Be REAL!

Words…

  • time…
  • changes…
  • feelings…
  • pressures…
  • struggles…
  • determination to grow

We all deal with these words.  We have time.  Goodness knows, we have changes.  Our feelings react to what is going on.  Pressures?  Yes we have those often too.  God tells us we will have struggles.  What about a determination to grow?  Do we have that?  Are we determined not to stay in the pit some of us are in?  Are we willing to do the shoveling out that needs to be done in order for the changes to occur?

This is where my thoughts have been lately.  If I want any of the above to occur, I must be willing to take on the path of peace and joy.  I have to forget living in the past and what has been done to me.  I have to leave the hurts where they belong…in my past, and at the feet of Jesus.  Why?  Because God tells us that we are to give it ALL over to Him when we accept Him.  We don’t have to carry them anymore!  What a blessing that is!  And…when we do carry them, guess what?  We know that satan has entered the building.  He is the author of confusion, doubt, and disbelief.  Don’t let him rob you over and over again by reliving it.  Open the door wide and I mean WIDE open, and let Jesus take it on!  If its everyday you have to do it for a while, its everyday.  One day it won’t be that way.  A life surrendered, is a life of joy and peace.

It makes me sad to see believers getting big on hype only.  We run around in our lives seeking this and seeking that.  I see this, so I must worship like that.  I see that, and think, I have to do it like that.  That hype can even start looking like the Holy Spirit.  But I say it is not.  There is a big difference in celebrating what God has done for you in your life, and getting caught up more in the world then in the Spirit.  It isn’t about showing anyone else, for the sake of the hype, of how it looks to love Jesus.  It’s personal.  You know what people want to see in us?  They want real.  They want you to have something that is different from what their lives look like, but it isn’t hype and isn’t fake.  Give them a life that shows Jesus.  It should look the same in ALL areas of our lives.  What if we got real with God, and admitted that a lot of what we think is right to do, is not effective.  What if we ask God to come to us in a complete and personal way into our lives.  No hype, just plain relationship.  Not just raising our hands and then looking around to see who is raising theirs, or seeing what you think YOU should do based on what you see.  I believe it is what you feel when you come before God.  But more that, you are telling God in your very own personal and thankful way, how your love abounds for what God has done in your life.  It doesn’t have to look like Mrs or Mister Super Christian.  It just has to be authentic and true.  God knows any way.  Stop the hype and pretense and be who God has made YOU to be.

It sure takes the pressure off and you will find your heart more at peace with yourself.  Because God DOES love us, He wants to change us to be come more like Him.  It requires something of you though.  It requires you and me to live our lives in such a way, that they see Jesus in us in ALL circumstances.  All that you see out there in media world, is NOT the real world.  We DO however, have a chance to be a change agent; a steady example of how to live for Him.  The best thing is, you will have a relationship grow between you and God that is unshakeable.  What do you see?  What is your chosen perspective?  Do you trust God enough to know that He is with you through it?  Do you see it as a necessary journey or circumstance in order to push you through to the other side?  The more we feel shaky in our faith, the more advantage the devil has to plant those thoughts in your head.  Get with people of faith and share what God has done.  There is nothing more faith building than to hear and see God working in the lives of those around you.  Be honest with yourself about where your trouble lies.  It is the only way the Holy Spirit can do his work in you.  Go some place where you can have time alone to have a good conversation with the Lord.  Mine is the beach.  What about you?  Where do you seem to hear from the God the best?  Special place in your house?  On the deck?  In the mountains?  Go there and talk God’s ear off!  He wants to hear from you!

What NOT to do?  Be on social media so much and believing everything on there!  Live life!  Don’t buy into all this junk going around.  If you truly believe God is in control, then you know how the story ends.  If we spend so much time dousing ourselves with social media negative

stuff, it just arouses that in you, AND the people you are sharing it with.   We all talk to ourselves and there is statistics out there to show that we you say to yourself actually changes how you think.  And…it effects you immediately and has an impact on you.  So if you are speaking negative and bad comments, posts, or telling people off in your thoughts and words you say out loud, then you are changing your thinking and the feelings follow.  Then when ever you think about that person, you think about what they have done to you, or said to hurt you.  And THAT my friend, is just what the devil likes.  He is rubbing his hands together and saying, “This is actually working!!  Can’t believe they bought that one, hook, line, and sinker!!!”  *insert ugly snicker here*.

I want more and more to have God’s perspective as my own.  I want Him to keep shedding light on my path to guide me.  After listening to the messages the last few Sundays on James, that is enough to make me say, “Wakey, wakey, JoAnn!”  I have become more diligent to ask Him daily to show me what to say, what not to say, and how I need to act.  I don’t always get it right.  I can be critical of people at times.  I can get real down like this last week.  I can say things in a way to my hubby that doesn’t exactly show the kind of love I want to show.  But I don’t have to live in regret of that.  My pastor said last Sunday, “If we learn to control our tongue, then other bad habits will fall way”.  I have become very quick to ask forgiveness of God for those things.  And I am wanting to be quick to ask forgiveness of others.  Then, I can move on in joy and allow Him to take away those down feelings, and…take action!  I turn on the good music, read an uplifting book and scripture, working on a Bible Study, and God will bring me out.  Stop trying to do it yourself.  You can NOT.  You just beat yourself up trying.  Don’t look at things that take you there.  Don’t hang with people who take you there.  Don’t do the things in your daily life the same way anymore.  Do something different.  Ask God to show you what it is, and then do the thing!

I don’t know who this is for today, but once I started writing, it just came out.  So maybe it was just for me.  But I kind of doubt that.  So I hope someone finds help, encouragement, or a kick in the behind out there from this post.  I speak from a place of experience and have had to do all of the above at some time in my life.  Actually, I lot of times in my life.  But I have a Holy Determination to never give up and never give in.  And God, He has been my Rock.  Stay close to the Rock, and you will see your feelings of despair flowing down stream, away from you and in to God’s capable hands.

Until next time,

~JoAnn

Don’t Forget Your Directions

Do you think God allows us to go through tests?  Do you feel like you are passing the test?  Or, do you feel like you might need to study more, maybe even get yourself a mentor?

This last Friday, hubby and I were going down South of our home to attend a training about helping people walk through the process of grief.  I was all ready on Friday night with only toiletries to put in my bag, take the direction paper from the fridge, and grab my purse as I went out the door.  However, hubby sees no need to get all excited about getting ready…after all, we aren’t leaving until tomorrow morning. :p.  So… it made it rather rushed going out the door on time Friday morning.  As we drive and are way too far out to go back, I realize that the post-it note with the name, address and phone number of the place we were staying that night down south, is not with me.  Now, I tried to think of the name of the place, but couldn’t recall it for the life of me.  I looked at recent calls on my phone because they had called to confirm.  But when I call them, they have turned it to fax-line.  As hubby is telling me that we need to have an address or name to know where to go, I’m saying, “Ya think??!!??”  I’m searching the internet to see if a name rings a bell…nothing.  It’s a pretty helpless feeling when you know the area is very busy with many conferences and you have “one chance place” to stay and you can’t find it.  I thought I recognized a name as I looked, but looking at the picture, that didn’t seem like the right one.  I prayed and asked God to open the line back up for a phone call.  I tried four other times to reach them and the same thing happened.  Finally, by the time we were about thirty minutes out, I reached them.  I got the name and address, and put it my phone maps and we were able to drive right to it.  Given that there were a couple of large conventions going on in the city, there was not another room to be had…so I was one happy lady to finally get through to them to confirm.  Now… even though it is me who has to handle all these arrangements, and usually my fault if I forget something like this, somehow, it seems like if we were all ready like I was the night before, things would have been smoother going out the door, and I would have remembered all that I needed to.  So was this another one of those lessons that I am being taught?  What do you think?

 

As I contemplated this whole scenario after it was over, I realized there really is a lesson here.  We go through our lives and let our circumstances dictate what is going to happen.  We don’t plan well, our time gets rushed, we aren’t prepared as we should be, and it can very easily fall apart.  We go about our life and hurry here and hurry there, going sometimes with no direction or map to help guide us get to our destination.  If we would consider the advice of seeking God in all we do, He will give us the directions and address through His Word on the way we need to go.  I won’t have to panic and try to find it myself.  If I ask Him, He will work on my behalf, just like He did to open the line up to be able to reach the place where we were staying.  We ask first.  However, we can also be like my hubby and say, I will have tomorrow.  It’s no big deal.  I will get ready then.  Well, we may not have a tomorrow.  God wants us to live in a preparative state; especially in these times.  Know where to go for direction and guidance.  Talk to the right person Who can make all things work out.  In my case, I sweat it out for a few hours as I tried unsuccessfully to reach them.  I finally prayed for the solution about thirty minutes out!  What?!?!???  It should have been my first response!  Kind of funny, isn’t it?  Even when we KNOW what to do, we try to do it ourselves instead of asking God to take care of it and then leaving it there!  The way I WAS going, we could have been room-less with a big headache on top of it.

God wants us to give it up sooner.  Why?  So He can show us that every little thing matters to Him where we are concerned.  He wants to show Himself faithful.  That grows our faith.   Note to self:  Ask God sooner so He can show you another time of His love and power to change things in my life!  Note to YOU:  Don’t wait to turn things over.  Be in the Word so you recognize Him and build trust in Him for the Lifetime Trip He has you on.  Know where you are going before you leave home.  If I had turned my morning over to Him before even getting upset over not being ready to just go out the door as I planned for us, then maybe my head would have been in the right place, and I could have avoided it all!  Our journey may look like this ring that has its ups and downs, around a mountain or two, but that journey goes up and that’s how I wear this ring!  I do like the other ring too that says, pray always, and I know my prayers go up.  What I’m learning is how quick I send my prayers up determines how free I am going to be from the stress of the journey!

 

Isn’t He great to teach us when we are willing to lean in to hear what He has to say.  It’s not always easy, but it is always worth it!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

My Patience Went Out The Door

Ever have one of those days where you get a BIG revelation about yourself, and don’t like what you learn?  A clear glance in the mirror?

I learned yesterday is that I am not as patient as I like to think I am.  I came in with my hubby to the hospital for a procedure that was to start at 1:30 pm, and he didn’t go in until 4:30 pm.  I was good with the first 30-45 minutes or even an hour, but after that, I had less and less tolerance for that kind of scheduling.  I mean really?  3 hours?  Someone might want to schedule the surgeries a bit better.  After almost 2.5 hours, I asked,  “Do we get a waiting discount for our time wasted?”  She told me that the Dr. doesn’t work that way and doesn’t like waiting for his next patient.  I said, “Yes, that is too bad.  It should only be inconvenient for the patient.”  I’m thinking about us paying exorbitant prices for the procedure that we wait 3 hours to get.  Our time is of no value?  We came in at 12:30 pm as we were told to, so that we could check in and then have surgery at 1:30 pm.  So we get to hang around for 4 yours today?  Lovely…  Craziness!

So even though I like to think I can roll with the punches, it seems I don’t do that so well sometimes.  I’m kind of more of the type of person that if you tell me to be here at a certain time and or do a certain thing, then I am going to be there on time, and do what I said.  My time is valuable, and I respect someone else’s time schedule also. Understanding that sometimes a surgery has complications… I get that.  But to be 3 hours behind schedule?  That just seems like you schedule too many in a day.  So… it would seem, that I am not as much of a “go with the flow” kind of person as I thought I was yet.  But I also remember the day when I would let others treat me without consideration also, and I would let it go and be mad later.  I don’t do that anymore.  I say something, polite possibly, but I think they get my drift.  I AM quick to tell others when they do a good job, however.  I have also learned that you have to advocate for yourself, or someone else, or you get ignored in those settings.  Let’s just say I wasn’t feeling like going home and dropping hearts in my Gratitude Jar.

Add to that, he couldn’t complete the surgical procedure as planned because of complications.  So now we will have to have another surgery and pay for it twice, because said same surgeon thought that his last attack was no big deal and he could wait almost two weeks to get it taken care of.  He said

himself after this surgical procedure that he should have done it when he was in his office last.  I’m like, “Yep!  That’s what I thought.  So now we will GET to have two surgeries to pay for instead of one.”  I wasn’t embracing my day.

The point of this confession is this:

Irritating as it is, what was found from this procedure was not good, and would have been worse if the procedure hadn’t been done.  My hubby’s kidney had stopped working because of the stone blocking the opening.  The stone had flipped sideways and adhered snuggly to the wall of the kidney and opening.  It could have done some real damage had we not found out that it wasn’t working.  This surgery revealed this issue, and the surgeon was able to manipulate the stone enough to get the kidney working again.  He could not blast the stone due to its proximity to the wall of the kidney.  Because of the trauma to the kidney, it now has to have time to heal before the next surgery can be done.  So… with all the impatience that I experienced on an empty stomach with nothing to drink, is immeasurably small compared to a kidney that stopped working.

God knows the beginning from the end.  He shows His love to us in many ways, and today was one of them.  Terry was feeling good and really didn’t want to have this surgery.  I said nope, you need to do this.  God knew what was going on in there and that he would need to take care of it. He also reminded me that the nurses don’t have anything to do with scheduling and they are just trying to their job.  Dealing with a grouchy lady that has been sitting in an uncomfortable chair for 3 hours with nothing to eat or drink (because I didn’t want to leave hubby there alone) isn’t fun for them either.  Now I wasn’t obnoxious in my dealings by any means, but just enough so they knew I wasn’t pleased.  Still not the best way to show Jesus, ya think?  So…I stand corrected in the patience department…I DO have a great deal of improvement to make.  God in all His gentleness just reminded me.

However, I don’t pray for it.  We know what can happen there!  But I do ask for God’s revelation in my life.  I have been made aware of the area of patience yesterday, and will make a valiant effort to be more understanding.  So from my desk to you, I encourage you to ask God what you might need to brush up on that will make you more available to share a life that looks like Jesus.  I do that often, and He was more than happy to show me as He did at the hospital.

We don’t get by with much when we are asking Him to change us to look more like Him.  Until my next hospital visit the beginning of August, where I’m sure I will get to try that again!  I better go drop some hearts in to my Gratitude Jar.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Sojourners to Norway, Part 2

First I must apologize for taking so long to put this post together.  So much as been going on in my mind and life since then, that I found it hard to focus on writing.  I also found it difficult to decide on the subject of this post.  However, sometimes unexpected events in our lives, have an effect on our lives.  Last week was one of those.  My niece’s fiancé was killed in a motorcycle and pickup accident.  When you have someone taken so unexpectedly, the shock of it is hard to deal with.  It also makes you think of how quickly our lives can change…in a split second.  How that day will forever be etched in our minds and hearts.  My niece’s sorrow becomes my sorrow.  We realize how short life can be, and that we are never guaranteed a tomorrow.  Once again, I am reminded of the importance of living in the moment.  It could be my last minutes with someone I love.

God isn’t afraid to take us to school when we need it.  So what are we afraid of when we hear living in the moment?  It almost sounds irresponsible, or flying by the seat of our pants, doesn’t it?  But really, that is not what it means, or at least not what I refer to when I talk about it.  What makes us so afraid of it?  And…why is living in the moment so hard for us?  It could be that if we stopping running, or stop our hurried steps, we might FEEL.  We don’t want to feel.  So we keep so busy with life and responsibilities so that we don’t have to reflect on our true feelings or hurts.  All our “tries” never seem enough.  We may feel that we don’t measure up or we don’t feel worthy enough.  But all this running is keeping us from dealing with the fact that it is a heart issue.  We don’t want to deal with the feelings or the knowledge that comes from understanding that we really do know that we need to change something.  So to keep from doing that, we keep busy, put a smile on our faces, and keep pretending things are ok.  My hubby and I made a “live in the moment” decision for me to make the trip to Norway, and take my son and grandson with me.  I called on ticket prices, asked my son if he would want to go and if my grandson could go, and booked the tickets.  That all happened in one day’s time.  If God gives you an idea, let Him work out the details.  He put this opportunity to go on my hubby’s heart.  God will work it all out when it’s His idea and His will!

However, instead of getting bogged down in the mire, we would instead start noticing what is RIGHT in our lives, we can begin to see the blessings that are before us.  On my trip to Norway, as is always the case when I get alone away from the daily life, next to the water and beauty of nature, I find God settling me down.  He positions me to listen.  When I listen, He will gently remind me of areas I need to change and clean up.  Some are easy to do and others are a struggle; either for me or for me to deal with issues with another person.  He brought to mind some of the old carpenter tools I saw in my Great Grandmother’s house in Norway, and what a carpenter’s tools do in the hands of the carpenter.  The tools of the trade are used to mold and shape wood into a piece useful and purposeful for the house/project they are building; a little like our lives.  Sometimes chipping off those old chips can be painful…you think you have endured enough and there won’t be much left.  But the Carpenter knows what He is going for, and after all, we ARE His masterpiece.  So just like that example, I ask God to reveal what is keeping me from happiness or joy when I have those feelings.  He will then tell me and start the whittling process…chipping away at those things in my life that need to fall off.

Some of the path’s we go on, can be oh so painful…and lonely.  He may separate us from people we love and care about.  Our circle of friends may change because of what is happening in our lives. But the one thing that I took back home with me from my trip to Norway is the connection with family and friends.  How important it is for me, and for those around me to stay connected.  It makes my soul happy and contented, even when life gets hard.  Sharing life together.  We need it.  Dinners together, drives to do something as a family, and even putting down our phones long enough to really listen and share with each other.  Making the effort to drive several hours two times in a week or so to be with your niece to love on her in a most difficult time in her life.  God designed it that way.  When we are running so busy that we don’t have time for stopping to comfort a child who is having a bad morning because we have things to do, or when we listen with our ears only instead of listening with our hearts to someone who is hurting, we are not living in the moment.  We are too busy to even notice when God gives us an opportunity to minister to someone who needs it.  Maybe not even with words, but just a hug or holding a hand.  It can unlock the heart of the one who is needing a listening ear.  That’s what slowing down our lives can look like.  I saw those examples of support and listening when I visited Norway.  They make an effort even when they may live further away from each other to stay connected.  Connection is important to them.  It is to me too.  I take every opportunity to stay in touch with friends and family.  One never knows when your call or text, or not in the mail, will be the one thing that gets them through the day.

There is a saying we have all probably heard that says to “live your one life well”.  That means that where ever you are, be right there.  I think the Norwegians have things right in that they work hard, and relax, and play hard.  They know that the balance is needed for them to have joy in their lives.  They balance the long, dark winters with being out in the light and sunshine as much as possible when Spring and Summer come.  I saw a man in a large city in Norway sitting on a bench on a busy street with his shirt off just taking in the sunshine while it was there.  Eyes closed, soaking in the sunlight.  He lived in the moment.  They make the coziness of their homes a priority so they DO enjoy the those long nights during winter…warm fires, candle light, and coffee or hot chocolate abounds.  Knitting cozied up by the fire.  They plan and do the things that prepare them for the winter months.  They also look forward to the Holiday of Christmas and all being together.  Balance…the key to joy.

Here is another piece to my trip that surprised me…my photography.  When you are going on this type of trip where you are trying to get in as much as you can while you are there, it can be difficult.  You want to meet by relatives to have connection, and THAT turns out to be priority.  However, it took me some days to get that message.  I was mad at myself for not getting better photos when I took them.  I mean, who doesn’t want to come home with fantastic photos from such a beautiful country????  I missed some, and others were like on tours where you are moving through an area, and spending time setting up a photo isn’t necessarily what you have time for.  I got pretty upset with myself.  As I prayed about it, God showed me that the pictures I was taking were to remember.  I’m not in a contest for the best photo.  The connections are what is important and remembering them.  So even though many of my photos were from a car window, that was ok.  Because I had that memory.  It also transferred to when I am at home.  It isn’t important for me to be some great photographer.  What is important, is that I DO hone my skills, but it is to take better photos in what ever circumstance, not to be in any competition for the best photo of the day or to BE the best.  I love photography and I want to keep enjoying it.  When I start putting undue pressures on myself to do it differently, that is when I realize, that I’m getting off course.  A person could see my whole life through my photos.  That is what I want with my photography.  That others will see how I live and my philosophy and maybe be encouraged to take some of the steps I have taken to have joy in living.

I believe, I’m in another chipping off season in my life, and that is ok.  He gave me a trip to Norway to show me what is important in the way I live MY life.  So I leaned in close in Norway.  I learned about the ways of making coffee can be an art.  Now I know that from coffee shops, but it can be like that at home also.  I don’t like coffee that much, but I learned to like it the way my cousin made it.  So I asked how she did it.  I loved many of the foods I ate, and I asked how to make it.  I wanted to absorb as much of the culture as I could.  Not just BE there, but to live in the moment of every day there.  I learned about the history of the immigrants, like my grandparents on both sides of my family and why they made the decisions that they made to move away from everything they knew to come to the unknown in the U.S.  How those that were here in the U.S. would work so hard so that they could send money home or tickets home for their family to come to the U.S.  I learned how some couldn’t stay in the U.S. because they missed the beauty of Norway and they came back home.  Some were so destitute living here that they took their lives before admitting to family at home of their despair.  We as kids who grew up around our parents talking about the depression, and all the fun many of us made out of them walking to school with holes in their shoes and walking miles to school, isn’t so far of a stretch.  I know it to be true of my father’s parents and even his older siblings.  I have found a new respect for each of them searching for a better life, and their tenacity to keep going.  It’s amazing, actually.  I don’t take that for granted and wished as young child, I would have known more about what they went through.  I think I would have been a much more attentive granddaughter.  But they didn’t talk about it at all.  Neither did my parents.  As children we missed so much.  I don’t want my kids to not know about them.  Thus, I took my two sons and my grandson with me the two times I have gone.  I want all my ancestor’s hard work to make a life for their families, to survive as a story and testament to their courage.  I am here because of the hard work of all who came before me, including my parents.  What work ethics they had!  Families stuck together through thick and thin, and helped each other.  That is legacy.

I hope this last trip is not my last.  I have more to learn…more to experience…more time on the beach in Norway with neighbors and relatives around a bonfire!  More letters to read.  I copied  some of my mother’s letters to relatives in Norway that were written to my cousin.  Sometimes I find out more about my mom through reading them.  I took pictures of old pictures so that I can share them with family, and they will know who they are.  I have decided that writing on as many of the pictures I have, is important, since many of my parents’ pictures did not have names on them.

Yes.  When we open our minds to what we can learn by not just talking about doing something, but actually doing it, we will find our lives changed forever.  Mine sure has….to the point of teaching myself Norwegian.  Not easy, but exciting to see when I actually understood a few words or recognized at least the subject of the discussion when I was there.

So I ask you, do you want to have more time with your family?  Make a trip somewhere?  A drive down the coast?  A get-away with family?  Family gathering or reunion?  Don’t put it off.  Plan it.  Do it.  Change what needs to change to make it happen.  But above all?  Let it change you in the process.  God can do amazing things with an open and willing heart.  Open the door to His leading…it just might be to your homeland.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

 

 

Sojourners to Norway, Part 1

Many people asked me, including my Norwegian relatives, why I named my Page on Facebook for my Norway trip, “Sojourners to Norway”.  Why didn’t I just say

Travelers?  Sojourners…what does that mean?

  • : a period of time when you stay in a place as a traveler or guest

  • : a journey

Does that explain it a little better?  We traveled to Norway and stayed as a guest.  We journeyed to many places while we were

there, but we lingered as guest of some very special people.  I took my middle son and my grandson with me.  What an experience they had!

We left at 6 p.m. in the evening and flying all night, arriving in Amsterdam in the afternoon.  We flew from Amsterdam to Trondheim Norway and arrived at 4:40 p.m. It is about a 2 hour trip from the airport to their home.  We were tired but very excited to be there!!  Ethan did a happy dance in the airport saying, “I can’t believe we are in Norway!”  I did a little happy dancing myself!  We met up with my cousin and her husband, and started the drive home.  I thought they would sleep, but they were pretty excited to see what was around them.  It is a beautiful country and it is hard to take your eyes off of what you see.  It is full of farms, mountains, fjord, rivers and waterfalls!  You see it everywhere!  There is something about being there that just pulls on the heart strings…like coming back home.  It’s like a good friend said while I was there, “It’s my spiritual home.”  I can agree with that.  It’s not heaven, but it is pretty close.  You definitely see God’s gorgeous handiwork!

Here is a beautiful old farmhouse that I saw as we were driving and took the photo.  I love how it turned out.  In Norway you often see the farm houses with varied amounts of chimney stacks.  It usually indicates the size of the farm. Three or more means the farm is quite large.  It also means that it is multi-family dwelling.  Parents may live in one end and the son or daughter with family, who have now taken over the running of the farm, live in the larger end.  Beautiful, isn’t it?

 

We had some very busy days of traveling to see the sights in and around the area before doing some day trips to see other relatives.  I can’t even begin to thank our hosts enough for their willingness to take us around.  We saw relatives on both my father’s side and my mother’s side.  Aaron got to see where his great, great grandfathers and grandmothers grew up.  Ethan, even one more great.  That was awesome.  I have a Page called “Sojourners to Norway” where I have posted several pictures from Norway.  I also posted them on my website, JoAnnShiley.com.  A lot of the pictures I took were while driving by the country side.  But I didn’t want to miss sharing what it looks like for those that were interested.

The hardest part?  I think it is not being able to totally speak what is on your heart.  When you don’t speak Norwegian, it can be difficult.  However, many speak English and that helped a lot.  I found they are shy to speak English, just as I was shy to speak what Norwegian I knew.  Even at times when I thought I could use it, I didn’t.  Why?  I was afraid of my accent, or that I would use the wrong words.  Silly, really.  They would have understood it just like I could understand when many of them used English.  But, it sure encourages me to keep studying the language.  Ethan had a book and he wasn’t afraid at all to ask for help to pronounce a word or to use a word!  Love that!  I wish children were taught foreign language at early ages.  In Norway they start learning English in 2nd grade!  In the end, I have learned through traveling that you can speak with your heart and still understand each other.  But it does challenge me to work harder at it!

What did I notice about their culture?

  • The pace of their life is slower.
  • Tradition is important to Norwegians and they keep it alive.
  • They are completely dedicated to their children and their experiences.
  • They are out in nature at every chance they have.
  • They spend time together with family and friends.
  • Coffee and a special something is at the ready for guests.
  • Take coffee and lunch or treat with them on a drive, and stop to enjoy it at a spot along with way.
  • Definitely enjoy their porches to sit, have coffee, and enjoy nature.
  • Have winters where it never gets light.
  • Have times in the Spring and Summer where it is light all night.
  • Use their fork and knife for eating in a way different from ours.
  • Their homes have deep windows sills and they decorate them.
  • They have a light or lamp in many windows of the home and they are on at night, and some all night long.
  • Food revolves around different kinds of meat than ours.
  • All grounds are public roaming, so you can view areas anywhere for free.

Those are just a few I observed and there are many others.  But I found I really liked that lifestyle.  It fits nicely with my perspective on living a slow life so that you notice it.  We strive and strive to get somewhere our culture, and then pretty soon time is gone, and we wonder what happened.  I like enjoying nature and the people around me, as well as, listening to the birds, and the roaring of the ocean, or the quiet of a lake.  Breathing deep and dialing down.  It had the same effect on my son and grandson.  That did a mama’s heart good to see that.  I think it changed the way they may do life too, in their future.

I had fun looking through shops too!  I found my number one purchase goal just a few days into the stay.  My bread trough.  Oh my!  So cool!!  It is vintage and even had some of the red color to the outside of it.  THAT was one thing I have wanted for a very long time.  The fact that I got it in Norway?  Priceless!!  It looks great on my kitchen on the table.  Someday soon, I hope to have it on my dining room table.  It was very special to me to bring back.

I will leave you with these thoughts and share more in Part 2.  Get out in it!!  Even IF the sun isn’t shining, it doesn’t mean you can’t put on a jacket or sweatshirt, and take a walk, or have coffee on the porch or deck.  Listen to you heart and soul…it may be trying to tell you to change your every day life so you notice what you have around you, as well as, creating a life that counts for even more!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

 

 

 

 

Looking Back To See Ahead

Looking back to see ahead…what an interesting concept.  I was reading a photography blog from Scott Davenport, and he was talking about that.  He was looking back over photos he had taken from a certain area as a way to determine what he would do differently in the photos he took this next trip.  Looking back to see ahead….what a wonderful life attitude!  Excuse the play on photography here, but I think it really lends itself to making this point.

I have been doing something similar this week in reviewing some of my pictures taken in Norway a couple of years ago.  I found that I have been doing something similar.  I have looked at them and thoughts such as:

  • I would change this angle this time.
  • I should change the lighting for that shot if I have the opportunity.
  • I want to look for the unusual shots more.
  • I want to get more cultural type shots.
  • Maybe I should consider taking my tripod so I have more control on the distance shots.
  • Maybe I want to get up early to catch the sunrise on the fjord, rather than let my tired jet-lagged body sleep a bit longer.
  • I know I will catch the sunsets for sure, but maybe from different angles or places?

Many of my photos last time were from a moving car.  I couldn’t expect them to stop all the time for my photo taking.  Thus, I took man of them on the move.  So I am looking back to see what I did, so that, (you know I love those words) I can see ahead to this trip and make adjustments.
What IF we treated looking back on our lives the same way?  We all have things we would change from back there if we could.  So… what if we look back on those experiences and we made some adjustments in our lives at present?

  • We changed our perspective.
  • We make different decisions then we did then.
  • We see how this or that didn’t work.
  • We change our self-talk.

Even as he talked about the post processing of the photos, I thought, “Well, we can choose to process various hardships in our lives in a different way.”  How is that, you ask?

  • We can bring more light to the dark places.
  • We can take out the glaring light and bring them into more balance by taking the highlights down to see better what is in that picture.
  • We can use reflective light to bring light up more on the subject.
  • We can lay over a filter on a certain experience which changes how we see it; brings out the best in that photo of our life.
  • We could involve the Stabilizer in our lives more, and ask Him to give us stability to stand firm with what we see, so that we might see more clearly what can be ahead.
  • We can shine more of the Light into our lives so we don’t have to live in the dark, or fear it.  He will light up the dark places at times, so we can understand them better, and heal from them.
  • We have Him as our spot remover, our healer over an area of our lives that seems to distract us from the what our life picture can look like.  It may be something that doesn’t belong in the picture.  He can remove it.  The devil wants us looking through a crack, when God wants to show us our lives without the hindrances of our perspective.

We could use that philosophy with great success if we looked at our lives a little more this way.  Looking back to see ahead…it gives us the hope that it can be different looking ahead.  We can learn by looking back, and we don’t have to stay there.  However, the gaze back can be of great benefit to us.  We may have some areas in our lives that have left lasting consequences for us.  My hope is that you grasp the idea that we can still can change how it turns out, as well as, how we respond to those circumstances, if we ask for guidance.

I guess for me, it has pretty much been the way I have lived my life.  I just didn’t have those words to put with the idea.  However, this fits me.  Life has had MANY challenges for me!  Some real hard knocks.  But I know, that I know, the Holy Spirit helps me see things for the truth that they are, not for a lie from the devil that makes me think its how it always will to be.

So this week, be good to yourself.  Look back with the purpose of seeing ahead.  As it has been said so many times, “I am not what I want to be, but thank God I’m not what I was.”  I am growing.  I am looking ahead having learned from looking back.  I can have hope looking at what has made my life album, and see things in a different perspective than I  have before…through the eyes of my past.  Then, I can truly look ahead to what it can be, with God’s help.

So here’s looking back with you, to see ahead!  May you find freedom.  I know that the years I have ahead, can still be the best I have lived yet!

Until next time,

~~JoAnn~~

Live the Dream!

Hello sweet readers!  Thanks for being faithful to read the posts here on the blog!  I appreciate you!  Your comments make it all worth while! 🙂  Where am I off to?  Norway, of course!

I’m having fun this week as I put together the last plans for our trip to Norway!  I have had a blast texting my son and grandson about the trip; counting down the days til we go!  Eight more sleeps!!!!  What a blast!  They are very excited about it, which thrills me to no end!  I have had pants hemmed, hair cut, shopped for toiletries that are new so I don’t have issues at the gate if it’s checked, ironed clothes, pre-packed so I know if it fits well into the suitcase, charged batteries, picked up new ones, SD cards…all the things I need to make the trip.  By the way, the packing pouches for your various clothes items is the bomb!  Helps so much in organizing the suitcase.  I think I will invest in another pair.  They work great!  The anticipation is so fun, and so is the planning.  That’s always the beginning of the fun part of the trip for me.

My hope is that Ethan can chronicle this trip with his camera and get it from his perspective.  To think of him going and making this a three generation trip, is very exciting to me.  I think of my parents when I go.  They always wanted to make the trip to Norway.  I’m excited to share how his ancestors lived and worked, as well as, what led to them immigrating to the United States.  It is hard for someone to understand the connection to your home country, but seeing it first hand is how we can learn it best.  THAT is a memory never to be forgotten.  I’m sure I will be burning FB with some stories and pictures.  I’m thinking of starting a page just for the trip so the pictures and stories don’t get lost in my personal feed.

Do you know what else?  I’m teaching myself to speak Norwegian!  It’s hard but I was determined to learn!  I will keep pressing on.  I will be paying closer attention to the Norwegian language this trip!  I have a group of people learning with me via Facebook.  We share a challenge each other to learn and practice.  Great experience.

So since this is a fun week to plan and dream, I decided it would be a good time to enjoy the deck and the sunshine too!  I sat out there today with one of my favorite magazines, enjoyed my mocha, looked a project my girlfriend and I are going to make together, walked around the yard to admire all the pretty flowers that are popping up, AND even did some planning to change-up the cupboard doors in my kitchen!  Came back to an original idea I had for them, so will see if I can make that happen!  I think I may add a rosemaling border to my kitchen above the cupboards too, IF I can find it!  My creative juices are in high gear!!!  Makes life fun and interesting.  I mean, who doesn’t love to make their home more inviting?  I know I do!

While I’m just having fun this week on the post, I want to share a gadget with you that totally rocks!!!  It like an external hard drive for your iPhone!!!  You can totally off load your photos on to this little gadget, and free up space on your phone.  When you want to access the pictures that you off loaded, then you just plug it back into the phone to use the picture.  So awesome.  I was doing some research for my trip and thought this is a great way to give me more space for….of course…more pictures!!!  Love technology!!  I have a couple extra chargers for charging my iPhone too, since I know we will be out for the day at times and I need my phone at the ready along with my camera.  Such a kick to have these memories to revisit and share when we come back home.

Why do I share these random thoughts with you?  I am here to say that dreams DO come true.  Write it down, pray about it, ask God to direct your steps and to open doors for that to happen.  You will be amazed at what God does to bring that dream about.  It really IS about how we think.  How we think, is the way our life direction goes.  It’s that serious.  What actions we take to change our thinking can really make great things happen in our daily lives.  I will look forward to sharing my trip with you.  I may not be writing a blog post, until after the trip, or it may be a short one, but you will be on my mind and heart.

Dream.  Feed your heart and your soul with good things.  Until next time…