Finger Prints of Love

Photo Credit: pixabay

How do you think that God sees us?  I was reading a book recently and he talked about finger prints making us unique.  That got me to thinking…we know we all look different.  We also have been told, at least I hope you have, that God knows the number of hairs on our heads.  He doesn’t have as big a problem with mine now because I don’t have as many as I used to, but He knows the number. 🙂  What does that tell you about how special we are to Him?  Let’s think about that for a minute.  What happens when we get into trouble with the law, or we have to get a permit, or work for certain institutions?   We have to get finger printed.  Why?  Because each set of prints is individual to each person.  It is uniquely you.

So as I thought more about this, an experience I had many years ago, came to mind.  In 1973, I burned my right hand and arm and the part of my hand on my left hand in a fire.  I was making a specialty item for Christmas and the lard (we used that in those days) caught fire on the stove.  I ended up with 2nd and 3rd degree burns on my hands and arm.  I was eventually hospitalized because of infection setting in even though it was covered.  I don’t want to make you feel ill, but in order to make my point, I need to share this with you.  I lost the skin on my hands and also my arm in places.  I could look down between my old skin and the new that was growing and see the intricate work of God.  My body had to grow new skin and it was extremely sensitive to touch.  I couldn’t touch two fingers together without pain.  That is because my nerves were raw and open.  When my new skin came back, it was, and still remains, thinner than it was.  Even to this day it doesn’t take much to have an issue with a burn that I may get while cooking.  If I get a burn, it takes a long time to heal.   So here is the interesting part….I still have my finger prints.  My finger tips aren’t scarred from it.  My skin on the hands are more wrinkled than most people have, but my fingerprints are still uniquely mine.

I find it rather fascinating to see that even though I lost my prints, this creation we call our body, grew new skin and gave me my finger prints back.  God did that in His creation of us.  My hands and arms became a new creation…and my prints today are used when I have had to apply for jobs and permits.  How unique God has made us!  The thing is, if He can make us unique enough that an accident can not take away my unique prints, even when they had to become new, and they can still identify me as me, THAT is pretty amazing!  He cares for me that much.  He cares for you that much.  He has made you unique and has unique plans just for you.  Not to be compared with others, but made and created just for you.

I love that about God.  We each have a plan.  We each have unique gifts to offer in service to Him.  If you are feeling unworthy or overwhelmed by life in general and trying to find out what God wants of you, don’t look at that mountain and say how big the mountain is, but tell the mountain how big your God is!  Let’s leave our finger prints all over the people around us, so that, they know of the love of a God who cares enough to love them individually for who they are, and to help them along the path to who He wants them to become!  He tells us to love our neighbors.  Let’s leave fingerprints of love on those around us, so they can feel, and thus know, that they are loved by a BIG God!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

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Be A Light From Where You Are

Key Moments Photography

Do you know that God has you in the place he has/had you in for a reason? I mean, if we really look back at our journey, we can see why this or that happened, why we were placed there at a certain time, and we can truly see God’s hand at work through those of us who have been willing to “go there”.

Let me share some examples with you from my own life.

  • I prayed the Prayer of Jabez over my life in 1998 that sent us on a move to Missouri to work for a ministry for two years! THAT was getting on a potter’s wheel for sure! But boy did I LEARN! Miracles happened when I obeyed and we saw them on the way there, when we got there, and all the time while we lived there.
  • A year ago about this time, I was sitting in my office studying when a message came through my computer to ask me, if my cost for a mission trip were paid, would I want to go to Honduras? My first thought? It was to tell God, “It is sooo hot there! And God, its HUMID and hot there! I don’t do well in that kind of weather and you know that about me.” My next thought was that if He was paying my way, knowing that I didn’t do well in that environment, that there was something He wanted me to experience, or see, or be a part of. So, after some praying for confirmation that this was the way in which I was to go, I walked in it. I said yes. I went to Honduras for 10 days and it was life changing!! I saw, I learned, I followed, I took the journey in photographs, and I came home walking closer to God than ever before. I came home thankful for my home, running water, ability to freely go about my life, to live for the Lord, for having what I need and best of all, with friendships that will last a life time! God knew. While I was there, God spoke to me to go home and raise the money to send a container full of items that are needed for the school, the children’s village, medical center, and church there. I did that. I came home, prayed, and then started sharing with others who had a heart to see what God was doing in Honduras. With their help, we sent the container last August. I am currently in the process of raising the money for the next one to go later this year. God needed me there to see and to bring something about for His purposes.
  • Fast forward a year…I was friended by a young woman on Facebook from Uganda. We have been communicating back and forth for some time now. I have no idea how she came by my name, or her reason for friending, but she did. She is wanting to preach and teach the gospel in Uganda and is really on fire for the Lord! So as we talked, I talked to her about having a voice on the internet. She could teach through the internet by sharing it via a blog. So…via long distance, I helped her set up a blog so she can now use that as a voice to many. She also shared that she is going on a mission trip to the west area of Uganda with a group and they are in need of a camera that does video. I am putting the word out for that also.

What is my point? God can use each one of us in ways we may have never thought possible, but they are. In my little office, I can be a voice to help spread the gospel in whatever ways God chooses to use me IF I am listening, and IF I am obedient to His voice. If I had listened to my own thoughts, I probably wouldn’t have gone to Honduras. Would God have used someone else? Could be. But maybe not in the same way, and my particular part in it would not have been completed. I would have missed out on the blessing. There is always a purpose.

YOU are important to intricate plans that God has for others to be encouraged and taught. And if you are thinking it is always to another place far, far away, think again. He can use you in the same way right in your own neighborhood. He can use you sitting at your desk. Ask Him how He wants to use you. But be ready! He WILL call on you. You can see from my examples that He doesn’t let the miles get in the way, OR the language! I’m thankful that I have chosen YES! The best part? When you realize it is NOT about YOU, but you are thankful God chose to INCLUDE you in the miracle!

Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV)

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Walking the journeys with you…

P.S. If you are sitting there thinking, I have a camera, or a laptop I’m not using, this team could really use it. Or you might want to help by sending a donation to the Honduras Bound2 project… message me. You WOULD then be taking part in something much BIGGER than you! 

Are Your Life Rings Showing?

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I took a picture not long ago of a piece of wood that came on shore. It was quite large! You could see on what appeared to be the cut end of the tree, all the rings which you can count to see how old the tree is. It had to be pretty old because there were a lot of rings to count!

I have looked at this photo many times and it made me think what would happen if we had to wear our rings of age where others could see…and what if OUR rings were to show how closely we have followed the Lord in our lives each year? I know it might seem far-fetched, but what IF??? How many rings would be showing for others to count? We will have that sort of accountability some day. Now, I am glad my story goes along the way of rings and not wrinkles! Phew! Don’t need any more of those! But think about that for a minute. Do we have enough evidence for it to be counted for the Kingdom? Would you see the wisdom of my life rings as evidenced in my life?

That is one of my goals for myself this year; I want to be counted as one who is a difference maker. A friend of mine shared with me over coffee, that she didn’t have what she used to have to be able to give, but what she DID have, was time. And that was free to give. I agree. I want to spend the time that God has given me for the things that will make a difference in the lives of others around me and for God. I can make a phone call, send a text, mail a card, write a Facebook message, or invite someone for coffee and share life together with them. That is more important in the long run that any rabbit trail I might chase thinking, “I should do this, or I should do that.” I need to be asking God where it is that He wants me most. It’s one of the things that photography has taught me; take the time to “see” what is there all the time.

So I encourage you today to make some life rings of your own. It isn’t like it is about works or doing, but it is about making a difference for the glory of God. We all know we aren’t going to run around with rings on our bodies, but it could look more like those ripples I talked about in my last post, where you can clearly be used of God in ways you never expect! Start now! It is never too late to begin again! Throw the rock and make some rings; rings that later on will show accountability for what God entrusted to you.

Go make a great ring this year! Be sure to have fun, laugh, love and even do some dancing along the way! Walking the journey with you…

What’s Your Aperture?

What do you allow to pass through your eye gates on a daily basis? Do you remember the scripture that talks about the eyes being the window to the soul? I was thinking about this again as our pastor made mention of the aperture of a camera in last Sunday’s sermon. I think it’s worth further thought.

Here is the definition of aperture:   aperture |ˈapərˌ ch ər| noun chiefly technical; an opening, hole, or gap : the bell ropes passed through apertures in the ceiling.• a space through which light passes in an optical or photographic instrument, esp. the variable opening by which light enters a camera.

Aperture allows you to specify how the camera chooses its settings when making an exposure, to give great creative control.  It controls sharpness or how much of your image is in focus. A photographer needs to adjust the amount of light that is allowed through the lens in order to get proper exposure and clarity. When a photographer is taking a picture that is in bright light, they will adjust the lens to a smaller opening so a diminished about of light is let in through the lens of the camera. If they need more light, then they will open up the setting of the lens to allow more light to come in to get the shot.

It’s a little different for us in our relationship with the Lord. The way a photographer adjusts the aperture for a picture, is not the same way we want to adjust the amount of God’s light we let in to our lives. The photographer is always in control of the outcome of the picture, depending on their artistic view and outcome they want. We also have control over how much of Him we let into our lives on a daily basis. We need to have an open aperture for the Lord, letting in as much of Him in as possible. The Holy Spirit needs a fully open lens also. Where we need to have the smallest lens opening is when we are among worldly things where the enemy will try to work. We do not want so much of the world in our view that it blinds our eyes to the things of God. We have to use a filter on our lens. That way, we can see more clearly, and the haze that the enemy wants to use, will be made clearer through our view finder.

Think of it like your eye. In a dark room your pupils are bigger, letting in more light so you can see better in the dark. In a bright area, the pupil is smaller and let’s less light in so you don’t get blinded by the light. With God, it is different. We want our God Lens to be open as wide as possible. If our lens is wide open to the Lord, He will help us see clearer, even in the dark. We want our Prayer Lens to be wide open to what God wants to place in our hearts. He wants us to focus like a telephoto lens on the future. That way, you don’t get distracted with your view of the situations up close to you. We have a tendency to look at things through a Macro Lens where we see every fault and wrong we or others, have ever done. But God wants to give you a different focus; one you can enjoy. How? Look through His lens. We need to have a wide open lens to see His beauty and His work, but focus on Him like the telephoto lens does for distance.

Several years ago, I felt like I was supposed to pick up my hobby of photography once again. In that process, God gave me a project a couple of years ago. I was to take a photo every day for a year and to share a thought about that picture on Facebook. I can’t begin to tell you the change that took place in me through that daily photo. I began to see things differently, I noticed things I hadn’t noticed before. He showed me things close up and far away. But, I began to see Life Through A Different Lens. His lens. That is the name He gave me to call the Project.

Today I am enjoy sharing the joy of photography with others as a source of encouragement. I want to have an aperture setting in my life that is wide open to God and the workings of the Holy Spirit. Full light, full sound, full relationship, and full vision. Go ahead. Get your eye gates open, or your camera out, get creative, look for the moment, and press the shutter button. Make a notation of the moments God shows you. You will be amazed, as I have been, how different you will begin to look at your life and what is going on around you. The camera will focus on what you aim it at. Aim for Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Watch your aperture settings. You will never be the same!

Does Your Life Need Balance?

The other day, I was out by the water here in Whatcom County and witnessed an interesting situation. Out on the channel there was a log with three seagulls perched on it. They were in perfect balance and enjoying the ride as they floated down the channel. I raised my camera to get a picture when all of a sudden, one decided to take off. What happened next was pretty funny but also an interesting life lesson. One of the seagulls decided to lift off and it left the other two struggling to maintain balance as the log shifted and moved. So I got the picture of the two seagulls who were left trying to work together to save themselves from having to leave the log. They raised their wings to maintain balance as they slowly moved up on the log. However, as they moved to correct themselves, the log also rotated, and so they were doing some pretty fancy foot work as they worked to stay on. Eventually, after each trying to right their position, it failed and they flew off. This whole scenario seemed like a great lesson in a balanced life for me.

We hear so much about the importance of keeping balance in our lives. We have a lot going on, and if we don’t maintain balance, one area of our life can get out of control and take over. We all know the story, right? Let’s think about the seagulls for a minute. Before the “situation” happened, they were just floating along enjoying the free ride down the channel. Then, the one decides to take off. No warning, no discussing it, just doing what that seagull wanted to do. But what was left in the wake of the one seagull leaving were the other two picking up the pieces of that one seagull’s decision. The other two of them scrambled trying to stay on for the ride. It was so easy when they were all together and no one else is messing around. Our life gets like that. One person does something, or a situation comes up, that sends us spinning out of control. Our life balance is totally off and we are dangerously close to upending our log and hitting the water in a belly flop. Oh, we try to adjust our lives at times with things such as time management, charts, clean and organizing our house, quit one thing to free the schedule, but then start something else. We try for a while to have more family time or time for the Lord in an effort to right our log, but it doesn’t last much longer then the float down the channel did for the seagulls. We flap and flutter, trying to do it by ourselves. We do the dance to stay on, flap our arms trying to keep from losing it, and end up leaving the log or, in other words, running away from the truth of what is really going on or how we feel.

So what is the answer? We need to have God on the log of life with us! I mean really. We trust Him with everything that is in us. Are we going to believe IN God or are you going to BELIEVE GOD? Just like He calmed the storm on water, He can calm the storms in our lives. If we partnered with Him to give us balance, we would have a different reaction when one decides to go off on some tangent of their own or life hits us full face. We still have God on our log to help us maintain balance. So we don’t have to do the happy feet to stay on, we can do the happy feet because God is there. He is reaching out to us to say, “keep your feet firm and stretch out those wings, catch the air and slowly move forward with me. I’m here.” You know what will happen?

He will give you a picture like He gave me that day! If our hearts are open to Him, He will speak to us through the simple things in our lives. He wants to remind us of His presence and to help measure our steps and stay on the log of life with Him. Lift your wings and let God be the wind beneath them, trusting that with His help, you can float down the channel of life and enjoy the scenery of life as you go! He may even ask you to dive in with Him! OR maybe you are the one leaving the log of the status quo to be lifted higher with Him!

God bless you as you invite Him onto your log to dangle your feet in the water together!

What Crows Are Heckling You?

Do you ever feel like circumstances of life or other people are keeping you from living the life you would like to live? I know I have. A couple of weeks ago, I heard this awful, loud, noise coming from somewhere close to my house. I went in search of what it could be and as I got closer to the back of our house, it got louder. I opened the back door and walked out to see one tree in particular completely covered and surrounded by crows! I couldn’t imagine where they all came from. There was at least 40-50 of them! I knew from reading about eagles, the crows must have an eagle surrounded. As I got closer, I saw a young eagle sitting down in the branches. The crows were acting crazy and the eagle just sat there.

I felt this sudden urge to come to the rescue and help that eagle out! I went over by the tree and made some loud, most likely, unfeminine, type noises and waved my arms in the air. As I did that, the crows attention was diverted from the eagle to this crazy lady running around making noises. At that precise moment, the eagle took flight. Before he could get very far, he was surrounded by several crows trying to get at his wings and keep him from flying. But the eagle just spread those beautiful wings and flew off with the crows still trying their best to keep him distracted and heckle him. I saw this very same thing again just this last weekend while enjoying the day at the Lake. I think it has such a perfect message to all of us! (The picture came from this last weekend.)

Just like the eagle, there may be something in our lives that God wants to change:

  • A new direction He is giving us with our family
  • A specific area we need to improve.
  • Draw closer to Him.
  • Changes in our finances
  • A ministry with our church
  • Reading the Bible on a more regular basis

Whatever it is, He wants a more intimate relationship with you, SO THAT, you can affect the lives of those around you and show God’s love in a way others can see. But just like that eagle, we have those “crows” in our lives that want us to feel less effectual. Bring us down. Shoot down our ideas or endeavors. Keep us distracted. Those circumstances or people want to keep you grounded from ever taking flight!  You may hear such things as:

  • “That would never work.”
  • ” You are way too fanatical for me since you became a Christian.”
  • “Where’s God in THAT?!”
  • “You could never minister to someone with the problems YOU have.”
  • “You are such a dreamer!”
  • “Your life is such a mess!”

What do I know? I know that God has a plan for each of us. He wants to speak to us and keep our dreams alive! He is the author of dreams! He wants to use us. The eagle isn’t afraid of the crows! They are just an annoyance. So the eagle will wait until they get tired of annoying him, or are distracted, and then he will take flight!

That’s a good lesson for us. Those annoyances around us are just that; satan and/or our own thinking trying to keep us from our best. Surrender it all to Him. Let God give wind to your wings so that you can be strong like the eagle and fly to places God wants to take you. Eagles have focused vision and can see clearly for a VERY long distance. The eagle didn’t keep looking back to see how close the crows were. He kept his focus forward on his destination; away from the crows.

God wants to do that for you today! He will give you focus on the next stream of refreshing! What or who are the crows in your life that keep you from being who God wants you to become? Do you have some radical person that will come to your rescue and chase away the crows to help you focus on where you need to be going? Just like the eagle did, wait on Him snuggled down in His branches, until He gives you the all clear, and then fly like you have never flown before! He will take you to places you never dreamed of! That is a promise!