A New Look

How has your new year started?  Are you feeling energized by the fact that you are starting to write on new pages in your life this year?  Are you feeling a bit like you are in a funk?  Maybe you don’t see this year as any different from the last year?

I have found myself energized by the new year.  I have received a lot in this last year:

  • Insight and wisdom
  • Made it through some very hard times
  • God has strengthened my resolve
  • I have left some old things behind
  • Embraced new things
  • Did some heart excavating
  • The importance of family and friends
  • Seeing life differently both with my eyes and my camera
  • Learning what to say yes to
  • No fear of saying no more often
  • Renewed my love of making music
  • Learning more and more to lean in and listen to the Whisper

I know there is much more to learn this year too, and I am happy to say that I have entered this new year without regrets.  What was hard, made me stronger.  I  reviewed what was going on and examined my reaction to it.  I believe in changing what I can to make it better.  Most of the time, if I am honest, my reaction to something is really just not allowing God to handle it.  I feel excited about what is to come this year!  I have purchased a ukulele and mandolin to learn, got new strings on my guitar, budgeted a little for photography investments, started reading again everyday in those books I purchased.  I approach it just like it is a class I attend.  I give myself time for lessons to learn more, I give myself quiet time to reflect.  I take in the moments in my day rather than moving so fast that I don’t “notice”, or hear God”s whisper.

As I am reading in a current study, I find myself in total agreement with the author who says we can get deafened to hearing from God because we have so many loud noises trying to get our attention.  He also says that we become deaf to God speaking to us.  He needs to be our loudest voice.  I think so too.  When I am living more like I shared above, I am more relaxed and just enjoy the moment for what it is.  A mocha, a phone call from a friend, a prayer request that I immediately pray for, time with a child, listening to a great song, playing a tune I just made up, or spending time with hubby doing some of our favorite things.  For example, I don’t just drink a mocha.  I savor the warmth of the cup, the flavor of the drink, who I am with, where I am at….all those things.  I’m thankful.  Some do not have a warm drink, let alone a warm home.  So I say thank you that I can enjoy this moment because He has been provided for that.  When I sing and play, I am thankful for the gift of a singing voice and that I can even still sing; not like I used to, but at least I can still sing.  I sing my thanks, I listen to the lyrics as I sing…it is all about taking the time to hear what song God even brings up in my spirit TO sing.  That can be a message all by itself!  That is listening! The new year for me brings up all the things that are right in my world, not all the things that are wrong.  I look for good when I make my goals, and let God show me what He will willing to do with this year.

The gift that my hubby and I gave each other this year for Christmas was a spa type hot tub.  It is portable and not real big, but it fits us and has a semi hard casing around it.  We are excited about spending time enjoying a good soak when these bones and muscles are kind of stiff.  It will be outside amongst the trees and cold air, while we are relaxed and refreshed by the heat of the tub.  I can’t wait to try it out with a mocha in hand!  I hope it will be ready soon!

I just got a new journal that I love.  It is very old-fashioned and that draws me to it.  It’s blank pages are screaming for a story, and…I just might have to write one.  It may be for my own eyes only, and something I pass on, but it may be a treasure some day for someone else.  There are mysteries in our lives, and I think we need to be more open to sharing them while we are here to share them.  I encourage my boys to ask me what they want to know if I haven’t shared it with them already.  So if you aren’t a journal type person, remember, it doesn’t have to be a page; it may only be a paragraph.  It may even be a sentence or two.  Great!  Just put it down.

My new year’s wish for you is that you take this new year as an opportunity to mix things up a little bit.  Do something new.  Change what you don’t like and replace it with something you do!  Become a an artist of your own life; a writer of your own story.  There are times in my life where a certain situation comes up and I would love to see God change that, like… immediately.  But of course, that is not the case. God has His own time frame, and His own reasoning for where I am and what I am doing.  So instead of complaining about it, I’m learning to ask Him to help me understand it, AND the process.  That way my focus is more on solution than complaint.  You see, if we change how we look at things, we change everything about it.  I can’t take a picture of a flower if I’m focused on the sky.  I have to get down where the flowers grow, maybe even grovel on the ground a bit to get the best view.  THEN… I can see the beauty that is there to see.  It is all about our perspective.

Let me just say that I hope you will grab that extra cup of coffee or what ever your favorite is, and take a moment to ponder this post.  See and ask what you are supposed to put your eyes and ears to this year.  What does this mean for you?  What is my heart telling me about my adventurous journey?  Not adventurous, you say?  Well then!  You have your first goal for the new year!  Adventure!  Seek out something new!  Go for it! I am!!! 🙂

See you on the Adventure trail!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

 

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It’s A New Beginning

IMG_1392-2As I have been planning my new year, I just want to take this opportunity to tell you how much I appreciate your faithfulness in being a part of this community!  Sometimes, I’m not sure if it helps or encourages anyone, but then I will get a message from one of you and it is thanking me for post.  So, as a part of my new year, I will continue to share my thoughts and life with you in hopes that it will bring hope and encouragement to you just when you need it.

It has been an interesting start to my new year  I have been sick since shortly after the New Year.  I spent a week and a half just laying in bed, for the most part.  I tried everything imaginable to help myself get over it rather than getting a doctor appointment, spending the money on a co-pay, and have them tell me, “Just drinking lots of fluids and (take some over the counter thing) get lots of rest.”  So I doctored myself.  Did ok, but my tummy is seriously a mess from whatever it was I had.  The upside?  I can’t eat very much because of the tummy issues, and so I think I am losing some weight!  There IS a silver lining, right?  🙂

But I am excited about 2016 and have a few questions for you:

  • So what does your life look like as you start the year?
  • Are you happy to start something new?
  • Do you feel any anticipation about this year?
  • Do you breathe a sigh of relief that last year is finally over?

IMG_9330Go get your coffee, tea, hot chocolate, put your feet up for a few minutes and let’s chat about this.

What are you thinking as you live out the daily life of 2016?  It’s not about a list of dos and don’ts.  It’s about positive changes.  For me, I remember God’s faithfulness to me last year and all that He did, and I look with anticipation for all He will do this year.  But there is something about thinking of a new year that pushes us to believe that it is going to better than last year.  Really?  So… does that mean you are going to do something different this year in the way you live, the way you think, how you look at your life and circumstances, or trust God MORE than you trusted Him last year?  Because if we don’t change “us” then we don’t change this year either.  We will continue to have the same patterns.  There may be things that iron themselves out, but over all, we are the ones that change how things go for us because we change how we do our life.  We are the ones that choose how we look at things that happen around us.  Not everything happens to us, but it can feel like that sometimes.  I am thankful that I have a new year to change how I look at those times.

Here is what is different for me:

  • Go to God first!  Sometimes in the midst of emotions, we forget.  Prayer is the key even more than last year for me.
  • I have learned that making my life less busy helps me to concentrate more on the areas that I want to improve.
  • It is about looking at what is right, instead of all that is wrong.  I know for myself, I can get into what is wrong and right a book about it.  I don’t want to be an author of that kind of book of life.
  • I will look at what is right and build on it.
  • If I have a hard day, or even a few hard days, it doesn’t mean I have a hard life.
  • Just because things don’t go the way I would like them to go doesn’t mean that it’s going the wrong way.
  • Be IN God’s Word.  Get it down deep in my heart, not just in my head.

Take the walls down.  Lean on people God has placed around you.  Be a part of a community of people who you can go to and feel good about asking for help.  Learn to lean.  It’s ok to call someone and say, “I’m having a hard day and feel like I can’t keep going.  Could you pray for me?”

IMG_1374I have had some hard decisions that have had to be made just in the last couple of weeks.  It has been hard not to be disappointed, or get angry over the circumstances, or feel like I have always had to do things this way.   It would be nice for just once, to have it be different, where what is a problem is never an issue for me anymore.  Been there?  But when I start looking at through the lens of gratitude, things shift and God changes my heart.  I get back up, dust myself off, and say, “Ok Lord.  I don’t know the why, but I know YOU, and you do.  Now, help me, by the work of the Holy Spirit, to remember that the next time I’m a stinker about it.”  It’s like playing a detective about ourselves and asking ourselves the hard questions, but then walking it out when the answer comes.

I am seeking to live well.  I desire:

  • Having good health
  • Enjoying more quiet and reflective time
  • I desire to walk deeper in God’s Word
  • Spend designated time with my grandson
  • Appreciate more and more the nature around me and with my camera to document God’s goodness
  • More community with friends than last year
  • Put more of the music back in my life
  • Enjoy my heritage that God has given me
  • Get a ukulele and learn to play it
  • Live without regrets

_DSF4722-1I have a couple of pages in my little book so far of my goals for this year.  It’s fun to consider the journey God will take me on to enable me to fulfill desires I believe He has put on my heart.  I pray for each post that I write in hopes that it reaches hearts to encourage.  So my desire for you is that you are encouraged not to look at your life as something too busy to implement any changes, but as a new opportunity to live each day in the moment, and totally change your life from something you live each day to something that fulfills you each day!  God bless you to that end.

Walking the journey with you…

 

 

Are You Satisfied With Where You Are?

Dance
Dance like no one is watching.

Happy January my friends!  I hope you have settled in to your new year and have a sense of expectation about what this new year will bring!  As I read over my hearts from my Gratitude Jar on New Year’s Eve, I was once amazed at all that the Lord had done!  Amazing!  It brings so many areas into perspective, and it once again, has changed who I am.

I have made some pretty drastic decisions at the beginning of this year.  My title question is, “Are you satisfied with where you are?” is a tough question for some to answer.  Did it bring some stirring to your soul?  Did you stop to ask yourself that question once you read it?  What was your answer?  There are two sides of the coin regarding that question for me.  I am satisfied in what God is doing in my life and lessons He is teaching me, however, I am never satisfied with where I am spiritually.  I will always want to move forward, learn more, apply more, press in more, and especially never be satisfied with where I am, but ask God to continue to take me where He wants me to be.  We can see the turn in the road ahead of us, but we don’t know what is around the corner.  I am always trusting that, just like I shared last time about God going with me wherever I go, He will lead me where I need to go if I will follow Him and trust that HE knows best for me no matter how it may look.

What have I been up to in my decisions for this year?  I felt the pulling of the Lord to get off of Facebook.  There are many reasons for that but suffice it to say, I do value my privacy when it comes to online.  I think there is also way too much time that I was spending there that He wants me to use for other things.  I did of lot of ministry and encouragement, which is my passion, but there are times that I felt God was telling me that it was becoming first in my life.  Now, did I go off of social media completely?  Pretty much.  I also closed my Twitter account and my LinkedIn account.  I now have anKey Moments Photography account on http://www.weme.com and I have loved the privacy and the ability to generate positive comments and posts.    And do you know what? I feel quite free!  I have more time and have accomplished so much more by not feeling compelled to check into all those things through out my day.  Even good things can pull us in directions that pull us away from God and HIS agenda for us. I’m happy about this change in me.

I am also working in areas of shedding unnecessary things from my schedule.  I want to have a soul at peace and our souls are not at peace unless we are making our schedule allow time for nurturing our soul.  I am doing that everyday and that makes a big difference in my response to my day.  Busyness is the downfall of so many things and we think we can’t change it because that is just what life is for us right now.  But it doesn’t have to be.  When the soul isn’t nourished and on center, we can start thinking wrong thoughts and go ways which are NOT best for us.

Another area that I have made changes is to change things in my home and streamline.  I am sharing things with others, give away items to Goodwill, and clear out the clutter.  Oh what a feeling!  I have done a little each day and quite pleased with the results. God doesn’t want us to live in clutter and chaos.  It’s hard to relax when we live that way.  He wants us to enjoy the life that He gives us if we are willing to make some sacrifices.  That’s right.  It takes sacrifice to make the changes that I have made or that you need to make.  But when we are obedient to what God asks of us, He will bless the results.  He will help us to let go.

IMG_5522So, ask yourself the question once again, and then pray about what lesson God may have for you.  I don’t feel I write the posts for not.  I believe when God lays something on my heart to write about, it is for someone; sometimes a reminder for myself, and other times for someone out there.  I pray you will take it to heart and do what you need to do.  I want to always be moving forward and never be satisfied with where I am until the time when Jesus takes me home.  Does that mean I feel pressured to always be at it?  Be the best at everything?  Nope.  I rest in His unchanging grace and ask Him to make the ride with me and advise my direction.  I hope you will too!

Walking the journey with you…

~JoAnn

The Focus in 2015

IMG_8874Just wanted to pop in before my day gets going and wish you all a Happy New Year!  I love how our page is blank going in and we can make it what we want with God’s help.  Of course that means that we would be willing to follow Him in the first place to the places or even areas of our life that He chooses to take us!  I’m always excited to start a new year!  It brings a new morning, new blessings, and a new beginning that allows the U-Turns in life.  We all need them.  I, for one, want to do things differently than I did in 2014:

  • IMG_8873I want to seek Him more and in a deeper way
  • I want to love better
  • I want to see in a new and different way
  • I want to be with my family more
  • I want to listen to the Holy Spirit in my life with more awareness
  • I want to use my camera more
  • I want to live my life as God would have me to live not as someone else does or some fad out there
  • I want more drives and visits with friends
  • I want to enjoy and celebrate my history
  • I want to get all my technology working together instead of competing with each for attention
  • I want to enjoy every minute of my life more than I have ever enjoyed it in years

I already have about 10 hearts in my Gratitude Jar as of last night and that is just the evening!  It blesses me to read over those cards and see His faithfulness to me and to my family!  I thank Him for theIMG_8887 little tiny things and the huge things in my life!  That is how I want to live it!  Don’t let the darkness of the world creep in on your Jesus lit life!  Let that light shine and erase the darkness.  Don’t complain about things you need to be thankful for.  Celebrate all that comes your way and in doing so, you will experience God like you have never experienced before!  I have a relative that turns 100 years old today!  Happy Birthday my sweet Nona!  I have wonderful memories of visiting your house!  Wow!  She has lived well and loved well and I would love to follow in those footsteps!  She has loved unconditionally and that is something I seek more and more in this New Year of 2015.  She inspires me.

IMG_8704I ask God to keep the fire lit!

Will you join me in considering a prayer asking God what He wants to do IN you as well as what He wants to do THROUGH you this year?  Where do YOU want to go with Him this year?  It’s exciting to be on His team!

Walking the journey with you…

~JoAnn

Zoom In – Focus for 2015

FocusFall…it brings wonderful feelings of cozy days and nights, fires burning, a candle or two of your favorite fragrance, and soup and bread.  There are colors that touch us deeply as trees change, and their colorful beauty helps us transition into another season.  Then, comes that first frost and the leaves are falling and blowing in the wind.  The other day, I took a walk in the wind with all those leaves blowing around me.  It felt wonderful!  Fall ushers in changes in our lives as we begin to think about holidays and what the new year brings.

In my case, the Fall brings another area to pray over, and that is my word for the year.  I usually don’t get my word until the middle or end of November each year.  However, this year, I received my word very early.  This last summer God gave me my word for 2015…wait for it….zoom in…and there it is…Focus.  Go figure…God would give me a photographic reference as my word!  In years past, I have had journey, light, celebrate, and last year it was watchful, to name a few.  Let’s look at a definition of the word Focus:

  • a central point, as of attraction, attention, or activity:
    a point at which rays of light, heat, or other radiation, meet after being refracted or reflected.
    the focal point of a lens.
    the clear and sharply defined condition of an image.
    the position of a viewed object or the adjustment of an optical device necessary to produce a clear image:
    in focus; out of focus.
    to bring to a focus or into focus:
    to focus the lens of a camera.
    to concentrate:
    to become focused.
  • center, heart, core, nucleus

* (dictionary.reference.com)

So, what does this word Focus mean for me this year?  I think God wants me to make Him my central point; that’s where my attention needs to be, and where I need to Focus.  It is rather like my camera lens.  I can set my settings so that my subject is all that is in Focus Coffee Breakfocus.  But, I can also set my settings so that the whole view is in focus.  I think God wants me to zoom in on my life lens and Focus more on Him, my main subject, and what He would have to me to do.  He wants me to have a clear and sharply defined view of his will for me. My concentration should be seeking Him at every turn, trusting Him with everything, and allowing Him to work in me.  I may need some BIG time cropping!  It may not be all that comfortable.  However, if that is the case and my Focus is on Him, then I am going in the right direction.  In terms of  photographing a personal portrait, it is wise to Focus on the eyes and if you do, the portrait will be in good Focus.  It is the same for us.  If we are concentrating our Focus on Jesus eyes/face, we will have a life that is centered in Him as our core, plus, we will have a Focus like never before!

I also love the idea of Focus being a point at which rays of light, meet after being reflected.  So, in my case, I think God is telling me that I need to be a light to those around me and to be so connected with Him that I reflect Him in all I do.  Is that going to be easy?  No, most certainly not.  Satan will always cause things to happen in our lives where we are tested with our Focus and clarity.  I have had that very thing to deal with in our family these last few months.  It has been very difficult!  I can already see that the reason for my early impartation of my word for the year, may be just because it is at this season in my life that I need it!  Thus, he gave me the word Focus so I am viewing it with the right lens.  It’s like when you take a picture of a person, for example, if the background it is all cluttered with any number of things in the house or room, you find yourself looking at all of that clutter instead of the person.  What we need is to learn the skills that help us learn HOW to focus better on the main subject.  It is kind of like that old saying about “keeping your head in the game”.  We have to be aware of what is going on around us.

If we want to gain Focus in our lives, we need to:

  • prepare ourselves – in prayer, study of the Word and asking God to give us the right focus
  • learn better ways of focusing – study and meditate how to implement it in our life
  • have the right equipment – our Bible out and reading it, a devotional, podcast, attend Bible Study, Sunday Service, friends who will give us insight
  • keep our eyes peeled – always be watching for where God is working in us and our lives around us, and join Him in that work. Asking the Holy Spirit to lead, guide and teach us what we need to know

Isn’t it interesting that these words of center, heart and light would be used for the meaning of the word Focus?  We think of it like Focusing in on something, getting direction, narrowing our view, or whatever it will invoke in us as we think about it.  Where is our Focus?  Is it on Twitter, Facebook, a blog, sports, or this or that activity?  I am really re-thinking my life and purpose.  I want it to be about the right things, and if I am always distracted by the things I think I HAVE to be a part of, maybe, just maybe, I am really the one missing out.  THAT is something I don’t want to happen. I’m finding that Focus can require a lot from me, but I think I need to be a seeker of its meaning for me.  When I am taking pictures, they don’t just come to me.  I have to look for them, seek them out, walk or drive out to get the shot, have my head in the game, and I have to give of my time.  I believe the same is true of sharpening our Focus on the right things in my daily life.

JoAnn ShileyI can’t wait to see what God has to teach me in the next year in regard to the word Focus!  I know from experience in years past, that my word for the year is life changing!  He will change my center and heart.  He has already started!  Won’t you ask God how He wants to work in your life this next year?  What word may He want to give you to Focus on?  Please share if you have been given a word.  I would love to pray that over your life this year and next.

Walking the journey with you…

 

~JoAnn

 

What’s In A Word?

Words

Today in my quiet time, I was thinking and praying about my word for this year…watchful.  I went to the dictionary and here are a few things it had to say about watchful:

Observe, close observation, keeping guard, time on duty, vigil, watchman, keep awake, be cautious, and contemplate.

Wow!  That is a mouthful of the same word!  But when I started going through the list, it is a lesson onto itself!  So let’s look at these words because they apply to your life daily, and to mine.

Let’s start with observe and close observation.  To observe is to sit back and watch over all that which is going on.  Something may catch your eye, or you see a behavior, a mannerism, something you like or dislike, and you are pretty relaxed as you sit and observe what is going on around you.  Now close observation, that means you are zeroing in on something.  You look for movement, changes, expressions, things that tell you more about what you are observing.  You are taking a specific interest in something or someone.  What if we really did that every day?  What would we notice and “move on” if we thought about this more as we went about our day?

What about Vigil?  We think of prayer vigils, but that word means that we are on it; maybe even 24/7 for a period of time.  We don’t leave until our appointed time.  We observe closely what is going on while we are there.  For me, vigils will always include prayer.  I want to see what I am supposed to be seeing and pray for what God wants to give me.  It is my responsibility to open up to God so that He can place within my heart, that which He desires for me to see and be a part of.  It is constant.  I’m on alert.

Keeping guard is like the watchman.  I have talked before about being a watchman on the wall.  But, again, we have to learn what we are watching for.  We have to ask God to show us what we are watching for.  Why do we watch?  So we can discern the enemy or The Messenger and know which is which.

Keeping awake is something some of us would rather not do.  I have had weeks since myIMG_5249 surgery of not sleeping at night.  I don’t think there is anything more frustrating than wanting to sleep and can’t!  But in this case, we are to “keep awake”.  Why?  We don’t want anything sneaking up on us.  We are to keep awake and pray.  We want to stay awake with God.  Give Him our fears and concerns and worries.  It may involve a period of waiting.

Cautious is another definition.  Cautious is once again knowing what is for me and what is against me.  How do I know THAT?  We can ask God for discernment and He will give it to us.  When we have a close relationship with Him, we more easily recognize God at work, when God speaks, and what He would have us to do.  But we need to be cautious of many things such as, what we watch, how we speak, our example to others, and what we listen too and what or who we spend time with.  It’s easy to get off track.  It may sound good, tickles your fancy a bit, and its easy, but it may not be biblically correct.  Be cautious.

Contemplate is one that closely resembles your quiet time.  It’s a time when you are quiet and you listen.  it’s hard for us to be quiet sometimes but that is a good skill to improve upon.  When we are quiet or reading God’s Word, we contemplate its meaning to us, and what would God have us to do with what we learn?  Use it in our everyday lives of course.  Take time to contemplate where you are and where you are going.  Think and review.  How does it apply?  What truth is in it for me?  Remember when your parents got on you about something you might have done wrong?  They would tell you to go to your room and think about it?  Sounded dumb to me when I was young because I could go to my room and do anything I wanted then.  But did I?  I might have done some things, but usually in the middle of the “things” I was thinking about what they said.  We are to be contemplative.

Lastly is time on duty.  Now this is where the rubber meets the road!  How much time do I give to being watchful, or observing, or using my awake time?  It’s how much time we give God.  Do we live out our daily lives as God would live?  I don’t think this means “duty”.  It means how much time I give in my day to things of the Lord.  Each of us has something we are to do here on earth.  Spend time on duty seeking what He has for you to do.

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So here we are in a new year and I would challenge you to think through these words that mean watch/watchful.  I know it’s MY word for the year, but I think we can all benefit from having these thoughts in the forefront of our thinking.  Don’t get over whelmed, just ask God to give you the watchful eye to see what He sees and to act on what He wants for you to act on.

I’m excited to see what it brings into my life.  I know when God moves to help others, it ends up blessing me more!  You will begin to see what you haven’t noticed before and it the process, your life will also be changed.  Want a good book on this subject of noticing?  Read The Noticer by Andy Andrews.  You will never be the same!  I hope this chat time will give you the boost you need to start!

Walking the journey with you…

Frozen In Time

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Frozen in time…sounds like a storybook, doesn’t it? We have a new year started. Don’t get frozen in time. Do something you have wanted to do!! God will part the waters but you have to get your feet wet first! I’m making some noise about my new year already and getting my year moving and started right! Go ahead! Put those feet in the water! It’s exciting!

Walking the journey with you…

Sorry for the small pictures.  I did this post from my iPad and forgot to set pictures normally.

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