I Got You

Here I am taking a break in my studio at my desk. Music playing and feeling like I should be doing more, but needed a break. So, I thought I would talk with you a while.

We are through all the pre-steps to the moving and signed contracts done. We are now waiting on appraisals for each place. We are on our way. We are on to real hard work…that of packing. If you know me even a little through these past years of writing, you know there might be a lot to pack! I am going through things as I pack too and making decisions about a few pieces that aren’t going with us. But that is one of the silver linings in moving…go through things that you either don’t need anymore, can share with someone who will love them like you do, or just have no room for them anymore in the new space. I feel pretty good about how I have downsized already. Some have been hard decisions.

When I was thinking through all the steps to accomplish our move and selling our home at the same time, it was a bit overwhelming. However, I have learned that I can only take a day at a time, and do what I can each day to get where I need to be. In the middle of this uncomfortable stage, God speaks to me about how clearly He sees the future and I must trust and depend on Him. I felt Him saying, “Child, I got you. I got all of it.” A sense of peace came over me and I reminded myself out loud that God has got it all. I just have to rest in that. Each day I get up, I ask Him all over again to continue giving me focus and peace in the middle of the boxes. He does.

That is one small kitchen. My growing up years!

Do you know what? I find myself excited about where God is leading us. I am tired and my brain feels like mush sometimes, but I know He has me. Making this move is rather like starting with a clean slate, or the first page of a new book…I get to write the story and in many ways I get to determine how it goes. The rest is up to God leading me in His direction, but firstly, me listening. I have some big changes with this move. I don’t have the same kind of room in places I spend a lot of time. But I have a beautiful big room that is like a suite above the garage. It will be a great creative space for me. That will be fun to decorate and set up with views of the mountains to see. The mountains are different than they are here, but a very nice beauty of their own in any case. My “take home” from the process has been that if I want a certain result for us, then I have to be willing to do some things differently and… do without some things as well. Am I willing? Will I complain about what I miss? Get upset about not enough room in the kitchen? OR, will I look at it as a challenge, and say what do I need to do to make it work more efficiently? God is teaching me more and more about living simply and being grateful for each day. I can celebrate life with what He has given me, and feel satisfaction in a new place, a different house, different challenges, new people to meet, and a renewed spirit to be in His will. Even in the middle of chaos of moving and then settling in to unpack and set up a home, I can be more peaceful than frenzy. My favorite part of a move is setting up our home. Just like here, I want people to feel the love and welcoming feeling when they come into our home.

So my friends, if you think about this in future days, send a prayer heavenward that God will close our new home before the current one. That means we can take a car over and some possessions that won’t be able to go by truck. That would be a great answer for us. We close at this point March 25th in both places. Crazy, huh? But we know God can work it all out. He is good like that! Like Josh Turner’s song, “We’re a team…me and God.”

God bless each of you. You have been a part of Journeys of My Heart for a long time, and some of you for a short time. I value your readership. I hope if you have a shake up in your life, that you will find peace in the moment…right where you need it. God bless each of you richly.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Mountain Top Experience

You know by now that I love a fun adventure; something different or go someplace new. Travelers2 are east of the mountains this weekend and we were looking at houses. One of the houses was high up a mountain road with a 360 degree view of the mountain range and a lake below when you reached the top where the home sat. Absolutely gorgeous view. We were in for an adventure. The adventurous part was that this home and property was at least 3+ miles up the mountain! We had to drive in and down and all around in snow and ice, with a few spots of the gravel here and there to assist us on the road up. Now… that would be fun with a four wheel drive or all terrain tires, however, we were in our Ford Fusion sedan with street tires only. The fun begins. We managed to slip and slide all the way up! I enjoyed the views as we went and Terry was too busy driving to see what I saw.

We arrived at the top of the driveway safely behind our realtor in his little Ford Focus, and turned into the driveway. I said, “We better not go down there. Let’s see if we can back up while tires are in a little gravel on the left side. Another fact, our car is front wheel drive so doing that didn’t mean it would even work for us. We might be too far into the downward slope. So… with a prayer on my part, he did put it in reverse and we backed up slowly to the road and parked. Success!!! Our young realtor had gone down all the way to the house. In a few minutes the owner of the house came bouncing up the driveway and pulled along side us. He said he would take us down to the house. Ok. At least we will see it after they were kind enough to allow us to change our day of coming to see it.

This guy is a rancher type of person who also bred dogs and sold them. He loved where he lived, but the cold was getting to him. Even though home wasn’t our idea of what we could handle year around, it was so fun to get to know him and hear his story.

Now, with the house showing completed, we are ready to go up the drive to the top of the road. We know we have a way up but our realtor may be another problem. Our new friend Wayne tells our realtor he doesn’t think he can make it and asks him if he knows what to do if he starts sliding backwards in the snow and ice. Our realtor says no problem he can get up the hill. He assured him that he could handle it. Next…three tries up the hill and each time he gets half way up, and back down he goes! The owner tells us he will take us up and come back down and see if he can figure out a way to pull him up. You can’t make this stuff up!

That was the view from the top looking one way.

We get to the top and get in our car to stay warm. We didn’t want to leave our realtor, so we waited to see if Wayne could figure out how he was going to do this feat! About 10 minutes later up comes that little SUV pulling the realtor’s car backwards up the hill! Amazing how resourceful our new friend Wayne was. When he got out of his SUV, I said, “You are the man!” He said, “Yes, I’m the man!” Such a nice guy. I told him I would pray for just the right buyer to come along, and we parted ways. One last look at the view as we rounded the corner and headed down the mountain. It really was a mountain top experience and we made a new friend in the process, and saved our realtor’s car from having to stay over night.

Isn’t life fun??? It is always an adventure! I told our realtor that if he sticks with us, we will give him experiences that he has never had in his life! We already took him to new heights when we had to back out of a drive way up a hill when looking at another house before. We, ourselves, had to take a few runs backing up the hill onto the roadway to get out. If we didn’t get out, others would be enjoying a pause at the spot they were in for a long while. Giggle…Our realtor just laughed and said that was a true statement…he is gaining great experience with us!! I wish I had taken pictures. Can you believe I didn’t???

So don’t get too excited about issues that come up in your life because you never know what may happen or who you may you may meet. But it could be something special to the person you are with or that you meet. And…as you slip and slide on the road of life, or the corners get a bit sharper than you would like as you look down the side of the mountain of life, just remember who you Source is. He will always pull you back toward him if you ask, and even sometimes when you don’t, even if He has to pull you up backwards. And Wayne, I doubt you will read this, but if you do, you are truly “The Man”!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

The Travelers2 Move East

Won’t it look cute with shutters on the out side and wrapped support posts?

WHAT?!?!?!?!?! Yes… you read that right. We are moving east of the mountains. With such an “unknown” in our economy and world today, we have been praying about our options.

You, like many, may be asking, “Why are we moving again? You love your house, yard, area where you live! Why do you want to move away from that? And…you will be moving away from us!”

Well…because after much angst and prayer, we believe that it gives us the opportunity to own a home without having a mortgage, which has been a goal of ours for a while. Can you imagine that option in this day and age here? Yah…me either. What if I were ever to be alone, could I afford to live where I live? No. If I had to sell our home because I couldn’t do it alone, could I even afford to rent? The answer is no. Think about your life right now where you could live without a mortgage payment! Wouldn’t it give you a even better lifestyle? It takes two people in most cases to pay the daily living expenses. We don’t want to be in any of the above positions. So… we have been talking to God about other options. What were they?

  1. Move out of state. THAT was an awesome idea! But then, it makes it hard to see our kids and other family members and friends.
  2. The cost of moving that far also! Moving is expensive even for this move we are in.
  3. Look around for where housing is less expensive and you can get more for the money, with possible opportunities to have no mortgage payment.
  4. To look at areas that are suited for our desire for small town living, affordable housing, and still drivable to have friends and family over or for us to go to the west side.

Ping pong!! Ping Pong!!!

So….the area we decided on is still within 4-5 1/2 hour drive from where the family lives, depending on which pass you go over, and central for me with a couple of friends in the area, and 2 cousins, and a niece and her husband within a few miles. So that is where the door opened and we are walking through the door. This will be a new experience for me in many ways. But I think I will like the laid back atmosphere we experience there. We also like the wild life and lakes close by. I like that.

Here comes the real honest part. We have to move to that new place. I hate moving. This will be the sixteenth time I have moved since 1996. It requires managing a move, as well as, selling the house you are in or leaving a rental. I hate paperwork and there is tons of it when buying and selling! Staging is such a pain. What happened to this is home as it was, which is quiet and comfortable, and then all these changes have to be made for the potential buyer to want to buy it? That is a big *SIGH*. You have to stage it. If you have ever looked at pictures I have posted, you know what I’m talking about. I have a lot to stage…right out the door or where ever I can find to hide it. So hard to move and sell at the same time. But I have done this so many times, that my moving brain kicks in and away I go!! I have mostly de-JoAnn’d my home this week. Still have a ways to go but its getting there. I dream about boxes. And to top it off, I am a bit concerned in how to make a home look welcoming when all your things that make it that way are now gone! So now I have to rethink it a bit so it doesn’t appear empty. Right now it almost echos. LOL!

I will miss this most!!

However, I am choosing to trust the process and I have never backed down from a challenge. And…this is a challenge at this stage of life. However, it is exciting in that I have a chance to make another home our sanctuary in retirement. That is important to me. We will not have the some of the conveniences there for a while. For example, summers may be very warm and I’m not a hot weather person. We will have no AC in the home there for a while. Enter the floor model for the room probably. But you know, I know God is going to be right there with me. He will encourage me, bring that homey feeling in this house also. He will remind me of always being grateful for what we have. I pray over each house we lived in and I am trusting God with all the details. I know it will all come together. Now… I am now praying for just the right person to come along and love this home we are now in as much as we did. He can do it! It will go quickly is my prayer!

So it is east of the mountains in Washington state that we are headed for. This Monday we will go over once again to handle some things and maybe get measurements. In the mean time, I have been selling items right and left because there will not be room to have them there. I am happy however that it has worked because the more sold, the less work to move. It also defrays the cost of expenses we will incur in the meantime. Isn’t God good?! He sure is!

I guess I felt I should share this because sometimes in our lives, God asks us to do something totally different…maybe even difficult and uncomfortable. Others make think it is ridiculous. You see, sometimes God just wants to stretch us in a season, and we just have to hold tight to His hand. He never takes us places that He can’t give us the grace to endure, and eventually come to see His hand in it. We may not even know the purpose at the time, but we will. In this case, we see His hand working already. Very grateful.

So…as you shake your head at what we are doing, don’t shake it too hard, but instead, bow your head and pray for our process with our home there, as well as, the sale of our home here. I would appreciate that very much. There is a lot of hard work and joy that has went into our home here, so I know there is someone out there that will feel as we did when we walked through the door, and they will want to make it theirs.

May God grant you the courage you may need also right now in an area of difficulty in your life, and may you feel His presence in every way.

The Travelers2 are on our way to just that…God turned the page. It’s another chapter in our story.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Just Pull Over

Just Pull Over

Ever feel like you are in the fast lane of your life and can’t get through the traffic craziness to get out of the fast lane? You may even be signaling your intent only be totally ignored by your mind, will, and emotions? Yes. I have too. LIfe can feel busy, crazy, out of control, performance driven, approval driven, and it can feel like we have lost control.

The other day I was going through some of my past photos and came across this one and felt a little tug to stop there for a while. So I did. I looked, really looked, and asked God what He was trying to say to me. I have learned thought = purpose. I know that now from experience. He wants me to pull over. I’m getting better at listening. What I felt he spoke to my heart was this:

“Do you remember this photo? Do you remember how you got this photo? Do you remember what I told you about it when I prompted you to pull over and photograph what you saw? Do you remember I told you not to worry about what is around the bend because I will take care of you? It applies even more today.”

Yes…I remembered. You see, years ago I was sitting in my upper office sweet spot when God challenged me to post a picture a day for one year. I accepted that challenge. It changed my life. I don’t need to sell my photos and be known for them, but to use it as a way to see God’s presence in my life and as a source of encouragement to myself and others that I share them with. I have been back into my photography more seriously for almost 20 years. I have kept at it to learn, to hone my skills, and take classes from my own library of books and online options. God had a purpose when he challenged me. It wasn’t to just take the photo in my challenge, but to also share in the posts what I saw, and why I felt God told me to take this photo. Ever since then, I see things I would not normally see; I have become a real Noticer. It gives me focus and encouragement for myself, and I hope others also. And…if one photo encourages one person, or makes them re-evaluate a moment, or to take a breath and enjoy a moment, then THAT is what it is about.

My message with the photo at the top of the post is to let God lead on the road trip called life. I need to pull over to the side of the road and enjoy the present view and trust God for the journey when I get back on the road. I need to turn the engine of my life off and just sit a while. Notice the colors, smells, maybe tastes, of where I am. I thank Him for the beauty I see, for His care of me, and bringing me safely this far. I ask Him to surround my life with angels to keep me from just taking off on a road of my own. So…the day I took this photo, it was much more than just pulling over and grabbing a shot, it was a message for that day, and a reminder again today of a message attached to the photo.

You see, we can get so wrapped up in house hold duties, kids activities running us all over town, preparing meals, social media, ugly news reports, changing weather patterns, and all that bombards us, that we forget to ask God on our journey. We get so busy we use the current statements of I don’t have time. or I’m so busy I can hardly think, or something similar to that. We miss the beauty of what is around us as we hurry. That my friend, will cause healthy living to be much more difficult and worn out. That is what I have learned. This lead photo is my life right now. I have learned to pull over, take a break, sit for a while in quiet, and let my brain breath, and think. I pull over for almost any option I see to catch the beauty around me. THAT is my legacy. I am not going to change the my world or anyone in my sphere of influence by running around in circles. I’m not teaching anyone else how to live better by living a crazy life myself.

So the simple message of this post is this: enjoy what you see around you. Stop a minute and enjoy what you see and ask God what He wants you to see right then. Maneuver your way over to the side of your life journey, turn off the engine running in your mind, and just be. Maybe even roll down the window to let the fresh air in to revive you. He has something He wants to say to you. I hope you will find that in your life as well. It will change your life. It has changed mine in ways that are even hard to describe. It a new way of living. As easy as it for us to become discouraged in these times, knowing how to refocus ourselves, and encourage ourselves, is very key. Practice more the life of slow. Keep your armor in place on the journey. Living this way is so worth it. We need maintenance often. Put that armor on and head out to see where it leads you.

Pull the car of your life over next time. Kill the engine. Look around. Do it. It will make your day worth while!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

What is there to savor?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I will savor….

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

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

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

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

Learning to listen more than talking.

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Another Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time…

~JoAnn

What’s Your Point of view?

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

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

Vintage Camera

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time…

~JoAnn

A Change of Pace and Nature

Driving over North Cascade Highway

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

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

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

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

My Favorite Gnome

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

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

Diner

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time…

~JoAnn

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

are you ready to cozy up?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Quit That!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time…

~JoAnn