Unexpected Detours

Do you like detours?  Or do you find them irritating and time-consuming?  We often just want to get where we are going and not waste time, isn’t that true?

Let me share a detour that has caused me to really take a closer look at my life and what I am doing.  I had a small health issue the last few weeks off and on, and with it was excruciating pain in the kidney.  Thinking I had an infection, I used an over the counter product that would help with the symptoms until I got into the Dr the following day.  Apparently with my body metabolism, the amount used wasn’t something that my body could tolerate, but toxic, actually.  So my normal appointment to the doctor the next morning turned into going straight from the doctor’s office to ER.  Suffice it to say, it was quite a detour.  I couldn’t drive myself, couldn’t reach my husband at home, and so I had to be transported to the ER by ambulance for three blocks to the hospital.  The journey began.  Doctors and nurses worked hard to find out why my oxygen levels were so low and not able to be raised past 88 percent.  Not good.  Tests, blood test, blood gas tests, scans…you name it and it was done.  Find out that my body had a toxic reaction, and a VERY rare case I was.  My blood looked almost black, and I was asked from the ER Doctor what planet I was from.  I just told him it was strong Norwegian blood!  But, I wasn’t out of the woods.  My highest levels even with high flow oxygen was only 88 percent.  They thought it was caused by blood clots in the lungs and that turned out to be negative, thank you Jesus!!  What was it?  It turned out to be hypoxia methemoglobinemia. It is very rare for someone to react this way!  Oh good!  I’m special!!!  So with that diagnosis, the doctor knew of the antidote to give me and sent me upstairs to a room to receive it.  Warning:  my daily bathroom visits could yield all blue for a while.  So true.  I usually have a high anxiety when visiting the hospital because of my previous experiences, and I get quite emotional.  However, it was like someone else dealing with it and it’s seriousness.  I couldn’t understand the peace I had.  I asked God to give the all clear on the blood clots in the lungs and He did.  I am so thankful for that.  Blood draws every couple of days doesn’t seem fun at all.

Here is the deal about detours.  They are often unexpected when it comes to our lives.  Road detours are sometimes announced a head of time and we know how to plan ahead.  We have to watch for the sign that tells us the path of the detour.  Give ourselves extra time  for the detour.  But in our lives, that isn’t the case always.  Sometimes, it just happens.  We have to deal with it as it comes.  Is it ok to feel scared?  Of course.  But we can know where to take that fear.  God is always there.  Sometimes our detours come and God uses them for us to see something different; a new path or a new direction.  As we use these times to ask God what we are to learn from them, we find Him in that storm and He will whisper… He wants my attention in areas I need to be better about.

It my last few weeks, I had been struggling with some areas and asking God to show me where I needed to be, as well as where He wanted me involved.  Sometimes, I need to lay down something so another can pick it up and lead.  Sometimes He wants to use me in a completely different way.  We often see a picture of ourselves and where we are and think, that is where we are to stay.  But God may want to reframe our lives in ways that allow Him to use us even more.  Am I going to complain about the pain, the pokes and prods, and the uncertainty of what is going on in my body, or will I say thank the Lord for bringing me through it, slowing me down even more, and ask Him to guide my next steps?

  • If I wasn’t having that appointment that morning, I would have not known what was going on.
  • If I wasn’t in the doctor’s office.
  • If the ARNP that was on the ball and recognized my blue lips and blue fingers.
  • If the saturation levels didn’t indicate an issue.
  • If the ER doctor hadn’t been diligent enough to keep working at it.

I could have lost my life that day.

But God…He had that detour all planned out.  He knew the end from the beginning.  The outcome isn’t over, because I now have a whole list of things I can’t take now because of how my body may react to it.  I can’t even use BioFreeze, which I often used on my sore back.  I got an antibiotic that day for the first issue and that gave me hives.  However, it was the only one available to me.  I took three doses and that was all I could do, but he said that would work.  So… I am now on a new path with different ways I must live; at least for now.

The lesson on this detour?  I am re-examining my motives in where I am and what I am involved with.  I am taking time to ask Him the hard questions.  Then listen to His answers.  I can’t expect to have things different in my life if I am unwilling to change what I need to.  The biggest ones I think about after this experience?   Am I REALLY ready to meet Jesus?  Is my life in order?  It could have went a lot differently that day.  Am I prepared for that?  Am I willing to take a different road and let Him show me what He wants me to see?  Will I have a new appreciation for life that I am given everyday, because I am breathing today?  Take the correction if needed?  Forgive someone I may need to forgive?  Am I in the Word enough and not just sharing it, but in it enough myself?  Billy Graham was known to say the one thing he wished was that he studied the Word more.  That leaves a big gap for me if he was saying that.  Is my life so busy that I am not slowing down enough to notice where He wants to use me?  Is the idea of having stuff more important than something else in my life?  A desire for better this or that, rather than being thankful for what I have?  Hard questions = Growth.

Yes.  Detours can be educational if we allow them to be.  I am allowing it to be.  I want it to be.  Looking forward to the detour.  If you are looking for hope, don’t look around, look up.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

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Honoring Memories

 

A little late in posting this, but that is a whole other post for next time.

Honoring Memories…isn’t that something we should all take part in?  Not just honoring them, but taking part in making them?  Even when its difficult?  It sure feels right.  This last weekend, my hubby and I made the trip up north to do just that…clean stones and add the beauty of flowers to their gravesite.  You know what I loved even more than honoring them in this way?  On a cloudy morning we all met up in the most unlikely place…the cemetery.  But it just seems right.

You see, my family were the care takers of that very cemetery all the time I was growing up and even after that for a while.  We did the mowing and trimming of the lawn, disposed of dead flowers, set flowers back up when they had fallen over, watered them, and brushed off the stones of all in the sweet people on the hill.  So it seemed right to now be there with my boys and grandson to do the same for a couple that had done this for years; my parents.  Flags were flying proudly on the gravesite of those who served.  As we all met up, God gave me a glimpse in a moment in time to notice…my boys coming from their homes, traveling the distance in bad traffic just to meet up with us to help clean and trim out everything in honor of their grandparents.  As I watched their interaction with each other, greeting each other with a hand shake and then doing the same when my brother came to meet up at my folks gravesite, it made me smile.  The respect shown to one another was something that just tickled me as their mom.  Oh how I wish my folks could have experienced this part of the kids’ journey and watched the kind of people they have grown to be.  I was proud of the way I was brought up, of the way that I had raised my boys, and how God kept us all safe and still together.  For a mom with more days behind her than before her, it was very special moment for me to see once again, the faithfulness of God.  My life may not turn out how I expected it to years ago, but it is great none the less!  My boys would do what ever is possible for each other…and as a family, we would do the same.  We all paid honor to our family, and then spent some time together over food before we went home.  What a joy!  Thank you to my sweet son Jesse, who bought us all a burger!  Those sweet times are what it is all about!  It was also a legacy for my grandson to see his dad and uncle and Grandma and Papa showing respect to the memory of family.  This is what “being in the present moment” is all about.  I could have just missed it, but God nudged me just in time to see it through His eyes.  That made me smile and feel so proud of them!  Maybe it was just to encourage me… I think so.  I’m so grateful.  I’m thinking my parents were glad to see us gathered too…the gift of presence.

My hubby and I then went on to honor family on my dad’s side.  One was my Grandma, my dad’s mom, who died a year or less after I was born.   I had a different kind of conversation with her this time because I had been where she came from in Norway.  I have learned some things about her life that brought me closer to knowing who she was.  There were also some of my family with just tiny tin plaques that I prayed, that if I had the money in the future, I will put a nice stone in its place.  I know my dad wanted to do that, and maybe God will allow me to do that one day instead.  The memories flood my soul as I walked around.  Good family times of sharing and helping each other.  We were raised in community a lot more as I was growing up.  Family helping family when needed.  It brings me back to the thought of what I want to be remembered for…what I hope people will remember about my life and focus.  It’s not over yet, so there is work to be done.  There are gatherings to be had, and reunions to plan, food to be shared, and love to be given.

It was a good day.  I left knowing my efforts were rewarded by God’s faithfulness to answer prayer.  He can do what we can not.  I like to think of God bringing my parents over to Him and pointing down at us that day and saying, “Look at that…all of them together, loving on each other, paying honor to your memory.  You led well.  Well done good and faith servants.”

Lifting my mocha cup to lives well lived!

 

Until next time…

~JoAnn

 

 

 

 

Where Do You Live?

Where do you live?  No, not physical addresses, but where do you live in your life and choices?

We often times find ourselves living in the past where we remember things we have done that we wished we wouldn’t have, or a sin we feel we can’t be forgiven of, or we can find ourselves living in the future where we dream of how things will be, or what we want or desire them to be.  BUT, we don’t often think about our present moment or day except in terms of a schedule.  How much of your life do you live in the present?  I came across some notes that I had written down when I was studying about circumstances, and how they can affect our thinking, and thus our lives.  I thought I would share some thoughts about that in this post.

We all have a story…the way we live our life, is our story.  It doesn’t always look like we envisioned for ourselves, but it can become more about how you approach living it out.  Gifts to us can come from the hardest places that we find ourselves.  If we are trying to heal from hard circumstances, that healing can move us out to help others.  It gives hope on the other side of our pain, and our hope makes it possible to share it with another.  Don’t be afraid to step forward into that.  With eyes of faith, we can see our script as something that is a part of a bigger story, or part of a bigger picture.  Our current circumstances are not the end; just part of the bigger picture.  Do you know that God is always in the NOW?  And guess what????  He doesn’t want us to miss it!  How much of yourselves do you live in the present?  We don’t want to miss the moments!

It’s true that in looking back we can gain some information for our life, and faith in action can help us rearrange our lives in terms of patterns, or see God’s faithfulness.  It can help us notice what God wants us to see.  But it starts with our thought pattern.  God can give us the ability to see our story in the bigger story; the one that God has for us.  Unfortunately, we don’t get to choose who our parents were, our family, the economics of our family, or where we live(d).  Are we in a thought pattern of wanting a different life?  God really wants us to live the life He has planned for us.  But walking by faith means we are not going to always know the details.  I always liked the idea in the scriptural stories where they gathered stones and built an altar in places of remembrance where God did a great thing.  I thought about making a wall of stones in a small area of my yard.  It would kind of be like a gratitude wall just like I do the gratitude jar that I use.  But God is so good that I would quickly have a stone wall!  I would have to use mine strictly for the BIG things…of course, they are all big things to me!  See my issue???  🙂

However, time can give us a different or re-interpreted perspective on what happens in our lives.  That is always the blessing of a faith walk; spiritual eyes to see.  We have the Holy Spirit to help and guide us in the direction Jesus wants us to go.  Here are some questions to ask ourselves:

  • What about working on re-framing our lives?
  • What about choosing to look into what really makes up our life?
  • Are the above areas in line with God’s plan, or in more in line with our plan, and asking God to bless it?
  • What we think in our head affects the heart, which affects the heart, and makes our habits.  How’s our thought life?
  • Ponder the kind of life we would like to look back on at the end of our life.  Does it look the way we would like it to?

I just got back from a couple of days of road trips for our anniversary.  It is always good to get away from the existing environment and it’s requirements, in order to give our brain a break.  It’s amazing what thoughts and ideas come to us during those times when we let time teach us.  As I contemplated the above notes and what I was writing for this post, I thought it was also important to share how this works out in life as we allow it to be implemented.

I think of my past life with love and compassion for the hardships my parents had as they built a life and provided for me.  You see most of my generations’ parents lived through the depression.  It gave them some unique traits that got hardwired into their lives by their experiences.  We all have been influenced that way.  Some of my generation tried, and are still trying, to outlive that mentality.  My parents were simple in their living; it was to MAKE a living and provide for the family.  Our house wasn’t anything fancy, our cars were mostly paid for, so not new.  My clothes were sewn by my mother or hand-me-down from my cousins.  But as I started to say, many of my generation and forward, look at success as having the brand new home, and a big one, new cars, the best home furnishings, and work 24/7 to have it, by golly.  Where I saw my parent’s generation work hard, but also play hard.  Gatherings of family at reunions, sharing Sunday dinners or dessert together, picnics, and cousins playing together and actually staying in touch as we got older, as well.  So…I look at my past, not as something I have to get away from, but something that I embrace, take all the good from, and implement that into my life.  My past is different from yours.  Granted.  But we all can take what is good, and be thankful for that which is good.  Leave and dump the negative.  We didn’t live in their shoes, and there is something in their lives that made their lives the the way they are/were.  Love them in spite of it.  There are many things I didn’t understand about my mom at the time, but when I look back now and think about it, I now understand some of her life better, how she may have felt, and what made her the person she was.  In my life, I choose to take every ounce of good and create that good in my daily life.  That is something I can do.  And…I keep creating that for myself.  It’s my life’s journey to live it out in such a way, that my family is encouraged to remember what is good, and take that with them however it looks, into their lives.  I want that for all of you who read this blog.  I’m not perfect by ANY means.  I have my struggles too.  However, it never stops there.  If I have a struggle…I take it to the One who does not.  He knows what to do, and will gladly bring it to mind when I need to change up my view.

Here is a photography analysis.  I live a life of “re-framing” or as I like to call it, “re-inventing”.  It’s my daily focus…kind of like a camera taking a picture.  If view is not quite clear, I refocus and then take the picture.  I can change the angle of how I see it in the view finder.  I can decide what to include, and zoom or crop out to exclude what I don’t want.  Maybe I need to shed some more light on the subject to get a better picture.  In other words, I do what I need to do to get the best results.  Do I always get a great capture?  Nope.  I am sometimes in too big a hurry to spend time getting the best photo.  But I can always try it again, and this time, I will know better what to do.  You see, if we look into what makes up our lives, we might find areas that take up our time, but add very little value to the end of our lives.  Because of that, we may not be living out God’s plan for our lives either.  We may actually be living out what we want, and asking God to put HIs hand of favor on that.  Nope.  Wrong way to go about it.  Remember, what we think affects our hearts and what affects our hearts, make up our daily habits.  We need to be watchmen/watch women on the wall of our lives.  Recognize it before it gets to close as to whether you holler out a warning or a hallelujah!  By faith, we can do that.  I like this statement from Anne Graham Lotz, “Faith is not a “gift” that some people have been given and other have not.”   So good.  We all can have faith.  So on the trip in the car, I did some re-framing through faith, and I believe God has given me new direction to take.  It may not be easy, but it will be best.  Knowing God in a deeper way gives us a better understanding of our relationship with Him, as well as, where He wants us to take action.

I am many things…wife, mother, teacher, encourager, proud Norwegian, a proud American, believer in God, photographer, blogger, lover of music and playing instruments…and many more things, yet, I am one person.  We all have facets just like a diamond.  But just like the diamond, all of us make up one beautiful creation that gives off light and reflection of who we are and what we value.  So…ask the hard questions.  We learn from them.  Sit a while and ponder life with sweet tea and time, or coffee and time, and see where God is leading you.  Have a happy journey!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

 

 

Things Change…It’s Hard

Time to make some changes?  How are you with change?  Do you go with the flow?  Do you have to be dragged along into the change?  Do you find change is easy for you, or is it hard?  Change can mean we have to make a U-Turn and go back, or it can be going in the direction you are going with changes, or forward with a possible detour to something new.  Sometimes its leaving something behind that needs to be left, and sometimes we are moved forward toward something new.

Here are a few definitions:

  • change is different from what is.
  • make or become different.
  • the act or instance of making a future course change.

We don’t usually ask for change, ever notice that?  So, I would assume from that, change is not so welcome to most of us.  We might think, what if we want change and it doesn’t come to us?  What if it does?  Ok.  Let’s say it doesn’t seem to come for us.  Are we willing then to do something else?  Are we willing to stay where we are and ask God to change us so we can be more content where we are?  The struggle is real!  No matter how we define our life, it will require us to take some type of action.  It can look like a big mountain before us, but God will make a way around or through.  Nothing is too big for Him!

Let me share some of my changes with you so you know that I know about changes.  Since 1992, there have been many changes.  That year I had the unexpected death of my mother.  Big changes there as I helped my dad navigate life after losing the love of his life.  I was a fill in driver for my dad as his eyesight became an issue.  Changes…  In 1996, I became a single parent with 3 boys, and in 1998, a divorce.  Later a remarriage.  A step-daughter added to the family.  So from 1996 to 2015, I have moved 13 times in 19 years.

  • A move to Missouri is one big change.
  • Another one of those changes was the loss of my dad from complications from a car accident so back to Washington.
  • Yet another one was a move to Idaho; both of these Idaho and Missouri moves were away from family and friends.
  • The move to Missouri meant moving two times while there.
  • Next, a move back to Washington; both of the above two moves were into houses sight unseen.  We only talked by phone and made arrangements. We depended on God to take care of us.

Changes…

Change isn’t just about location, although it is hard to break into new neighborhoods, churches, and make connections.  It can sometimes be about being set apart for a season from everything you know, so that, you can have more time for something you are called to do. I have found that because of so many changes, I have gotten better at it, and I am better at turning it over to God. I am feeling pretty good about it most of the time.  THEN, comes a BIG change that hits me sideways, and I have to remind myself again of what I need to do.  My head knows, but my heart?  Not so much.  However, the quicker I take it to God, the more clarity I have of His direction.  I’m not letting my feelings get involved first, but God’s direction.

So what’s the solution?  Maybe thanking God for placing us where we are is a good start.  Confession?  I like my house and all we have done with it.  I LOVE being close to the ocean!  But if I could, I would move back closer to my family and friends in a millisecond!  However, I’m not in that position.  God has a different idea for a different purpose.  And His different purpose just might be a smaller connection than what I thought it was when we moved here.  You see, He definitely answered my prayers for a quiet place to live!  I have a wonderfully scenic back yard with the deer to watch come and go at times.  Not much traffic and quiet enough to hear birds singing and watch them come and go in the trees.  I prayed for that.  He answered that.  But it looks different from what I thought it would be.  Change usually is.  I have to accept that God knows what is best and He will help me in these circumstances that He has brought me to.  He has called me away from the noise, but for a different purpose; to study, and to do a little excavating within myself.  I need to ask Him to help me see where I need to change and what I might need to do differently.  Or  bigger yet?  Where I might need to THINK differently.  Allow Him to do the work He wants to do in me and not be yanking at His arm trying to pull away from His grip like a child would do to a parent.  Because…He will allow me to pull away if I want to go my own way.  But that isn’t what is the better path for me.  In fact, that will just get me into trouble.  He reminds me that I don’t have to see where the path is going all the time.  He does.

What changes may God be telling you to get ready for?  What changes might you need to make within you so that you are content where you are right now?  Are you living for what Jesus has for you to do?  Or are you living out what YOU want to do in your life, as you convince yourself it is God’s calling?  It’s easy to do.  I have gotten stuck there a few times.  Ask the hard questions and God will give you answers.  But…be ready.  Here comes the truth!

The Bible says, “How a man/woman thinks in his/her heart, so is he/she.”  The decisions we make, makes the lives we live.  So, the bottom line for me is this question in the words of a well-known man, Chuck Colson, “How Now Shall We live?”  I, and only I, can decide.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Guardian of Our Wo

I am back after back issues and then sinus infection!  Boy!  What a journey this last six to eight weeks has been!  Silver lining?  I have had much more time to read!  That’s always a great thing.  So what do I have to share with you today?  I want to share with you something that can be a hinderance in the life of a Jesus follower.

I have to say that I am finding more and more in this day and age, that many people just have no filter at. all.  You can’t make a comment on Facebook before someone else has to get nasty about it.  What is it about this media option that gives people anonymity as a faceless person behind a screen, to feel you can just let loose on someone just because they don’t agree with your view.  Or let me go a little deeper, you just don’t LIKE their view.  We just start attacking.  It only takes one person and away they all go!  It stinketh! Where in the world has our sense of right and wrong gone?  I don’t agree with MANY of the things said, shared, or done, but I don’t rip someone apart because of it.  Why is it that we feel we have a “right” to express our opinion in such a way?  Does it change the other people’s mind?  No.  They don’t even listen.  They are too busy planning what they will say to the next comment that comes up.  We gain nothing.  All we do is show who we REALLY are.  That is very sad to me and I think since God talks about the tongue, we should do a better job of controlling it.  You see, just because it is out there, doesn’t mean we have to respond to it, or even share it, or believe it to be true. We even get into Twitter where we can let ‘er rip in 140 characters or less.  Are the words that come from our mouth or finger tips edifying?  What do your words or language show others about you?  The Bible tells us that we shouldn’t let any unwholesome words come out of our mouth or our fingertips but only that which will build another up.

We seem to forget that we have choices every day.  We can choose how we respond, and most of the time, it isn’t worth responding to in the first place.  We just have to get our opinion out there.  Have you ever asked yourself why you even feel the need to say something?  I always ask myself if my comment or response will do the following:

  • make a difference?
  • change a mind and thinking?
  • be of value to someone?
  • encourage a person?
  • edify the person?
  • is it helpful?
  • is it kind?

If it doesn’t meet the above criteria, that is what the “scroll” is for.  Move on.  Don’t jump in to the pool of ugliness.  If I really feel I need to respond to something that stands up for my faith, I will do so, but it a way that states what I believe to be a kind way of standing up for God and represent what He stands for.  But then, I don’t go back and read every comment and get all wrapped up in the argument.  Many just like to start one so they have the excuse to let ‘er rip.  No thanks.  That is neither wise on our part, or a good example of God’s love for one another.  There may a time to confront, but with love, not anger and hate.

This type of involvement not only stirs us up, but it usually stirs us up to the wrong things and feelings.  We find ourselves upset, angry, and develop feelings that don’t easily go away.  We in turn, can take it out on someone else.  Be angry at the person for not “getting it” to a point that it begins to rub off on those around us, and changes their perspective on the subject also.  It would be wise of us to decide what we let into our lives and what we don’t.  If we don’t act in a manner that reflects God, then we become no better than those who are choosing to attack with their words.  I learned a long time ago to be careful what I read, listen to, and what or who I associate with.  Everything we surround ourselves with leads our hearts, and our hearts lead our actions.  “As a man thinks, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7.  Satan would like nothing better than to take away our credibility as a follower of Jesus.  He loves to trip us up. However, it also trips up our faith…we can lose our firm grip to the Father’s hand, not because He let go, but because we start to let go.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t ever want to be in a position where I lose the hold of God’s hand on mine.  Making wise choices about what we involve ourselves in, can make a difference in the choices you make and the way you think every moment of every day.  What is it about us that we can’t resist weighing in a question on social media?  Do they really care about our opinion?  No.  It is just a ploy to rile everybody up; keeping you mad and upset, and focused on the wrong thing.  Since when do we have a right to sit behind the screen and determine who we stone?  He who is without sin cast the first stone, Jesus said.  Don’t. take. part.

So what do we do?

  • If we truly want to be salt and light to the world, we want to act in such a way that they see Jesus, not us.
  • Before we comment, ask yourselves the above thoughts.
  • Spend less time on social media and more time with people face to face.
  • BE a good listener and then respond.  Don’t be so eager to say what you think before hearing the person out, and determining our part in the scenario.
  • If you are turning down the opportunity to learn and have quiet time with the Lord to be on social media or TV, then that’s a place to start.  Change our priorities.
  • What would change in our lives if we stayed out of everyone else’s business, and swept our own doorstep?

As a parent or grandparent, we know how fast time goes by us.  Because we know that, do we really want to be spending time in this kind of activity and missing that time of being with the Lord and hearing His voice?  We are so busy thinking of what we will post next, that we hurry through our life to get to the next idea.  Now I will tell you that I use Facebook myself.  I use it as a way to keep up with family and close friends, BUT I also use it for encouragement and Bible Study.  So I can be seen online often.  However, I’m using it for other purposes more than for the sake of blindly scrolling through the lights of Facebook, and sharing what I think.  It is always my hope that what I share causes someone to think about how they spend their days.  We can’t expect our children or grandchildren to put down the devices when they see us with our faces in them.  Or, what about what they hear you listen to on social media or movies or TV.  That could be another story right there.  However, I too, am going to lay down my phone and involvement on social media.  I challenge you to consider that for yourself.  We might find ourselves much happier people.

So I close with this:

I will share a personal post that I don’t wish to see.  I personally don’t agree with everyone posting political posts.  What is the point?  It just offends most of the time.  You have your beliefs and others have theirs.  You don’t  need to put down one to raise up the other.  That reflects more about you than the person you support.  We Christians have said some awful things about people in our attempt to clarify or give an opinion, and I don’t guess if we were to be in the spotlight with our own lives, that ours would be clean and white as snow either.  So let’s put the stones down.

How about if we started a revolution of caring, rather than scaring.  What if we used it more for what it started out to be; a way of sharing your life with friends and family and an optional way of encouraging each other.  THAT would set us a part as followers of Jesus, I think.  What if our pages, posts, tweets and Instagram, reflected more of that?  What if we used the idea that Jesus taught, “a kind word turns away wrath” as a way to set ourselves apart from the world.  Non-believers can’t see a difference between Christians and non-believers many times.  Let’s show them the better way…let’s not trip them up with our words and actions, but instead lead them to walk it out with us because they see something different in us.  Let’s reset.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Taste and See

If you had your choice, which would you rather do?  Visualize for a moment that you have just gotten your favorite coffee drink.  Would you rather get that coffee to go, or would you rather sit in your favorite part of your home or a favorite spot and drink that coffee?  Does your environment play a part in how you enjoy your coffee?

To most of us, I think we would say that our environment plays a huge part in how much we enjoy something.  Take coffee, for example.  I drink a mocha.  So for me, when I drink my mocha, I want to savor the taste.  I want to hold it in my hands, feel the warmth of the cup in my hands, and I want to enjoy each sip I take.  If I can have quiet while I’m drinking it, so much the better.  Or, take it to a special spot that I love and enjoy, and to sit with the mocha there is a treat too.

So what is the point?  Well…our environment is the point.  Where we are, and what we surround ourselves with, is key.  We can’t have those moments if our life is going a hundred miles an hour.  We can’t experience the peace of the moment if we live in chaos.  We certainly won’t be savoring the moment because we will be on to the next thing.  It is the same with our relationship with Jesus.  If we don’t give Him more than a passing nod in our day, we certainly can’t expect to hear His whisper or prompting, let alone act on it.  We can’t even take action on the scripture that says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good!”  We are too busy gulping our coffee down as we get on to the next thing we THINK we have to be doing.

I think God leaves it up to us how we will invite Him into our day.  He isn’t going to force Himself into your life.  He is gracious like that and will wait to be invited.  I know personally, the benefit of taking those moments to ask Him in for a cup of coffee or tea with me has changed my life.  Invite Him for a sit down at the table of your life to talk.  And don’t do all the talking; listen to His side of the conversation.  It’s hard to hear Him when we keep ourselves so busy that He can’t get in a Word edgewise.  His Word is alive.  So read it during your coffee times.  Light a candle, turn on a lamp, go to the water, enjoy your coffee and let His message to you sink all the way to your toes…just like that feeling you get when you taste a really good cup of coffee or tea.  You close your eyes and say, “Ahhh…so good!”  Let us say that about Him!

Lifting my cuppa to you today!  This is what God spoke to me this morning, so I’m sharing it with you.  He wants to be a daily part of your life.  Invite Him in for coffee.  He doesn’t even care if you have bed-head.  He is just happy to be invited.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Love In Action With A Servant’s Heart

 

Is it well with your soul today?  It is well with mine.  I wanted to share a little more about my experience following the adventures that God has me on.  Namely…helping my friend after her surgery.  You see, I believe that God places people in our lives to help us walk it out.  Without them, our life would be much more difficult, and sometimes, we just might feel like giving up.  But when we can find someone who we can share life with, cry with, laugh until our sides ache, just sit with, help in times of need and hurt, THAT is when we need to leave our cares behind, and be love to someone else.  It causes us to get our eyes off of ourselves and onto the task of loving on someone who needs it.  That was my experience.

The Captain all packed and ready for the journey north.

I have known this friend since we were in second grade, and I’m not telling you how long ago that was, but let’s just say, it’s been a while.   We have done many firsts together…firsts for her

Squirrels in her yard were so fun to watch.

and first for me.  We both enjoy going to the ocean and walking on the beach in silence, or even at different paces, and when we go to the ocean, the first thing we do is throw wide open the doors to hear the ocean waves.  Then we sit and say, “Ahhhh…” at almost the same time.  We can talk about anything and have gone through many things together.  So I didn’t think twice when God put on my heart, AND that of my husband, for me to go up and help her after surgery.  We rearranged our plans for our get-away, and away I went; The Captain and I.  I have totally been blessed with many of these kinds of friends and have received the same kind of help from them at times.  That is what relationship is all about.  If I have something I can do for someone, and it is in my power to do so, I will do it.  I always have…I always will.

So what did I learn in this adventure?

  • God provided the resources for us to do this.
  • When He puts something on your heart, He will take care of the details.
  • He gave me the strength to get up every 2 hours.
  • He gave me energy to help out with all that was needed and cooking a meal, and never feel tired during the time I was there.
  • It isn’t about me in this life.
  • It is about what I can do and give to make life easier to see Jesus every day.
  • I don’t do it on my own.  I learned that doesn’t work way back in Junior High School.  I still had bumps in my journey, and I still do.  But God is the one who helps me through it, keeps me strong and focused on the right thing…Him.
  • We love to show the heart of Jesus.
  • Her family got to see love in action.
  • It’s not about the person I am, but the person I have become BECAUSE of Him that I want them to see.  We live like Jesus as best we can, with His help.

We had her surgery, her husband took a fall the next day and hurt himself, and another emergency all within 36 hours of my coming.  When your friend covers her head with a blanket after all that happened and sobbed, you KNOW why you are there.  You sit down, you cry because your heart hurts with and for her, and you assure her that we will make it through this one together too.

A cup with a Starbucks card given to me by my friend’s daughter-in-law.

I ended up rooming with her, because of her husbands fall and he needed to be on the lower level.  How fun…it was like junior high and high school and many times after that…laughing into the night.  Doing her exercises and laughing so hard we could hardly do the exercises.  But I found I had to watch her too.  She is Miss Independent and would try to do it on her own.  God helped me to wake up at her moves and anticipate what she was doing.  I told her it was like in an old folks’ home; I was putting her walker on my side of the room so I would know what she was sneaking to do.  Or in exercises, we would be giggling over the leg lifts that aren’t coming even an inch off the bed and you couldn’t help laughing as I would ask her if she was lifting her leg!  I remember that feeling.   Then in the quiet of night, you think about some of those things and burst out laughing because you picture it all over again!  Yep!  And of course, trying to be sort of quiet when its 2 am in the morning or 4 am in the morning as you get up to use the rest room.  We would say “shhhh to each other back and forth” and I’m sure made more noise than was necessary telling each other to be quiet!  We also had breakfast together, lunch together, and dinner together.  Conversation and dreaming together.  That is awesome times right there!

Gift basket waiting for me in my room when I got there. How sweet is she??

I was reminded we aren’t promised a tomorrow and we need to take care of ourselves and be our own best advocate for living.  It brought back some hard memories for me because its only 3 years or so ago that I went through it with both knees at the same time.  I recognize the pain.  I know the struggle.  I have been there.  But you see, that is why God can use me.  I can sit alongside them and say, I know what that feels like.  Don’t sit on the sidelines, when you can be a help or encouragement to others.  THAT is ministry.  That is living a joyful and purposeful life.  After it is all said and done, she and I changed the world sitting in our chairs, over a mocha.  That’s good stuff!!  When we do what God suggests we do, and we are obedient to it, God will get us through it by walking with us.  I have had many friends in my life that have been that kind of people to me and it makes me feel great to pay it forward.

Who might you be the hands and feet of Jesus to today?  Are you willing to give up your schedule or time to follow through?  One less post on Facebook to send a text or make a phone call, or even a day without technology to help someone, have some quiet time, or whatever it is in your life that you need to do.  I got in the car to leave, left her crying and I was crying, but I thanked God for the time I got to spend helping her.  She deserved the help.  She helps others all the time.  God knew.  He gave something back to her and just used me to do it.  Love how God works!

So now this next week, I get to be the hands and feet of Jesus to another gal, and also to my husband after his surgery.  God keeps us humble and uses us when we notice where He is working.  I ask God for opportunities to be there for someone.  He always answers.  Always… I hope you find encouragement for your journey through these thoughts on my adventure.  I pray these thoughts push you out of your comfort zone and you begin asking God to show you ways you can love on others also.

 

Until next time…

~JoAnn