The Crossroads of Journey and Growth

The lead photo is of two rings I bought in the past that represent my life quite easily. I don’t make purchases of things like that without it having meaning to me. Don’t get me wrong, I have to like the look of them true, but they also need to have some significance to me if I am going to spend money on reminders that will be in my life forever. This picture represents where my up and down and around type of journey and my growth meet.It is a crossroads we all will have to choose. So, let me ask you a few questions and see if you have intersections like this in your life.

Way back when in your younger days, what did you think your life would look like?

Did you kind of plan it yourself, or did you ask God to show you what He had in mind for you?
Did you experience a close enough relationship with God to ask Him that hard question?
Did you have your own ideas and thought God would help you reach those goals?
Did it work out the way you planned?

You see, if I was honest, I would have to say that I had my own goals and worked toward them really without thinking of what God may have planned for me. And even at times when I really kind of knew He was saying no, I am a goal orientated person and just kept going toward my end game. It has taken many twists and turns and ups and downs of my journey through life to get to where I think God wants me to be and do what He wants me to do. I still have to seek Him for direction every day, and for the same determination as before, for me to do what God has called for me to do. Some of my downs have been pretty deep valleys. However, I have had also some awesome mountain top experiences.

But to get into that kind of relationship where I go to Him first, ask His direction, and the obedience to step out and do it????? THAT is where the growth comes. Those leaves on the ring above represented to me that I must always keep growing and learning. Learning from my mistakes, seeking the changes I need to make, and picking myself up after falling down means that I am free to try again. No condemnation or feelings of failure. I learned something valuable. I have to “trust the process” as the saying goes in sports. It means that things may not look how we want them to look, but God has a plan to make it better. We have to trust Him to do that.

I think of countless ways he has done that in my life! Just recently, God answered a prayer that I have prayed for over 20+ years. Not only did He answer it in a single way, but he blessed my answer with my cup overflowing, which in turn I can share that answer with the people in my life. Why would God do that? I believe that when we stay in close relationship with God, we ask things unselfishly of God, walk in relationship and obedience WITH God, He will answer; not always will it be more than, but He will answer in the way He thinks is best for us. In that we must be satisfied. It will also be a way in which, if we choose to, we can certainly give God the glory for the answer.

I have given Him the glory! It is such a miracle that only He could have done it. I have another ring to honor this climb to see His glory revealed and it reminds me every day that He wants to show us these things; not rings or stuff, but His love for us and faithfulness to each of us. You see, I was happy with the first answer. But when He went over and above all that I asked, I believe He wanted to remind me again of His ability to give over and above what we ask or think! How cool is that?

Where does your journey and growth paths intersect in your life? Because they have to do that. We will always have the ups and downs in life…that is just what life is. God tells us to expect that in His Word. However, He is right there to show us what it means, and if we trust the process of relationship with Him, then He WILL show Himself faithful to work in our circumstances! He SO wants to do that. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t about things for me, but He knows the things and experiences that will speak to me personally.

Don’t give up on the prayers you pray. We don’t know when He will answer, and we also have to accept His timing and what answer He gives. 20+ years is a long time to wait for an answer. However, The reason I think I had to wait that long is the lesson of never giving up. The s second reason is that He could do an even greater thing by the time that passed. I think He loves nothing more that to see us walking in faith with Him, so that, He can show Himself mightily in our lives! He is mighty in my life, that is for sure. Over and over again He is faithful.

Do leave your thoughts in the comments below and let me know how God spoke to you through the above thoughts.


Until next time…

~JoAnn

ps: Want to see my new reminder? Ok…here you go! Keep in mind, my rewards are usually small but significant to me. However, this was a total miracle that took place and that is certainly something for me to celebrate in a big way in life and the story of this ring will be passed on to someone else in my life as a reminder to them!

Conversations in Prayer

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:

  • pause for reflection
  • think about what was said
  • ask what God may be speaking to us
  • listening to God’s Holy Spirit
  • worshiping Him in our own way
  • seeking to experience God’s presence.

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 always trust that God is good.
  • I believe that God is good when life is good.
  • I have a hard time trusting that God is good.
  • It’s easier to believe that God is good to other people than to me.
  • I say, “God is good”, but my thoughts and actions don’t always reflect that.

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…

~JoAnn