What is there to savor?

Music is one of my number two goals after study. Music does wonders for me!

As my year came to an end, I felt a little lost to be honest. As I know you may be feeling some of the same, I kept telling myself there is hope in a New Year. We hope life will be better in some way. Some are hoping for things to relax and go back to a bit more of normalcy. Some feel that any normalcy will never happen again in our lives. At the end of this year, I could clearly understand the idea that it will never be normal again as we might perceive it. How does it happen that friends leave friendship, family members will choose their own thinking as right instead of seeing that not everyone is going to think or perceive it the same way? It’s sad to lose that which we, in our personal life, think is so important. I’m sure you may have had some similar situations in your own life that you have had to deal with, and like me maybe struggle a bit as this New Year approaches with so many unknowns. With various views and expectations, instead of letting it go, we make it our focus. It is not good.

So with my word of the year before my eyes, and with how I have felt, I asked myself if I was willing to ask for God’s help in REALLY letting that all go, and then next, to do as I often do and ask myself what I can savor in my life? It is much like my gratitude jar. So let me share a little how I am attempting to redirect myself this year, with this word, and how I am dealing with my own “feelings”. It can be tricky as you all know.

First of all, I can not go by my feelings. Do I have enough faith and belief that God cares about all of the experiences that are happening in my life? So… I have had to breathe deep through the hurts and division to ask God to take over. You see, my first knee jerk reaction is to say, “Well ok, if that is the way this will go, and I have tried to work it out, and I have prayed about it, and I have to now leave in with God. Then, I will perceive it as having done my best to understand, and press on. But, what we need to realize is that when we do this, and maybe it is exactly what we need to do, we also carry the responsibility to let God handle it when the devil brings it up again and again. And he will. How will the devil get to us? Our feelings such as guilt, hurts, misunderstandings. Memories. Relationships.

What do I talk to the Lord about this new year? That I will grow in my walk with the Lord and be quick to turn it all over to him. The unknown of what might happen, or decisions I have to make, or even being consistent in my goals and direction I believe God has given me. All of that, has to go before the throne and to ask God to take care of it. And…here is a big one… I need to trust Him with the outcome.

We can be weary in well doing and God tells us not to do that. But sometimes, I have let that happen. I can easily feel like I am walking an uphill battle up the mountain side, with a backpack that is completely full of burdens that I don’t need to carry. I unpack some and leave behind, but somehow the things that are left feel more heavy than before because they end up filling up the space if I don’t leave them at God’s feet. We all need accountability for the actions we take and the way we handle them. It has always been my way to talk them out, and pray for understanding for myself and the circumstances. Have compassion and be willing to accept anything I have done to create the circumstance. It doesn’t always work because those involved have to be willing to come to the table of understanding and/or acceptance. So what is there to savor this year?

I believe in and treasure my freedom. I have the right to choose what I do. Freely. It may not be what others do, but I have the freedom to make that choice, even if it isn’t what someone else might think is right. Not sure when or where it happened that we think we have to force our decisions on others. It certainly isn’t God’s way. Closing our mouth at times is a better practice. At times, silence can speak for us.

I will savor….

My opportunity to freely, by choice, be a life-long learner.

Every moment is precious in my life and live it to the best of my ability.

Where ever I live. That is my sanctuary that God has given me…where ever that turns out to be.

The opportunity to change, because again, God may be teaching something through those changes; even the hard ones.

Learning to listen more than talking.

Quiet time and my mocha time…a priority I don’t want to miss.

Enjoy the food as I eat, rather than, just eating and then getting right up to clean up.

It has been a joy for me once again to write out my goals for this year. Even though I have had some hard times in these last few weeks, I know that I will make it through this too, with God’s help. I do know from experience what I need to ask… for His help for me to see beyond it. It may take a while for me, I have to walk it out. However, I will keep pressing on to be a better listener. You see, He can see beyond today all the way to the end results. I can not. Hence, turning it over in surrender to Him is the only way I can let go. All the hurts, or losses, or sadness, or misunderstanding that I might experience, are not necessarily mine to carry. As I turn it over, He will show me what to do.

As I close this post, I am emptying my backpack and giving it a heave over the side of the mountain. I seek freedom. I hope the above words will sink deep into your heart and soul to help you remember where your help comes from. If there are changes that need to be made, you and I, need to be willing to MAKE the changes in ourselves before we can expect change in our lives.

Am I willing? Yes. Is my path perfect? Nope. But I am headed toward change. My heart is willing and directed. Is YOURS?

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Another Year

Here we are at the end of another year and we have certainly had a lot to handle again this year. Maybe you, like me, were expecting more. More peace and understanding, and most of all love for one another. Instead it seems, we see discord, chaos and difficulties. But I am realizing more and more that I need to choose again to look forward to the new year as I always do with goals in mind and a direction I believe God has given me. So… let me share my thoughts in hopes that it will encourage your direction or thinking as well.

Let me explain that my goals are not like a resolution list. My goals are anything and everything that I pray over as my year begins and through out the year. It’s exciting to watch where God works. Not everything on my list takes place, but I found God to be faithful again and again to me with His direction and my list. In this process, I also pray over a word that I ask God for that will carry me in the direction He would like me to go for this next year. I study the word, I read up on the word, and my goals have something to do with my word usually without me really planning that. So…let’s get into it.

What is this word, you ask? As I have been praying over the last few months, one word came to me again and again. Now when that happens, I usually thank the Lord for that, and ask if this is the one, will He confirm it to me so I know. As a friend and I took a girls trip together, I saw this word pop up on several places like artwork, bookstores, and in the activities we did, and our schedule. And since we don’t often get away together, just the very trip was a nod to my word. It resonated with me completely. God has been teaching me to live more in the moment than ever before. I believe that is because it is so easy for us to get distracted by what is going on around us. That is what the devils forte is…distraction. I am very excited about the ways in which God is going to teach me to Savor moments, friendships, my home, the little things and big things, a warm mocha and a fire, a candle light reflecting through glass, and many other experiences. A life made lovely through a simple word…savor. It can mean the following:

1 : to give flavor to : season. 2a : to have experience of : taste. b : to taste or smell with pleasure : relish. c : to delight in : enjoy savoring the moment. *Merriam-Webster

This word of course reminds me of my favorite Norwegian word: Koselg. Kind of the same meaning in some ways. I want to savor my life, my family, my traditions, friends, and all the goodness around me. There are times now when I get into bed at night and talk to the Lord and I am a bit disappointed that I have maybe let unimportant things keep me from savoring the more important moments as they come. However, those times are getting less and less. I have been really sick in the last three to four weeks with a winter cold and I really had to just let things go and not worry about it. I was still having to take my hubby to doctor followups and physical therapy appointments even though I wasn’t feeling well. What happened during that time was that I felt more than ever that I wanted to start the year strong in January. So I did what I needed to do and nothing more. I rested, and when I did, I found my energy level started to return. I wouldn’t say I am 100% quite yet, but today is a good day and I sure have gotten my fire back and I am enjoying my plans for the upcoming year. I plan to “savor” it all!

I have a plan for a couple of Bible Studies I will be doing because I want to get back to my study of the Word and let it guide my year once again. I have started writing my goals for the new year as I do every year. I have several great books ready to start and I am excited about what I will learn by those efforts. I have been doing some reading and studying on various recipes and bread making that I want to improve upon. I also found some great organizers for my kitchen that has save me lots of room and let me find things easier. My son came and built a pantry area out of a closet, and back splash for behind my range. All these little things lead into a new beginning for January. THAT is part of savoring of my home and environment…it makes me happy! I have also made a point of getting together with friends because I know it is important for me and many others feel the same way…we need each other. So we meet up and savor our time together and now that I feel better, I plan to do that more in the next few weeks. Whether it is a few minutes or a coffee meet up or a text, it is a way to encourage one another…so needed today.

So as we all go into the new year, I hope this encourages you to maybe do something you haven’t done before or done in a while. I want you to live with contentment and savor moments and the people God has put around you. And if you think of it, share if you have a word for the year for yourself, and leave it in the comments. I love hearing about it and will certainly pray for you and the word God has placed on your hearts as it relates to your new year.

The other area that I am challenging myself is with a planner/journal. This one is a great one in that it helps with all the areas I want to work on. This isn’t a striving thing or something I feel I “have” to do, but more what I want to do to enhance my life. I don’t feel less than, so… I have to do this. It is an inner desire to not miss anything around me. It is enough that we have so many changes and requirements and dos and don’ts, and I want to live my daily life more like it could be my last. It sure makes me grateful for everything that happens each day. I am not such a good “planner-user” just because I don’t have to do the work that requires it. However, I think this will be fun to keep me going forward towards what I desire my life to be like… a life well-lived. It’s a good reminder.

Don’t forget…it all is a movement forward and that is a great direction!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

What’s Your Point of view?

You may have surmised that I enjoy photography very much. It has been a wonderful and creative activity for me once again in the last several years. It started in high school but then family happened and even though I still took pictures, I wasn’t able to really work at learning more about the camera and process. I recently got a camera for my collection and it reminded me about how God has spoken to me so many times through the pictures He has given me to see. You see back in 2004 up in my upstairs office at the time, I felt God laying it on my heart to take a picture a day for a year. I was not only to take the picture, but I had to share on FB what I saw and what it meant to me. That was a turning point for me. I felt the change in the way I saw my subjects, as well as, in learning the craft of photography. I have never looked back. It has taught me so much. I have learned to really see and notice things I took for granted before. God used this vintage camera to reach me just the other day about sharing the parallel to daily life. I believe God wanted me to share this with you.

So with this in mind, the photo above was a message for me several years ago that I felt I was to take. Now I share it with you for this post. The question in the title is an important one; especially now in these days. If we were to use the camera to represent our lives today, would your camera be pointing inward to what you want or need, or are you asking God to help you see out toward what He wants you to see from behind the lens? Are you using your camera pointed at you more than out towards life? Does it tell you anything? If we are focused more on ourselves than anything else, we can have a tendency to leave God out of the picture. We also can find ourselves with feelings of discontentment because we often have a tendency toward comparisons in those when our eyes on circumstances.

Vintage Camera

What about your focus right now? What or who are you focusing on? Do you need to ask God to help you learn more about how to focus in an area of your life? Do you have to step back for the bigger picture, or as we are talking about today, to see it a little more from God’s perspective? Are you keeping the lens clean so you can see better to focus on your life? Do you stay in the Word and share with your friends about what God is doing in your life? Are your batteries charged and ready to catch the vision of what God has for you? Did you look to see how light is hitting your subject and do you need more light for a clear picture? Do you try and use a preset/filter so it covers up some of the mistakes in the picture so it looks better to you? What about all the stuff that might be in the way of your subject being highlighted? We can easily get caught up in this world’s busy life style. We have to be aware of what the picture means to you. What do you want the person viewing your picture to see? Do they see someone with a crazy schedule though life with no time for relaxation? Are you looking through the lens so you can see more closely how to focus on the right subject matter? Lots of questions, I know. For me, a camera has helped me to see more clearly where God is working and where He wants me to be and what He wants me to see. I see the distractions and change it.

It is interesting that photography had made me more aware of many thing. However, it has also caused my husband to see things he didn’t used to notice. I am always looking, and it has rubbed off on him. Don’t we want that? Don’t we want others to see Jesus in us? Can we do that if we are turning our camera eye on ourselves more and what we want to enhance our lives with? I love saving for a new lens because it gives me a different perspective all over again. I can blur the whole side of a photo so that the eye of the beholder is focused on the subject that I want them to focus on. All unnecessary distractions are blurred out. Some of us live our lives that way. We would rather blur out the unwanted things in our lives rather than focusing on them as a way to deal with them or eliminate those habits that can hurt us.

Here is another question: Do you just put the camera up and grab a snap shot just to say you took it? What about years later when you might have wanted a clear shot of the details of the photo? What you see in the lens is what you get. Now you can take the time to move to make the picture more interesting by zeroing in on what your subject is. Sometimes, you might want a broader view because it explains more of what is going on. Either way, you can see how important our vision is. Some day those visions or pictures will be all you have of that person or time. So don’t lose the opportunity to capture the moment with a the good picture. We all have cell phone cameras and they are a pretty wonderful tool to catch those special moments. But take your time to really see what you are taking a picture of, and how you might need to reposition yourself for the best picture.

God is a little like the photographer. He wants you to see the beauty of His creation. He wants to get down to eye level with His child to get to see that precious face. He wants to kneel down to you on your level and maybe adjust your vision to see things differently. We might want to have him give us a black and white picture so we have all the answers. But God is more like the old fashioned way of photography, where you have to develop the picture through a process. that would be using the right solutions, let it dry for the first step and then it has to go through the developing stage. It takes time, and that is what He wants to have with you. Not some microwave conversation, but a slow cooked relationship with lots of stirring to move the process along. If we take our time, the picture will slowly show itself. In a world of instant everything, we expect everything to operate that way. I think my vintage camera tells the story for me. I don’t have to think as much about the basics anymore because the cameras now can do that for me. But the technique is still extremely important. And…to be frank, I still have SO much to learn about my camera.

The same with the Word of God for us. The basics we have maybe learned in Sunday School, or our beginnings in a church. But that is the foundation for a good relationship now. Just like now with a camera where I can point and shoot, but what I look for now is the story of the picture and what I want it to say. Isn’t that how we want to live our lives? Tell a story. We can’t always see how God is working out our story for us, but He is.

So the next time you whip out your phone camera, or other camera, think on these things. Is your bag all packed with the right equipment? Is what you are seeing something you want to share with others? Can they tell a bit about your story as they begin to see your view behind the lens? I hope that for you. It is a great time of year to bring back the slow holidays where we can just enjoy each other and catch moments we may never have again. I sure wish I would have talked more and asked questions more…have a clearer view of my life by being more aware. Try it for your next picture. Don’t forget the camera tells a life story just by being there, and you can make it better by using the camera in such a way that the story lives on for generations to come.

Go take the picture! Stay behind the lens rather than make it all about you. I often think that my family in future generations will know my story just by looking through my pictures. They will discover what is important to me, and what they may have missed the first time around. I hope that will be true for you.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

A Change of Pace and Nature

Driving over North Cascade Highway

Do you ever go for a walk and find that you feel relaxed when you get home from the walk? Do you desire a change of pace? I think we all could us that these days. It may be one of the more important things you do for yourself. But why is that so hard for us to do? Let’s explore this a little bit more.

Here are a few reasons you might be thinking about it being difficult for you in your life:

  1. You have small children
  2. You work outside the home or now work from home
  3. A lack of energy or focus
  4. Overwhelmed with outside pressures of the times.
  5. You are burying yourself in social media.
  6. Have trouble with organization skills that could help you slow the pace.
  7. Dealing with health issues.
  8. It seems all too hard to handle.
Winthrop, WA

There are many things that can keep us stuck in a place. I want to share with you what I just did with my friend. This week my girlfriend and I celebrated her retirement by going on a trip. We left on Monday morning and came back on Wednesday night. What a blast! We started our trip with a Starbucks and a scone! We looked at each other with huge smiles, toasted with our cups, and said we are now ready to go!! We drove at our pace and stopping at points of interest. That means where ever we wanted because it was our trip. We enjoyed the views of nature as we drove along, and of course I took pictures. We shopped. We talked and talked. We shared life. We encouraged each other. Talked through issues together. Walked the shops of the places we knew we would enjoy. Best of all? We laughed and laughed!! In the first place we stayed, the heater took longer to warm up than expected; like several hours. So we crawled into our beds with covers on and talked away. And…ate snacks. Nothing was going to dim our enthusiasm. We had a delightful breakfast brought up to us the following morning. It was almost like breakfast in bed… almost, but we decided to sit at the table. How delightful! The next day we shopped a good part of the day going through a huge antique shop. Then on the last day, we spent the day in Leavenworth walking around to the shops. We had lunch/dinner at a diner right before going over the pass to home. As we drove home we wished we had more days to extend our time. We then determined with each other to do this again.

My Favorite Gnome

Why do I tell you the whole story? (well I can’t tell you everything ;). Because I want you to realize that you can do this kind of thing anywhere. Maybe not for three days, but you could for one day or a couple days. You could do a little like I do…I take moments in my day to kick back, breathe deep, enjoy the fire, a hot drink, read a chapter from a book, or a walk around my neighborhood. What is important is that we give our hearts and minds a break to really enjoy what we love. If we don’t, we can get into the striving more than the thriving, and… a lot of sighing. Maybe we even turn into real grumps. If we get into striving, we take ourselves out of happiness and enjoyment stage, to the stress and hurry stage. We may feel there is not enough time in a day to do what needs to be done.

I can tell you that if we don’t slow down and enjoy nature, even if it is walking out on the porch for a couple of minutes and breathing fresh air, we will pay the price and lose some of what God has given us to enjoy. We get to the point that we don’t even notice the good things. Then guilt sets in and away we go kicking ourselves around about it. We may even find ourselves asking, “How did I get here?”

Diner

Maybe this is a better way to look at it…if it is true about garbage in, garbage out, then what does that say to us about what we are giving out to those around us? If we are on social media or in other people’s business, then what are we allowing to take over our thinking and feelings? How much time is wasted on posting or reading social media, or any other escape? What IF we used that time and did something that was going to move us along, encourage us, give us a breather, lift us up and make us look up? I have said this before…we would then have time to talk with the Lord. As I sit at my desk in my studio today, I see nature through the window into my back yard. It is like a mini vacation to just watch the wind blowing in the trees today with the sun shining through the branches. I have a candle burning on my desk and a favorite hot drink in my cup. That settles me right down and makes me smile. I know some have a hard time making this happen in their lives and also think it can’t work. But for me having less distractions means I can enjoy more of the good things during my day. Less hurry means I don’t miss the special moments. I also believe that encouraging another means you will find yourself encouraged.

I know I have been on this subject a few times just lately, but it is because as I get away and do some of the activities I have talked about, I am even more convinced that we CAN have that kind of life where we are thriving rather than striving in our scheduled lives. Don’t say you can’t do it because you can. It may mean 20 minutes for you. Great! Take it! It just means changing things up and looking for those little moments of enjoyment you can find. I am making a study of this over the next month or so. I’m finding great value in seeking slow and simple living.

Your plan may be different than mine. Most of us don’t get a audible voice that tells us how our lives are going to look or where we are going. But we DO get to be part of God’s plan as it relates to others. We may get to be a part of someone else’s story. In doing so, we can begin to see where God is working, and join in. We get to be part of God’s plan by being the light for someone else. I believe that has been my calling. Send you a horn honk to remind you of what can be if we change what needs to be changed or our attitude toward those goals!

Was my time away worth it? You bet it was!! I felt like I could come back and keep going. I was energized to re-evaluate my goals and what I had been doing with my time. I wrote a few things down. I also shared some fun gratitudes for my Gratitude Jar.

It doesn’t mean I don’t have challenges just as you do, but it does mean that I can encourage you to change up a few things, so you too, can see the benefits of little changes in your life. Hubby and I are planning a couple days away soon and we love to travel together and do some creative things. I can’t wait. Don’t let what you “think” you can do interrupt what IS possible.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

P.S. And don’t get so distracted sharing your thoughts for your blog post that you burn a loaf of yummy homemade bread! Oh yes I did.

are you ready to cozy up?

I’m sorry that as I type this, WordPress has made the titles in caps; it seems like I’m yelling. I don’t like the change. But here we are anyway.

So what was your answer to the title question? As we are officially now into Fall, are you ready to slow down and cozy up? It seems like a natural progression for this time of year. I love it! However, many just don’t know quite what to do with themselves. Why? Because they keep themselves so busy all the time, their minds never shut off and it is hard to relax.

I also look at the Fall leaves drifting to the ground. Last week we have had high wind warnings, and I went out and looked at what survived the wind storm. I have two burning bushes; one on the left and one on the right side of our deck steps. I went out and looked and it was naked…totally exposed! (Don’t look Ethel!!) Me? I was so disappointed. It was just becoming full and deep red and now nothing is on there. It reminded me of how we can live when we know Jesus. When I turn my life over to him, then I have to be willing to strip myself of all that I HAVE known, and let him cleanse me completely NEW. I am vulnerable yes, but only for a moment, and then a great God who loves me, will help me grow again through His guidance and my willingness to follow where He leads me. I remain willing to follow. The best part? I love how He speaks about the pace at which we are told to live. He talks about it quite often in His Word. But we can get to busy to do that too.

Fall speaks to me about about the need to cover myself. I am covered by His presence in my life. I am also covered with warm, cozy clothes during these winter storms and the months ahead. It is my favorite time of year! I love cozy sweaters and sweatshirts, comfy stretchy pants, comfort food, making bread, and warm drinks. It feels right in my world. Oh… and we can’t forget candles. What is your favorite part about Fall leading into Winter? I enjoyed taking the time to pull some chocolate mint off my plant and making some hot mint tea today. I don’t just enjoy sipping on it, but I enjoy the process of making it too. I savor those moments.

We went on a short road trip, which I will share about in the next post, and I was reminded of the color down at our eye level for us to see, but sometimes we need the reminder to look up. Long ago, and wonderful friend and mentor told me to always remember to look up; not when things are good or even really good, but when things are difficult and very hard also. Look up! I can’t count the number of times that I would have missed something glorious had I not remembered that advice and followed it. My header photo shows the majesty of Fall on the mountain! God is a great artist isn’t he? Photography is another way that I slow down and really see what is around me. God often speaks to me in those times, so that, I don’t miss out on what He wants me to see.

I hope you are finding ways to cozy up in your own schedule, home or work place. Don’t miss out on the opportunities for God to do something extraordinary in your life when you slow down enough to enjoy some “cozy” moments in your life? Yours will be different than mine, but I would love to hear about your cozy moments.

This post was just a cozy moment to touch base with you. I have shared some of this before and you can go back and read any of my posts from the main page. I hope you do and you find encouragement there. Let this Fall Season be a time when you let God blow away all those things that cling to you and weigh you down. Let them fall off so you can become totally free from them. Then, run and get into a cozy place, thank God for His love, and enjoy your favorite thing to do when you want to feel loved and a sense of belonging in your cozy place.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Quit That!

Hello to friends and family from my little studio by the Bay. I hope this finds you all doing well. I have been doing some thinking again. Or rather, God has planted something in my heart. Uh oh…watch out! I hope as you read this, it gives you pause to ask God about it for yourself.

Maybe it is just me, but I feel like so many of us are road weary; weary of what is going on all around us, as well as, our ability or lack thereof, to hold on to our joy and happiness. There is always something shoved in front of us to remind us of that, and it wears on us. We also don’t always want to admit it. So let’s get into this a little more.

What IF there are things we need to quit that aren’t so good for us, in order that we allow God to bring good things INTO our lives to take its place? What if instead of vegging in front of the TV a lot more than we should, that we gave up that time to read, learn, communicate with others, and more time with God in prayer? What IF we didn’t scroll through our social media sites just to occupy our minds, or as a creative avoidance mechanism. These thoughts made me come back to the question of what I might need to quit, or even WHO, I might need to quit in order for me to be more open to something God may be trying to communicate to me? Ouch! It is like this picture of a fence in the way of growth, but it found its way through to grow on the other side. The fences in our life may need to come down or be cleared (quit) in order for us to grow in another way. We may need a breakthrough in our own thinking; the freedom to let go to even ask ourselves this question about what I need to quit doing or give up?

Do you think the “quit” idea feels threatening? It really is about something within your life that you could quit doing or quit doing as a habit, so that, (you know I love that phrase) God can do something else in your spirit, soul, and body, as well as, your way of thinking. I have found that to be true for me. Right now, I find myself in front of the TV much more than I should. Sure, some of it is even educational. However, if done every night for several hours rings your bell, then it might be what I, or you, need to quit.

There are seasons that require change and we also may need that change with ourselves. With that said, what is something you may need to eliminate, and why do you need to eliminate it? We often attribute quitting as something negative, like we have just given up and leave it. But if we look at it as what we do to give ourselves more time and clarity, then it becomes a very positive thing! In my case I can share this with you in hopes that you can change this as often as you may need to ask the question. I have many more years behind me than before me. Before age catches up with you and you are so into your habits, and you can’t see the value in leaving it behind for the unknown of what God will give back to you, I say, “Quit that thang!” Adventure with God is amazing, but we do have to be willing to listen and then obey. I know I am asking that same question over my life right now.

So…I’m putting a short post out here for you to ask yourself that question: “What do I need to quit and why?” After that, I would love to hear in the comments regarding what you quit, and if you think it changed you and your relationship with God in the process. If so, how? Let’s take the “quit” step together!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Where Would you Go?

Today as I was taking some photos for a friend, I came across a photo that really hit home. With all that has gone on in our lives over the last year and three quarters, I think we could all agree that there have many changes. I think some we could say have been good changes; maybe within our thinking and life styles But others have experience very difficult circumstances with illness and isolation and loss. It made me think of all of you out there who may be feeling the same way I did this morning, and I just want to encourage you. Let me start with a question.

If you COULD go anywhere you wanted to go right at this moment, where would you go? It may be far, it may be near, and it may only take you a moment to decide. Where would it be?

My lead photo was taken when I went to Norway in 2017. It was my second time going and I was taking my middle son and grandson with me this time. I had previously gone in 2015 with my youngest son. When I saw this photo, it just reminded me of how much I have missed being able to have the freedom of travel to other places. I did go in 2019 also and I have a strong desire to travel again. That would be my place to go. There are some places you travel to that change your life forever, and this has been one. With all the restrictions going on now, it is a bit discouraging to think I may not being able to travel there in the future. But I am hopeful God will move in this area, and we will get through this to once again to let our hearts travel to places we love.

So what do we do with all these feelings of loss…and it is also a loss of our freedom in many ways. I think it means that we really have to seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance to look within ourselves for strength for the changes. Is there something we CAN change, so that, we can look at it through a different lens? For example, am I happy enough in myself that I don’t easily get discontent? Do I like or love myself enough to not mind being alone with myself? Do I know how to relax and find ways to entertain and enjoy life without vegging in front of a TV for long lengths of time? If I am able, am I getting out to walk or moved to keep myself active? And most important, am I letting God have my emotions and thoughts so I stay focused on the right things? Am I willing to slow down enough to be ok with being with myself or my family as we go back to more isolation? Did I need the slowing down lifestyle for me to realize what is really important in my life? Do we love our home enough to spend a lot of time there? Is there something you are I can do to make that more comfortable? Do I need to stay away from media and all the chatter so that I don’t get sucked in to all the negativity out there?

In my case, I have learned the art of having a home I love. I don’t mind being here, I have many things I enjoy doing. I practice slow and simple living, and I value it in my life. I have done the work, with God’s help, to be ok with me and how I enjoy my life. I have no desire for drama or giving up on anything. Is my life perfect? Absolutely not. Can I get discouraged? You bet. The only difference is that I know where to take all of that, and I know WHO is in control, ultimately, no matter what it looks like! I love to share photos to help encourage others to do some of the same.

So what did I do when that heart squeeze came today as I saw this picture? I took a picture of the picture with American flag on it, and because I know God cares for me and shows me every day, it’s my goal photo. So I also know that He knows my desires and He knows the end of my life from the beginning, so I just told Him that I trust Him and His timing, and that I know He will open doors for travel at some point.

Is there something else I can do?

  1. Stay in contact with all those wonderful people there because our hearts can connect in that way too.
  2. I have to be willing to be content in God’s timing…and I am. That doesn’t mean I don’t give a *sigh* sometimes, but as we know, He hears those too, even a few tears at times, and it never goes un-noticed with God.
  3. I can be grateful for all that I CAN do…I can enjoy my home, hobbies, a drive in the country with a mocha in hand, stopping to really see and hear nature, talk to a friend, send a snail mail card, take pictures, read, have fun with friends as I can. Try a new recipe. If you find that difficult to imagine for you, ask yourself why? You might be surprised at your answers.
  4. Everyday, I write a few things on paper hearts and put in my Gratitude Jar and that keeps my focus on the right journey.

So as I look through photos I took while visiting Norway, I have wonderful memories to include in my day and my heart fills with gratitude that before 2015, I had yet to meet these relatives in person. For that, I can be eternally grateful. Don’t be discouraged. Encourage yourself. You know what you like and what brings you joy. Go do it!! Have some fun and make some joy! Not long ago, I bought some bubbles and had some fun photography time! I have always loved bubbles and I guess it brings out the kid in me. My grandson and I did that several times too. I talked to him when we were at the beach about putting his troubles in a bubble and let them float out to sea never to return! I have been known only to myself, of doing the same thing in the back yard with my troubles and giving them over to God. He knows! Please don’t hesitate to leave your destination on the comments. I would love to know where you would go. If at all possible, and yours isn’t so far as Norway is for me, then plan to go! We have things we may have to put up with to go, however, it is totally worth the planning. Maybe a drive in the country with the windows down, or a walk on the beach, or go the mountains, is all you need. How about learning something new! But whatever it is, ask God to help you seek a resolution for how you can go where you want to go and do what you want to do! He is a prayer answering God! However, it doesn’t alway look like we might think. He knows best! Keep looking up! Live! Go forth Adventurer!!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Does Father Know Best?

There are times when God asks us to do something we may not feel inclined to do. We struggle with a yes or no within ourselves and often times look for a way out. This last weekend, I did a garage sale at our home. I dislike doing them because they are a lot of work, and it is usually work that I have to do pretty much alone. Know the feeling? But I wanted to share a story about the first day with you. I was called on to share something precious to me, with someone else. Read on for the story…

As I was looking over the set up of my garage sale, I felt it was in pretty good order and easy for people to see what we had. A car pulled up and two women got out and walked up to the sale and greeted us. One of the women was older than the other and she was open and talkative. She looked around and bought a couple of things while her friend, maybe daughter, looked at some other things. After paying, she looked around again and then asked if I had any horse shoes. She was looking for a horse shoe to use at her little place she bought. She was Irish and was decorating the house in that style; even the coloring on the outside she said. She wanted one to put above her door going into her house because that brought in good luck to her home. She had been looking for a long time to find one and none to be found. If she found one she might even paint it green to match the color of her house. She loved her cute little house. So there’s that.

Now, when she said that, I told her I didn’t have any in the sale. But then the Holy Spirit tapped my shoulder and reminded me that I DID have one. In the house and ready to put up on MY entry. When I was visiting Norway, I wanted to get one from there, but that proved difficult for me as a visitor. So I came home from Norway without one. However, on one of our visits to local thrift store, I did find one and purchased it. It was in good shape too. So as I got the tap-tap on my shoulder it was like. sigh… really??? I was going to put that up on my entry. As quick as I said that to myself, compassion was given me and I thought how special it would be to share mine with her. So I excused myself and went in and got it and brought it out for her. I asked her if this would work for her, and oh my…she was so excited and even more excited for the price. I think she thanked me a few times before getting in her car to leave. So there is that.

You see, what I find out every time God taps my shoulder and I obey His direction, He will give me what He wants me to have. But I have to have open hands to share others things too. He may ask us to do something contrary to what we want to do. But He always has something good in mind for us. Here is the sweet kicker to this story…as my hubby and I made a trip to a Scandinavian community not far from us just a few weeks ago, low and behold, I found this sweet little horse shoe that says Norge (Norway) on it with a couple of hooks for something to hang on; probably keys. But I thought I could put this INSIDE my entry to our home and hang some hand dipped candles from a couple of the hooks. I wondered at such a fun find but accepted it as another sweet find God gave me. Little did I know what it was replacing! It will look so cute when I get my candles. It is up in my home but candles are yet to be added. Coming attraction.

So you see, He replaced what He asked me to share. Even though the outcome is a bit different than that horse shoe being for me, He wanted me to bless this lady who probably doesn’t get out that much on her own to find exactly what she was looking for. Pretty cool, huh? Will I ever get the one for the outside of my door? I believe I will and it will be just the right one at the right time!

You see, if we are to have that relationship with Him, then we need to be obedient to what He tells us. When we do, He will take care of us in ways we can’t imagine or foresee. He may ask you to share something, even favorite item, or go to a place you least expect, help someone in need, stop the car because you feel like you are suppose to help someone close by, and He asks that we be open and obedient to His leading.

I have to say that her reaction to the horse shoe was worth everything to see her excitement in getting “just what she was looking for”. God is like that, and that is what I told her. So who knows? Maybe the garage sale was just for that sweet lady to get something her heart had been desiring for a long time, and… to Bayshore House she came!

I love this story and how it reminds me of God’s goodness. May this story guide you one step closer to following the leading of the Holy Spirit when He speaks to you. Its fun! It’s an adventure! And…always rewarding! Make a choice to always put God’s will ahead of what you might want to do, or NOT do. He DOES knows best!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Why “It’s Like…” Is Important To Us

I was reading scripture the other day and one of the words that I studied a little more was “like”. We hear people talking and say “like” all the time in various ways as a part of conversations. We say “It was like…” or “So I said like…” So, I thought it was a good conversation for us to think about here on Journeys of the Heart.

When I was reading the scripture, we have a good example of it found with the prophet Ezekiel where he saw heaven open up and tried to describe it. Because there were no words to describe it in all its glory and splendor, he had to resort to something humans could understand. So he used “it is like” and then used an example we could identify with in order to give some idea of what it was like. It was something that was beyond our understanding so he used descriptive words that would help us better understand what it looked like.

To me, who loves photography, it is like being in that moment where you see with your mind’s eye something so great that you want to take a photo of it, only to get home and look at it and the photo doesn’t do justice to what your eyes saw. The dimensions in the photo are lost in what you thought you saw with your vision and what was on the camera now as you view it. There are times I even saw it and couldn’t get the camera ready in enough time to capture it. I used to get so upset when I missed it. But I have learned to just say, that was just a “between God and I” moment. Or maybe you have had something totally miraculous happen, and you try to describe your experience to a friend, but you can hardly find the words to express what happened. They weren’t there and present with you. They can’t identify with you, so… we resort to explaining it the best way we can. We end up trying to use our imagination (“It was like”…) to convey our experience.

You know we hear talk about being made in the image of God. It’s true. What we need to remember thought is that we don’t know what God or His Son Jesus looks like really. We imagine something like the pictures we see in Christian Bookstores, and pictures from a story book growing up. But think about this…we don’t know. Words are used in scripture writers to help us understand in a way we can grasp, just like Ezekiel did. What a day that will be when we see Him face to face, and understand more than ever before, who God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are! We will fully understand what Heavenly splendor is with our own eyes and experience.

So as you have conversations and use the word “like”, think about what that really means, remembering that in scriptures that word is to help the writer to be understood. The Holy Spirit uses “this is like”, to be understood. Begin to listen to yourself with the use of “like” and how you use it. As you read the Word, just remember the writers are using descriptions so you can better understand the thoughts or idea. Don’t just run over them with your eyes, try to pick out those descriptions and read over them again to better understand what is being shared with your heart, right there in the moment. What is God or a Biblical Writer trying to teach you about that subject?

It’s fun to read the Word and catch something as significant as this thought. I hope it helps you to think of the use of the word and its way of drawing you into the text to further understand it. Isn’t it great that they wrote scripture so that we could better understand the meaning, and thus give us a better understanding of His love? Right from God down to the pages of your Bible.

I hope this post leads you on an adventure in your Bible to search out some of these descriptions we have been given through the Word. Let me know what you find!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

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