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

Ok, Lessons from a Turtle?

IMG_6818I’m not sure why, but this last weekend when I was down at the ocean, I saw a little decor turtle and felt I was supposed to get it and bring it home with me.  I am a very visual person and so I have many things that I keep around me on my desk and in my office that are reminders to me of how I should live and think regarding my daily life.  Here are a few thoughts that came to mind as I wondered about the reasoning behind making that purchase.  You can google many ideas about lessons from a turtle, and some of them will be a part of why God may have laid that on my heart.

  • 1.  Turtles may be slow but they will get where they are going.

We all know the story of the tortoise and the hare.  We know that lesson!  We may know it by heart.  But, we sure forget it quickly when it is something we want.  All living things have a time of growth.  A tree doesn’t just become a tree.  It takes a long time to get tall and sturdy.  So it is with us. We are and should be constantly growing.  How fast is not as important as taking a steady pace, and we keep at it.

  • 2.  They are very determined.

When baby turtles are born, they go by instinct to the nearest water.  They face all kind of challenges to get there, but they are determined to go through the scary trials to make it.  Sand may be hard for them to get over because even the smallest hill of sand presents a challenge to them as tiny creatures.  They may be eagle food, but they instinctively have that determination and drive to get where they are going.  They don’t give up at the first sign of challenge; even at that young age.

  • 3.  They have been called a symbol of peace.

I would guess this reasoning has to do with the quiet, but sure way of living.  If you watch a turtle, they are very observant.  They watch you carefully and they are aware of what is around them  This reminds us to slow down our pace in life and look around.  Enjoy what we see as we go.  Hurry is not peaceful but slowing down is, or can be.

  • 4.  If there is something they are having difficulty with, they will focus on that issue until they can figure out what to do.

As a child, my cousin had a turtle and that turtle was older than me by several  years at that time, and they still had him long after I became an adult, married and had children.  Amazing!  One time I watched that turtle struggle with a stick that had been put in the wrong way, and now was in its way and messing with his environment.  Oh how he would struggle to right that stick so it would be in the correct place.  He didn’t give up until it was moved correctly to his liking.

  • 5.  They must stick their neck out if they want to get somewhere.

That’s right!  If we want to grow, we have to stick our neck out and try something new or different.  We have to put ourselves out there!  But many times, we may be like the turtle in fear, and pull our necks back in,  and in our case, tuck and curl in defeat.  However, if we want growth in our life, and a better relationship with those around us, we have to stick our neck out there!

  • 6.  If you were to pick a turtle up that is going on one direction, and you turned it around to the opposite direction, they will turn around in their shell so they can keep going in the same direction they were headed.

What does that tell us?  That turtle knows its direction; it has an inner sense of direction.  No matter which way it is turned, it knows the path it needs to take.  We need to have our compass to true north; that is, to the direction of God and His promises.  We want to “know” in our hearts and mind what direction that is.  And if we are truly in tune with God, just the like the turtle, we can always know which way is the right way to go.  U-turns are awesome, aren’t they?!?

So, I brought that little turtle home with me to have on my desk, so that I too, can remember the message of the turtle and the reasons why God may have put that on my heart.  I hope you will remember the lessons of a turtle and let it be a life lesson for you as it was for me!  God is good to teach us in big and small ways if we are tune, and listen to Him, and respond.

To life at a turtle pace…slow and sure…walking the journey with you…

~JoAnn

Open Hands and Pens

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Have you ever had the feeling that things were going so well in your life that you felt like the captain of your soul?  If you even thought about that statement for a moment without saying no, then you are in trouble because we are NEVER the captain of our soul.   Our lives aren’t something that we have a map for.  There is no map.  We may even feel that sometimes there is no compass.  There is no set route for the journey, that much we know.  The only way we can recognize a route in our life, is what is left behind us when we look back.

I just finished a study with a group of ladies who did the One Thousand Gifts study.  It was so interesting to see how God used each one to affirm the other.  Thoughts and ideas different from my own, yet similar in content.  Our hearts became one as we explored what God wanted to teach us individually.  God showed a side of Himself that many had not seen before, and… lives were changed.  Some even had a hard time explaining HOW it changed them, but they felt a shift inside themselves.  It might have been a different way to start each day, or depending on God for the right place to live, or transition after loss, and another who said, she has been in many studies, but none that have changed her like this one.  I’m sure there were many other thoughts too!  Wow!!  THAT is what we want to have happen when we devote ourselves to learning.  We discussed what servanthood looks like and how we can be the blessing.  So we asked ourselves, “Am I a blessing?  Do I bless?”  Our answer was agreement with Ann Voskamp, the writer of the study, we ARE blessed.  We CAN bless.  You see, we need to pass blessing along.  If we receive the blessing and it stops with us, then we have lost the flow of the blessings to others.  That trickle down effect is lost.  We need to pass it along in the flow of life, and let the goodness of God flow on and on and on.  It’s like Andy Andrews talks about in his book, The Butterfly Effect.  We may never know the outcome of something we did or said, nor how it will affect the future.

Another thing we shared with each other is the power of the pen.  Whether you are a journal writer or not, there is power there.  Maybe you just list your gifts or blessings.  Which ever it maybe, “satan hates pens because he doesn’t want you to count
IMG_5020the blessings you have been given.” (Ann Voskamp) Do you get the picture?  THAT should make us want to go find everybody we know and make sure they have a pen handy.  That is our weapon against feeling defeated about our life.  Invite God in and put that pen to paper.  I am a pen freak.  I love pens and I like GOOD pens.  So, I’m always looking for a pen that is a good brand, looks good AND writes well.  Now, I have another reason for a good pen…it’s my weapon and the power to stay in gratitude!  I’m going to wield that weapon!!

This thought was so important in our weekly discussion:  we want to be empty, to be filled.

  • I want my hands to remain open for God to fill them for His purpose.
  • I want Him to find me about His work and doing well.
  • I want to be maintaining an attitude of expectancy.
  • I want to be found continually looking to the future with hope.
  • I will live a full life because I am intentional in how I live each day.

In all the changes we talked about in this group, the best part was being reminded that a changed life is a life full of joy!  We found that to be true in the last five weeks.  He wants our personal character to be guided by the Holy Spirit and not our own flesh.  He wants to find us being diligent, eager, and zealous in our relationship with Him.  We have found that aspect of our relationship with God to be renewed during out time together.  We experienced a lot of laughter, but there were tears also.  We shared hugs of encouragement, pats on the back to say, keep going.  Please share.  We are listening.  THAT my friend means something BIG is about to happen.  When we lean in and listen, God is going to do something BIG when we let Him change us.  I encouraged each person there to write today’s date down in their Bibles or journals, because we all felt we were on the cusp of something great that is about to happen.

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And lastly, I think we made the decision to be like the Sea of Galilee, that flows forth fresh water.  We do not want to be like the Dead Sea that has no movement and is stagnant, as she talks about at the end of the last chapter.  And the kicker?  Those two seas are fed by the same river!!!  Which one do we want to be?  These ladies wanted to flow out fresh water!  His gifts come from above and we want them to flow through us to others.  I think we all agreed, that we want the kind of attitudes and character that mark the life of a person who loves to serve, give and to share what we have with others.  And…let’s give our best.

I am thankful to each heart that shared in this journey of gifts, and I pray that you will be blessed also by this glimpse into what God did in a small group of women who were faithful to the idea of open hands.

Walking the journey with you…

~JoAnn