Our Unexpected Journey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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