Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd is continuing to strengthen and recover from the 2 chest infections he had.  The doctor said he is making good improvement.  He seemed to enjoy it when some long time friends from out of South Africa visited him over the weekend.

When those of us on the "Care Team" for Floyd are with him, one of the things we try to do is encourage him.  He always soaks it up!  We remind him of how much he's loved.  I share emails that people have written that express appreciation.  We tell him that he's not forgotten.  It always seems to mean so much to him - and seems to minister to his heart.  Encouragement is healing.

I was thinking about a birthday that is coming up - and out of nowhere I remembered a birthday celebration from many years ago.  We were living in The Cleft in the red light district in Amsterdam.  We had gotten to know one of the ladies in the windows, and we found out it was her birthday.  We invited her to our tiny apartment to celebrate.  She was surprised, but excited to come.  I baked her a birthday cake, and we gave her some small gifts.  In getting to know her, we were able to mention a couple things that we appreciated about her.  To say she was overwhelmed by it all would be a massive understatement.  She said she couldn't remember anyone ever celebrating her birthday before.  Encouragement can be a powerful voice into someone's life.

A few days ago, I was feeling rather low because I've been so sick.  In my quiet time the Lord directed my attention to a passage of scripture that poured out His love for all of us.  I was so blessed by the wonderful, constant, rich, amazing love of the Lord for us, for me.  It so blessed my heart!  Encouragement can minister to the needs in our heart.

Also this week, just when I was starting to feel better, I got sick yet again.  It made me feel so battle weary.  One night, just before going to bed, I got a sweet email of love and affirmation.  It made me smile, and filled my heart with a sweet joy.  It was a lovely way to go to sleep.  Encouragement lifts our spirits in a way that nothing else can.

We all need love and affirmation.  Whatever our situation we have the need for encouragement in our hearts.  It's one of the ways God has made us because He wants our lives to be interwoven.  As we share encouragement, it draws us closer to each other.......just as God's affirmation draws us closer to Him.  I think because of all I've been going through, my sensitivity to how important encouragement is has been heightened.  It really is powerful.

"So speak encouraging words to one another.  Build up hope so you'll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind.  I know you're already doing this; just keep on doing it."  1 Thessalonians 5:11 The Message

"Let your conversation be always full of grace."  Colossians 4:6

"The soothing tongue is a tree of life."  Proverbs 15:4 

"The tongue of the wise brings healing."  Proverbs 12:18

"Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them."  Ephesians 4:29

These last few weeks because of being sick so many times, it has felt like I’ve been taking 2 steps forward and 3 steps backward.  On this unexpected journey we've been on, there have been many times when I have felt like that.  

Over these many months when it feels like I've slid backwards at times, I've been grateful for the Lord's help in giving me strength to pick up the pieces, shake the dust off, and begin again.  He has given me the  grace for that each time. 

Someone sent me an amazing video clip of a little bear trying to climb a steep, snowy hill.  The mama bear is waiting for him at the top.  The little bear slides down the hill over and over - but each time he begins again.  I love bears anyway, and as I've watched this video a number of times I found that I could so relate to the little bear.  At one point he is almost to the top - and then he slides waaaay down the hill and you think he's gone this time.  But he finds a way to manoeuvre and keep climbing.  He is so determined.

Meanwhile the mama bear paces anxiously back and forth waiting for her cub.  I'm sure it was hard for the mama bear to not go down the mountain and help the cub.......but she knows the cub needs to learn how to climb.  It's the only way the cub will survive in the future.  

As I watched this I could just see the Lord watching me as I slide backwards sometimes in my trials.  He knows I need to go through them in order to get strong and grow in my faith and trust in Him.  He knows I need to learn the lessons.  He knows I need to learn how to climb higher.  God could easily rescue me in the trials, but in His tender love for me He allows me to walk through them.....to slide backwards sometimes.....in order to grow and mature.  He's watching anxiously over me all the time - never abandoning me!

I want to be determined like this little bear!  I want to keep climbing the mountain - never giving up no matter how many times I slide backwards.  I can imagine that little bear keeping its mama in view as he works hard each time to climb to the top.  I want to keep my eyes on the Lord as I climb!  I want to grow in my trust and love for Him.  I want to keep going and get to the top of the mountain.  I know the Lord will help me!

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

"But you, be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward for your work."  2 Chronicles 15:7

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."  2 Timothy 4:7

"Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him."  James 1:12

Determination is not some magical power or super-spiritual anointing.  It is simply deciding in our hearts that with God's grace and help we'll keep climbing that snowy mountain.....just like the little bear......no matter how many times we slide backwards!

Watch the bear video here!