Set Aside Complaint

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Set aside complaint?  Are you KIDDING me?  I have a lot to complain about Lord!  I mean, look at what’s happened in the last few months!  I am not supposed to complain about it?  I am about to burst at the seams with complaints!!  It like that time when you had a mouth full of pop or something, and you are just about to burst out laughing?!  It wants to come out!!  But, you are telling me to set aside complaint and put on a smile.  Set aside complaint and change my expression.  That’s a tall order!

I kind of feel like Job in my life over the last two months, in particular.  But you know, he never complained, even though he lost family, home, possessions, friends, cattle…everything!  So when God gave me this picture yesterday and the scripture to go with it, I guess I was supposed to “get” this message!  I pondered these thoughts for a while, giving myself time to understand what God was telling me.  Here are a few thoughts:

  • It doesn’t ever do any good to complain really.
  • It doesn’t make me feel any better.
  • It doesn’t change the situation.
  • It doesn’t make those around us feel any better.
  • It doesn’t honor God either.

Job had to trust God even though all he saw was chaos.  I am choosing to do the same.  I tell Him out loud several times a day just to remind myself.  I think He likes to hear that!

IMG_0321So this morning as my eyes didn’t want to open to the chaos, I thought I would check my messages on my phone.  There was a text that the appraiser had finally submitted his appraisal to our lender!  Today was to be the day we were to close on the new house.  Now I can choose to complain that he made us have to wait another week, or I can be thankful that it is in.  I choose to be thankful it is finally submitted.  I won’t say I haven’t complained.  Hear me out.  I am saying, that God has gently reminded me not to.  I will move forward one more step and believe that we can close on the third of June as planned when we signed the extension.  I pray for the sellers of our new house, that they continue to be patient with us in something that was entirely not of our doing.  AND…I rest in God’s promise to restore what has been taken.

If you are dealing with a difficult situation, I won’t say ignore it, or that you don’t have the right to be angry.  That isn’t practical.  There is a place for anger.  But I will encourage you to set aside complaint.  We can’t change what we don’t have power over.  But we do have power to change what CAN be changed.  In my case, ME and my thoughts.  Do that.  Change what needs to be changed, so that, you can begin living the life God has planned for you.  Live the “tests” in life well.  As we have heard before, you can’t have a testimony without the test.

In school we couldn’t take a test over because of a bad grade.  We had to prepare ahead to enable us to get that good grade.  In this instance, with God we CAN have do-overs.  We can turn our life around!  We can set aside complaint and put on a smile or happy expression.  Not because what is happening to us is ok, but because we know that God will restore what has been taken from us, if we will be faithful!  Stay the course.  Stand!  May God help you to that end.

Walking the journey with you…

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P.S.  If you are going through a tough time and want some prayer, just leave a message in the comments and I will include you in my prayer list.

What Are Your Reminders?

 

IMG_5563Recently, I read a blog about post-it notes and how this blogger, BecktoBasics, used them in her daily life and how it reminded her of other things she had in her home that were reminders also.  It got me to thinking.  I happen to use them in my office quite a bit.  My whole house is full of thoughts, reminders, encouragement, and love and so I thought I would share some of them with you.  Maybe it will spur you on to share some of your own!  The above photo is one of my reminders that I wear daily.  Pray Always.  My husband has a matching ring that I presented to us for our 10th anniversary.  I put his on his finger, and he put mine on my hand.

So here are some of mine from my home…

P1020173  In my office:

  • Find the Wonderful in Today
  • Live with Passion
  • Lights, Camera, Action
  • Light – word for the year one year
  • Journey – my life word
  • Believe –
  • God Speed – something my pastors who were my growing up pastor and his son who was my pastor for early adult years said to me each Sunday.
  • Faith
  • Dream
  • Love
  • Enjoy the Journey
  • Celebrate – word of the year one year
  • The Rest of Your Life Begins Today – hangs up above my door going out of my office
  • Imagine – The larger word sits in my window sill of my office
  • Everything is possible for him who believes
  • All hail love
  • Do one thing everyday that makes you happy – quilted and framed
  • Focus – 2015 word of the year

P1020077  In my kitchen:

  • Joy
  • Christ is the head of this house – by the kitchen window
  • Have you prayed about it? – I see it above my stove.
  • Fresh – above my stove
  • Norwegian Prayer – from my son – hangs on my wall by the coffee/mocha maker
  • God Bless Our Home
  • Livingroom:
  • Every day is a gift
  • Trust, Love, Faith, Hope – decorative balls w/the word and bible verse, that lay in a wooden bowl on the coffee tableIMG_2774

 

Hallway:

  • Home Sweet Home where each lives for the other and they all live for Christ. – From my parent’s home and now in mine.
  • Always Kiss Me Good Night – reminder to my hubby and I

Bathroom:

  • Blest are those who trust in the Lord
  • A Christian Friend is…

Bedroom:

  • Renew
  • Marriage Prayer

I have always been one to encourage myself through visual reminders and these in my home are part of my day.  I DO read them when I go by.  It’s part of my devotions and living in gratitude each day.  I also have colored glass that I enjoy seeing the light pass through.  Reminds me who my Light is and what He has done for me.  Sometimes God will bless us through a sign we read as we are driving somewhere.  There are many, many opportunities to be encouraged.  I hope this has inspired you to read your reminders and maybe share some of them here!  God bless you through your many reminders this week!

Walking the journey with you…

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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

A Slow Journey Back

IMG_3489Warning:  Some pictures are graphic.

I am back among the living…at least I think I am. I have been gone from my blog and normal life for almost six weeks as I underwent surgery. I had bilateral knee replacement, and for a simpler version of that statement, I had total knee replacement on both knees at the same time. Many people ask me if I would recommend it. In fact, that is the first question they usually ask me. My answer is still out on that. I know for me, I did it because I don’t like hospitals and all that goes with it, so I knew I wouldn’t want to come back again to get the second one done. I will tell you it’s not easy and one of the hardest journeys I have taken in a long while.

When you are in this situation, you really have to learn to live with yourself. You have only yourself, your brain, and what you are thinking all the time. I was most fortunate to have a husband that stood by me the whole time. He took time off of work to be with me in the hospital everyday, then when we got home, he took care of me in the day and through the night; eventually doing that and working too. He was a great house husband too!  God knows what we need.  However, as you know you talk to yourself non-stop all day long and I found that what I was saying certainly didn’t line up with what I was praying.  Oops!!  Not good.  You see, I also had a lot of blood loss, and so I had to have transfusions to even get me to a place that I had enough energy to get myself up out of the bed.  And then I had to have it a second time, and I got a reaction so the last half was not administered.  So my recovery was very slow.  I remember one time thinking that people would say of me, “She came in for knee replacements, but didn’t come home.”  Now WHERE did THAT thought come from?  To give even a second thought to that was to allow the devil free rein in my thinking, and that just wasn’t going to happen.  I may FEEL like I’m going nowhere fast, but I wasn’t going to give in to it.  The night hours were the worst when you can’t sleep and satan tries to fill your mind with defeat.  I would call the nurse and get up! I would walk to the bathroom and walk back to the bed.  I would tell myself, “I was making progress, no matter how slow it may look, I wasn’t destined to be this way forever.  It will change.”  I was blessed to have my sweetie there all day telling me that I could do it.  To say that it was a humbling experience, it to put it mildly.  He became my nurse.  I believe with all my heart, that I am where I am today because of the prayers of faithful friends and family who covered me daily in prayer.  I had circles upon circles prayed around me!  Does that mean that I still don’t have times of discouragement? Nope. I still can have that feeling at times when I want to do something that just doesn’t work too well for me right now.  But, then I have to remember where I came FROM, and then I am thankful I have come this far.

My experience is not your experience so if you are looking to this in YOUR future, I would say, have a GREAT doctor (do your research), and prepare yourself ahead of time for what you need to do.  He is faithful.  I walked from the very beginning with a walker, but only for a couple of weeks.  Then it was a cane, and the last couple of weeks, I have walked on my own without assistance from either.  I would say that is a good track record, and my healing IMG_3482WILL be complete.  Is it over?  No.  I still have pain and discomfort.  But I can now do other things to help with that. I am even down to my last three visits of PT.  Yay!  But I still have to discipline myself to do it on my own.  See?  We are required to do our part.

Lessons?

  • Trust. Trust. Trust.
  • Don’t listen to the wrong voice in your ear.
  • God will use circumstances and people around you to bless you and lift you up.
  • The end of something is always better than the beginning. Always…because we have learned.
  • I learned I have an inner strength given to me by God that keeps me going no matter what.
  • Have a grateful heart for everything; that included my physical therapy. Yuck…
  • I am required to do my part.

IMG_4948This is only one snap shot of my life. I will likely have many more, and maybe some that will be harder than this to make it through.  But I know where my strength comes from, so I can look to the future with hope!  I’m happy to answer any questions if you leave them in the comments.

Walking, yes walking…the journey with you.

Let The Waves And Ripples Begin!

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This weekend when I was out taking pictures, I saw something that reminded me of the word that God gave me for this year. My word for this new year is LIGHT. Light shines in the darkness and it shines for all to see. As is the case when I go out, God uses the things around me to speak to my heart and this picture had a message that went right along with my word for this year. I saw a rock in the water. There wasn’t that much of it that was sticking up out of the water, however as I observed, I saw that even the little part of the rock that was out of the water, caused waves to separate around it. The water didn’t just roll over it, it made its own little waves. As little as the waves were, it still caused a ripple effect in the water that was very large. God seemed to say that I needed to stand firm just like that rock. That if I am seeking Him, I am the rock standing on the Rock.  Even though I may not make a big splash in my life, and may not feel like I can have that much influence over those around me, I will have. I may only make a small waves but the effect of those little waves will ripple out exponentially as He has designed. I need to be just like that rock; stand firm, and let my little light shine! God will do the rest. The “Butterfly Effect” (A Book by Andy Andrews) is in motion.

A couple of minutes later, I took the same shot with a different aperture setting and it change the whole look. God said, just like this shot, you may not always be able to see what is going on or what will happen next. But the rock is still there and hasn’t changed. The water waves are still there, and the ripples are still going out whether I can see them or not. I have to trust. God sees and He knows what I can’t see and what I don’t know. If I trust Him, it doesn’t matter that I can’t see what is going on behind the scenes. He knows.

I am looking for what God has for me this year! I am expecting great things! I can trust Him to show me! The message I got at the beach last week was that I need to shine my light for all to see, however that works out in my life. I make not make a big splash, but I WILL affect people and the ripples will go out! That is what my calling is; encourage people to live their lives pursuing what God has for them, living it out in passionate pursuits, and to honor Him for the gifts He has given us to use for His glory. I hope you find some of that on this blog.

What a great picture story I was given. I was so excited! In what way do you want to be used by God this year? Have you taken the time to ask Him, and then listen to what He has for you? If you are quiet and tuned in, he WILL show you. Let the waves and ripples begin!

Walking the journey with you…