The Blessing of Giving Up Something

Have you ever had to give up something that you really wanted, or something you wanted to do, in order to do something you felt you were being asked to do?  It’s not always easy to give up our idea for what God may be asking us to do.  It’s called sacrifice.  God always rewards our obedience though!  I love that about Him!  So here is my story…I hope it helps you make the decision that is right for you in the future.

My hubby and I always take a day or two get-away for Valentine’s Day.  It was our plan to marry on Valentine’s Day when we got married but that plan didn’t work out.  So because of that, we have always gone away to do something together to celebrate our “almost” wedding day.  We consider it our anniversary day, even though we also celebrate our actual date of marriage.  So we had planned a three day time away in one of my favorite places with lots of other fun activities included.  But then, I found out that my very good friend was having surgery for a knee replacement two days before Valentine’s Day, and I was scheduled to go up and help her.  So… hubby and I talked about what we could do, and decided we would make plans to do something together the weekend before.  Terry wanted to make the plans for those two days, so that was kind of fun for me since it’s usually me who does that.  Friday afternoon, he went and did his food shopping for the weekend, and came back with a beautiful rose and card.  That was a part of his table setting the next morning.

Here was his plan:  he made me breakfast with mocha included, he would make dinner for me on Saturday evening, but he had planned snacks for during the day.  I was to do  whatever I wanted that day…read, take pictures, whatever I wanted.  I didn’t get to know what was going to happen the following day until it came.  We had a lovely candlelit dinner at home with time together and a special movie we watched.  He had snacks planned for later in the evening too!  Lovely day!  He told me we had to get up early the following morning because he had a plan for that also.

My hubby’s table set for me.  Still have to work out the deal with bottles but hey…it looks awesome!

Ocean view at Pacific Beach, WA

 

Little town of Pacific Beach, WA

The interesting layers of nature after the storm.

Seemed almost appropriate somehow for the reason we were out that day.

Always good to attain the climb from worldly things to go for higher ground.

 

 

I hate having my picture taken.
Silly guy!

So we got up and he fixed me breakfast.  While we ate he said he wanted to take me for a ride, and I was to bring my camera and we would go out to Pacific Beach and take photos!  Don’t have to ask me twice to do that!!!   He would buy me an early dinner after my beach fix, and we would just check some places out as we went.  Well…be still my heart!  That is MY kind of day.   So we went to the beach and I took photos; some fun photo opportunities.  We walked around, and got silly photos too!   Then I just happened to find a wacky kind of second-hand store that I found my Norwegian Farmers Rose cups for $.50 each!!!  I was SO excited.  That was just a drive by and I said, “Look!  That is open!  Let’s go see!”  It pays, I tell ya!  After all that, we went to get our dinner, and then on the way back home, I bought us a Starbucks.   We both came home feeling wonderful after another day of fun together!

What a treat!  It doesn’t take much to find sweet times together, or with a friend if that is the case in your life.  It also taught me that to give up is to get back.  We decided together that we wanted to do this so that I could help a friend.  We were blessed by that decision, and God gave us a wonderful couple of days to enjoy the little things in life.  Don’t hold back because you think you will lose when God calls you forward to do something different from your plan!  Step through the door and let Him bless you with other ways, and the means to find joy in the change.  We will still go do our first idea, but just for the day and one night.  We get to have another fun day activity, along with our weekend plans we enjoyed so much.

I think the moral of this story is that when we are willing to follow what the Lord calls us to do, and we are willing to do it in obedience to Him, He will take care of giving us back more than what we give.  It’s really a heart issue.  It had nothing to do with giving something up.  It wasn’t hard.  I was glad to do it.  But it taught me once again that when I am willing to step out and obey, God will take care of everything else; my hubby’s willingness to change the schedule, be a bachelor for a week, the plans to still do some of what we planned when I got back, it all worked out.

Have a willing heart to let go of your plans, and hang on to God’s plans.  That is best for all of us anyway!!!  I will share more of my insights with my friend in my next post.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

P.S.  My sweet cups that I was so excited to find!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

 

The $150 Adventure!

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A couple of days ago, my friend Judy asked me if I wanted to take a drive up to Mt Pilchuck with her on Tuesday.  Of course, that means bring your camera and let’s see what we can see!!  Well…I’m in!!  But wait Judy!!!  Before we go, let’s see if we can get ourselves in to a position of adventure that creates fun, a bit of danger, get almost frozen, and have no money available to us, or cell phones!!!  Wouldn’t THAT be fun?!?!?!?  Let’s do THAT!

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I digress…Yes Judy called and asked me to go and yes my camera and I jumped at the prospect!  We always have fun together and laugh a lot.  Yesterday, we had such a great time traveling where neither of us had been in years!  We headed up towards Granite Falls and stopped at the cable bridge that is up there.  We get out of the car with our cameras, walk across the bridge to get some pictures, and Judy says, “Oh no!  My battery is dead.”  Now there is NOTHING more disappointing than to go to take pictures and find you can’t!  Total bummer.  So my brain starts working on what we can do to fix this.  I tell her about a device that you plug into the lighter and charges your other devices.  So…we stop at Granite Falls Rite Aid and look around.  I ask God to helps us find what we need to be able to connect and charge her battery up.  I asked Judy if she had her charge cord with her, and low and behold, she did!!  Who’da thunk?  God came through and we found one that would fit the lighter and charge her camera battery.  She bought it and hooked that baby up!   Away we went, charging her battery all the way.

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We used my maps on my phone as far as we could, watching signs.  We did find Mt Pilchuck.  Judy is a great navigator!  We were taking pictures along the way.  We found some wonderful views.  There is just something so fun about a rode trip, whether it be for the day or a few days.  In our case, it turned out to be a very LOOONG day!

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There were some interesting houses to see and we drove up as far as we could to Mt Pilchuck and then we turned around.  But we saw a wooded area of birch trees that we so beautiful against the snow.  We parked kind of weird because, who would be coming down this road?  Not like people lived there, right?  Nope… we had a car come barreling down the hill and there the Tahoe sat.  We were busy taking pictures, and they managed to get around us.  Judy and I looked at each other and said, “Go figure.”  On down the road we went and Judy was wondering if the Mountain Loop Highway was open all the way to Darrington.  I didn’t know.  Adventure!  Let’s go see.  On the way up, we saw some beautiful scenery; beautiful sloping roads with mountain backgrounds, snow stuck to birch tree limbs like cotton balls, and little waterfalls along the way.  Another stop…

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We continued up the highway, catching up on our lives and in-between, we are saying things like, “Oh that is gorge!”, or “Look at that!”,  and the brakes would come on for another stop to take a photo!  When we go out, often times, we find the same thing to stop for and at the same time.  SO fun!  (Manuscript Notes):  Just for the sake of background, I would usually leave the door on my side open, sometimes close it,  but Judy would grab her keys, lock it,  and put the keys in her pocket.  We had a system.  You will notice some photos have a lot of twist and turns in the road; little did I know, our day would be a lot like that.

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BBQ anyone?

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We traveled up Mountain Loop Highway and no signs to tell us whether it was closed or not.  We were enjoying ourselves, so we kept going thinking we might be able to go across to Darrington.  But we got up to where the highway narrows, found rocks piled up high, and the saw horses are out to indicate it is the end of the line.  We turned around and headed back down looking for things we might have missed coming up.  As we are traveling along enjoying the beauty of the mountains, the sun silhouetting the mountain tops, we are both in awe over the beauty!  We felt it was great to see this on such a sunny day.  We rounded a corner and we both saw it at once!  Beautiful wall of hanging icicles and strange formations of the melted ice that looked like flowers and diamonds.  Eeerch!!!!  Swing this baby around and park!!  We get out and put our coats and scarfs on because it is cold!!  Freezing cold!  I had been having a bit of trouble at times getting out of the Tahoe because it sits so high, so I was trying to be careful this time lowering myself to the ground.  I didn’t want to touch the door because of the locks there.  However, somehow, even though I used my right hand to brace myself with the vehicle, my left arm must have brushed those locks just enough to touch them.  Judy was outside the Tahoe already and when I heard it beep, I thought she had locked it, so I closed the door.  Came around the front, and the horn honked.  Oh NOOOOOOO!!!  The doors locked and Judy did NOT have the keys in her pocket!  I tried to be so careful getting out and was sure I didn’t touch the door.  But, Judy in all her kindness says with an expression of sorry, “I think you did.”  Oh my gosh!!  We are now at least 18 miles up Mountain Loop Highway, no living people within miles and miles, locked out of the Tahoe in freezing weather, with nothing around us, no phone, no purse, not a thing to help us.  AND…all those items?  Yah…they sitting on the seats in plain sight!

Cars coming or going are not much of a happening thing up there, if you know what I mean.  We walk around the Tahoe trying all the doors, like the Tahoe won’t lock ALL the doors in the vehicle; just ours.  Duh!  Yah, uh huh.  We look at each other and say, “What are we going to do?”  What DO photographers do?  We had stopped to take pictures of this, so we might as well take advantage of this situation!  We both cross the road and snap away!!!  At least we are going to get pictures out of it!!!  Ok.  Back to reality.  We reaccess our situation, which is no different than it was before.  We again wonder what we can do.  Judy said she was tempted to break one of her windows.  Oh man!  Not that!  I hated to see that happen but we were kind of desperate!  If we stay out in the weather, we are going to freeze to death.  Immediately, a news scrip comes to mind on our current situation.  News Flash!!!  “Two women found on Mountain Loop Highway, around the Silverton area above Granite Falls, frozen to death with cameras in hand.  The women are yet to be identified.”  Hahaha!!!  Nope.  Don’t want to go there.  I prayed and ask God to provide somehow for us because this was a dangerous situation; it was late afternoon and soon the temperatures would drop even more.  I was so thankful I hadn’t just hopped out to take the pictures; I had my coat and scarf!  I pulled it closer around me and my scarf up by my ears.

The pictures we stopped to get:

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After a few minutes of walking around, feeling rather helpless, I again prayed and asked God to provide.  A few minutes later, I looked again up and down the road.  Nothing.  We talked about options as we walked around to warm up.  Pretty soon, I walked back to the road looking up and down just in case there was something.  Not sure what I expected but I was praying God would answer.  This time I saw a pickup truck coming.  All ideas of the danger of hitching rides and strangers went up in smoke.  Desperate times called for desperate measures!  If there IS a car, I’m getting them to stop.  So I am raising my arms and waved them as I walk closer and closer into the road.  I look over and Judy has joined me in doing the same, and the pick up slows down, swings in, and then stops.  We walk over to the truck to find a guy leaning over to open the passenger side window.   After explaining our situation, he got out and did a check around the vehicle to see if there was something he may know of.  Nope.  We learn his name is Mike and we ask if there is any land line close by for us to make a call.  He thought that just up the road there was a sheriff’s radio available to make contact for emergencies.  We both thought this was an emergency, and so when he offered to take us up the road about 8 miles to check it out, we agreed to go.  So, he cleans out his front seat of his little beater pick up truck and we climb in.  Now, I am in the middle, with a small portion seat, and this is a 5 speed…not easy on my knees to say the least, but God had provided us transportation.  His little truck was warm.  I’m thankful.  His name was Mike and he is from Snohomish.  He was coming up to check to see if there was snow.  We gladly told him there was, but hoping he would help us women in distress first.  When we arrived, there was no sheriff’s radio anymore.  We came back down and he said we can try the ranger station because they have someone to man that.  That was 8 miles back and then another 8 or so miles to the station.  We are thankful for this option and gladly say yes.  So as we travel, he gives us some history of the area.  We find out he is a birdwatcher and some of the jobs he has done in his life.  He is a very kind man and when the ranger station is closed, he again tells us about having a spare key in a secret place, and calling a tow truck.  Yes we COULD call, IF we had a cell phone and IF there was service.  He says he has a cell phone but this area is a no phone zone.  Oh goodie.  In all our efforts to figure this out, Judy and I are trying to whisper a bit back and forth what we can do.  Judy tells him that she would like to get to an area where she can maybe call a locksmith to come and open the Tahoe.  So THAT is our new plan.  We drive along and it is getting kind of crowded for a long trip to Granite Falls and Mike tells us, “This  pick up was made so that three Japanese men could comfortably sit in it.  What were they, gnomes?”  We laugh our heads off!  He had a pretty dry, funny sense of humor and we are glad for the distraction.  I’m am glad for something to laugh at, because in the back of my mind, I’m thinking, what if this person is just telling us about all these places and knows they aren’t available just to get us to a place where bad things can happen?”  Crazy how your thoughts go sometimes.  Then, I think of Judy and I, and say to myself, “Hey, it’s two against one!  He wouldn’t stand a chance!”  So, then my mind goes to thinking about whether we can get someone to do it, and how much will it COST?  I feel responsible!  I’m closest to the Mike and look down as his gas gauge, and become a bit worried when it is down on empty!  He’s trying to help us and his tank is empty.  But I remember having a few cars where I would have to guess on my gas, so maybe he has one of those kind of cars.  I mean, the guy was going UP mountain when he stopped for us.  No gas stations up there!  As we got into cell range, I was able to call Terry and let him know a little of what had happened so he would expect me to be later getting back home.  As I hung up, his phone dings, so I know he has a pay per use phone.  I am wishing I could buy some minutes or gas for his trouble.  Mike drives us into Granite Falls, and Judy asks him if he could drop us off at the police department.  So, bless his heart, he takes us there and we thank him profusely, as we have nothing to give him since our purses are locked up in the Tahoe on the mountain.  He parting comments was, “Spare key!”  I secretly thank God, that He sent us the right kind of person, and that He would bless Mike for his kindness.

With heads held high, we walk into the police station and ask for help in finding someone who might be able to get us back up the mountain and unlock the Tahoe.  She directs us up the street to a little place that could easily be missed if you weren’t so desperate to find them.  As we walk into the little office and talk to the guy about our situation, it occurs to us, that we have no money to pay them.  He says, “We take credit cards.”  We say, “Yes that is great IF we had our credit cards.  But our purses and everything dear to us is in that Tahoe up the mountain.”  He tells us that all his trucks are out and it will be 45 minutes to an hour before he will know where his trucks are.  So he suggests that we walk down to the restaurant and get a bite to eat and we can call him to check in to see what he has found out.  We are looking at each and saying, uh huh.  Call with what????  Do you remember the part about us telling you we are locked out with our purses and cell phones in the vehicle?  But, we take the number and walk down the street to the cute little pizza place.  We ARE thinking something to eat sounds good.  Until…we get inside and sit down and realize once again that we can’t do that because we have no money!!!  This sweet little waitress comes up and starts talking and we explain our circumstances and ask if we can just sit here while we wait.  She says we can.  She immediately picks up her phone and calls a someone she knows can help.  She tells us no answer.  She informs us that we can eat and pay later; no problem.  Wow!!  That is pretty cool!  We decline, but thank her.  I was very thankful for a place to sit down for a while.  I had been doing a lot of walking.

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We are sitting there trying to be patient.  So I decided to take a picture of Judy’s camera.  All of a sudden, Judy sees a truck go by from the company we are waiting for.  This waitress see the number on the truck, gets on her cell phone and calls them.  She says, “Hello.  This is so and so, from Granite Falls Police Department, and I have your two ladies here that are waiting for you to take them up the mountain to get into their vehicle?  Do they have time for a bite to eat before you are taking them up or are you leaving right away to take them to their car?”  She pulls the cell from her ear and asks us whether we want to eat or go right away?  We say we will eat later and would like to get back to the car as soon as we can.  It is getting dark.  So in a few minutes, NOT 45 minutes or an hour, a guy is picking us up to take us back up the mountain!  Bless her police woman’s heart.  She used her position and clout to help speed things a long!  We told her we would come back for dinner and out the door we went!  Thank you to the sweet heart of a person who was willing to help two strangers in need!

As we follow the guy, we now know is DJ, to his pickup, once again I am in the middle.  A bit better though because this is an automatic.  Thank goodness!  We learn a bit more about him as we travel back up to the Tahoe.  We tell him our story.  He laughs and says he has heard a lot of stories behind keys getting left in a vehicle.  I ask if he has had any he couldn’t get into and he tells us only one.  Judy and I look at each and think, “Thank you Jesus!”  As we wind up the Mountain Loop Highway, we finally come to the Tahoe and are pretty excited to get back inside.  After a lot of playing with his magic wand, he finally gets it open!  We were happy enough to do a happy dance, but didn’t, because he might think we are weirder than we already were given our day!  I run over and take another picture of the icicles and say, “Take THAT!”  He couldn’t take a split payment, so Judy was on the hook for it until we got home.  We got him paid and he waits until we have the Tahoe running before he leaves.  Thanks DJ.  We both get in the car and are so happy to be “inside” and on the way home.  DJ, you were the best!

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My SO THERE picture I took.

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As we are driving back, Judy and I are talking about how much fun we have when we are together and it is always an adventure!!!  So true!  We have stories to tell and I told her I was going to tell this one.  We kept our promise and stopped for dinner at the little place in Granite Falls.  She greeted us with great relief that we got back safely.  We thanked her for her help and enjoyed a warm restaurant and a good dinner.  On a quiet moment on the way home, I was thinking about our day and told Judy that Mike came up for snow, and that bird watcher got part of what he was looking for…he got to see a couple of crazy birds!!  And Judy says, “Yep!  A couple of loony birds!”  Then, I asked Judy if she thought some of our pictures could be sold for $150?  …Anyone?

I’d do it again with you Judy!!  We had angels in our midst today, but I think we will also stick to your plan with extra keys in both pockets!

A quote that is a perfect reminder:  “The only thing you can know for certain is that you are going to have obstacles in front of you that you cannot count on–only God stays the same.” – Beth Moore

Walking the journey with you…