The Power of An Image

I love to take photos. I take photos of everything I see and experience. When asked what my photography niche is, I would have to say that don’t really have one that I enjoy more than just the joy of taking the photo and being creative with them. I love to take photographs of many things. But a good friend once told me that my gifting was in the area of vignettes… those pictures you take of a moment in time that invokes a feeling from looking at the photo. It isn’t of someone, a landscape view, nature, an object, or animals. However, it may include some of them in the photograph. It’s like a puzzle photo you put together to get the look you desire. It invokes a feeling. It is something I see that causes me to take a moment and feel what I see, maybe even ask why I am seeing it, and then, what I should do with what I see. It makes you think. It tells a story. I had a strong urging today to write a bit about this. So…here it goes!

Quiet Time

I enjoy catching those moments in my story each day. It is my reminder of the good in my day. It also reminds me to be grateful that I can enjoy those moments. Each photo holds value to me, and my hope is that they encourage others. It may give someone hope, a bright spot in their day, or a view they haven’t seen. A reminder of good things. In my case, it reminds me of a legacy of a life well-lived. I can just be sitting there and then I see a photo in my mind’s eye and I have to set it up to create it.

Homemade Vest from Childhood

Pictures help us to see the present moment and encourage us to reflect on it. We have heard the saying…a perfect moment in time. That is what a photo is all about. Even if it’s not the best one, it is the one you have. Sometimes you totally miss getting it, but I have learned to say that the photo I missed, God gave to me for my eyes only that time.

Tradition in my home growing up that I make because I love them!

There are many taking pictures now days that spend an inordinate amount of time taking selfies in all kinds of situations. That is a fun way to chronicle a special event or circumstance that is a part of your story. But when we put out all these self-made glamour selfies out there, we aren’t always living in the reality of every day life. Sure, everyone wants to look their best, but you are concentrating on the love of self a lot more than what may be necessary. We all want to look a certain way, show our family a certain way, and project a certain image. Our cameras that we can so easily hold and take with us, are a very valuable tool in the hands of the owner. It will be your past that speaks into your future someday; a gift left to your family and friends. What pictures do you have more of? What is going on in the moments of your life? If someone scrolled through your cell phone pictures, or computer pictures, will they find more of your selfies and you doing something that spotlights YOU, or would they find pictures of what your life and memories have been?

Fun at the cabin.

You see, as believers, we want to highlight ourselves less, and Him more. So what IF we started taking pictures and photos that showed our gratefulness for what we have? The beauty of His creation? The love of family gatherings? Special items you have that speak of your growing up years? What brings you joy? What makes you sad? What if we move others through our photos? What if we didn’t post the ugliness of things on Facebook, but posted the positive and funny experiences? Because…well…it doesn’t help to post things that we can’t do anything about, such as, all the sadness and abuse out there that we most likely can’t change. That doesn’t help anyone. When we are out taking selfies, we also teach our children that it is all about ME. When we post every little thing, we suddenly become all about the “posing”. Even little kids know how to put their little hands on their hips and act in a certain way for a picture. I would rather see them in the real life experiences where a memory is made. Maybe it will be them enjoying fun and laughter, eating ice cream, fun with a pet, camping in the back yard, learning something new or being with their grandparents. Those are valuable pictures. Picture yourself sitting at some point and a child asks to see your pictures, and all they see are dozens and dozens of pictures of you. That doesn’t tell them anything about your life, dreams, loves, feelings, or what you think about the life you have lived so far.

I know that I post a lot of life pictures. Pictures of thoughts during the day, my collection of mocha cups, a candle lit for ambiance, a picture of beautiful nature, a flower, my home as we make improvements, various great “finds” that I come across shopping, something I have read, music, where I have my quiet time, challenges that I go through that may help another when their times comes for a challenge, and the fun my hubby and I have together, just to name a few. Those are the things that make a picture valuable. You can’t get those moments back without the pictures. You may even get to the point where some are forgotten and that picture brings it all back to you.

It’s like a ministry to me. I hope someone sees my pictures and thinks they can do that, or I want to do that, or what a great idea, or maybe… Lord, help me to put that as a priority in my life also. We each have a story. We are time managers because we are making a lasting moment with a picture.

Home ambiance that is important to me.

God has changed my life through pictures. It keeps me present and grateful. Know the value pictures hold for you and I encourage you to use that tool; your cell phone or camera, to the utmost. You may not like to journal but pictures are a great way to do that instead of writing. God has given us technology to work with, let’s use it for something good, something true, and something valuable. Make something magic happen with it. It becomes like time travel, and that, we can all identify with! The nostalgia of looking through the archives of photos!

Dial back a few years and enjoy the journey through your story and maybe re-evaluate the power of your images. With renewed intention, we can change everything!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Thoughts From My Window

So what outcome do we line up with? I believe just like the firefighters have to blaze a ditch at times to keep the fire from hopefully moving into another area, we have to draw a boundary or two in our we lives. We have to chose our attitude toward today, be thankful for what we have and not complain about what we don’t. Enjoy what you have every day. Don’t put it away and never enjoy it. Remember, it can be gone very quickly and if we still have it, hold it lightly. We can’t take any of it with us. As I always say, drink from the good glasses. They do not give joy sitting in the cupboard.

Today as I finished my quiet time, I was reading in Lamentations and reading about their response to the consequences of their actions that they had chosen. It seemed a bit like a paraellel to some of the fires going on in the areas where I live and south of me. It made me think of what is important, and what is less important. I was so thankful too as I sat in my little corner of the world, and looking out my window to see God’s provision right in front of my eyes. How often do we take for granted all that we have, along with the surroundings we enjoy? I think it happens more often that not.

I have been thinking of how quickly our lives can change. From cohesive relationships to drama and pain. How we can take everything for granted until we don’t have it anymore. In some areas, we can find it really isn’t missed and those are good eliminations. That can even be freeing. But there are circumstances in our lives where it hits you and life changes quickly. It can be as we see in the news where families and communities have lost everything! That means all the memories and possessions are gone in just a short time. We can have broken relationships that are there one day and next day they are gone. It’s a hard life at times that we are called to live.

I have had some rough times recently, and I am having to make some rough choices in my thoughts and actions. It is hard. It is work. It is giving some things up. It is drawing a ditch in front of my life so I can tell the devil to take his messes elsewhere. Oh… he will try to jump the ditch…for sure. But I have the hose ready to spray my ditch with the power of the God’s Word. I can tell him JUST what God says about it. I go back to last the post where I talked about pray, pray and pray some more. That is where my focus has to be, and where my power to live each day comes from.

As I turn from my window, I can come away with a renewed thankfulness, and determination that I will make it through this also. God hasn’t left the situation or my life. So as I sat at the window this morning, I dug the figurative ditch. I will continue to stand with God right beside me holding the line!

Will you allow God to stand with you and hold the line with you in your life? He wants to, you know.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Sideswiped Faith

I observed in myself this last week what I can only describe as having my faith sideswiped. If you have ever been sideswiped in a car, or watched it happen, you know that it isn’t expected and it is very hard to avoid the crash that comes with it. That was my experience, or at least, what it felt like to me.

To be honest, I was heart broken. I looked back on it and thought I had led well to the best of my ability, but it appeared in many ways that I had failed. What I hoped would be a good example of faith, was in fact, not very convincing or evident apparently. I had failed the ones I loved the most it seemed. I wasn’t looking for this revelation, didn’t ask for it, and yet it was handed to me.

How do you handle being sideswiped? You have to get the facts straight. What happened? How did it happen? Did I not pay attention? Was it my fault or the fault of someone else? Am I willing to take responsibility if it was me? Or was it no fault of my own? We have to do the work. By doing that, it becomes clear in our minds, as well as those involved, as to the course of the outcome. However, that is hard when you are shook up from the sideswipe. You are shook to your core and not always thinking clearly. You say things and act too much out of emotions. It takes asking yourself the right questions.

That’s what happened to me a couple weeks ago. As believers, we try to navigate our life in terms of being an example of how to live, how to pray over our decisions, how to make good choices, how to love others, and be Jesus hands and feet. We trust God with everything. We may not always like the outcome, but we trust that He knows the end from the beginning, so we can trust the outcome. We try to parent in such a way that our children, family and friends see Jesus in us and thus come to see God. We live with that purpose of showing others what God looks like, and serve God with our lives. But we also know that it doesn’t always go the way we want it to. We, or our family and friends, don’t always stay in the same lanes with the parallels of our lives. We test the boundaries, we go too fast, we get distracted, we miss a road sign, and maybe we are distracted by the life of the very person we have tried to lead. Sometimes this can cause a “crisis of faith” in us. This isn’t just in families, but it can be in friendships, and church families as well.

What I came to understand as I worked through my thoughts and emotions in prayer, was that I felt like a failture at this point. God is not the author of those kinds of thoughts and feelings. He tells me that I can come to Him with anything, and He will hear me. So I listened after I shared this with Him. I came to understand it in a different way. I know there are times I could of handled things differently. We ALL have that in our lives. The key? I have always asked for forgiveness of those things, and I know God forgives. I have asked of those that I love to forgive me. So it’s done. I have done my very best, I have changed and corrected my future with what I have learned, and I know that the Holy Spirit lives in me to bring correction as I need it.

I was reminded that God has given each person a free will. They use that free will to make choices for their lives. Friendships that they choose, even how much of what their friends believe that they begin to belive. I can’t make the choices for them, nor an I responsible for the choices they make. I can direct, correct, encourage, but as they get older, they are now making their own choices. If they make choices based on their belief ideals, then they must live with the consequences of those choices. We would all love to see them live good lives, and love others, and put God first in their lives. But without the acceptance of God and of the Holy Spirit in their lives, they are living a spiritually blind path where they don’t see it like you or I may see it. Until the time comes in their lives where that becomes real to them, they can’t see it. They also have a tendency to listen to who they spend time with, rather than someone who has imparted into their lives at home. I have had years of experience with God where I can say He has shown Himself faithful every time. I KNOW His provision.

So… it came down to this, I can only keep living my life in a way that shines God’s light to those around me. Even in my messed up ways at times, He can still use me to let others see. If I am honest and open about the way I live, and I ask God to use my life toward guiding others, that is the best way to handle it. What I feel God spoke to me during this experience was this: “You can pray, and keep praying, and never give up praying. That isn’t the last thing you do as if it is your last resort. It’s your first thing you do every day. It’s your priority!”

In otherwords, devil, you aren’t going to drag me down through the ditch for something that God is using to teach me again. It isn’t easy to hear, and it means some more trust and faith on my part, but I will keep shining. That’s what I hope to do. I keep believing, I keep trusting, I keep asking. I keep living. That will be a part of my story.

I will keep my eyes on the road of life, and watch carefully for those times when I know it is the devil trying to discourage me and side swipe my faith. I can better avoid what he tries to hit me with. I won’t give up. My relationship with my people is all good. I just have to leave the ending of their story in the hands of the One Who knows.

Will you give up when hard times hit? Or will you try to live an authentic life for Christ? I hope it is the latter; the former is what satan is after these days. Don’t open that door. Slam it and lock it! Kick that devil to the curb. Then, thank God for leading you, assess the damage, repair what needs to be repaired in prayer, wipe the dust from your sandles and walk on.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

The Power of Words

Have you ever experienced words said to you that made you feel like they had just thrown a big pitcher of ice water over your head? It might have taken your breath away, or made you feel the shock of the words, or even like, you might not recover from it. You thought about it again and again, even after they had left you? You replay it in your mind and you find it hard to let it go. It can send you in a spiral downward. But the same is true if it comes out of your mouth to someone else? Do we pray first about what words we use? Do you ever call yourself names, or try to win an argument you had with a person and THIS time, you tell them just exactly what you think?!? 🙂 I know you have. I know I have.

Words have power! Do you know how many words you say to yourself each day? The average person speaks 7000 words a day! Some speak even more than that! What are you saying to yourself all day? What is your inner dialog? And…what do you believe about those words you say to yourself? Are they affirming? Angry? Name calling? Condemning?

I am a “word” person. I love words, I enjoy learning new ones, and I have them up all over my house. Why? Because I need reminders of good words and uplifting direction in my life. I need reminders that God has good for me, not bad. That He loves me right where I am, and just like I am. That doesn’t mean He doesn’t want me to grow and change; He does. But He loved me enough in the very beginning before I did work on changing. He loved me enough to say, “Come.” He loves me enough to help me move forward toward wholeness.

I heard a word today that fit for me…the word was GRIT. Do you need GRIT right now? Is what is going on all around you sanding away at your GRIT? You feeling overwhelmed? Here is a definition of GRIT:

Grit – courage and resolve; strength of character.

Do you have grit? Do you NEED some grit?? Maybe your word is different. Whatever it is today, ponder this idea, and see what word God may have to encourage you today, or this week, or this season. What will give you courage, resolve or strengthen YOUR character?

Staying connected with those things or people that help us keep our words affirming and loving, and our attitude more positive, is important. In this day and age, it seems people are way too free with their words. They are often times not the least affirming or loving. You don’t have to like someone possibly, but you don’t have to slander them either. Your best way of loving might be to just zip your mouth and fold your hands and keep your fingers from moving over your keyboard. Pray instead. Pray for THEM instead of putting something out there that slanders the person. Remember words have power. When we speak them out, we are showing who WE really are also. Ding, ding!!

So I am sharing a little grit of my own in this post, but I think it is necessary for us all to realize how words have impact on ourselves and those around us. Find some good ones! Put them on the walls of your heart to soften it. Ask God for direction towards words that have deep meaning for you…search. He is waiting.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Do You Have Hope In the Darkness?

 

Here I am writing to you from my new space today. We have moved and are still settling in. However, I am writing from my desk where I have a very peaceful environment and space. A true answer to prayer! I’m sharing it with you along with this message because I believe the two go hand in hand. Let me share with you why I think this way.

We have long known that our environment has much to do with how we feel.  That means how our surroundings feel to us, what is going on in those surroundings, the relationships going on in the surroundings, and the messages spoken. So if that is the case, why are we not doing everything we can within our means to make that a priority in our lives, as well as, those who live or come into our environment? Why don’t we make a priority for OURSELVES? We know its value to us and to our future and daily lives.

Enter this present day: with everything that is going on around us, isn’t it even MORE important for us to have a place where we can feel safe? A place where our souls find rest and comfort? It sure is! It makes a big difference in how we think and navigate these times. Today, I have the light shining into my room, candles burning as rememberance of what He has done, a line of twinkle lights lit that just make me happy, a tall glass of ice tea, and surrounded by things I love. I don’t want to have my face anywhere but looking up, and as I do, then God reminds me to look around.  He wants me to see what I have; what He has done for me. He doesn’t want me concentrating on what I witness in this chaotic life around me. I came across a photo I took a few years back. As I looked at it, I felt in my heart that God was reminding me that HE sees in the dark. When the fog of chaos rolls in, when the darkness is more prevalent than the light, He can see where we are in the dark! He knows where I am. He wants to be my light.  He IS Light. I believe He was telling me to look to Him as the Light in the darkness when the times around me seems overwhelming. Where there is light, there is no darkness. You can go into a room that is dark, and when you turn the light on, the darkness goes away and the light enters the room.

So I make my sourroundings a continuation of that message. I always have. I spend a fair amount of time in my home, and now, even more so. Because of that, I want it to be a place of refuge for me, my husband, and anyone else that needs it as they visit, however long that may be. I want them to leave with a feeling peace that tugs on their hearts when their visit ends. I want them to be encouraged and uplifted. They may not even know what it is that makes them relax, but I do. God is here. Jesus is here. The Holy Spirit is here. AND…this house was given to us by God; without a doubt. I feel a little like Abraham and Sarah when they got a child at such an elderly age as they were. They never thought it could happen. But God. He blessed them with a child. I feel the same way. At the age of my husband and I, that God would so graciously gift us with what I feel is the best home we have had yet. Not just the home, it’s surroundings and all, but also what we have been able to do with this home. The sense of peace here. So… I know it has purpose in our lives beyond our daily living. Isn’t that how God is? He wants the best for us.

So trusting Him means that I have to trust Him all the time. Just because we have this wonderful house, doesn’t mean we aren’t going to have troubles. This is where I think we get mixed up. We think that because we are followers of Jesus, that He will then give us rose ladden paths and nothing bad will happen because He will take care of it before it does. Don’t we think like that? Yes many of us do. And so when the storm hits, we are immediately asking God why why THAT happened. He is the same God in the storm as He is in the calm. He is the same God who was with me during skin cancer surgeries as He is when He gave us this home. So… blessing = Nothing bad happens? That is NOT the case. I think we even know it, we just don’t want to reconcile it. That is our darkness. We are thinking about only the room we are in that is dark. But outside that door stands Jesus…knocking. If we open the door, the Light will come in and it’s not dark anymore. We may still have shadows at times to deal with, but He hasn’t left us in the dark without being there with us. Sometimes maybe we get battered and bruised up because we have taken our eyes off of Jesus. My times of feeling distraught is usually when I am looking more at what is going on around me then what He is doing right in the spot where I am; even what He may be trying to work on WITHIN me.

If we believe the Bible is true, we know what’s coming. That means that we need to keep our eyes on Him and let Him direct our lives more than we trying to control it. How, you might ask?

  • Turn off news and Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or anything other means of places that feed your fear base.(Or anger base)
  • Quit following half the places or people you follow, so that, you aren’t bothered or upset by their posts, opinions or reteric if that is causing stress or fear for you.
  • Reading His Word daily. God wins!
  • Reading devotionals and good books.
  • Listen to good uplifiting music.
  • Surrounding yourselves with others who encourage you in these directions.
  • Share what God is doing in your life with others.
  • Continuing to enjoy the places around you that give you peace.
  • An online Bible Study opportunity.
  • Invite a friend over and distance if you are one that feels this is necessary.
  • Take a hike or walk. Stay active.
  • Do some projects that need to be accomplished.
  • Do a car picnic with your family by the water.
  • Not be afraid. Fear is a weapon satan uses to keep us from trusting and having faith. Keep doubt at bay.

It’s not a perfect list, but it can go a long way toward giving you a more peaceful feeling each day. I’m thankful that God has given me ways to keep going and following His path instead of running willy nilly in every direction. Confusion IS fear. Nope, not going there. Satan wants to keep us in the dark; to keep us afriad. But I am much more powerful than his darkness, because I have the Light.  I have Jesus right with me through it all. I can speak out the Word. If I believe it, the darkness and fear leave and He will direct my attention else where to places I can serve or encourage.

Let the Light shine into your dark place. Don’t ever give yourself over to the power of darkness in any situation. If you look at the lead picture in this post, you will see my car sits there. How approprate for the message He gave me since my car is called “The Captain”. The area is surrounded by darkness but The Captain is lit by light and headed into more light as you can see up ahead of the car. That’s my Jesus. Leading me into the light of life. I just have to get behind the wheel and drive where He leads. He wants to pull up to your door today and get right in the middle of your darkness and turn it into Light. A place of light where you can see Him walking it out with you.  Only…you have to actually give Him your hands on the wheel and let Him lead. Jesus isn’t your co-pilot. He is in charge. Too many times, we take the wheel and go where we think we should go, when God wants to take the wheel and give you the ride of your life!

That is why my car is called “The Captain” because I let Him take hold of my hands on the wheel. I pray before I drive The Captain anywhere. I am willing go! I give Him my best effort every where He takes me. I might make excuses here and there along the way sometimes, but He patiently waits while I take a short detour to ask for understanding, and then I get back in the car so to speak. I find it is much better to let Him drive. I’m more likely to get to my final destination that way.

What about you? Do you need hope in your dark place? Do you know and believe He is there with you? It is my hope that this message is a voice of encouragement for you today.  You CAN have hope without fear, and I also want to remind you of what you know…that your hope is with God, not this world.

Until next time…

 

Ever Wanted A Life Map?

 

Today I have some time to write a bit in the midst of unpacking boxes. Sometimes we push oursleves beyond what our bodies can take, and we are forced to rest. So I thought I would write about a couple things on my heart today. It has been a good day to reflect.

A life map...don’t we all have times when we wish we had a map for our life? It would tell us where we are going and how we can get there.  We could even determine how long it might take for us to reach our destination. Why would we want a map, you ask? Because most of us want to know what is going on in our future, and what our life is going to look like. We can’t see where our life is going. But we have certainly seen where it has been and would like a few clues for what’s ahead. Kind of rough for us not to have one of those maps, isn’t it? The truth of the matter is, we don’t get to have a detailed map. We aren’t the captain of our souls. If we could see ahead, It might be something we can’t handle right now, but God will enable us to handle at some point in our future. It may be way to scary for us to see further down the road. Look at it this way…if it’s in your rear view mirror, you can know what your life looks like, but ahead is risky for us. We all have an average of 75 years or 27, 375 days. We are given points in life of: birth and ending with death. If we have found Jesus, then we have a wonderful life touch point to help direct us. It is how we live in between those points that counts the most. We know that. But we don’t often examine it. Each point in our life is very important to our life story and the person we become. Often times, the road we travel is preparing us for a new season; whether it be a long one or a short one. Unfortunately, we don’t have a life map to tell us how long it will be. We have to give Him the wheel of our lives to help direct us.

I don’t know about you, but when I come face to face with Jesus, I want Him to find me doing well; faithful and living my life with adventure and joy. It won’t be because of something I make happen, but because of what He has given me, and the His love FOR me. It will be about how willing I am to be obedient to what God has for me. Our move is a prime example in my life. The hardships are hard. If we had known about some of the hardships in our lives before hand, we may not have accepted the adventure period. However, when we do, He is faithful to bring us back to the road He has set before us. I want Him to find me more dependent on Him for direction in my life, as well as, obedient to His leading. What we would have missed out on if we had let our “moving again attitude” take over what God was going to graciously give us? Wow.

The question: How is God going to find me when the time comes? Does that question stir you up, or challenge you a little bit, as you think about what God is going to find in you when the time comes? Are you ready? Will He find you continually looking, searching, and maintaining an attitude of expectancy? Or, will he find you down in the dumps, feeling disappointed in your life? It could happen anytime, you know. We are seeing in the world around us that life can change in a moment.  A life of change is an engaged life, so stay engaged! Ask yourself, “How will He find me?”.  Ask it often, I do.

What are some of the keys to this kind of living? Here are a few:

  • Be of good personal character. Is it guided by the Holy Spirit, or your flesh?
  • Be diligent.
  • Be eager.
  • Be zealous.
  • Be found in peace.
  • Be determined.
  • Be in total trust of God’s plan
  • Be in a harmonious relationship with Jesus.
  • Be a life long learner.

If we want to have a good relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, we need to be a consistent, ongoing learner. Ask God for wisdom about who and what you listen to. In these times, we can easily get side-swiped by some off-the-wall teaching, or someone taking the Word out of context. Ask the Holy Spirit to be your teacher.

Another area to consider that will have bearing on your relationship with God is grace. Get your Bible out and read Romans 5:15. Sometimes, we think that if we sinned this much, we get this much grace. But… that isn’t true because as sin increases, grace abounds! If you think about grace as a bath, for example, you would drown. Wow! Jesus wants us, and there is no sin, scandlous act, or darkness, that Jesus won’t give you an exit out of it. How would it be if you had all the grace that God can give you? It covers more than you have ever done. Now that is some good news!

The Captain – the name for my Mini because God is my Captain.

So don’t live in worry and doubt. You may not have a map of your life in front of you, but you certainly can know Who walks your road with you as you travel. He pulls up to the curb of your life, opens the door, and invites you in for the ride of your life! We will have some big curves on our road at times, which means we have to slow down to take those curves, but boy its great when we hit that straight-a-way! We can let the wind blow on our faces and feel the freedom that God gives us as He navigates us through. Remember as a child when you might have rode in the back of a pick-up truck? It was fun and you felt so free being back there. We feel that joy! We can lift our arms through the windows of our life and let the wind catch us and blow our hair straight back not caring what it looks like, and yes, let the laughter bubble over! Yes! We can celebrate that we have a God that cares about it all; everything.

GET. IN. THE. CAR.! Happy adventures!

Until next time,

~JoAnn

 

Practice What I Teach

Hello to you on this stormy day in Washington!

You know, God always allows us to learn a lesson from our daily life if we let the Holy Spirit teach it to us. My lesson over the last couple of days was that I better listen to my own mouth and what I teach and share and apply it to my own life.  Here is the story…

I have shared that we are moving and how God orchestrated this whole move and the selling and purchasing of our new home. Amazing circumstances that He worked out. So here is the rub…after working so hard to get the condo ready for a new owner, we do not get final closing on Monday as planned. So this also pushes the closing on the new home out the same amount of days. This was due to no fault of ours, or the buyer. It was error on the part of realtors, mortgage people, and the association to which should have provided that information. We aren’t the first owners to sell a condo there. So what happens to me? I am ready to kick behind and take names. How irresponsible of them all, let alone how unprofessional. They all blamed each other. Not one person came forward and said I’m sorry this was my mistake. Now, I have to admit to being totally exhausted and my body hurting from all that we have been doing. I try to leave a home better than I found it when possible and so I work hard to do that. However, it bummed me out and I didn’t want to do one more thing within the walls of the condo yesterday. I just wanted to complain about how ridiculous it all was, and could have totally been avoided. The buyer was probably planning on being out of her place where ever it was too and now had to extend it some days.

So…now where did my faith go? Where did my trust in the God who made this all possible disappear to? In this morning of rest, it was made clear. I lost it and replaced it with all the other emotions that do not do me any good. Did He not perform a miracle in this making it Fan the Flame of Changeall happen? Was He less faithful in this the changes than before? Maybe, just maybe, there is a reason we do not see that this delay took place. Maybe it was just to teach me this lesson. It changes the help we can get to move and delays getting our things in the new house, but we are still moving, and still selling the condo. I believe that I was so focused on what we wanted to have happen, that it was all about me. We always pray about various circumstances in our lives, but when God does it His way, which is usually not our way, then we get all fired up and think He isn’t in it anymore. He is. I’m the one that left my faith at the door from a phone call. Boy did I need to fan the flames of my faith!

This verse comes to mind: “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” Psalm 37:7

Now I don’t think there was wicked schemes going on in this circumstance, but it was definitely the case of someone not doing their due diligence. However, my attitude is the one in question also. The Holy Spirit did a pretty good job of poking me about it too! God is in our delays, keeping us from things we may not know. He is in our sorrow right beside us. He is active in protecting us. I certainly had to have a Holy Spirit “behind kick” to bring me back to where my heart needed to be. I’m not proud of how quickly it went sideways, but I have also learned to come back to the Lord and ask forgiveness a lot sooner than I used to. These experiences are how we learn life lessons. We can be rather dense at times and in our stubbornness, we have to learn the same lessons over and over to understand a simple truth. Would you agree?

Don’t be like me in how I reacted to the delay. Be like me where you come back to God quickly and tell Him that you trust His timing. You trust Him to take care of you. You trust Him to keep you from being lonely. You trust Him to work in the pain. You trust Him in helping you with parenting. You trust Him in your finances. You trust Him to meet your needs. You trust Him in these perilous times. You. Trust. Him. With. It. All.

It’s quiet where I am today at the cabin. God used this morning to speak to me about my attitude while I had no distractions. In order for me to benefit from hearing His voice, I have to be obedient to pivot in my outlook, surrender my emotions and thinking, and turn it back over to Him. Then, in my case, be willing to share my “not so good behavior”, so that, others might identify and be encouraged to give it up to Him also. It reminds me of when I was a child and did something I shouldn’t do and my parents told me I had to go to that person and apologize or ask forgiveness for what I had done. I didn’t want to do that. But they were teaching me that we are responsible for our actions. God was teaching me this morning that I am responsible for how I react. And so, I was asked to share this with you because God wanted to teach me this lesson. I was to be, vulnerable that you might learn from me the way that God can also work in your life.

What do you need to pivot from today? I hope by sharing this scenario, that you too, will find peace in your circumstances. It’s time. Stand strong.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Moving Out, Moving Up!

 

What a crazy couple months it has been! Do you ever do something crazy and wonder how you are going to get through it, but then, you do? Moving often times means you find things you haven’t taken the time too look at in a while. Pictures, cards, dishes and gifts you have been given as you pack them, and all the many memories that go with them. What a journey it is. Anytime I get tired, overwhelmed, or sore and hurting, I just remind myself of the above title. We are moving out, to move up!!! Today, I took a few minutes to enjoy the garden after the rain. I cut a few of the beautiful peonies that had blossomed! So beautiful!

It has a great significance in my life right now. I know many people think we are crazy to move yet again! But you know what? The qualitiy of our lives mean something. It is important. We have seen that over the last few months. So hubby and I want to have a quality of life that we both can enjoy, and feel the contentment in the home we are going to spend our time in. God has truly blessed us and we have had great joy in deciding how we can give back to the Lord for all His faithfulness to us. I feel that we aren’t just moving into another home, we are moving up! What does mean? It means that God is giving us many of the desires of our hearts in this home. He is moving us up to a new level of faith in this process of selling the condo and buying a house. In these times, it is totally a miracle. He is moving us up a level. Not is “I’m better than you thinking”, but a new level of faith and gratitude. We are streamlining some more once we get there so we can make room in our lives for less distraction. We are focusing on what God has for us since we believe this new home has been graciously given to us from God. We believe He has a plan. I also believe He may be calling me to write. I will so enjoying writing from a place of peace and contentment. God is giving me the place, now it is up to be to use it the way He wants me to use it. For that, I must be a good listener.

I’m even celebrating all the inconveniences…like my mocha that has mysteriously ended up in a packed box, so I don’t get to enjoy that each morning. I lost something else this morning too, but we found it in a carrier that is going to the cabin with us. When I get irritated, I just remember what God placed on my heart…we are moving out to move up! Now THAT is exciting friends!! I can’t wait to get my little studio set up again where ever that might be in this home. I can’t wait to get back into study and reading and learning! I will be greeting you from our beautiful deck and back yard with my morning mocha very soon! In the meantime, it might be from the cabin where we will rest up for a few days and prepare for the next leg of this journey.

So don’t get discouraged my friend thinking that God can’t move in your life in a big way. He sure can! For me, it’s like opening a book that I am excited about reading, and I feel like the story starts to float into the air just enough to cause me to want to turn to the first page! I can’t wait to see the story unfold! Look for it in your life. God wants to do a new thing for you also. Ask Him what it might be. I know for me, I have learned more and more how important my family and friends are to me. They have always been, but I feel a new level is coming there too, as it should. I had a scare with a dear friend of mine this last week, and it reminded me again of how quickly the page can turn and we don’t always know what our Heavenly Author is going to write. I couldn’t be with her, but I Face Timed with her so I could wave and say hello. I left my phone on all night in case she needed to talk. I checked in on her for a few minutes each morning and night, or ask she felt like texting. We stay strong when we get our perspective in place. Don’t take these days for granted, and don’t let it pull you down. Instead, ask Him for fresh eyes, and new way to look at things, protect your mind from what you hear, and focus instead on what God says to YOU. That is where complete joy in all things will come to our body, mind and spirit.

I can’t step along side all of you, but if I could, I would take your hand and walk in step with you and encourage you to dream of the story that God wants to write for you. Don’t miss it. It may be something small, but for you its BIG. It may be something really big that scares you. That’s when you know its God because you couldn’t do it yourself. That is what has happened to us. Only God could pull off finding our home, and THEN turning around and selling a condo in these times, and then do it in time for us to get the new home. See? He has it all planned out, and if we are obedient to do what He asks us to do, we will see miracles and answers to prayer. Open the book and see what happens. He will take you on a journey that is better than any movie you can watch. I’m not super woman. I am just like you. It takes perserverence, but always worth it. Are you ready? Get your pen and pad out and be ready to take down the dream. It is waiting for you…I am waiting to hear also. What is your dream that you are afraid to step out and do, or you aren’t sure what your next step needs to be?

I’m not sure what God is asking of me, but what I do know is, I’m moving out, SO THAT, (my favorite words) I can MOVE UP!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Miracles Through A “Suddenly”

 

Have you ever had a “suddenly” in your life? I think if you live and breathe this day, you have had a few. We know they can be difficult times, happy times, and surprising times. Even the happy and surprising times can be difficult times also. So once again, it still comes back to what we think and our perspective about it.

If we are willing not to shove it under the rug as nonsense, I think we could clearly see that, as Joyce Meyer has said and written about, “Our mind is the battlefield.” This is surely true. People have been known to come out of horrific situations when their attitude was looking at the positive things in their lives, and living in gratitiude for life. They find the joy in living in the moment.  I love what Austin Kleon says, “Disconnect from the world to connect to yourself.” Think about that for a minute. If we don’t allow the negative things to come into our minds, then we are more open for the mind to see the good that is around us. Lately, the word people don’t want to use is quarantined. Well…maybe we need to quarantine from the news and all the conflicting information we get, and concentrate on everything that is good around us. We are even healthy enough to complain about it.

I just saw today where a friend of mine and her hubby packed up a nice lunch and went out into nature to get away from the house. A couple of chairs, binoculars, lunch and a drink to go into pretty glasses, and her phone to capture the moment. That, my friends, is how to keep doing life. Take the time to live in the moment. I love doing that kind of thing! Makes me happy. Of course, my camera would be along to capture the moment and also anything going on around me. I hope this time is teaching you that there are things we can live without, and still have a quality of life with in our own home surroundings. It’s not ideal, but we might as well make it through with some fun. There ARE safe ways to do it. It refreshes our minds to be able to face whatever life is giving us at the time. Hubby and I do car picnics together during this time. It’s just a fun thing we do to make something unique and fun, rather than, just eating in our car. It’s all about perspective! We toast with our drinks to how God is taking care of us, and thank Him for it.

So with that, I enter stage left… with another move. But in our case, it is more like stage right, because this is the right thing for us now. If you are younger, you may not be able to relate, but if you are in the mid-age range and above, you have lived life long enough to know what is important. Quiet. Harmony. A breath of fresh air. Nature. Family. Gathering. Friends. NO drama. All these things become important and we need to protect ourselves by designing our life in such a way that it becomes fun, luminous, sparkling, lots of laughter, leisure, and relaxation. Don’t let the world dictate to you how busy you “need” or “should” be. God gave us that space in our soul to be filled with the above kinds of things, so that, we can give time back to Him and spend time with Him. Happy soul, happy life!

I have had plenty of suddenlies come up in my life and I know how hard they can be. I have had loss in my life, recent skin cancer surgeries that changed my life, and a few other things like some “sudden” health issues that have tried to crowd their way in to distract me, or make me feel alone, or discouraged. The devil is in full attack mode these days and I’m not about to let him get the best of my thought life taking place in my mind. Nope. I tell those thoughts to take a hike. I know where that leads. I know where it comes from. We have to pay attention to what or who has our attention. When we think about that, it can turn things around.We are making a move that better lines up with the things we know are important to us. We spend a lot of time at home even without the stay at home going on right now. Because of that, we want to totally enjoy our surroundings, have a place to enjoy with friends, relax in nature of our own back yard where I will have a water fountain that delights my heart to hear. We have the space we like. I have a kitchen that I can enjoy cooking and baking in. Hubby still has a place for his books. Because…every day is important to our life and we need to live it well. I’m excited for that. It is worth the hassle of a move, and stress of all the paperwork, and even starting over in a mortgage. I can’t take it with me, but I sure can live well in every moment of this new to us sanctuary that truly has been given to us by God. I believe that. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future. I’m just living the adventure of life each day as best I can. I keep going…

Here is my latest “suddenly”. At our age, we are making yet another move. It’s not fun, it’s a lot of work, and my back just doesn’t carry those boxes around like it used to. But the silver lining is this: we ARE moving and I will leave the condo life to go back into a stand alone home. The reason that is such a big “suddenly” is that we weren’t really planning to do it. However, circumstances where we live gave us pause to review what is important to us. For me, being in a serene setting, nature around me, and choice to do what we like with our home, along with a yard to relax in…that is my bliss. Hubby and I spend a lot of time at home and so where we live and our environment is key to our contentment. I want to live where I thrive. At this stage in my life, loving where I live and family to share it with, is at the top of my list. This move couldn’t have happened without God’s intervention. Selling a home and buying a home isn’t easy in these times. Finding a home and having someone buy it out from beneath you is a constant challenge when you have to sell the place where you are currently living first. So it is not without frustration. Some of my friends have heard some of that frustration over the last month or so. However, it all comes back to laying it down and trusting God to take me through the “suddenly” as only He can. And…He did. He found us a perfect home, with land around us, a wonderful kitchen to cook and bake in, (one of my requests) and a dining room again to all sit and enjoy a meal together. I wanted to be by the water so He gave me a fountain in the back yard to listen to, AND I am only minutes from the water by car. It was also within the budget would preferred. Now that is God performing miracles! Even now as things get tense, I just keep my goal in mind knowing that all of the stress leads to our Bayshore House by mid June. That makes one happy daughter of the King!

I think we can miss the purpose of those “suddenly” moments seasons in our lives. We see only the hardship of where we are in the moment, rather than looking at what God wants to do in us in the future. It takes being aware of what you are thinking and making changes where the “suddenly” opens the door for God to work. We are already praying over this home, that God would be honored within the walls of Bayshore House, and we will always leave a chair at our table for Him to be right in the middle of our lives. You see, honoring Him is the best way to build our trust in Him for all He has done for us, big or small. It is focusing on what is going right in our lives. That leads to gratitude and we can’t think of postive and negative at the same time. We may have to remind ourselves about that when things get tough again. So kick those discouraging thoughts out the door. I can’t think of all I have to pack, getting boxes to storate, and how we will get out this home in 3 weeks. I can’t think about the fact that we have to move twice because the condo closes before the Bayshore House, which we needed. I just can’t go there in my thougts. I can’t think on how I feel. I have to take one day at a time and do what I can for that day. Each day builds on itself, and eventually, I will have it cleared out with hubby’s help and on the way to cabin to breath some fresh air before moving our things from storage to the new home. One day at a time will be my daily prayer.

I enjoy sharing what God does in my life in hopes that it encourages you. Don’t ever think He doesn’t care about what you care about. Here are some pictures to show you how He worked in our life with our new home. This is a blank canvas that I will have a total blast making ours. Don’t let a “suddenly” take the wind out of your sails because God is always in the boat with you. Never doubt that.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

 

Porch Entry Livingroom Kitchen Family Room Laundry Room with skylight Back yard and fountain Back of the house and deck Master Bedroom Kitchen 2nd view Dining Room & entry to kitchen family room Other side of dining room Master Bath walk-in shower Third Bedroom will be office maybe Bedroom Two

Conversations in Prayer

Hello Friends! I hope this finds you all well, and that you are finding staying at home has been good among the challenges of it. Challenge means we are changing in some way. May God help you to do just that for His glory. Let’s take a few minutes together over some coffee or tea! Got it?? Let’s dig in!

Sometimes, we have to get our heart right in order to be able to help others. But it is also good for you to know that we ALL have those times, and it’s ok. I have especially been called to study prayer during these last few months. So my online study group has been looking at prayer. I thought I would share some thoughts on prayer with you here on the blog.

Our emphasis on prayer should not be about how eloquent we are, or that we can recite recitation scripture, but instead it should be the heart behind the prayer. There is no formula or right or wrong way to pray. BUT there are some things we need to consider BEFORE we pray. In the last few years, God has changed my approach to prayer, in that, I come to Him asking for forgiveness first. I know, some say Praise first. Nope. I come to Him asking for forgiveness. Why? Because the Holy Spirit it convicting me through out my life of areas that I need to change, come up higher in, orchange my thought life, attitudes, anger, critical spirit…whatever it is. God also tells me if I have issues with something or someone, I am to take care of that first and then come to prayer. Why? Because our prayers can be hindered by those very things. When I pray in my quiet time, I ask for forgiveness so my prayers aren’t hindered. I don’t have to do that every time I pray because I pray all the time, but I want a clean heart before God as I bring my requests and those of others, to God in my quiet time. Another point God makes is that we are not to think we are “heard for [our] much speaking.” We are not fill our prayer with lots of extra words, or repeating words. Simple words to God in prayer. It can be called fluffy prayers so we sound more spiritual. Not necessary. Enjoy being in God’s presence and hearing His quiet voice in your spirit. Prayer is a dialogue with God, not a monologue of only you talking to God. Listen for His whisper.

In prayer times we can, and we need to:

  • pause for reflection
  • think about what was said
  • ask what God may be speaking to us
  • listening to God’s Holy Spirit
  • worshiping Him in our own way
  • seeking to experience God’s presence.

Why not spend time opening your soul and spirit to listening to God, to experience His presence, and to hear what the Spirit says. Yes indeed… prayer is a dialogue. God wants to hear from you. However, it is also important for you to hear from Him. Be open and honest with Him. Honesty with God is so important to our growth. I had a dear friend that was a pastor’s wife. Wow! I learned a lot from her about prayer. That lady could pray about anything and it was like she had a hot line to heaven. As I have gotten older, I understand that she had established such a personal and deep relationship with God, that she lived it out, where she could ask God for anything, and she would get answers. I understand that relationship now. I remember thinking I wish I had that kind of prayer life. But she kept telling me it is all about relationship. Then, you trust Him with more and more. She prayed down to specifics of the homes they would move to when they would relocate. She would pray for a ride from town back home and I would “happen” to come along. She would get in the car and say that I had just answered God’s prayer for her. There was no happenstance with her.

THAT is what I want, and I want that for you. Trust Him with everything! Know that He loves you so much more than you know and nothing pleases Him more than to hear your voice, crying out, yelling out, whispering, or pleading with Him. Come before Him with a clean heart. Growing up I would sing this liturgy: “Create in me a clean heart oh God, and renew a right spirit with in me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit it from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with your free Spirit.” I pray that each time I come to God in prayer.

Let me ask you a question I asked the study gals. What kind of father figure do you think about when you think about your Heavenly Father? Was your father figure growing up one that had no time for you? Detached? Overly strict? Loved you only when you were good or did good? Manipulative? You see, that matters how you see God. So your experience with God may come from a place of distrust. You may have to escavate your thoughts and heart to see how you are seeing God. Are you willing to give up everything to have relationship with Jesus? Weed out what is keeping you from an exciting time with Him in prayer? Let it be so in our hearts. The longer our acquaintance is with Him, the closer our fellowship is with Him. Our spiritual health depends on our pursuing the Lord and His presence. “He says, ‘Come to Me to stay with Me’.” (Andrew Murray)

We can make real messes at times in our lives when we try to control things instead of trusting God with it. Our pride can get in the way. Evaluate your heart. Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Ps. 34:

Describe which phrases below would best describe how you view God’s goodness.

  • I always trust that God is good.
  • I believe that God is good when life is good.
  • I have a hard time trusting that God is good.
  • It’s easier to believe that God is good to other people than to me.
  • I say, “God is good”, but my thoughts and actions don’t always reflect that.

I have had some great opportunities to practice better thinking and approaches to circumstances, while learning more about myself. Such things as times when I have counted on something, desired something, dealt with frustration, and even a “I don’t want to hear that”, response. And then, I have to go back and apologize to a friend who was trying to be an encouragement to me, but instead my response was, “I really don’t want to hear that”. So what do I know? I know and have learned that I process things by talking about them. It helps me work through them, even if I’m mad. I do that with God in prayer. But then the Holy Spirit convicts me of my attitude and I have to deal with that in myself, or with the person I may have been less than kind to. The Holy Spirit reminds me that God’s thoughts are NOT my thoughts. I have to leave it all in God’s lap…all of it. Then, I trust that He has taken care of me in the past and he will take care of me in the future. Jesus overcame the world so that I have peace and courage no matter what I may be going through. I have to rest in Him…abide in Him. STAY with Him. When I acted like I did above, I certainly wasn’t resting in Him. I acted more like a little kid trying to wrestle myself free of His will and the encouragement He was trying to give me through my friend. So…He dealt with me, and He set me on higher ground to boost my courage to face it all. He renewed my trust that He knows where I am to be and how it will play out.

Your view of God will change as you learn and let God chip off those areas that may be keeping you from God’s best for your life. What chips are you needing to have trimmed off? There is a great quote I heard the other day, “We have the privilege of trusting God.”  ~Joyce Meyer

Maybe sometimes as we think about prayer, we have this idea of God as our buddy, a friend, a feel good sense in our life, all makes sense kind of person, a giver, provider, and all of those feel good feelings toward God. But what happens as we grow in our life and other things happen that don’t make sense to us? It might be the loss of a child, someone you love getting this virus, or death from the virus, or an accident that leaves someone with serious life challenges, or things aren’t turning out the way you thought they would? Then who is God to you? Has He changed because of something that has happened in our life? He is a different God than before?

You see, we can lose sight of who God is, by what we think He is now after we have questioned God about these difficult occurrences in our life. We lose out on that closeness we could have because we are kind of stuck with who we think He is in difficult times. Maybe before you thought God fit in to your life really well and you even talked about what He has done in your life to others. But things happened, and you can’t quite fit Him into the same vision as God was before this happened. So in essence, we are trying to fit God into what He has or hasn’t done before. He was good before this happened. Now THIS, whatever it is, happened and you think differently about God. Before, He was all cool like that. He did for you what you expected, like the fun giver, the helper, provider…all of that. But all of a sudden, you aren’t thinking about Him like that anymore. So our relationship suffers because our prayer has suffered. We lose confidence and less prayer = less relationship.

 It is like when we take a trip, we use a map or maybe we use our phones, but we use those tools to help make our trip easier. So if that is the case, our map is the Bible, and our Compass is God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. If we use our spiritual guidance through God, his Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, then we are assured that we can accurately reach our destination; the life that God has promised us. It may not look like you thought, but it IS God’s best for you. It will be the most important gift we receive.

Could this true of you? If so, then you might need to hit the prayer chair or prayer floor, and ask God to begin to show you who He is right now in your life and renew that “right spirit” with in you. BECAUSE…He IS the same yesterday, today, and forever. That means just because things happen, and the devil gets his digs in, that He is still the same powerful all-knowing God who gave up His Son, so that you could always have God just a prayer away. Ask today for God to direct your thoughts, actions, and reactions. Get your tools working for you. Look up, and then look at your map so God can show you the way. Stop and ask directions.

Until next time…

~JoAnn