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

Living It Out

As I wrote in my last post, we all have the bumps in the road that shake us up.  I didn’t write that post for sympathy or so others would feel sorry for me.  I wrote it because we all have them and I wanted to remind you that it is human to have negative feelings about what you are going through, and that you are not alone.  What isn’t good is when we decide to leave God out of the scenario.  So… I shared the my personal situation with you so you could know my struggle, and that you too, can take it all to Jesus and ask Him for the strength to endure and get to the other side.  God will help us get “through”.

With that said, my Mohs Surgery is scheduled.  I will go October 14th at 8:10 a.m. and they said to expect a long day; it may not be, but it could be given they take some, test and then determine if they need to do it again to take more.  To say that I am not looking forward to it is an understatement.  However, I AM choosing to accept what is, and asking God for a one and done; that they are able to take one go at it and have an all clear, that is my hope and prayer.  God is good and knows what’s best, so even in that, He may choose another route for me.  I’m just taking it one step at a time.

UPDATE:  I got a call this morning, Monday, that there is an opening this Thursday at 10:30 AM, and so I took it.  Not sense in waiting when I can have it over with, I say.  So, God is good and knows how I dislike waiting for this kind of thing.  He heard my prayer and gave me an all clear for this week!

In the meantime, I am have some exciting adventures going on in our life that have kept me looking to the future of fun.  We are doing some upgrades to our Big Rivers Cabins the last week or so and its

It was pretty dark in this little cabin and so my son put up white and trimmed out the window and also put tile behind the stove that is grey in color.  It looks very clean and fresh.

He also faced the dark cabinets on top with white and will paint the doors and I will add new knobs and pulls to dress it up.  Not quite finished, but almost!

New flooring through out and it will have white bead board on the walls and a chair railing piece on top.  It will look pretty nice when it’s completed.

And finally, my rain chain has gotten put up!!  I have one that will go up here on the patio I hope that is umbrellas.  But this will be fun to hear and watch at the cabin!

looking pretty good.  Our dark kitchen is becoming much lighter, thanks to my son.  I’m happy he has secured some flooring for us to put down in one of the cabins, and we will enjoy a wonderful new kitchen nook table and chairs and a couch/sleeper.  We will be up town for sure!  God has been so good to provide these options for us and we have so much to be grateful for!  See the balance???  If all we concentrate on is what is what we don’t like going on in our lives, then we will miss seeing all that He IS providing for us.  I never want to miss the opportunity to be grateful for what He does for me and my family.

One of my latest finds is a vintage phone that I added to our Bungalow, and that has been fun!  My grandparents and aunt and uncle had one in their homes and it was so fun to find one in great shape. Another little God wink for me after my news. I see God meet our wants along with our needs all the time, and that blesses me big time.  If you are one that enjoys a good hunt for a shopping find, then you may also like to friend a group I set up on Facebook called, JoAnn’s Finds, and follow me as I go on my hunts for a great find in thrift stores, antique shops, or online.  It’s a fun addition to the places we live and do life. I watch for items that my friends are looking for as well, which is another part of the fun! Keep doing the things which will turn your eyes to focus on what matters. It is good for us to keep the fires burning in our hearts…it keeps us pressing on no matter what is going on in what we see before us or experience. At least, that is how I roll.

Keep fanning the flame!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

 

Remember to… Stand Up

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Boy!  Are you feeling the waves of life hitting you today?  I have to say, I sure am feeling it.  So when these kinds of things happen for me, I seek out the things that will bring my heart back into alignment.  What do I do?

  • I start with a mocha in the morning.  img_6696
  • I don’t just drink it from the cup.
    •        I ENJOY the taste of it, enjoy the cup I use, and the place where I am drinking it.  The whole thing becomes an experience.
  • I dial down.
  • I listen for the birds talking.
  • I ask God to give me the perspective I need for my situation.
  • I and The Captain are taking a drive,  which is always a treat in my car!
  • The Captain and I are driving to the ocean today, and that is one place where I can FEEL my rhythm come back.
  • I begin to put hearts in my Gratitude Jar to remember what God HAS done.
  • I ask God to give me the love in my heart that only He can give.
  • I stay in the Word and study on a regular basis.  That in itself, gives me more knowledge and it reminds of how God wants me to live.
  • When I am in the Word, it also keeps my focus in the right place, and on the right things.

img_6687This was challenged this week as it become very apparent that my sweet vintage range is not going to be something that I can keep.  (I am going to sell it though, if anyone is interested.)  So begins our search for a range.  We have looked at so many, trying to find information and make a decision about what would be best for my kind of cooking.  It can be overwhelming.  Of course, money is an issue also.  I’m trying to be gracious about what I get and the money that is spent.  I am also having to get a fridge and so in order to do both, I may have to spend less on my range.  I could feel my attitude tanking a bit after going around to see so many different ranges that I would love to have.  My attitude surfaces: “I mean, how many times do I have to compromise?”  And THEN… the Holy Spirit taps my shoulder and reminds me of what He HAS done:

  • my ongoing faith journey with God
  • the car I drive
  • the car my hubby drives
  • the house I have
  • the extra for some of the work in the house
  • the remodeling I have been able to do
  • the back yard paradise

Aren’t we funny creatures?  We have the waves of life hit us, and we let them come and pull us under.  But really, all we have to do is stand up!  When we do, the waves aren’t nearly as high.  I know many of you are dealing with waves way worse than a decision about a range.  But the premise is the same.  We have to allow God to work.  We can’t sit in the waves, wonder why they are so rough, and why they won’t stop. They won’t.  They may become less ominous, but they won’t go away.  There will be another one.  It is best that we learn how we can stand up against them and move forward, and even away from the big ones.  Let the waves wash away the ugly and take it with.  What comes back is fresh and new.

Getting back to my revelation about what I had been given, there many.  Too many to count.  Then… I have to ask for forgiveness.  Yep. I silently ask God to forgive me, and give me what He thinks would be best for our kitchen.  And as I have done before, I lay it down and ask Him to give me joy; joy that I can even GET a new range and fridge.

ocean-for-two-3I once again heard a song this last week called, “Leave It There”.  Boy!   That is so fitting for me this week.  Take all my burdens to the Lord and leave it there.  So, once again, God knows what the desires of my heart are… He cares… and He will do what is best for me.

And maybe, just maybe, our TV will quit working.

Walking the journey with you…

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In Your Life, You Will Have Trouble

IMG_0084Today has been a double shot kind of day!!  I have been reminded of the title of this post for several months now, but more particularly, in the last few months.  I have to admit, I am a bit overwhelmed by the circumstances of this whole mess of selling and buying a home this time!  THAT doesn’t happen often for me.  But if it weren’t for some fun activity in my day today, I think more words and unkindness would definitely be swirling around our house right now.  The thing is, people just don’t do what you expect them to do.  When they don’t, things don’t go as planned.

Today brought some more decisions and one of them was to accept an offer on our home.  Again.  We lose to gain, but we have an offer that allows us to move forward.  At least that is our plan again for our house on the hill.  The first showing of the house when it hit the market again, was the offer we chose, and she was very excited it seems, because we had an offer almost the same day she saw it.  So now we go through the process of an inspection and appraisal.  Yep….all over again.

But the kicker came when, the first offer went into default.  We had to change how we plan our mortgage.  We also find today that the appraiser on the new house we are buying is not an approved appraiser for the lender we are working with.  So now what???  We have to have another appraisal done with an approved appraiser of the lender.  More time spent that we were hoping to shave off so we could get into the new home earlier.  The waves are coming in high and mighty!

No early home ownership for this couple.  We want to scream at the unfairness of it.  We want to be mad at the couple that mishandled their situation which made them not able to get our home the first time.  That made us have to:

  • re-list the house1620846_663367490411504_7125225829380545061_n
  • change our financing
  • camp out
  • use laundromats
  • have 4 storage units
  • pay for the appraisal up front instead of at closing
  • upset at the lender
  • delay our sale and closing from an early closing for the new house
  • makes us look rather flaky to the sellers of the new home we are buying

and… yet none of it is our fault.

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Shopping for the Bel Aire house.

So… what do we do with these kinds of feelings?  Well, I let God hear a few of my thoughts in words today…He’s big like that and He can take it.  He knows them anyway.  He lets me go on for a while and then I feel the nudge and have to calm myself down.  It does absolutely no good to continue to feel like that.  There is absolutely nothing else we can do except go with the flow and take the next step, asking God to smooth the rough and rugged road we are traveling.  Do I feel like it?  No.  Do I need to?  Yes.  I only hurt myself by staying in the place of emotions.  So ok.  Shift gears JoAnn.  Then, I find myself turning to the enjoyment of planning how we want our new home to look.  That makes me smile, my heart rate slows a bit, and some of that joy seeps back into my spirit once again.  I thank God for it.  I drop a heart in my jar with thanks that God sends the Holy Spirit to nudge me in the right direction when I need it.  And…when I am too mad to do it by myself, He helps me focus in the right direction and turn me around!  You should see some of the fun ideas I have for our new home!  Now THAT changes my focus!

Stand your ground friends!  Don’t let satan’s schemes keep you from the joy that God has planned for you.  Open the door, tell him to take a leap off a very short dock and close the door behind you!  I hope by sharing my struggles with you that you will be encouraged in your own!  I’m cheering you on!

I fee like I’m kind of like a football player who is dodging the hits, moving and swerving, pushing and shoving my way to the goal.  I may be little, but I’m mighty!  God made me that way.  I’m pulling up my big girl pants and pushing through!  Touchdown!

Walking the journey with you…

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