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.

 

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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.

affection appreciation decoration design

My List:

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

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

Thankful Thursdays

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

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

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

Leave a comment with something you are thankful for today.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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?

A Powerful Tool

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remember, words do matter.