Moving Out, Moving Up!

 

What a crazy couple months it has been! Do you ever do something crazy and wonder how you are going to get through it, but then, you do? Moving often times means you find things you haven’t taken the time too look at in a while. Pictures, cards, dishes and gifts you have been given as you pack them, and all the many memories that go with them. What a journey it is. Anytime I get tired, overwhelmed, or sore and hurting, I just remind myself of the above title. We are moving out, to move up!!! Today, I took a few minutes to enjoy the garden after the rain. I cut a few of the beautiful peonies that had blossomed! So beautiful!

It has a great significance in my life right now. I know many people think we are crazy to move yet again! But you know what? The qualitiy of our lives mean something. It is important. We have seen that over the last few months. So hubby and I want to have a quality of life that we both can enjoy, and feel the contentment in the home we are going to spend our time in. God has truly blessed us and we have had great joy in deciding how we can give back to the Lord for all His faithfulness to us. I feel that we aren’t just moving into another home, we are moving up! What does mean? It means that God is giving us many of the desires of our hearts in this home. He is moving us up to a new level of faith in this process of selling the condo and buying a house. In these times, it is totally a miracle. He is moving us up a level. Not is “I’m better than you thinking”, but a new level of faith and gratitude. We are streamlining some more once we get there so we can make room in our lives for less distraction. We are focusing on what God has for us since we believe this new home has been graciously given to us from God. We believe He has a plan. I also believe He may be calling me to write. I will so enjoying writing from a place of peace and contentment. God is giving me the place, now it is up to be to use it the way He wants me to use it. For that, I must be a good listener.

I’m even celebrating all the inconveniences…like my mocha that has mysteriously ended up in a packed box, so I don’t get to enjoy that each morning. I lost something else this morning too, but we found it in a carrier that is going to the cabin with us. When I get irritated, I just remember what God placed on my heart…we are moving out to move up! Now THAT is exciting friends!! I can’t wait to get my little studio set up again where ever that might be in this home. I can’t wait to get back into study and reading and learning! I will be greeting you from our beautiful deck and back yard with my morning mocha very soon! In the meantime, it might be from the cabin where we will rest up for a few days and prepare for the next leg of this journey.

So don’t get discouraged my friend thinking that God can’t move in your life in a big way. He sure can! For me, it’s like opening a book that I am excited about reading, and I feel like the story starts to float into the air just enough to cause me to want to turn to the first page! I can’t wait to see the story unfold! Look for it in your life. God wants to do a new thing for you also. Ask Him what it might be. I know for me, I have learned more and more how important my family and friends are to me. They have always been, but I feel a new level is coming there too, as it should. I had a scare with a dear friend of mine this last week, and it reminded me again of how quickly the page can turn and we don’t always know what our Heavenly Author is going to write. I couldn’t be with her, but I Face Timed with her so I could wave and say hello. I left my phone on all night in case she needed to talk. I checked in on her for a few minutes each morning and night, or ask she felt like texting. We stay strong when we get our perspective in place. Don’t take these days for granted, and don’t let it pull you down. Instead, ask Him for fresh eyes, and new way to look at things, protect your mind from what you hear, and focus instead on what God says to YOU. That is where complete joy in all things will come to our body, mind and spirit.

I can’t step along side all of you, but if I could, I would take your hand and walk in step with you and encourage you to dream of the story that God wants to write for you. Don’t miss it. It may be something small, but for you its BIG. It may be something really big that scares you. That’s when you know its God because you couldn’t do it yourself. That is what has happened to us. Only God could pull off finding our home, and THEN turning around and selling a condo in these times, and then do it in time for us to get the new home. See? He has it all planned out, and if we are obedient to do what He asks us to do, we will see miracles and answers to prayer. Open the book and see what happens. He will take you on a journey that is better than any movie you can watch. I’m not super woman. I am just like you. It takes perserverence, but always worth it. Are you ready? Get your pen and pad out and be ready to take down the dream. It is waiting for you…I am waiting to hear also. What is your dream that you are afraid to step out and do, or you aren’t sure what your next step needs to be?

I’m not sure what God is asking of me, but what I do know is, I’m moving out, SO THAT, (my favorite words) I can MOVE UP!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Miracles Through A “Suddenly”

 

Have you ever had a “suddenly” in your life? I think if you live and breathe this day, you have had a few. We know they can be difficult times, happy times, and surprising times. Even the happy and surprising times can be difficult times also. So once again, it still comes back to what we think and our perspective about it.

If we are willing not to shove it under the rug as nonsense, I think we could clearly see that, as Joyce Meyer has said and written about, “Our mind is the battlefield.” This is surely true. People have been known to come out of horrific situations when their attitude was looking at the positive things in their lives, and living in gratitiude for life. They find the joy in living in the moment.  I love what Austin Kleon says, “Disconnect from the world to connect to yourself.” Think about that for a minute. If we don’t allow the negative things to come into our minds, then we are more open for the mind to see the good that is around us. Lately, the word people don’t want to use is quarantined. Well…maybe we need to quarantine from the news and all the conflicting information we get, and concentrate on everything that is good around us. We are even healthy enough to complain about it.

I just saw today where a friend of mine and her hubby packed up a nice lunch and went out into nature to get away from the house. A couple of chairs, binoculars, lunch and a drink to go into pretty glasses, and her phone to capture the moment. That, my friends, is how to keep doing life. Take the time to live in the moment. I love doing that kind of thing! Makes me happy. Of course, my camera would be along to capture the moment and also anything going on around me. I hope this time is teaching you that there are things we can live without, and still have a quality of life with in our own home surroundings. It’s not ideal, but we might as well make it through with some fun. There ARE safe ways to do it. It refreshes our minds to be able to face whatever life is giving us at the time. Hubby and I do car picnics together during this time. It’s just a fun thing we do to make something unique and fun, rather than, just eating in our car. It’s all about perspective! We toast with our drinks to how God is taking care of us, and thank Him for it.

So with that, I enter stage left… with another move. But in our case, it is more like stage right, because this is the right thing for us now. If you are younger, you may not be able to relate, but if you are in the mid-age range and above, you have lived life long enough to know what is important. Quiet. Harmony. A breath of fresh air. Nature. Family. Gathering. Friends. NO drama. All these things become important and we need to protect ourselves by designing our life in such a way that it becomes fun, luminous, sparkling, lots of laughter, leisure, and relaxation. Don’t let the world dictate to you how busy you “need” or “should” be. God gave us that space in our soul to be filled with the above kinds of things, so that, we can give time back to Him and spend time with Him. Happy soul, happy life!

I have had plenty of suddenlies come up in my life and I know how hard they can be. I have had loss in my life, recent skin cancer surgeries that changed my life, and a few other things like some “sudden” health issues that have tried to crowd their way in to distract me, or make me feel alone, or discouraged. The devil is in full attack mode these days and I’m not about to let him get the best of my thought life taking place in my mind. Nope. I tell those thoughts to take a hike. I know where that leads. I know where it comes from. We have to pay attention to what or who has our attention. When we think about that, it can turn things around.We are making a move that better lines up with the things we know are important to us. We spend a lot of time at home even without the stay at home going on right now. Because of that, we want to totally enjoy our surroundings, have a place to enjoy with friends, relax in nature of our own back yard where I will have a water fountain that delights my heart to hear. We have the space we like. I have a kitchen that I can enjoy cooking and baking in. Hubby still has a place for his books. Because…every day is important to our life and we need to live it well. I’m excited for that. It is worth the hassle of a move, and stress of all the paperwork, and even starting over in a mortgage. I can’t take it with me, but I sure can live well in every moment of this new to us sanctuary that truly has been given to us by God. I believe that. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future. I’m just living the adventure of life each day as best I can. I keep going…

Here is my latest “suddenly”. At our age, we are making yet another move. It’s not fun, it’s a lot of work, and my back just doesn’t carry those boxes around like it used to. But the silver lining is this: we ARE moving and I will leave the condo life to go back into a stand alone home. The reason that is such a big “suddenly” is that we weren’t really planning to do it. However, circumstances where we live gave us pause to review what is important to us. For me, being in a serene setting, nature around me, and choice to do what we like with our home, along with a yard to relax in…that is my bliss. Hubby and I spend a lot of time at home and so where we live and our environment is key to our contentment. I want to live where I thrive. At this stage in my life, loving where I live and family to share it with, is at the top of my list. This move couldn’t have happened without God’s intervention. Selling a home and buying a home isn’t easy in these times. Finding a home and having someone buy it out from beneath you is a constant challenge when you have to sell the place where you are currently living first. So it is not without frustration. Some of my friends have heard some of that frustration over the last month or so. However, it all comes back to laying it down and trusting God to take me through the “suddenly” as only He can. And…He did. He found us a perfect home, with land around us, a wonderful kitchen to cook and bake in, (one of my requests) and a dining room again to all sit and enjoy a meal together. I wanted to be by the water so He gave me a fountain in the back yard to listen to, AND I am only minutes from the water by car. It was also within the budget would preferred. Now that is God performing miracles! Even now as things get tense, I just keep my goal in mind knowing that all of the stress leads to our Bayshore House by mid June. That makes one happy daughter of the King!

I think we can miss the purpose of those “suddenly” moments seasons in our lives. We see only the hardship of where we are in the moment, rather than looking at what God wants to do in us in the future. It takes being aware of what you are thinking and making changes where the “suddenly” opens the door for God to work. We are already praying over this home, that God would be honored within the walls of Bayshore House, and we will always leave a chair at our table for Him to be right in the middle of our lives. You see, honoring Him is the best way to build our trust in Him for all He has done for us, big or small. It is focusing on what is going right in our lives. That leads to gratitude and we can’t think of postive and negative at the same time. We may have to remind ourselves about that when things get tough again. So kick those discouraging thoughts out the door. I can’t think of all I have to pack, getting boxes to storate, and how we will get out this home in 3 weeks. I can’t think about the fact that we have to move twice because the condo closes before the Bayshore House, which we needed. I just can’t go there in my thougts. I can’t think on how I feel. I have to take one day at a time and do what I can for that day. Each day builds on itself, and eventually, I will have it cleared out with hubby’s help and on the way to cabin to breath some fresh air before moving our things from storage to the new home. One day at a time will be my daily prayer.

I enjoy sharing what God does in my life in hopes that it encourages you. Don’t ever think He doesn’t care about what you care about. Here are some pictures to show you how He worked in our life with our new home. This is a blank canvas that I will have a total blast making ours. Don’t let a “suddenly” take the wind out of your sails because God is always in the boat with you. Never doubt that.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

 

Porch Entry Livingroom Kitchen Family Room Laundry Room with skylight Back yard and fountain Back of the house and deck Master Bedroom Kitchen 2nd view Dining Room & entry to kitchen family room Other side of dining room Master Bath walk-in shower Third Bedroom will be office maybe Bedroom Two

Conversations in Prayer

Hello Friends! I hope this finds you all well, and that you are finding staying at home has been good among the challenges of it. Challenge means we are changing in some way. May God help you to do just that for His glory. Let’s take a few minutes together over some coffee or tea! Got it?? Let’s dig in!

Sometimes, we have to get our heart right in order to be able to help others. But it is also good for you to know that we ALL have those times, and it’s ok. I have especially been called to study prayer during these last few months. So my online study group has been looking at prayer. I thought I would share some thoughts on prayer with you here on the blog.

Our emphasis on prayer should not be about how eloquent we are, or that we can recite recitation scripture, but instead it should be the heart behind the prayer. There is no formula or right or wrong way to pray. BUT there are some things we need to consider BEFORE we pray. In the last few years, God has changed my approach to prayer, in that, I come to Him asking for forgiveness first. I know, some say Praise first. Nope. I come to Him asking for forgiveness. Why? Because the Holy Spirit it convicting me through out my life of areas that I need to change, come up higher in, orchange my thought life, attitudes, anger, critical spirit…whatever it is. God also tells me if I have issues with something or someone, I am to take care of that first and then come to prayer. Why? Because our prayers can be hindered by those very things. When I pray in my quiet time, I ask for forgiveness so my prayers aren’t hindered. I don’t have to do that every time I pray because I pray all the time, but I want a clean heart before God as I bring my requests and those of others, to God in my quiet time. Another point God makes is that we are not to think we are “heard for [our] much speaking.” We are not fill our prayer with lots of extra words, or repeating words. Simple words to God in prayer. It can be called fluffy prayers so we sound more spiritual. Not necessary. Enjoy being in God’s presence and hearing His quiet voice in your spirit. Prayer is a dialogue with God, not a monologue of only you talking to God. Listen for His whisper.

In prayer times we can, and we need to:

  • pause for reflection
  • think about what was said
  • ask what God may be speaking to us
  • listening to God’s Holy Spirit
  • worshiping Him in our own way
  • seeking to experience God’s presence.

Why not spend time opening your soul and spirit to listening to God, to experience His presence, and to hear what the Spirit says. Yes indeed… prayer is a dialogue. God wants to hear from you. However, it is also important for you to hear from Him. Be open and honest with Him. Honesty with God is so important to our growth. I had a dear friend that was a pastor’s wife. Wow! I learned a lot from her about prayer. That lady could pray about anything and it was like she had a hot line to heaven. As I have gotten older, I understand that she had established such a personal and deep relationship with God, that she lived it out, where she could ask God for anything, and she would get answers. I understand that relationship now. I remember thinking I wish I had that kind of prayer life. But she kept telling me it is all about relationship. Then, you trust Him with more and more. She prayed down to specifics of the homes they would move to when they would relocate. She would pray for a ride from town back home and I would “happen” to come along. She would get in the car and say that I had just answered God’s prayer for her. There was no happenstance with her.

THAT is what I want, and I want that for you. Trust Him with everything! Know that He loves you so much more than you know and nothing pleases Him more than to hear your voice, crying out, yelling out, whispering, or pleading with Him. Come before Him with a clean heart. Growing up I would sing this liturgy: “Create in me a clean heart oh God, and renew a right spirit with in me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit it from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with your free Spirit.” I pray that each time I come to God in prayer.

Let me ask you a question I asked the study gals. What kind of father figure do you think about when you think about your Heavenly Father? Was your father figure growing up one that had no time for you? Detached? Overly strict? Loved you only when you were good or did good? Manipulative? You see, that matters how you see God. So your experience with God may come from a place of distrust. You may have to escavate your thoughts and heart to see how you are seeing God. Are you willing to give up everything to have relationship with Jesus? Weed out what is keeping you from an exciting time with Him in prayer? Let it be so in our hearts. The longer our acquaintance is with Him, the closer our fellowship is with Him. Our spiritual health depends on our pursuing the Lord and His presence. “He says, ‘Come to Me to stay with Me’.” (Andrew Murray)

We can make real messes at times in our lives when we try to control things instead of trusting God with it. Our pride can get in the way. Evaluate your heart. Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Ps. 34:

Describe which phrases below would best describe how you view God’s goodness.

  • I always trust that God is good.
  • I believe that God is good when life is good.
  • I have a hard time trusting that God is good.
  • It’s easier to believe that God is good to other people than to me.
  • I say, “God is good”, but my thoughts and actions don’t always reflect that.

I have had some great opportunities to practice better thinking and approaches to circumstances, while learning more about myself. Such things as times when I have counted on something, desired something, dealt with frustration, and even a “I don’t want to hear that”, response. And then, I have to go back and apologize to a friend who was trying to be an encouragement to me, but instead my response was, “I really don’t want to hear that”. So what do I know? I know and have learned that I process things by talking about them. It helps me work through them, even if I’m mad. I do that with God in prayer. But then the Holy Spirit convicts me of my attitude and I have to deal with that in myself, or with the person I may have been less than kind to. The Holy Spirit reminds me that God’s thoughts are NOT my thoughts. I have to leave it all in God’s lap…all of it. Then, I trust that He has taken care of me in the past and he will take care of me in the future. Jesus overcame the world so that I have peace and courage no matter what I may be going through. I have to rest in Him…abide in Him. STAY with Him. When I acted like I did above, I certainly wasn’t resting in Him. I acted more like a little kid trying to wrestle myself free of His will and the encouragement He was trying to give me through my friend. So…He dealt with me, and He set me on higher ground to boost my courage to face it all. He renewed my trust that He knows where I am to be and how it will play out.

Your view of God will change as you learn and let God chip off those areas that may be keeping you from God’s best for your life. What chips are you needing to have trimmed off? There is a great quote I heard the other day, “We have the privilege of trusting God.”  ~Joyce Meyer

Maybe sometimes as we think about prayer, we have this idea of God as our buddy, a friend, a feel good sense in our life, all makes sense kind of person, a giver, provider, and all of those feel good feelings toward God. But what happens as we grow in our life and other things happen that don’t make sense to us? It might be the loss of a child, someone you love getting this virus, or death from the virus, or an accident that leaves someone with serious life challenges, or things aren’t turning out the way you thought they would? Then who is God to you? Has He changed because of something that has happened in our life? He is a different God than before?

You see, we can lose sight of who God is, by what we think He is now after we have questioned God about these difficult occurrences in our life. We lose out on that closeness we could have because we are kind of stuck with who we think He is in difficult times. Maybe before you thought God fit in to your life really well and you even talked about what He has done in your life to others. But things happened, and you can’t quite fit Him into the same vision as God was before this happened. So in essence, we are trying to fit God into what He has or hasn’t done before. He was good before this happened. Now THIS, whatever it is, happened and you think differently about God. Before, He was all cool like that. He did for you what you expected, like the fun giver, the helper, provider…all of that. But all of a sudden, you aren’t thinking about Him like that anymore. So our relationship suffers because our prayer has suffered. We lose confidence and less prayer = less relationship.

 It is like when we take a trip, we use a map or maybe we use our phones, but we use those tools to help make our trip easier. So if that is the case, our map is the Bible, and our Compass is God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. If we use our spiritual guidance through God, his Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, then we are assured that we can accurately reach our destination; the life that God has promised us. It may not look like you thought, but it IS God’s best for you. It will be the most important gift we receive.

Could this true of you? If so, then you might need to hit the prayer chair or prayer floor, and ask God to begin to show you who He is right now in your life and renew that “right spirit” with in you. BECAUSE…He IS the same yesterday, today, and forever. That means just because things happen, and the devil gets his digs in, that He is still the same powerful all-knowing God who gave up His Son, so that you could always have God just a prayer away. Ask today for God to direct your thoughts, actions, and reactions. Get your tools working for you. Look up, and then look at your map so God can show you the way. Stop and ask directions.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

 

 

The Curve Ball Keeps Rollin’

 

Yesterday was a big day here in the Bungalow! We listed our home and it has now hit the MLS as of last week. It is busy times. We got the condo all staged and it is looking pretty good. But oh my! This gal is sore and pretty tired! Just doesn’t come as easy as it used to. I pray for my body to stay strong and healthy in these times.

When making decisions, we usually base them on what we know at the time. We did in our move from Aberdeen to our current home. But life changes, and that changes us. So with our current situation, we have come to feel that we enjoy a stand alone home more than we enjoy the condo life. That is a hard decision for us at our age again to be making a move. But we are both in agreement to make a change while we can. It’s difficult, but not impossilbe. There will be challenges, especially now. But God…He can do it. He can pave the way. So we trust Him to do just that.

But since I wrote about curve balls, there has been more coming everybody’s way as of late. But I am a firm believer that God knows what is going on and He is in control. We WILL have difficult times and hardships and sickness in our lives. But He is here to help us and walks with us through them all. So each night I pray for good health for others and myself. I pray God will give wisdom to everyone in these times to live out what is required. I also pray that it changes people. Don’t change for today or tomorrow just because you are forced into it by living circumstances. But let’s let this change our hearts. Let’s have more compassion and love for each other. Help each other where we can. Support each other through encouragement. Let it be a life changing experience that is forever a change agent for life in general.

Fan the flame of change!

We have had to dial back and isolate, and it is making some people crazy and antsy. But in reality, this slower life style is what is good for us. We get back to our roots. We now HAVE time to do those things we really enjoy. Do them! Catch up on that good book. Redecorate or change rooms around. Go through closets. Write if you are a writer. Journal this time for future generations to understand how this experience was for you. Self-examine what is important to you. I think this teaches us that family and friends are what counts the most. And we want to have good relationships with both. We have time now…let’s keep that time in the future for them and we will make the future a better place to live for all of us. Why? Because learning from these experiences is what makes the these worst scenarios add value to our lives and give us renewed purpose.

So we are moving forward and hopefully out also! We will enjoy where the Lord takes us next. He always adds value to our lives each time we make the move. It isn’t an easy time to sell a home, so I would ask that you keep us in your prayers.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Had Any Curve Balls Lately?

If you read the title, then you know the question.  So…have you had any curve balls in your life? You know, those times when your road is going along, you are settled on the where its taking you, and then… BOOM! Here it is, and it hits…that unexpected curve ball!  That is where I am these last two weeks! God has put a curve ball into my slow moving life.  How’s that, you say?  Let me share.

One and a half years ago, my husband and I moved into the condo life in a small community. It’s a community at the base of the mountain range with beautiful scenery and farms. I love eagles and we see them often. Let me explain a bit. We made this move based on the fact that there were some questions about the health of my hubby and they were making an impact on his life. So I wanted to be in a position where he didin’t have to worry much about the care of a home and yard all that entails. So here we are about one and three quarter years into our condo life, and just recently, managed to put up things that had been on our to-do list, and lights up, and even re-decorating a bedroom.  All of this to make it like we wanted. However, it takes special people to live a condo life, and also a special condo to live it out in.  Some love it. Us? Not so much. Oh, we had talked moves, prayed about moves, but decided we would just do what needed to be done to make this more like we wanted. So we started. Then…BOOM! Hubby says, “You know, I have been talking to a few people who have sold their condo here in the complex and they sold pretty quick and at a good price.” “What does that mean?”, I asked him, “Now you are thinking of moving?” That was what he was thinking. Now I would LOVE a bigger kitchen, but just as I was settling into this, now I am taking it all down. Isn’t life just a blast?

So as I write this, I am into a week and a half of packing. And all my moving boxes have long since gone to recycling. I will have had to get those all over again. A storage unit for larger pieces of furniture to be stored in so we can stage the condo. Get it listed right away to be able to make an offer on something we find that we like. Prep the house and stage it for best pictures and best sale. That is not to mention all the paper work required for mortgage and all of that. I do dislike that part because I’m usually responsible for putting all that together. Moving is just not fun!! When I think about it all, I would rather fast pitch that ball right back! But in order to do a move, I must just take one step at a time and take each day as it comes and do all I can to accomplish what needs to be done. I am so fortunate and blessed to have our grandson here this weekend and Monday to help us move things around. Such a great young man to help out his grandparents. Love that boy. We even found time to play the piano together, which delights this heart of mine. Take time for the Pause.

I guess what I’m still learning is that there will always be curve balls. Life is like that. Sometimes we don’t like what we have been given. Some of it requires a lot of work. A lot of energy, and a lot of focus. A good attitude. It is kind of like our faith walk. It too, is requires work, diligence, focus, tenacity, and dependence on His leading. We press on knowing God is walking the road with us. We have to do the same process with the curve ball. Pray for guidance and wisdom to make the right choice of what to purchase, where He wants us to be, and rest in Him for the process of it all. I have to believe He will guide me and help me do get what needs to be done completed. If I fret and get all stressed over it all, it takes the fun out of the adventure. It certainly is an adventure! We have to have this listed to make an offer on another home, and then hope the right home comes along. I know God is able and knows my heart and hubby’s heart to lead us to the home that is our LAST home. I say that with tongue in cheek because I said that last time. So I will pray for the right place, with the items I most desire, just the right buyer for the condo, and a quick sale. Because you see, there are no mistakes with God. He knows all about it. So a curve ball isn’t something that just happens, it is for a purpose. Just as my skin cancer journey is. I always ask Him what I am to learn and give me His purpose for me through it. Isn’t it marvelous that we have God to count on? Most certainly.


So already the Bungalow is looking less and less “JoAnn”. That is good thing because then the new buyer can see how it can fit their needs. A lot of work = a win win for both buyer and us. It is the same in our lives. If we have less and less of “us”, then we can have more and more of Jesus. Isn’t that what we want…to be more like Jesus? It is for me. I hope it is for you!

So over the next couple of weeks if I come to mind, please be praying for the right buyer for the Bungalow, and that the home we are considering will still be available for us and that our offer is accepted. I was a pretty good ball player in school, so I’m throwing the ball back to Jesus, and He is a great Catcher!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

 

 

Influenced by Your Surroundings

My Studio Creative Space

This is a little different post for me, but I feel so strongly that many are living with less and less satisfaction and well-being on a daily basis and need some encouragement. I have found that my surroundings make a HUGE difference in how I feel, and how I handle the challenges and disappointments that come into my life. Do you think that your surroundings play a part in how you feel on a daily basis?

Today, let’s talk a little about how your environment impacts you.  I believe, you may understand that you can influence your mood and well-being. For example, rooms with bright light, natural or artificial, can improve depression and anxiety. It can motivate you to action. A room that is cluttered and messy will probably be someplace you will continue to drop things as you come in the room or entry. However, a space that is cleaned and organized, will motiviate you to keep it that way. It will encourage you to have a new habits of wanting to put things away in their place so it stays that way. Let’s take an entry for example of your home or apartment. Does it invite people to come in?  Does it encourage or discourage interaction among family and friends by the way you set up the chairs or furniture in the room you will walk into? Does it encourage people to sit for a spell? Reducing stress or creating stress is also influenced by your feeling of well-being so how it appears when you come can determine your feelings, as well as, your guests. So… we can see by a couple examples, that this it isn’t just what is going on in the inside of you but also what is going around on the outside of you. How you see your space has a great impact how you feel in your surroundings. All this in turn has impact on your psychological health as well.

Think about this scenario, you have dishes in the sink and on the counter from dinner or maybe even a couple of days, and it bugs you to see it before you go to bed, but you don’t feel like doing it. However, doing it makes you feel like you are accomplishing something, and you will feel better waking up to a clean kitchen the next morning. Or, maybe its city life that makes you anxious and you would rather be in the country, even though friends, and even family members, love the hustle and bustle of the city. Maybe you are like me and the ocean is your happy place. I love the ocean and it does it for me every time. There is the place where I get quiet enough to lean in to hear what God has to say to me. The water and nature do that for me. It may be different experiences for you that cause stress or help you dial down. Looking at your surroundings as you read this, is there good light around your home and work space? Do you like what is around you? Do you like how you feel sitting there in that spot? Your mood is affected by that. What about the dynamics of your surroundings?  Do you thrive in high-pressure, or does it make you shut down? Messy work spaces elevate stress and the feelings of chaos. Do you need to attend to that area?

Here is the bottom line…your surroundings are so impactful to how you feel on a daily, or even an hourly basis. You may be in many different environments during a day. But do something about the ones you can control…your own.  Your surroundings influence your senses such as what you see, smell, touch and hear, and even the colors you have in your surroundings. Color can completely change the whole feel of your room or home or space and paint is inexpensive. All of these areas has influence on how you feel. Just like you love to go to the beach and see a lovely sunset, so it is with the feeling of our homes. It welcomes us in with a feeling of belonging. It is a soft place to fall.

Sometimes, our environment and/or circumstances can dictate what we choose to do rather than what we want to do. Your environment is what is important to YOU. So if you look around and see with new eyes what brings you joy and well-being, and also what makes you anxious, then you can begin to take the first step in making your surroundings special. Gain habits that help you keep that environment. Minimize distractions around you whether it is furniture, too much in the room, or messy areas that need to be tidied up. Items you might need to get rid of or share. You know we hear daily how we can change our lives, but we forget that we have a real need to feel content in the place where we live out that life. First let’s change our surroundings where we can so we are more motivated to make the changes in ourselves, to be used of God.

It is a proven scientic fact that when you have things around you that bring you like, or you see things that bring you a feeling of love, it changes you inside…that feeling of contentment. It increases your endorphins. It changes then how you look at life. It helps us enjoy life more. It motivates you without you having to push yourself. You begin to WANT to have it look a certain way because of how it makes you feel. It may begin with the smallest step like changing furniture around, or adding a piece that helps you organize the space. It may be adding a special item to your space. But the change gives you the sense of accomplishment and that one small step is making some progress toward that feeling of contentment and well-being.

I learned this years ago, and have always set the priorities for our home to be in good order where possible. It feels good to have things in place. When I have too much in a room, I tend to think about it and it is stressful to even have the items. So in the last few years, I have been slowly trying to streamline my home and everything in it, so that, I will have a feeling of calm in my home. I love it when people come in and feel comfortable in my home. That is my goal; to make any guest feel welcome.

So let me share with you how I have done that in my surroundings.

  1. I alway surround myself with items I love. I have surrounded myself with family heirlooms, photos that give me good memories, my Norwegian heritage, music, collections, good books, candle light is often seen in my home, and items given as gifts to me. I love to look at them and remember how they fit in my life story.
  2. I have colors I love that brings me joy. I love reflected light of crystals hanging in strategic places to catch the sunlight. I hope to paint the whole condo at some point, but I’m also open to God opening a door for just the right stand alone home too! He works behind the scenes, so I’m ready. But in the mean time, I am making this environment what we love.
  3. I change the look of each home I have lived in. It is important for me to make it my happy place. I spend a lot of time here. Once again, I also like it to feel that way to others also.
  4. I also include things around me that enhance all my senses. For example: I have a wonderful soft, furry rug that is placed by my bed. I love waking up to put my feet on that rung every morning, and to enjoy it at night as I get into bed. Candle light and the fragrances relaxes me.
  5. I almost always change lights in my home to styles I really like. It isn’t that expensive if you shop around, but it sure boosts the well-being factor to see them up in our home.
  6. I’m a vintage gal, so I love old things and the stories they could tell. Some of the stories I know. Others I do not. But, I am the keeper of that secret story.
  7. I live in a condo that is very dark. In the day time, if I don’t have lights on, especially if no sun is out, it is very dark light almost like evening time. That’s hard for me because I love windows and light. So I do whatever I can to make it lighter and brighter with shades up and the right kind of light bulbs in my lights and lamps. Sounds simple but it can make all the difference. Use of full spectrum lighting can also make a big the difference in the lighting of your home.
  8. I changed my whole bedroom around; moved furniture, changed bedding, new curtains on sale, different furniture that fit better with the new set up, added a few pieces that I love to the walls, rugs in the floor, and I have a room I love to walk into.
  9. I’m a fireplace gal, so I often have it on in the mornings and later at night, with my mocha of course.
  10. I burn candles whenever I can. Something about them…and that light. I grew up in a time where many of my relatives when I was a child, used kerosene lamps for lighting, so it has good memories for me too.
  11. My surroundings start with a quiet time in the morning, with my mocha and fireplace burning and devotions. No better way to start my day. When I am feeling good about where I am, I can so feel the work of God in my life. I’m motivated to be a part of what He is doing around me.
  12. I inspire myself by looking at ways to bring the outside inside. I like to spend time on my patio and that is a place we are working this spring. So I will want to see that space from rooms on that end of the home. I love outside lighting also and hope to do that soon on the patio.
  13. I enjoy the BBQ life and do it often all year long. I really enjoying have that good smell going on a super crisp day, knowing I have a good meal planned. I get to enjoy being outside also. God has made a beautiful world around us. Let’s look to the good things we can see and hear in nature because God has given that gift to us.
  14. I spend time doing what I love. Activities such as music, photography, creating items with photography, drinking mocha from my cup collection, and reading to just name a few. So I have spaces in my home where it invites me into that activity. Nothing better than making music and singing to Jesus at the piano.
  15. I have a couple of essential oils I use every night before getting into bed. They relax me and give me that sense of well-being… and sleep comes. It is something I look forward to. A little step that may seem insignificant, but it can be huge to my well-being. I also have a diffuser so I can bring wonderful fragrances in to my rooms.
  16. My husband and I love to go for drives. It is very enjoyable for me to get out and see what I can see. Getting out to in a different environment, can change up an attitude in no time. I will sometimes just get in the car for a ride with my camera to enjoy the beauty around my area. Or as in our case, go to the cabin and enjoy the outdoors, camera in hand. I also enjoy traveling to Norway and seeing my relatives there and learning Norwegian VERY slowly…well more like turtle pace. But I’m learning.

Are you getting the idea that your surroundings are important for all areas of your life? Can you see how you are affected by the lack of any of these things or can benefit from including them in your life? I have been sharing these types of ideas in photos to encourage others to change their surroundings for many years. Some have been inspired and made the changes and are loving every minute of the changes they made. It doesn’t have to be costly because many things I have done are through thrift stores and selling apps or groups. I have found some great items!

It comes back to the big take away…our surroundings most certainly affect our well-being!! Changing our surroundings changes us. It makes us feel like we can tackle our world. Because we are happier, we feel more motivated to make the changes and live with joy. That in turn gives us just what we need to be Jesus to someone else. It’s an exciting way to live. Life is hard at times, and we need need that soft place to fall called “home”.  We need that place we go to for work every day to be as much of a spot to enjoy as we can make it. Even where we eat lunch, if we are at work, can make a difference how refreshed we are going back to it.

Hit the Reset Button in your surroundings and see what you can change to make your surroundings more like a place that brings a sense of well-being to your soul. I believe you will build an environment where God can really grow you in ways you may not have thought of just by making a place for your soul to be content. I walk into the rooms of my home and feel a sense of peace, calm, and contentment. It always makes me smile. It is exciting when you get started and I would love to see what you do. Please feel free to leave your big and little changes in the comments. Start with one step.

The best way forward in our lives is to start back at the beginning…changes in our surroundings.

Until next time,

~JoAnn

 

Adventures Start Early in 2020

Hello My Sweet Followers! Are you all settled in for this new year of ours?  Do you have some goals in front of you for 2020? I don’t do resolutions, but I do write up goals for myself for the year, and I chose my Word for the year, which I shared with you. I hope you are doing some of the same things because we can’t change very well if we are staying in the same place we have always been. Whitney Caps says it this way, “New growth rarely happens in old places.” In order for us to become all God wants us to be, we need a place where we can learn, grow and thrive in our lives. I pray you find that place this year. I know that God has something good planned, even in current circumstances.

We have had so much snow here in the northwest but we have been cozy and warm in the Bungalow here. It has given me opportunities to read, relax, and enjoy being in the moment. I am listening and playing more music…feeds my soul. Another is one that God is working out even more in my spirit this year, and that is being mindful of the Holy Spirit speaking in my life and stay in the moment I am IN. With that said, here is what I am working out along with that mandate from God.

I have had three times during the time of my skin cancer surgery last October, that a pore has opened and bled. We have been watching it and taking pictures of it also. This week was the third time it happened and so I thought I would go into my surgeon’s office and have him take a picture for my records. His assistant took the pictures, and then told me she thought she would like to have the doctor/surgeon look at it. So I waited for a few minutes only and in he came. Totally awesome since I didn’t even have an appointment. He looked at it and told me since it had shown itself again, he thought he should do a scrape biopsy and send it in to narrow down what might be happening. So he did that and told me I would most likely hear back by Friday. I got a call the next afternoon with a result that showed positive again for basal cell cancer. They were referring me to the same Mohs surgical center that I went to before and they would call to set up a date for me to have the procedure done. I made it through the phone call. Then…fell apart. More because I knew what was going to have to take place, and there is no way to know how advanced it is without the Mohs surgery to determine how much needs to be taken to get clean margins of all the cancer. I could conceivably be in the same position with this side as the other side, and I’m not even healed up completely from that set of surgeries.

The honesty of it is that I was hurt, angry, disappointed, and not just because of the cancer. I had a bit of those same feelings toward God about it. Why? I know what He can do. Nothing is impossible with Him. He is the Healer. I believe that. I believe He can touch me and heal me completely! So why doesn’t He? Why am I having to go through this again?  The answer in all honesty is…I don’t know. We have the habit of always asking WHY before we ask Him what we are to learn. I didn’t want to learn anymore this way. Not EVEN. But apparently, there is a purpose and reason for this to happen.

  • I will first get rid of the cancer which is the number one concern of everyone. So that is a blessing of this whole experience.
  • I am learning about it and how to be my own advocate in areas of health…another blessing.
  • I have seen God work through people to encourage me…TOTAL life blessing. Yes…I see God working.

Once again, I have to ask myself all over again…Do I trust Him? Do I believe He knows what is best for me? You see, He has healed my nose and face pretty well over the last three months. So will He not  do it again? The answer to all those questions is a BIG YES! He will. However, I still have to go through it. I don’t get a pass. He could touch me and heal me first. He could touch me and heal me so it isn’t as invasive as before. But I still have to go through it. And…didn’t He tells us He will never leave us and will walk through it with us? Another yes. So I either believe Him, or I don’t. Fear is a nasty thing and it usually starts the “what if” thoughts.  It can reverse our mindset to negative and more fear. It can dull how we see things. It’s like arguing with yourself. In this case, I believe the Holy Spirit was just reminding me of where my peace lies. It is facing what IS without fear.

Here is something that happened before we left to go to the doctor’s office for the picture. If you have a iWatch you may be familiar with this. But I have my iWatch photos mirrored with my iphone so that whatever my iWatch background is, so is my phone. But that day, I got up and got ready and put my watch on. As I saw it come on, my background image had change to my special cup my son got me for my birthday. (Scars…See previous post a couple posts back). I thought that was weird that it would happen because I hadn’t been in my phone to make any changes. My iPhone image was the same as it had always been but I looked at my watch and it was that cup. I thought it was just an encouragement to me that God has got my back and it made me smile. Later that day, I’m thinking it had another purpose…to open my eyes to how I was to handle what was to come. Because come it did! God has unique ways of working with us and speaking to us IF we are willing to be aware. I have left that picture on my watch now to remind me that what is to come is under His care also. Does this mean I’m all good with it and none of those previous feelings are present? Nope not at all. I just have to turn up the volume of God’s voice in my life over my own thoughts and words, and believe I can do this again, with His help.

I was encouraged to read Hebrews recently and still doing it. There are many “Let us” statements throughout and they will really hit home. I changed the “Let us” to Let JoAnn…” and it has really been impactful in my life. In fact, I have underlined those words where ever they are written in Hebrews so I won’t forget. I have used those over the last couple of days. It really is in how we look at things and what our perspective is. I want more of Jesus and less of me. God wants that for all of us. He is calling us to be strong and walk it out in His strength. Being a Christ Follower should show up in all areas of our lives; all encompassing and never ending. It should be our life style. God is watching. Be faithful in the moment, and the next, and the next. Remember our mistakes are not one and done. So even though I have doubts, or my feelings are determining my outlook, God is right there. He knows all, from the beginning to the end. So if I become weak, He is strong. If I’m afraid, He can keep me calm and help me put one foot in front of the other. He will do that for you too, no matter what you are going through in your life.

Give it all up to him and go ALL IN! I know I’m weilding my sword like a warrior woman! I hope you will do that too this year, so that, you will see goodness in the land of the living this year! God bless your 2020 in ways you have never experienced before.

Until next time,

~JoAnn

What’s In Store for You In 2020?

Are you ready for 2020? When you think about the new year, what thoughts come to mind? Are you thinking, “THIS year HAS to be a better year!” Or maybe you are thinking, “I can’t wait to see what this year will bring!” It may even bring sadness to think of a new year because of what you have lost this year, and that feels like if you are happy for a new year, then you are leaving that behind and you relive the lost all over again. You might also find that thinking of the new year also means that you have made it through this season and feel proud that you have hung in there!

From this…
to this in 10 weeks

For me, I can say that this year has been fantastic in so many ways! I have seen God provide, answer BIG prayers, settle us, and guide us on some rocky roads. But you know what? I have also had some real hard times. I have lost life time friends, I have lost relatives, and have watched several leave this world for heaven because of cancer and other health problems. I have dealt with skin cancer myself at the beginning of October, and still dealing with the aftermath of three total surgeries to my face. I didn’t have much time to process that, it was like one step after another and then here I am with scars to my face. My scars can be seen by everyone. But many of you have scars that can’t be seen from the outside, but you carry them with you every day. I have the emotional ones of looking at myself in the mirror everyday, but I also see how God is slowly healing my face. I can see Him working. I have learned that God is with me during these times. Just because I am going through something tough, doesn’t mean God has changed and isn’t still there for me. It may be hard, I may have some strong feelings about my situation, but God is there none the less, and He hasn’t changed because of my circumtances. He is there no matter what we are going through! He never leaves us. That should give us great comfort. I may hurt, but God loves me and He is there to comfort me and bring healing to my mind, body and soul.

Here’s my take…I could have had the surgery (and yes my surgeon was great), but I could have just gone about my daily life and washed my face, put some moisturizer on it and called it done. I know what he told me to do, but hey, its a hassle and I don’t feel like it. And I’m kind of mad that I even have to do this because God let cancer come to my body. Here’s the point: He didn’t make it come to me. My body, my genetics, my life style, and many other factors played into getting skin cancer. Difficult things happen in our lives. That doesn’t mean that He isn’t there with us IN the hard times. So yes, I could have just done the minimum of daily care because I didn’t FEEL like doing the rest.  Would my outcome be as good as it has been? Would I see the healing that is taking place because I take care of the regime every day two times a day and sometimes in between?  I don’t think so. I can even cover a lot of it up with make up that makes it easier to go out and not have people stare or wonder…but it is still there in the mirror when I wash me face at night. You see, we will live with our scars every day if we don’t allow God to do the healing. God helped me to see that I have to trust it Him with it all. I can’t give him part of me. I have to surrender it all; even the most difficult parts of my life. Every time I look in the mirror, I tell myself what God has kept me from, and what He is bringing into my life.

It is like that in our walk with the Lord. We can believe there is a God and go about our life, but we don’t allow Him in because we are really upset about the fact that things didn’t go how we wanted them to go according to what we thought God should do.  I don’t feel like reading the Bible. I can’t seem to get myself to pray. Even going to church seems difficult.  Because really, I may be upset with my plans not going as I thought my life would.  Here is the kicker…God has His plans for our life. He knows what will happen in your life from the beginning to the end. It is what we choose to do with what happens in our life that makes it all worth while. We can go on in our life living in black and white, but there sure is a lot more joy when we begin seeing in color again as we allow God to direct us in His plan for our lives. We have to learn again to be in the present moment. That is one of my goals for the new year. I am still working on my list. I can’t believe how many of my goals God has graciously allowed to come to fruition this year. Live in gratitude my friends…it changes everything.

I’m looking forward to a new year with great expectation. But…I’m taking some scars I didn’t previously have, into the new year. What?!?!?? Are you thinking we should leave them behind because its a new year? We can’t. Not without Jesus and the Holy Spirit to help us. If we try to heal on our own, we will be frustrated to no end. It doesn’t work. Instead, I asked Him,  “What is Your purpose in this, and what are You trying to teach me through it?” If I can turn it over to Him, THEN He can begin to work. I have seen Him answer so many prayers in my life since October! He has given me support in ways I would never have expected. Do I get discouraged and sick of not breathing correctly and getting colds on top of everything else going on with my nose? Of course! But then the Holy Spirit reminds me of what God HAS DONE, and I can’t help but thank Him. It took a year and a half of asking doctors about my concern for my nose to finally get someone to listen. And listen she did, and so did the next one and the next one, and the next one. God ordered the steps and just in time to catch it all. It meant a big changes, dealing with the shock of it, but I got clear margins. And…it may not be done. I may have to have a scraping done on the other side yet. I will know in January. I will trust Him in that also because again, it is about what He is possibly keeping me from.

You too, can step into the New Year with clear margins. Surrender. Less of a busy life. Quiet time. Relationship with God. Family time. Less social media. Ask Him to help with that. My word for the year 2020 is wisdom. I got this as I went into my third surgery. I believe because God knew I would need it to walk this out. I wanted to be an example of how to walk a tough road. I have had many, many of them, but this one was way different. It was going show up on the outside. No hiding this one. And…it was a bit scary. So when He gave me this word, I knew that it was right for me. I pray for wisdom, but I know I am to seek it on a deeper level than ever before.  We make the mistake of trying to operate with our own wisdom. God tells us our ways are not His ways. We need to accept that as truth if we believe God’s Word is truth. Just to remind me, for my birthday I was in a Scandinavian Shop and saw a necklace that I really liked. It’s name? It meant Wisdom. I have a great reminder. I have the word in scrabble letters as I do each year and put it in my studio.  Here is a scripture to go with the word:

“Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without critizing, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without doubting.” James 1:5

Our lives may have broken places like broken pottery, but it can be made beautiful by the experience, which is the gold that gives it new beauty.

You see, if I am asking God for something, I need to ask in faith and believe! No room for doubt. When I feel weak, God is Who I turn to and I ask the Holy Spirit to bring the scripture to mind or a person to encourage me. He answers when we give it to Him first. God is just waiting for us to ask. Surrender is a beautiful thing and it certainly takes away the weight of the world off our shoulders. Don’t carry it with you. Turn it over this next year. In fact, just start again and hit the Reset Button in your life. Make the change with God’s help. Don’t try it on your own. Don’t just know about it, go to church on Sunday, hear a pastor speak, and then not seek relationship the rest of the week. Don’t just put it out there on social media, begin living it out! Take action!

I and my scars on going into 2020 with Jesus healing me like gold holding pottery together to make something beautiful from something that has been broken. You don’t know how God wants to use that in your life or in the life of others. I’m leading an online study on Hitting the Reset Button that will start in January and that is just what we are going to do. We are going back to the basics of what God tells us to do and live by, and then by the grace of God, we live it out. It’s online and you can come in at any time. Join me if you would like. Just leave your interest in the comments below. If we aren’t Facebook friends, you would have to request that in order for me to invite you because its a closed group.

May God give you the desires of your heart this next year. But be willing to go where He asks you to go, deal with what He asks you to deal with, and be obedient to His calling. You won’t believe the difference it can make in your life! That is the best testimony you can share with anyone…a life with joy and well-lived for the Lord. That is my prayer for each of you in 2020! Blessings…

Until next time,

~JoAnn

 

 

What Is Your New Beginning?

Ever wish you could just start over? A life do-over? Another chance to make a different choice or decision? I know I have.  It’s tough when something hits that is unexpected, or when the devil is trying to take you out. He is sneaky in how he gets us to think the worst of situations and leadS us off the path. And sometimes, it doesn’t take much to do that, nor doesn’t it take much time to work out those thoughts and feelings in wrong actions. Then he gets us with the guilt. Yes we are very blessed to have the option to start again. We have opportunities to re-invent ourselves over and over again in our lives.

I believe that there are different kinds of “new beginnings”. God tells us in HIs Word that His mercies are new every morning. To me, that means that each day I wake, I have an opportunity to live differently than I lived the day before. I may have made mistakes yesterday, or had bad thinking yesterday, or made bad decisions yesterday, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do this present day in a different way with different decisions and different attitude, and a dependence on Him to direct me this day. THAT’S both a good thing and a blessing that we have in our lives.

So… when I asked myself this question of what my new beginning is, I came up with a couple thoughts.  As I have shared before, I believe there are hardships that come into our lives that are for a reason. We might be going along in life thinking its all ok and WE have everything under control. So we have this, “I got this!”, mentality. We are pretty proud of ourselves. It might possibly be that God is bringing us up short in order to help us realize that we aren’t listening or even consulting Him on the issue before us as we should. His message may be to get your eyes off you and on to ME.

Another reason may be that there is something He wants to teach us. I know sometimes if its a hard thing for me, I have a tendency to try and ignore what I think I need to do a while longer because of feelings or thoughts I have about it because I KNOW change is required. Changing is hard and I know what it takes to make changes. It requires me to humble myself and realize that His plan isn’t mine and I might have to humble myself for His plan; surrender. That is always best. I might not even have a choice, as in my case with the skin cancer. That stopped me in my tracks! I had no choice but to move forward with what the doctors told me I had to do. Absolutely no choice there. I was hurt, angry, scared, anticipating some of the worst, and feeling a bit like a whimp in my faith. I was bummed out that it was my face where everyone could see. But this is where the Holy Spirit gently reminded me of all that God has walked through with me. He has never left me.  When I did surrender all of that, I felt the Holy Spirit tell me it’s ok to feel those things, but I needed to turn that over to Him. In other words, He didn’t expect me not to be afraid, or worried, or angry, but He did want me to share that with Him. Then He could comfort me or speak to me about the areas of concern. In this journey, He did that through many people. He listened, and now it was my turn to listen to Him about a path I could not see the end of. Trust. I had to trust Him, the doctors and now the process.

We tend not to be very good listeners. We don’t get quiet enough to hear His whisper. We hear a testimony and we say all the right things, but we don’t allow it to sink into the deep parts of our soul as an way for God to encourage us towards a deeper faith. I still have an area to keep turning over every new day. I am still dealing with going out in public… I look way less weird than I did last weekm but I still feel vulnerable about it. Does that mean my faith is less? No. I don’t think so. However, I DO believe this process is something God is working out in ME. A new level He is escavating in me. I won’t ever be the same; not just because of skin cancer and the surgeries, but because it has once again brought me to a place of surrender. As Joyce Meyer has been known to say, “New level, new devil.” So of course he wants to try to make that a stronghold for me. I feel God’s strength working in me for victory every day I get up.

So my new beginning is being an overcomer. For what, you ask? The skin cancer, the surgeries, the healing, AND the vulnerability of being seen as I am. Facing the questions in people’s eyes. BUT…God reminds me of the story I can tell! We all have a story, and in my case, this wasn’t in the my script. God rewrote this chapter, because someone else may need to read it.  As I think about the new beginning I have in my healing process, I am all the more convinced that I may need to be more bold about sharing what God has done. I am asking Him to show me where I need to study, and what He has for me to do. I am asking Him to help me to accept this chapter He has written as the Author of all things. I wake asking for His mercies for my new day. It is changing me.

From Great Grandmother

A dear friend in Norway when she saw my latest picture said, “Just like a fine embroidery, JoAnn.” THAT really touched my heart. As I thought about it, it is so true that what the devil meant for harm and chaos, God has so intricately embroidered as a beautiful thread into my face right out there for anyone to see. Yes. There will be questions, and wonderings, but that is an opportunity to share God’s ways and love. Yes, and just like in my case where He used another person to let me know He heard my prayers and concerns. That is an amazing part of this new beginning for me. That very message encouraged me more than I can say and I have the light that I have lit every day since.

So don’t despair of the hardships. Instead ask Him what He wants to teach you through it. Give up having your way, and take on His. You may not even be walking in His ways right now. If not, I would urge you to do so. Could it be the reason that you mind, soul and spirit is a bit ill at ease? Are you going through something difficult? This may be Him drawing to relationship. Don’t miss His hand extended out to you. Reach out.

Every day I wake up and tell God how thankful I am to be here to be able to give of myself in whatever way He may ask of me. I ask that He will lead me to someone who needs encouragement that day. Every night I thank Him for His love and direction through the day and for the lives I pray I may have touched. I also thank Him for the Holy Spirit Who gives guidance and direction to me. I have learned to be a better listener of His direction. That my friends, is living large!

What do you think would be a new beginning for you? What do you need to surrender so you can live more fully for Him on a daily basis? I will pray over your comments you leave.

Until next time,

~JoAnn

Thoughts from Big River Cabins

Sitting here at the cabin where it is quiet always gives me time for the soul to settle down and the heart to speak. We all need that place. If we stop the busy lives we lead long enough, we may be inspired by new ideas, changes we need to make, insight we have been seeking, or just listening for a Word. I know I need it.

So as this weekend comes to an end and I’m looking at Monday when the surgery part of this journey is hopefully over, I thought I would share a few thoughts with you that came to mind over a mocha and the dim lights of the cabin.

  • I felt that I was to prepare myself. For what, I’m not sure yet. But one of the preparations was to invest in a mic set up for my computer. Now it could be for the purpose of leading the online studies, doing a once a week live to start the week, or leading classes I believe could benefit others. Or, it could be for a totally different reason. If I am going on an adventure trip, I better be prepared. When I asked what I should do these last couple of day, I felt this was my direction. So… I got one and set it up. I am still waiting on my headset to come.
  • I also know what music does for the heart and soul and spirit. I know how it moves me. So I am renewing my commitment to doing more with my music and instruments. That was supposed to happen this year, and it did take place, but not as much time as I think I am being called to spend. Better me, better life, better example.
  • That my time is valuable and I need to spend that time in better ways. If I am walking my life out as an example, then I need, not should, but need to spend time in the study of God’s Word. I can’t give out what I don’t have.
  • Use my level of computer skills to help others in whatever way God calls me to do that.

So those are a few things I believe God laid on my heart. The last three points I have everything I need for the most part. However, that number one point is still a bit vague yet. But it is kind of like the biblical reference in the Bible about going to the Jordan. They had to put their foot in the river before God moved the waters. We expect God to part the waters first so we don’t get our feet wet, and then we will go.  He is asking us to step out in faith first, and then He will part the waters. Walk by faith.

So with that, I have my mic system set up and will be a student of its use over the weeks of recovery from surgery, and being praying for what God has in mind. To you who may be feeling the same way but different circumstances, get in prayer with God and ask Him to show you. Ask Him to be specific. He will. However, you won’t hear through chaos usually. You will hear in the quiet whisper of His voice…a sense that it is from Him. So important for it to be Him and leave you out of it. We can convince ourselves right into trouble. So be wise and ask a good prayer partner or mentor to praying with you about the direction you are to take. Then take a step or leap, or whatever you are comfortable with. I have lived my life in leaps and jumps following His leading. He has always caught me and led me on!

However, when these bumps in the road come along, whether unexpectedly or not, we look for reasons or justifications not to move forward. Or worse yet, we rely on our feelings. Often times we can not see clearly ahead of us. But if we wait for it, God slowly reveals what He was doing, but in His timing. We only know we hit the wall and we want to know why.  I don’t ask that anymore because I have learned there is always a reason. So when that “unexpected” bump come, I just ease on over it and ask God what do you want to teach me? It takes a few days to work through that process, and some times it is a few months. But he wants to hear from you. Ask Him. Just be careful though…He WILL show you! Be prepared. How?

  • Educate yourself about the area you are considering.
  • Find the best way to present it.
  • Learn equipment or processes.
  • Purchase a book or two.
  • Find a mentor and watch what they do.
  • Find a group you can be a part of for the information you may need.
  • The internet can give good information about what steps you may need to take.
  • He had me go through my studio this summer from top to bottom and reorganize it. Makes it so much easier to operate from. He was already preparing me for something new.

You see, none of my hiatus at home has been wasted. God had me digging in. Praying, researching, using my hubby as a sounding board, and reading various books. Some of you may need a kick in the backside to move forward.  If you are like me, once I know what I am supposed to do, I’m jumping in with both feet! So I have to be careful to pray as I go to make sure its still God’s deal and not some of my own jumps I’m taking.

The big idea here is this has changed me once again. We are called to change as we go through life. In this process with skin cancer, God has called me out from what is going on with my face, (and the losing of hair also…another story), to something beyond ME. Beyond the look of what I’m used to seeing, to operating more as God sees me. In this world, those ideals can be hard because we are surrounded by the culture that tells us we must look a certain way. I’m not prideful about my looks, but I care how I look. That has made this process very humbling to say the least.  However, I want to be an encouragement to others and I believe that is my calling. So it is my hope that by sharing this journey, you have found encouragement somewhere between the words of this blog.

So watch out! JoAnn’s Studio may just surprise you…scars and all! I knoq no scar is wasted no matter where they are or how they come to us. God will use them to build compassion in you, and FOR others. You may be the one compassionate person that can come along side another, and understand, when God places that special person in your path.

Watch for it to unfold over the next month or so. See you on the other side of tomorrow!

Until next time,

~JoAnn