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!

Influenced by Your Surroundings

My Studio Creative Space

This is a little different post for me, but I feel so strongly that many are living with less and less satisfaction and well-being on a daily basis and need some encouragement. I have found that my surroundings make a HUGE difference in how I feel, and how I handle the challenges and disappointments that come into my life. Do you think that your surroundings play a part in how you feel on a daily basis?

Today, let’s talk a little about how your environment impacts you.  I believe, you may understand that you can influence your mood and well-being. For example, rooms with bright light, natural or artificial, can improve depression and anxiety. It can motivate you to action. A room that is cluttered and messy will probably be someplace you will continue to drop things as you come in the room or entry. However, a space that is cleaned and organized, will motiviate you to keep it that way. It will encourage you to have a new habits of wanting to put things away in their place so it stays that way. Let’s take an entry for example of your home or apartment. Does it invite people to come in?  Does it encourage or discourage interaction among family and friends by the way you set up the chairs or furniture in the room you will walk into? Does it encourage people to sit for a spell? Reducing stress or creating stress is also influenced by your feeling of well-being so how it appears when you come can determine your feelings, as well as, your guests. So… we can see by a couple examples, that this it isn’t just what is going on in the inside of you but also what is going around on the outside of you. How you see your space has a great impact how you feel in your surroundings. All this in turn has impact on your psychological health as well.

Think about this scenario, you have dishes in the sink and on the counter from dinner or maybe even a couple of days, and it bugs you to see it before you go to bed, but you don’t feel like doing it. However, doing it makes you feel like you are accomplishing something, and you will feel better waking up to a clean kitchen the next morning. Or, maybe its city life that makes you anxious and you would rather be in the country, even though friends, and even family members, love the hustle and bustle of the city. Maybe you are like me and the ocean is your happy place. I love the ocean and it does it for me every time. There is the place where I get quiet enough to lean in to hear what God has to say to me. The water and nature do that for me. It may be different experiences for you that cause stress or help you dial down. Looking at your surroundings as you read this, is there good light around your home and work space? Do you like what is around you? Do you like how you feel sitting there in that spot? Your mood is affected by that. What about the dynamics of your surroundings?  Do you thrive in high-pressure, or does it make you shut down? Messy work spaces elevate stress and the feelings of chaos. Do you need to attend to that area?

Here is the bottom line…your surroundings are so impactful to how you feel on a daily, or even an hourly basis. You may be in many different environments during a day. But do something about the ones you can control…your own.  Your surroundings influence your senses such as what you see, smell, touch and hear, and even the colors you have in your surroundings. Color can completely change the whole feel of your room or home or space and paint is inexpensive. All of these areas has influence on how you feel. Just like you love to go to the beach and see a lovely sunset, so it is with the feeling of our homes. It welcomes us in with a feeling of belonging. It is a soft place to fall.

Sometimes, our environment and/or circumstances can dictate what we choose to do rather than what we want to do. Your environment is what is important to YOU. So if you look around and see with new eyes what brings you joy and well-being, and also what makes you anxious, then you can begin to take the first step in making your surroundings special. Gain habits that help you keep that environment. Minimize distractions around you whether it is furniture, too much in the room, or messy areas that need to be tidied up. Items you might need to get rid of or share. You know we hear daily how we can change our lives, but we forget that we have a real need to feel content in the place where we live out that life. First let’s change our surroundings where we can so we are more motivated to make the changes in ourselves, to be used of God.

It is a proven scientic fact that when you have things around you that bring you like, or you see things that bring you a feeling of love, it changes you inside…that feeling of contentment. It increases your endorphins. It changes then how you look at life. It helps us enjoy life more. It motivates you without you having to push yourself. You begin to WANT to have it look a certain way because of how it makes you feel. It may begin with the smallest step like changing furniture around, or adding a piece that helps you organize the space. It may be adding a special item to your space. But the change gives you the sense of accomplishment and that one small step is making some progress toward that feeling of contentment and well-being.

I learned this years ago, and have always set the priorities for our home to be in good order where possible. It feels good to have things in place. When I have too much in a room, I tend to think about it and it is stressful to even have the items. So in the last few years, I have been slowly trying to streamline my home and everything in it, so that, I will have a feeling of calm in my home. I love it when people come in and feel comfortable in my home. That is my goal; to make any guest feel welcome.

So let me share with you how I have done that in my surroundings.

  1. I alway surround myself with items I love. I have surrounded myself with family heirlooms, photos that give me good memories, my Norwegian heritage, music, collections, good books, candle light is often seen in my home, and items given as gifts to me. I love to look at them and remember how they fit in my life story.
  2. I have colors I love that brings me joy. I love reflected light of crystals hanging in strategic places to catch the sunlight. I hope to paint the whole condo at some point, but I’m also open to God opening a door for just the right stand alone home too! He works behind the scenes, so I’m ready. But in the mean time, I am making this environment what we love.
  3. I change the look of each home I have lived in. It is important for me to make it my happy place. I spend a lot of time here. Once again, I also like it to feel that way to others also.
  4. I also include things around me that enhance all my senses. For example: I have a wonderful soft, furry rug that is placed by my bed. I love waking up to put my feet on that rung every morning, and to enjoy it at night as I get into bed. Candle light and the fragrances relaxes me.
  5. I almost always change lights in my home to styles I really like. It isn’t that expensive if you shop around, but it sure boosts the well-being factor to see them up in our home.
  6. I’m a vintage gal, so I love old things and the stories they could tell. Some of the stories I know. Others I do not. But, I am the keeper of that secret story.
  7. I live in a condo that is very dark. In the day time, if I don’t have lights on, especially if no sun is out, it is very dark light almost like evening time. That’s hard for me because I love windows and light. So I do whatever I can to make it lighter and brighter with shades up and the right kind of light bulbs in my lights and lamps. Sounds simple but it can make all the difference. Use of full spectrum lighting can also make a big the difference in the lighting of your home.
  8. I changed my whole bedroom around; moved furniture, changed bedding, new curtains on sale, different furniture that fit better with the new set up, added a few pieces that I love to the walls, rugs in the floor, and I have a room I love to walk into.
  9. I’m a fireplace gal, so I often have it on in the mornings and later at night, with my mocha of course.
  10. I burn candles whenever I can. Something about them…and that light. I grew up in a time where many of my relatives when I was a child, used kerosene lamps for lighting, so it has good memories for me too.
  11. My surroundings start with a quiet time in the morning, with my mocha and fireplace burning and devotions. No better way to start my day. When I am feeling good about where I am, I can so feel the work of God in my life. I’m motivated to be a part of what He is doing around me.
  12. I inspire myself by looking at ways to bring the outside inside. I like to spend time on my patio and that is a place we are working this spring. So I will want to see that space from rooms on that end of the home. I love outside lighting also and hope to do that soon on the patio.
  13. I enjoy the BBQ life and do it often all year long. I really enjoying have that good smell going on a super crisp day, knowing I have a good meal planned. I get to enjoy being outside also. God has made a beautiful world around us. Let’s look to the good things we can see and hear in nature because God has given that gift to us.
  14. I spend time doing what I love. Activities such as music, photography, creating items with photography, drinking mocha from my cup collection, and reading to just name a few. So I have spaces in my home where it invites me into that activity. Nothing better than making music and singing to Jesus at the piano.
  15. I have a couple of essential oils I use every night before getting into bed. They relax me and give me that sense of well-being… and sleep comes. It is something I look forward to. A little step that may seem insignificant, but it can be huge to my well-being. I also have a diffuser so I can bring wonderful fragrances in to my rooms.
  16. My husband and I love to go for drives. It is very enjoyable for me to get out and see what I can see. Getting out to in a different environment, can change up an attitude in no time. I will sometimes just get in the car for a ride with my camera to enjoy the beauty around my area. Or as in our case, go to the cabin and enjoy the outdoors, camera in hand. I also enjoy traveling to Norway and seeing my relatives there and learning Norwegian VERY slowly…well more like turtle pace. But I’m learning.

Are you getting the idea that your surroundings are important for all areas of your life? Can you see how you are affected by the lack of any of these things or can benefit from including them in your life? I have been sharing these types of ideas in photos to encourage others to change their surroundings for many years. Some have been inspired and made the changes and are loving every minute of the changes they made. It doesn’t have to be costly because many things I have done are through thrift stores and selling apps or groups. I have found some great items!

It comes back to the big take away…our surroundings most certainly affect our well-being!! Changing our surroundings changes us. It makes us feel like we can tackle our world. Because we are happier, we feel more motivated to make the changes and live with joy. That in turn gives us just what we need to be Jesus to someone else. It’s an exciting way to live. Life is hard at times, and we need need that soft place to fall called “home”.  We need that place we go to for work every day to be as much of a spot to enjoy as we can make it. Even where we eat lunch, if we are at work, can make a difference how refreshed we are going back to it.

Hit the Reset Button in your surroundings and see what you can change to make your surroundings more like a place that brings a sense of well-being to your soul. I believe you will build an environment where God can really grow you in ways you may not have thought of just by making a place for your soul to be content. I walk into the rooms of my home and feel a sense of peace, calm, and contentment. It always makes me smile. It is exciting when you get started and I would love to see what you do. Please feel free to leave your big and little changes in the comments. Start with one step.

The best way forward in our lives is to start back at the beginning…changes in our surroundings.

Until next time,

~JoAnn