Are We Here, or Are We There?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Walking the journey with you..

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What A Ride!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Walking the journey with you…

Travelers2…Again?

Church House
Church House

Have you ever daydreamed about something, mentioned something to someone, or even had a conversation about a particular dream you may have, and then had some immediate next step options put in front of you?  It is rather exciting to get a few confirmations here and there from those you may have talked with about it.  But, that isn’t where the confirmation needs to come from.  Anyway, that is kind of what happened to me this week.  Let me back track a little to catch you up.

Church House
Church House

One of my dreams I shared with you in my last post was to be able to live in the country.  But another dream I have always had is to find a church that is abandoned and see if we could buy it, or buying one that is for sale, and then live in it.  I wanted to continue to have the chapel part of the church, and use the other areas to make a home in.  I dreamed of small weddings and small receptions that could be held there for a reasonable amount of money rather than the prices some are having to pay for weddings now.  I wanted to offer it as a retreat for leaders or pastors to get-a-way and have a time of refreshing, to someplace they could afford.  Maybe even have a RV hook up or two, and a covered area for a picnic or small gathering.  And my one joy would be to see a church continue to be used as a church.  So there.  Now I have shared yet another of my dreams.

Church House
Church House

Now to catch you up…last week as I was looking for homes around my hometown of Stanwood, Washington for some reason all these other listings were coming into my list of homes for sale.  What did I come across?  I came across a log house church for sale in our price range!  First thought?  Wow!!  I’m IN!!  I just talked about dreams in the last week or so, and now this comes up unexpectedly where it shouldn’t even show up.  It would be country like.  Oh boy!  My mind starts going, prayers go up asking what God has in mind, and my decorating genes kick in!  Vrooooomm!!!!  There are SO many of the details that have come into play with this opportunity.  The kicker?  My family is here.  My friends are here.  BIG one…my grandson is here.  What do I do with that? I have done it before a couple of times, but it wasn’t fun being away from them and Ethan wasn’t in the picture.  I missed them all when I was away.  But as I thought about it, I am also not in the same place as I was at that time either.  I have changed.  However, my heart has also calculated the miles in terms of hours…about 5 hours or so.  That doesn’t seem like that much to me.  I traveled 4 hours to come up through traffic to see everyone when we lived in Aberdeen, Washington.  Have car will travel.

So what do I do with this opportunity?  We talk about it.  We put it in our circle of prayer and pray about it.  My sweetie thinks and contemplates about it.  He is no hurry.  We look at all the pros and cons, and then we pray some more.  Questions like, if something happened to either of us, would we want to continue to live that far from family?  (More my question that his.)  The HARD questions we have to ask.  And, we ask God to open doors that He wants opened, and close those doors He wants closed.  Maybe this opportunity is nothing more than God letting me know He is listening and He doesn’t forget our heart’s desires.  Or, maybe it is another opportunity for us to trust Him completely.  Or, we are to come away for a season of time to do something new that He has in mind.  I can see some great ministry from this sweet spot.  However, I don’t know.  BUT, I know the One Who does.

Church House
Church House

I am the type that has the thing decorated before we even see it.  That’s my personality.  So you can imagine how I have to temper the engines inside me to wait and see.  But God knows that about me too.  Isn’t it great that He understands all about us?  He knows the end from the beginning.  There may be a road trip in our very near future!  If you have a big decision coming in your future, do the work, pray it out, but above all, leave it in God’s hands and let Him work out ALL the details.  He is so good.  It will be just in time, with just the right details.

Walking the journey with you…

~JoAnn

Chains That Bind Us

P1010742Have you ever found yourself under attack in the same area over and over again?  Have you ever wondered WHY that seems to be an area of vulnerability for you?   You know it… that one thing that can bring immediate doubts to mind.  That place where you say, “Oh great!  Here we go again!”  Or maybe was, “Victory!!!  It’s done!  I did it!  It’s paid for!”  And then…life happens.  Your victory dance slows, and a stomp ensues.  Shoot!  What IS the issue?!?  You are more likely to be saying things that are not edifying to anyone at this point!  Negative statements or thoughts of defeat.  Have you EVER said, “I will NEVER get this taken care of!  It seems to happen again and again!”  No!  You have NEVER said anything like THAT have you????  Yah…me either…as my nose grew a bit longer…

I lived through many of my parents struggles in this very area for me; the area of finances.  I watched them work hard to provide for us, give us a good life, and one of enjoyment.  But somewhere in the back of my mind I have always wanted my life to be more stable in that area.  Ever thought that way?  Now, I have lived differently in that area of my life than they did, not that the way they did it was particularly bad.  But, I feel sometimes when life hits, that I am no differently positioned than they were.  Oh how thecanstockphoto0019485 devil likes to play in our mind’s sand box!  However, God provided for my parents and me, as well as my siblings.  I was not without.  I loved my childhood.  When I was quite young, I began working.  I had to work hard, but I had what I needed and contributed in ways that I could to help my parents with the burden.  Even through hard times as a parent myself, my kids didn’t have a lot, but we had what we needed.  It wasn’t without hard times, but it taught them to be hard workers, as well as being resourceful.  They saw God’s provision in our lives over and over again on a daily basis.  I know there were times when they didn’t have things they wanted, but they tried their best to understand.  What we had plenty of was a love for each other, and that was our mainstay.

So what is it about those vulnerabilities in our life’s journey, that trip us up?  I have become more and more aware that my thinking has SO much to do with my action.  What do I do when those times hit?  Do I succumb to the negative thoughts that things won’t ever change, or do I put God’s Word into action in my life and change what I say?  I’m choosing the latter for my life any more.  I am replacing those things with statements that are scriptural to me.  What lifts me up.  What brings back my joy.  Replace my thinking and changing the channel.  When I think I can’t go on, I push a little bit harder.  I pray more often.  I inch my way through and push back against those things that try to run me over.  If I’m going to stomp my feet, then let it be against the devil.  Let the dance be in praise!

We took action in the area of vulnerability for us.  We have found God to be very faithful as we trusted Him and put Him first.  Maybe your button isn’t finances, but something else.  It works the same way.  God cares about all things, and that means ALL.  So, if you find yourself dealing with the same issue again and again, begin to be aware of how you are thinking about that area of your life.  Do you want to continue the way you are?  Or, do you want change and have victory over that particular area?  Are you willing to make the changes necessary to gain victory in that area of your life?  We can’t keep hoping for the change without taking action toward the change.  So many times, we keep doing the same thing again and again, hoping something different will happen.  It doesn’t work.  A feeling of defeat is the result.

img_2298-e1407215390181What if you HAVE made changes and you still don’t see it yet?  Are you in prayer about it?  Are you asking God what you need to do?  Are you being obedient to what He tells you?  We can be stubborn sometimes.  I mean, I know a few people who took a lot of years to take an 11 day trip!!!  Now, if you change, don’t think that you won’t have to tests to go through to make sure how committed you are to it.  Oh yes, that’s a given!  But don’t give up because He cares about you AND your situation.

I have a dear friend who at this writing is going into surgery Wednesday for another bout with cancer.  She is 90 years young.  She has had 48 procedures in her life.  When I expressed my concerns over yet another test in life, she told me, “JoAnn, after 90 years of living, one thing I have learned.  We NEVER outgrow the tests in life.  I can tell you from experience that they keep coming.”  I told her what a great attitude that she has.  Her comment back?  “What else can you do?”  I don’t think it’s that simple because we CAN do a lot of different things.  What is different for her?  She trusts God to get her through, and she has lived it well.  She has struggled, wiggled out from underneath the burdens, pushed back, fought the evil one, but in all of that, she hasn’t given up.  She has faith.   She trusts Him.  Period.

So, where am I at with this?  I will choose to praise Him in the hard times.  I may “feel” the worry come, but I quickly take it to God and thank Him for what is good, and what He IS doing in my life.  I then thank Him for His answers, even the ones I don’t see yet!  However, answer He will!  He always answers, but not always how we think it should go, or in our timing.  Don’t live in defeat!  Live in victory instead!

But, in my case, I don’t give up and I don’t give in.  I’m doing a lot more dancing these days than stomping!  We are all on a journey of progress and learning.  Just stay in school!

Walking the journey with you…

~JoAnn

 

 

The Ups and Downs of Life

Jetty at Ocean Shores
Jetty at Ocean Shores

If you remember, my last post included a story about rock climbing to see the ocean waves coming in (check out the last post).   I reviewed that story, I felt I was supposed to share a bit more of that story with you.  The background to this story is that September 23rd of 2013, I had bilateral knee replacement; both knees at once.  I chose that way because I thought if I went in for one knee, I wouldn’t want to go back for the second knee.  I’m sure I would have been right!  So, keep that in mind as I share this little object lesson God gave to me.

We went to the ocean to spend some time away.  One of the places I had never gone before was the jetty out at the point in Ocean Shores.  I lived in Aberdeen for a bit over 4 years, went out to the ocean many, many times, but never to the jetty.  My husband and I went out to see what we could see.  From what I understand, there are two currents that meet and it makes for some gigantic waves to come crashing in to shore.  There is a wall made up of rocks that lines the shore line IMG_5342to break the water that comes into the beach.  Well, as you know by reading my posts, I am an ocean dweller!  I love the ocean!  Where there are waves, I’m gonna go!  Now the key here is, that my knees get me around pretty good for seven months out of surgery, but they are nowhere near maximum range of motion.  However, I see those crashing waves and I am thinking, “I have to get up there and see!”  I climb up on top of the rocks with my camera to get as close as I can to see the waves.   Huge waves are building and building, and headed for shore!  So exciting!  I stood protecting my camera as much as possible, and got as many shots as I could.  I took out my iPhone and did the same.  It was absolutely awesome!!!  It began chilling down quite rapidly, with some rain beginning to fall.  I decided I had gotten some good shots and had a blast watching the waves, so I turned to go back down the rocks.  I’m looking at those big boulders and thinking, “They look at lot bigger going the other way!  How in the world am I going to get down?”  You see, you bear weight differently going up then you do going down.  Down is where you have to depend on those muscles, that are weak from a surgery, and they take a lot of time to build strength for stepping down.  Even ordinary steps take a bit of time.  Well… here I am with boulders!  I had my camera around my neck and it was dangling as I tried to bend over to help myself down.  Can’t have camera damage so I unzipped my coat and tucked it in and zipped it back up.  Ok, next…I moved my body around thinking if I went backwards, maybe that would help me get down.  Uh…not really.  How about sideways?  Humm…this is kind of scary.  By now, I’m thinking, “I don’t think I can get down!”  I was ready for the bottom slide when I looked up and Terry is coming toward me from a ways down the beach.  He motions for me to wait and he will help me.  When he gets to me, he tells me there is an easier place to get up and down.   He takes my hand and helps me take those steps that were kind of scary to take on my own.

Now here is the kicker!!!  God very gently told me that, it is like that in our lives.   We think we can do anything!  We can climb rock walls with new knees, we can get that house if we want, we can buy a new car, we can do it on our own!  We are like theIMG_5441 little child that is trying to be independent and says, “I can do it myself!”   You know what?  I didn’t think at the moment to ask God to help me get down.  I could have.  I didn’t.  How many times do we live out our lives and just don’t think to ask or, we are too proud to ask?  Maybe, its that we don’t want to be vulnerable to what God might have for us, versus what we want.  I know it should have been a natural response to ask.   That is an area I ask God to change in me.  I’m usually pretty good to ask first, but we all have times we miss it.

Just like my husband Terry, God comes along and says, “It’s much easier if you go this way and let Me help you.  My timing is perfect and my ways are best for you.”  If we are willing to put aside our pride and trust Him, He will take our hand and help us off the rocks and down to safe ground.  I hope my little adventure helps you to see that God wants you to trust Him in everything.  Don’t go along thinking you can do everything by yourself.  It’s not worth it.  I could have stayed up there fretting, got dirty sliding down hard, pointed rocks, risked hurting my knees, and what I was carrying… and… all for the sake of doing it myself.  Crazy!  Not worth it!  Extend your hand.  He is waiting!

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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A Slow Journey Back

IMG_3489Warning:  Some pictures are graphic.

I am back among the living…at least I think I am. I have been gone from my blog and normal life for almost six weeks as I underwent surgery. I had bilateral knee replacement, and for a simpler version of that statement, I had total knee replacement on both knees at the same time. Many people ask me if I would recommend it. In fact, that is the first question they usually ask me. My answer is still out on that. I know for me, I did it because I don’t like hospitals and all that goes with it, so I knew I wouldn’t want to come back again to get the second one done. I will tell you it’s not easy and one of the hardest journeys I have taken in a long while.

When you are in this situation, you really have to learn to live with yourself. You have only yourself, your brain, and what you are thinking all the time. I was most fortunate to have a husband that stood by me the whole time. He took time off of work to be with me in the hospital everyday, then when we got home, he took care of me in the day and through the night; eventually doing that and working too. He was a great house husband too!  God knows what we need.  However, as you know you talk to yourself non-stop all day long and I found that what I was saying certainly didn’t line up with what I was praying.  Oops!!  Not good.  You see, I also had a lot of blood loss, and so I had to have transfusions to even get me to a place that I had enough energy to get myself up out of the bed.  And then I had to have it a second time, and I got a reaction so the last half was not administered.  So my recovery was very slow.  I remember one time thinking that people would say of me, “She came in for knee replacements, but didn’t come home.”  Now WHERE did THAT thought come from?  To give even a second thought to that was to allow the devil free rein in my thinking, and that just wasn’t going to happen.  I may FEEL like I’m going nowhere fast, but I wasn’t going to give in to it.  The night hours were the worst when you can’t sleep and satan tries to fill your mind with defeat.  I would call the nurse and get up! I would walk to the bathroom and walk back to the bed.  I would tell myself, “I was making progress, no matter how slow it may look, I wasn’t destined to be this way forever.  It will change.”  I was blessed to have my sweetie there all day telling me that I could do it.  To say that it was a humbling experience, it to put it mildly.  He became my nurse.  I believe with all my heart, that I am where I am today because of the prayers of faithful friends and family who covered me daily in prayer.  I had circles upon circles prayed around me!  Does that mean that I still don’t have times of discouragement? Nope. I still can have that feeling at times when I want to do something that just doesn’t work too well for me right now.  But, then I have to remember where I came FROM, and then I am thankful I have come this far.

My experience is not your experience so if you are looking to this in YOUR future, I would say, have a GREAT doctor (do your research), and prepare yourself ahead of time for what you need to do.  He is faithful.  I walked from the very beginning with a walker, but only for a couple of weeks.  Then it was a cane, and the last couple of weeks, I have walked on my own without assistance from either.  I would say that is a good track record, and my healing IMG_3482WILL be complete.  Is it over?  No.  I still have pain and discomfort.  But I can now do other things to help with that. I am even down to my last three visits of PT.  Yay!  But I still have to discipline myself to do it on my own.  See?  We are required to do our part.

Lessons?

  • Trust. Trust. Trust.
  • Don’t listen to the wrong voice in your ear.
  • God will use circumstances and people around you to bless you and lift you up.
  • The end of something is always better than the beginning. Always…because we have learned.
  • I learned I have an inner strength given to me by God that keeps me going no matter what.
  • Have a grateful heart for everything; that included my physical therapy. Yuck…
  • I am required to do my part.

IMG_4948This is only one snap shot of my life. I will likely have many more, and maybe some that will be harder than this to make it through.  But I know where my strength comes from, so I can look to the future with hope!  I’m happy to answer any questions if you leave them in the comments.

Walking, yes walking…the journey with you.