Seeing Through The Fog

“…We must choose to see before having the opportunity to choose how we see it.”  Andy Andrews

Fog…it can be very difficult to see through if it is damp and wet outside.  You may have to slow your pace if you are driving.  You most certainly would have to watch more carefully.  It might make you a bit more tense too.  See how the clouds are rolling in as you look at the lead photo?  It won’t be long and the fog will roll in thick and low.

Thought:  We like to see where we are going, and would prefer not to have situations that keeps us from seeing clearly.  At least I think most of us are that way.

I had the great pleasure of spending some one-on-one time with my grandson this last week and what a joy that was!  We talked, giggled, belly laughed, played  together, learned together, and talked about things he needed to talk about.  It was a great time!  I hope he will remember it as much as I will remember it.  I rented a hotel room for just him and I with party snacks of his choice, and the TV didn’t come on once!  We played one game on his phone, which I can proudly say, I won!!  He of course wanted another challenge.  Hey!  I know when I’m ahead!!  No challenge for me!  I’m the winner!  He chose the snacks…a boy after my own heart.  He chose Salt and Vinegar Chips with Pepsi, and Hershey’s Kisses.  I mean really!  Be still my heart.  I had brought him a bag of Cracker Jacks which his papa and I had introduced to him long ago.  Snacks for later…all this was preceded with a Five Guy’s burger, of course.

In all the fun over the couple of days, there was a lesson that hit a familiar chord in me.  It reminded me of a post I did many months ago.  I think it bears repeating.  So many times, our lives take on some pretty heavy burdens on the journey.  We get so wrapped up in trying to maintain, that we forget that God should be our first stop, and not the last.  In these hard times and difficult places, we often have a murky view; a fog that makes it hard to see the road ahead.  We have had a lot of rain this year and driving around in the storm, reminded me that our lives can be like that.  At times, I couldn’t see much beyond the front of my car, and I have a Mini, so that isn’t far!  The rain came down in sheets in front of me.  Well…in the same way, our lives can be so hard that we can’t see beyond the next step.  However, just like when the rain let up a bit, I can see better, and I can feel myself relax.  Why?  Because, I can see more clearly.  We all want to see what is ahead of us.  The difficulty in our relationship with God comes into play when God doesn’t always show the way or direction.  It is uncomfortable for us to wait on Him to show the way and make it more clear to us.  But just like I could relax a bit when the rain let up, we can relax our turmoil when we allow God to work it out in His way and in His timing.

One of our excursions at the end of the day, was to go into a thrift store and look around.  It’s fun to see what he sees, and because he is still a bit shorter than me, he sees things I don’t always see.  I always look in the glassware to see if I see any of my grandmother’s dishes, or see any Farmers Rose, because I found a cup and saucer that way once.  So, lo and behold, I walk down the aisle and find a glass dish like my grandmother’s.  My grandson said, “Grandma, that doesn’t look like it’s a very good one.  It has stuff all over it and some spots on it.  It’s looks all cloudy.”  So I told him that when I get home, I will wash it all up and it will look like new!  Down the next aisle, I see this copper double boiler and another copper pot.  So cute!  So I put them in the cart.  The double boiler he was ok with, but the little pot had a couple of spots that were worn and didn’t look as shiny as the rest of it.

Here is the story: I told my grandson, “Here’s the story…this dish and these pans aren’t perfect as we look at them now.  The dish is dirty looking with spots and looks like it won’t even come clean, and the pans have spots on them that won’t ever look perfect.  But our live can look like those things.  When I don’t have Jesus, my eyes are kind of clouded, just like that dish, or like the heavy rain when we drove in today.  We can’t see very clear, and we don’t understand that we CAN be clean and new with Jesus.  I have sin in my life and things I don’t always do right.  So I have spots in my life that are just like that one pan.  But just like the glass dish, when I have Jesus in my heart, He cleans me up like brand new just because He loves me.  When He comes into my heart, I’m all bright and beautiful just like this dish will be when I wash away all the dirt.  Now, there may be times in my life that I have done something that isn’t right.  Because I did that, it has changed my life.   Those spots are like spots on this pan.  The spots will always be there.  But God has forgiven me for that because I asked Him.  They remind me that yes, I made some mistakes.  But the rest of my life is shiny and new, and God is polishing up those bad spots to make me shine, just like this pan will.  Just like I will clean the spots on the pan, they will still be there.  However,  now they are clean and polished because I gave them to Jesus.  These pans and glass dish weren’t so pretty to look at in the store, but I saw their value and I KNEW how great they could look.  Jesus knows how valuable our life can be if He is in our hearts.  He wants to make our lives better.  So I don’t mind the spots, because they remind me that Jesus loves me no matter what.  He doesn’t see my mistakes.  He sees me all clean.  When I look at these pots and the glass dish in my home, they tell me that story…”

I hope he will remember that story long after I am gone.  God is so like that!  If we ask God to help us notice His presence in our day, He will give us a story.  He will show His love for you in ways that will have meaning to YOU.

Given that this very activity of spending important time with family and friends (a goal for 2017) was what my two days were all about, the time I was able to spend with Ethan and short visits with a few friends was totally awesome.  It filled me up.  I am excited to see where God takes me as I am obedient to Him about these steps this year.  On top of that, I got all my software updated for my camera and lenses, so it is ready for Norway pictures when I leave in May!

Are you in a position at this time where the rains of life are so heavy that you can’t see past your feet?  Or the fog keeps rolling in on you and you can’t see where you are to go?  The enemy would like nothing more than to keep you in the fog bank, and drench you in the rains of despair, making you feel hopeless.  Don’t let him do that, my friend.  Ask God to send the Son to break through the rains and the fog bank, and lead you out!  He will!  That much I know!!  Keep your joy bank full, and pay it forward this week!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Three Months In

This last week, I was sitting in my office and reviewing the first three months of this year.  As the year of 2016 came to a close, I felt some big things were going to shake out this coming new year and I anticipated that it would be life changing.  I certainly have not been wrong.  As I have re-evaluated my life, lifestyle, and where feel I need to be putting my efforts, doors have been opened, and I have stepped through.  I would like to share a few of those open doors with you in hopes that it will encourage you to press on. It is my hope that it will be an encouragement for you.

Here is a list:

  • Marriage – Begin praying for my  marriage each day and my attitude toward it.
  • Family – Be active in the life of my family on a daily basis…making the time to do it.
  • Study – Directive study in various areas.  Learn.  Use it.
  • Have some adventure…do things on the spur of the moment.
  • Live in gratitude and pay it forward.
  • Learn Norwegian.
  • Look for fun.
  • Consistent study of photography and practice.
  • Use my camera daily.

Let’s dig in!

Marriage/Family – I felt that God was emphasizing to me that with all that is going on in this world, the family is totally at risk.  We are too busy, too involved, too distracted and we are losing out.  We need to be really grounded to withstand the attack on our culture.  So in my case, I felt I was being directed to pray for my marriage, my attitude toward my marriage, and also be more involved the relationships in my family.  If these areas are aligned with God as the center, then I can better keep the enemy out of our lives, and keep him from sneaking in when I least expect it.  We can find ourselves in a place in our marriage where we are looking more at the irritating things in the other person than the wonderful blessings they are in our lives.  Our brains are very intricate.  When we start thinking in negative ways, it becomes habitual; the more we are negative the more negative we become.  We lose our perspective and find more wrongs than rights.  Our lives begin to look bleak, like there is no way out.  There are scientific facts that prove that negative thinking DOES affect our brain.  It is like a “wash” that comes over our brain when we have negative thoughts and emotions.  I am becoming more and more aware of my self-talk.  It hasn’t always been good.  I can win all kinds of conversations when I start thinking.  I should be praying.

I believe that God wants me to have a positive lifestyle.  Not some super happy fake kind of happiness, but a genuine happiness that comes from living right and knowing I am living the way that God would have me to live.  Thus, I am praying for my spouse, for my attitude which needs some attention every once in a often while.  I know that isn’t a proper sentence, but it says that we think we sometimes need something, when in reality, we need it much more often than that.  I’m not saying it’s easy, but I am saying I am leaving that door open for God to lead and guide me.   As for my family, I think it is also important to stay in touch and let them know they mean the world to me.  I’m sending out notes to my grandson, texts to my two younger boys, and praying for my oldest, and now, for the youngest son and his girlfriend.  I want them to have no doubt about how much I love them.  I want to show them how you can live through the hard times and come out of it a much stronger and better person.  I want them to see how I live, and maybe by example, they too, will want to make some changes in the direction of their lives.  Sometimes our silence and living it out is the best way to teach them.

Study – This is an area that has always been fun for me.  I love Bible study.  I love to learn new information about the areas of my life that I have deep interest in.  I like improving myself.  However, this has been more directed this year.  He wants me to study the Word more, as I have shared before, but some specific subjects this year.  I also feel God is leading me to lead and encourage those that He puts in my path.  I see Him doing that already.  If something I have learned can be of benefit to someone else, I am willing to share it.  I also want to learn to speak Norwegian.  Now THAT is not an easy task, but if I keep my focus, then I will learn.  It’s not that God is telling me to study Norwegian, but it is more about something that I have always wanted to do, and God is making a way for that to happen.  I will be joining the Sons of Norway this Wednesday and I look forward to that adventure too!  It’s all about the learning process.  He will open doors to help us achieve what we need to, but, He is also willing to help us do what we enjoy doing.

Adventure/Fun – I always enjoy adventure and doing things on the fly.  Going for a drive when we didn’t plan on it.  Planning a road trip across the states.  Sitting outside on a starry night with a blanket to watch the stars twinkling in the night sky.  It may be a trip to the ocean just to sit and watch the waves; very calming.  I had company this last weekend and it was fun to take them on a very short trip to the ocean and watch them enjoy being together, chasing seagulls, and putting toes in the water.  I loved watching my youngest son and how he treats his girlfriend.  I like to think I may have something to do with his gentleman’s behavior.  Its fun to watch them enjoy each other and life.  This week I will pick up my grandson and we will go somewhere and spend the night and have a party in the room.  He gets to be parent-free for a couple of days, and I get to pour into his life a bit.  Life is short, and God wants us to find the fun as we go!  I hope I never tire of the next adventure, and I have a BIG one coming up with my trip to Norway with my middle son and grandson.  God makes a way!  Begin praying about the desires of your heart.

Living in gratitude/Paying it forward – That is just what I do; its how I live.  I wouldn’t be where I am, if God hadn’t intervened and made it all possible.  I live  every day to thank Him for all He has done and will continue to do.  There is no way you can be sad and be grateful at the same time.  Where my brain goes, my emotions WILL follow.  I want my brain to be aware of the good.  Look for the small things that can change my circumstances.  In my case, I look for ways to bless people, as well as, ways that I can pay my blessings forward to someone else.  God knows the timing and I leave that to Him.  Besides…that can be an adventure in itself, when we open ourselves up to be used by Him.

Here is the kicker…do you see “ME” in any of these areas that God is directing me to?  I’m finding where God wants to lead me isn’t all about me.  I have never considered myself selfish and thinking only about me.  But it is important to look into these areas of life and review them so that I don’t become selfish in well-doing.  It is more about God positioning me to be better equipped to do what He has for me.  Why?  So I can serve or bless others.  It is never all about me.  It is exciting though!  Some of these areas are as much fun for me, as the reasons for the task He sets before me.  Like learning about photography, and using my camera daily.  That is pure joy for me!  But that is how God is; he gives us directives, but makes it fun along the way!!  I am to have fun doing life, and so I thank Him for that throughout my day.  He has made a way for me to enjoy my life no matter how difficult things can seem some days, and I have had those days.  The only difference is, I know where to turn and I don’t turn slowly!  I spin around to get back on track because I know what can happen in a slow circle; the enemy will try to distract me with my thoughts and emotions.  Nope!  Not happening!  I want a quick turn around to see His face for my direction again.

Why do I share this with you?  Because I know there are many that have buried the desire to enjoy life, either because they think they don’t deserve it, or because of something in their past.  But I want to encourage you today regarding how much God wants you to have a life of joy and enjoy your journey.  He wants a happy you…happy family…confident prayer life…healthy lifestyle for you.  What He shares with me, He will share with you, if you will allow Him in to speak to you.  We shouldn’t worry about our future and what it may bring, as much as we should steward the things that have been given to us right now.  Maybe you are disappointed with where you are in your life right now.  You wish it was different.  God wants you to know today that He sees where you are.  He is waiting for you to ask for His help, or maybe His forgiveness…whatever it is.  He is there.  Loving, patient, and adventurous!  Quiet your spirit today and ask Him to show you how YOU can bring some these elements into YOUR life.  He will.  He has promised.

Awaiting my next adventurous heart and soul escape…

~JoAnn

Just A Moment…

 

Have you ever had one of those moments where you think, “Life just doesn’t get better than this!”?  The kids are off to school without too many incidents, or you just have the house to yourself, the house is quiet, you have your favorite morning coffee or tea-cup in your hand, and you just sigh…life is good!  It’s about what is happening, or is not happening at the time.  How many of those kind of moments do you have?  Time has stopped long enough, and you have stopped long enough, to catch and notice that something special just happened in that moment.  You might even sink into your favorite chair and savor it, or be driving down the road with a big smile on your face!  What do those moments look like for you?  What is it that makes up your special moments; a moment that speaks to your soul?

One of my special moments is something I set up for myself in my day.  It’s part of my regime.  When I get up, I have a breakfast of some sort and then I make myself a mocha.  I come into my living room with my mocha and start the fireplace, light a candle and enjoy the quiet of the house, and read my devotions.  I look around in gratitude for what have and what I see.  I don’t speed through these moments because I want to savor them… and let them seep into the rest of my day.

I do this at my desk also.  When I am working at my desk or writing, I have a candle burning in my cabin, sometimes music playing in the background, and I enjoy looking out my windows and see nature all around me.  I notice those times as special moments that keep me grounded.  It gives me perspective, and if I allow it, it can change my perspective as well.  I can say truthfully, that this slowing down process has definitely changed my life.  I don’t just sit during those times drinking my mocha.  I look around, appreciate what I see, what I have, and say thanks for it.

So…when I got this little book with a BIG message in the mail yesterday, I sat down and read the book.  It carries such an impactful message that I believe very strongly in.  I don’t want to overlook opportunities to enjoy special moments, which may be alone with myself,  with my boys or grandson, spouse, and friends.  Do you know that these moments can be created?  It’s not just for those who have nothing else to do.  It can be for anyone.  You can create your own special moments, just by being aware they are there.  You may still miss some, but when you are intentional about creating those special moments, more of those moments will happen.  Fun, huh?  Here are a few of them that came to mind:

  • It might be the next time you are baking cookies in the kitchen with someone.
  • Catch the moment with a picture and then share it.
  • Throwing a ball with a child and see their joy.
  • Text a love text to your child/grandchild and get a sweet one back that you save.
  • Sending a new to a loved one in the mail, knowing it could encourage them in their day.
  • Adventures by the creek so you can watch them explore and see their reactions.
  • A walk in nature where you slow your pace and breathe deep, see the light shine through the trees.
  • On a walk with your special someone holding hand as you walk.
  • Sitting by the bonfire outside with family and friends enjoying their company with mugs of hot chocolate.
  • Cuddling in bed before starting your day.
  • It might be in the car when your child or grandchild says something sweet, and it just makes your moment.
  • It could be in a secret message or sign that you have that only your family knows, and you share it together.
  • Or as we did last Sunday…go for a drive and see some place you haven’t explored.

It does require us to live intentionally, as this book talks about.  You might have to ask yourself some questions about what activities can bring about that kind of atmosphere for you.  I made some of those changes as we moved to a different area.  I knew at this point in my life that I needed more quiet, and I wanted more country in my life.  I didn’t want to live on a noisy corner anymore where I would here loud talking and peeling of tires at all hours of the morning.  Where we live now has been peaceful for me.  I have trees and green all around me.  I have wild life that come to visit.  I stop what I am doing to watch and enjoy them.  I can drive about 30 minutes and be at the ocean.  But I had to be willing to make that move to have more of what I needed in my life.  It meant being further from family and friends.  I don’t like that part.  Not at all.  But I am beginning to understand that sometimes we are placed for a season, and for a reason only God knows.  I have learned to be thankful for those times.  God gave me The Captain (my Mini) so I can make trips up to see my kids and family whenever I can.  I am creating those special moments in my life because it is important to me.  I also love having them come down, as well as, making it special for them while they are in our home!

Maybe you like where you are, but you haven’t made the time to really enjoy it.  I would encourage you to take the time to look around.  Whatever makes your heart sing is what you need more of in your life!  You may be thinking, she can do that at her stage in life.  Yes I can.  But if busy people can also do this in their daily lives, and still notice and create special moments, I’m giving you a head start into contentment in your future WAY earlier than what I learned!  It has taken a lot of years to learn to live in that kind of environment, and plenty of sacrifices have been made to live a life that also feeds my heart and soul.  But I will say it is worth it!  However, I’m still learning.

God has me doing some new things this year to create more margin in my life for what is important. He will keep molding us and changing us if we allow it.  I’m always thankful to learn a new thing.  God even tells us He is doing a new thing.  I put my arm out and say, “Go ahead God.  I’m in!”

I leave you with a couple of questions:

  • What really excites you more than anything else in your life?
  • What do you enjoy being around, or what environment feeds your soul the most?

Now, think of some of those special moments you have loved in your life.  Who wouldn’t want more of that in life?  It will change your perspective and you will always feel more aligned with your life.  You won’t have to feel guilt over not doing it any more because you will begin living this way each day.  How do I know that?  Despite some very hard times and experiences in my life, I have learned the above is true.  It is what makes my heart squeeze with excitement.  It is what makes it beat a little faster.  It makes me expectant of what God will put in front of me each day.  And it certainly makes me a better person to be around. Make some “It doesn’t get better than this!” moments of your own!  We can’t stop time, but we sure can make use of it in ways that makes us happy we are alive!  I would love to hear your answers to the questions!  Share by leaving your comments below on the blog.

Just a moment…

Take a chance.  Walk through the door.  Put your arm out ahead of you and say, “I’m all in Lord!  Let’s go!”

Food for the heart and soul…

~JoAnn

Ever Had A Day?

Have you ever had a day where God kept pressing you to review areas that you didn’t want to review?  Not only that, He expects you to DO something about it?  Yah… me either…as my nose grows like you know who!  It seem to hang on and bug you no matter how busy you make yourself?  Oh, you can make it go away for a while, but then the Holy Spirit taps you on the shoulder again to remind you that some action needs to take place.  What do you do with that?  Do you take action in obedience?  Or do you tend to ignore it and hope it goes away?

There is a reason those nudges keeping pressing in on us.  God wants to convene a prayer session.  He wants to work some thing out in you.  So let me ask you this…do you have margin in your life for prayer?  Or, do you keep so busy that your prayer life becomes marginal?  Is your prayer life shrinking with the busyness of your life?  If so, it becomes easier and easier to ignore those nudges that the Holy Spirit is placing on your heart.  Maybe your life has been so busy that you feel displaced, or out of sync.  You may even feel like you have lost touch with yourself, and you don’t want to spend time alone with God because of what you KNOW He will tell you.  About that…don’t go speeding through life to just keep from dealing with issues God may want to deal with you about.  Keep your speed down so you get those burdens off your shoulders.

How can this possibly change in your life, you ask?  Let me tell you what I have been doing over the last few months.  I am doing a study on prayer.  I read a book and led the study, and now we are all doing the 40 Day Prayer Challenge as a follow-up.  It means committing to reading a message each day on prayer and then we talk about it online.  I have done the study before, but timing is everything.  It seems particularly relevant for me right now.  I have always felt it was important, but knowing that your prayers will always be out there, as well as any other prayers said on your behalf by others, is a blessing that I can’t explain.  If God cares enough about our prayers to keep them all no matter how many times we have prayed about it, it sure makes me want to pray my heart out!  Never give up, or as scripture says, “Never get weary in well-doing.”  It has put a fire in my soul for an even better prayer life.  As you pray, you will find purpose; purpose for life, but also God’s purpose for your life.

How can you begin?  Give priority to God in your life by having that prayer and conversation with Him.  There are no right and wrong ways to do that.  Doing it is what counts.  Ask Him to show you what His purpose is for you.  As we go through different seasons in our lives, we change.  Pay attention to that change, by paying more attention to what excites you.  What gets you excited about life?  That, my friend, may be your purpose.  Maybe God is leading you on a path that is new.  Ask for clarification and praying over it.  If God is in it, it will be worth taking a risk on.  If we ask Him to confirm or give clarification, He will let us know if it is His idea, or yours.  He will close doors if He needs to close them.  But that means taking the time to talk with Him about it.

Have you ever been in a situation where you thought you were following God’s lead and it turned out to be more of your own works than God’s?  I think we have all found ourselves in that situation a time or two.  On the other hand, if you are IN that situation right now and something doesn’t feel right, don’t keep on doing it just because you think you have to.  Ask God to help you find the open door to gracefully withdraw.  He will make a way.

I have always been one to write things down and I do that with my prayers also.  It helps me to see where God has worked and answered prayers, and reminds me to keep praying over the ones He has yet to answer.  I love keeping a victory log!

As I sit in my cabin at my desk and write this, I have my mocha, a candle lit and I can see nature out my window.  I make an atmosphere for relaxing.  I’m learning, that slowing down my life means, I don’t hear God’s voice whizzing by my ear wondering what He said.  Instead, I’m creating an atmosphere that slows me down so His voice can be heard speaking quietly to me.  I want to hear every word.

Lean back in your chair…let this post sink in.  Life is to short between the dashes to do otherwise.

Feeding the heart and soul…

~JoAnn

P.S.  How do you like my new blog logo?  🙂

 

White As Snow

What is your understanding of your salvation?  Have you ever thought about what it really means for you when you accepted Christ as your Savior?  Or, if you haven’t accepted Him as your Savior, have you ever had thoughts about what you think it means for you and your life?

Recently at our home, we had a beautiful couple days of soft snow fall.  I loved looking out my cabin windows, which run all the way around my cabin, and watching the snow.  Everything is covered in a blanket of clean, white snow.  The Holy Spirit reminded me of how Jesus covers our sin through His death on the cross, and we are washed as white as snow.  I had just been reading something that came to mind as I watched that falling snow.  The thought was that our life changes at the moment we accept Christ.  It isn’t just about sin.  It means, that as an example, a new JoAnn is created at the time I accepted Christ, and now God has a relationship with that new JoAnn.  So.. it isn’t just about being forgiven of sins.  It is also about a brand new relationship as this new person.  As this new person, I now have a relationship with Him; not as the old me, but as the new me.  He relates to the new me!  

I love the snow. Always have. But the snow is temporary.  His love for me is eternal.  What a great reminder for me as I looked out my windows to watch the falling snow, and have it teach me a lesson at the same time!  Hearing Him speak to me brings a whole new level of excitement for me in my relationship with Jesus.

Along these same lines, I have been leading a study on prayer.  Boy!  We are seeing some great changes happening in the lives of those taking part.  We have been given nuggets of knowledge that we grab onto as life rafts in what can sometimes be choppy seas.  I am constantly amazed at what God will teach us through the Holy Spirit’s guidance, IF we are willing to spend time in His presence.  It’s kind of like looking in on a genealogy of relationship, and seeing answers to prayer.

  • If we are in His presence,
  •      we are in His Word,
  •         then, we are learning to know Him better,
  •              which means we are learning to discern His voice,
  •                   which in turn means we trust Him more,
  •                        and that means we will become more obedient,
  •                             and we WILL see big prayers answered.

We have also talked in this study about taking steps of faith.  I have been thinking about the idea of stepping in to the water before I see the waters part.  We want Jesus to part the waters so we can go in.  God wants us to step into the water in faith, and then see Him part the waters and bring us through.  

It is my hope that you are beginning to change the culture of your life with Jesus through some of the posts here on the blog.  This certainly isn’t me writing about these topics.  This idea of snow and relationship, and what prayer will do, along with stepping into the water, are all thoughts I believe God wanted me to share with you.  Challenge yourself to make the changes you need, to have the results you want.

May God help you to this end.

To your place of heart and soul escapes…

~JoAnn

New Beginnings Begin With Me

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I’m sorry to be absent from writing for so long.  I have been pretty sick for weeks.   So…I’m back and feeling better thanks to some hefty meds that have helped me, and the prayers of friends.  Thank you all!

As my energy was kind of low, I had time to consider my year of 2017 and how it has started.  A new year always brings excitement and expectation for me.  I can’t wait to see what God will do with the new, clean slate before me.  Into the year only a few days, I found out how ours would begin.  What happened you asked?  Prayers answered!  I’m so thankful for new beginnings!!!

  1.  Our home refi was completed to get it back to a VA loan. It went through finally, and papers were signed right in our home!  What a blessing that was to have off our plate.  Our moving of one house and buying another has not been an easy path for us.  One thing after another kept happening.  But God heard our prayers, and answered.  That is off our list!
  2. I really wanted to make a trip back to Norway.  As hubby and I were having coffee and mocha one morning, he said, “Do you think Aaron would want to go to Norway if he could go?”  I said, “I think so.  But if he went we would also have to consider that Ethan would have to go with _DSF4760him.  That is a big issue for us.”  Hubby said, “Why don’t you ask him if he would want to go if he could.”  So I did and Aaron said yes.  I went the first time and took Jesse, my youngest.  Now my middle son and grandson are going this time.  Now THIS is pretty miraculous!!  Because we are talking our budget here.  BUT…God.  He has provided.  They will have the experience of a life time and we will be doing that together.  Something I hope will never be forgotten in the lives of my sons and grandson!
  3. We have siding completed and windows completed on the house.  Finally…after months of waiting and waiting.  I love how it looks and it is so much more cozy in the house also.  My cabin is amazing with all the windows and light that comes into my sweet little cabin!  It brings me great joy.

With all He has provided already, I also believe He has called me to dial back.  Consider what I involve myself in, and really examine where I need my focus and efforts to go with social media and ministry.  I am in the process of closing my groups on MeWe, not that I didn’t enjoy doing that, but I had six very successful groups in that place, and it takes a lot of time to post and create each post, let alone keep the communication happening.  When you blog, you are always thinking of what to share next and there is planning to make it all come together.  Each small presence in social media I have, is something that burns up time.  If we try to do too many things, we are so busy with that, that life flies by us.  I have more of my life behind me than before me, and I just don’t want to miss a thing!  It’s how I have lived my life and I desire that more than ever now!

img_8800My priority has always been God first and then my family and friends, and then my involvement in ministry.  So as I have examined my involvement, I have noticed a shift.   It has taken more and more time, and stole some time from my top priorities.  I believe that God is asking me to streamline my life in many areas and this is one of them.  So just so you know, I will be continuing my blog here, but only at journeysofmyheart.  I will be closing out my Heart and Soul Escapes blog, or combining them in how I post.

I will be working with the photography through my photography website, JoAnnShiley.com which offers a blog opportunity where I will share basics of photography andimg_8516 hints I find helpful.  I will encourage the MeWe followers to follow me at those places.  I will be posting less on Facebook directly.  I will post on Facebook, but through the other sites.  I’m not excited about seeing all the “garbage” that has become the Facebook agenda.  So for me, it is just better to back out of it and clean house.  I’m cleaning MY house.  Watching what goes in my eye and ear gates.  I am actually excited about freeing up time for the direction that God has for me.  If I am honest with myself, I may have been doing more of what I thought was best for me.  Any thoughts I have to share, are for the purpose of helping others, not about how many social networks I get involved in.  I’m asking myself, “What is the purpose of being there?  What are you trying to accomplish by your presence in that area?”  Taking this step will keep me more grounded where I need to be.  I have just completed a study that is all about zeroing in on what is most important, and praying over it.  What has always been important to me, is encouraging others to live their best life and to live each moment with purpose.

I have never been in a better place with my heart and soul.  I have some work to do as I put these areas into motion.  However, I refuse to jeopardize my priorities for busyness.  It is never worth it.  Don’t get caught up in what you THINK you need to do, or what someone else is doing.  Do the hard stuff and examine what your passion is, and where you want to be.  If I’m running all the time, I can never be quiet enough to listen where God wants to take me.  I’m looking forward to this new perspective, both in my life and home, but in my photography also.

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I want to:

  • enjoy each day I’m given
  • a deep prayer walk
  • go on adventures with my hubby more
  • be aware of nature God has given to me to enjoy
  • never trade my top priorities
  • see life through the lens of my camera more often
  • enjoy every moment I have with my family
  • more communication with my kids such as texts, cards, notes
  • have more coffee with friends
  • help and encourage others
  • be the best example of this “life style that I choose”
  • live my life in gratitude

As I look over this post, it isn’t my usual type of post, but I think it is an important one.  This is just my story.  You have your story.  However, don’t buy into the busyness that seems to be the way of life for IMG_3331so many these days.  I don’t believe that is the life that God would have us to live.  If you think often, “I’m just so busy, I don’t have time for anything”, then stop it.  You will pay a price at some point in time.  I was a young mom of three boys, and many exchange students in our home, I worked two and sometimes three jobs that I felt I had to work to make ends meet, and I was very involved in church and Bible study.  I did it.  I rarely said I’m too busy to give God my time.  So I’m not speaking out about something I don’t understand.  The idea that life is so different these days, just isn’t so.  There are more distractions young families are dealing with now that we didn’t, but we still had electronic games and other types of games the kids played.  We still had to monitor what we felt was right for our kids.  However, we still had time for things that were important.  New beginnings begin with me.

Now… if I look back on that time and had to do it all over?  I would most certainly have lived within the means of a stay at home mom and lived that out.  Why?  Because my kids would have enjoyed having me around more than what I could buy them.  Consequently, since I kept myself busy making it all work out (on my own at times, I might add), my rest wasn’t so great; I was tired.  That in turn, had repercussions for my family.  I share that with you from a point in my life where I can look back and see where I could have made changes and… didn’t.  Worse than that, I wasn’t trusting God to take care of my family and I.  Yet, even then I always saw His hand in my life over and over again.  I’m not sure what made me think I couldn’t trust Him to take care of me if I stayed at home.  OR, maybe I do…satan is quick to sneak in a whisper of, “You won’t have enough money for groceries, or bills if you quit, let alone give to God.”  I listened.  I would tell you don’t buy it.  If God is asking you to slow down, be more available, or to give to Him, HE WILL provide for you.  It’s His economy.  It’s His way.  Now I am not saying that every mother has to stay home with her children.   You are in charge of your own story.  What I really want to share is, IF you have that little voice telling you to do something different, then by all means do it!  It could change your future for yourself, and those around you, and future generations in ways you can’t imagine!  I hope if any of this resonates with you, it will be something you pray over.

Thanks for being a part of this space!  I love your consistent support and responses!  Watch for the changes coming up!  I hope you will continue to follow along!  Life teaches us some fun experiences, but there are also some hard lessons.  Let my experience and hard lessons be of some benefit to you!

Depositing to my heart and soul escapes…

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Favor and 2017

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As many of you know who follow my blog, one of the areas of the start of my year is to pray about a word that I feel God wants me to focus on, and learn more about, and apply it to my life during the new year.  This year the word that I feel God wants me to understand and to gain more insight into is, FAVOR.  After researching a bit through various resources I found favor has many meanings:

  • doing something for someone as a favor
  • feeling or showing approval or preference for
  • lean toward, opt for, tend toward, be in favor of
  • advocate or support
  • work to the advantage of
  • give someone something they wantcropped-img_8048.jpg
  • oblige, honor gratify, indulge
  • resemble someone
  • treat gently, not putting full weight on
  • attitude of approval
  • an act of kindness beyond what is due, or usual
  • the Latin favere, or favor, to show kindness to, cherish, preference

I will be sharing about the definitions above that are in italics because those are the definitions that I feel apply to what God is going to be working out in me this year.  You see, I HAVE His favor.  I do.  As in Ephesians 2 God talks about grace…the unmerited favor of God.  God shows favor to those who delight in Him, are humble and honor Him.  I believe that God seeks out those who love Him with all their hearts, and…the hard part… who also love His commands.   He wants to bless, guide, and protect those who live that way in their lives.

IMG_2953I have seen His favor in my life, ALL my life.  He has been so good to my husband and I!  However, I believe that when we live as He would have us to live, and our joy is in Him, He wants to give us His favor over and over again.  Now, I know we have made some mistakes, but if we are quick to repent and ask Him to forgive and get us back on track, He will.  He IS faithful.  Here is the kicker…am I willing to accept His favor, or better yet, am I willing to SEE His favor in my life?  Or, do I just think I have what I have because of how hard I have worked, or how good I think I have been?  If we know that God is right in the middle of where we are, and we know that nothing can happen apart from Him, then God is going to lavish favor on each one that believes that truth.  How does that look?  We walk closer with Him than we did last year.  We are in His Word daily.  We begin to see Him in the very things that are around us everyday.  We ask for His wisdom and guidance.  AND…we ASK for His favor.  Yes we ask for His favor over our lives, family and in every step we take.  That is what it looks like, friends.

As I said earlier, I have had God’s favor in my life.  But I have known heart ache, and I have known joy!  I have been among many, and I have been alone.  What I know is that God does approve of me.  Maybe not all my choices, but He knows I desire to keep changing and make those areas in my life that are rough, a little bit smoother.  I know if I want to walk in His favor, I must lean in toward Him.  I must show preference to Him also.  I can live a grateful life and recognize His favor and thank Him for it.  I walked through my home today and just thanked Him that I have it.  All the ways He made it happen, His provision for what needed to be done, and all the LITTLE ways He lets me know He has heard my heart.  I want to honor and gratify my Lord and Savior.  Because of my heart’s desire to live in His favor, God will honor my request because He can’t wait to lavish us with His favor!  I believe He will give me a new understanding this year of this word.  I’m excited, as always, to see what _DSF4722-1God has in store for me.  I am thinking He wants to me operate in favor towards others more than I do.  THAT may be harder. 🙂  But I am willing to walk through that door with Him.  I have seen His faithfulness in my life in BIG ways, even through all the struggles.

I know this isn’t all that God has to teach me on favor.  No. I’m expecting a deeper meaning to that word in my life that HE will teach me.  He will lead me down a path that will forever change what I think today.  I am ready and excited for that adventure.  I’m looking out my window to see what He has for me.  I pray for you, and for myself, that our lives may be overflowing with His favor this year.  His Word and the Truth of His Word are my foundation.  I plan on being a watchman on the wall watching for His favor!  I want to resemble Him!

How about you?  Have you asked God for a word for the year 2017?  If so, I would love to hear about your word and why you feel God may be highlighting that word in your life.

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