Our Unexpected Journey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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