A New Look

How has your new year started?  Are you feeling energized by the fact that you are starting to write on new pages in your life this year?  Are you feeling a bit like you are in a funk?  Maybe you don’t see this year as any different from the last year?

I have found myself energized by the new year.  I have received a lot in this last year:

  • Insight and wisdom
  • Made it through some very hard times
  • God has strengthened my resolve
  • I have left some old things behind
  • Embraced new things
  • Did some heart excavating
  • The importance of family and friends
  • Seeing life differently both with my eyes and my camera
  • Learning what to say yes to
  • No fear of saying no more often
  • Renewed my love of making music
  • Learning more and more to lean in and listen to the Whisper

I know there is much more to learn this year too, and I am happy to say that I have entered this new year without regrets.  What was hard, made me stronger.  I  reviewed what was going on and examined my reaction to it.  I believe in changing what I can to make it better.  Most of the time, if I am honest, my reaction to something is really just not allowing God to handle it.  I feel excited about what is to come this year!  I have purchased a ukulele and mandolin to learn, got new strings on my guitar, budgeted a little for photography investments, started reading again everyday in those books I purchased.  I approach it just like it is a class I attend.  I give myself time for lessons to learn more, I give myself quiet time to reflect.  I take in the moments in my day rather than moving so fast that I don’t “notice”, or hear God”s whisper.

As I am reading in a current study, I find myself in total agreement with the author who says we can get deafened to hearing from God because we have so many loud noises trying to get our attention.  He also says that we become deaf to God speaking to us.  He needs to be our loudest voice.  I think so too.  When I am living more like I shared above, I am more relaxed and just enjoy the moment for what it is.  A mocha, a phone call from a friend, a prayer request that I immediately pray for, time with a child, listening to a great song, playing a tune I just made up, or spending time with hubby doing some of our favorite things.  For example, I don’t just drink a mocha.  I savor the warmth of the cup, the flavor of the drink, who I am with, where I am at….all those things.  I’m thankful.  Some do not have a warm drink, let alone a warm home.  So I say thank you that I can enjoy this moment because He has been provided for that.  When I sing and play, I am thankful for the gift of a singing voice and that I can even still sing; not like I used to, but at least I can still sing.  I sing my thanks, I listen to the lyrics as I sing…it is all about taking the time to hear what song God even brings up in my spirit TO sing.  That can be a message all by itself!  That is listening! The new year for me brings up all the things that are right in my world, not all the things that are wrong.  I look for good when I make my goals, and let God show me what He will willing to do with this year.

The gift that my hubby and I gave each other this year for Christmas was a spa type hot tub.  It is portable and not real big, but it fits us and has a semi hard casing around it.  We are excited about spending time enjoying a good soak when these bones and muscles are kind of stiff.  It will be outside amongst the trees and cold air, while we are relaxed and refreshed by the heat of the tub.  I can’t wait to try it out with a mocha in hand!  I hope it will be ready soon!

I just got a new journal that I love.  It is very old-fashioned and that draws me to it.  It’s blank pages are screaming for a story, and…I just might have to write one.  It may be for my own eyes only, and something I pass on, but it may be a treasure some day for someone else.  There are mysteries in our lives, and I think we need to be more open to sharing them while we are here to share them.  I encourage my boys to ask me what they want to know if I haven’t shared it with them already.  So if you aren’t a journal type person, remember, it doesn’t have to be a page; it may only be a paragraph.  It may even be a sentence or two.  Great!  Just put it down.

My new year’s wish for you is that you take this new year as an opportunity to mix things up a little bit.  Do something new.  Change what you don’t like and replace it with something you do!  Become a an artist of your own life; a writer of your own story.  There are times in my life where a certain situation comes up and I would love to see God change that, like… immediately.  But of course, that is not the case. God has His own time frame, and His own reasoning for where I am and what I am doing.  So instead of complaining about it, I’m learning to ask Him to help me understand it, AND the process.  That way my focus is more on solution than complaint.  You see, if we change how we look at things, we change everything about it.  I can’t take a picture of a flower if I’m focused on the sky.  I have to get down where the flowers grow, maybe even grovel on the ground a bit to get the best view.  THEN… I can see the beauty that is there to see.  It is all about our perspective.

Let me just say that I hope you will grab that extra cup of coffee or what ever your favorite is, and take a moment to ponder this post.  See and ask what you are supposed to put your eyes and ears to this year.  What does this mean for you?  What is my heart telling me about my adventurous journey?  Not adventurous, you say?  Well then!  You have your first goal for the new year!  Adventure!  Seek out something new!  Go for it! I am!!! 🙂

See you on the Adventure trail!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

 

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Word for 2018

 

Each year, as many of you know who follow the blog, I pray about a word for my New Year.  The last several months have been some difficult ones; or maybe very uncomfortable ones is maybe a better description.  But I find that when that happens, usually something else is going on.  God is working on something.  It may be something in my environment, something I need to change, something I need to do or not do, or just making it uncomfortable enough not to ignore, so that, I will move out of where I am into something else He wants me to work on.  In any case, I am a bit late this year writing my goals for 2018, as well as, praying over my word.  But yesterday as we got out-of-town, I really asked God what He wanted to teach me this year and what word would best represent that.  I DID get an answer and I heard it on the radio and saw it in three different places during that day…I know when God is whispering, I best listen.  I did listen.  My word?   Drum roll please……  “Deep”.  You might ask what that has to do with anything and what does it mean? You might think it’s a strange word for a focus word.  But when that word came up in my spirit, I knew exactly what it meant for me.  That’s when you know its right.  Let me share some thoughts about the word and how it has, and will have, MORE meaning to me throughout 2018.

First of all, a word for the year is something that helps you focus on what you need to work on for next year.  We all know that we need to have better focus in some areas of our lives.  We may need to

take more time in an area, be better about putting God first in our day, simplify our life and schedule, eat healthier, exercise, or whatever He speaks to you about.  Then ask Him to give you a word that will help you focus more towards making that a reality.  It’s a great thing!  I have reaped the benefits of doing this for the last 15 years at least.  I usually make a visual of my word with scrabble letters and keep it on my desk.

So…back to the word.  Many of you may be familiar with the Bible verse in Psalms 42:7 about deep calling unto deep.  I have thought about it and what I think it means, at least for me, is the deep things of God calling out to the deep things of me.  It’s kind of like the Spirit of God reaching deeply into the spirit in me.  In other wards, it is a direct line between what moves God deeply and it is imparted straight to me.  No detours.  So when things are the deepest hardship for me = God giving his deepest and greatest proof that He is faithful.  I might need to do some excavating of my heart to clear out some junk to make more room for His promises.

 

What is “deep” going to mean to my life next year?  Here are a few things I believe God gave me:

  • Go deep into God’s Word, so that, I have more understanding of His love, promises, and faithfulness.
  • Go deep with my personal studies to have a deep desire to know Him more personally.
  • Go deep in to prayer regarding my heart, and ask understanding of where my feelings are coming from.  Understanding is key to changing.
  • Go deep into understanding the motives of my heart; that my motives be pure and for the right purposes.
  • Go deep in my music this year; it brings me joy.  That means all learning all my instruments, as well as, my singing.
  • Go deep with my photography by devoting time to learn and read a few good books about it.  It always teaches me to live in gratitude and in the moment.
  • Go deep with my communication with others and hone my listening to the deep things of the hearts of others.
  • Go deep in my marriage; understanding, forgiveness when necessary, commitment to time together with my spouse, and his encourager.
  • Go deep in our goals, not just talking about them, but planning them, and doing/going.
  • Go deep in living in the moment.
  • Go deep in simplifying where ever I can.
  • Go deep with my time, in that, social media is less, and what I do is focused on what helps me with the above items.  I have backed out of many and will continue with a few more.
  • Go deep so that I am a person of character and not a shallow and surface reflection of what God would have me to be.

In my case, I also added “er” to the side of deep because some of the thoughts above, I dive pretty deep into already, but there is also deeper meaning that I can gain from go deepER…always.  I am committed to where God wants to take me.   We see so much busyness around us, we are losing the peace and joy we could have, for the chaos and stress of that crazy life style.  Going deeper always reminds me of going into deep water.  I actually have a fear of deep water after nearly drowning at a camp when I was a girl.  So as much as I love the water, it is always a fear that the boat I am on will sink, or that I will somehow not be able to save myself.  I have a hard time even trusting a life jacket!  So this word is a good visual of what it means to totally give it up and trust.  I have to trust God to hold me up, and not let go of my hand.  I don’t ever want to drown in a crazy lifestyle.  I want to trust my boat, my Captain, my faith, and the life jacket when I need it.  He is all that for me.

Many times we make all these resolutions and then are disappointed in ourselves because we don’t stick with them.  I don’t make resolutions, as much as I make goals each year.  The difference is, I let God decide which ones He wants to bring to fruition in my life, and which ones might go on to next year’s list.  I leave it in His hands and thank Him all the way!  Don’t try to make them happen on their own.  The success of those goals is really up to you to discipline yourself to them.  You may have to make some different choices for those changes to occur!  After all, we can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results if we aren’t doing anything different.  If I want my faith to grow, my trust in Him to grow, my confidence in God to grow, then I must do something different from what I am doing now.  If I’m not feeling that kind of comfort and trust, then I need to work on moving the obstacles in my life out of my way.

He is calling me out into the deep this next year my friends…maybe into deepER areas I think I’m pretty good at.  But…am I really????  I am excited to see how this word will lead me in the direction He wants me to go next year.  Remember deep calling unto deep has the meaning that it is straight from Him to you…no detours.  You have a direct line!  I have never had Him lead me where his loving arms can’t reach me.  He tells us that in scripture, you know.  He will always extend His hand.  I need to surrender and be willing to take it.  AND… let HIM lead.  That’s key right there…let Him lead me into the deep.

If you choose to take part in a word for your New Year, please share with me in the comments below and I will be happy to pray over you and your word this next year!  Accountability is important too.  Blessings!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

P. S.  I want to thank each and every one of you who have been such faithful readers of this blog.  You bless me, and I want to wish you a very Happy New Year in 2018!

A Dream Come True

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What did you do on this Labor Day Weekend?  It is some times a fun time with family before school starts, last camping for a while, maybe BBQ, or maybe it is a day to kick back with NO labor.  But, it is always a nice time when you have a three-day weekend!  So…Happy Labor Day to each and every one of you!

Dreams DO come true!!!  Today, I wanted share with the you the importance of not giving up on a dream.  We all have them whether we verbalize them or not.  For myself, I speak them out whenever possible, but I also write them down.  I have a book that I keep with my current year’s goals and dreams tucked away in it.  Do you know that I was told in my prayer time going into this year?  I was told that we would have a great year.  But, it would also be a year of change.  A great year?  What does that mean?  What does it look like?  I didn’t get specifics.  I just had to trust what He said was true.

From the time I was little, I have always had goals and dreams.  I did little jobs to earn money.  When I was almost old enough (they let me start early because I was eager to make some money), I picked strawberries and earned enough for school supplies that I could pick out.  In upcoming years, it was a new bike, clothes for school, or whatever else I needed.  It was a help to my parents too because they didn’t have to buy that item or items.  Times were hard for them.  So I have always been focused on working for what I wanted and needed.  I am not likely to give up on something that I feel is important or something I would like to achieve.  But one thing that always accompanies my goals and desires is, prayer.  I pray over those goals.  I pray for change, understanding, wisdom, things I desire for my family and their goals, and just about anything that involves my life or environment.  It is just what I do.

So here I am in 2016…God spoke to my heart this year about this being a great year and a year of change.  Here are just a few thoughts regarding changes:

  • Directed to Study, even more
  • Major financial decisions
  • Felt strongly that we needed to move to a place of calm and quietIMG_4151
  • Get back even more to enjoying our surroundings
  • Sold our house
  • Finding a quiet place to live
  • Many challenges in the purchase and selling of our home
  • A major move
  • Problems with our financial lender
  • Death of many friends and family
  • God drawing me to a more simple life
  • Living in peace in my home and life
  • Preparing for our retirement years
  • God’s provision in answered prayers in our finances
  • Our commitment to tithe in a way we hadn’t done before
  • Call to spiritual change and challenge in both of our lives
  • Feel impressed to prepare our lives for what may come
  • Bring back more music into my life
  • Pray faithfully when asked
  • Pray diligently for my family and friends
  • Get into a regular “heart dropping” this month which has gotten a bit more slow
  • A prayer answered in one area of my family

IMG_4083All while these challenges and changes were happening this year,  I felt God telling us to be faithful.  New things were coming, but we must be faithful with our current situation.  So we have.  We have managed to do some of the things we wanted and most of the things we felt God calling us to do.  We have made decisions together and asked God to lead us in those decisions.  It hasn’t been easy.  In fact, it has been really hard at times.  Timing…there is that THING that we have to keep turning over to God.  I am getting better at that, but I haven’t arrived.  I am so grateful God is patient about that.  We keep moving forward.  We prayed that we would be faithful to accept and live in God’s timing.  When it didn’t happen, maybe we just had to accept it won’t happen.  When we get to that point of turning it over, then it allows God to work.

All that to share how faithful God has been as we come into Fall of this year.  It is totally exciting to me!  Something that I have wanted, dreamed of and prayed about for many years.  In fact, every

time I saw one, I would shout out there goes my _____!!!  What is that you ask??!?!??  My Mini Cooper!  Yesterday, I drove home my dream car…. my Mini Cooper that was  years in waiting for. When I quit worrying about it happening, God carefully worked out the details for it to become a reality, and to show His faithfulness for what He told me at the beginning of the year.  I believe God wants us to be blessed.  I don’t believe it is about just things either.  I don’t feel that way about my car.  I have had many clunkers in my day, believe me.  But I drove what I had and was happy to have them.  So now, God graciously worked out for me to have my dream.  I am very thankful!  I loved my Lime Squeeze and she served me well.  However, I am thrilled to have this sweet little car to drive!

Now, before you get excited about God blessing with “things”, I want to say that God will bless us with His love anytime we are willing to accept it.  He will provide us with what we need, but He is a God who will also bless us with things we want too.  He blesses us so we can be a blessing.  When we are faithful with little, He is will bless us with much.  Not always “stuff”, but He may also bless us with our family, our good health, our friends to walk through life with, or maybe someone who is a great mentor in our lives.   We have been blessed this year so that we in turn can bless others that He brings our way.  Yes.  I believe that everything I have or will have comes from the Lord.  I believe that with my whole heart.  So every time I get in my car, I thank Him for it.  What a wonderful way to be reminded of what God can do.  I kept believing no matter what the circumstances looked like.  He completely provided for our present circumstances.  Everything that we are doing in our home as well.  But we are to do something with it…use it for His glory.  All of it.  We are willing to do that.  We are extending our gratitude by tithing what He has given us.  I  believe He likes to see us turning our life over to Him…in everything.  I want my home to feel welcoming and a safe haven.  I believe that is what God wants for our home, but He wants that in our lives as well.

I share this to encourage you to press forward with what is on your heart.  I’m not saying He will give you a car, or even things.  But I do believe He speaks to us differently, and so I remain open to BIG things but I serve a BIG God.  You know what your heart desires.  He will make a way when there is no other way.  Keep your eyes on Him.  This isn’t about my Mini.  It’s about a faithful God who loves me and shows me in all kinds of ways that He does.  And you know what?  It’s God’s Mini.  I am just blessed to use it.

What is your heart pondering?  Tell Him.  Ask Him.  Ask Him to show you.  He is faithful.  He loves to hear your heart’s desire confirmed in prayer.  Why?  Because it just may be Him who placed that desire in that spot of your heart, and now that you have turned it over to Him, He can move.  He customizes His stamp for each of us.  I pray you come to recognize His stamp in your life.

What dreams are you praying about?  How can I pray for you?

Walking the journey with you…

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P.S.  If you would like to share in the name selection for my Mini, please leave your ideas in the comments.  Might be something special IF your name is chosen.

 

Who Do You Travel With?

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Image from BringATrailer.com

There are always hiccups in life.  For example, I had this post almost ready to publish and I come back to find it is gone.  So, I will go at this one more time!

I have been doing a lot of re-evaluating for this coming year, so it has set my brain to thinking.  A lot of thinking.  I have been in the process of writing the rest of my goals for this year and two of the most important for me are:

  • Be diligent about my study of God’s Word more than ever before
  • Study of the Holy Spirit
  • Effectual Prayer through the leading of the Holy Spirit

That is now part of my prayer life; asking God to lead and direct this study He has laid before me.  With that in mind, let me share with you what happened the other day.  But first, let me ask you a question.  What is the purpose of a HOV lane?  We often take them when we are going into a high traffic area, right?  We use them because they can help us circumnavigate a very busy traffic area.  I like it when I can drive by all the long lines of cars and I smile as I go.  However, I can only go in that lane if I have more than myself in the car.  So as I was driving with my sweetie into Seattle the other day, this whole little scenario played out in my head and heart.  Taking the HOV lane helps me avoid sitting in traffic and avoiding obstacles that can come from heavy traffic.  But if I have a person riding with me, I can avoid those obstacles better by going through the HOV lanes with my riding partner.

I felt God was telling me that this year, I need to be aware of His desire to be my cruising partner.  Oh I know.  Things aren’t always perfect in the HOV lanes either.  But they sure have a likelihood of a much easier drive.  So God wants to be in the driver’s seat with me so He can help me avoid heavy traffic and difficult drivers.  He can guide me around obstacles.  He can make my crooked places straight.  And…He wants to do it!  I COULD live my life and do things for myself as so

JoAnn Shiley Photography
JoAnn Shiley Photography

many are doing; leaving God out of the equation.  But I would be in for some rough rides if I do that.  When we choose to leave Him out of our daily lives and dealings, then we can’t be upset when things become more and more difficult.  We can look like the child who says, “I want to do it myself!”  It usually isn’t that successful and it isn’t what He wants for us.  Now that is NOT to say that having Jesus as your pilot or driver means that all will be well with you all the time.  We know that God says in His Word that we will all have times of trouble.  BUT, God is there to drive the journey with you.

I have decided this year to heed His call on my life even more carefully, to make changes that allow me to put Him in the driver’s seat more and more.  I need to let Him do the driving and I can look out the window and enjoy the ride!  See what He wants me to see.  Help where He wants me to help.  Go where He wants me to go!  We can cruise, Jesus and I!  I like that picture.  Cruisin’ with Jesus!

What other areas are changing for me?  I have made the decision to leave Facebook and Twitter.  Instead, I am establishing myself over at MeWe.com.  I have enjoyed the ad free, politically free, bad language and suggestive behavior free connection that is available to me there.  It is quite refreshing!  The best thing?  I am excited about the change.  I have those who I know won’t add another social website in order to stay in touch and that’s ok.  But God has led me to this change and I think He has His own plan in mind, and since I am into His plan BIG time this year, I’m ALL IN!  I’m cruisin’ with Jesus…the wind blowing in my hair and my hands in the air!  Free!

How about you?  Do you feel a leading in a certain direction or area of your life?  Feel free to share your thoughts.

Cruising’ (in a 1964 white Chevy Impala, which was my car in high school) the journey with you…

~JoAnn

Frozen In Time

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Frozen in time…sounds like a storybook, doesn’t it? We have a new year started. Don’t get frozen in time. Do something you have wanted to do!! God will part the waters but you have to get your feet wet first! I’m making some noise about my new year already and getting my year moving and started right! Go ahead! Put those feet in the water! It’s exciting!

Walking the journey with you…

Sorry for the small pictures.  I did this post from my iPad and forgot to set pictures normally.

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Watchful

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With 2013 coming to an end, it causes me to reflect on the many things that have happened this year.  What a ride it has been!  We have seen many of our goals accomplished, we gave more in financial and other ways, I survived a big surgery and still recovering, loved on more people, enjoyed studying a lot, and I have walked closer with the Lord than last year.  So all in all, I have had a good year and I find God, as ever, faithful!  This year brings a new tradition on our household.  So, on New Year’s Eve, my man will enjoy some quiet time at home, a few snacks, a toast, and then, I will open my Gratitude Jar and we will read through each heart that has been dropped in that jar all this year!  I love remembering how God has provided or connected for/with me in my daily life.  I will carry this tradition in to 2014.

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So what is up for this coming year of 2014?  I’m not sure but I walk into it expectantly and watchful!  “Devote yourself to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”  Colossians 4:2.  Yep!  That is the word that God gave to me for this next year.  I am to be watchful for what God wants me to notice.  I am excited to see how God works this word out in my life next year.  I know that prayer is very important in the life of a believer and it can be the difference between me seeing things with my physical eyes or seeing things with my spiritual eyes.  I have the feeling God is going to use both in me next year.  He wants to me to watch for various things that He wants me to see.  Mark Batterson talks in one of his books about the Holy Spirit being like a sixth sense and that there are some things that can only be perceived through the Holy Spirit.  I am inclined to agree with that.  But we must seek Him daily in our lives so that we are in tune enough with Him, that the Holy Spirit can clearly speak to us.  The more time we spend with Him, the deeper our relationship goes and we can recognize when it is Him working in us.

I am going to be diligent in my pursuance of God, and ask again for things in my life with bold faith.  Some of my goals are what others may consider as crazy goals!  But for me, I have seen God answer so many of them, that I am looking forward and watching for what goals He will answer through this next year.  I am thankful that He has been working in my life, excavating in me enough that I DESIRE to set lofty goals, and make more changes in myself.  In fact, I WANT to change!  What about you?  Will you be more bold this next year in prayer?  Will you seek Him more in quiet time?  Want to live a life you have never lived before?  Walk closer than you have ever walked with God before?  Are you bold enough to ASK Him to change the things that need changing?  We do have to step into the water before God will part it.  I’m all in… and jumping in!    Now is the time.  He is calling us all to lean in closer.  Be watchful of what God is doing in and around you.  He wants you to pray, believe, and then let Him do it, and then thank Him.  I hope you have a wonderful New Year and remember a prayer of thanks for all He HAS done, then thank Him for what He already has in store for you!

Please share in the comments any special gratitudes that you have from this last year.  Thanks for being a faithful reader of this blog!  I hope you share it and enjoy it even more this next year!  For those who were encouraged by my post about my jar, to make one of your own, I hope you will share how it was for you as you read through the year in the life of…YOU!

Walking the journey with you…with a jump here and there!