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.

IMG_0003

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.

save-new_1.jpg

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.

IMG_6387

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

Advertisements

A Different Road To Travel

Cropped RememberWow!  What do you do when you get hit with a situation you weren’t counting on having to deal with?

How do you react?  Where do you go?  Who do you turn to?  What?!?!???  Are you kidding me??  I had the opportunity to experience this yesterday.  I didn’t have to ask those questions because I knew who I needed to turn to!  But I can’t say that my reaction was without feeling.  However, I was rather numb after last night’s phone call.  Next, I was ticking off the points.   What does this mean for us?  Here is the dilemma:  our sale contract on our current house has defaulted.  No sale one day before closing.  My thoughts?  My word for the year came to mind…Remember.

There are so many thoughts that I ticked through in my mind over this situation.  What does this mean for our other house?  Can we pull this off?  We are starting this whole process over after working so hard to meet deadlines.  We are exhausted and we are going to start all over again?  Where’s the lawn mower?  Oh yes…it’s at the BACK of one of the storage units!  Laundry without a washer and dryer?  We better move the food and a few items back into the house.  How long will it take to have a secure offer?  At least we have a new air mattress!  Random thoughts as my mind races for answers.

Getting the idea?  This is not just inconvenient.  It changes everything.  Everything.  I can’t even really process it.  All I could say today was, “You know God.  You are in control.  There has to be a reason.  There is, right?”  Let’s be honest here.  I want to trust with my whole heart.  Not give in to emotions.  But there is no doubt that it is hard.  As I put things back into the bathroom so we can use it, and items of food back in the pantry, I still have to tell myself that.  Minute by minute.  We were advised to put it back on the market right away with the market being even better than when we first listed the house.  We are looking around at our house that hadn’t been cleaned well since starting the hard part of moving out.  Show someone our house right now?  We said ok.  We are IN!  Then, just a few minutes after our house was listed again on the market, an offer came in, two calls for showings and away we go!  We will see what the weekend holds for us.  The blessing?  We can ask more for our house with this listing than the last because of the change in the market.  God knows…

IMG_2529So I approach the next few days with careful watch on my feelings because they can get me into trouble.  I heard Laura Story’s song today as she sang about all the hardships we go through and the tears we shed, being what draws us closer to Him.  Yep!  Ok God.  There is my answer.  I will do my best to wait on your intervention; whichever way that should go.  We aren’t new on the block of trials, so I press on toward the mark.  Face the “new” in our journey and ask God to give me grace.  Sound good?  It is our only answer.  The only one.

Walking the journey with you…

 

 

Are We Here, or Are We There?

IMG_2834I still don’t know.  We think we see the light at the end of the tunnel, but then there are the signs that tell us, no entry.  We have had a hiccup in the process and we are waiting to see how big the buyers think the hiccup is.  The kicker?  If we have to put more money into the house to sell it, hubby wants to invest in the house for ourselves, and stay.  WHAT?!?!?!????  I have packed half of the house up to do what???!!!  STAY here?  Oh boy!  Breathe girl… breathe!

So I let this idea roll over in my heart a bit, and I tell God that He sure go through a lot of trouble to maneuver what happens, to get us where we are supposed to be.  He must be exhausted trying to keep us in His will.  But that may happen in the plans.  It also can be that the process of selling this home is to teach us:

  • What we REALLY want.
  • What our focus is.
  • Get some things accomplished.
  • Learn to have an even deeper focus on trusting Him.

We certainly have had to do that, because it has been a ride for sure!  Scripture shows me how He will always be faithful to bring me back.  I have read of His faithfulness over and over again, even when I may have repeatedly abandoned what I know to be true.

IMG_2837Today as I opened my Bible, I turned to Psalm 116.  It talks of the author’s love for the Lord, and all that the Lord has done for him.  He is praising the Lord for His goodness.  That was lifting to my spirit today, as well as, a gentle reminder to stay in gratitude.  What refreshment to my soul!  My Gratitude Jar hasn’t been growing over the last month or so.  That’s not good.  When I am not dropping those hearts in my jar, I can easily let other things that come my way get the best of me.  Of course, that is exactly what  satan wants; he wants to discourage me in every way possible.  So today, I have dropped a few hearts in my jar and told God I will continue as I always do to remember (my word for the year) to always live in gratitude.  Today, I am very grateful for U-Turns that we are allowed in life.  Wow!  What a blessing to be able to know that God will forgive me, gently lift me up and turn me back around.  What a picture word that is…u-turn.  I have to allow it.  I have to be willing to turn back around.  I am the “U” in u-turn.  I can either keep struggling, or surrender and let Him do what He needs to do in me.

So today, I send out my message to you to encourage you to let God allow u-turns in your life.  Maybe you have never even considered that God WOULD
IMG_2838allow a u-turn.  You may be carrying around a huge amount of guilt from your past.  Don’t be a martyr and carry that heavy load around.  Unload it at the cross.  Surrender it.  We just experienced Easter and that is what Easter is all about.  He doesn’t want you to have to live under the burden.  Let Him pick you up, clean you off, set you down in the opposite direction, and walk the rest of the way with you.  It is what He desires.  You have the decision to make.  I would love to walk up to the window of my life and look in to see what He has in store for me.  But I can’t.  However, He sees the end from the beginning and He will eventually help me see clearly through the window with out cracks, or brokenness.

I turned around once again today.  I did allow Him to work in my life.  He immediately encouraged me through His words in the Psalm.  Do you know what?  Even though I had some good plans and reasons for the change we felt God was leading us in, maybe, just maybe, God can make all those changes right here where we are.  I will wait on Him, and I am asking Him to help me see with more of His perspective and vision.  It’s like walking out from the darkness and into the light.  Don’t wait.  Talk to Him about it.

Walking the journey with you..

What A Ride!

IMG_1247Decisions.  There are so many ramifications from the decisions we make.  The decision may be a great change and exciting, the ramifications following that decision…not so much.  Until…we get through it.  God talks about through a lot in the Bible.   So I am trusting in the “through”.  It’s how I can make sense of all the stuff that happens in between the decision and the through.

As you may remember, we put our home on the market just two weeks ago.  From the time it hit the MLS, we had nine showings within two and a half days!  We would have had more, but as soon as realtors realized there was an offer on the table, they backed out of showing the house, even though we were willing to entertain further offers.  So interesting how people do business.  I learn more every time we do something like this. We had an offer within about five days and we accepted.  Decisions…

As we walk our each day, and sometimes drag is more accurate, I have found that I have to keep talking to myself and turning my thinking around.  People asking me where we are going to live.  I don’t know.  I am trusting God to bring us the right place to be.  We have looked at several.  We have made an offer on one and had some kind of unpleasant experience with that which led to our offer not being considered.  Ready to make an offer on another one, one hour before see it we get a phone call that they removed the listing and had changed their minds.  We get a text a couple of days later and the listing is back on the market again.  We go out to see it and what looks quite big, is quite small.  What looks like a spacious lot is actually not so large.  Yes, a wide-angle lens was used.  Up, and down.  Up, and then down.  It can wear you out!  Yes, I know that it may not have been the “one”.  Yes I know that I need to trust God.  But as you may have also found out, with any decision, it is HARD.

Life can be like that.  We have all had expectations of how we think our life was going to be.  Yah…that didn’t happen.  We even look toward changing it to be more of what we want it to be.  Change isIMG_0321 great.  We should be always willing to change and evolve.  I believe God wants that for us.  So, as we go through each day with high stress levels and disappointments, I am asking God often to encourage me.  Remind me Lord that you are my Source.  Show me.  Show me your ways.  Send Your Holy Spirit.  Encourage me through family, friends and my surroundings.  Remind me once again, that we won’t be living in a motor home somewhere out there because we don’t have a home to go to.  🙂  You may recall my word for this year… Remember… Hahaha!!!  Doesn’t God have a sense of humor or what?!?  In this case,  I remember His daily faithfulness with me in the past, so that, I can trust Him more with my future.

What can I share with you that I have learned through this experience? Here are a couple:

  • We have gotten more projects completed on the house since its been on the market, than has gotten done in the three years we have lived here.  Why IS that?  Why do we wait to have our homes like we want?  I realize that sometimes its a money issue on bigger items, but on the small things?  No.  I recommend getting them completed.  I am determined that our next home is complete as quickly as we can.  I don’t have to live in a “half-completed state of projects”.  I want to rest in the preparedness of completion.  That doesn’t mean I won’t change out or update some things here and there, but the main list is going to get checked off this time.  NOTE:  If this resonates with you, I would encourage you to rethink your list.  Enjoy your home as you really thought it could be when you got it.  Get that work list done so you are ALL enjoying every aspect of your home!  It will save you a big headache or constant distraction in your every day!  It will also give stability to you and your family.  Our family deserves to have that stability in the home.  I remember reading about a woman that didn’t put her decorations all up in her home because she THOUGHT se might move.  One day God spoke to her heart about giving her family the security and comfort that they deserved in her home.  So she began to decorate it and her family noticed and commented how cozy it felt.  I know it has felt great for me to see them done, even though someone else will enjoy the benefits.  I feel good leaving the home to the next owners with those complete.
  • One other thing is, thin out!  Don’t keep those things you think you might use.  Ask your children IF they would want the item, and if they don’t, ask extended family members.  Lighten the load on your mind.  Share it with someone who might need it or just may want it.  I have had a lot of fun doing that!  It may also be that those items are taking up precious space you can better use for something else.  It’s hard.  I know that.  But it feels great to do it!  If it was totally up to me, we would have a very light move.  Alas, it isn’t just up to me.  Another area I must turn over to God.

IMG_4102Let me leave you with this.  Staying in gratitude is important when you go through a big change; any change.  Stay in the game.  Ask God to be a part and to show you from His perspective.  I know that as I am out there looking for our next home that we can BOTH agree on, I will be seeking God’s perspective, not my own.  He knows.  He has decided where.  He just hasn’t told me yet.

Walking the journey with you…

The Precipice of Change

10302697_683810818367171_6463270350335103447_n1.jpgFOR SALE:  Today, I am writing in response to many who are asking me questions based on a few of my posts about moving.  Some of the questions are:

  • Why move?
  • Where will we move?
  • Why do you want to leave your home after you just got it more the way you wanted it?
  • As I have shared where that move might take us, the question of why we would move so FAR comes up.

Understandable.  I asked some of those same questions as I prayed and talked with God about the whole situation.  Even though it is hard, there are many different reasons.  I thought maybe if I share some of my thoughts about this season of change and transition, maybe it will resonate with some of you.   When a big wind of change comes into your life in the future, maybe you can be more prepared to approach changes in your lives with an open heart.  Here we go with a few financial choices we have made:

  • First, I am looking for what God is doing.  It is like Dave Ramsey says, “Live like no one else SO THAT, you can live like no one else.” (emphasis are mine)  910153_13_resizeto_611x458x1
  • We have lived in places others would not want to live.
  • We have lived in houses others wouldn’t desire to live in.
  • We have made decisions such as moving to the midwest to work for a ministry.  Many thought we were kind of crazy to do that, especially since we were going to a home sight unseen.  But God…  He took care of us and all the details!
  • We drive used cars so we don’t have car payments.
  • We do the work on our home to save money on our future utilities.
  • We make the hard choices so that later, we can make the fun choices.

With that said, we are now entering into the next chapter.  A move.  We could make the decision and just stay here.  We could.  God gives us a free will.  We have enjoyed it here and have accomplished the above things in our current home.  However, as we have prayed about it, we have felt that God has something else He wants to do in us and for us.  Are we going to be obedient?  Yes.  We want to be in God’s will.  I have been praying for a long time about our future retirement years and what we want that to look like.  So, we began to ask ourselves:

  • What are our priorities?
  • What do we want our life to look like?
  • What makes us happy?
  • What is it that really feeds our souls?
  • What must we do to be able to live that way in our daily life?
  • What do we need to do to get from here, to there?”

What is our plan?  Why the move out of the area?  The answer is simple.  We will go where the housing is less expensive than here in current location.  It will not be too far away that a drive up north can’t fix.  Being debt free is what we desire.  By keeping the mortgage cost down, we can still continue to enjoy our life, enhance our home, and travel.  As we began to ponder these questions, there were some changes to make in order for our lives to be what we envision.  Doesn’t mean this location is wrong.  On the contrary.  God gave us this wonderful home and it will be wonderful now, for the next owner.  We are proud of leaving our home much better than we came into it.  We have enhanced its character.  I love that.  I am now praying about, and planning in my head for the next home He brings.  We will dedicate it just as we did this home.

Part of our discussion has been our life style.  We can easily become too busy, overextended, and have crazy schedules.  In the long run, it doesn’t help us to really have peace or joy because we are always running.  We get worn out.  I know many who later on in their lives, have regrets about their lives and how they wanted it to be, but it isn’t.  Personally, I view change as a way to start a new chapter with what I have learned in the last chapter.  If we will be open and willing to really hear, and not ignore, what God is telling us or leading us to do, we WILL reap the benefits of His guidance.  I don’t want to miss that.  But if we ignore what our hearts are telling us deep down, then we may have a life that works, but not as fulfilling as it could be.

Guardian Angel from Childhood
Guardian Angel from Childhood

I have been reading a great book by Michael Hyatt called, “Living Forward”.   The book discusses the idea of having a Life Plan.  A life plan is designed by you, and meant to give you direction with your whole life; whether at home with family, relationships, a career, or any other area.  It has been very insightful to me.  It is exactly what we have been praying about for our life, and was affirmation of what God may be leading us to do.  I would encourage you to get this book and read it.  Don’t be afraid to make the changes necessary.  Who knows how God will use the changes you make?  He knows what is important to us and will work out the details; even missing friends and family that will be further away.

My hubby and I are at the precipice looking over the edge.  We are choosing to step out in obedience.  We put our hands in His, and obediently walk this path out.  God asks us to step into the water before He parts it, so we step forward even though we can’t see exactly what is ahead.  We trust He will land us exactly where we need to be planted for this season.  It’s up to us how we react to it all.  I am very grateful for all God has done for us, and I am very excited to see where God will take us.  Watch for future posts of the journey!

Update:  We got the listing up with photos and one hour later we received a call for a showing.  Got favorable response with possible offer, and then another call for an appointment for 5:30p and the first day!  God is working!

Walking the journey with you…

IMG_0094

Rains of Change Revisited

This is a post that I had written quite some time ago, actually in September of 2011. So as I was reviewing it, I realized it started that day! I now see the pieces coming together.

In Washington, we have a lot of experience with rain. However, we also enjoy the beautiful lush green color that goes with it! We know a refreshing rain is good for many things. One of those things is the freshness to the air we breathe. So, as I sat yesterday inside my cozy office, I was thinking about that. I decided to take a moment and I went outside to listen and to watch as the rains came down.

As I watched the rain and saw this little plant, I realized, or God chose to remind me, “so it is with our lives”. We need times of refreshing so that we can continue to grow and revive our weary souls. New beginnings so to speak; renewed every morning. We may decide on a different direction for our lives, a move, re-arrange our home or decor, or maybe even our change our schedules so that we CAN have more times for the soft rain of change to happen. It brings peace and calmness to our souls. You may be in a torrent of rain right now, but all the more important for you to really pray over these words for your life circumstances. Ask God to reveal Himself in the circumstances.

So here is what I felt as I watched the rain. I feel change coming. Have you ever had one of those seasons where you feel like something is about to happen and you aren’t sure what? You are kind of excited but not sure what God is up to? I have been living with this feeling for a long time. I feel God calling me to rely on the Holy Spirit for direction. I am in preparation for something yet unknown, but its going to be great! Crazy, huh? But…exciting!

I think that is the whole idea, though, don’t you? He wants us to live in expectancy of His next move or work. But we have to lay a foundation for that work before hand. Think about this…satan lays his groundwork before he plays out his full hand. Have you ever thought about that? He doesn’t just hit you with an attack. He has been laying ground work by planting doubt, discouraging you with circumstances, causing insecurities, hurt in relationships and anything else he can come up with. Then, before we know it, he is inside our door! One little chink in our armor and he will use that to turn your life upside down. Spend time with the Lord and let His refreshing rain fall over you and give you what you need when you need it. Use the Word to stand against it, pray always, so you are laying a solid groundwork!

What refreshing rains are falling on you?  What will you re-arrange so that you can have times of refreshing in your life? You see, 10 months later, I am finding out that there is a move in my future to a different home, and selling the home we have lived in for over three years. He is moving me into a different season and I am moving forward TOWARDS it as each day passes!

Funny isn’t it? No…not funny, but exciting to see the hand of God move in our lives and see all the pieces of the puzzle start coming together. God bless you as you throw the umbrella away and let the soft rains of change wash over you! Walking the journey with you…in the rain!