When God Speaks

 

 

Now THIS post is one that gets me totally excited because I love when I see God’s work in action, especially when it is what I call a direct message. We are used the the private messages on Facebook or the Direct Message on Twitter. We use those so that we can say something to someone without the whole world knowing what we are sharing. It is directed to you only. But… what if you get a direct message from God?!? What do you do with that?!?!?!??

You most certainly obey.  That is what happened this week with my friend and me. As some of you may know, I shared a week or so ago about my approach toward hard times and challenges. This journey with skin cancer has been a hard journey. However, it has always been a policy of mine, for myself, that as I make it through a hard challenging season, I give myself a life marker. It may be an activity, something I purchase, but it is always there to remind me. It’s purpose is to remind me of what God has kept me from, as well as, what He has brought me through. So…I had shared a story about my wanting to get this beautiful votive when I was on my way to Norway this last Spring. I saw it in Amsterdam and loved it. But, I didn’t want to spend money at that time since I had my whole trip ahead of me in Norway. So it stayed in Amsterdam. What I shared on Facebook was that, as I prayed my way through this journey of surgeries and one last upcoming surgery, I felt I should purchase that beautiful Glassybaby and then light it often to remind me of what God brought me through and kept me from once again. I had talked it over with my hubby too. The flower petals remind me of God’s soft touch in my life, and whispers in my ear that He will never leave me. The colors of opaque which reminds me that I won’t always see clearly in the moment I’m in, but He sees it clearly. Then, those shades of red I so love to remind me of His blood shed for me both in the beatings He bore and the sins He covered on the cross. Yes. This would be a great life marker. (And I love candlelight anyway)

Now for the exciting part that makes me want to dance! A friend read my post on Facebook and told me she commented that she was praying for me and for my healing. As she prayed, she felt the Lord say that she was to purchase this votive for me. She traveled all the way to my Bungalow, which is quite a jaunt for her, knocked on the door, and left it at my door! I messaged her a bit later after tearfully opening that gift and thanked her for such a wonderful, thoughtful gesture and what it meant to me particularly on this day. If you know Glassybaby, you know it is no small gift. She said, “In my prayers, God spoke to me to get this as a gift for you.” The best part of the reason was the why. Here are her words:

Enjoyed in the dark of my bedroom before sleeping.

“God wanted to make sure you knew that He was listening.”

Wow!!! Well, the flood gates opened as I read that on my phone. I was overwhelmed with the love that God would have for me, that He would use this wonderful lady who was obedient to what she had heard, to go out and shop for this gift, and then drove it all the way to my house to share it with me. God encouraged through all that…just to let me know He was listening!!

Friends, THIS is our God! I can’t even describe my feelings as I lit that votive and thought about what God had just done. How He cared enough about me, to give direction to another, so that, He could give me a message that I needed just at this time! AND…it was the same day that I found out that the spot on the left side of my nose was not indicating cancer! Now that’s a celebration my friends!

I absolutely ADORE this votive and what it represents, and love this sweet lady who was obedient to what God asked of her. But the BEST part is that God cared enough to give me a personal message through His chosen messenger! Thank you Jan from the bottom of my heart! May God bless you over and over. I will light it often, and always be grateful!

I have had many of these experiences where God has used another to speak into my life at a time when I needed a Word from Him. But… that is for a future post!

 

Until next time…

~JoAnn

 

 

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One Leap At A Time

None of us, if we can help it, ever want to leap from one place to another place unless we are sure we can reach the other side. Why is that? We don’t trust ourselves? Fear? The unknown? We don’t trust the One who might be asking us to do it? Yes, sometimes we might physically not be able to make it. But I would venture to say that most of the time, it is for other reasons mentioned above.

These last few weeks, I have had to leap even when I didn’t want to, and I have to say, I didn’t know where I was going to land. I knew I would land, so that is a good thing. But what it would look like on the other side, of what felt like an abyss, was very unknown. I was watching myself go from one leap to another without much choice about whether or not I wanted to leap.

God talks to us about sitting beside the still waters and rest for our soul. I am seeking to stay by still waters, and certainly taking rest for my soul. Can you remember a time when you were going to try and cross a wide stream? You might have leaped from rock to rock to make it across. I have done that many times, and even missed a time or two to be refreshed in a cool stream. But now I have made a leap to the middle of the stream of this skin cancer journey and reached a point where I have to stand on the Rock. Just like the first leap, God will be with me in the next leap to the other side of the stream, with a final procedure complete on October 21st. I have chosen this time to use sedation for the procedure, since my stress or anxiety level was a bit high with my blood pressure. It seems like a wise choice.

So what are the honest, challenging and irritating things I deal with? Here are a few:

  • I have had nights where sleep doesn’t come easy, if at all; nerves come alive and the face and nose tingle, and drip.
  • Not having the freedom to sleep as I like creates its own set of circumstances.
  • The nostril on the surgery side is being pushed on from the graft and so breathing is sometimes hard when I try to sleep.
  • See myself a few times of day with the unknown still to come.
  • I still have some draining, even as of today.
  • I tire of the time it takes to do all that I have to do for the best results in the end.
  • It takes me a good 45 minutes just to wash my face and do what I have to do with my face and ear. And that is just my face.

It is frustrating, but I know it is necessary in order give my face and nose the best chance to heal well. At times it seems discouraging to see how healing is coming, and then, poof, I will have to begin this all over again after the 21st. But then… I will have made it through and final healing can begin!

And then… begins another journey… what my heart, will and emotions does with the rest of the journey. Do I grieve when I see a scar running down my face because skin cancer took a portion of my nose? Yes, I do. Would I have preferred other choices? Yes. I would have, and who wouldn’t? Am I thankful for the cancer to be gone? Yes I am. Can I look at it as an opportunity to see many more days I have been given to share how God walked with me through this journey?  Yes I can. Why? Because I don’t believe it is a wasted “something” that happened to me. It has a purpose, and that is for me to encourage someone else in the process of something that is hard to go through. Maybe this will be an encouragement to them. It always good to know you don’t walk the road alone.

You say, “It isn’t that simple!” Well, it is if you believe it. I kind of appreciated having good skin too. Always took care of it and will continue to do so with more diligence. I already have an arm that has burn and graft scars. I didn’t really want to add my face to the mix. But just like those circumstances of burning my arm weren’t a choice, this isn’t either. So…I keep walkin’. I thank God I don’t walk alone. I never have and that is my comfort. I have to give credit to my hubby who has stood by me during this whole process, cheering me on when I would get frustrated. A blessing…

I share this photo with you because as I do, it helps me see the changes, and reminds me that this IS me now. I won’t always look this way, I won’t always have the scar looking like it does, but I will bear the scars none the less. We all have them, whether we wear them on the outside or the inside. I will just have more to show off on the outside, as I talk about what God kept me from. I have quite a story on my arm, and He even shared the reason why it all happened, and that was in 1973! This will be no different. I trust that, because I trust God.

Will I just go off into the wild and happy yonder October 21st, or even after a year when the scars are no longer quite so visible? Nope, I don’t think so. This experience will always be with me, a thorn in my side so to speak, so that, I tell the story that might not have gotten told otherwise. You see, I have walked with Him for many years. I have seen God bring strangers into my life just to bless me, so it is my goal that God will allow me to be that for someone else.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Staying the Course

 

 

Well my friends, a lot of the people have followed my last update this last week on Facebook, but since many of you are my cyber friends, I thought I would give you an update since I last posted.

I had my Mohs surgery on Thursday, two weeks ago, and found some more difficult steps had to be taken.  Mohs surgery is when they remove a layer of skin one at a time until they get a clean margin. After three rounds of removal from the right side of my nose, they finally got all the cancer.  However, it has left me with a large crater looking spot on my nose; deep and quite large. My options are not such that I could close the site with stitches, or stretch skin over that spot.  So this means a cosmetic surgeon will be needed for repairing the spot.  As most would know, it isn’t so great to think about the procedure or how this may look on my face. After this news, and seeing it, my emotions were all over the place and I could come up with all kinds of scenarios regarding its outcome.

  • I will now have areas of healing spots, where the flap was taken from (incision) my cheek, and the area of the repair of the top of the nose, and they took cartilage from my ear in order to support a nostril that was almost gone now.
  • I have to look like this with a flap on the side of my nose for three weeks.
  • I’m not a great healer and tend to get scar tissue easily, so how will this heal?
  • How long will the healing process take where I feel like I want to go out in public? So far, not even…
  • How will the outcome actually look?
  • How will I feel about “being seen” afterwards. I had a hard time with the little patch that started this whole thing.
  • I had to do what I did under local anesthetic and will have to do the next procedure of cosmetic repair in the same way.  Not. Fun.

I had all kinds of thoughts going through my mind.  Not withstanding was, the very things I was praying WOULD NOT happen, actually happened.  Thanks for that God.  But as soon as that thought came to mind, the Holy Spirit seemed to speak God’s message to my spirit…”So…do you really trust me?  In this too?? You say you do, so…”  Ok…Yep.  Buck it up buttercup. It is a scary thing. My surgeon said this isn’t life threatening. Ok. That’s something to be thankful for. So I said, “Ok Doc coming from you who has never had to have this done. For me,  however, it IS life altering. This kind of experience makes you rethink a lot of things. I believe there is a purpose for everything that happens in our lives. It can teach, correct, bring us back if we have taken some detours, allow us to share our story to help another, and many other blessings if we allow ourselves to see it.  So, if I believe that, then I have to trust His purpose for me in this also. It’s an all or nothing thing. I either believe Him in all circumstances, or I don’t believe. I believe God’s promises are bigger than anything I face. For this reason, I have decided to share my experience in words and pictures. There is always someone else that needs to hear that they too, can make it through a challeging time. I want to make it count for something. It has also brought me to a place of examining my priorities, asking God what He has next for me, getting myself into a position of pouring into my own soul and spirit, so that, I can be ready to do the same for others that God places in my path.

I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say that there are times when I look in the mirror and don’t like what I see, but I realize I have to trust God with what I see and its outcome. It’s all or nothing for me.  I either believe in Him, or I don’t. I do… so I trust. He has a plan which is certainly not mine, but He knows the end of this from the beginning in this also. So a new JoAnn emerges with a stronger countenance and purpose. I stand at the edge of a huge ocean ready to put my foot in the water in faith, my spear in hand ready for the darts of enemy, and the Word is in my mouth to speak out boldly.

The week of October 21st, will be the second part of the surgical cosmetic repair, and I would ask if you think of it, remember me that day. I really don’t want to go back in that chair again, but I have to. I also will look forward to have this extra off my face. Please pray for skilled hands, and good healing for me. This upcoming Tuesday, I have a one week follow up appointment and I hope the skin tape comes off and that will be another step to feeling better. It’s a journey for me dealing with something so public as my face… not in a vain way, but just because of what it looks like. See??? God still has some work to do in me. 🙂 I leave you with this vulnerable photo of today, six days post surgery. I can’t wear makeup, have my hair around my face or ear, so hair pins and a hat work. My cauliflower ear is still visible but much better then even two days ago.

I am thankful for each of you who visit the blog.  Always a joy to hear that it encourages others.  My hope is that being transparent about my struggles will bring hope to you.

Until next time,

~JoAnn

Living It Out

As I wrote in my last post, we all have the bumps in the road that shake us up.  I didn’t write that post for sympathy or so others would feel sorry for me.  I wrote it because we all have them and I wanted to remind you that it is human to have negative feelings about what you are going through, and that you are not alone.  What isn’t good is when we decide to leave God out of the scenario.  So… I shared the my personal situation with you so you could know my struggle, and that you too, can take it all to Jesus and ask Him for the strength to endure and get to the other side.  God will help us get “through”.

With that said, my Mohs Surgery is scheduled.  I will go October 14th at 8:10 a.m. and they said to expect a long day; it may not be, but it could be given they take some, test and then determine if they need to do it again to take more.  To say that I am not looking forward to it is an understatement.  However, I AM choosing to accept what is, and asking God for a one and done; that they are able to take one go at it and have an all clear, that is my hope and prayer.  God is good and knows what’s best, so even in that, He may choose another route for me.  I’m just taking it one step at a time.

UPDATE:  I got a call this morning, Monday, that there is an opening this Thursday at 10:30 AM, and so I took it.  Not sense in waiting when I can have it over with, I say.  So, God is good and knows how I dislike waiting for this kind of thing.  He heard my prayer and gave me an all clear for this week!

In the meantime, I am have some exciting adventures going on in our life that have kept me looking to the future of fun.  We are doing some upgrades to our Big Rivers Cabins the last week or so and its

It was pretty dark in this little cabin and so my son put up white and trimmed out the window and also put tile behind the stove that is grey in color.  It looks very clean and fresh.

He also faced the dark cabinets on top with white and will paint the doors and I will add new knobs and pulls to dress it up.  Not quite finished, but almost!

New flooring through out and it will have white bead board on the walls and a chair railing piece on top.  It will look pretty nice when it’s completed.

And finally, my rain chain has gotten put up!!  I have one that will go up here on the patio I hope that is umbrellas.  But this will be fun to hear and watch at the cabin!

looking pretty good.  Our dark kitchen is becoming much lighter, thanks to my son.  I’m happy he has secured some flooring for us to put down in one of the cabins, and we will enjoy a wonderful new kitchen nook table and chairs and a couch/sleeper.  We will be up town for sure!  God has been so good to provide these options for us and we have so much to be grateful for!  See the balance???  If all we concentrate on is what is what we don’t like going on in our lives, then we will miss seeing all that He IS providing for us.  I never want to miss the opportunity to be grateful for what He does for me and my family.

One of my latest finds is a vintage phone that I added to our Bungalow, and that has been fun!  My grandparents and aunt and uncle had one in their homes and it was so fun to find one in great shape. Another little God wink for me after my news. I see God meet our wants along with our needs all the time, and that blesses me big time.  If you are one that enjoys a good hunt for a shopping find, then you may also like to friend a group I set up on Facebook called, JoAnn’s Finds, and follow me as I go on my hunts for a great find in thrift stores, antique shops, or online.  It’s a fun addition to the places we live and do life. I watch for items that my friends are looking for as well, which is another part of the fun! Keep doing the things which will turn your eyes to focus on what matters. It is good for us to keep the fires burning in our hearts…it keeps us pressing on no matter what is going on in what we see before us or experience. At least, that is how I roll.

Keep fanning the flame!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

 

Bumpy Roads Expected

 

Hello my friends and followers!  Thank you for being patient while I took some time off.  It had been a time of reflection, and hills and valleys.  I’m not sure why we expect that we shouldn’t have any, but we seem to think we shouldn’t. We think, I should not lose a child, or a spouse.  I should not have lost my job, or my home. Why would God allow this to happen?  Why didn’t I take a different road and I could have avoided the accident?  Or, I should have stayed home. Why didn’t I question doctors more about what I was seeing? Oh the questions we can ask God. We even blame Him!  But He said we would have trials and hardships.  Did we not believe that part?  Or did we just think it would’t happen to us?

I have lived through many of the above, and even more trials than that.  I may feel angry and confused initially, but I eventually talk it out with God and I slowly gain some perspective.  It doesn’t do me any good to do otherwise; not healthy for me, not healthy for those around me.

So… I will share with you some of my latest bumps in the road.  I think transparency can help someone out there that needs some encouragement or just someone who can walk along side with understanding.

About five years ago, give or take, I had bilateral knee replacement.  I have shared a little about that in earlier posts.  One of the side effects of that is that I lost a lot of hair. A lot.  Some of it grew back but I continued to lose hair and have to this day. That’s number one.  Then, for the last two years, I have had a problem with pores on my nose that have bled.  My doctor then told me it was enlarged pores.  She cauterized the spot and I was clear for a while.  But over the last year and a half or more, that area would heal and the flare up again.  I knew something wasn’t right.  Since we have moved, I have a new doctor, and  I asked her about it.  I had two spots of concern. She sent me to a dermatologist.

Fast forward to today. Updated prognosis:  I have hair loss that won’t grow back without treatment; that may or may not, work.  However, we will try and see if my body will tolerate it.  Otherwise, I will keep losing it, starting with the front and moving back.  This is caused by a autoimmune problem in my body. If this doesn’t work, I was told wigs are possible or I can just let it be. Really? Thanks from a person that has great hair. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bald by any means but I have gotten so styling my car to cover those places gets harder and harder. As for the spot on my nose?  I have basal cell carcinoma on the front spot, and now must go through Mohs surgery, which is taking off think layers of the skin, analyze it, and keep taking layers until you get skin clear of cancer.  Having this on my nose is kind of a concern because there isn’t that much there. (The spot in the back was ok and removed). Where do I go with all that?  I have had so many surgeries, that facing even a small one again makes me cringe.  With that said, I had to have some conversations with God today because to be honest, I was kind of ticked.  I take very good care of my skin and have always used good skincare. However, after some arguing with myself, I finally had to ask myself a question…”Do I trust God with everything in my life? Whether its the bumps in the road, or the mountain top highs, will I trust Him?”  The wonderful up??? A 22 year answer to prayer that happened just a few days ago. Do you think that was to encourage me for the road ahead…today?  It certainly was one of my highs!!

Do I look at what is happening and not be reminded that along with the highs can come the lows?  Is He not with me no matter where I am, and what my circumstances are?  Of course He is.  So… this is just one more opportunity for me to build up my faith and trust in God. Once again, He is with me on this road too.  As I wait for a call for the Mohs surgery, I will pray my way through it, and trust Him for what He has for me.  I don’t have a choice if I believe what He says is true in His Word.  He tells me that He will never leave me or forsake me.  So thank you Jesus for the reminder today.  You are my mainstay…no matter what.

Do you have some big hill, or maybe a mountain, before you that you feel like you can’t climb?  Do you feel like you are climbing and getting nowhere?  Or, maybe you feel like you have been around this mountain before?  Then, I would suggest you do what I did today.  Take it to Jesus. Lay it all before Him; the fear, anger, loneliness, hurt, or anything that might keep you from relationship with Him and trusting that He has got you in the palm of His hand. He knows what you are thinking anyway, so you might as well be honest with Him. I did.  I am taking Him at His Word and trusting Him with my future.

Will you?  I truly hope that you have found comfort from my transparency with you.  Look up.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Rubbed the Wrong Way

I like to find old vintage treasures.  I might be looking for a piece to add to a set of dishes, or a furniture piece,  or kitchen utensils that remind me of grandma and my mom, cups, or even a piece that just seems beyond help, but catches my eye.  It is a hobby of mine and I do it often.  It is also fun to share pieces that I find with others that I know are looking for it.  I have a great friend who watches for pieces for me too.  Love it!  I am very fortunate that my hubby enjoys it also, so we make that a part of our trips out.  He goes to the books, and on occasion, has found a few other cool items for me.  We enjoy doing it.

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So… my latest find was a silver tea/coffee pot.  It was in real bad shape when I got it, but I thought it was real silver, and it was certainly a good price at $3.00.  The other reason it caught my eye was the simplicity of the piece.  

Here is what I found that most others would have probably passed by.  Do you notice its darkened, rough look?  The inside was in great shape, but there were stains, not just tarnish on it.  I didn’t think I was going to be able to get it back to any “normal” state.  It looked pretty hopeless.

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I tried one silver cleaner on it but still wasn’t happy with how it looked.  So after the 3 tries, I told my hubby this isn’t working right.  It looked a bit better, but you could still see the stains.  Then, he brought another one he found, which I was looking for before and couldn’t find, and I worked on it with that cleaner 2 times.   It is was a very pretty style and there had to be a way to get it back to its original creation.  I gently rubbed, let the polish dry, and buffed it out again.  After the two times, I said, “There you are!  I knew you had to be in there somewhere under all that stain and tarnish!”

As I was enjoying the fruits of my labor, it just made me think about how much like that I am, and maybe you.  I get all tarnished and stained up from the things in my in my life that I experience, or try to control, or hurts from others, and even decisions that I have made that have made my way harder.  It builds and builds, until one day you notice that you have lost your joy, or your sunny personality, or your “want to”.  Then along comes Jesus with His oh so gentle touch, to buff off a little here and there, to help me lift my head up again.  It’s not pleasant, because there are times that those gentle buffings, and sometimes not so gentle, rub me the wrong way.  It doesn’t feel good.  It may need to come off, but still…However, in His mercy, He can’t always do it all at once. He may have to do it in layers.  He will gladly and graciously bring me back to a place where my light can shine, my sins are lifted off of me, and my joy returns.  

Have you ever noticed that it is hard to polish silver without getting some of the tarnish on you?  Think of it this way…as Jesus buffs off the tarnish, He takes it upon Himself, so that we can shine.  All our ugly stains and dark stuff is taken upon Him and it leaves us shining like the silver tea/coffee pot that I purchased.

I am enjoying this piece, as well as the message I was given as I cleaned it.  I feel pretty special after realizing that no matter how bad I look or act, that He will take it all way and fix me up again to get back on track.  I don’t need to feel guilty about it either, because if I come to Him with it as He says to do, He removes that from me.  Isn’t that a great analogy?!?!???

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I hope this speaks to your heart today as well.  Don’t let it build up in you or on you.  Turn it over to the Master and He will make something beautiful out of what looks to be impossible, or like something that is thrown in a bin because it’s not wanted anymore.  You ARE wanted, and He is ready to make things new every morning for you!  It’s never hopeless.  Remember that.

What needs to be cleaned and buffed out in your heart and spirit today?

Until next time…

~JoAnn

Rainy Day Treats

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Hello friends and sweet readers of this blog!  It’s good to be back to my desk for some writing.  Lately there have been so many thoughts flooding this brain of mine, that its been a bit difficult to get my thoughts sorted out.  Some seasons in our life are like that and we just have to press through it, don’t we?

Guitar MandolinHere is some pressing through activities that I have found helpful to me:

  1.  Daily quiet time – I am reading through the Bible this year, and even though I didn’t start until April, it doesn’t matter.  It is a goal of mine with a year’s time.
  2. Reading – I have been so behind on reading and I enjoy it very much because I gain such great insights and enjoyment from it.  I have again set aside time to read.
  3. Music time – Playing some tunes on my instruments.  I have to break in my finger pads for playing the strings.
  4. Walks – even in the rain.  A big umbrella helps and I enjoy the freshness in the air after a rain.
  5. Baking some bread – There is nothing like the smell of bread in the oven on a rainy day.  Recipe IMG_3009is below.
  6. A get-away to nature – To really see what is around me and let my soul settle down.  Our Cabin works great for this, but sometimes a drive can be just the ticket. I do that a lot too.  Drive to the water, or to the mountains; whatever you enjoy.
  7. Create with photography – With My Story 365 project that I am doing, it helps me see in the present moment and make a message with a memory every day.
  8. Write a note and send by mail – yes by mail.  I like receiving them and I think others enjoy it too and you never know what a note in the mail may do for the receiver that day.
  9. Let a person who has been an influence in my life know – Tell them, call them, send a card, but let them know how and why they have been such a great influence in your life.
  10. I enjoy, without guilt, doing nothing sometimes – That has been a difficult lesson for me.  But I am learning to enjoy it very much… that special brand of slow.

Leaves and Moss-3When we take a measure of time to see it in positive ways, it changes how we look at the day.  Even when things are at their most difficult, doing some of the activities above, can change your whole perspective!  It can bring joy back in where a heavy burden has been.

Pick one this week that you can do for yourself.  We are reminded this weekend of why Jesus died for us…and why He arose on Easter.  Don’t let the devil steal that joy from you. Christ died and arose again so that you could have a life abundant and full of joy; even when things seem less than joyful.  I know.  He has done that for me this last week.  I am ever so grateful, and I have dropped more than a few hearts in my jar this week!

Big River-3Go!  Walk the path of creative joy!  Let me know in the comments what you do to enjoy life even amongst the rainy and difficult seasons on your journey.  I would love to hear about them!

My Recipe:

Beer Bread:

  • 3 cups of self-raising flour
  • 3T of sugar
  • 1-12 oz can of beer

Mix together and put into a lightly greased loaf pan.  Bake at 350º for 55 minutes.  Once out of the oven, run a thin knife if needed around the edge of the bread, and then drop out onto your surface.  It’s ready for a yummy taste!  It is just as good when it is not warm, and it also toasts well.

Until next time…

~JoAnn