The Blessing of Giving Up Something

Have you ever had to give up something that you really wanted, or something you wanted to do, in order to do something you felt you were being asked to do?  It’s not always easy to give up our idea for what God may be asking us to do.  It’s called sacrifice.  God always rewards our obedience though!  I love that about Him!  So here is my story…I hope it helps you make the decision that is right for you in the future.

My hubby and I always take a day or two get-away for Valentine’s Day.  It was our plan to marry on Valentine’s Day when we got married but that plan didn’t work out.  So because of that, we have always gone away to do something together to celebrate our “almost” wedding day.  We consider it our anniversary day, even though we also celebrate our actual date of marriage.  So we had planned a three day time away in one of my favorite places with lots of other fun activities included.  But then, I found out that my very good friend was having surgery for a knee replacement two days before Valentine’s Day, and I was scheduled to go up and help her.  So… hubby and I talked about what we could do, and decided we would make plans to do something together the weekend before.  Terry wanted to make the plans for those two days, so that was kind of fun for me since it’s usually me who does that.  Friday afternoon, he went and did his food shopping for the weekend, and came back with a beautiful rose and card.  That was a part of his table setting the next morning.

Here was his plan:  he made me breakfast with mocha included, he would make dinner for me on Saturday evening, but he had planned snacks for during the day.  I was to do  whatever I wanted that day…read, take pictures, whatever I wanted.  I didn’t get to know what was going to happen the following day until it came.  We had a lovely candlelit dinner at home with time together and a special movie we watched.  He had snacks planned for later in the evening too!  Lovely day!  He told me we had to get up early the following morning because he had a plan for that also.

My hubby’s table set for me.  Still have to work out the deal with bottles but hey…it looks awesome!

Ocean view at Pacific Beach, WA

 

Little town of Pacific Beach, WA

The interesting layers of nature after the storm.

Seemed almost appropriate somehow for the reason we were out that day.

Always good to attain the climb from worldly things to go for higher ground.

 

 

I hate having my picture taken.
Silly guy!

So we got up and he fixed me breakfast.  While we ate he said he wanted to take me for a ride, and I was to bring my camera and we would go out to Pacific Beach and take photos!  Don’t have to ask me twice to do that!!!   He would buy me an early dinner after my beach fix, and we would just check some places out as we went.  Well…be still my heart!  That is MY kind of day.   So we went to the beach and I took photos; some fun photo opportunities.  We walked around, and got silly photos too!   Then I just happened to find a wacky kind of second-hand store that I found my Norwegian Farmers Rose cups for $.50 each!!!  I was SO excited.  That was just a drive by and I said, “Look!  That is open!  Let’s go see!”  It pays, I tell ya!  After all that, we went to get our dinner, and then on the way back home, I bought us a Starbucks.   We both came home feeling wonderful after another day of fun together!

What a treat!  It doesn’t take much to find sweet times together, or with a friend if that is the case in your life.  It also taught me that to give up is to get back.  We decided together that we wanted to do this so that I could help a friend.  We were blessed by that decision, and God gave us a wonderful couple of days to enjoy the little things in life.  Don’t hold back because you think you will lose when God calls you forward to do something different from your plan!  Step through the door and let Him bless you with other ways, and the means to find joy in the change.  We will still go do our first idea, but just for the day and one night.  We get to have another fun day activity, along with our weekend plans we enjoyed so much.

I think the moral of this story is that when we are willing to follow what the Lord calls us to do, and we are willing to do it in obedience to Him, He will take care of giving us back more than what we give.  It’s really a heart issue.  It had nothing to do with giving something up.  It wasn’t hard.  I was glad to do it.  But it taught me once again that when I am willing to step out and obey, God will take care of everything else; my hubby’s willingness to change the schedule, be a bachelor for a week, the plans to still do some of what we planned when I got back, it all worked out.

Have a willing heart to let go of your plans, and hang on to God’s plans.  That is best for all of us anyway!!!  I will share more of my insights with my friend in my next post.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

P.S.  My sweet cups that I was so excited to find!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What Have You Missed?

Family…a circle of individuals, that even if you grew up together and experienced the same family unit, are all different.  Their perceptions of experiences are unique to them, and unique in how they see it.  I know for me, when I talk to my kids about their time growing up, I sometimes ask myself, “What house did they grow up in?!?!?!??”

View from her mother’s sleeping room.

So in the last week or so as I have read letters that my mother wrote to relatives in Norway, I found myself learning about things I didn’t know.  Things she protected her children from…such as the grief she felt after losing her brother.  We kids knew that it was hard for her, and we all felt anger towards the irresponsibility of the driver that was driving a large work truck while drunk, and crossed into the oncoming traffic.  Even though he was in a line of five cars and the third one back, he was killed instantly.  I went on to read in her letters about how she lost her dad only about eleven or so months after losing her brother and the difficulty she was having to even get a letter out to the person she was writing to.  I feel bad that I was less attentive to what she was going through.  I remember those life moments, but as kids, we don’t always get all the ramifications.  We are in school and/or working a job, keep ourselves busy because that is our life at the time.  It can also be that we don’t know how to deal with it or want to replay the emotions of losing someone special ourselves, so we in turn, aren’t prepared to give the comfort where we could to someone who needs it.  As I’m my case, where although I was old enough to understand my uncle wasn’t coming back, I wasn’t mature enough to understand how deeply that would affect my mother.  When I read about her struggle almost a year later from losing her brother and then her father, my heart hurts for what she felt.  And…I wish I had realized.  Sometimes, we think our parents are so invincible that nothing can take them down.  However, that isn’t true.  They are hurting and yet have to press on in life.  When she is home alone, and writing a letter, safety permits a peek into the honesty of her heart as she writes the letter.  The door of the heart is opened a bit.

 

Why am I sharing this with you?  Well…a couple of reasons.  One of them is that we need to be open to share our lives and feelings with our kids and grandkids.  Tell your story at the age level they can understand.  Let them know when you hurt so they can better understand their own hurt and know they can trust you with their hurts.  We don’t want to be the one who says, “Man!  I wish I would have asked more questions of my mom and dad to know and understand their life and how it was for them!”  Ask the questions.  Get the story.  Otherwise all you have are fragments of their lives and more questions than answers sometimes.  I know in my case, I asked some questions.  With my grandparents, most of the answers never came.  It may have been difficult for them to talk about too given what they experienced in their lives before coming here and then the hardship of making a life for themselves once they arrived.  Then again, it seems to be kind of a Norwegian trait to keep those things to themselves.

Her mother’s house that she grew up in.
The valley where her mother’s house first sat.

The second reason is this.  Regrets can paralyze you.  We all have a few that we think we can handle.  But it’s better to live without them.  Mom never drove.  That was her choice.  However, it isolated her from doing things she could have done to enjoy her life even more.  I was her chauffeur, but she had to wait 15 1/2 years for that to happen.  I think she would have enjoyed her life a bit more freely if she had been willing to learn to drive.  Many offered.  It can be a bit lonely.  So I would say to you, show interest in the stories you hear now.  Record them telling the stories while they are here to share them.  One day you won’t be able to say, “Hey Mom/Dad…or Hey Grandma/Grandpa…” or whoever it may be.  I read these letters where my mom talks about wanting so much to go to Norway and see relatives.  She wanted to see where her parents grew up and what they did for a living there.  Wow!  Wouldn’t I love a little bit of time with my parents and grandparents to share what I saw and learned while I visited Norway.  Your story is all a part of you.  Tell your story…write your story…put together a picture story.  Whatever works for you, but share it.  One day, you may come to understand yourself better because of it.

I know.  You are busy.  But your parents, grandparents, and their siblings did a lot for you.  Slow down.  Put down the phone.  Shut off the TV.  Shut down the computer.  Tell their story.  Tell your story.  It’s the next best seller book you can read with your family.  I have a treasure box for my grandson that I made when he was little.  It has all kinds of things in there that tell about myself and my parents and grandparents.  Each time he came, something was added, and he would want to go through it.  It is a very fun way to share your life story with them.  They love stories…especially when it is about someone they know and love.  And if you love your parents and grandparents and family, even though, as in Ethan’s case where he never meant them in person, he knows about them and the kind of people they were.  That blesses me, and someday, I think he will be very glad grandma shared it with him.

This is another wake up call for me.  Live well. Live long…as the Lord allows.  Life is full of lessons.  Listen to those who have learned them, so that, you can better share your legacy.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

 

 

Finger Prints of Love

Photo Credit: pixabay

How do you think that God sees us?  I was reading a book recently and he talked about finger prints making us unique.  That got me to thinking…we know we all look different.  We also have been told, at least I hope you have, that God knows the number of hairs on our heads.  He doesn’t have as big a problem with mine now because I don’t have as many as I used to, but He knows the number. 🙂  What does that tell you about how special we are to Him?  Let’s think about that for a minute.  What happens when we get into trouble with the law, or we have to get a permit, or work for certain institutions?   We have to get finger printed.  Why?  Because each set of prints is individual to each person.  It is uniquely you.

So as I thought more about this, an experience I had many years ago, came to mind.  In 1973, I burned my right hand and arm and the part of my hand on my left hand in a fire.  I was making a specialty item for Christmas and the lard (we used that in those days) caught fire on the stove.  I ended up with 2nd and 3rd degree burns on my hands and arm.  I was eventually hospitalized because of infection setting in even though it was covered.  I don’t want to make you feel ill, but in order to make my point, I need to share this with you.  I lost the skin on my hands and also my arm in places.  I could look down between my old skin and the new that was growing and see the intricate work of God.  My body had to grow new skin and it was extremely sensitive to touch.  I couldn’t touch two fingers together without pain.  That is because my nerves were raw and open.  When my new skin came back, it was, and still remains, thinner than it was.  Even to this day it doesn’t take much to have an issue with a burn that I may get while cooking.  If I get a burn, it takes a long time to heal.   So here is the interesting part….I still have my finger prints.  My finger tips aren’t scarred from it.  My skin on the hands are more wrinkled than most people have, but my fingerprints are still uniquely mine.

I find it rather fascinating to see that even though I lost my prints, this creation we call our body, grew new skin and gave me my finger prints back.  God did that in His creation of us.  My hands and arms became a new creation…and my prints today are used when I have had to apply for jobs and permits.  How unique God has made us!  The thing is, if He can make us unique enough that an accident can not take away my unique prints, even when they had to become new, and they can still identify me as me, THAT is pretty amazing!  He cares for me that much.  He cares for you that much.  He has made you unique and has unique plans just for you.  Not to be compared with others, but made and created just for you.

I love that about God.  We each have a plan.  We each have unique gifts to offer in service to Him.  If you are feeling unworthy or overwhelmed by life in general and trying to find out what God wants of you, don’t look at that mountain and say how big the mountain is, but tell the mountain how big your God is!  Let’s leave our finger prints all over the people around us, so that, they know of the love of a God who cares enough to love them individually for who they are, and to help them along the path to who He wants them to become!  He tells us to love our neighbors.  Let’s leave fingerprints of love on those around us, so they can feel, and thus know, that they are loved by a BIG God!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

A New Look

How has your new year started?  Are you feeling energized by the fact that you are starting to write on new pages in your life this year?  Are you feeling a bit like you are in a funk?  Maybe you don’t see this year as any different from the last year?

I have found myself energized by the new year.  I have received a lot in this last year:

  • Insight and wisdom
  • Made it through some very hard times
  • God has strengthened my resolve
  • I have left some old things behind
  • Embraced new things
  • Did some heart excavating
  • The importance of family and friends
  • Seeing life differently both with my eyes and my camera
  • Learning what to say yes to
  • No fear of saying no more often
  • Renewed my love of making music
  • Learning more and more to lean in and listen to the Whisper

I know there is much more to learn this year too, and I am happy to say that I have entered this new year without regrets.  What was hard, made me stronger.  I  reviewed what was going on and examined my reaction to it.  I believe in changing what I can to make it better.  Most of the time, if I am honest, my reaction to something is really just not allowing God to handle it.  I feel excited about what is to come this year!  I have purchased a ukulele and mandolin to learn, got new strings on my guitar, budgeted a little for photography investments, started reading again everyday in those books I purchased.  I approach it just like it is a class I attend.  I give myself time for lessons to learn more, I give myself quiet time to reflect.  I take in the moments in my day rather than moving so fast that I don’t “notice”, or hear God”s whisper.

As I am reading in a current study, I find myself in total agreement with the author who says we can get deafened to hearing from God because we have so many loud noises trying to get our attention.  He also says that we become deaf to God speaking to us.  He needs to be our loudest voice.  I think so too.  When I am living more like I shared above, I am more relaxed and just enjoy the moment for what it is.  A mocha, a phone call from a friend, a prayer request that I immediately pray for, time with a child, listening to a great song, playing a tune I just made up, or spending time with hubby doing some of our favorite things.  For example, I don’t just drink a mocha.  I savor the warmth of the cup, the flavor of the drink, who I am with, where I am at….all those things.  I’m thankful.  Some do not have a warm drink, let alone a warm home.  So I say thank you that I can enjoy this moment because He has been provided for that.  When I sing and play, I am thankful for the gift of a singing voice and that I can even still sing; not like I used to, but at least I can still sing.  I sing my thanks, I listen to the lyrics as I sing…it is all about taking the time to hear what song God even brings up in my spirit TO sing.  That can be a message all by itself!  That is listening! The new year for me brings up all the things that are right in my world, not all the things that are wrong.  I look for good when I make my goals, and let God show me what He will willing to do with this year.

The gift that my hubby and I gave each other this year for Christmas was a spa type hot tub.  It is portable and not real big, but it fits us and has a semi hard casing around it.  We are excited about spending time enjoying a good soak when these bones and muscles are kind of stiff.  It will be outside amongst the trees and cold air, while we are relaxed and refreshed by the heat of the tub.  I can’t wait to try it out with a mocha in hand!  I hope it will be ready soon!

I just got a new journal that I love.  It is very old-fashioned and that draws me to it.  It’s blank pages are screaming for a story, and…I just might have to write one.  It may be for my own eyes only, and something I pass on, but it may be a treasure some day for someone else.  There are mysteries in our lives, and I think we need to be more open to sharing them while we are here to share them.  I encourage my boys to ask me what they want to know if I haven’t shared it with them already.  So if you aren’t a journal type person, remember, it doesn’t have to be a page; it may only be a paragraph.  It may even be a sentence or two.  Great!  Just put it down.

My new year’s wish for you is that you take this new year as an opportunity to mix things up a little bit.  Do something new.  Change what you don’t like and replace it with something you do!  Become a an artist of your own life; a writer of your own story.  There are times in my life where a certain situation comes up and I would love to see God change that, like… immediately.  But of course, that is not the case. God has His own time frame, and His own reasoning for where I am and what I am doing.  So instead of complaining about it, I’m learning to ask Him to help me understand it, AND the process.  That way my focus is more on solution than complaint.  You see, if we change how we look at things, we change everything about it.  I can’t take a picture of a flower if I’m focused on the sky.  I have to get down where the flowers grow, maybe even grovel on the ground a bit to get the best view.  THEN… I can see the beauty that is there to see.  It is all about our perspective.

Let me just say that I hope you will grab that extra cup of coffee or what ever your favorite is, and take a moment to ponder this post.  See and ask what you are supposed to put your eyes and ears to this year.  What does this mean for you?  What is my heart telling me about my adventurous journey?  Not adventurous, you say?  Well then!  You have your first goal for the new year!  Adventure!  Seek out something new!  Go for it! I am!!! 🙂

See you on the Adventure trail!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

 

Word for 2018

 

Each year, as many of you know who follow the blog, I pray about a word for my New Year.  The last several months have been some difficult ones; or maybe very uncomfortable ones is maybe a better description.  But I find that when that happens, usually something else is going on.  God is working on something.  It may be something in my environment, something I need to change, something I need to do or not do, or just making it uncomfortable enough not to ignore, so that, I will move out of where I am into something else He wants me to work on.  In any case, I am a bit late this year writing my goals for 2018, as well as, praying over my word.  But yesterday as we got out-of-town, I really asked God what He wanted to teach me this year and what word would best represent that.  I DID get an answer and I heard it on the radio and saw it in three different places during that day…I know when God is whispering, I best listen.  I did listen.  My word?   Drum roll please……  “Deep”.  You might ask what that has to do with anything and what does it mean? You might think it’s a strange word for a focus word.  But when that word came up in my spirit, I knew exactly what it meant for me.  That’s when you know its right.  Let me share some thoughts about the word and how it has, and will have, MORE meaning to me throughout 2018.

First of all, a word for the year is something that helps you focus on what you need to work on for next year.  We all know that we need to have better focus in some areas of our lives.  We may need to

take more time in an area, be better about putting God first in our day, simplify our life and schedule, eat healthier, exercise, or whatever He speaks to you about.  Then ask Him to give you a word that will help you focus more towards making that a reality.  It’s a great thing!  I have reaped the benefits of doing this for the last 15 years at least.  I usually make a visual of my word with scrabble letters and keep it on my desk.

So…back to the word.  Many of you may be familiar with the Bible verse in Psalms 42:7 about deep calling unto deep.  I have thought about it and what I think it means, at least for me, is the deep things of God calling out to the deep things of me.  It’s kind of like the Spirit of God reaching deeply into the spirit in me.  In other wards, it is a direct line between what moves God deeply and it is imparted straight to me.  No detours.  So when things are the deepest hardship for me = God giving his deepest and greatest proof that He is faithful.  I might need to do some excavating of my heart to clear out some junk to make more room for His promises.

 

What is “deep” going to mean to my life next year?  Here are a few things I believe God gave me:

  • Go deep into God’s Word, so that, I have more understanding of His love, promises, and faithfulness.
  • Go deep with my personal studies to have a deep desire to know Him more personally.
  • Go deep in to prayer regarding my heart, and ask understanding of where my feelings are coming from.  Understanding is key to changing.
  • Go deep into understanding the motives of my heart; that my motives be pure and for the right purposes.
  • Go deep in my music this year; it brings me joy.  That means all learning all my instruments, as well as, my singing.
  • Go deep with my photography by devoting time to learn and read a few good books about it.  It always teaches me to live in gratitude and in the moment.
  • Go deep with my communication with others and hone my listening to the deep things of the hearts of others.
  • Go deep in my marriage; understanding, forgiveness when necessary, commitment to time together with my spouse, and his encourager.
  • Go deep in our goals, not just talking about them, but planning them, and doing/going.
  • Go deep in living in the moment.
  • Go deep in simplifying where ever I can.
  • Go deep with my time, in that, social media is less, and what I do is focused on what helps me with the above items.  I have backed out of many and will continue with a few more.
  • Go deep so that I am a person of character and not a shallow and surface reflection of what God would have me to be.

In my case, I also added “er” to the side of deep because some of the thoughts above, I dive pretty deep into already, but there is also deeper meaning that I can gain from go deepER…always.  I am committed to where God wants to take me.   We see so much busyness around us, we are losing the peace and joy we could have, for the chaos and stress of that crazy life style.  Going deeper always reminds me of going into deep water.  I actually have a fear of deep water after nearly drowning at a camp when I was a girl.  So as much as I love the water, it is always a fear that the boat I am on will sink, or that I will somehow not be able to save myself.  I have a hard time even trusting a life jacket!  So this word is a good visual of what it means to totally give it up and trust.  I have to trust God to hold me up, and not let go of my hand.  I don’t ever want to drown in a crazy lifestyle.  I want to trust my boat, my Captain, my faith, and the life jacket when I need it.  He is all that for me.

Many times we make all these resolutions and then are disappointed in ourselves because we don’t stick with them.  I don’t make resolutions, as much as I make goals each year.  The difference is, I let God decide which ones He wants to bring to fruition in my life, and which ones might go on to next year’s list.  I leave it in His hands and thank Him all the way!  Don’t try to make them happen on their own.  The success of those goals is really up to you to discipline yourself to them.  You may have to make some different choices for those changes to occur!  After all, we can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results if we aren’t doing anything different.  If I want my faith to grow, my trust in Him to grow, my confidence in God to grow, then I must do something different from what I am doing now.  If I’m not feeling that kind of comfort and trust, then I need to work on moving the obstacles in my life out of my way.

He is calling me out into the deep this next year my friends…maybe into deepER areas I think I’m pretty good at.  But…am I really????  I am excited to see how this word will lead me in the direction He wants me to go next year.  Remember deep calling unto deep has the meaning that it is straight from Him to you…no detours.  You have a direct line!  I have never had Him lead me where his loving arms can’t reach me.  He tells us that in scripture, you know.  He will always extend His hand.  I need to surrender and be willing to take it.  AND… let HIM lead.  That’s key right there…let Him lead me into the deep.

If you choose to take part in a word for your New Year, please share with me in the comments below and I will be happy to pray over you and your word this next year!  Accountability is important too.  Blessings!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

P. S.  I want to thank each and every one of you who have been such faithful readers of this blog.  You bless me, and I want to wish you a very Happy New Year in 2018!

Advent ~ Christmas Wreath

Advent ~ Christmas Wreath
Today’s ornament is a Christmas Wreath made from colored beads, and was made by a friend and given to me as a gift. Wreaths are some of my favorite adornments for Christmas.
Just a reminder that the Christmas wreath was used to represent Christ. It had a circular shape with no beginning or end, which represented eternity or our life never-ending because we have heaven. It is also used with the three advent candles with the middle candle lit on Christmas Eve to represent the arrival of Jesus, the Light of the World.
Light of the world you came down into darkness, open my eyes let me see.
Until next time…
JoAnn

Advent ~ The Star

Advent ~ The Star
 
This is an ornament that tops the tree. Our tree was too little this year, but I have it next to the tree just so I can still enjoy it! I love its reflection on the ceiling and its changing reflection. Brings me back to the star and its part in the Christmas story. It reminds me to look up. See the star.
 
You know there was a star over where Jesus was born that inspired the
wise men to follow the star to the baby. God led them then, and He leads us today. I think about this every time we have a clear night to see the stars. They are so beautiful! And to think they were brave enough to follow it because they felt the leading to do it. Today, don’t take the beauty of the stars for granted…enjoy those night skies we have to look at. Many are not free to see them.
 
I’m following the Star, not just during the Christmas time, but everyday He gives me breath!
 
For Christ is born of Mary
And gathered all above
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love
O morning stars together
Proclaim the holy birth
And praises sing to God the King
And Peace to men on earth