I speak positively to myself? Do I use words of affirmation? Or, am I negative and use my words to destroy myself?

I want to challenge you.  For the next week, try writing down two positive things you like about yourself every day.  It doesn’t matter what you write – do you have pretty eyes? Did you have a good hair day? Maybe you spoke words of encouragement to someone who was feeling discouraged, or you helped someone who was in need.  Record these in a journal or notebook and keep them to look back on when you are feeling down.  Then, do the same thing for someone else – write down something positive (something different each day for a week) about someone you have a hard time dealing with, and at the end of the week look back over your findings.  You might start seeing that person in a different light.

Be mindful of your words this week; build up those around you, and don’t forget to build up yourself as well.  Construction, not destruction.

Remember, words do matter.

 

 

 

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It Hasn’t Happened…Yet

For years I have dabbled in writing – mostly short stories and attempts at novels. I’ve dreamed of being an author, having my name on the front of a book.  I’m almost 50 years old and it hasn’t happened yet.

 

 

Why? Because I doubted myself, I didn’t feel confident in pexels-photo-834897.jpegmy writing capabilities, and I let fear overtake me – fear that I wouldn’t be able to do it, fear that people wouldn’t like what I write, and fear that I just wouldn’t be good at it.

I’ve decided, with encouragement from a few people (particularly my husband), that I’m going to attempt writing again.  My hours at work have been cut back and it’s a great time to seriously get back into it.

 

I think I need to develop my style, find my voice, and figure out just what I want to work on.  I want to write a novel, but I also thought of maybe writing some Christian articles, devotions or short stories as well. I suppose I could write here, on this blog, to help with my writing. It’s as good as any place to start.  It’s all going to take time, naturally, but I just need to make myself sit down and write.  If I don’t start, it won’t get done.

So, I would appreciate prayers for guidance and direction…and of course to fight against procrastination and writer’s block.

 

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A Little R&R

I’m like most people – I enjoy having vacation. That’s what I’ve been doing the past four days. I still have three and a half more days before going back to work.  I’ve been enjoying this time because I’ve been able to get a lot of R&R in; something I need to do.

We’ve been to the beach (Monday was a holiday so my husband didn’t have to work), I learned how to fish (and caught 5 – though 2 squirmed off the hook before I could land them), I’ve been to the driving range with my husband and a couple of our friends, and I’ve been able to do a lot of knitting – one of my favourite hobbies.

I’ve never been fishing before and now that I know how, it’s something our family can do together sometime.   I also enjoy going to the driving range because this is something my husband really enjoys, and this allows me to spend time with him doing something he loves.  I’ve also been improving, though I’m nowhere near ready to hit the golf course, so that’s an added bonus.  I did lose a day, though. I woke up on Tuesday with a migraine and dealt with that all day.  So that day was pretty much a write off.  I did manage to catch up on some sleep though, so that was nice.

As I said, I still have a few more days left of vacation.  My husband is working today; tomorrow he is going to the golf course (a weekly thing) with a couple of his buddies, and then he works tomorrow afternoon/evening as well.  On Saturday we have a friend coming to stay with us for the weekend, and I go back to work on Monday.

Even though I’m getting to relax and rest, I do feel guilty that we aren’t going more places (like we did my last vacation) and doing stuff.  I know my husband was wanting to go to Cape Breton for a couple of days, but he said that this vacation is for me to rest and relax.  I definitely appreciate it, but he’s missing out on doing things he likes to do on vacation (He’s been working, but he can take some time off).  Maybe we can do a something on Saturday by taking our friend somewhere he hasn’t been, and maybe do something after church on Sunday.

I am definitely thankful for this vacation. It’s certainly helped with my mental health! And I am most definitely thankful to my husband for allowing me this time.

I still have a couple of vacation days left after this (due to there being a holiday this week and two of the days would have been my normal days off), so maybe I can take them in the fall and we can go somewhere he’d like to go then.

At any rate taking time for yourself and getting some R&R is certainly beneficial to your mental health.  It’s far to easy to keep busy and focus on work or helping others and not take time for yourself.  The problem is, we end up burning out.  I’ve been there, and it’s not a fun place.

In closing, I encourage you to take some time for yourself, do the things you enjoy doing, have fun, try something new, rest, relax.  Your body and mind will thank you for it.

 

 

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It’s What’s Been On My Mind Lately

Grief is something we have all experienced in some way or another. And if you haven’t, give it time and you will.  Maybe it’s the loss of a parent, a spouse, child, friend. Maybe it’s the loss of a job, the use of part of your body and that’s what you are or have been grieving over. It doesn’t matter what the situation, grief is grief. And it hurts like crazy.

I’ve experienced grief in many different forms. I think the most difficult have been the loss of both of my parents and my maternal grandmother.  I was at the bedside of all three of these important people in my life.  Each one was difficult.

When my grandmother died, I was 19 and alone with her in the hospital room. My mom and I had been taking shifts of staying by her side (throughout the time she had been staying at the hospital), because there were so few nurses and my grandmother didn’t really know where she was.  She also would try to get out of the bed and go look for my mom if no one was around.  One time my mom was out in the hall talking to one of the nurses and my grandmother had pulled the IV out of her arm, crawled down to the end of the bed (the side rails had been up), climbed over the end and made her way out to the hall. So, we decided that someone should be with her at all times. It just so happened that I was the one with her that evening.

While she took her final breaths, I held my grandmother’s hand, stroked her hair, and looked her in the eye with love.  I felt her hand being removed from mine as the nurse took it to feel for her pulse.  I laid my head in my arms at her bedside and wept and wept. She was gone.

My dad’s death was pretty hard to.  He was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus in March 2008.  By the end of July, he was given just a matter of time to live. I made the choice to leave Korea a few weeks earlier than I was supposed to (despite having major difficulties with this whole process).  Thankfully, I was able to spend a week with my dad before he died.  This time I wasn’t alone as he passed.  My mom and my dad’s siblings and his two nieces, and my sister-in-law were there with me.

I’d say that my mom’s death had the greatest impact on me.  It’s still pretty recent, too.  I had quit my job to go take care of her. She had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and she was in the early stages of dementia.  I was rather close to my mom, especially after my dad died.

I had also made the decision (and then contacted my brother to see if he thought I should do this) to take her to the hospital (for the last time), because she was getting quite weak.  She was admitted to palliative care because of her situation, and she didn’t leave the hospital again until she passed away.  My older brother and I were with her. He was reading, I was sitting in a chair at her side, and witnessed her take her final breath.

I stayed very long hours, every day, with my mom. I was getting run down and having a hard time taking care of my own self.  I was riddled with guilt because I felt like I hadn’t taken good enough care of her – that I could have, and should have, done better. This is something that still bothers me from time to time.  She was getting better care in the hospital, but I still felt that there was more I could have done.

My mom passed away two weeks before Christmas in 2016. I went through so much grief at that time, more than I think I have felt for anyone else in the past (and that makes me feel guilty as well). I can’t even begin to describe how her death made me feel. Thankfully, I had great support from my husband (and others).  Even now, I find that little things I remember about my mom, or something she would like or would like to have done, can trigger great sadness and depression in me.

I’m learning to deal with my grief in a positive way. I’m learning to turn it over to the Lord, pray, find my comfort in Him. I know one day I’ll see these precious people again, but that isn’t always enough to comfort me. I think it’s important that I deal with my grief; to not bottle it up.  There’s nothing wrong with feeling the sadness, with being angry, or crying. What I need to remember is not to dwell there for long periods of time because then it’s much harder to get back to a “happy place.”  I’m learning to find healthy ways of dealing with my grief. It’s certainly not easy, but I need to do this for my mental health.

I know that until the day I die I will face grief again and again. But having the tools in place to help me get through those situations is the best thing I can do.  But it’s more than just having them – it’s using them. That is vital. If you don’t use the tools, how can you expect to overcome your hurt?

I don’t know if any of this makes sense, but it’s what’s been on my mind lately.