What Can We Learn From The Autumn Leaf?

I think there is a message in the falling of leaves in Autumn.   I was out with my camera yesterday, and saw a leaf that was hanging on to the branch.  It was the only one that had turned autumn color, but still remaining on the branch.  The wind was blowing it around, up and down, and sideways.  But still it remained.

We can be a bit like that leaf.  We know a change of season is upon us, and we also know that in a change of season, we must change.  We can sense that still small whisper that tells us to move forward, and that He will take care of it and be there.  But we are like a leaf that hangs on for dear life to what it knows.  In our case it is what we have come to be comfortable with.  The leaf knows that it can sustain itself on this branch a little while longer, so its hanging on.  However, we all know what happens.  As the season moves forward, it becomes colder, and that leaf will no longer receive what it needs, because the tree itself is going into a season of rest.  The good thing?  We don’t have to be afraid of change.  We don’t see a leaf that let’s go only to fals like a brick to the ground.  Nope.  That isn’t like God.  The leaf will just float on down to the ground with a beauty all its own.  It allows the season to change its color, and then gracefully drops from the branch.

We can learn a lot from the leaf.  Here are a few thoughts:

  • Change is good because it moves us forward.  We aren’t the only leaf on the tree to fall.  They will all fall at some point.  So when we feel the squeeze of change upon us, know that there are others around you sensing the same thing for themselves; that is, if they are tuned in to God and what He is doing.  You can be a support and prayer partner with those who are experiencing what you are…a step toward the unknown.  I have found when I share that with others through a prayer request, I will find many who are in the same place.  Remember as a child when the all the leaves would be swept together and you couldn’t resist falling into the pile, or throwing them up in the air?  We can rejoice with others the same way.   As we begin to recognize others who are in the midst of a move of God, we can rejoice together as we move toward a new thing. It can be a fun journey when shared.
  • We also don’t have to worry about God dropping us.  Just as the leaf gracefully falls in the wind or just floats to the ground, so God will catch us in His arms and set us on our feet on new territory.  He won’t leave us alone.  He will feel joy at our willingness to step forward into something new, give us what we need to walk it out, and lovingly walk with us along the way.
  • It will definitely change how we look. The leaves are most beautiful when they fall off the branch…they are vibrant, in fact.  Do you know that the color of yellow, orange, or even red, is present in the leaf all through the growing process?  This means while the leaf is green, the colors are still there…BEFORE it turns color.  The color has been there all along!  That could preach right there!!!  That means that through the process of letting go, our true colors or gifts or talents or passions, can show itself in us!!  We will become vibrant with new life!  I love that!  When we allow God to move us and change us, we are best using what He has given us for His purposes.

We will begin to look more vibrant, when we are willing to let go, and let God take the lead in our journey.  We might even begin to notice a more colorful world in the new place He has taken us.  New found color = new found passion.

So…let the winds and the waves come.  I know the Master of the wind.  We know Who is in charge of the winds and the waves.  We can weather the change together.  You may be the first to let go, but we will all come to a time in our lives where we too, have to let go of one season to walk forward into the next season of our life.  We can throw up our hands in the air just like we did with the leaves, only this time, it will be to receive the blessings of obedience flowing down on us like rain.  It’s like a song lyric I listened to yesterday that goes along with this thought…He brings us out, to bring us IN!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

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Yesteryear Becomes Today, Dear One

Memories…how precious they are.  We can bring to our remembering much joy through our memories.  What was it about your childhood that you most enjoyed?  What was something your family did that was fun for all of you?  What are some memories that first come to mind when you think of your childhood?

Why do you think it is important to think of those memories today?  To some of us, they are just that…memories.  We don’t have the loved ones to gather with as we did in childhood.  I know I don’t.  Both my parents have been gone, along with my grandparents for many, many years.  They never got to see their grandchildren grow up, least of all, their great-grandson.  Stick with me for a moment of looking back…back to simpler times.  It was about family getting together and visiting around a meal, cousins playing together, helping each other through tough times, and then living through the week to gather with family again maybe the next weekend.  It was sunny days of sun shining through the branches as we were climbing trees, swinging on a tire swing, or it could have been a fun time on the beach while you stayed at a cabin for the a family vacation.  Maybe it was a camping trip together.  Or, like me and my brothers and friends walking a mile in bare feet in the

summer up the road to a Service Station where they had shelves of penny candy.  Then, walking home peering into our sack of goodies, thinking about which we would eat first on the way home.  We each have different memories.  I trust your brain has flashed some great memories before your eyes by just reading this paragraph.

Maybe we have forgotten that meaningful living takes time.  We have maybe forgotten the joy of a leisurely walk, or a siesta time on the deck with coffee, watching the sky turn colors as sun sets, or sitting with coffee or tea and a good book.  We feel guilty when we do that and feel we aren’t accomplishing anything.  We have let culture dictate how we live our lives.  No one said that making a different way is easy.  We have to be intentional in our efforts to live that way.  When we know what we want in life, we also know what we can eliminate.  We can examine how we spend our time,  Think about what you want to do in comparison to what you are doing.  We really can redesign our lives if we want to.   Ask yourself if there is one thing you really want to do that you aren’t doing it right now.  What do you have to do to make that happen?  Then write down at least one thing you like about your life right now.  Maybe get yourself a book and start writing some of these things down.  Keep it up to remind yourself…make it your Life Re-design Book.  I have a journal that I write everything in.  It’s a proven fact that writing things down enact the mind to move forward toward that written goal or dream.  It’s like a pair of shoes…the old ones can be comfortable and we like wearing them because they are so comfortable.  But, that doesn’t mean they are good for our feet anymore.  We aren’t getting the support from them that we need.  It takes time and effort to go out and find a new pair, spend the money for them, and they break them in again.  However, sometimes we have to give up the old, in order to better take care of our needs.  We may need to examine our support and make sure we are getting what we need to move us forward.  We can find out that we didn’t even know how those old comfy shoes were holding us back until we put on the new.  I want to be seeking all the “new” that God has for me in every area of my life.

 

I have shared before about making a home to feel like your haven.  In my case, it is where I spend a vast majority of my time.  So I want to enjoy it.  I want to enjoy what I see around me.  What are some of the things that reflect the spirit of your home or space?  For example, what might be your favorite spot in your home?  Favorite piece of furniture?   It’s fun to take the time to think about those things.  It gives you a sense of  belonging and peace to feel that as you look about your home.

Here’s another area to think about…when you are alone in your home, what do you most like to do?  Do you find yourself looking around and feeling trapped by where you are?  Angry about your circumstances?  Don’t feel at home in your space?  Or, do you look around and feel comfort, and excitement that you have some time to enjoy your home?  Maybe you want change something up, or bake or read?  What does your home bring out in you?  Do you like to open your home up for company?  Maybe a one-on-one?  Are you doing that?

Let me give you a peek into mine.  I love every home I have lived in, because it is where God placed for that season.  I love decorating, so that is the first thing I begin working on when I move in.  I spend a lot of time IN my home, so I want it to be reflective of me and my hubby.  Because of that, I have items in my home that I love and that bring me joy.  I know that if I have that in my home, I will be happy and content there.  My home breathes of me and my hubby.  However…probably more of me, since he used to be a clean lines kind of guy.  But he loves me,  and has come to know my love of vintage and all things that remind me of my story, as well as his life story.  I have a couple of reading spots, I have a creative spot, I have a cooking and baking spot in my kitchen, and my rooms all inspire me.  I love to read and have a bookshelf filled with books in my living room and my cabin/office.  I am also Norwegian so you would see reflections of that through out my home.  I have furniture that belonged to my grandparents and my parents, which gives me wonderful memories every time I see them.

I have the sights and sounds of my story throughout my home.  I love to see and enjoy nature, so you would see wall to wall windows in my cabin.  Right now there are no curtains on the windows, with the exception of the window facing the street.  Even with that, I made sure I could see the light coming through.  My intent is to put up lace valances only so I can continue to enjoy what I see.  I love reflective light and so I have things in my home that reflect sunlight when it comes in.  My home is a delight for me.  It gives me a place where my story can write itself.  I love that.

Now…with that in mind, let’s get back to how we started.  We all have a story; some have more hardships in their story than others.  However, that TOO, can be used by God to walk along side someone who is hurting.  God uses all of our story, not just parts of it.  Moods can gauge our days.  So know what triggers that in you.  If you need light in your space, find a way to make more of it…a favorite lamp, open the windows curtains, change the curtains to allow more light, candles, or whatever will bring that into your space.  Make time to be with your family and connect.  Connection is totally lost on us these days.  We text or Facebook, but we have trouble making the time to connect face to face.  The more alone you stay, more the daily grind can take its toll.  Spend time enjoying your family together.  It doesn’t have to be a big thing.  But what a joy it brings to gather together again.  If you don’t teach that to our kids and grandkids, it will be lost.

If we aren’t moving forward, we are moving backwards by virtue of… no forward motion.  I am eager to move forward and make memories of my own as I go.  I enjoy connecting with others and feel it is important to do so.  Because of that, I make arrangements to do that when ever I can.  I want the people in my life to know how important they are to me.  I took my grandson to a store that I found that has all the old candy I used to get.  It was so fun to share that with him.   We got some so he could have that same experience I had.  I have planned pb&j picnics with him.  He didn’t care what we ate.  He was happy to have time together.  I did a rainy day picnic sitting in the back of, at that time, my Ford Focus, and we had the back up with umbrellas on each side to keep the rain out and we watched the water and took pictures together.  He still remembers that time spent together.  I shared more of my story with him.  I have grown sons who have said to me, “I have never knew that about you, Mom!”  I have changed that.  I have now shared with them where we came from and about their heritage.  I want them to know how I came to be the person I am today, in other words, more of my story.  That pleases me that God has allowed my hubby and I to be able to do that for my boys and grandson.  One day, I won’t be here to ask, just as I can’t ask my parents or grandparents the questions I would love to ask, or share with them what I have found or where I have gone.  So I share with them in the here and now.  I leave a legacy.

Don’t be fooled by the “busy” life you think you must have.  We can’t go back in time, but we can sure make more of today more of what we want.  It just means intentional decisions.  It means doing things others don’t do.  As Dave Ramsey says, “Live like no one else, so some day, you can live like no one else.”

The path may be more narrow, but I am living the last half…so I can live like no one else.  That is a choice I am happy to live with.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

 

P.S.  Just for fun for those that want to know:  The windows you see are my windows in my cabin/office.  The hanging lights came from a purchase in Norway this last trip, along with the wooden bowl you see.  The hanging light is in my living room and came from a mansion in Seattle, and I adore it!  I was sitting in one of my favorite spots and admiring it, and couldn’t help taking a picture of it with my iPhone.  The pumpkin is one of my reflective pieces for Fall.  The picture is of some of my family at a reunion I helped organize to get our family together.  The sewing machine is my grandmother’s, along with the pin cushion, and the Army hat of my dad’s, and many other gifts and memories sit there.  The vest was made by my mom for me as a little girl and was my favorite.  The shoes?  Courtesy of my cousin in Norway.  Ssssshh…don’t tell him I took the picture.  It represented this point for me when I saw them side by side.  Why?  Because he didn’t want to purchase new ones.  🙂  The path is a path walked by my grandson and my son when they went to Norway with me.

 

Where Are Your God Glasses?

Let me start with asking you a question?  What do you see, on a daily basis?  I have been thinking about seeing a lot.  In fact, I just did a retreat about what we see, and how it changes our daily life.  For me, I think about it when I have my camera out and it has taught me to be aware and always seeing.  I have learned about focus, perspective, lighting and always on the look out for my next subject, whatever it may be.  We can apply this to our lives so easily!  I ask God each day, to show me what He wants me to see.  So I wanted to share some thoughts with you.

I just recently purchased the 1828 American Language Dictionary and what an eye opener!  The definitions in there have so many scriptural references in it, and so you get a totally different perspective on the meaning of the words.    There are about 15 references to the word “see” in scripture, and 14 references or so on the word “seen”.  Along with the word “see”, is the word “seek”, from the pair word.  There are about 59 verses that reference the word “seek”.  Here are some of the definitions for the word “see”.

Seek… Look for… Strain… Stretch… Extend… Reach… To Have Knowledge… Observe… Notice… Power to Perceive… Discern with Intelligent Sight… Examine… Inquire… Attentive… Full Understanding… Consider… Look Into It… and Consideration.  That makes us think a bit, doesn’t it?    What I see is what my vision is.  Faith is turned to vision when we are open to it.  Seeing is something to be imagined.  From that, we can gain revelation from God.  In other wards, when we allow God to show us something, He will show it with His view if we ask Him to.  I really enjoyed learning about this different meanings.

When we see more, we find more things to be grateful for.  We see clouds, waterfalls, flowers, colors, and many other things because we have started looking for them.  So what we “see” is VERY important, because what we see effects what we believe and how we live.  Ever watch a movie that had some really awful things happen and find it difficult to get out of your mind after you watched it?  It effects you.  There are bad circumstances that happen in our lives and the world around us that we can see, but it doesn’t mean we need to look at that, or to even share it.  So… let’s begin to think about its opposite affects.  If we are putting good things in our eye gates, then it will change our focus, perspective, and the way we see life.  So I ask myself a lot:

  • What do I need to let go of in order to see more of what God wants me to see?
  • Do I need to re-think my boundaries?
  • Do I need to re-examine my time?
  • What idols might I have that are keeping me from doing and being where and what God wants me to be?
  • Are there areas I need to repent of because I’m not doing what I need to do to create more space for seeing from God’s lens?

When see, we will seek.  When we seek, God tells us we will find.  When we have vision, we have His power, position, anointing and authority.  We can see above the dark places because we are asking God to help us to see.  He will show you.  Ask yourself this question:  “Am I far-sighted or near-sighted in the way I look at life?”  If you are near-sighted, anything close to you is clear but things further away are not.  If you are far-sighted, things up close are not clear and things further away are clear to you.  We often look at life that way.  We are near-sighted but we want to see what our future holds but we can’t see it so we complain or worry.  Or, we might be able to see further down the road but we ignore what is right in front of us because we want to get to that place in the future.  We need to have our God glasses on.  He will help us to see and notice what is in front of us, so that, it will bring clarity and joy to our lives in the future.  By allowing Him to show us what is in our today, we can relax and learn to trust Him for what is down the road, and it will become clearer for us.  Our perspective changes.

 

When we operate like this, God will not only change us, but as we change, we can be the catalyst for change in others.  We will see where we can bless others.  The other part of this story is this:  YOU will also be blessed in ways you can’t imagine!  He will bring opportunities before you that you might have missed before.  When we see as God sees, we will change our lives forever.  You will have the joy unspeakable!   We will begin to see our big ship turn around.  Remember that small rudder that turns the BIG ship?  Well God is our Captain!  He can and will turn it around if we are willing to give control to Him.

IF we live this way, we don’t have to be a world changer by definition only.  We can possibly be a world changer for one or two.  It doesn’t mean that our life has less value if we think that way.  In fact, we might accomplish a lot more if we think more about the one or two.  We don’t have to change the world to find meaning.  We can just be good to the one or two that God brings to us.  That can be world changing…to them.  They in turn will change someone else’s world.  This is something anyone can do from where you are today.  We need to be careful of who we measure our worth by in this world.  It is YOUR life not some famous person’s, or your friend’s, your pastor’s, or someone else.  It is yours.  Show up and do your best with the one life you have been given by loving on others, and you will see your life change as well.

Want a good example?  We have all heard about the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee; one gives the water out and is active, one holds the water and dies.  I want to be the one who gives.  Just today, I had the opportunity to be obedient and share a couple of things.  When I did, I saw someone encouraged to keep going, information in their hand for that to happen, and the beginning of some blessings that came to them after receiving what I shared.  Sometimes we need to be the blessing that starts the blessing train for them. Be obedient!  You might be a part of their faith building!!  I think I was today and that brings joy to my heart!  That’s what “seeing, or seeking” is all about.

For me, I know I have to streamline where I put my time.  I do a lot of study and leading from Facebook.  I am asking God where He wants to me allot my time.  How much time I spend checking my phone to check in.  Maybe I need to consider taking down some of the pages I have started.  As much as I love doing them, and sharing, I don’t have to be the only one sharing.  If that is the case, then maybe it’s time to consider where I may use my time differently.  It is something I am praying over.  God may ask me to give it up, or He may be telling me that He wants me to continue, and be wise about using my time more effectively and in a more balanced way.  However, what I DO know is, God is asking me to see where He is working and join Him there.   I want to make things easier for me and less busy, so that, I have time for where God is taking me.  There are so many things I love to do, so I want to have the time to invest in those areas that bring me joy as well.

I read about Gratitude from Lisa Bevere recently and want to share that with you.  The insight was this:  “Gratitude is a memory of God’s trust.”  I love that.  We all need reminders.  We all need a slow down process that works for us, so that, we can live life not as an emergency, but as a deliberate journey, where we see joy that really matters in WHO really maters.

I will leave you with a quote:

“We need to throw open the window and allow God’s untamed, limitless beauty to awaken a heavenly awe within us.  As we open our eyes to the wonder of creation, it arouses a God-yearning.  Our spirit will respond to what it sees.”   Lioness Arising, by Lisa Bevere

Ask God to show you what He wants you to see, and you will be astounded at what He will show you!  I live expecting it!!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

 

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