Align Thyself

An alignment lesson at a stop light.

The other day, I was driving in to my chiropractor to get my body re-aligned. I had been quite a lot of pain during Christmas and standing to cook and bake was quite difficult. So as soon as he was back in the office, I made an appointment and got in the same day. Afterwards, I felt relief already and knew I was going in the right direction, and would soon be feeling much better. Because I asked, he gave me a couple of things I could do at home to help in the healing process. I felt some hope for the pain to be gone.

So…celebrate everything, right?? I celebrated and went to Starbucks for a peppermint mocha. Coming out of their parking lot I had to go the opposite direction to make a turn and then u-turn around again to go home. We often have detours in our lives, don’t we? But at that stop light, I thought I should take a picture, why I didn’t know, but I did. Little did I know the treasures that I would find in that quick picture while stopped at the light. Let me explain.

Look at the picture above…I took the picture without knowing what I would find later. But the thought that came to mind was this: Just like I have to keep my body in alignment so that I don’t have to live in pain, I need to remember that my spirit needs to be in line with what God is doing or wants to do in my life. With a new year coming up, even more so. I felt He gave me that message for just that purpose; to remind me that I need to be doing inside alignment as well as my physical body. As there are stretches and walking that I can do to keep my body’s alignment from pain, there are some stretches and walking with Jesus that I need to do. I asked the Dr what I could be doing to help myself at home, and I also need to be asking the Great Physician what I need to be doing to keep my spirit in alignment with Him. What do I need to know, and where do I need to be, to do what He has for me in this New Year coming up.

The other part of this picture is the sweet heart above the starbucks cup. Now I love mochas, but I really felt it was to let me know He loved me and wanted me to see and then know these things were for me that very day. I had a hard couple of days and it was a wonderful reminder that I wasn’t alone. After all, my mini is called The Captain because He is the Captain of my ship, or mini in this case. And He was right there beside pointing and telling me to take the picture.

The third part of this story is the review mirror. We often look back over our year and see all the things that didn’t go the way we wanted them to. But what IF we looked at all the things that went RIGHT last year. We experienced so many negatives this year, that we had to keep re-adjusting ourselves every day to keep us going forward. Hardships galore! Losses of various kinds. We can glance back, even learn from it, but our review mirror is a fraction of the size of our windshield! That means we need to be looking ahead to see the big picture!! I don’t think it is about what we change in the new year, as much as it is how we grow next year.

With that in mind, I have a goal to keep my alignment for my physical body, as well as, my spiritual soul and spirit, in as perfect of an alignment as I can. However, I can only do that when I am visiting my Chiropractor monthly to stay in alignment, doing the right life style steps for me to stay in good health, and then going to God for His teaching and views on my growth and where He wants to work with me being His hands and feet. I might still have to go through some pain (as with my nose again this January) to remind myself even again next year, that I have some perspectives to continue learning. But… I will never forget that day in December at the stop light where all three lessons came into view!

Grow and learn!! THAT will change you!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Prevail in 2021

As this year comes to a close, and a page is ready to turn in the new book of 2021, I always look forward to turning the page. As I do, I ask God to put a word on my heart for the new year. As always, He does. This year, my word is…PREVAIL. Wow! What a word to be given with all that is going on in our world right now. But let me share with you my process as I thought about this word. I want to share some of the definition:

verb: prevail

  1. prove more powerful than opposing forces; be victorious.”it is hard for logic to prevail over emotion”

    win; triumph; be victorious; carry the day; succeed; conquer; overcome; gain/achieve mastery; reign
  2. be widespread in a particular area at a particular time; be current.”an atmosphere of crisis prevails”

    be present; hold; be prevalent; be the order of the day; be established; abound; hold sway; endure; survive; persist; established.

So… when I started researching this word, it became quite exciting to me because I wasn’t all that excited when it first came up. To me, it mean enduring the hard, or pressing on in spite of…that kind of perspective. I thought oh no! It is hard enough without that! But as I read the word’s meaning, a new encouragement came into my spirit. I mean, look at some of those words to describe Prevail! Well…let’s look together at it more closely.

I make goals each year, as I have shared before, and pray over them. As the year progresses, I highlight when it has been answered or provided for. It helps me see what God is doing in my life at a glance and reminds me of His love for me. I am in the process now of writing them out. But this word helps me to see that I need to work on staying the course no matter what I am feeling. If I do that, pray over situations, I can succeed, I can conquer the doubts or fear, I can overcome obstacles and achieve mastery over emotions and hard times and take back the reigns of my life with God’s help. If I stay in the present instead of looking too far ahead with our world right now, I can enjoy and be in the moment and not let a crisis hang around and bring me down. I love the definition of “hold sway”! That speaks to me. It reminds me of a sailing term where you have to stand fast and hold the sails to survive the high seas. So…I will stand strong and not let the waves of despondency take over when I feel helpless to do anything. Sometimes, I think that is where God wants me. If I then hear His voice, He may be asking me to move out of the way so He can work. This word tells me I can survive anything if I persist. I can establish myself in a firm stance and prevail! Hold sway!

Made the ornament and it will hang across from my desk so I see it every day.

Now…isn’t that a word to encourage?!?!??? I think so. I am excited to see what God does in my life this next year. I have done a lot of this in the last year already and I believe God is telling me to stay the course. Keep doing what I am doing only gain more trust, persist in relationships, be there for those who need it, and make sure I am filling myself up with the things that bring me joy and deepen my relationship with Him. Clean up my surroundings, so that, I am not distracted by that which keeps me from doing what I am supposed to be doing.

Wow! A New Year and a new word! The pages of 2021 are empty and waiting! Let’s turn the page and begin writing this year’s story with confidence. Turn off the TV. Do what you enjoy. Keep the faith. Get back to basics. Love on each other. Go beyond anything you have done so far just to see God open doors He may have never opened yet for you. But in trust, He says, “You are ready now!” Go do what I have for you to do! And…prevail!

My leading photo is is one I took recently and a good reminder of this word. The road won’t always be straight as in the picture, but I can trust Him to lead me on to the end. I may find myself off track and in the ditch at times, or I may have mountains and hills to climb, but He will give me the strength to previal if I ask Him to. I also need His power within to keep going, sometimes MUCH more than others. Life is NOT fun sometimes. How well I know that. I get to start off my year with a repair to my nose…once again. However, there is something He is teaching me in the process that when I get it, I will see His hand working in me. In that I know I can trust. Teachable moments just like we use with our children is also valuble to us as adults. God is willing to continue to teach us if we are willing to listen. You see, I won’t move forward or learn something new if I just look in front of me at my current circumstances only. That helps no one. However, looking toward a mountain or a hill, or even in a ditch and asking God to move it or me, to help me climb it, or show me a way around it, that is to prevail in the best sense of the word; that is victory! But also, realize there is a beauty to be seen even in the mountain before us if we are aware and look, just as in the message of this picture! Looking beyond what you see to what you can learn from it.

I was watching a movie last night and she gave a very truthful statement that was so profound that I had to stop the movie and write it down:

“People want to change the past, so they can remember what it is they want to remember.” As you go into this next year, look at your life in the truth of today and change what is today so that you live tomorrow how you want to live. Take her advice.

Never give up! Stand strong and hold sway!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

A Christmas Assignment

This morning as I opened up a writing group that I am a part of, we were asked to write about the Christmas lights both inside and outside. So I sat in front of my fireplace with my iPad and my mocha, and enjoyed writing this short assignment. I hope it brings joy to you!

On this yet another rainy day, I’m sitting in front of my fireplace with a nice fire burning and enjoying the lights of Christmas, while in the background I hear my grandparents old clock ticking time away in the background. Inside on my small modest little tree and treasures, it lights my world with joy! I can also easily look out my window and see my front porch adorned with white lights and a splash of color right at the entry steps. It brings unspeakable joy to my heart. I think it is because it reminds me of Christmas in the past, where as a little girl, we didn’t have much but we were rich in love and giving. I loved Christmas as a little girl and all the wonderful smells of the Christmas tree and decorations adorning the tree. You see, my tree has some of those same ornaments today. I have always loved lights, candles and reflective light. So every time I see the lights of many colors surrounding me, I am brought back to a time of comfort and thankfulness for all God has done and the home from which I came. When I light my home for Christmas, inside or out, I am announcing the joy of the Christmas Child born to eventually save ME. How could I look at Christmas lights and not be the most grateful woman on earth? I could not, and I do not. I let the lights surrounding me bring joy to me and everyone who enters my home. It is my way to share what this Season means to me. So as I sit here looking at those very lights, I say thank you to God for sending His Son, and that the joy of that Star long, long ago on that day, still shines in and around my life and home today.

So…enjoy the lights of Christmas that is around you and be sure to make some of your own. I think it is more important than ever for us to create joy in our hearts and homes. God bless you this Christmas. Turn on the lights and enjoy them all day and evening! Merry Christmas!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

I’ve Got This!

Ever said that to yourself? I know I have. It has sometimes in the past been easier for me to tell myself that, rather than turning it over to God, who can and will remind me that, “I’ve got this JoAnn”. But… I can easily forget to take it to God first, because I feel like I got it on my own. What a mistake I, and maybe you also, can make by this mindset. I need to take it to God first.

It’s like me in honing my skills for making sourdough bread. I can try making it based on what I think I know, or even what a friend does. However, we know in baking there are many variables and if I don’t know what those are, I’m not going to have the same results as others, or even as good of results as others. It is best if I go witness what another experienced baker does, or read a book about it from their experience. I can learn all those little tricks and techniques that can help me be successful. But even then, I can have a loaf come out of the oven and looks as though I have arrived, but really my rise is left lacking in my expectations. I have to go back and learn what I may be doing wrong. And just l like listening to others can confuse our decisions or direction in life, so it is with reading various books about making bread. They all have their ideas of what works best. I find at times that I am in the middle of the kitchen with books spread out around me and thinking, “What the heck? Does anyone agree on the same technique?” The answer is… nope. We are each unique and different and so how we approach even making bread is an example of how different we are. Our home and environment make a difference in how the bread loaf comes out. But as in life, being a life long learner, I will learn more from experience, and I am not afraid to try it again. I can even go to God first with my bread making to help me. You say, “Oh I don’t think God cares about how our bread comes out, JoAnn”. Well…I think He does. He cares about what we care about. Am I trying to make bread when there is lots activitiy going on around me? Am I stressed out just to get it done? You see, I want to enjoy the process, and then I know I will enjoy the yummy bread too!

In the same way that I am learning to be a better bread baker, I have to remember that God and His Word is where I need to go to first for my daiily life needs. He knows. He knows me. He welcomes my seeking Him. He has the answers, even when I might not get to know what those answers are right now. I am thankful that reading the Bible does not vary and that I can get the same insight and answers no matter when, where or how I read it, which personally I like the Bible in front of me to read from rather than a phone. I like the insights from the notes in the Bible to help give understanding if I need it. It is sure something I need with all that is going on right now. I need to read it, be encourage by it, and know the truth of it. I DO need to take time to read it, however. Our life this year has been hard enough without feeling like there is no hope. There IS hope. I have a choice how I look at it, and my response to it as well. I could complain, rant and rave, be upset, step into the drama, or I can go my way and stay in peace; keep my environment inviting, keep doing things that I love, praying about what is going on, and then let the rest go. That is what I do. It’s a good way to live.

Let me ask you a question…who do you put first in your life? We hear so much about taking care of ourselves, and putting ourselves first. But I don’t think it means in a selfish way. We should be caring for ourselves everyday in small ways and moments of time. How does your pyramid look? Who is at the top above everything else in your life? Do you have a tendancy to always think of yourself first? Be honest. Or, is it easy for you to put others first?

Huddled at the moment in my office space with candles burning, I ask myself the same questions. I am happy to share that I feel I put myself down on the pyramid a long ways because it doesn’t matter to me to have approval, the most attention, or to do something for the sake of someone knowing about it, or to think I am better than someone else. Doing for others comes naturally for me and I enjoy it. Even my photos are something I share more for giving you a fun moment to enjoy, rather than, just for a photography hobby I enjoy. Now in these times, it becames more difficult to do some types of things for others, but we CAN find ways. I believe my kids have learned that from me, at least I hope I have been an influence on them in that regard. They think nothing of helping another person where they can. I love that trait in them!

So don’t be discouraged; be encouraged!! Go to school with yourself. Keep learning. Keep doing the things that YOU enjoy. It keeps you happy and focused on what brings joy to you. Light the candle, give candle light at your dinner, even IF it is just you. When we do that, we are more likely to feel joy in our hearts. Life is harder at various times than other times. It is just that way. But knowing we can have a choice as to how we live in those times, like now, means we can make ways that work for us to cheer us on. When we do for others, we aren’t thinking about ourselves and our problems. We are bringing joy to someone else who may need it more than we do! I can guarantee it works!

Me? Well…I am putting up Christmas early this year to give myself a great long season of Christmas! It feels right and good to do so! Going back to the basics.

Have a joyous and fun Christmas Season!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

A Season of Pruning

Today with the activity at Bayshore House, I was reminded of a lesson that I think is good for all of us to remember. God planted the idea in my mind as soon as I saw the view before me. We all could use a little cutting or trimming. We get hair cuts, beard trims, lawn mowing and all kinds of daily life trimmings and cuttings. But none can give us a better visual than a tree cutting. The ones doing the felling are referred to as Tree Feller or Arborist, to name a couple names used. My father worked in the logging industry when he was a young adult, and later in his life he liked nothing better than to get out into the woods and fell trees to cut up for our wood stoves. It was something he seemed to really enjoy doing. Then when we got back home, we would stack it all in the woodshed. I remember asking him while we were out felling trees when I was little, if it hurt the tree when he cut limbs off or cut down the tree. He assured me that the tree didn’t feel it, that it was alive, but didn’t have feelings like we did. I didn’t feel so bad seeing him cutting the trees down and making wood for the fire after that.

A Feller must have knowledge to do it the right way. He has to know about the tree; what kind it is, how it grows, gauge the height of the tree, where to cut and where not to cut so it will fall right where it needs to. My dad would tell us right where the tree would go and he was always right. We would yell “Timber!” as it went down. A Feller may work with others on a job and may need to give instructions to a less experienced Feller to make sure that he is going at the process in the right way. Particularly in a neighborhood, you can’t just fall a tree any where but where it needs to go because it could cause you to be a VERY bad neighbor, and power companies wouldn’t like you much either. So it is important to have a experienced Feller come for that kind of work. A Feller knows how to trim a tree in order for it to grow in a certain way in the Spring. When it comes to taking the tree down, the Feller must know where he wants the pieces to fall.

It’s like life. We have seasons we go through where God is trying to prune a few things out of our lives. Man!!! That can hurt! It feels like there might not be anything left by the time He is done. We cry out in pain as we let go of parts of our life. God knows where to trim the excess off because He knows where he wants us to grow. It is always good to ask God where He wants to work in us. As an example, we can go out on our own and just start cutting on the trees in our yard, as the previous owners did here, and cause more issues for the future. We can also make the decision to ignore where God is working in our lives and not want to go through the pain of learning about ourselves, or dealing with the the areas God is telling us we need to deal with. Either way, it is a hard process. But if we look at it from the standpoint of where He is taking us, we can better understand that it is best for us to let Him guide the job of pruning and excavation. Our job then is just to be obedient to work with Him.

The trees in our yard that got trimmed do not look very attractive right now. In fact…they are pretty ugly. But when Spring comes, it will be growing in a much healthier way, as the Feller said the trimming is designed to. It is the same for us in our pruning process. The process is painful because admitting we even HAVE a problem in an area is not something we are willing to admit. But when we submit to the Master’s hand and allow Him to prune, trim, or cut down, we will be given a new healthier way of living and a new view of life.

In our case, no more droppings of “presents” on our cars or the neighbor’s yard. Now, is it a process that comes at no cost? Not EVEN. It is quite costly. It can also be costly to us if we allow God to work in our lives to trim or cut what is necessary out of our lives. We have had years of maybe growing in the wrong way, dropping our “presents” on those around us. People in our lives withdrawing because of letting our branches (getting involved) go in areas we shouldn’t. Let God lead and be the Master with the chisel and hammer, or as in our case, the chainsaw, the chipper, in your life. As I mentioned before, when the tree comes down, he starts at the top and takes a length at a time to bring it down. That’s not a bad place for us to start either, right? It starts at the top for us too…right in that ol’ noggin’ of yours. We have thought a certain way so long, that we are comfortable with ourselves as we are. But… if we want to be a person that keeps learning and growing, then we will often have to also be the type of person that is willing to allow the pruning, or even the cutting down, to make way for something new. Think of the small growth on tree trunks that pop out called “suckers”. They look cute, and new growth is always so healthy looking. But if they aren’t trimmed off, they take away from the nutrients of the tree and cause damage to the growth of the tree. Don’t let the enemy plant suckers in you by such things as staying busy, social media, over involvement, or any number of things that cause you to lose out on time for the important things.

As I watched the elder explaining to the younger, he is teaching him the craft and why it is done a certain way. The younger/student than does has the elder/teacher tells him. We need to be doing the same thing in our lives. Listen to the Master. It is for our well-being and it leads to a more joyful outcome. Now we can begin to plant anew in our lives all the things that bring joy instead of frustration. We can change our view entirely. Change doesn’t bother me too much because I know that eventually I will come out the other side with a more contented view of daily life. I might be a bit weary from the process, but I know I will be a better person from what I left behind in the chipper, along with the disappearing wild suckers that were trying grow in me.

When they have completed the process here, we will have one ugly tree, and some big spaces to fill. But the cost is worth it. We can gain a new perspective and view, and we can plant in our yard that which will bring joy to us. New life begins in the same place where old life was taken out and sent to the chipper. I for one am very glad that I know the Master of the process. Just like the Feller today, God knows best how to handle it all. We count the cost today for the work we won’t have to do, and for the natural beauty we will have eventually. It is the same for our pruning process of getting back to what we enjoy the most…healthy soul living.

Let our trimming begin!

Next step is coming down.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Leaving the Good for Better

Let what needs to fall off, fall. New life is coming!

God is in the whisper! We may not always think about that. The verse in scripture where we are told to be still and know? That’s it. Leaning in so we listen for God’s whisper takes special tuning. If we are missing the whispers, we are living with static and losing opportunities to see God working. So, with that said, let me share some thoughts that I believe God has planted in my heart lately. We need to be able to believe that God is faithful; not just when things are going right, but when things go wrong. Also, when things see too big for us to handle. If we can get to the point where we are hearing God whisper, then I think we are reaching a level of relationship with God that will lead us to deeper faith. That is what’s required in all times of life, no matter what is going on.

There are times when we have a feeling that we are to begin something, move forward in something, or end something. However, just because we get that feeling, doesn’t mean we should go forward. If we feel that God is giving us direction, then He will open doors or confirm in some way what we are to do. It isn’t good to go ahead on our own steam without those confirmations. It can get us into trouble. God will give us confirmation so that we will know without a doubt that it is Him. If we are not to go ahead, He will tells us that too, but we have to be willing to abide by the warning He gives us.

So…over this last weekend, I closed down a group on Facebook I had called Faithline. It was an online group that studied from where ever we were located and learned from each other and supported each other on our walk with the Lord. Great people, great encouragement. I have led the group for several years and in the last year, found myself a bit restless and unsettled with it. Usually when this happens, it is accompanied by a lifting of the grace to do whatever I am doing, along with the feelings I described above. For me, I know that God is working on me with a message. So I sought Him in prayer over it and felt Him leading me to step away from leadership for the group. I didn’t make the decision quickly. It has been coming for a while. I have given it much prayer and thought. We are sometimes asked to leave what is good, to do something that is better. Enter…faith. Where am I headed? Instead of leading right now, I feel that I am to make some changes in my own life. Change isn’t easy. I even found myself saying that I could keep it open just to encourage once in a while. But as soon as I said that, I got a quick check in my spirit that said, “That isn’t what I have told you to do.” Well, that answered that for me. I closed the group. I am to become a student and learn from others that can deepen my faith and knowledge of Christ. Here is what my season will look like now:

  1. Changes are difficult and take some time to learn new habits. In my case, I have cut back my FB friends and keep it to family and a few friends…ones that encourage but don’t post negative posts all the time or often. It gets to use more than you realize. It means less screen time, and not living by what I need to answer or post. I even find myself lost at times, as I find I have much more time on my hands. Exciting to me because now I can do some of those other activities that bring joy to my heart.
  2. I am getting back into activities that bring me joy, such as: music, playing instruments, reading, writing poetry, singing, working on genealogy, baking bread, trying new recipes, and more one on one coffee meet ups to share what God is doing in the lives of people. I have read through the Bible this year and I am almost done. Next year I will do it with a study bible and a commentary to read through comments for clarification, or insight. I even have a contact for a flute that I might be able to buy to play again, which I haven’t played since my late 20s or early 30s. I had to sell mine at one point so that is exciting for me! I play for my own amazement with: guitar, mandolin, uke, flute, accordion, working with my dad’s harmonica, and piano. I am not proficent at any one instrument but I hope to improve my skills with my investment of time in this activities.
  3. Going to school (from my studio) as a student in Bible study and life. Always an exciting journey for me.
  4. I am going to up my photography skills and learn from online options and the books that I have in my library. I always thought, “I need to be better”. I have told myself many times that I need to get with the program and learn how to be more professional. But you know what?? I found I was listening to voices outside myself telling me what I should being doing. Comparison. It is not a good thing. And it can take the fun and joy out of photography. Here is a quote from David duChemin, a well known photographer, who I feel is the voice of reason in the photography world: “What if we all want different things? What if I want to do this professionally, and all you want to do is photograph everything you see because it brings you joy and makes you feel more alive?” That my friend, can apply to any area of our lives. But you see, I am a lot like that quote. I want to photograph everything! It keeps me in the moment. It helps me stay grateful for what I have around me and what I have been given. I’m also leaving a story behind for my family and future family through the photographs I take. I don’t need to put pressure on myself for anything else.
  5. Writing from my blog rather than leading a group. I can share from this corner of the world that God has given me just as easily.
Take time for special moments.

You see, we can get tied up in comparisons and lose our joy and contentment. What if your crossroads have to do with how often your read your Bible? Or, when you read your Bible? How about how often you pray? What you do with your kids? How you appear on Facebook? That check list that you feel you have to mark off so you can feel like you are accomplishing something? Who is that for? It doesn’t really prove anything. Some of that isn’t real life anyway. It is what gets inside you that is more important than checking it off a list. I feel more and more that we are to get back to the basics of life. Shut out the “shoulds” and begin doing it for the right reasons…our families, our well-being, our inner joy, our homes, our marriages, our relationships. As we have seen from this year, those are what’s really important to our happiness. Grab a camera and get into nature. Teach your children or grandchildren how to cook and bake. Let them see that the life you live is a legacy they can have. Show them. Show yourself. Is it easy? No. The world is consistently putting the brainwashing message out there that we have to have more we have to DO more; do more to have more. So we get on the wheel and run like a gerbil, when deep in our heart we want something laced with contentment. It gnaws at us little by little. Stop the wheel and get off. Now, if you think about the gerbil, it is not going to jump off while the wheel is spinning fast. Nope. It will slow the wheel down and then get off. That means this is a process of slowing down, one step at a time. I’m going there. How about you? If we are doing things we love, we are happier, and our life looks and feels a whole new beginning. I love new beginnings and chances to start again. It just feels right. It is one of those “inside” changes that totally changes us in our outside of us and our lives. Yes, it is true. Even your appearance changes when you are happy and content deep in your heart.

In gratefulness for all that God has done and continues to do in my life, even with VERY hard circumstances going on, I look forward to adding some exciting changes and new joy to this season of my life story. I hope you too, are inspired to do the same, however that looks for you.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Going For It!

My new guitar!

I just wanted to pop in on you tonight before the weekend hits and encourage you again to make some changes just like I talked about in the previous post. (Check the listings on the blog for the previous post.) Here is why…it is exciting, it feels great, there is joy in the process, and you feel like you are making headway in your life for positive change! Let me share my day with you!

This morning The Captain and I made a drive back to the area I grew up. The trip down was glorious! The clouds and smoke lay heavy in the mountains and at times the sun was shining through the trees making for a beautiful morning drive! I felt alive just experiencing it. I came to the flat lands in the Skagit and that fog was laying low across the farmlands. Again…it was inspiring. For me, this is again part of the change I am making. When I am not preoccupied with “stuff”, I have the time to enjoy the moment I am in. Doing more with photography brings me joy and that was a goal also. So with anticipation and a generally happy feeling, I drive to my first stop.

Skagit Flats

That little side stop was to give a little blue chair to my niece for her first grandchild. Magnus will now have his own little chair to sit on at Grandma’s house. One of my goals has been to share what I have with others and I want to tell you it feels great to do that. The memory of this chair will live on for days to come for Magnus. I got a hug from my niece and I’m on my way.

Next stop was Starbucks and a visit with my older brother. Love that guy! We had a long visit and shared life and laughter together with family and we don’t do it much anymore. That is lacking these days. We as a society used to take the time to be together and now we get so busy, that time do gather goes to the back burner, and maybe never happens. Not for me anymore. Life is too short and spending time with family is too important not to make it more of a priority. Today made me happy to do just that. And…25 bonus stars at Starbucks on top of it! Win, win!! 🙂

Remember me talking in my last post about getting back into music? That was my next stop on my agenda. I have had a Takamine guitar for well over 25 years. Up until the last few years, it has suited my needs. However, for whatever reasons, it has become more difficult to play and thus I haven’t played it as much. So…I stop by my favorite music store and see if they do trade-ins. Yep, they do!!! I asked what I could get for mine. He looked it over and told me he could trade it straight across for the guitar I had been considering. WELL…sign me up! So I walked out with a new Taylor 12 Academy with a bag for ZERO dollars! Now that is something to end my day with!!! And yes…even a happy dance in the parking lot!

I guess the reason behind sharing my day is this: when you decide to make changes for the inside of you, life is just better on the outside of you. Ask yourself why this couldn’t be you with different circumstances. It can! Decide you WANT to change and then begin to make it happen step by step. I started a couple days ago and have been working on it each day since. Don’t get discouraged when it feels like you are slipping back into old habits. It takes a while to make the changes permanent. That and… a lot of fortitude. You CAN do it.

What a way to end a day!

To many more days like today in my life, and may it be so in your life as well! Here’s to living the dash with joy and contentment!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Renewal Starts Within

I am learning the art of rest.

It’s the start of something new! It’s a new beginning! I am going to make some changes! I am going to lost weight! I am going to read my Bible every day! If any of those statements have been made by you, then you probably have many others that you have said to yourself. Maybe you don’t feel like you have gotten very far toward those changes. Or maybe the change happened for a while but then came to an end. It could be that you got discouraged and gave up.

You see, some times we think that if we make everything else right around us, we will accomplish those changes. It might be having a perfect house, drive a nice car, try to make ourselves look younger, a hair cut, new glasses, manicure or pedicure, or new golf clubs, the latest coffee house cup in our hand, or any number other outward appearances that we think will make it happen for us. But we are putting all our attention on the outward appearance, how we look, to make us feel better. We think if we look a certain way or appear a certain way, surely then I can be successful in how I feel inside and happiness will follow. The biggest misconception is that it doesn’t matter what we look like on the outside…it is what is on the inside of us.

Lately, I have been feeling the pull to make a decision to use less of my time on Facebook and to trim down my list of friends. It means less distraction and weeding through all the notifications that can get overwhelming and time consuming. After some prayer, I decided to make that change and made an announcement that I was trimming down the friend list. But I was concerned for what others may think if I unfriended them. What would they think of me? They would probably say, “Why would you want to do that? Everyone likes staying in touch with family, friends and classmates on Facebook!” So… let’s look into this a little deeper.

Music Corner

I have found that when I have to make big decisions, for me it is about asking the right questions. What is it I want to accomplish? What is God telling me regarding this decision or situation? Why do I feel this way? What would be the advantages to my making this change? You see, as an example, it meant me also closing out an online bible study for ladies that I have been leading for a few years. That seems like something God would want me to continue to do, right? In this case, I felt strongly that my focus should be less on what I wanted to do, or thought I was supposed to me doing, to more of what God was calling me to now in this season. It seemed that He had some plans for me to get back to a place where I was investing time into more study. Bible Study, yes. But also study of music, photography, and study through reading, and genealogy…activities that bring me joy.

Here is the kicker… God wants me to be doing things I enjoy, as well as, what He has called me to do. He placed those desires and giftings in me and I need to be diving into those areas with more time set aside for that. My online presence was taking up more of my time than I wanted and definately more than God wanted. I would get a few minutes here and there for my hobbies that I love but rather haphazard in my attempts. My quiet time is always a must. So get ready for this long thought: If God wants me to dive into study more in order to strengthen my walk, so that, I might continue to be able to help others as He gives me opportunites, then I need to do that. There is something He wants to teach me. There is a fullness of joy that He wants to give me through what I put my time, energy, and hands to.

When He places a new desire in our hearts, He wants to DO something inside of us. If we change what is going on in our hearts, then we will see the results of strength, confidence, joy, and blessing. It will change how we appear on the outside also. We are never too old to learn from ourselves, as well as others. I want to be teachable, and able to help someone that might be in need of it. I can’t hear the needs if I’m so caught up in Facebook land. It’s called balance and I felt the pull toward less online time and more “living” time.

My take away in this last decision is this: I want to always be in a place where God can do His best work in me. Sometimes that means giving up something you felt was a calling. But maybe it was a season he called you to, and you need to be able to gracefully bow out. Maybe He has someone else in mind to take your place. In that season, you did your best work for Him. You helped, encouraged and directed people to who God is, and now He wants to further school you to give you even more influence and joy toward others. Exciting thought isn’t it? He wants to help you become even MORE effective than you are currently? We might have to take some risks with these new decisions, but even in those diffiuclt times, He is right there leading the way and encouraging you on!

Wisdom Corner

So…I am on a journey to explore just what He has for me. I feel the excitement building because I have been here before and it changes me every time! Deal with what is going on with you inside, because that makes all the difference on the outside. We don’t need to impress anyone with what we have. We don’t have to be perfect, or put on airs to appear that way. I certainly am not perfect by any means! But I do know the joy of obedience, and that my friend, is the key.

Stay with me here on the blog. This is where you will find me more active. I believe it is because I may be asked to share some of my journey as I go. God’s goodness to me requires a response. I am responding. Will you? Will you begin the excavating process in your heart to see what you might need to do to operate in total trust and joy with what change means in your life with Jesus? I hope so. I would love to hear if this touches your heart, and what you plan to do in your heart to make a change. Blessings!

My creative/study place.

Until next time,

~JoAnn

The Power of An Image

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

Quiet Time

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

Homemade Vest from Childhood

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

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

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

Fun at the cabin.

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

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

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

Home ambiance that is important to me.

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

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

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Thoughts From My Window

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time…

~JoAnn