Sideswiped Faith

I observed in myself this last week what I can only describe as having my faith sideswiped. If you have ever been sideswiped in a car, or watched it happen, you know that it isn’t expected and it is very hard to avoid the crash that comes with it. That was my experience, or at least, what it felt like to me.

To be honest, I was heart broken. I looked back on it and thought I had led well to the best of my ability, but it appeared in many ways that I had failed. What I hoped would be a good example of faith, was in fact, not very convincing or evident apparently. I had failed the ones I loved the most it seemed. I wasn’t looking for this revelation, didn’t ask for it, and yet it was handed to me.

How do you handle being sideswiped? You have to get the facts straight. What happened? How did it happen? Did I not pay attention? Was it my fault or the fault of someone else? Am I willing to take responsibility if it was me? Or was it no fault of my own? We have to do the work. By doing that, it becomes clear in our minds, as well as those involved, as to the course of the outcome. However, that is hard when you are shook up from the sideswipe. You are shook to your core and not always thinking clearly. You say things and act too much out of emotions. It takes asking yourself the right questions.

That’s what happened to me a couple weeks ago. As believers, we try to navigate our life in terms of being an example of how to live, how to pray over our decisions, how to make good choices, how to love others, and be Jesus hands and feet. We trust God with everything. We may not always like the outcome, but we trust that He knows the end from the beginning, so we can trust the outcome. We try to parent in such a way that our children, family and friends see Jesus in us and thus come to see God. We live with that purpose of showing others what God looks like, and serve God with our lives. But we also know that it doesn’t always go the way we want it to. We, or our family and friends, don’t always stay in the same lanes with the parallels of our lives. We test the boundaries, we go too fast, we get distracted, we miss a road sign, and maybe we are distracted by the life of the very person we have tried to lead. Sometimes this can cause a “crisis of faith” in us. This isn’t just in families, but it can be in friendships, and church families as well.

What I came to understand as I worked through my thoughts and emotions in prayer, was that I felt like a failture at this point. God is not the author of those kinds of thoughts and feelings. He tells me that I can come to Him with anything, and He will hear me. So I listened after I shared this with Him. I came to understand it in a different way. I know there are times I could of handled things differently. We ALL have that in our lives. The key? I have always asked for forgiveness of those things, and I know God forgives. I have asked of those that I love to forgive me. So it’s done. I have done my very best, I have changed and corrected my future with what I have learned, and I know that the Holy Spirit lives in me to bring correction as I need it.

I was reminded that God has given each person a free will. They use that free will to make choices for their lives. Friendships that they choose, even how much of what their friends believe that they begin to belive. I can’t make the choices for them, nor an I responsible for the choices they make. I can direct, correct, encourage, but as they get older, they are now making their own choices. If they make choices based on their belief ideals, then they must live with the consequences of those choices. We would all love to see them live good lives, and love others, and put God first in their lives. But without the acceptance of God and of the Holy Spirit in their lives, they are living a spiritually blind path where they don’t see it like you or I may see it. Until the time comes in their lives where that becomes real to them, they can’t see it. They also have a tendency to listen to who they spend time with, rather than someone who has imparted into their lives at home. I have had years of experience with God where I can say He has shown Himself faithful every time. I KNOW His provision.

So… it came down to this, I can only keep living my life in a way that shines God’s light to those around me. Even in my messed up ways at times, He can still use me to let others see. If I am honest and open about the way I live, and I ask God to use my life toward guiding others, that is the best way to handle it. What I feel God spoke to me during this experience was this: “You can pray, and keep praying, and never give up praying. That isn’t the last thing you do as if it is your last resort. It’s your first thing you do every day. It’s your priority!”

In otherwords, devil, you aren’t going to drag me down through the ditch for something that God is using to teach me again. It isn’t easy to hear, and it means some more trust and faith on my part, but I will keep shining. That’s what I hope to do. I keep believing, I keep trusting, I keep asking. I keep living. That will be a part of my story.

I will keep my eyes on the road of life, and watch carefully for those times when I know it is the devil trying to discourage me and side swipe my faith. I can better avoid what he tries to hit me with. I won’t give up. My relationship with my people is all good. I just have to leave the ending of their story in the hands of the One Who knows.

Will you give up when hard times hit? Or will you try to live an authentic life for Christ? I hope it is the latter; the former is what satan is after these days. Don’t open that door. Slam it and lock it! Kick that devil to the curb. Then, thank God for leading you, assess the damage, repair what needs to be repaired in prayer, wipe the dust from your sandles and walk on.

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

Honoring Memories

 

A little late in posting this, but that is a whole other post for next time.

Honoring Memories…isn’t that something we should all take part in?  Not just honoring them, but taking part in making them?  Even when its difficult?  It sure feels right.  This last weekend, my hubby and I made the trip up north to do just that…clean stones and add the beauty of flowers to their gravesite.  You know what I loved even more than honoring them in this way?  On a cloudy morning we all met up in the most unlikely place…the cemetery.  But it just seems right.

You see, my family were the care takers of that very cemetery all the time I was growing up and even after that for a while.  We did the mowing and trimming of the lawn, disposed of dead flowers, set flowers back up when they had fallen over, watered them, and brushed off the stones of all in the sweet people on the hill.  So it seemed right to now be there with my boys and grandson to do the same for a couple that had done this for years; my parents.  Flags were flying proudly on the gravesite of those who served.  As we all met up, God gave me a glimpse in a moment in time to notice…my boys coming from their homes, traveling the distance in bad traffic just to meet up with us to help clean and trim out everything in honor of their grandparents.  As I watched their interaction with each other, greeting each other with a hand shake and then doing the same when my brother came to meet up at my folks gravesite, it made me smile.  The respect shown to one another was something that just tickled me as their mom.  Oh how I wish my folks could have experienced this part of the kids’ journey and watched the kind of people they have grown to be.  I was proud of the way I was brought up, of the way that I had raised my boys, and how God kept us all safe and still together.  For a mom with more days behind her than before her, it was very special moment for me to see once again, the faithfulness of God.  My life may not turn out how I expected it to years ago, but it is great none the less!  My boys would do what ever is possible for each other…and as a family, we would do the same.  We all paid honor to our family, and then spent some time together over food before we went home.  What a joy!  Thank you to my sweet son Jesse, who bought us all a burger!  Those sweet times are what it is all about!  It was also a legacy for my grandson to see his dad and uncle and Grandma and Papa showing respect to the memory of family.  This is what “being in the present moment” is all about.  I could have just missed it, but God nudged me just in time to see it through His eyes.  That made me smile and feel so proud of them!  Maybe it was just to encourage me… I think so.  I’m so grateful.  I’m thinking my parents were glad to see us gathered too…the gift of presence.

My hubby and I then went on to honor family on my dad’s side.  One was my Grandma, my dad’s mom, who died a year or less after I was born.   I had a different kind of conversation with her this time because I had been where she came from in Norway.  I have learned some things about her life that brought me closer to knowing who she was.  There were also some of my family with just tiny tin plaques that I prayed, that if I had the money in the future, I will put a nice stone in its place.  I know my dad wanted to do that, and maybe God will allow me to do that one day instead.  The memories flood my soul as I walked around.  Good family times of sharing and helping each other.  We were raised in community a lot more as I was growing up.  Family helping family when needed.  It brings me back to the thought of what I want to be remembered for…what I hope people will remember about my life and focus.  It’s not over yet, so there is work to be done.  There are gatherings to be had, and reunions to plan, food to be shared, and love to be given.

It was a good day.  I left knowing my efforts were rewarded by God’s faithfulness to answer prayer.  He can do what we can not.  I like to think of God bringing my parents over to Him and pointing down at us that day and saying, “Look at that…all of them together, loving on each other, paying honor to your memory.  You led well.  Well done good and faith servants.”

Lifting my mocha cup to lives well lived!

 

Until next time…

~JoAnn

 

 

 

 

What Have You Missed?

Family…a circle of individuals, that even if you grew up together and experienced the same family unit, are all different.  Their perceptions of experiences are unique to them, and unique in how they see it.  I know for me, when I talk to my kids about their time growing up, I sometimes ask myself, “What house did they grow up in?!?!?!??”

View from her mother’s sleeping room.

So in the last week or so as I have read letters that my mother wrote to relatives in Norway, I found myself learning about things I didn’t know.  Things she protected her children from…such as the grief she felt after losing her brother.  We kids knew that it was hard for her, and we all felt anger towards the irresponsibility of the driver that was driving a large work truck while drunk, and crossed into the oncoming traffic.  Even though he was in a line of five cars and the third one back, he was killed instantly.  I went on to read in her letters about how she lost her dad only about eleven or so months after losing her brother and the difficulty she was having to even get a letter out to the person she was writing to.  I feel bad that I was less attentive to what she was going through.  I remember those life moments, but as kids, we don’t always get all the ramifications.  We are in school and/or working a job, keep ourselves busy because that is our life at the time.  It can also be that we don’t know how to deal with it or want to replay the emotions of losing someone special ourselves, so we in turn, aren’t prepared to give the comfort where we could to someone who needs it.  As I’m my case, where although I was old enough to understand my uncle wasn’t coming back, I wasn’t mature enough to understand how deeply that would affect my mother.  When I read about her struggle almost a year later from losing her brother and then her father, my heart hurts for what she felt.  And…I wish I had realized.  Sometimes, we think our parents are so invincible that nothing can take them down.  However, that isn’t true.  They are hurting and yet have to press on in life.  When she is home alone, and writing a letter, safety permits a peek into the honesty of her heart as she writes the letter.  The door of the heart is opened a bit.

 

Why am I sharing this with you?  Well…a couple of reasons.  One of them is that we need to be open to share our lives and feelings with our kids and grandkids.  Tell your story at the age level they can understand.  Let them know when you hurt so they can better understand their own hurt and know they can trust you with their hurts.  We don’t want to be the one who says, “Man!  I wish I would have asked more questions of my mom and dad to know and understand their life and how it was for them!”  Ask the questions.  Get the story.  Otherwise all you have are fragments of their lives and more questions than answers sometimes.  I know in my case, I asked some questions.  With my grandparents, most of the answers never came.  It may have been difficult for them to talk about too given what they experienced in their lives before coming here and then the hardship of making a life for themselves once they arrived.  Then again, it seems to be kind of a Norwegian trait to keep those things to themselves.

Her mother’s house that she grew up in.

The valley where her mother’s house first sat.

The second reason is this.  Regrets can paralyze you.  We all have a few that we think we can handle.  But it’s better to live without them.  Mom never drove.  That was her choice.  However, it isolated her from doing things she could have done to enjoy her life even more.  I was her chauffeur, but she had to wait 15 1/2 years for that to happen.  I think she would have enjoyed her life a bit more freely if she had been willing to learn to drive.  Many offered.  It can be a bit lonely.  So I would say to you, show interest in the stories you hear now.  Record them telling the stories while they are here to share them.  One day you won’t be able to say, “Hey Mom/Dad…or Hey Grandma/Grandpa…” or whoever it may be.  I read these letters where my mom talks about wanting so much to go to Norway and see relatives.  She wanted to see where her parents grew up and what they did for a living there.  Wow!  Wouldn’t I love a little bit of time with my parents and grandparents to share what I saw and learned while I visited Norway.  Your story is all a part of you.  Tell your story…write your story…put together a picture story.  Whatever works for you, but share it.  One day, you may come to understand yourself better because of it.

I know.  You are busy.  But your parents, grandparents, and their siblings did a lot for you.  Slow down.  Put down the phone.  Shut off the TV.  Shut down the computer.  Tell their story.  Tell your story.  It’s the next best seller book you can read with your family.  I have a treasure box for my grandson that I made when he was little.  It has all kinds of things in there that tell about myself and my parents and grandparents.  Each time he came, something was added, and he would want to go through it.  It is a very fun way to share your life story with them.  They love stories…especially when it is about someone they know and love.  And if you love your parents and grandparents and family, even though, as in Ethan’s case where he never meant them in person, he knows about them and the kind of people they were.  That blesses me, and someday, I think he will be very glad grandma shared it with him.

This is another wake up call for me.  Live well. Live long…as the Lord allows.  Life is full of lessons.  Listen to those who have learned them, so that, you can better share your legacy.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

 

 

The Precipice of Change

10302697_683810818367171_6463270350335103447_n1.jpgFOR SALE:  Today, I am writing in response to many who are asking me questions based on a few of my posts about moving.  Some of the questions are:

  • Why move?
  • Where will we move?
  • Why do you want to leave your home after you just got it more the way you wanted it?
  • As I have shared where that move might take us, the question of why we would move so FAR comes up.

Understandable.  I asked some of those same questions as I prayed and talked with God about the whole situation.  Even though it is hard, there are many different reasons.  I thought maybe if I share some of my thoughts about this season of change and transition, maybe it will resonate with some of you.   When a big wind of change comes into your life in the future, maybe you can be more prepared to approach changes in your lives with an open heart.  Here we go with a few financial choices we have made:

  • First, I am looking for what God is doing.  It is like Dave Ramsey says, “Live like no one else SO THAT, you can live like no one else.” (emphasis are mine)  910153_13_resizeto_611x458x1
  • We have lived in places others would not want to live.
  • We have lived in houses others wouldn’t desire to live in.
  • We have made decisions such as moving to the midwest to work for a ministry.  Many thought we were kind of crazy to do that, especially since we were going to a home sight unseen.  But God…  He took care of us and all the details!
  • We drive used cars so we don’t have car payments.
  • We do the work on our home to save money on our future utilities.
  • We make the hard choices so that later, we can make the fun choices.

With that said, we are now entering into the next chapter.  A move.  We could make the decision and just stay here.  We could.  God gives us a free will.  We have enjoyed it here and have accomplished the above things in our current home.  However, as we have prayed about it, we have felt that God has something else He wants to do in us and for us.  Are we going to be obedient?  Yes.  We want to be in God’s will.  I have been praying for a long time about our future retirement years and what we want that to look like.  So, we began to ask ourselves:

  • What are our priorities?
  • What do we want our life to look like?
  • What makes us happy?
  • What is it that really feeds our souls?
  • What must we do to be able to live that way in our daily life?
  • What do we need to do to get from here, to there?”

What is our plan?  Why the move out of the area?  The answer is simple.  We will go where the housing is less expensive than here in current location.  It will not be too far away that a drive up north can’t fix.  Being debt free is what we desire.  By keeping the mortgage cost down, we can still continue to enjoy our life, enhance our home, and travel.  As we began to ponder these questions, there were some changes to make in order for our lives to be what we envision.  Doesn’t mean this location is wrong.  On the contrary.  God gave us this wonderful home and it will be wonderful now, for the next owner.  We are proud of leaving our home much better than we came into it.  We have enhanced its character.  I love that.  I am now praying about, and planning in my head for the next home He brings.  We will dedicate it just as we did this home.

Part of our discussion has been our life style.  We can easily become too busy, overextended, and have crazy schedules.  In the long run, it doesn’t help us to really have peace or joy because we are always running.  We get worn out.  I know many who later on in their lives, have regrets about their lives and how they wanted it to be, but it isn’t.  Personally, I view change as a way to start a new chapter with what I have learned in the last chapter.  If we will be open and willing to really hear, and not ignore, what God is telling us or leading us to do, we WILL reap the benefits of His guidance.  I don’t want to miss that.  But if we ignore what our hearts are telling us deep down, then we may have a life that works, but not as fulfilling as it could be.

Guardian Angel from Childhood
Guardian Angel from Childhood

I have been reading a great book by Michael Hyatt called, “Living Forward”.   The book discusses the idea of having a Life Plan.  A life plan is designed by you, and meant to give you direction with your whole life; whether at home with family, relationships, a career, or any other area.  It has been very insightful to me.  It is exactly what we have been praying about for our life, and was affirmation of what God may be leading us to do.  I would encourage you to get this book and read it.  Don’t be afraid to make the changes necessary.  Who knows how God will use the changes you make?  He knows what is important to us and will work out the details; even missing friends and family that will be further away.

My hubby and I are at the precipice looking over the edge.  We are choosing to step out in obedience.  We put our hands in His, and obediently walk this path out.  God asks us to step into the water before He parts it, so we step forward even though we can’t see exactly what is ahead.  We trust He will land us exactly where we need to be planted for this season.  It’s up to us how we react to it all.  I am very grateful for all God has done for us, and I am very excited to see where God will take us.  Watch for future posts of the journey!

Update:  We got the listing up with photos and one hour later we received a call for a showing.  Got favorable response with possible offer, and then another call for an appointment for 5:30p and the first day!  God is working!

Walking the journey with you…

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Don’t Miss Out

Dad's Harmonica

I know I have talked about his before, but this blog is about the journeys of my heart.  So, I will once again share today’s heart journey with you.

You know, as we get older, there are people we begin to lose from our lives, and the older we get the more of them we lose. I don’t have too many in the generation above me left now.  I have become the last generation, except for just a few.  I just recently received a photo of my grandfather in his element, working as a contractor/builder.  I loved seeing this for the first time!  As I was putting my grandpa’s picture in the picture frame to hang in my bedroom, I realized that this is yet another reminder to me of another time.  While enjoying the memory of the photo,  I received a phone call about another cousin who passed away.  There are have been many cousins who have left this earthly realm just recently.  So much of my childhood memories were spent with our family and extended family. We did holidays together, potlucks, reunions, overnight stays on weekends, and camp outs at the beach or lake.  We would ride bicycles in the summer time to meet up and play together.  When one family needed something and the other had it, we shared.  If one family was a bit short on groceries, they would be invited to dinner, or a package would appear on their door step.  Many of us might remember hearing our parents or grandparents talk about the “old days.”  I sometimes feel like I am now living the “old days”.  I have also come to understand why they said the things they used to say.  It enriches our lives when we understand more.  Ask questions if they are still with you or ask people who may have known them, to share a story or memory or two.  You can get to know them all over again!

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Grandma and little feet sharing life.

This particular man, my cousin, was happy all the time. Always had a smile on his face, and would always find something to tease me about. He enjoyed making me blush.  He was a ski instructor. I remember seeing him always wearing sweaters. I always thought that being a ski instructor was such a cool job to have. Kind of a status symbol to me since most men I knew as a child were blue-collar workers.  He was a ski instructor!  I mean, if you loved skiing, what better job could you have than to teach it, and be out doing what you love all the time!  He also loved music and he could play a one and half-inch harmonica like it was a full size one. In later years, he carried it around his neck on a chain and would entertain anyone around, that wanted to listen to him, with a tune or two.  Then he would ask, “How about that?”

My dad had three harmonicas.  One of them was mini harmonica.  He could also play that like it was his big harmonica.  I was always amazed that such a sound could come from something so small!  My older brother now keeps company with that little harmonica, and younger brother has his medium harmonica.  Thinking these thoughts, reminds me that life is very short, and spending time with each other and sharing memories is so important. Time goes so fast!  In the end, the memories we have and make, are what we have to share with OUR families.  My cousin’s music and story will live on in the lives of his wife and family.

A harmonica is rather special instrument to me because my dad played. I have his harmonica and I take it out and play it as best I can. I wish I could truly play because it is something that reaches deep in my soul every time I take it out. I can remember times when dad played with this cousin, and other relatives, and oh what fun it was to listen and watch.  You can see by the pictures that my dad taped and re-taped the box so that it would stay together to protectIMG_1500 his harmonica.  I treasure the box almost as much as I do the instrument because it just shows a little of my dad’s personality.  I have shown this box to my grandson many times as a part of his treasure box of memories that we go through when he comes to see me.  I try to add things all the time to that box so he has different stories to hear.  Someday, that box will be his, and possibly the harmonica as well.

So…today I remind you to consider choosing a legacy for yourself that can be told in years to come by your family.  Make memories today that will last a life time. Don’t let the music stop because loved ones are gone. Keep their song of life going.  I think when we do, THAT is when we truly understand them and the life they lived.  I think I know more of the heart of my parents and family now then I ever did!  If this hasn’t been your experience to have a family unit like this, then my wish for you is that you will decide today to be a generation changer.  You can always begin anew to set a legacy for yourself and your future.  I pray you do.

My song of life still has some verses to add, how about you?

Walking the journey with you…

Road Trip Part 4

img_1934Here we are in Part 4 of the Road Trip.  Isn’t is amazing that we can go from sharing a postcard with someone when we are on a trip, to posting in on a blog and letting many, many people share in your experience?  Changing times…

To catch up you, we are now headed to Wenatchee and meeting up with a cousin of mine that I haven’t seen in years and years.  As we drive into Wenatchee, we are wondering which way to go because it has changed so much since I last was there!  So with my Maps on my phone and hubby’s good sense of direction, we were able to find her house.  What a fun reunion we had visiting and catching up.  They took us out for dinner and we got to keep the conversation going.  It was once again a reminder that family is so important, and that losing contact with them is such a waste of great fellowship!  We need our family and surprisingly, they need us too.  Don’t let time constraints keep you from staying in touch!  I got the address of a cousin that was my best bud when we were five years old and sent him a couple of pictures of us.  I am in high hopes he will contact me back!

So after that wonderful visit, we headed toward Leavenworth and to our home for the night.  We are staying at Thousand Trails, Leavenworth and thought we had a pretty good idea where we were going.  I even got directions from the reservations operator.  Yeah…well…not really.  She had us going the back way in, we had no idea where we were and it was getting dark.  I thought I would use my phone and see where we are!  Wrong.  Got our pin point location and then lost signal because we are up in mountains!  Ok, how about the map?  Nope.  The roads aren’t even on the map and this is a new map!  We would get a signal and then hubby would move forward with the car and lose it.  Of course at one point he just stopped but that wasn’t the place where we could get signal.  If it wasn’t getting so annoying that we had such poor directions without technology, it would have been kind of humorous.  So after a lot of, “I don’t know.  I’ve never been here before either!” comments, we just kept driving and I started praying that we would find it soon.  Nobody to ask because there weren’t that many houses there.  When we did find someone place to ask, at a small hotel, they didn’t answer their door for service.  So we got back on the road and kept driving.  Several more miles down the road, and we saw the sign.  We had been driving total of at least 50 minutes looking.  But, we DID find it…thank you Jesus!  And below, you will find a picture of our home away from home.  Not bad, huh?

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We even had a BBQ on our deck we could use.  I think we will come back to this one!  It was beautiful!  As you can see, it had a pool also!  Oh yah!!  Course, I won’t be seen in any form of a bathing suit, but it is way cool to have a pool.  Maybe a midnight swim when no one is looking????  I always wondered why some designer hasn’t designed a swim suit for “the less likely for two-piece anymore” kind of gal!  You know, one that comes almost to the knee?  Skirt type with a BIG flair to it?  I can see it, can’t you?  But I digress.

IMG_1644So we unload our things from the car and walk into our house and the lights are on and music is playing…I like that they wanted us to feel right at home.  Kind of like the Motel 6 commercial where they talk about leaving the light on for you.

IMG_1635IMG_1640We really enjoyed our stay here and kicked back for the evening.  Resting up was important because we have a big day ahead of us tomorrow walking around in Leavenworth!

So the next morning, we are up and going and headed into Leavenworth to have breakfast.  It is so nice to just have no particular schedule and just enjoy the moment.  Breakfast was very yummy!   After eating we parked our car on the main street and hit the shops with great anticipation.  Oh my!! SO many things to look at.  Look what I found in the first shop!!  I put my keys on it right after this picture was taken.  I even got a “J” charm to add to it!  Yep, its me!!

IMG_1680IMG_1679The of course, I had to walk across the street because I saw chocolate.  And hot or not, I had to get some to enjoy!  Oh yummy!  The store is full of wonderful chocolate of all kinds!

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I just loved this shop window!  It was fixed up so cute!  And look at this chocolate covered macadamia nuts!  I also got some chocolate covered orange sticks too!  But I DID share with my sweetie.

IMG_1661IMG_1655IMG_1654Wasn’t that “eye candy” for the chocolate lover’s soul?  It sure was to me!  We walked to another little shop and found the coolest furniture made from whisky barrels!  I would have loved to buy the table and stools for our bedroom.  Yeah…that’s another story.  But anyway, we sure did like them; very creative style.

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IMG_1662IMG_1652It is a nice ambiance walking the streets of Leavenworth.  You can find some very unusual things.  One store had a statue that my hubby had to show me because I am Norwegian and it is a statue of the Norwegian God of Folklore.  He really liked it!

IMG_1671I also have always wanted to get an old vintage trailer and fix up.  I have some great, creative ideas but not always as practical for me, because who would remodel a vintage trailer for me?  I certainly don’t know enough.  But I have learned about some ladies who call themselves Sisters On The Fly who have done it.  They inspire me.  I had to get a couple of books to read all about it!  Pretty cool!  So watch for future episodes.  It just might happen for me before I’m wear grey hair!

IMG_1676I have been known to stand in stores and read cards and laugh my head off.  People look but I don’t care.  If it is funny, I laugh.  I like clean and funny and these little one pieces for babies made me laugh right out loud in the store.  Sometimes I wish I could come up with these things.  It makes you wonder what type of person thinks these up!  But then I remember that I would like to be one of those persons, and I laugh again.  They would be like me who laughs in a store at a card that is funny, and sees the humor in all things.  I laugh at commercials at home all the time!  I think we need humor in our lives and maybe more of it.  Laughter is good for the soul!

IMG_1658IMG_1657So we have walked around, listened to music piped through the town square, enjoyed a Stawberries and Cream Frappe at Starbucks and talking about heading home.  We both wish we could do a couple more days of this.  But then I think everyone feels that way about a great get-away.  We walk back to the car and head down Tumwater Canyon and I take some shots as we go.  The beauty around us is right there, but we sometimes take it for granted.  Here are a few shots of my canyon run…

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The water along the river is so gorgeous!  I loved the movement and of course I could sit there all day listening to it!  I took a rock at one point and put all my concerns on that rock and threw it in so it could be washed away and I could walk away clean from my concerns.  That is how it is with God.  We give him our worries and troubles and He takes them away to Himself so that we can be free.  He smooths all my rough edges.  I was free that day once again.

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It is so nice to see all the waterfalls, great and small along the way.

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Close up of the river and the crashing waves against the rock.  “BE STRONG, I heard.  BE BOLD, I heard.  Never give up even when things are crashing in around you.  I AM HERE.”  Phew!!  Good to get that reminder!

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Look at this pretty waterfall so high up in the mountains supplying the water to the river below.  I saw this waterfall and thought it is a lot like God.  He supplies our needs from His High Place to our us.  Beautiful scene!

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Up river a little further, is the waterfall you see below.  It was so pretty.  There wasn’t a place to park, so we walked a ways to get this shot but well worth it!

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The photo below reminds me that we can have all the chaos around us, but if we have God in our lives, we can have calm right in the middle of it.  Do you see in this photo how the center is open and the waves are crashing all around it threatening to close in?  We can feel like that in our lives at times, and that is why these times away to reflect and enjoy life are so important for us.  Our perspectives are given an opportunity to see things from a different light.  Certainly, that happened for me during these three days!

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My hubby and I talked about where we want to go on our next trip.  Because you see, we need to do that.  It is a healthy choice, both for relationship and for healthy mind, soul and body.  What do you need to move around in your life to make time for the important?  It is well worth the sacrifice to do it.  Make a road trip fund and start right away!  We have our next one planned!  I would love to hear your thoughts on this trip and places you have visited or suggestions.  Where will your next get-away take YOU?

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I leave you with a photo that speaks of my feelings about the trip.  It is so pretty and very peaceful.  That is what this trip meant to me.

“When peace like a river attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll.  What ever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul!”  Horatio Spafford 1873 from Psalm 146:1.

Thank you for coming along on this Road Trip with me.  I have enjoyed sharing it and I hope you too can say daily, “It is well with my soul.”

Walking the journey with you…

My Life In Review

A Young Me & My Dog Pal
A Young Me & Our Dog Pal

We hear so much any more about movie reviews, book reviews, reviews when you buy something on Amazon and we sometimes take part.  I was contemplating my life the other day and suddenly, it was like a movie playing on a screen; from my earliest recollections to the present time.  It really made me take notice of the changes that have happened in my life up to now.  I have found them to be great changes that God has orchestrated for my good.  It’s a longer post than most, but maybe you can relate and be encouraged by some of them.

  • Relationships:  At a very young age, I had a great appreciation for the people who God placed in my life, whether it be family or friends.  Even as a young girl I knew they were important.  God gave me Godly parents.  They took me to church every Sunday.  They sacrificed in their life so I would HAVE.  I was very involved at school, church, choir and youth group and also with friends.  I was surrounded with family who always got together and shared life together.  Family reunions and sharing food around the table with great conversations.  Sometimes speaking norwegian so us kids wouldn’t understand the conversation.  Although, we got to be pretty good at understanding it and surprised them often with our language prowess. They sacrificed other things they may have needed to get a travel trailer so we could go camping as a family; and camping we DID!!  Shared weekends camping at the ocean or lake, digging clams, catching smelt and frying them up for dinner that night, swimming in the lakes, and the early morning smells in our little trailer.  From my hammock above the couch in the trailer, I could watch as dad made his coffee in the morning and mom was cooking breakfast.  I think on these things and realize that God showed me that family is important to the longevity of life.  It gives us a sense of belonging.  They have been instrumental in my life changes.  To this day, the water is where I go to dream with God.
  • Photography:  God has changed me through my photography.  It’s like He has given me a macro look into my life.  He is showing me the beauty in my life around me, but also the areas that I need to improve my focus.  I have learned to look at my life in a totally different way.  I see things differently; I notice His beauty.  I LOOK for the beauty that I didn’t see before.  When He gives me that macro shot of where I need to change, I   change that in my daily life.  I think about my adult cousin, who loved photography, always shared his pictures and cameras with me as a young child.  We spent time in his make shift photo lab watching him develop pictures.  I didn’t think much about it then, but have come to understand now, that God placed that person in my life to plant the seed for what was to come with own camera experience.  I always think of him when I raise my camera to take a shot.
  • How I live:  As those whom I loved so dearly left my world through various circumstances, I learned how to go on after they were gone, but always honor their memory and what they meant to me in my life.  I have thought about their contribution to who I am today, even how I think, and what is important to me.  It wasn’t always that way.  As a young mother, I had to work a lot when my family was younger for reasons that are personal to me.  But I always desired to be at home with my children.  I loved being a mom and working was good, but it also brought a lot of stress into my home.  I tried to keep all the plates spinning in my life and sometimes my kids suffered from that activity.  God began working in me many years ago to take each day and live it out as my best.  I might not have a tomorrow.  As I lost my mother in 1991 and then my dad in 2002, I began to know that more deeply.  After my dad’s death in 2002, I moved back home and made some changes.  I have learned to live with less in order to stay at home.  I know some families don’t feel that’s possible, but I have come to know that when we truly desire to do something that God places on our heart, He is faithful to provide ways to make that happen.  Our faith in Him can project us forward to make it a reality.  He has done just that.  There were relationships to rebuild, a heart (mine) to mend, and a repositioning of my life and relationship with God that I needed to work on.
  • My view of flowers:  I don’t have a green thumb and never had a great place to enjoy a flower garden nor a desire to work in one.  But in the last several years, I have come to enjoy them very much and want to have them inside and outside my home.  God has really shown me that He made them for a purpose; not just to plant but to truly enjoy!  I do that now and use my camera to remember.
  • My relationship with the Lord:  I always felt Bible study should be a part of my life and have really been faithful to do that.  But God changed my heart to REALLY desire to walk deep with Him.  I felt like I was to be a college student in my approach.  So, I looked and researched ways I could do that without a lot of expense.  God provided those ways.  I trusted Him to show me and He did.  I have never been the same since.  He has taken me places I would never have gone if it wasn’t for quieting my life so that I could hear His whisper.
  • My approach to reading:  I have always enjoyed reading but He has changed my thinking from reading books, to learning from books.  He challenged me to read so many books a year.  I have gained a great education from the reading I have done and I’m a better person for it.  My goal?  Read a book a week.  I have gotten pretty close but not there yet.  What a difference it has made in me personally.  I am very thankful for everything He has chosen to share with me through the pages of books, and thankful to the authors that write them!  Where would we be without them?
  • How I handle money:  I made some bad judgement calls at times and over the last 20 years or so, He has slowly and consistently brought those areas into alignment.  I save for what I want and pay cash.  I don’t want to live with credit debt period.  I trust God with my money and He has always come through beyond what I could imagine.  And…He has blessed my obedience to live that way.  I still have improvement to make with delayed gratification at times, but I am committed.  I feel good about the control it gives to my life.  It’s never worth it to live beyond our means, because it only brings bondage.
  • Regarding boundaries:  Setting boundaries in your life can free up a lot of heart space!  What a liberating experience for me!  I no longer have to be responsible for someone else’s reaction or choice.  I can decide what I will allow in my life and let my yes be yes, and my no be no.
  • What I am thankful for:  God has taught me to be thankful for what I have; to be in gratitude for what He HAS given me.  I might not have everything I want, but He has given me everything I need.  I needed to get my eyes off of things, and unto gratefulness; for my house, my bed to sleep, warmth, food, shoes on my feet, clothes to wear, and a car to drive even IF it wasn’t exactly what I wanted.  I learned to look at my life each day as a gift.  I could have been born in a land where living for Jesus means I could die tomorrow.  But, I don’t.  That WHISPER tells me, “You have life and freedom, live it for Me.  I will take care of your needs and maybe even some of your wants.”  He has.

 

So… I am thankful for all the things I have learned.  I have figured out that God wants me to use what I know.  I have come to understand why He placed the deep desire to keep learning over my life.  Through it, I have learned importance of my family and carry that legacy into my own.  I can TELL the people who are in my life what they mean to me.  I can share pictures to encourage others to take a moment to see the beauty around them.  I can use encouragement to share what I have learned so that others can be encouraged.  I want to be a good listener.  My hope is that I am a light on the path of shaded areas, and the encouragement to keep you walking out your journey in little steps.   Are there some choices I made in my life that I wish I had either listened to the advice of others, or listened to the Holy Spirit telling go a different way?  OF COURSE!  But I don’t choose to live there in that place.  I would rather have some review of my life here and there, and then say, “I’m not that person anymore and that’s not where I live.”

My life hasn’t been perfect.  So you can’t say, “Oh boy!  JoAnn lives such a Pollyanna lifestyle!”  I have had some real hard knocks, and those who are close to me know some of them.  But God…  He has been my constant and He knows my heart.  He forgives me when I have been angry.  He loves me when I have failed.  He never turns His back on me…ever.   Ask God to show you the areas where you might need to focus and change so that you can enjoy stepping forward into freedom with Him.  May your life be changed by what you have experienced and learned.

I have learned.  I have changed.  I have been faithful to live my best life every day.  And you know what?  I don’t have a lot of regrets now.  I like my life.  God has taken me through and changed me.  He has used them as a spring-board to launch me into a life I enjoy and I feel blessed to be a part of.  I am excited every day to see what He has for me.  I am listening to His whisper in my ear.  I want to hear it.  I am thankful for His love.

Walking the journey with you…

Journey Back Home

Memories Lasst
JoAnn’s Memories

As I was filling up my “good glass” with ice tea the other day, I was reminded of my “life motto” that I made several years back to drink out the good glass every day.  At the time that I decided that was important in my life, I had already lost my mom and then several years later, my dad.  I was thinking back over my times with them and my grandparents, and realized that sure, it is all stuff; stuff that they couldn’t take with them, but, that I now have.  That means that these items are now mine to enjoy, as they obviously did because it was a part of their household.  Why would that idea come to mind to use an item as a way to remember the blessings of my life?

Here is my little journey of thought on that question.  Background:  When I was a young girl, I spent a lot of time with my grandma.  My mom never learned to drive so when we

Where does your journey lead?
Where does your journey lead?

would travel to my grandma’s house, we would either ride down early with my dad and he would drop us off before work, or we would pay ten cents per person, and ride the shuttle car into to town.  Now this shuttle car was a green station wagon owned by a man who lived in Cedarhome, just outside of Stanwood in Washington state.  He would get up every day and drive from Stanwood up to Brandstrom’s corner(up close to I-5), which was about a five mile trip, to meet the Greyhound bus.  He would take people from the bus stop by the highway into the town of Stanwood.  So anyone along the way, could stand out by the road and catch a ride with him.  We would watch for his car and flag him down.  THAT was our way back and forth from town; once in the morning, and once in the afternoon.  Special arrangements would have to be made with him for other times.  He knew us well.  So it was a big thing to go to Grandma’s house on our own while dad was at work.

My Grandma had everyday dishes, and then she had her good dishes that were used for special holidays.  But somewhere along the way, she had this plate and was “different”.  It was creamy white and rose colored, with these beautiful roses on it.  I was attracted to the plate as a little girl and it became “my plate” to eat off of.  Grandma knew I loved that plate so she would try to make sure that it was at my place setting for me.  I have never forgotten that.  And that is still kind of my style to this day.  I love old and pretty things that have meaning to me.  My house is full of them.  So it is quite natural for me to come to the conclusion that my “one glass that I have of hers” is used most every day.  Or, that I would purchase that special cup to drink my mocha from, or, to share a mocha across the table with a friend.

Further, when my kids were little, I had a special red plate that they got to use on birthdays or special occasions that we could write a message on.  They loved getting that plate set at their place setting when they were young.  Ethan, my grandson, knows the story of drinking from the good cups and glasses, and he will ask for them at my house.  He knows the meaning of many of my things in my home and I feel it is a way to pass on the legacy.  Items may be just stuff, but it all has a story.  I’m sad that I couldn’t have my grandma long enough to be OLD ENOUGH, to share how much those things meant to me as a child.  So I don’t want that to be the case with me.  I want to share the stories.  I was given a set of silverware a while back by a very good friend; the set was her mother’s.  When I opened the case, I found the set was the very one that was my grandma’s and then my mom’s.  SO fun to use at my table now.  But also in that case was a very beautiful vintage fork.  It now has become my daily fork.  It reminds of some great people in my life!  Like a reminder every day of my blessings!

So, you might ask, what does this have to do with me?  A lot.  We all have things in our life that we need to share with someone.  Your story. Your life.  But many may not know.  It is something that only you can tell.  And, it IS worth telling.  I often wish I could sit with my grandparents and parents and ask the questions that I didn’t quite feel comfortable asking them as a young person.  Not sure where the idea came from that I wouldn’t be able to ask, but I sure do wish I would have.  However, I can make the memories all come alive again through the stories and experiences that I have!  What a blessing a legacy is!

So this is the deal:  Life is an exciting journey and I want to live mine out to the fullest extent that I am given.  I am excited about life over all; hardships and all.  But you know what excites me even more?  That I have a Heavenly Father that is saving not only the special table for me to sit down at, but He is saving a room just for me in His mansion in Glory.  Now that is something to celebrate!!  Maybe mine will be decorated with old furniture and vintage decor.  I don’t know.  Smile…but He does know my heart.  To think I am invited to His banqueting table to enjoy meals with the saints, well…that just does my heart a whole lotta good!  So I am going to practice here on earth with special dishes, glasses and cups so that I am ready for that heavenly banquet.  If my earthly family benefits from my practice, so much the better!  Don’t lose out by forgetting to remember.  God has given us what we have, and we should appreciate it and share it with others.  So, grab that special glass that you are afraid to use in case something happens to it!  Use it.  Enjoy the memories that come with it!  And smile all the while knowing that with Jesus in your heart, you will be enjoying the ultimate feast with the most beautiful table you have ever seen… sometime in your future.

Lift your glass or cup to some comforting and cozy times!  Walking the journey with you…

Where Do You Go?

If you could choose a place where you can go when you need to be refreshed, where would it be? Where can you go, that when you get there, you can dial down, hear God’s voice, and actually feel your spiritual tank getting filled back up? In Romans 15:32, it says “… so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed.”

My place?  Anywhere near the water. That’s a beach, ocean, river, stream; it doesn’t matter. I love to sit and look out on the water. When I am there, I can feel my body calming down, I can breathe deep of the fresh air and feel the relaxation that the water brings to my soul. The ocean is one of my most favorites but I will take what I can get where I am, which is usually the bay, a lake or river. I can think and create there, and it is there that often times God places special things in my heart. If we know our place of replenishment, then why don’t we go there more often? We know what it can do for us, we know it gets our creative juices flowing again, and that our spirit is renewed. So, what is the problem?

I think it has to do with what we tell ourselves. What do you tell yourself that keeps you from being in that spot where you can be lifted up? Is it the time? You might have to do somethings differently to make it happen, but you can. Is it children? It may mean taking kids along with you. Make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and milk with you. GO! Even if it is cold, you can go with the kids and have a car picnic and enjoy the view and talk about all things fun with your kids while you look out, see the beauty, and let God speak into your heart. Even a ride through the country can change a mood pretty quickly when you see the beauty all around you. Maybe it isn’t the water at all but a country farm, or a hike. Whatever it may be, find it. Search it out. If it is just you and your sweetheart, then pack a love basket, bundle up and go for a walk on the beach, and look for shells, or just go for a drive. If you are a camera bug like me, make some memories with your camera. BUT DO SOMETHING!

What if you can’t get to a beach or to your special place outside the home? Ladies, our home is our sanctuary. Find that place in your home that can give you that same kind of lift! It may be a corner of a room with a chair and light next to it. Make it your corner. Add your favorite reading materials, your bible and maybe get a candle to place there when you are sitting there. The man’s spot may be in front of the fireplace, out fishing, or in his work shop. For me? I have my office. I love it there and it is the first place I set when we  have moved. Why? Because I know I need that in my life. It’s my creative space. In my office, I have a little fountain that I run that also helps me feel close to the water. I love the sound. I have candles to light up my life. I have music that makes my heart sing. Key word: do SOMETHING!

God wants some time with you, when you aren’t distracted. When you can hear His voice, and it is quiet enough in your spirit to be refreshed. Let’s go to that place! Know where it is! Let’s get refreshed! Let’s ask God to help us arrange it. Let’s ask Him to speak specifically in that place of renewal. I’m ready! My car is packed. My camera is in the back seat! I want to hear what He will give me next! How about you? Let’s go!

God bless you as you find the “sweet spot” where you can be refreshed with Him. Walking the journey with you….