Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd has had some improvements recently.  His nagging chest congestion has been better - which is a relief to me as he's so miserable when it's bothering him.  The doctors, therapists, and nurses say he is more alert and responsive too.  I’m so grateful for all the prayers going up for him for these things.  It's encouraging to have some good news from his side.

I wondered if last Saturday on the 3rd anniversary of Floyd becoming ill would be a hard day for me.  It turned out to be a tender day, but there was a sweet presence of the Lord with me the whole day.  I shed a few tears - some of sadness, but most were of thanks/worship/gratitude to the Lord for how He has faithfully been with me minute by minute on this journey.  I found my heart was full of worship to the Lord that I haven't been alone - He has been by my side and held my hand, as the Word promises.  I have so, so much to be grateful for.

Recently I have been waking up in the middle of the night quite often.  I've not known if something has awakened me, so I usually lay there listening, waiting.  The first time it happened, I felt a bit vulnerable and alone.  As I started praying, I remembered some of the verses about God being with us in the night......and I felt surrounded with His presence.

It has been a good reminder that He's with us in the night - whether it be the physical time of the day......or an experience that feels like "night."  Waking or sleeping, in the sunshine or night, in good times and hard times - He is always present with us!  He is with us and in charge every minute of every day.  When the "night" comes, it's good to remember that we live in a fallen world - but God is ever present with us.  He never leaves us.  

The Bible is filled with examples of God speaking to men and women at night - so I always listen closely to see if God is wanting to speak something to my heart.  He often speaks a special encouragement into my heart in the night wakefulness.  I keep my pen and paper handy ready to write it down.

"By day the Lord directs His love, at night His song is with me - a prayer to the God of my life."  Psalm 42:8

"He speaks in dreams, in visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they lie in their beds."  Job 33:15

"He who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps."  Psalm 121:4

"You can go to bed without fear; you will lie down and sleep soundly.... for the Lord is your security."  Proverbs 3:24,26

"In peace I will lie down and sleep, for You alone, O Lord, will keep me safe."  Psalm 4:8

"I stay awake through the night, thinking about your promise."  Psalm 119:148

"I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches.  Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.  My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me."  Psalm 63:6-8

He is with me, watching over me in the "night."  I often pray for God's presence to fill Floyd's hospital room too, and to send angels to minister to Him.

He's only a whisper away!  As I whisper His name, He is right with me....any time of the day or night!

Of the 5 surgeries I've had while Floyd has been sick, this has been the hardest one for me to recover from.  I'm just not "bouncing back" very quickly.  I have lots of things that need my time and attention, but I just don't have the strength and energy I need to address them.

So often in the different "seasons" of this unexpected journey, God teaches me new lessons.  I've been feeling that He wants to do that in this season.  The overwhelming impression I've had is that I need to rest - and that my rest is worship to Him.  That is special to me because worship has been such a key part of my surviving on this journey.

The Bible talks a lot about rest.  God rested after His days of creation.  Jesus took time out from the crowds to rest and spend time with the Father.  The prophets of old often went into the desert to rest and hear from God.  God, of course, commands us to take a sabbath rest from our work and labor.

But the busyness of our world is so counter to that.  Rest is often looked upon as a luxury, not an essential.  We are under pressure to achieve, to produce.  Even in my weakened state, I feel the pressure of "doing" all the things that are calling for my attention.

I've been attempting to change my mindset, my expectations.  I'm daily choosing rest - asking Him if there is something I'm supposed to do.  I'm finding fresh intimacy with Him.  I'm worshipping Him as I look at the beauty of His creation.  I'm spending time just "being" in His presence.  I don't know the implications of this for the long term, but I am worshipping Him in rest right now. 

Andrea Thompson in her blog says that "rest in itself is an act of worship because it is surrender.  We are surrendering to God and laying our lives before Him.  It is an act of trust when we set aside everything we know to do and place it before God."

Even in creation when God created man and woman on the 6th day, He didn't put them right to work.  He gave them a day of rest.  I think we might have been inclined to give them a list of everything they needed to do in tending the Garden of Eden.  Maybe there is something for us to learn from that!

The world might want us to think that rest is a sign of weakness in our busy go, go, go world!  But it's not - it's a choice of strength!  It's easy to give in to the pressures.  It takes great strength to stop and take time to rest.

I should point out that we often face weariness in our fast-paced world.  God understands that.  He doesn't despise our weariness, even though the world may look down upon it, even pity it.  God  reaches out to us and gives fresh strength.  After all, Jesus lived on this earth and walked in our shoes.  He understands the things we face.  He gives grace and help.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."  Matthew 11:28

"He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."  Isaiah 40:29-31

"The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters."  Psalm 23:1,2

"Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty."  Psalm 91:1

"My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."  Exodus 33:14

So instead of fighting my slow recovery, I'm making the choice to rest - to worship Him in this "season" of rest.  I am offering up these days as worship to Him.  I sense He is healing and restoring my soul as I rest - worshipping Him in my rest.

Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd's situation remains much the same.  He is still battling the chest congestion, but he also still tries to smile and be engaged with the carers.  The therapist thinks he is doing well in spite of the congestion.  The hospital staff takes really good care of him, and they love and encourage him.  I'm so grateful for the kind, loving care that Floyd receives.

In this current season of our unexpected journey, I feel like I'm not only clinging to the Lord day-by-day - I'm often trying to make it minute-by-minute.  There are so many things that are impacting my life at the moment.  I seem to have things coming at me from all directions.  

I was encouraged by a devotional that someone sent me from Charles Spurgeon.  He said - "Trials make more room for consolation.  Great hearts can only be made by great troubles.  The spade of trouble digs the reservoir of comfort deeper, and makes room for consolation."

I think that's what I am experiencing.  I would say it a little differently.  Because the trials are numerous and weighty - God's grace and strength, His "consolations," are abundant and powerful too.  The more I cling to Him in the trials, the more I receive His help!  He is truly "sufficient" as the Word says. 

The important thing, though, is for me not to try and make it through on my own strength.  I MUST cling to Him.  I must share my heart, my thoughts, my feelings, my need.  I have to be absolutely vulnerable in expressing my situation.  That allows Him to respond to me out of His absolute ability to help me!  If I try to plow my way through on my own, I'll never make it.  But if I lean into the Lord, He'll help me make it!

I'm calling on Him minute-by-minute to meet me in my need!  He is so faithful to do that.

"My God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:19

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  2 Corinthians 12:9

"As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust."  Psalm 103:13,14

"I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.  Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame."  Psalm 34:4,5

"Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  Romans 8:39

"Let us have confidence, then, and approach God's throne, where there is grace.  There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it."  Hebrews 4:16

I'm so grateful for God's help - and I'm so grateful for your prayers that help me on this minute-by-minute journey.l

I am ever-so-slowly gaining strength after my surgery.  My recovery is definitely slow, but at least I'm headed in the right direction.  I'm very grateful for that.  

Laying in bed last night, I suddenly heard loud booms.  At first I thought it was thunder.  Then our neighborhood whatsapp group clarified that it was the military doing some training exercises nearby.  

As I thought about what was happening, I began to think about the fact that there is "warfare" happening around us all the time.  We just can't hear it or see it.  The "enemy of our soul" is seeking to destroy us continually.  He is especially seeking to undermine our faith and confidence in our wonderful Lord.

There have been times on our unexpected journey when I've sensed the whispers of the enemy.  Times when he's tried to get me to believe that God doesn't care - that God has left me all alone on this journey - that it's "too much" for me to cope with - that the journey will never end or that I'll just slowly wear down under the onslaught.  There IS warfare, a tug-of-war between good and evil that takes place around us.  We just can't hear the "booms" of it taking place.

When I sense and hear these diabolical whispers, I know how important it is to stand against them.  If I let my mind entertain even one little bit of them, it opens the door for the enemy to bring separation between God and me.  I have to counteract them immediately. 

I do that through worship.  I speak the truth of who God is.  I thank Him for His goodness and faithfulness.  I sing songs of praise.  I speak out verses of scripture about God's awesomeness.  I tell the enemy that he's a liar, and I don't receive any of his accusations.  I take authority over him in the name of Jesus.

"Submit yourselves to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."  James 4:7

"Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world."  1 John 4:4

"Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith."  1 Peter 5:8,9

"Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."  1 Corinthians 15:57

"O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting."  1 Chronicles 16:34

When the "booms" of spiritual warfare come my way, I know the "weapon" I have at my disposal - proclaiming the wonderful goodness and faithfulness of the Lord.  He is truly good all the time!!

This Sat., Feb. 23, is a kind of anniversary on our long unexpected journey.  But it's one I haven't been looking forward to!  It marks 3 years since the day that Floyd first became ill with a rare infection - so suddenly, with such strange symptoms that escalated hour by hour.  I would have never dreamed then that we would find ourselves here 3 years later.  And I certainly wouldn't have anticipated that cancer would return for me during that time - not once, but twice.  There have also been numerous other things thrown into the mix over this time.  What a wild ride this journey has been!

As this day has been approaching, I've been examining what's in my heart - what my emotions are, what I'm thinking.  It's become clear to me that my predominant thought and feeling is hope.  That probably sounds a little strange.  In many ways our situation seems rather hopeless.

But the verse from Jeremiah 29:11 rings in my ears - " 'I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' "

There is always hope with our wonderful Lord!  I don't know what that looks like.  But hope is still alive in my heart even after this long, roller-coaster ride of a journey.

What has happened to Floyd is probably his worst nightmare.  His "voice" was always his strength.  Being paralyzed, losing his voice and living in a silent world must be unimaginably difficult.  I can't begin to understand how it must be for him.  And yet, he manages to smile when we visit him.  That assures me that God is giving him grace to persevere.  I would even venture to say that there is some measure of hope in Floyd's heart.

I don't know what's ahead for Floyd.  My prayer is one of stating my trust in God's sovereignty, and praying for healing or heaven......trusting that God knows best.  My heart of hope is at peace with the future God has for us.

G.K. Chesterton said that "hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances we know to be desperate."  I know our circumstances are somewhat desperate, but I have joy and hope in my trust in God.  I don't live with a cloud of doom over my head.  He gives grace to face each day with hope.

God has been so good, so faithful, so abundant in His giving of grace - I have no reason to fear what's ahead because I can see how wonderfully He has helped me each day of this 3 year journey.  He doesn't change, so I know He'll help me with whatever is ahead.  That truth, that fact allows me to keep hope alive in my heart!  He is truly a God of hope!

"As for me, I watch in hope for the Lord; I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me."  Micah 7:7

"Now, Lord, for what do I wait?  My hope is in You."  Psalm 39:7

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."  Romans 15:13

"Why are you in despair, O my soul?  And why have you become disturbed within me?  Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence."  Psalm 42:5

"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure."  Hebrews 6:19

"Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in me will not be disappointed."  Isaiah 49:23

Whatever our situation, hard and dire though it may be - we always, always, always have hope in Him!  He is faithful.  He is faithfully walking beside me.

Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd has been having some difficult days.  The chest congestion flared up again big time.  He’s been really miserable.  He bravely tries to smile when the carers come, and he tries to be attentive - but he has not been feeling well.  We pray for strength, grace, and healing for him.

As we come upon the 3rd year of Floyd being sick - I realized that I'm weary in some ways on this long unexpected journey.  When I approached the recent surgery, I wondered how I'd do.  I wondered if I'd have adequate strength to bounce back.  I wondered, even, if my body would survive yet another surgery, my 6th.  I wondered if it would take ages to get back to feeling normal.

I was filled with questions.  I faithfully took each one to the Lord.  I "cast the burden" of my questions upon the Lord.  I gave them to Him, and received by faith all that I would need.

About 10 days after the surgery I was feeling quite good.  Everyone, including the doctors, told me that I looked good.  That's always nice to hear after having gone through a complicated, intense 3 hour surgery. :)

I’m so grateful to Jesus!  I feel He sustained me, helped me, carried me - and has been with me each step of the way. 

"Even to your old age I am He, and to gray hairs I will carry you.  I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save."  Isaiah 46:4

"God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:19

"Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never permit the righteous to be moved."  Psalm 55:22

"The Lord stood by me and strengthened me."  2 Timothy 4:17

"The Lord is near to all who call on Him."  Psalm 145:18

"They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."  Isaiah 40:31

"In all their distress He too was distressed, and the angel of His presence saved them.  In His love and mercy He redeemed them, He lifted them up and carried them all the days of old."  Isaiah 63:9

"You saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries His son."  Deuteronomy 1:31

"He tends His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart."  Isaiah 40:11

God is so good!  He has truly "carried" me.  He has helped me in Floyd's absence.  He has watched out for me in every detail.  I am so grateful.

Unfortunately after those days of feeling good - I got hit with a bad tummy bug that is going around.  I have been so, so sick!  In the moments of feeling awful and so very weak I have been hanging on to the Lord.

In the midst of hard times, we tend to think that making it through the hard times is complicated.  It's not true!  One of the things that I've learned is that it is simple.  It boils down to several clear, basic things:

- trusting God unreservedly

- standing on the unfailing promises of His word

- choosing to be steadfast in Him, persevering

- continually worshipping Him for who He is - especially in the darkest times

I carefully chose the word "simple," because it is.  It's not some difficult format or puzzle.   But I didn't say "easy."  Making it through hard times can be, well hard.  But when we make the choices above......it gives us a clear roadmap, and then God can give us sufficient grace to navigate the hard times.

I absolutely, positively can't make it through those simple things on my own.  I'm weak.  I'm needy.  I get tired.  I get sick, like this week.  I fail at some things.  But, with His grace and strength, I CAN make it!!  He makes up for my weaknesses and failures.  He holds my hand, and leads the way.  He never lets us down......no matter how many times the enemy tries to whisper that lie to us.  There is nothing we face that is impossible - if we keep our eyes on Him and cling to Him.

"Why are you in despair, O my soul?  And why have you become disturbed within me?  Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence."  Psalm 42:5

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you."  Isaiah 43:2

"Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified.....for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you."  Deuteronomy 31:6

"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

"The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles.  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."  Psalm 34:17,18

"Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed."  1 Peter 4:12,13

As long as we live on this earth, we'll face hard things.  It's part of life.  But the wonderful thing is that we don't have to face them alone.  He is continually with us!  And no matter what we face, He has good plans for us - plans to give us a hope and a future.

Since it was Valentine’s Day yesterday, I wanted to express my gratitude to the Lord for the wonderful life that Floyd and I have had, and express my love and affection for my best friend and sweetheart. 

We've had good times together - we've had hard times together, but the most important thing is that we've been together!  We've had times when we didn't know where our next meal was coming from, and we've had times when we've eaten in nice restaurants.  We've had times when we had to sleep in our car, and we've had times when we've slept in comfort and luxury.  We've had times when we couldn't even afford a tube of toothpaste (baking soda works!), and we've had times when we could easily afford our toiletries.  Our life together has had lots of ups and downs, but it's been a wonderful, wonderful life.  I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Even in the current season, God is still with us.  He's been good to us.  We've had a great life together.  I thank Him - and treasure the journey I've had with Floyd.  

And still, in the difficulty of our current season, I'm so overwhelmed by God's goodness.

"Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife."  Genesis 2:24

"Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate."  Mark 10:9

"Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away."  Song of Solomon 8:7

"There are three things that amaze me - no, four things that I don't understand:  how an eagle glides through the sky, how a snake slithers on a rock, how a ship navigates the ocean, how a man loves a woman."  Proverbs 30:18,19

"Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you.  Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.  Your people will be my people and your God my God."  Ruth 1:16

The verse from Ruth was part of my wedding vows to Floyd.  I sometimes joked and told Floyd that I never dreamed what I was committing myself to!  I never dreamed all the places I'd go in following by his side. : )

Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd had some hard days this week with the chest congestion but thankfully the Lord has answered our prayers and it cleared up in recent days.  

During my stay in the hospital last week I felt so supported & carried by all the prayers of the faithful ones around the world.  I felt “cocooned” in peace.

My recovery is a bit more complicated this time so I am praying for it to go smoothly with no infections.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

I’m glad Floyd and I are both in His hands! 

One of the things I find that I have to guard my heart from is looking at how things were in the previous seasons of my life - or from how things are in the lives of my friends.  I am careful to remind myself that this is the journey that God has allowed for my life - and that He has good plans and purposes for it.  He is faithful to help me on this journey, and He is continually with me whatever the journey holds.

It's important for me to find contentment for the journey I'm on.  Sarah Young says that "learning to be content is both a discipline and an art."  I can identify with that.  I must choose to look to God and trust Him.  I must look for Him in the daily events of my life.  And I must look for the "hope" He has for me in my future as Jeremiah 29:11 says.  

I am grateful this surgery is behind me - and I'm looking to what God has on the path ahead.  There is always joy in Him on the journey, no matter how hard the journey might be!

" 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' "

"I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go."  Genesis 28:15

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."  Romans 15:13

"Rejoice and exult in hope; be steadfast and patient in suffering and tribulation; be constant in prayer."  Romans 12:12

"All the days of the oppressed are bad, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast."  Proverbs 15:15

"You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence."  Acts 2:28

"For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him."  2 Chronicles 16:9

There are hard things in life at times, but my heart's desire is to stay fully committed to Him - come what may!  He gives grace to do that.  He is so good, so faithful, so kind and just in all His ways.  What a treasure it is to walk with Him.  And He does strengthen my heart!

Our Unexpected Journey

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Last weekend my visit with Floyd was one of my best visits in recent times.  He was very attentive and responsive.  I read some emails of encouragement that I had gotten, and he actually cried.  I can't imagine how hard this journey must be for him.  He seems to "soak up" the affirmation and encouragement.  I keep trying to tell him how much he is loved, how his ministry continues, and how many people are praying for him.  I pray for strength and grace for his heart - and for the comfort of the Holy Spirit.  

As I prepared for surgery last week, I was caught by surprise when I woke up a couple nights in the middle of the night with anxiety.  I didn't realize that was there!

It gave me the opportunity to take my cares, my concerns, my worries to the Lord.....especially ones I didn't know about until they woke me.  I thought of the verse from Psalm 63:6:

"I lie awake thinking of You, meditating on You through the night."

As I lay in bed meditating on His goodness, His faithfulness, His love and care, His grace, His comfort......the anxieties that had come to the surface evaporated in His presence.  I was grateful to have been able to give them to Him so that I didn’t carry them with me to the surgery!

"Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you."  1 Peter 5:7

"Do not be anxious about anything."  Philippians 4:16

"Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."  Isaiah 41:10

"Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice."  Psalm 63:7

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

"I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears."  Psalm 34:4

"When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy."  Psalm 94:19

"May the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way."  2 Thessalonians 3:16

"When I am afraid, I put my trust in You."  Psalm 56:3

"Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you: He will never let the righteous be shaken."  Psalm 55:22

As I started looking at verses about His help when anxious, I found sooo many!  I'm so grateful for His abundant promises to help us.  I'm standing on them - speaking them out if anxiety pops its head up.

My surgery on Tuesday went well.  It was long and complicated but the surgeon is happy with the result. Now I am trying to rest and recover so that I can go home tomorrow.  I am holding onto the Lord’s promises as I battle through the pain and nausea from the surgery.  I know He will help me each step of the way, He has been so faithful and He will continue to hold my hand.

Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd's week has been "steady" - no big ups or downs.  He's had some sweet visits with different ones of the carers.  One of them found out that over the Christmas season there was a 3 man brass band that came and played carols to the patients.  I hadn't heard about that.  I thought that was so special!  It reminded me of when I was a teenager and I used to go sing in the old age homes and in the hospital.  It touched me that someone was blessing Floyd in a similar way.

In recent days I have had lots of decisions to make.  It's been a bit daunting.  I've been asking the Lord for wisdom, counsel, and direction. The Lord has been reminding me, in a number of ways, of His love for me and that He is watching over me.  It has been sweet, affirming, encouraging - and has really strengthened my heart for what is ahead.

I was talking to the Lord about all this one morning and reflecting on things He had been saying to me when I went to prepare my breakfast.  As I opened a container of blackberries - right on top I found a very special one!!  I have posted the photo of it above.  It was a special unexpected little "kiss" from the Lord to my heart. :)  The Lord knows how much little things like this bless me!

One of the things the Lord has been saying to me is that He is at work in my life.  That He's mindful of every detail.  That He is doing things that I'm not aware of.  Someone sent me a quote from John Piper that affirmed that.  "God is always doing 10,000 things in your life and you may be aware of 3 of them."  Pretty amazing when you think about it - and I'm sure there's so much truth in that.

God doesn't waste any detail in our lives.  He is such an awesome creative God that He is working in every aspect of our lives at the same time.  No matter what I'm walking through - be it a good time or a hard time; be it for a day or for months, even years - He is with me.  I can relax and rest in His love and care.

"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

"Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin?  And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows."  Matthew 10:29-31

"Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it."  Philippians 1:6

"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him."  James 1:5

"The Lord directs the steps of the godly.  He delights in every detail of their lives."  Psalm 37:23

When we love someone - our husband/wife, our children, our mother/father, our siblings, our friends - we care about the details of their lives.  We want to be involved in the details.  How much more then does our heavenly Father, who Himself IS love (1 John 4:8), care about us and the details of our lives?!

It gives me such a sense of security to know that the God of details is watching over my life......even bringing a special blackberry into my day. :)

My surgery has been moved back a few days to first thing Tues. morning, Jan. 29th. 

In an appointment with one of my doctors this week, he explained that there are 3 things that are essential for a person going through cancer treatment:

- that the person is involved in their own care decisions

- that the person has hope

- that the person has a good support system

I actually think those are good things for a lot of situations in life!  I was able to tick all the boxes!

He was asking if I had good support as I battle cancer.  I told him "yes!"  I have friends here and people all over the world praying for me.  What a treasure that is!  I realized how blessed I am to not be walking through this battle all alone.  I’m so grateful to all those that have faithfully stood with me in the place of prayer.  It gives me a sweet security going into this new surgery to know that I will be "covered" in prayer. 

I have moments of feeling strong and ready for this - and moments of feeling great dread that I am facing yet another surgery.  I guess that's probably normal.  It certainly keeps me close to the Lord as I call out to Him continually!

I recently heard about a mother who has gone through challenging situations with her child.  Many of the challenges have been in the public eye, so she was asked how she coped with this.

She said that she has 3 keys for how to make it through the challenges:  stay in His presence, stand on His word, and rejoice!  I think that's a winning formula for walking through trials.  God has guided me that way over and over.  I'm choosing to use those "keys" in all that I'm facing at the moment.

Staying in His presence keeps us in a safe place regardless of what we are going through.  Standing on His word reminds us of His promises to us when we go through rough times.  And rejoicing, worship, bathes us with fresh grace for the challenges.  Whenever I'm finding it hard - be it dread, anxiety, feeling overwhelmed, needing wisdom, feeling weak.....whatever the situation is - as I worship Him it breaks the "hold" of any of those things that try to weigh my heart down.  Worship is so powerful!  I heard someone say, "When we worship, the invisible God is at work doing invisible and powerful things."  I've said before that I think it's one of the spiritual tools that God has placed in our hands.  We just need to make sure we use it!

Staying in His presence:

"Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord.  They rejoice in your name all day long."  Psalm 89:15,16

"For in Him we live and move and have our being."  Acts 17:28

"I have set the Lord always before me.  Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken."  Psalm 16:8

Standing on His word:

"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who has promised is faithful."  Hebrews 10:23

"He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.  Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion.  But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.  They will soar high on wings like eagles.  They will run and not grow weary.  They will walk and not faint."  Isaiah 40:29-31

" 'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord.  'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.' "  Jeremiah 29:11

Rejoicing/Worship:

"Because Your love is better than life, I will praise you.  I will praise You as long as I live.  I will lift up my hands in prayer to Your name.  Because You are my helper; I sing for joy in the shadow of Your wings.  I cling to You; Your strong right hand holds me securely."  Psalm 63:3,4,7,8

"I honor You and praise You because You have done amazing things.  You have always done what you said you would do."  Isaiah 25:1 

"Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!  Worship the Lord with gladness.  Come before Him, singing with joy.  Acknowledge that the Lord is God!  He has made us, and we are His.  We are His people, the sheep of His pasture.  Enter His gates with thanksgiving; go into His courts with praise.  Give thanks to Him and praise His name.  For the Lord is good.  His unfailing love continues forever, and His faithfulness continues to each generation."  Psalm 100

His presence, His word, and worship to Him are definitely "keys" to get us through whatever we may face.  How awesome He is to help us along life's journey! 

Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd had a special visit this past weekend.  Some years ago he was instrumental in sending a team to work in the middle east.  This team had a reunion in Cape Town, and went to visit Floyd.  They shared testimonies, and thanked Floyd for his impact in their lives.  Floyd was very moved by their visit, and didn't want them to leave.  It was such a sweet time for him - and them.  I'm sure it encouraged his heart.

There often seems so little that we can do for Floyd - love him, encourage him, and pray for him.  I’m so grateful for all those who steadfastly keep praying for him over this long journey.  I tell him every time I see him that many people around the world are praying for him each day.

I have had some medical appointments this week and they have gone well.  The news was encouraging.  It looks like the new tumor is "contained" - which is about the best news I could get!  It is operable, and the consensus is to "get it out."  So that's the plan.  I'm booked for surgery on Fri., Jan. 25.  This will be my 6th surgery since the cancer journey began.  I'm not looking forward to it, but it does seem like good news to be able to do this.

I've had lots of encouraging, kind words from friends all over the world.  I once heard that "kind words are a gift of healing."  All the sweet words I have received have been a lovely healing to my heart.  I feel wrapped in their warmth.  I’m so grateful for each one.

A few weeks ago someone shared the photo above of the mother duck.  It has kept coming to my mind as I've been walking through these days.  I think it's how I feel.  I feel covered, carried, and wrapped up in the Lord's safe care - and with all the prayers and encouragements I receive.  It's such a special photo.  Every time it comes to mind it brings a feeling of safety.

"He will cover you with His feathers.  He will shelter you with His wings.  His faithful promises are your armor and protection."  Psalm 91:4

"Keep me as the apple of the eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings."  Psalm 17:8

"How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!  And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings."  Psalm 36:7

"Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until destruction passes by."  Psalm 57:1

"For You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy."  Psalm 63:7

His sweet presence has been with me each day, and I have felt covered with His love and goodness.  

This week was our "At Home" week here in All Nations Cape Town when we begin the year together.  I shared with our staff on Monday morning about how faithful God has been to me on our unexpected journey!  He has met me at every point along the way with His goodness.

There's a scene in the movie "The Shack" where Mack (the father who's daughter was killed) is talking to the God figure.  He asks "where were you when I needed you?"  God answers "when all you see is your pain, you lose sight of me."

I've thought about this scene a lot.  In fact, I re-watched the movie this past weekend.  When we're in pain, when we're hurting, when our very being is crying out to God and it seems we aren't getting the answers or help we need - it can be so tempting to think God isn't there, that He isn't with us.  The enemy would love for us to think this.

But the truth is that we often are so focused on the pain that we miss God's presence.  He's right with us - "closer than the air we breath" - and yet our pain overshadows the very thing, the very person we need.

There have been times on this journey when my pain, my hurt, my sense of loss has been so profound that I have felt very alone.  I've had to catch myself immediately and not let my heart, thoughts, and emotions stay in that aloneness.  I have to immediately declare the truth of God's word that He is with me.  He never leaves me.  He never abandons me.  He even carries me if I'm too weak to keep going.  He clings to my right hand.  He doesn't even take one second off.  He is completely faithful and always, always, always with me.

Being "on guard" in this way has been a protection to me.  And it has kept me tucked in close to the Father's heart where I need to be. 

"Be strong and courageous.....for it is the Lord your God who goes with you.  He will not leave you or forsake you."  Deuteronomy 31:6

"Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."  Joshua 1:9

"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."  Isaiah 41:10

I love how God reminds us of the same thing over and over - to emphasize the point that He is ALWAYS with us!!

"So we can confidently say, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear.' "  Hebrews 13:6

"You hold my right hand.  You guide me with your counsel."  Psalm 73:23

Watching that scene in the movie, I've asked the Lord to protect my heart when I'm in pain from losing sight of Him!!  I don't want to miss out on the wonderful gift of His constant presence!

 

Our Unexpected Journey

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I haven’t posted anything for a while with all the business over the holiday season.  Happy New Year!  I pray that this will be a year of abundant blessing for you.  May your walk with the Lord grow more deeply intimate in sweet fellowship

I had a PET scan in December and the results were not what I was hoping and praying for.  The cancer has returned.  It's amazing that I can be feeling so good, looking good, and even my blood work showing health.....and yet there is cancer growing in my body.  It was a bit of a surprise.

I was so grateful that before I got this news, the Lord had been speaking to me about my thoughts and what to focus on.  

He directed my attention to a well known verse from Philippians 4:8 - "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."

I've always loved that verse.  I've taught on it in fact.  But it has taken on a fresh, new significance for me.  The truth in it is not only good - it's powerful.  We have a "spiritual tool" at our disposal through our thought life.

We are surrounded with negative messages filled with tragedy, pain, sorrow, disappointment, lies, ugliness, and myriads of hurt.  Our mind is bombarded with messages of doom and gloom.  And that's not even considering things that are happening to us personally!

If we let our thoughts follow this process, we will be overwhelmed with heaviness.  It is vital to stay focused on the list from Philippians 4!  If I think upon those things - then my heart immediately wants to thank the Lord for them.  Worship begins to well up in my heart.  The whole "atmosphere" of my mind is transformed.  I find it can turn a hard day around to being a good day if I think upon who God is and His goodness to me.

On the hard days, I work at making a conscious, continual effort to "think on what is true...."

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."  Romans 12:2

"We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."  2 Corinthians 10:5

"As someone thinks within himself, so he is."  Proverbs 23:7

"Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things."  Colossians 3:2

"Therefore.....fix your thoughts on Jesus."  Hebrews 3:1

"The Message" version of the Philippians 4:8 verse:  "Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious - the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse."

The secular world realizes the power of our thoughts - there are so many books and articles written on this topic.  But God was way ahead of them.  He instructed us what to think on - knowing it would bring health and life to us if we think upon what is good......and turn it into worshipping Him.  I'm finding the beauty and the strength that comes from doing that.  Once again - God is such a faithful teacher!

He was so kind to speak this truth to my heart just as I needed it!  It's very easy to be overwhelmed and discouraged by this news.  I need to "take my thoughts captive," and go to Jesus with this news.  

This recent Christmas was the 3rd Christmas since Floyd got sick.  I was surprised and caught off guard when a wave of sadness hit me on Christmas day. I thought it would get easier as time went by - but it felt like I'd been hit by a new massive wave.  I think it's all part of the "journey" I'm walking on - and I'm very tired.  That probably makes me more vulnerable.  I've been talking a lot to the Lord.  As always "His consolations cheer my soul."  (Psalm 94:19)

I've been reminded in recent days of the oyster.  Pearls are formed when particles of sand get stuck inside the oyster shell.  That irritant works in wondrous ways to produce beautiful pearls.  The longer the irritant is there - the more beautiful and valuable the pearl becomes.  There's a direct correlation between the the length of time of the "irritant" and the beauty of what is produced. 

I keep reminding myself that the trials on this unexpected journey are producing good things in my life.  I may not see them - but God is using the sufferings I'm walking through to mold and shape me in His ways.  Actually, I can see some of the things He's doing......but mostly I just have to keep my eyes on Him and trust Him.

I've lived long enough to learn that it's not so important what comes our way - but how we respond to those things!  Our responses can make or break us.  I'm keenly aware that I can't make it on my own, but as I turn to Him - He gives the needed grace and strength.  I don't want the trials to defeat me!  I want to dig deep into new levels of His strength.  I've seen that each experience, each trial I walk through - as I lean into His strength and grow through it......it prepares me for what's ahead.

With His help, if I'm faithful to persevere in each crisis - faithful to persevere in the long haul.....it will force me to stay tucked in close to Him so that I must rely on Him completely.  He is truly strong in my weakness.  I know I can't make it alone, but I also know He is absolutely faithful!!

I heard one time that hope begins when you stand in the dark looking out at the light.  When the wave of sadness washed over my heart and emotions - I looked to Him who is THE light!!  He brought the warmth of His sunshine to my soul.

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."  John 1:5

"The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom what I be afraid?  Psalm 27:1

"Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path."  Psalm 119:105

There are times on this journey when I feel like I have dug SO deep into God's reserves of help and strength that I must be reaching the bottom.  And then something new comes along.  As I keep digging, I find His resources are never-ending.  There is always deeper still to go in His grace, help, and strength.  How very, very faithful He is!!

I spent time with Floyd on new year's morning.  I wanted to pray and commit the year ahead to the Lord.  Floyd was quite sleepy - I teased him about falling asleep while I talked.  He is looking better and seems to be gaining some fresh strength.  It was a sweet time with him.  I continue to ask the Lord to bring the "breakthrough" that He spoke to Floyd about before he got sick - whatever that might be.  I'm asking that this will be a year of breakthrough, for both of us.

God often speaks to me through the simple, every day things of life.  I love that!  While I was taking the ornaments off our Christmas tree and packing all the decorations away,  the strands of tree lights got hopelessly tangled!  They were a giant mess.  I was trying to untangle them, but it just seemed to get worse.  I was very frustrated.  Honestly, I was tempted to just throw them all away and start over again next year......but I'm too practical to be wasteful. :)  

I finally put everything else away, and then sat down to work on the lights.  Bulb by bulb, one-at-time I began to try and figure out how to untangle them.  It took a while, but I finally succeeded.

And then, to my surprise, I started crying - because I could sense the Lord speaking to my heart!  Right now when I look at our lives and all that is happening.....and especially in facing all the questions regarding the cancer returning.....it just seems like a big tangled mess!  All I can see is questions and problems.  But I knew in that moment that the Lord was speaking to my heart -  just as I was able to untangle the strands of lights as I worked on them one bulb at a time......He will help me figure things out.....one problem and one question at a time.  

In a strange way I felt like I was on holy ground because I could sense the Lord speaking so clearly and powerfully to my heart.  All I could do was weep in gratitude, and worship Him for His faithfulness.  It was a special, very unexpected "kiss" to my heart from the Father.  It gave me fresh courage to face the days ahead in this new year.

Someone sent me a quote from Bill Johnson of Bethel in Redding, Calif. - “If your answer to prayer is delayed, it is gaining interest.  And when breakthrough comes, it will come with greater power and glory than if it had been released at the moment you first prayed.”

I have prayed many prayers about Floyd, about the cancer that has attacked my body, and about things that are impacting our family and the All Nations ministry.  As I've shared about these things, many people have joined with me in praying.  Many, many, many prayers have been lifted to heaven.  It seems like we haven't seen answers......and I haven't sensed that we've had the breakthrough that God spoke to Floyd about.

The quote from Bill Johnson has brought a fresh sense of perseverance to my heart and to my prayers.  I don't know what the answers will be.  I don't know what the breakthrough will be.  But I'm going to keep praying!  

There is often opposition before breakthroughs come - so I don't want to lose heart.  I want to keep pressing in in the place of prayer.  I'm sure you each have personal requests that you want to lift heavenward too.  May God bring releases for all of us this year.

"Those with open hearts are given insight into your plans."  Psalm 119:130 TPT

"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

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

"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously."  James 1:5

"He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way."  Psalm 25:9

I'm trusting God to see answers and breakthroughs in 2019!  It's a fresh new beginning. 

Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd has had a hard week.  He has struggled with his breathing.  The doctor thinks it’s because he has a chest cold.  He's been on and off oxygen to help him.  He is still alert and attentive, but feeling miserable.  

He had a sweet visit from a dear friend from England that we've known since our Amsterdam days.  He was feeling so bad that it was hard for him to connect with her, but his eyes were still attentive.

In the midst of our unexpected journey there have been good days, not-so-good days, and hard days - even some very hard days.  But through it all, lying underneath every kind of day, there has been a deep, deep joy.  Sound strange?  I guess it is rather unusual.

I'm not talking about a happy-go-lucky kind of joy.  It's not light.  It's not casual.  It's not fleeting.  It's deep, profound, and eternal.  It's something that only the Lord can give.

"Joy to the world, the Lord has come" - the words of the well known Christmas song.  Those words are the reason there can be joy on the journey in spite of pain, sadness, suffering, and sorrow.  HE IS OUR JOY!  He brings joy.  He gives joy.  He ministers joy.  He pours joy into my hurting heart.  He gives joy that gives me strength to face another day.  He fills my heart with a sweet joy that reminds me I'm not alone.

Some mornings I wake up, and I don't want to get up.  For a moment, I dread facing another day of the sadness and stress.  And then I remember who walks beside me.......and I realize I can do it.  With His help.  It's hard to describe, but it's like a light bulb goes off and I know I can do it because He's with me.  He brings joy into my heart when I think I can't keep going.

"When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul."  Psalm 94:19

"The hope of the righteous is joy."  Proverbs 10:28

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."  Romans 15:13

"You fill me with joy in your presence."  Psalm 16:11

"A joyful heart is good medicine."  Proverbs 17:22

"Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning."  Psalm 30:5

"You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound."  Psalm 4:7

"You shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace."  Isaiah 55:12

"Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!"  Psalm 126:5

"Let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy."  Psalm 5:11

The Bible is filled with promises of His joy.  As we are approaching the season when we give thanks that He has come, we can let Him fill our hearts with fresh joy.  His joy will help us get through any kind of day we face.  He will give us joy on the journey.  Thank you, thank you, Lord, for JOY! 

Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd was sitting in his chair when I was with him.  He looked quite good.  

Quite some time ago the question was asked on the FaceBook Prayer page - what single impact did God do in your life through Floyd?  I only recently saw this.  The answers were amazing, and so affirming/encouraging.  I decided to read them all to Floyd.  It took abut 45 minutes!

He was very attentive.  A few times he teared up - and a few times he seemed emotional, even pulling himself forward in his chair to express himself.  I was so glad to have such sweet, personal encouragement to share with him.  It really seemed to touch his heart.

The ongoing nature of our unexpected journey is quite exhausting.  I spoke before about the unending "drips" of trials.  They take a constant flow of energy.  I get tired and weary.

One of the things the Lord has shown me is the need for rest.....for taking care of myself.  I've always been a go-getter.  I work hard, even at things I don't like to do - because I want to get them "done."  On this journey, I've had to live with and accept things not being done!  And I've definitely had to learn new lessons about rest.

I've had to learn to be quiet.  I've needed to "listen" to my body and what it is telling me I need.  I've had to ignore my list of things to do while I simply spend time in His presence, letting Him restore, refresh, and heal me.  

My granddaughter has been a sweet encourager.  When I tell her something I've done to find refreshment (a nap, a massage, watching a Hallmark movie) - she'll say to me "well done, Granma, for taking care of yourself!"  :)  It always makes me smile.

The Lord has reminded me that He rested on the 7th day.....and Jesus withdrew from the crowds and found time to rest, to be with the Father, and to be restored.  I've heard the words echo in my mind "rest is my gift to you!"  I'm learning how to receive that gift and not feel guilty for the things I'm not getting done.

When I'm more rested, I find it not only easier to face the physical things I need to deal with - but I'm also stronger in facing the spiritual side of the trials I'm facing.  Rest helps me deal with disappointment and discouragement....with any doubts that pop up.....with any sense of defeat the enemy throws at me.  When I'm tired and weary I'm so much more vulnerable.  Rest helps me have a fresh perspective -  God opens my eyes to see more clearly from His point of view.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."  Matthew 11:28

"Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from Him."  Psalm 62:1

"In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety."  Psalm 4:8

"The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters."  Psalm 23:1,2

"Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty."  Psalm 91:1

Someone recently wrote and told me about a scripture that ministers to him.  It's from the Phillips version of Romans 12 - "have a sane estimate of your capabilities."  I think that's a good guideline for all of us!

Another friend said he's learned that "rest is a weapon."  I guess it's one of the "tools" God has placed in our hands.

I love that God has given us the gift of rest!

Whatever season we're in, we need rest - His rest!  I'm learning that I simply can't be too "busy" to rest.  The rest He wants us to have is truly our lifeline.  As I care for Floyd, and as I continue to fight the cancer battle for myself - I need the "gift" He has given me of sweet rest.  I'm so grateful for it!

This Thanksgiving I have been so thankful for all the prayers that have covered us on this long, unexpected journey!  I don't know if we would have survived this journey without them.  My heart is so full of gratitude!

Living in Africa certainly provides me with some interesting moments - particularly in regard to wildlife.  We recently had a snake making its way down our driveway.  I definitely don't like those creatures!  And around the same time there was a large scorpion in the passage near our back door.  It was a boiling hot day so I think it was looking for a cool place.

The last couple weeks our neighborhood has been on "baboon alert."  I get messages that they're on the street below us - or one street over.....letting me know to be prepared.  We have to close doors and windows to keep them from getting in the house if they turn up in our garden.  They make terrible messes!

A few days ago I was awakened early one morning by the loud sound of a peacock call.  A large peacock was wandering around our small back garden and driveway.  I don't know where it came from or why it liked our garden, but it was a rather rude awakening.  Maybe it was looking for something - or maybe it was out for a morning stroll.....but it eventually flew very gracefully over the fence and continued on.

We have a constant parade of birds flying around every day - and an occasional mongoose explores our yard.  Sometimes I feel like I live in a zoo. :)  And I never get tired of seeing the awesome whales in our bay!  

When I look at all these creatures, and think of how each one has a plan and purpose in nature - it gives me a fresh appreciation for the world that God created.  He created "every living thing."  He designed our world in intricate detail in such a way that each creature has a role to play.....even the ones I don't like!

And it reminds me that God is at work in each detail of my life.  He has a plan and purpose for everything that's happening.  He is "working for good" in the daily events of my life - using them to help me in ways I don't always understand.  He hears my hurt and pain when I call out to Him.  He is there to wipe away my tears.  He is the One who whispers sweet words of encouragement into my heart.  And He is the One who carries the burdens that are too heavy for me to bear.  He is with me in each and every detail.

I am a "detailed" person.  It's a blessing - and sometimes a curse. :)  I can't escape it.  It's just the way my mind works.  But my sense of detail pales in comparison to God's.  His attention to every detail, every concern, every thing we think/feel/experience is beyond comparison.  He's not only up there in heaven, but He's down herewith us on earth, involved in everything we are going through.  There's nothing too big or too small for His care in our lives.  He's involved in those details because He loves us, He cares about us, and He longs to help us.

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you."  Jeremiah 1:5

"The Lord directs the steps of the godly.  He delights in every detail of their lives."  Psalm 37:23

"For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him.  He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together."  Colossians 1:16,17

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."  Genesis 1:1  ***He created EVERY detail of the world around us!!

"The Lord hears His people when they call to Him for help.  He rescues them from all their troubles."  Psalm 34:17

"I love the Lord because He hears my voice and my prayer for mercy."  Psalm 116:1

In the midst of the unexpected journey we've been on, I have been more grateful than ever before that God is a God of details.  I am so grateful that I can talk to Him about the details of Floyd's care......and the concerns of my health and care......and the questions I have about all the details of our life.......and I can ask His wisdom about our finances, our future, our home, our family.  Oh how grateful I am that He is concerned about the details of my life.  Thank you Lord!

Our Unexpected Journey

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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!

Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd has been feeling rather miserable this week - from the pressure sores on his feet and from conjunctivitis in his eyes.  Even though his eyes were bad, he was "communicating" to me with "blinks" when I was with him. 

I'm still praying for encouragement for his heart.  I was thinking today that I have friends who encourage me.  I read the Word to glean strength.  I get emails that express love.  Floyd is just laying silently in his bed.  I pray for grace that only God can give him in this situation - for sweet communion with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  And angels to keep him company around the clock.

A friend from Germany visited him this week too.  It was a sweet time together.  I think it's always an encouragement to his heart when he gets these special visits.

Waiting is hard.  For all of us.  In so many different types of situations.  But I think it's especially hard when there is some type of pain or suffering, and you're waiting for relief.  You're waiting for something to change - hoping that the change will be positive.

I spoke with someone who works in a refugee camp.  She said that the unending journey of waiting to see what the future holds is the hardest thing the refugees face.  They've left everything.  They don't know what's ahead.  All they can do is wait.

I also read about someone who works with persecuted Christians.  The hardest thing they face is not the intensity of the suffering, but the unknown duration.  It's easier to face things when you know a conclusion is coming.  But when things go on and on - with no end in sight, that is almost unbearable.

I have found the "waiting" to see what's going to happen on our unexpected journey has become a weight at times.  Any conclusion would almost be better than the endless waiting.  The waiting becomes a big part of the suffering.

When this begins to weigh on my heart - I find I have to be careful.  I remind myself that God doesn't "waste" any of our sorrows.  The waiting isn't wasted time.  God is working.  He has plans and purposes that we often don't see or understand.  IF only we could see from His perspective.

I often want to get this resolved and move on!  But I have had to time and time again slow my heart, my thoughts, and my emotions down and relax in God's plan.  For me - this is where trust comes in!  Do I really trust that God is at work?  Do I really believe that He knows best?  Am I really confident that He's hearing our prayers - or even that our prayers are important?  Yes, yes, and YES!

But I have to be willing to wait.  And waiting is often hard work.  Waiting changes us, prepares us for what's ahead.  God is usually not in a hurry.  He has a timetable that's different from ours.  He uses the waiting in ways we can't see.

-  He purifies our hearts in the waiting season.

-  He teaches us patience.

-  He builds our faith for what's ahead, so that we are expectant.

-  He uses the time to build character and foundations in our life.

-  He draws us close to Him so that we are utterly dependent on Him.

As we wait, we can trust Him at deeper and deeper levels.  We can look for the good in the waiting - His gifts to us.  They are always there!

"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope.  My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning."  Psalm 130:5,6

"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

"In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly."  Psalm 5:3

"But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation.  My God will hear me."  Micah 7:7

"Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord."  Psalm 27:14

"Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way."  Psalm 37:7

So many of the Bible characters had long waits until what God had spoken was fulfilled - Noah (120 years), Abraham (25 years), Moses (40 years), Jacob (20 years), Joseph (13 years), David (12 years), Jesus (30 years).  Mary & Martha waited until they thought it was too late......and then Jesus did the unthinkable by raising Lazarus from the dead.

"No one who waits for you will ever be put to shame."  Psalm 25:3

The best is always yet to come with Him!  Even though it's sometimes hard, the waiting is always worth it when we trust in His love and goodness.  I'm trying to wait patiently, with a heart of trust and expectation, for all of His plans and purposes to be fulfilled on this journey.  

As I've meditated and pondered on the process of waiting, it's made me aware again of how important my attitude is while I'm waiting.  

Our attitude impacts everything we say and do.  It becomes even more important when we're walking through hard times.  In fact, I think our attitude can turn the tide from difficulties, trials, and suffering into gifts and blessings.  So much depends on how we look at things as we walk through life.

The Bible says in Proverbs 23:7 - "As a man thinketh, so is he."  Our thoughts and attitude effect everything.  What happens is important, but even more important is how we react to what happens in our life.

Author and speaker Charles Swindoll summed it up this way:  "The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.  Attitude, to me, is more important than facts.  It is more important than success, than what other people think or say or do.  It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill.  It will make or break a company....a church....a home.  The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.  We cannot change our past....we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way.  We cannot change the inevitable.  The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.

On this unexpected journey, I pray and ask for God's intervention.  I "cast my burdens" on Him.  I can't make it alone.  I need His help.  But the one thing I'm responsible for is my attitude.  I've come to realize that there are 2 very important attitudes I must have.  There are actually lots of attitudes, but 2 are especially crucial.

The first is a heart of trust in God.  That is a foundational attitude that impacts everything else on the journey.  If I don't trust in God's goodness, faithfulness, mercy, grace, and sovereignty - then I'm going to be in big trouble.  I'm looking to God to meet me in my weakness, to carry me when I can't keep going, to counsel me, to be my refuge - and so many other things.  But I have to trust Him and trust that He'll come through for me.

I find it important to speak out, to declare that trust.  I say aloud, "I trust you Lord.  I trust you Lord."  I say it, I pray it, I sing it, I tell the enemy - I let that trust build and grow in my heart.  I let it consume my heart. 

"Commit everything you do to the Lord.  Trust Him, and He will help you."  Psalm 37:5

"I trust in your unfailing love."  Psalm 13:5

"He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord."  Psalm 112:7

The second attitude that's so important is thankfulness.  Sarah Young says that "a thankful attitude opens windows of heaven through which spiritual blessings fall freely."  A thankful, worshipping heart and attitude changes our perspective from what's happening to who God is in the midst of the trial.  It immediately helps lift the weight off our spirit as we are thankful in the midst of whatever comes our way.

When the day is hard, when the weights are so heavy that I feel I might buckle under the load - I make sure my attitude of thankfulness gets activated.  It changes my perspective.  My focus is on Him in the midst of the hardship rather than the hardship itself.  It immediately lightens the load.

Thankfulness in the midst of suffering and trials requires a deep well of trust.  The combination of trust and thankfulness is powerful!  They can help turn the hardest, darkest day into glorious sunshine.  As I trust Him and lift up my heart in thankfulness, I find fresh energy to face the difficulty through His enabling grace.

"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  1 Thessalonians 5:18

"Let (the redeemed of the Lord) sacrifice thank offerings and tell of His works with songs of joy."  Psalm 107:22

"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.  My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song."  Psalm 28:7

When we plant "seeds" of trust and thankfulness in our hearts in hard times - something wonderful and beautiful will grow in our hearts!  

Ou Unexpected Journey

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I had a good time of prayer with Floyd this week.  He was looking good, but was very quiet and solemn.  I felt I touched something in his heart as I prayed.  We continue to pray for encouragement for him.

I heard from a friend of ours who has only been in the hospital for a short while, but is already suffering from bed sores.  They can be so painful!  It made me realize again what a gift it is that Floyd has not had any all this time.  The nurses themselves  actually call it a miracle.  I'm so grateful.  

Then right after I was just thanking the Lord that Floyd hasn't had any bed sores, he now is developing a pressure sore on his foot.  I am very sad about this.  We are really praying for it to be healed!

On this long, unexpected journey I'm on, I've faced a myriad of emotions.  I guess that's true of life in general, but especially so when you're going through hard times.  There has been shock, pain, loneliness, grief, anxiety, sadness, insecurity, fear, worry, disappointment.  It seems like the emotions have been all over the place at different times and on different days.

I was surprised when I even faced some feelings of rejection.  I didn't expect that on this journey.  Some months ago, a friend sent me a paper Floyd had written a few years ago on rejection.  I thought it was good, but didn't give it a lot of thought.  Then one day I faced that emotion - and I was so grateful to have Floyd's "help" in walking through it from his teaching.  I'll post his teaching on his page so that you can read it, it’s called ‘The Gift of Rejection’.  I feel I am to pass it on.  It has meant a lot to me that even in his "silence" he ministered to my heart through the paper he had written.

One of the comforts to my heart is knowing that Jesus understands every emotion we face.  He has faced many of the same things, and is ready to comfort us in whatever we are going through.  We don't have to face the roller coaster of emotions alone.  He is holding our right hand, and staying right beside us.

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet he did not sin."  Hebrews 4:15

In the midst of my emotions, I haven't asked a lot of "why" questions.  But there is no sin in asking “why.”  Even Jesus did that.  "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"  Matthew 27:46  It may not have been a question as much as a statement of agony......but He asked.  I've heard some people refer condemningly to anyone who asks God "why?"  I don't think God is upset if we question Him.  He understands our own agony, sometimes bewilderment, at things that happen to us.

We can't hide our emotions or our thoughts.  God created us with those emotions and feelings.  The important thing is to bring them to Him......to bring our questions to Him.  We can't stay in the barren wilderness of our feelings.  We'll die if we stay there.  But we can bring them to Him, and receive His grace, strength, help, and comfort.

One thing I am absolutely confident in is that the Lord is with me every moment, in every emotion, in every hard situation that I face.  He longs to help me, not condemn me or rebuke me.  He understands, and He wants to meet me and support me.  I am grateful beyond words for His help.  I am "still standing" because He has helped me with everything I've faced.

"When I am afraid, I will trust in you."  Psalm 56:3

"Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."  Hebrews 4:16

"The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."  Deuteronomy 31:8

"Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us."  Psalm 62:8

"He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief."  Isaiah 53:3

I remember one weekend during the first year of this journey when things had impacted me so severely - and my heart was hurting so badly, that I was physically shaking.  I couldn't stop.  Some friends came over to pray for me.  As they prayed, God's love invaded my heart and peace came.  It was amazing.  I've remembered that with each emotion I've faced.  God is there to help me.  He will meet each need, each emotion, each pain with His love and care.  I am so, so grateful!

The other emotion that I didn't know I would encounter so wonderfully - and the one that I didn't even fully understand what it would mean to me - is "the joy of the Lord."  I've shared about it before, but it seems I keep understanding and experiencing it at deeper levels.

"The joy of the Lord is your strength."  Nehemiah 8:10

I know the Bible promises that joy.  It sounds simple.  We can even take it for granted that it'll be there.  But I've been pondering what it actually means in a tangible, every day experience and walk of life in all that we face.  What does it look like?  How do I get it?  One thing I know for sure is that it can only come from Him.  Nothing the world has to offer can give us the joy that is our strength in the midst of suffering and trials.

For me, the joy of the Lord is:

-  a peace when turmoil rages all around me.

- a calm in the middle of a raging storm of pain and hardship.

- a deep comfort in facing grief and loss.

- a contentment that is totally unexplainable except for His grace.

- a happiness when everything is still very sad.

- a "rest" in my spirit even though tears are rolling down my cheeks.

- an ability to enjoy life in spite of tragic and difficult circumstances.

It's not a happy-go-lucky feeling.  It goes so much deeper than anything I can feel.  His joy is a bottomless well that I can draw on.  There is an abundant supply, and the well will never go dry.  No drought will dry up the well of His joy.  

His joy is a gift that we need to receive.  We can choose it.  We need to take hold of it.  We even need to practice it.  On some of my hardest days, I speak out obtaining His joy in these ways.  It's there, but I can't be passive about it.

I think one of the ways we can be active in receiving His joy is by believing that He truly loves us - that He delights in us.  I know from experience that the enemy loves to whisper lies in my ears that I'm not doing enough.  That I'm failing God.  That He's disappointed in me.  When that happens, I love to proclaim the truth of this verse:

"The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing."  Zephaniah 3:17

We can also be active in receiving His joy by spending time in His word and meditating on His promises.  We can enter into His comfort and joy by worshipping Him - even when we don't feel like it.  It's so important to remember who He is, to reflect on all He's done, and to proclaim His truth and promises.  It's hard not to have the joy that He gives when we're doing these things!

Happiness is a response we can have to our circumstances, but joy is the sweet gift that comes straight from the throne of grace.  In fact, the Greek word for joy and grace are almost identical.  They come from the same root word.  Joy (His grace) doesn't disappoint us in hard times.  It is our wonderful strength from the Father.  Nothing and no one can take it away!

"When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy."  Psalm 94:19

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."  Romans 15:13

"Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy."  John 16:22

"Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning."  Psalm 30:5

"I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow."  Jeremiah 31:13

"When troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy."  James 1:2

"Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid.  The Lord, the Lord Himself, is my strength and my defense; He has become my salvation.  With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation."  Isaiah 12:2,3

As my journey continues and at time feels more intense than I can manage I'm putting all the things I've just written about into daily practice in my own life.  I'm grateful for His joy that is my strength.  It carries me through the hard days.

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!

Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd is feeling better, but also still sleeping a lot.  On Sat. he had a sweet visit with a friend from overseas.  They had ministered together in the middle east to refugees before Floyd became sick.  He spent time sharing reports from around the world with him.  I know that would have blessed Floyd's heart.

This week 4 friends had a sweet, precious time with him.  They said the presence of the Lord was so strong in the room.  At the end, he gave them a big smile.

I wish I had kept a record of everyone that has visited Floyd.  It's really been quite remarkable!  So many friends from around-the-world have been here.  The outpouring of love and affection has been so special.  And, of course, the dear ones on the Care Team who go regularly is a blessing of immense proportions.

When I pray and ask the Lord for healing or heaven for Floyd, I ask the Lord if it's heaven to please take him gently without a lot more suffering.  It's so agonizing to see him suffer intensely, and not be able to do anything to relieve it.  I'm so grateful that he has improved.

On this "unexpected" journey that we're on, I find that sadness and grief impact my heart at "unexpected" times too.  I had a good example of that this week.  A church here in Cape Town and All Nations are co-hosting a conference this week on reaching the cities.  Floyd has such a heart for the cities of the world, and would have loved to be part of this gathering.  He smiled when I told him about it, and I've prayed with him for the conference.

I had the privilege of sharing for a few minutes in the opening session on behalf of Floyd.  In the midst of that, my heart was suddenly impacted with grief.  The thought raced through my mind that Floyd should be there - he should be speaking.  As soon as I finished, I went outside with tears streaming down my face.

I had no idea this would happen.  It was so unexpected.  But I've been learning that sadness and grief can strike at any time.  I'm choosing to let the tears come, to let the sadness surface as I know it has a healing and cleansing benefit.

For all of us - whatever the sadness and grief is that we might be walking through - it's so important to not bottle it up.....to let it surface and be expressed.  I think that's how God ministers His healing grace to us......in little doses over time.  He keeps cleansing the "wound" of sadness until it's fully healed.  It may take years.  God knows the timetable that is best for each of us.

Jesus can empathize with our sorrow.  He has walked through suffering.  He is able to help carry our grief, and pour His love into our pain.  He wipes away the tears we cry with His love and grace.  He never leaves us alone to cope with the sorrow.

Shortly after all this happened, someone asked to pray for me.  Their prayer was for "unexpected" joy.  I love that, because I've experienced it!  In the midst of all the loss and sadness......there has also been rich joy.  At first when I experienced it I felt guilty for being joyful.  But I've come to realize that it's, once again, the way God in His lovingkindness balances out the "scales" in our lives.  Too much grief and sadness would destroy us - so He compensates with special joys along the way.

The joys come in an amazing variety of ways.  A big smile from Floyd.  A hug from a friend.  A word of encouragement from a friend or even a stranger.  Beautiful flowers.  A stunning sunset.  The majestic beauty of the ocean.  Seeing whales in our bay - which I saw this week.  (It's late in the season, so it was truly an unexpected joy.  God knows how much it would mean to me.)  A song of worship.  A scripture passage that seems to speak right to my heart.  The tweeting of birds out my window.  The list goes on and on.  God knows what ministers joy to my heart, and is continually bringing those joys to me.  Many, perhaps most, of the joys are small.  It would be easy to miss them if we're not looking.

It's been an unexpected journey.  Unexpected events - unexpected sorrow - and unexpected joy.....all held together in the Lord's loving and faithful care.  He is so good and faithful.  He never gives more than we can bear.  He is with us continually.  And He gives sufficient strength and grace to help me keep moving forward.

"God blesses those people who grieve.  They will find comfort."  Matthew 5:4

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."  Psalm 34:18

"He was...a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief."  Isaiah 53:3

"Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning."  Psalm 30:5

"When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul."  Psalm 94:19

"This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."  Psalm 118:24  Even if it's a sad day - I can rejoice in His goodness and faithfulness!

On the days when the grief is there, I know that joy will also come.  It's easy to feel that I'll always be sad because of the weight of things.  But that's not true.  The sad times, the times of grief, are hard, but our loving Father will walk with us through them.  He'll bring good - joy!! - into our lives in ways that only He can.  How grateful l am for His lovingkindness!

We are in spring here in South Africa.  I think it's my favorite season of the year.  I love the variety of greens of new growth on the trees and plants and in the fields.  After our severe drought - and then the "answer to prayer" rains of winter - we have an abundance of spring flowers this year.  The fields, sidewalks, and gardens are full of gorgeous blooms.  It is so pretty!

Everything had been so brown and dead - and now it's green and blooming.  The new life is amazing!  It's a wonderful visual example of the new life God can bring into our lives in His own unique way - especially after seasons of dryness.  I usually pray, sing, and chat to the Lord when I'm driving - and with this spring beauty all around us, I thank Him for His goodness and new life.

I grew up singing Gospel music.  In fact I sang in a girls trio for a number of years.  I love a lot of the songs from that genre.  I've recently been singing one that takes me back to my "roots."  When I played it for Floyd and told him it would take him back to his roots too, he smiled as he listened to it.

The words express what my heart is feeling and singing as I thank the Lord for His goodness and new life.

"That's a hallelujah, that's a praise Him,

That's a glory be and blessed be His name.

Has He been faithful?  Don't it make you grateful?

Every time the Lord has been good to ya, that's a hallelujah.

Every day you wake up God is up to something new,

So go ahead and thank Him for what He's yet to do."

I have SO much to thank Him for.  He is so good, so faithful, and so at work in my life at every level.  It's definitely something to praise Him for and to sing hallelujah for!

"Let them....tell of His works with songs of joy."  Psalm 107:22

"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you."  1 Thessalonians 5:18

"Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name."  Psalm 100:4

"Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ for the spiritual blessings that Christ has brought us from heaven."  Ephesians 1:3 CEV

There is so much to thank Him for - to sing a hallelujah for, to praise Him for, to be grateful for, and to thank Him for what He's yet to do.  He has been so exceedingly faithful to me and to our family.  I can't help but rejoice and sing His praises......even on hard days!

Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd has not been doing well this past week.  It breaks my heart to see him suffer so.  His condition reminds me of some of the early days on this journey.  He's sleeping a lot, his blood pressure is low, the congestion is there, and he's definitely been miserable.  

Thankfully, the last two days have been a bit better.  I continue to pray for relief - asking God again for healing or heaven.

On my last visit, I played a song - "we are not alone, God is with us" - for Floyd.  I reminded him that he's never, ever alone.  I prayed this for him, and rebuked any lies of the enemy that would make him think differently.  This seemed to be meaningful to him and I’m praying for this truth to be ministered to his heart continually.

The sadness of the week increased for me as Floyd's dog, Sossy, went to doggy heaven.  She's had a long life - over 15 years, but it all happened quite quickly and suddenly.  I'm not the "dog person" in our family, but I'm finding it very emotional that she is gone.  I think because she was Floyd's dog - it's a link that is gone.  For being a smallish dog, she cast a big presence in the house.  I miss her a lot.

I’ve been praying and talking to the Lord about some things that are heavy on my heart.  The Lord's help and grace is there for me each day, but some things weigh on my spirit - like seeing Floyd suffer.  As I was praying, the Lord reminded me of the gift He's given to His children of being able to "cast their burdens" on Him.

"Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken."  Psalm 55:22

God never intended for us to carry the weight of our burdens around with us all the time.  He provided for us, made a way for us, to be able to give them to Him so that we aren't weighed down with the cares of life.  I am so very grateful for that - I need it.

Many years ago I was walking in relationship with someone.  We were very different from each other.  We had some tensions and misunderstandings.  Occasionally some things were said that were hurtful.  Rather than dealing with them, my response was to put those hurts in an invisible sack that I carried around with me.  I thought I could just deal with it myself.

Well one day the load from that invisible sack just got too heavy, and the bag burst open in a conversation we were having.  Everything came rushing out all at once.  I should have never been carrying all that hurt around.  I should have been dealing with it each time something happened.  We sorted things out, but it wasn't easy.

The Lord doesn't want us to carry our burdens around with us in some invisible sack.  He wants us to "cast" them onto His capable shoulders to carry.  If I had done what I did earlier in my life with the burdens of this journey I'm on - I think I would be destroyed by now.  I'm so thankful that I can give the burdens of this journey to Him.  He is able to deal with them for me.

During another season in my life I was "casting" some burdens on the Lord - but it seemed like during the day I kept taking them back.  One morning during my quiet time I took a throw pillow and threw it across the room.  I said to the Lord "I'm giving you this burden.....I'm throwing it onto your shoulders, and I'm not taking it back."  That physical symbolism of throwing the pillow was a constant reminder to me then, when I was tempted to take the burden back, that I had given it to the Lord.

I'm giving these current burdens to the Lord......and I'm going to try my best to leave them at the foot of the cross where they belong.  I haven't thrown a pillow yet, but I will if I need to. :)

"Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you."  1 Peter 5:7

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."  Matthew 11:28

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:6,7

"Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?"  Isaiah 58:6

"I lifted the burden from your shoulder."  Psalm 81:6

"Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?"  Matthew 6:27

I thank the Lord for carrying my burdens on this journey.  One by one, each day, I've been able to give the weights and burdens to Him.  I'm doing it again today.  He has been so faithful to me!

I've also been reflecting for a while now on how many of God's promises and prophetic words to us begin with an "if."  There often seems to be a role we have to play in the things we are praying for.  We're waiting on God - but perhaps He is waiting on us.

"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."  2 Chronicles 7:14  

Peter had to "get out of the boat" before he experienced the miracle of walking on the water with Jesus.

The disciples had to start feeding the multitude with the few loaves and fishes after Jesus blessed them before they saw the multiplication of the food.

The servants had to obey and fill the jars with water before they saw the miracle of Jesus turning the water into wine.

There often seems to be steps we have to take before we see the full provision of God's power and answers to our prayers.  I think I would have been so frightened if I'd been in Peter's shoes!  But he had to get out of that boat.

"If" is a small - but very powerful and big word in the Bible.  It has to do with our response to God.  Jesus used "if" a lot.  It's used 574 times in the New Testament, with over half of those being in the Gospels.  Jesus always spoke of  "if" on man's side and of "never" on God's side.  He understood the roles we had to play - and how God would help us.

The "ifs," our responsibility, can seem daunting until you realize that God also promises that His "grace will be sufficient."  He wants us to obey, to choose, but He undergirds us with His strength to help us.  

In all the prayers I'm lifting to the Lord, I'm asking Him to help me fulfill the "ifs" of my part - with His grace, strength, help, and wisdom.  And I'm trusting Him to do what only HE can do!

"All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God."  Deuteronomy 28:2

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."  Galatians 6:9

"If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."  Romans 10:9

"Now listen to me if you are wise.  Pay attention to what I say."  Job 34:16

"If you have ears, pay attention!"  Mark 4:23  CEV

"If you hear His voice today, don't be stubborn!"  Hebrews 4:7  CEV

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  1 John 1:9

"If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples."  John 8:31

I continually ask God to help me be faithful on this unexpected journey we're on.  I'm so grateful for His daily grace and strength that helps me as I try to fulfill the "ifs."  

Our Unexpected Journey

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I was with some friends praying for Floyd in his hospital room last weekend.  It was a precious time of prayer.  The Lord's presence was close and sweet.  I almost expected to see angels hovering over us.  Maybe they were. :)  

Floyd was particularly alert - joining in our prayers with "blinks" and smiles.  I think he was praying with us in his heart.

A friend reminded me recently of a quote from a teaching Floyd gave in April 2011 to our school here in Cape Town.  He wrote down Floyd's words verbatim in his notes:

"A gospel of prosperity will not bring transformation to the world.  Rather, a theology of suffering and sacrifice will.  It wasn't prosperity that drove Paul to the nations.  It was suffering.  It wasn't prosperity that led Jesus to Calvary.  It was suffering and sacrifice."

The friend said these words seemed to flow right from Floyd's heart.  I've reflected on them a number of times in recent days.  Perhaps they were prophetic.  I can't say, but I know Floyd believed them.

Suffering and hard times are a "gift" that isn't appreciated.  I can't say that I'm a fan.  And yet I see the beauty, the good things that come out of suffering that can't come any other way.  There has been beauty on this long unexpected journey.  I'm grateful for it even though it has been hard.

And now, after fresh prayers last weekend - we wait to see if God will release Floyd from this suffering.  We wait in His presence with expectant hearts.  Perhaps the answer will be grace to continue to persevere rather than release.  All I can do is keep trusting our good Father!

"Rejoice and exult in hope; be steadfast and patient in suffering and tribulation; be constant in prayer."  Romans 12:12 AMP

"Be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord."  Psalm 31:24

"The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."  Deuteronomy 31:8

"Consider it all joy....when you encounter various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance."  James 1:2,3

"Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge."  Psalm 62:8

"Jesus looked at them and said to them, 'With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.' " Matthew 19:26 

We often pray for the "mountain" of difficulty in our lives to be moved.  We've struggled with a problem, a conflict, a trial, a suffering.  It feels like a huge mountain in our life.  I've learned that God usually doesn't change or remove the mountain - He changes us.  I've been changed by this journey we've been on.  I'm grateful for the changes He's brought in my life.  

On this long unexpected journey that we've been on with it's roller coaster dynamics, there have been so many emotions.  There have been good days.  There have been hard days.  There have been times when it seems like the sun is shining brightly.  And there have been times when it feels like the darkest of nights.

I was having one of those down days recently when it seemed like so many things were weighing on my heart - and my body was struggling with some of the treatments I'm walking through.  I was choosing to worship and praise the Lord in the midst of the hard day, but I could feel the heaviness of things.

I found myself meditating on Psalm 139.  It's such a beautiful, powerful psalm.  There are words of encouragement all the way through it!  But I was particularly struck by this passage in verses 7 - 12:

"Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  If I say 'Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,'  even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you."

Verse 12 stood out to me like it was printed in bold type!  When we feel we're going through darkness, through hard days - God's light is continually shining in all it's might and brightness into our souls because darkness and light are the same to Him.  His presence, His power, His strength, His help, His grace is the same 24/7.  There is no "dark" time of the day in His provision.  The "night shines like day" with our wonderful God.

Last year when I was so weak and frail from my treatment, and I wasn't sure I was going to make it - there were times in the lonely hours of the night when I  would lay awake.  I would think of the light of His presence shining into my room, warming me, keeping me company, holding my hand, and helping me get through the night.

It doesn't matter how hard, how dark our trial seems to be.....the light of His presence is always shining because "darkness is as light" to Him.  What a comfort and strength that is on the hard days!  I am so grateful that His "right hand holds me fast!"  We can't "get away" from His presence.  He is with us continually!!  How faithful He is. 

Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd's days have been a bit up and down.  Two friends that he hasn't seen in quite a while were with him for a sweet visit.  He was very responsive, and seemed to enjoy their time with him.  On another day, he seemed weak and lethargic.  Then the following day he was feisty. There's no way to know what is happening in his heart and mind.  All we can do is take "clues" from what happens.  I have felt to pray afresh for peace, comfort, courage, and grace for him.  

In a recent time with our All Nations staff, we had a teaching and time of discussion on the testings that come into our lives.  It's something I have been reflecting on personally too.

I don't think God causes the trials and testings that come our way.  We live in a fallen world, so we'll have lots of things thrown at us without God having to cause them!  But God, in His goodness and faithfulness, uses those trials for good.  He teaches us through them.  He brings growth into our lives.  He develops our character.  He "redeems" the testings in ways that only He can.

In the last 2 1/2 years it seems like almost every area of my life has gone through some kind of trial and testing.  It's been hard - beyond belief hard!  But it's also been good.  God has used these trials in so many positive ways in my life.  The most precious has been that it's drawn me so much closer to Him.  I've grown deeper in my walk with Him and trust in Him.

In the midst of our trials and testings, God's love is bestowed upon us in special ways.  He has compassion on us.  He understands that we are weak, that we grow weary, and that we often lack understanding.  He brings good out of all of this through His great love for us.  His love and care for us in the midst of the trials in unending and unfailing.

Too often we blame God when a hard time comes.  We distance ourselves from Him because of anger - and by doing so we can miss the very things we need......His grace, His strength, His care, His wisdom, His protection, His tender mercies.  He's not upset or displeased with us.  He's right with us!  I'm not a fan of trials and testings, but I am so grateful for His provision to me when I'm walking through them.

I've been listening to a song by Wintley Phipps.  He gave a short testimony before he sang.  A statement he made has impacted my heart.  "It is in the quiet crucible of your personal, private sufferings that your noblest dreams are born - and God's greatest gifts are given in compensation for what you've been through."

I wrote before in one of my early updates that God brings compensations into our lives.  It's His way of balancing the scales, so to speak.  "The Lord is just in all His ways."  Psalm 145:17.  He doesn't take something away or require something of us without replacing it, compensating us with something of equal, or usually greater, importance, value, and significance.  I've seen it time and time again in my life.  If we open our "eyes" to see it, it's there.

God is the Master of balancing the scales in our lives.  I trust Him to bring gifts that only He can give from the trials and testings of our lives.  He is abundantly faithful to do that!  

"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

"Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all."  2 Corinthians 4:17

"Consider it all joy....when you encounter various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance."  James 1:2,3

"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior."  Habakkuk 3:17,18

"Friends, when life gets really difficult, don't jump to the conclusion that God isn't on the job.  Instead, be glad that you are in the thick of what Christ experienced.  This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner."  1 Peter 4:12,13  The Message

As long as we are on this earth, we'll face trials and testings.  How we respond to them is more important than the test itself - because the response of our heart carries our eternal values.  The test will eventually come to an end, but the impact of it will last with us for eternity.  On this long, unexpected journey with all the trials and testings we've encountered, I've asked God to help me respond in a right way.  I believe He is using this season for good in my life!  I'm so grateful to Him.

This week we had a national holiday in South Africa - Heritage Day.  I woke up thanking the Lord for the wonderful heritage we have in our family.  My mother and Floyd's parents were such Godly examples to us in their walk with God.  And they were powerful intercessors!  They modeled for us how to pray - how to trust God for answers to our prayers.  I'm so grateful for their impact in my life.

Recently I've had conversations with some people about the delay in seeing answers to some of our prayers.  It can be frustrating, disappointing, and can cause us to give up hope when we don't see answers to the prayers we are lifting up to Him.  

When we petition God for things, He may say "yes."  He may say "no."  Or He may say "wait."  I think the answer we find the hardest to deal with is the waiting!  We live in a time when everything is instantaneous.  We're not used to waiting - and we often don't do it very well.  

We have been faithful in asking God for some things, for healings, for miracles.  Many have prayed!  We haven't given up.  So why aren't we seeing more of the answers we're asking God for?  I certainly don't have all the answers.  But there are a few things that have helped my heart in looking at this.

I think one reason is we don't see things from God's perspective!  We see things through our "finite" eyes.  God sees the "big" picture.  He may already be answering our prayers, but we just can't see it yet.  The delays aren't because God doesn't care, and they're not because He can't answer.  The delays are for our good - even if we can't see or understand the delay.

His timing is often different from ours too.  There may be some important reasons why our prayers have not been answered yet.  God may be doing things in the interim.  He may be preparing for the answers.  He may even be planning to answer in a different way.

It's so important that we don't allow our trust in God to be undermined through delay in the answers to our prayers.  The enemy would love that!  God is good and faithful!  He loves us, He cares, He suffers with us.  The circumstances don't change who He is.

I find it important to thank Him for things He IS doing!  I'm surrounded by them.  I need to thank Him for those things while I wait for the answers to prayers that I'm still lifting up to Him.

I hope someday that God can explain some of the delays to us......but I'm convinced that one of the things He is teaching me, and all of us, is perseverance.  In this day and age of everything being "instant" - we can forget what it means to persevere.  Perseverance is one of the ways of God that are found all through the Word.  It's an important character trait for us to have in our walk with the Lord.  Being willing to persevere in prayer, and in other ways, is often a test for us 

I've been listening to a song by Elevation Worship called "Won't Stop Now."

"I give you glory through all you've brought me through

And now I'm ready for whatever you wanna do.

In every season your grace has been enough.

I'm believing the best is yet to come.

I know breakthrough is coming."

I'd love to see the miracle answers that we're praying for.  I'd love that encouragement for everyone who is praying.  But the delay is where our faith comes in.  I don't understand the delays, but I trust our wonderful Lord.  He's faithful.  He's brought me though.  I'm ready for whatever He's going to do.  I won't stop praying now!

"Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up."  Luke 18:1-8  The parable of the persistent widow in these verses is a powerful example to us of persevering in prayer.

"Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer."  Romans 12:12

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

"Pray without ceasing."  1 Thessalonians 5:17

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:6,7

God is not going to get upset with us for praying - for continuing to ask Him for answers to our prayers.  He's given us an open door to come to Him with our petitions.  He loves for us to ask.  He wants us to persevere.  And He has answers in store for us - in His perfect way and in His perfect time.

Our Unexpected Journey

Floyd is a bit better from the congestion that he struggles with.  We are grateful for answered prayer!  

This week I got the results of my biopsy.  I'm not sure if it's good news or bad news.  The results were "inconclusive."  I'm relieved that I didn't receive a verdict of the cancer returning - but we still aren't sure what is going on.  I need to wait now for the inflammation from the biopsy to heal, and then I'll be doing a PET scan.

In the meantime, I'll continue all the things I've been doing for taking care of myself - and keep praying for healing.  

The last few days I've felt like I've been on that roller coaster again.  It's exhausting!  Sarah Young says that when we come to the Lord's table of His goodness, we need "to be sure to bring our fork of trust and our spoon of thankfulness."  That's what I've been doing.

I continually speak out my trust in God's goodness and sovereignty, and I thank Him for who He is and all that He's doing.  Choosing to do this keeps me from worrying about the future and what's ahead.  A day before my results, I had a phone call that seemed ominous about the report.  It immediately brought fear.  

I was surprised at how quickly that emotion could pop its head up.  I needed to stop it immediately before it took root in my heart.  Trust and thankfulness were my protection.  It was like putting on armor to keep the darts of fear from penetrating.  I'm so grateful for these weapons of warfare!

" 'I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' "  Jeremiah 29:11

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

"I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation."  Psalm 13:5

"Let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of His deeds in songs of joy!"  Psalm 107:22

I saw someone this week that I haven't seen for a while.  They encouraged me that I look really well - healthy.  I'm receiving that as encouragement that my inner body is healthy too!

Someone sent me a photo of the beautiful spring tulips pressing their way out of the frozen, snow covered ground.  I love it!  I identify with those tulips.  I have used the picture at the top of this post for you to see.

It sometimes feels like I've been walking through a barren, frozen, snow covered path all these months.  Much in our lives feels "suspended" in time.  Life is on hold.  Things can't move forward.  We deal with what's happening, but we're staying in the same place.....no movement.  One of our family said:  "Life moves on all around us, but this life for us doesn't move......at least that which we see with our finite eyes.  We're in an emotional and spiritual "suspension."  

This feeling of suspension is a strange one.  Sometimes I look at everyone around me - it seems like life is full and active for them - while I feel like I'm in the same place, never moving.

But in the midst of this - God holds us together.  I/we couldn't make it otherwise.  I feel like those yellow and red tulips.....reaching for the sun, ready to come into the world.  They've had the strength to press through the frozen ground and live!  That's what I'm trying, choosing to do.

There is no frozen ground, no hardness, no pain, no suffering, no trial that we can't "break through" with His grace, help, and strength!  Be it a "little" situation - or an earth shattering one, God will be with us and help us survive and blossom into fresh life and hope.  He created us this way.

I heard someone say that when the dream, the word, the thing we're praying for seems the furthest away, it's the closest to us.  We've been praying for breakthroughs, for healing, for change - and I don't know if it's close or far.  But the one thing I'm assured of is that God is close to us in the midst of all this.  Closer than the air we breathe.  I rest in His closeness.  And I press through the frozen ground towards the sun!

"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.  Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul."  Psalm 143:8

"Those who hope in me will not be disappointed."  Isaiah 49:23b

"God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."  Revelation 21:4

"You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.  Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow."  Isaiah 55:12,13

"For you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.  And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall."  Malachi 4:2

"For nothing is impossible with God."  Luke 1:37

How wonderful that our faithful God is with us in every season - helping us to reach for the sun! 

Our Unexpected Journey

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This week I received news that a good friend, who has been suffering with a severe illness for 11 years, was miraculously healed.  She is well!!  I, along with many others, have often prayed for her.  I am rejoicing with her!  And I'm encouraged to keep praying for more miracles.  God is alive and well and at work!

I keep praying for God's sovereign will for Floyd - be that healing or heaven.  I keep asking for miracles - and I keep telling the Lord I trust Him.  It's a good place to be - in the hands of God!  

The chest congestion that Floyd often struggles with has returned with a vengeance.  He has been quite miserable this week.  A friend who is visiting went to him yesterday, but Floyd was feeling so bad that he really didn't connect with the friend and the carer.  He usually loves these visits.  I hate to see Floyd suffer like this, so we continue to pray for the congestion to be cleared up.

Apart from the horrible congenstion Floyd is at peace.  You can sense it when you're with him.  In my recent visit with him, I prayed again for God's will in our lives.

I recently wrote about the adversities that we go through - and how God helps us through them.  Since then my mind has been pondering on how we can be joyful, happy even, in the midst of adversity.  We can be in the midst of sadness and sorrow - and still be joyful.  I know - it sounds contradictory, but it's not.

For me it comes down to what I focus on.  I can focus on the trials, the pain, the sadness, the things I've lost - or I can focus on who God is, on His goodness and faithfulness in the middle of the trial.  It's something I need to choose.  A friend sent me this picture.

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I love that picture.  We can be happy even if we don't "win."  Not because of the results - but because of how we choose to look at them.  I have found it so important in the midst of hard days to say "thank you Jesus" for the good things in the hard day.  We can be joyful because of our walk with the Lord, because of the hope He gives us, and because of His faithfulness to us on the journey.

There's an old hymn that I've been singing - "Count Your Blessings."  The words say - "count your blessings, name them one by one; count your blessings see what God has done, count your many blessings.....and it may surprise you what the Lord has done."

I have practiced counting my blessings - making a list of them.  It never ceases to amaze me how many blessings I have.....even in the midst of hard times on this long, unexpected journey!  I am still "rich" with blessings.

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."  Romans 12:12

"You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.  Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow."  Isaiah 55: 12,13

"For the despondent, every day brings trouble: for the happy heart, life is a continual feast."  Proverbs 15:15

"Always be full of joy in the Lord.  I say it again, rejoice!"  Philippians 4:4

"This is the day the Lord has made.  We will rejoice and be glad in it."  Psalm 118:24

"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

"A joyful heart is good medicine."  Proverbs 17:22

"Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."  Philippians 4:8

I'm grateful for God's joy and happiness in the midst of hard times.  What a precious gift that is to my heart.  I'm choosing to think on His goodness.

As I've been preparing for my biopsy surgery, I have been at peace - until just a couple days ago.  Then I woke up one morning feeling very anxious.  It kinda caught me off guard.  I was on my way to our weekly All Nations staff gathering where they gathered around to pray for me.  It was just what I needed.  I'm so very grateful to be surrounded by prayer.  

The Lord has also been preparing my heart with a verse from Psalm 139:5 - "You go before me and follow me.  You place your hand of blessing on my head."  Another version says "you hem me in.” 

It gives me such sweet confidence to know the Lord goes before me and follows me - He hems me in.  I'm not alone.  He has prepared the way before me, and He comes along behind me.  I'm surrounded.

I sometimes pray for the Lord to put a hedge of protection around me.  I picture in my mind big tall bushes, a hedge, all around me as I go through the day - trusting that God is keeping things from getting through to me.

On Wednesday as I went for the biopsy surgery, I carried this image with me.  I felt the Lord's presence "hemming me in."  The biopsy turned out to be quite painful, but it didn't take long.  I'm sore now, quite exhausted from all that happened - but I'm at peace.  Now I wait for the results.  I'm praying and trusting for "good" ones.

I felt carried through the day.  I kept looking for angels, but didn't see any - but I had some sweet nurses, doctors, and orderlies taking care of me.

"Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side?  You have blessed the work of his hands."  Job 1:10

"Let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever.  Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy."  Psalm 5:11

"Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all."  Psalm 34:19

"Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by."  Psalm 57:1

"I lift up my eyes to the mountains - where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.  He will not let your foot slip - He who watches over you will not slumber.....The Lord will keep you from all harm - He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore."  Psalm 121

The Lord's presence went before me, followed me, and I felt His peace and blessing with me.  I'm especially grateful for that on days like that when I miss Floyd being with me.  I’m also so thankful for all the prayers that were covering me too.  I'm so grateful!