Floyd has had some sweet visits with members of the Care Team this week. During one visit, he smiled a lot. That particularly touched my heart because his smiles have been less frequent recently. I trust our prayers for strength and for encouragement for his heart are being answered. The Carers also commented that his eyes were very bright, and that his spirit is very much alive. That's encouraging too.
One of the things I am so grateful for on our unexpected journey is how God continually brings good into my life in the midst of difficult circumstances. He truly gives "beauty for ashes." I think I see it pretty much on a daily basis in some way - both large and small. I've learned to look for it because He has been so faithful in bringing good.
We recently had some fires near the town of George here in South Africa. The fires were bad. Several people were killed, homes were lost, and over 40,000 acres of land were destroyed. Someone sent me a picture of these red flowers growing in one of the destroyed areas. I have used it at the top of this post.
These beautiful red flower blooms, called "fire lilies," have sprouted up among the ashes. They only grow where everything else has been burned down. These ones sprouted up within just a few days of the devastating fire. As soon as I saw this, I thought "this is what God does in our lives."
We think everything is destroyed. We feel the "ashes" in our lives because of the trials and suffering that we go through. We can struggle with feelings of hopelessness. And then God brings beauty into our lives that can only come in the midst of the ashes. Wow! So amazing. Such an awesome God.
"To all who mourn in Israel, He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for His own glory." Isaiah 61:3
"We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him." Romans 8:28
"So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:11
The unexpected journey we're on has had lots of "ashes." But it's also been filled with the goodness, mercy, grace, and strength of the Lord. He has brought beauty into the pain and suffering - as only He can do! I'm so grateful for the "fire lilies" He has brought into our journey.
I have been having some busy and intense days. Without Floyd, I must handle everything in our lives. There have been so many decisions, pressures, and stresses recently. I think the Lord must have been keeping some of them away from me for awhile, but suddenly they are all showing up.
I've been calling out to Him for extra strength, extra wisdom, extra grace, extra help - well, extra everything! I've felt my need of Him on every level. I've been singing the song "Your Love Defends Me" by Matt Maher. It has been ministering to my heart, and reminding me of His goodness.
On hard days, I encourage myself in the Lord by speaking out His promises. I speak out who He is to me - my strength, my helper, my refuge, my deliverer, my counselor, my provider, my healer, my source of wisdom, my daily grace.....the list is endless, but He truly is the One who meets my every need! I guess I'm learning that I can make it without Floyd, but I sure can't make it without the Lord!!
I was thinking - if Floyd were home and he heard me walking around speaking all this out loud......he would join in with me in worshipping the Lord for who He is and say "amen!" I wonder if there are angels around who are echoing my proclamations of God's goodness and sufficiency! That's kinda exciting to think about.
Every once in a while, I get nervous about these things I face that seem so BIG. But when I speak out who God is, it brings things back into perspective. He is so much BIGGER. I'm so, so grateful for His faithfulness to me.
"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22,23
"I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for He has been good to me." Psalm 13:5,6
"The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save." Zephaniah 3:17
"The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer. He enables me to go on the heights." Habakkuk 3:19
"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you." Psalm 32:8
"I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you." Isaiah 41:13
The Lord speaks so clearly in the Word to our needs - to the things we will face. He is WITH us in each hard situation, each stress, each problem, each weight that we are carrying on our hearts. He's the well we're drawing from. Where else could we go but to Him? He is the strength of our soul!