Fall Brings Change

I always enjoy watching the changes as Fall turns its attention toward winter. All the color changes, cooler weather and comfy clothes. It also reminds that change isn’t so bad. It can be beautiful as well as challenging. Just as the colors change and we can enjoy the beauty, we also know that it is only a season. Hopefully, there are changes we make that are more permanent…you know those pesky ones that keep coming up in our spirit that we could benefit from permanently changing? Let’s look at this a little closer.

How do you celebrate Fall? Or are you one that doesn’t look forward to the colder weather and the challenges it can bring for you? Well… you are talking to a cool weather person right here. I love the cooler weather and and the beauty of snow. I know. I know. You want summer and the beach. But let’s see if we can come up with a different perspective on the Fall leading into Winter.

Here is a list that I enjoy for myself:

First of all, notice the changes and enjoy it. Notice the colors, and know that as flowers die back, they will come again in the spring. I don’t think there is anyone who doesn’t enjoy Fall colors if they are looking for the beauty of Fall changes.

Examine your attitude. Maybe it is more you than the Fall/Winter Season. Only you know what you need to do to help lift your spirit to get an attitude shift.

Take time to try different recipes. Get out that slow cooker or Instant Pot if you are a work outside of the home person.

When you are home, cook something that is an all day cooking pot recipe and enjoy a taste here and there as you cook and get taste tests and make it just like you like.

Try making some home made bread. Saves money too. If worried about it turning out, borrow a bread machine or get yours out of the back of the cupboard. 😉 Makes the house smell so good.

Wear warm cozy clothes and socks.

Read a book that you have thought about or bought and haven’t had the time to read.

Light some candles and create a nice ambiance for yourself.

Plug in some small miniature lights to enjoy.

Get a sweet fragrance in your home with essential oils wafting into the air.

Hot chocolate or apple cider for the evenings or while you cook.

Do a craft project.

Work on genealogy if that is something you are interested in. Or just begin a search.

Pull out the sweaters and hat and scarf.

Change out your closet for the seasons clothes so you don’t have to sort through your closet to find something cozy to wear.

Make a list of plans for your Christmas. This year may take a lot more planning.

Turn on some favorite music for those quiet moments or while cooking or doing chores.

If you knit or crochet, make something as a gift or maybe an afghan to cuddle up in.

Upscale a spot in your home to give it a new look and see how you can do it on a budget.

Take an online class in a subject you enjoy.

Bundle up and go for an evening walk with your household. Find something you haven’t noticed before and take a picture.

Brew some tea or special coffee and enjoy the sunset or what they call golden hour.

Sit outside with a fire going and a hot drink and take in your surroundings.

Make a special breakfast on the weekend. I just made some great Norwegian pancakes yesterday and I will certainly make them again.

I would add for myself, to read the Bible and a good devotional with a cuppa in hand and not just read it, but contemplate its’ meaning to yourself.

Make sure you have winter wear so you are ready to still enjoy it but can stay warm.

Let the nostalgic enter your front door!

I could go on and on…because these are things I have learned to do for myself. I have always rewarded myself in ways that lift my spirit. It keeps my soul happy and keeps me looking up. Please share some of the things you might do for yourself and family. It would be fun to hear about them. Share them in the comments.

I have had some fun activity with a friend of mine and our cameras. It has been very enjoyable and just getting out and taking pictures makes my heart happy. You can see the beauty through the lens of a camera, capture it, and forever be changed by it. It is my hope that just sharing some ideas with you, will give you a new perspective or a reminder to make your own list of things you want to enjoy this season.

You know, sometimes our change has to come from deep within us. We have to be willing to be honest with ourselves and face those things in our life that keep us from the very change we want to have. I have to be THAT willing before I will see consistent change. I can do anything for a short time, but it won’t be lasting unless I face what is keeping it from making a successful move toward the changes I want to see. My number one mistake is thinking I can do it by myself. I CAN help myself, and I can move to some change, but long lasting change? That requires me to look within myself to see what is keeping me from moving forward. I might look different to myself as I move into and embrace the changes, but I know from experience, dropping this things which hold me back can also be the very thing that will move me forward. It is rather my life being like the tree… the leaves will die off my branches, I can see beauty as they fall because I know in the spring of my change journey, that I will grow back better and healthier than I ever was! So I encourage you to take a deep dive into your heart and soul and discover this journey for yourselves. Embrace the change. God sees you and will assist you in the process if you ask Him to do that. Ask Him to show you what is keeping you from moving forward. I write this as I just get a call from my doctor’s office on lab results. To say I’m not thrilled with the report I got would be an understatement. So…now I must consider changes that are not in my wheelhouse. However, if I want the quality of life and the life I desire in years to come, I must make those changes. So I am digging into what makes this girl resist the results I have just received. I have to have a big talk with myself and practice the very things I shared today. Look deeper and be honest with myself about the reasons I need to make those changes.

These Fall views are for a short time. Enjoy them, and even though your winter may be upon you, it doesn’t have to scary or fearful. He has told us He will never leave us or forsake us. We are covered!! As one of my favorite songs by the Gaither Vocal Band says, “He will bring us out, to bring us in!” So ask Him to bring you out of the things that keep you from changing from the inside, to bring you out so your changes can be more permanent. And…so you can live long and enjoy the life God has planned for you. May God help you and me to do just that!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

~JoAnn

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River Reflections and Life

Hello everyone and welcome to September! We are going into one of my favorite seasons…Fall. I love the colors and cooler weather and the coziness of warm winter evenings around a fire. So in celebration of that, hubby and I went for a drive to a different area than we had explored before in and around our town. I got some wonderful pictures which I will share some here. But I also was impressed with a thought about that drive, and so I will share that with you today.

If you look at the lead photo, you may find it just draws you in…why? It might be the sunset colors, or the turn of the river, or the mountains, or..the gorgeous reflection of the sunset on the glassy river. And THAT is what I want to share with you because I believe I was given this lesson after taking this photo.

We have heard many times the idea of Christ living in us, and we are to reflect His presence in our lives. Just as in this photo above, where the sunset sky is reflected off the glassy water of the river, we are to reflect Christ in us out to others. Not in a showy fashion, but in authentic love and care of the other person(s). How we act, the words we use, talking about ourselves rather than genuine listening is not reflecting God’s love. But instead, we want to show a gracious attitude in all the ways, so that, we might be a reflection of Christ to others.

That really hit me. God is faithful to give us those nudges and it sure made me ask myself, “JoAnn, how are you reflecting Jesus to others?” Or better yet, AM I reflecting Him to others through my lifestyle and how I live? We can get so tied up with what is going on around us, that we can let a lot of things slide, thinking it doesn’t matter. However, it does matter, and makes it hard for others to decide who you are and WHOSE you are.

It might be a bad word, being selfish, controlling, how we present ourselves in our attire, being all about ourselves, we say one thing and live another, and many more examples we all know. How do you present yourself on social media? Do you live a life of humbleness and transparency, or is it just what you want others to perceive your life is like? When will we come to realize that we need honesty with ourselves before God and others, that needs to happen before others if we want to be an inspiration for others to want to live for Christ.

I am so glad this lesson came to me with this picture…and often He does give a lesson with many of the pictures I take. That is one reason I keep seeking my photos, because I learn by looking through a different lens. So… my photos in this post deal with reflections. I didn’t realize it until I was looking at them on the way home. I think God didn’t want me to miss the lesson. What do you think??

Here is the other part of the lesson. The water has to be calm and clear for the reflection to be visible. So I must be clear in my thinking, attitude and living, or order to exhibit the kind of outpouring of myself that God would want me to share. If I allow the big waves of rolling water over rocks to be my focus, then I am probably more focused on myself. But when I am calm and clear in my mind and heart, I am more likely to reflect what is closer to His teaching…reflecting His image to others. I will be more inspired to reflect well and hopefully they will see into the clear depth of my reflection to want that for themselves. In other words, work on myself, so that, I can be a reflection of His love to those around me. If I am consistent, THEN I am a River of Reflection myself.

Be a good reflection of Him. Keep perfecting your faith. Ask Him to assist you in being His reflection. I hope this mini lesson resonates with you as much as it did for me.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Knowing or Trusting

Picture credit: Katrine Mæle – cropped and edited by JoAnn Shiley with permission.

Recently, I heard a pastor speak on “trusting” and “the need to know/understand”. I thought I would share some ideas that I received with you. Have you ever gotten caught up in the need to know all about some circumstance or event in your life? Maybe you feel like you need to know why, or it might be that you just that you feel you have the right to know. But God has other ways of working this out in us. Here are some thoughts and based on Philippians 4:7. Let’s open the door and walk through what can be the hardest step we take.

We may think we need to know based on intellectual reasoning and/or emotional satisfaction. We want an explanation. Or, we feel we are owed an explanation. You may feel like you don’t have an explanation for what you are going through, and for what you feel God is allowing in our life. Boy is that a tough one! And if someone says anything about the ideology that we can’t know the answers for everything we go through, we bristle like a porcupine! And…we get angry at God because we think He reveal to us what we want/need to know. We believe if we know it all, THEN we can understand it. There has to be a reason!! We just can’t align ourselves with what is going on in our life at that time. If we did know the reasons, could we understand and accept it? I think we still would not understand or accept it. It would fuel our emotions all over again.

Here is a hard hit: Either you want to know/understand, or you want to trust. Which is it? I have gone through many hard things, but what I have learned through them is that I need to trust God. Oh, I can still ask why, because we all have those times. Times when because we don’t get how this could happen, we CAN know that God has a plan that maybe we can’t see right now. We may even think that our life should always be explainable. If you are really listening to these ideas, you will know for sure that is not the case. Sometimes we won’t know for years why a circumstance has happened. Some of us, if we are willing to admit to it, may be even stomping our feet and shaking a fist at God in our anger thinking He should give us the answer.

Mountains seem impossible to get over or around. But, with God all things are possible!

So how might we overcome this need to know or understand? The answer first must be found in time alone with God; being in His presence. That means having a relationship with God where you have surrendered your life to Him. Ask Him what He is trying to teach you, or what this brings to your life that you may use to help others. How about asking Him to help you trust that even though you don’t like this happening in your life, that He would help you use it for Him. The need to know everything can easily create bondage and anger. That is when it goes sideways and you can find yourself walking away from God just because you don’t get it. I don’t believe we will ever get to the point where we understand how God works; we think we should but we won’t. Why? Because as humans, we allow our own emotions and feelings to be involved. Here the focus is on us and how we feel and what we have a right to know, we think. If we trust Him, we can re-decide whether or not God is faithful. I have decided God is faithful all the time, even IF I don’t understand what is going on all around me. Again, will I trust Him?

Quiet time…so important to understanding.

If we get stuck in the “need to know” stage, it can cause a us to blow up. It becomes about you and what is happening; and inner focus. It sets you up to lies from the devil and more questions. He loves it when you doubt. Our greatest danger is when we turn our minds over to self and don’t ask God for His help. It is all how about we think…every day. What can we do about it? We can say, “God I don’t know why this has happened, but I am going to trust you anyway, and every time I doubt, I am going to ask You again to help me trust You!” I choose to rest and trust. You see, our culture WANTS us to blame someone. If you are listening to news, everyone is blaming someone else. How about we own up? Can we do that? Yes we can if we are willing to challenge ourselves to see where God is working.

Another hit: Do you WANT to be free or not? What may be needed is repentance and asking God for revelation of the circumstance. Have you ever thought there comes a time when you have to be scared of yourself? Anger can put us in that corner, and instead of trusting, we can come out fighting. Let’s ask Him to help us see it. And…what about that waiting thing? Could we bow before Him and say, “I am going to wait until my change comes.” If you surrender to this previous statement, you will have your mind and heart tested. Trust me on that! But…I challenge you to try hard to quit trying to figure it all out.

Bottom line? We need the presence of God and we need to be IN the presence of God. He will help us through what ever it is we have gone though. You may be thinking, “You have no idea what I have or am going through. You don’t know what I have had happen to me!” Let me assure you, I have had this lesson come home to roost on needing to know. I now tell myself what I need to be doing rather than let misunderstanding, anger, or focusing be my way of dealing with it. I know that God can, and will, help me see it without anger and hurt and misunderstanding of Him. We always want to lay blame somewhere when bad things happen, and God gets the blame a lot. Give Him a chance to give you what you need to make it through. We will most likely never totally understand it this side of heaven. However, we can learn to trust Him with everything we’ve got until heaven reveals the answers to us.

Lord, I don’t need to know, I am choosing to trust You instead. I want to live free of thinking there is always a human answer. Sometimes we DO come to know part of the reason. But many times that hard “trust factor” has to come into play.

And, I do trust Him. I have lived long enough to know I can, but not long enough that I can’t be touched by a reminder to do so. I hope this post does that for you also.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Distractions and Real Life

I am sitting at my new work station set up, and thought I would stop my working on the room and sit down and write. I’m sorry with the move to be so inconsistent.

I’m sure you have all had times where you have something planned and then life happens. We can’t always anticipate those times. For today’s purpose, I am not referring to those situations. So…let’s settle back for a few and see what this post is all about.

What we know is that unexpected things are one thing, but distractions are a whole other ball game, and they come in all forms. For example, today I am home alone in the house which doesn’t happen often. I have my very own schedule to work with and that is it. Because this doesn’t happen often, I want to enjoy it to the max and still get a few things done. However, we also know that even the best intentions sometimes go sideways. For me, there was the distraction of nice weather outside, and the possibility of a cool drink on the deck. Sounded wonderful to me. Then? Too hot out there, so I come in. Now, I have to cool down so I sit for a few. My devotions are right next to my chair, but I didn’t pick them up. Instead, I put a load of laundry in for my little trip. Yes, that needs to be done, but I had plenty of time to do the laundry AFTER I had my devotions. Or what about this senario? I know I should pick up my Bible more often than I do. And over all I do that. But do I have my devotions with my phone open and let outside distractions and influences with a scroll on Facebook, or any other social media take first place of my devotion time? Have you been there?

Maybe we need to sometimes let dishes go, or our bed go unmade, or any number of things, so that, we are ready for what God has for us during our quest time. He may want to prepare us for another type of moment that will bless someone else and in the process bless us. Maybe you have errands to run and the Holy Spirit nudges you to stop by a friend’s house while you are out, or to give them a call, but you have the errands in mind and away you go without that stop or phone call.

Today, I received a phone call and I spent a long, enjoyable time in phone conversation with a friend I hadn’t talked to for a long time. It would be a bit normal for me to do some things while taking, but today, I just sat down and enjoyed that time. I felt like I was being reminded to just listen. It felt good to zero in on where my attention was supposed to be…present with my friend. I don’t want to be so distracted that I am not present with someone. That isn’t the type of person I want to be. I also want to be present in my day so I have less distractions; things that pull me away from what God has for me each day. If I am doing that, then God graciously gives me time to get it all done. If I use my time well, I will be made aware of what is bumping into my time. We could save ourselves a lot of guilt if we controlled our distractions more. Distractions keep us from meaning, purpose, and satisfaction. Become more aware of what YOUR distractions are.

Joshua Becker says, “Become real with yourself.” I think that is something I have been encouraged by God to do a number of years ago. I have to quit justifying myself with distractions. Be real with myself and honest enough to really look at what is distracting me. I’m sure some of you can relate to that. I have been praying about my distractions. So what I am feeling is, God has been telling me to slow down all along. Sit outside when you can and enjoy what you see and hear around you. Be present and don’t wear yourself out with all the duties of life. They will still be there. Leave guilt behind. It doesn’t help us change. We have to leave what is behind and look to what is ahead. Ahead is where change can happen.

Moving into a different house always brings stress. I have fun putting it together, but I find myself focusing on things that aren’t all that important in the long run. I can’t do it all at once, so I am learning to celebrate the little joys. Taking a ride in the area and relax by the water somewhere is enjoyable. And…if I want to start my day out on the deck with a mocha and enjoy the quiet, then that is what I do. I stay and enjoy the soft wind and wind chimes and the birds and squirrels that visit us. I love the running water feature that sits on the deck. I am always grateful for the tap on the shoulder when I start to justify why I can’t do those things. So… since I have a couple of beautiful places to sit and enjoy the view, I do. I take my quiet time out there. I try to plan my day around “pauses” in the day and find myself much more in tune with what God wants me to be about doing and I feel so much happier about my day. I don’t have to strive to make it happy. It just is.

Obedience turns into a response to the love of our God rather than a duty to perform for Him.” Jennie Allen I believe that watching for the distractions in our lives that we can control, is a way of being obedient to what we need to do. Satan loves to keep us distracted so we aren’t available to do what we need to be doing. Or make our minds go in several different directions when we are trying to be present with Him. We have to tell him more often to take a hike. What are your distractions? Be real with yourself. You can’t make changes that are good ones if you are always distracted by the shiny things going on around you, or, being in denial about those activities that distract you.

What are your “stuck” places? Those pesky distractions that keep you from the changes needed, or being in the place God wants to work through you? Or, maybe the place or time where God wants to bless you with a quiet moment or an activity you feel like doing. I know over the last several months after moving, it has been a bit overwhelming and there have been distractions keeping me from writing and my reading schedule. But when I look at the time I have used doing some of activities, it is clear that satan doesn’t want me to read or to write…it might help me and possibly others that read it. He doesn’t want me focusing on the good, but he would rather me focus on the crazy world around me. He doesn’t want me to have peace and calmness in my life. He loves chaos because he knows we will accomplish less in our lives and feel more let down when we ignore what we know we should be doing. Sound familiar? I don’t think I am the only one.

So my encouragement for you today is to eliminate what slows down your opportunity to enjoy your day, rather than, not want to face it because of feeling overwhelmed and then guilty for not getting things done. I know that isn’t the kind of lifestyle God wants for any of us. Be honest with yourself and the ways you might fulfill your distraction quotient. Take that break with a cup of tea, or coffee, and listen for the still small voice that tells you to do something for someone else that day, or to spend time with Him. Then, watch what happens to you and your attitude. You will find joy in the results and your spirit will be lifted by the very action you take.

I know this has helped me just writing this post. I hope and pray that it will find its way to your heart as well. Thank you for being faithful readers! I so appreciate you stopping by. I pray for my readers and if there is specific situations you need prayer for, please drop them in the comments here on the blog and I will be happy to add them to my prayer list.

Be about a life with less distractions!

Until next time,

~JoAnn

A Blank Page for the Soul

If you were given a book of blank pages and asked to write a short version of your story for the day, what would you write? Because…that really is the story of your life. We each get a blank page everyday and it is up to us how we fill it.

My husband and I have moved to what many think is strange place, but then again, we have moved many times and I think it is the move that makes them wonder, and not just the place. But it IS an unexpected place for me. It has very warm summers I’m told, and I don’t do well in heat at all. Thank the Lord we have AC!! However, if you have read my posts, then you all know about that decision that led to our move here. But I am so happy for the position this move has given us and allowed us to accomplish! It hasn’t been a smooth ride for sure, but we are here and have accomplished a lot with the home and property. I would like to share with you what I have felt the Lord drop into my heart the last few days regarding this move and its meaning. It may be something that you have felt a nudge toward also, not a move maybe, but the ideas I will share may ring a bell and help you recognize it within yourself.

I am finally able to sit in my studio to write again. It has been a long few months of first, packing up the house for a move, and then make the move, and then unpacking it all. But today, I am sitting in my studio, sun shining outside, and promised myself that I would enjoy some time catching up with you. Thanks for you patience in waiting til I came back around again.

My feeling looking back now on the last few months is that God is moving and shaking this world. Sifting… asking us to rethink and maybe even reinvent ourselves a bit. In my case, it has provided an opportunity once again to hear what God is saying to us, and then step out into the unknown and see Him work. If we had not learned the value of listening to those nudges, ideas or dreams before in our lives, we might have missed it. You see, in our case, when we feel those nudges, ideas or dreams come up for us, my husband and I have learned to lean in and do what we feel He is encouraging us to do. Sometimes, it feels like a push! This change was similar to that kind of direction. I have learned not to be afraid of change and I have had a lot of it in my life. So here is the big idea: He has been speaking to me about looking at this season in my life as a blank page; a page I can fill each day; only I can fill it. I have shared before that we all have a story, and this move has been all about our story. I felt that my blank page was the first of many in my story book of this season of life. It has just begun anew in a different area. Now I am not a writer of books, but as a visionary lesson, that analogy works for me. I am fortunate to know a friend and a niece that live right close in the area and a few friends and a cousin who are 2 1/2 hours or so from me. So I am not totally alone. However my family, boys, grandson, and my many of my life time friends are around 5 to 6 hours by car from where I live. So that is a big adjustment. But you know, when God calls us to something, I know it is something good for me and it is for a purpose. Can you catch the vision of what a blank page and this insight may be? Does it resonate with you in some way? Because today you had an opportunity to write your own page. Do you like how you wrote it?

So… what is going to fill my pages? Part of my page is filled with a life I enjoy. I am living a slower life style. God put nature around us to enjoy as a way of connecting with Him. I have come to really enjoy that. In my case, when we go to the lake or for a drive to look at nature, we can appreciate its beauty and it makes us feel grateful for that beauty and the ability to go out and enjoy it. So I have already written on a few pages in my visionary book. I have started using my gratitude jar again and that will be like writing on my page each day. I think my page for a while may be like a series of pages that belong in the first chapter called “Let’s Get Reacquainted” for a while. When we get our lives so tied up in DOING, we can slowly find ourselves desensitized to the feeling of having things so busy that we don’t enjoy BEING. Another thought to consider is maybe in reality, we don’t like ourselves enough to just be with ourselves. Or, it makes us think about our lives, what was done or not done, and we deal with guilt. I don’t know what your situation is, but I know I have spent years rewiring my brain to not feel like I have to be doing something all the time. To drop kick that guilt out of my life years ago, I can tell you, it is a VERY liberating feeling!

So… here we are in this new little town, in very different house, not knowing many people at this point. So what will I do? I have found more and more that slower life is my joy. My plan is to enjoy the outdoors and nature as much as possible before it gets too hot this summer. We are exploring the area and finding spots by the water. We have a fire pit to enjoy a fire in the evenings when there isn’t a burn band on, which may not be all summer here. 😦 I enjoy taking pictures of the surrounding areas just because I love to create. I will establish relationships and get back into my studies now that my desk is all set up. Have mochas on the deck. I have stories already filling my pages. I am letting God direct where my emphasis goes because He knows best. I am now slowly getting back to reading which I love. My point? I am looking forward to getting acquainted with myself in ways that bring joy to me, and choosing where I will get involved. I eliminate drama from life as much as possible. I lend an ear most certainly, but I also set bounderies. I can walk around our yard and find joy in it. I will never take that for granted, nor my freedom to live my life as I choose. I am even drawing a few small pictures here and there on my page. Why not? It is for my page. In my vision for my pages, I can see the joy in doing so, even if I am not an artist. I can use photos to encourage myself to stop and see life happening around me. Another goal is making a photo gallery of photos that I have taken and mount them all across the space above my windows. I love taking them so why not have them available to see? I want to use my time to be an encouragement to others. My page is already full today!

I think many individuals think that they are too busy with their lives and families to have time to stop and enjoy the moment. But that doesn’t have to be true. You get on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok many times a day watching what others are doing and in the process you may be missing out on things happening right in front of you. I have learned, with many losses in my life, that enjoying our life is important because we have more behind us than we have in front of us. We can’t be sure of even that because only God knows when. So… we want to live it well. We aren’t going to heaven and be asked how many movies we saw. Or, how many “likes” we got on that one post, or how much did you amass in things you own? However, you may be asked why you didn’t give your children or those closest to you, more of your time. Why you didn’t help where you saw a need and COULD have helped. Why didn’t you come talk to Me more?

My advice to you is don’t wait to take time to write on your own page. Don’t wait for age to be the reason to free up time to stop and sit a minute with yourself. Stop. Listen to life around you. What do you hear? It can settle a heart right down. Take a few deep breaths too while you are there.

Gratitude Jar

Did you know that you are on my page? Most certainly. When I write, I write for you to have something to think about and ponder. So today, you are a part of my page and story. I hope you have found this story worthy of your time in reading it, and that it has given you time to think about your own page. Ask yourself what that might look like if you thought of each day as a blank page to be written. Don’t leave it blank for someone else to write on. Write on it yourself with what you choose as a memory. It is your proving ground.

You may only live once but that doesn’t mean we get one life. We can deliberately choose one each and every day. ~ A friend of Elissa Joy Watts

May this day be a moment to slow down and search inward. May urgency dissipate and delight remain. May inspiration abound, and may you choose well as you journey forward, one deliberate decision at a time, into all your wild and precious weeks ahead.

~ Elissa Joy Watts

Until next time…

~JoAnn

~~🥰~~ In loving memory of my special friend, Betty, who always wrote her own page..

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