A Tuesday… Pause

Today, I was thinking about where I am…oh, not just in the physical sense of where I live or what room I’m in, but where I am in life. Where do I want to be? What is my vision of what I would like my life to look like? What brings me comfort and happiness? I have found that asking questions in my daily life has been one thing that has helped me the most through the years. Why? Because it keeps me honest with myself. We can make ourselves believe almost anything if we allow justification and excuses, or even blame, to enter into our thinking. AND… if we tell ourselves that long enough, we will believe it. Questions keeps me honest with myself if I answer myself with the truth. Of course, I have a great “Truth Agent” in my life who helps me, if I am willing to ask, and sometimes He tells me even if I don’t want to know. We need to face things head on with all honesty if we truly want to be living the way God wants us to live. We need to be following His lead, and not leading our own selves and then asking Him to bless that.

I think in many ways, these times we are living in has made many of us re-evaluate what we want in life and how we want to live. Where do we land with our priorities? We have been forced to slow down; to not get to do things our way. Many of these new guidelines have not been fun at all. Even hurtful to some of us. Changes are good and often times the best for us, but it goes back to our questions. Do we listen to them, or ignore them by justifying why we do the old things in the first place? Are you getting a picture of where I am going with this? Let’s look deeper…

As many of you know if you follow me, I am a BIG proponent of a slower life style. Now… many say, “You can do that because your retired.” However, I have found that retirement doesn’t mean my life stops. I’m very busy. I’m just busy with different things. I also deal with a retired hubby and that in itself makes a difference because they are with you all the time, and it can make it difficult to get done what you need to get done. That said, I had years of going 90 per. I didn’t like it then, and I don’t like it even more now. I would have loved to have been a stay at home mom and wife. But given my circumstances, and yes, my decisions at the time, I allowed outside influences to determine what I should do. But even in that time of my life, I was active with my walk with the Lord and studying. In this day, we have so much information to help us make better decisions, that it comes down to how much we are doing things our way, or God’s way. I have discovered through asking questions of myself, that in those days, I let outside influences determine what I did instead of listening to my heart where God was speaking. I cared about what others thought of me in ways that weren’t healthy for me. That happened in many circumstances. So… it has led me to begin asking myself the hard questions and then answering those as honest as I can. Now when we have different schedules, let’s take the time to ask ourselves the hard questions, as well as the fun questions. Let’s stop living lives that compare ourselves to others in life, homes, cars, clothes, and achievements. It leads us into wrong thinking and decisions.

We often keep ourselves busy so we don’t HAVE to think about where we are and what we are doing. Maybe… we aren’t trusting God to take care of us and since we don’t feel He is, we go about doing something about it oursleves. Boy can THAT get us into trouble!! But God didn’t ask us to be another person’s project manager. He asked us to live has He lived, and love like He loved. We are to be an example for other to watch, so that, they see the way we live and want to live that way. That means, we need to put our priorities in right order and live a life that others see and want to have. We particularly need to do that within our families because our kids will see our way of life and the way we handle things, and most of the time, carry that into their lives and relationships as well. THAT is rather scary to think about, but so true. It is worth us asking ourselves the hard questions and answer them so that we can let others see how living our life this way, can bring about a great life.

So…let’s get back to one of the questions I started with…”What brings comfort into your life?” As an example, I have previously shared of my life, I love a cozy atmosphere in my home. I like soft light of a lamp or candles, I enjoy cozy clothes at home, a loaf of bread baking in the oven, a good book/magazine in my hand with an afghan wrapped around me, and a mocha in my hand. I love to have time to play my instruments and sing along. My favorite place also is my studio area at my desk with a favorite hot or cold drink, my lamp lit on “relax”, a glassybaby lit, and a study that I’m learning from, which is how I am right now today as I write this. I enjoy reading before I go to sleep, so I also make time for that. For you, it may be coffee with a friend.I love to sit outside with my hands warmed to a fire. I know these activities are important for me to keep me on the right track. I know that about myself. It is not just good for me, I choose them because I know I NEED them.

Have you ever stopped long enough to ask yourself what brings you joy and comfort? Because many times we don’t. We just keep pressing on, maybe even afraid to ask oursleves that because we know it will require something of us. Changing something, stopping something, or beginning a new habit. But promise me you will ask yourself, “What brings comfort in my life?” and leave it in the comments. I would love to hear. Each of you will choose so differently. But that is the fun of it! It might be family time over a puzzle or game, or an outting together. Please feel free to share.

It is my prayer that as we have had to slow down, we have learned something about ourselves, become more aware of our thoughts, and take the time to answer the hard questions that I’m sure have also come up for you. Our life is meant to live, not just endure. The way we live today determines our tomorrow. Before your next step, ask yourself as Andy Stanley talks about in his book, Better Decisions, Fewer Regrets, “What is the wise thing to do?” or this one is a real nailer…”Given my past, and my present circumstances, what would be the wise decision to make?”. I have found that to be a great book and made me think again about asking myself the important questions and being honest about my thinking and answers in that process. What I have discovered is, when I answer, I find I have not always been willing to shed the light into all the dark corners of my life’s story. THAT in itself, will lead me to make the wrong decisions because I end up taking it with me into my future again.

Do the things that bring you joy and don’t feel guilty if you aren’t running around doing everything. We were not meant to live such busy lives that lead us to less time for ourselves and family. We WILL pay the price for that some day if you aren’t careful with our daily lives and choices. Pause…have a cup, read something you enjoy, just sit in the chair and listen to your music for a while, call a friend, sending a snail mail note, take some pictures, cuddle up in something warm, lean back and close your eyes for a few mintues and just say “thank you” that you have this moment or two in time. You don’t get them back. We wear busy like a badge and we have seen that come to a hault in many ways, and many have had a hard time knowing what to do with themselves when required to be at home day in and day out. Take away what you can to make this learning time something that changes you for moving forward. Those around you will thank you. Looking forward to your comments!

Living in the moment…

~JoAnn

“Kos”: A Way of Life

IMG_3789IMG_2953Knock…knock…come on in!  I have a story to tell!  The other day I did a happy dance because I received a book in the mail that I was so wanting.  It is all about making the Scandinavian waffle; not just a waffle, but all kinds of ways to serve the waffle.  I was very excited!  I tasted the Norwegian waffle while on my visit to Norway.  In the wonderful hospitality of my cousins, it was served like a dessert waffle with a jam and whipped cream on top and each one was heart-shaped.  They were very, very good and had a touch of cardamom flavor.  What a treat!  I immediately wanted the recipe.  I have a couple other books and recipes, and now, I have this book. I have learned the history of waffles also.  And the recipes!!  That is really fun!However, there was a word in this book that really grabbed my heart.  My soul immediately resonated with it.  I have been familiar with its feeling, and always leaned this way in my daily life and IMG_3725living.  But this word description put the finger on the pulse when I read it.  It is described as the Norwegian word “Kos”.  As with many languages, sometimes it takes many words to understand the meaning of one foreign word used, and this word is no exception.  If we tried to translate it, it seems the word “cozy” would best work.  Sort of…but not really.  It is really described as more of a life style.  It’s about the quality of life we live and making an atmosphere that totally makes you feel like, this is the life!  This is what it’s about.  But she talks about “Kos” not just being about the home, it’s also about getting together for coffee, or when you see someone you haven’t seen in a long time, or sharing a bonfire with snacks or hotdogs together with friends, neighbors and family.  It is also about being out in nature on a walk or hike, or sitting on a deck and just enjoying what you see around you.  Hearing the sounds, and breathing in life.

I remember sitting on the porch after arriving in Norway, at my cousin’s house, and we all just sat on the porch and took in the sights of the fjord, the sunset, and…coffee… with cake.  And…conversation.  We would also sit on the back porch in the mornings with our coffee and enjoy the view of the mountains and nature.  I felt that same feeling when I went with _DSF4797other cousins, to see my grandfather’s church, and where his siblings and family attended, were confirmed, and lived their life.  I walked the road where my grandfather walked and then went up the hill to where his house was.  I traveled with other cousins to learn of my father’s mother and her life in Norway, and my great-uncle, who was a pastor, and gave his life to ministry in Norway, and later in the US.  I walked inside of the house where my great-grandmother, grandmother and her sister lived.  That was on my mom’s side._DSF5052  I could imagine for a while what their life was like and how hard their life was.  I could also look out the window at the beautiful mountains across the valley.  I stood there a moment trying to imagine them waking up to that view every day!  What a view a view it was.  Did they stand at the window and dream about a time when they would leave these mountains and come to the land of plenty?  Did they dream about a way to make a better life for themselves and for their family by leaving Norway?  Maybe they prayed for provision and food enough to get by?  Maybe their prayers were answered by our presence there that day.  Stories…do we know them, or are we too busy to gather around small tables by oil light to listen? (I will allow you an electrical light too, or, candles are welcomed). Can we slow down enough to hear the stories?  Everyone has one.

I think “Kos” isn’t about the just looking and seeing, it is about the appreciating it all; having a heart response.  It is about taking time to give your heart and life a chance to slow down; take it in.  That is “Kos”.  It is about living in the moment.  Right now.  It is like sitting by a window or out on the porch at night, lighting a candle and enjoying the evening with a cup of your favorite thing…for me it would be a mocha or tea.  Finding complete satisfaction in the moment.  Feeling like this is what life is IMG_3726about.  Whether by yourself, or with others, it is about squeezing every bit of enjoyment out of each moment lived.  For me, one of them just recently was laying on the floor with my grandson and just talking and giggling.  Listening to his story.  I can remember many days going to my grandpa and grandma’s house after school and sometimes just sitting there in a rocker and rocking back and forth, the Generator wall clock is sharing it’s “tick-tock, tick-tock”, and the quiet…we just enjoyed being together.  I have memories of my grandfather taking the time to teach me how to play solitaire.  I play a game on my phone before I go to bed each night in his honor.  Time.  We all have it.  What are we doing with it?

I remember going on a hike up the mountain in Norway and as we approached this mountain cabin, there was a small group of friends that were outside and eating IMG_3723their lunch together.  They invited on in to share the circle with them.  We ate our snacks there and they offered us cookies and coffee.  Here we sat, strangers to them, my son and I, and yet they invited us in like they had known us for a long time.  We were invited into the cabin for a tour.  My heart fell in love with this cabin on the mountain.  It squeezed my heart a little to leave, but I left feeling the “Kos” that day for many reasons.  Walking back down the mountain, it WAS hard to put into words.  But I know the feeling because my heart recognizes it.

So today, I am writing this post to not only teach you a new word, but to encourage you to put some “Kos” in your life.  Figure out what that means for you, and then add it into your life style.  Bring the outside in.  Take your inside out.  You know that I love nothing more than to sit on a covered deck, even in the rain.  I enjoy the sound of the rain, and watching the flowers stand up straighter after a rain, the lawn becomes greener, and the air is fresh.  Our culture is getting too busy for “Kos”.  It should not be so.  Slow it on down!  Put the breaks on.  Hang a light in the window, take your shoes off and enjoy the steam from a hot cup of cocoa, coffee or tea.  Breathe in the moment and then say thanks.  Invite someone in to enjoy this time with you.  Make “Kos” your lifestyle.

_DSF4843I thank my Norwegian relatives for reminding me once again what life is about and what is important.  I think God wants us to live this way.  It was never His plan to be running so fast that we run away from life instead of running to it.  We are running so hard that we forget to look around us at nature and what God has given us.  We can’t even hear Him because we are too busy moving on to the next thing.  I came back home with a reinforced perspective about this area of my life!  I am passionate about it!  I implement it in my home as well.  I now understand why. It was how I was brought up.  But it still takes ME to implement it.  When we allow it, our heart and soul will speak.  When it does, we have no choice but to listen and follow if we want harmony in our lives.

I want “Kos” in every area of my life.  What about you?  See that picture to the left?  This is a road trip we took and we stopped for coffee and cake along the roadside.  What a way to travel!  Now that is “Kos”!  Getting the idea?

Walking the “Kos” journey with you…

What If?

Guardian Angel from Childhood
Guardian Angel from Childhood

Talk about another wake up call!  As I listen to the news regarding the mudslide that has taken place about an hour and a half southeast of where I live, I am again reminded of how our lives can change in seconds!  One minute you may be doing your normal daily regime, and the next minute, disaster hits.

This last Sunday, our pastor asked us two questions:

  1. What would you do if you were to receive one billion dollars next week?
  2. What would you do if you lost everything you own next week?
  • 3.  Based on the above, how would your life change?

It really made me think.

So, let’s talk about the first question.  What would you do if you were to receive one billion dollars next week?    If we came into money, we could think of all kinds of things to do with it.  We would have all kinds of plans that would come to mind, and most of it may be for ourselves or immediate wants.  But, with that kind of windfall, we may, and I hope that is true, decide to be gracious and help with the needs around us.  But for the most part, we would probably be making all these plans with our comforts foremost in our minds.  How would your life change?

Second question.  What if we lost everything we own next week?  How would we react to that?  I think of all those in the Oso, Washington area that have lost everything!  There have many lost lives and many with questions about loved ones who haven’t been found.  Their homes… and everything in them…gone.  Then, there are those who have survived that are thankful to be alive.  Some “just happened” to be away from the house with other activities.  In seconds, their lives are changed forever!  Lost…everything you own.  How would your life change?

So how then, shall we live?  That question seems very key for us today.  How will I live out my life?  Am I ready for a storm of whatever comes my way?  Am I ready to meet the Lord if I am over taken by that storm?  Am I living in such a way daily, that I have happiness, joy and peace in my life?  Do I share my love freely with my family so they know how important they are to me?  Yes…  It makes me think.  I hope it makes you think also.  It is true that we can’t predict these kinds of disasters. They happen.  Scripture tells us that we will have troubles.  But, we can live each day as if it is our last; never closing our eyes without giving thanks, without saying I love you to those who need to hear it, without feeling gratitude for what God has given us, and without forgiveness; either asking, given, and asked for from God.  It would change our lives if we lived like that, wouldn’t it?

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not trying to make any of you anxious about the future.  “The mind that is anxious about the future is miserable.” (Pastor Herb Geeslin)  If we always worry about what might happen, it would make us miserable and it also means that we aren’t trusting the Lord.  However, we have hope because we have a Savior that never leaves us.  EVER.  I think it should cause us want to have abundant joy and zest for life.

What drives your happiness now?  Don’t let it be things and possessions that are your main focus.  They can be taken from you in seconds as we have seen in Oso.  I would encourage you to talk it over with God and see what your score is.

Let’s keep the families of Oso, Washington in our prayers as they try to pick up the pieces of their lives.  It could be yours, or mine.

A changed life relishes the future of today. (From the same sermon mentioned above).  If you need to, make some changes in how you think about your life.  Let’s live our lives with joy unspeakable and full of glory.

Walking the journey with you…

 

~JoAnn

Grace Moments

_DSC0103_1I joined a group a couple of weeks ago that started the study 1000 Gifts.  It has really got me thinking.  That can be dangerous at times, but I think this is a good thing!  What is it about the little things we have around us, that given we would quiet ourselves, we love to enjoy?  For me, I have many colorful glass or crystal pieces in my home that I love to watch the light reflect off of, or through.  I have red crystals that hang from my kitchen window curtain, and it gives me great delight to watch them reflect shimmering lights around my kitchen as the sun hits them.  I look around my home and I have so many memorable items that bring memories of my grandparents, parents, kids and grandchild.  It makes me happy to have them.  I consider each of them my gifts.  I also enjoy being outside to smell the fresh air, or taking a walk again, watching our flowers and trees budding up, or an extra cloudy sky that reminds me that no matter what chaos I may be going through, I have someone who cares, and never leaves me.  You see, I think all of those things are gifts…every day.

IMG_6020As we were reading, all of our moments shape us one way or another.  However, we do have moments that may stand out, and other feelings that we experience.  It might be looking at something that strikes a chord deep in your heart, or even something that was not a very enjoyable experience.  How do I handle a day of disappointments?   When chaos comes, how can I turn it around?   We all have minutes, and they are experienced and lived in different ways.  So I asked myself once again on Friday afternoon, “How do you spend your minutes?”  To be honest, I found that there were certainly areas that I could handle my minutes much better than I do.  There are times I need to stop, and just sit and enjoy what I see or what I hear.  Or maybe, I need to listen to something that is uplifting.  I might need to encourage someone who God puts on my heart.  Maybe, it’s that you have a day planned one way, and something else comes up to side track you.   Maybe God is taking you on a completely different path for the day.  How do you handle those times?

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Whatever it may be for you, taking advantage of all these minutes that God gives us, is what it is all about.  I think her study is a prime example of how to learn to see life through a totally different lens; the lens of grace, thanksgiving, and gratitude.  As you may have read in previous posts, I have kept a gratitude jar, and I find that concentrating on the things that are right in my life, or that are good, or that make me happy, is the way to put my focus on the right track.  It might be as simple as a reflection of light as I stated above, or it may be something as sweet as a lunch with a friend.  Maybe the sun shining through your window as you have breakfast.  But it has purpose in your life and God wants to use those gifts to cheer you on, bring you joy, and lift your spirit.

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What is one gift you can think of right now?  Leave it in the comments.  Because I am in this study, there is a monthly calendar on her website that helps you look for those gifts around YOU.  So, for the month of March, or while I’m in this study, I have posted a picture on my Facebook page of three gifts each day of the month of March.  God says, “I AM.”  That means He is present always.  Ask Him to show you.  Try writing the gifts down.  Try the jar.  But DO give it a try.  Living in thankfulness, grace, and joy is like a muscle that needs to be exercised.  Once you do it, it will become a stronger and stronger influence in your life.  It WILL change your life.

Walking the journey with you…

 

~JoAnn

Slowing Down…

I had the pleasure and fun of having my grandson over night this weekend and what a great time we had. He is five years old and a very busy little boy! His energy is non-stop and as he tells me, he NEVER runs out of energy. After following him around for a couple of days, I am inclined to agree with him. But the other side of him asks me, “Grandma, why do you go so fast?”  When I look down at him, I wonder the same thing. What IS my hurry? He likes to stop and look at things; admire them, ask questions about them, ask what it means or why it is that way. I enjoy his curiosity and have come to adopt that in my life more and more as I am around him.

Just think of what that could mean in our relationship with God. What if we “slowed down” to enjoy time, or more time, with Him? What if we would stop and become a “noticer” of things and people around us? What would happen if we stopped to enjoy the flowers, or the hear the birds more, children’s laughter, our husband/wife, our family? What would happen if we started looking at things more simply or asked God what something means or why it is that way? The exciting part of that is, just like when Ethan asks me those questions and I want to answer him the best I can, so much more so, God wants to talk with us and help us understand and see things more clearly. Now THAT is something to get excited about!

So over the next few days, I hope this encourages you to slow down a bit, pause a while, smell a flower, see the mountains, smell the rain, and breathe deeply of a loving Father that wants to share in your life and loves you very much. When I hear Ethan repeat back to me weeks later what we have talked about, there is no greater joy to me. I know God feels the same way about you and me. He loves it when we come to Him and pause a while, and remember His goodness and enjoy His beautiful creation around us. Enjoy this week and God bless you as you journey on!