Focus…Where Is Yours?


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Wednesday became a day for reflection.  In a women’s Bible Study, we talked about what and where our focus is on a daily basis.   We found out that in many cases, we need to let God be God, and give up control.  We need to surrender all, as the song says.  We discussed:

  • Be strong and take courage as we wait upon the Lord
  • God is our warrior
  • He rejoices over us with shouts of joy and with singing
  • His loving kindness is everlasting
  • He knows my voice

That was a great source to lift my spirit today!

The thing is, God wants to do that in our lives every day!  He wants to spend time with us and He wants us to communicate with Him.  When we take the time to commune with Him, we will find ourselves in the middle of all kinds of divine connections and miracles…and there will be a purpose just like there was a purpose in my journey on the way home.

IMG_1002On this day, I was reminded of dreams and visions God has at times shared with me and how they have come to fruition in my life.  This little church to the left, is the church where I grew up.  I wouldn’t change anything for the great foundation in Jesus that I was taught there!   I think about where I came from; the community in which I lived, my upbringing, people God placed in my life, and how God has kept my heart open for Him.  Wow!!  He has given me so many divine connections and blessings as He orchestrates my life.  It is my heritage, as well as, what has influenced me.  I have a free will regarding where I put my focus, and I believe my determination to live a Godly life, was instilled in me at a young age.

I have talked before in my blog about not looking back because we aren’t going that way.  But, we DO have a tendency to always look back seeing the negative things that happen to us, or the negative things that were said to us, or negative things that we did.

I have come to understand that I can look back and see the great things, the fun things, the unforgettable things that happened in my life!  I don’t have to live with, nor do I want to live with, all the parts of my life that bring me down.  God wants me to look to the future with hope.  You might be thinking, “JoAnn, you have NO idea what I lived through growing up!”  You would be right.  I don’t.  However, I have had MANY circumstances in my life that weren’t good.  Many.  What I DO know is this: there are many good times that I have enjoyed in my life also.  By looking back to the good and the fun times, it will change the my whole perspective!  It will give a fresh outlook on today.  So here is a look back to some fun memories that I cherish.

I grew up in a small town of Stanwood, WA and it was full of Scandinavians.  I always wish that I learned Norwegian, but the only Norwegian I learned, was enough to understand what my parents talked about when they didn’t want us kids to know what they were talking about!   We knew a lot of people and we lived in a time where we helped each other out in everyday life.  There were many gathering places, and whenever we gathered, it was around food, coffee and cookies.

IMG_5956IMG_5957Here is a picture that I took on Wednesday of my grandparent’s house.  When they lived there, you wouldn’t have seen these big electrical poles everywhere.  But oh, how many times I walked up that hill!  It used to be steeper than it is now.  I would walk it coming to their house from school.  My brother and I would have such fun playing on grandpa and grandma’s front porch, which was NEVER used!  Everyone always used the back door.  They wouldn’t have heard anyone using the front door anyway, because the living room was always a closed off room except for holidays.  When you opened the front door, it had a nice entry, so we would play in that also.  My brother and I pretended we had an office and the entry was that office.  Then, we would sit out on the bulk head in the summer and wait for the pea trucks to go by because they would toss pea vines out the window for my brother and I to eat!  The best!

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This bridge, or as we called it when we were young, the viaduct, was THE place for young people to write their class graduation year or who liked who, or whatever.  It would get quite colorful at times.  It was smooth concrete then, so it made creating art a lot easier!  It would be covered on the face of each side, as well as, on the inside of it.

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Farming was a big source of income in the Stanwood and surrounding area.   We would also barter with each other when we needed things.  And as I was recently reminded, even give a quarter of beef to newlyweds starting their life together.  Way to go mom and dad!  We had wood stoves, and would go out and cut wood in the summer for the winter head.  That included loading and unloading the wood also.  Some homes also had oil heaters, which we did also.

And…we took family drives.

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One my favorite drives, and my brothers too, was when we would take what is now called Pioneer Highway, to go to Mount Vernon and beyond.  This road had at least three good-sized bumps to go over between Stanwood and the next little town of Conway.  At that time, they were quite high and had not been graded down for safety.

My brothers and I would call out from the back seat, “Go faster, dad!”  So, he would accelerate as we came to those bumps and it was like riding a roller coaster.  Simple joys that didn’t cost a dime, but made memories that are not forgotten.

IMG_5943There were also many country roads that had big hills with ups and downs, and what fun we would have traveling over those roads, giggling as they made our tummies leap!  I thought of those memories today as I saw this road and… I took a picture!  I shared the experience of the bumps with my grandson, but the bumps have been graded down so it isn’t nearly as fun!  If we were really lucky, we would go have an ice cream on our drives through the country or to see relatives.

Somehow in those growing up years, farms became something special to me.  I think because I lived on a small farm.  I used to get up before school to help my dad feed calves and milk the cows we had, along with chickens and pigs.  So, I spent a lot of time in the barn.  So even today, I find great joy in taking pictures of barns and farms.  They are another part of local heritage and a reminder of good things in my life; a simple life.

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I always like this corner called Milltown.  It was like a piece of the Old West when I was a child and it still kind of looks like that today.

I hope in reading this post today, that you will choose to look back for the GOOD that was a part of your life, and remember.  Look for all the small and big details that made your life fun and was a blessing to you!

IMG_5960Look to your future with hope.  My hope for you is that you can live in the NOW, without the weight of the negatives of the past.  As in the case of my Bible Study, focus on good things and remember what He HAS done in your life.

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For me?  I want to be like this old house.  It has so many stories to tell!  Despite its lack of ability to house a family, it has stood the test of time, and it has a message for me today.  Focus on what God has created, and keep my eye gates open to what He still has for me to do.  I want to stand firm!   No matter how battered I may feel sometimes, I can continue to look ahead with a joy that comes from looking back at the good.  I can weather the storms and still cause someone to ponder.  Just as I did when I saw this house.

What if we lived our lives looking to all the good things?  How would it change how we live our lives each day?  How might it change how we treat others?  How might it change the way you spend your time or set your daily priorities?

Here’s a challenge for you:  Let these ideas change how you do life.  Get out a photo book.  Share a tradition with your family or friends that was a part of your growing up years.  Tell your story.  Set some different priorities in your life.  Take a drive to a place that you bring back some great memories.  Take a walk down memory lane to those good times and see how it can cause a paradigm shift in your thinking, and thus, your life!

What good memories do you have from your childhood?

Walking the journey with you…

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2 thoughts on “Focus…Where Is Yours?

  1. thank you beautiful friend of mine…i so needed to read this. I have been struggling lately with some very negative thoughts…you really made me or helped me re-direct my focus….I log off tonight with good positive thoughts and a grateful heart..loved the photos and the story…God Bless you beautiful lady!

    1. Tammy,

      Thank you for your kind comments. If something I say touches one life, it is all worth while. So thank you for taking the time to share that it encouraged you! Blessings to you and over you!

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