Building My Story on The Rock

IMG_0310Have you ever had someone say to you, “I was one decision away from a different life path in life.”?  I can relate to that.  I have had many points in my life been at a crossroads and my decision totally changed the trajectory of my life. I have not always chosen what was right for me, but often chosen out of compassion or not wanting to hurt feelings, rather than listening to the Holy Spirit that is sending me a different message and a different path to take.  Those decisions are so hard, aren’t they?  Sometimes there is so much to give up…but what if we listened to the hard message in the first place and didn’t take OUR decision, but listened to the leading of the Holy Spirit?  And…what if the Holy Spirit even sent friends along the way to ask you the hard questions about a decision you were making?  Ahhh…now THOSE are hard questions!  Here is another one for you…what if changes in your life circumstances mean that you NEED to consider yet another change in order for it to be the best yes in your life, and it will require a LOT out of you?  That’s not even to mention all those who think you are nuts to have done it in the first place, or they are thinking you can’t seem to make up your mind.

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Ever been in this situation?  Let me share mine, or yet another one of mine, with you.  A little over two years ago, it was our goal to move away from a very busy area, where noise of traffic and walking traffic kept us awake all hours of the night.  Didn’t mind the house, we even made some great improvements on the house that we really loved!!  But in order to move after retirement to where we could find affordable housing with a more quiet and peaceful surrounding, we made a move away from family and friends.  We have worked very hard on this home to improve it and make it our own.  Loved every minute of it!  I love the house, the quiet back yard and have spent many a morning and afternoon.

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So…here it comes…but before it does, I want to remind you that you need to build your house on the Rock.  That is where we can live strong.  Anyway, back to the story…it brings to mind this photo that I took several weeks ago with our grandson.  When I took this picture, I heard this message:  “Expect something ahead.”  Without going into detail, it made us reconsider what is important in the scheme of things for us.  But the reality is, we don’t know what is in our tomorrow.  Sometimes we have to make the hard choices now for the sake of the future choices.  So after much conversation, we have made the decision to put our “house on Bel Aire” on the market.  We will be moving back up north where we will have family closer and where I am blessed to have life long friends.  The hard part is that I have recently began to enjoy some sweet friends here also.  But… The Captain and I are used to the trip, so I expect I will still be coming this way to say hello.  I will have to come back to enjoy a refreshing visit to the ocean.

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So what have I learned through all of this?

  • I am not as young as I was since the last move.  My body gets weary quicker.
  • We have too much stuff, which someone in our household has trouble letting go of.
  • I have had fun sharing treasures with others.
  • Simplifying isn’t just something I think about, it is something my heart craves at this point in life.
  • Only I and God know the reasons for decisions made and I can’t care about who thinks what about it.
  • It’s sad to see JoAnn’s House on Bel Aire disappear into Real Estate Boring Decor.IMG_0095
  • Life is precious, and when the unknown rears up, I want to live out today fully alive.
  • Change is STILL hard.
  • I put my heart and soul into my home so I leave part of myself behind with every home.
  • It is important to pray for the next occupants of the home, that they found the joy I found in this home.
  • I don’t want to live with expectations, but with expectancy.
  • We get to start a new story; the next page can be the best written page in the story yet!
  • God resides IN me, so where ever I am, I am home.
  • I can’t control this, so I have to rest in Him.
  • I am STILL up for a good adventure.
  • I am never alone.  Ever.
  • I can travel more with my hubby when we have less to care for.
  • I appreciate each day we have to live with joy.
  • I have to be willing to give up what I want, for what may be better for someone else.

When we think we might have to give up something we love, God gives us a way to make it special in the next place we are by giving me a talented son who can repair and make it look new again.  That’s how God is.  He will sometimes take away, so He can make us new with a clean slate.  That was a heavy light we are taking with us.  And you can’t even see it hung there.  God is a carpenter too, and He knows how to put things together.  What a relief, huh???

So when you think God is out there, maybe in the distance, or far away, we are wrong.  Because…Jesus is in us.  He cares about what we care about.  And like an author said from a book I have been reading,  “God’s breath both creat and sustains our spirit, and that spirit was always meant to be His home.” …”We think of God as out there, somewhere, and search for Him as though He were lost.  In reality, our omnipresent Creator is “out there” and also “in here”.  Christ is within.  So being with God and remaining in Him are awakening to and exploring forever the biblical truth that we are God’s resting place.”  Alicia Britt Chole

So you see, no matter where I live, what home, or condo, or whatever kind of home we end up in, God is there because He lives IN me.  That is a comforting thought for me to be reminded of when I fret a little about where I will be.  I can rest in that knowledge.  He is IN me, and that is Home.  God always has a purpose, and if we are willing, He will  use circumstances to teach us and lead us in the direction we are to go next.

So…lead on Lord.  Your servant heareth.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

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“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…