By Lori Ann Wood
God's Brave Women - Lori Ann's Story
Barely a month had passed since my cardiac device was installed as a last-ditch effort to avoid a heart transplant.
Feigning normalcy, my husband was consuming himself in yardwork. His to-do list that sunny Saturday included planting three small trees near the wooded edge of the property, so they would provide a screen from neighbors as they grew. I could see him and our dog digging in the unfamiliar part of our yard, far past the area that we mow.
I continued watching from the kitchen window for several minutes, but then hoping to be helpful, I slipped on my sandals and headed slowly out to join my tiny gardening crew. From a safe distance, I instructed him to rotate a tree so the best side was facing the house. Not satisfied, I took a step toward him.
Suddenly, I felt needles going through my feet. I looked down to see that I had stepped into a hornet’s nest. They were relentless, stinging me on both feet, on my arm, and my neck as I walked (as quickly as my post-surgery-self could) toward the house.
Once inside the house, my blood pressure dropped to 58/30 and I lost consciousness. My husband called 911, the ambulance arrived, and I was on my way to the ER (again). A new addition was made to my ever-expanding medical record: anaphylactic reaction to hornet venom; must carry epi-pen. I’d gone all my life not knowing I could have died from a hornet sting.
When it was all over, I told my husband I should have stayed inside; I should have just trusted his judgment on the tree placement. (He loved that.) I could have avoided a trip to the ER. The entire ordeal was something I would rather not have experienced.
But in reality, it was a blessing to find out about this deadly allergy while someone was with me, rather than when I was alone and rendered helpless. Since my sudden, unexpected heart failure diagnosis, I have come to appreciate this realization in many areas of life:
I was safer in the center, but I am wiser on the edge.
"Since my sudden, unexpected heart failure diagnosis, I have come to appreciate this realization in many areas of life: I was safer in the center, but I am wiser on the edge."
God has been pulling me to the murky edge as part of His great plan. He has been showing me that the center safety is only temporary. And even in the snuggly lukewarm comfort, deep down we can feel that we have sold out. The short-term security never outweighs the long-term rewards of the risk, at least when it comes to walking with God.
"The short-term security never outweighs the long-term rewards of the risk, at least when it comes to walking with God."
So why did I ever think the center was safe?
Those edges can be dark and scary places, and as we get forced to the edges, we can feel that we have taken a wrong turn—divorce, disease, depression, disaster. This is not the way I imagined my life would be. But what we see as detours on the road of our life may not be detours at all. They may be the road. And getting out of that familiar center lane may lead us to the scenic route, or even to the ditch at times, but always where God can use us for His glory.
"What we see as detours on the road of our life may not be detours at all. They may be the road. And getting out of that familiar center lane may lead us to the scenic route, or even to the ditch at times, but always where God can use us for His glory."
Turns out, miracles only happen on the edges. At the time of the hornet encounter, I was given less than five years survival. I am now six and half years into this chronic, progressive, incurable heart disease. Seeing the hand of God working in both my physical and spiritual heart would have been lost in the safe center.
Fellow patients have inspired me and changed me. Medical professionals have become at the same time humanly involved and expertly invested. Distant prayer warriors and readers of my blog have grown into trusted mentors and close friends. I would never have crossed paths with any of them in the cozy, healthy middle lane.
Over the course of this disease, this is the risky God I’ve come to hope in, just as the Israelites and the apostles did as they were pulled outside of their comfort zones and closer into His arms.
"Over the course of this disease, this is the risky God I’ve come to hope in, just as the Israelites and the apostles did as they were pulled outside of their comfort zones and closer into His arms."
Even early on in my illness, I felt His pull to the edge, and I knew it was for the best. Long before the hornet episode, I made this journal entry:
Up to now, I have tended to live life down the predictable middle. Merry-go-round instead of roller coaster. But in doing so, I have missed so much. When we insulate ourselves from the lows, we don’t recognize the highs when they come. No one wants suffering or pain, but it can be a gift. Trusting God sometimes puts you on the dangerous edges, but the contrast of what you experience gives you something you don’t want to miss.
"No one wants suffering or pain, but it can be a gift. Trusting God sometimes puts you on the dangerous edges, but the contrast of what you experience gives you something you don’t want to miss."
We are all headed for the same end. We all live a few years on this earth and then we die. Staying in the middle of the road won’t keep you from that. I used to think it did, so I reinforced my resolve to stay in the safe center.
This experience has forced me to the edges, and I am grateful.
Brave Woman Manifesto
Make sure to check back next week as another courageous Sister shares her story.
And by the way...
You are Brave!
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About Lori Ann
Lori Ann Wood lives in an empty nest in beautiful Bentonville, Arkansas, with her husband and miniature dachshund, Pearl. Having discovered a serious heart condition almost too late, Lori Ann writes to encourage others to find joy in the divine detours of life. She was awarded the Frederick Buechner Narrative Essay Award and her work has been published in numerous print and online venues, including The Christian Century Magazine, The Joyful Life Magazine, Just Between Us Magazine, Bella Grace Magazine, Pepperdine University Press, Sweet to the Soul FAITH Magazine, and yahoo.com. Lori Ann’s first book is scheduled to release in February 2023 with CrossRiver Media, Divine Detour: The Path You Didn’t Choose Can Lead to the Faith You’ve Always Wanted.
Connect with Lori on her website loriannwood.com where you can grab FREE resources to help with your Divine Detour in life. You can also find her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, or read more from her HERE.