Where Pause and Time Meet

One of my new to me Starbucks cups with a message.

I heard a statement recently that really hit home for me. I know and understand the concept but it was time for me to hear it again. What was the statement? My paraphrase is that the devil doesn’t have to work very hard in and around us. Why? Because all he has to do is distract us. Wow!! You may want to read that again. Are you and I THAT easy?? We ARE! So here is the tie in.

Hubby and I had a two night and three day get-away this last weekend, and as usual, my mind, body and soul, get cleared out. As it is for me when I get away, God speaks even more clearly to me. A fresh wind blows deep down into my soul. He knows I will settle into a time of refreshment and that He has a chance to speak without distraction, and I listen more intently. Let me share some thoughts with you regarding my “Pause” and my Time, and where and why they blew into my heart and refreshed my soul.

Let me start with a question. Does being happy make you healthier? I am a firm believer in the fact that happiness brings health to the body and the soul. I think the happier we are, the healthier we are, or can be. For me there is a definite connection. When we left for our time away, we left anything behind that required our attention. No lists and half-to activities. We left with the idea that we would enjoy every minute, big or small, roll with the punches, and just enjoy each and every moment…sun or rain. We would enjoy each other, the fact that we can move and go and see our area of Washington with new eyes, because it isn’t he same as the last time we were there.

So maybe it is this time where I asked myself, what makes you happy? THIS. Seeing family, seeing nature, some thrift store and antique shopping, reading a good book, singing as I travel low and to myself, and enjoying the sounds of nature around me. THAT. Purchase of items to bring into my home that make me happy, give me a memory, or something new my hubby and I can share for a memory…those are the things that make my soul sing. I FEEL like singing. What makes your happiness meter soar? And please don’t tell me you can’t do THAT. Because it will be different for you and your family but it is still important to do it. Maybe it is playing in the back yard, or an ice tea on your deck or porch, or ten minutes in a good book or magazine. However, the things that make you happy will make you want to be better in all the other areas of your life. You feel refreshed and like you can get back into life in your corner of the world.

If we have problems, or feel angry or cheated out of being happy, then we are just asking for a less healthy life. It wears us down. Do what brings your happiness meter up. Your inner self knows what that is. Let it be so in each day! Close your eyes and dream what makes you happy and what that looks like for you. Now before anyone gets too excited, I am not meaning this to be a selfish way where its all about you. However, when you are happy, those around are happier. God can work in and around you because you will tend to commune with Him more with a grateful attitude. Give yourself time for a pause, it might be to meet up God for a few minutes, which should be daily in the best way it works for you. What about an afternoon phone call, a drive, a couple days somewhere planned ahead. Ask yourself what you need. Ask God to show you. And by the way, less time with God, less happiness within. Also my own personal motto.

I love it for the above reasons. I don’t come back from a “pause meets time” the same as I was. Don’t give up on yourself with this. You know, sometimes we are just doing things that aren’t even something God has ordained for us. Instead, we are doing something we want, and want God to bless, but we haven’t really been honest with God enough about where we are to make good decisions about it. We may even be afraid to ASK Him for fear He will say, “That wasn’t my deal for you. You stepped into that one without really weighing the cost or talking to Me about it.” Don’t lose yourself in the maze of life by being anything but who YOU are meant to be. It will be frustrating as you try to be what someone else is, or having what someone else has. It also leads to discontentment in your spirit, and there goes the happiness meter down the tubes.

Let’s talk about another thought I weighed out in my mind while we were gone. I felt free! THAT made me feel a sense of happiness. It can be thought of as reclaiming your time. We did that. We didn’t have so many plans that if we didn’t get to it, we were disappointed. If it didn’t work, there was next time. That freedom to decide can lift your happiness meter up several levels. Again, you have to examine how you can take some of these thoughts captive for you and your situation. What is important is that you think about them at all. Then asking yourself, what can I do to give me a sense of freedom and happiness in my life?

You are still here and you are in charge of it. So if something in your life needs to change, change it. If you need to do something different or in a different way, go there. I came home with some treasures! In the same way I look at these times away, I look at things with new eyes when I come back home. I change out items, I share some, and re-arrange spaces in my home to work better than before. You can do that with what you already have…just take the time to really look at it. You see, I have re-invented myself in every home I have lived it, at least 12 times in 23 years. I have learned new skills which change how my home is set up. I have different interests as opportunity has presented itself to learn something new. So… it changes. We reinvent ourselves. I feel content and happy in those changes. I enjoy every aspect with renewed ferver. My happiness meter just jumped up today as I changed something around to work better in my kitchen. It can often be one or two things and WOW, you would think you got a new lease on life! Well…you sort of did! Your pause met time!

Don’t give up. Don’t give in to the distractions. Life is too short to live it without happiness and good health. It IS tied together. Try it for yourself in some small area of your life and see if you don’t get a little tickle deep in your soul… that sense of happiness. You know what that feeling is? It is recognition when your soul and spirit whispers to you, “Now THIS is living!”

Deut. 4:9

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Loneliness vs Solitude and Knowing God

Loneliness is not the same as solitude.

Lonliness is a kind of negative feeling, as in being around others but still feeling lonely. It may mean you are living an isolated lifestyle. It can also come from just being tired or feeling a loss of vitality. Many times lonliness came because of something you feel in your mind and thinking rather than it being true of yourself, especially if you aren’t isolating. It might be because of loss, or because you feel everything is going sideways.

Solitude is a way of being away from society for a period of time. It may be chosen or it might have been chosen for you. It may be a time you experience changes in yourself; discover things about yourself or your life, without any other distractions influencing you. It’s a time of contemplation and self-examination. It gives space and time to reflect. We all need times of solitude.

God may use one to get to the other, but we don’t perceive it that way. I spend a lot of time alone from friends and family because in many cases, I have lived far away from them. And in this last year and a half, we have all had time away from all our friends and family. What I want to say about that is, God will use that time and sometimes purposefully move us out away for the purpose of getting our attention. He moved me to Missouri for two years to get my attention and to draw me closer to Him and give me knowledge I didn’t have before. I learned that as I worked for a minsitry there. I was on the Potter’s wheel. I learned SO much during that time. BUT…I WAS lonely even though I made friends at the ministry. It was difficult to be away from those I knew all my life, my family, particularly my kids and my dad. However, sometimes that is the way God can really speak into our lives in a big way. He did that for me. I have precious friends from my time there and gained experience I would not have had, and a depth of relationship with Him I would not have had. I saw Him perform big and large miracles going there and while I was there. I became more rooted and grounded in Him.

So what does that closer relationship have to do with you or me today? Let me share a few ideas with you and let’s let the Carpenter hone us a bit with His miraculous skill and tools. If we speak of knowing God, then that means we must allow God to know us in all areas of our lives. That means all those places you might not be willing to show Him. In fact, you may be doing some isolating from God because of those areas. If we invite Him into our lives, we must be willing to let Him into all our rooms. He knows them anyway, don’t you know?? We can’t hide our language at home from Him, or our secrets from our lifestyle, or all those inner things that go on with us…He knows them already. But coming to Him with that, means we are willing to allow Him in, we are acknowledging those areas to Him, and that allows Him to work within you to give you extra strength to give them up. This allows God to dwell within you in a way you have never felt before. When that happens, we are allowing God to work in our lives in ways we haven’t experienced prior in our lives. When we see God working in an area of our lives and see His miraculous works, we gain faith we didn’t have before…we come to experience yet another facet of God working in our lives. He wants to operate in your lives like never before! Boundless even. Stop and examine that paragraph again and see if it rings true for you.

If we want God to live in our hearts, we are giving Him access to our “house”. That means we give Him full access; not just one area, but ALL. He knows them anyway, as I said before. Why do you think we do that? Are we afraid of what God might find or show us if we open ourselves up like that? I think so. We talk about wanting a deeper relationship and feeling closer to Him, but then we don’t open up for Him to work in us. If we don’t, we open ourselves up to the devil using those areas or rooms we keep closed to badger us on a daily basis. I had an experience this last week and I had to walk over to the door of my studio and tell the devil to get out! I gave a kick for good measure using the Word as I kicked!

So if you are feeling alone or isolated, ask God what is up with it? Is He trying to get your attention for a purpose of teaching or correction? Is He trying to help you think through what you are feeling and why? I have learned asking myself questions is a good way to get honest with myself. THEN I can ask God to help me in those areas I discover. If you feel despondent, ask yourself why you feel that way, and ask God to show you what is really behind it. He will. He wants to heal you and open doors to your “house” where you both can sit and have a conversation about it. Can you imagine that? You and Jesus sitting across from one another and chatting about a difficult situation, season, loss, misdirection, sinful act, or whatever it be? He wants to hear from you and He may just bring you to a place of being by yourself, so that, He may speak into your life and help you discover where that hurt started, and now where it can be surrendered to the only One that can really take it away forever.

My Grandma’s Bible –
A Legacy

Don’t be afraid to be alone and enjoy those times of lonliness or solititude to really listen. It can be very beneficial. If you feel you are isolating yourself on purpose becasue of some of your feelings, then it is wisdom to learn why. To do that for long periods of time is not healthy either because other problems can come into play. But God knows the difference and He will help you navigate that journey. Trust Him. Don’t lose heart. He has seen it all. There is nothing new under the Son.

For the love of the moment…

~JoAnn

A Tuesday… Pause

Today, I was thinking about where I am…oh, not just in the physical sense of where I live or what room I’m in, but where I am in life. Where do I want to be? What is my vision of what I would like my life to look like? What brings me comfort and happiness? I have found that asking questions in my daily life has been one thing that has helped me the most through the years. Why? Because it keeps me honest with myself. We can make ourselves believe almost anything if we allow justification and excuses, or even blame, to enter into our thinking. AND… if we tell ourselves that long enough, we will believe it. Questions keeps me honest with myself if I answer myself with the truth. Of course, I have a great “Truth Agent” in my life who helps me, if I am willing to ask, and sometimes He tells me even if I don’t want to know. We need to face things head on with all honesty if we truly want to be living the way God wants us to live. We need to be following His lead, and not leading our own selves and then asking Him to bless that.

I think in many ways, these times we are living in has made many of us re-evaluate what we want in life and how we want to live. Where do we land with our priorities? We have been forced to slow down; to not get to do things our way. Many of these new guidelines have not been fun at all. Even hurtful to some of us. Changes are good and often times the best for us, but it goes back to our questions. Do we listen to them, or ignore them by justifying why we do the old things in the first place? Are you getting a picture of where I am going with this? Let’s look deeper…

As many of you know if you follow me, I am a BIG proponent of a slower life style. Now… many say, “You can do that because your retired.” However, I have found that retirement doesn’t mean my life stops. I’m very busy. I’m just busy with different things. I also deal with a retired hubby and that in itself makes a difference because they are with you all the time, and it can make it difficult to get done what you need to get done. That said, I had years of going 90 per. I didn’t like it then, and I don’t like it even more now. I would have loved to have been a stay at home mom and wife. But given my circumstances, and yes, my decisions at the time, I allowed outside influences to determine what I should do. But even in that time of my life, I was active with my walk with the Lord and studying. In this day, we have so much information to help us make better decisions, that it comes down to how much we are doing things our way, or God’s way. I have discovered through asking questions of myself, that in those days, I let outside influences determine what I did instead of listening to my heart where God was speaking. I cared about what others thought of me in ways that weren’t healthy for me. That happened in many circumstances. So… it has led me to begin asking myself the hard questions and then answering those as honest as I can. Now when we have different schedules, let’s take the time to ask ourselves the hard questions, as well as the fun questions. Let’s stop living lives that compare ourselves to others in life, homes, cars, clothes, and achievements. It leads us into wrong thinking and decisions.

We often keep ourselves busy so we don’t HAVE to think about where we are and what we are doing. Maybe… we aren’t trusting God to take care of us and since we don’t feel He is, we go about doing something about it oursleves. Boy can THAT get us into trouble!! But God didn’t ask us to be another person’s project manager. He asked us to live has He lived, and love like He loved. We are to be an example for other to watch, so that, they see the way we live and want to live that way. That means, we need to put our priorities in right order and live a life that others see and want to have. We particularly need to do that within our families because our kids will see our way of life and the way we handle things, and most of the time, carry that into their lives and relationships as well. THAT is rather scary to think about, but so true. It is worth us asking ourselves the hard questions and answer them so that we can let others see how living our life this way, can bring about a great life.

So…let’s get back to one of the questions I started with…”What brings comfort into your life?” As an example, I have previously shared of my life, I love a cozy atmosphere in my home. I like soft light of a lamp or candles, I enjoy cozy clothes at home, a loaf of bread baking in the oven, a good book/magazine in my hand with an afghan wrapped around me, and a mocha in my hand. I love to have time to play my instruments and sing along. My favorite place also is my studio area at my desk with a favorite hot or cold drink, my lamp lit on “relax”, a glassybaby lit, and a study that I’m learning from, which is how I am right now today as I write this. I enjoy reading before I go to sleep, so I also make time for that. For you, it may be coffee with a friend.I love to sit outside with my hands warmed to a fire. I know these activities are important for me to keep me on the right track. I know that about myself. It is not just good for me, I choose them because I know I NEED them.

Have you ever stopped long enough to ask yourself what brings you joy and comfort? Because many times we don’t. We just keep pressing on, maybe even afraid to ask oursleves that because we know it will require something of us. Changing something, stopping something, or beginning a new habit. But promise me you will ask yourself, “What brings comfort in my life?” and leave it in the comments. I would love to hear. Each of you will choose so differently. But that is the fun of it! It might be family time over a puzzle or game, or an outting together. Please feel free to share.

It is my prayer that as we have had to slow down, we have learned something about ourselves, become more aware of our thoughts, and take the time to answer the hard questions that I’m sure have also come up for you. Our life is meant to live, not just endure. The way we live today determines our tomorrow. Before your next step, ask yourself as Andy Stanley talks about in his book, Better Decisions, Fewer Regrets, “What is the wise thing to do?” or this one is a real nailer…”Given my past, and my present circumstances, what would be the wise decision to make?”. I have found that to be a great book and made me think again about asking myself the important questions and being honest about my thinking and answers in that process. What I have discovered is, when I answer, I find I have not always been willing to shed the light into all the dark corners of my life’s story. THAT in itself, will lead me to make the wrong decisions because I end up taking it with me into my future again.

Do the things that bring you joy and don’t feel guilty if you aren’t running around doing everything. We were not meant to live such busy lives that lead us to less time for ourselves and family. We WILL pay the price for that some day if you aren’t careful with our daily lives and choices. Pause…have a cup, read something you enjoy, just sit in the chair and listen to your music for a while, call a friend, sending a snail mail note, take some pictures, cuddle up in something warm, lean back and close your eyes for a few mintues and just say “thank you” that you have this moment or two in time. You don’t get them back. We wear busy like a badge and we have seen that come to a hault in many ways, and many have had a hard time knowing what to do with themselves when required to be at home day in and day out. Take away what you can to make this learning time something that changes you for moving forward. Those around you will thank you. Looking forward to your comments!

Living in the moment…

~JoAnn

The Newest and Greatest Thing

Have you noticed how, especially at the beginning of a year, we get inundated with the newest strategy for organizing ourselves, our prayer life, our study, how to live our best lives, the newest gadget to help with all of the above? Today, it hit me how all this gets pushed in front of our eyes and we can get so distracted with the newest thing, that we lose sight of what needs to be done first, as well as, WHO we should come to first.

If I am not willing to develop the habit of writing things down in an organized way or a list, what good is the newest and coolest datebook or calendar book for me? Oh sure, I could spend money on it, but if I’m not in the habit of writing things down in that way, I will probably not do it with the greatest organizer book either. I might look good and even a bit perfessional, but it will also probably be more empty than full because of lack of use.

If I’m not a reader of many books, or of the Bible, what good will buying another book or study book do me? My intentions are great. I’m going to study more or read more. But if I haven’t developed the habit of doing either of those things, buying the next thing isn’t such a wise choice. I just add another thing to my shelf. But then, I also add some guilt to the mix because I don’t read it anyway and feel guilty for spending the money.

Oh! I know! If I have that new iPhone or Tablet, then I will for sure be more organized and I can have it with me all the time to keep me organized. THAT will make me more “put together” this year!

We get inundated with what to buy and we are convinced that next great thing will do it. We want to be like that person we see advertising the journal that writes in it everyday and boy what an artist she is! We get the journal and we can’t even draw a good circle, let alone make beautiful lettering in it.

I know many who have gotten an iWatch to be on top of their exercise and movement. But you know what? They don’t get out and walk or move that much to utilize the iWatch to the full potential. The breathing icon pops up and you look at it, but say, “not now, I have to do such and so”. Or reminds you that you should get out and walk, but you don’t feel like it.

Even in the Christian community, we are inundated with the newest study that will change your life, or the newest Bible that is going to help you understand everything you read. Or how a journal Bible will write your thoughts down as you read. That may be true if you are doing it already as you study. If you aren’t, it may not do what you are expecting and you have another book that is sitting on your shelf. Now don’t get me wrong, I DO study with several Bibles because I like to read the translations to help clarify verses. But I have a habit of using them daily. So for me, the investment is qualified. Then, I am moved toward knowledge and my study is enhanced as well.

Are you getting the idea? We are pretty A.D.D. when it comes to being distracted by the glitter and glitz of the newest and greatest. However, we do very little about the habits we need to cultivate if we are to effectively use the tools available to us. Want a good example? Just look at your social media feeds at all the things that people want to sell you. What if we went back to the very beginning with ourselves and ask, “What do I really need to do more of in order to help me become a person of good habits, better organzied, or more skilled in my area of expertise?” This goes whether you are a stay at home parent, a professional out in the work place, or retired. We often let the glitz and glitter pull us into spending more than necessary before we have established habits that will be enhanced by some of those tools. It can distract us from doing what we should be doing at that moment, when what we need to do, is scroll on by.

For me, I want to ask God to help me establish good habits first, habits that I can say I have accomplished consistently for a long period of time, so that, I can benefit from choosing whether this newest and greatest thing will enhance my endeavors, or whether I am just spending money to “appear” a certain way, or maybe that I’m buying on impulse. I also know for me, I have always asked myself if I am willing to take on the learning curve of that new “thing”. I didn’t before and sometimes I find I spent the money and it hasn’t worked out as well for me in terms of money well spent. I love technology so it is hard for me not to want the newest and greatest. But I’m learning to be content with what I have.

So in these times where we can get distracted by the newest and greatest, when economically, we have to be wise, let the message of this post challenge you where you are. The next time you are tempted, ask yourself some of the questions here and see if it lines up with where you are. Do you need to establish some foundational habits in order to gain from that newest gadget or book or whatever it is? Will you use it consistently? Or will you start out with a bang and then it sits? Be honest with yourself, otherwise you will get hooked by pictures and words.

Does this challenge you? I was challenged by writing this post. I hope you take a few moments to consider the implications for distraction and good choices in your daily life. This very moment I am asking God to further help me make the very choices I need, just as I am challenging you to do today.

For the love of the moment…

~JoAnn

Creating the Moment You Are In

Today I once again realized how much of my life story is in photos; not just a click of a camera or phone camera, but of setting up the photo so it conveys a message. At least that is my hope. I take photos every day from various parts of my day. Don’t get me wrong, that isn’t ALL I do, but it certainly is a part of all that I do. But it sure helps me be present in the moment!

You might say, “What’s the big deal?” Well, in my experience, I have found that often times our kids don’t really hear what we have to say. That isn’t just in this present day either. I often times wish I would have listened more to my elders, asked questions to see if on the right day I would get the answers. I didn’t think about it then. I do now. So I hope at some point when I am not a round to wait until they ask the questions, they will one day see them in my story of photos. We are more of a light to others by how we live than talking or pushing them in a direction. I so agree with that. So my photos will be a legacy to them at some point in their lives and I hope that they will come to know me even better through that legacy of photos.

Let’s think about that for a moment. What can we offer to those who are around us in our sphere of influence? Are we walking in the fruit of the Spirit, or are we walking to impress someone, be known, or be in the middle of the crowd for attention? Is it really about the house we live in, the car we drive, the sports our kids are a part of, how good they are in those sports, our clothes, our looks? Really? Is that what we want others to see? Or do we want to invite others into our home to share hospitality with them, use our car to help get someone to a place they need to go, allow SOME sports for their education and teach team efforts, or look at our closets and see if we can share some of what we have, or let the beauty from within shine from within? I am learning that lesson everyday given all the surgery on my nose and face. I believe that more than ever before, we need to exercise our spiritual muscles now, so that, we can carry what God has for us to carry later on. We never know when that heavier load will come upon us.

So today as I think about these things, I have my “YES” glassybaby burning on my desk to remind myself to say “yes” to God again at the beginning of each of my days here on earth. I want to say yes to where He wants to take me, say yes to His teaching through His word, say yes to the nature around me and say yes to get on track to put myself in the best position I can to do what He asks of me. Simple? Well…yes it can be. We just need to say, “I surrender”, to God on every level of my life. Empty every room of our spiritual house. Simple? Maybe not so simple if you have been living for yourself more than living from a place of surrender each day to His will. I choose to wake up with a good morning to God, with a surrender of my day on my lips, and a request for Him to lead and guide me this day. What joy can come from those simple steps. I am committed. I’m even changing my sign off here on the blog this year! I believe that each moment in life is precious. So catch a hold of it it and use it for change for His purposes, and He will use it for yours!

I’m saying a resounding YES to Him today! Are you? Can you? I’m cheering you on!

For the love of the moment…

~JoAnn

Align Thyself

An alignment lesson at a stop light.

The other day, I was driving in to my chiropractor to get my body re-aligned. I had been quite a lot of pain during Christmas and standing to cook and bake was quite difficult. So as soon as he was back in the office, I made an appointment and got in the same day. Afterwards, I felt relief already and knew I was going in the right direction, and would soon be feeling much better. Because I asked, he gave me a couple of things I could do at home to help in the healing process. I felt some hope for the pain to be gone.

So…celebrate everything, right?? I celebrated and went to Starbucks for a peppermint mocha. Coming out of their parking lot I had to go the opposite direction to make a turn and then u-turn around again to go home. We often have detours in our lives, don’t we? But at that stop light, I thought I should take a picture, why I didn’t know, but I did. Little did I know the treasures that I would find in that quick picture while stopped at the light. Let me explain.

Look at the picture above…I took the picture without knowing what I would find later. But the thought that came to mind was this: Just like I have to keep my body in alignment so that I don’t have to live in pain, I need to remember that my spirit needs to be in line with what God is doing or wants to do in my life. With a new year coming up, even more so. I felt He gave me that message for just that purpose; to remind me that I need to be doing inside alignment as well as my physical body. As there are stretches and walking that I can do to keep my body’s alignment from pain, there are some stretches and walking with Jesus that I need to do. I asked the Dr what I could be doing to help myself at home, and I also need to be asking the Great Physician what I need to be doing to keep my spirit in alignment with Him. What do I need to know, and where do I need to be, to do what He has for me in this New Year coming up.

The other part of this picture is the sweet heart above the starbucks cup. Now I love mochas, but I really felt it was to let me know He loved me and wanted me to see and then know these things were for me that very day. I had a hard couple of days and it was a wonderful reminder that I wasn’t alone. After all, my mini is called The Captain because He is the Captain of my ship, or mini in this case. And He was right there beside pointing and telling me to take the picture.

The third part of this story is the review mirror. We often look back over our year and see all the things that didn’t go the way we wanted them to. But what IF we looked at all the things that went RIGHT last year. We experienced so many negatives this year, that we had to keep re-adjusting ourselves every day to keep us going forward. Hardships galore! Losses of various kinds. We can glance back, even learn from it, but our review mirror is a fraction of the size of our windshield! That means we need to be looking ahead to see the big picture!! I don’t think it is about what we change in the new year, as much as it is how we grow next year.

With that in mind, I have a goal to keep my alignment for my physical body, as well as, my spiritual soul and spirit, in as perfect of an alignment as I can. However, I can only do that when I am visiting my Chiropractor monthly to stay in alignment, doing the right life style steps for me to stay in good health, and then going to God for His teaching and views on my growth and where He wants to work with me being His hands and feet. I might still have to go through some pain (as with my nose again this January) to remind myself even again next year, that I have some perspectives to continue learning. But… I will never forget that day in December at the stop light where all three lessons came into view!

Grow and learn!! THAT will change you!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Prevail in 2021

As this year comes to a close, and a page is ready to turn in the new book of 2021, I always look forward to turning the page. As I do, I ask God to put a word on my heart for the new year. As always, He does. This year, my word is…PREVAIL. Wow! What a word to be given with all that is going on in our world right now. But let me share with you my process as I thought about this word. I want to share some of the definition:

verb: prevail

  1. prove more powerful than opposing forces; be victorious.”it is hard for logic to prevail over emotion”

    win; triumph; be victorious; carry the day; succeed; conquer; overcome; gain/achieve mastery; reign
  2. be widespread in a particular area at a particular time; be current.”an atmosphere of crisis prevails”

    be present; hold; be prevalent; be the order of the day; be established; abound; hold sway; endure; survive; persist; established.

So… when I started researching this word, it became quite exciting to me because I wasn’t all that excited when it first came up. To me, it mean enduring the hard, or pressing on in spite of…that kind of perspective. I thought oh no! It is hard enough without that! But as I read the word’s meaning, a new encouragement came into my spirit. I mean, look at some of those words to describe Prevail! Well…let’s look together at it more closely.

I make goals each year, as I have shared before, and pray over them. As the year progresses, I highlight when it has been answered or provided for. It helps me see what God is doing in my life at a glance and reminds me of His love for me. I am in the process now of writing them out. But this word helps me to see that I need to work on staying the course no matter what I am feeling. If I do that, pray over situations, I can succeed, I can conquer the doubts or fear, I can overcome obstacles and achieve mastery over emotions and hard times and take back the reigns of my life with God’s help. If I stay in the present instead of looking too far ahead with our world right now, I can enjoy and be in the moment and not let a crisis hang around and bring me down. I love the definition of “hold sway”! That speaks to me. It reminds me of a sailing term where you have to stand fast and hold the sails to survive the high seas. So…I will stand strong and not let the waves of despondency take over when I feel helpless to do anything. Sometimes, I think that is where God wants me. If I then hear His voice, He may be asking me to move out of the way so He can work. This word tells me I can survive anything if I persist. I can establish myself in a firm stance and prevail! Hold sway!

Made the ornament and it will hang across from my desk so I see it every day.

Now…isn’t that a word to encourage?!?!??? I think so. I am excited to see what God does in my life this next year. I have done a lot of this in the last year already and I believe God is telling me to stay the course. Keep doing what I am doing only gain more trust, persist in relationships, be there for those who need it, and make sure I am filling myself up with the things that bring me joy and deepen my relationship with Him. Clean up my surroundings, so that, I am not distracted by that which keeps me from doing what I am supposed to be doing.

Wow! A New Year and a new word! The pages of 2021 are empty and waiting! Let’s turn the page and begin writing this year’s story with confidence. Turn off the TV. Do what you enjoy. Keep the faith. Get back to basics. Love on each other. Go beyond anything you have done so far just to see God open doors He may have never opened yet for you. But in trust, He says, “You are ready now!” Go do what I have for you to do! And…prevail!

My leading photo is is one I took recently and a good reminder of this word. The road won’t always be straight as in the picture, but I can trust Him to lead me on to the end. I may find myself off track and in the ditch at times, or I may have mountains and hills to climb, but He will give me the strength to previal if I ask Him to. I also need His power within to keep going, sometimes MUCH more than others. Life is NOT fun sometimes. How well I know that. I get to start off my year with a repair to my nose…once again. However, there is something He is teaching me in the process that when I get it, I will see His hand working in me. In that I know I can trust. Teachable moments just like we use with our children is also valuble to us as adults. God is willing to continue to teach us if we are willing to listen. You see, I won’t move forward or learn something new if I just look in front of me at my current circumstances only. That helps no one. However, looking toward a mountain or a hill, or even in a ditch and asking God to move it or me, to help me climb it, or show me a way around it, that is to prevail in the best sense of the word; that is victory! But also, realize there is a beauty to be seen even in the mountain before us if we are aware and look, just as in the message of this picture! Looking beyond what you see to what you can learn from it.

I was watching a movie last night and she gave a very truthful statement that was so profound that I had to stop the movie and write it down:

“People want to change the past, so they can remember what it is they want to remember.” As you go into this next year, look at your life in the truth of today and change what is today so that you live tomorrow how you want to live. Take her advice.

Never give up! Stand strong and hold sway!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

A Christmas Assignment

This morning as I opened up a writing group that I am a part of, we were asked to write about the Christmas lights both inside and outside. So I sat in front of my fireplace with my iPad and my mocha, and enjoyed writing this short assignment. I hope it brings joy to you!

On this yet another rainy day, I’m sitting in front of my fireplace with a nice fire burning and enjoying the lights of Christmas, while in the background I hear my grandparents old clock ticking time away in the background. Inside on my small modest little tree and treasures, it lights my world with joy! I can also easily look out my window and see my front porch adorned with white lights and a splash of color right at the entry steps. It brings unspeakable joy to my heart. I think it is because it reminds me of Christmas in the past, where as a little girl, we didn’t have much but we were rich in love and giving. I loved Christmas as a little girl and all the wonderful smells of the Christmas tree and decorations adorning the tree. You see, my tree has some of those same ornaments today. I have always loved lights, candles and reflective light. So every time I see the lights of many colors surrounding me, I am brought back to a time of comfort and thankfulness for all God has done and the home from which I came. When I light my home for Christmas, inside or out, I am announcing the joy of the Christmas Child born to eventually save ME. How could I look at Christmas lights and not be the most grateful woman on earth? I could not, and I do not. I let the lights surrounding me bring joy to me and everyone who enters my home. It is my way to share what this Season means to me. So as I sit here looking at those very lights, I say thank you to God for sending His Son, and that the joy of that Star long, long ago on that day, still shines in and around my life and home today.

So…enjoy the lights of Christmas that is around you and be sure to make some of your own. I think it is more important than ever for us to create joy in our hearts and homes. God bless you this Christmas. Turn on the lights and enjoy them all day and evening! Merry Christmas!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

I’ve Got This!

Ever said that to yourself? I know I have. It has sometimes in the past been easier for me to tell myself that, rather than turning it over to God, who can and will remind me that, “I’ve got this JoAnn”. But… I can easily forget to take it to God first, because I feel like I got it on my own. What a mistake I, and maybe you also, can make by this mindset. I need to take it to God first.

It’s like me in honing my skills for making sourdough bread. I can try making it based on what I think I know, or even what a friend does. However, we know in baking there are many variables and if I don’t know what those are, I’m not going to have the same results as others, or even as good of results as others. It is best if I go witness what another experienced baker does, or read a book about it from their experience. I can learn all those little tricks and techniques that can help me be successful. But even then, I can have a loaf come out of the oven and looks as though I have arrived, but really my rise is left lacking in my expectations. I have to go back and learn what I may be doing wrong. And just l like listening to others can confuse our decisions or direction in life, so it is with reading various books about making bread. They all have their ideas of what works best. I find at times that I am in the middle of the kitchen with books spread out around me and thinking, “What the heck? Does anyone agree on the same technique?” The answer is… nope. We are each unique and different and so how we approach even making bread is an example of how different we are. Our home and environment make a difference in how the bread loaf comes out. But as in life, being a life long learner, I will learn more from experience, and I am not afraid to try it again. I can even go to God first with my bread making to help me. You say, “Oh I don’t think God cares about how our bread comes out, JoAnn”. Well…I think He does. He cares about what we care about. Am I trying to make bread when there is lots activitiy going on around me? Am I stressed out just to get it done? You see, I want to enjoy the process, and then I know I will enjoy the yummy bread too!

In the same way that I am learning to be a better bread baker, I have to remember that God and His Word is where I need to go to first for my daiily life needs. He knows. He knows me. He welcomes my seeking Him. He has the answers, even when I might not get to know what those answers are right now. I am thankful that reading the Bible does not vary and that I can get the same insight and answers no matter when, where or how I read it, which personally I like the Bible in front of me to read from rather than a phone. I like the insights from the notes in the Bible to help give understanding if I need it. It is sure something I need with all that is going on right now. I need to read it, be encourage by it, and know the truth of it. I DO need to take time to read it, however. Our life this year has been hard enough without feeling like there is no hope. There IS hope. I have a choice how I look at it, and my response to it as well. I could complain, rant and rave, be upset, step into the drama, or I can go my way and stay in peace; keep my environment inviting, keep doing things that I love, praying about what is going on, and then let the rest go. That is what I do. It’s a good way to live.

Let me ask you a question…who do you put first in your life? We hear so much about taking care of ourselves, and putting ourselves first. But I don’t think it means in a selfish way. We should be caring for ourselves everyday in small ways and moments of time. How does your pyramid look? Who is at the top above everything else in your life? Do you have a tendancy to always think of yourself first? Be honest. Or, is it easy for you to put others first?

Huddled at the moment in my office space with candles burning, I ask myself the same questions. I am happy to share that I feel I put myself down on the pyramid a long ways because it doesn’t matter to me to have approval, the most attention, or to do something for the sake of someone knowing about it, or to think I am better than someone else. Doing for others comes naturally for me and I enjoy it. Even my photos are something I share more for giving you a fun moment to enjoy, rather than, just for a photography hobby I enjoy. Now in these times, it becames more difficult to do some types of things for others, but we CAN find ways. I believe my kids have learned that from me, at least I hope I have been an influence on them in that regard. They think nothing of helping another person where they can. I love that trait in them!

So don’t be discouraged; be encouraged!! Go to school with yourself. Keep learning. Keep doing the things that YOU enjoy. It keeps you happy and focused on what brings joy to you. Light the candle, give candle light at your dinner, even IF it is just you. When we do that, we are more likely to feel joy in our hearts. Life is harder at various times than other times. It is just that way. But knowing we can have a choice as to how we live in those times, like now, means we can make ways that work for us to cheer us on. When we do for others, we aren’t thinking about ourselves and our problems. We are bringing joy to someone else who may need it more than we do! I can guarantee it works!

Me? Well…I am putting up Christmas early this year to give myself a great long season of Christmas! It feels right and good to do so! Going back to the basics.

Have a joyous and fun Christmas Season!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

A Season of Pruning

Today with the activity at Bayshore House, I was reminded of a lesson that I think is good for all of us to remember. God planted the idea in my mind as soon as I saw the view before me. We all could use a little cutting or trimming. We get hair cuts, beard trims, lawn mowing and all kinds of daily life trimmings and cuttings. But none can give us a better visual than a tree cutting. The ones doing the felling are referred to as Tree Feller or Arborist, to name a couple names used. My father worked in the logging industry when he was a young adult, and later in his life he liked nothing better than to get out into the woods and fell trees to cut up for our wood stoves. It was something he seemed to really enjoy doing. Then when we got back home, we would stack it all in the woodshed. I remember asking him while we were out felling trees when I was little, if it hurt the tree when he cut limbs off or cut down the tree. He assured me that the tree didn’t feel it, that it was alive, but didn’t have feelings like we did. I didn’t feel so bad seeing him cutting the trees down and making wood for the fire after that.

A Feller must have knowledge to do it the right way. He has to know about the tree; what kind it is, how it grows, gauge the height of the tree, where to cut and where not to cut so it will fall right where it needs to. My dad would tell us right where the tree would go and he was always right. We would yell “Timber!” as it went down. A Feller may work with others on a job and may need to give instructions to a less experienced Feller to make sure that he is going at the process in the right way. Particularly in a neighborhood, you can’t just fall a tree any where but where it needs to go because it could cause you to be a VERY bad neighbor, and power companies wouldn’t like you much either. So it is important to have a experienced Feller come for that kind of work. A Feller knows how to trim a tree in order for it to grow in a certain way in the Spring. When it comes to taking the tree down, the Feller must know where he wants the pieces to fall.

It’s like life. We have seasons we go through where God is trying to prune a few things out of our lives. Man!!! That can hurt! It feels like there might not be anything left by the time He is done. We cry out in pain as we let go of parts of our life. God knows where to trim the excess off because He knows where he wants us to grow. It is always good to ask God where He wants to work in us. As an example, we can go out on our own and just start cutting on the trees in our yard, as the previous owners did here, and cause more issues for the future. We can also make the decision to ignore where God is working in our lives and not want to go through the pain of learning about ourselves, or dealing with the the areas God is telling us we need to deal with. Either way, it is a hard process. But if we look at it from the standpoint of where He is taking us, we can better understand that it is best for us to let Him guide the job of pruning and excavation. Our job then is just to be obedient to work with Him.

The trees in our yard that got trimmed do not look very attractive right now. In fact…they are pretty ugly. But when Spring comes, it will be growing in a much healthier way, as the Feller said the trimming is designed to. It is the same for us in our pruning process. The process is painful because admitting we even HAVE a problem in an area is not something we are willing to admit. But when we submit to the Master’s hand and allow Him to prune, trim, or cut down, we will be given a new healthier way of living and a new view of life.

In our case, no more droppings of “presents” on our cars or the neighbor’s yard. Now, is it a process that comes at no cost? Not EVEN. It is quite costly. It can also be costly to us if we allow God to work in our lives to trim or cut what is necessary out of our lives. We have had years of maybe growing in the wrong way, dropping our “presents” on those around us. People in our lives withdrawing because of letting our branches (getting involved) go in areas we shouldn’t. Let God lead and be the Master with the chisel and hammer, or as in our case, the chainsaw, the chipper, in your life. As I mentioned before, when the tree comes down, he starts at the top and takes a length at a time to bring it down. That’s not a bad place for us to start either, right? It starts at the top for us too…right in that ol’ noggin’ of yours. We have thought a certain way so long, that we are comfortable with ourselves as we are. But… if we want to be a person that keeps learning and growing, then we will often have to also be the type of person that is willing to allow the pruning, or even the cutting down, to make way for something new. Think of the small growth on tree trunks that pop out called “suckers”. They look cute, and new growth is always so healthy looking. But if they aren’t trimmed off, they take away from the nutrients of the tree and cause damage to the growth of the tree. Don’t let the enemy plant suckers in you by such things as staying busy, social media, over involvement, or any number of things that cause you to lose out on time for the important things.

As I watched the elder explaining to the younger, he is teaching him the craft and why it is done a certain way. The younger/student than does has the elder/teacher tells him. We need to be doing the same thing in our lives. Listen to the Master. It is for our well-being and it leads to a more joyful outcome. Now we can begin to plant anew in our lives all the things that bring joy instead of frustration. We can change our view entirely. Change doesn’t bother me too much because I know that eventually I will come out the other side with a more contented view of daily life. I might be a bit weary from the process, but I know I will be a better person from what I left behind in the chipper, along with the disappearing wild suckers that were trying grow in me.

When they have completed the process here, we will have one ugly tree, and some big spaces to fill. But the cost is worth it. We can gain a new perspective and view, and we can plant in our yard that which will bring joy to us. New life begins in the same place where old life was taken out and sent to the chipper. I for one am very glad that I know the Master of the process. Just like the Feller today, God knows best how to handle it all. We count the cost today for the work we won’t have to do, and for the natural beauty we will have eventually. It is the same for our pruning process of getting back to what we enjoy the most…healthy soul living.

Let our trimming begin!

Next step is coming down.

Until next time…

~JoAnn