This…Right Here, Is The Best!

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:

  • take the time
  • see the sunset
  • see what is around me that God has given me to enjoy
  • be a legacy example of how to live

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.

~JoAnn

 

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White As Snow

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.

  • If we are in His presence,
  •      we are in His Word,
  •         then, we are learning to know Him better,
  •              which means we are learning to discern His voice,
  •                   which in turn means we trust Him more,
  •                        and that means we will become more obedient,
  •                             and we WILL see big prayers answered.

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…

~JoAnn

Amber Beads and Harvest

ImageThis 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 Key Moments Photographyprayers, 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:

  • Plant, water and fertilize our prayers with faith
  • Believe that God WILL answer
  • Be in the Word of God which will enrich our lives
  • Ask God to fill us.

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.

Key Moments PhotographyGod 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.

 

 

Who Likes Detours? I Do!

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:

  • If I am surrounding my journey in prayer, then I can relax along the way; even enjoy it, because I will be looking for God’s meaning rather than how I might feel about where I am at.
  • God desires to walk every step with me, surround me in his love, and come along side me to guide my steps.
  • I see scenery that I would not have seen when I take the detours of life.
  • I’m never alone. He has His network set up for my support. I just have to look for it and be open to who He might bring into my life and situation.

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!