Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd seems to be growing weary.  I can only imagine how exhausting all these months have been for him.  He is sleeping more.  He hassometimes been asleep when we visit him, but will wake when we walk in.  Now he sometimes sleeps deeply even while we're there.  But he continues with his lovely smiles. 

I have had some sweet visits with him though.  I’ve played worship songs that he seemed to connect with.  He tried raising his good arm when I raised mine in worship, but he's weaker - he couldn't raise it as high as normal.  I’ve held his hand and prayed for him and us.  He smiles and smiles as I share news - and sometimes he tears up as I share some things.  I love being with him.

We are praying for God's grace for Floyd during these days when weariness is creeping in!

This last week I had a "good" day - all day long!  I can't even remember when I last had a fully good day.  I felt "light" and almost giddy.  It was wonderful!!  I kept thanking the Lord all day long.  I hope I'll have more of them.

I was singing a worship chorus about God's goodness, His faithfulness, His holiness - and I began thinking of how I've sung these worship songs all my life.  I've lifted my hands, I've worshipped with my whole heart, and I've meant every word I've sung.

But when you're going through a trial, when everything in you is being tested, when life itself is hanging by a thread - the words you sing take on new depth and meaning!  They're no longer just wonderful words of a song, they become the cry of your heart!

I'm not a song writer, but I found myself grateful for those who write these songs that help us express our hearts of worship and gratitude to Him. The songs are a rich part of my daily conversations with the Lord.

I'm so grateful that God created worship.  It blesses Him that we can express ourselves in adoration - but, much more importantly, it gives us an opportunity to pour out our hearts with our love and thankfulness to Him.  There is something about worship, especially in singing, that draws me in close to His heart.

"Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.  Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness."  Psalm 29:1,2

"I will sing of the Lord's great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.  I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself."  Psalm 89:1,2

"Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.  Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs."  Psalm 100:1,2

"Exalt the Lord our God and worship at His footstool; He is holy!"  Psalm 99:5

"I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble."  Psalm 59:16

I'm so grateful that I can thank Him for His goodness even on the hardest of days.  Worship is a gift to us.

The "40 Days of Worship" that we are in the midst of has proven to be such a blessing to us as we worship Him!  I hope many of you are able to join us.

The phrase "patient endurance" has caught my attention recently.  I know I'm enduring, but I'm not sure I'm always doing it patiently.  I try!  I've keenly known that I need the Lord to strengthen my heart to handle all I'm walking through.

The need for this kind of patient endurance only comes in very hard, ongoing times of trial.  In smooth seasons - or in trials that are over and done with quickly, we don't particularly need patience or endurance.  But in lingering, on-going hard seasons - we certainly need this kind of grace to make it through.

I've found it helpful to acknowledge to the Lord how hard the trial is for me so that I can receive the full measure of His help.  I've even tried to thank Him for trusting me with such a hard trial.  He must have confidence that I can make it through it if He's allowed it to come into my life.  I ask Him, trust Him, to take the dark and heavy time and bring good and beauty out of it.

The waiting that I wrote about recently is part of the patience.  "The Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore He will rise up to show you compassion.  For the Lord is a God of justice.  Blessed are all who wait for Him!"  Isaiah 30:18

I'm working on learning the lesson of waiting in patient endurance.  A "key" for me has been to constantly focus my eyes on Him, and not allow my mind to drift to the "what ifs" that may be still to come.  I have to rest in God's sovereignty, and keep my heart focused on trusting Him.

Rick Warren says "The more you pray, the less you'll panic.  The more you worship, the less you worry.  You'll feel more patient and less pressured."  

God wants to help us to have patient endurance for the trials He knows we are facing.  He's provided prayer and worship to help us get through them.

"Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times."  Romans 12:12

"The Lord is good to everyone who trusts in Him, so it is best for us to wait in patience - to wait for Him to save us."  Lamentations 3:25, 26

"The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still."  Exodus 14:14

"For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised."  Hebrews 10:36

"You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful."  James 5:11

"But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved."  Matthew 24:13

Someone reminded me recently of words Floyd had written in one of his blogs.  It certainly applies to our lives right now.  "A testing time in our lives, big or small, is one of the ways God uses to teach us to depend more deeply on Him.  As we go through tests, we discover God's goodness in new dimensions.  We gain confidence that God can and will meet us in the crisis experiences of life."

God has faithfully met me each day.  And He has blessed and encouraged me through the prayers of so many faithful ones around the world!  I couldn't have done it alone.

Our Unexpected Journey

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I had a sweet time with Floyd this week.  Due to some change in the schedule, I overlapped with one of the carers when I went to visit Floyd.  This carer brings his guitar each week to play and sing over Floyd.  So we sang, worshipped, and prayed together over Floyd!  It was lovely.  There was a sweet presence of the Lord in the room with us.

It is springtime for us in South Africa.  I think spring is my favorite season because of all the new life.  Everywhere I look there is beauty and renewal.  It brings joy and fresh hope.  And it very naturally causes my heart to lift up prayers asking God for new spiritual life too!  During these days of worship I am asking God for a release of new life in the hearts of people- from Cape Town pouring out into the continent of Africa!  And also in Floyd's room!!

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."  2 Corinthians 5:17

"Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."  Isaiah 43:19

"And he who was seated on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new.'  Also he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.' "  Rev. 21:5

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."  Lamentations 3:22,23

Trusting God to use these days of worship to bring new life in Cape Town, in South Africa, in the continent of Africa, and on into the world!  Our hearts long for new life in Him.

I was talking with a friend a couple days ago.  We were both having a hard day.  We've been participating in the "40 Days of Worship," but it had been difficult with things we were each going through.  Without thinking about it, I said to her that persevering, not giving up, and being faithful is part of our worship.  I said it - and then I stopped to think about it, and realized how very true that is!

It's easy to worship when everything is going well.  But worshipping, trusting, and keeping our eyes on Him when we're walking through difficulty is when our worship gets tested.  On days when I'm weak, when I'm not feeling well, my worship may not be as powerful.  It's quieter and more mellow, but it's very heartfelt.

As I was worshipping out of weakness, I realized that God loves me on my weak days.  He understands.  He is holding my right hand.  And He receives my worship to Him because He wants me to worship Him in every "season."  I don't have anything to prove.  I'm simply pouring out my heart of love and thankfulness to Him.

He has lessons to teach us, and ways of revealing His love to us that come in the hard times.  We can't learn them any other way.  He's with us in the "fire and the flood".......and it's very different from being with us in beautiful meadows!  It's so important not to despise the lessons learned through trial.

And the wonder of it is that as I worship Him from a place of weakness and need in the midst of the trial, He in turn strengthens me.  How unbelievably wonderful that is!!  Only He can do that.

"But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.....for when I am weak, I am strong."  2 Corinthians 12:9-10

"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you....as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing."  1 Peter 4:12, 13

"Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid.....for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you.  He will not fail you or forsake you."  Deuteronomy 31:6

"Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."  Isaiah 41:10

God has been so wonderfully faithful.  I thank Him and praise Him!  

Someone wrote and said to me that there is suffering in the waiting.....that sometimes the waiting is as hard as what we are walking through.

I've thought a lot about that.  There's certainly a big truth in that statement.  The waiting to see what's next, what God has in store for us, how this journey will end, is intense.  It is it's own kind of suffering.  There's no control, no way to plan for what's ahead, no lessening of the pressure.......all you can do is wait!  You feel stuck in a kind of limbo.

As I was praying about this, I also thought of a different kind of waiting......or maybe a different aspect of it.  I thought of choosing to be still in His presence, and waiting patiently for Him to act.  Out of need, of necessity, I've learned a lot about being still during all these months.  Many days when all strength was used up, I had no choice but to be still.  On other days I simply chose to be still before Him because I needed to quieten my own heart.

We need time in His presence, in the stillness, for Him to minister to us what we need.  I sometimes get impatient.  I want to move on.  I want to get things done.  And I definitely want this journey to end.

But I'm learning.  I'm learning about waiting patiently for Him.  It's part of trusting Him.  One song says "beyond our understanding, you're teaching us to trust."  I don't have all the lessons down yet, but they're working their way deeper into my heart.  And He brings comfort, grace, hope, strength, and peace as I wait.

Yes, there's suffering in the waiting - but there's also the invaluable lessons that come through waiting that can't be learned any other way.  He hears each prayer I whisper, even if I don't see or understand the answers yet.  And the more I wait in His presence, the more I hear His whispers back to me.

"Be still and know that I am God."  Psalm 46:10

Our Unexpected Journey

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When Floyd and I were praying about moving to South Africa, one of the pieces of the puzzle for our future direction was hearing about a prophetic word that had been spoken about Cape Town for decades.  The word was that God wanted to send a move of His Spirit "from Cape to Cairo" - impacting the continent of Africa.  We knew we wanted to be in Cape Town to pray and believe for that to happen.  It was consistent with what was on our hearts - to see revival break out over this continent with tens of thousands coming to know Him.

Since we first heard of this word, Floyd has carried it in his heart personally - asking and believing to see it fulfilled in our lifetime.  Believers have come together to pray for this word to be fulfilled by having "40 Days of Worship."  The theme is to praise and worship the Lord and believe that that worship will spread to the nations of Africa.  Earlier this year there was a national day of prayer with over a million believers joining together in a field in the middle of South Africa......asking God to come and heal our land.  Worshipping Him is a natural follow up!

It began this past Sunday, Sept. 24 and will go through Friday, Nov. 3.  We trust that many of you will join us in worshipping God for His goodness, His faithfulness, and His desire that all may come to know Him on this wonderful continent?!  

I've asked the Lord what part I can play in this, and His answer was simple.  Just set aside time to worship each of these 40 days.  Even though I'm still feeling very weak, I can do that!  I'm also endeavoring to have someone with Floyd each of these 40 days to worship with him.

Please join us - even if only for a few minutes each day.  I am excited about what God will do as we humbly worship Him.  Our primary purpose in life is to praise and worship our wonderful Father.  May these days of worship release what God has for Cape Town, for South Africa, for the nations of Africa, and to the rest of the world!

"Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago."  Isaiah 25:1

"Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!"  Psalm 150:6

"All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name."  Psalm 86:9

"Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.  Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.  Know that the Lord is God.  It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.  Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.  For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations."  Psalm 100

"Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, 'The Lord reigns!'"  1 Chronicles 16:31

There is SO much to praise Him for!  40 days won't be long enough.

This past weekend has been a holiday in South Africa.  It's called "heritage day."  That word heritage has stuck in my mind, and made me think of Psalm 16:6  - "I have a goodly heritage."

I have been thinking about our "goodly heritage."  I'm very grateful for what has been deposited into our lives down through the years from our family, our friends, and our leaders.  The things God has deposited in our lives from our "goodly heritage" have prepared us to walk on this unexpected journey!  We have much to be thankful for.  

Monday was day 2 of the 40 days of worship over Cape Town, so when I went to be with Floyd I played worship music for him and sang to the Lord.  I thanked the Lord for our "goodly heritage" and for His faithfulness all these months.  I have a sense that this time of worship is important.  I'm praying we'll see God move in special ways during the 40 days.

Right after David mentions his "goodly heritage," he says "I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.  I keep my eyes always on the Lord.  With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken."  Psalm 16:7,8

He finishes off the chapter by saying, "You fill me with joy in your presence."  Psalm 16:11  

Our heritage in Him includes His counsel, His helping us to not be shaken, and His joy!  What a truly "goodly heritage" we have!  I couldn't have made it all these months without it!  I can't help but worship Him.

Our Unexpected Journey

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The last few days my heart has been troubled about a couple things.  In both situations, I want to see change, answers.  But there's nothing I can do.  Because of my concern, and because of the need - I want to be able to "do" something.  It's hard because the troubling situations weigh heavily on my heart.

Someone wrote and told me about a message they heard called "Catch the Wind."  The theme of the message was that we can row our boat through life, or we can raise the sails and catch the wind.......His Spirit. It's hard not to row like crazy (doing something!) instead of waiting for the wind!  But if we raise our sails and catch that wind at the right time, it's certainly a lot easier!  

As soon as I read this, I knew the Lord was speaking to me.  I'm now casting my burdens, the things I'm troubled about, on the Lord, and waiting for the wind to come!  I know God has answers, and that His timing is perfect.  I know this in my heart - it's just hard sometimes to be still and wait!  I'm waiting for the wind of His Spirit!

I was able to see Floyd again over the last weekend.  While I was in the hall putting on the protective gear we wear to keep from taking germs in to him, he already saw me and smiled real big. :)  It was very sweet and tender to be with him again.  We keep praying for grace, courage, and the sweet fellowship of the Spirit to be with him.

"I am laid low; preserve my life according to your word........My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word......Give me understanding, so that I may....obey with all my heart.......Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope.  My comfort in my suffering is this: your promise preserves my life."  Psalm 119:25, 28, 34, 49-50

His word always brings help and truth, and revives us day by day!

"He will cover you with His feathers.  He will shelter you with His wings.  His faithful promises are your armor and protection."  Psalm 91:4

On hard days, I run to tuck myself under His wings where I'm safe!

This has been a long journey.  I'm so glad God doesn't get weary like me.  And He never gets tired of my asking for help!  How faithful He is.

This week as I’ve pondered these long months of pur journey, I have once again been overwhelmed at the massive wave of prayer that God unleashed.  It went from sharing with family and a few friends to thousands overnight!  Only God could have put that prayer burden on so many hearts.

I have also been impressed afresh that this unleashing of prayer has so much more to do with things on God's heart than just healing Floyd.  Floyd's illness was a catalyst to something much bigger and greater that is on God's heart to see happen.  I don't fully understand it, but I know in the depths of my being once more that God is at work and He's doing something very special through all these prayers.  He is at work in our midst!

The sweet messages, the "words," the dreams, the impressions, the scriptures - such a common thread of God's heart, and that He wants to do something among His children.  I feel humbled and privileged to be part of it.

I’m so grateful for all those praying for Floyd, for me, for our family.  We are all so very grateful.  The undergirding of prayer has carried us through all these long months.  We wait for the "wind of His Spirit" to see what all He still plans for Floyd and for us.

"The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."  James 5:16

"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."  2 Chronicles 7:14

"You will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you."  Jeremiah 29:12

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."  Romans 12:12

Our Unexpected Journey

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At the moment, I've been thinking about so many things that I'm thankful for - and so many things that I'm lifting up to Him in prayer.  I'd like to share some of those.

Things I'm so grateful for:

-  I was finally able to go see Floyd on Sunday. :)  I've been trying to build my energy, and get enough strength for this - but it's been hard while I'm recovering!  Sunday is always a quiet day at the hospital, so I knew it would take less energy than normal.  It was such a precious time.  There were smiles, tears, and lots of "blinks" from Floyd communicating agreement with what I was saying.  My heart is filled with gratitude for this sweet reunion.

- I'm very grateful that the Lord kept Floyd's condition "steady" while I was going through such a hard time from the chemo.  It brought such peace to my heart while I was weak to know that Floyd was doing okay. I know it was an answer to prayer.

- I'm very grateful to be on the other side of the recent very horrible chemo treatment.  There were some frightening moments when I wondered if I would make it through.  Now that I'm able to eat, that the side effects are slowly going away, and that I'm getting some new strength - all I can do is say "thank you Lord!"

Things I'm praying for:

-  for continued grace and courage for Floyd for however much longer this journey continues

-  for protection for Floyd, me, our family, and All Nations against any attacks of the enemy

-  for breakthroughs for Floyd, whatever plans and purposes God has, be it healing or heaven

-  for healing, fresh strength, and renewed health for me as I recover

-  for wisdom from the Lord about many decisions ahead of me

-  for grace to persevere

-  for strength for all our hearts to keep pressing in to Him in the place of prayer

Someone was reminding me recently about George Muller who lived a life of fervent prayer.  When he died, he had 50,000 documented answers to prayer!  5000 of those were answered on the day he prayed for them - which means that 90% of the time he had to keep praying and waiting!  Sound familiar?  He prayed for 63 years for one man to come to Christ before he did so.

George Muller said "don't let yesterday's seemingly unanswered prayers stop you from praying in faith today."  I know my place is to keep praying, trusting, and waiting until God can be most glorified with bringing the answers.

And, in the meantime, I want to have a heart filled with gratitude for what's He's doing all around me!

"We ought to pray and not to faint."  Luke 18:1

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."  Romans 12:12

"You will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you." Jeremiah 29:12

"I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer."  Psalm 17:6

"Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up."  Luke 18:1

"Never stop praying."  1 Thessalonians 5:17

Being with Floyd this week took my mind back over the journey we've been on.  We've seen so many answers to prayer!  I'm so grateful for every one of them.  I purpose in my heart to keep my eyes on Him, my heart full of trust towards Him, as I keep lifting up the needs we still have to Him in the place of prayer.  He is faithful! 

There's another lesson that I've been learning over the course of this journey.  When going through a hard time, the things that we are dealing with are "front and center."  It's what's happening, what we're having to cope with, so it's natural that our focus is on them.  But therein lies a trap of the enemy if we aren't careful!

The enemy wants us to focus on the problems - our pain, our weakness, our sorrow, our loneliness.  God wants us to keep our focus on HIM in the midst of all these problems.  When we keep our eyes on Him, it puts the problems in the proper perspective.

Someone sent me this definition of FEAR - false evidence appearing real!

If we focus on the problems, it's so easy for fear to creep in.  Before we know it, the problems and the resulting fear can overwhelm our trust in the Lord.  

In the midst of hard, very difficult days I have to constantly remind myself to keep my focus on Him, His goodness, His answers, His grace, His sufficiency, His strength.......instead of focusing on the problems.  I have to choose my perspective!  I never "conquer" doing this.  It's something I have to do in the midst of each new difficulty and hard time.  His grace for the problems is sufficient - one day at a time.

I have some large windows - some of them high off the ground.  I have someone that helps me clean them.  I get nervous just watching him climb the ladder!!  But this helper has been away on holiday.  We've had lots of windy/rainy/stormy weather.  So my windows are dirty, streaky, and spotted.  My view through the windows is a lovely one - the ocean, trees, mountains.  But right now, if I'm not careful, all I see is the mess on the windows!  I have to look beyond that to see the beauty.

So it is in life, we must look beyond all the problems we're facing and see the beauty of Jesus who is greater than the problems.  When we keep our eyes, our focus on Him - it invites Him into our situation!  He enters in to help and strengthen us.  He enables us to have joy even on the hardest of days.  How faithful He is.

"Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things."  Colossians 3:2

"In all their suffering He also suffered, and He personally rescued them. In His love and mercy He redeemed them.  He lifted them up and carried them through all the years."  Isaiah 63:9

"The Lord stood at my side and gave me strength."  2 Timothy 4:17

"Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way."  2 Thessalonians 3:16  

"Trust in Him at all times - pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge."  Psalm 62:8

I'm so grateful that He helps us through life's difficulties each day.  He never grows weary of stepping into our lives and helping us.  Thank you Lord!

Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd has had some good days this week.  He's had some lovely visits with the Care Team, and his condition continues to be steady.  After all the ups and downs he's had, this is such a wonderful blessing and answer to prayer.  But he has also had some days where he has seemed very tired and a bit down.  I can't even begin to imagine how hard it's been for him to endure all these months.  We continue to pray for fresh grace and courage for him!

I've sensed the Lord with me and answering prayers for me this week too.  The last few weeks have been so, so hard.  I feel like I've scraped the bottom of the bottom physically.  Some of this, I think, is from the accumulated stress of the last 18 months, and then also from all I've been through in recent months with treatment - chemo, surgery, complications, another surgery, new chemo.  My body has just worn out. 

I had an appointment with my oncologist a few days ago.  As we talked, we agreed that I need to stop all treatment and work on rebuilding my health and strength.  I'm not strong enough at the moment to endure any more of these harsh treatments.  Once we made this decision - which is what I had felt the Lord had already been saying to me - I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off of me.  I've been filled with peace.  So I'm starting the process of rebuilding! 

As I've been thinking and praying through my decisions, someone sent me a song by Juanita du Plessis called "Four Days Late."  It’s about the story or Lazarus being raised from the dead.

So very many have prayed with and for us on this journey we're on, I’m so grateful!  And I know some have wondered why we haven't seen answers to some of those prayers.  I can understand.  There have been times when I've asked the Lord what He's up to?  Why have some prayers been answered and not others?  Why the long wait? 

On this journey, and especially in recent days when my own strength has gone to rock bottom, I've had lots of long talks with the Lord.  The bottom line from all this is that my complete and absolute trust in Him has amazingly grown deeper.  I have felt His sweet assurance that He is at work.  I don't have His perspective to see everything, but He has not for one second abandoned us.  He is working fervently on our behalf, and there are things yet to be seen of what He is doing.

As I listened to this song, I realized afresh that "He's NEVER late."  We may think so, but He's not!!!  He has plans and purposes that we can't see.  But we can keep asking and trusting!!  The enemy thinks he wins if we don't get our answers.......but God wins when we keep affirming our 100% trust in Him.  As we do that, our fellowship with Him grows deeper and deeper.....and oh how He longs for that deeper fellowship with us.  His Father heart opens His arms wide to us!  He uses the waiting time to love us, teach us, and draw us to Himself.  He's never in a hurry, but He's always on time!

I don't know what's ahead.  I've gone lower than I thought I could go physically in recent weeks, but He has constantly been by my side.  He has held my hand.  He has whispered encouragement.  He has reminded me that He is working on my behalf in ways I can't see.  My weakness has been very clear.......but His faithfulness has been even clearer.  

"These trials will show that your faith is genuine.  It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold - though your faith is far more precious than mere gold.  So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed."  I Peter 1:7

"God, your name is eternal; God, you'll never be out-of-date."  Psalm 135:13  The Message

" 'For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' "  Jeremiah 29:11

"Do not fret......trust in the Lord.....take delight in the Lord.....commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this.....Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him."  Psalm 37:1-7

"I keep my eyes always on the Lord.  With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken."  Psalm 16:8

"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."  Hebrews 11:1

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him."  Romans 8:28

We can keep trusting Him - pressing in in the place of prayer.  "God has perfect timing; never early, never late.  It takes a little patience, and it takes a lot of faith, but it's worth the wait."

I look forward to His perfect timing in things He has planned for us on this journey.  I don't know all the answers He has, but I trust Him.

While I’ve been working on gaining strength and energy, and rebuilding my health (even while I'm battling some of the lingering side effects of the recent chemo), my mind is thinking of many things I want to do, but my body is saying not yet. :)  

When I feel frustrated about that, the Lord has shown me something that has been very helpful… to make a gratitude list on the hard days.  I tell Him what I'm thankful for.  I often do it in my mind if I'm too weak to speak it out or write it down.  I start with simple, every day things:

- thank you Lord that I'm alive and breathing

- thank you for my husband of 50 years

- thank you for my children, my son-in-law, my grandkids, my extended family

- thank you for the dear friends who are helping to care for me while I'm sick

- thank you for our home

You get the idea!  The list goes on and on!  It doesn't have to be big things - the Lord loves it when we express our gratitude for the simple, every day things!  They all come from His loving hand.

The communication of our gratitude to Him is wonderful!  But the amazing thing that happens when we do that is that it releases joy!!  The simple act of expressing thankfulness triggers a flow of joy from His heart back to us.  I was amazed on days when I was too weak to hardly move off the bed......as I expressed my gratitude to Him, the room filled with His presence and joy.  Such a gift - especially in my weakness!  I felt encouraged and lifted by His joy.

"In every thing give thanks."  1 Thessalonians 5:18

"Through Him let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise."  Hebrews 13:15

"Don't be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!"  Nehemiah 8:10

"When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul."  Psalm 94:19

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him."  Romans 15:13

"Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away."  Isaiah 35:10b

In our hardest moments, there is still so very much to be thankful for. And I love how He turns our thanks to Him into joy back to our hearts!  What a wonderful God He is!

Our Unexpected Journey

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I have continued to be radically impacted by the last round of chemo.  Even though it’s slowly getting better there are still certain side effects that just won’t go away.  The doctor thinks my body's immune system is so low that it's just not able to fight.  I'm working to build myself up again.

While doing my exercise walking this week, I was thanking the Lord for how faithful He's been.  The last few weeks of recovery have been so very, very hard.  I've been "dismayed" at times.  But God has stayed close and helped me through them.  I am so grateful that He's held my hand, and for the prayers of those around the world that are ‘carrying’ me!

I'v been blessed by many encouraging messages I've received about my "strength."  But I have to tell you that I feel so incredibly weak.  I read the messages, and wonder who they are talking about. :)  I don't feel strong.  But I know the Word tells us that "His power will be made perfect in weakness."  2 Corinthians 12:9.  I trust and pray for that when I feel so very weak.

In the midst of these difficult times - when I feel so weak – the Lord has taught me to remind myself of who He is, and to call to mind the promises in His word.  I remind myself that He is my refuge!  And I continually speak out "I trust you Lord."  There is power in that, and it blocks the way for the enemy to get in.  The power of those simple words dispels darkness and heaviness.  

If I'm too weak and I can't say it out loud, I just whisper it or even think it in my mind.  "I trust you Lord.  I trust you Lord."  I say it repeatedly.  I've found it to be a powerful spiritual "tool" that the Lord has placed in my hands to get through hard days.  

One of His promises is that He'll never give us "too" much - never more than we can bear.  I remind Him of that, and tell Him I know I can trust Him in that promise.  It's a wonderful reassurance to me.

"The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms."  Deuteronomy 33:27

"For who is God besides the Lord?  And who is the Rock except our God?  It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.  He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; He enables me to stand on the heights."  2 Samuel 22:32-34

"Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me."  Psalm 54:4

"He is my mighty rock, my refuge.  Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge."  Psalm 62:7-8

"But the Lord has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge."  Psalm 94:22

The Word is filled to the brim with promises of His goodness and faithfulness.  He never leaves us - He continually holds our right hand - we are safe in His shadow.  I know I'm weak, but I also know He is strong and will help me!

Floyd is doing good.  He seems to be hanging steady.  The most often reported thing from all the carers is that he smiles a lot, and that there is a sense of peace in his room.  That always warms my heart to hear.

He had a very special visit with a long term friend from the U.S. who came in for just a few days.  He and Floyd had a sweet time of reminiscing and sharing.  It was so lovely that he could come see Floyd.  

One of the nurses told the carers recently that she had a clear dream about Floyd.  He was wearing a suit and holding a Bible.  She thought it was a sign that he is going to get well, and wanted to tell us to keep praying.  If it's a sign or not, I don't know.  But it did warm my heart to hear how much the staff at the hospital love and care for Floyd......and even dream about him. :)  I'm so grateful for this blessing.

We're still in winter here in South Africa.  I was looking out at the mountains recently, and saw huge sections of bright yellow flowers - in the midst of the rain and cold of winter!  It reminded me that there is beauty in every season!  Sometimes we have to look a little harder to see it, open our eyes to see it, but it's there.  I love that about how God does things.

"To every thing there is a season....He hath made everything beautiful in His time..."  Ecclesiastes 3

"But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you.  Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?  In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind."  Job 12:7-10

"Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it.  Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy."  Psalm 96: 11 & 12

"The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of His unfailing love."  Psalm 33:5

Thank you, Lord, for surrounding us with your beauty, with testimonies to your awesome power and faithfulness, and with reminders of how much you love and care for us.

Our Unexpected Journey

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I have been so so grateful for the prayers on behalf of Floyd and me during this unexpected journey.  I'm especially grateful that those prayers have been lifting my weak hands in recent days. 

A few days ago I was lower than low.  The side effects from this round of chemo had beaten me down.  I felt I was battling to survive.  Someone sent me Proverbs 14:26  "In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence; and His children shall have a place of refuge.  The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death."

I'm so grateful that our trust in Him, our "fear of the Lord" is our refuge!

I've been reading a devotional on joy.  In the midst of these hard days, I have felt the Lord reminding me over and over to look for His joy.  I have to say that in the midst of these hard, painful days - "joy" isn't the first thing that comes to my mind!!  And yet I felt Him continually reminding me that His joy is my strength, and that it's always with me.

I started seeing that in the hardest, darkest of moments - there were glimmers, little streaks of His joy.  I began to pull them into my heart, to treasure them there while claiming His strength.  The little glimmers carried me through until I could see brighter rays.

Some of the little glimmers that carried me through:

- In His presence there is fullness of joy.  Psalm 16:11

- He never leaves us, never forsakes us.  Hebrews 13:5

- His strength is made perfect in our weakness.  2 Corinthians 12:9

- He continually holds our right hand.  Isaiah 41:13, one of many verses - and He doesn't let go!  He holds on in good times and bad times.

-  He has angels watching over us.  Psalm 91:11

Then there were other more tangible glimmers:

- The smiles and prayers of dear friends who were helping me, caring for me.

- The warm sunshine flooding in the window.

- The calls and songs of birds outside.

- The continual sound of the ocean waves, never ceasing, like His love for me.

- Worship songs that remind me of who God is, how great He is.

Any one of these "glimmers" of joy is special!  But as I treasured them altogether and let them grow in my heart, my joy grew too......my strength started returning......I could smile again......I could speak again (I’ve had such painful mouth sores which got so bad that I was writing notes to communicate).  Truly He helped me see, discover joy in unexpected and hard places.

I've learned a new lesson.  His joy is always there if I look.  It may be just a tiny glimmer, but He'll give me eyes to see His joy during the hardest of hard moments.

On Floyd's side - he has been smiling, peaceful, and the chest congestion/phlegm is a bit less.  This week one of the carers had the most precious time of prayer with Floyd.  As the carer shared it with me, I could just sense the presence of the Lord that had been with them.  There were so many tears that one of the nurses stepped in to see if everything was okay.  It was very okay - God's hand was present and touching their hearts!  It was so encouraging to me.

I have missed Floyd very much during these very hard days.  In some ways I felt I've been at a new point of "oneness" with Floyd because of the level of suffering - although his is so much greater.  But I so long to see Floyd released from this long season.  We continue to lift up our prayers to God, and trust Him for His conclusion to this long journey.

I know only too well how easy it is to get weary, or simply complacent, in the place of prayer after such a long time.  It can be disheartening when we don't see specific prayers answered.  But the journey we're on together isn't over.  God is still at work!  And we continue to keep praying and pressing in.

In recent days some things have happened to remind us how important it is to keep praying for protection against the enemy, and asking the Lord to put a shield around us.  We can't let our guard down.  The enemy would love to sneak in.  The waves of prayer that have been unleashed in the last 18 months have been accomplishing great things in the heavenly realm.  I think the enemy is fighting back.  We pray for protection against the attacks (in any form) of the enemy.  We pray for warring angels to defeat the plans of the enemy.  We pray for all of God's plans and purposes for this unexpected journey to be fulfilled and accomplished.  We pray for healing or heaven for Floyd.  We pray for healing, fresh strength, and renewed health for me.  We pray for grace and strength for our whole family.  We pray for all of us to be energized afresh in the place of prayer.

Prayer is mighty.  It's a weapon of spiritual warfare against the enemy.  As we storm the gates of heaven in the place of prayer, we can ask God to move in powerful ways!

" 'No weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgement.  This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me,' declares the Lord."  Isaiah 54:17

"Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you."  Jeremiah 29:12

God is faithful and sure, and He has the victory!

Our Unexpected Journey

Last week was Floyd's birthday.  He's 72 years old.  This special day got me thinking of how grateful I am for the spiritual history we've been part of.  I think the seeds of things that have happened in our lives were planted many years ago through the prayers of our godly parents. They loved us, prayed for us, and mentored us in the ways of God.  We wouldn't be who we are today without their input.  They modeled God in our lives.  They shared their experiences with God, and, in so doing, created for us a "godly heritage."  Thank you Floyd Sr., Enetha, and Memaw (my mother)!

I wasn't able to see Floyd on his birthday because of my chemo recovery, but I celebrate his life!  We have much to be thankful for.

He had a sweet day.  The nurses sang to him, and put balloons on his bed.  A friend sent a passage of scripture that brought tears to his eyes when it was read to him.  Another dear friend paid him tribute that night, and they cried together.  Other friends spent time with him through the day.

There is still congestion in his chest (with accompanying phlegm), but the nurses are working to manage it.  He looks good, and he's at peace.

"Train up a child in the way he should go (teaching him to seek God's wisdom and will for his abilities and talents).  Even when he is old he will not depart from it."  Proverbs 22:6

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home, and when you walk along the road, when you lie down, and when you get up."  Deuteronomy 6:5-7

As I celebrate Floyd's life, my heart is also full of gratitude for the wonderful spiritual heritage we have been given.  May God help us to faithfully follow the example of those who have gone before us.

In recent days my grandmother's heart has been tenderly warmed by my granddaughter doing a summer missions outreach.  She's almost exactly the same age as when I did my first "summer of service" many years ago. :)  I love seeing history repeat itself in this way.

Floyd would be blessed by that too.  Only after we made plans to be married did I find out that he anonymously paid quite a bit of my outreach fees!!  He was a sweetheart even before I knew he'd be my sweetheart! :)  God was already starting the intertwining of our lives.

My birthday was just two days after Floyd’s. :)  I'm 69.  Some sweet friends visited me with balloons, snacks, and tulips.  They sang "happy birthday" to me.....we had a sweet visit.....and they prayed for me.  And one of them massaged my numb feet as we talked!!  That was a lovely "gift."

I like to express my heart in simple poems.  I've been writing one for my birthday, and I thought I'd share it with you.

I Wonder as I Wander

I wonder as I wander

On this unexpected way.

I wonder what is still ahead,

And what will fill my day.

 

I never planned to come this way -

This path is so unknown.

The twists and turns go on and on.

They’re not what I thought God had shown.

 

Our “golden years” were just ahead, 

And we planned to slow the pace.

Instead a whole new course we’re on,

And we’re in a much different race.

 

I wonder what is still ahead -

I wonder what the end will be.

I wonder what God has in store –

I wonder what He has for me.

 

I’ve not been one to wander,

As the years have all gone by.

There’s always been a plan He’s shown,

And I’ve never questioned why.

 

I’ve followed each path where He’s led,

All over the wide world;

And looked to Him to fulfill what He’d said,

When I was a young girl.

 

I even felt at that young age 

That someday I’d live here;

But I would have never dreamed 

That this journey would be so severe.

 

I wonder as I wander what is still ahead.

Then I hear, as I listen to His sweet voice,

To keep trusting and holding His hand

As He shows day by day His choice.  

 

I do wonder, as I walk along this journey, what is ahead.  I have no idea where this journey will still take us.  I have no idea how much longer it will be.  Sometimes that is hard.  But I'm so grateful He lovingly keeps assuring me to take it one-day-at-a-time and keep holding His hand. How faithful He is!

"Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."  Joshua 1:9

"Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge."  Psalm 62:8

"To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy."  Jude 24

"The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still."  Exodus 14:14

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty."  Psalm 91:1

I'm resting in His shadow.  His word is full, full, full of assurances that "we're gonna be okay" if we stay tucked in close to Him and keep holding His hand!

My progression through this round of chemo has been rough.  In the beginning I did fairly okay some of the time - nauseous and shaking some of the time.  Then as time has gone on I've been quite ill on a number of levels from the side effects.  It has been very debilitating.  The nausea is awful, the weakness from everything is quite overwhelming, and the mouth sores are really terrible.  I'm treating them, but they are so painful.  It makes eating and drinking very hard.

My doctor said I had an unusual number and combination of side effects.  In talking with her this week, we decided to delay the next round of chemo.  I'll see her in the meantime, and we'll reassess everything afresh.  I'm anticipating that we need to make some adjustments to my treatment.

I realized what a "gift" my birthday was from the Lord, in that it was a "good" day - because it's been very, very rough since then.  I've been battling on almost every level. 

As I've had these very hard days - the hardest round of chemo I've had, I've thanked the Lord that there are dear ones praying for me.  I so, so need that right now.  It is truly holding up my weak arms.

Someone sent me this acronym for August:

A - ask

U - until

G - God

U - unveils

S - something

T - tangible

I think that's a really good way to pray!  I'm asking for some specific, tangible answers to prayer in the coming days of August.

"Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.  Keep on seeking, and you will find.  Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you."  Matthew 7:7

"Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress.  He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed."  Psalm 107:28-30

As I've been so low physically that it seems hard to even reach out to the Lord,  I have read in my devotional that just the effort of reaching out to Him, even in weakness, pleases Him.  And, wonder of wonders, He will always be found by us when we reach out to Him, no matter how weak we are! Thank you Lord.

" 'You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,' declares the Lord."  Jeremiah 29:13, 14

Our Unexpected Journey

Floyd is doing well.  He's at peace, and the phlegm/congestion he struggles with hasn't been bad. 

As we pray for miracles still, I've had the marvelous thought that I've had a "miracle" in how God has carried me over these many months and through the various trials.  He has been so faithful.  When I look back, it's amazing all that He has brought me through!

Last week I quoted Corrie ten Boom:  "if God sends us on stony paths, He provides us with strong shoes."  Someone sent me this verse from Job 29:6 in response:

"When my path was drenched with cream, and the rock poured out for me streams of olive oil."

I've been grateful that He is pouring forth the balm I need on this new path and journey.  It hasn't been the most difficult few days after the chemo treatment that it could be, but still lots of nausea, shakes, weakness, racing heart, hot/cold flushes, and difficulty eating.  One thing that is particularly bad is the neuropathy in my feet.  I really need prayer for all these things and am so grateful to know that so many are lifting Floyd and I up in prayer.

I read a quote this week - "Trust is not a once-in-a-lifetime decision, but a choice made within each moment."  I am choosing that trust in Almighty God each moment - knowing that He can keep carrying me on this rocky path even as He's done in the past!

"Lift up your eyes to the heavens....My salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail."  Isaiah 51:6

How awesome and faithful He is! 

Hard to believe we're almost 2/3 of the way through this year already.  It has flown by!  I'm actually hoping the next 6 months of chemo treatment fly by for me.

A friend wrote me recently about the passage in Mark 9:49 where Jesus says,  "Everyone will be salted with fire."  He said it occurred to him that the fiery trials we go through actually make us more "salty" and ultimately more effective for the Kingdom.

I'm trying to come through this chemo fire more "salty" and closer to Him.  Trusting God to help me in these days when the fire is raging.

"I pray that out of His glorious riches He may  strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith."  Ephesians 3:16,17

"Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord."  Psalm 31:24

"We should hold fast to the confession of our hope, unwavering; for the One having promised is faithful."  Hebrews 10:23

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it."  John 1:5

The truth, strength, and promises of His word are without measure!  We have solid ground to stand on while the fires rage around us.

"God's story never ends in ashes."  Elizabeth Elliott.  I don't know what's still ahead on this unexpected journey with it's "fires," but I know God has beautiful things in store for us.

Our Unexpected Journey

This past week a friend from our Amsterdam days flew in to visit Floyd and me.  It was so nice to see her!  She visited Floyd too.  She's a musician, so she sang a number of songs that Floyd would have been familiar with.  It was a sweet, tender, and emotional time.  A YWAM leader joined them, and thanked Floyd for his life and ministry.  Floyd actually sobbed through some of the visit, but I'm sure it would have been encouraging for him too.

I keep thinking how grateful I am for our "family" around the world.  The love, prayers, and encouragements during this journey have been such a support.

In the last few days before starting my new chemo on Tuesday, I continued to try and build strength and energy.  And I continued to declare my trust in the Lord for courage to face this new season.  It's been a long journey.  I find myself weary at times, but I know God has fresh reserves to help me along!

"Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid; for the Lord your God, He is the one who goes with you.  He will not leave you nor forsake you."  Deuteronomy 31:6

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."  Matthew 11:28,29

I had a sweet and tender visit with Floyd last weekend.  He had lots of smiles......and a few tears - especially when I shared family news or greetings/news from good friends.  I told him about my chemo coming up, and that I might not be able to visit for a while.  He repeatedly reached out his left hand to touch me and hold my hand.  That was so very special.

Many people send responses to the prayer updates that I write. The kind, encouraging words are always a blessing.  I'd love to respond to each one, but I just don't have the energy to do that.  I read them, I savor them, and I'm blessed by them.  I'm often reminded of Proverbs 12:25 as I read them: 

"Anxiety in a person's heart weighs him down, but an encouraging word brings him joy (cheers it up)."  

All the sweet messages bring joy and cheer me up!  :)

As I re-read a lot of them before I started my chemo on Tuesday, they were so encouraging to me.  I think we sometimes forget how powerful words can be!  I've truly been strengthened by these messages.  They have brought fresh grace and courage.  They've been as "manna" to my soul.

I read a quote from Corrie ten Boom:  

"If God sends us on stony paths, He provides us with strong shoes."  

I "put my boots on" and was ready to wade into battle this week as I started the new chemo.  This new chemo is a harder one than what I've had previously and I'm trusting God to walk before me each step of the way. 

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us..."  Ephesians 3:20

"The Lord watches over you - the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.  The Lord will keep you from all harm - He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore."  Psalm 121:5

"Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens."  Psalm 68:19

I was very grateful to the Lord that my new chemo day went smoothly on Tuesday.  I'm home now for the four week recovery time until the next round of chemo.

I was reminded in one of my devotionals this week that God is as near as a whispered prayer.  I have sensed His closeness and I’m so thankful!

"The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth."  Psalm 145:18

"I will never leave you nor forsake you."  Joshua 1:5

Our Unexpected Journey

This last Saturday was a special day.  I was finally able to go see Floyd after a gap of many weeks as I've recovered from surgery.  I've endured a weakness so great from all the complications from the surgery that I wondered if I would ever recover from it.  Thankfully I'm on the other side of that, and regaining strength. 

Floyd looked good.  His coloring was good, his eyes were clear, he didn't have any coughing - and he smiled from the moment I walked in his room.  What a joy it was to see that smile!  The visit was emotional for me - more than I had even anticipated, but it was so good to see him.

Even though it's very belated, I wanted to celebrate our 50th anniversary with him.  I made a little poster to hang on his photo wall.  I talked about our years together, and then I prayed and committed us afresh to the Lord.  Floyd closed his eyes when I started praying, and then he teared up.

Several times he had long blinks of his eyes in seeming agreement to things I said.  I had a couple songs I wanted to sing to him - he cried all the way through them.

It was a tender, sweet time.  There were times during the last 17 months when I wondered if we would make it to our 50th anniversary.  Thankfully we did, and I'm so glad to have finally been able to share it with him.

"The Lord's unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in Him."  Psalm 32:10

"My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.  He will not let your foot slip - He who watches over you will not slumber."  Psalm 121:2, 3

Only God knows what's ahead, but I was grateful to recount with Floyd God's wonderful faithfulness to us over our 50 years together.  God has been so good to us!

Next Tuesday I start the new chemo.  I have been dreading this - especially in light of the fact that on the original treatment I would be finishing this week......and now I have to start all over again.  It's a longer treatment.  I'll be on it for 6 months.  And because it's a new one, I don't know what to expect, or how it will impact me, and what side effects I'll have.

So, in the midst of my dreading all this, the Lord spoke to me a couple weeks ago.  In fact, He used my own words to speak to me. :)  

Some years ago I did a teaching on "Growing Through Times of Difficulty and Weakness."  During the difficult times we can grow, or we can actually go backwards in our spiritual walk - depending on our responses to the hard situations.

One of the things I've learned is that we need to "embrace" the difficulty, be it small or large.  It's a choice we can make in regard to how we respond in our hearts.  The temptation is to pretend it's not there, to ignore it, or to just hope it'll go away.  But if we do these things, if we're not honest and open about it, we miss what God intends, and we miss the love and support of people's prayers.

We can also choose to draw on our own strength and reserves - or even "fake it" - but that only takes us so far.  Pretty soon our strength is gone, and the situation is usually harder by then.

We can, alternately, choose to focus our attention on another area of our life rather than the one that is staring us in the face.  I love a quote from Floyd's book Holiness and the Spirit of the Age in regard to this option.

"Humility releases us from hiding and pretending to be something we are not.  It allows us to be known for who we really are.  A superficial world encourages us to cover our weaknesses.  Humility and godliness sets us free from this kind of thinking."

Growing through the hard times means not giving up.  Not accepting problems, difficulties, and setbacks as irreversible.  Failure and difficulties are often the back door to success.  Whatever it is, we need to pick up the pieces and begin again.  We serve a God of infinite new beginnings. There is nothing in our lives that hasn't been filtered through the protective hands of God.  Romans 8:31-39  If He has allowed something to come our way, He intends to use it for good in our lives.

So - my very teaching reminded me that my response to the new chemo was not the right one.  While "dreading" it may be a normal, human instinct - I needed to "embrace" what is coming, and look to God for His grace and strength.  I cried, thanked the Lord for reminding me of this important principle, and started all over in my heart attitude in regards to what is ahead.

Amazingly, wonderfully, the heaviness lifted when I did this.  No, I'm not looking forward to it!!  But I've "embraced" what God has allowed, and I am confident His faithfulness will continue with me as I walk through this new season.

"Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me."  Psalm 54:4

"Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you.  I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you."  Isaiah 46:4

"As for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me."  Micah 7:7

"The Lord gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."  Isaiah 40:29-31

I feel weak and weary, but as I embrace what is ahead, I'm also calling on the promises of His Word for my help and strength.  He is good and faithful!  And He hasn't failed me yet!!

Our Unexpected Journey

 

 

Floyd's week has gone smoothly.  His eyes continue to be irritated/infected off and on but on the whole he seems peaceful.  I love that he always has smiles - even on the days that seem harder for him.  He continues to be alert and responsive with the carers that go to be with him.

One reportback from a carer that particularly touched me this week… The carer explained he was facing some decisions and asked that Floyd would be praying for him.  Floyd reached out his hand to the carer, closed his eyes, and began making some sounds that the carer interpreted as prayers!  The carer said it was a very special experience.

We've also been sensing though, that as his awareness grows, it is sometimes hard for him to face his situation.  We are feeling to pray for increased grace, ministering angels, and the sweet comfort of the Holy Spirit for him.

Recovering from my 3 rounds of chemo, the large and small surgeries and the complications that came - well, it's been a "battle."  I have been diligently working on rebuilding energy and strength.  It has been challenging and "fought" for!  

The weather has turned quite cold - probably because the wind that has been blowing makes it feel so much colder.  It's been too cold for me to do my deck walking to build my strength, but I want exercise - so I have been walking "loops" inside the house!

This week as I walked, I looked out to the ocean.  The water was rough because of the wind - lots of bouncing white caps.  There were a number of windsurfers out enjoying all this.  I watched them skimming along the top of all the rough water.  As I watched this, I felt the Lord speak into my heart that His grace is like what I was seeing.  His grace enables us to skim along the top of the "rough water" of life!  He keeps us afloat in the choppiness of all the things that come our way.  That is such a wonderful gift and blessing!

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  Philippians 4:13

"As for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me."  Micah 7:7

"Let (God) have all your worries and cares, for He is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you."  1 Peter 5:7 TLB

"The Lord, He is the One who goes before you.  He will be with you.  He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear not be dismayed."  Deuteronomy 31:8

In my weak moments when I lean into Him, I'm so glad that He's "got" me and that He's carrying me (and you) over the rough water.  How faithful He is!

One of the things I'm also so grateful for is that the Lord takes us on difficult paths at a "pace" that we can handle.  Now, granted, some days I wasn't so sure I could handle it!  I wondered if it was too much.  But God knows us, and promises to not give us more than we can handle.  And He gives us the courage to keep up with the pace.

"Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage!  It is I.  Don't be afraid."  Matthew 14:2 

"The Lord is with you, He is mighty to save."  Zephaniah 3:17

And a second thing I'm so grateful for is that He's a God who is involved in the details of our lives!  He doesn't leave us to toddle along on our own.  He's right with us in every single detail.  I've seen it over and over and over again - not just on this unexpected journey, but in all the 50 years that Floyd and I have been involved in ministry.  God's involvement in the details keeps me from feeling I'm alone on this journey.

"The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love."  Psalm 33:18

"I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand."  Psalm 73:23

His faithfulness is firm and secure.  As I hold on to Him, I won't get blown about by the hard things that come along!  My heart praises Him. 

Our Unexpected Journey

Floyd's days have been quiet.  He's had more time on his own, but he seems to be at peace.  We continue to pray for angels to keep him company.  When the carers have been with him he's alert, and responds in various ways.  Many of the carers have been praying for his voice to be released.  They often feel like he wants to say something.  One of the carers told him she was praying that he would be able to speak a word that God has given him for the Body of Christ, and Floyd started staring at the ceiling like he was seeing something there.  There's no way to know what he has on his heart.  I wish we could see through his eyes!

Meanwhile my recovery from the 2 recent surgeries has been up and down.  Earlier this week I found it challenging just to make it through each day.  At night, when I was trying to get to sleep - I often lay in bed talking to the Lord.  I either offered up petitions of our needs, or I lifted up praise and thanks to Him for His sustaining grace.

In the quietness of the night, I often listen to the ocean.  One night it seemed to be "roaring" especially loud......and it kept roaring for hours, much longer than normal.  A poem began to form in my thoughts.

The Ocean's Roar

The ocean is so loud tonight -

I can clearly hear it roar.

It sounds like someone’s crying out

From the deep, deep ocean floor.

Is that a cry for help I hear?

Or a moan of someone’s pain?

Or is it voices crying out

For our much needed rain?

It seems to go on endlessly, 

Roaring loudly into the night.

I wonder if it will continue to roar

Until the morning’s light.

The closer I listen, and

The more I try to understand -

The more it seems I hear the words

And can tell what is being planned.

It seems as if the prayers and pleas

Are mixed with glorious praise.

The ocean floor is flooding up

It’s voice in harmony raised.

Nature cries out from the deepest deep

To worship our wonderful Lord.

As we join in, our voices raised,

We blend in one accord!

  

“Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:  ‘To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!’   Revelations 5:13

“Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths.”  Psalm 148:7

As the poem formed in my mind - I felt as if I was joining with creation in praying and praising our heavenly King.  It was a mighty chorus!

I've had some "good" days now so I'm hoping I've turned a corner!  I had my post surgery check up with my main surgeon on Monday.  He feels that, in spite of some bumps along the way in recovery, I'm doing well.  He also told me again how pleased he was with my big surgery, and that he thinks my prognosis is good.  I was encouraged by his positivity, and told him that lots of people are praying for me.

I've often wondered what God's plan is for me on this long unexpected journey - His "assignment" so to speak.  All I've known to do is to trust Him, and to be as faithful as I can with each difficult thing, each test, that comes along.

Because the Word exhorts us to be content in every situation, I've also tried to be "content" on this journey.  I must say that that is easier said than done.  In all honesty, I just want it to be over!  And yet it's not.  The 6 weeks of recovery from my 2 surgeries have been challenging, very hard!  They have been some of the hardest days of this whole journey.  I've been very weak, so my activities have been limited......which, translated, means lots of time to think!

It's easy to look backwards and long for things we've had before.  Or I can dream about what might be ahead.  And yet I find my heart being challenged that He is sufficient right here, right now.  It's only in the present, right here today, that I can "learn to be content."  I'm trying my best to do that.  Some days it's been easy - some days it's harder than hard.  But in each day I sense His grace, His help, His love.......and His hope for the future.

The situations we find ourselves in aren't mistakes - God has allowed them.  And, therefore, He has good for us in the midst of them.  I'm looking for the good, the "gold," in every twist and turn of this unexpected journey.  God is helping me to find it!  He is so faithful.

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."  Philippians 4:12

"Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him."  1 Corinthians 7:17

One early morning this week I found myself singing the song "surely the Lord is in this place."  Such a profound truth - He is with me, with Floyd, with our family on each step of this journey.  And He's with you on your journey too!  

Our Unexpected Journey

Floyd has had some special times with carers this week.  He is attentive, responsive, sometimes emotional, peaceful, sharing his sweet smiles, and generally calm and at rest.  The last few days he has been free of the chest congestion, which is so wonderful.

The last few weeks for me have been hard.  Pain, weakness, and nausea after the big surgery - and my body wanting to reject the stent that had been inserted.  I wondered how I would make it to July 10th when my surgery to remove the stent was set.  But, I’m so grateful to the Lord that when I called the urologist to ask him if he'd consider moving my surgery date sooner he said yes!  I had been praying for him to have wisdom to know the right thing to do. 

So, I had my surgery on Monday and am so grateful that it all went well, and my body can now recover and strengthen before I start chemo late July. 

During these past hard weeks I often struggled to just make it through the long days.  I frequently called out to the Lord to help me.

I experienced what I started calling "kisses of grace."  There weren't huge things that happened that helped me make it.......there were just "little touches" from Him that helped me keep going.  Little "kisses" - feather light, but noticeable......just enough to keep me moving forward.  A verse, a song, a thought, a note from a friend, a phrase in a book, a sense of His closeness, a prayer - simple, every day things that ministered His sweet grace.

We so often look for the big answers to prayer.  During these hard weeks, I've been so grateful for the little kisses, little answers that have been "sufficient."  How faithful He is!

"But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' "  2 Corinthians 12:9

"He gives us more grace."  James 4:6

When we call out to Him, He will never leave us without what we need.  But His answers may certainly look different than what we expected.  I'm so grateful for His little kisses of grace that were just what I needed on the hard days.

In recent days I've heard of 3 groups of prisoners who read our prayer updates and pray regularly for us.  I was so touched and blessed by that.  I'm always amazed at where the prayer updates go, and so very grateful for all the prayers.

I continue to think that God has plans and purposes for this journey we're on beyond what we see and understand.  I'm sure that persevering prayer is part of that, so it touches my heart when I hear of both friends and complete strangers that lift us to the throne.  Only the Holy Spirit can encourage that breadth of prayer!

I have been blessed by a song that came out with the movie "The Shack."  The song is "Keep Your Eyes on Me."  It has echoed through my mind during these days when I've been so weak.  In my weak and painful moments, Jesus has helped me to keep my eyes on Him and His goodness. 

"I keep my eyes always on the Lord.  With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken."  Psalm 16:8

"Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in.  Study how He did it.  Because He never lost sight of where He was headed - that exhilarating finish in and with God - He could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever.  And now He's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God."  Hebrews 12:2  (The Message)

My body has been weak, but my heart, my "eyes," are constantly on Him.  He is so good and so faithful.

Our Unexpected Journey

This past week Floyd has been resting, peaceful, and seems to be deep in thought at times.  I hope someday we can find out what's been going on in his mind and heart all these months.  

One day the carer with him suggested they pray.  Floyd reached out and took his hand, and closed his eyes - all ready!  I love his clear, purposeful responses.  Some days are better than others.

Another day the carer told him she was going to see me.  She asked if Floyd wanted to send his love.  He gave her a huge smile.  :)  My heart was so warmed to hear that!!

On my side I've had a rough week.  I’ve had to make two trips to the Emergency Room.  On these cold wintery nights that is something I could have done without!  I have been very weak, nauseous and in pain.  Stuggling to eat.  On these difficult days I cry out to the Lord for fresh strength and courage.  He has faithfully helped me all these months.    

"Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."  Joshua 1:9

I'm trusting Him to be with me in a fresh way in Cape Town!

Sarah Young says that "the longer you wait for your prayers to be answered, the closer you are to a breakthrough."  I'm waiting for those breakthroughs!!  It seems like we've been praying for a long time.  And He is the worker of the impossible.

"Jesus looked at them and said to them, 'With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.' "  Matthew 19:26

I don't have very many dreams - or, if I do, I very rarely remember them. When I do remember them, there's usually a purpose.  And in all the long months of this unexpected journey, I've dreamed about Floyd only a handful of times.

Last week I woke up from a dream that Floyd and I were both in.  As I woke up, I remembered the dream in great clarity - and was thinking back through all the details.  I started praying, and had a sense I should share it.  In some ways, it's a strange dream for this journey - and, in other ways, it's a perfect one.

Floyd and I were both speaking at a conference.  The theme was "God's Love and Acceptance."  We were each going to share, but before we did that - we all had a project to do, an "application" so to speak.  We had white cloth aprons and bright colored permanent marker pens.  We were to decorate the aprons with all the ways we had personally experienced God's love and acceptance - then we were going to wear them at the meal afterwards and talk about what we had drawn.

While we were doing this, I began to hear some whispering.  I realized that some people were talking about one of the other speakers at the conference.  There was something they didn't like about him, and they were saying it was wrong.  The whispering spread, increased in volume, and finally about half of the crowd got up and walked out.  All this happened while we were expressing our gratitude to God for His love and acceptance with the drawings on our aprons.

I remember feeling shocked and grieved.  It felt like such a contradiction to the theme of the conference - and, it turned out, that what they were whispering about was completely untrue.  I had such a sense of God's sadness with His people.

A few minutes later, I got up to share.  I was still feeling the emotions of what had just happened, and I was nervous.  But as I spoke, I felt God poured out His heart to us.  Here are the points He gave me to share in that message at the conference in my dream:

  • God loves us when we're strong/and when we're weak.
  • God loves us when we're right/and when we're wrong.
  • God loves us when we're healthy/and when we're sick.
  • God loves us when we understand what He's doing/and when we wander around in a fog clueless to what He's up to.
  • God loves us when we accomplish things for Him/and when we are stagnant and unfruitful.
  • God loves us when we bring joy to His heart/and when He is disappointed in His children.
  • God loves us when we are confident in Him/and when we're so insecure that we can hardly make it through the day.
  • God loves us when we're courageous/and when we have not an ounce of courage in our hearts - maybe even turning our back on Him.
  • God loves us when we joyfully accept His will/and when we complain and whine about what He has us walk through.
  • God loves us when we faithfully intercede for the things on His heart/and when we're so tired we don't even whisper a prayer.
  • God loves us when we boldly acknowledge Him/and when we silently pass on opportunities to give Him glory.

The bottom line - God loves, loves, loves us and always accepts us even when we fail and disappoint Him.  His love is unceasing.  It was so clear that He loved all of us in the dream - including the ones who walked out of the meeting in their whispering and slander.  He loved them even though they were wrong.

I had such a strong conviction that God wanted to remind me - and all of us - that His love never ends!  Thank goodness!  Without that, I'd be lost. Whatever "journey" we're on, His love is constantly being poured out to us.

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in Him.' "  Lamentations 3:22-24

"Praise the Lord!  He is good.  God's love never fails."  Psalm 136:1

"God loves you more in a moment than anyone could in a lifetime." (anonymous)

I'm grateful for His love!

Our Unexpected Journey

Last Friday was a very special day for Floyd and me!  A day we've thought about, dreamed about, and even made some plans for.  But the way things are is not how we thought and planned.

Friday was our 50th wedding anniversary!  That's a lot of years.  I am so grateful for all these years with my gentle giant, my best friend in life.  I couldn't have asked for a better partner for the journey of our marriage.

With our current situations, I was not even able to see Floyd. That was very sad to me!  But I'm just too weak.  I'll go see him in a while when I'm stronger.  I want to "celebrate" by being with him and praying for our future.

Two years ago when we were in the U.S., Floyd had what my mom would have called a "bee in his bonnet."  He was on a mission to buy me a gift for our 50th anniversary......which, remember, was still 2 years away.  I think he may have thought that if anything happened to me - he wanted to have given me this gift.  He'd been thinking about it and saving for it for years.

Never would we have dreamed of all that has happened - and that it would be his life that has hung in the balance for so long!  But, clearly, the mission he was on to give me an early gift must have been placed in his heart by the Lord.

It was so very special to me that I had a gift from my sweetheart for our special day!  He thought and planned ahead......with no knowledge of what would happen.  I'm so touched by all this.

Paul Young, author of "The Shack," says that "love always leaves a significant mark."  Floyd has made a huge "mark" in my life!  I wouldn't be who I am today without him.

"Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'?  So they are no longer two, but one flesh.  Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate."  Matthew 19:4-6

We're separated by a number of miles right now - Floyd in the hospital and I'm at home - but we are "one."  Nothing can change that!  I rejoice in my oneness with Floyd for 50 years!  How good God has been to us!

Unfortunately Floyd has been miserable these last few days with increasing phlegm and eye irritation.  He did have a lovely visit with 2 prayer warriors though.  It was a precious time of sharing reports, singing, reading the Word, crying - sweet presence of the Lord!  I'm so grateful when I get reports like this from the carers that visit with Floyd.

I have had a hard recovery from surgery.  Feeling weak and in pain and ending up in the Emergency Room at the hospital for a few hours on Sunday night with an infection : ( 

In between procedures in the Emergency Room, I was looking at messages on my phone.  I received this scripture from a friend - she didn't know what was happening:

Psalm 68:19,20.NAS  "Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden-the God who is our salvation.  God is to us a God of deliverances.  And to God belong escapes from death."

I felt God was reminding me that He was watching out for me.

Another dear intercessor friend has had a sense that I would be facing a new level of challenge.  She was praying for me on the weekend when I was at my lowest physically.  I'm so encouraged at how the Lord reminds me that He's taking care of me, prompts people to pray, and speaks encouragement to my heart from the Word.

I feel weak, but also feel He keeps challenging me to find fresh courage in Him.  I'm leaning into Him for that courage.

"Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."  Joshua 1:9

I couldn't make it on my own strength and abilities, but He IS faithful!

Another hard thing this week is that I found out I need another surgery in a few weeks.  It’s a follow on from the surgery I already had but that hadn't been explained to me before.  It's only a "day ward" surgery, but it's general anesthesia.  It was disheartening to hear that.  The things that keep happening seem endless at times.  The restarting of chemo will have to be pushed back.

I took a little while to let my heart settle, and then I needed to go to the Lord again about all this.  Thankfully He's never surprised by things.  This was one of those times when I needed to cry out "God help me!".

As I’m in bed most of the time, it's given me lots of time to talk to the Lord!  A clear thought has been that we can't control all that happens to us, but something we can depend on is the Lord's peace within us!  What a precious gift that is.

I've been pondering that there seem to be 2 things that stay "constant" when we ask for His help.  As soon as I cry out "God help me," I also ask for His peace (which passes understanding).  And right behind these comes a spontaneous thankfulness in my heart.  I don't even have to stop and choose it - it flows from a peaceful heart.

Even when I get overwhelmed - when I don't understand some things - when I think "enough!" - God comes through in His faithfulness.  I have to confess that I'm tired of all this.  My body is weak and weary.  So I find it really important to be honest and open in my prayers to Him.  Keeping things bottled up opens the door to fear and confusion.  But if I openly pour out my heart to Him, He can meet me.  He's done that each day!  He's not thrown off by our vulnerable, honest hearts.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:6, 7

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.  And be thankful!"  Colossians 3:15

I’m so thankful for His faithfulness!

Our Unexpected Journey

Floyd continues to remain at peace.  I never take that for granted.  I'm always grateful - and receive it as an answer to prayer.

He's had some quiet times with carers recently, and some very special animated, active times.  This past week was lovely when the 3 McClung Sr. siblings were all together - Floyd Jr., Alan, and Judy.  Jim, Judy's husband, was there too.  The last time they were all together was right before Floyd's emergency surgery in March 2016.  The family gathered around his bed and committed him to the Lord.  The doctors didn't expect him to even survive the surgery.  Instead, when they operated, they couldn't find what had shown up on the scans.  It's amazing that Floyd is still with us 15 months later!

As for me, the surgeon is confident he got all the cancer.  All that may be left is microscopic bits that the human eye can't see and now we need to let chemo do its part.  He said with that - I should have another 35 good years ahead of me.  I was encouraged by his strength of conviction.  I know my times are in the Lord's hands, but it's nice to hear the surgeon speak with such assurance of all that I've just been through.

Through my whole stay in hospital over the weekend, I felt "carried" by the Lord. I sensed His closeness, His help, His grace, His healing, His sweet presence - I'm sure much of that is a result of all the wonderful prayers covering me and Floyd!

As I was getting ready for my surgery last week, one of my friends was encouraging me that he sees courage in me.  His definition of courage is the God-given ability to face suffering without backing away.  There are days when I feel courageous.  And there are days when I feel weak.  I don't think I've looked upon myself as being especially courageous.  As I said in a recent update - I'm persistent. :) But that's not the same thing.

I'm grateful on this journey that, for the most part, God has protected me from fear.  In spite of all the hard things that have happened in the last 15 months, I think I could probably count on one hand the times I've had moments of fear.  God has always met me - they didn't last long.  I'm so, so grateful that I've not had fear hanging over me like a cloud of doom.

Recently, during some of the hard days with chemo, I had heavy feelings of loneliness - even when I had people right with me.  I wasn't alone!  It felt like the enemy was trying to weigh me down with it - create something that wasn't true.  I shared it with some friends who met to pray with me.  And that broke it - it didn't happen again.

It reminded me that when we bring things "into the light," it breaks any power the enemy has over whatever it is that he is trying to discourage us with.  Maybe that's a key to having courage too - walking in the light!  

I couldn't have made it through all these months without sharing my heart, my needs with close friends and asking for their prayers.  Their love and support have helped carry me.  Sharing what I'm going through - bringing it into the light - has freed me from heavy weights.  Perhaps it's made room for God to deposit courage in my heart too.

Even though I haven't had many moments of fear - I've had countless times when I've cried out "God help me."  I've learned when I feel weak that that should be my first response.  And - faithful God that He is - He always meets me when I pray that simple phrase.  He has helped me!!  Over and over and over again.

This past week when I got the news that my situation had worsened with the tumor growing and the chemo not being effective - for the rest of the day I cried out "God you'll have to help me.  I can't do this alone."  At one point I actually felt nauseous from the thoughts of what may be ahead.  I sat down and cried out to God - and it all lifted.  Trust rushed back in.  Joy returned to my heart.  Peace was restored.  In an instant - as He lifted the weight and helped me.

I think the simple prayer - "God help me" - may be some of the most powerful words we can pray!  We don't have to dress it up with lots of words.  He hears the simplicity of the cry of our heart.  He answers that heartfelt prayer!

And I'm grateful that, even though I may not be aware of it, He deposits courage in my heart.  Thank you Lord!

"Be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord." Psalm 31:24

"Be strong and courageous.....do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you.  He will not fail you or forsake you."  1 Chronicles 28:20

"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong." 1 Corinthians 16:13

"For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, 'Do not fear; I will help you.' " Isaiah 41:13

I'm grateful that He is always strong and courageous, and He can give me strength and courage when I need it.  He will help me.  And He's always holding my right hand.  What a faithful God!

Our Unexpected Journey

Floyd has been doing well.  He's been responsive - he even seemed to respond to a joke one of the carers told.  The therapists and nurses have been busy with lots of care, so he tends to rest and sleep in between.  Then he'll wake up and be attentive to the carers.  I'm very grateful that his days have been peaceful.

We're coming up to the 15 month mark on this unexpected journey we've been on.  One of my personal "goals" during this time has been to not waver in my trust in God - knowing that He is always good, always faithful, and that His grace is sufficient for anything He allows into our lives.  It's not been hard to keep that trust alive at all!  In fact, the more I stated my trust in Him, the easier it seemed to be to trust Him - kind of like a big circle.

One of the things that has been a blessing......and something that I didn't quite anticipate......is the "fruit" of trusting in Him.  As I've firmly put my trust in Him, I have been surrounded by joy and a deep sense of praise and worship.  At times the joy has been so abundant that it almost didn't seem in keeping with the heaviness of what I was walking through - and yet it was there!  Joy unspeakable!!  I've felt carried at times on a wave of joy.  It flows out in songs of spontaneous praise from my heart.

In the natural it doesn't make sense at all to be feeling joy during such an incredibly difficult time.  I've received it as a sweet gift from the Father as I tuck myself in close to Him and continually tell Him how much I trust Him.

There are so many "ways of the Kingdom" that are different from how normal life is.  This has been a special one for me.  A few weeks ago I read something in a devotional that brought this to my attention again.  I've been pondering it, and wanted to share it with you.  I'm so grateful for the undergirding of joy that He has given me.  It's a sweet foundation stone on the highway of this journey.

Thank you Lord!  Your ways are such a blessing to us.  When we trust you wholeheartedly, it releases so much sweet "fruit" into our lives - even in the midst of very, very hard times.

"Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge."  Psalm 62:8

"Commit everything you do to the Lord.  Trust Him, and He will help you."  Psalm 37:5

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trails of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance."  James 1:2,3

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him."  Romans 15:13

"Have mercy on me, God, have mercy, for in you I have placed my trust. Even in the shadow of your wings will I find my refuge until this calamity passes."  Psalm 57:1

I trust in Him - He releases His joy into my life - and in His wonderful refuge I can be safe until "this calamity passes."

How faithful, sure, and true He is!

Whenever I'm going through a hard time, I pour out my heart in prayer to the Lord.  Those prayers become hopes that I'm lifting up to the Lord.  The hopes are almost like balloons floating in the sky - drifting up to God, waiting for Him to answer.  

When bad news comes, it's like someone sticking a pin in one of those balloons and bursting it.  At least - it feels like that.

If I've learned anything on this journey, it's that it is so very important to take that burst balloon immediately to the Lord.  He's not shaken by bad news.  He doesn't see the burst balloon as "the end."  In fact, often it's part of the process of what He's doing.  He's the restorer of the burst balloon.

When I'm going through a hard time, my emotions are more vulnerable.  At times they feel raw and tender from the intensity of this journey.  Again, I've learned that I must take those vulnerable emotions to Him, especially when they involve a burst balloon of hope, and ask for His sweet covering over them.

I truly didn't expect the bad news about my tumor growing that I got last week.  I had been praying for the tumor to shrink.  I was surprised that it was the exact opposite.  It felt like my balloon - my "hope" balloon - had been burst.

As soon as I could get alone with the Lord, I talked to Him about all this.  He lifted the weight of that burst balloon, and restored peace.  How grateful I am for that.

Sarah Young in one of her devotionals says "hope is a way of seeing - a type of vision that defeats discouragement."  I've been choosing to walk in that "way of seeing."

I find my hope in Him, and I know He's taking care of me and of Floyd.  I wait with hope to see what He intends to do.

"Why are you in despair, O my soul?  And why have you become disturbed within me?  Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him."  Psalm 42:5

I love how again and again in the Psalms, David says "I shall again praise Him."  He's honest.  He's struggling.  But He knows where he's headed in the midst of his hard time.  He's confident that he's going to praise God again - he just needs to work through his discouragement.  But he declares in faith how he's going to end up as he works things through.  His example is a good one to follow when we face hard times.

"I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His word I put my hope."  Psalm 130:5

"But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me."  Micah 7:7

"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."  Isaiah 40:31

"Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord."  Psalm 31:24

"The Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love."  Psalm 147:11

" 'For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' "  Jeremiah 29:11

I love how the Word speaks so very clearly into the things we are walking through in our lives.  I take courage from the Word!

Our Unexpected Journey

My big gift this past weekend was I got to go see Floyd!  I hadn't seen him in almost 10 weeks, so it was very special.  I think I looked very different to him with a cap on my bald head and a mask that the Dr. required me to wear.  Floyd stared and stared at me!! :)

He looks so much better than when I last saw him.  I think with not being there all the time, I could see the changes.  His coloring is good.  His eyes are bright and alert.  He seemed to be moving more - his head and arm.  He was much more attentive.  It's hard to describe, but he just looked more like himself.

So many of the carers have mentioned that it seems like Floyd wants to say something to them.  I so wish he could do that!  They've also said that if they look at their phone - he'll tap their chest to get their attention. :)  He doesn't want them distracted.

"The people of Benjamin are loved by the Lord and live in safety beside Him.  He surrounds them continuously and preserves them from every harm."  Deuteronomy 33:12  

Other versions say "the one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders."

On days when I'm weak, I sometimes visualize myself being carried by the Lord on His shoulders......knowing He preserves me from harm.

"Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that hovers over its young, He spread His wings and caught them.  He carried them on His pinions."  Deuteronomy 32:11

When baby eagles are learning to fly, the mother "hovers" over them. When they're falling, before they learn their flying skills, she'll catch them and take them back to the safety of the nest.

God does that for us too.  There are times when we feel like we're falling. We don't know how to "fly" in the difficult situation we're in.  But God catches us!  He has faithfully "caught" me through so many difficult things on this unexpected journey.  He has never once, never ever once, let me fall.  There have been some frightening moments when I felt like I was falling, but God graciously caught me - put me back on a solid rock and steadied me.  The knowledge of that gives me such security.  He is always, always, always faithful - and good!

This Tuesday was my chemo day.  I start the chemo day each time with an appt. with my oncologist.  She immediately informed me today that the results of the CT scan I did last Fri. were not good.

The tumor has continued to grow.  It seems to be a fast growing tumor - much like 3 years ago.  The growth means that it is resistant to the kind of chemo I've been having as the chemo is not working.  I will need to switch to a different chemo.  Surgery may also been an option, and I'll need to do some new tests.  

Obviously I'm disappointed!  I was surprised by the results since the chemo seemed to help previously.  It looks like I'm still on the "one-day-at-a-time" journey to see what's ahead.  As one friend said, "the roller coaster continues!"

I read this verse a few days ago.  "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

We so often pray and seek "God's will" for situations in our life.  When I read this verse, I thought to myself - this is a "guidance trio."  For whatever we face, this is such a wonderful guideline for how to respond.

It was helpful to remember this as I got my news today!  As I committed it all to the Lord, I also heard His sweet voice remind me to keep my focus on Him and keep trusting Him.  My heart is responding with joy, prayer, thankfulness, and trust.

After this unexpected news, I've been processing a lot with the Lord.  I love how the Word speaks to my heart, and how His Spirit brings such comfort.  He is so faithful and knows just what we need!

"For everyone who keeps on asking (persistently), receives; and he who keeps on seeking (persistently), finds; and to him who keeps on knocking (persistently), the door will be opened."  Luke 11:10 Amplified

"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us..."  Ephesians 3:20

" 'I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,' declares the Lord."  Jeremiah 30:17

To those who know me, you'll know that I'm "persistent."  I don't give up on things.  So I am going to continue to persistently ask/seek/knock.  I can do this because God so wonderfully answers exceedingly and abundantly.  And I'm trusting that He will restore both Floyd and I to health - either here or with Him in heaven.  I know He has a plan.  I know He is 100% trustworthy.  I'm pressing in to Him for His plan.