Adventures Start Early in 2020

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.

Until next time,

~JoAnn

What’s In Store for You In 2020?

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!

From this…
to this in 10 weeks

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

Our lives may have broken places like broken pottery, but it can be made beautiful by the experience, which is the gold that gives it new beauty.

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…

Until next time,

~JoAnn

 

 

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

 

 

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