Christianity · God · My Walk · New Start

Happy New Year!

The words Happy New Year on a plain background with images portraying fireworks at the top and bottom of picture.

Happy New Year!

Today is the beginning of a new day, a new month, a new year, a new decade, and it’s a great time to refocus on goals and dreams.

I Don’t Like New Year’s Resolutions

Many people create new year’s resolutions. I don’t like to do that.  I have never been successful with them in the past and I have always ended up feeling terrible about myself and feeling like a failure because I didn’t accomplish what I wanted in a particular year.

Sure, I have lots of things I want to do, places to go, things to accomplish. I think it’s safe to say we all do.

But I’m trying to do things differently now that I’m, ahem, older (and hopefully wiser).

And, as a Christian, my ways of doing things is different as well.  I look to God for my guidance, seek Him in what I do. I want to work toward fulfilling what His plan for my life is.

Does that mean I am perfect as a person, or perfect in all I do?

Of course not!

I’m A Christian; That Doesn’t Make Me Perfect

I still fail. I still look to my own desires and dreams. And I can be quite stubborn! Just ask my husband.

Just because I am a Christian doesn’t mean that everything is perfect and that I won’t fail.  I am far from perfect; believe me!  I can’t count the number of times I have started something new, taken up a new hobby or tried to turn over a new leaf and ended up falling on my face.

Failure is a part of life.  It’s what you do with that failure that counts. Do you stay down, or do you get back up and keep trying?

Life Is About Picking Yourself Up and Continuing Along the Journey

I am learning that just because I fail at something doesn’t mean that I’m a failure.  What I need to do is pick myself up, dust myself off, and either start again or continue along the same path not letting the previous stumble determine my course of action.

As I look back on 2019 and see that the year started off very positive and filled with lots of hope and ambition, I also see that along the way things began to peter off.  I either let procrastination (another issue I deal with) or fear stop me from doing what I had set out to do.  I let myself stay stuck in the fact that I didn’t know which direction to take at times or didn’t bother to learn how to do certain things required to help move me along the path.  I let that one hold me back as I used that excuse to deter myself in my dreams.

I don’t want to be like that this year.  Yes, I’m sure there will be stumbling blocks along the way in 2020, but I want to face them and keep pushing forward.  This time next year, I want to be able to look back and be happy with the things I did, the steps I took, and the successes I achieved.

What Do I Want?

I want God to be in the center of what I do. I want God to be the first one I go to when seeking direction. I want God to be the one to give me the courage to change the things I can.

I am going into the new year with a renewed hope and desire to achieve success in my accomplishments. And I am going into the new year with a desire to keep God at the center.

Your turn:

Are you someone who makes new year’s resolutions? Are you successful?  What are your dreams and goals and ambitions for 2020? I’d love for you to leave me a comment and let me know!

Uncategorized

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.

Christianity · God · My Walk

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.

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

Christianity

At My Age?!

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

woman leaning on glass window

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?

man and woman talking

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?

couple elderly man old

Christianity

The Armour of God – Part 3

brown book page

14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace (NASB)

As previously mentioned in this series, we don’t rush into battle; we stand firm. We’re reminded of that again in verse 14. Because standing firm is mentioned more than once, it must be important; so it’s wise to follow through with it. When we are standing firm, remember that we are standing strong – strong in the Lord and in His might.

Let’s look at the first two pieces of our armour:

Belt of Truth

The version I have quoted from above (New American Standard Bible) says “girding our loins.” But what does that mean? It’s good to check out other versions of the Bible as well, because things can be worded a little differently. Some use more modern language that is easier for us to understand. Some of these versions talk about buckling the belt of truth around our waists. So, girding our loins and putting on the belt of truth is the same thing.

Belts are important – they help keep our pants up! In Bible times, the belt would have been used to tuck in the hem of the outer garments to aid in moving quickly. What I learned, was that a man would grab the back hem of his garment and draw it up between his legs, tucking it into the front of his belt. It would have looked similar to Hammer Pants from the 80s…well, somewhat. By tucking his garment into the belt, he could run or move quickly without fear of tripping or having his feet get caught in the hem of his garment.

For the Christian, the belt of truth is important. We need to speak the truth, but we must do it in love. Truth is important, but we needn’t be harsh or sarcastic with it. Speaking in truth, I believe, takes the other person’s feelings into account. Be gentle, be kind. Don’t try to hurt someone else; but at the same time, we do need to be honest and truthful. And, don’t forget that love is listed first in the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

Breastplate of Righteousness

The next piece of armour to put on is the breastplate of righteousness. This article wasn’t just covering a soldier’s chest; it went all around his upper body, where the heart and lungs are located, to protect him.

Our organs are vital for living – for breathing and pumping blood to the rest of our body, to keep us alive, so obviously we would want to make sure that part of our body protected!

Praying on the Armour

When I learned about praying on the armour of God, I was taught that when Roman soldiers would have put on their armour, someone else would do it for him, helping him get dressed for battle.girl-praying-hands-eyelashes-41942.jpeg

Likewise, we should pray on the armour of God for our brothers and sisters in Christ in order to help them be protected. I don’t think it means that we shouldn’t pray it on for ourselves, though. We still need to be dressed, and someone else might not know (or remember) to pray it on us.

When I Pray

When praying on these two items, I tend to say something like: “Father, I put on the belt of truth to help me speak the truth in love to others. I put on the breastplate of righteousness to help protect my heart and my feelings.” You don’t have to pray it exactly that way; I say it this way to help me remember what the pieces represent.

My friends, I pray that if you are going through troubling times that you will remember that God is on your side. Turn to Him and trust Him to help get you through to the other side.

Please visit the following links to the first two parts of this series if you haven’t read them yet:

The Armour of God – Part 1
The Armour of God – Part 2