New Year Blessing

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be blessed, my friend!

Shelley

Advertisements

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.

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.

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

Being Vulnerable

woman looking at sea while sitting on beach

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

money pink coins pig

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.

The Armour of God – Part 1

close up of paper against black background

In the book of Ephesians, we read about the armour of God; more specifically, we are looking at Ephesians 6:10-18.

Since my husband and I have been under several of these attacks in the last few weeks, I thought I’d do a series of posts, with regard to this passage.

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

The Armour: Important

I mentioned in my previous post that during one of these spiritual attacks I wasn’t wearing my armour. I was an easy target for the enemy!  And, I was quite injured. If I’m at all honest, after examining each of these attacks, I had failed to put on my armour for any of them. Definitely not a wise thing to do!

For each of the posts in this series, I’d like to focus on a couple of verses at a time.  The posts might not be lengthy, but hopefully they will give some insight into these nine verses. In this particular post I’d like to focus on what verses 10 and 11 have to say.

Verses 10 & 11:

We begin this passage by being advised to be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Our strength is not enough. If we try to accomplish anything using our own strength and power, we will fail. This has to come from the Lord. He is the only one strong enough to fight (and we know that he has already won this battle).  If we rely on our own power, we won’t be strong enough. Nothing we can do to increase our strength will equip us. This is a spiritual battle, not a physical one. No amount of physical training will prepare us to fight. It is the Lord’s power that is mighty, not ours. Nowhere does it talk about us using our own power. Any power, any strength that we get must come from God.

The Full Armour:

Next, we read about putting on the full armour – not just one, two, or a few pieces. We want to make sure we are fully protected.  If we leave off any piece of the armour, no matter how small it might be, you can bet that the enemy will find a way to injure us in that particular area!  He knows what buttons to push, and he’ll stop at nothing.  Nothing.  He wants to prevent us from doing the Lord’s work.

Also notice that it says that we can take our stand against the devil’s schemes. Stand. We aren’t rushing into battle. We are standing. In Jesus, we can stand firm when the enemy attacks.

dawn sunset beach woman

In Summary:

To summarize, during the spiritual battles we encounter (and we definitely will if we are doing the Lord’s work), we are to get our strength from the Lord and put on the full armour of God. The full armour is what helps us to stand firm during these attacks.

The next post in this series will deal with verses 12 and 13.  Hope to see you then!

When All Is Said and Done

Saturday is the second of my husband’s days off. He’s not allowed to do any work on ballpen-business-cell-phone-796602Saturdays, or even carry his work phone with him.  I try not to do anything work related either.

Saturday is a day to spend with family. And that’s what we did today.

My husband,  step-son, and I went for a beautiful drive to Kejimkujik National Park, about 2 1/2 hours from where we live. It was a gorgeous day full of walking along a trail none of us had taken before, taking lots of pictures, and then heading into Annapolis Royal for a late lunch at a great little German restaurant and bakery.

We had a lot of different music playing throughout our trip, but on our way there, we were listening to some praise and worship music. The song “Oceans” by Hillsong United came on. I love this song!

As I listened to the following lyrics, I started thinking.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

So often, we desire to have a great faith, to be able to follow wherever (and whenever) the Lord leads us – to be like Peter and walk upon the water. We long to go deeper and become stronger in our faith.

But at what cost are we willing to get that?

If we are stagnant in our faith, we stay in the same place.  We only grow when we are stretched, when we face difficult times, when we walk through the valley. Most people don’t want that. They want the results without doing the work. And, I admit it, I’ve been like that before. I think we are all guilty of it at times.

I don’t like the rough waters, I don’t like the spiritual attacks, I don’t like the pain. But I also know that when it’s over, I will be stronger – and hopefully more mature in my faith.

bull-s-eye-dartboard-darts-70459In the last couple of weeks, I’ve faced a few spiritual attacks. They hurt a great deal. Those attacks made me question myself, my walk, and my future. But, I’m going to rise above them. I’m not going to let them affect me anymore. I’m not going to let them (or the enemy) have that control.

I feel like I’m being really stretched lately, and I know I will be stronger when all is said and done – with God’s help; not on my own.

Click here to hear Oceans by Hillsong United

Today Was A Better Day

The bulk of this week was not great for me. Not only have I been dealing with my depression and anxiety, but Sunday afternoon family members shared some terrible news with us. It devastated me. And I found myself spiralling downward quickly.

Both Monday and Tuesday I had what I can only describe as breakdowns while trying to get ready for work. I couldn’t seem to function. I stood in the bathroom, attempting to get into the shower; all I could do was stand there, sobbing uncontrollably. All I wanted to do was crawl back into bed, cover my head, and disappear for awhile.  I didn’t want to face the world.

My husband was there for me. He held me, hugged me, told me it was OK to cry. He prayed for me. And he encouraged me. He reminded me that I’m not alone, that he is going to be with me through this, and that it will get better. I love him dearly for that (amongst other things).

Today, though, I woke up and I managed to get through the day without feeling hopeless, without feeling like my world was imploding. Today I was able to smile, to laugh, to feel almost myself again.

I’m not saying that I am over this, that the depression is gone, that my meds have suddenly kicked in and everything is hunky dory.  But, today was better. Today I made it through 15 hours without crying.

I have had many people praying for me, encouraging me to lean on the Lord. I’ve prayed. I’ve asked for strength. I’ve tried to not focus on little upsets that have happened today. And I made it through.

Today was a better day.

I know there are still going to be down days ahead, but I also know I’m not alone in this. I know Jesus is walking with me. He’s here for me, to give me strength, to dry my tears, to give me support as I walk along through the darkness, to light my way.

And for that, I am thankful.

I Caught A Glimpse of the Light…

My husband tells me it will get better, that right now I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I will.  He tells me it’s still there, hiding beneath the grey clouds that loom over me on what seems like a daily basis.

I catch glimmers of that light, now and then.  It’s mostly a pin prick that expands and contracts at varying intervals throughout the day – mostly when my mind is on something else.

Driving home from work, my husband shone some of that light on me. He told me that a friend of ours had lifted me up in a beautiful prayer this morning. He told me how another friend of his shared that I had made him feel welcome and accepted when we had met, that I make others feel welcome and accepted, too. My husband shared this with me to help me see that there is light, to help me see that I make a difference, that I matter – things I haven’t been able to see in myself or to accept in recent months.

I caught a glimpse of that light at the end of the tunnel this evening. I know it’s there, even if I haven’t been able to see it much lately.

Today, I felt the clouds lift a little. They’re starting to settle around me one more, but at least I know the light is there, that it will shine again, that the clouds will drift away, and the depression and anxiety will loosen its gnarly grip on me.