Ever feel like you are going under? Here are a few words to lift you back up above the waves.
Wishing you a great weekend! Until next time…
Grab your coffee or tea and join me!
Ever feel like you are going under? Here are a few words to lift you back up above the waves.
Wishing you a great weekend! Until next time…
I observed in myself this last week what I can only describe as having my faith sideswiped. If you have ever been sideswiped in a car, or watched it happen, you know that it isn’t expected and it is very hard to avoid the crash that comes with it. That was my experience, or at least, what it felt like to me.
To be honest, I was heart broken. I looked back on it and thought I had led well to the best of my ability, but it appeared in many ways that I had failed. What I hoped would be a good example of faith, was in fact, not very convincing or evident apparently. I had failed the ones I loved the most it seemed. I wasn’t looking for this revelation, didn’t ask for it, and yet it was handed to me.
How do you handle being sideswiped? You have to get the facts straight. What happened? How did it happen? Did I not pay attention? Was it my fault or the fault of someone else? Am I willing to take responsibility if it was me? Or was it no fault of my own? We have to do the work. By doing that, it becomes clear in our minds, as well as those involved, as to the course of the outcome. However, that is hard when you are shook up from the sideswipe. You are shook to your core and not always thinking clearly. You say things and act too much out of emotions. It takes asking yourself the right questions.
That’s what happened to me a couple weeks ago. As believers, we try to navigate our life in terms of being an example of how to live, how to pray over our decisions, how to make good choices, how to love others, and be Jesus hands and feet. We trust God with everything. We may not always like the outcome, but we trust that He knows the end from the beginning, so we can trust the outcome. We try to parent in such a way that our children, family and friends see Jesus in us and thus come to see God. We live with that purpose of showing others what God looks like, and serve God with our lives. But we also know that it doesn’t always go the way we want it to. We, or our family and friends, don’t always stay in the same lanes with the parallels of our lives. We test the boundaries, we go too fast, we get distracted, we miss a road sign, and maybe we are distracted by the life of the very person we have tried to lead. Sometimes this can cause a “crisis of faith” in us. This isn’t just in families, but it can be in friendships, and church families as well.
What I came to understand as I worked through my thoughts and emotions in prayer, was that I felt like a failture at this point. God is not the author of those kinds of thoughts and feelings. He tells me that I can come to Him with anything, and He will hear me. So I listened after I shared this with Him. I came to understand it in a different way. I know there are times I could of handled things differently. We ALL have that in our lives. The key? I have always asked for forgiveness of those things, and I know God forgives. I have asked of those that I love to forgive me. So it’s done. I have done my very best, I have changed and corrected my future with what I have learned, and I know that the Holy Spirit lives in me to bring correction as I need it.
I was reminded that God has given each person a free will. They use that free will to make choices for their lives. Friendships that they choose, even how much of what their friends believe that they begin to belive. I can’t make the choices for them, nor an I responsible for the choices they make. I can direct, correct, encourage, but as they get older, they are now making their own choices. If they make choices based on their belief ideals, then they must live with the consequences of those choices. We would all love to see them live good lives, and love others, and put God first in their lives. But without the acceptance of God and of the Holy Spirit in their lives, they are living a spiritually blind path where they don’t see it like you or I may see it. Until the time comes in their lives where that becomes real to them, they can’t see it. They also have a tendency to listen to who they spend time with, rather than someone who has imparted into their lives at home. I have had years of experience with God where I can say He has shown Himself faithful every time. I KNOW His provision.
So… it came down to this, I can only keep living my life in a way that shines God’s light to those around me. Even in my messed up ways at times, He can still use me to let others see. If I am honest and open about the way I live, and I ask God to use my life toward guiding others, that is the best way to handle it. What I feel God spoke to me during this experience was this: “You can pray, and keep praying, and never give up praying. That isn’t the last thing you do as if it is your last resort. It’s your first thing you do every day. It’s your priority!”
In otherwords, devil, you aren’t going to drag me down through the ditch for something that God is using to teach me again. It isn’t easy to hear, and it means some more trust and faith on my part, but I will keep shining. That’s what I hope to do. I keep believing, I keep trusting, I keep asking. I keep living. That will be a part of my story.
I will keep my eyes on the road of life, and watch carefully for those times when I know it is the devil trying to discourage me and side swipe my faith. I can better avoid what he tries to hit me with. I won’t give up. My relationship with my people is all good. I just have to leave the ending of their story in the hands of the One Who knows.
Will you give up when hard times hit? Or will you try to live an authentic life for Christ? I hope it is the latter; the former is what satan is after these days. Don’t open that door. Slam it and lock it! Kick that devil to the curb. Then, thank God for leading you, assess the damage, repair what needs to be repaired in prayer, wipe the dust from your sandles and walk on.
Until next time…
Hello Friends! I hope this finds you all well, and that you are finding staying at home has been good among the challenges of it. Challenge means we are changing in some way. May God help you to do just that for His glory. Let’s take a few minutes together over some coffee or tea! Got it?? Let’s dig in!
Sometimes, we have to get our heart right in order to be able to help others. But it is also good for you to know that we ALL have those times, and it’s ok. I have especially been called to study prayer during these last few months. So my online study group has been looking at prayer. I thought I would share some thoughts on prayer with you here on the blog.
Our emphasis on prayer should not be about how eloquent we are, or that we can recite recitation scripture, but instead it should be the heart behind the prayer. There is no formula or right or wrong way to pray. BUT there are some things we need to consider BEFORE we pray. In the last few years, God has changed my approach to prayer, in that, I come to Him asking for forgiveness first. I know, some say Praise first. Nope. I come to Him asking for forgiveness. Why? Because the Holy Spirit it convicting me through out my life of areas that I need to change, come up higher in, orchange my thought life, attitudes, anger, critical spirit…whatever it is. God also tells me if I have issues with something or someone, I am to take care of that first and then come to prayer. Why? Because our prayers can be hindered by those very things. When I pray in my quiet time, I ask for forgiveness so my prayers aren’t hindered. I don’t have to do that every time I pray because I pray all the time, but I want a clean heart before God as I bring my requests and those of others, to God in my quiet time. Another point God makes is that we are not to think we are “heard for [our] much speaking.” We are not fill our prayer with lots of extra words, or repeating words. Simple words to God in prayer. It can be called fluffy prayers so we sound more spiritual. Not necessary. Enjoy being in God’s presence and hearing His quiet voice in your spirit. Prayer is a dialogue with God, not a monologue of only you talking to God. Listen for His whisper.
In prayer times we can, and we need to:
Why not spend time opening your soul and spirit to listening to God, to experience His presence, and to hear what the Spirit says. Yes indeed… prayer is a dialogue. God wants to hear from you. However, it is also important for you to hear from Him. Be open and honest with Him. Honesty with God is so important to our growth. I had a dear friend that was a pastor’s wife. Wow! I learned a lot from her about prayer. That lady could pray about anything and it was like she had a hot line to heaven. As I have gotten older, I understand that she had established such a personal and deep relationship with God, that she lived it out, where she could ask God for anything, and she would get answers. I understand that relationship now. I remember thinking I wish I had that kind of prayer life. But she kept telling me it is all about relationship. Then, you trust Him with more and more. She prayed down to specifics of the homes they would move to when they would relocate. She would pray for a ride from town back home and I would “happen” to come along. She would get in the car and say that I had just answered God’s prayer for her. There was no happenstance with her.
THAT is what I want, and I want that for you. Trust Him with everything! Know that He loves you so much more than you know and nothing pleases Him more than to hear your voice, crying out, yelling out, whispering, or pleading with Him. Come before Him with a clean heart. Growing up I would sing this liturgy: “Create in me a clean heart oh God, and renew a right spirit with in me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit it from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with your free Spirit.” I pray that each time I come to God in prayer.
Let me ask you a question I asked the study gals. What kind of father figure do you think about when you think about your Heavenly Father? Was your father figure growing up one that had no time for you? Detached? Overly strict? Loved you only when you were good or did good? Manipulative? You see, that matters how you see God. So your experience with God may come from a place of distrust. You may have to escavate your thoughts and heart to see how you are seeing God. Are you willing to give up everything to have relationship with Jesus? Weed out what is keeping you from an exciting time with Him in prayer? Let it be so in our hearts. The longer our acquaintance is with Him, the closer our fellowship is with Him. Our spiritual health depends on our pursuing the Lord and His presence. “He says, ‘Come to Me to stay with Me’.” (Andrew Murray)
We can make real messes at times in our lives when we try to control things instead of trusting God with it. Our pride can get in the way. Evaluate your heart. Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Ps. 34:
Describe which phrases below would best describe how you view God’s goodness.
I have had some great opportunities to practice better thinking and approaches to circumstances, while learning more about myself. Such things as times when I have counted on something, desired something, dealt with frustration, and even a “I don’t want to hear that”, response. And then, I have to go back and apologize to a friend who was trying to be an encouragement to me, but instead my response was, “I really don’t want to hear that”. So what do I know? I know and have learned that I process things by talking about them. It helps me work through them, even if I’m mad. I do that with God in prayer. But then the Holy Spirit convicts me of my attitude and I have to deal with that in myself, or with the person I may have been less than kind to. The Holy Spirit reminds me that God’s thoughts are NOT my thoughts. I have to leave it all in God’s lap…all of it. Then, I trust that He has taken care of me in the past and he will take care of me in the future. Jesus overcame the world so that I have peace and courage no matter what I may be going through. I have to rest in Him…abide in Him. STAY with Him. When I acted like I did above, I certainly wasn’t resting in Him. I acted more like a little kid trying to wrestle myself free of His will and the encouragement He was trying to give me through my friend. So…He dealt with me, and He set me on higher ground to boost my courage to face it all. He renewed my trust that He knows where I am to be and how it will play out.
Your view of God will change as you learn and let God chip off those areas that may be keeping you from God’s best for your life. What chips are you needing to have trimmed off? There is a great quote I heard the other day, “We have the privilege of trusting God.” ~Joyce Meyer
Maybe sometimes as we think about prayer, we have this idea of God as our buddy, a friend, a feel good sense in our life, all makes sense kind of person, a giver, provider, and all of those feel good feelings toward God. But what happens as we grow in our life and other things happen that don’t make sense to us? It might be the loss of a child, someone you love getting this virus, or death from the virus, or an accident that leaves someone with serious life challenges, or things aren’t turning out the way you thought they would? Then who is God to you? Has He changed because of something that has happened in our life? He is a different God than before?
You see, we can lose sight of who God is, by what we think He is now after we have questioned God about these difficult occurrences in our life. We lose out on that closeness we could have because we are kind of stuck with who we think He is in difficult times. Maybe before you thought God fit in to your life really well and you even talked about what He has done in your life to others. But things happened, and you can’t quite fit Him into the same vision as God was before this happened. So in essence, we are trying to fit God into what He has or hasn’t done before. He was good before this happened. Now THIS, whatever it is, happened and you think differently about God. Before, He was all cool like that. He did for you what you expected, like the fun giver, the helper, provider…all of that. But all of a sudden, you aren’t thinking about Him like that anymore. So our relationship suffers because our prayer has suffered. We lose confidence and less prayer = less relationship.
It is like when we take a trip, we use a map or maybe we use our phones, but we use those tools to help make our trip easier. So if that is the case, our map is the Bible, and our Compass is God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. If we use our spiritual guidance through God, his Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, then we are assured that we can accurately reach our destination; the life that God has promised us. It may not look like you thought, but it IS God’s best for you. It will be the most important gift we receive.
Could this true of you? If so, then you might need to hit the prayer chair or prayer floor, and ask God to begin to show you who He is right now in your life and renew that “right spirit” with in you. BECAUSE…He IS the same yesterday, today, and forever. That means just because things happen, and the devil gets his digs in, that He is still the same powerful all-knowing God who gave up His Son, so that you could always have God just a prayer away. Ask today for God to direct your thoughts, actions, and reactions. Get your tools working for you. Look up, and then look at your map so God can show you the way. Stop and ask directions.
Until next time…
Before I begin the post, I just want to take a moment to wish all the Moms out there a blessed and wonderful Mother’s Day. You are amazing! My mom was one of those amazing people. She was there for me; behind me to support and to help when I needed it. She went through a bad patch when I was in high school for a couple of years, but God took care of that matter. She was always willing to help someone, and loved to craft and had many projects going at one time. She was also known to have a completely different looking room or house by the time we got home from school. It was wild a few times! I will always be grateful for all she did for me, my home, my kids and my life. Thanks mom.
How many joys and blessings do we miss out on because we don’t see them, or we take them for granted? I have been thinking about that this week as I have pursued getting healthy after a horrible sinus infection. I have a trip coming up in two weeks and I don’t want to deal with being sick while I am gone. I am better but still not 100%. As I rested and resisted pushing myself, I was thinking about the opportunities that God has given me in my life. It’s so easy to get cruising with life, and forget that we have the life we have because of the blessings God has bestowed on us. It has once again caused a shift in my thinking. I seem to have had a lot of those shifts lately. I think God has a plan.
Because of this shift, I found myself on my first drive out after being sick, pulling in to park at our home, and just feeling an overwhelming sense of thankfulness for our home. God has been good to us, providing this home, and giving us many of the items we desired to have in our home. For me, He has given me many of the dreams that I was looking for in a home for this season of my life. That isn’t just happenstance. I have found myself, in spite of the troubles with my eyes and sinus these last months, feeling very thankful for being healthy over all, and able to take this trip without worry or concern. It has filled me with wonder as I consider God’s provision to take my middle son and my grandson on this trip. I’m also very thankful to have a husband who believes that this is important enough in my life and that of the boys, to help make it happen. It means so much to me. It is hard to describe how I feel when I go to Norway. It is like going home. It is hard to explain, but it is there non-the-less…that deep connection.
That anticipation has continued as the sunny days showed up this week and last weekend. I loved being out on the deck and enjoying it. I was out there most of the day. Again, not missing the moments of flowers growing, a hummingbird coming to visit, the quiet, the breeze, and an overwhelming sense of feeling “just right” with the world. I realized that I don’t want to miss any of those kind of moments. I want to:
I don’t want to just see it, but see it in the way that helps me experience it at that moment. I want to have more and more of those times when I say, “Wow! This right here? This is living! This is a great moment!” As Andy Andrews talks about, “It is also about creating those perfect moments…”. I agree. I do that for myself and family whenever I can. It is just a great way to live. We have to become intentional about it, however. I have become more and more aware of how God wants me to stay in tune with that.
I was even excited to get my old glass frames with new prescription lenses put in them, so I have glasses that not only work better, but I like them better than my current glasses. So now, I feel better about that too each day. Saved $200 by doing it that way too. Score! It’s in the little things that God does for us that makes up the whole of a life well-lived.
As I have thought about the upcoming trip, I am having fun planning and executing the schedule so it comes together well. I have my ironing board out to iron this next week so I can finish packing. I have connected with the airline to find out what time we need to be at the airport, and about checking bags, and all those little details. What fun! My youngest son is bringing his brother and nephew down to the airport, so we will meet up and have a nice lunch before going to the airport to check in. The anticipation of going is pretty exciting for the three of us. This will be Ethan’s first time on a plane, let alone traveling internationally. I got a kick out of him as we talked about the money. He thought it was so dumb that our money wasn’t the same as theirs, and that given one day or a few days later, could be worth even less, or maybe worth more. So cute. But he will learn all about that exchange first hand. Learning first hand is always best. I hope this trip will be something they will never forget. I love the idea of giving them some historical background about where they came from. I am also very thankful to those who make it possible while we are there, to meet up, and share history with us. And of course, anytime I can walk outside and immediately see the fjord, I feel like I am getting a glimpse of heaven. I thank God every day I am there for the beauty!
So grab those moments of joy where everything feels right. Create them in your lives, as well as in the lives of those around you. Don’t wait for the special times to come to you. Instead create them. Look for them. Take pictures of them. Write them down.
Speaking of writing them down… I now have a prayer wall. I have a window between my cabin/office and the dining room. It is a wavy glass window; not real practical. I have my kitchen queen on the dining room side, and so I thought I might as well make good use of my side. So I made it into my prayer wall. It’s coming along nicely. I’m digging in and not letting the devil get any foot hold here! Prayers up!!!
While I am on a rabbit trail of good things to help make us strong, I am also reading Priscilla Shirer’s book called, Fervent. GREAT book!! That will fire you up!!!
I will close this post with a hope that you are finding more in your life to notice that is good, than what isn’t going the way you want right now. It’s so much more fun to look for what is right than what is wrong. A whole new perspective will come into view! It is my wish that you think again about what makes life good for you and do more of it! It’s all waiting for you…call it in.
God bless you to that end.
What is your understanding of your salvation? Have you ever thought about what it really means for you when you accepted Christ as your Savior? Or, if you haven’t accepted Him as your Savior, have you ever had thoughts about what you think it means for you and your life?
Recently at our home, we had a beautiful couple days of soft snow fall. I loved looking out my cabin windows, which run all the way around my cabin, and watching the snow. Everything is covered in a blanket of clean, white snow. The Holy Spirit reminded me of how Jesus covers our sin through His death on the cross, and we are washed as white as snow. I had just been reading something that came to mind as I watched that falling snow. The thought was that our life changes at the moment we accept Christ. It isn’t just about sin. It means, that as an example, a new JoAnn is created at the time I accepted Christ, and now God has a relationship with that new JoAnn. So.. it isn’t just about being forgiven of sins. It is also about a brand new relationship as this new person. As this new person, I now have a relationship with Him; not as the old me, but as the new me. He relates to the new me!
I love the snow. Always have. But the snow is temporary. His love for me is eternal. What a great reminder for me as I looked out my windows to watch the falling snow, and have it teach me a lesson at the same time! Hearing Him speak to me brings a whole new level of excitement for me in my relationship with Jesus.
Along these same lines, I have been leading a study on prayer. Boy! We are seeing some great changes happening in the lives of those taking part. We have been given nuggets of knowledge that we grab onto as life rafts in what can sometimes be choppy seas. I am constantly amazed at what God will teach us through the Holy Spirit’s guidance, IF we are willing to spend time in His presence. It’s kind of like looking in on a genealogy of relationship, and seeing answers to prayer.
We have also talked in this study about taking steps of faith. I have been thinking about the idea of stepping in to the water before I see the waters part. We want Jesus to part the waters so we can go in. God wants us to step into the water in faith, and then see Him part the waters and bring us through.
It is my hope that you are beginning to change the culture of your life with Jesus through some of the posts here on the blog. This certainly isn’t me writing about these topics. This idea of snow and relationship, and what prayer will do, along with stepping into the water, are all thoughts I believe God wanted me to share with you. Challenge yourself to make the changes you need, to have the results you want.
May God help you to this end.
To your place of heart and soul escapes…
This morning, as I was walking by my desk, I saw my string of amber beads hanging from my desk organizer and this question came to mind: “What do those beads remind you of?” I immediately thought of Fall and Harvest, and colors and pictures that go with it. What came next was this question: “Did you know that prayer is like a harvest?” By now, I know I need to take the time and really think about this because there is a lesson right here in my office over a string of amber beads. So… here is what my thoughts are about what God laid on my heart today.
When we think of harvest, we think of receiving the benefits of what we have planted. We believe that if we plant seeds, water them properly, fertilize them properly, keep the weeds at bay, we will get results; a harvest of what we have planted.
I sensed God saying our prayer life is just like that. If we want answers (harvest) to our prayers, we must plant our prayers in faith, fertilize them with the Word and ask the Holy Spirit to water them, and ask God to keep us full of Him, so we will receive the harvest God has for us. We can’t get a harvest by standing in the field and wishing for one. For example: “I wish God would answer this prayer. Or, I have been praying about that for a long time, maybe I should just quit.” Prayer is like being out and tilling the field. You are preparing your soil for harvest. Prayer is like a muscle that you have to exercise. You have to do it consistently, with commitment and faith if you expect a good harvest/result.
Next, He led me to Matthew 12:43 where evil comes into a man and then he decides to turn His life over to Christ and he is made clean. But then God talks about the man needing to ask to be filled up with Him because otherwise, Satan will come along with seven more demons to fill that space. We need to be asking God to fill us daily so we have no room for doubt, negative feelings or discouragement or a sliver of space for satan to get in.
We need to:
If we do these things, our prayers will yield a great harvest. We don’t want to throw a prayer out in the air and hope it comes to pass. If the farmer goes out and throws out the seed with no plan or reason, he will find it very difficult to cultivate his harvest. So it is with our prayers. We need to filled with God, operate in faith in our asking, pray through with God’s Word, and expect a great harvest reward. If we, as Beth Moore shared in a study, BELIEVE GOD and not just believe IN God, then we know He wants nothing more then to answer your prayers. Just keep in mind that YOUR idea of an answer might be different from His. That’s the faith part; you have to trust Him for your best no matter how it make look in the physical!
So, I asked myself today, “Is there anything JoAnn that you have been praying for that is lacking in faith in order for God to answer it? Do you believe that God is the God of A Great Harvest? Are you in the Word consistently so that you are built up in your faith? Do you ask to be filled with God daily?” Now, I ask you those same questions. Hummm…be honest with yourself and with God right now, and listen carefully.
God spoke to me today about a very important subject matter over a string of amber beads! Amazing! If our harvest is plenty within us, so will our light shine so that we are equipped for the harvest “out there”.
P.S. ~ I bought this string of beads from a little thrift shop with the idea of doing a craft with them. None of these ideas came to me at the time. I just liked how clear and beautiful they were. But you see, I think God places things or people or circumstances in our lives, SO THAT (my favorite words), at just the right time, for just the right reason, He has something to say to us. I love that about Him!
I am watching… listening… for His leading, and as always…walking the journey with you.
What is it about changes or detours that can immediately get to us? We can have everything under control and then along comes some twist or turn, and we get all frustrated or stressed. I wish I could say that has never happened to me, but unfortunately, that is so not true. I have had more curves in my life journey then you can possibly imagine! But some of those curves and detours have taken me places I would have never gone otherwise. Those roads would not have been the choices I would have consciously made on my own. But along my life journey, I have come to realize the value in those twists and turns, and that ultimately, they have moved me up into a deeper walk with the Lord, to better understanding of the Word, and taught me better ways to come along side others in their twists and turns.
Here are a few things that I have come to know:
I’m a very visual person and so this picture here is exactly what I’m talking about. Along time ago, I found what I call my “journey ring” that tells the story of the ups, downs and curves that life can bring. It ultimately journeys up and so can we. The second ring was one I designed for my husband and I for our 10th wedding anniversary that reminds me to always pray. I wear the rings every day. I think together they tell a wonderful story of how we can live in peace and joy by reminding ourselves that He is in control of our journey. If we are willing to surround our life in prayer, He is faithful to bring us up! Let’s go to the next level together! The climbing view is awesome!