He Speaks - We Worship

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I'm always blessed when I'm with Floyd and he seems to be doing well.  It lightens the heaviness on my heart for him.  But the reality is that he seems to have good days, and not so good days continually!  It's like a pendulum swinging back and forth!  

He tends to lie still most of the time, but the other day one of the therapists said he was quite "animated."  Translation - he didn't like the therapy, so he tried to elbow her. :)  I was glad to see he had some spunk!  As always, I commit him into God's loving care and His plans for him.

Over the last few years as we've gone through all the various trials, I have read through the book of Job on a number of occasions.  Job faced losses and trials in a way that few ever have - and yet his heart remained turned fully to God.  I've wanted to learn from his example.  I've hoped to find keys to help me get through the things I'm facing as I've read through his situation.  In recent days, one verse in particular has stood out to me afresh. 

In the first chapter, Job receives one messenger after another telling him that everything he had is lost - his 7000 sheep, his 3000 camels, his 500 yokes of oxen, his 500 donkeys, his 10 children, and even his servants.....except for the few who survived to come tell him of each loss.  From the narrative, it seems that it all happened in one day as one servant would be speaking.....and another would come to tell of more bad news.  It was quite a massive blow!  He may have been the richest man on the face of the earth at that time - and suddenly it was all gone.

We know that calamities come into our lives - although not usually of this scale and scope all in one day.  But what happens next is almost unbelievable.  "At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head.  Then he fell to the ground in worship."  Job 1:20

This is the verse that has been impressed on my heart over and over again.  I haven't torn my clothes!  But I did lose all my hair with cancer treatment. :)  What I'm challenged by is that in the face of such tremendous loss.....Job worshipped!  Wow!  It's not what you think of in terms of circumstances for a good worship time.

I've found that it's easy to worship when there are answers to prayer......when the sun is shining and it's not too cold.....when the bills are all paid.....when the medical treatment is having good results.....when all the appliances keep working.....when no alarms are going off in the middle of the night.....when the rest of our family is well and healthy.....when life is going fairly smoothly.  But - turn all those things and many others along with them upside down - and worship isn't usually the first thing that comes to mind!

This is one of the "disciplines" that I've been working on learning these last few years.  I've found that it's a key to persevering and surviving.  Worship doesn't always come easily when I'm staring something terrible in the face - but it does help lift the weight and heaviness off of what I'm facing when I choose to worship!

Worship, thankfulness, and gratitude helps turn the darkest moment around.  The situation doesn't disappear - how I wish it would!  But there's something about getting my eyes on Jesus and worshipping Him in the difficulty that lifts the weight of what I'm facing from my shoulders and onto the Lord's.  Being able to proclaim in statements of worship who God is and that He never changes, and being able to "cast my burden" on Him helps give me fresh strength to keep going.

I've tried to walk in this on this unexpected journey - and God has been reminding me of it again as I face new challenges with my health, my energy, and my treatment.  I don't like these things I'm facing, but I'm choosing with Job to worship in response to them!

"Go to the Lord for help, and worship Him continually."  1 Chronicles 16:11

"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour."  Habakkuk 3:17,18

"Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendour, for everything in heaven and earth is yours.  Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all."  1 Chronicles 29:11

"Why, my soul, are you downcast?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Saviour and my God."  Psalm 42:11 

"Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker."  Psalm 95:6 

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

He is so worthy of our worship and praise - in every situation in our lives!  I know I've said it before, but it bears repeating - there is ALWAYS something to be grateful for, to worship Him for.  On the hardest day, in the most difficult situation, in every trial that comes our way - HE IS WORTHY of our praise.  "He is God and He changes not."

There are so many things that I love about the Lord!  If I made a list, it would be endless.  He is so good, so faithful, so amazing.  One of the things that would be at the top of that list is that HE SPEAKS to us.  What an incredible, precious gift that is.  The Creator of the universe speaks into our human hearts - it's hard to even believe it's possible, and yet it's so very true.

I first heard the Lord speaking into my heart as a young girl when I was about three years old - kneeling by my bed, saying my prayers, and I heard God speak into my heart.  It was an incredible treasure that I held close to me.  That began a wonderful communication that has continued over the decades.

I've heard Him speak with clarity of direction when I've sought wisdom.  I've heard Him speak words of correction when I've failed Him.  I've heard Him speak assurance when I've hesitantly stepped out in obedience to something He's said to do.  I've heard Him speak love and acceptance in moments of insecurity.  I've heard Him speak courage when my human strength has been gone.  I've heard Him speak tender words of love when my heart has been broken by something.  The list could go on and on and on of how He has spoken - the key thing is that HE SPEAKS!!  In fact, I think He longs to speak to us - but sometimes we miss His voice.

I've had people tell me they can't imagine that this is true.  I've heard sermons about this being something for olden times, but it doesn't happen now.  I've read articles by scholars who very intellectually explain why this can't happen.  But my heart knows it does.  I don't think I could have survived the last few years if it hadn't been for God wonderfully speaking love, strength, direction, and courage into my heart.  I am so very grateful that HE SPEAKS.

God speaks and out of darkness brought light.  He speaks and a 100 billion galaxies are born.  He speaks and a 100 billion failures disappear.  We see His heart in everything He says.  Oh how incredibly wonderful that HE SPEAKS!!

As I have meditated on this, I don't know how to convey the joy that has welled up in my heart in thankfulness that HE SPEAKS.  I find tears rolling down my cheeks as I tell Him how awesome it is that He speaks to my simple heart.  As the song “So Will I” by Hillsong says, "If the stars were made to worship, so will I.  If the oceans roar with greatness, so will I.  If creation sings your praises, so will I."  I see those stars at night - I hear the ocean's roar - I join with creation in thanking Him for speaking. 

"A voice came from heaven: 'You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.' "  Mark 1:11

"The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the most high resounded."  2 Samuel 22:14

"After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.  And after the fire came a gentle whisper."  1 Kings 19:12

"The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.  The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is majestic.  The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.  He makes Lebanon leap like a calf, Sirion like a young wild ox.  The voice of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning.  The voice of the Lord shakes the desert; the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh.  The voice of the Lord twists the oaks and strips the forests bare.  And in His temple all cry, 'Glory!' "  Psalm 29:3-9

"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me."  John 10:27

I thank God for speaking to me through the years of my life - and especially for speaking so wonderfully during these last few difficult years.   God often speaks to me through His creation.  The song says "every painted sky a canvas of your grace."  I will definitely think of that as I watch our beautiful sunsets.  I am so grateful that HE SPEAKS!

Asking For the Fruit of Patience

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Patience.  It's a word that's been on my mind a lot lately......because I've seemed to need to have a lot of it!  I've been facing some new challenges, needing answers to things that don't come quickly......and all I can do is be patient and walk through each challenge.  It's a simple word with 7 letters.  Seven is one of my favourite numbers.  But I'm not so fond of this thing that is 7 because I'm continually challenged by it!

Actually, I've felt I've learned a lot about patience the last few years.  But I guess it's one of those things that is a never ending area of learning.  I will think that I've learned a lot, and that I'm ready to move on......and then a whole new level of learning comes along - and I find I need more patience.

When you have to remain calm and at peace while waiting a long time for something - or when you have to deal with difficult problems that aren't solved quickly - you find out very quickly how truly patient you are - or aren't!  I've definitely seen that I have areas where I need to learn and grow more.

I've heard people say that we shouldn't pray for patience because we don't know what we're asking for.  They say that the prayer will probably be met with lots of huge challenges, maybe suffering, maybe trials.  Maybe, maybe not.  But I think it's definitely something we should ask God for as it's listed as one of the fruits of the Spirit - and we definitely want those in our lives.

I've been learning on our unexpected journey that suffering, while hard, can be a gift.  We grow through suffering in our lives in ways that we can't in any other way.  Suffering causes us to press into the Lord in deep and powerful ways.  There is a level of intimacy with Him that we walk into through suffering that is precious and beautiful.

And trials - I don't think they're optional.  They're part of the territory in the fallen world we live in.  But we're not alone in going through them.  He is right beside us, holding our hand, guiding us, helping us, and getting us safely through them.

So back to patience.  I'm still learning, but I'm choosing to focus on Him as I walk through the new challenges and learn more about that 7 letter word.  "Love is patient."  And God is pouring out His love to me as I learn about patience.

"Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud."  1 Corinthians 13:4

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

"But hope that is seen is no hope at all.  Who hopes for what they already have?  But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently."  Romans 8:24,25

"Whoever is patient has great understanding."  Proverbs 14:29

"Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him."  Psalm 37:7

"Therefore, as God's chosen people holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience."  Colossians 3:12

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness."  Galatians 5:22

There's no magic formula in walking through hard times.  I wish there was.  But choosing to walk in patience is a big help in navigating the difficult path.  I'm so grateful that God helps us grow in our patience - being patient with us as we grow!

Holy Spirit - Our Guide On the Roller Coaster Of Life!

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Floyd is doing good at the moment.  Some warm spring days have appeared this past week.  That makes us all feel better!  We continue to pray for ministering angels to keep him company too!

I will start the new cancer treatment in a few days.  I’m praying that my body can tolerate it easily, that there will be no side effects, and that it will be effective.

I've mentioned a number of times that our unexpected journey has felt like a roller coaster ride much of the time - regular ups and downs.  Recently, the battle over my energy levels has definitely been part of that.  Recovering from the winter bugs I had, and a side effect of the treatment I'm on have kept my energy levels low for quite some time now.  It's rather frustrating for me.  I've always been such a go-getter, accomplishing long lists of things each day.  I don't like being slowed down!  My family does remind me that I'm getting older too. :)

The neuropathy (numbness) in my feet, that came from my first time of chemo, is also still a battle.  It seems to be getting worse these days.  As I was moving slowly through my chores, and being careful to make sure my steps were secure from my numb feet - I was talking to the Lord about all this.  I'm still following the one-day-at-a-time guideline in trying to persevere on this unexpected journey, so I was asking Him how to make it through the day ahead.

When I sat down to have a quiet time, I came upon a verse that I've not noticed before.  "You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way."  Psalm 18:36  One person said "so that my ankles do not turn."  Another version says "so that my feet did not slip."

I began to ponder that.  I think it particularly caught my attention because I worry about slipping/falling because of my numb feet.  I've had one or two close calls.  As I thought about this verse I was overwhelmed with how God would speak to such a specific thing in His word - and how meaningful and personal it would be to me in this season.  I was so encouraged and strengthened.

I also thought of how God has kept me from slipping in so many other ways on this journey.  There are too many to mention, but a few came to mind.  He has comforted my heart on hard and lonely days - through His presence, and also through the dear friends He has placed around me.......and through the Care Team who love and support Floyd.  I am so grateful for each one that loves and cares for us.

He has reminded me on days when I'm almost too weary to pray, that He has given me dear ones around the world who are lifting up my weak arms in prayer.  It helps me relax when I can't pray as much as I'd like.

He has provided for our needs during this unusual season.  I have not had even one moment of feeling "in want" in any way.  I tell Floyd each time I see him of how good God has been to us.  I tell him not to worry about me - that everything is okay.

God has spoken love, strength, and encouragement to me is so many ways through His creation.  Oh how I love that!  It's happened so often that now I look for it with fresh eyes to see and ears to hear Him.

He has drawn me close to His heart, and taught me so many precious things that I know can only come through walking through "the valley of the shadow of death."  There is no question that it's worth going through the hard times because of the treasures that come out of those trials.  I've learned that there is a sweetness of His tender love that can only come in the hard moments.  It's in the dark moments that the light of His presence suddenly pierces through the clouds of trials.

"He makes my feet like the feet of a deer and stations me upon the heights."  Psalm 18:33

"When you walk, your steps will not be impeded; when you run, you will not stumble."  Proverbs 4:12

"My steps have clung to your paths; my feet have not slipped."  Psalm 17:5

"He preserves our lives and keeps our feet from slipping."  Psalm 66:9

"He will not let your foot slip - He who watches over you will not slumber."  Psalm 121:3

"I cried out, 'I am slipping!' but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me."  Psalm 94:18

In one way or another, trials and hardships come our way.  But God can lovingly, wonderfully keep our ankles from giving way as we walk through these trials.  I am so grateful for that.

Some days with all that I'm facing, I just need a little fun and lightness in my life.  I had an unusual fun thing happen this week.  Here is South Africa we have birds called guinea fowl.  They are strange birds.  They have big bodies, tiny, tiny heads, and even tinier brains!  See the birds in the picture above.  They are not the smartest creatures that God made!  :)

I had one on my front deck this week.  It had managed to get there, but it couldn't figure out how to get back to where it came from.  It would go over to one possible exit, look at it, and run away.  Then it would go to another possible way to return to where it came from, and look puzzled.  It ran back and forth.  It ran in circles.  It ran around so much I thought it might die of exhaustion.  I finally took pity on it - after watching and laughing for a while - and went out to chase it the right way.  Then away it happily went, probably very relieved.

I was still chuckling from the whole episode when I thought of the lesson that was coming from it for my life.  I'm sure I've been like that guinea fowl at times.  I've gotten myself into a predicament, and I don't know how to get out.  I try one thing, and it's not right.  I try another, and it doesn't work......until finally the Holy Spirit comes along and guides me the right way.  I know I'm very relieved when that happens to me.  And I was grateful for the "fun" event in my day with the guinea fowl.

But my mind kept coming back to the lesson!  It started a flow of remembrance in my heart of how good and faithful the Lord has been the last few years to guide me the right way.  I have faced so, so, so many situations where I truly had no idea which way to go or what to do.  I've shared very openly, but I've probably only shared about a third of the things I've walked through.  I honestly can't believe all that has happened in our lives on this unexpected journey.

The biggest decisions I've faced have been about treatment and care for both Floyd and myself.  Those have been huge!  But I've also faced decisions about finances - about home maintenance and upkeep - about ministry situations - about the best use of my limited energy - about legal questions that have huge implications - and so, so many more things.  Normally Floyd would be the one I'd process with.  I've missed him immensely.

But the truly beautiful thing is that God has guided me question by question, step by step, decision by decision.  I have earnestly cried out to Him asking for help and direction.  My family and friends have been a great support.  I'm so grateful for them!  But many times they didn't have the answers either.  God has graciously intervened and given me the wisdom I've needed time and time again - and confirmed those decisions with a sweet "peace that passes understanding."

I've said it before and I'll say it a thousand times more - I can't conceive of how anyone can make it through trials like this without the Lord.  He has been my guide.....counselling and directing me each step of the way.  He has been my strength in every moment of weakness.  He has been my sufficiency when I didn't think I could keep going.  He has been my comfort in lonely, tear-filled moments.

He has given me practical wisdom in dealing with things that I have no experience with.  He has been enough - more than enough!  He has never failed me, always been on time, and has lovingly encouraged me that I'll make it through every twist and turn and every rise and fall of the dreaded roller coaster on this long journey.  How immeasurably faithful He has been!

Thomas Jefferson once said, "Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom."  As we humbly, honestly ask God for help and wisdom - He comes in with the fullness of who He is to meet us as we cry out for His help.  

"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you."  James 1:5

"Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding." Proverbs 3:13 

"The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere."  James 3:17

"The Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding."  Proverbs 2:6

I don't think I'm quite as dumb as that guinea fowl (at least I hope not!), but I've certainly needed a lot of help.  God has wonderfully directed me where I've needed to go each time I've called upon Him.  He has been kind and generous with His wisdom.  We are never alone!  He is always available to hear us and to meet us in our need for His grace and wisdom.  How awesome He is!

His Amazing Joy!

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Someone commented to me recently that they were surprised that I don't get depressed with all that has happened in these last few years.  I guess I've never thought of it that way.  Thankfully, by God's grace, that hasn't been the case.  I guess what I've experienced is that when it's hard, and often seems to get harder, and I know I can't make it - I just have to press in closer to the Lord.  He always helps me, and gives me greater and greater depths of His joy....which is our strength.

I know that may sound a little crazy.  But especially as I thank Him, worship Him, and speak out my trust in Him - it somehow expands my capacity for His joy which I desperately need.  And that powerful joy that He ministers to my heart protects me from being depressed.  That's the only way I know to explain it.

That doesn't mean I haven't had some low days.....some heavy days.....many, many hard days.  I definitely have!  As I've written these updates, I've tried to be as open and vulnerable with you as I know how, so I've shared the good and the hard times.  But the low times don't "stick" because of the love, grace, and joy that He has ministered to my heart.  It's not the natural law of things, but I think it is the spiritual way that God has provided for us.

We live in a painful world.  There are so many tragic things happening.  There is so much sickness.  There seems to be increasing numbers of natural disasters.  There are unanswered prayers that we can't understand.  There are difficult things that all of us face day by day by day.  But we are not helpless in these events!  God is with us.  He is faithful.  And I believe He has deeper and deeper pathways for us to walk into in our relationship with Him.  He will never leave us alone, in the hard situations.  He is right beside us, each moment of each day.  He holds our hand and is closer than the air we breathe. 

I know that depression is very real.  For those who battle it - my heart breaks for them.  I went through a season of depression after the birth of one of our children.  It was extremely difficult.  And we can't ignore it or pretend it's not there.  I just feel grateful that He has protected my heart from it on this long unexpected journey.

I think He's been teaching me is that when I reach "my end" it's not THE end.  He has greater and greater provision available of all that I need.  And He has invited me to join Him on a special journey of pouring that provision into my heart and life.  I can't thank Him enough.

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."  Philippians 4:8

"But you, O Lord, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high."  Psalm 3:3

"Why, my soul, are you downcast?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Saviour and my God."  Psalm 42:11

"I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world."  John 16:33

"The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with His hand."  Psalm 37:23,24

"I waited patiently for the Lord; He inclined to me and heard my cry.  He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.  He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God."  Psalm 40:1-3

"A bruised reed He will not break, and a faintly burning wick He will not quench."  Isaiah 42:3

He has kept me from being broken on this journey!  My heart is full of His goodness.  He is so very faithful!

Speed Bumps

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Floyd has been quiet, serious, peaceful, tired.  I understand the tiredness.  I, too, would be so tired after all he has gone through.  

Throughout this week I've had 2 prayers echoing on my heart to pray for Floyd.  I've prayed that he won't feel abandoned in the long hours when we're not there.  Floyd is such a "people person."  I know the long hours alone would be hard for him.  We have a "Care Team" that spends time with him, but we can't be there all the time.  The doctors, nurses, and therapists love him and are very warm and caring with him too.

I've also felt to pray protection for him from any lies of the enemy that would bombard his heart and mind.  I don't want the enemy to take advantage of Floyd being weary.  

We continue to pray for grace and strength for him for whatever is still ahead.

It has been 3 1/2 years since this unexpected journey began.  It seems like it has gone on forever…and, in other ways, the trauma of all that happened seems like just yesterday.  The only sure thing in it all has been God's goodness and faithfulness.  He has been my steady rock and refuge.  I couldn't have made it without His strength and grace.

There's a medical facility that I go to fairly frequently that has something that I don't particularly like - speed bumps!  The speed bumps they have seem like small mountains.  I understand the reason and need for them, but theirs seem unusually high.  You have to slow down to pretty much a stop before going over them.

I seem to encounter speed bumps on our journey too.  A "small mountain" that comes into my path that I can't avoid or ignore.  I pretty much have to come to a full stop before I can continue on my way.  Everything in my life has to be re-examined in relationship to the new bump in my path.

I hit one of those bumps a few weeks ago!  I had some medical checkups.  I am feeling good.  I look good.  Except for the "winter bugs," I'm healthy and have had no symptoms of cancer problems.  I was expecting to get an "all clear," good news type of report.  But, instead, I was told that there is a new tumor.  This is the 3rd return of this awful disease, the 4th time now that I'm battling it.  Needless to say, it was disheartening.  My heart felt bruised from the impact.

I received the news at the end of an exhausting week of medical and therapy appointments.  I know that things hit harder when I'm tired.  I took the weekend to talk to the Lord about it all.  I wanted to keep hope alive in my heart - but I found that I had to keep stepping over disappointment and weariness to get to that hope.  I realized I wasn't just tired from the week - I was tired from the 5+ years of the cancer battle.  I knew I needed to strengthen myself in the Lord.

I reminded myself that I'm alive!  That is very important, and somewhat unexpected according to my doctors.  It's definitely an answer to prayer.  The Lord brought this scripture to my attention. Luke 18:1 - "Jesus taught the apostles to keep praying and never stop or lose hope."  I chose to keep praying and keep hoping.  As I did that, the heaviness began to lift.  My heart settled with a gentle peace.

I heard Bill Johnson say that "our darkest situation is a table of fellowship."  I so believe that.  I've experienced it over and over again.  And I had the opportunity these past weeks for a new, fresh, deeper level of fellowship with the Lord as I processed the news I received - the bump in the journey.  I'm so grateful for that precious intimacy with Him.

"My life, my every moment, my destiny - it's all in your hands."  Psalm 31:15 TPT

"I raise my eyes toward the mountains.  From whence shall come my help?  My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth."  Psalm 121:1,2

"Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.  Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:6,7

"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 faint."  Isaiah 40:31

"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

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."  Romans 15:13

This bump in the road (that felt like a small mountain) has pushed me closer into the heart of God.  My trust is in Him.  My hope is in Him.  As Psalm 121 says,  I know God doesn't slumber, and I'm asking Him to "not let my foot be moved" from walking close by His side holding His hand. 

During my recent checkups, I had to do one of my least favorite things - WAIT.  I had to wait for results, wait for advice on treatment, wait to see what my days and weeks ahead were going to look like.  The hours and days seemed to drag by as I waited.

We have waited a long time on this unexpected journey, too.  We've waited to see what God plans to do.  We've prayed up a storm, and then we've waited for answers.  Will God heal Floyd?  Will He take him to heaven?  Is there another answer that we don't see?  It's been a very long season of waiting.

One of the things I've learned is that the waiting time is not wasted time, it's a time of preparation.  The only way to "shortcut" through hard times is to walk hand in hand with the Lord, keeping my eyes on Him, and whispering "Jesus" when I need Him to help me in times of weakness. 

I think another thing I've learned is that the waiting time is as important as the answers we get.  It's during the waiting that I have the opportunity to choose to keep my focus and eyes on the Lord - regardless of what the answers are.  Keeping my focus on the Lord, on His Word, on His promises, on His character is so very important. I've had to choose it over and over and over.  As I've done that, I've had such deep and precious revelations about who God is.  And as I understand who He is, it releases His grace to wait for the fulfillment of all He has for us on this journey.

"Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord."  Psalm 27:14

"Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters.....so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God." Psalm 123:2

"Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day."  Psalm 25:5

"Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield."  Psalm 33:20

"But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation.  My God will hear me."  Micah 7:7

I realize that the waiting is easier said than done, but it's so important.  I learned that afresh in my recent situation.  I heard someone say that difficult times will diminish us, define us, or develop us.  I want to learn and grow in the waiting times.  And we don't have to wait alone - He's right with us!

Whenever I face "hard" news about Floyd, myself, or one of our family - I find I need to be on guard to keep things in their right perspective.  It's good for me to do this - to make sure I have the foundation stones of truth laid in regard to the things happening in my life.  There are many of these foundation stones, but I thought I'd share a few that have been helpful to me.  These are like a "grid" that I look through in facing the events that come my way.

·      It's important to remember that each day is a gift.  Even the hard days!  As I open and receive the gift of the day, it then allows me to look to God to help me with whatever happens that day.

God is with us on the good days - and I think even more especially on the hard days.  I find I can easily see Him on the good days, but I might have to look more carefully into the mist of the unwanted circumstances of hard days to see His hand at work on my behalf.  Somehow the enemy wants us to think on the hard days that God escaped and took off somewhere.  But as I whisper His name and tell God I need Him - the light of His presence shines brightly into the mist of the hard day.

"For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."  Romans 8:38,39

·      I remind myself of the foundation stone of hope.  There is ALWAYS hope - even in the bleakest situations - because we serve a God of hope.  If I look at the circumstances, I'll probably be overwhelmed.  But if I focus on God, on His power, on His might - then hope rises in my heart and the heaviness of the situation lifts.  I have to keep my eyes on Him throughout each and every day.

"Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Saviour, and my hope is in you all day long."  Psalm 25:5

·      I also affirm the foundation stone of His grace and strength.  I can't do whatever I'm facing, but He can!  His grace is sufficient.  His power is perfect in my weakness.  He gives strength to the weary.  He adjusts His strength and grace according or our need.

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  2 Corinthians 12:9

·      I mustn't forget the foundation stone of "casting" my cares on Him.  I'm not able to carry the burdens and cares, but He easily can!  My burdens don't weigh Him down.  As I give them to Him, my load gets lighter.  I can continually throw my cares into His strong, waiting hands.

"Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you."  1 Peter 5:7

·      And a very, very important foundation stone - remembering that I'm not alone!  Not even for once second, one nano-second of the day or night am I on my own.  He is continually with me, watching over me, holding my right hand, bearing my burdens, giving me grace, building up hope in my heart, and reminding me of the gift of "this" day that He has given me.

"I lift up my eyes to the mountains - where does my help come from?  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; Indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.  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

As I said, there are many, many foundation stones - but these are a few that help me.  Whether the day holds good news or bad, I "filter" the events of the day through the grid of these sure and steady foundation stones to guide my day.  And I stand firm and secure on Him, my Rock, as I navigate what comes my way. 

Then there is one foundation stone that overlooks all the others.  One of the most important foundation stones in my life - continually choosing to trust the Lord come what may!  He is absolutely, 100%, always trustworthy with both the big things and all the little small things that crop up.

It's so important when we hit a "bump" in the road (one of those speed bumps that I don't like), that we choose trust.  I sometimes see people immediately blame God when something happens. "Why did God do this to me?"  "Why did God allow this?"  "Why didn't God step in and keep this from happening?"  "Where was God when I needed Him?"  "I've served God all my life - why am I going through this?"  "How could a loving God allow this?"

Maybe it's human nature.  We want to find something/someone to blame when things go wrong.  It has to be someone's fault!  But, actually, we live in a fallen, imperfect world.  Bad things DO happen to really good people......and it's not God's fault, or anyone's fault.

I remember a time a number of years ago when we had gone through a particularly difficult and trying season......and then something else happened that was very, very hard.  My initial response was to say to the Lord - "Haven't we had enough?  Why are you allowing more to come our way?"  The words were barely out of my mouth when I felt so convicted - although I'd already had enough time to tell Floyd how unfair I thought it was. :(  But I knew that wasn't the right response!  I repented to the Lord and to Floyd.  And I asked God for help and grace to go through the new trial.

That was a good lesson learning experience for me.  I know that I know that I know that it's so important when a hard time comes along - that I immediately need to say to the Lord "I trust you in this."  I pray this out to the Lord daily.  I don't understand a lot of things that have happened to us, but I trust God in them.  I may never understand!  Some things will probably never make sense to my finite mind, but I can still choose to trust God.

The other foundation stones that I mentioned are all under girded by His trustworthiness in every situation that comes my way!!!  All of those foundation stones are solid and secure because of who He is.  His character is sure, unchanging, and true.

I have written about trusting God before - on a number of occasions actually.  But I know that I myself have to keep coming back to this - so it bears repeating.  We lived for a few years in the high desert in southern California.  The area where we lived was a granite mountain range.  One day we had a pretty strong earthquake.  I wondered if the house would come tumbling down.  But we actually "rolled" through the earthquake.  I watched the ground as the whole house rolled.  It was the most unusual experience.  The only damage we had was a stone on the corner of the fireplace hearth fell off.

The granite mountain, our foundation, was strong.  It absorbed the shock of the earthquake, and we could just roll with it.  When a new shock comes our way - I remember that very visual image.  God is my sure, strong, faithful, trustworthy foundation.  As I hang onto Him, He can help me "roll" through the earthquakes that come our way.

I'm still walking through some "aftershocks" of the diagnosis of my cancer returning.  Some of those have hit pretty hard.  I am choosing the rock solid foundation of God's trustworthiness.  There is no better place for me to be.

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock."  Matthew 7:24

"The Rock!  His work is perfect, for all His ways are just: a God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He."  Deuteronomy 32:4

"There is no one holy like the Lord, indeed, there is no one besides you, nor is there any rock like our God."  1 Samuel 2:2

"He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken."  Psalm 62:2 

"For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ."  1 Corinthians 3:11

"He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord."  Psalm 112:7

"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because He trusts in you."  Isaiah 26:3

We live in a constantly changing world, but the one sure thing we can count on is that our wonderful God is completely trustworthy!  He is the firm foundation on which we can stand - come what may!  How faithful He is.

Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd is continuing to strengthen and recover from the 2 chest infections he had.  The doctor said he is making good improvement.  He seemed to enjoy it when some long time friends from out of South Africa visited him over the weekend.

When those of us on the "Care Team" for Floyd are with him, one of the things we try to do is encourage him.  He always soaks it up!  We remind him of how much he's loved.  I share emails that people have written that express appreciation.  We tell him that he's not forgotten.  It always seems to mean so much to him - and seems to minister to his heart.  Encouragement is healing.

I was thinking about a birthday that is coming up - and out of nowhere I remembered a birthday celebration from many years ago.  We were living in The Cleft in the red light district in Amsterdam.  We had gotten to know one of the ladies in the windows, and we found out it was her birthday.  We invited her to our tiny apartment to celebrate.  She was surprised, but excited to come.  I baked her a birthday cake, and we gave her some small gifts.  In getting to know her, we were able to mention a couple things that we appreciated about her.  To say she was overwhelmed by it all would be a massive understatement.  She said she couldn't remember anyone ever celebrating her birthday before.  Encouragement can be a powerful voice into someone's life.

A few days ago, I was feeling rather low because I've been so sick.  In my quiet time the Lord directed my attention to a passage of scripture that poured out His love for all of us.  I was so blessed by the wonderful, constant, rich, amazing love of the Lord for us, for me.  It so blessed my heart!  Encouragement can minister to the needs in our heart.

Also this week, just when I was starting to feel better, I got sick yet again.  It made me feel so battle weary.  One night, just before going to bed, I got a sweet email of love and affirmation.  It made me smile, and filled my heart with a sweet joy.  It was a lovely way to go to sleep.  Encouragement lifts our spirits in a way that nothing else can.

We all need love and affirmation.  Whatever our situation we have the need for encouragement in our hearts.  It's one of the ways God has made us because He wants our lives to be interwoven.  As we share encouragement, it draws us closer to each other.......just as God's affirmation draws us closer to Him.  I think because of all I've been going through, my sensitivity to how important encouragement is has been heightened.  It really is powerful.

"So speak encouraging words to one another.  Build up hope so you'll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind.  I know you're already doing this; just keep on doing it."  1 Thessalonians 5:11 The Message

"Let your conversation be always full of grace."  Colossians 4:6

"The soothing tongue is a tree of life."  Proverbs 15:4 

"The tongue of the wise brings healing."  Proverbs 12:18

"Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them."  Ephesians 4:29

These last few weeks because of being sick so many times, it has felt like I’ve been taking 2 steps forward and 3 steps backward.  On this unexpected journey we've been on, there have been many times when I have felt like that.  

Over these many months when it feels like I've slid backwards at times, I've been grateful for the Lord's help in giving me strength to pick up the pieces, shake the dust off, and begin again.  He has given me the  grace for that each time. 

Someone sent me an amazing video clip of a little bear trying to climb a steep, snowy hill.  The mama bear is waiting for him at the top.  The little bear slides down the hill over and over - but each time he begins again.  I love bears anyway, and as I've watched this video a number of times I found that I could so relate to the little bear.  At one point he is almost to the top - and then he slides waaaay down the hill and you think he's gone this time.  But he finds a way to manoeuvre and keep climbing.  He is so determined.

Meanwhile the mama bear paces anxiously back and forth waiting for her cub.  I'm sure it was hard for the mama bear to not go down the mountain and help the cub.......but she knows the cub needs to learn how to climb.  It's the only way the cub will survive in the future.  

As I watched this I could just see the Lord watching me as I slide backwards sometimes in my trials.  He knows I need to go through them in order to get strong and grow in my faith and trust in Him.  He knows I need to learn the lessons.  He knows I need to learn how to climb higher.  God could easily rescue me in the trials, but in His tender love for me He allows me to walk through them.....to slide backwards sometimes.....in order to grow and mature.  He's watching anxiously over me all the time - never abandoning me!

I want to be determined like this little bear!  I want to keep climbing the mountain - never giving up no matter how many times I slide backwards.  I can imagine that little bear keeping its mama in view as he works hard each time to climb to the top.  I want to keep my eyes on the Lord as I climb!  I want to grow in my trust and love for Him.  I want to keep going and get to the top of the mountain.  I know the Lord will help me!

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

"But you, be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward for your work."  2 Chronicles 15:7

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."  2 Timothy 4:7

"Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him."  James 1:12

Determination is not some magical power or super-spiritual anointing.  It is simply deciding in our hearts that with God's grace and help we'll keep climbing that snowy mountain.....just like the little bear......no matter how many times we slide backwards!

Watch the bear video here!

Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd is doing better.  The chest infection isn't gone, but he's stronger.  He's attentive, smiling some, and definitely not so miserable.  

A while back I shared about joyful dependence.  Some people asked questions about what I shared.  May I emphasize that the joy the Lord gives us is not dependent on our circumstances.  In fact, it's usually in spite of our circumstances!  It doesn't really make sense.  We can be going through hard, gruelling, painful situations - and yet be joyful!  We're not crazy.  It's one of the "ways of the kingdom" that doesn't make sense without the Lord.

But with our wonderful Lord, it makes perfect sense.  He's the one who can give "beauty for ashes."  He's the one who, in the oft used example, can take sour lemons and make sweet lemonade.

In recent days when I've been quite sick, I have felt "low" physically.  I even found it a bit discouraging to be fighting yet one more thing.  But - underneath all that remained a joy.  It's very hard to describe, but it's real!  I consider it a sweet gift from the Lord.  For the Christian, I think joy is our "birthright."  It's something He deposits into our spirit by His grace.

I heard one person say - there are storms around me, but peace within me.  That's what I've felt in these recent days.  The peace that brings His joy.  It is precious.

"Now may God, the inspiration and fountain of hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you trust in Him.  And may the power of the Holy Spirit continually surround your life with His super-abundance until you radiate with hope!"  Romans 15:13-15  TPT

Joy, peace, and hope - what more can we ask for?!

In a "season" - or journey - like I'm walking through, there is lots of time to think.  I have thought back through all the years of our lives - from meeting at a YWAM Easter outreach in Las Vegas.....to being married when we were SO young.....to having our first home in Afghanistan.....to living on a house boat in Amsterdam with a toddler and a puppy while expecting baby number 2.....to raising our children in the red light district in Amsterdam.....to training leaders in the Colorado mountains while caring for our daughter who was sick for a number of years.....to pastoring a church in the middle of America.....to starting over and pioneering in a new country when we were just about to hit the age that everyone retires.  There have been very few "dull" moments!

We were speaking in a church in Canada one time that was pastored by some friends.  As Floyd was introducing me, he made the statement that "I'm not very adventurous."  The pastor and his wife burst out laughing!!  The list above speaks for itself I think. :)  And that doesn't include some "adventures" I had before we married!

I heard the statement recently - "Usually is the enemy of adventure."  My first thought was that Floyd and I haven't followed the "usually" in life......and we have certainly had lots of adventures!  Sometimes it has scared me to death, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.  Growing up in Galveston, Texas I knew God had a plan for my life.  I knew that it was going to be "different" (not what everyone usually did), but I had no idea of how it would unfold into the life I've had.

It's made me realize how grateful I am that God is in control!  We'd make a mess of things otherwise.  But when He's in control, He has so many wonderful things in store for us.  Even what we're walking through now isn't "usual" - battling cancer over and over while my husband is lying in a hospital bed unable to speak or move......well, even this has been an "adventure."  Not one I would want necessarily, but certainly one where I've seen God's goodness and faithfulness.  I would hate to have missed all the beautiful lessons He's brought into my life during this time!

As I look back over our life together while I've had this time to think, I can see how God has grown us, prepared us, strengthened us, and gotten us ready to face perhaps the biggest adventure of our lives.  It fills my heart with gratitude to Him for how He's had His hand on us all these years.  And it makes me love Him for His care.  I wouldn't want to have missed out on any of the adventures He's had for us.  We can relax when we're in His sovereign hands.

I guess what I'm also saying is that it's important to "embrace" the adventures that come - both the good ones and the hard ones.  We may not like them (I certainly haven't liked some of the ones I've walked through), but if we'll embrace them and trust the Lord in them - there will be good in the hardest situations.  No, I'm not saying that God brings the hard things.  We live in a fallen world and hard things will happen to all of us.  But we have the opportunity to trust God in the hard things, and allow Him to bring good through them.

"The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.  You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."  Isaiah 58:11

"In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps."  Proverbs 16:9

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you."  Psalm 32:8

"The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him; though he may stumble, he will not fall for the Lord upholds him with His hand."  Psalm 37:23,24

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight."  Proverbs 3:5,6

There is much I could say about embracing what comes our way.  I've done a 90 minute teaching on it in the past.  But suffice it to say that as we embrace what God allows into our lives, there is good that follows.  There is a sweet adventure in walking with Him through everything that comes our way!

Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd is doing better.  It seems he has had 2 infections.  He's not totally well, but he's much better than a few days ago.  He tries to focus in on our visits, but gets tired easily.  We continue to pray that he will feel better.

I was watching a Hallmark movie recently (I'm a fan of them).  It was about a woman trying to conquer her fears.  She said "when do we stop being a worrier and start being a warrior?"  I thought about that for a while, and realized that's pretty much what I face each day.  I have to step over the worries of all that's happening in our lives, and choose to put my hand in the Lord's......and go to battle to overcome the challenges and fears that I'm facing.  I want to be a warrior!

My mother was a very Godly woman.  She was a woman of prayer and intercession.  She had great faith, and was very generous with the limited resources we had.  She modelled so many wonderful examples of living a life of trust in the Lord.

But she was also a worrier.  It was her weak spot.  I can understand it in terms of things she had to face.  She lived through the Great Depression and the war years.  She lost her first husband, and had to raise 4 children as a single mom in those hard years.  She had lots to worry about!  I'm not sure I could have survived all that.

But her way of worrying made an impact on me.  I've had to work to overcome that in my life.  And on the unexpected journey we've been on, it's been a big test for me.  I'm sure it's why God has highlighted trusting Him to me over and over.  Trust in God protects me from worry!  As I make the choice to trust God, I can't make a choice to worry at the same time!  They contradict each other.  Thoughts of worry may be because I'm not fully trusting God.  Worry can be unbelief in disguise.

In fact, I've found it important to resist the temptation to worry.  When worry tries to creep in, I have to make conscious choices to turn my thoughts and attention to God and His faithfulness.  Often when I find worrying thoughts filling my mind, I realize I haven't given these things to the Lord.  Many times they are "little" things, small issues.  God is concerned about every detail of our lives.  There's nothing too small to talk to Him about.

I was looking over some old sermon notes of Floyd's.  In one of them he said that there are 2 words that make up the word worry - to divide.....the mind.  That's what worry does.  It divides our mind from focusing on trusting God!  And we don't want to be double-minded.  The Bible warns against that.

For every worry we might have, the simple antidote is to focus our heart, mind, and emotions into trusting our wonderful God.  And instead, we can be mighty warriors of trust in God!

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own."  Matthew 6:34

"Do not be anxious about anything, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:6,7

"Then Jesus said to His disciples: 'Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.' "  Luke 12:22

"Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken."  Psalm 55:22

Many of us are in the thick of the battle in terms of things we are facing.  We do feel like "warriors" trying to overcome the things we're going through.  I read an anonymous quote (often attributed to Winston Churchill) - "If you're going through hell, keep going!"  We can purpose our hearts to trust God in the midst of the big battles we're facing!  We can push worries away and choose to be warriors of the faith!

A few weeks ago I had a throat infection/chest congestion/cough, etc.  I had to take some meds to get rid of it.  I was so glad when it was gone.  I was fine for about 3 weeks, and then last week it seemed to return with a vengeance.  I now have a raging infection in my mouth and throat.  I'm feeling really weak, worn down, and quite awful.

It's been a bit discouraging to me because I have worked so hard at building up my system and immunity.  We're in winter, so there are lots of "bugs" going around.  I seem to be vulnerable to them.

A couple days ago I was looking through some of Floyd's files trying to find some notes for someone.  I came across a large sheet of paper with only 3 sentences on it - hand written by Floyd.  It said:

"Pain and suffering are God's gifts to us to drive us to Jesus.  In our sufferings we share in His sufferings.  In our shame we meet His glory."

It felt as if Floyd himself was speaking to me in the midst of my being so sick.  I could hear his "voice."  It was very special to my heart.  And it put things back in perspective.  I need to keep my eyes and my heart focused on the Lord - even as, or maybe especially because, I'm feeling weary and worn down.

I'd be the first to admit that I'm not a fan of suffering when it comes along!  But I'd also have to admit that I've seen the "gift" of what God brings into our life through it.  The closeness, the intimacy, the grace, the comfort, the daily release of His sufficiency to help us - those are all things that I don't know how we can experience any other way.  No one can meet us in our suffering in the way He does.  I'm grateful for that gift.

"God met me more than halfway, He freed me from my anxious fears. Look at Him; give Him your warmest smile.  Never hide your feelings from Him.  When I was desperate, I called out, and God got me out of a tight spot.  God's angel sets up a circle of protection around us while we pray.  Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see - how good God is.  Blessed are you who run to Him."  Psalm 34:4-8  The Message

I am running to Him in my physical weakness today.  I am speaking out my trust to Him - opening my heart to receive His grace and strength.  

Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd is not doing well.  He is battling a chest infection and was pretty miserable this week.  He still attentively listened to everything I shared, but it broke my heart to see him feeling so awful.  

I know it's hard for everyone to understand exactly what Floyd's condition is.  I've tried to explain it, but it's hard to grasp unless you are here with him.  One thing to clarify - he's not in a coma!  He is conscious.  He recognizes us, he listens attentively most days, he seems to understand, and he often responds in some way to let us know he is tracking with what we are saying.  There are, however, some days when he just doesn't "connect" with us.  His attention seems elsewhere.  Because he can't speak to tell us things, we don't always know what is happening with him.  On his good days, he greets us with a big smile.

We recently passed the 40 months milestone for Floyd's illness.  It's a strange thing.  In some ways it seems to have gone by quickly.  In other ways it seems to have been forever.  All we can do is just walk through one-day-at-a-time.  

Lots of my days start off "normal" - calm, peaceful, with things to do that day, but not intense.  And then suddenly, like a light switch being flipped.......things come along that bring storms into the day.  The day becomes stressful and intense in an instant.

I've had some of those days this week.  Each time, I immediately knew I couldn't make it on my own.  I needed God's help.  I needed Him to rescue me in a few situations.  A couple times I've found myself saying to the Lord - "Really?  You want me to have to deal with this?"  He was probably chuckling at my attitude.  I'm glad He is patient with me and has a sense of humour.

I'm learning once again, in very profound ways, that I can't just live on yesterday's grace and on the strength of times gone by.  I need to receive afresh His mercies that are new every morning, and lean into them each day, for each new thing that comes along.  Sometimes I have to receive that fresh grace and help many times a day!

Someone sent me the photo I've used at the top of this post.  I absolutely love it!  When I'm facing something overwhelming, I think of this photo.  "Aslan" is right beside me!!  He will help me get through anything.  I can just picture the mighty "Lion of Judah" standing beside me in the daily battles.

There are so many verses about God "holding our right hand."  Sometimes I stretch out my hand and imagine Him holding it while I speak out promises from the Word of how He'll be with me.  I sense His presence with me in the "battle" of the day.

In the midst of these things this week, the Lord put the word BRAVE on my heart and gave me a simple understanding of what it meant for me:

B - be bold, in the strength of His might

R - be resilient, don't let the storms blow me over

A - be alert, watching for things I need to take a stand against

V - be vigorous, in my pursuit of God's grace

E - be eager to learn and grow

I think these are the things He is asking of me as I hold firmly to His right hand.  I can be "brave" because of His help.  Aslan is by my side!

"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

"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

"He is at my right hand.  I will not be shaken."  Psalm 16:8

"Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand."  Psalm 73:23

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble."  Psalm 46:1

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

Our character will be shown in the great moments, the big moments of life, but it is formed and developed in the small moments.  Each day when I encounter the small things that bring the storms - God is using those "small" things to grow my character.  He is faithful to help me. Certainly my character has been formed and developed over all my years, but it's not over.  I'm still learning and growing!

I've mentioned before that shortly before Floyd got sick, the Lord gave him a word about breakthrough.  He didn't understand what it meant, but he knew it was an important word for him.  Through his illness, we've prayed for that breakthrough.  Maybe we've seen it - maybe not.  Several people have suggested to me some ideas about what it might mean.  I'm still not sure, so I keep lifting it to the Lord.

I've also mentioned often that I trust the Lord.  I trust Him when we don't see the answers we'd like to our prayers.  I trust Him when I don't understand some of the things we are walking through.  I trust Him on good days and on hard days.  I trust Him for Floyd's future - and for mine.

A few weeks ago I was talking with a friend, and he made the statement to me that "trust is better than breakthrough."  Those words grabbed my attention, and I have pondered them in my heart over and over.  I'm sure He is right!

There is probably nothing more important in our walk with the Lord than trusting Him.  Absolute trust - in spite of circumstances, and especially in times when things don't make sense to our limited understanding.  I tell the Lord - over and over, many times a day - "I trust you!!!"  The more I say it, the more it becomes a sure anchor in my soul. 

But I'm fully aware that trust isn't always easy.  In fact, in our walk with the Lord, I think the enemy does all he can to keep us from trusting God because He understands how powerful it is when we do trust.  The enemy tries to sow seeds of mistrust continually.  He whispers lies into our hearts when we don't immediately see answers to prayer.  He tells us God doesn't care when our suffering goes on for a long time.  On difficult days when we're overwhelmed with all we are going through, the enemy will want us to believe that we're on our own.  The enemy doesn't want us to trust God!

The simple reason for that is because trusting God is powerful.  It keeps us steadily on course even when everything in our situation tries to pull us away from God.  Trust keeps us focused on God's promises, His provision, His power.  Trust takes our eyes off our situation and onto looking at our wonderful, faithful Father.  Trust opens our heart to a place where we can receive God's help.

Trust in God drives away fear - any fear we have because of what we're walking through.  Trust opens the door for the promises of God to be alive and part of our life each day.  Trust gets rid of worry and discouragement.  Trust brings strength when we keep our focus on the Lord's power.  I've found trust to be one of the main "keys" for helping me persevere on this long unexpected journey.  And trust is something we can all choose!  

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight."  Proverbs 3:5,6

"See, God has come to save me.  I will trust in Him and not be afraid.  The Lord God is my strength and my song; He has given me victory."  Isaiah 12:2

"When I am afraid, I put my trust in you."  Psalm 56:3

"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me."  Psalm 28:7

"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you."  Isaiah 26:3 

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."  Romans 15:13

If you are struggling with trusting God, one of the things that's helpful is to speak out trust in His wonderful promises:

- I trust in your faithfulness.  Deuteronomy 32:4

- I trust in your unfailing love.  Psalm 52:8

- I trust in your lovingkindness.  Psalm 63:3,4

- I trust that you are near to me when I call.  Psalm 145:18

- I trust that you will help me when I'm weak.  Isaiah 40:29

- I trust that you hold my right hand.  Isaiah 41:13

- I trust that you give wisdom.  James 1:5

- I trust that you have good plans for my life.  Jeremiah 29:11

The list is ENDLESS!!!  He has promised to meet our every need.  We can trust Him.

In our situation, I don't know if we'll see the "breakthrough" we want or that we expected.  But I know that I daily see the fruit of trusting the Lord.  He is so good and so faithful!  I have found that, truly, trust is better than breakthrough!

Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd is continuing to remain stable.  He's had a few coughs, but the dreaded chest congestion hasn't returned which I'm so grateful for, as our cold winter weather is here.  He's been smiley when people have been with him and seems to be at peace. 

He got tearful when I shared some family news this week, but was otherwise peaceful.

I've learned on this journey that there's an area where I need to be careful.  God has met us time and time again.  We've seen Him answer prayer, perform miracles, and be so faithful to us.  And yet, when we face a new trial or testing, if I'm not cautious - I can easily respond with unbelief.  I may even find myself thinking maybe this is too hard for God.  It's really "too big" this time - or I'm asking "too much."

Someone sent me a video of a dear elderly lady sharing her walk of prayer with the Lord.  She referred to this verse: "How oft did they provoke Him in the wilderness, and grieve Him in the desert.  Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel."  Psalm 78:40,41

She said God used this verse to tell her to never limit Him!  I love that.  God is limitless - but we can limit Him in our hearts through our mumblings and grumblings and unbelief like the children of Israel.  I don't want to be like them!  They wandered in the desert for 40 years because of their responses!!  Their complaining didn't help one little bit.  All it did was bring discouragement.

When something seems "too big" - when it feels daunting......the only thing I know to do is to go to the Word and start reading all of God's promises once again.  I've read them before.  I've seen Him fulfil them over and over again.  But when facing new challenges, I go back to them like I've never read them.  I let the truth of His word wash over my soul.  I pray the promises out loud.  I sing them in songs.  I thank Him for how He's fulfilled them in the past.  And I step out in fresh faith in believing Him to meet me in the new challenge.

Holding onto God's promises helps me deal with any doubt that is lurking in my heart.  It strengthens my faith.  It gets things in their proper perspective.  It keeps my eyes on God, not on the needs and problems.  It lifts my spirits as I'm reminded of how awesome God is.

I don't want to "limit the Holy One of Israel."  I want to have an open heart to trust Him, and to believe for new, fresh miracles.

"Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping - believing that he would become the father of many nations."  Romans 4:18

"Nothing will be impossible with God."  Luke 1:37

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

"Our Lord is great, vast in power; His understanding is infinite."  Psalm 147:5 CSB

"Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God."  Romans 4:20

"The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it."  1 Thessalonians 5:24

All too frequently I seem to be facing "impossible" situations - for myself, for Floyd, for our family, for the All Nations ministry.  I MUST keep my focus on God - on His goodness, faithfulness, and promises.  He is totally sufficient for every need.

Every once in a while I think about eternity.  I have to admit that it's a concept that my finite mind can't quite grasp.  Time that is unending - that goes on forever, and ever, and ever, and ever.  I'm so used to thinking in minutes, hours, days (I wrote a book on time management!)......with most things having a conclusion to them - so eternity seems unreal in some ways.  I can't wrap my brain around it.

But it's very real!  We will spend eternity with our wonderful Father!  I don't know what all He has planned, but I'm sure it's good.  Maybe we'll spend the first thousand years just thanking Him for His goodness and worshipping Him.  Like the song says, we can "only imagine."

I remember sitting on the deck of a boat on a lake in Colorado years ago.  Floyd and I were talking with a friend about eternity.  In the dark, looking up at the gorgeous sky, thinking about the universe, contemplating how awesome God is, wondering what it will be like to spend eternity with Him - I was overwhelmed by the beauty and grandeur of God!  I think I had a revelation in that moment of the wonderful gift in store for us after this earthly life.  Someday we'll walk with the saints of old, with friends, family, many loved ones - and we'll bow in worship together before our Heavenly Father.

The verses from 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 certainly take on new meaning when thinking about all this.  "Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

I was talking with a friend recently who reminded me that everything we're walking through is preparing us for eternity with God.  In the big picture scenario, this life is just a tiny blip.  It seems so huge to us right now as we're living it out......but in the scope of eternity it's nothing.  And God is using this time to get us ready for eternity.  Everything we're experiencing, every choice we're making, everything in our relationship with Him is all preparation!  Talk about an education - wow!  Most of us thought our schooling was long behind us.  But we're in the "school of life" that is getting us ready for eternity.

I don't know about you, but I want to do my best to get ready!  I've failed miserably at some things, but God is patient and forgiving.  He gives us new beginnings, and He uses the mistakes to help us learn and grow.  He never gives up on us!  He never thinks we're hopeless.  He just lovingly gathers us in His arms, forgives us, and helps us.  He is preparing us each day here on earth to spend eternity with Him.  What an awesome and glorious thought!!  

Through Floyd's illness and my battling cancer, I've had lots of opportunities to think about eternity.  On a number of occasions I thought one or both of us could be moving into eternity right away.  That's still a very real possibility, although I'm not in any hurry!  But thinking about eternity is not a scary thought at all.  I realize we have a wonderful treasure in store for us in spending eternity with our Maker.

But I also realize that I want to be faithful here and now to get ready.  I want to learn every lesson He has for me.  I want to help others get ready.  And I want to worship Him here in preparation for worshipping Him forever......that "forever" that my brain can't quite grasp!

"From eternity to eternity I am God.  No one can snatch anyone out of my hand.  No one can undo what I have done."  Isaiah 43:13

"He has made everything appropriate in its time.  He has also set eternity in their heart."  Ecclesiastes 3:11

"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity."  2 Peter 3:18

"So that being justified by His grace, we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life."  Titus 3:7

"This is the promise which He himself made to us: eternal life."  1 John 2:25

"Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen."  1 Timothy 1:17

Our friend, Pete Greig of 24/7 Prayer International, has an online resource called “The Prayer Course” and in one of the sessions he said - "Your choices, thoughts, prayers, and actions echo in eternity."  Everything about this life goes into eternity.  It's all part of what God has in store for us.  The questions we have, the things we don't understand, the prayers we didn't think were answered – someday we'll look back on all this and see that God was using everything to get us ready to spend eternity with Him.  It certainly gives me a different perspective on my daily life!  I want to get ready.

P.S.  I have recently watched all the sessions of “The Prayer Course”.  It is SO good!  It's simple, clear, real, honest, do-able, and inspiring in the way Pete shares about prayer.  Each session is about 20 minutes long.  I found it such a boost to my faith!  I'm already watching it a second time.  So often I find teaching on prayer makes me feel like a failure.  This is just the opposite - it made me want to jump in and pray as much as I can.  I think you will find it very helpful. 

Click here to see it 

Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd has had a quiet week.  He was very solemn and serious when I was with him - attentive, but not very responsive - but completely at peace.  I so often wish I knew what he is thinking.  I'm always grateful for the peace and rest he has.  A few times over these long months there have been times of agitation - which always bring "agitation" to my heart to see him like that.  When he's at peace, I realize what a gift that is!  Thank you Lord.

In my everyday life, continuing to persevere through everything in the daily routine - I am keenly aware that I am dependent on the Lord.  I need Him every hour of every waking day!  I couldn't make it without His grace, strength, help, and wisdom.  I would be so lost without His help. 

The world might think that that kind of dependence is a sign of weakness, but it's actually completely the opposite.  Knowing we can't make it on our own, that we're dependent on Him, is acknowledging where our strength comes from!  Our strength comes from the maker of heaven and earth!!  It's not a negative thing.  It's the most wonderful thing in the world that we can trust God to be our help in all the details of our daily lives.

I am dependent on God in so many ways, in so many areas of my life.  If I'm not careful, it can seem overwhelming at times.  One of the things that helps significantly, is that underneath the cares and needs there is a deep well of joy that He puts in my heart.  I know that might sound crazy!  Heavy problems - and deep joy.  Only God can balance that out and make both possible. In the midst of hard situations, I've found I can even choose joy.  I ask for His "mantle of praise instead of a spirit of heaviness."

Sarah Young in one of her devotionals uses the phrase "joyful dependence."  I like that!  There is a beautiful joy in knowing that we are dependent on Him, looking to Him, trusting Him.  It's not a contradiction.  There is dependency and there is joy - and they go beautifully together!

In thinking of this, I was reminded of a poem.  The author is unknown.  It was found on the body of a soldier at Gettysburg in the American Civil War.

"I asked for strength that I might achieve; 

He made me weak that I might obey.

I asked for health that I might do greater things;

I was given grace that I might do better things.

I asked for riches that I might be happy;

I was given poverty that I might be wise.

I asked for power that I might have the praise of men; 

I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.

I asked for all things that I might enjoy life;

I was given life that I might enjoy all things.

I received nothing that I asked for, all that I hoped for -

My prayer was answered."

I often ask God for help to make it through some of the hard things in the day.  He graciously answers - and He also gives me joy.  What a wonderful Father He is.  His answers aren't always what I expect, but He is always faithful!

"My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth."  Psalm 121:2

"To give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified."  Isaiah 61:3

"Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken."  Psalm 55:22

"I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord."  Psalm 27:13,14

"When troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy."  James 1:2

"Let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever shout for joy."  Psalm 5:11

"You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy."  Psalm 16:11

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

"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines; though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food; though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls; yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour."  Habakkuk 3:17-18

"Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy."  1 Peter 1:8

These verses are food to my soul.  They are my lifelines into the promises of God.  I am so grateful that He has given us a rich bounty of verses that speak to every need, every situation in our lives.

As we look to Him, He will meet our every need.  He never fails us.  He never leaves us.  He never rejects us.  He never gives up on us.  He never grows weary.  And as we lean into Him, He gives us joy unspeakable!  I am joyfully dependent on Him.

Life in Africa is always interesting! :)  A few nights ago our alarm went off in the middle of the night.  We weren't alone.  Two neighbours nearby had theirs go off too, so something was definitely happening.  All the dogs were barking in the neighbourhood as well.  Fortunately none of us were broken into!

We have a camera that looks out to the field behind us.  I could see something moving, but it was too dark to determine what it was.  I thought it was either a very large animal, or a person kinda bent over carrying something.  The security company came to check our area to see what was going on.

Everything was quiet/no one was around, but they did find a HUGE porcupine in the field - probably with all its quills out, which is why it looked so large on our camera screen.  They are known to roam our area at night.  That doesn't explain the alarms going off, of course, but at least I know what was moving in the field behind us.  I actually wish I could have seen it better.

This whole experience got me thinking about the unseen world around us.  I can imagine in my mind's eye the angels that were watching over us!  There are times when I have sensed God's divine presence and protection.  I'm sure there are many, many times that I wasn't aware that God was watching over us too.  Every night as I lay in bed, I ask God to send angels to watch over me, Floyd, and our family.  I'm so grateful for His constant watch-care - especially since Floyd isn't with me.

There are times when I've been with Floyd and he will look at something beyond me.  He's not "blanking out" - he's very focused on looking at something.  But I can't see anything.  I've found myself wondering if he's seeing angels.  I've prayed for angels to watch over him, and keep him company in his hospital room.  I hope God allows him to see them.  I asked him one time if he was seeing angels, and he smiled.....so who knows.  I'd love to see one (maybe I have and didn't know it), but whether that happens or not I know God sends His angels to watch over us.  They might have been walking right beside that porcupine!

"He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways."  Psalm 91:11

"God will order His angels to take good care of you."  Luke 4:10

"I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared."  Exodus 23:20

"The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and He delivers them."  Psalm 34:7

"The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore."  Psalm 121:8

We were in a bad accident one time in Colorado.  We hit black ice during a snowstorm.  Our car rolled several times and ended up upside down.  With the help of some passers-by, we managed to get out of the car - with only a few bumps and bruises.  When the state patrolman arrived, he asked how many people were killed in the car - he said no one could survive that!  He was shocked when he realized we were okay.  There's not a doubt in my mind that God cushioned our movements as that car rolled.  He was definitely protecting us.

I remember another time when we were traveling with a team across Turkey and Iran.  We had misjudged our time to get to the next town, and ended up stopping late at night to camp in a field to sleep.  The next morning when we awoke we saw a man (or angel?) on a nearby hill.  He said he watched over us all night to make sure we were safe.  I have used a picture from that occasion at the top of this post.  I’m the one right in the front : )  

There have been so many times when family members have been in dangerous situations.  In looking back, we've often thought there had to be angels watching over them, guarding them, protecting them.  I've never seen an angel - many people have......but I'm sure they've watched over me and our family.  I'm very grateful for God's protection!

Our Unexpected Journey

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I had a sweet visit with Floyd this week.  He was so tender.  I read my update about grief and gratitude to him.  Then I started recounting all the things we both have to be grateful for.  He seemed to relate to this - with both tears and smiles.  Then I had a time of prayer for us.  I told him that in my updates I would ask for prayer that he'll be able to see God's goodness in the midst of his hard situation.

I've had to deal with some big stuff this week - things that I'm not familiar with, and that I'm not quite sure how to handle.  On one particular day, I found myself tired and emotionally drained at the end of an intense day.  I had recorded the movie "I Can Only Imagine" recently, and decided to watch it to relax and unwind.

I've seen the movie several times before, but the impact of it always hits me afresh.  REDEMPTION!!  Where would we be without it?  We'd be so lost and hopeless without His redeeming grace and help.  I found myself crying and worshipping at the end of the movie - my heart filled with love and gratitude for the amazing power of redemption.

I thought of all the pain, loss, and suffering that we've walked through on this unexpected journey - me, Floyd, our family (it's not only what Floyd and I have walked through - there are a number of other losses and pain that have happened during this time for our family).......and many of you are walking through similar things in your life.  God is going to redeem each one of those things!  We may see it in our lifetime - or we may only see it in eternity......but we'll see it!

We serve a God who at the very core of who He is, is total love and redemption. Whatever you and I have gone through where there is something that has been robbed from us - He is working to redeem that.  He alone can cleanse the hurt, the sorrow, the weight of what is gone.  He alone can fill us with His strength, His grace, His healing, and His fresh power to keep going.  

And, of course, He has given the ultimate redemption in sending His Son to die for us, to extend total forgiveness to us......the greatest gift of redemption.  We are incredibly blessed to have such a wonderful, powerful redeeming Father.  The truth of this has been washing over my soul in wonderful waves of His goodness.

"He sent redemption to His people; He has commanded His covenant forever.  Holy and awesome is His name."  Psalm 111:9

"He has delivered us...to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption."  Colossians 1:13,14

"Put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with Him is full redemption."  Psalm 130:7

"You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good."  Genesis 50:20

"Come and see what our God has done, what awesome miracles He performs for people."  Psalm 66:5

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."  Romans 8:28

"But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold."  Job 23:10

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world."  John 16:33

Our wonderful Lord works in our life to give "beauty for ashes."  How awesome our Redeemer is!

I have also recently written about looking for the good in the hard things.  I have a fresh opportunity to do that!  I'm not a fan of winter.  The cold, rainy, windy winter season is rather miserable and discouraging for me.  Thankfully, in between the stormy weather, we have some lovely days of sunshine.  I'm grateful for those days.  And there's no snow to shovel here!  That's definitely a blessing.

As I was reflecting on this season that I'm not fond of, I realized that there are 2 beautiful gifts that we have in winter.......certainly things to thank the Lord for.  One is that all the aloe plants start blooming.  There are lots and lots of aloe plants around - and their flowers are beautiful.  They bloom in winter. :)  They are already so gorgeous.

Another gift is that we have the most awesome winter sunsets.  They are majestic masterpieces, like huge celestial paintings.....and they are at their absolute best in winter.  The colours, and the combination of colours are just stunning.  I stand in awe some nights watching the sun set.  Although it's so hard to "capture" the magnificence, I have used some photos I took at the top of this post.

Seeing these gifts in the midst of the winter weather that I don't like was a good personal reminder to me to look for the good things in the midst of hard, unpleasant things.  As I said before, they are ALWAYS there!

In the J.B. Phillips' translation of James 1:2,3 it says:  "When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives, my brothers, don't resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends!  Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance."

I can't really say that I always welcome the trials, pain, suffering, and unpleasant circumstances as "friends."  But I'm trying to see the good in them, the things I can thank the Lord for!  I believe God wants to bless us as we go through the hard times.  He trusts us that we can make it through them!  And He brings beauty to us in the midst of them.

I read a quote somewhere - "Life's burdens are designed not to break us but to bend us toward God."  As we look for the good things in the hard things - it bends our hearts in gratitude towards God!

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands."  Psalm 19:1

"And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good.  And there was evening and there was morning."  Genesis 1:31

"The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof."  Psalm 24:1

"And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light.  And God saw that the light was good.  And God separated the light from darkness.  God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night.  And there was evening and there was morning, the first day."  Genesis 1:2-5

"When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?"  Psalm 8:3-4

"On the glorious splendour of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate."  Psalm 145:5

I've realized that many times the "battles" in the hard times and situations are not just in what I'm going through, but in my thoughts.  If I let my thoughts run rampant, it can lead me into doubt, fear, insecurity, and unbelief.  But if I bring my thoughts to Him, and choose gratitude and worship - it changes my whole perspective!  I'm so very grateful for all the good, all the beauty He brings into the trials of life!  It's a daily gift from my Father to me.

Our Unexpected Journey

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I had a sweet visit with Floyd last week.  Sunday was our 52nd wedding anniversary, so we "celebrated" together.  The photo above is from our special day all those years ago.  It feels like ancient history. :)  Lots of sweet memories.

Floyd is doing well at the moment.  His therapist told me that He's having some good movement in his sessions with her.  There have been some cold, wet days here in Cape Town.  We need the rain, so I’m not complaining - but I'm very glad that Floyd has a warm, cozy room at the hospital.  And we are praying the chest congestion doesn’t come back to bother him.  

I dream quite often, but I very rarely remember what I dream.  I wake up knowing I've had a dream, but I can't remember anything about it.  On the rare occasion that I remember my dream, I always check in with the Lord to see if it's from Him.  I recently had such a dream that I know was an encouragement from the Lord.

I dreamed I was driving in a big city - heavy traffic - lots of different highways - very confusing - and I wasn't sure where I needed to go to get to my destination.  I knew where I was headed, but didn't know which roads to take.  As I drove, I saw injustice and unfairness along the way.  I wanted to stop and do something, but I couldn't because of all the traffic.    It was a bit upsetting.  I also had on shoes that made driving very difficult.

But in the midst of all this, someone was with me who was guiding me.  I couldn't see who it was, but I knew him, I trusted him.  He was familiar with the roads.  He kept telling me which road to take, and he was helping me with the lane changes in the heavy traffic.  I was nervous, but I felt confident that He'd show me the way.

When I awoke, I realized it was a picture of my life!  It gave me fresh courage and understanding that I'll make it to where I need to go on this unexpected journey.  Even now, several days later, the details of the dream are so vivid in my mind.  It has been comforting to me that God understands all the decisions and choices I am faced with, and He is guiding me.

Every week, usually a number of times each week, I face decisions that I have no experience with.  I truly don't know "which road" to take.  I feel surrounded with busyness, confusion, choices, unfairness, and it's often painful to manoeuvre because of the neuropathy in my feet.  Each detail of the dream seemed to reflect the reality of my life!

I have carried the sweet encouragement with me ever since the dream.  It has strengthened my heart that God is with me in such a sweet way on this journey.  HE is my guide!!  He is helping me navigate the busy roads.  I couldn't make it without Him.

"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.' "  Isaiah 30:21 

"The Lord will guide you always."  Isaiah 58:11

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you."  Psalm 32:8

"The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with His hand."  Psalm 37:23,24

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight."  Proverbs 3:5,6 

"Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths.  Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long."  Psalm 25:4,5

I love all the ways that God speaks into our lives.  I love that He understands and brings comfort to our hearts - even in the specific details.  I know I couldn't make it on this journey without Him.  I'm so grateful that He is right with me, directing me as I go along.  How faithful He is!  

I read a quote by Prince William of England when he was speaking to the survivors of the mosque killings in Christchurch, New Zealand.  Prince William, of course, lost his mother in a very public way when he was a young boy.  He said, "Grief, if you let it, will reveal who you are."

I've been reflecting on that statement for several weeks.  There is so much truth in those few words.  Grief, hard times, sickness, loss, discouragement, sadness, pain - they all bring out what's inside.....both good and bad.  We can become angry, resentful, bitter, disillusioned - or we can turn our hearts to God and allow Him to help us walk through the hard time.

It's so important in the GOOD times to prepare ourselves for the HARD times!  We all have seasons when things are going well - when life is just good, and there aren't big problems to deal with.  During these times, we need to press into God and dig deep foundations to prepare us for the storms of life when they come.

When hard times do come, we must dig deeper still!  We must dig deep, deep, deep into the resources that God has for us to help us stand against the strong winds of adversity.  Prayer, spending time in the Word, worship, and fellowship with other believers are all keys for helping us dig deep roots.

One of the keys for me has been to keep a grateful heart no matter what comes my way.  Even in the midst of the hardest times, there are ALWAYS things to be grateful for.  If I find it hard to be grateful - I can practice!  Just like I have to practice anything I'm learning to do, I can "practice gratitude" until I learn to do it well.  The more I practice, the better I get at it.  My mother always said to me "practice makes perfect."

When I practice gratitude, I ask God to give me eyes to see all the things in my life to be grateful for.....especially if I'm going through a hard time or a painful time.  I sometimes grab pen and paper and start by walking through our home and listing all the things I have to be grateful for.  Then I think of the world around me - and my family, friends, even acquaintances.  My list usually gets so long that I have to stop because it's taking too much time!!

Practicing gratitude changes my whole perspective on the situation.  The horrible situation doesn't look near as bleak when it's balanced by all the good things I have to be thankful for.  And a heart of gratitude begins to grow inside of me for the next time I need it.

I still have hard days - please don't get me wrong!  But keeping my eyes on Him, trusting Him, and practicing gratitude helps keep things balanced.  And then when any kind of "grief" comes - hopefully good things will flow from my heart and reveal who I am in Him.  

"The things that come out of a person's mouth come from the heart."  Matthew 15:18

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer."  Psalm 19:14

"Let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name."  Hebrews 13:15

"Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him.  Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness."  Colossians 2:7

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."  1 Thessalonians 5:18

"Giving thanks always and for everything....."  Ephesians 5:20

"Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honour and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever."  Revelations 7:12

There have been many things to grieve about on our unexpected journey.  From day one there has been a sense of loss - we have "lost" so many things.  But I've seen God fill up those empty spaces with His goodness and faithfulness.  In the midst of the grief, my prayer is that God will help me reveal the joy of who I am in Him.  

Our Unexpected Journey

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I’ve had a sweet visit with Floyd this week.  I got some big smiles, and very purposeful "blinks" to things I was saying.  Overall he was in good spirits, and seemed to be doing well physically.  It was so nice to see him in a peaceful state.  

My new cancer treatment is going well with only a few small side effects.  I'm praying for it to keep getting better.

I recently watched an interview with Corrie ten Boom from many years ago.  Her vibrant testimony was as real and vivid today as it was decades ago.  It was lovely to hear her voice again, and her stories of God's goodness and faithfulness strengthened my heart afresh.  One statement she made brought many memories flooding  into my heart.  She said "nothing is too great for God's power, and nothing is too small for His love."  Wow - so very true!

Just today I was talking with someone about our early days in ministry - especially when we were newly married and in our years in Afghanistan.  We were young, idealistic, and thought anything was possible!  We did some crazy things - but it was because we believed God could do great things!!  And, you know what?  He came through time and time again.  I'm still in awe of some of the things that happened.

We also took our small, everyday, somewhat tiny needs to Him - and saw Him meet us over and over again.  Again, we believed God cared about the little things in our lives as much as He cared about the big things.  I never hesitated to bring the small things to Him - and, again, He came through in wonderful ways.

During those early years a dear man named Dr. Christy Wilson came into our lives.  He "marked" my life forever by how he constantly thanked the Lord for both great and small things in his life.  You couldn't be around him very long before he was offering up thanks to the Lord for something!!  He had one of the most beautiful hearts of praise and worship of anyone I've ever known.

During the last few years I've realized how key it was for my whole life that I met Dr. Christy and learned this lesson from him when I was a young wife and mother.  It changed the way I viewed events in my life forever.  I love to bring the "great" matters to God and ask for answers - and I love that I can share the smallest details with Him and experience His love in them.....all-the-while thanking the Lord for everything that is going on!

I don't think I could have made it through these last few years if it wasn't for the greatness of His power......and the loving care of His Father's heart for the tiniest details of my life.  How wonderful, good, and faithful He is.

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."  Psalm 46:1

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

"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."  1 Corinthians 10:13

"In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."  Romans 8:37-39

"But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."  Isaiah 40:31

For those of us who are in our senior years, there are some things we don't like about growing older - especially all the aches and pains. Some days I feel like I'm falling apart bit by bit.  It's often said that "growing old isn't for wimps," and that is quite true!  But I think it's more than balanced out by all the good things of being older.  I started reflecting on them:

  • The richness of fellowship with the Lord that can only come over time.

  • The treasure of walking through many decades of life with my "gentle giant" and best friend, learning and growing together.....this one gift alone is priceless.

  • The sweet wonder of watching our children grow up and have their children.

  • The wisdom of age - I wouldn't want to go back to being 20 again for anything!

  • The treasure of friendships, especially the life-long ones.  The friendships we have that have come over many years are a priceless gift - something no amount of money can buy.

  • The joy of having seen lots of God's marvellous creation as we've travelled all over the world in ministry.

  • The fulfilment that comes by being able to pass on the things we've learned to the next generation.

  • The wonder of seeing God answer prayers over and over and over again through the years.  It never ceases to amaze me that He hears us and answers the cries of our heart.

And the icing on the cake, as the years go by, is being aware that God "knows the number of our days" and someday we'll join Him for all eternity.

Many of our western societies look down on the "frailties" of age.  Much of advertising is geared to products to help us stay young.  I'm blessed to live in an African culture where age is honoured and respected.  I'm "mama" to even strangers because of my wrinkles and grey hairs.

On the days when something isn't working in my body as good as it used to - I think through this list and realize it's okay.  The scales are more than balanced out by all the precious things God has brought into my life over the years.

And to those of you reading this who are still young - may I encourage you that you have a lifetime of wonder to walk in as you see God bring all these gifts into your life.

"Even to your old age and grey 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

"Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.  They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing."  Psalm 92:13,14

"Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day."  2 Corinthians 4:16

"Remember the days of old; consider the generations past.  Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you."  Deuteronomy 32:7

"Is not wisdom found among the aged?  Does not long life bring understanding?"  Job 12:12

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."  Psalm 73:26

"They will still bear fruit in old age."  Psalm 92:14

Life is truly a gift to be cherished.  I'm so grateful for every year I've had!  The "best days of our lives" aren't behind us - they're right in front of us as we live every day to the fullest for His honour and glory....whatever age we are.

Our Unexpected Journey

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One of Floyd's faithful carers had a visit with him recently that he said was perhaps his most significant of the 3+ years he has been caring for Floyd.  He took one of our All Nations leaders with him.  This man had gone through training with us here in Cape Town, then returned to his home country for ministry.  God has greatly anointed and blessed him.  They now have over 1000 churches, and have discipled believers to the 11th generation.  He had one of his leaders with him.

They thanked Floyd for his heart for Africa.  They assured him that his work has continued to bear fruit even while he's been sick.  They told Floyd that he had given his life to ministry, that his life is not over, so the ministry continues even now.  They commented that prayer brings glory to God, and there are many people praying because of his illness.....so God is being glorified.  Floyd smiled through the whole visit.  I'm sure he was encouraged, and hearing of this visit encouraged my heart too.  

I've now begun some new cancer treatment, so I’m continuing to pray for healing and  that this new treatment goes well and is successful.

I was reading a passage of scripture in my quiet time recently, and this verse seemed to jump off the page as I read it. - 

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful."  Hebrews 10:23 

A number of thoughts started coming to mind.  The first thought was about heavy traffic.  The older I get, the more I don't enjoy driving - especially on the freeway.  I'm sure this happens everywhere, but we seem to have some crazy drivers in Cape Town!  I've seen drivers "swerve" in and out of lanes continually - and carelessly.  I get nervous around them, and it's hard to know where they're going because they are constantly swerving.  Our son Matthew moved here to help us when his dad got sick.  It's a wonderful blessing that he drives me to my appointments.  I don't have to deal with those swerving drivers!!

My next thought was about me going along on our unexpected journey.  It seems long.  I get tired.  The "traffic" is often heavy.  I don't know how much further I have to go on the journey.  There are times when I want to "swerve" to another lane - or take an off ramp - or go on a detour.  I find myself not wanting to stay in my lane!

As this verse jumped off the page to me, I knew the Lord was speaking to my heart to hold steady on this journey.  I need to be careful not to let my heart, my mind, or my emotions "swerve" somewhere else.  God has allowed me to be on this journey, and He has been faithful each step of the way.  I need to stay the course and keep going......not swerve somewhere else.

I don't have much choice in terms of the circumstances, but where I find I'm vulnerable is in my thoughts.  I can't let my mind "swerve" or stray to other times, other places.  I must stay focused on where I am right now, and what I'm dealing with.  The visual image of swerving has helped me.  If I feel myself doing that, I grab the wheel and ask the Lord to help me stay steady and focused on what He has in store for me.

The best way I know to do that is to speak out His goodness and faithfulness to me - reminding myself of His promises to help me.  I thank Him for all the ways He has helped me not to swerve.  I praise Him for all the times He's helped me to stay steadily on course.  I speak out my trust in Him.  I declare that my hope is in Him, in His unfailing ways.  Choosing to not swerve, and speaking out my trust to the Lord has been a help and protection to keep steadily on course.

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."  Galatians 6:9

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths."  Proverbs 3:5,6

"Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."  Isaiah 41:10

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

"I can do all this through Him who gives me strength."  Philippians 4:13

"It is the Lord who goes before you.  He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you."  Deuteronomy 31:8

I'm grateful for the Lord's reminder to keep my eyes on Him, stay steady on the journey He has for me, and not swerve!

During these last few days that have been a bit quieter than usual for me, the Lord has been impressing upon me how important it is to keep joy alive in my heart.  His joy is my strength!  I can't allow circumstances to drag me down.  Hard things come, but I can maintain joy in the midst of the hard things and hard times.

I've been reminded that I can't have joy unless I'm thankful, so worship and gratitude need to be a vital part of my daily life.  In fact, I need to build a "grid of gratitude" through which I view everything else in life!  When I'm thankful, everything else is viewed through a heart of gratitude.

The Lord has also reminded me to be careful in my speech.  If I'm speaking all the time of the hard things, that impacts my heart.  I certainly need to be open, be real, be honest - but I need to be careful to not allow my heart to dwell on the negative things.  I must balance it with gratitude for the good things in my life......of which there are MANY even on the hardest days!

In the same way I guard my speech, I must also guard my thoughts.  If my thoughts are focused on the hard things, that impacts my emotions and I can become discouraged.  I must think on the things that are good!  A help and protection for me is reading the Word.  As I focus on who God is in my situation, my thoughts are filled with worship.

I've also felt Him speaking to me to LOOK for the blessings He has brought into each day.  They're there!  But if I'm focused on the trials, I might miss the joys.  As I find the joys, I can worship and thank Him for each one - speaking or singing my gratitude.  It's amazing how quickly the hard things weaken in their impact on my life as I worship Him for the good things.

These principles about joy are not new to me, but they are certainly helpful reminders as I navigate our unexpected journey.  Joy and sorrow/hardness can be intermingled - it's not a dichotomy.  He has faithfully provided for my every need.  He has given me joy for the journey.

"This is a sacred day before our Lord.  Don't be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!"  Nehemiah 8:10 

"Surely you have granted him unending blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence."  Psalm 21:6

"For the despondent, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast."  Proverbs 15:15

"This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."  Psalm 118:24

"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

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

"A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."  Proverbs 17:22

"When I said, 'My foot is slipping,' your love, O Lord, supported me.  When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul."  Psalm 94:18,19

"Restore to me the joy of your salvation.....to sustain me."  Psalm 51:12

"Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we many sing for joy and be glad all our days."  Psalm 90:14

The Joy of the Lord is constantly available to us through God's grace and goodness.  As I focus on His goodness in this day, His joy carries me through the trials. 

Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd's condition seems to swing up and down.  One day he seems to be doing fairly good - the next day he seems quite miserable.  A number of friends have written about specific things they have felt led to pray for Floyd.  I find that encouraging.  It reminds me of God's love and care for him in detailed ways.

Floyd continues to be very tender hearted.  As always, I pray for the sweet comfort of the Holy Spirit for his heart.  

We've been having lots of autumn/early winter fog these days in the area where we live.  Sometimes it is so very thick.  Usually it's just there and I can look out and see the almost impenetrable fog.  At other times it is moving right in front of my eyes - big, thick, rolling waves of it pouring in off the ocean.  I feel like I could almost reach out and touch it.  It's quite spectacular actually.

I sat watching it one day through the window and began to reflect on what I was seeing.  As is often the case, my thoughts began to drift to how the creation reflects the Creator.

Most of the time, God is just "there."  I know He's with me, around me, very much present.  I don't see anything in particular, but I rely on the truth of His word that He is with us.

At other times, I can see His hand at work in the everyday things of my life.  I can almost reach out and touch Him.  I can vividly "feel" His presence.  Sometimes it seems like there are "waves" of His Spirit washing over me.

One of the things I have come to appreciate at a much deeper level than ever before in my life is how God sends these waves of His grace pouring into my heart on difficult days.  I wouldn't even know how to count the number of days during the last 3+ years when I wondered if I could keep going.  At times I have felt weak, weary, alone, and my heart has hurt so deeply from the things that have been lost.  When these moments hit, I cry out to God for His grace, strength, and mercy.

Time and time again He has washed over me with His love and grace.  I can't see it like I have been able to see the waves of fog coming in off the ocean - but I have felt His ministry to me, experienced it in every part of my being.  He has been more than sufficient for every need.  He has met me and helped me in the tiniest details of what I've faced.  Now, because of the rolling waves of fog, I have a vivid visual image to go with what He has done for me!

"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."  2 Corinthians 12:9

"Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord."  2 Peter 1:2

"Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."  Hebrews 4:16

"Out of the fullness of His grace He has blessed us all, giving us one blessing after another."  John 1:16

"The grace of our Lord was more than abundant."  1 Timothy 1:14 

How grateful I am for the unending waves of His strength, mercy, and grace!  

It would be nice if we knew exactly what God is going to do in some of our life circumstances.  Sometimes we think we know, and then it doesn't go that way.  We're disappointed, maybe even hurt.  Sometimes we get angry.  We can feel like God has failed us or let us down.

I was recently talking to some people who felt they had heard from the Lord......but things didn't go quite the way they thought they would.  When this happens, we're in a vulnerable situation.  I've found myself in this position before.  We need to be extra careful how we respond.

God reveals things to us, but our human thoughts and desires can get in the way.  We have to be so careful to not let our hearts become hard if things aren't what we thought they would be.  We can't always predict what God will do.  We can't control Him.  We can't bargain with Him.  We can't hope or wish things into being.

What we can do is trust!  He is absolutely trustworthy - even when we don't understand.  His ways are definitely different from ours!  If I'm puzzled, disappointed, not sure what God is up to......my response should always be to trust.  I find it helpful to speak it out - to declare it - and to remind myself of what my response needs to be.  Saying "I trust you Lord.  I trust you Lord.  I trust you Lord."  leaves no foothold for the enemy to exploit whatever situation we're walking through.

The challenge for my heart is to trust the Lord whatever comes my way.  It's sometimes easier said than done.  But it's definitely the right choice.  

" 'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord.  'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.' "  Isaiah 55:8,9

"You asked, 'Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?' It is I - and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me."  Job 42:3

"Oh, how great are God's riches and wisdom and knowledge!  How impossible it is for us to understand His decisions and His ways."  Romans 11:33

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding."  Proverbs 3:5

"He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord."  Psalm 112:7

There is much about our unexpected journey that I don't understand, but my heart has chosen to trust the Lord each step of the way.  He has lovingly, faithfully helped me do that.

Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd's condition has gone up and down a bit, but some days he has been really miserable with the chest congestion.  We continually pray for relief from this for him.  The last few weeks I have had some very precious visits with him - some of my best over this long unexpected journey.  It has been a sweet treasure to my heart.  I'm hoping for more to come.

A little while ago I was struck with a violent case of food poisoning.  I was horribly sick for hours.  I was alone, hoping I wouldn't pass out from the trauma that was attacking my body - and calling out to the Lord to help me.

In the midst of all this, I was reminded of the principle I've written about - worshipping God in everything that comes our way.  Laying on my bed in between bouts of being sick, I wondered if I could even do that.  I felt consumed with crying out for God to help me.  I didn't feel like offering up praises.

But I began to interrupt my pleas for God to help me into thanking Him that He was with me.  That I wasn't alone.  That He was right beside me.  That He was holding my right hand.  That He was watching over me.  I thanked Him for His faithfulness.  I thanked Him for sustaining me through so many things the last few years.  I thanked Him that His grace is sufficient for every need - even horrible food poisoning.

The sickness didn't end right there.  I was still sick for a few more hours.  But something changed.  It's hard to describe, but I felt I had overcome something.  I began to experience the reality of what I was praying out.  God WAS right there with me!!  He was helping me and carrying me through something very difficult.

It was a poignant reminder of the power of worship.  It releases something that is mighty.  It's definitely a tool, a gift that God has placed in our hands.  Praise to Him gets us through the trials of life.  He is so worthy to receive our praises in every situation of life!

"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 

"The Lord your God will always be at your side, and He will never abandon you."  Deuteronomy 31:6

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."  Philippians 4:6-7 

"But for you who fear my name, the Sun of righteousness will rise with healing in His wings."  Malachi 4:2

"I honor you and praise you because you have done amazing things.  You have always done what you said you would do."  Isaiah 25:1

"Because your love is better than life, I will praise you.  I will praise you as long as I live.  I will lift up my hands in prayer to your name.  Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.  I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely."  Psalm 63:3,4,7,8 

"Then Jesus said to him, 'Be gone, Satan!  For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.' "  Matthew 4:10

"Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!  Worship the Lord with gladness.  Come before Him, singing with joy.  Acknowledge that the Lord is God!  He made us, and we are His.  We are His people, the sheep of His pasture.  Enter His gates with thanksgiving; go into His courts with praise.  Give thanks to Him and praise His name.  For the Lord is good.  His unfailing love continues forever, and His faithfulness continues to each generation."  Psalm 100

"My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day."  Psalm 71:8

Even though my body took a while to recover from the experience, my heart was rejoicing in the fresh lesson I learned about the power of worship.  It's a powerful and beautiful tool that God has given us.  Praising Him helps us to live in victory in all of life's circumstances.

Our Unexpected Journey

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For those of you who have followed us on this 3 year unexpected journey, you'll remember that shortly before Floyd got sick the Lord spoke to him the word "breakthrough" as his word for the year.  It was a clear impression to Floyd's heart, but he didn't understand it.  We talked, prayed, pondered, and sought the Lord together about it - but nothing seemed to be clear as to what that meant.

I've not forgotten that word!  I know that somehow it's tied into Floyd's journey.  Recently, in several different ways, I've been reminded of that word.  A few days ago I went to see the movie "Breakthrough."  It's based on a true story.  I remember hearing about the young man it's based on, but I didn't remember all the details.  I didn't know it was a movie - and didn't know it was showing here - but as soon as I heard about it, I knew I had to go see it.

I worshipped and cried my way through the movie.  What happened truly was an amazing breakthrough.  When I came home, I knew God was speaking to me afresh to keep hope alive for a breakthrough.  I honestly don't know what that means.  As I've said before, it could be healing or heaven.  That is in God's hands.  But I know I need to keep praying for the word that God put on Floyd's heart before he got sick to be fulfilled.  I can trust what God has planned!  I think our part, my part, is to keep praying.

Sarah Young says "the longer you wait for your prayers to be answered, the closer you are to a breakthrough."  We're in a good place as we've been praying and waiting for a long time!

Floyd has been very tender in all my recent visits with him.  He cries at things I share.  He often cries at worship songs I play for him.  He looks good.  He seems at peace.  But his heart is very tender.  Several visitors recently have remarked about the strong presence of the Lord in the room.  I pray for that - and for angels to surround him and keep him company.

One of the things I've been reflecting on in recent days is how grateful I am for the gift of His peace.  I have my plate full of challenges and stresses.  In fact my plate is overflowing!  But in the midst of it all there is a sweet peace.  It's truly a "peace that passes understanding."  It goes against the circumstances, so I know it's clearly from God's hand.  I thank Him daily for it.

Whenever I face my need for direction in determining the way forward, I look for that sweet peace.  I've learned that without His peace, I shouldn't move ahead.  It's always a check or confirmation of how I should go. If there's no peace, I wait.  

His gift of peace doesn't keep us from going through hard times.  But His peace goes with us in our hearts and minds in the midst of the hard times.  Without the deep inner peace that He gives, I don't know if I could have made it these last few years.  His peace has helped me through countless storms.  The one who calmed the stormy seas when He was in the boat with His disciples has calmed the stormy seas all around me over and over again.  Thank you Jesus!

"May the Lord of peace Himself give you His peace at all times and in every situation."  2 Thessalonians 3:16

"The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:7

"The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace."  Psalm 29:11

"There is such a great peace and well-being that comes to the lovers of your word."  Psalm 119:165 TPT

"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you."  Isaiah 26:3

" 'Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,' says the Lord, who has compassion on you."  Isaiah 54:10

I am so grateful for His gift of peace!

On this unexpected journey we're on, I find God finds ways to touch every area of my life and my heart with special lessons.  I recently had an unusual one.  

I was expecting something to happen, and I thought it hadn't.  It wasn't a big thing.  It was actually very small - a speck of sand in comparison to the big, rocky, boulder type issues going on in my life!  But it touched a tender nerve.  I felt disappointed and somewhat rejected.  But it was such a tiny, tiny thing that I dismissed it.

The only problem was that it kept coming back to my mind.  So obviously the "nerve" it touched was bigger than I thought.  I gave it to the Lord, and confessed to Him that I realized He was wanting me to find my full acceptance, approval, and security in Him.  I actually prayed that prayer quite a few times during the course of the day until I felt like it was truly dealt with in my heart.

Then about 24 hours later, I found out that what I thought was going to happen......actually did happen, but I wasn't aware of it.  I thought it hadn't happened.  Are you following me?  I was dealing with the tender nerve for no reason at all!  Well you can imagine how God started speaking to me.

First of all, I sat down and laughed.  I kinda felt that God might be chuckling at me too.  I allowed something to "get" to my heart for no reason.  I had a good talk with the Lord about all this.  I realized there was a vulnerable spot in my heart that I needed to give to Him.  I needed to let His love for me fill every tiny crevice of my heart so that there was no room left for any feelings of rejection, insignificance, or aloneness to sneak in.

I was surprised at all this, because I went on a long spiritual journey when I was young in dealing with insecurity in my life.  But somehow, someway this small opening was uncovered.  I'm so grateful I could bring it to the Lord and get it dealt with.  I don't want to leave any openings in my heart for the enemy to try and use or exploit.

It also made me thank the Lord afresh for how much He has used this journey to speak to me and teach me things that I need to learn.  It was a very sweet, personal lesson to my heart!  I'm grateful that He didn't leave that tiny "speck of sand" un-dealt with in my life.  How good He is!

"For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."  Philippians 1:6

"The Lord is for me; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?"  Psalm 118:6

"He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber."  Psalm 121:3

"O Lord, you have searched me and known me."  Psalm 139:1

"I find my rest in God alone.  He is the one who saves me.  He alone is my rock."  Psalm 62:1,2

I'm so grateful that God "knows" us, and that He's so faithful to teach us lessons in every area of our lives. 

Our Unexpected Journey

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I know that God is a God of detail......I have only to open my eyes and look around, and I see it everywhere.  But every once-in-a-while something happens that just adds an exclamation point to that!  I've just had one of those "somethings" happen.

I have a favorite pair of earrings that I wear all the time. They have special meaning to me.  A few days ago I lost the very tiny "back" of one of those earrings.  I had been wearing them all day, and I had been to so many different places during the day.  I didn't notice until late afternoon, when I felt that the earring was loose, that the back was gone.

I looked as many places as I could, but it felt very unrealistic to think that I could find it.  I did pray though!!!  I "poured" out my heart to God as I've written about recently.  I told the Lord that in the big scheme of things it wasn't very important, but it would mean a lot to me if He could help me find it.  It's a particular size to fit these earrings, so I didn't know if I could replace it.  It seemed impossible to even see such a tiny piece, much less be able to find it.

Days went by without finding it.  I had been to a therapy appt. that day, and I asked the therapist to look.  She had looked everywhere without success......and then a few days later she found it under a cabinet.  She just "happened" to see it.  It's SOOOO tiny!

You can imagine how my heart was touched by this.  It was a sweet, personal reminder of how God loves details.....of how He's concerned about the details of our lives.  I would have still believed that if I had never found the little gold backing - but it was such a special, personal reminder to my heart.  It was a miracle - not an earth shattering one in terms of what it was - but a special miracle to my heart of God's love and care.  I'm still blown away!!

And if God can help me find that tiny, tiny gold earring back - I keep thinking how much more He can answer the really "important" prayers I'm lifting up to Him.  My faith is encouraged.  My hope is strengthened.  My prayers have increased.  My heart is expectant.

"And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.' "  Luke 15:6

"'Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?"  Luke 15:8

"Why even the hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows."  Luke 12:7

"What is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him?"  Psalm 8:4

"He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber."  Psalm 121:3

"The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field."  Matthew 13:44

The God of detail who knows the very number of hairs on our head is also concerned about all the details of our daily life.  The awesome God of the universe, the Creator, is also a personal God!  He cares about each of us.  He hears every prayer we offer up to Him, and He is watching over us.  I'm so grateful for His loving, personal care - and for His answering a sweet prayer that I lifted up to Him.

Our Unexpected Journey

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A sweet friend who is visiting went with me to see Floyd this week.  We had a precious, tender visit together.  We both shared testimonies of people who have come to know Jesus - some as a result of Floyd's ministry in the past.  All three of us were crying as we thanked the Lord for His goodness and faithfulness.  As I always do when I'm with Floyd, we tried to encourage him that his "voice" still speaks and his life is still fruitful - even though he is still and silent right now.  He always soaks up the encouragement like a sponge.  

We continue to pray for protection for Floyd's heart and mind against the lies of the enemy.......and against discouragement.  

The words to an old chorus I sang in church when I was growing up came to my mind the other day.  "He's all I need.  He's all I need.  Jesus is all I need."

God is enough.  In fact, God is more than enough!  That phrase has been ringing in my mind in recent days while singing the chorus.  As humans we always want more.....or something different.  We are rarely satisfied.  It's the old philosophy of "the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence."  Have you ever noticed how often cows have their heads stuck through the fence eating the grass on the other side?  It's the same as on their side of the fence......but it looks better on the other side.  We humans can be the same in our thinking.

I've found my heart being challenged to thank the Lord for what I have and not want more (even in this time of loss and sickness)......and to concentrate on God being "enough" for me.  When everything is going good - it's easy to think that God is enough.  But when hard times hit, we can wonder if God has disappeared.  He hasn't!  

He is right beside us all the time.  He is taking care of us.  He carries us when we're weak.  He holds our right hand when we're struggling.  He picks us up when we fall.  He meets our daily needs for provision.  He forgives us when we fail and sin.  He encourages our hearts when we're sad.  He gives grace for every need.  He dries our tears when our emotions overwhelm us.  He counsels us when we need wisdom and direction.  

HE IS ENOUGH!  We can't trust our feelings.  They often betray us and make us think we're on our own - or that God has abandoned us.  The enemy will try to whisper every lie he can think of  to make us feel God isn't sufficient.  We must stand against those lies.

There have been whole books written about God's sufficiency.  They contain wonderful and profound truths.  We could feast on them for weeks as we read about all that God has provided for us.  I wish I had the knowledge and skill to write such wonderful books.

But, for me, it comes down to the simplicity of simply knowing that God is enough!  For whatever need I have, whatever situation I'm facing, whatever emotion is weighing on my heart - He is enough.

I am so grateful!

"What, then, shall we say in response to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?"  Romans 8:31

"My God will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:19

"God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work."  2 Corinthians 9:8

"The Lord will fulfil His purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.  Do not forsake the work of your hands."  Psalm 138:8

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

"For nothing will be impossible with God."  Luke 1:37

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

"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."  Isaiah 41:10

The Bible is packed full and overflowing with verses about God being enough.  I claim them afresh.  I hold onto them on hard days.  And I thank God that He knows how much we need the reassurance of His word that He is enough!  He gave us all those wonderful verses.

I've never been very good at new languages.  I studied French in high school and loved it - such a beautiful language - but I never managed to speak it very well.  During the years we lived in Holland, I was the worst in our family at speaking Dutch.  I just have a hard time wrapping my tongue around the sounds of new languages.

But during this unexpected journey we're on, I've had to learn a new language.  It's all the medical "jargon."  So many new words and phrases.  It's definitely a language of its own!  In the early days when Floyd was in ICU, I was constantly asking the medical staff to explain what they were talking about!  Even recently I've come across some new terms that I didn't understand.

It's made me reflect on the fact that I'm so grateful God understands us all.  Regardless of what language we speak, what terms we use - He understands.  Every word we say.  Every phrase we use.  Every mumbled communication through our tears.  Every whisper we speak......He listens, hears, and responds to us.  That gives me such sweet assurance.

I have sometimes wished we could go back to the pre-Tower of Babel days when everyone spoke the same tongue.  I think it would eliminate a lot of confusion and misunderstanding!  But thank goodness God understands us and sees what our heart is saying - as well as our words.  

God hears every word we say.  We can pray with that assurance.  He doesn't ignore us, He doesn't put us on "silent," and He never slumbers or sleeps so He's always available.  I take such comfort in knowing that He is always listening.

"In panic I cried out, "I am cut off from the Lord!"  But you heard my cry for mercy and answered my call for help."  Psalm 31:22

"You came near when I called you, and you said 'Do not fear.' "  Lamentations 3:57

"I will answer them before they even call to me.  While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!"  Isaiah 65:24

"The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles.  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."  Psalm 34:17,18

"Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."  Jeremiah 29:12,13

When I'm feeling desperate, alone, needing help with something - it is so comforting to know that God is listening to every word I speak and that He understands me completely.