Trust the Process

 

Time…Life doesn’t usually go as planned.  At least from our perspective.  Ever noticed that?  What do you do when things don’t go as planned?  Do you fight it?  Get angry about it?  Complain to others, or take it out on those around you?  Do you talk to others about it more than you pray to God about it?  I have had quite a few of those not so timely interruptions over the last year.  Strange health issues, falls, and the repercussions of all of them.  But… when I think about this last year, my life isn’t really any different from anyone else.  We all have them…those times we wish we didn’t have to experience.

Just this week, after some hard weeks have passed, I got some good news and some not so good news.  I had some swelling in my left hand from a fall where my left side and my nose took the hit.  The swelling caused me to need my wedding ring cut off.  I have worked in jewelry and it is hard to see a beautiful ring have to go through a cutting process.  You see, if you don’t have the right people doing that work, you can cause damage to the ring and to the diamonds it holds.  What will happen?  It will loosen the settings as the ring is stretched in order to go over the finger after being cut off.  So it worried me a little to have it done.  But I found a great jeweler locally, and he did a great job!

I then went into the Doctor to go over my hand X-ray.  That good and bad news? The X-ray showed no broken bones.  The good news.  The bad news, other than not being able to wear my ring, was that it was a pulled ligament between my ring finger and my middle finger.  That type of injury is a very long healing process; six months to be exact.  That’s a long time.  It is best to elevate the hand when possible, and I can ice it if I want to, should it be painful.  Wow!  Six months!  He told me I have to be patient.  If I try to hurry the process, then I will just cause more problems and my healing will take even longer.

Two days after cutting off the ring. Still extremely cut into my finger.

Isn’t that like our lives sometimes?  We want to hurry through uncomfortable times in our lives, so we can get back to life as we want it to be.  But when we don’t have patience for the process, we can take short cuts, hurry the process, or even get angry about it, and then we do more harm to the situation than if we are patient.  If we DO trust God with the process, then our faith can grow, be stretched and strengthened.  We don’t have to stand on our strengthen at all, but we stand on His strength.  He is the rock on which we stand.  I have to take care of my hand or I will see permanent damage and pain that will go up my wrist and arm.  In the last couple of days, it has gone down significantly because I am doing what the Doctor told me to do.  The same thing will happen when we lean on God for our needs in those hard times.  We do what He wants for us to do, we will see right changes.

So when it comes to my life, will I allow God the time to work on the issues going on in my life?  Or, will I get impatient and try to do something myself?  The latter is never good.  I need to depend on God to lead.  If I had tried to cut the ring off myself, I could have caused more damage to the ring.  If I didn’t cut the ring off, I could have done some nerve damage in my hand.  If I don’t listen to what I need to do to heal, I will cause further damage to my hand.  Our lives can be like that.  If we aren’t willing to surrender those hard times to the only person who has the answers, then we just struggle along trying to fix it ourselves.  I have come to know that God is big enough for anything I have going on.  He already knows.  There may be a lesson in the midst of it that I need to learn.  Ok.  I’m willing.  I trust Him.  I will do what is necessary and be patient with my process, knowing I will come out the other side with much better understanding and a healthy life.  I will trust the process.

Will you?

Until next time…

~JoAnn

 

Advertisements

Your Words and Actions…Do They Line Up?

Do you ever think about your words and actions?  Do you think about what you say to yourself as well as others?  Do you think about what you do?  Does one line up with the other?  We learned all kinds of words in school.  We learned to pronounce them, spell them, and good and bad uses of our words.

I have noticed more and more lately, that our words do not line up very well with our actions.  We say one thing and do another.  We say we believe this, but our actions aren’t exactly a picture of what we say.  Or, our pictures in no way line up with our words or life style.  Oh, we know they are important.  We do.  But then maybe we want to impress someone, or we want to be “bad” or whatever we are wanting to portray, and we do something or say something that may not line up with the latest Bible verse post we just posted.  Or, maybe we are sharing something that only stirs the pot, instead of calming the storm.  If we are believers, then that is not the way God calls us to live.

I think you know your words have power, right?  Power to build up, or power to destroy; and I’m not talking about just those are around you.  I’m talking about you.  Your words or actions are your self-talk.  Self-talk has lethal effects on your thinking and brain.  Negative thoughts or attitudes is like injecting yourself with an addictive substance; an addiction to bad thinking.  We soon start believing it is true.  What do you see, or think about yourself, as you look in the mirror?  Do you tell yourself negative things?  Do you believe you are shining the light of Jesus in all you do and say with your words?  What about your actions?

I have always been a monitor of my self-talk and I have noticed a slight change in mine.  I’m not liking where it goes.  Oh sure, it is mostly my private time and no body hears it.  But…God does.  I do.  It changes how I feel about things, and the circumstance that is causing it.  Here is a good example.  When I take out The Captain, my Mini, I will get on a road where there isn’t that much traffic and let him go!!  I did that today.  Blow the carbon out, I call it.  It’s fun for me with the speed and the wind blowing in my hair.  But it’s also good for The Captain.  He sits a lot more than he should.  In essence, we need to do that with our thinking and feelings.  We can’t be governed by our thoughts and feelings because those just built up, clog up, and cause us to be sluggish and we may even have misfires.  If we allow God to help us clean out our “thinkers”, and replace those words with something powerful and positive, then we blow the carbon out of our innards and make it possible to run with the wind!  We can once again see our words lining up with our actions.  In scripture, God calls it renewing our minds.  Makes total sense to me why He tells us to do that so often.  Ask Him to renew your mind.  We NEED to allow Him to do it.  It isn’t likely we will do it on our own, given our devices.  We have to surrender it, and renew our thought life.

Why you may ask?  People watch you.  They see your posts.  They see your life style.  They see your actions in public.  It is a lot of responsibility.  I get that.  But God calls us to it.  He doesn’t tell us it’s going to be easy.  He may tap you on the shoulder many times in the next few weeks IF you agree to change things up.  We can’t bash a person to bits who thinks differently than we do in one post, and then post how much we love Jesus or a Bible verse about love, in the next one, unless we take down the bashing posts.  We can’t call someone a name, or use bad language, and then not expect those who know we are Christians not want to turn their heads sideways with a questioning glance, and be thinking… what?!?!???.  God expects us to be different.  As we ask God to renew our minds, we are asking Him for the Holy Spirit to work in us. He will, and He will do that by bringing us up short when we lean in the wrong direction.  But because we are the only Jesus that some will see, what kind of person do they perceive Him to be?

Before you say, “Humph! Who does she think she is?!”  I’m just a child of the King!  A child of a God who is pruning my tree pretty hard!  I just wanted to let you know you aren’t alone.  However, I AM allowing God to do the hard pruning.  I say ouch quite often.  But I can see His purpose in calling me out to become a better example of Him.  Like today, when someone went flying into the beach throwing dust and sand all over, I didn’t have nice things to say about how he was messing up The Captain and blowing that into the car.  But it didn’t take long and the Holy Spirit said, “Well now.  That didn’t take long.”  So I said, “Well…he was a nice idiot.”  I think I heard God clear His throat.  Ok…  I repented and asked forgiveness. That is key.  Give it to Him.  Be obedient right away.

Here are some ideas:  ask Him if this is what He wants you to say, or post, or share.  Is it edifying?  Will it reflect well on the person?  On me?  You aren’t responsible for others actions, only yourself.  We don’t have to like someone, but neither should we bash someone.  This idea that we just say what we think, is not wise.  What stirs us up, changes our thinking.  Let’s stir ourselves up for the Lord with good things, good thinking, and ask Him to help let His love shine through more than your own agenda.  Discipline…it takes a boat load of it.  However, the blessings easily overflow that boat if we empty it first of ourselves.  Just like in the photo of the gingerbread person at the top of the post, I have to be willing to let the Designer prune off what is around me that needs to come off, so that, you can see the creation that is meant to be.

I felt the sting of these words myself too so I don’t say them lightly.  It is my prayer that I see more of His glory in my living because I allowed Him into the dark places to do a little excavating in my inner self.  It is a healthy path and one that God certainly rewards.  I hope this encourages you to be more aware of God in the room than before you read this.  I know it has changed me.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Unexpected Detours

Do you like detours?  Or do you find them irritating and time-consuming?  We often just want to get where we are going and not waste time, isn’t that true?

Let me share a detour that has caused me to really take a closer look at my life and what I am doing.  I had a small health issue the last few weeks off and on, and with it was excruciating pain in the kidney.  Thinking I had an infection, I used an over the counter product that would help with the symptoms until I got into the Dr the following day.  Apparently with my body metabolism, the amount used wasn’t something that my body could tolerate, but toxic, actually.  So my normal appointment to the doctor the next morning turned into going straight from the doctor’s office to ER.  Suffice it to say, it was quite a detour.  I couldn’t drive myself, couldn’t reach my husband at home, and so I had to be transported to the ER by ambulance for three blocks to the hospital.  The journey began.  Doctors and nurses worked hard to find out why my oxygen levels were so low and not able to be raised past 88 percent.  Not good.  Tests, blood test, blood gas tests, scans…you name it and it was done.  Find out that my body had a toxic reaction, and a VERY rare case I was.  My blood looked almost black, and I was asked from the ER Doctor what planet I was from.  I just told him it was strong Norwegian blood!  But, I wasn’t out of the woods.  My highest levels even with high flow oxygen was only 88 percent.  They thought it was caused by blood clots in the lungs and that turned out to be negative, thank you Jesus!!  What was it?  It turned out to be hypoxia methemoglobinemia. It is very rare for someone to react this way!  Oh good!  I’m special!!!  So with that diagnosis, the doctor knew of the antidote to give me and sent me upstairs to a room to receive it.  Warning:  my daily bathroom visits could yield all blue for a while.  So true.  I usually have a high anxiety when visiting the hospital because of my previous experiences, and I get quite emotional.  However, it was like someone else dealing with it and it’s seriousness.  I couldn’t understand the peace I had.  I asked God to give the all clear on the blood clots in the lungs and He did.  I am so thankful for that.  Blood draws every couple of days doesn’t seem fun at all.

Here is the deal about detours.  They are often unexpected when it comes to our lives.  Road detours are sometimes announced a head of time and we know how to plan ahead.  We have to watch for the sign that tells us the path of the detour.  Give ourselves extra time  for the detour.  But in our lives, that isn’t the case always.  Sometimes, it just happens.  We have to deal with it as it comes.  Is it ok to feel scared?  Of course.  But we can know where to take that fear.  God is always there.  Sometimes our detours come and God uses them for us to see something different; a new path or a new direction.  As we use these times to ask God what we are to learn from them, we find Him in that storm and He will whisper… He wants my attention in areas I need to be better about.

It my last few weeks, I had been struggling with some areas and asking God to show me where I needed to be, as well as where He wanted me involved.  Sometimes, I need to lay down something so another can pick it up and lead.  Sometimes He wants to use me in a completely different way.  We often see a picture of ourselves and where we are and think, that is where we are to stay.  But God may want to reframe our lives in ways that allow Him to use us even more.  Am I going to complain about the pain, the pokes and prods, and the uncertainty of what is going on in my body, or will I say thank the Lord for bringing me through it, slowing me down even more, and ask Him to guide my next steps?

  • If I wasn’t having that appointment that morning, I would have not known what was going on.
  • If I wasn’t in the doctor’s office.
  • If the ARNP that was on the ball and recognized my blue lips and blue fingers.
  • If the saturation levels didn’t indicate an issue.
  • If the ER doctor hadn’t been diligent enough to keep working at it.

I could have lost my life that day.

But God…He had that detour all planned out.  He knew the end from the beginning.  The outcome isn’t over, because I now have a whole list of things I can’t take now because of how my body may react to it.  I can’t even use BioFreeze, which I often used on my sore back.  I got an antibiotic that day for the first issue and that gave me hives.  However, it was the only one available to me.  I took three doses and that was all I could do, but he said that would work.  So… I am now on a new path with different ways I must live; at least for now.

The lesson on this detour?  I am re-examining my motives in where I am and what I am involved with.  I am taking time to ask Him the hard questions.  Then listen to His answers.  I can’t expect to have things different in my life if I am unwilling to change what I need to.  The biggest ones I think about after this experience?   Am I REALLY ready to meet Jesus?  Is my life in order?  It could have went a lot differently that day.  Am I prepared for that?  Am I willing to take a different road and let Him show me what He wants me to see?  Will I have a new appreciation for life that I am given everyday, because I am breathing today?  Take the correction if needed?  Forgive someone I may need to forgive?  Am I in the Word enough and not just sharing it, but in it enough myself?  Billy Graham was known to say the one thing he wished was that he studied the Word more.  That leaves a big gap for me if he was saying that.  Is my life so busy that I am not slowing down enough to notice where He wants to use me?  Is the idea of having stuff more important than something else in my life?  A desire for better this or that, rather than being thankful for what I have?  Hard questions = Growth.

Yes.  Detours can be educational if we allow them to be.  I am allowing it to be.  I want it to be.  Looking forward to the detour.  If you are looking for hope, don’t look around, look up.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Honoring Memories

 

A little late in posting this, but that is a whole other post for next time.

Honoring Memories…isn’t that something we should all take part in?  Not just honoring them, but taking part in making them?  Even when its difficult?  It sure feels right.  This last weekend, my hubby and I made the trip up north to do just that…clean stones and add the beauty of flowers to their gravesite.  You know what I loved even more than honoring them in this way?  On a cloudy morning we all met up in the most unlikely place…the cemetery.  But it just seems right.

You see, my family were the care takers of that very cemetery all the time I was growing up and even after that for a while.  We did the mowing and trimming of the lawn, disposed of dead flowers, set flowers back up when they had fallen over, watered them, and brushed off the stones of all in the sweet people on the hill.  So it seemed right to now be there with my boys and grandson to do the same for a couple that had done this for years; my parents.  Flags were flying proudly on the gravesite of those who served.  As we all met up, God gave me a glimpse in a moment in time to notice…my boys coming from their homes, traveling the distance in bad traffic just to meet up with us to help clean and trim out everything in honor of their grandparents.  As I watched their interaction with each other, greeting each other with a hand shake and then doing the same when my brother came to meet up at my folks gravesite, it made me smile.  The respect shown to one another was something that just tickled me as their mom.  Oh how I wish my folks could have experienced this part of the kids’ journey and watched the kind of people they have grown to be.  I was proud of the way I was brought up, of the way that I had raised my boys, and how God kept us all safe and still together.  For a mom with more days behind her than before her, it was very special moment for me to see once again, the faithfulness of God.  My life may not turn out how I expected it to years ago, but it is great none the less!  My boys would do what ever is possible for each other…and as a family, we would do the same.  We all paid honor to our family, and then spent some time together over food before we went home.  What a joy!  Thank you to my sweet son Jesse, who bought us all a burger!  Those sweet times are what it is all about!  It was also a legacy for my grandson to see his dad and uncle and Grandma and Papa showing respect to the memory of family.  This is what “being in the present moment” is all about.  I could have just missed it, but God nudged me just in time to see it through His eyes.  That made me smile and feel so proud of them!  Maybe it was just to encourage me… I think so.  I’m so grateful.  I’m thinking my parents were glad to see us gathered too…the gift of presence.

My hubby and I then went on to honor family on my dad’s side.  One was my Grandma, my dad’s mom, who died a year or less after I was born.   I had a different kind of conversation with her this time because I had been where she came from in Norway.  I have learned some things about her life that brought me closer to knowing who she was.  There were also some of my family with just tiny tin plaques that I prayed, that if I had the money in the future, I will put a nice stone in its place.  I know my dad wanted to do that, and maybe God will allow me to do that one day instead.  The memories flood my soul as I walked around.  Good family times of sharing and helping each other.  We were raised in community a lot more as I was growing up.  Family helping family when needed.  It brings me back to the thought of what I want to be remembered for…what I hope people will remember about my life and focus.  It’s not over yet, so there is work to be done.  There are gatherings to be had, and reunions to plan, food to be shared, and love to be given.

It was a good day.  I left knowing my efforts were rewarded by God’s faithfulness to answer prayer.  He can do what we can not.  I like to think of God bringing my parents over to Him and pointing down at us that day and saying, “Look at that…all of them together, loving on each other, paying honor to your memory.  You led well.  Well done good and faith servants.”

Lifting my mocha cup to lives well lived!

 

Until next time…

~JoAnn

 

 

 

 

Where Do You Live?

Where do you live?  No, not physical addresses, but where do you live in your life and choices?

We often times find ourselves living in the past where we remember things we have done that we wished we wouldn’t have, or a sin we feel we can’t be forgiven of, or we can find ourselves living in the future where we dream of how things will be, or what we want or desire them to be.  BUT, we don’t often think about our present moment or day except in terms of a schedule.  How much of your life do you live in the present?  I came across some notes that I had written down when I was studying about circumstances, and how they can affect our thinking, and thus our lives.  I thought I would share some thoughts about that in this post.

We all have a story…the way we live our life, is our story.  It doesn’t always look like we envisioned for ourselves, but it can become more about how you approach living it out.  Gifts to us can come from the hardest places that we find ourselves.  If we are trying to heal from hard circumstances, that healing can move us out to help others.  It gives hope on the other side of our pain, and our hope makes it possible to share it with another.  Don’t be afraid to step forward into that.  With eyes of faith, we can see our script as something that is a part of a bigger story, or part of a bigger picture.  Our current circumstances are not the end; just part of the bigger picture.  Do you know that God is always in the NOW?  And guess what????  He doesn’t want us to miss it!  How much of yourselves do you live in the present?  We don’t want to miss the moments!

It’s true that in looking back we can gain some information for our life, and faith in action can help us rearrange our lives in terms of patterns, or see God’s faithfulness.  It can help us notice what God wants us to see.  But it starts with our thought pattern.  God can give us the ability to see our story in the bigger story; the one that God has for us.  Unfortunately, we don’t get to choose who our parents were, our family, the economics of our family, or where we live(d).  Are we in a thought pattern of wanting a different life?  God really wants us to live the life He has planned for us.  But walking by faith means we are not going to always know the details.  I always liked the idea in the scriptural stories where they gathered stones and built an altar in places of remembrance where God did a great thing.  I thought about making a wall of stones in a small area of my yard.  It would kind of be like a gratitude wall just like I do the gratitude jar that I use.  But God is so good that I would quickly have a stone wall!  I would have to use mine strictly for the BIG things…of course, they are all big things to me!  See my issue???  🙂

However, time can give us a different or re-interpreted perspective on what happens in our lives.  That is always the blessing of a faith walk; spiritual eyes to see.  We have the Holy Spirit to help and guide us in the direction Jesus wants us to go.  Here are some questions to ask ourselves:

  • What about working on re-framing our lives?
  • What about choosing to look into what really makes up our life?
  • Are the above areas in line with God’s plan, or in more in line with our plan, and asking God to bless it?
  • What we think in our head affects the heart, which affects the heart, and makes our habits.  How’s our thought life?
  • Ponder the kind of life we would like to look back on at the end of our life.  Does it look the way we would like it to?

I just got back from a couple of days of road trips for our anniversary.  It is always good to get away from the existing environment and it’s requirements, in order to give our brain a break.  It’s amazing what thoughts and ideas come to us during those times when we let time teach us.  As I contemplated the above notes and what I was writing for this post, I thought it was also important to share how this works out in life as we allow it to be implemented.

I think of my past life with love and compassion for the hardships my parents had as they built a life and provided for me.  You see most of my generations’ parents lived through the depression.  It gave them some unique traits that got hardwired into their lives by their experiences.  We all have been influenced that way.  Some of my generation tried, and are still trying, to outlive that mentality.  My parents were simple in their living; it was to MAKE a living and provide for the family.  Our house wasn’t anything fancy, our cars were mostly paid for, so not new.  My clothes were sewn by my mother or hand-me-down from my cousins.  But as I started to say, many of my generation and forward, look at success as having the brand new home, and a big one, new cars, the best home furnishings, and work 24/7 to have it, by golly.  Where I saw my parent’s generation work hard, but also play hard.  Gatherings of family at reunions, sharing Sunday dinners or dessert together, picnics, and cousins playing together and actually staying in touch as we got older, as well.  So…I look at my past, not as something I have to get away from, but something that I embrace, take all the good from, and implement that into my life.  My past is different from yours.  Granted.  But we all can take what is good, and be thankful for that which is good.  Leave and dump the negative.  We didn’t live in their shoes, and there is something in their lives that made their lives the the way they are/were.  Love them in spite of it.  There are many things I didn’t understand about my mom at the time, but when I look back now and think about it, I now understand some of her life better, how she may have felt, and what made her the person she was.  In my life, I choose to take every ounce of good and create that good in my daily life.  That is something I can do.  And…I keep creating that for myself.  It’s my life’s journey to live it out in such a way, that my family is encouraged to remember what is good, and take that with them however it looks, into their lives.  I want that for all of you who read this blog.  I’m not perfect by ANY means.  I have my struggles too.  However, it never stops there.  If I have a struggle…I take it to the One who does not.  He knows what to do, and will gladly bring it to mind when I need to change up my view.

Here is a photography analysis.  I live a life of “re-framing” or as I like to call it, “re-inventing”.  It’s my daily focus…kind of like a camera taking a picture.  If view is not quite clear, I refocus and then take the picture.  I can change the angle of how I see it in the view finder.  I can decide what to include, and zoom or crop out to exclude what I don’t want.  Maybe I need to shed some more light on the subject to get a better picture.  In other words, I do what I need to do to get the best results.  Do I always get a great capture?  Nope.  I am sometimes in too big a hurry to spend time getting the best photo.  But I can always try it again, and this time, I will know better what to do.  You see, if we look into what makes up our lives, we might find areas that take up our time, but add very little value to the end of our lives.  Because of that, we may not be living out God’s plan for our lives either.  We may actually be living out what we want, and asking God to put HIs hand of favor on that.  Nope.  Wrong way to go about it.  Remember, what we think affects our hearts and what affects our hearts, make up our daily habits.  We need to be watchmen/watch women on the wall of our lives.  Recognize it before it gets to close as to whether you holler out a warning or a hallelujah!  By faith, we can do that.  I like this statement from Anne Graham Lotz, “Faith is not a “gift” that some people have been given and other have not.”   So good.  We all can have faith.  So on the trip in the car, I did some re-framing through faith, and I believe God has given me new direction to take.  It may not be easy, but it will be best.  Knowing God in a deeper way gives us a better understanding of our relationship with Him, as well as, where He wants us to take action.

I am many things…wife, mother, teacher, encourager, proud Norwegian, a proud American, believer in God, photographer, blogger, lover of music and playing instruments…and many more things, yet, I am one person.  We all have facets just like a diamond.  But just like the diamond, all of us make up one beautiful creation that gives off light and reflection of who we are and what we value.  So…ask the hard questions.  We learn from them.  Sit a while and ponder life with sweet tea and time, or coffee and time, and see where God is leading you.  Have a happy journey!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

 

 

Things Change…It’s Hard

Time to make some changes?  How are you with change?  Do you go with the flow?  Do you have to be dragged along into the change?  Do you find change is easy for you, or is it hard?  Change can mean we have to make a U-Turn and go back, or it can be going in the direction you are going with changes, or forward with a possible detour to something new.  Sometimes its leaving something behind that needs to be left, and sometimes we are moved forward toward something new.

Here are a few definitions:

  • change is different from what is.
  • make or become different.
  • the act or instance of making a future course change.

We don’t usually ask for change, ever notice that?  So, I would assume from that, change is not so welcome to most of us.  We might think, what if we want change and it doesn’t come to us?  What if it does?  Ok.  Let’s say it doesn’t seem to come for us.  Are we willing then to do something else?  Are we willing to stay where we are and ask God to change us so we can be more content where we are?  The struggle is real!  No matter how we define our life, it will require us to take some type of action.  It can look like a big mountain before us, but God will make a way around or through.  Nothing is too big for Him!

Let me share some of my changes with you so you know that I know about changes.  Since 1992, there have been many changes.  That year I had the unexpected death of my mother.  Big changes there as I helped my dad navigate life after losing the love of his life.  I was a fill in driver for my dad as his eyesight became an issue.  Changes…  In 1996, I became a single parent with 3 boys, and in 1998, a divorce.  Later a remarriage.  A step-daughter added to the family.  So from 1996 to 2015, I have moved 13 times in 19 years.

  • A move to Missouri is one big change.
  • Another one of those changes was the loss of my dad from complications from a car accident so back to Washington.
  • Yet another one was a move to Idaho; both of these Idaho and Missouri moves were away from family and friends.
  • The move to Missouri meant moving two times while there.
  • Next, a move back to Washington; both of the above two moves were into houses sight unseen.  We only talked by phone and made arrangements. We depended on God to take care of us.

Changes…

Change isn’t just about location, although it is hard to break into new neighborhoods, churches, and make connections.  It can sometimes be about being set apart for a season from everything you know, so that, you can have more time for something you are called to do. I have found that because of so many changes, I have gotten better at it, and I am better at turning it over to God. I am feeling pretty good about it most of the time.  THEN, comes a BIG change that hits me sideways, and I have to remind myself again of what I need to do.  My head knows, but my heart?  Not so much.  However, the quicker I take it to God, the more clarity I have of His direction.  I’m not letting my feelings get involved first, but God’s direction.

So what’s the solution?  Maybe thanking God for placing us where we are is a good start.  Confession?  I like my house and all we have done with it.  I LOVE being close to the ocean!  But if I could, I would move back closer to my family and friends in a millisecond!  However, I’m not in that position.  God has a different idea for a different purpose.  And His different purpose just might be a smaller connection than what I thought it was when we moved here.  You see, He definitely answered my prayers for a quiet place to live!  I have a wonderfully scenic back yard with the deer to watch come and go at times.  Not much traffic and quiet enough to hear birds singing and watch them come and go in the trees.  I prayed for that.  He answered that.  But it looks different from what I thought it would be.  Change usually is.  I have to accept that God knows what is best and He will help me in these circumstances that He has brought me to.  He has called me away from the noise, but for a different purpose; to study, and to do a little excavating within myself.  I need to ask Him to help me see where I need to change and what I might need to do differently.  Or  bigger yet?  Where I might need to THINK differently.  Allow Him to do the work He wants to do in me and not be yanking at His arm trying to pull away from His grip like a child would do to a parent.  Because…He will allow me to pull away if I want to go my own way.  But that isn’t what is the better path for me.  In fact, that will just get me into trouble.  He reminds me that I don’t have to see where the path is going all the time.  He does.

What changes may God be telling you to get ready for?  What changes might you need to make within you so that you are content where you are right now?  Are you living for what Jesus has for you to do?  Or are you living out what YOU want to do in your life, as you convince yourself it is God’s calling?  It’s easy to do.  I have gotten stuck there a few times.  Ask the hard questions and God will give you answers.  But…be ready.  Here comes the truth!

The Bible says, “How a man/woman thinks in his/her heart, so is he/she.”  The decisions we make, makes the lives we live.  So, the bottom line for me is this question in the words of a well-known man, Chuck Colson, “How Now Shall We live?”  I, and only I, can decide.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Guardian of Our Wo

I am back after back issues and then sinus infection!  Boy!  What a journey this last six to eight weeks has been!  Silver lining?  I have had much more time to read!  That’s always a great thing.  So what do I have to share with you today?  I want to share with you something that can be a hinderance in the life of a Jesus follower.

I have to say that I am finding more and more in this day and age, that many people just have no filter at. all.  You can’t make a comment on Facebook before someone else has to get nasty about it.  What is it about this media option that gives people anonymity as a faceless person behind a screen, to feel you can just let loose on someone just because they don’t agree with your view.  Or let me go a little deeper, you just don’t LIKE their view.  We just start attacking.  It only takes one person and away they all go!  It stinketh! Where in the world has our sense of right and wrong gone?  I don’t agree with MANY of the things said, shared, or done, but I don’t rip someone apart because of it.  Why is it that we feel we have a “right” to express our opinion in such a way?  Does it change the other people’s mind?  No.  They don’t even listen.  They are too busy planning what they will say to the next comment that comes up.  We gain nothing.  All we do is show who we REALLY are.  That is very sad to me and I think since God talks about the tongue, we should do a better job of controlling it.  You see, just because it is out there, doesn’t mean we have to respond to it, or even share it, or believe it to be true. We even get into Twitter where we can let ‘er rip in 140 characters or less.  Are the words that come from our mouth or finger tips edifying?  What do your words or language show others about you?  The Bible tells us that we shouldn’t let any unwholesome words come out of our mouth or our fingertips but only that which will build another up.

We seem to forget that we have choices every day.  We can choose how we respond, and most of the time, it isn’t worth responding to in the first place.  We just have to get our opinion out there.  Have you ever asked yourself why you even feel the need to say something?  I always ask myself if my comment or response will do the following:

  • make a difference?
  • change a mind and thinking?
  • be of value to someone?
  • encourage a person?
  • edify the person?
  • is it helpful?
  • is it kind?

If it doesn’t meet the above criteria, that is what the “scroll” is for.  Move on.  Don’t jump in to the pool of ugliness.  If I really feel I need to respond to something that stands up for my faith, I will do so, but it a way that states what I believe to be a kind way of standing up for God and represent what He stands for.  But then, I don’t go back and read every comment and get all wrapped up in the argument.  Many just like to start one so they have the excuse to let ‘er rip.  No thanks.  That is neither wise on our part, or a good example of God’s love for one another.  There may a time to confront, but with love, not anger and hate.

This type of involvement not only stirs us up, but it usually stirs us up to the wrong things and feelings.  We find ourselves upset, angry, and develop feelings that don’t easily go away.  We in turn, can take it out on someone else.  Be angry at the person for not “getting it” to a point that it begins to rub off on those around us, and changes their perspective on the subject also.  It would be wise of us to decide what we let into our lives and what we don’t.  If we don’t act in a manner that reflects God, then we become no better than those who are choosing to attack with their words.  I learned a long time ago to be careful what I read, listen to, and what or who I associate with.  Everything we surround ourselves with leads our hearts, and our hearts lead our actions.  “As a man thinks, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7.  Satan would like nothing better than to take away our credibility as a follower of Jesus.  He loves to trip us up. However, it also trips up our faith…we can lose our firm grip to the Father’s hand, not because He let go, but because we start to let go.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t ever want to be in a position where I lose the hold of God’s hand on mine.  Making wise choices about what we involve ourselves in, can make a difference in the choices you make and the way you think every moment of every day.  What is it about us that we can’t resist weighing in a question on social media?  Do they really care about our opinion?  No.  It is just a ploy to rile everybody up; keeping you mad and upset, and focused on the wrong thing.  Since when do we have a right to sit behind the screen and determine who we stone?  He who is without sin cast the first stone, Jesus said.  Don’t. take. part.

So what do we do?

  • If we truly want to be salt and light to the world, we want to act in such a way that they see Jesus, not us.
  • Before we comment, ask yourselves the above thoughts.
  • Spend less time on social media and more time with people face to face.
  • BE a good listener and then respond.  Don’t be so eager to say what you think before hearing the person out, and determining our part in the scenario.
  • If you are turning down the opportunity to learn and have quiet time with the Lord to be on social media or TV, then that’s a place to start.  Change our priorities.
  • What would change in our lives if we stayed out of everyone else’s business, and swept our own doorstep?

As a parent or grandparent, we know how fast time goes by us.  Because we know that, do we really want to be spending time in this kind of activity and missing that time of being with the Lord and hearing His voice?  We are so busy thinking of what we will post next, that we hurry through our life to get to the next idea.  Now I will tell you that I use Facebook myself.  I use it as a way to keep up with family and close friends, BUT I also use it for encouragement and Bible Study.  So I can be seen online often.  However, I’m using it for other purposes more than for the sake of blindly scrolling through the lights of Facebook, and sharing what I think.  It is always my hope that what I share causes someone to think about how they spend their days.  We can’t expect our children or grandchildren to put down the devices when they see us with our faces in them.  Or, what about what they hear you listen to on social media or movies or TV.  That could be another story right there.  However, I too, am going to lay down my phone and involvement on social media.  I challenge you to consider that for yourself.  We might find ourselves much happier people.

So I close with this:

I will share a personal post that I don’t wish to see.  I personally don’t agree with everyone posting political posts.  What is the point?  It just offends most of the time.  You have your beliefs and others have theirs.  You don’t  need to put down one to raise up the other.  That reflects more about you than the person you support.  We Christians have said some awful things about people in our attempt to clarify or give an opinion, and I don’t guess if we were to be in the spotlight with our own lives, that ours would be clean and white as snow either.  So let’s put the stones down.

How about if we started a revolution of caring, rather than scaring.  What if we used it more for what it started out to be; a way of sharing your life with friends and family and an optional way of encouraging each other.  THAT would set us a part as followers of Jesus, I think.  What if our pages, posts, tweets and Instagram, reflected more of that?  What if we used the idea that Jesus taught, “a kind word turns away wrath” as a way to set ourselves apart from the world.  Non-believers can’t see a difference between Christians and non-believers many times.  Let’s show them the better way…let’s not trip them up with our words and actions, but instead lead them to walk it out with us because they see something different in us.  Let’s reset.

Until next time…

~JoAnn