New Year’s Resolutions – Finale


Perspective.  It’s such a gift that we take for granted, and sometimes even reject.  Fresh eyes to see.. new angles to look at something…stimulation that promotes growth..

So, in 2017 I wanted to resolve to:

Read More.

Read Diverse.

Read Consistently.

Read Slowly.

Many of you actually made some great book recommendations for me!  I took notes on what you told me, filled up my Amazon shopping cart, and was set for the year.. With my classes, and the hurry-scurry of my life, it was a bit of a struggle.. especially the READ SLOWLY part.  Ha.  So, sometimes I would literally read one paragraph to *chew* on for a few days.

So, why did I resolve to do this? (And, will be doing so again in 2018!)

Reading has so many benefits.  My Dr. told me that it greatly aids in focus – disciplining our mind. (Annnd, my mind needs all the help it can get!)  😀  In this age of fast-paced, give-it-to-me now world.. slowing down to read and turn the pages in a book, digesting written words, contemplating new things, and creatively visualizing and connecting to the author’s meaning is a precious resource (that we often neglect cos we are too busy!). Who doesn’t want better focus, the gift of more creative genius, further knowledge, and the ability to better understand others?  I do, but like most good-for-me stuff in life, I have to be intentional to make it happen.  (For some reason eating healthy doesn’t magically happen for me, but chocolate seems to appear just when I want it!)

Diversity is the gift of all the variety that surrounds us, but sometimes we don’t (or can’t) connect to it.  We tend to only watch/read/study those things that all fit in the same little mindset we feel comfortable and at home with. We see through our own set of eyes, with our own personal lens or perception that have filters that don’t see things in all the same ways.  Yet, quite frequently we judge, dismiss, criticize with limited resources mentally to make those assessments.

Often, we fear what we don’t understand.. Our fear causes us to mistrust and to become defensive.  But, do we really have to defend who we are?  Isn’t it a gift for me to be able to communicate to you who I am, and then in return understand who you are and what makes your world tick?

Obviously, we are all going to have our own beliefs, convictions, goals and desires.. That’s what makes the you and the me!  We can be passionate, convicted and dig our roots deep into the beliefs that we have for our own lives.  I’m not talking about being wishy-washy or everyone’s ways always being right.. But, to “climb into another man’s skin and walk around” for a bit is a gift of new eyes to see life from a new angle.  Books are a perfect way to visit new cultures, hear another’s pain, understand why other’s believe and act the way they do, and grow in the knowledge of a skill-set that will help us in life.. and much, much more!

I think the greatest benefit to me through my little resolution this year was having my own biases, pride and prejudices triggered. Reading slowly gave me time to prayerfully and reflectively challenge my pride, my small mentalities and my perceptive limitations and say “Hey now, Joani.  Your little world isn’t the only one out there.. ”

Truly listening with ears to hear, and eyes to see another is life-shaping and life-changing.  

Find you a book, find you a quiet place, and dive in!

Here we go 2018!  

(Quote from Atticus in “To Kill A Mockingbird” – one of the many wonderful books we can read!)



construction sites & the book of Hebrews

In my journey through God’s word, I currently have the joy of studying the book of Hebrews.  Gotta be truthful, when I first began to read it at the beginning of March, I thought to myself that maybe I could just skip over it, remembering that each time I’ve studied Hebrews before it kinda feels like my heart is under construction… ripping out maybe some trashy, cheap cabinets I installed, or painting a new color on the walls that wasn’t quite what I expected.  But, I went ahead and dove in, and I’m so thankful for the worknew construction site that I’m feeling, because He is reminding me that He is here, He is present, and He isn’t finished with me yet.

This morning my text was Hebrews 6, and these particular verses resonated so strongly with my heart-work, So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 6:17-20). 

anchorTwo things can hold us firmly in place… like a steady weighted anchor for our soul: God’s promise and His pledge!  Two things that do not change.  Ever.  His love and work for you is not dependent on you — not your failures, or weakness.. not your successes or strengths. And, guess what?  He cannot lie! He does not lie. Isn’t that reassuring! (Psalm 110:4). This world is shaky, isn’t it?  Money will come and go, places that we live change, earthly relationships sometimes are grand..and then someday’s maybe disappoint, but my Saviour does not.  His work was done for us, completed on the cross.   Little phrases that have GREAT ALTERATIONS like “and then,” AND THEN, “And then Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split” (Matthew 27:50-51, ESV).  For you, my friend.  For me.  Now, because of Christ doing this work of propitiation Jesus made things okay to run behind the veil and have sweet fellowship with our Creator and Perfect Father.

I can’t speak for you, but for me I often get tangled up with my struggles, sickness, emotions, and responsibilities… and I forget to run… or I choose not to run.  I’ll just try to carry it all, and plod along.. each step feeling weighed down a little more.  I seem to be doing that alot lately. How amazing is it, that He, my Daddy wants me to lay aside all that is weighing me down and run straight to His arms… free and unfettered by heavy laws, and muddy sin.  Surrender maybe doesn’t come easy to us “big people.” but becoming a little, dependent child is the most freeing thing ever for this weary heart.  I can face the biggest giant when my Daddy goes before me.

Run, with eyes on Him.

Run — He’s waiting.

Run, oh the joy that is to come.

I woke up with verse 2 of these amazing hymn lyrics written by Edward Mote singing over and over in my soul:

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

 When the darkness is thick,  that’s when His promise and oath to me are the anchor that keeps my little, bobbling ship stayed still, and quiet in the presence of His love.

I’m so thankful that my God is rebuilding this little place I live in.. the book of Hebrews is reminding me: “What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself” (CS Lewis, Mere Christianity).

the fruit — post 5

IMG_9529I think we can all relate to a moment in our life when an unexpected or undeserved kindness changed the course of the moment we were facing.  A bad day turned good by the kindness of a generous, smiling face assisting you with the flat tire change, and a big umbrella (when you had forgotten your own) in the rainy night.  A warm hug, a cup of coffee and a shoulder to cry on when you’re sad, and words won’t do. Checking out at the grocery story, children crying ready to leave and THEN you rummage through your purse, short the right amount of change and you see the lovely lady in line behind you present a nickel and a big smile, “I’ve been there before, too, “she reassures you.  Oh, these beautiful daily kindnesses!  How they can shape our days!  And, not simply our days, but our very lives. Not only to receive, but in the act of giving.  I was reading an interesting article by a Dr David Hamilton who suggests five side effects of kindness, 1)Kindness makes us happier, 2) Kindness gives us healthier hearts, 3) Kindness slows ageing, 4) Kindness makes for better relationships, 5) Kindness is contagious.  Life changing stuff, friends.

So, how is kindness defined?  One of my very favorite writers/speakers is Dr Tim Keller, gives us this definition in his expository study of Galatians;

Chrestotes = kindness, which is an ability to serve others practically in a way which makes me vulnerable, which comes from having a deep inner security. Its opposite is envy, which leaves me unable to rejoice in another’s joy. And its fake alternative is manipulative good deeds, doing good for others so I can congratulate myself and feel I am “good enough” for others or for God.

The beauty of this fruit of the spirit, and all the fruits of the spirit the verses in Galatians listed, is that this outflow does not rely on our ability, it is a flow from the spirit of God which resides in us!   Dr Tim Keller, also reminds us; “In normal religion, the motivation for morality is fear-based. In gospel Christianity, the motivation is a dynamic of love…And now, Paul spells out just how we grow in character through this new dynamic. And his headline is: We grow as we battle…To be “led by the Spirit” (v 18) is to change, and be changed, to be the people we want to be. The Spirit-fuelled development of Christ-like character is liberating, because it brings us closer to being the people we were designed to be, the people our Spirit-renewed hearts want us to be…We are saved by faith, not by growing fruit; but we are not saved by fruitless faith. A person saved by faith will be a person in whom the fruit of the Spirit grows…The fruit of the Spirit has internal roots. It is not about traits or characteristics. It is about a change much deeper than that. Think about an apple tree. Do the apples on the tree make it alive? No – if you tied apples onto a dead tree’s branches, that wouldn’t make it alive! The apples don’t give life; they are a sign that the tree is alive. But the life produces the fruit; not the other way around…It is worth looking closely at each aspect of the singular fruit of the Spirit (v 22-23):”

What kindness our Saviour has freely, unexpectedly, and undeservingly shown us!  Just ponder that for a moment, search Him out, talk to Him about where you are right now.  When He appears in our life, everything changes. Stay connected to the source.  Dig your roots deep, deep, deep into His loving kindness.

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,  so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

Titus 3:4-7

the fruit – post 4


Stay steady, my friend.  One day at a time, one choice at a time, one prayer at a time.

“The opposite of impatience is not a glib, superficial denial of frustration. The opposite of impatience is a deepening, ripening, peaceful willingness either to wait for God where you are in the place of obedience, or to persevere at the pace he allows on the road of obedience—to wait in his place, or to go at his pace.”

John Piper

“For God alone my soul waits in silence;
    from him comes my salvation.
 He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.”

Psalm 62:1-2



the fruit — post 1

Ok.  So you know this about me:  I love reminders.  I need reminders.  Reminders help me.  🙂

So, I started a little graphic arts project for myself awhile back, with visual, simple reminders of very important matters. I thought maybe some of you like reminders, too! Galatians 5:22 gives us a beautiful list of the “fruits” that flow freely as we are “walking by the Spirit”.  I love that Galatians 5 reminds us that it is freedom that we are called to!  Not a heavy to-do list, but the beautiful ability to walk out the fruits that God flows into us, and then out of us.

The list begins with…..
FullSizeRender (30)

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;  it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends.

As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part,  but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

1 Corinthians 13, ESV