Course Corrections

By Marcy Barthlette

We may make a lot of plans, but the Lord will do what he had decided. Proverbs 19:21 CEV  

If you read my little tale of last week, you know that I was scheduled for MOHS surgery to remove cancer cells from my nose. I had made every effort I could to be sure our home was prepared for my absence from a lot of daily routines because, in my previous experience, MOHS surgery also led to plastic surgery and I didn’t know, in advance, how this event would play out. I walked into the medical offices pretty relaxed and confident that I would handle whatever transpired.

There’s a saying I’ve often heard, “Man plans, God laughs!” It’s a very loosely interpreted version of the verse above from Proverbs. But it pretty much described my feeling after what turned out to be my consultation. The doctor didn’t want to cut my nose. He described my cancerous and pre-cancerous cells as being very superficial and concluded that surgery would be overkill. Now you’d think that would be good news and I would be overjoyed, but his description of the reactions I could expect from the topical ointment I would be using wasn’t pleasant. Besides, I was mentally prepared for something very different. Now I had to hit the brakes and do a one-eighty.

This certainly wasn’t the first time in my life that major plans were foiled, but I remember one in particular that really altered my life. I’ve always leaned toward creativity and once harbored dreams of being a professional artist. Life came hurling at me and college faded from my future. But in my forties, I became involved in advertising art and later discovered a keen interest in serious pen and ink drawings. I was a decent artist working in ink with a focus on historic buildings. My style was stipple or pointillism. It was very detailed work created entirely of tiny dots, very tiring for my right hand and arm as well as my eyes. I was blessed to have a private showing at the Missouri State Museum and sold prints as well as originals to a number of businesses. Things were going well. I wouldn’t make millions but I really enjoyed the work and was gratified that others enjoyed viewing it.

We moved a couple of times and my focus shifted for a while. When I was ready to return to my work, a devastating reaction to a prescription medication robbed me of the muscle strength required in my hand and arm. And right on the heels of that dilemma, an unusual malfunction occurred in my right eye that required major surgery. My vision is acceptable for most everyday tasks but my dream of being an artist was squelched again.

I’ve filled the creative urge in my personality with other endeavors that were less strenuous for the eyes and hand muscles. Eventually, I recalled how much I enjoyed writing as a teen. I gathered all my information regarding the historic structures that Ken and I had visited and began a series of personal interviews which led me to create stories from our area’s past that reached the hearts of other Missourians. I was published in several local newspapers and eventually started writing for a smaller church that we attended. Now, here I am writing for Aldersgate. You may think the story ends there, but it doesn’t.

Last Christmas, my daughter brought along her new iPad with Apple Pencil on their holiday visit. She pulled up her sketching app and handed it to me with instructions to draw something, anything. I quickly sketched a calla lily which I thought was elementary level but everyone else loved it. My granddaughter had lately sought my advice in her artistic endeavors and her parents, along with Ken, had been dropping hints that I should get back into drawing. Couple that with the possibilities offered by this electronic version of artwork and I was intrigued. My laptop was cranky and my iPad was old. I was wanting an upgrade so I found the perfect new iPad with Pencil and set about trying out my skill. I hated it! I don’t really know why I thought I’d like to draw electronically. It just wasn’t for me. My iPad still gets a workout, just not the sketching app.

Soon I picked up a few drawing pencils, some charcoal, and pastels, all of which use a much more fluid stroke and do not stress my hand or eyes as the ink work did. Ken found me a great drafting table at a yard sale. It’s refurbished and occupies a well-lit area by our bow-front windows. And, of course, after experimenting with my new mediums, I just had to try ink and guess what. I can still do it, probably not as finely detailed as I once did and certainly in shorter shifts. But the beauty is, that I have a dedicated space where my work can just stay out. If I walk by and see something that needs to be altered, I can plop down for a few minutes and make the changes. I’m once again doing what I’ve loved for so long. It won’t be the same, but that’s OK. It was a very long detour, but God obviously thought the time was right and He caused the ones I love to spark my interest and pave the way.

I’m grateful for that and I’m beginning to be grateful that my doctor chose the less aggressive path for treatment of those pesky cancer cells. In a few weeks, after we get some camping done and celebrate some special days, I’ll apply the prescribed medication Monday through Friday for four weeks and watch my nose turn red and peel away those cells, during which I may experience extreme itching, burning, crusting, scabbing and possibly a few flu-like symptoms. Oh, and protection from the sun is a must so I’ll hibernate most of the time. Of course, the list of possible reactions is very lengthy but those are the more likely ones and I’ll get through it with the help of those who love me most, the one in heaven and the others here on earth.

My life has been a series of course corrections and I’m sure the same is true for you. Once again, I must accept God’s plans for my life instead of my own and that brings me right back to my very favorite Bible verse and the message that I try to remember every moment of every day. It’s worded a little differently in each version and this one seemed right for this application. Though I’ve offered it before and likely will again, I hope it will comfort you as much as it has always comforted me:

I say this because I know what I am planning for you. I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future. Jeremiah 29:11 New Century Version, NCV

2 Responses to “Course Corrections”

  1. pam swartz says:

    this is my life most of the time. mom said to me the i just needed to keep pulling up my boots. what a wise

  2. Brenda Clark says:

    Marcy – you are very inspiring, as always. I’m so glad you found another creative outlet because you have a lot of talent!!

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