Jumping Back In

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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

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

Dear Younger Me…

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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.

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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.

Ah, I See You’re Back!

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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.

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At My Age?!

I am almost 50 years old.  It seems like only yesterday that I was half the age I am now.

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Sometimes I feel like I’m now too old to take on new roles, new adventures, follow new paths. I often think, “If only I had started this in my 20s or 30s….” and then I feel depressed for a little while, thinking of all the time I have lost and all the things I failed to try through the various decades I’ve been alive.

There is no one God can’t use for His kingdom-work

Thankfully, God can use anybody – it doesn’t matter if we are men or women, how young or old we are, what careers we have, if we are stay-at-home moms or dads, if we have kids or not. None of that matters to Him.

Take a look in the Bible. There were men and women of all ages and backgrounds. Jesus ran with fishermen and tax collectors and associated with women of ill repute. He didn’t care where they came from, what their careers were, or even how old they were. None of that mattered. God can, and does, use anyone – even today!

What really matters?

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The main thing, though, is that we are actively seeking the Lord, that we are taking part in the great commission to go and make disciples, that we are getting involved in various ministries to help further His kingdom. Anyone can do this, and that’s definitely a good thing!

Age is just a number. I need to remember that. Paul said to Timothy, “Let no one look down on your youthfulness…” (1 Timothy 4:12), and I believe it also works with those who are not so youthful as well. No one should look down on anyone who is older, nor should we do that to ourselves either.  No one should hinder another from doing the Lord’s work.

I often use my age as a reason that I shouldn’t do something. I feel that I could accomplish more if I were younger. Truthfully, I need to let go of that.  I need to summon up the courage, take the plunge, and just do “it”. I don’t want to look back 20 years from now and wonder why I didn’t do it, or wonder what I could have accomplished, if only…

What Can We do?

The only way to do this is by relying on the Lord. He’s the only one who can give me the strength, determination, and wisdom to do what it is I want to accomplish in my ministry now (or at any point, really). But, I need to take the necessary steps. If I don’t do anything, then how can I expect God to help or bless it?

I think of Proverbs 3:5-6:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.

I want God to be at the center of my ministry. I want Him to be at the center of whatever I do. I need to allow Him to use me for His work, to lead me, to guide me, to accomplish what it is He has for me to do. I need to stop using my age as an excuse to not do something, and just do it.

Do you ever feel you are too old or too young to accomplish something? What has your experience been with your age and ministry?

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Being Vulnerable

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I want to be vulnerable in this post. I want to bare my soul. I want to help other people to see and know that it’s OK to be transparent with others. We all struggle, we all go through hardships, we all make poor decisions. We all hurt, we all cry.

I’m human, and I do all of these things. And I know you do too. I want you to know it’s OK to feel the feelings. It’s OK to cry the tears.

Caught

I’m really struggling this morning. I’m caught between two focused thoughts.

I know that there are always going to people who don’t like us, people who say mean things to us or about us, people who are hurt and lash out at us, etc.

It’s a part of life. It’s inevitable that it will happen.

I’m struggling because I know that I shouldn’t let words or people upset me. I shouldn’t give the power to them. I know it’s like drinking the poison myself and expecting the other person to die.

I know I should be focusing on those who love me, those who encourage me, those who build me up, who care about me. I should be focusing on the positive things.

Change My Focus

I know all that. I do. So why can’t I stop focusing on that one “bad apple” that is spoiling the rest? Why am I letting that garbage affect me, taint my thoughts, cause me to doubt, lose hope, or questions my future?

man planting plant

I am working at changing my outlook, my focus. I’m working at not letting the seeds of doubt be planted and grow roots. It’s not an easy task. But with God on my side, and by trusting Him, listening to the Holy Spirit, praying, and rebuking the enemy, I can overcome this. And you can too.

It’s not easy, but it can be done.

Be Vulnerable. It’s OK

Friends, I want to encourage you to be vulnerable, raw, and transparent with your feelings. Feel the feelings, but don’t dwell on them forever. Don’t give the enemy a foothold. Change the stinkin’ thinkin’, and move on to bigger and better things. Things that God has planned for you.

You can do it. And, so can I.

Where You Can Find Hope

accomplishment ceremony education graduation

I attended university as a mature student – I was in my 30s. In fact, I graduated from my BA (in Biblical Studies) twenty years after I graduated high school! A couple of years after that I went back for another year to complete my Bachelor of Education degree (I already had several courses I could apply toward it so it didn’t take me the full two years). I’m also thinking of taking some more courses, but that’s another story for another time.

My Verse

During my university years, primarily in the four years of working on my Bachelor of Arts, I clung to a particular verse in the Bible: Jeremiah 29:11. After a couple of years, I added verses 12 and 13 as well.

“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (NASB)

Prospering Does Not Equal Lots of Money

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I had memorized verse 11 from a different translation, one that said “…plans to prosper you and not to harm you” (instead of welfare and calamity). I learned that the part about prospering had nothing to do with me receiving tons and tons of money. That’s not what it means. And I’m OK with that.

Years later, I found out that this verse was actually spoken to the Israelites when they were exiles in Babylon. It was a promise that God would take care of them in Babylon, and they would be fine. And while, yes, it can still be a promise to us today (God will still take care of us), it was given for a specific people at a specific time.

What Does It Give Me?

I still cling to these verses. They give me hope. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.

I am now especially drawn to the hope and comfort found in verse 13: You will seek me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

The promise is that if we are looking for God, if we do this with all of our heart, being serious about it and not flippant, we will find Him. He is there, waiting for us.

I believe that searching for God with our whole heart involves prayer, meditation (thinking and focusing on what the Word is saying), Bible reading and studying, learning from others, and attending church.

Who’s It For?

It’s in the searching where we’ll find Him. That’s the hope I have. And that’s the hope you can have as well.

My friends, the hope offered in Jesus Christ is for everyone. I pray that if you haven’t found Him yet, you will.

It’s Not In My Realm To Seek The Spotlight

microphoneYesterday, I stood up and read my testimony at church – at all three of our services.

Back to back to back services.

For someone who deals with anxiety, that’s saying a lot!

I don’t know if my testimony spoke to anyone or not, and I may never know. But, if even just one person could identify with something, get some encouragement, or the courage to seek recovery themselves (regardless of what his/her issue is, then I was successful.

Even if all God had intended from this was to help me get over the fear of standing up in front of many people to speak, then there is still success in what I did.

spotlightI’m shy and introverted by nature, so it’s not in my realm to seek the spotlight. It’s extremely rare for me to even desire to be the center of attention. So, for me to get up in front of over 500 people (in total), I was certainly out of my comfort zone!

To be honest, I had to read from my notes (occasionally looking up) or I would have been lost. I certainly would not have been able to “wing it” without them!  I’m far from being able to get up in front of a crowd and speak without having notes in front of me of what I want to say. But, that will just take time and practice.

And to be honest, in stepping out and sharing how God has worked (and is working) in my life, I’ve been under spiritual attack for the last week and a half. It’s been a lot to deal with, let me tell you!

That’s how the enemy operates, though. He doesn’t bother you if you aren’t doing God’s work. He wants to stop us being effective. He just plain wants to stop us. That’s why it’s important to put on the full armour of God on a daily basis so that we can take part in the battle and survive.

And, that’s where my problem lies. I didn’t do that. And because I was not protected, the barbs hit me and stuck. They injured me and drew blood.

I’ve healed a little now, thankfully.  Some of this will still take a little time to recover from, and I know I will. But I need to remember to take the necessary steps every day so that I will be protected from future assaults.

Something I have Lacked Most of My Life

Confidence.

The ability to believe in yourself.

It’s something I have lacked most of my life.  It’s something I have struggled with for so long.

I have watched and listed to many confident men and women, from all walks of life, and have always wished I could be as confident as they were/are.  The desire was, and is, real.  It’s something I have worked at, and something that I have felt at times that I failed at miserably.

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Now, I’m taking steps to help build up my confidence.  One of these steps is to pray for it.  The other is to do things – speak in front of others, particularly – to help build this characteristic in myself.  In the last month or so, my self-confidence has grown.  And it’s somewhat surprising, because I haven’t really noticed. Others have. Others have commented on it – some good, some not so good.

I’ve had someone say that they thought there was something different about me, and they felt I wasn’t approachable any more.  That hurt. I didn’t know what to think. I mentioned this to someone else, and they said they saw that I had changed as well, that I was more confident – and that was a good thing!

Personally, I hadn’t noticed any change in myself, but looking back over the last three weeks, I can see it a little. I don’t think it’s a lot, but it’s enough to see.  I’m not cocky, and I’m not arrogant. There’s a difference.

After receiving that negative comment, I admit that it bothered me – a lot.  I ruminated over it. And, I almost let it beat me.

But, I didn’t.

I prayed and have decided that if someone can’t accept me as being more confident in myself, then that is their problem.

As they say, a change will do you good. And I’m making changes – good ones, positive ones, and I don’t think I should stop that for anyone.

 

Searching For Some Direction

Since high school, I’ve dabbled in writing. I wrote what would be partial novels, but never finished them. I held on to them for a long time and when I went back to read them, they were horrible! I pretty much just rambled on in thepexels-photo.jpg tone of a high school girl who had absolutely no idea of what she was writing, let alone how to do it.

Needless to say, I threw those babies out!

I’ve tried to write some poetry, and I think I had a couple of good ones, but, I don’t know if poetry is my cup of tea. I’m not saying I’ll never try to write poetry again; I just don’t think I’ll use my time for that, at least not now.

I’ve also written a few short short stories. I was part of a Christian writing forum that held weekly contests. The first story I had written and submitted won an honourable mention and was published in a quarterly book. There was no monetary gain, but at least it is something to put on the resume!

Recently, my hours at work have decreased, and I have decided to delve into writing more. Of course, I have all those thoughts of: What am I going to write? Do I focus just on Christian content or just on secular content, or both? Do I write articles? Should I write about every day life?

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You get the picture.  I need some direction.

I’ve also been reading some articles on creating more of a “professional” blog and I have seen that it’s a good idea to spend the money and get your own domain. I’m seriously considering this.

And I need content. That’s what I’m working on now.

I’m also working on developing my style as a writer. I think blogging will help with that. At least I hope it will!

I’m also open to suggestions on what to write about. That’s where you come in! Let me know in the comment section what sort of articles you like to read. What topics are you interested in? What types of blogs do you frequent? What style of writing are you attracted to as a reader?