Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd was very solemn and serious when I visited him this week.  I couldn't get even a little smile from him - or actually any response or reaction.  He was very attentive, but no response.  It was an unusual visit with him.  My intuition tells me that he's sad - possibly even feeling hopeless - on this long journey.  I shared news, played worship music, loved and encouraged him, showed him some photos, and prayed for him.  We continue to pray for encouragement, strength, and hope for his heart.

I was thinking recently about something I shared on my first cancer journey 4 years ago.  I learned about "kintsukuroi" (also known as kintsugi) from Japan.  It's the art of repairing broken pottery with gold.  The piece becomes more beautiful and valuable because of the repair work that has been done.  I've used the photo at the top of this post.

I have to admit that I feel scarred and broken from the journey we've been on.  I have physical scars from the various surgeries and treatments I've had.  I have lots of lines and wrinkles that have been added during this time!  The journey has definitely "aged" me.  I don't think my hair will ever be the same after losing all of it twice.  I don't have the same strength and stamina that I used to have after all I've been through.

There are invisible scars too - the ones on my heart, my mind, my emotions.  No one can seem them, but they are definitely there.

So, yes - I feel broken.  When I remembered about this pottery and how it is repaired......I felt the Lord speaking sweetly to my heart that what I can't see is the beauty He has brought into my life through His loving repairs!  God is the master artist of kintsukuroi.  He doesn't reject us or throw us away in our brokenness.  He creates something new and beautiful!

I think about the sweet intimacy with Him that I've experienced.  I think about the abundance of grace that He has poured out into my life.  I think about the miracles we've seen during this time.  I think about the Lord's strength that has helped me get through day by day.

I think about all the little "joys" that I have been blessed with - whales, rainbows, flowers, ocean beauty, sunsets.

I also think about the friends who have loved, supported, encouraged, and cared for me.  I think about all of those who have prayed for us.  I think about the financial gifts that have helped provide for Floyd's care.

When I think about all these things - I see in my mind's eye the broken places in my life being filled in with beautiful, shiny, rich gold.  I start to feel "whole" again.  And I know that in spite of the brokenness I will come through it all more beautiful than ever because of God's goodness.  I am so grateful!  I have nothing to complain about - only goodness to be thankful for.

"Provide for those who grieve in Zion - to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair."  Isaiah 61:3

"Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me."  Psalm 30:2

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

"The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces."  Isaiah 25:8

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come.  The old has gone, the new is here!"  2 Corinthians 5:17

"God, pick up the pieces.  Put me back together again.  You are my praise!"  Jeremiah 17:14  (The Message)

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."  Romans 8:18

"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

We don't have to hide our brokenness.  God pours the "gold" of His healing power into our lives and brings restoration.  We can become strong in the broken places.  How amazing and awesome He is!

We went from chilly spring days to boiling hot temperatures literally overnight.  It's very hot! 

Tomorrow marks 12 years that we have been in South Africa.  The years have flown by.  We're very grateful that God brought us to live here.  It's truly home to us.  We love this land and its people!  This Sat. is the 3rd "It's Time!" prayer gathering.  Wonderful things have happened in response to the previous 2 gatherings, so we're asking God for more of His work in our land.

When Floyd suddenly became ill, one of the most impactful things that happened to me was missing his daily presence in my life.  Our conversations, the fun we had together, his sweet hugs and warm smile, our lovely fellowship in journeying life together - it was all suddenly gone.  Even when he traveled, which he did frequently, we stayed in daily communication.

Then - it was gone.  He was in a hospital bed - laying in a world of silence to not speak again.  I felt the "aloneness" intensely.  I have many friends here, and they have been so helpful and supportive. They have helped fill the gap to some degree, but no one could replace my gentle giant.

On the one hand it's lovely that I haven't lost him completely - but on the other hand I feel like I lose him all over again each time I go to see him and come home to the empty house.  My husband is still alive, and yet I feel like I've been a widow for 2 1/2 years already.

The aloneness is a weight - and a gaping hole in my life.  But over the months, the Lord started ministering to my heart.  The encouragement of the Spirit, and the Lord's constant presence in my life began to lift the weight from my heart and mind.  Then one day revelation struck - "aloneness" is an illusion that the enemy tries to burden us with.  We are never truly alone - the Lord is always, constantly with us.  Even when we "feel" alone, it's a lie.  Feelings come and go, but God's presence is a steady, constant truth.  We aren't alone - He is with us, carrying us, holding our hand, ministering to us. 

As I began to take hold of this truth, I have walked in a new level of comfort from the Lord.  It didn't happen immediately.  The house still feels empty.  I still miss Floyd being here.  But I was able to press into a new level of fellowship with the Lord that helped lift the burden of being alone.

It's kind of hard to explain, so I hope my attempt to communicate this is coming through clearly.  It's very personal, but I wanted to share it because I think many of us struggle with different types of "aloneness."  Whatever it is that we feel we've lost that leaves us alone - it is an allusion because God is always, always, always with us.  We are never alone!  I take great strength and comfort in that.

"The Lord your God is with you wherever you go."  Joshua 1:9

"The Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you."  Deuteronomy 31:6

"I will be with you always, even until the end of the world."  Matthew 28:20

"Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me."  Psalm 23:4

"God has said, 'I will never fail you.  I will never abandon you.' " Hebrews 13:5

God is WITH me.  I am never alone.  Every moment of my life is good and meaningful because of that.  How grateful I am for His continual presence.  Because He's with me, I don't have to fear anything that is ahead of me.  He's so faithful!