Our Unexpected Journey

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

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

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

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

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

Some of the little glimmers that carried me through:

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

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

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

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

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

Then there were other more tangible glimmers:

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

- The warm sunshine flooding in the window.

- The calls and songs of birds outside.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Unexpected Journey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Wonder as I Wander

I wonder as I wander

On this unexpected way.

I wonder what is still ahead,

And what will fill my day.

 

I never planned to come this way -

This path is so unknown.

The twists and turns go on and on.

They’re not what I thought God had shown.

 

Our “golden years” were just ahead, 

And we planned to slow the pace.

Instead a whole new course we’re on,

And we’re in a much different race.

 

I wonder what is still ahead -

I wonder what the end will be.

I wonder what God has in store –

I wonder what He has for me.

 

I’ve not been one to wander,

As the years have all gone by.

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

And I’ve never questioned why.

 

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

All over the wide world;

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

When I was a young girl.

 

I even felt at that young age 

That someday I’d live here;

But I would have never dreamed 

That this journey would be so severe.

 

I wonder as I wander what is still ahead.

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

To keep trusting and holding His hand

As He shows day by day His choice.  

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Someone sent me this acronym for August:

A - ask

U - until

G - God

U - unveils

S - something

T - tangible

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

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

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

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

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

Our Unexpected Journey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How awesome and faithful He is! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Unexpected Journey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I read a quote from Corrie ten Boom:  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Unexpected Journey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Unexpected Journey

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Unexpected Journey

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

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

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

The Ocean's Roar

The ocean is so loud tonight -

I can clearly hear it roar.

It sounds like someone’s crying out

From the deep, deep ocean floor.

Is that a cry for help I hear?

Or a moan of someone’s pain?

Or is it voices crying out

For our much needed rain?

It seems to go on endlessly, 

Roaring loudly into the night.

I wonder if it will continue to roar

Until the morning’s light.

The closer I listen, and

The more I try to understand -

The more it seems I hear the words

And can tell what is being planned.

It seems as if the prayers and pleas

Are mixed with glorious praise.

The ocean floor is flooding up

It’s voice in harmony raised.

Nature cries out from the deepest deep

To worship our wonderful Lord.

As we join in, our voices raised,

We blend in one accord!

  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Unexpected Journey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"He gives us more grace."  James 4:6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Unexpected Journey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I'm grateful for His love!

Our Unexpected Journey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m so thankful for His faithfulness!

Our Unexpected Journey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Unexpected Journey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How faithful, sure, and true He is!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Unexpected Journey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Unexpected Journey

These past two weeks Floyd has battled another really bad chest infection.  The doctor had given us a pretty grim diagnosis.  But !!  The infections are now gone, the fever is gone, and he is regaining strength.  I'm sure it's an answer to prayer.  He's been sitting in his chair.  His breathing is clear, the phlegm is much less, and he has had good connections with people.

During a time of worship with Floyd, the two carers that were with him said he was staring intently at something in the room that they couldn't see.  They asked him if he maybe saw Jesus or angels - and he smiled real big.  I often pray that that will be the case!

As they left, they waved to him from the door and asked if he could wave back to them - which he did.  It's encouraging to see every connection he makes with clear responses.  I know these encourage our hearts - and we wait to see if it's part of a bigger healing God is doing in his body. Only God knows the plan He has for Floyd.  While we wait to see it unfold, we are grateful for His daily care and faithfulness.

I read a quote from Sarah Young in one of her devotionals - speaking as if Jesus were talking to us.  "I know exactly how much you can bear, and I set limits to your suffering.  Do not multiply your trouble by projecting it into the future as if it were endless, for I can relieve or remove it at any moment.  Your job is to continue trusting Me in the present, waiting for Me to provide a way out - My way and timing!"

I continue to look to Him, trust Him, waiting for His way out and His timing from this long unexpected journey we've been on!  He knows how much I/we can bear.  He won't give us too much!  His grace continues to be sufficient - one day at a time.

"We pray that you'll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul - not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory strength God gives."  Colossians 1:11  The Message

Thank you, Lord, for your "glory strength!!"  I could never make it on my own, but He is so very, very faithful!

"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.  Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life."  Psalm 143:8

"But all who listen to me shall live in peace and safety, unafraid."  Proverbs 1:33

His love, His word, His presence are so comforting and supportive.  When I feel alone - fearful - uncertain.......wondering what the future holds, He is the wonderful constant.  He's always there.  He always enfolds me in His love.  There are moments during this journey with Floyd and my chemo treatment when I feel so weak.  But all I have to do is call to Him and He wonderfully meets me with all I need.

My strength is building before round 4 of my chemo, but it's amazing how quickly it disappears when I do a few little things.  I'm so grateful for the "good" days.

"You are to cling to the Lord your God, just as you have done to this day."  Joshua 23:8

"Don't be afraid, for I am with you.  Don't be discouraged, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you.  I will hold you up with my victorious right hand."  Isaiah 41:10

I was thinking this week when my strength seemed to disappear so quickly - when I get tired, weak, weary on the long journey.......and I feel like I can't keep holding on......HE holds me!!  He will never let go.  His grip is secure.  He is always strong.  He doesn't grow weary.  I can even relax in my weakness knowing that He is clinging to me, even as I try to cling to Him.

Thank you Lord!!  What a sweet assurance that is.

Our Unexpected Journey

This past week Floyd has been peaceful and in a pleasant mood.  He seems to be interacting with the care team more, which is encouraging. His small steps of improvement seem to be consistent these past weeks.  It’s so good that he has been in a cheerful mood - lots of smiles......even a few "cheeky" ones.  He's tried to tease some of the carers a bit.

On my side, overall the after effects from round 2 of chemo have continued to be milder than round 1.  But there are days and nights that have been hard.  It's a comfort to know I'm being carried by many prayers.

"I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.  I will sing the Lord's praise, for He has been good to me."  Psalm 13:5,6

In the hard moments, I keep my gaze on His goodness and unfailing love!  He is faithful.

"The Lord said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by."   Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind.  After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.  And after the fire came a gentle whisper."  1 Kings 19:11,12

There have been times in the last year when the Lord has spoken loudly and clearly to me - almost as through a megaphone......definitely getting my attention.

In recent weeks, it seems like He's speaking in gentle whispers to my heart.  It has been so gracious and tender.  It's the "strength" I can handle right now.

I've been very touched to see that God is mindful of our condition, what we need, and what we can cope with.  How wonderful and personal He is - so loving and caring.

"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

On this unexpected journey that we've been on, one of the things that fills my heart with gratitude is how the Lord has so lovingly, faithfully, gently, and personally taught me His truth and ways.  I could never have navigated my way through this time without that.

My sleep is greatly impacted by the chemo.  I'm often awake in the night.  I'll lay quietly and talk to the Lord.  So I have to add to that verse that my hope is in Him, not only all day long, but also all night long.  During the night is probably when I'm having some of my sweetest conversations with Him.  I'm glad He doesn't "slumber or sleep" - He's on call 24/7!

As resurrection Sunday approaches, I can't help but pray for a resurrection touch for Floyd!!  My heart continues to trust in our wonderful Father, and in His plans for Floyd - even as I also feel freedom to ask for miracles.

Blessings to each of you as we enter this week of thanking Jesus for His death and resurrection for us!

Our Unexpected Journey

Floyd has had a good few days.  He's been alert, pleasant, peaceful, smiley.  I sent my love via carers a couple times.......and they got a smile back from him each time. :)  I sent an audio message to him the other day too.  He had an emotional response.  I want to remind him I'm thinking of him and that I love him - but I don't want to upset him.

One of the carers mentioned to Floyd that he looked forward to being able to visit with him on our deck again, sharing testimonies of workers scattered across Africa, and enjoying our ocean view.  He said Floyd teared up at that.  It's wonderful to know he understands, but it can be hard too at times.

A while back, some friends gave us a fig tree.  We planted it, but it didn't do very well.  We've been in a drought and have water restrictions, so we couldn't really nurture it very well.  The poor tree shriveled up, and was mostly a barren "stick."  Several times I almost pulled it up to toss in the trash.

I recently looked out and saw it........and was stunned.  It has big, green leaves on it now.  It looks healthy, and I have hope that it will keep growing.  It's quite amazing.  I would never have anticipated it resurrecting in such a way - especially since we still haven't been able to give it water.

"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crops 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 Savior."  Habakkuk 3:17,18

If I stand back and look at this unexpected journey we've been on - and especially now with my chemo treatments thrown into the mix - it can look very "barren."  But as I looked at that stick of a fig tree that now has big green leaves......wow!  Who knows what God is doing that we can't see.  My heart of trust in Him is rekindled.  I am joyful in Him, my God and Savior.  He is good and faithful!

This Tuesday was my second round of chemo and everything went smoothly.  I'm tired and have the normal chemo side effects but Praise God, I am doing much better than I did with the first round.

I was thinking that we would have never dreamed of this current scenario - all that has happened to Floyd, how long it has gone on, and now my cancer returning.

But God knew!!  He's not surprised by it all.

And He has wonderfully provided for us:

- the rehab hospital that has been so perfect for Floyd

- the wonderful "care team" that spends time with Floyd and cares for him

- the new "Sally care team" that is helping me, supporting me

- the blessing of our son, Matthew, being here to help

- family members that have come a number of times

- friends that have flown in from all over the world to visit Floyd

- high quality cancer care & a really loving chemo room team

- my cancer treatment is being covered by our medical aid/insurance

- the restful atmosphere of our home to recover in

- the incredible, faithful prayers from people all over the world

- the generous gifts that have helped cover Floyd's care

The list could go on and on.  These aren't just "coincidences."  They're testimonies of God's wonderful love and provision - His care for us.  I realized today how blessed and encouraged I am by all this.

"Then they cried to Him in their distress.  He sent forth His word and healed them.  He rescued them from the grave.  They cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distress.  He stilled the storm to a whisper, and the waves of the sea were hushed."  Psalm 107:19, 20, 28, 29

How mindful He is of every detail in our lives.  How faithful He is.  How loving and caring.  My heart is steadfast toward Him and filled with gratitude!

Our Unexpected Journey

Floyd has had a good few days - resting, peaceful, sleeping. 

I woke up on Tuesday to clumps of hair falling out.  So I took scissors to it to "chop" it off......haven't you wanted to do that when you were a kid?! :) Then on Wednesday the bald look returned as I had my head shaved.  It's not my favorite look, but I learned last time that at least I have a nice shaped head!

In the midst of a really hard first round of chemo, I had some sweet moments with the Lord.  I wanted to share one of them with you that was so special to me.

On one of the days I was so sick, feeling very alone, missing Floyd and concerned for him - I could barely focus my thoughts.  I was so miserable. I told the Lord it was the most alone I've ever felt in my whole life.  In less than a heartbeat, I instantly felt His sweet, comforting presence envelop me!

And then a short while later, a friend came over.  She said she had been praying for me around the same time, and was reminded of Jesus on the cross - when He cried out "Father, why have you forsaken me?"  She said Jesus had to go through those moments of being totally alone in order to understand our aloneness (and to atone for our sins),  but because of going through that we NEVER have to be totally alone!  He never forsakes us.  

It was such a personal, encouraging word to my heart.  I have been savoring it for days.  I may even feel very alone, but I'm not!!  Thank you Lord!  I'm so grateful for His presence even on the hardest of days.

"Be strong and courageous......He will never leave you nor forsake you."  Deuteronomy 31:6

I had written about this in the update that I send out.  I found out later that right around when the prayer update was going out......two of the carers were with Floyd.  They were playing Matt Redman's song to Floyd about "never once did we ever walk alone."

As they played the worship song, they raised their hands in prayer.  Floyd had one of the broadest smiles they had ever seen on his face, and he tried to lift both his leg and his arm in worship with them!

While they were still with him their phone dinged with the prayer update I'd just sent, and they were able to share it with Floyd.  It was so very special that God was ministering the same thing to both Floyd and me.  He is with us both - and He never leaves us alone!  How very faithful He is!

Now that I have my new bald look, my head gets cold.  I have some nice caps, but yesterday I was sitting in the warm sunshine.  It felt so good on my very white head that could use a little color too! :)  As I sat there, I became conscious of a roaring sound.  I realized it was the ocean's roar as the tides were changing.  It was so loud, so awesome, so powerful.

As I thought of the faithfulness of God's creation in the constant ebb and flow of the ocean - I could almost feel His faithfulness washing over me. His still small voice was reminding me that just as He controls the forces of nature in the seas.......He also controls my world and all that is impacting me.  His faithfulness is sure and constant.

My strength has been building bit by bit this week.  I'm so thankful for that.  The next round is Tues.  I'm grateful that many have been covering me in prayer for round two.

"Who is like you, Lord God Almighty?  You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.  You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them."  Psalm 89:8,9

"Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.  He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them - He remains faithful forever."  Psalm 146:5,6

God is wonderfully faithful! 

Our Unexpected Journey

Well, my chemo journey has begun and after a reasonably good first day, the horrible side affects hit like a lightning bolt with the whole range of symptoms all at once.  I have been absolutely flattened.

I have sweet friends that have been caring for me, but I'm extremely weak. 

Meanwhile, Floyd has been in good spirits the last few days after having been mostly agitated and sad the few days before that.

One of the nurses told two of the carers that the nurses had gathered around Floyd's bed to pray for him.  She had come in a little late and noticed that Floyd was crying as they prayed for him.  When they finished, he looked at each one with a smile of gratitude.  I can't tell you how blessed I was to hear that story!

When the Lord spoke to my heart that I needed to "release" Floyd into His hands in this season and concentrate on caring for myself, it was hard to let go.  I love and care for him so much and I was concerned about how things would go.  This sweet story showed me how awesome and broad the Lord's reach is to watch out for my husband.  I'm so thankful for the wonderful team at the hospital who care for him.  May He bless them!

As I am going through these awful side effects of chemo, and thinking that it was never quite this bad the first time, some friends have suggested that maybe my body is a bit weakened from the stress of this past year.  And as I think about that there's a scripture that keeps floating through my mind:

"But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in His wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture."  Malachi 4:2

I think I'm attracted to that calf leaping with joy! :)  I'm longing for that healing touch.  And I have been leaning deeper into God's strength, grace, and faithfulness!

"Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds."  Psalm 36:5

There's no end to His faithfulness!

Our Unexpected Journey

Floyd has had some days of being unusually smiley and happy this week.   He’s had guests from Scotland - friends of ours for many years.  He was responsive and had some smiles for them too.  I'm so thankful for his smiles.  And I'm so grateful for the many friends who share God's goodness and encouragement with him.

Our All Nations family had a prayer time for Floyd and me on Thursday, a few days before I started chemo.  It was very special.  I was encouraged and blessed.  During the prayer time, it felt like there was some kind of "shift" in the spirit.  I'm trusting for fresh answers to prayers.

One encouraging word was that Floyd's situation is like a plane coming in for landing.  It's in a circling, "holding" pattern as it's in contact with the control tower - waiting for declarations and permission to land. We prayed for things to be cleared away for the landing.  The "landing" could be healing or heaven.  We continue to trust and wait.

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

"Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him."  James 1:12

"We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope."  Romans 5:3,4

"As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.  Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast.  You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful."  James 5:10,11

I am encouraged that His "mercies are new every morning" and He is faithfully helping me on this journey - one day at a time.  His grace is there fresh each day.  Without it, I wouldn't have made it!

As I have cried out to the Lord over and over through this past year to help me see things from His perspective - to help me understand what He's doing, what He's up to,  I've had a couple things that have been growing in my heart.  I'd like to share them…

I am increasingly convinced that we have been involved in spiritual warfare this last year as we've entered into prayer on behalf of Floyd. There is a big spiritual battle that has been taking place.  I don't know exactly what the battle is over, but it's important!  I think it could have to do with release in the arenas of things that are on Floyd's heart  - refugees, the Muslim world, the hard/unreached peoples/places of the world, the future of South Africa - and especially for the Body of Christ to say "yes" to the Lord in helping to meet needs in these areas.

Several times over the past year I've been directed to the book of Daniel where the prince of Persia hinders the answers to Daniel's prayers.  It's a reminder of the importance of persevering prayer. 

The enemy doesn't like prayer, and there has been incredible waves of prayer released this past year.  I believe that has intensified the battle. But the enemy is already defeated.  Jesus is victor!  The ultimate battle was fought on the Cross of Calvary.

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."  Ephesians 6:10-12

"The Lord directs the steps of the Godly.  He delights in every detail of their lives."  Psalm 37:23

"We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps."  Proverbs 16:9

"Guide my steps by your word, so I will not be overcome by evil."  Psalm 119:133

We need to continue to stand our ground in prayer.......while we ask and believe for God to direct our steps for the future.  He is faithful!

The second thing that's been growing in my heart is that, for purposes I don't entirely understand, I think God has allowed this season of suffering for Floyd.  I have often suspected that out of Floyd's heart to serve God at all costs, he might have "offered" to the Lord to be willing to suffer.  I recently listened to one of Floyd's sermons that clearly indicated he had done that - but he also said he told the Lord if He ever called him to do that, that he'd be trusting for God's grace because he knew he couldn't do it on his own.

None of us like suffering.  We'd be crazy if we did!  But I know God allows it and uses it.  I feel a growing understanding that Floyd gave the Lord "permission" to go through suffering in his life. 

I realize that I may be completely wrong about this.  I'm not stating it as fact.  I'm sharing it as a growing conviction that I've had.  I continue to pray that God would continualy give Floyd the "grace" for this season.  I want to make sure he is covered in prayer for this.

"We glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope."  Romans 5:3,4  

The purpose of our suffering is to produce hope, not to diminish it or destroy it.  I am keeping my hope in the Lord to use this unexpected journey we've been on for His purposes - and that He will receive glory from it.

"So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without His unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever."  2 Corinthians 4:16-18  The Message

I think there's more happening than "meets the eye."  I don't understand it all, but I know God is in control.  And I trust Him - absolutely and completely.  He is good and faithful!  

Our Unexpected Journey

This week Floyd has been sleepy on and off but calm and restful.  He has also had some wonderful visits from friends from our Kabul and Amsterdam days.  That was very special for him I’m sure.  He has been raising his hand in worship with some of the carers.  Also, when the carer asked him to do some exercises - he took the nebulizer off, laid it on the bed, and systematically started raising his arm, leg, and head over and over.  It was quite amazing.  I'm encouraged by his understanding and clear responses.

I have been working to get lots of details in place before I start my chemo treatment soon.  I have felt such a sweet presence of the Lord guiding me, helping me.  I've asked Him to be my husband through all this in Floyd's absence.  I know He will faithfully do that.

In the midst of all that has happened this year, I think the Lord has wanted to teach me a new level of trust in Him - and to teach me how to persevere in difficult circumstances.

I've always been a "steady" type person.  In a crisis situation, I'm usually pretty cool, calm, and collected.  I can handle pressure, know what to do, keep things together, and navigate through the emergency.

But I have to say that what we have gone through this past year has taken me WAY beyond what I can do as a "steady" person.  I feel like I was thrown into the deep end of the pool, and I don't know how to swim!

I've always had a good walk with the Lord - I would even say a strong walk with Him.  But this past year has pressed me deeper and deeper and deeper into Him.  It's been the only way I could survive.

It's not been an option to "quit" as Floyd has needed me - needed me to supervise and over-see his care.  I made a vow before the Lord almost 50 years ago to stand by him in times like this - "for better or worse, in sickness and in health."  I've HAD to learn how to persevere in new ways.

The only way to do that has been to trust God for the strength, wisdom, and grace to persevere.  He has been very, very faithful!

I wonder if these lessons are not just for me, but maybe for all of us.  I know He wants us to go deeper in Him.  And He wants us to be able to persevere when things are rough.

"I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better."  Ephesians 1:17

"I pray that your love may grow stronger and stronger, along with how much you know, and that you may grow in your ability to comprehend things."  Philippians 1:9,10

"That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings."  Philippians 3:10

We can pray that God will grant that we, His people, will know Him more deeply!  That He will teach us His ways.  Psalm 103:7  

I've also been reflecting on the power of hope, and what a gift it is from the Lord.  Something that John Eldredge wrote has been helpful.

"Hope is one of the Three Great Treasures of the human heart: "Three things will last forever - faith, hope, and love."  1 Corinthians 13:13  A life without faith has no meaning; a life without love simply isn't worth living; but a life without hope is a dark cavern from which you never escape. These things aren't simply "virtues."  Faith, hope, and love are mighty forces.  And hope is the cornerstone; the fate of the other two depends upon hope's resilience.

"We have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God's people - the faith and love that spring from hope."  Colossians 1:3-5

Isn't that surprising - both our faith and our love "spring from" or "result from" our hope.  But of course.  Hopelessness makes it impossible to care.  Without hope, faith is just a doctrine gathering dust on our shelves. The highest things that make a heart worth having and a life worth living - they rise or fall upon the condition of our hope.  Which makes hope the mightiest force of all (love is the noblest; hope is the linchpin)."

I loved this perspective.  Through the ups and downs, twists and turns of our unexpected journey this past year - I have battled diligently to keep hope alive in my heart.  I have felt it was "vital" for me to do so.  On the most difficult days, I often prayed for God to strengthen my hope!  I'm grateful to say that my heart is still full of hope. My prayers are bathed in it - even on the hardest of days.

"Having hope will give you courage.  You will be protected and will rest in safety."  Job 11:18

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

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

"You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word."  Psalm 119:114

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

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

I could go on and on and on.  The verses are endless.  His hope is strong and sure.......and my hope is in Him.