New Beginnings Begin With Me

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I’m sorry to be absent from writing for so long.  I have been pretty sick for weeks.   So…I’m back and feeling better thanks to some hefty meds that have helped me, and the prayers of friends.  Thank you all!

As my energy was kind of low, I had time to consider my year of 2017 and how it has started.  A new year always brings excitement and expectation for me.  I can’t wait to see what God will do with the new, clean slate before me.  Into the year only a few days, I found out how ours would begin.  What happened you asked?  Prayers answered!  I’m so thankful for new beginnings!!!

  1.  Our home refi was completed to get it back to a VA loan. It went through finally, and papers were signed right in our home!  What a blessing that was to have off our plate.  Our moving of one house and buying another has not been an easy path for us.  One thing after another kept happening.  But God heard our prayers, and answered.  That is off our list!
  2. I really wanted to make a trip back to Norway.  As hubby and I were having coffee and mocha one morning, he said, “Do you think Aaron would want to go to Norway if he could go?”  I said, “I think so.  But if he went we would also have to consider that Ethan would have to go with _DSF4760him.  That is a big issue for us.”  Hubby said, “Why don’t you ask him if he would want to go if he could.”  So I did and Aaron said yes.  I went the first time and took Jesse, my youngest.  Now my middle son and grandson are going this time.  Now THIS is pretty miraculous!!  Because we are talking our budget here.  BUT…God.  He has provided.  They will have the experience of a life time and we will be doing that together.  Something I hope will never be forgotten in the lives of my sons and grandson!
  3. We have siding completed and windows completed on the house.  Finally…after months of waiting and waiting.  I love how it looks and it is so much more cozy in the house also.  My cabin is amazing with all the windows and light that comes into my sweet little cabin!  It brings me great joy.

With all He has provided already, I also believe He has called me to dial back.  Consider what I involve myself in, and really examine where I need my focus and efforts to go with social media and ministry.  I am in the process of closing my groups on MeWe, not that I didn’t enjoy doing that, but I had six very successful groups in that place, and it takes a lot of time to post and create each post, let alone keep the communication happening.  When you blog, you are always thinking of what to share next and there is planning to make it all come together.  Each small presence in social media I have, is something that burns up time.  If we try to do too many things, we are so busy with that, that life flies by us.  I have more of my life behind me than before me, and I just don’t want to miss a thing!  It’s how I have lived my life and I desire that more than ever now!

img_8800My priority has always been God first and then my family and friends, and then my involvement in ministry.  So as I have examined my involvement, I have noticed a shift.   It has taken more and more time, and stole some time from my top priorities.  I believe that God is asking me to streamline my life in many areas and this is one of them.  So just so you know, I will be continuing my blog here, but only at journeysofmyheart.  I will be closing out my Heart and Soul Escapes blog, or combining them in how I post.

I will be working with the photography through my photography website, JoAnnShiley.com which offers a blog opportunity where I will share basics of photography andimg_8516 hints I find helpful.  I will encourage the MeWe followers to follow me at those places.  I will be posting less on Facebook directly.  I will post on Facebook, but through the other sites.  I’m not excited about seeing all the “garbage” that has become the Facebook agenda.  So for me, it is just better to back out of it and clean house.  I’m cleaning MY house.  Watching what goes in my eye and ear gates.  I am actually excited about freeing up time for the direction that God has for me.  If I am honest with myself, I may have been doing more of what I thought was best for me.  Any thoughts I have to share, are for the purpose of helping others, not about how many social networks I get involved in.  I’m asking myself, “What is the purpose of being there?  What are you trying to accomplish by your presence in that area?”  Taking this step will keep me more grounded where I need to be.  I have just completed a study that is all about zeroing in on what is most important, and praying over it.  What has always been important to me, is encouraging others to live their best life and to live each moment with purpose.

I have never been in a better place with my heart and soul.  I have some work to do as I put these areas into motion.  However, I refuse to jeopardize my priorities for busyness.  It is never worth it.  Don’t get caught up in what you THINK you need to do, or what someone else is doing.  Do the hard stuff and examine what your passion is, and where you want to be.  If I’m running all the time, I can never be quiet enough to listen where God wants to take me.  I’m looking forward to this new perspective, both in my life and home, but in my photography also.

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I want to:

  • enjoy each day I’m given
  • a deep prayer walk
  • go on adventures with my hubby more
  • be aware of nature God has given to me to enjoy
  • never trade my top priorities
  • see life through the lens of my camera more often
  • enjoy every moment I have with my family
  • more communication with my kids such as texts, cards, notes
  • have more coffee with friends
  • help and encourage others
  • be the best example of this “life style that I choose”
  • live my life in gratitude

As I look over this post, it isn’t my usual type of post, but I think it is an important one.  This is just my story.  You have your story.  However, don’t buy into the busyness that seems to be the way of life for IMG_3331so many these days.  I don’t believe that is the life that God would have us to live.  If you think often, “I’m just so busy, I don’t have time for anything”, then stop it.  You will pay a price at some point in time.  I was a young mom of three boys, and many exchange students in our home, I worked two and sometimes three jobs that I felt I had to work to make ends meet, and I was very involved in church and Bible study.  I did it.  I rarely said I’m too busy to give God my time.  So I’m not speaking out about something I don’t understand.  The idea that life is so different these days, just isn’t so.  There are more distractions young families are dealing with now that we didn’t, but we still had electronic games and other types of games the kids played.  We still had to monitor what we felt was right for our kids.  However, we still had time for things that were important.  New beginnings begin with me.

Now… if I look back on that time and had to do it all over?  I would most certainly have lived within the means of a stay at home mom and lived that out.  Why?  Because my kids would have enjoyed having me around more than what I could buy them.  Consequently, since I kept myself busy making it all work out (on my own at times, I might add), my rest wasn’t so great; I was tired.  That in turn, had repercussions for my family.  I share that with you from a point in my life where I can look back and see where I could have made changes and… didn’t.  Worse than that, I wasn’t trusting God to take care of my family and I.  Yet, even then I always saw His hand in my life over and over again.  I’m not sure what made me think I couldn’t trust Him to take care of me if I stayed at home.  OR, maybe I do…satan is quick to sneak in a whisper of, “You won’t have enough money for groceries, or bills if you quit, let alone give to God.”  I listened.  I would tell you don’t buy it.  If God is asking you to slow down, be more available, or to give to Him, HE WILL provide for you.  It’s His economy.  It’s His way.  Now I am not saying that every mother has to stay home with her children.   You are in charge of your own story.  What I really want to share is, IF you have that little voice telling you to do something different, then by all means do it!  It could change your future for yourself, and those around you, and future generations in ways you can’t imagine!  I hope if any of this resonates with you, it will be something you pray over.

Thanks for being a part of this space!  I love your consistent support and responses!  Watch for the changes coming up!  I hope you will continue to follow along!  Life teaches us some fun experiences, but there are also some hard lessons.  Let my experience and hard lessons be of some benefit to you!

Depositing to my heart and soul escapes…

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Favor and 2017

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As many of you know who follow my blog, one of the areas of the start of my year is to pray about a word that I feel God wants me to focus on, and learn more about, and apply it to my life during the new year.  This year the word that I feel God wants me to understand and to gain more insight into is, FAVOR.  After researching a bit through various resources I found favor has many meanings:

  • doing something for someone as a favor
  • feeling or showing approval or preference for
  • lean toward, opt for, tend toward, be in favor of
  • advocate or support
  • work to the advantage of
  • give someone something they wantcropped-img_8048.jpg
  • oblige, honor gratify, indulge
  • resemble someone
  • treat gently, not putting full weight on
  • attitude of approval
  • an act of kindness beyond what is due, or usual
  • the Latin favere, or favor, to show kindness to, cherish, preference

I will be sharing about the definitions above that are in italics because those are the definitions that I feel apply to what God is going to be working out in me this year.  You see, I HAVE His favor.  I do.  As in Ephesians 2 God talks about grace…the unmerited favor of God.  God shows favor to those who delight in Him, are humble and honor Him.  I believe that God seeks out those who love Him with all their hearts, and…the hard part… who also love His commands.   He wants to bless, guide, and protect those who live that way in their lives.

IMG_2953I have seen His favor in my life, ALL my life.  He has been so good to my husband and I!  However, I believe that when we live as He would have us to live, and our joy is in Him, He wants to give us His favor over and over again.  Now, I know we have made some mistakes, but if we are quick to repent and ask Him to forgive and get us back on track, He will.  He IS faithful.  Here is the kicker…am I willing to accept His favor, or better yet, am I willing to SEE His favor in my life?  Or, do I just think I have what I have because of how hard I have worked, or how good I think I have been?  If we know that God is right in the middle of where we are, and we know that nothing can happen apart from Him, then God is going to lavish favor on each one that believes that truth.  How does that look?  We walk closer with Him than we did last year.  We are in His Word daily.  We begin to see Him in the very things that are around us everyday.  We ask for His wisdom and guidance.  AND…we ASK for His favor.  Yes we ask for His favor over our lives, family and in every step we take.  That is what it looks like, friends.

As I said earlier, I have had God’s favor in my life.  But I have known heart ache, and I have known joy!  I have been among many, and I have been alone.  What I know is that God does approve of me.  Maybe not all my choices, but He knows I desire to keep changing and make those areas in my life that are rough, a little bit smoother.  I know if I want to walk in His favor, I must lean in toward Him.  I must show preference to Him also.  I can live a grateful life and recognize His favor and thank Him for it.  I walked through my home today and just thanked Him that I have it.  All the ways He made it happen, His provision for what needed to be done, and all the LITTLE ways He lets me know He has heard my heart.  I want to honor and gratify my Lord and Savior.  Because of my heart’s desire to live in His favor, God will honor my request because He can’t wait to lavish us with His favor!  I believe He will give me a new understanding this year of this word.  I’m excited, as always, to see what _DSF4722-1God has in store for me.  I am thinking He wants to me operate in favor towards others more than I do.  THAT may be harder. 🙂  But I am willing to walk through that door with Him.  I have seen His faithfulness in my life in BIG ways, even through all the struggles.

I know this isn’t all that God has to teach me on favor.  No. I’m expecting a deeper meaning to that word in my life that HE will teach me.  He will lead me down a path that will forever change what I think today.  I am ready and excited for that adventure.  I’m looking out my window to see what He has for me.  I pray for you, and for myself, that our lives may be overflowing with His favor this year.  His Word and the Truth of His Word are my foundation.  I plan on being a watchman on the wall watching for His favor!  I want to resemble Him!

How about you?  Have you asked God for a word for the year 2017?  If so, I would love to hear about your word and why you feel God may be highlighting that word in your life.

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What Are You Holding On To?

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This morning as I woke up, it felt a little cooler than normal.  So I trudged to the window and was delighted to find that it had snowed, and the snow was still softly falling.  It was so beautiful.  Big fluffy snow flakes!  I got up and had a quick breakfast and then got my mocha, turned on the fire, and just basked in the moment.  Oh how nice!  Of course, as I was sitting there, I thought I should go get my camera and take some pictures.  Then my eyes lit on the my Christmas Tree find, and I thought how lovely that would look sitting in the snow.  I threw on shoes and a way I went.  It was really cold, but so fun to make a memory with this photo.  I love this simple photo!  I felt there was a lesson here for me today and I would like to share it with you.

In last Sunday’s message with Pastor Doug Cotton, he shared this statement with us and it really hit me:  “What are you holding on to that you think will bring you joy, and it hasn’t?”  He went on to say that we have to let go in order for us to experience the joy that God has for each of us.  It is kind of like the snow.  I loved seeing the snow and I wanted it to keep snowing and get deeper so I could enjoy it even more.  I wanted it to stay.  I wanted to hold on to that scene.  But soon after I had taken this picture, the sun came out and it warmed enough to melt the snow.  The sun shone bright through the drips of melting snow on the branches, and it looked like diamonds shimmering in the sun.  Soon the snow was mush and it just evaporated.  So, does that mean my joy in the snow this morning is gone?  No, it doesn’t.  I was able to get up and experience that this morning.  I was out in it, I played in it, and I enjoyed the beauty of it with my eyes and through the lens of my camera.  It made me happy to have it and I was thankful.  Even though this is a simple example, I believe you can grasp the lesson here with holding on to something that isn’t permanent.

It is much the same with our lives.  We try to hold on to something in our lives that God has long since told us to let go of, but we still have a death grip on it.  We need to let it go; melt away.  Give it to God, so that, we can experience all He has for us.  I tried to get a picture of the diamonds on the trees this morning, however, what I saw wasn’t what I saw through my lens.  You see, sometimes what we see is for our eyes only, not to keep, but just to enjoy.  But other times, He allows us to see something for keeps, like my picture above.

We have to trust God enough, to let Him have all that we are hanging on to, in order for our hands to be empty to receive what He wants to give us.  It is my prayer that you will let go of the baggage.  Surrender.  It is a beautiful thing!

Walking the journey with you…

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Always Something…to be thankful for

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Today has been an eventful day…and…a day long-awaited.  It’s been a three-month long wait, as a matter of fact. What have we been waiting for you ask?  We have been wrestling with a company regarding new windows in our house.  I won’t go into the boring and frustrating details, but suffice it to say, it has not been a fun time.  So here we are today with heavy rain, and they are installing the windows.  Not fun for them or for us.  But, bless the guys’ hearts, they got things rolling right away and the first window to go in was the guest bedroom.  It looked fabulous with the panes in the windows!  Next on their list was the bathroom.  Fabulous also!

In life, we all know that things don’t always go how we wish they would.  It is just the way life goes.  That has been the case for me more times than I can say.  As for our houses, we have usually bought a type of home that requires work, and because of that, we can get the home for a reasonable price.  Then, we work on some remodeling .  In those circumstances, you put a lot of trust in the inspectors who are supposed to tell you areas of concern, right?

img_7147The next window to go in was our bedroom and the guys find some concerns.  I had just asked them if they wanted a cup of coffee to warm up, and he said, “You might not want to give us coffee after we tell you what we found.”  I said, “Ok.  Just lay it on us.”  I handed them their coffee cups.  Our windows all the way around the house, were built with vents with a door at each end of all the windows for air circulation.   They were cool looking and kind of fun, but I wondered about the leaking.  But, we were assured the rot the inspector found was at the window sill only with the front windows and we would just have to replace the sill and base.  What they found was rot that went all the way down the walls of both ends of our master bedroom window.  They now tell us that this window can’t be installed until we fix the wall.  It could mean a whole wall rebuild, or just a section.  They have to tear into the wall inside and outside to see how much damage there is.  This is the second window that we had big issues with.  Our son Aaron fixed the other one. But he won’t have the time to fix this when he comes down this weekend with everything else.  So, we will have to pay extra for them to do the work to fix the wall.

With this news, I wanted to cry, or scream, or something.  The Captain and I had to take a ride.  A mochaimg_7146 was in order!  I am driving along and having quite the conversation with God.  I’m saying, “I mean seriously?  We just tithed and now this???  That is what happens when we are faithful?  What?!?!???”  As soon as the I said those words, a thought came to mind.  That thought was, “Yes you were faithful.  But do you think the devil is going to roll out the red carpet for you because you have been faithful to ME?  I don’t think so.  Just the opposite.  He wants to make you discouraged and wish you hadn’t done that.  Then next time, you won’t, or you will fear doing it.”

Oh yah…that’s right…the devil.  He does love to discourage and yank our chain.  He does it all the time and I should recognize that by now.  I know how he works and he always tries to play around in finances.  He knows that hits our vulnerable spot.  So as I drove home, I asked God to help us figure this out.  I asked Him to protects us from the worse case scenario.  Of course, I want to confront the inspector, however, I don’t think that will happen.  So, I have to let that go also.  No sense in fighting something all the time.  I just have to turn the whole thing over.  The devil would like to keep us stirred up.  I’m not giving in to that.

img_7143We can really get ourselves tied in knots about life can’t we?  It doesn’t take much.  We are happy with the way things are going, but as soon as something trips us up, away goes our joy.  So I decided that my Gratitude Jar needs some hearts.

  • We had great guys to work with today.
  • They were really kind and efficient.
  • They were careful with our home.
  • Cleaned up after themselves.
  • Explained the issues before us in clear terms, as well as what choices we would have.
  • I’m grateful that they could also do the work, since they have seen the problem.
  • We have another day to get the rest of the it done.

All in all, no matter what happens, God is good.  I have been asked if I have regrets about moving here since there has been so many challenges that have happened with our move to Bel Aire.  My answer is no.  I think satan would LIKE me to think along those lines.  But I love this house.  I love this yard.  I love the quiet.  I love being close to the ocean.  I am proud of what we have accomplished to make this our haven.  I’m thankful for a lower mortgage.  I am thankful for the work we have been able to do.  I am thankful for my son who could do some of the work.  In our case, any of the houses we have lived in have brought their own set of circumstances.  Good things are always worth the fight. I don’t live in regrets.  It is not a heathy place to be.

My house may be more of a mess than I thought for Thanksgiving, but we will have the windows complete, sound proofing as a bonus, and no more leaks.  It is my family coming to join us and they will understand.  I just have to roll with it.  I haven’t always been good with rolling with it, but I tell ya, God is sure giving me opportunities to learn it.  Can’t say it’s fun.  At. All.  But I also know for certain that there is a purpose in everything we go through.  Everything.  I surrender this too.

With my gratitude back in check, I look forward to good food and fellowship this Thanksgiving amongst a less than perfect home.  (I am learning to roll with that too.)  I wish for each and every one of you to have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends.  I hope that in whatever circumstances you find yourself, you will find a reason to be thankful.

Walking the journey with you…

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Light the Fire, Gather Around!

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Today, a friend posted a photo she took of a line of wooden high back chairs that were rather rustic looking and all lined up on a porch.  It was a photo about perspective.  Doesn’t show the house, or where it is located or any real design aspect of the house.  She asked her viewers to tell what they would see if they were sitting in one of those chairs.  This was something of how I responded:

“If I were sitting there, I would see a vast farm country with mountains in the background, a stream flowing down around the back of the barn, red of course, to the left of me, I notice how beautiful the blue sky is today, and the dog and cat come sauntering up to me to take advantage of the morning sun. My morning mocha sits down on the porch boards, and I contemplate how I’m going to put a holder for my mocha on this chair arm. The slow-living of life feeds my heart and soul. I am thinking how grateful I am to be alive at this moment and how good God has been to me. I love this country living…”

img_7017You may be thinking, “I sure wish I had the TIME to sit and think about those things!”  Well, you may have had to fall back in time, but we each still have the same amount of time we are given.  It is in how we spend that time.  Yes, I am retired and that makes a difference.  However, I am also busy even though I’m retired.  So I still have to schedule my time or I get can caught up in other things I enjoy and not make time for time with the Lord, or time needed with family.  The other day, I just went out on the front porch and had my mocha where the sun was shining.  It was so nice.  I pulled weeds from my garden of succulent plants, and sat and enjoyed what I observed going on around me.  I heard the train going through.  I heard the deer and then saw the deer as its head poked out of the bushes and then ran away.  I could hear the birds sing in the trees…yes it was only for maybe 15 minutes, but it WAS 15 minutes of wonderful.  We all need it.  We just don’t make the time for those little things to happen.

In all the chaos in the world and in our lives, it becomes a necessity to have this time.

  • It is fuel for our souls.  snapseed
  • We can hear God speak.
  • We can gain direction.
  • We can off load our troubles; His shoulders are big.
  • We will receive new perspective because we have taken care of the soul.

Chaos and busyness make us crazy.  I learned that years ago and have encouraged others to slow down ever since.  Take it from someone who has experienced both worlds.  When I look back on it now, I would do so many things differently with my younger life.  You know that song about “Dear Younger Me”?  What would you tell yourself?  If we are honest with ourselves, that won’t be so easy.  Start with one step, or one area.  I know I have told myself even now, that changes have to be made in me if I want God to change circumstances.  I have a responsibility to examine myself and my part in the problem.  So this speaks to me also.  Social media may be one of those areas.  Examining why I do what I do, it is of benefit, and does God want me to continue doing any of it?  Hard stuff.

img_7033So take a few moments out on the porch tonight with your coffee or tea or whatever, and take a deep breath.  Or build a fire and enjoy watching it together.  Whatever it is, bring that feeling of contentment in to your heart to live with you.  Imagine your chair and you are looking out, just like my friend asked, and what do you see?  What is your tomorrow going to look like because you changed something in your today?

Walking the journey with you…

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What Do You See Through Your Window?

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Ever had one of those times in your life where things just fall apart?  It has been like that in our adventure with our home on Bel Aire for quiet a while now.  Just when I’m ready for a break, the latest thing that happens is…our windows; the installation of them.  It has yet to happen.  It’s going on four months.  So for the second time, I had upended our home to move everything for installation of the windows, and it didn’t happen…again.  So now nine of the twelve windows had to be re-ordered because they were measured incorrectly.  They are hoping to have them in by Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving!!!  We have no idea exactly when that might happen.  Hubby seems to want to give them the chances.  So everything is a mess and not put away, and….just not fun.  Oh yah…on top of that, our refi has been delayed now for months and should have been done by July.  We have decided to use a different office and that means starting all over.

So am I happy?  Am I feeling a happy dance coming on????  Uh…no.  In fact, I have had a hard time dealing with it all.  It is so disappointing.  I feel kind of down in the dumps.  We have had to make decisions about the windows, as well as, choose to refi through another office.  So we are still in a holding pattern with hopes that we WILL move ahead.

img_6793That is the key…keep moving ahead.  Let me use the window above to illustrate a point.  This window above reminds me that I can choose how I look at it.  I can choose to see only the wall behind it.  OR, I can choose to add something enjoyable to the view by adding the figurine on the shelf, and/or put in a photo that will give me a total different view through my window.  I decided that I am going to choose to look through my window and see the view going forward instead.  That means I looked forward to aCoffee Sign friend who is came to visit.  I planned for a fun few days with her to bring her joy.  We had a total blast!  I did the very things that bring me, and that of my friend, joy.  We did some shopping and I found a couple of good finds for the house.  I had an early morning delicious chocolate croissant at a bakery in Seabrook.  I enjoyed a wonderful lunch and conversation by the ocean with her.  I took pictures.  I drove The Captain; even down on the beach.  Today, after all that is over, I continue to work on it.  I will persevere, and it may take me a few days, but I will move forward.

Mocha SpecialityWhy?  Because God knows the end from the beginning.  To stay in the dumps means I don’t trust God enough to turn this around, or to use it for my good.  Did I pray about it?  Not like I should have.  I know we will have troubles.  I am no different from anyone else in the trouble department.  However, I CAN choose to have a different view.  I know what that means. I also know that God wants me to trust Him with everything.  Not pieces of me, or certain places of my heart.  He wants me to trust Him with it ALL.
Tea Pot JoySo I will keep designing my life to have meaning by enjoying the things each day that bring me joy!  I will put some hot water into my sweet tea-pot that is one of my finds, and enjoy some chamomile tea, and start my gratitude hearts dropping in my jar. (It had kind of went on the back burner the last month or so.)  I do that because I know by experience, that is what works for me.  I also know that taking those steps changes my focus from me to Him, and that is what will honor God the most.

Look beyond the blank wall to see the beauty through the window.  It’s there if you look.  Imagine this window is your life.  What do you see?  Is the wall blank?  Is the window too smudged with the daily grind to see beauty anymore?  Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t always have it together.  What you are experiencing may be just what someone else needs to hear.  I trust that is so for you today as you read this.

Walking the journey with you…

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