Trust the Process

 

Time…Life doesn’t usually go as planned.  At least from our perspective.  Ever noticed that?  What do you do when things don’t go as planned?  Do you fight it?  Get angry about it?  Complain to others, or take it out on those around you?  Do you talk to others about it more than you pray to God about it?  I have had quite a few of those not so timely interruptions over the last year.  Strange health issues, falls, and the repercussions of all of them.  But… when I think about this last year, my life isn’t really any different from anyone else.  We all have them…those times we wish we didn’t have to experience.

Just this week, after some hard weeks have passed, I got some good news and some not so good news.  I had some swelling in my left hand from a fall where my left side and my nose took the hit.  The swelling caused me to need my wedding ring cut off.  I have worked in jewelry and it is hard to see a beautiful ring have to go through a cutting process.  You see, if you don’t have the right people doing that work, you can cause damage to the ring and to the diamonds it holds.  What will happen?  It will loosen the settings as the ring is stretched in order to go over the finger after being cut off.  So it worried me a little to have it done.  But I found a great jeweler locally, and he did a great job!

I then went into the Doctor to go over my hand X-ray.  That good and bad news? The X-ray showed no broken bones.  The good news.  The bad news, other than not being able to wear my ring, was that it was a pulled ligament between my ring finger and my middle finger.  That type of injury is a very long healing process; six months to be exact.  That’s a long time.  It is best to elevate the hand when possible, and I can ice it if I want to, should it be painful.  Wow!  Six months!  He told me I have to be patient.  If I try to hurry the process, then I will just cause more problems and my healing will take even longer.

Two days after cutting off the ring. Still extremely cut into my finger.

Isn’t that like our lives sometimes?  We want to hurry through uncomfortable times in our lives, so we can get back to life as we want it to be.  But when we don’t have patience for the process, we can take short cuts, hurry the process, or even get angry about it, and then we do more harm to the situation than if we are patient.  If we DO trust God with the process, then our faith can grow, be stretched and strengthened.  We don’t have to stand on our strengthen at all, but we stand on His strength.  He is the rock on which we stand.  I have to take care of my hand or I will see permanent damage and pain that will go up my wrist and arm.  In the last couple of days, it has gone down significantly because I am doing what the Doctor told me to do.  The same thing will happen when we lean on God for our needs in those hard times.  We do what He wants for us to do, we will see right changes.

So when it comes to my life, will I allow God the time to work on the issues going on in my life?  Or, will I get impatient and try to do something myself?  The latter is never good.  I need to depend on God to lead.  If I had tried to cut the ring off myself, I could have caused more damage to the ring.  If I didn’t cut the ring off, I could have done some nerve damage in my hand.  If I don’t listen to what I need to do to heal, I will cause further damage to my hand.  Our lives can be like that.  If we aren’t willing to surrender those hard times to the only person who has the answers, then we just struggle along trying to fix it ourselves.  I have come to know that God is big enough for anything I have going on.  He already knows.  There may be a lesson in the midst of it that I need to learn.  Ok.  I’m willing.  I trust Him.  I will do what is necessary and be patient with my process, knowing I will come out the other side with much better understanding and a healthy life.  I will trust the process.

Will you?

Until next time…

~JoAnn

 

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Chains That Bind Us

P1010742Have you ever found yourself under attack in the same area over and over again?  Have you ever wondered WHY that seems to be an area of vulnerability for you?   You know it… that one thing that can bring immediate doubts to mind.  That place where you say, “Oh great!  Here we go again!”  Or maybe was, “Victory!!!  It’s done!  I did it!  It’s paid for!”  And then…life happens.  Your victory dance slows, and a stomp ensues.  Shoot!  What IS the issue?!?  You are more likely to be saying things that are not edifying to anyone at this point!  Negative statements or thoughts of defeat.  Have you EVER said, “I will NEVER get this taken care of!  It seems to happen again and again!”  No!  You have NEVER said anything like THAT have you????  Yah…me either…as my nose grew a bit longer…

I lived through many of my parents struggles in this very area for me; the area of finances.  I watched them work hard to provide for us, give us a good life, and one of enjoyment.  But somewhere in the back of my mind I have always wanted my life to be more stable in that area.  Ever thought that way?  Now, I have lived differently in that area of my life than they did, not that the way they did it was particularly bad.  But, I feel sometimes when life hits, that I am no differently positioned than they were.  Oh how thecanstockphoto0019485 devil likes to play in our mind’s sand box!  However, God provided for my parents and me, as well as my siblings.  I was not without.  I loved my childhood.  When I was quite young, I began working.  I had to work hard, but I had what I needed and contributed in ways that I could to help my parents with the burden.  Even through hard times as a parent myself, my kids didn’t have a lot, but we had what we needed.  It wasn’t without hard times, but it taught them to be hard workers, as well as being resourceful.  They saw God’s provision in our lives over and over again on a daily basis.  I know there were times when they didn’t have things they wanted, but they tried their best to understand.  What we had plenty of was a love for each other, and that was our mainstay.

So what is it about those vulnerabilities in our life’s journey, that trip us up?  I have become more and more aware that my thinking has SO much to do with my action.  What do I do when those times hit?  Do I succumb to the negative thoughts that things won’t ever change, or do I put God’s Word into action in my life and change what I say?  I’m choosing the latter for my life any more.  I am replacing those things with statements that are scriptural to me.  What lifts me up.  What brings back my joy.  Replace my thinking and changing the channel.  When I think I can’t go on, I push a little bit harder.  I pray more often.  I inch my way through and push back against those things that try to run me over.  If I’m going to stomp my feet, then let it be against the devil.  Let the dance be in praise!

We took action in the area of vulnerability for us.  We have found God to be very faithful as we trusted Him and put Him first.  Maybe your button isn’t finances, but something else.  It works the same way.  God cares about all things, and that means ALL.  So, if you find yourself dealing with the same issue again and again, begin to be aware of how you are thinking about that area of your life.  Do you want to continue the way you are?  Or, do you want change and have victory over that particular area?  Are you willing to make the changes necessary to gain victory in that area of your life?  We can’t keep hoping for the change without taking action toward the change.  So many times, we keep doing the same thing again and again, hoping something different will happen.  It doesn’t work.  A feeling of defeat is the result.

img_2298-e1407215390181What if you HAVE made changes and you still don’t see it yet?  Are you in prayer about it?  Are you asking God what you need to do?  Are you being obedient to what He tells you?  We can be stubborn sometimes.  I mean, I know a few people who took a lot of years to take an 11 day trip!!!  Now, if you change, don’t think that you won’t have to tests to go through to make sure how committed you are to it.  Oh yes, that’s a given!  But don’t give up because He cares about you AND your situation.

I have a dear friend who at this writing is going into surgery Wednesday for another bout with cancer.  She is 90 years young.  She has had 48 procedures in her life.  When I expressed my concerns over yet another test in life, she told me, “JoAnn, after 90 years of living, one thing I have learned.  We NEVER outgrow the tests in life.  I can tell you from experience that they keep coming.”  I told her what a great attitude that she has.  Her comment back?  “What else can you do?”  I don’t think it’s that simple because we CAN do a lot of different things.  What is different for her?  She trusts God to get her through, and she has lived it well.  She has struggled, wiggled out from underneath the burdens, pushed back, fought the evil one, but in all of that, she hasn’t given up.  She has faith.   She trusts Him.  Period.

So, where am I at with this?  I will choose to praise Him in the hard times.  I may “feel” the worry come, but I quickly take it to God and thank Him for what is good, and what He IS doing in my life.  I then thank Him for His answers, even the ones I don’t see yet!  However, answer He will!  He always answers, but not always how we think it should go, or in our timing.  Don’t live in defeat!  Live in victory instead!

But, in my case, I don’t give up and I don’t give in.  I’m doing a lot more dancing these days than stomping!  We are all on a journey of progress and learning.  Just stay in school!

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.

Amber Beads and Harvest

ImageThis morning, as I was walking by my desk, I saw my string of amber beads hanging from my desk organizer and this question came to mind: “What do those beads remind you of?” I immediately thought of Fall and Harvest, and colors and pictures that go with it. What came next was this question: “Did you know that prayer is like a harvest?” By now, I know I need to take the time and really think about this because there is a lesson right here in my office over a string of amber beads. So… here is what my thoughts are about what God laid on my heart today.

When we think of harvest, we think of receiving the benefits of what we have planted. We believe that if we plant seeds, water them properly, fertilize them properly, keep the weeds at bay, we will get results; a harvest of what we have planted. 

I sensed God saying our prayer life is just like that. If we want answers (harvest) to our Key Moments Photographyprayers, we must plant our prayers in faith, fertilize them with the Word and ask the Holy Spirit to water them, and ask God to keep us full of Him, so we will receive the harvest God has for us. We can’t get a harvest by standing in the field and wishing for one. For example:  “I wish God would answer this prayer. Or, I have been praying about that for a long time, maybe I should just quit.” Prayer is like being out and tilling the field. You are preparing your soil for harvest. Prayer is like a muscle that you have to exercise. You have to do it consistently, with commitment and faith if you expect a good harvest/result.

Next, He led me to Matthew 12:43 where evil comes into a man and then he decides to turn His life over to Christ and he is made clean. But then God talks about the man needing to ask to be filled up with Him because otherwise, Satan will come along with seven more demons to fill that space. We need to be asking God to fill us daily so we have no room for doubt, negative feelings or discouragement or a sliver of space for satan to get in. 

We need to:

  • Plant, water and fertilize our prayers with faith
  • Believe that God WILL answer
  • Be in the Word of God which will enrich our lives
  • Ask God to fill us.

If we do these things, our prayers will yield a great harvest. We don’t want to throw a prayer out in the air and hope it comes to pass. If the farmer goes out and throws out the seed with no plan or reason, he will find it very difficult to cultivate his harvest. So it is with our prayers. We need to filled with God, operate in faith in our asking, pray through with God’s Word, and expect a great harvest reward. If we, as Beth Moore shared in a study, BELIEVE GOD and not just believe IN God, then we know He wants nothing more then to answer your prayers. Just keep in mind that YOUR idea of an answer might be different from His. That’s the faith part; you have to trust Him for your best no matter how it make look in the physical!

So, I asked myself today, “Is there anything JoAnn that you have been praying for that is lacking in faith in order for God to answer it? Do you believe that God is the God of A Great Harvest? Are you in the Word consistently so that you are built up in your faith? Do you ask to be filled with God daily?” Now, I ask you those same questions. Hummm…be honest with yourself and with God right now, and listen carefully.

Key Moments PhotographyGod spoke to me today about a very important subject matter over a string of amber beads! Amazing! If our harvest is plenty within us, so will our light shine so that we are equipped for the harvest “out there”.

P.S. ~ I bought this string of beads from a little thrift shop with the idea of doing a craft with them. None of these ideas came to me at the time. I just liked how clear and beautiful they were. But you see, I think God places things or people or circumstances in our lives, SO THAT (my favorite words), at just the right time, for just the right reason, He has something to say to us. I love that about Him! 

I am watching… listening… for His leading, and as always…walking the journey with you.