The Destiny Struggle

Live out your destiny! Have you heard that before from somewhere? I don’t know about you, but I find all the leaders and teachers always talking about destiny and fulfilling our destiny gives me a headache. This will be an honest look at this struggle. It can be exhausting for us. I don’t think I am the only who may feel this way. Let’s dig in a little bit and see what destiny is all about.

There are many times in our lives where we might be worn out because we are trying to have what we feel is the perfect life and do the will of God, and then when that all looks perfect in our eyes, we get the idea that now we have reached our destiny. But deep down, we feel down on ourselves and our lives because we don’t feel we have truly reached our destiny. We just aren’t satisfied deep down. We become discontent. We may feel that our lives have to be perfect, and they aren’t, and so we must not be living our destiny.

Here are a few definitions of Destiny:

~~>the hidden power believed to control what will happen in the future.

~~>the events that will necssarily happen to a particular person or thing in the future.

~~>a person’s destiny is everything that happens to them during their life, including what will happen in the future, especially when it is considered to be controlled by someone or something else; a force which some people believe controls the things that happen to them in life.

~~>Others may look at destiny as doom, fate, lot, and portion. (*Definitions from a search)

So let’s unpack this a bit. We hear consistently about walking in our destiny, or fulfilling our destiny like it is something only we can do. If that is the case, why are christians talking in this way? We can’t do anything apart from God as believers. God is our source to set us on the path or mission. But not maybe what we think it is, but more like WE think it is supposed to be and look like. We may think of our destiny as a ministry of some sort; a preacher, teacher, church leader, Bible Study teacher, or public speaker, writing a book, or writing a blog. But where is God in it? What does He want you to be doing? We keep asking ourselves what the will of God is, and what is the direction we need to serve God? In this way of thinking, we can become the person who thinks that God is going to open a book and stamp it with a map for directions. If we aren’t seeking Him, we may miss what He has for us.

What we should be doing is asking God where He is working and join Him in that place. It isn’t supposed to be so hard. Here is my example for myself: I believed many years ago that I should be seeking my destiny for the Lord. I had these ideas of what it may be. Did you catch that? I HAD the idea. Wrong thinking on my part. God knows what He wants for us, and has given us the gifts to use for His purpose and glory. We get confused by thinking we can do it by ourselves. God will reveal it to you and the Holy Spirit will help you stay the course. So… one day as I was sitting at the computer encouraging a person that needed it, God spoke to me and let me know that at that very moment that I helped another, I WAS doing what He wanted me to do. It isn’t something anyone will know about, I’m not in front of a crowd of people, and it isn’t a grand scale that I would be showing in my life; it is just loving another. Our “destiny” isn’t about me, it is about serving the Lord God with my life. Doesn’t God give that commandment to those of us who are called His children? We are to love one another. So when you help another, listen to another, feed the hungry, watch children when someone needs help, mow a lawn for someone, or fix a meal for another, THAT is what God calls you to do. Mine was here at my desk in the studio being available to help others where I can. I was very thankful for that revelation in my life. What an encouragement it is when we are free to do what God calls us to do. We don’t need to strive and struggle for it. God’s yoke is easy. I have been walking in this fulfilment all my life! I was asking God what He wanted me to do, and He was faithful to show me. We don’t have to try harder, or strive to “get it”. God wants your heart. When you seek Him, He will speak to you in ways you least expect in order to direct you to the place He wants you.

Lean in to hear His whisper.

Do I have a better connection with God than you? Of course not. We all have that opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Don’t let the idea of destiny, as we hear about it in media land, convince you that you haven’t arrived yet. Maybe you are learning how God speaks to you and so it takes Leaning in a bit closer for Him to reveal where you can begin. We are asked to use our gifts and talents for Him, and I believe that is very different than struggling to find out our destiny. God has made each of us differently and when we seek Him to do what He asks, then we are already living our destiny. That word doesn’t have to define us as we compare our life with others. Lean in and listen to the whisper of God. Your calling from Him is unique to you. Rest in that.

Lisa Whittle says this: “The more we look to a source other than God for peace, the less peaceful we will be.” So if we are listening to all the social hype about living our destiny, and we feel we don’t have one, or don’t know how to find it, use what you DO have and know, and then God will give you what you don’t know and what you need. We need not struggle with all the hype of destiny when we have a God that wants to reveal His direction for us. Leave yourself out of the equation. Let God be your guide to working where He is working. Your forward progress toward serving God is to love people. What we need within ourselves is the willingness to accept what that is for us. I have read many teachings about how self-talk can determine your destiny. I DO believe in self-talk but I believe it is speaking out the Word of God over our lives, not just telling myself how great we are and that we can do anything we want to do. I suppose we could do anything we want, but that wouldn’t be living the life God has called each of us to live out. That to me is leaving Him out of our live’s equation all together.


Let God light YOUR path. Ask Him!

Next time you hear a pastor or speaker talk about destiny, remember this; destiny seems to be the buzz word for Christian circles today. It tickles our thoughts toward something WE can do. I want you to begin to ask God about what He has for you to do. It may be small things that you become faithful in. It may be something big that scares you big time! But He is faithful to show us when we ask. I would encourage you not to get tied up in the idea of destiny and your future, but ask what God wants of you. The way you find that out isn’t by destiny, it is more of a deepening of your relationship with God and going to Him in prayer with your questions. It isn’t meant to be a struggle and stressful. It certainly isn’t meant to make you feel less than someone else because they have something you don’t. Or, they are doing something for the Lord that you think you should be doing. Remember, our service to God is individual. It just may be that you haven’t asked yet. Luke 11:9 says, “Ask and it will be given to you, Seek and you shall find, Knock and the door will be opened to you. *Emphasis mine.

I think if may Christine Caine that said, “It is an ordinary life lived by extraordinary directions, direct from heaven to you where ever you are!” Now that is connection! I do however, feel the need to tell you that what God has for you to do requires something of you. It may be consistent study of the Word, it may be reorganizing your time, it may be that you make yourself more available. I have enjoyed one-on-one times with people that may need a listening ear, and maybe sharing something I have been through that can help them. It may also be mentoring a person for a while. It is where ever God calls me to be available. Begin today to ask God to show you what He wants you to be involved in, and where He wants you to join in His mission for the Kingdom. THAT, my friend, is what our lives are all about. Loving God and loving each other. If you think of destiny again, I hope you remember that it is an action word, but the Word needs to come from God for you. Don’t get hung up on that word. That isn’t God’s design for us. We use so many buzz words these days in the christian realm, that we begin to put our own spin on what it means and make up what WE think God would want us to do and ask God to bless it. That is not the way my friend.

Your road is unique. Live that out.

Don’t get stuck on destiny. In this day and age, we seem to want a label for everything. Don’t let that transfer over in to God’s design for you. Instead get your value and direction through prayer. Ask for specifics. It may really surprise you what God shows and reveals to you. He is our source and He knows your beginning from the end. He will make it clear. If you feel He hasn’t, then there may be more of YOU in the equation and not enough of God. God doesn’t make things hard for us. His way is simple. We are often the ones who make it difficult. Walk in the way He guides you and you will find a life you didn’t realize you could have. Don’t knock on His door once in a while, but knock and keep knocking and the door will open and you will find peace and joy in what He has for you to do. Take notes!! Write it down!

I sure enjoy what God has gifted uniquely to me in service to Him, and it brings me joy to share with those He brings in my path daily. God bless you as you find that joy in serving God in this way for yourselves.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Lean Toward the Sunshine

It is another week; a four-day week if you are working! That’s a big yay!! I hope it is a fantastic week for each of you.

I saw something this weekend that I thought applied to our lives, and as soon as I saw it, the Holy Spirit gave me a message. So, I want to share it with you and the visual I saw that gives you the message visually with your eyes as you read it.

So, look carefully at the photo at the lead of this page. This a chocolate mint plant. We have been trying to protect our plants and flowers from the heat we have had to endure for the last couple of weeks. But what I want you to notice is how the plant is somewhat shaded, but it is leaning toward the sun. It wants to find the sunlight. I turned it around so the stems wouldn’t get too damaged by leaning out so far. Look what happened. The plant started seeking the sun from the other side.

This is the lesson I received: We are like that plant, or we SHOULD be like that plant. We should be seeking the Sonlight every day no matter where we are. We need to lean into the light so we can grow and be healthy in our growth and relationship with Jesus. Now… we think this is because the plant wants to get the sunlight. That is true. But did you know that while it leans into the sun, it is actually growing faster on the shaded side? Also, did you know that the cells on the shaded side grow faster than on the side leaning toward the sun?

So what is the lesson? I think we always need to be leaning into Jesus, who is our Light and our Source. We need His Light to stream over our life. We need to constantly be looking for that Light in our everyday living. Isn’t it interesting that the growth that happens is on the shaded side? To me this means that we aren’t always going to see that growth on our shaded side. However, if we keep seeking the Light, which is Jesus, then we are going to grow to be healthy in our relationship with our Lord. We also need the watering of the Holy Spirit to sustain us as well and keep us refreshed to handle when life hits.

It’s a simple thought but very profound; and isn’t that how God works? He uses the simple things to give us wisdom. Now that you have been reminded, lean into the Light this week and every day after this. Allow Jesus to flood you with His Light and even though you can’t see it, He is working the night shift on our shaded side, growing strong and sturdy for His purposes.

Lean into the Sonshine! 

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Is That Real and Does It Apply to Me?

Hello friends! Greetings from a very warm west coast this week and into the weekend. Right now I am sitting in my studio in a relatively cool space in my home. However, we are seriously looking for our AC floor model unit to assist us this weekend. Having moved here just a year ago, some things just aren’t we they were remembered to be! Can you relate?? Ok. On with today’s thoughts…ready, set, go!!

I do a lot of study online with options for Bible Study videos to listen to teachings on various topics that I believe will help me to keep my focus where it should be. Today as I watched a video of the teaching, it occured to me that they do everything in their production power as producers of these video teachings to have the show the ultimate perfect environment. Have you noticed that? Does it sometimes make you feel like the teaching isn’t relevant because you can’t relate to the person? It just occured to me today how some may find that more of a challenge to watch because of how it might make them feel For example as you watch to do you ever think any of these thoughts?

~~>Yes. She or he can say that…look at her family who is walking through a field together. I can’t even get my family together for a holiday!

~~>Yes. She or he can say that…look at her house! She has everything like she wants it.

~~>Yes. She or he can say that…she doesn’t know my husband/wife.

~~>Yes. She or he can say that…she doesn’t know what I put up with every day.

~~>Yes. She or he can say that…look at how perfect she looks with those nice clothes and perfect hair!

~~>Yes. She or he can say that…look at that view! I would feel like I could do better if I woke to that every morning.

~~>Yes. She or he can say that…look at how perfect her life is!

Can you relate to any of that? It might not be through a video teaching that you feel that way. It might be when you are together with friends or even family. My point is that our lives get very inundated with commercialism. It looks one way but it may be a totally different picture in the true lives of that person. We see all those beautiful pictures, or vacations, or see that whole family holding hands and walking around together and think that everybody but US has that life. It is designed to suck you into what you perceive as the “way it should be”. All those videos are designed to do just that. Sometimes the message of the Word gets lost in the views you see on the videos. It isn’t necssarily real, but in some cases it could be. However, that doesn’t mean your life has to look that same way or that they have it more together than you do; they may not in reality. But do you see how satan can wiggle around in your life by giving you a sense of less, and you feel less content because of what you see? It saddens me that Christianity has become more about the look of the study than the WORD of the study.

Don’t be fooled. A real life isn’t perfect. It doesn’t mean a perfect house. In fact it might be a little bit of chaos in appearance, but its lived in. It might be that our wardrobe isn’t right off the racks of a name brand store. Our hair may be turning grey and we don’t want to hassle with coloring it all the time, or spending the money to have that perfect look. But that just means we have gained some experience when those grey hairs show up. We have lived well and worked hard. You might be looking at that pastor/teacher’s environment as you watch the video and be thinking, I could do that if I had a spouse that was like that person’s.

My point? Don’t let satan distract you with the “purdy” stuff to the point you feel “less than”. God desigined you just as you are and wants you to live a contented life with Him. He knows what you need and living real with Jesus is much better than any fancy house or clothes or what we perceive as the “better way to live”. He would rather have your heart in obedience to Him, and a healthy relationship with Him more than anything else.

I have been to Honduras in past years, and the one thing I learned on that trip was that those who have virtually nothing, are the happines people! They have so little but they have a joy in the Lord that is amazing. They don’t need the trappings, they just want to show and share the love of Jesus. We here in the US have known millionaries and billionaires; individuals that had everything you could want, and yet we find out later that they are the most unhappy people.

Don’t get tied up in the trappings of satan to think more is better when sometimes less is more. I would rather people in my life see a person who is real, rather than trying to impress them with my home or what I have, or that I am better than they are because of what my life shows them. I am blessed because of what God has done, not anything that I have accomplished. THAT is when you can see the truth of who God is and what He wants for you and your life. Talk to yourself about things more that you listen to yourself. Keep the real thing, the real thing. We all need to tell ourselves what is the truth, not what is doubted…doubts lead us down the wrong path and right where satan wants us.

The Captain

We have become so groomed for what we see or hear or think that sometimes we are not even aware of how much of that meets our eyes and ears every day. Don’t let appearances dictate comparisons between you and others. All those others who you think have it all together, and have everything, deal with the same kinds of issues you do. And having the perfect home, family, church, or car doesn’t make what we deal with any easier. However, I DO find taking my Mini, named The Captain, out and blowing out the carbon (Hahaha) DOES a little something for me. 😉

Let’s agree to support each other in our progress on this pilgrim road and not be distracted by the pretty things that we might see as we go. Let’s be thankful for all we DO have. If we want what someone else has, we also have to be willing to take on what someone else has to deal with. That should make you think.

Keep the influence in your life coming from God and His Word. That is where our contentment comes from. Keep learning from those teachers, but don’t get hung up on what you see, but listen intently to what you hear and can learn.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Be Extravagant Sometimes, It’s Ok!

Pilchuck River

This thought has come to me at times over the past year and it came to my attention through a devotional today again. I have always been a rewarder to myself, as most of you may know from following my posts here. However, I think it means more than just spending money. It can mean giving yourself a few minutes of time to just sit and listen to life going on around you. For you, that might feel strange and extravagant. Or it might mean a bit of an extravagant purchase. It might be a vacation, or not spending money for yourself with something you need or want. My point is, many things can feel extravagant to use, when in reality, it may be something we really need to do. Let me explain this thought.

I have always felt that if I am helping others, I am ultimately serving God. He has been gracious and faithful to me so how could I not return that to others? We all know that we are to be frugal with our resources, but there are times that God is so extravagant to me and to you, that we should want to share with others; not only because of His goodness to us, but to be “love in action” in other places God is working and wants us to join Him. So… is it ok to be extravagant sometimes? The answer is a resounding yes!

We often say to ourselves that we will wait for that special item, get away, time for yourself, or we do without something that would helps us or bring us joy. Why? Because we think that is what we are supposed to do. We shouldn’t be wanting what we don’t have. I DO think we have to live within our means and be finacially wise. However, I also think that to set aside something for ourselves that we desire, is sometimes one way to remember how faithful God is to make it possible in the first place. If we keep always denying ourselves of some extravagance, then this kind of thinking can cause us to miss out blessings that God wants to give us. In our case at home, God has been extravagant with us, which means we have been able to share with others and bless them. We can enjoy something special because we have been givers, and that is the very reason God blesses us… so that, we can be a blessing to others where ever He calls us to bless. I love that. I am not talking about giving to get. I am talking about genuinely giving of ourselves, not just with money. I give much of my time to helping others because that is what calls us to do. Use what we have been given to help another along.

I have had struggles by the score in my years on earth with parenting young children as a single mom for a while, and car issues that I had to become a mechanic myself to keep going, and just in general making ends meet. To this day I have big challenges. I know the struggle. But I always rewarded myself in little ways that helped me stay the course and encouraged me forward. Don’t mistake this for worldly things all the time. That is the first thing that can comes to mind when we think of this word. But, I’m saying, it can be a variety of actions, or purchases, sharing something you have that you aren’t using, or just sitting with a cold ice tea or coffee on the deck like I did this morning to bring my office outside and listen to the birds singing while I worked. THAT is extravagant for me just as much as a purchase of a big item. You see, it is all in how we thinking.

One of my extravagances that brings me joy everyday!

What changed in my life because I allowed myself to be extravagant sometimes? I have been given beyond anything I could ask for. Much has been granted. I live in gratitude for all He has given me and never take it for granted; big and little things. I worked hard to be financially debit free, and we have lived that life for 23 plus years. I kept my eyes on the goals and my gaze upward. I slowly and deliberately climbed up to higher ground so I could better see the view from God’s perspective. I then have a better view point to see what He was trying to do in my life. He taught me well to do without as I went through that stage in life. He has rewarded me with His faithfulness. I believe that is because I had experience with Him enough by this time to know that He would see me through to the other side. I can see His direction for my future from higher ground. I can trust Him whether I am abounding or have less. I have plenty of times of less, but He guides me along the way and gives those things just to remind me He loves me and hears my prayers and desires.

I have had fun living under God’s umbrella of blessing. I don’t ever think I did any of it without His hand over it all. It is when extravagance for the purpose of how we look, or just to own “stuff”, or try to out do our friends that becomes an issue…it happens on social media all the time. If God doesn’t want us to have some “extravagance” in our life, He wouldn’t have a mansion prepared for us, or streets of gold with beautiful diamonds and gorgeous stones that He tells us will be in heaven, or a crown to wear. That is extravagant love. He is an extravagant God! I’m so thankful for that in my life as I have seen Him do extravagant miracles during my life time. I could make a very long list!! My friends are an extravagant gift! Another recent gift is a new computer that is coming to my studio in the next three weeks or so! THAT is exciting for this gal. Grateful for answer to prayers that have made that possible.

This can mean many things to different people. I am just sharing maybe a new way of looking at that word and what it means. It matters to Him that we understand Him. Let’s be extravagant in our love, giving, helping, and with our time and talents. But most importantly, in our relationship with God. As you do that, you will see an Extravagant God do extravagant things in your life, home and family. It’s a great way to live. What would be extravagant for you? A few quiet minutes out side on a deck/porch, or time to read a few pages from a favorite book? Maybe a road trip? Take a moment in time and think about it. Or what extravagant thing have YOU done recently? Leave your thoughts in the comments. I would love to hear!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

The Crossroads of Journey and Growth

The lead photo is of two rings I bought in the past that represent my life quite easily. I don’t make purchases of things like that without it having meaning to me. Don’t get me wrong, I have to like the look of them true, but they also need to have some significance to me if I am going to spend money on reminders that will be in my life forever. This picture represents where my up and down and around type of journey and my growth meet.It is a crossroads we all will have to choose. So, let me ask you a few questions and see if you have intersections like this in your life.

Way back when in your younger days, what did you think your life would look like?

Did you kind of plan it yourself, or did you ask God to show you what He had in mind for you?
Did you experience a close enough relationship with God to ask Him that hard question?
Did you have your own ideas and thought God would help you reach those goals?
Did it work out the way you planned?

You see, if I was honest, I would have to say that I had my own goals and worked toward them really without thinking of what God may have planned for me. And even at times when I really kind of knew He was saying no, I am a goal orientated person and just kept going toward my end game. It has taken many twists and turns and ups and downs of my journey through life to get to where I think God wants me to be and do what He wants me to do. I still have to seek Him for direction every day, and for the same determination as before, for me to do what God has called for me to do. Some of my downs have been pretty deep valleys. However, I have had also some awesome mountain top experiences.

But to get into that kind of relationship where I go to Him first, ask His direction, and the obedience to step out and do it????? THAT is where the growth comes. Those leaves on the ring above represented to me that I must always keep growing and learning. Learning from my mistakes, seeking the changes I need to make, and picking myself up after falling down means that I am free to try again. No condemnation or feelings of failure. I learned something valuable. I have to “trust the process” as the saying goes in sports. It means that things may not look how we want them to look, but God has a plan to make it better. We have to trust Him to do that.

I think of countless ways he has done that in my life! Just recently, God answered a prayer that I have prayed for over 20+ years. Not only did He answer it in a single way, but he blessed my answer with my cup overflowing, which in turn I can share that answer with the people in my life. Why would God do that? I believe that when we stay in close relationship with God, we ask things unselfishly of God, walk in relationship and obedience WITH God, He will answer; not always will it be more than, but He will answer in the way He thinks is best for us. In that we must be satisfied. It will also be a way in which, if we choose to, we can certainly give God the glory for the answer.

I have given Him the glory! It is such a miracle that only He could have done it. I have another ring to honor this climb to see His glory revealed and it reminds me every day that He wants to show us these things; not rings or stuff, but His love for us and faithfulness to each of us. You see, I was happy with the first answer. But when He went over and above all that I asked, I believe He wanted to remind me again of His ability to give over and above what we ask or think! How cool is that?

Where does your journey and growth paths intersect in your life? Because they have to do that. We will always have the ups and downs in life…that is just what life is. God tells us to expect that in His Word. However, He is right there to show us what it means, and if we trust the process of relationship with Him, then He WILL show Himself faithful to work in our circumstances! He SO wants to do that. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t about things for me, but He knows the things and experiences that will speak to me personally.

Don’t give up on the prayers you pray. We don’t know when He will answer, and we also have to accept His timing and what answer He gives. 20+ years is a long time to wait for an answer. However, The reason I think I had to wait that long is the lesson of never giving up. The s second reason is that He could do an even greater thing by the time that passed. I think He loves nothing more that to see us walking in faith with Him, so that, He can show Himself mightily in our lives! He is mighty in my life, that is for sure. Over and over again He is faithful.

Do leave your thoughts in the comments below and let me know how God spoke to you through the above thoughts.


Until next time…

~JoAnn

ps: Want to see my new reminder? Ok…here you go! Keep in mind, my rewards are usually small but significant to me. However, this was a total miracle that took place and that is certainly something for me to celebrate in a big way in life and the story of this ring will be passed on to someone else in my life as a reminder to them!

Where Pause and Time Meet

One of my new to me Starbucks cups with a message.

I heard a statement recently that really hit home for me. I know and understand the concept but it was time for me to hear it again. What was the statement? My paraphrase is that the devil doesn’t have to work very hard in and around us. Why? Because all he has to do is distract us. Wow!! You may want to read that again. Are you and I THAT easy?? We ARE! So here is the tie in.

Hubby and I had a two night and three day get-away this last weekend, and as usual, my mind, body and soul, get cleared out. As it is for me when I get away, God speaks even more clearly to me. A fresh wind blows deep down into my soul. He knows I will settle into a time of refreshment and that He has a chance to speak without distraction, and I listen more intently. Let me share some thoughts with you regarding my “Pause” and my Time, and where and why they blew into my heart and refreshed my soul.

Let me start with a question. Does being happy make you healthier? I am a firm believer in the fact that happiness brings health to the body and the soul. I think the happier we are, the healthier we are, or can be. For me there is a definite connection. When we left for our time away, we left anything behind that required our attention. No lists and half-to activities. We left with the idea that we would enjoy every minute, big or small, roll with the punches, and just enjoy each and every moment…sun or rain. We would enjoy each other, the fact that we can move and go and see our area of Washington with new eyes, because it isn’t he same as the last time we were there.

So maybe it is this time where I asked myself, what makes you happy? THIS. Seeing family, seeing nature, some thrift store and antique shopping, reading a good book, singing as I travel low and to myself, and enjoying the sounds of nature around me. THAT. Purchase of items to bring into my home that make me happy, give me a memory, or something new my hubby and I can share for a memory…those are the things that make my soul sing. I FEEL like singing. What makes your happiness meter soar? And please don’t tell me you can’t do THAT. Because it will be different for you and your family but it is still important to do it. Maybe it is playing in the back yard, or an ice tea on your deck or porch, or ten minutes in a good book or magazine. However, the things that make you happy will make you want to be better in all the other areas of your life. You feel refreshed and like you can get back into life in your corner of the world.

If we have problems, or feel angry or cheated out of being happy, then we are just asking for a less healthy life. It wears us down. Do what brings your happiness meter up. Your inner self knows what that is. Let it be so in each day! Close your eyes and dream what makes you happy and what that looks like for you. Now before anyone gets too excited, I am not meaning this to be a selfish way where its all about you. However, when you are happy, those around are happier. God can work in and around you because you will tend to commune with Him more with a grateful attitude. Give yourself time for a pause, it might be to meet up God for a few minutes, which should be daily in the best way it works for you. What about an afternoon phone call, a drive, a couple days somewhere planned ahead. Ask yourself what you need. Ask God to show you. And by the way, less time with God, less happiness within. Also my own personal motto.

I love it for the above reasons. I don’t come back from a “pause meets time” the same as I was. Don’t give up on yourself with this. You know, sometimes we are just doing things that aren’t even something God has ordained for us. Instead, we are doing something we want, and want God to bless, but we haven’t really been honest with God enough about where we are to make good decisions about it. We may even be afraid to ASK Him for fear He will say, “That wasn’t my deal for you. You stepped into that one without really weighing the cost or talking to Me about it.” Don’t lose yourself in the maze of life by being anything but who YOU are meant to be. It will be frustrating as you try to be what someone else is, or having what someone else has. It also leads to discontentment in your spirit, and there goes the happiness meter down the tubes.

Let’s talk about another thought I weighed out in my mind while we were gone. I felt free! THAT made me feel a sense of happiness. It can be thought of as reclaiming your time. We did that. We didn’t have so many plans that if we didn’t get to it, we were disappointed. If it didn’t work, there was next time. That freedom to decide can lift your happiness meter up several levels. Again, you have to examine how you can take some of these thoughts captive for you and your situation. What is important is that you think about them at all. Then asking yourself, what can I do to give me a sense of freedom and happiness in my life?

You are still here and you are in charge of it. So if something in your life needs to change, change it. If you need to do something different or in a different way, go there. I came home with some treasures! In the same way I look at these times away, I look at things with new eyes when I come back home. I change out items, I share some, and re-arrange spaces in my home to work better than before. You can do that with what you already have…just take the time to really look at it. You see, I have re-invented myself in every home I have lived it, at least 12 times in 23 years. I have learned new skills which change how my home is set up. I have different interests as opportunity has presented itself to learn something new. So… it changes. We reinvent ourselves. I feel content and happy in those changes. I enjoy every aspect with renewed ferver. My happiness meter just jumped up today as I changed something around to work better in my kitchen. It can often be one or two things and WOW, you would think you got a new lease on life! Well…you sort of did! Your pause met time!

Don’t give up. Don’t give in to the distractions. Life is too short to live it without happiness and good health. It IS tied together. Try it for yourself in some small area of your life and see if you don’t get a little tickle deep in your soul… that sense of happiness. You know what that feeling is? It is recognition when your soul and spirit whispers to you, “Now THIS is living!”

Deut. 4:9

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Loneliness vs Solitude and Knowing God

Loneliness is not the same as solitude.

Lonliness is a kind of negative feeling, as in being around others but still feeling lonely. It may mean you are living an isolated lifestyle. It can also come from just being tired or feeling a loss of vitality. Many times lonliness came because of something you feel in your mind and thinking rather than it being true of yourself, especially if you aren’t isolating. It might be because of loss, or because you feel everything is going sideways.

Solitude is a way of being away from society for a period of time. It may be chosen or it might have been chosen for you. It may be a time you experience changes in yourself; discover things about yourself or your life, without any other distractions influencing you. It’s a time of contemplation and self-examination. It gives space and time to reflect. We all need times of solitude.

God may use one to get to the other, but we don’t perceive it that way. I spend a lot of time alone from friends and family because in many cases, I have lived far away from them. And in this last year and a half, we have all had time away from all our friends and family. What I want to say about that is, God will use that time and sometimes purposefully move us out away for the purpose of getting our attention. He moved me to Missouri for two years to get my attention and to draw me closer to Him and give me knowledge I didn’t have before. I learned that as I worked for a minsitry there. I was on the Potter’s wheel. I learned SO much during that time. BUT…I WAS lonely even though I made friends at the ministry. It was difficult to be away from those I knew all my life, my family, particularly my kids and my dad. However, sometimes that is the way God can really speak into our lives in a big way. He did that for me. I have precious friends from my time there and gained experience I would not have had, and a depth of relationship with Him I would not have had. I saw Him perform big and large miracles going there and while I was there. I became more rooted and grounded in Him.

So what does that closer relationship have to do with you or me today? Let me share a few ideas with you and let’s let the Carpenter hone us a bit with His miraculous skill and tools. If we speak of knowing God, then that means we must allow God to know us in all areas of our lives. That means all those places you might not be willing to show Him. In fact, you may be doing some isolating from God because of those areas. If we invite Him into our lives, we must be willing to let Him into all our rooms. He knows them anyway, don’t you know?? We can’t hide our language at home from Him, or our secrets from our lifestyle, or all those inner things that go on with us…He knows them already. But coming to Him with that, means we are willing to allow Him in, we are acknowledging those areas to Him, and that allows Him to work within you to give you extra strength to give them up. This allows God to dwell within you in a way you have never felt before. When that happens, we are allowing God to work in our lives in ways we haven’t experienced prior in our lives. When we see God working in an area of our lives and see His miraculous works, we gain faith we didn’t have before…we come to experience yet another facet of God working in our lives. He wants to operate in your lives like never before! Boundless even. Stop and examine that paragraph again and see if it rings true for you.

If we want God to live in our hearts, we are giving Him access to our “house”. That means we give Him full access; not just one area, but ALL. He knows them anyway, as I said before. Why do you think we do that? Are we afraid of what God might find or show us if we open ourselves up like that? I think so. We talk about wanting a deeper relationship and feeling closer to Him, but then we don’t open up for Him to work in us. If we don’t, we open ourselves up to the devil using those areas or rooms we keep closed to badger us on a daily basis. I had an experience this last week and I had to walk over to the door of my studio and tell the devil to get out! I gave a kick for good measure using the Word as I kicked!

So if you are feeling alone or isolated, ask God what is up with it? Is He trying to get your attention for a purpose of teaching or correction? Is He trying to help you think through what you are feeling and why? I have learned asking myself questions is a good way to get honest with myself. THEN I can ask God to help me in those areas I discover. If you feel despondent, ask yourself why you feel that way, and ask God to show you what is really behind it. He will. He wants to heal you and open doors to your “house” where you both can sit and have a conversation about it. Can you imagine that? You and Jesus sitting across from one another and chatting about a difficult situation, season, loss, misdirection, sinful act, or whatever it be? He wants to hear from you and He may just bring you to a place of being by yourself, so that, He may speak into your life and help you discover where that hurt started, and now where it can be surrendered to the only One that can really take it away forever.

My Grandma’s Bible –
A Legacy

Don’t be afraid to be alone and enjoy those times of lonliness or solititude to really listen. It can be very beneficial. If you feel you are isolating yourself on purpose becasue of some of your feelings, then it is wisdom to learn why. To do that for long periods of time is not healthy either because other problems can come into play. But God knows the difference and He will help you navigate that journey. Trust Him. Don’t lose heart. He has seen it all. There is nothing new under the Son.

For the love of the moment…

~JoAnn

A Tuesday… Pause

Today, I was thinking about where I am…oh, not just in the physical sense of where I live or what room I’m in, but where I am in life. Where do I want to be? What is my vision of what I would like my life to look like? What brings me comfort and happiness? I have found that asking questions in my daily life has been one thing that has helped me the most through the years. Why? Because it keeps me honest with myself. We can make ourselves believe almost anything if we allow justification and excuses, or even blame, to enter into our thinking. AND… if we tell ourselves that long enough, we will believe it. Questions keeps me honest with myself if I answer myself with the truth. Of course, I have a great “Truth Agent” in my life who helps me, if I am willing to ask, and sometimes He tells me even if I don’t want to know. We need to face things head on with all honesty if we truly want to be living the way God wants us to live. We need to be following His lead, and not leading our own selves and then asking Him to bless that.

I think in many ways, these times we are living in has made many of us re-evaluate what we want in life and how we want to live. Where do we land with our priorities? We have been forced to slow down; to not get to do things our way. Many of these new guidelines have not been fun at all. Even hurtful to some of us. Changes are good and often times the best for us, but it goes back to our questions. Do we listen to them, or ignore them by justifying why we do the old things in the first place? Are you getting a picture of where I am going with this? Let’s look deeper…

As many of you know if you follow me, I am a BIG proponent of a slower life style. Now… many say, “You can do that because your retired.” However, I have found that retirement doesn’t mean my life stops. I’m very busy. I’m just busy with different things. I also deal with a retired hubby and that in itself makes a difference because they are with you all the time, and it can make it difficult to get done what you need to get done. That said, I had years of going 90 per. I didn’t like it then, and I don’t like it even more now. I would have loved to have been a stay at home mom and wife. But given my circumstances, and yes, my decisions at the time, I allowed outside influences to determine what I should do. But even in that time of my life, I was active with my walk with the Lord and studying. In this day, we have so much information to help us make better decisions, that it comes down to how much we are doing things our way, or God’s way. I have discovered through asking questions of myself, that in those days, I let outside influences determine what I did instead of listening to my heart where God was speaking. I cared about what others thought of me in ways that weren’t healthy for me. That happened in many circumstances. So… it has led me to begin asking myself the hard questions and then answering those as honest as I can. Now when we have different schedules, let’s take the time to ask ourselves the hard questions, as well as the fun questions. Let’s stop living lives that compare ourselves to others in life, homes, cars, clothes, and achievements. It leads us into wrong thinking and decisions.

We often keep ourselves busy so we don’t HAVE to think about where we are and what we are doing. Maybe… we aren’t trusting God to take care of us and since we don’t feel He is, we go about doing something about it oursleves. Boy can THAT get us into trouble!! But God didn’t ask us to be another person’s project manager. He asked us to live has He lived, and love like He loved. We are to be an example for other to watch, so that, they see the way we live and want to live that way. That means, we need to put our priorities in right order and live a life that others see and want to have. We particularly need to do that within our families because our kids will see our way of life and the way we handle things, and most of the time, carry that into their lives and relationships as well. THAT is rather scary to think about, but so true. It is worth us asking ourselves the hard questions and answer them so that we can let others see how living our life this way, can bring about a great life.

So…let’s get back to one of the questions I started with…”What brings comfort into your life?” As an example, I have previously shared of my life, I love a cozy atmosphere in my home. I like soft light of a lamp or candles, I enjoy cozy clothes at home, a loaf of bread baking in the oven, a good book/magazine in my hand with an afghan wrapped around me, and a mocha in my hand. I love to have time to play my instruments and sing along. My favorite place also is my studio area at my desk with a favorite hot or cold drink, my lamp lit on “relax”, a glassybaby lit, and a study that I’m learning from, which is how I am right now today as I write this. I enjoy reading before I go to sleep, so I also make time for that. For you, it may be coffee with a friend.I love to sit outside with my hands warmed to a fire. I know these activities are important for me to keep me on the right track. I know that about myself. It is not just good for me, I choose them because I know I NEED them.

Have you ever stopped long enough to ask yourself what brings you joy and comfort? Because many times we don’t. We just keep pressing on, maybe even afraid to ask oursleves that because we know it will require something of us. Changing something, stopping something, or beginning a new habit. But promise me you will ask yourself, “What brings comfort in my life?” and leave it in the comments. I would love to hear. Each of you will choose so differently. But that is the fun of it! It might be family time over a puzzle or game, or an outting together. Please feel free to share.

It is my prayer that as we have had to slow down, we have learned something about ourselves, become more aware of our thoughts, and take the time to answer the hard questions that I’m sure have also come up for you. Our life is meant to live, not just endure. The way we live today determines our tomorrow. Before your next step, ask yourself as Andy Stanley talks about in his book, Better Decisions, Fewer Regrets, “What is the wise thing to do?” or this one is a real nailer…”Given my past, and my present circumstances, what would be the wise decision to make?”. I have found that to be a great book and made me think again about asking myself the important questions and being honest about my thinking and answers in that process. What I have discovered is, when I answer, I find I have not always been willing to shed the light into all the dark corners of my life’s story. THAT in itself, will lead me to make the wrong decisions because I end up taking it with me into my future again.

Do the things that bring you joy and don’t feel guilty if you aren’t running around doing everything. We were not meant to live such busy lives that lead us to less time for ourselves and family. We WILL pay the price for that some day if you aren’t careful with our daily lives and choices. Pause…have a cup, read something you enjoy, just sit in the chair and listen to your music for a while, call a friend, sending a snail mail note, take some pictures, cuddle up in something warm, lean back and close your eyes for a few mintues and just say “thank you” that you have this moment or two in time. You don’t get them back. We wear busy like a badge and we have seen that come to a hault in many ways, and many have had a hard time knowing what to do with themselves when required to be at home day in and day out. Take away what you can to make this learning time something that changes you for moving forward. Those around you will thank you. Looking forward to your comments!

Living in the moment…

~JoAnn

The Newest and Greatest Thing

Have you noticed how, especially at the beginning of a year, we get inundated with the newest strategy for organizing ourselves, our prayer life, our study, how to live our best lives, the newest gadget to help with all of the above? Today, it hit me how all this gets pushed in front of our eyes and we can get so distracted with the newest thing, that we lose sight of what needs to be done first, as well as, WHO we should come to first.

If I am not willing to develop the habit of writing things down in an organized way or a list, what good is the newest and coolest datebook or calendar book for me? Oh sure, I could spend money on it, but if I’m not in the habit of writing things down in that way, I will probably not do it with the greatest organizer book either. I might look good and even a bit perfessional, but it will also probably be more empty than full because of lack of use.

If I’m not a reader of many books, or of the Bible, what good will buying another book or study book do me? My intentions are great. I’m going to study more or read more. But if I haven’t developed the habit of doing either of those things, buying the next thing isn’t such a wise choice. I just add another thing to my shelf. But then, I also add some guilt to the mix because I don’t read it anyway and feel guilty for spending the money.

Oh! I know! If I have that new iPhone or Tablet, then I will for sure be more organized and I can have it with me all the time to keep me organized. THAT will make me more “put together” this year!

We get inundated with what to buy and we are convinced that next great thing will do it. We want to be like that person we see advertising the journal that writes in it everyday and boy what an artist she is! We get the journal and we can’t even draw a good circle, let alone make beautiful lettering in it.

I know many who have gotten an iWatch to be on top of their exercise and movement. But you know what? They don’t get out and walk or move that much to utilize the iWatch to the full potential. The breathing icon pops up and you look at it, but say, “not now, I have to do such and so”. Or reminds you that you should get out and walk, but you don’t feel like it.

Even in the Christian community, we are inundated with the newest study that will change your life, or the newest Bible that is going to help you understand everything you read. Or how a journal Bible will write your thoughts down as you read. That may be true if you are doing it already as you study. If you aren’t, it may not do what you are expecting and you have another book that is sitting on your shelf. Now don’t get me wrong, I DO study with several Bibles because I like to read the translations to help clarify verses. But I have a habit of using them daily. So for me, the investment is qualified. Then, I am moved toward knowledge and my study is enhanced as well.

Are you getting the idea? We are pretty A.D.D. when it comes to being distracted by the glitter and glitz of the newest and greatest. However, we do very little about the habits we need to cultivate if we are to effectively use the tools available to us. Want a good example? Just look at your social media feeds at all the things that people want to sell you. What if we went back to the very beginning with ourselves and ask, “What do I really need to do more of in order to help me become a person of good habits, better organzied, or more skilled in my area of expertise?” This goes whether you are a stay at home parent, a professional out in the work place, or retired. We often let the glitz and glitter pull us into spending more than necessary before we have established habits that will be enhanced by some of those tools. It can distract us from doing what we should be doing at that moment, when what we need to do, is scroll on by.

For me, I want to ask God to help me establish good habits first, habits that I can say I have accomplished consistently for a long period of time, so that, I can benefit from choosing whether this newest and greatest thing will enhance my endeavors, or whether I am just spending money to “appear” a certain way, or maybe that I’m buying on impulse. I also know for me, I have always asked myself if I am willing to take on the learning curve of that new “thing”. I didn’t before and sometimes I find I spent the money and it hasn’t worked out as well for me in terms of money well spent. I love technology so it is hard for me not to want the newest and greatest. But I’m learning to be content with what I have.

So in these times where we can get distracted by the newest and greatest, when economically, we have to be wise, let the message of this post challenge you where you are. The next time you are tempted, ask yourself some of the questions here and see if it lines up with where you are. Do you need to establish some foundational habits in order to gain from that newest gadget or book or whatever it is? Will you use it consistently? Or will you start out with a bang and then it sits? Be honest with yourself, otherwise you will get hooked by pictures and words.

Does this challenge you? I was challenged by writing this post. I hope you take a few moments to consider the implications for distraction and good choices in your daily life. This very moment I am asking God to further help me make the very choices I need, just as I am challenging you to do today.

For the love of the moment…

~JoAnn