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

 

 

Rubbed the Wrong Way

I like to find old vintage treasures.  I might be looking for a piece to add to a set of dishes, or a furniture piece,  or kitchen utensils that remind me of grandma and my mom, cups, or even a piece that just seems beyond help, but catches my eye.  It is a hobby of mine and I do it often.  It is also fun to share pieces that I find with others that I know are looking for it.  I have a great friend who watches for pieces for me too.  Love it!  I am very fortunate that my hubby enjoys it also, so we make that a part of our trips out.  He goes to the books, and on occasion, has found a few other cool items for me.  We enjoy doing it.

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So… my latest find was a silver tea/coffee pot.  It was in real bad shape when I got it, but I thought it was real silver, and it was certainly a good price at $3.00.  The other reason it caught my eye was the simplicity of the piece.  

Here is what I found that most others would have probably passed by.  Do you notice its darkened, rough look?  The inside was in great shape, but there were stains, not just tarnish on it.  I didn’t think I was going to be able to get it back to any “normal” state.  It looked pretty hopeless.

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I tried one silver cleaner on it but still wasn’t happy with how it looked.  So after the 3 tries, I told my hubby this isn’t working right.  It looked a bit better, but you could still see the stains.  Then, he brought another one he found, which I was looking for before and couldn’t find, and I worked on it with that cleaner 2 times.   It is was a very pretty style and there had to be a way to get it back to its original creation.  I gently rubbed, let the polish dry, and buffed it out again.  After the two times, I said, “There you are!  I knew you had to be in there somewhere under all that stain and tarnish!”

As I was enjoying the fruits of my labor, it just made me think about how much like that I am, and maybe you.  I get all tarnished and stained up from the things in my in my life that I experience, or try to control, or hurts from others, and even decisions that I have made that have made my way harder.  It builds and builds, until one day you notice that you have lost your joy, or your sunny personality, or your “want to”.  Then along comes Jesus with His oh so gentle touch, to buff off a little here and there, to help me lift my head up again.  It’s not pleasant, because there are times that those gentle buffings, and sometimes not so gentle, rub me the wrong way.  It doesn’t feel good.  It may need to come off, but still…However, in His mercy, He can’t always do it all at once. He may have to do it in layers.  He will gladly and graciously bring me back to a place where my light can shine, my sins are lifted off of me, and my joy returns.  

Have you ever noticed that it is hard to polish silver without getting some of the tarnish on you?  Think of it this way…as Jesus buffs off the tarnish, He takes it upon Himself, so that we can shine.  All our ugly stains and dark stuff is taken upon Him and it leaves us shining like the silver tea/coffee pot that I purchased.

I am enjoying this piece, as well as the message I was given as I cleaned it.  I feel pretty special after realizing that no matter how bad I look or act, that He will take it all way and fix me up again to get back on track.  I don’t need to feel guilty about it either, because if I come to Him with it as He says to do, He removes that from me.  Isn’t that a great analogy?!?!???

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I hope this speaks to your heart today as well.  Don’t let it build up in you or on you.  Turn it over to the Master and He will make something beautiful out of what looks to be impossible, or like something that is thrown in a bin because it’s not wanted anymore.  You ARE wanted, and He is ready to make things new every morning for you!  It’s never hopeless.  Remember that.

What needs to be cleaned and buffed out in your heart and spirit today?

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Vision Changes Our Life

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I’m sure many of you have heard the expression, “He/she has an eagle eye.” I think we sort of know what that means; the person sees everything.  However, here are a few fun facts about the eagle’s vision:

  • The eagle’s eye is 4-8 times stronger than a human.
  • An eagle can spot a rabbit that is 3.2 km away, which is 4-5 times farther than we can.
  • They can swoop down to their prey at 125-200 mph
  • they can pick up details in their vision and their vision magnifies them.
  • The angle of the eye gives them a 340 degree visual field.
  • They turn their head to look for prey, and when found, the prey is magnified to see how far they have to fly and at what speed.

So when we think we are sneaking up on an eagle to get a shot with a camera, I doubt we are hidden at all.  It is amazing to me when we study God’s creation, that He made them so intricate.  I often times have wished I could see that far ahead of me just in one day, let alone my life ahead of me.

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Why am I talking about the eagle’s eye?  For one thing, God sends eagles to soar over me almost every time I go out.  It’s our thing.  Another thing, I think it gives me a good open door into the idea of vision.  We hear people talk about vision in a few of the following ways:

  • What is your vision for your education when you get out of school?
  • What is your vision for your career?
  • What is your vision for the project?
  • What do you think is God’s vision for you?
  • We are casting a vision for the direction we want to go.

That doesn’t mention how vision is used when we talk about our eye sight.  Vision is how we see things.  It’s our perspective as well.  Think about it.  Have you ever had a vision for what your career would be, only to have it change?  Or what about a vision for who you will marry and what that would look like, only to find its lots of work laced with difficulties.  I have found in my life that my vision changes and evolves.  Here is an example from my own life.  When I was growing up, music was my life.  I got involved in everything I could get involved with where music was concerned so that I could enjoy my passion.  I wanted to go to college and become a music teacher.  I knew how musicimage
was important to me and I wanted to share that passion with others.  I was even a delegate to the All State Chorus from Washington State my senior year.  The choir performed under the direction of Jester Hairston, which was a life altering experience all to itself!  Then after two years and an Associate Degree and Certificate in Special Education, I could no longer put myself through school.  Instead, I went to work for a local school district in Special Education.  I wrote a grant letter to get funding for a small bus for the Sp Ed department to have for transporting the students to and from school.  I had currently used a station wagon to do that.  I got my CDL to drive the bus routes and sports runs.  My vision was changed.  It evolved into something else.  I have had many, many of those vision changes in my life.  All of them making me who I am today.  I still got to direct choirs and community choirs in my time.  Just wasn’t the original vision I had.

untitled-3-2I think we sometimes have this idea that our vision is stationary and doesn’t change, and if it does change, then it is lost.  But I have come to know that it is how I SEE those changes, that then give me a new vision.  It evolves into the next thing that I get to do.  We are each given vision to see the world around us.  HOW we see it can make all the difference.  If I had stuck with my earlier vision, I may have felt defeated and disappointed in myself that I didn’t continue.  But I would have missed all the other visions that God has placed in my spirit.  I would have missed the people he has brought into my life.  I would have missed the promptings to expand and readjust my vision of my life and circumstances.  THAT would be a total loss of vision.  Instead, I have allowed my visions to change and I have changed with them.  I have gotten to do some marvelous things in my life.

That word vision has been so used up.  Don’t let it discourage you.  Start lookingGuitar Mandolin around and ask for new eyes to see; a vision to open up to you.  Watch out when it happens though because it will be life changing and life altering.  You may find a new zeal in your life that wasn’t there before.  It may move you to do things you haven’t ever done.  It COULD even make it so you take part in activities that others think are kind of wild and crazy.  I say this:  “DO what you love, and do it every day.”  It’s like drinking from the good glasses every day!  Or…a different mocha cup!

Here are a few of mine:

  • I’m getting back into music and playing instruments.
  • I’m singing more.
  • I do more with my photography by taking classes through books I’m reading, My Story 365 project, adding a lens to my bag, and asking God to help me see the unusual.
  • The cabin we purchased to enjoy more down time.
  • More time spent with family and friends.
  • Reading more again.  I used to read with a goal of a book a week.  I never made that goal but I read around 200 books in a year, of all kinds.
  • I enjoy decorating to make our home, and now the cabin, more like we want them to be; which is our vision for retirement years.
  • Sew into the life of my kids and grandson.
  • Take out my Mini for rides just to enjoy driving it more.
  • Time on the patio enjoying the feeling of quiet time.
  • The joy of a mocha in the morning as I choose a cup from my collection.
  • Taking pictures I love and enjoy because I LOVE them, and think about who else make like them.  The pictures I take speak to ME, and that is what taking photos is about.

I can’t say the above ideas works for you, however, at this point of my life, THAT is myIMG_2473 vision of happiness.  Yours is of course different depending on where you are in life journey.  It doesn’t mean you can’t have a vision geared toward you.  Would you do me a favor?  In the comments here on the blog, share a part of what you feel your vision is for your life at this time?  It may just be that you get through your day.  It could be a new craft you want to spend time doing.  It could be more family time.  It may be doing something different on the job.  Whatever it is, I would love to hear about it, as well as, how you see that coming to fruition.  What do you see?

I hope this post has fanned the flame in your soul for making you feel more alive.  The fact that our vision isn’t carved in stone is liberating to me.  I hope the idea that visions can change makes your heart skip a beat. IMG_7900It will change until the day I pass from this world into my heavenly home.  That is a really great way to live in freedom…a vision that excited me!  You see the picture to the left is me with a Tootsie Pop out camping and staying in a cottage; something our family did a lot of growing up.  That vision has always been a live in me, and now I am establishing that vision for my family; our cabin.  Yes.  Having vision IS important and can be life changing for generations to come.

Until next time,

~JoAnn

 

Building My Story on The Rock

IMG_0310Have you ever had someone say to you, “I was one decision away from a different life path in life.”?  I can relate to that.  I have had many points in my life been at a crossroads and my decision totally changed the trajectory of my life. I have not always chosen what was right for me, but often chosen out of compassion or not wanting to hurt feelings, rather than listening to the Holy Spirit that is sending me a different message and a different path to take.  Those decisions are so hard, aren’t they?  Sometimes there is so much to give up…but what if we listened to the hard message in the first place and didn’t take OUR decision, but listened to the leading of the Holy Spirit?  And…what if the Holy Spirit even sent friends along the way to ask you the hard questions about a decision you were making?  Ahhh…now THOSE are hard questions!  Here is another one for you…what if changes in your life circumstances mean that you NEED to consider yet another change in order for it to be the best yes in your life, and it will require a LOT out of you?  That’s not even to mention all those who think you are nuts to have done it in the first place, or they are thinking you can’t seem to make up your mind.

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Ever been in this situation?  Let me share mine, or yet another one of mine, with you.  A little over two years ago, it was our goal to move away from a very busy area, where noise of traffic and walking traffic kept us awake all hours of the night.  Didn’t mind the house, we even made some great improvements on the house that we really loved!!  But in order to move after retirement to where we could find affordable housing with a more quiet and peaceful surrounding, we made a move away from family and friends.  We have worked very hard on this home to improve it and make it our own.  Loved every minute of it!  I love the house, the quiet back yard and have spent many a morning and afternoon.

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So…here it comes…but before it does, I want to remind you that you need to build your house on the Rock.  That is where we can live strong.  Anyway, back to the story…it brings to mind this photo that I took several weeks ago with our grandson.  When I took this picture, I heard this message:  “Expect something ahead.”  Without going into detail, it made us reconsider what is important in the scheme of things for us.  But the reality is, we don’t know what is in our tomorrow.  Sometimes we have to make the hard choices now for the sake of the future choices.  So after much conversation, we have made the decision to put our “house on Bel Aire” on the market.  We will be moving back up north where we will have family closer and where I am blessed to have life long friends.  The hard part is that I have recently began to enjoy some sweet friends here also.  But… The Captain and I are used to the trip, so I expect I will still be coming this way to say hello.  I will have to come back to enjoy a refreshing visit to the ocean.

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So what have I learned through all of this?

  • I am not as young as I was since the last move.  My body gets weary quicker.
  • We have too much stuff, which someone in our household has trouble letting go of.
  • I have had fun sharing treasures with others.
  • Simplifying isn’t just something I think about, it is something my heart craves at this point in life.
  • Only I and God know the reasons for decisions made and I can’t care about who thinks what about it.
  • It’s sad to see JoAnn’s House on Bel Aire disappear into Real Estate Boring Decor.IMG_0095
  • Life is precious, and when the unknown rears up, I want to live out today fully alive.
  • Change is STILL hard.
  • I put my heart and soul into my home so I leave part of myself behind with every home.
  • It is important to pray for the next occupants of the home, that they found the joy I found in this home.
  • I don’t want to live with expectations, but with expectancy.
  • We get to start a new story; the next page can be the best written page in the story yet!
  • God resides IN me, so where ever I am, I am home.
  • I can’t control this, so I have to rest in Him.
  • I am STILL up for a good adventure.
  • I am never alone.  Ever.
  • I can travel more with my hubby when we have less to care for.
  • I appreciate each day we have to live with joy.
  • I have to be willing to give up what I want, for what may be better for someone else.

When we think we might have to give up something we love, God gives us a way to make it special in the next place we are by giving me a talented son who can repair and make it look new again.  That’s how God is.  He will sometimes take away, so He can make us new with a clean slate.  That was a heavy light we are taking with us.  And you can’t even see it hung there.  God is a carpenter too, and He knows how to put things together.  What a relief, huh???

So when you think God is out there, maybe in the distance, or far away, we are wrong.  Because…Jesus is in us.  He cares about what we care about.  And like an author said from a book I have been reading,  “God’s breath both creat and sustains our spirit, and that spirit was always meant to be His home.” …”We think of God as out there, somewhere, and search for Him as though He were lost.  In reality, our omnipresent Creator is “out there” and also “in here”.  Christ is within.  So being with God and remaining in Him are awakening to and exploring forever the biblical truth that we are God’s resting place.”  Alicia Britt Chole

So you see, no matter where I live, what home, or condo, or whatever kind of home we end up in, God is there because He lives IN me.  That is a comforting thought for me to be reminded of when I fret a little about where I will be.  I can rest in that knowledge.  He is IN me, and that is Home.  God always has a purpose, and if we are willing, He will  use circumstances to teach us and lead us in the direction we are to go next.

So…lead on Lord.  Your servant heareth.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Your Words and Actions…Do They Line Up?

Do you ever think about your words and actions?  Do you think about what you say to yourself as well as others?  Do you think about what you do?  Does one line up with the other?  We learned all kinds of words in school.  We learned to pronounce them, spell them, and good and bad uses of our words.

I have noticed more and more lately, that our words do not line up very well with our actions.  We say one thing and do another.  We say we believe this, but our actions aren’t exactly a picture of what we say.  Or, our pictures in no way line up with our words or life style.  Oh, we know they are important.  We do.  But then maybe we want to impress someone, or we want to be “bad” or whatever we are wanting to portray, and we do something or say something that may not line up with the latest Bible verse post we just posted.  Or, maybe we are sharing something that only stirs the pot, instead of calming the storm.  If we are believers, then that is not the way God calls us to live.

I think you know your words have power, right?  Power to build up, or power to destroy; and I’m not talking about just those are around you.  I’m talking about you.  Your words or actions are your self-talk.  Self-talk has lethal effects on your thinking and brain.  Negative thoughts or attitudes is like injecting yourself with an addictive substance; an addiction to bad thinking.  We soon start believing it is true.  What do you see, or think about yourself, as you look in the mirror?  Do you tell yourself negative things?  Do you believe you are shining the light of Jesus in all you do and say with your words?  What about your actions?

I have always been a monitor of my self-talk and I have noticed a slight change in mine.  I’m not liking where it goes.  Oh sure, it is mostly my private time and no body hears it.  But…God does.  I do.  It changes how I feel about things, and the circumstance that is causing it.  Here is a good example.  When I take out The Captain, my Mini, I will get on a road where there isn’t that much traffic and let him go!!  I did that today.  Blow the carbon out, I call it.  It’s fun for me with the speed and the wind blowing in my hair.  But it’s also good for The Captain.  He sits a lot more than he should.  In essence, we need to do that with our thinking and feelings.  We can’t be governed by our thoughts and feelings because those just built up, clog up, and cause us to be sluggish and we may even have misfires.  If we allow God to help us clean out our “thinkers”, and replace those words with something powerful and positive, then we blow the carbon out of our innards and make it possible to run with the wind!  We can once again see our words lining up with our actions.  In scripture, God calls it renewing our minds.  Makes total sense to me why He tells us to do that so often.  Ask Him to renew your mind.  We NEED to allow Him to do it.  It isn’t likely we will do it on our own, given our devices.  We have to surrender it, and renew our thought life.

Why you may ask?  People watch you.  They see your posts.  They see your life style.  They see your actions in public.  It is a lot of responsibility.  I get that.  But God calls us to it.  He doesn’t tell us it’s going to be easy.  He may tap you on the shoulder many times in the next few weeks IF you agree to change things up.  We can’t bash a person to bits who thinks differently than we do in one post, and then post how much we love Jesus or a Bible verse about love, in the next one, unless we take down the bashing posts.  We can’t call someone a name, or use bad language, and then not expect those who know we are Christians not want to turn their heads sideways with a questioning glance, and be thinking… what?!?!???.  God expects us to be different.  As we ask God to renew our minds, we are asking Him for the Holy Spirit to work in us. He will, and He will do that by bringing us up short when we lean in the wrong direction.  But because we are the only Jesus that some will see, what kind of person do they perceive Him to be?

Before you say, “Humph! Who does she think she is?!”  I’m just a child of the King!  A child of a God who is pruning my tree pretty hard!  I just wanted to let you know you aren’t alone.  However, I AM allowing God to do the hard pruning.  I say ouch quite often.  But I can see His purpose in calling me out to become a better example of Him.  Like today, when someone went flying into the beach throwing dust and sand all over, I didn’t have nice things to say about how he was messing up The Captain and blowing that into the car.  But it didn’t take long and the Holy Spirit said, “Well now.  That didn’t take long.”  So I said, “Well…he was a nice idiot.”  I think I heard God clear His throat.  Ok…  I repented and asked forgiveness. That is key.  Give it to Him.  Be obedient right away.

Here are some ideas:  ask Him if this is what He wants you to say, or post, or share.  Is it edifying?  Will it reflect well on the person?  On me?  You aren’t responsible for others actions, only yourself.  We don’t have to like someone, but neither should we bash someone.  This idea that we just say what we think, is not wise.  What stirs us up, changes our thinking.  Let’s stir ourselves up for the Lord with good things, good thinking, and ask Him to help let His love shine through more than your own agenda.  Discipline…it takes a boat load of it.  However, the blessings easily overflow that boat if we empty it first of ourselves.  Just like in the photo of the gingerbread person at the top of the post, I have to be willing to let the Designer prune off what is around me that needs to come off, so that, you can see the creation that is meant to be.

I felt the sting of these words myself too so I don’t say them lightly.  It is my prayer that I see more of His glory in my living because I allowed Him into the dark places to do a little excavating in my inner self.  It is a healthy path and one that God certainly rewards.  I hope this encourages you to be more aware of God in the room than before you read this.  I know it has changed me.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Fall Is Here…Are You Ready?

nostalgic-walk-3

The other day was the first day of Fall.  Everyone put out their greetings for Happy First Day of Fall!  I, for one, am very glad of the changing season and all for it.  I much prefer the cooler weather, as I have mentioned before.  But the colors are beginning to be amazing, and pictures show the beauty of changing leaves and colors all around us.

What about our own personal seasonal changes?  Do we have seasonal changes?  Fall, Spring, Summer, Winter?  I think we do.  We have times in our lives where the change might be in hiding like the winter and then as we grow in the season of our life, we see changes springing up like Spring and new life begins to show up.  We blossom.  Although Fall comes where we see the changes more evident, I think it’s easy to see how we can mirror the seasons in our seasons of life.  What about that summer season?  Well, I know that I have had times in my life where I was put on the hot seat and it got pretty warm!  Fortunately, we can go the Water source for our supply to cool us down.  But can you begin to see how these seasons can remind us of our personal seasons in life?
Are you in a season of change in your life right now?  Do feel the cool of winter coming on and you feel likeIMG_2913 your branches have been pruned back so far your are they losing your grip on your life right now?  Maybe the fog has rolled in and you can see clearly what’s ahead.

I know for me, this last year has been a season of change in my life.  However, I have come to realize that I can sometimes feel change coming on and I know I’m in for an adventure!  I don’t know what is going to happen, but I know something is in the works.  How do I know that?  Because I have a relationship with Jesus.  I know Him well enough through my relationship with Him, that I can trust Him with the change He is bringing into my life. I know it is going to enhance my life, as well as, draw me closer to Him.  He has “new things” to show me.  His mercies are new every morning.  That means each day I am given the grace to face what my life brings, if I choose to accept it.  If I sit around and feel sorry for myself because all my leaves are falling off, and I’m open and bare to those around me, or even just within ME, then I lose all the work He is quietly doing through my winter struggles.  I won’t see the growth and benefit of Spring growth!  Just as I like the Fall and winter and spring seasons because they are cooler, I also enjoy those personal seasons also.  I have come to understand that each one has meaning for me and builds on the next; from glory to glory, as God tells us.

IMG_2857As I navigate through the “falling off” in my move further from my kids, grandson, and family and church family, He is drawing me closer to Him.  He has given me NEW things.  He has given me a new environment.  He has also set me apart, to have fewer distractions.  He will do that sometimes to finally get our attention.  However, I believe that He has new endeavors for me to involve myself.  He may be leading me to the point where He wants to do NEW things through me. Now THAT isn’t a new thing…He always wants to do new things through me.  I know He works through those who are willing to be used.  Now that is exciting!  It’s scary at times.  It’s lonely at times.  But He is never separated from me, unless I separate myself from Him.  He speaks through His Word, through people around me, and He may speak to another person’s heart to invite me to be involved in a “new thing”.  I just need to be willing to be obedient when He gives me something to do.

So…I am looking forward to falling leaves and changing colors.  Even the winter season where I can settle in on a cool evening and read or do what will grow my life through the leafless, bare branch times, and help me come out in the Spring with new thinking, new ideas, all new creative ways to live my life for Jesus, and even people to do that life with!

Here is a photography thought photo for you:

XT1In photography editing, you can have something called a filter or preset that is used to enhance your photo.  One click or maybe two, and supposedly, your picture is better.  Click and done.  Boom!   But God isn’t a one-click-and-done kind of God.  He wants to keep molding us until we go home to heaven.  He adds light where it may be dark.  He will give contrast in order to enhance what we see.  He will give clarity so we can see clearly what He desires us to see.  He can blur some of the hurtful things so they aren’t so much a part of our picture.  However, I would like to suggest that you don’t set your life and thinking on a preset.  You would be limiting what God wants to do in you by a click-and-done fix.  Give Him full access.  Let Him give you the settings.  The view through His viewfinder is SO much better.  He has a mega zoom lens and can see the end from the beginning.  He wants a life for you better that anything you can imagine.

I would encourage you not to look at this season of Fall in the same way again after reading this post.  Let the leaves fall.  It’s a good thing.  Remember something is falling off, so that, new growth will come.  Look at this time as a time of change.  Let winter come, because Spring and new growth are on the way!

Walking the journey with you…

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It’s A New Beginning

IMG_1392-2As I have been planning my new year, I just want to take this opportunity to tell you how much I appreciate your faithfulness in being a part of this community!  Sometimes, I’m not sure if it helps or encourages anyone, but then I will get a message from one of you and it is thanking me for post.  So, as a part of my new year, I will continue to share my thoughts and life with you in hopes that it will bring hope and encouragement to you just when you need it.

It has been an interesting start to my new year  I have been sick since shortly after the New Year.  I spent a week and a half just laying in bed, for the most part.  I tried everything imaginable to help myself get over it rather than getting a doctor appointment, spending the money on a co-pay, and have them tell me, “Just drinking lots of fluids and (take some over the counter thing) get lots of rest.”  So I doctored myself.  Did ok, but my tummy is seriously a mess from whatever it was I had.  The upside?  I can’t eat very much because of the tummy issues, and so I think I am losing some weight!  There IS a silver lining, right?  🙂

But I am excited about 2016 and have a few questions for you:

  • So what does your life look like as you start the year?
  • Are you happy to start something new?
  • Do you feel any anticipation about this year?
  • Do you breathe a sigh of relief that last year is finally over?

IMG_9330Go get your coffee, tea, hot chocolate, put your feet up for a few minutes and let’s chat about this.

What are you thinking as you live out the daily life of 2016?  It’s not about a list of dos and don’ts.  It’s about positive changes.  For me, I remember God’s faithfulness to me last year and all that He did, and I look with anticipation for all He will do this year.  But there is something about thinking of a new year that pushes us to believe that it is going to better than last year.  Really?  So… does that mean you are going to do something different this year in the way you live, the way you think, how you look at your life and circumstances, or trust God MORE than you trusted Him last year?  Because if we don’t change “us” then we don’t change this year either.  We will continue to have the same patterns.  There may be things that iron themselves out, but over all, we are the ones that change how things go for us because we change how we do our life.  We are the ones that choose how we look at things that happen around us.  Not everything happens to us, but it can feel like that sometimes.  I am thankful that I have a new year to change how I look at those times.

Here is what is different for me:

  • Go to God first!  Sometimes in the midst of emotions, we forget.  Prayer is the key even more than last year for me.
  • I have learned that making my life less busy helps me to concentrate more on the areas that I want to improve.
  • It is about looking at what is right, instead of all that is wrong.  I know for myself, I can get into what is wrong and right a book about it.  I don’t want to be an author of that kind of book of life.
  • I will look at what is right and build on it.
  • If I have a hard day, or even a few hard days, it doesn’t mean I have a hard life.
  • Just because things don’t go the way I would like them to go doesn’t mean that it’s going the wrong way.
  • Be IN God’s Word.  Get it down deep in my heart, not just in my head.

Take the walls down.  Lean on people God has placed around you.  Be a part of a community of people who you can go to and feel good about asking for help.  Learn to lean.  It’s ok to call someone and say, “I’m having a hard day and feel like I can’t keep going.  Could you pray for me?”

IMG_1374I have had some hard decisions that have had to be made just in the last couple of weeks.  It has been hard not to be disappointed, or get angry over the circumstances, or feel like I have always had to do things this way.   It would be nice for just once, to have it be different, where what is a problem is never an issue for me anymore.  Been there?  But when I start looking at through the lens of gratitude, things shift and God changes my heart.  I get back up, dust myself off, and say, “Ok Lord.  I don’t know the why, but I know YOU, and you do.  Now, help me, by the work of the Holy Spirit, to remember that the next time I’m a stinker about it.”  It’s like playing a detective about ourselves and asking ourselves the hard questions, but then walking it out when the answer comes.

I am seeking to live well.  I desire:

  • Having good health
  • Enjoying more quiet and reflective time
  • I desire to walk deeper in God’s Word
  • Spend designated time with my grandson
  • Appreciate more and more the nature around me and with my camera to document God’s goodness
  • More community with friends than last year
  • Put more of the music back in my life
  • Enjoy my heritage that God has given me
  • Get a ukulele and learn to play it
  • Live without regrets

_DSF4722-1I have a couple of pages in my little book so far of my goals for this year.  It’s fun to consider the journey God will take me on to enable me to fulfill desires I believe He has put on my heart.  I pray for each post that I write in hopes that it reaches hearts to encourage.  So my desire for you is that you are encouraged not to look at your life as something too busy to implement any changes, but as a new opportunity to live each day in the moment, and totally change your life from something you live each day to something that fulfills you each day!  God bless you to that end.

Walking the journey with you…