Uncategorized

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.

notebook

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.

Christianity

Dear Younger Me…

photo of person writing on notebook

Dear Younger Me,

You are beautiful. You are stronger than you think. And, don’t let anyone tell you differently. And don’t believe that you aren’t.  You ARE enough!

The world is going to tell you that you have to be pencil-thin and have the latest fashions in style and the right hairstyle and makeup. They want you to look like the women on the covers of magazines. Don’t believe them. Don’t fall for it; those models are airbrushed and don’t really look like that. If you keep believing they are perfect and you aren’t, it will cause you so much harm in your life as you grow older.

I want to encourage you to be healthy. Don’t let eating junk get out of control. That will contribute to you feeling so badly about yourself later on in life. You don’t need it, but it’s fine to have a little now and then. I also want to encourage you to not take losing weight to the opposite extreme either. That’s also not healthy. Eat good size portions, drink more milk as you get older, and eat more foods that are healthier for you.  By the way, you will learn to like those little round, firm, sweet tomatoes, egg salad, and mild salsa.

Younger me, please don’t let shyness rule your world. Do whatever you can to overcome it, because you will let it affect you so much throughout your life. You will waste so much time envying those who are outgoing. Please, force yourself to talk to other people, go up to them and introduce yourself. This will save you a lot of heartache later on. Be friendly.

Please, also, believe in yourself. You can do whatever you put your mind to. Gain confidence in yourself and in your abilities early on. This will also help you – especially when you are out of school looking for your career. You are more than capable of putting into action what you have learned. You CAN do it.

Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. They help you learn and grow. Don’t think that you are the only one to mess up; you aren’t. Again, nobody is perfect.

you are enough text

Dear younger me, you are loved more than you even realize. Please don’t waste time hoping and praying for someone who isn’t interested in you. Don’t turn down boys who are interested in you because you keep hoping for the one who isn’t. And also, when you get involved with someone who will mistreat you, leave. Please, don’t stay. It will also cause you pain and heartache years after it happens.  You are enought, and you don’t need him.

I also want you to know that you will regret putting God on the shelf. Please don’t do it. God has your best interest at heart. His plan is way better than yours. Hold out, because He has someone very special for you. It will take awhile, but the wait is worth it.  He will love you and treat you with respect, dignity, and more.  You will love him and appreciate him so much. Trust me on this!

And, finally, dear younger me, have some fun now and then. Don’t take life too serious, and when you finally figure out that you are suffering with depression, please seek help. Stigmas against mental illness will always be there, but people will begin to fight them. Seeking help does not make you weak. You will be stronger for doing so.

Dear younger me, I hope you will consider my message to you. And I hope you will trust that your faith will get you through so much. Don’t let go of Jesus.

Love,

Older You

*** Check out the video for MercyMe’s “Dear Younger Me” here, my inspiration for this post.

Christianity

Ideas For Creating a Prayer Journal

 

apple blossom prayer journal ideas

I used to keep a prayer journal several years ago. I don’t really know why I stopped; I probably just got lazy or forgetful, and it gradually fell by the wayside. I used a simple, cheap, journal I had purchased at a dollar store to record my prayers in.

I wrote somewhat specific prayers and recorded when they were answered. It was a great way to look back as a reminder of just how often God did answer my prayers.

Recently I decided that I wanted to start another prayer journal, mostly recording an actual prayer. Since I’ve only just started, there is still plenty of room to adjust and change things up. I’m using a smallish, hardcover journal that was gifted to me for my birthday this year.

The War Room

A couple of months ago, I watched “The War Room” on Netflix and was inspired. I’m not actually creating a war room, but I liked the idea of writing down the prayers (like I used to), using them as reminders to pray for the specific person or situation, and recording when it is answered. And, that’s what inspired me to pick up this habit again!

Inspiration

A quick look at Pinterest will reveal a myriad of ways to set up a prayer journal. You can use any type of journal, notebook, or binder, and you can make it as simple or as fancy as you like.

I like the pretty, fancy ones, but I don’t know if I’ll have time to make one of those. For now, I’m just focusing on a more simple journal and sometimes drawing (or attempting to draw, since I’m not overly artistic) a few little pictures (so far flowers) around the page. I have some washi tape as well that I might add to the pages, or at lease some of them, to help decorate it.

In my old journal, all I did was write the current date at the top, recorded the specifics of what I was going to pray – the person, situation, request, etc., and then at the bottom I would write the words “Date Answered:” and draw a line on which to write that date.

I’ve seen some posts that talk about having a page divided into the days of the week where specific people or organizations are written down and will be prayed for on that particular day of each week. For example, on Mondays you might choose to pray for your spouse, children, home, family life; Tuesdays might be for your job and co-workers; Wednesday might be for the government, both provincial and federal; Thursdays might be for your community, neighbours, city, friends; Fridays could be for the persecuted church, missionaries, your own ministry; Saturdays for the other ministries in your church, the congregation; and Sundays could be used to pray for your pastors and their families. You can set it up so it is personalized to what makes sense to you, and include everyone you want to pray for.

I actually like that idea of doing this and I am seriously considering adding a page in my prayer journal (maybe the back page since I’ve already started writing in this journal). I like the idea of praying for specific things/people on specific days, more for organization and helping me to keep focus – and remembering, of course!

Refer to:

Here are just four of the posts I read that all deal with prayer journals/notebooks. They all have great ideas for a prayer journal/notebook:

https://intentionalbygrace.com/how-to-make-a-prayer-notebook/

https://www.themodernmary.com/prayer-journal-tracking/#more-812

http://www.kathrynshirey.com/letters-god-keeping-prayer-journal/

http://thehealthyhappywoman.com/how-to-create-a-personal-prayer-notebook/

Focus

Remember, though, the focus on keeping a prayer journal shouldn’t be about making it pretty and perfect; it’s about focusing on God and communicating with Him.

clear glass jar filled of coloring pens beside of white sketch pad

You can use your prayer journal as a letter to God, writing down your prayer as though you are writing a letter – write to him how you would to a friend; pour out your heart and don’t worry about sounding fancy and using big words or being perfect.

Really, your prayer journal is personal and I encourage you to set yours up in whatever way works for you. If you’re not sure what you might like, try some different ideas and methods, and then choose one – or keep changing it up. It’s totally up to you; it’s your journal, after all!

As I record more prayers, I’ll share ideas I’ve had or different ways I might include in my journal. Keep checking back for updates.

Have you kept a prayer journal in the past, or even now? What are your favourite methods to use? Do you have favourite supplies you use? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas on prayer journalling!

Christianity

How Is Your Cup?

art blur cappuccino close up

We all know Psalm 23. It’s usually quoted at funerals.

I memorized this Psalm from the King James Version when I was younger (that was the only version available to me at the time), and in that version verse 5 states, “My cup runneth over.” I used to think this was a bad thing. I thought that it meant you had too much and you were wasting it.

That’s not what it means, though. It’s talking about how God takes care of us and gives us so much goodness and mercy that our cup overflows.

What It Refers To

One commentary I read (it came with the Blue Letter Bible I downloaded to my android phone for free from the Google Play Store) talks about how Jesus said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:37-38, NASB)

boulders cave creek environment

Living Water

Christ is that living water. If we ask Him to be our Saviour, He will give us that water. And, we want to fill our lives with so much of Christ, that He overflows from us. We want that water to spill over so that it is available for others, so that we can freely give to others what Christ has given to us.

Being in daily communion with God – reading the Bible, praying, devotions, etc. – will help to fill our cups.  Fellowship with other Christians will also help fill our cups.

Caution

But, I want to add a word of caution: don’t let your cup run empty. That’s what will happen if we don’t spend time with God. It will also happen if we don’t take care of ourselves, and if we avoid fellowshipping.

I know, from my own experiences, that when I don’t spend needed time with the Lord, when I work too much and don’t get enough rest, not much flows from my cup. It also happens when I give to much of myself and I don’t take needed “me time.” When this has happened, I have had times when my cup has been bone dry!

It’s not a good feeling.

And I’m certainly not able to be productive for the kingdom.

It’s important to take care of all aspects of our lives – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. One really does affect the other.

Encouragement

My friends, let me encourage you to make sure you are taking good care of yourself. Make sure to eat properly, get some exercise (something I know I need to do more of myself), take care of your mental and emotional health. And definitely make sure to spend time with the Lord.

Make sure you are being poured into, so that your cup will overflow for others; so that the streams of Living Water spill over from your life.

Guest Posts · Writing

It’s Not Really A Guest Post Per Se…

apple blossom blog 1

I have a post over on the website for Apple Blossom Ministries! It’s called, “5 Steps to Help Study the Bible.”  I’d love for you to visit there.

I’d also love for you to come back and let me know how you study the Bible. Do you have any steps to add? What are you currently studying?

Christianity

The Armour of God – Part 4

16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:16-17, NASB)

brown book page

Shield of Faith

These last three items complete our armour: the shield, the helmet, and the sword.

When I think of shields, I tend to think of something like what is used in the Captain America movies – small round shields. In the case of the Roman soldiers, they were not small and round. They were long enough to hide behind. They were doused in water to help extinguish the firy arrows that would be shot from their enemies. When a row, or group, of soldiers held their shields in front of them, they were blocked from the attacks.

I remember one of my professors in university talking about one type of formation they would use. It seems to me he called it a turtle – or something like that. He said that the soldiers on the outside of the formation would hold their shields so as to protect the group, and those in the middle would hold their shields overhead, adult ancient arena armorproviding shelter from arrows or whatever was being used to attack them.

The shield is protection, and keeps us safe from the enemy’s blows. And, this verse says that you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one – that should be comforting to know, that we can (with our armour) do this! We aren’t doing this using our own power, but with God’s help. He has provided us with what we need for the battle.

Helmet of Salvation

The helmet protected the head, and most of the face. Our head is important because it houses our brain. This piece of protection in the Armour of God is used to protect our thoughts and thinking.

All too often, if we aren’t focused on Jesus, our thoughts can

 be easily led astray and we think about things that we shouldn’t – whether we think bad thoughts of others, improper images, or we conjure up ways to get back at someone else. We need to train our minds to not go there, to not think of such things. Having the helmet on will protect us from when the enemy whispers those bad and negative thoughts to us.

Sword of the Spirit

photo of child reading holy bible

Of course, our sword is the Word of God – the Bible! We use scripture to stand up to the enemy, to lean on, to find strength in, and to reflect on the promises of God.

When Jesus spent 40 days and nights in the wilderness, Satan came along to tempt Him. Satan knows scripture too, so it’s not just a matter of being able to quote it, but using it as a weapon. When Satan tried to tempt Jesus, he quoted Scripture, but the thing is, Jesus (obviously) also knew scripture too, and He used that to counteract the enemy.

That’s what we need to do as well.

Don’t just simply memorize verses from the Bible to be able to quote or to appear knowledgeable or smart because you know so many of them. Use them in your battle. Find scripture that can fit with whatever situation you are going through and when the enemy attacks you in your weakness, fire back at him with the Word. Use your sword!

Praying these items

When I am praying on my armour, and I get to these items, I say something like, “Father, I put on my shield of faith. Help me to use it to extinguish the firy arrows and darts the enemy flings at me. I put on my helmet of salvation to help protect my thoughts. Help me to think about Godly things and not to be negative in my thinking. Help me use the helmet to protect me from the listening to the lies of the enemy. Lord, I take up the sword of the Spirit, which is your word. Help me to memorize your word and use it in battle.”

As I’ve said before, there is no magic formula to pray on the armour, but we do need to make sure to put it on daily. If we are doing God’s work, Kingdom work, then we are going to be attacked. Satan wants to keep us down and he’ll stop at nothing to do so.

My friends, I encourage you not to give up if you are going through a spiritual battle. Put on your armour and remember that you have it on (even if it means praying it on several times a day as a reminder). You are protected, you are doing good work. Lean on others through those rough times, but most importantly, lean on God.

See the other posts in this series:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

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