open sunroofs

So I am going to share one of those not-so-smart-janelle-ism’s that happened the other day for me. A couple of days ago, I got a massage for the first time ever in my life. Mainly because I got a gift card (I am too cheap to actually treat myself in that way). I had no idea what to expect as I walked through the glass doors that took me into a swanky spa, a place I should but do not get to see very often. When I approached the front desk and gave her my name for the appointment set up, she then proceeded to lead me up the spiral staircase.

I am so rich, I thought.

When the massage was over, I gathered my things together, got into my car, opened the sunroof and windows and began my drive home, blaring country tunes, because that is what you do in the summertime. Because of being extremely relaxed and not really all there, I turned off my car before the sunroof was completely closed. First mistake. I got out of my car, grabbed my things and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon reading and drinking my La Croix on the front porch swing. Around 7:00 that evening, dark clouds started quickly moving towards me. Because I have a thing for storms, you can always catch me staring at the sky waiting for slow drops of rain to begin flowing down in sheets. I love rain. I love lightning. I love thunder. Even more so, if I have the option of sitting on the porch allowing my senses to kick in and take over, I could sit in the midst of a rainstorm until it ends. There is something just so mesmerizing and beautiful about it all, even somewhat of a thrill.

As it neared time for bed, I cracked my windows so I can hear it roll on through as I closed my eyes and drifted off. Dear Journal, what a relaxing day. I closed a chapter of life by stopping by school and turning in my keys. I got a massage for the first time. Again, feel so rich. And I feel like now I can fall asleep with nothing on my mind. Today was a refreshing and a much-needed kind of day.

The next morning, I woke and did my usual morning routine. Lay in bed for about ten minutes while checking my phone, slowly get moving by saying “Good Morning” to my dog Milo, and head downstairs to make coffee. Without coffee, you’re going to have to give me at least an hour to come to life, so naturally, coffee speeds up the process a bit. And I mean, of course it’s my favorite smell and taste in the world. After I filled up my cup, I grabbed my journal, pen and mug and went out to the front porch swing to enjoy the slow sunny morning filled with the humidity and fresh smell of nourishment that the rain brought. As I scanned the front yard, my eyes shifted towards my car, and to my dismay, I noticed the sunroof guard of my car up.

No.  No.   You have GOT to be kidding me. There is no way the sunroof is open. I swear I closed it. Shoot. How did this happen.  Slow blink. Still open. What.

Also me, all of these thoughts were running through my mind as I stopped myself from happily swinging on the porch swing, staring at my car. Just staring. Sure enough. As I walked over to my car the sunroof was indeed open and I had about an inch of water sitting in my cup holders.

Awesome. My life. Praise hands. High-five, Janelle.

What I thought was going to be a slow, relaxing morning, turned into me frantically grabbing the dehumidifier from the basement and researching/texting friends to gain insight on how to dry out your soaked car. Roll my eyes. That night, I laid in bed with my journal reflecting back on the past couple days and how significantly different my response was to the situations that panned out, obviously. Life changes, and in most times, we aren’t prepared for nor expecting the change that is to come.

This passed year, I decided to begin preparing for a change in my life by leaving my current teaching job. The experiences and skills obtained for the duration of my time there are invaluable as I am now entering into the process of discovering God’s calling on my life, one day, one decision, at a time. As we undergo the many changes in our lives, it is a sweet reminder that Jesus is holding our hands, going before us, and making a way to plant his desires within us, even if we’re human and make silly mistakes, like leaving the sunroof open during a torrential downpour. We can always remember that even when we can’t see what is on the other side of the decisions we make, the changes that occur, or the upsetting trials that hit us without warning, God is still good and we still have him. Even when I get a phone call telling me a loved one has passed, He is making a way. Even when the adoption process falls through and we have to pursue another option, he is making a way. Even when I step out on faith by quitting my job without having another, he is making a way. Even when your family simply cannot communicate effectively with each other, he is making a way. Even when you have done everything, and still can’t get pregnant, he is making a way. Even when I am diagnosed with a terminal illness, he is making a way. Even when my bank account is low and not sure where the next paycheck will come from, he is making a way. 

One thing remains is that when life makes shifts, we have a hope in our Heavenly Father, sweetly lifting our chins, reminding us we are not from here. He says that in this world we will have heartache, but that we can take heart. He has overcome.

light in the darkness

I have most recently began practicing yoga again after taking a season off. I will most certainly say that yoga has been a lifesaver for me. I never actually realized how good it was for my emotional and physical well being until I get into child’s pose and come to center on my mat. For those of you yogis out there, you know exactly what I am talking about. For those of you who don’t practice yoga, there is a phrase I go by:  “Because you can, you should.”

Anyways, back to sharing my most recent yoga practice experience with you.

I come into class and the instructor asked each of us to set an intention for our practice. This intention can be a word, phrase, or sometimes for me, a verse. I chose the word “endurance”. These intentions really motivate you when your practice gets harder throughout the session. I found this word, more often than not, come into my thoughts as I was struggling to hold certain poses, and yes, even falling down during one of them because I had zero ability to balance on one leg. Go ahead and laugh. I did.

I got back up and kept going. My favorite part is when I am able to stretch and breathe deeper when holding each pose. I truly felt like an amateur as I have been out of the game for quite a bit of time and have lost all flexibility and strength, especially when I look around and people are flying their crows and posing in a half moon for lengthy periods of time (sorry-yoga jargon). Of course as I immediately start to compare my practice to the experienced yogis around me, I constantly catch my thoughts and bring them back to the fact that today, I have decided to at least show up to class.

As my practice concluded, I laid on my back with both arms stretched out to the side, palms up. I arranged my body so that all my muscles were 100% relaxed. The instructor dimmed the lights, and provided time for us to conclude our practice with quiet meditation. I LOVE the fact that when I laid there, I felt time was actually on my side in that moment, and it wasn’t against me, creating stress and major “rush” in my life. Time actually forced me to lay there, to be still before Father, and listen to what He had to say to me in that moment.  Anytime I sit in carved out quiet time, Father never ceases to stop talking to me. Recently, I heard on a podcast that “God is always talking to us, we just don’t take the time to listen or recognize his voice”. So there I laid. Centering myself on the mat.

I opened my eyes, even though I probably shouldn’t have because that wasn’t fully relaxing myself. My eyes became fixated on the light above me. My eyes soon adjusted to the light, similar to when I was a little girl seeing how long I could stare at the sun on a hot summer day. I know, so stupid. When I was no longer squinting at the light, my eyes scanned the other parts of the ceiling, unable to see as my eyes were slowly adjusting back to the darkness. It took a good portion of time for my eyes to not see spots from the light as I scanned the ceiling and other areas of the room.

That’s when He spoke to me.

“Do you see me? I am everywhere. You need to stay CLOSE to me to begin seeing more of me.”

When my eyes trickled away from the light, I was able to see the light for a short time frame after, and eventually, my eyes adjusted back to the darkness.

I feel that is exactly how it is with our walk with Father. It’s only human for our eyes to be able to see in the darkness; however, when we spend significant time with Father, our Beloved, we become so deeply rooted and fixated on Him, our light, that we are unable to see the darkness around us. As long as we are on Earth, living out our day-to-day routines, we will experience the weight of sin in this world. Maybe your darkness is your character is being ripped to shreds that you worked so hard to keep and maintain. Maybe your darkness is your job where you have given away your boundaries and allowed your boss and coworkers to walk all over you. Maybe your darkness is rejection from a dating relationship. Maybe your darkness is struggling through school, wondering if you chose the right program that will determine the course of your life. Maybe your darkness is going off birth control for months, even years, and still not being able to get pregnant. Maybe your darkness is your spouse is choosing pornography or another’s love over you. Maybe your darkness is unresolved conflict and hurt in the relationship with your earthly father. Maybe your darkness is fear of the unknown and what your “next steps” will be.

No matter what your “dark cloud” is, God is talking with you and wanting you to stay close to Him. He wants you to come sit with Him in the quiet, free of the distractions of this world. He wants more than anything for your eyes to be fixated on HIS eyes, and His presence only, so that when you go about your day, you see the Light’s spots everywhere you look. 

When our eyes are on the Light, the Light is all we’ll see.

Psalm 139:7-12

“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,” Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day Darkness and light are alike to You.”

I asked myself these couple questions after the yoga session that day:

  • What am I currently allowing in my life that is preventing me from staying close and spending time with Father?
  • What am I actively doing to pursue my relationship with Father, first and foremost?
  • How am I combatting lies of the enemy, and not allowing these lies to be a stronghold in my thoughts and life?

Please give me some feedback and/or future topics you would like me to touch on. Thanks for taking the time to read this today!

Remember how much He loves you today,

Janelle

enjoy it.

“Enjoy it,” I heard.

My mind flooded with noise from various areas of my life. Lies were whispered to me. Discontentment flooded my soul.

“God, I mean, will it every happen to me?  I packed up my life and moved back home. I am living back at home with my parents. When will the time come to move out? When will I every find the right house to call mine? House hunting is emotionally and physically exhausting. Where will I find my community? What church do you want me to get involved with? Will I ever meet a person I want to spend the rest of my life with? (or maybe more like someone who WANTS to be with me? Ha!)”

“Enjoy it.”

Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
You know, I am incredibly thankful for a Father who KNOWS me and knows what is GOOD for me. It is not a matter of what; in fact, it is ALL about the when. As we listen and walk with Him, desires are planted in our hearts while we are here.  When we experience those desires, we should be practically, spiritually and emotionally taking steps towards those desires and patiently waiting on the Lord’s timing of Him bringing them to fruition.

The enemy’s lies should be a fleeting thought in the wind for me. My real struggle is that I overanalyze and worry about the very thing that God has called me to simply “enjoy.” Enjoying and trusting God leads to contentment and consistency in your life.

Instead of us growing weary in the wait time, I pray for the ability to focus on the beauty of the Father and how much He loves us kids. Simply put, He wants us to BE kids and ENJOY having Him and only Him.

hills.

I forget how much I really enjoy running until I walk out my front door. This morning, I decided that I would start my day with a little cardio. It was entirely delightful. The leaves crackled with each step I took and the crisp breeze carried the autumn aroma that everybody wishes could last for all four seasons. Today on my run, I encountered many hills of all sizes and lengths. Excitement, (yes, excitement) came over me when I approached the inclines. Let me explain. I can run for a while, no big deal. However, it is much more difficult running at an incline. Why was I excited? Because I KNEW it was going to push me and reveal to me how out of shape I actually am (no, but seriously) and what I need to work on.

It is the same in our spiritual race that God has called His children to run. Trials, or hills, in our lives are mirrors that God puts up to reveal to us what does not look like Him and to push us to press on through the One who gives us strength. God has a different calling for each one of us. Whether it be single, married, a certain job, etc., God has called YOU to be fruitful and to be a facilitator of His love and grace where you are.

Being completely transparent, this is an area of struggle for me. How I view my hills on my run looks differently than how I view my “life” hills. I ask desperately moment after moment, day after day, if God would release me from the trials and move me into the next season of life, whatever that looks like. God has created all of us with emotions. It is completely alright to vent, shed tears, grit, and in some cases, be depressed. However, there comes a time where we have to get back up. Whether that be taking a break from “life” and going on a run, leaving town, changing up the pace a bit, simply enjoying and resting in the arms of your Creator. Your life is designed by God and will look differently than lives all around you. I love how Beth Moore says it,

“No one else can fulfill your calling. Other people can do what you’ve been called to do but, child of God, they cannot be YOU doing it. That’s what makes your footprint here unique. What you have been called by God to do is beyond your natural abilities, skills, and talents.”

That hits it right on the head. WE ARE CALLED. We WILL encounter hills while we are fulfilling our calling. It is a guarantee. It is all about changing our thinking when we are faced with hills. Changing our thoughts to that of excitement rather than negativity and frustration. The glass is half full and I like hills.

“I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out to Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward –to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

(Phil. 3:12-14 The Message)

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View from Table Rock Trail

Resources:
Children of the Day-Beth Moore

your house.

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“We walk into houses that are not ours. Then, when the concrete shifts, that house of cards tumbles to the ground. But God. God rebuilds a house. This  house has your name on it, and He awaits you walking through the front door and owning the process. Owning what He has built for you.”   Cheryl Wood

 Life is given to us by God. It is a gift and is very precious. However, when going through trials of various kinds, our hearts only yearn that much more for the King’s return. In the meantime, He is asking for our whole – every aspect of what makes us who we are. He desires that we accept His sanctifying of our whole completely –spirit, soul and body. (2 Thess. 5:23) God is preforming a work in us and will preform it until Christ returns. I believe there is a reason God specifically ordered those three aspects of life in a human and how it relates to cultivating and experiencing true joy amidst a trial.

First up is the spirit. This is the absolute core of who we are. In Genesis 2:7, it states that, “[God] breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” He created us with five different senses which enabled us to interact fully with the intricately created world around us. Second up is the soul (and mind) where we are able to manage our emotions and our thinking patterns. Last up is the body and taking care of what we have been given which includes the following: choosing to be physically active, eating well, obtaining enough rest, and being free of any addictions.

This past weekend, He gave me the gracious gift of going away to a cabin in Asheville, NC for a short trip with some of my dearest sisters in Christ. This was a refreshing time away from all the busy and stress that life throws at us. We were able to completely remove ourselves from situations back home and just focus on each other, His beautiful handiwork, but most importantly, resting and being still in His presence. I am sure God was smiling down on us as we were like kids in a candy shop as we saw His glory manifest in front of us.

A specific experience that stood out to me from the trip was when we all hiked up the mountain to the lookout at the top. There were five of us girls and we all had different stopping points so we could catch our breath, especially being at a higher elevation. We would then wait on and with each other, converse, laugh, trip and fall, and even help each other through different parts of the hike. All that to say, we FINALLY made it to the top and BOY was it worth it. This got me thinking about life (of course). It is a process. Sanctification is a process. But God, being our Father knows what is best for us, and He is changing us from the inside out –spirit, soul, and body. He is not just telling us to fend for ourselves when we are in the middle of a crisis. He is actually so good that He provides strength through His people around us. On a human level, it is so easy to tell someone who is in a difficult circumstance to change, move or “hike” faster because we see what is better. But God knows what is BEST for us and that means that we need to appreciate the sanctification process he is bringing us through and enjoy every little aspect along the way so that we learn more about the rhythm of His heart. He begins changing our spirit, then our soul, and will indefinitely be displayed through our physical actions of how we take care of ourselves and live God out loud.

He has created us in His image and will continue chipping away on us what does not look like Himself. That is a process and it requires patience. Remember to stop living in someone’s house. Rather, walk through the front door of the house that God has designed FOR YOU. Enjoy it. Embrace it. Patiently wait for God to genuinely change you from the inside out. Choose joy for yourself.

Romans 8:24-25 “For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

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(Pictures taken in Asheville, NC.)

Resources:
Blue Letter Bible Commentary