I am a gal who wants to live my best life, and celebrate each grace moment that I'm given on a daily basis. I am married to a great guy who let's me indulge in the things that make me happy and encourages my growth. I enjoy being an encouragement to others, reading, photography, music, singing, playing instruments, being by the water, cozy times with my hubby, family time, drives with my camera in hand, and traveling to see different places. This blog is about walking the journey of life together. I usually post 1 to 2 times a month! Share your email with me so you don't miss out on the next post! Thanks for stopping by!
Yesterday was a big day here in the Bungalow! We listed our home and it has now hit the MLS as of last week. It is busy times. We got the condo all staged and it is looking pretty good. But oh my! This gal is sore and pretty tired! Just doesn’t come as easy as it used to. I pray for my body to stay strong and healthy in these times.
When making decisions, we usually base them on what we know at the time. We did in our move from Aberdeen to our current home. But life changes, and that changes us. So with our current situation, we have come to feel that we enjoy a stand alone home more than we enjoy the condo life. That is a hard decision for us at our age again to be making a move. But we are both in agreement to make a change while we can. It’s difficult, but not impossilbe. There will be challenges, especially now. But God…He can do it. He can pave the way. So we trust Him to do just that.
But since I wrote about curve balls, there has been more coming everybody’s way as of late. But I am a firm believer that God knows what is going on and He is in control. We WILL have difficult times and hardships and sickness in our lives. But He is here to help us and walks with us through them all. So each night I pray for good health for others and myself. I pray God will give wisdom to everyone in these times to live out what is required. I also pray that it changes people. Don’t change for today or tomorrow just because you are forced into it by living circumstances. But let’s let this change our hearts. Let’s have more compassion and love for each other. Help each other where we can. Support each other through encouragement. Let it be a life changing experience that is forever a change agent for life in general.
We have had to dial back and isolate, and it is making some people crazy and antsy. But in reality, this slower life style is what is good for us. We get back to our roots. We now HAVE time to do those things we really enjoy. Do them! Catch up on that good book. Redecorate or change rooms around. Go through closets. Write if you are a writer. Journal this time for future generations to understand how this experience was for you. Self-examine what is important to you. I think this teaches us that family and friends are what counts the most. And we want to have good relationships with both. We have time now…let’s keep that time in the future for them and we will make the future a better place to live for all of us. Why? Because learning from these experiences is what makes the these worst scenarios add value to our lives and give us renewed purpose.
So we are moving forward and hopefully out also! We will enjoy where the Lord takes us next. He always adds value to our lives each time we make the move. It isn’t an easy time to sell a home, so I would ask that you keep us in your prayers.
If you read the title, then you know the question. So…have you had any curve balls in your life? You know, those times when your road is going along, you are settled on the where its taking you, and then… BOOM! Here it is, and it hits…that unexpected curve ball! That is where I am these last two weeks! God has put a curve ball into my slow moving life. How’s that, you say? Let me share.
One and a half years ago, my husband and I moved into the condo life in a small community. It’s a community at the base of the mountain range with beautiful scenery and farms. I love eagles and we see them often. Let me explain a bit. We made this move based on the fact that there were some questions about the health of my hubby and they were making an impact on his life. So I wanted to be in a position where he didin’t have to worry much about the care of a home and yard all that entails. So here we are about one and three quarter years into our condo life, and just recently, managed to put up things that had been on our to-do list, and lights up, and even re-decorating a bedroom. All of this to make it like we wanted. However, it takes special people to live a condo life, and also a special condo to live it out in. Some love it. Us? Not so much. Oh, we had talked moves, prayed about moves, but decided we would just do what needed to be done to make this more like we wanted. So we started. Then…BOOM! Hubby says, “You know, I have been talking to a few people who have sold their condo here in the complex and they sold pretty quick and at a good price.” “What does that mean?”, I asked him, “Now you are thinking of moving?” That was what he was thinking. Now I would LOVE a bigger kitchen, but just as I was settling into this, now I am taking it all down. Isn’t life just a blast?
So as I write this, I am into a week and a half of packing. And all my moving boxes have long since gone to recycling. I will have had to get those all over again. A storage unit for larger pieces of furniture to be stored in so we can stage the condo. Get it listed right away to be able to make an offer on something we find that we like. Prep the house and stage it for best pictures and best sale. That is not to mention all the paper work required for mortgage and all of that. I do dislike that part because I’m usually responsible for putting all that together. Moving is just not fun!! When I think about it all, I would rather fast pitch that ball right back! But in order to do a move, I must just take one step at a time and take each day as it comes and do all I can to accomplish what needs to be done. I am so fortunate and blessed to have our grandson here this weekend and Monday to help us move things around. Such a great young man to help out his grandparents. Love that boy. We even found time to play the piano together, which delights this heart of mine. Take time for the Pause.
I guess what I’m still learning is that there will always be curve balls. Life is like that. Sometimes we don’t like what we have been given. Some of it requires a lot of work. A lot of energy, and a lot of focus. A good attitude. It is kind of like our faith walk. It too, is requires work, diligence, focus, tenacity, and dependence on His leading. We press on knowing God is walking the road with us. We have to do the same process with the curve ball. Pray for guidance and wisdom to make the right choice of what to purchase, where He wants us to be, and rest in Him for the process of it all. I have to believe He will guide me and help me do get what needs to be done completed. If I fret and get all stressed over it all, it takes the fun out of the adventure. It certainly is an adventure! We have to have this listed to make an offer on another home, and then hope the right home comes along. I know God is able and knows my heart and hubby’s heart to lead us to the home that is our LAST home. I say that with tongue in cheek because I said that last time. So I will pray for the right place, with the items I most desire, just the right buyer for the condo, and a quick sale. Because you see, there are no mistakes with God. He knows all about it. So a curve ball isn’t something that just happens, it is for a purpose. Just as my skin cancer journey is. I always ask Him what I am to learn and give me His purpose for me through it. Isn’t it marvelous that we have God to count on? Most certainly.
So already the Bungalow is looking less and less “JoAnn”. That is good thing because then the new buyer can see how it can fit their needs. A lot of work = a win win for both buyer and us. It is the same in our lives. If we have less and less of “us”, then we can have more and more of Jesus. Isn’t that what we want…to be more like Jesus? It is for me. I hope it is for you!
So over the next couple of weeks if I come to mind, please be praying for the right buyer for the Bungalow, and that the home we are considering will still be available for us and that our offer is accepted. I was a pretty good ball player in school, so I’m throwing the ball back to Jesus, and He is a great Catcher!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’m a fireplace gal, so I often have it on in the mornings and later at night, with my mocha of course.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 surroundingsand 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.
Hello My Sweet Followers! Are you all settled in for this new year of ours? Do you have some goals in front of you for 2020? I don’t do resolutions, but I do write up goals for myself for the year, and I chose my Word for the year, which I shared with you. I hope you are doing some of the same things because we can’t change very well if we are staying in the same place we have always been. Whitney Caps says it this way, “New growth rarely happens in old places.” In order for us to become all God wants us to be, we need a place where we can learn, grow and thrive in our lives. I pray you find that place this year. I know that God has something good planned, even in current circumstances.
We have had so much snow here in the northwest but we have been cozy and warm in the Bungalow here. It has given me opportunities to read, relax, and enjoy being in the moment. I am listening and playing more music…feeds my soul. Another is one that God is working out even more in my spirit this year, and that is being mindful of the Holy Spirit speaking in my life and stay in the moment I am IN. With that said, here is what I am working out along with that mandate from God.
I have had three times during the time of my skin cancer surgery last October, that a pore has opened and bled. We have been watching it and taking pictures of it also. This week was the third time it happened and so I thought I would go into my surgeon’s office and have him take a picture for my records. His assistant took the pictures, and then told me she thought she would like to have the doctor/surgeon look at it. So I waited for a few minutes only and in he came. Totally awesome since I didn’t even have an appointment. He looked at it and told me since it had shown itself again, he thought he should do a scrape biopsy and send it in to narrow down what might be happening. So he did that and told me I would most likely hear back by Friday. I got a call the next afternoon with a result that showed positive again for basal cell cancer. They were referring me to the same Mohs surgical center that I went to before and they would call to set up a date for me to have the procedure done. I made it through the phone call. Then…fell apart. More because I knew what was going to have to take place, and there is no way to know how advanced it is without the Mohs surgery to determine how much needs to be taken to get clean margins of all the cancer. I could conceivably be in the same position with this side as the other side, and I’m not even healed up completely from that set of surgeries.
The honesty of it is that I was hurt, angry, disappointed, and not just because of the cancer. I had a bit of those same feelings toward God about it. Why? I know what He can do. Nothing is impossible with Him. He is the Healer. I believe that. I believe He can touch me and heal me completely! So why doesn’t He? Why am I having to go through this again? The answer in all honesty is…I don’t know. We have the habit of always asking WHY before we ask Him what we are to learn. I didn’t want to learn anymore this way. Not EVEN. But apparently, there is a purpose and reason for this to happen.
I will first get rid of the cancer which is the number one concern of everyone. So that is a blessing of this whole experience.
I am learning about it and how to be my own advocate in areas of health…another blessing.
I have seen God work through people to encourage me…TOTAL life blessing. Yes…I see God working.
Once again, I have to ask myself all over again…Do I trust Him? Do I believe He knows what is best for me? You see, He has healed my nose and face pretty well over the last three months. So will He not do it again? The answer to all those questions is a BIG YES! He will. However, I still have to go through it. I don’t get a pass. He could touch me and heal me first. He could touch me and heal me so it isn’t as invasive as before. But I still have to go through it. And…didn’t He tells us He will never leave us and will walk through it with us? Another yes. So I either believe Him, or I don’t. Fear is a nasty thing and it usually starts the “what if” thoughts. It can reverse our mindset to negative and more fear. It can dull how we see things. It’s like arguing with yourself. In this case, I believe the Holy Spirit was just reminding me of where my peace lies. It is facing what IS without fear.
Here is something that happened before we left to go to the doctor’s office for the picture. If you have a iWatch you may be familiar with this. But I have my iWatch photos mirrored with my iphone so that whatever my iWatch background is, so is my phone. But that day, I got up and got ready and put my watch on. As I saw it come on, my background image had change to my special cup my son got me for my birthday. (Scars…See previous post a couple posts back). I thought that was weird that it would happen because I hadn’t been in my phone to make any changes. My iPhone image was the same as it had always been but I looked at my watch and it was that cup. I thought it was just an encouragement to me that God has got my back and it made me smile. Later that day, I’m thinking it had another purpose…to open my eyes to how I was to handle what was to come. Because come it did! God has unique ways of working with us and speaking to us IF we are willing to be aware. I have left that picture on my watch now to remind me that what is to come is under His care also. Does this mean I’m all good with it and none of those previous feelings are present? Nope not at all. I just have to turn up the volume of God’s voice in my life over my own thoughts and words, and believe I can do this again, with His help.
I was encouraged to read Hebrews recently and still doing it. There are many “Let us” statements throughout and they will really hit home. I changed the “Let us” to Let JoAnn…” and it has really been impactful in my life. In fact, I have underlined those words where ever they are written in Hebrews so I won’t forget. I have used those over the last couple of days. It really is in how we look at things and what our perspective is. I want more of Jesus and less of me. God wants that for all of us. He is calling us to be strong and walk it out in His strength. Being a Christ Follower should show up in all areas of our lives; all encompassing and never ending. It should be our life style. God is watching. Be faithful in the moment, and the next, and the next. Remember our mistakes are not one and done. So even though I have doubts, or my feelings are determining my outlook, God is right there. He knows all, from the beginning to the end. So if I become weak, He is strong. If I’m afraid, He can keep me calm and help me put one foot in front of the other. He will do that for you too, no matter what you are going through in your life.
Give it all up to him and go ALL IN! I know I’m weilding my sword like a warrior woman! I hope you will do that too this year, so that, you will see goodness in the land of the living this year! God bless your 2020 in ways you have never experienced before.
Are you ready for 2020? When you think about the new year, what thoughts come to mind? Are you thinking, “THIS year HAS to be a better year!” Or maybe you are thinking, “I can’t wait to see what this year will bring!” It may even bring sadness to think of a new year because of what you have lost this year, and that feels like if you are happy for a new year, then you are leaving that behind and you relive the lost all over again. You might also find that thinking of the new year also means that you have made it through this season and feel proud that you have hung in there!
For me, I can say that this year has been fantastic in so many ways! I have seen God provide, answer BIG prayers, settle us, and guide us on some rocky roads. But you know what? I have also had some real hard times. I have lost life time friends, I have lost relatives, and have watched several leave this world for heaven because of cancer and other health problems. I have dealt with skin cancer myself at the beginning of October, and still dealing with the aftermath of three total surgeries to my face. I didn’t have much time to process that, it was like one step after another and then here I am with scars to my face. My scars can be seen by everyone. But many of you have scars that can’t be seen from the outside, but you carry them with you every day. I have the emotional ones of looking at myself in the mirror everyday, but I also see how God is slowly healing my face. I can see Him working. I have learned that God is with me during these times. Just because I am going through something tough, doesn’t mean God has changed and isn’t still there for me. It may be hard, I may have some strong feelings about my situation, but God is there none the less, and He hasn’t changed because of my circumtances. He is there no matter what we are going through! He never leaves us. That should give us great comfort. I may hurt, but God loves me and He is there to comfort me and bring healing to my mind, body and soul.
Here’s my take…I could have had the surgery (and yes my surgeon was great), but I could have just gone about my daily life and washed my face, put some moisturizer on it and called it done. I know what he told me to do, but hey, its a hassle and I don’t feel like it. And I’m kind of mad that I even have to do this because God let cancer come to my body. Here’s the point: He didn’t make it come to me. My body, my genetics, my life style, and many other factors played into getting skin cancer. Difficult things happen in our lives. That doesn’t mean that He isn’t there with us IN the hard times. So yes, I could have just done the minimum of daily care because I didn’t FEEL like doing the rest. Would my outcome be as good as it has been? Would I see the healing that is taking place because I take care of the regime every day two times a day and sometimes in between? I don’t think so. I can even cover a lot of it up with make up that makes it easier to go out and not have people stare or wonder…but it is still there in the mirror when I wash me face at night. You see, we will live with our scars every day if we don’t allow God to do the healing. God helped me to see that I have to trust it Him with it all. I can’t give him part of me. I have to surrender it all; even the most difficult parts of my life. Every time I look in the mirror, I tell myself what God has kept me from, and what He is bringing into my life.
It is like that in our walk with the Lord. We can believe there is a God and go about our life, but we don’t allow Him in because we are really upset about the fact that things didn’t go how we wanted them to go according to what we thought God should do. I don’t feel like reading the Bible. I can’t seem to get myself to pray. Even going to church seems difficult. Because really, I may be upset with my plans not going as I thought my life would. Here is the kicker…God has His plans for our life. He knows what will happen in your life from the beginning to the end. It is what we choose to do with what happens in our life that makes it all worth while. We can go on in our life living in black and white, but there sure is a lot more joy when we begin seeing in color again as we allow God to direct us in His plan for our lives. We have to learn again to be in the present moment. That is one of my goals for the new year. I am still working on my list. I can’t believe how many of my goals God has graciously allowed to come to fruition this year. Live in gratitude my friends…it changes everything.
I’m looking forward to a new year with great expectation. But…I’m taking some scars I didn’t previously have, into the new year. What?!?!?? Are you thinking we should leave them behind because its a new year? We can’t. Not without Jesus and the Holy Spirit to help us. If we try to heal on our own, we will be frustrated to no end. It doesn’t work. Instead, I asked Him, “What is Your purpose in this, and what are You trying to teach me through it?” If I can turn it over to Him, THEN He can begin to work. I have seen Him answer so many prayers in my life since October! He has given me support in ways I would never have expected. Do I get discouraged and sick of not breathing correctly and getting colds on top of everything else going on with my nose? Of course! But then the Holy Spirit reminds me of what God HAS DONE, and I can’t help but thank Him. It took a year and a half of asking doctors about my concern for my nose to finally get someone to listen. And listen she did, and so did the next one and the next one, and the next one. God ordered the steps and just in time to catch it all. It meant a big changes, dealing with the shock of it, but I got clear margins. And…it may not be done. I may have to have a scraping done on the other side yet. I will know in January. I will trust Him in that also because again, it is about what He is possibly keeping me from.
You too, can step into the New Year with clear margins. Surrender. Less of a busy life. Quiet time. Relationship with God. Family time. Less social media. Ask Him to help with that. My word for the year 2020 is wisdom. I got this as I went into my third surgery. I believe because God knew I would need it to walk this out. I wanted to be an example of how to walk a tough road. I have had many, many of them, but this one was way different. It was going show up on the outside. No hiding this one. And…it was a bit scary. So when He gave me this word, I knew that it was right for me. I pray for wisdom, but I know I am to seek it on a deeper level than ever before. We make the mistake of trying to operate with our own wisdom. God tells us our ways are not His ways. We need to accept that as truth if we believe God’s Word is truth. Just to remind me, for my birthday I was in a Scandinavian Shop and saw a necklace that I really liked. It’s name? It meant Wisdom. I have a great reminder. I have the word in scrabble letters as I do each year and put it in my studio. Here is a scripture to go with the word:
“Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without critizing, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without doubting.” James 1:5
You see, if I am asking God for something, I need to ask in faith and believe! No room for doubt. When I feel weak, God is Who I turn to and I ask the Holy Spirit to bring the scripture to mind or a person to encourage me. He answers when we give it to Him first. God is just waiting for us to ask. Surrender is a beautiful thing and it certainly takes away the weight of the world off our shoulders. Don’t carry it with you. Turn it over this next year. In fact, just start again and hit the Reset Button in your life. Make the change with God’s help. Don’t try it on your own. Don’t just know about it, go to church on Sunday, hear a pastor speak, and then not seek relationship the rest of the week. Don’t just put it out there on social media, begin living it out! Take action!
I and my scars on going into 2020 with Jesus healing me like gold holding pottery together to make something beautiful from something that has been broken. You don’t know how God wants to use that in your life or in the life of others. I’m leading an online study on Hitting the Reset Button that will start in January and that is just what we are going to do. We are going back to the basics of what God tells us to do and live by, and then by the grace of God, we live it out. It’s online and you can come in at any time. Join me if you would like. Just leave your interest in the comments below. If we aren’t Facebook friends, you would have to request that in order for me to invite you because its a closed group.
May God give you the desires of your heart this next year. But be willing to go where He asks you to go, deal with what He asks you to deal with, and be obedient to His calling. You won’t believe the difference it can make in your life! That is the best testimony you can share with anyone…a life with joy and well-lived for the Lord. That is my prayer for each of you in 2020! Blessings…
Ever wish you could just start over? A life do-over? Another chance to make a different choice or decision? I know I have. It’s tough when something hits that is unexpected, or when the devil is trying to take you out. He is sneaky in how he gets us to think the worst of situations and leadS us off the path. And sometimes, it doesn’t take much to do that, nor doesn’t it take much time to work out those thoughts and feelings in wrong actions. Then he gets us with the guilt. Yes we are very blessed to have the option to start again. We have opportunities to re-invent ourselves over and over again in our lives.
I believe that there are different kinds of “new beginnings”. God tells us in HIs Word that His mercies are new every morning. To me, that means that each day I wake, I have an opportunity to live differently than I lived the day before. I may have made mistakes yesterday, or had bad thinking yesterday, or made bad decisions yesterday, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do this present day in a different way with different decisions and different attitude, and a dependence on Him to direct me this day. THAT’S both a good thing and a blessing that we have in our lives.
So… when I asked myself this question of what my new beginning is, I came up with a couple thoughts. As I have shared before, I believe there are hardships that come into our lives that are for a reason. We might be going along in life thinking its all ok and WE have everything under control. So we have this, “I got this!”, mentality. We are pretty proud of ourselves. It might possibly be that God is bringing us up short in order to help us realize that we aren’t listening or even consulting Him on the issue before us as we should. His message may be to get your eyes off you and on to ME.
Another reason may be that there is something He wants to teach us. I know sometimes if its a hard thing for me, I have a tendency to try and ignore what I think I need to do a while longer because of feelings or thoughts I have about it because I KNOW change is required. Changing is hard and I know what it takes to make changes. It requires me to humble myself and realize that His plan isn’t mine and I might have to humble myself for His plan; surrender. That is always best. I might not even have a choice, as in my case with the skin cancer. That stopped me in my tracks! I had no choice but to move forward with what the doctors told me I had to do. Absolutely no choice there. I was hurt, angry, scared, anticipating some of the worst, and feeling a bit like a whimp in my faith. I was bummed out that it was my face where everyone could see. But this is where the Holy Spirit gently reminded me of all that God has walked through with me. He has never left me. When I did surrender all of that, I felt the Holy Spirit tell me it’s ok to feel those things, but I needed to turn that over to Him. In other words, He didn’t expect me not to be afraid, or worried, or angry, but He did want me to share that with Him. Then He could comfort me or speak to me about the areas of concern. In this journey, He did that through many people. He listened, and now it was my turn to listen to Him about a path I could not see the end of. Trust. I had to trust Him, the doctors and now the process.
We tend not to be very good listeners. We don’t get quiet enough to hear His whisper. We hear a testimony and we say all the right things, but we don’t allow it to sink into the deep parts of our soul as an way for God to encourage us towards a deeper faith. I still have an area to keep turning over every new day. I am still dealing with going out in public… I look way less weird than I did last weekm but I still feel vulnerable about it. Does that mean my faith is less? No. I don’t think so. However, I DO believe this process is something God is working out in ME. A new level He is escavating in me. I won’t ever be the same; not just because of skin cancer and the surgeries, but because it has once again brought me to a place of surrender. As Joyce Meyer has been known to say, “New level, new devil.” So of course he wants to try to make that a stronghold for me. I feel God’s strength working in me for victory every day I get up.
So my new beginning is being an overcomer. For what, you ask? The skin cancer, the surgeries, the healing, AND the vulnerability of being seen as I am. Facing the questions in people’s eyes. BUT…God reminds me of the story I can tell! We all have a story, and in my case, this wasn’t in the my script. God rewrote this chapter, because someone else may need to read it. As I think about the new beginning I have in my healing process, I am all the more convinced that I may need to be more bold about sharing what God has done. I am asking Him to show me where I need to study, and what He has for me to do. I am asking Him to help me to accept this chapter He has written as the Author of all things. I wake asking for His mercies for my new day. It is changing me.
A dear friend in Norway when she saw my latest picture said, “Just like a fine embroidery, JoAnn.” THAT really touched my heart. As I thought about it, it is so true that what the devil meant for harm and chaos, God has so intricately embroidered as a beautiful thread into my face right out there for anyone to see. Yes. There will be questions, and wonderings, but that is an opportunity to share God’s ways and love. Yes, and just like in my case where He used another person to let me know He heard my prayers and concerns. That is an amazing part of this new beginning for me. That very message encouraged me more than I can say and I have the light that I have lit every day since.
So don’t despair of the hardships. Instead ask Him what He wants to teach you through it. Give up having your way, and take on His. You may not even be walking in His ways right now. If not, I would urge you to do so. Could it be the reason that you mind, soul and spirit is a bit ill at ease? Are you going through something difficult? This may be Him drawing to relationship. Don’t miss His hand extended out to you. Reach out.
Every day I wake up and tell God how thankful I am to be here to be able to give of myself in whatever way He may ask of me. I ask that He will lead me to someone who needs encouragement that day. Every night I thank Him for His love and direction through the day and for the lives I pray I may have touched. I also thank Him for the Holy Spirit Who gives guidance and direction to me. I have learned to be a better listener of His direction. That my friends, is living large!
What do you think would be a new beginning for you? What do you need to surrender so you can live more fully for Him on a daily basis? I will pray over your comments you leave.
Sitting here at the cabin where it is quiet always gives me time for the soul to settle down and the heart to speak. We all need that place. If we stop the busy lives we lead long enough, we may be inspired by new ideas, changes we need to make, insight we have been seeking, or just listening for a Word. I know I need it.
So as this weekend comes to an end and I’m looking at Monday when the surgery part of this journey is hopefully over, I thought I would share a few thoughts with you that came to mind over a mocha and the dim lights of the cabin.
I felt that I was to prepare myself. For what, I’m not sure yet. But one of the preparations was to invest in a mic set up for my computer. Now it could be for the purpose of leading the online studies, doing a once a week live to start the week, or leading classes I believe could benefit others. Or, it could be for a totally different reason. If I am going on an adventure trip, I better be prepared. When I asked what I should do these last couple of day, I felt this was my direction. So… I got one and set it up. I am still waiting on my headset to come.
I also know what music does for the heart and soul and spirit. I know how it moves me. So I am renewing my commitment to doing more with my music and instruments. That was supposed to happen this year, and it did take place, but not as much time as I think I am being called to spend. Better me, better life, better example.
That my time is valuable and I need to spend that time in better ways. If I am walking my life out as an example, then I need, not should, but need to spend time in the study of God’s Word. I can’t give out what I don’t have.
Use my level of computer skills to help others in whatever way God calls me to do that.
So those are a few things I believe God laid on my heart. The last three points I have everything I need for the most part. However, that number one point is still a bit vague yet. But it is kind of like the biblical reference in the Bible about going to the Jordan. They had to put their foot in the river before God moved the waters. We expect God to part the waters first so we don’t get our feet wet, and then we will go. He is asking us to step out in faith first, and then He will part the waters. Walk by faith.
So with that, I have my mic system set up and will be a student of its use over the weeks of recovery from surgery, and being praying for what God has in mind. To you who may be feeling the same way but different circumstances, get in prayer with God and ask Him to show you. Ask Him to be specific. He will. However, you won’t hear through chaos usually. You will hear in the quiet whisper of His voice…a sense that it is from Him. So important for it to be Him and leave you out of it. We can convince ourselves right into trouble. So be wise and ask a good prayer partner or mentor to praying with you about the direction you are to take. Then take a step or leap, or whatever you are comfortable with. I have lived my life in leaps and jumps following His leading. He has always caught me and led me on!
However, when these bumps in the road come along, whether unexpectedly or not, we look for reasons or justifications not to move forward. Or worse yet, we rely on our feelings. Often times we can not see clearly ahead of us. But if we wait for it, God slowly reveals what He was doing, but in His timing. We only know we hit the wall and we want to know why. I don’t ask that anymore because I have learned there is always a reason. So when that “unexpected” bump come, I just ease on over it and ask God what do you want to teach me? It takes a few days to work through that process, and some times it is a few months. But he wants to hear from you. Ask Him. Just be careful though…He WILL show you! Be prepared. How?
Educate yourself about the area you are considering.
Find the best way to present it.
Learn equipment or processes.
Purchase a book or two.
Find a mentor and watch what they do.
Find a group you can be a part of for the information you may need.
The internet can give good information about what steps you may need to take.
He had me go through my studio this summer from top to bottom and reorganize it. Makes it so much easier to operate from. He was already preparing me for something new.
You see, none of my hiatus at home has been wasted. God had me digging in. Praying, researching, using my hubby as a sounding board, and reading various books. Some of you may need a kick in the backside to move forward. If you are like me, once I know what I am supposed to do, I’m jumping in with both feet! So I have to be careful to pray as I go to make sure its still God’s deal and not some of my own jumps I’m taking.
The big idea here is this has changed me once again. We are called to change as we go through life. In this process with skin cancer, God has called me out from what is going on with my face, (and the losing of hair also…another story), to something beyond ME. Beyond the look of what I’m used to seeing, to operating more as God sees me. In this world, those ideals can be hard because we are surrounded by the culture that tells us we must look a certain way. I’m not prideful about my looks, but I care how I look. That has made this process very humbling to say the least. However, I want to be an encouragement to others and I believe that is my calling. So it is my hope that by sharing this journey, you have found encouragement somewhere between the words of this blog.
So watch out! JoAnn’s Studio may just surprise you…scars and all! I knoq no scar is wasted no matter where they are or how they come to us. God will use them to build compassion in you, and FOR others. You may be the one compassionate person that can come along side another, and understand, when God places that special person in your path.
Watch for it to unfold over the next month or so. See you on the other side of tomorrow!
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:
“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!
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.
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.