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

Lean Toward the Sunshine

It is another week; a four-day week if you are working! That’s a big yay!! I hope it is a fantastic week for each of you.

I saw something this weekend that I thought applied to our lives, and as soon as I saw it, the Holy Spirit gave me a message. So, I want to share it with you and the visual I saw that gives you the message visually with your eyes as you read it.

So, look carefully at the photo at the lead of this page. This a chocolate mint plant. We have been trying to protect our plants and flowers from the heat we have had to endure for the last couple of weeks. But what I want you to notice is how the plant is somewhat shaded, but it is leaning toward the sun. It wants to find the sunlight. I turned it around so the stems wouldn’t get too damaged by leaning out so far. Look what happened. The plant started seeking the sun from the other side.

This is the lesson I received: We are like that plant, or we SHOULD be like that plant. We should be seeking the Sonlight every day no matter where we are. We need to lean into the light so we can grow and be healthy in our growth and relationship with Jesus. Now… we think this is because the plant wants to get the sunlight. That is true. But did you know that while it leans into the sun, it is actually growing faster on the shaded side? Also, did you know that the cells on the shaded side grow faster than on the side leaning toward the sun?

So what is the lesson? I think we always need to be leaning into Jesus, who is our Light and our Source. We need His Light to stream over our life. We need to constantly be looking for that Light in our everyday living. Isn’t it interesting that the growth that happens is on the shaded side? To me this means that we aren’t always going to see that growth on our shaded side. However, if we keep seeking the Light, which is Jesus, then we are going to grow to be healthy in our relationship with our Lord. We also need the watering of the Holy Spirit to sustain us as well and keep us refreshed to handle when life hits.

It’s a simple thought but very profound; and isn’t that how God works? He uses the simple things to give us wisdom. Now that you have been reminded, lean into the Light this week and every day after this. Allow Jesus to flood you with His Light and even though you can’t see it, He is working the night shift on our shaded side, growing strong and sturdy for His purposes.

Lean into the Sonshine! 

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Is That Real and Does It Apply to Me?

Hello friends! Greetings from a very warm west coast this week and into the weekend. Right now I am sitting in my studio in a relatively cool space in my home. However, we are seriously looking for our AC floor model unit to assist us this weekend. Having moved here just a year ago, some things just aren’t we they were remembered to be! Can you relate?? Ok. On with today’s thoughts…ready, set, go!!

I do a lot of study online with options for Bible Study videos to listen to teachings on various topics that I believe will help me to keep my focus where it should be. Today as I watched a video of the teaching, it occured to me that they do everything in their production power as producers of these video teachings to have the show the ultimate perfect environment. Have you noticed that? Does it sometimes make you feel like the teaching isn’t relevant because you can’t relate to the person? It just occured to me today how some may find that more of a challenge to watch because of how it might make them feel For example as you watch to do you ever think any of these thoughts?

~~>Yes. She or he can say that…look at her family who is walking through a field together. I can’t even get my family together for a holiday!

~~>Yes. She or he can say that…look at her house! She has everything like she wants it.

~~>Yes. She or he can say that…she doesn’t know my husband/wife.

~~>Yes. She or he can say that…she doesn’t know what I put up with every day.

~~>Yes. She or he can say that…look at how perfect she looks with those nice clothes and perfect hair!

~~>Yes. She or he can say that…look at that view! I would feel like I could do better if I woke to that every morning.

~~>Yes. She or he can say that…look at how perfect her life is!

Can you relate to any of that? It might not be through a video teaching that you feel that way. It might be when you are together with friends or even family. My point is that our lives get very inundated with commercialism. It looks one way but it may be a totally different picture in the true lives of that person. We see all those beautiful pictures, or vacations, or see that whole family holding hands and walking around together and think that everybody but US has that life. It is designed to suck you into what you perceive as the “way it should be”. All those videos are designed to do just that. Sometimes the message of the Word gets lost in the views you see on the videos. It isn’t necssarily real, but in some cases it could be. However, that doesn’t mean your life has to look that same way or that they have it more together than you do; they may not in reality. But do you see how satan can wiggle around in your life by giving you a sense of less, and you feel less content because of what you see? It saddens me that Christianity has become more about the look of the study than the WORD of the study.

Don’t be fooled. A real life isn’t perfect. It doesn’t mean a perfect house. In fact it might be a little bit of chaos in appearance, but its lived in. It might be that our wardrobe isn’t right off the racks of a name brand store. Our hair may be turning grey and we don’t want to hassle with coloring it all the time, or spending the money to have that perfect look. But that just means we have gained some experience when those grey hairs show up. We have lived well and worked hard. You might be looking at that pastor/teacher’s environment as you watch the video and be thinking, I could do that if I had a spouse that was like that person’s.

My point? Don’t let satan distract you with the “purdy” stuff to the point you feel “less than”. God desigined you just as you are and wants you to live a contented life with Him. He knows what you need and living real with Jesus is much better than any fancy house or clothes or what we perceive as the “better way to live”. He would rather have your heart in obedience to Him, and a healthy relationship with Him more than anything else.

I have been to Honduras in past years, and the one thing I learned on that trip was that those who have virtually nothing, are the happines people! They have so little but they have a joy in the Lord that is amazing. They don’t need the trappings, they just want to show and share the love of Jesus. We here in the US have known millionaries and billionaires; individuals that had everything you could want, and yet we find out later that they are the most unhappy people.

Don’t get tied up in the trappings of satan to think more is better when sometimes less is more. I would rather people in my life see a person who is real, rather than trying to impress them with my home or what I have, or that I am better than they are because of what my life shows them. I am blessed because of what God has done, not anything that I have accomplished. THAT is when you can see the truth of who God is and what He wants for you and your life. Talk to yourself about things more that you listen to yourself. Keep the real thing, the real thing. We all need to tell ourselves what is the truth, not what is doubted…doubts lead us down the wrong path and right where satan wants us.

The Captain

We have become so groomed for what we see or hear or think that sometimes we are not even aware of how much of that meets our eyes and ears every day. Don’t let appearances dictate comparisons between you and others. All those others who you think have it all together, and have everything, deal with the same kinds of issues you do. And having the perfect home, family, church, or car doesn’t make what we deal with any easier. However, I DO find taking my Mini, named The Captain, out and blowing out the carbon (Hahaha) DOES a little something for me. 😉

Let’s agree to support each other in our progress on this pilgrim road and not be distracted by the pretty things that we might see as we go. Let’s be thankful for all we DO have. If we want what someone else has, we also have to be willing to take on what someone else has to deal with. That should make you think.

Keep the influence in your life coming from God and His Word. That is where our contentment comes from. Keep learning from those teachers, but don’t get hung up on what you see, but listen intently to what you hear and can learn.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Be Extravagant Sometimes, It’s Ok!

Pilchuck River

This thought has come to me at times over the past year and it came to my attention through a devotional today again. I have always been a rewarder to myself, as most of you may know from following my posts here. However, I think it means more than just spending money. It can mean giving yourself a few minutes of time to just sit and listen to life going on around you. For you, that might feel strange and extravagant. Or it might mean a bit of an extravagant purchase. It might be a vacation, or not spending money for yourself with something you need or want. My point is, many things can feel extravagant to use, when in reality, it may be something we really need to do. Let me explain this thought.

I have always felt that if I am helping others, I am ultimately serving God. He has been gracious and faithful to me so how could I not return that to others? We all know that we are to be frugal with our resources, but there are times that God is so extravagant to me and to you, that we should want to share with others; not only because of His goodness to us, but to be “love in action” in other places God is working and wants us to join Him. So… is it ok to be extravagant sometimes? The answer is a resounding yes!

We often say to ourselves that we will wait for that special item, get away, time for yourself, or we do without something that would helps us or bring us joy. Why? Because we think that is what we are supposed to do. We shouldn’t be wanting what we don’t have. I DO think we have to live within our means and be finacially wise. However, I also think that to set aside something for ourselves that we desire, is sometimes one way to remember how faithful God is to make it possible in the first place. If we keep always denying ourselves of some extravagance, then this kind of thinking can cause us to miss out blessings that God wants to give us. In our case at home, God has been extravagant with us, which means we have been able to share with others and bless them. We can enjoy something special because we have been givers, and that is the very reason God blesses us… so that, we can be a blessing to others where ever He calls us to bless. I love that. I am not talking about giving to get. I am talking about genuinely giving of ourselves, not just with money. I give much of my time to helping others because that is what calls us to do. Use what we have been given to help another along.

I have had struggles by the score in my years on earth with parenting young children as a single mom for a while, and car issues that I had to become a mechanic myself to keep going, and just in general making ends meet. To this day I have big challenges. I know the struggle. But I always rewarded myself in little ways that helped me stay the course and encouraged me forward. Don’t mistake this for worldly things all the time. That is the first thing that can comes to mind when we think of this word. But, I’m saying, it can be a variety of actions, or purchases, sharing something you have that you aren’t using, or just sitting with a cold ice tea or coffee on the deck like I did this morning to bring my office outside and listen to the birds singing while I worked. THAT is extravagant for me just as much as a purchase of a big item. You see, it is all in how we thinking.

One of my extravagances that brings me joy everyday!

What changed in my life because I allowed myself to be extravagant sometimes? I have been given beyond anything I could ask for. Much has been granted. I live in gratitude for all He has given me and never take it for granted; big and little things. I worked hard to be financially debit free, and we have lived that life for 23 plus years. I kept my eyes on the goals and my gaze upward. I slowly and deliberately climbed up to higher ground so I could better see the view from God’s perspective. I then have a better view point to see what He was trying to do in my life. He taught me well to do without as I went through that stage in life. He has rewarded me with His faithfulness. I believe that is because I had experience with Him enough by this time to know that He would see me through to the other side. I can see His direction for my future from higher ground. I can trust Him whether I am abounding or have less. I have plenty of times of less, but He guides me along the way and gives those things just to remind me He loves me and hears my prayers and desires.

I have had fun living under God’s umbrella of blessing. I don’t ever think I did any of it without His hand over it all. It is when extravagance for the purpose of how we look, or just to own “stuff”, or try to out do our friends that becomes an issue…it happens on social media all the time. If God doesn’t want us to have some “extravagance” in our life, He wouldn’t have a mansion prepared for us, or streets of gold with beautiful diamonds and gorgeous stones that He tells us will be in heaven, or a crown to wear. That is extravagant love. He is an extravagant God! I’m so thankful for that in my life as I have seen Him do extravagant miracles during my life time. I could make a very long list!! My friends are an extravagant gift! Another recent gift is a new computer that is coming to my studio in the next three weeks or so! THAT is exciting for this gal. Grateful for answer to prayers that have made that possible.

This can mean many things to different people. I am just sharing maybe a new way of looking at that word and what it means. It matters to Him that we understand Him. Let’s be extravagant in our love, giving, helping, and with our time and talents. But most importantly, in our relationship with God. As you do that, you will see an Extravagant God do extravagant things in your life, home and family. It’s a great way to live. What would be extravagant for you? A few quiet minutes out side on a deck/porch, or time to read a few pages from a favorite book? Maybe a road trip? Take a moment in time and think about it. Or what extravagant thing have YOU done recently? Leave your thoughts in the comments. I would love to hear!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

The Crossroads of Journey and Growth

The lead photo is of two rings I bought in the past that represent my life quite easily. I don’t make purchases of things like that without it having meaning to me. Don’t get me wrong, I have to like the look of them true, but they also need to have some significance to me if I am going to spend money on reminders that will be in my life forever. This picture represents where my up and down and around type of journey and my growth meet.It is a crossroads we all will have to choose. So, let me ask you a few questions and see if you have intersections like this in your life.

Way back when in your younger days, what did you think your life would look like?

Did you kind of plan it yourself, or did you ask God to show you what He had in mind for you?
Did you experience a close enough relationship with God to ask Him that hard question?
Did you have your own ideas and thought God would help you reach those goals?
Did it work out the way you planned?

You see, if I was honest, I would have to say that I had my own goals and worked toward them really without thinking of what God may have planned for me. And even at times when I really kind of knew He was saying no, I am a goal orientated person and just kept going toward my end game. It has taken many twists and turns and ups and downs of my journey through life to get to where I think God wants me to be and do what He wants me to do. I still have to seek Him for direction every day, and for the same determination as before, for me to do what God has called for me to do. Some of my downs have been pretty deep valleys. However, I have had also some awesome mountain top experiences.

But to get into that kind of relationship where I go to Him first, ask His direction, and the obedience to step out and do it????? THAT is where the growth comes. Those leaves on the ring above represented to me that I must always keep growing and learning. Learning from my mistakes, seeking the changes I need to make, and picking myself up after falling down means that I am free to try again. No condemnation or feelings of failure. I learned something valuable. I have to “trust the process” as the saying goes in sports. It means that things may not look how we want them to look, but God has a plan to make it better. We have to trust Him to do that.

I think of countless ways he has done that in my life! Just recently, God answered a prayer that I have prayed for over 20+ years. Not only did He answer it in a single way, but he blessed my answer with my cup overflowing, which in turn I can share that answer with the people in my life. Why would God do that? I believe that when we stay in close relationship with God, we ask things unselfishly of God, walk in relationship and obedience WITH God, He will answer; not always will it be more than, but He will answer in the way He thinks is best for us. In that we must be satisfied. It will also be a way in which, if we choose to, we can certainly give God the glory for the answer.

I have given Him the glory! It is such a miracle that only He could have done it. I have another ring to honor this climb to see His glory revealed and it reminds me every day that He wants to show us these things; not rings or stuff, but His love for us and faithfulness to each of us. You see, I was happy with the first answer. But when He went over and above all that I asked, I believe He wanted to remind me again of His ability to give over and above what we ask or think! How cool is that?

Where does your journey and growth paths intersect in your life? Because they have to do that. We will always have the ups and downs in life…that is just what life is. God tells us to expect that in His Word. However, He is right there to show us what it means, and if we trust the process of relationship with Him, then He WILL show Himself faithful to work in our circumstances! He SO wants to do that. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t about things for me, but He knows the things and experiences that will speak to me personally.

Don’t give up on the prayers you pray. We don’t know when He will answer, and we also have to accept His timing and what answer He gives. 20+ years is a long time to wait for an answer. However, The reason I think I had to wait that long is the lesson of never giving up. The s second reason is that He could do an even greater thing by the time that passed. I think He loves nothing more that to see us walking in faith with Him, so that, He can show Himself mightily in our lives! He is mighty in my life, that is for sure. Over and over again He is faithful.

Do leave your thoughts in the comments below and let me know how God spoke to you through the above thoughts.


Until next time…

~JoAnn

ps: Want to see my new reminder? Ok…here you go! Keep in mind, my rewards are usually small but significant to me. However, this was a total miracle that took place and that is certainly something for me to celebrate in a big way in life and the story of this ring will be passed on to someone else in my life as a reminder to them!