What Can We Learn From The Autumn Leaf?

I think there is a message in the falling of leaves in Autumn.   I was out with my camera yesterday, and saw a leaf that was hanging on to the branch.  It was the only one that had turned autumn color, but still remaining on the branch.  The wind was blowing it around, up and down, and sideways.  But still it remained.

We can be a bit like that leaf.  We know a change of season is upon us, and we also know that in a change of season, we must change.  We can sense that still small whisper that tells us to move forward, and that He will take care of it and be there.  But we are like a leaf that hangs on for dear life to what it knows.  In our case it is what we have come to be comfortable with.  The leaf knows that it can sustain itself on this branch a little while longer, so its hanging on.  However, we all know what happens.  As the season moves forward, it becomes colder, and that leaf will no longer receive what it needs, because the tree itself is going into a season of rest.  The good thing?  We don’t have to be afraid of change.  We don’t see a leaf that let’s go only to fals like a brick to the ground.  Nope.  That isn’t like God.  The leaf will just float on down to the ground with a beauty all its own.  It allows the season to change its color, and then gracefully drops from the branch.

We can learn a lot from the leaf.  Here are a few thoughts:

  • Change is good because it moves us forward.  We aren’t the only leaf on the tree to fall.  They will all fall at some point.  So when we feel the squeeze of change upon us, know that there are others around you sensing the same thing for themselves; that is, if they are tuned in to God and what He is doing.  You can be a support and prayer partner with those who are experiencing what you are…a step toward the unknown.  I have found when I share that with others through a prayer request, I will find many who are in the same place.  Remember as a child when the all the leaves would be swept together and you couldn’t resist falling into the pile, or throwing them up in the air?  We can rejoice with others the same way.   As we begin to recognize others who are in the midst of a move of God, we can rejoice together as we move toward a new thing. It can be a fun journey when shared.
  • We also don’t have to worry about God dropping us.  Just as the leaf gracefully falls in the wind or just floats to the ground, so God will catch us in His arms and set us on our feet on new territory.  He won’t leave us alone.  He will feel joy at our willingness to step forward into something new, give us what we need to walk it out, and lovingly walk with us along the way.
  • It will definitely change how we look. The leaves are most beautiful when they fall off the branch…they are vibrant, in fact.  Do you know that the color of yellow, orange, or even red, is present in the leaf all through the growing process?  This means while the leaf is green, the colors are still there…BEFORE it turns color.  The color has been there all along!  That could preach right there!!!  That means that through the process of letting go, our true colors or gifts or talents or passions, can show itself in us!!  We will become vibrant with new life!  I love that!  When we allow God to move us and change us, we are best using what He has given us for His purposes.

We will begin to look more vibrant, when we are willing to let go, and let God take the lead in our journey.  We might even begin to notice a more colorful world in the new place He has taken us.  New found color = new found passion.

So…let the winds and the waves come.  I know the Master of the wind.  We know Who is in charge of the winds and the waves.  We can weather the change together.  You may be the first to let go, but we will all come to a time in our lives where we too, have to let go of one season to walk forward into the next season of our life.  We can throw up our hands in the air just like we did with the leaves, only this time, it will be to receive the blessings of obedience flowing down on us like rain.  It’s like a song lyric I listened to yesterday that goes along with this thought…He brings us out, to bring us IN!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

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Road Trip! Part 1

IMG_1747In a day and age where so many people are flying everywhere, it is really refreshing to take to the road!  Instead of flying over everything, we are seeing it as we pass by it, or better yet, stop to SEE AND explore it! So, I thought it would be fun to share my trip and thoughts in three or four posts here on the blog.

Part 1

This last week, my husband and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary.  We have had some rough times, but one thing we know, God has been faithful to us. We decided to celebrate by taking a road trip to areas that my husband had not seen, and where I had not been in years.  We left early on Monday morning and headed over the North Cascades to see what we could see.  I am anticipating a wonderful time of leisure with my hubby and my camera because I know each time I take the time, God always shows up with some amazing thoughts and experiences.

 

The first place we stopped was in Marblemount, Washington.  This is a kind of last stop before going over the pass.  As kids, we knew if we needed a potty stop, this was the last one for a long while.  So for old times sake, we stopped and walked around.  There were IMG_3788some wonderful lilacs along the fence line that I had to take the time to smell and photograph.  We walked across the road toward the bridge because I wanted to try IMG_3798and get a photograph of the fog bank over the water.  But instead, I found a wonderful perspective of the bridge to take.   So, I walked to the bridge and took this photo from my point of view and looking to the other side.  It just reminded that no matter how grey and foggy our life may seem at times, that if we will walk in faith to the other side, we will see a different perspective and maybe find God is doing a new thing!  I felt that day, that God was doing a new thing in our lives.  I was to walk “in” it.IMG_3796

 

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IMG_3794Then, as I turned, I looked down river and took a few shots of the fog.  Every couple of minutes it would change.  It was kind of funny because as I was trying to get a photo, a big 18 wheeler came over the bridge and the bridge vibrated for several minutes afterwards.  It took a few minutes for the bridge to settle so I could get the shot.  But the scene made me want to tarry a while to enjoy the beauty of the green tree-lined river.  It was so peaceful.  This is what it is about; the ability to take the time to enjoy the beauty God has given us.

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After I took my bridge and river picture, we get back into our little red car and head up the mountain.  We stop where ever the notion hits us for a good photo-op, and we certainly found a few; pretty riverbanks, water falls, and deer along the road, tunnels and park areas.  It is amazing what you see when you go with the intent of seeing, and not just letting it pass you by, on the way to where you are going!

We pulled over to get a beautiful shot of the water fall.  There were so many along with way but it wasn’t always easy to stop where we saw them so I did a lot of walking.  Here is one of the falls I saw a little ways up the mountain.  Close by, the deer pictures were taken through the car windows so we could get as close as we could without them running off into the woods.  They were just curious enough to turn around to get a good look at us.
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IMG_3896We came through this tunnel and I got the brilliant idea that I wanted to take a picture from one end of the tunnel to the other end.  I seemed to be getting that idea at the beginning of this trip; the idea of “looking through to the other side.”  We couldn’t park there, so we had to go up the road ways to park the car, and I ran back to take a photo.  Every time I would get out into the middle to take a photo, a car would come.  Back to the side I would go.  The car passes, I would go out to the middle and try again.  Here came a car.  So, finally after about six tries, I had a break and got out to the middle quickly, and took the shot just as a truck came around the corner!  Phew!!  The things we do for a photo!  In the time it took to get this shot, it had started raining, and quickly turned into a downpour!  I needed to get to the car.  Terry couldn’t back it down because there was no place to park.  What to do?  Wait it out?  Put my camera under my coat and run for it?  I was standing there laughing so hard at my predicament, that I just decided to put the camera under my coat and run for it!  About that time, Terry gets out of the car with no jacket, and starts coming for me with an umbrella.  We meet up and run to the car under the umbrella laughing so hard we could hardly breathe!  It was quite a distance!  I was trying to tell him about the cars coming every time I wanted a picture and we just burst out laughing again.  What a pair we are!  But he is my knight in shining armor who came to my rescue in the pouring rain, to help his photographer wifey not get too wet.  It’s times like these you never forget!  Love that man!

Now that we warmed up in the car, we decide to move on up the road and came to a park information area. We stopped in to see what we could learn.  Inside we found information about the whole mountain area, all water ways, and a little shop.  In the sitting area, we found this above the fireplace.  In light of our world right now, these words could never be more true.  It IS up to us to take care of our land, but not just that, but to put our life priorities back into place on a daily basis.  We found good information and I bought a map so we could begin to map out on the map of Washington where we are visiting on this trip and future trips.  Away we go again.

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We made another stop at Diablo Dam.  It was kind of ire to see the dam without the water flowing over it as it is so black in color.  But I have seen it when the water is flowing and it is beautiful!  The picture above shows the dam.  The next photo is from across the dam and looking up at the mountain.  It was so majestic looking even with all the fog.  But it stands strong and unyielding between the green of the other mountains.

You drive down the hill to this quaint winding drive with light posts that line the whole distance of the drive.  We drove across and I took some shots around the area.

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IMG_3902When we drove around the lake and I looked back at the bridge, one thought came to mind.  When I look at this photo, it looks like the bridge is a pretty straight shot.  You can’t see the twists and turns or the drive.  Our lives our like that.  We think it should be, or we want it TO be a straight shot.  We don’t want any of those twists or turns, or ups or downs.  When it happens, we find ourselves disappointed, hurt, or angry.  But we are told to expect them, so it depends on how we look at them.  What is our perspective?  I found that when I was up close, I could see the beauty even IN the turns.  The ups and downs of the road led me to this place of beauty.  I believe it is like that in our lives too.

Well, here we are and we aren’t even that far into our trip!  Both Terry and I said so many times that first day how much we were enjoying the leisure time to get out and see what we could see.  Spending time in God’s creation is always a great way to draw near to each other and I think God designed it just that way.    I think He wants us to look at our lives the same way.  It is an adventure and a journey.  There will be rain, storms, losses and all of that.  But we can keep looking forward to what is around the next corner, the next hill, the new thing to learn, the next moments to spend with ones we have and love, and above all, to spend time with the Creator who made it all for us to enjoy!

I will leave you for this part of the journey and will post the next in Part 2 of…The Road Trip!

Walking the journey with you…only this time, you are walking the journey of mine with ME!

Another Step Closer

There is a thunder in the distance…and it is not a Spring storm! It’s the roar and shout of the saints coming together to do something great! I’m so glad to be a part of this crowd!

What’s the thunder about? Over the past five months, I have been fulfilling the call that God gave me when I went to Honduras this last January, to raise the money to send a shipping container of needed items to Honduras for the orphanage, school, church, and medical center. I have prayed more than ever over it because I knew it wasn’t something I could do by myself. God’s ideas are always bigger than we can conceive on our own. I knew it had to be God moving in the hearts of others to work as a team in order to make it happen. AND?… It IS!!! We are very close to meeting that need and I am even believing God for overflow so that we can actually purchase a few other items that are needed. Is God faithful? ALL the time!

This is the kind of activity that I think God wants us to be involved in. Not just meeting the needs, but He knows when we work together, we become family, friendships deepen, you have common goals that drive you forward together, joy is spread, and hearts made light when we let our lights shine through our love in action! It is like a big wheel, where God is the hub and we are the spokes in the wheel; we all are needed to give support to the hub so the wheel can turn.

Is it effective? Absolutely! I love how I have seen people from church to pastors, classmates to Facebook friends, new acquaintances to past co-workers,  join together and say, “I want to help and here is my donation!” VERY cool! At church, we are talking about “Live.Love.” I can think of no better way to be an example of that then what I have seen take place these five months! As times may seem to be getting more difficult, it is wonderful to know that we have been given the very gift that we need for such a time as this…each other.

Don’t let your opportunity to join in where in where you can! You can change a life and it won’t be just the person you are helping. It WILL change yours in ways you never thought possible. Thank you for walking the journey with me. You make it all worth while!

I’m living it! Are you? Walking the journey with you…

Are You Watching The Road Signs?

Do you ever go through a period of time that has been hard, and when you look back you wonder why it happened or even how you made it through? I know this has been true for me. As I was out on a photo shoot the other day by the railroad tracks, a thought came to me, “What if you didn’t HAVE to go through it like you did? What if you were watching the road signs I put out there for you? I gave you the signs.”

As I walked along the water, I thought about that. How many times has God given me road signs to warn me and I haven’t paid attention. I went ahead on my own steam FEELING like I was doing the right thing or going the right way. I can even talk myself into believing that God told me to go that direction. Well, maybe He did. But maybe He didn’t. God gives us warnings in our spirit when things aren’t quite right. It may be that still small voice that says, “You shouldn’t be here” or “You know this isn’t right”. Or maybe you are where you are and doing what you are doing because you don’t want to hurt someone. God has been tapping on your shoulder to tell you, it still isn’t where you should be, or what you should be doing. Can you relate?

So what can you do to be more in tune with His direction? God gave me a lesson on road signs when I went to a Beth Moore conference. I have adapted what I learned into my life and here is what I have learned. Watch for the STOP in your life where God wants you to STOP doing what you are doing, acting the way you are acting, or sliding in under the radar with things you shouldn’t be a part of. The things you need to STOP are the very things that can really get in the way of a deep relationship with Him.

Maybe you need to YIELD in areas of your life in order for you to hear where God WANTS to take you. It could be warning signs like the case of the railroad tracks where I was that day. He wants to tell you to be careful before you just set off. There could be danger there!

It could also be the GREEN LIGHT that tells you to go! I have given you what you need and now you just need to move forward with Me. Go where I have told you to go and do what I have told you to do. Be bold. Step out. If you listen, you will know the signs.

So ask God today where He wants you to STOP. Where do you need to YIELD? Ask Him to help you listen to the warnings that protect you. Lastly, ask Him for the boldness to GO where He would have you go, even if it might not FEEL like you want to. He says He will never leave us, and so we need to walk with Him and be in tune with His road signs.

I hope that as you journey through these days, that you will realize that you have something to share with someone else that they need to hear. So listen intently to His voice and let Him guide you with His road signs. You will never have to be concerned about a wrong turn; His ways are perfect! But should you miss a sign like I have, He is there to lovingly bring you back to the station! God bless you as you GO!

Will You Sell Out?

I have found it rather difficult lately to watch various people who will ditch their loyalty for the sake of recognition or money. Do those who do this think they will gain any kind of loyalty for themselves?  Oh, they might gain ATTENTION from those who just want to get the story, but nobody really likes a tattle tail. I have always felt that if you worked alongside someone, you were to respect and keep confidentiality a priority with them unless it brought immediate danger to them. They deserve the same when you leave or part ways also. But so many will do anything to gain notoriety or make some money off of someone’s life or circumstance. Do you think the question is ever asked, “Will I enhance or degrade this person’s reputation if I break their confidence?” It saddens me that many never seem to ask themselves that question.

I would venture to say that we all have things we do or say that we would rather not have others know about us. That reminds me of a speaker I heard that asked a great question. He said, what would we feel like if God showed our life on a big screen where everything we ever did, said, or acted like were played there for everyone to see. I don’t know about you, but there would be things I would not be proud to have shared with everyone. It is something that is between God and myself, and with the work of the Holy Spirit, I want to improve. Thankfully, God gives me His mercy for “do-overs and u-turns”.  It is my desire to journey further with the Lord and to edit my life movie so that I am more of what God would see as fitting for the big screen. I want Him to be honored in what I do, say and act like. No regrets. I want to give him the keys to my house and allow Him to clean my darkened rooms.

Now you may be thinking, “I would never say the things these television people and a few others I know, are saying about their friends or boss.” Oh yes, we do! This is key: How many of you have walked out of church, having had a great worship and fellowship experience with fellow believers, and then closed your car door and let fly about something you didn’t like about the sermon, the worship, a person, or something someone said to you? Yes…we DO sell out. I have sold out at times. We just aren’t making money or credit off of the story.

Will you sell out to satan’s plan? Will you justify your words or actions based on some reasoning that you have? Or, will you use your mouth to edify and build up and carry another’s burden by keep their confidences to yourself no matter what? I desire to bring glory to God through my mouth. I turn my keys over to Him. Have I arrived? Nope. Not yet. But am I aware that I need to? You bet! There… is my plumb line.

Who Likes Detours? I Do!

What is it about changes or detours that can immediately get to us? We can have everything under control and then along comes some twist or turn, and we get all frustrated or stressed. I wish I could say that has never happened to me, but unfortunately, that is so not true. I have had more curves in my life journey then you can possibly imagine! But some of those curves and detours have taken me places I would have never gone otherwise. Those roads would not have been the choices I would have consciously made on my own. But along my life journey, I have come to realize the value in those twists and turns, and that ultimately, they have moved me up into a deeper walk with the Lord, to better understanding of the Word, and taught me better ways to come along side others in their twists and turns.

Here are a few things that I have come to know:

  • If I am surrounding my journey in prayer, then I can relax along the way; even enjoy it, because I will be looking for God’s meaning rather than how I might feel about where I am at.
  • God desires to walk every step with me, surround me in his love, and come along side me to guide my steps.
  • I see scenery that I would not have seen when I take the detours of life.
  • I’m never alone. He has His network set up for my support. I just have to look for it and be open to who He might bring into my life and situation.

I’m a very visual person and so this picture here is exactly what I’m talking about. Along time ago, I found what I call my “journey ring” that tells the story of the ups, downs and curves that life can bring. It ultimately journeys up and so can we. The second ring was one I designed for my husband and I for our 10th wedding anniversary that reminds me to always pray. I wear the rings every day. I think together they tell a wonderful story of how we can live in peace and joy by reminding ourselves that He is in control of our journey. If we are willing to surround our life in prayer, He is faithful to bring us up! Let’s go to the next level together! The climbing view is awesome!