Finger Prints of Love

Photo Credit: pixabay

How do you think that God sees us?  I was reading a book recently and he talked about finger prints making us unique.  That got me to thinking…we know we all look different.  We also have been told, at least I hope you have, that God knows the number of hairs on our heads.  He doesn’t have as big a problem with mine now because I don’t have as many as I used to, but He knows the number. 🙂  What does that tell you about how special we are to Him?  Let’s think about that for a minute.  What happens when we get into trouble with the law, or we have to get a permit, or work for certain institutions?   We have to get finger printed.  Why?  Because each set of prints is individual to each person.  It is uniquely you.

So as I thought more about this, an experience I had many years ago, came to mind.  In 1973, I burned my right hand and arm and the part of my hand on my left hand in a fire.  I was making a specialty item for Christmas and the lard (we used that in those days) caught fire on the stove.  I ended up with 2nd and 3rd degree burns on my hands and arm.  I was eventually hospitalized because of infection setting in even though it was covered.  I don’t want to make you feel ill, but in order to make my point, I need to share this with you.  I lost the skin on my hands and also my arm in places.  I could look down between my old skin and the new that was growing and see the intricate work of God.  My body had to grow new skin and it was extremely sensitive to touch.  I couldn’t touch two fingers together without pain.  That is because my nerves were raw and open.  When my new skin came back, it was, and still remains, thinner than it was.  Even to this day it doesn’t take much to have an issue with a burn that I may get while cooking.  If I get a burn, it takes a long time to heal.   So here is the interesting part….I still have my finger prints.  My finger tips aren’t scarred from it.  My skin on the hands are more wrinkled than most people have, but my fingerprints are still uniquely mine.

I find it rather fascinating to see that even though I lost my prints, this creation we call our body, grew new skin and gave me my finger prints back.  God did that in His creation of us.  My hands and arms became a new creation…and my prints today are used when I have had to apply for jobs and permits.  How unique God has made us!  The thing is, if He can make us unique enough that an accident can not take away my unique prints, even when they had to become new, and they can still identify me as me, THAT is pretty amazing!  He cares for me that much.  He cares for you that much.  He has made you unique and has unique plans just for you.  Not to be compared with others, but made and created just for you.

I love that about God.  We each have a plan.  We each have unique gifts to offer in service to Him.  If you are feeling unworthy or overwhelmed by life in general and trying to find out what God wants of you, don’t look at that mountain and say how big the mountain is, but tell the mountain how big your God is!  Let’s leave our finger prints all over the people around us, so that, they know of the love of a God who cares enough to love them individually for who they are, and to help them along the path to who He wants them to become!  He tells us to love our neighbors.  Let’s leave fingerprints of love on those around us, so they can feel, and thus know, that they are loved by a BIG God!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

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A New Look

How has your new year started?  Are you feeling energized by the fact that you are starting to write on new pages in your life this year?  Are you feeling a bit like you are in a funk?  Maybe you don’t see this year as any different from the last year?

I have found myself energized by the new year.  I have received a lot in this last year:

  • Insight and wisdom
  • Made it through some very hard times
  • God has strengthened my resolve
  • I have left some old things behind
  • Embraced new things
  • Did some heart excavating
  • The importance of family and friends
  • Seeing life differently both with my eyes and my camera
  • Learning what to say yes to
  • No fear of saying no more often
  • Renewed my love of making music
  • Learning more and more to lean in and listen to the Whisper

I know there is much more to learn this year too, and I am happy to say that I have entered this new year without regrets.  What was hard, made me stronger.  I  reviewed what was going on and examined my reaction to it.  I believe in changing what I can to make it better.  Most of the time, if I am honest, my reaction to something is really just not allowing God to handle it.  I feel excited about what is to come this year!  I have purchased a ukulele and mandolin to learn, got new strings on my guitar, budgeted a little for photography investments, started reading again everyday in those books I purchased.  I approach it just like it is a class I attend.  I give myself time for lessons to learn more, I give myself quiet time to reflect.  I take in the moments in my day rather than moving so fast that I don’t “notice”, or hear God”s whisper.

As I am reading in a current study, I find myself in total agreement with the author who says we can get deafened to hearing from God because we have so many loud noises trying to get our attention.  He also says that we become deaf to God speaking to us.  He needs to be our loudest voice.  I think so too.  When I am living more like I shared above, I am more relaxed and just enjoy the moment for what it is.  A mocha, a phone call from a friend, a prayer request that I immediately pray for, time with a child, listening to a great song, playing a tune I just made up, or spending time with hubby doing some of our favorite things.  For example, I don’t just drink a mocha.  I savor the warmth of the cup, the flavor of the drink, who I am with, where I am at….all those things.  I’m thankful.  Some do not have a warm drink, let alone a warm home.  So I say thank you that I can enjoy this moment because He has been provided for that.  When I sing and play, I am thankful for the gift of a singing voice and that I can even still sing; not like I used to, but at least I can still sing.  I sing my thanks, I listen to the lyrics as I sing…it is all about taking the time to hear what song God even brings up in my spirit TO sing.  That can be a message all by itself!  That is listening! The new year for me brings up all the things that are right in my world, not all the things that are wrong.  I look for good when I make my goals, and let God show me what He will willing to do with this year.

The gift that my hubby and I gave each other this year for Christmas was a spa type hot tub.  It is portable and not real big, but it fits us and has a semi hard casing around it.  We are excited about spending time enjoying a good soak when these bones and muscles are kind of stiff.  It will be outside amongst the trees and cold air, while we are relaxed and refreshed by the heat of the tub.  I can’t wait to try it out with a mocha in hand!  I hope it will be ready soon!

I just got a new journal that I love.  It is very old-fashioned and that draws me to it.  It’s blank pages are screaming for a story, and…I just might have to write one.  It may be for my own eyes only, and something I pass on, but it may be a treasure some day for someone else.  There are mysteries in our lives, and I think we need to be more open to sharing them while we are here to share them.  I encourage my boys to ask me what they want to know if I haven’t shared it with them already.  So if you aren’t a journal type person, remember, it doesn’t have to be a page; it may only be a paragraph.  It may even be a sentence or two.  Great!  Just put it down.

My new year’s wish for you is that you take this new year as an opportunity to mix things up a little bit.  Do something new.  Change what you don’t like and replace it with something you do!  Become a an artist of your own life; a writer of your own story.  There are times in my life where a certain situation comes up and I would love to see God change that, like… immediately.  But of course, that is not the case. God has His own time frame, and His own reasoning for where I am and what I am doing.  So instead of complaining about it, I’m learning to ask Him to help me understand it, AND the process.  That way my focus is more on solution than complaint.  You see, if we change how we look at things, we change everything about it.  I can’t take a picture of a flower if I’m focused on the sky.  I have to get down where the flowers grow, maybe even grovel on the ground a bit to get the best view.  THEN… I can see the beauty that is there to see.  It is all about our perspective.

Let me just say that I hope you will grab that extra cup of coffee or what ever your favorite is, and take a moment to ponder this post.  See and ask what you are supposed to put your eyes and ears to this year.  What does this mean for you?  What is my heart telling me about my adventurous journey?  Not adventurous, you say?  Well then!  You have your first goal for the new year!  Adventure!  Seek out something new!  Go for it! I am!!! 🙂

See you on the Adventure trail!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

 

Word for 2018

 

Each year, as many of you know who follow the blog, I pray about a word for my New Year.  The last several months have been some difficult ones; or maybe very uncomfortable ones is maybe a better description.  But I find that when that happens, usually something else is going on.  God is working on something.  It may be something in my environment, something I need to change, something I need to do or not do, or just making it uncomfortable enough not to ignore, so that, I will move out of where I am into something else He wants me to work on.  In any case, I am a bit late this year writing my goals for 2018, as well as, praying over my word.  But yesterday as we got out-of-town, I really asked God what He wanted to teach me this year and what word would best represent that.  I DID get an answer and I heard it on the radio and saw it in three different places during that day…I know when God is whispering, I best listen.  I did listen.  My word?   Drum roll please……  “Deep”.  You might ask what that has to do with anything and what does it mean? You might think it’s a strange word for a focus word.  But when that word came up in my spirit, I knew exactly what it meant for me.  That’s when you know its right.  Let me share some thoughts about the word and how it has, and will have, MORE meaning to me throughout 2018.

First of all, a word for the year is something that helps you focus on what you need to work on for next year.  We all know that we need to have better focus in some areas of our lives.  We may need to

take more time in an area, be better about putting God first in our day, simplify our life and schedule, eat healthier, exercise, or whatever He speaks to you about.  Then ask Him to give you a word that will help you focus more towards making that a reality.  It’s a great thing!  I have reaped the benefits of doing this for the last 15 years at least.  I usually make a visual of my word with scrabble letters and keep it on my desk.

So…back to the word.  Many of you may be familiar with the Bible verse in Psalms 42:7 about deep calling unto deep.  I have thought about it and what I think it means, at least for me, is the deep things of God calling out to the deep things of me.  It’s kind of like the Spirit of God reaching deeply into the spirit in me.  In other wards, it is a direct line between what moves God deeply and it is imparted straight to me.  No detours.  So when things are the deepest hardship for me = God giving his deepest and greatest proof that He is faithful.  I might need to do some excavating of my heart to clear out some junk to make more room for His promises.

 

What is “deep” going to mean to my life next year?  Here are a few things I believe God gave me:

  • Go deep into God’s Word, so that, I have more understanding of His love, promises, and faithfulness.
  • Go deep with my personal studies to have a deep desire to know Him more personally.
  • Go deep in to prayer regarding my heart, and ask understanding of where my feelings are coming from.  Understanding is key to changing.
  • Go deep into understanding the motives of my heart; that my motives be pure and for the right purposes.
  • Go deep in my music this year; it brings me joy.  That means all learning all my instruments, as well as, my singing.
  • Go deep with my photography by devoting time to learn and read a few good books about it.  It always teaches me to live in gratitude and in the moment.
  • Go deep with my communication with others and hone my listening to the deep things of the hearts of others.
  • Go deep in my marriage; understanding, forgiveness when necessary, commitment to time together with my spouse, and his encourager.
  • Go deep in our goals, not just talking about them, but planning them, and doing/going.
  • Go deep in living in the moment.
  • Go deep in simplifying where ever I can.
  • Go deep with my time, in that, social media is less, and what I do is focused on what helps me with the above items.  I have backed out of many and will continue with a few more.
  • Go deep so that I am a person of character and not a shallow and surface reflection of what God would have me to be.

In my case, I also added “er” to the side of deep because some of the thoughts above, I dive pretty deep into already, but there is also deeper meaning that I can gain from go deepER…always.  I am committed to where God wants to take me.   We see so much busyness around us, we are losing the peace and joy we could have, for the chaos and stress of that crazy life style.  Going deeper always reminds me of going into deep water.  I actually have a fear of deep water after nearly drowning at a camp when I was a girl.  So as much as I love the water, it is always a fear that the boat I am on will sink, or that I will somehow not be able to save myself.  I have a hard time even trusting a life jacket!  So this word is a good visual of what it means to totally give it up and trust.  I have to trust God to hold me up, and not let go of my hand.  I don’t ever want to drown in a crazy lifestyle.  I want to trust my boat, my Captain, my faith, and the life jacket when I need it.  He is all that for me.

Many times we make all these resolutions and then are disappointed in ourselves because we don’t stick with them.  I don’t make resolutions, as much as I make goals each year.  The difference is, I let God decide which ones He wants to bring to fruition in my life, and which ones might go on to next year’s list.  I leave it in His hands and thank Him all the way!  Don’t try to make them happen on their own.  The success of those goals is really up to you to discipline yourself to them.  You may have to make some different choices for those changes to occur!  After all, we can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results if we aren’t doing anything different.  If I want my faith to grow, my trust in Him to grow, my confidence in God to grow, then I must do something different from what I am doing now.  If I’m not feeling that kind of comfort and trust, then I need to work on moving the obstacles in my life out of my way.

He is calling me out into the deep this next year my friends…maybe into deepER areas I think I’m pretty good at.  But…am I really????  I am excited to see how this word will lead me in the direction He wants me to go next year.  Remember deep calling unto deep has the meaning that it is straight from Him to you…no detours.  You have a direct line!  I have never had Him lead me where his loving arms can’t reach me.  He tells us that in scripture, you know.  He will always extend His hand.  I need to surrender and be willing to take it.  AND… let HIM lead.  That’s key right there…let Him lead me into the deep.

If you choose to take part in a word for your New Year, please share with me in the comments below and I will be happy to pray over you and your word this next year!  Accountability is important too.  Blessings!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

P. S.  I want to thank each and every one of you who have been such faithful readers of this blog.  You bless me, and I want to wish you a very Happy New Year in 2018!

Advent ~ Christmas Wreath

Advent ~ Christmas Wreath
Today’s ornament is a Christmas Wreath made from colored beads, and was made by a friend and given to me as a gift. Wreaths are some of my favorite adornments for Christmas.
Just a reminder that the Christmas wreath was used to represent Christ. It had a circular shape with no beginning or end, which represented eternity or our life never-ending because we have heaven. It is also used with the three advent candles with the middle candle lit on Christmas Eve to represent the arrival of Jesus, the Light of the World.
Light of the world you came down into darkness, open my eyes let me see.
Until next time…
JoAnn

Advent ~ The Star

Advent ~ The Star
 
This is an ornament that tops the tree. Our tree was too little this year, but I have it next to the tree just so I can still enjoy it! I love its reflection on the ceiling and its changing reflection. Brings me back to the star and its part in the Christmas story. It reminds me to look up. See the star.
 
You know there was a star over where Jesus was born that inspired the
wise men to follow the star to the baby. God led them then, and He leads us today. I think about this every time we have a clear night to see the stars. They are so beautiful! And to think they were brave enough to follow it because they felt the leading to do it. Today, don’t take the beauty of the stars for granted…enjoy those night skies we have to look at. Many are not free to see them.
 
I’m following the Star, not just during the Christmas time, but everyday He gives me breath!
 
For Christ is born of Mary
And gathered all above
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love
O morning stars together
Proclaim the holy birth
And praises sing to God the King
And Peace to men on earth

Advent ~ Homemade Treasures

Advent ~ Homemade Treasure 
 
This ornament is a true treasure. Not only was it made by a very special man, but that man was the uncle to a very special friend. That friend shared this ornament with me. I’m nostalgic like that. Many items in my home have special meaning that is triggered by the memories attached to the item I have. The fact that this is homemade makes me happy. This ornament would have to be around 50 years old.
 
Let what is around you feed your soul today and quiet your spirit. Every time I see this ornament, I think of the hands that made it and the hands that shared it. And…I am very grateful for both.
 
I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart…down in my heart to stay.

Advent ~ Stockings

Advent ~ Stockings
 
How many of you grew up with stockings hanging on the fireplace or wall or someplace that was available? I did. The presents were opened on Christmas Eve, and the stockings were opened on Christmas Morning at my house. It was exciting to see what goodies could be fit into the stocking! Our stockings were surprisingly filled and left for us while we slept. What fun to get into those! Some times it was a small toy and fruit and nuts. Not like today where the stocking filers can be as expensive as the gifts. I did that for my kids growing up with small items they could use. However, I haven’t done them for years. The “small things” have gotten pretty expensive.
 
I have always felt that it is the thought behind the giving that counts most. I can’t see spending so much money on gifts at Christmas, that I am in debt after Christmas. That’s not how it is meant to be…trying to outdo someone. I don’t want my kids to feel the need to do that either. I am happy that we can be together. That’s my gift.
 
This year, I have went back to that type of giving. Things that have meaning to them, and some things I made. I want to share with them that I know they will like, but makes it fun for me, not stressful. Home made gifts or special treasures. Even sharing with them something that they may not get until “later” is fun for me! I like to see them receive it. THAT is what Christmas is about.
 
So now I have shared my kids’ stockings with them, except for one. So they can hang them for decorations or a keepsake. But in my house, the stocking reminds me to stick with what counts most…being together and sharing a meaningful gift. Keep it simple.
 
All the stockings were hung by the chimney with care…
Until next time…
JoAnn