Thoughts from Big River Cabins

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!

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

Unexpected Detours

Do you like detours?  Or do you find them irritating and time-consuming?  We often just want to get where we are going and not waste time, isn’t that true?

Let me share a detour that has caused me to really take a closer look at my life and what I am doing.  I had a small health issue the last few weeks off and on, and with it was excruciating pain in the kidney.  Thinking I had an infection, I used an over the counter product that would help with the symptoms until I got into the Dr the following day.  Apparently with my body metabolism, the amount used wasn’t something that my body could tolerate, but toxic, actually.  So my normal appointment to the doctor the next morning turned into going straight from the doctor’s office to ER.  Suffice it to say, it was quite a detour.  I couldn’t drive myself, couldn’t reach my husband at home, and so I had to be transported to the ER by ambulance for three blocks to the hospital.  The journey began.  Doctors and nurses worked hard to find out why my oxygen levels were so low and not able to be raised past 88 percent.  Not good.  Tests, blood test, blood gas tests, scans…you name it and it was done.  Find out that my body had a toxic reaction, and a VERY rare case I was.  My blood looked almost black, and I was asked from the ER Doctor what planet I was from.  I just told him it was strong Norwegian blood!  But, I wasn’t out of the woods.  My highest levels even with high flow oxygen was only 88 percent.  They thought it was caused by blood clots in the lungs and that turned out to be negative, thank you Jesus!!  What was it?  It turned out to be hypoxia methemoglobinemia. It is very rare for someone to react this way!  Oh good!  I’m special!!!  So with that diagnosis, the doctor knew of the antidote to give me and sent me upstairs to a room to receive it.  Warning:  my daily bathroom visits could yield all blue for a while.  So true.  I usually have a high anxiety when visiting the hospital because of my previous experiences, and I get quite emotional.  However, it was like someone else dealing with it and it’s seriousness.  I couldn’t understand the peace I had.  I asked God to give the all clear on the blood clots in the lungs and He did.  I am so thankful for that.  Blood draws every couple of days doesn’t seem fun at all.

Here is the deal about detours.  They are often unexpected when it comes to our lives.  Road detours are sometimes announced a head of time and we know how to plan ahead.  We have to watch for the sign that tells us the path of the detour.  Give ourselves extra time  for the detour.  But in our lives, that isn’t the case always.  Sometimes, it just happens.  We have to deal with it as it comes.  Is it ok to feel scared?  Of course.  But we can know where to take that fear.  God is always there.  Sometimes our detours come and God uses them for us to see something different; a new path or a new direction.  As we use these times to ask God what we are to learn from them, we find Him in that storm and He will whisper… He wants my attention in areas I need to be better about.

It my last few weeks, I had been struggling with some areas and asking God to show me where I needed to be, as well as where He wanted me involved.  Sometimes, I need to lay down something so another can pick it up and lead.  Sometimes He wants to use me in a completely different way.  We often see a picture of ourselves and where we are and think, that is where we are to stay.  But God may want to reframe our lives in ways that allow Him to use us even more.  Am I going to complain about the pain, the pokes and prods, and the uncertainty of what is going on in my body, or will I say thank the Lord for bringing me through it, slowing me down even more, and ask Him to guide my next steps?

  • If I wasn’t having that appointment that morning, I would have not known what was going on.
  • If I wasn’t in the doctor’s office.
  • If the ARNP that was on the ball and recognized my blue lips and blue fingers.
  • If the saturation levels didn’t indicate an issue.
  • If the ER doctor hadn’t been diligent enough to keep working at it.

I could have lost my life that day.

But God…He had that detour all planned out.  He knew the end from the beginning.  The outcome isn’t over, because I now have a whole list of things I can’t take now because of how my body may react to it.  I can’t even use BioFreeze, which I often used on my sore back.  I got an antibiotic that day for the first issue and that gave me hives.  However, it was the only one available to me.  I took three doses and that was all I could do, but he said that would work.  So… I am now on a new path with different ways I must live; at least for now.

The lesson on this detour?  I am re-examining my motives in where I am and what I am involved with.  I am taking time to ask Him the hard questions.  Then listen to His answers.  I can’t expect to have things different in my life if I am unwilling to change what I need to.  The biggest ones I think about after this experience?   Am I REALLY ready to meet Jesus?  Is my life in order?  It could have went a lot differently that day.  Am I prepared for that?  Am I willing to take a different road and let Him show me what He wants me to see?  Will I have a new appreciation for life that I am given everyday, because I am breathing today?  Take the correction if needed?  Forgive someone I may need to forgive?  Am I in the Word enough and not just sharing it, but in it enough myself?  Billy Graham was known to say the one thing he wished was that he studied the Word more.  That leaves a big gap for me if he was saying that.  Is my life so busy that I am not slowing down enough to notice where He wants to use me?  Is the idea of having stuff more important than something else in my life?  A desire for better this or that, rather than being thankful for what I have?  Hard questions = Growth.

Yes.  Detours can be educational if we allow them to be.  I am allowing it to be.  I want it to be.  Looking forward to the detour.  If you are looking for hope, don’t look around, look up.

Until next time…

~JoAnn