Our Unexpected Journey

Floyd has been quiet, peaceful, but attentive this week.  He has communicated with his hand about a few things on four occasions.  I am encouraged by that.

I spent Christmas morning with Floyd.  He was asleep when I got there, but I woke him up by playing Christmas carols.  I read the Christmas story to him, and I shared some special family moments from various Christmases through the years.  He responded with sweet emotion to a number of the memories.  It was a sweet morning.

Over this Christmas time I've been reflecting on Isaiah 9:8,  "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given".  

As I've thought of all we've gone through this year, I couldn't help but think of how suffering, pain, and the trials of life bring a certain amount of "darkness" with them.  The heaviness from that darkness can feel overwhelming.  But that's why Jesus came - to bring "light" into any darkness in our lives.  He, the "babe born in the manger" brought true light!  Whatever darkness we face, God in the flesh knows just what that feels like, and He came to bring us light. That is staggeringly beautiful!

Christmas, His coming, is all about light!  Wherever we look in the Word, we find that Christmas is about light, because Jesus is the Light of the world! 

"In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."  John 1:4, 5

"Jesus addressed them: 'I am the world's Light.  No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness.  I provide plenty of light to live in.' " John 8:12

Our suffering, our trials - no matter how dark our situation is, Jesus is the light that comes to help us!  What sweet joy that brings to my heart. Fresh hope rises in me.  His light lifts the darkness from any suffering. His coming brings victory to us.  Thank you Father for sending Jesus, the Light of the world!

Hope and faith go hand in hand.  As we hope for something, and we keep our eyes on Him - it's so important for faith to rise in our hearts. True faith is not just believing that God can, but it's trusting that He will.

When we look at something that is impossible that we're praying for, the enemy loves to impress upon us how impossible it is!  He loves to get us to focus on that one aspect.  God wants us to keep our focus on Him.

Faith is living in the middle of a miracle - right on the edge, facing disaster, and waiting for God to come through.  We look to Him in the middle of whatever the hard thing is.  Faith only becomes faith when it's tested!  And faith never demands it's own timing.  Faith hopes, prays, trusts, and leaves the details to God.

A friend of mine read a devotional about faith by Andrew Murray.  He summarized the points for me and I've been meditating on them:

1.  Faith claims every promise that God has made.

2.  Faith counts upon God to do all He has promised.

3.  Faith trusts in the power of God to fulfill His promises.

4.  Faith yields itself to obey God's commands because of the link between God's commands and His promises.

5.  Faith waits on God for the fulfillment of His promises.

6.  Faith rests in the hope of what God will do.

7.  Faith abides in the presence of God while waiting and resting.

I love all those points, and found it helpful to talk and pray them through with the Lord!

Through the years, I've trusted God for a number of "impossible" things. We don't need faith unless we're praying for something that is outside the realm of what we can accomplish.  I've seen God do so many things that were impossible.  I know He can do them.  "When God is going to do something wonderful, He begins with a difficulty.  If it is going to be something very wonderful, He begins with an impossibility." 

I'm still praying for a breakthrough for Floyd.  While I believe for the impossible, I also tell the Lord I trust Him.  I know I can't demand the outcome - I can only ask.  My trust in Him won't be shaken if He has another plan!  Faith puts God between us and (impossible) circumstances. That's where I am - looking to God as I pray for the miracle.

"So that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God's power."  1 Corinthians 2:5

"Then Jesus said, 'Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?' "  John 11:40

"The testing of your faith produces perseverance."  James 1:3

I believe!  I look to Him.  I trust Him.

As the new year is approaching, I can't help but look back to this time last year.  Wow - so much has changed.  It seems like pretty much everything in my life has been turned upside down this past year.  The one "constant" is the Lord.  I'm so grateful for His grace, strength, and help.

I realize more and more that in hard times, in trials, in seasons of suffering - there is no middle ground!  We have to press into Him.  If we don't we'll either collapse under the pressure of it all, or we'll harden our hearts towards Him because of the hard time.

"We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope."  Romans 5:3,4

These are the "building blocks" of our spiritual walk.  I might stack them differently :) but I certainly need them all!  And it seems like a key ingredient is pressing "in," persevering, in whatever comes our way.

The purpose of our suffering is to produce hope - not to diminish it or destroy it!  I've found that really important to remember as I wait.  I don't want my hope to weaken as time goes on.  In fact the "hope" for answers, for change is part of what keeps me going.

Our own thoughts, the comments of others, all the uncertainties and "what ifs" can so easily drain hope.  It's crucial to keep my eyes, my hope on Him, and Him alone.

"For you are my hope, O Lord God."  Psalm 71:5

I read this quote - "the ladder of hope has nothing to stand on here below; it is held up from above."  God is holding it secure!  Without God, there is no hope.

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

"Hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through His Holy Spirit which has been given to us."  Romans 5:5

I don't know what the year ahead holds in store.  I would never have dreamed of what this last year has had for us.  I hold onto Him, the "constant" that is solid and secure.

One of the times I was doing my daily walking and praying this week, I was thanking the Lord for His goodness, His help, His strength, His grace - my heart was filled with gratitude and praise.

Then all of the sudden, my mind started thinking about all the "what ifs" of my future.  And, as if someone pulled a switch, I could feel anxiety growing in my heart.

Thankfully I realized what was happening and caught myself!  How easy it was to let fear, worry, and anxiety come into my heart.  All I had to do was allow my mind to wonder about things to come.

"You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in you."  Isaiah 26:3

I have to keep my mind on Him.  God guarantees grace for everything but worry!  When I worry, I take myself out of His hands.  If I am careful to keep my thoughts on God, on His goodness, on His steadfastness - I won't have time to worry or be anxious.

"Be anxious for nothing, but.......let your requests be made known to God."  Philippians 4:6

"Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?"  Luke 12:25

"The beginning of anxiety and worry is the end of faith - and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety."  I don't know who said that - I had the quote in my notes, but it's sure true.  When we put our worries and cares in God's hands, He puts His peace in our hearts.  It's a peace that can only come from Him.

"Do not worry about tomorrow - each day has enough trouble of its own."  Matthew 6:34

One of the best things about the future is that it only comes one day at a time!  We don't have to be afraid of tomorrow, because God is already there. And God doesn't ask us to carry tomorrow's burdens with today's grace. He gives us fresh, abundant grace each day.

I'm so grateful for that daily grace.  I would have never survived this year without it.  His grace is truly "sufficient!"  2 Corinthians 12:9  

If God has taken care of us today, He'll certainly take care of us tomorrow.  How faithful He is!

I heard someone say - "Every evening I turn my worries over to God. He's going to be up all night anyway!"  Some nights when I'm having a hard time getting to sleep, and I can hear thoughts echoing through my mind - I, one by one, give those thoughts to Him.  I'm grateful He's going to be awake.

Every hour, every minute, of every day - His grace is there.  We can give all our cares to Him.  Thank you Lord!

Our Unexpected Journey

Floyd has had a mostly peaceful week and it has been wonderful to hear from the carers that he has been doing lots of smiling!

I got lots of smiles too - especially when I massaged his face because his skin was dry.....and when I reminded him that we are best friends.

One day this week as I was doing my walking/praying, I was sharing with the Lord how tired I am.  I immediately felt He took me to Isaiah 12:3  "With joy will you draw water from the wells of salvation."

And I love how The Message puts it:  "Joyfully you'll pull up buckets of water from the wells of salvation.  And as you do it, you'll say, 'Give thanks to God.  Call out His name.  Ask Him anything!"

I am so very grateful for His faithfulness, and grateful that I can drink cool water from His wells.  He gives water of refreshment, joy, strength, grace - all I need.   And His wells never run dry!  How good He is.

I'm thankful that no matter how many times I call out to Him in my need, He always answers.  He always meets me.  He always understands.  He helps me go deeper and deeper into His abundant provision.  His wells of grace run deep and plentiful!

I am grateful to have had some quiet days this week.  I really, really needed that after a number of very busy weeks.  I've had the phrase from Isaiah 30:15 going through my mind - "in quietness and trust is your strength."

I've enjoyed talking quietly with the Lord.....sitting quietly and singing some worship songs.....resting quietly on our deck and looking at my favorite ocean view.....letting my heart and mind stop being busy doing things for Floyd's care and just allowing my spirit to be quiet.  In the quietness, my trust in Him is releasing Him to renew my strength.

How grateful I am for His grace and strength that has sustained me all these months.

"He says, 'Be still, and know that I am God.' "  Psalm 46:10

"Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for Him."  Psalm 37:7

I'm grateful for the quietness of the day, of His presence......and I trust Him for what He has in mind for our lives

I’ve been thinking about times when I've said to the Lord - "not my will, but thine be done."  I guess each of us comes to our own Gethsemane when we say those words that Jesus prayed.  God takes them seriously.  He orchestrates our lives in such a way that He brings us to a point where He allows His will to unfold in ways we never dreamed of.

I'd put this year of our lives in that category.  It's not been easy!  (I guess that's quite an understatement!!)  I thought I'd been through hard times before, but this year tops them all.  It's been tough, tough, tough.

And yet.......as I think back over the months, the tough times have brought me so much closer to Him.  I've discovered rich depths of fellowship that I've never experienced before.  I've seen His faithfulness in greater power than I've ever known.  He has met me time and time again when I've yelled "help!"

There have been times, I certainly have to admit, when I wanted to run the other way.  I've heard Floyd say - "the trouble with "living sacrifices" is that we get up and crawl off the altar when the going gets rough, when the pressure builds, and when we don't like the cost!"  So true.  But I had no where to run except to Him......and He met me time and time again.

I'm not quite to the point where I'd say that I'd willingly choose to go through what we've been walking through, but I can say that I'm grateful God has allowed me, trusted me to go on this journey.  I am so humbled by His goodness and faithfulness.

"And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, 'My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will but as You will.' "  Matthew 26:39

"Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God."  Psalm 143:10

" '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.' "  Jeremiah 29:11

His plans are always for our best.  And, thankfully, He walks right beside us on whatever pathway He leads us on.  How grateful I am for that!

The world would look at this season we're walking through as a "wasted" time for Floyd.  He's missed lots of speaking opportunities - some big missions conferences which he would have loved.  There are books in his heart that aren't being written.  There is leadership mentoring and discipling that can't happen.  These things, and more, are certainly true, but it's not the way God looks at things. His perspective is so contrary to that of the world.

I wonder if we'll look back some day and see this season as one of the most fruitful of our lives.  Certainly the impact of all the prayer during this journey has far reaching influence.  I'm continually amazed at the sheer numbers of people praying - and God hears each and every one of those prayers!  The new depth of fellowship with the Lord that I've been sharing about is certainly priceless.  And I'm not the only one!  Others are telling me how they are learning and growing as they walk this journey with us. I am trusting for spiritual "gold" to come from this journey that will bless generations to come.

God always has a purpose and a plan for what we go through.  When our prayers or our faith doesn't see the answers we're expecting - we can pray with Job "teach me what I cannot see."  Job 34:32

God will bring about things from this journey of difficulty that we might never have seen otherwise.  Only He can bring good, bring beauty, bring hope and growth from the pain and suffering.  

"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

Not all things are good.  There's lots of bad in the world.  But God will continually work in things, in situations for good for His children.

I don't understand this journey.  I can't see God's perspective.  But I know God, and I'm trusting Him to bring much good from this season.  And in the meantime, I know He'll be faithful to give His enabling grace to walk it through.  

I love the Christmas season, but it's very different for me this year.  It seems so very strange for me without Floyd by my side.  But with Christmas only a few days away, I've been thinking of how grateful I am that Jesus came!  I wrote a poem years ago that I thought I'd share with you.  It expresses some of the things on my heart.

SILENCE?  It's unknown here

    where the city's heart beats.

QUIETNESS?  Not here in the 

     midst of the masses.

PEACE?  A thing of the past they say now

     that terrorists pose a constant threat.

REST?  None for the weary.  Everyone scurries

     like the city's mice trying to earn their

     daily bread while they can.

 

But......YES!  There's a breath of soothing

     silence.  There's quietness in the midst of

     the storm.  There's peace in the face of 

     despair.  There's rest from the heavy burden.

 

In HIM.  The one alone who can hear the

     faintest whisper.  The one who quietens

     the storm.  The one who brings hope 

     because He is hope.  The one whose

     shoulders can carry any burden.

 

All this, in Him!

 

The baby who came to die so

     we can live!

 

How grateful I am that Jesus gave up heaven to come to earth - to live and to die for us.  We face many seasons in our lives.  We experience many unknowns.  But the baby who was God among us will help us make it through each thing we face.

Thinking of what He did for us - how He came......it renews hope in my heart and makes my trust in Him for our future more firm.  Thank you, Jesus, for your sacrifice in coming.

"And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth."  John 1:14

"But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manager.'  Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those to whom His favor rests.'"   Luke 2:10-14

My heart joins that heavenly host in saying "glory to God."  I'm so thankful that Jesus came, and I'm thankful for the peace He gives.

Our Unexpected Journey

I had a special, tender visit with Floyd at the beginning of this week.  He was a bit pale, but alert and focused.  He looked straight into my eyes for my whole visit.

Several times he teared up, crying tears - plural.  It seemed like he was trying to talk a few times.  I told him I was sorry he couldn't speak, but that I understood his heart.  It was very moving.

On other days this week Floyd has been a bit feisty sometimes.  I wish I understood what things upset him, so that we could make adjustments - but it's not usually clear. 

A friend called me this week with a reassuring "picture" of God’s sufficient grace.  As waves come in from the ocean onto the sand, they sometimes bring sea life with them.  Then when the next wave comes, it often takes the sea life back out into the ocean.  

God's grace is similar.  It lifts us from where we are, and puts us where we need to be!  His grace doesn't leave us "stranded" in a place where we don't belong.

I've been thanking Him for His grace and His covering!

"My grace is enough; it's all you need.  My strength comes into its own in your weakness."  2 Corinthians 12:9 (The Message)

"So that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."  Hebrews 4:16

"He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield."  Psalm 91:4

I'm so grateful for His help.

I've had a very full and quite exhausting week.  Managing Floyd's care is a full time job, and I've had quite a number of other things that needed my attention too.  I find all the emotions of Floyd's situation to be very draining as well.

A few of my days were overwhelming in their busyness and activity.  Feeling frazzled a couple times, I felt the Lord's gentle reminder to let Him be part of all the "little" things of my days so that He can help me.  Nothing is too little for Him.  He's a God of detail.  He's even more detailed than me - and that's saying a lot. :)

"Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered."  Luke 12:7 - Now that's a God of detail!

I've realized that when I include Him in the details, it lifts the tediousness and heaviness of them.  His presence and grace lighten the load.  The more I acknowledge Him in the small details, asking for His help and wisdom, the more He can help carry the burdens.  It makes perfect sense, of course, but sometimes I get busy and forget to include Him.

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them."  Matthew 6:26  

If God meets the needs of the birds of the air, how much more is He wanting to care for us and help us with the details and needs of our lives?!

And compared to His awesomeness, actually everything in our lives is "little."  And He cares about it all!

As my days have continued to be busy and intense,  I've been meditating on this verse - "When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul."  Psalm 94:19

How grateful I am for His "consolations."  They come in many ways:

- His sweet, small voice speaking strength into my heart

- an encouraging word from a friend

- drinking in of the beauty of His creation

- receiving strength from the truth of His word

- being blessed by a lovely worship song

- receiving refreshment from a good night's sleep

- meditating on His love and care

- knowing the support of those praying for us

I'm so grateful that He knows what consolation I need, and He sends it my way.  How personal, and how faithful He is.  I truly could not have survived what has come our way this year without His help, His consolations.

"I keep my eyes always on the Lord.  With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken."  Psalm 16:8

"You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word."  Psalm 119:114

Living "near the water" is a constant source of peace, comfort, rest, and joy to me.  Several years before we even thought of moving to South Africa, the Lord put a desire in my heart to be "near the water."  At the time we lived in the middle of the continental US - about as far from the water (ocean) as you could be.  Every time that desire came up in my heart, I just gave it back to the Lord - not understanding it and thinking it must just be some crazy desire in my heart.  I grew up on an island, so I thought maybe I longed for the 'good ole days' of my youth.

Until - we began to explore moving to South Africa and made a trip here!  From the minute I stepped off the airplane in Cape Town, I knew we were going to move here, and that God had been preparing my heart for change.  He had been preparing me to move here and live "near the water."  I think I needed that confirmation.  I loved where we lived, and had no desire to move.  I was tired of moving. :)  I've done that waaay too many times through all our years together.

These days, even more than the past 10 years of living here, I am loving being "near the water."  It daily, many times a day, ministers to my soul.  God speaks to me through it continually.  On my hardest days I look out at the water in the distance, and feel God's peace washing over me.  I love how He uses what He's created to speak to us and minister to us.

One of my favorite ocean scenes is watching the fishing boats go out every afternoon, and return every morning.  They are beautiful as the line of boats sail out - almost like a parade.  Small, medium, and large fishing boats heading out to work.  They always make me think of Jesus calling some of His disciples from their fishing boats to come and "follow" Him.  They had been following fish for years, and now they were going to follow the 'fisher of men.'  Quite a career change.

The colors of the ocean (constantly changing), the clouds, the waves, the dolphins, the whales (when they're in season), the surfers and kite surfers, the sailboats, the huge ships, the mountains, the green trees framing the ocean view - all of it speaks to me and ministers to my heart.  Only God could know and understand how much it would help me through this difficult journey.  He alone knew what I would need, and prepared the way so many years ago.  Someone told me recently that they were praying for an oasis for me.  I think that's what God has given me!

I am absolutely in awe of His planning and direction - His personal care for my needs - His love for me - His faithfulness.  What an awesome wonderful God we serve.  He knew the "details" that I would need, and He put it all into place.

I can't help but wonder if there are other little thoughts and feelings He has sometimes put in my heart and mind, and I easily dismiss them because I don't understand.  This incredible process of God leading me to be "near the water" has given me a fresh sensitivity to the little things He puts on my heart, the little thoughts.  Maybe He's trying to speak something big that I just don't understand.  I want to listen more carefully!!  And how very, very grateful I am that He speaks to us!  

The other thought that's been going through my mind about all this is that the thoughts/impressions we have from the Lord can often seem so "random."  They don't seem to make sense at the time.  They feel like little pieces that don't fit.  Only God can see the big picture and know how the pieces all fit together.  It may even take a while, but He has a plan - He is fitting them together.  I'm trusting Him to fit the pieces of this journey all together.  I can't see how they all fit, but I know He has a plan - and I know I can trust Him.

He speaks to us.  He prepares us for what He has for us.  And He fits all the pieces together into His plan for our lives.  How faithful He is!

Our Unexpected Journey

Floyd has had a good week.  He's been calm and peaceful.  In some of my times with him this week his responses to everything I shared indicated he understood what I was saying - smiles, teary, facial expressions, etc.  

I'm encouraged that Floyd has been more peaceful all this week.  I think it's an answer to prayer. 

A dear intercessor friend who prays daily for Floyd has been visualizing in her mind a receiving blanket, the kind we put newborns in to keep them wrapped tight and held secure.  She said she sees Floyd being held by the Lord Jesus like that. 

I found that image so encouraging.  I remember wrapping my newborn daughter in Afghanistan (where we lived at the time) in a receiving blanket so she'd feel secure.  And later when our son was born in Amsterdam where we lived on "The Ark" houseboats ministering to young people - I did the same with him.  Carefully wrapping him in baby blankets so he'd feel warm and secure.

The whole image of doing that with my children has such sweet memories.  To think of God wrapping, holding Floyd in His care in much the same way is very comforting to my heart.  I know Floyd is loved and cared for by the Lord in such a special way in this time of suffering.

"In the wilderness where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, just as a man carries his son....."  Deuteronomy 1:31

"Listen to me - you have been borne by Me from birth and have been carried from the womb; even to your old age I will be the same, And even to your graying years I will bear you!.....I will bear you and I will deliver you."  Isaiah 46:3, 4

After sharing in my updates about this image of Floyd being wrapped snugly and carried by the Father.......a number of people told me it reminded them of Lazarus being wrapped in his grave clothes.  Jesus called him forth and told them to "unbind him."  I'm grateful God is holding Floyd snugly now, but I will continue to pray for God to "unbind" him and set him free from the physical bondage he is in now.

Some pointed out that Jesus was swaddled at birth - wrapped in linen after his death - and left His bindings behind when He was risen from the dead.  I love all the imagery of His life example.

I was thinking about all this and talking to the Lord about it.  It would be so easy for me to be "bound" by all I've walked through this year.  But thanks to the beautiful, wonderful, powerful name of Jesus - I have been able to be "free" in my spirit and in my heart.  He has been so good and so faithful to me.  There have been hard moments, LOTS of them - but He has come with His help and peace every time that I've needed Him.

"Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name."  Philippians 2:9

"No one is like you, Lord; you are great, and your name is mighty in power."  Jeremiah 10:6

What a beautiful name!!  We celebrate it, and celebrate His coming in this season.  And we pray that name over Floyd.

Every time I'm with Floyd and see his suffering, I feel so helpless.  My personality of organizing and accomplishing things wants to actively help. And I can't.  All I can do is love him, pray for him - ask others to pray as well, manage his care, and wait for what God has.

I know Floyd would not like or want the condition he's in.  But he'd also say that he trusts God, and wants what God has in mind.  I guess we're both helpless to do anything to change his condition.  

We have actively committed our lives to Him together for 49 years - and, individually, for many years before that.  We've told God over and over that we put our lives in His hands.  This is living that out with no control over what happens.

But while I feel helpless, I don't feel hopeless.  My heart is full with trust and hope in God.  I hope for the breakthrough still, but I trust whatever God has in mind.  Some have said the "breakthrough" could be to heaven.  Yes, that may be the case......but I still "ponder."

"God, the one and only - I'll wait as long as He says.  Everything I hope for comes from Him, so why not?  He's solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul, an impregnable castle: I'm set for life." Psalm 62:5,6 (The Message)

My heart thanks Him!

I’ve been reading a book on waiting by Ben Patterson.  My heart was gripped from the very first page with a quote by a man named Richard Hendrix:  "Second only to suffering, waiting may be the greatest teacher and trainer in Godliness, maturity, and genuine spirituality that most of us ever encounter."

I have certainly been in the "waiting" room - no wonder I'm learning so much!  God is allowing me to be stretched and matured.  I hope I can learn faithfully and quickly so we can move on.  I'm quite sure, though, that this is one of those areas where God's timing is different from mine.

Patterson says early in the book, "waiting has everything to do with hope.  It's really asking: 'Can I trust you, God?  Is there any meaning to this?  Why me?  How much more do you think I can stand?  What are you doing Lord?' "

I've certainly asked/wondered/pondered some form of those questions.  In fact, I've told the Lord more than once that I'm not sure how much more I can take.  My energy has been so depleted a few times, that I wondered if I could make it much longer.  Of course, God in His goodness and faithfulness has come through and sustained me!  I absolutely wouldn't still be standing without His goodness.

Patterson also says "one central conviction – that is at least as important as the things we wait for is the work God wants to do in us as we wait."  So I guess I'd have to conclude that I'm not just praying for Floyd......but for me too, and what He's doing in me while I wait.  Dare I say - maybe what He's doing in ALL of us?!

I was speaking with a dear friend, and we talked about what an incredible "wave of prayer" this has been as we've prayed for Floyd. Once again I have to say that the prayer that's been released is SO much bigger and greater than just praying for Floyd!  God is up to something greater.  Floyd has been the catalyst......but God's view and plans are much more.

Maybe one of the most important things is what God is doing in us, His Body - the Church through all this prayer.  My heart rises and says, "Yes, Lord!  I/we want what you have for us in this time of focused prayer! 'Your Kingdom come, Your will be done' through our prayers!"

My hope starts rising.  My heart yearns for all that God has in mind.

"The Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore He will rise up to show you compassion.  For the Lord is a God of justice.  Blessed are all who wait for Him!"  Isaiah 30:18

"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."  Psalm 27:14

I have to say in all honesty, that I still don't like waiting!  But I'm gaining fresh perspective on how God sees it, and what's He's doing through it.  I certainly continue to trust Him and thank Him.

Our Unexpected Journey

Floyd has had times of being agitated and feisty.  I've been told that the agitation is common to people in long-term care.  I can certainly understand that.  But as we've prayed specifically for him, he's been calm, attentive, quiet, and peaceful. That is a sweet answer to prayer. This has been a good week.

Someone sent me some daffodils this week.  Not real ones - wrong season for that, but a lovely "bouquet" none-the-less.  Daffodils are one of my favorite flowers.  I've always loved them - bright colored, fresh, happy.

The person who sent it was telling me the meanings for the daffodil flower - one of which includes hope.  That, of course, is very special to me on this journey.  They are one of the earliest flowers to bloom in spring.  They come out of the cold, dark days of winter just as the warm rays of spring start appearing.

As I was thanking the Lord this week for the fresh hope He has given me, I felt Him speak into my heart that He is always, always a God of hope!  In the bleakest, hardest, most impossible situations - He is our hope!  He brings hope!

"Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord."  Psalm 31:24

"We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.  In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name.  May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you."  Psalm 33:20-22

"Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him.  Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.  My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge.  Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge."  Psalm 62:5-8

He is faithful.  He is trustworthy.  He is my rock and refuge.  He is my hope!  He gives fresh hope to my heart.  I can't help but thank and praise Him!

In this life we don't get to choose our trials......and we don't deserve our blessings.  God is in control.  He chooses what hard times to allow to come our way, and He knows what blessings to release into our lives.  Our response is to know that God is good, and we can trust Him with whatever comes our way.

To be "content" as we're exhorted to be - the important thing is for us to always remember that He is good.  He is trustworthy.  He is working for what is best in our lives.

It's easy to think, I can be content if only.........!   But that's not what God has asked of us.  I sometimes think I'd like to share with God what it is I need.  But He doesn't need my help!  :)

"I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation....I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:12,13

If I TRULY trust Him, then I need to thank Him for my trials and my blessings.  I'm trying my best to do that.

He's good.  He's trustworthy.  And He loves us more than we can possibly comprehend!

This week I've been reading in Romans 8, and have found myself impacted by verse 31.  "If God is for us, who is against us?"

I've been thinking how powerful that statement is.  God (the almighty ruler of the universe) is FOR us!  Wow!  Who can hold up to being against us, if He's for us?!  Every knee has to bow to Him.

I started thinking then, of all the ways He's for us.  Here are just a few that have come to mind:

  • He gives us strength.  

"The Lord is my strength and my song."  Psalm 118:14   

"If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides."  1 Peter 4:11  

Whatever way we are serving God, whatever ministry or act of service......the strength comes from Him.  My strength on this journey is from Him.

  • He gives us grace.

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

One of my favorite verses.  I know I'm weak.  I know I can't make it through.  But He gives sufficient grace, and His power shines through in all its greatness in spite of my weakness.

  • He gives us wisdom.

"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you."  James 1:5  

I could not have navigated all that I've had to deal with this year without His wisdom!  Oh my - I'm so, so grateful for His wisdom!

  • He gives peace/takes away anxiety.

"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust you."  Isaiah 26:3

"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

In the midst of some very big storms this year, God has given me wonderful peace - it's totally inexplicable!  Only God can do that.

  • He helps us with whatever we are facing.

"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."  Psalm 121:2, 3  

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."  Psalm 46:1

He is my constant help.  He won't let me fall.  He never sleeps - He's always "on guard."

  • He works on our behalf.

"With God we will gain the victory, and He will tread down our foes." Psalm 108:13  

We're not alone - He's working for us.

  • He sends angels to guard us.

"For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways."  Psalm 91:11  

We can't see them, but He has angels all around to protect us.

  • He carries our burdens.

"Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you."  Psalm 55:22  

Most of my burdens these days are too big/heavy for me.  I regularly give them to Him.

  • He provides for us.

"God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:19  

He has provided for every need on this journey.

The list could go on and on.  It's endless.  He is everything we need!  And He's FOR us!!

"He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world."  1 John 4:4

Don't you just love the beauty and power of His word?!  So rich - speaks to every need and situation.

How good and faithful He is!

When I was a young leader, I was mentored in the principle of the "relaxed grasp."  Whatever God places in our hands - people, ministry, money, giftings - we are to hold them with open hands, with a relaxed grasp.  If we do that, God will know that He can let things flow into our lives and hands because we'll hold them lightly and let them flow on when the time is right.  

If we grasp things and hold them tightly, they're ours not His.  When He knows He can trust us to have open hands with a relaxed grasp, He'll release much into our hands knowing it's His, not ours.  He gives us these gifts, and we need to thank Him - but hold them loosely.  We can let go and let them flow out when the time is right.

I have been blessed to "hold" Floyd in my hands for 49 years.  I have always held him lightly, knowing He's a gift to me from the Lord.  I have been telling the Lord afresh that I have a "relaxed grasp" on Floyd.  He's not mine, he belongs to Him.  I have released Floyd anew to God's will. There's such a sweet freedom and rest in that.  

And I have to say that I'm so grateful that God never lets go of us!!  He holds us securely in the palm of His hand.

"Your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me."  Psalm 139:10

"For 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

I don't know God's plan for Floyd - healing or heaven - but I know he's in good hands!  And I know I'm in good hands too.

Our Unexpected Journey

I've been asked to describe Floyd's current condition so people will know how to pray more specifically for Floyd.  I'll try.  If you walked into Floyd's room, you'd notice that he's lost lots of weight.  Being on a liquid diet does that.  He's very thin.  As time goes on, and after the infections he battled, he seems more and more frail.  

His hair is a beautiful white/gray, and his eyes are a clear, light blue.  We don't know why, but for some reason his skin has a lot less wrinkles.  It's quite amazing.  I wish I knew his secret!  His moustache has been shaved off.  He's had that for so many years, so he looks different without it.  And, of course, he's not wearing his glasses now.

He would probably be awake - although on "weak" days, he sleeps.  He would look at you, and follow your movements with his eyes - sometimes turning his head slightly.

He can't speak, but at times you get responses as you talk to him - with facial expressions (smiles, looking upset), with small noises, or with his eyes (like when he tears up). He often listens very attentively, but one of the hardest things is that you really don't know how much he understands.  Some days he seems to understand more than other days. And sometimes he is quite "distant." On these days, you're not sure if he's even aware that you are there.

His right side is immobile.  His left leg moves sometimes.  His left arm is very active, and very, very strong!!  I think all the energy from his whole body is channeled into that arm.  I'm sure he could win strength competitions.  He definitely expresses himself with his left arm at times. :)

Hopefully that gives a "feel" of how he is, and how he looks these days so it’s easier to understand.

The one thing that impacts me each time I'm with Floyd, is that he's in a state of suffering - on so many levels.  It is hard on my heart to see him like this.  I've been reflecting a lot on suffering in recent days.

"Let those who suffer according to God's will do right and entrust their souls to a faithful Creator."  1 Peter 4:19

We learn several things from this verse:

-  some suffering is God's will/He allows it for His purposes

-  our choices/to "do right" are important

-  we can trust the Lord, and He's faithful

As I see Floyd's suffering (and my heart suffers too because of what he is going through), I try to respond in the right way, and I keep trusting for all of God's purposes to be fulfilled.  I absolutely know He's faithful!

I've found it's easier to bear the suffering if I keep my heart full of gratitude for God's goodness too.  God has been so, so good to me/us and our family on this journey.

George Matheson (1842-1906) was a Scottish author and preacher.  He was blind.  I recently read one of his prayers: "I have thanked Thee a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my 'thorn.' Teach me the glory of my cross; teach me the value of my 'thorn.' Show me that I have climbed to Thee by the path of pain.  Show me that my tears have made my rainbow."

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."  Romans 8:18

"We glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope."  Romans 5:3,4

I'm asking God to help me be thankful for the "thorns," and to learn perseverance on this journey.  I know He's in control.  I know He has a plan.  And I know I can trust Him.

Someone also sent me this post by Anne Graham Lotz:

"Do you sometimes cry out, as I have, "God, don't You see my tears? Don't you see my broken heart"  God, never mind me, but how can You bear to see the agony of my loved one?  God, I know that You care.  I just don't understand why You don't intervene in this situation right now. Why don't You do something?"

Then to my heart, I seem to hear His still, small voice whispering, "Anne, trust Me.  I know what's best."  And I'm left to wonder why I think I know better than God what's best for me or my loved one."

Her father, Billy Graham, is 98 years old and going through a "long goodbye."  I assume she is referring to him.

I can so identify with her heart, her cry, her wondering.  I don't understand the waiting with Floyd's situation either.  Waiting is hard.  I have to keep coming back to the same thing.  God knows what's best.

In his book "Waiting" author Ben Patterson says there are 2 virtues required for successful waiting - humility and hope.  Humility teaches us that we exist for God's sake, not for our own - but for His purposes. Hope assures us that there is something worth waiting for.

I'm praying that I'll have the humility to bow to God's purposes on this journey - and the hope to keep looking to Him for what He has planned.

"With humility comes wisdom."  Proverbs 11:2

"Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life."  Proverbs 22:4

"But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently." Romans 8:25

"Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength."  Isaiah 40:31

"The Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love."  Psalm 147:11

When my heart hurts over Floyd's situation, over what he goes through - I have to keep focused on trusting God.  I do trust Him.

I’ve been reading 2 Corinthians 4:17 this week too.  "For this slight momentary affliction (some versions say trouble) is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison."  I think I've mentioned before that when we're in the midst of the affliction/trouble, it certainly doesn't seem slight or momentary.  It seems huge!

But in the midst of our trouble - every word, every choice, every reaction or response has eternal value and importance, significance and meaning. God takes these "troubles" that seem like adversity in our lives and uses them for opportunities to impact us in an eternal way.  

He doesn't shelter us from the "winds of adversity" that we face - He uses the trials of life, because we live in a fallen world, to strengthen our faith. He builds character in us.  He takes us deeper in our trust.  He reaches out to us in greater intimacy in our walk with Him.  He works to bring good from the trials. (Romans 8:28)

"The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows those who take refuge in Him."  Nahum 1:7

"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

"You have been a strong-place for those who could not help themselves and for those in need because of much trouble.  You have been a safe place from the storm."  Isaiah 25:4

I don't like trials.  I'd rather not go through the hard times.  But in the midst of the storm these last 9 months, He has been my "safe place" and my "stronghold."  Whatever the eternal significance of this time has been, He has proven so very faithful in taking me through "this slight momentary affliction."

" 'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord."  Isaiah 55:8

If we only look at our life and the things we face from the world's perspective, we'll miss out on all God is doing in our lives.  It usually takes me a while to figure out God's thoughts and ways like Isaiah talked about.  I wish I could say otherwise, but sometimes I'm slow to "get it."

I remember my mother telling me when I was young that our prayers and God's answers are many times far apart - but we can absolutely trust His will.  He always answers, but many times not in the way we thought He would.

I've tried on this journey we've been on to see things from God's perspective.  I think I understand some things, but I certainly don't understand them all.  But I do know He has a plan, and I can absolutely trust Him as my mother said.

I'm convinced that God is "up to something" that I don't see and understand.  I "feel" it in my spirit, but I can't yet see it with my eyes.  All I/we can do is keep traveling on this path He has us on.

"Aunt" Corrie ten Boom said - "If God sends us on stony paths, He provides strong shoes."  I'm grateful for the "boots" He's given me on this journey.  I've needed them.

"If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you." Exodus 33:13

"Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths."  Psalm 25:4

I'm asking Him for grace to continue on this journey as He unveils His ways and plans.

Some years ago, Floyd wrote a paragraph for someone's book: "Everything of God flows out of the secret place. Everything good and lasting - everything that survives the ultimate test is born in the secret place.  We can "make it" to heaven with empty hands, but why do that? Why not go instead with crowns to lay at His feet?  If we give Him crowns, it will be because we met Jesus daily in the secret place."

I don't remember Floyd writing that.  Someone sent it to me recently.  It was very meaningful to me.  I think Floyd is living in a secret place with Jesus right now.  I know how much Floyd loves Jesus.  Just 2 weeks before Floyd got sick, he preached a message where he said that his one goal in this final season of his life was to center everything around Jesus.  Floyd can't communicate with us right now, but I think He and Jesus are in sweet fellowship.

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

The crowns we wear in heaven must be won on earth.  I want to keep meeting with Jesus in that secret place!  I don't want to stand before Him some day, and regret not having spent more time with Him in the secret place.  

It's in that secret place that I'm finding grace and strength to persevere. He faithfully meets us!

 

Our Unexpected Journey

Floyd continues to be a combination of active and quiet this week.  Some friends came to the hospital to give him a haircut.  And on one of the beautiful warm days, the therapists took him outside for some fresh air and sunshine.  I'm sure he loved it. It's his first time to sit outside in almost 9 months.  He always enjoys being outdoors!

I think sometimes he is bewildered by all that is going on around him.  I see it reflected in his eyes.  I can only imagine how strange (frightening?) it must feel to have no control over what is happening to you - and not understand things.  We keep praying for the Spirit to remind him that he is loved and not abandoned. 

There are many things that have been hard/difficult over the last months.  It’s been a challenging time on so many levels.  But there are two things in particular that have seemed constant – and difficult. 

The first one is the “aloneness.”  We married so young (18 and 21) – we say we “grew up” together. :)  A deep friendship developed as we learned and grew.  We’ve considered ourselves each other’s best friends.  We talked about everything.  We loved being together.  We had lots of plans for the future years.  

It feels so strange not to have Floyd to talk to, process with, ask advice, and just share life after being together for 49 years.  Everything happened so quickly with his illness.  When things started on that Tuesday morning, we were just dealing with the problem of the pain – trying to find out what was wrong and how to bring relief.  There was no inkling of where this was headed and how things would end up.  I would have never dreamed that all these months later he would be in this condition.  It often feels surreal.

I would have loved to have talked about “what if.”  And how shall I handle a myriad of things?  What would you like me to do?  There was never even a chance to say goodbye because we had no idea it would be needed.

I wish I could turn the clock back and do things differently.  But we rarely get those kinds of opportunities.  I saw a phrase recently that spoke to me - "When God conceals His purposes, He consoles with His promises."  God has no responsibility to tell us all His purposes.  I've longed to know what God is "up to."  But I don't yet understand.  However He doesn't just leave us on our own - He consoles us.  I love how God balances things out!

I've been reflecting on a few of His promises.  There are so many that it would take whole books to mention all of them.

"God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:19   -   He'll take care of me, meet my needs.  He'll be a husband to me in Floyd's absence.

" 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."  2 Corinthians 12:9   -   His grace is sufficient - His power will be with me in my weakness.  He's not frustrated or disappointed in me when I'm weak.  It's an opportunity for Him to show His power.

"I can do all things through Him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13   -   He'll remember that I'm weak.  He'll give me strength.

"Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."  Hebrews 13:5   -   I may feel alone as I shared above.....but I'm not!!!  He never forsakes me.  He never abandons me.  He never leaves me on my own.  Thank you Lord!

The second thing that has been very hard is that I feel “stuck” in a situation – while life around me continues on.  This contributes to the feeling of aloneness.  I am alone – while everyone else continues on with life, activities, etc.  I have to daily keep going with no end in sight to what I'm walking through.  It's a bit like being on a never-ending merry-go-round.......that goes around and around and around.  The scenery doesn't change.  The horse I'm riding on doesn't change direction.  It just keeps going around endlessly.

I don't exactly know how to describe it.  It feels claustrophobic - like things are closing in on me in the "sameness" day after day.  And while I love going to be with Floyd, it's also such an emotional experience each and every time.  I expect it to get easier because I know what to expect, but it doesn't.

There is nothing “wrong” about any of this – and I certainly want everyone else to continue on with their lives.  But it’s a just part of the challenge of what I face in my life right now.  It accentuates everything else.  I ask for His grace to be faithful as I circle around and around.

Again, as with just about everything in my life, I turn to the Word with this burden. The Word speaks to what I'm walking through and nourishes my heart to not faint, but persevere.

"I know whom I have believed, and I am sure that He is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me."  2 Timothy 1:12   -   I have come to realize that God has "entrusted" this journey to me.  I don't know why.  I don't feel adequate to the task, but He's given it to me.  I know that HE can help me "guard" this path I'm walking on and fulfill His purposes.

"David strengthened himself in the Lord His God."  1 Samuel 30:6   -   Every time I feel weak, overwhelmed, stuck, inadequate - I breathe a prayer and ask for extra strength.  Thank goodness God has a never-ending supply to draw on and give to me.

"The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms."  Deuteronomy 33:27   -   When I'm feeling particularly weak, I picture myself relaxing into His strong arms........or running to a secure dwelling place where I'm safe.

"I cried to the Lord with my voice, and He heard me from His holy hill."  Psalm 3:4   -   Every time I'm feeling alone, stuck, like I just can't make it - I cry out.  He hears me from His holy hill in heaven and sends His Spirit to help and rescue me.

I'm so grateful for God's faithfulness in meeting me in these things.  He never reprimands me for my vulnerability and tenderness, my "rawness" in the emotions of it, my weakness.......He always responds with love and grace.  And His word pours the balm of truth and who He is into my wounds.  Thank you Lord!

Over these months the Lord has given me a way to process and handle these difficult times.  God always provides help for what we face!

I've found that there are three simple keys/tools He's given me to respond with when I'm feeling weak, in need, vulnerable:

-   The first is to simply dig deeper in my walk with the Lord.  At the point of difficulty, I need to immediately acknowledge my need, my weakness. Doing that is a protection from the enemy trying to exploit my vulnerability with his lies!  It also stops the focus of being on my needs, and turns it to a positive of deeper intimacy and friendship with Him.  I'm sure one of the things the Lord wants to do in me during this journey is draw me closer to Himself!

I should also say - that sometimes when the hurt and pain is so deep and overwhelming, it may be hard to even pray and turn to Him.  I find I have to choose to do that - to fix my mind on Him not on my troubles!  It can be hard when the pain is so strong.  But as I ask for His help, and go deeper in my love for Him, it brings peace of mind and calmness of spirit.

-   As I'm doing this, I need to immerse myself in the truth of the Word.  Going to the Word is so important because it takes the focus off of what I'm feeling to the solid foundation of what God says in His Word.  The promises from the Word can also be turned into prayers.  And, again, speaking out the firm, secure, wonderful truth from the Word is a further protection from the enemy.

-   I also find it so very helpful to bring to mind how God has met me and our family in the past with answered prayer.  I recall specific testimonies to mind of His goodness, His help, His provision, His healing.  It's a "stake in the ground" in declaring God can do this!!  He's helped us before and He'll do it again!  It builds faith in my heart, and it releases a spirit of praise by acknowledging His faithfulness in the past.

In moments of vulnerability and weakness, I have found these steps to be incredibly life giving and helpful.  It turns the difficult moments around, and gets them focused in the right direction.

The "secret" of finding His peace is in giving every pain, every care to Him.

"I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me.  You are my help and my deliverer."  Psalm 40:17   -   We are always in His thoughts, and He is ready to deliver!

I have been thinking about a quote I read.  "Faith is the link that connects our weakness to God's strength."  I pictured a heavy gold link charm bracelet in my mind.  One end is a charm that symbolizes my weakness, my tiredness, my vulnerability.  On the other end is a charm that symbolizes God's power, might, strength, sufficiency.  And in between are links of FAITH!

I feel challenged to keep faith alive in my heart.  Faith for all of God's plans and purposes to be fulfilled.  Faith for God to meet me day by day on this long journey.  Faith for abundant strength and grace.  Faith for God to be glorified in His will for Floyd.

"Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know."  Jeremiah 33:3   -   He'll show us difficult things, impossible things.  He'll answer prayers that we hardly have faith for, because He is great!

"The word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it."  Hebrews 4:2   -   Faith - that very important link that we need!

"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."  Hebrews 11:1   -   I want to keep my faith alive to pray for what I do not yet see!

Some days in my tiredness, I don't think I can......but He can.  I'm stirring my faith up to receive from His mighty hand!

Our Unexpected Journey

Following Floyd's condition is like riding a roller coaster - up and down. He has been responding well to some of his therapy, and his kidneys have improved a bit.  He has also understood and responded to some of the things we have been saying to him.  There have been days of being alert and days of being very sleepy and weak.  

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

This verse has been echoing in my mind for days.  I feel God is stirring my heart to not give up hope.  The hope is for healing or heaven - it's God's choice......but I feel God wanting me to keep the hope alive for all of God's purposes to be fulfilled on this journey.  To not "let down" because I'm sick, tired, weary.  

It's been a long journey.  I'm grateful for all those who have persevered with us in prayer.  I know it isn't easy!  But God has a plan, and I feel He's saying to keep the hope alive for what He is doing and what He has in mind.

Recently I came upon an article that Floyd had written in 1989 about "when things don't work together for good."  He's referring to Romans 8:28.  I loved reading his article in the midst of this journey we're on.  He started out by saying in the original Greek the verse actually says - "in all things God works for good," not things.

I thought I'd share his points with you:

- God will be with us.  He never promises that everything in life will go perfectly.  But He promises that with whatever problem or difficulty we face, He will be right with us in the circumstances we are walking through.

- We will be victorious.  "In all these things we are more than conquerors."  God isn't promising worldly success, but He's promising us spiritual victory.  In the mist of hardship, sickness, persecution, famine, danger, even death - we will be conquerors.  How?  We trust Him!  We give Him glory in the midst of difficulty.

- We are loved.  Verse 37 - our victory is "through Him who loves us." The love He gives us isn't dependent on the circumstances.  Our intimate love relationship with Him is based on His victory on the cross.  We are forgiven.  We are redeemed.  We are reconciled to Him.  No one, and no circumstance, can take that away from us.

As I read through the article - I could almost hear Floyd's voice - and I loved the smiling picture of him.  Floyd was reminding me - God is with us.  We'll be victorious in Him, and He's with us in this long trial.  He loves us.  It was a sweet encouragement to find this article with Floyd "speaking." : )

I've felt the Lord saying to me all these months that gratefulness will keep bitterness from my heart.  As I thank Him for His faithfulness on this long journey, it protects my heart from being poisoned by any negativity.  I'm so thankful for that.  And there is so, so much to thank Him for!

"On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased."  Psalm 138:3

I have called out to Him daily - usually many, many times a day.  He has carefully carried and strengthened my soul.  He has strengthened me physically.   He has protected me.  He has given me eyes to see His goodness.  He has sustained me.  He has deflected negative darts from my heart.  He has helped me keep my focus on the truth of who He is in the midst of trials.  How wonderfully faithful He has been!

"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.  Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord Himself, is the Rock eternal."  Isaiah 26:3,4

I have been meditating on His grace this week.  I remembered hearing Floyd speak about it years ago, and went back to some of those thoughts.

"For the Lord God is a sun and shield.  The Lord gives grace and glory. No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly."  Psalm 84:11

"God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work."  2 Corinthians 9:8

"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

Once again, I'm so grateful for the clarity of God's word.  He has outlined how we find help for every need, including His grace. 

** His grace enables us to face whatever is before us.  No matter how great our need, the divine resources He has for us are never exhausted! His plan is for us to turn to Him in our weakness, and He will meet us with His strength and power.

** He wants us to dig deep when the need for His grace grows.  He doesn't run out of grace!  There's plenty there for us, but we may need to go deeper in Him for our need to be met.  Just a few steps past the darkest, unplanned moment of need lies the deepest, fullest grace.  I'm digging deeper these days!

** He wants us to depend on Him, on His sufficient grace.  In fact, we can only receive the grace He has for us when we depend on Him.  It's His favor and blessing as we depend on Him at our deepest levels.

I've also felt Him reminding me that I have to get new grace each day.  I can't bear tomorrow's burdens with today's grace.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.  Each day has enough trouble of its own."  How true! Matthew 6:34

I am digging deep for His enabling grace while telling Him how utterly dependent I am on Him.  He meets me afresh each day.  How grateful I am for His grace.

Our Unexpected Journey

I can't believe we're in November already!  The year has been intense, and seems to have gone by so quickly.  I have spent most of it at the hospital!  Not my favorite place I have to say.

In the past few weeks we had a meeting with Floyd's head doctor to get some more understanding of Floyd's condition and the time ahead.  He told us that there is no way they can help improve his condition.  Medically speaking, they are at a loss.  We've heard this before, but it was very sobering to be faced with it again.  The doctor said because of Floyd's limited cognitive ability, he doesn't feel Floyd is aware of everything.  For instance, he doesn't think Floyd would be aware of the passage of time.  So there is hope that he may be more at peace than we know.  He may not be suffering as much as we feared.

After these recent meetings we've had with Floyd's doctors and therapists, I found myself very tired and emotionally drained.  I am facing lots of decisions about Floyd's care.  It is challenging and intense for me.  I've been encouraged by a number of people that the Lord's "got" me!  He is carrying me, and He won't give me more than I can handle.  I am trying my best to rest in His love, receive His peace, and let Him carry the burdens.  He is able and sufficient!

"The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing."  Zephaniah 3:17

Other versions say "He will quiet you in His love."

"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."  John 14:27

"Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens." Psalm 68:19

I love how the Word speaks so specifically to what we need.  I thank Him for His goodness!

A lady I know in the U.S. sends me her weekly blog post sharing inspiring and devotional thoughts.  I've been thinking and reflecting on a recent one.  The points below are hers - the comments are mine.

- Jesus is no respecter of persons.  I've often thought that God doesn't "owe" us anything.  When I pray, or ask for prayers, for Floyd - I'm very aware that anything we receive from Him is a gift.  He doesn't care any more or any less for us than others of His children.   

- Jesus shows up in obscure and remote places.  And I would add that He often shows up when we least expect it!  And He often doesn't show up or answer our prayers when we think He should.  We don't have to be in church for Him to show up.  I remember when we lived in Afghanistan thinking that I was so glad it wasn't too remote for Him to answer our prayers there......and He answered so many!

- Jesus waits for us to call out to Him.  He loves for us to ask!  I think He wishes we would call out to Him more.  He wants to be involved in all aspects of our lives.  Nothing is too big - or too small for us to ask.

- Jesus honors our faith.  His answers don't depend on our faith - they're because of who He is!  But He loves for us to believe.  He wants us to grow in our faith.  He wants us to "expect" answers from Him.

- Jesus deserves praise and thanks!  There have been times when I've been so excited about the answers to prayer, that I almost forgot to stop and thank Him!!  He loves our praise and worship.  He responds to thankful hearts.  He created us to worship Him and have fellowship with Him.

As I've been thinking of these aspects about Jesus, it's made me aware all over again of how awesome He is!

"Jesus, name above all names.

Beautiful Savior, glorious Lord.

Emmanuel, God is with us.

Blessed Redeemer, Living Word."

"Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place, and gave Him the name that is above every name."  Philippians 2:9

I'm so grateful that Jesus invites our prayers.  He listens.  He cares. He is answering in ways that we don't even know. We can keep asking!

Just this past week I was reminded that when Jesus did some of His miracles, He wasn't in a hurry.  We see this with Lazarus and with Jairus' daughter.  I keep thinking that if God is planning to heal Floyd, I'm sure He has His own time table for it.

I was reading Job 14:5-7 too.  "A man's days are numbered. You know the number of his months.  He cannot live longer than the time You have set."  If God plans to take Floyd home, He also has His time table for that.

All I can do is look to Him, and keep trusting for His will to be done.

Through the months that we have prayed for Floyd, there were many times when it seemed we were doing spiritual warfare.  Certainly times when we felt to resist the enemy - to stand against him and his plans and purposes.  It would seem we should have conquered and moved beyond that.

But I find myself standing against the enemy more and more - rather than less!  I sense that there is still warfare going on in the spiritual realm during this journey of intercession we are involved in.  I feel the enemy is fighting.  I don't know exactly what the battle is, but the enemy isn't giving up.  One friend said maybe he knows his time is running out and he's losing.  Thank goodness we know that Jesus is the victor!!  I just keep praising the Lord that He is over all, and that His purposes will be accomplished in this journey!

"Great trials often precede great triumphs."  This has been a long, hard journey - but I believe God has some victories in mind for the Kingdom through it.

"Victory rests with the Lord."  Proverbs 21:31

Our Unexpected Journey

This week the doctor said that Floyd’s condition is much the same - he's still battling the infections.  He has been a combination of quiet and attentive sometimes, and feisty and agitated at other times. We are continuing to ask God to minister peace deep into his being.

The therapist has been getting him into his chair everyday.  This is so good to strengthen him and I think he likes the change from lying down.

Floyd was treated to his own personal worship recital by a Christian musician friend this week!  I'm hoping it really blessed him.

As I was doing my daily walking exercise one day this week, I had a good time talking with the Lord.  I feel at a loss knowing how to help Floyd right now.  Battling these 3 infections seems to have taken such a big toll on his body.  I poured out my heart to the Lord asking Him to give me wisdom - and to intervene and relieve Floyd's suffering.

I felt (as I have so many times when I've cried out to Him) that I just need to give everything to Him, and let Him do as He wills.  I gave everything over to Him afresh.  It seems to be important to do that no matter how many times I've done it before.  I don't know what He has in mind, but I am powerless to do anything.  I'm grateful He is carrying me - and carrying Floyd!

"Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; He lifts His voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.  Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations He has brought on the earth.  He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth.  He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; He burns the shields with fire.  He says, "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations,  I will be exalted in the earth."  The Lord almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress."   Psalm 46:6-11

He is mighty.  He is in control.  He is our refuge.  He is worthy of our praise.

I think I'm being realistic in realizing Floyd's condition could go either way - and yet I'm feeling to keep asking.  Jesus never rebuked anyone for asking.  I can ask for the miracle, and still surrender to His will if His plans are different.

"Listen to my words, Lord, consider my lament.  Hear my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray....I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly."  Psalm 5:1-3

"I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.  Keep on seeking, and you will find.  Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you."   Luke 11:9

"Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete."  John 16:24

"Lord, help!" they cried.....and He rescued them from their distress." Psalm 107:6

He is trustworthy whatever the outcome, but I ask for miracles!

So, as we continue asking for healing for Floyd, we believe "there is something about asking that is worship."  It signifies that we understand God's greatness when we ask for the impossible things.

I was sent the picture below.  It depicts visually the "breakthrough" we are asking for.  It's hard.  It seems impossible.  It defies logic.  It's amazing when it happens.  It shows nothing is too hard for God - part of His creation did this!

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

I've been privileged to see God do the impossible during my life.  I humbly ask for it again.

Our Unexpected Journey

Floyd is gaining strength.  He is coughing less, but when he coughs it is still deep and congested.  We continue to pray for complete healing from the 3 infections he is battling.  The doctor does feel that there is improvement and Floyd has been more alert and active with his left arm again.  This is really good but also challenging for the nursing staff and therapists.  It makes their jobs so much more difficult.  But they are awesome!  They are to be commended for their patience and care.  I pray often for them to be blessed.  I’m very grateful for them!

As I watch Floyd in this condition, I get worried about him. I've heard the saying that "worry is like a rocking chair.  It gives you something to do, but it doesn't get you anywhere."  I've actually always like rocking chairs. :)  But I don't want to be burdened with worries.

I've been reflecting on this scripture - "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about what you need, and thank Him for all He has done." Philippians 4:6 NLT

God has done so much these last few months.  I'm so very grateful for that.  I choose to commit the present needs to Him.  I know He's aware of them - and He has a plan.  He's more concerned about Floyd than I am.

I look to Him, and I trust Him.  Come, Lord Jesus, and touch Floyd!

From the very first day of this journey, I've felt that God has asked me to trust Him.  With His help, I've done that.  The steps of trust have been big - facing issues of life and death.

But the issues we're facing now of not knowing what's ahead and Floyd feeling the frustration of his condition - these seem even harder to bear. I am feeling that God is calling me to even greater, deeper levels of trust.

As I've been praying, I've realized afresh that I can embrace this kind of trust because of who God is.  I wrote out this graft while thinking about that.

TRUST

T - one who tries, who tackles a task (works, does the utmost)

R - one who is reliable (dependable, steady)

U - one who is unwavering, unfailing (solid, constant, a rock)

S - one who is sure (faithful, doesn't give up)

T - one who is true (accurate, honest)

There has to be a good reason to trust - and God is trustworthy for thousands of reasons.  He is so worthy of my/our trust!!

"The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, my stronghold."  Psalm 18:2

"Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken."  Psalm 62:6

"Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you."  Psalm 9:10

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

There are so, so many verses about how trustworthy He is.  I read through dozens and dozens of them.  It built up my faith, my trust, my absolute dependence upon Him.  It renewed hope in my heart.

He is firm, solid, secure - worthy of my absolute trust.  I am choosing to trust Him more deeply as we face the new challenges.

"Yet I am confident I will see the Lord's goodness while I am here in the land of the living."  Psalm 27:13

In the midst of so many ups and downs in Floyd's illness, I see the goodness of the Lord all around me.  Even on the hardest of days, I am aware of His presence and His care.  He is so faithful.

"Wait patiently for the Lord.  Be brave and courageous.  Yes, wait patiently for the Lord."  verse 14

I continue to wait - to see what God has in store.  I ask His help daily to be brave and courageous.  I can't change anything on my own, so I wait as patiently as I can.  Again, He is faithful to help me.

As I've been meditating on God's faithfulness so many, many verses that affirm how good and faithful He is come to mind!

"Your faithfulness endures to all generations."  Psalm 119:90

"I am with you always, even to the end of the age."  Matthew 28:20

He is present, even if we don't "feel" Him.  His faithfulness is not dependent on my feelings.  He doesn't have "bad" days.  He is never too tired to listen, nor too busy to hear.

I started to think about my faithfulness.  I wondered how I was measuring up!  My prayers started to change.

There's not a lot I can do right now to change our circumstances......but I can try to be faithful to the things God has for me to do.  I need to keep my eyes on Him.  I need to continue to trust Him.  I need to take care of myself and persevere on this unexpected journey.

Proverbs 24:10  "If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small."  

I often feel like my strength is small.  I keep asking the Lord to increase my strength on this journey.  I don't know how this journey will end!  But I'm asking God to help me make it all the way, to help me be faithful.

God Wants His Church To Pray

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I found out at the beginning of this week that the infection Floyd has been fighting is pneumonia in his right lung.  Then, after doing more tests, Floyd’s doctor told me on Wednesday that he is actually battling 3 infections.  This is very hard on his body.  Our prayers have been for these to be cleansed from his body - soon!  And for protection from any new ones.

Since yesterday Floyd seems to be slightly better.  He was strong enough to be up in his chair, which hasn't happened for quite a few days.  His eyes were clearer, and he was alert.  I'm hoping and praying that we have "turned a corner" on these infections. 

One of the hospital staff printed some scripture verses and put them up in Floyd's room.  One of them is Hebrews 13:5 - "I will never leave you nor forsake you."  I read it to Floyd today.  He teared up when I did.  We are praying that Floyd will be so aware of God's presence with him!!

As we continue to pray for Floyd, we know that God can do anything.  He's the God of the impossible.  And He knows just what He wants to do - what His will is for Floyd.

But He involves us in the process in the place of prayer.  I heard someone say recently, "God does more when the church prays for the church."  He wants us to lift each other up.

He wants us to ask.  He wants the conversations with us.  He wants the relationship with us as we meet Him in the place of prayer.  He created us for friendship and communion with Him, and the primary place for that is in prayer.

When I first asked a few friends to pray for Floyd back in February, I had no idea of the worldwide wave of prayer that would break out.....a mighty wave that runs deeper and wider than just praying for Floyd.  I think God had in mind something so much greater.  Our intercession during this journey is as important as the outcome from all the prayers!  

This intensity of prayer has something to do with things that are on God's heart for the Body of Christ.  We must keep pressing into Him for His purposes to be fulfilled.  I truly believe there are big things coming.

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

"When I had nothing, desperate and defeated, I cried out to the Lord and He heard me, bringing His miracle-deliverance when I needed it most.  The angels stooped down to listen as I prayed, encircling me, empowering me and showing me how to escape.  They will do this to everyone who fears God.  Drink deeply of the pleasures of this God.  Experience for yourself the joyous mercies He gives to all who turn to hide themselves in Him."  Psalm 34:6-8  Passion Translation

How faithful He is to meet us - whenever we call.  The angels protect us - and He delivers us and washes over us with His joyous mercies.

I'm so grateful I can turn to Him again, and again, and again.  "His mercies never come to an end."  Lamentations 3:22

And I know He is being just as faithful to Floyd too!

Daniel 3:16 – 18 says:  "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, 'O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.  If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king.  But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.'"

From the beginning of this unexpected journey of Floyd's illness, I have "released" Floyd to the Lord.  Our family has done that collectively.  Individually many have done that.  I personally have told the Lord repeatedly that I trust Him, I release Floyd to Him, and want His will to be done.

I've also spoken to Floyd and told him that I release him to go be with Jesus if that is what he thinks is best.  I've told him that I'll be okay - not to worry about me.

While we have fervently prayed for the "breakthrough" like the word the Lord gave Floyd for this year, we've realized that there is no guarantee of that healing.  We have made all the choices and responses that we know to do - including releasing Floyd to Him.

All we can do is ask, wait, and trust!

Like the three Hebrew young men, we say "we know God will deliver us, but if not..." we serve only Him and we trust Him!  

Trusting Jesus

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This week Floyd has had good days and bad days as he continues to fight this chest infection.  Hopefully he is getting to the end of it now.  His therapists worked to custom make a splint for his immobile right wrist.  Without movement, it has been turning inward. This new splint will help correct that.  His new, specialized wheelchair arrived this week too, so he was able to be out of bed sitting up in a chair again.  I know that must feel so good to him.

"And I'll keep on carrying you when you're old.  I'll be there, bearing you when you're old and gray.  I've done it and will keep doing it, carrying you on my back, saving you."  Isaiah 46:4  The Message

Floyd has beautiful gray hair.  And he's getting old.  I'm grateful the Lord is with him, carrying him!  What a comfort to know He doesn't abandon us......never!

Floyd listened intently to things being shared by one of the carers this week and to the worship music.  He very purposely moved his left arm in a way he never has.  That was encouraging.  We celebrate every small improvement we see. :)

One friend encouraged me in perseverance.  "That's what it comes down to - our firm and unshakable resolve to keep interceding for Floyd until the answer comes.  Until those golden bowls of prayer are full and are poured out over Floyd.  Perseverance in the face of contrary indications, of doctors who don't see reasonable prospects, of those who are complacent, or in the drag of repetition/tiredness/unbelief!  We persevere like the old heroes of the faith - "not seeing the outcome, but welcoming it from a distance."  Hebrews 11:13

"Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial."  James 1:12

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

Until the Lord brings things to a conclusion - we persevere in faith and prayer.  And we keep trusting Him!

On Thursday I was playing some worship for Floyd from a YWAM gathering in Kansas City last week.  Our "roots" are in YWAM. We went on our first outreach in 1965.  I joined full time in 1966, and we led our first team together just 3 days after we got married in 1967. We worked with YWAM in various parts of the world until the beginning of 2000.

YWAM will always be part of who we are.  We're so grateful for all we learned during those years.  Our hearts are forever linked.  So it was very special to me when there was prayer for Floyd at the gathering last week.  

As I played the worship music, I lifted my hand several times.  Because of his weakened condition, Floyd's left hand/arm has been very still and quiet recently.  His arm hadn't moved at all, but then he watched me raising my hand and started trying to move his arm.  I wish you could have seen him.  He worked so hard!  It wasn't easy.  His arm was shaking terribly from the effort.  And slowly, very slowly, he raised his arm into the air - then again and again.  It felt like a "sacrifice of praise."  I think the Lord would have been pleased.

As I watched Floyd respond, I kept thinking of the life we've had together serving the Lord.  Good times - hard times, but all of it such a wonderful treasure of walking through all these years together in serving Jesus.  We are so blessed and rich in Him.  It was a joy to worship the Lord with Floyd.  I've missed times like that.

"Worship the Lord your God; it is He who will deliver you."  2 Kings 17:39

"Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.  Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.  Know that the Lord is God.  It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.  Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.  For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations."  Psalm 100

How very good and faithful He is!  I'm so glad Floyd and I could worship Him together.

As time goes on, and my strength is less……..I find it hard when I face a new situation that seems overwhelming, or heavy, or sad, or just plain impossible.  I find the emotional impact on my heart is harder and harder as time goes on.

A few days ago I faced one of these situations.  My heart felt like lead.  The emotional impact of what happened felt like a storm battering my soul.  For a few minutes I just felt I was drowning in the weight of all this over these months.

I sat crying out to the Lord.  I so clearly heard Him speak to me – “Just trust me.  Speak out your trust in me.”

So I did – I sat quietly, with tears running down my face, and told the Lord I trusted Him.  I was honest.  I told Him I didn’t understand.  I told Him it was too big for me.  I told Him I loved Him and I trusted Him…….but I couldn’t make it if He didn’t intervene.

I can’t explain it, but as I sat there telling the Lord all this…….the heaviness and weight lifted.  He truly took it from my heart!  The situation didn’t change, but the weight in my spirit was gone. 

After talking with Him a little longer, I dried my tears, and continued on with what I needed to do.

I have continued to do this as various things have come up, and He lifts the burden each time.  I’ve done this before – I’ve told Him that I trust Him from day one of this journey, but something new has happened.  He has stepped in in an even greater way to carry the burden and help me keep going.  Maybe in the past I’ve waited for things to build up and get heavy…….now I just speak out my love and trust to Him continually.

"How enriched are they who find their strength in the Lord; within their hearts are the highways of holiness!  Even when their path winds through the dark valley of tears, they dig deep to find a pleasant pool where others only find pain.  He gives them pools of blessing filled from the rain of an outpouring.  They grow stronger and stronger with each step forward until they find their strength in You, and the God of all gods will appear before them in Zion." Psalm 84:5 – 7 The Passion Translation

He is helping me find strength in greater measures as my weariness grows.  He is bringing the refreshment I need from His deep wells.  I am grateful for the water of refreshment He is bringing to my soul.

Once again, He's shown Himself so very faithful!

Contentment Comes From Him

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Floyd has had a rough week this week.  He has been battling with a chest infection, and it’s really made him feel miserable. He has done better as the week’s progressed.  By now he is looking better, stronger, his eyes are clearer, he is more alert, and he has much less coughing.  The antibiotics are clearing up the infection.  So happy about that.

One morning this week when I was praying for Floyd, I was thinking about his gift of communication.  I've always seen it as an anointing in his life from the Lord.  Even after all these years of hearing him speak, he's still one of my favorite preachers.  (I may be a little bit biased!)  It saddens me that he is now stuck in a silent world of not being able to communicate.  I pray for "release" for him!

A number of intercessors have been telling me that they feel there is still a spiritual battle being waged for Floyd's recovery and restoration.  I don't fully understand what this whole journey has been about, but I know God has been at work.  The worldwide wave of prayer that has been lifted up has had His hand upon it.  I am praying for fresh victories.

"Summon your power, God; show us your strength, our God, as you have done before." - Psalm 68:28

It is hard not to get tired and weary though.  It's been a long journey.  I’m so grateful for the many that have not given up praying for Floyd and God’s purposes.  I pray for fresh strength and perseverance for each of us.  Andrew Murray said "intercession is our highest calling."  May He help us fulfill that calling!

"He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak." - Isaiah 40:29

We need that!  

Sitting with Floyd, being with him, praying for him is always hard on my heart.  I see the frailness of his current condition, and I remember the healthy, vibrant man he was just a few months ago.  My mind always drifts to wondering how this will all turn out.  I've been comforted by a couple verses the past few days.

"Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  For I am the Lord your God." - Isaiah 43:1-3

"No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame." - Psalm 25:3

I don't know the end of all this, but I know the God who holds it in His hands.  I can trust Him.

I shared with friends a few weeks ago that I was so unsettled - wishing I had understanding of what God is up to.  He spoke to me that peace doesn't come from understanding, but from spending time in His presence.  I've tried to do that, and, as I have, He has been speaking to me about contentment. 

Contentment has to do with that peace that comes from being with Him.  You can actually be content without being happy!  When I had cancer, I felt enveloped in a peace from the Lord.  I wasn't "happy" about the cancer, but I was at peace.  So I was content.

I think that's why the Bible talks about being content in all circumstances. We may not be happy about the circumstances, but we can be content, at peace.  It's a peace "that passes understanding" (Philippians 4:7) that can only come from God.  It's not a human emotion, feeling, experience......it's from Him.

"'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'  I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong." - 2 Corinthians 12: 9, 10

That's quite a list!  How in the world can one be content with all that?  I have to be honest and say that there have been many days on this journey when I've been upset, disturbed, concerned, anxious.  And I've felt very weak!

I guess what I heard the Lord saying to me is that He wants to teach me a new level of being content in spite of all these circumstances. I'm going to do my best to try and learn this lesson.  I don't like the circumstances, but I want to find my peace and contentment in Him.  I need that to make it through this time!

As the Lord has been speaking to me about contentment, I have remembered a time years ago when I was learning to be content in another season. I've learned through the years that God often takes a lesson He's taught me in a previous season - and takes it a notch deeper in the new season I'm walking through.  I think that's what's happening now.  He is taking the lesson much further down into my heart!

There are some basic choices/attitudes that the Lord has shown me that help in being content:

  • I need to trust Him!! God is good. He's sovereign. He knows what's best for me. He can instantly change my/our situation. If He chooses not to, there must be higher plans or purposes that He has in mind. He has an eternal view of what is best for me, for Floyd. If I don't fully, 100% trust Him - I'll never be able to have peace and contentment as I walk through this season.

  • I need to be grateful.....even in the midst of a very hard season. "Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances." - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 - That's a big challenge! Gratitude/thankfulness will keep my spirit sweet and tender towards Him in the midst of the hard season. It changes my focus from the situation to God. When I keep my focus on Him, it releases grace to handle the hard things.

  • I need to work with God in this hard season, not against the trial or against Him. I need to do what I'm trying to do now - ask God what He's wanting to teach me on this journey. He won't "waste" this sorrow! My inner growth (my walk with Him) is more important than the outward hard situation.

God has our times and seasons in His control.  He sees the big view.  Learning contentment in the difficult situation is a spiritual weapon against the enemy!  He has no leverage to try and use the trial for his plans.

"There is great gain in godliness with contentment." - 1 Timothy 6:6

When my heart is content - when I'm at peace because of spending time in His presence - then I can face what each new day brings, with His help!  I can trust Him.  I can be grateful even though it's hard.  I can work with Him in the difficult time.

Finding Blessing In The Hard Places

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Last week we met with Floyd's doctor and in the course of our discussion, I mentioned some of the miracles Floyd saw during his time at the first hospital.  He had 2 very dramatic ones:

  1. an MRI had shown multiple pockets of pus and necrosis in his legs. He was rushed into emergency surgery that they didn't think he would even survive. Once in surgery, they couldn't find anything that was shown on the MRI. It was all gone.

  2. 2 scans had shown that Floyd had a brain stem stroke. They did an MRI to get more information. There was no sign of the stroke on the MRI, and they said he had a normal brain for a 71 year old man with no brain damage.

The doctors were stunned both times.  They called it "inexplicable."  They said it left them stuttering and speechless.

I have to say "thank you" again to the Lord for these miracles! 

God has been so good to us, to Floyd.  We're grateful for these miracles, and we dare to ask for more!  We ask Him to completely heal and restore Floyd.

Floyd has been sleeping a lot this week.  I've been concerned as to what this means, but the Dr. assured me that his body is recovering from the emergency surgery that he had a couple weeks ago and all that it entailed.  She said the sleep is bringing renewed strength and healing.  I was very glad to hear this.  Since this conversation Floyd has been gaining strength and being awake more and more. He was in his wheelchair for a good amount of time yesterday and held his head up by himself for a while.  It's nice to see that strength in his neck.

As we have been talking to Floyd’s doctors again about the brain/body alignment that Floyd still needs, the reconnecting of brain and body after the stroke disappeared, we continue to keep praying and trusting for that.

And we want to keep praying for that for the Body of Christ worldwide - to be realigned to God's plans and purposes in our world today!

Someone sent me an encouragement this week about waiting in Him - being patient, being aware that He's doing things I can't see, trusting in His timing/not mine, and continuing to keep my focus on Him.  One phrase really caught my attention - "Never judge My works by what your eyes see, but by the promises I have made to you."  I choose afresh each day to keep my eyes on Him and trust Him.

"Lord, I have always trusted in your kindness, so answer me.  I will yet celebrate with passion and joy when your salvation lifts me up.  I will sing my song of joy to you, the Most High, for in all of this you have strengthened my soul.  My enemies say that I have no Savior, but I know that I have one in you!"   Psalm 13:5, 6  (The Passion Translation)

I also read recently that "difficulties are often blessings in disguise."  I've certainly seen that to be the case through the years, so it's made me ponder our current season of "difficulty."  Has the last 6 months been a blessing in disguise?

I don't know if I'd say it quite like that, but I sure see a lot of blessings:

  • The incredible outpouring of love, support, and encouragement has blown me away!

  • The massive amount of prayer being lifted up is hard to comprehend. A friend of ours said he's never seen so much prayer for one person. I'm sure God intends for much good to come from all these prayers.

  • The sweet closeness of the Lord as I've walked this journey has been more than I could have asked for.

  • The undergirding grace of the Lord to survive this time amazes me every day.

  • The generosity of friends, and those we don't even know, has helped to cover Floyd's ongoing care.

  • The answers to prayer for Floyd already has humbled us and amazed the doctors.

The list could go on and on.  I'm thankful, so very thankful, for the blessings He has brought our way in the midst of difficulty.  Maybe the whole journey will end up being a "blessing in disguise."  God can certainly do things like that!  He's an expert at bringing good out of bad.

"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."   Jeremiah 29:11

He "gives beauty for ashes."   Isaiah 61:3 

Covered In Prayer

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Floyd is becoming more attentive when awake.  We are seeing more and more cognitive things happening with him.  They're all small, but good.  He seems to be aware of things, make a conscious choice, and then do something.  In fact, he is actually becoming quite feisty!  The nurses keep telling me that it's good - that he needs that for recovery.  I hope that's true!  He managed to pull all his blankets and pillows off the bed, and he continually tries to sit up.  I'm amazed he's not exhausted.  He's wearing the care team out!

After so many months of weakness and lethargy, it is wonderful to see him have all this energy.  

A sweet thing happened this week.  The carer was playing worship music and holding Floyd's active hand.  At one point in a particularly worshipful song, Floyd let go of his hand and lifted his hand up very peacefully into the air for about 10 seconds.  I can't help but think that Floyd was expressing worship to the Lord.

I’m very grateful to the Lord for the facility that is Floyd’s ‘home’.  The atmosphere is very warm and inviting - not the typical hospital feel. The staff are awesome!  I walked in once and found a nurse praying for him, another time one was singing to him, and all of them treating Floyd so kindly, warmly, and lovingly.  The care and treatment has been wonderful.  They are professional, and very caring!

"The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul."  Psalm 23:1-3

I’m so grateful our Shepherd is taking care of Floyd and my needs.

I know we couldn't have gotten through this season without the prayers of so many people from around the world!  They have been so faithful and diligent in sticking with us on this long journey, and lifting us to the Father in prayer.  Many times when I'm tired or overwhelmed, I feel the sweet reminder of the Spirit that someone, somewhere is lifting me to the throne of grace.  What a support and comfort that is!

I've mentioned several times that I think God is "up to something" through this season of concentrated prayer from the 4 corners of the globe - from individuals, to prayer groups, to whole churches interceding.  The prayers are crossing over so many denominational lines, and so many countries are represented.  What an awesome picture of our spiritual "family" it has been.  I know God is doing something much greater than just praying for Floyd.  I have a feeling that in years to come we'll look back on this season, and be amazed at what God was doing.

"The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."  James 5:16

We See A Mess, He Sees Beauty

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This week Floyd has been working so hard on trying to pull himself up into a seated position.  He is so determined.  The cognitive ability this is requiring on his part is so encouraging to see!

I was with him for his therapy and tilt table sessions one morning this week.  I was so impressed with what a good job the therapist is doing.  I am amazed at the level of mobility she is maintaining for him!  As he recovers more and more, this will be such an advantage.

Someone asked me recently, when I say Floyd is "alert" - what does that mean?  That's a good question!  When Floyd is awake (eyes open)......he is sometimes very distant.  His eyes are open, but he's not looking at us.......he's somewhere else.  Maybe with Jesus?  :)

Other times, he is awake......and he is looking right at us.  Following movements in the room.  Listening.  Sometimes responding with facial expressions or sounds to what we're saying. That's what I mean by "alert."

I’m so glad to be able to say that the “alert” times are increasing!

Forty two years ago, we were leading the busy ministry of "The Ark" in Amsterdam, Holland.  Matthew, our son, was a couple weeks old. I hadn't been sleeping well with a new baby and with all the noises of the city, and was very tired.  "Tante (Aunt) Corrie" (Corrie ten Boom) invited us to come spend a few days at her home in Haarlem to get some peace and quiet.  That was a wonderful blessing!

While we were there, my precocious daughter, Misha, spoke up at a mealtime and said "it's my mother's birthday!"  Tante Corrie smiled, and left the room for a few minutes.  When she returned, she gave me a little gift.  It was a two-sided embroidery piece - one that she often used as a sermon illustration when she spoke.

The embroidery is of a crown.  One side is a mess of threads - all tangled, knotted, and confused.  The other side is a beautiful crown.  She explained that as we go through life, we usually look at our lives like the messy side of the crown.  We see the problems, the mistakes, the questions, the confusion.......and we think our lives are a mess.  We are insecure, discouraged, and tend to have a low self image of who we are.

But, she explained, God's looks down upon us as His beloved child.  He sees beauty.  He sees who He has created us to be.  He sees the lovely creation He is forming us to be - in His image.  He knows we'll get beyond the "mess" with His help, and we'll become all that He destined for us.

She gently explained that I was going through some of life's "rough spots," but God loved me and was pleased with me.  He saw that I was His beautiful daughter.

It was such a special, timely, encouraging gift - that I have treasured all these 42 years since.  I had it framed so that you can see both sides.  It has had a place of honor and focus in our home, wherever we've lived, all these years.  I have used a picture of it at the top of this post.

I've been very tired these past days.  I’ve been praying and asking God for fresh strength and grace.  I remembered a story I read in a church bulletin:

A 3-year-old was telling his mother about his Sunday School lesson.  It was about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo.  "They got put in the fire," he said, wide-eyed.  "Did God help them?" the mother prompted.  "No," the little boy said.  "He fell right in with them."

I couldn't help but smile, of course......and then thank the Lord that "He falls right in with us."  I'm so very grateful that He has been with me each step of this journey. 

Because He is with me each step,  I'm able to talk to Him about my heart and "explain" my tiredness… telling Him how hard it is to keep going with no end in sight.  Wanting to know if there is an "exit" sign coming up.  Asking if He can give me any understanding of what's ahead.

I've been reading some things in my quiet times that have helped me process these thoughts.  I've realized that understanding in itself doesn't give peace!  Being in His presence gives peace.  My peace comes from Him, trusting in Him - not in knowing what's ahead.

"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

Getting my thoughts refocused on Him has restored my peace!  And it has strengthened my hope and faith! 

Today I want to thank Him, not only for the peace He's put in our hearts in the recent days.......but to thank Him for the "peace that passes understanding" (Philippians 4:7) that He has given me all these months. Through all the trauma and roller coaster days of the last months, there has been a bedrock of peace from Him under it all.  On the hardest of days, I've had a sweet sense of peace from Him.  I praise Him - and say there is no other explanation except for the sweet ministry of peace from the Holy Spirit.  That peace from Him, His sweet presence - has carried me through!  Thank you Lord!

Walking Into The Fire

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Floyd’s strength is increasing!  He is pulling himself up more and more each day, and he is also managing longer times on the tilt table.  He started at 30 seconds, and is up to 5 minutes now.  Good improvement!

On Wednesday it was Floyd's birthday!  I had a sweet morning with him.  The All Nations community had recorded singing happy birthday to him. When I played that, his face registered lots of emotion and he got teary.  Our daughter and son-in-law got up in the middle of the night to Face Time with us to bring wishes to him!  I also read a number of greetings and messages to Floyd from all over the world.  I kept telling him how loved and prayed for he is.

I'm grateful for that special morning with my gentle giant - my best friend for most of my life.  I'll keep praying for healing and restoration!

2 Cor. 4:17 - "This light, momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison."

I love the promise of that verse, but when you're in the middle of the affliction it is neither light nor momentary!  It seems just plain hard.  When someone sent me that verse as an encouragement, I wasn't sure if it was encouraging!  :)

There have been some very hard times in the last 5 months.  There have been times when I wondered if I'd survive.  I was praying with some friends one day, and I told them "I just don't know if I can make it!"  But He's helped me, and I have survived.  I don't know what's still ahead, but I'm trusting Him to keep helping me.  

A consistent theme from prayers all over the world at the moment is "restoration."  I am joining with those prayers, and trusting God for healing and full restoration for Floyd.

I find myself choosing daily to keep focusing my heart to work with God's purposes during this journey.  I don't want to draw back out of weariness. I've found there are several responses I can have during times like this:

-            I can try to "ignore" how hard it is.......but, if I do that, I will miss out on the support and help I need to make it through.  Honesty and openness is so important during a difficult season.  I've been so grateful I can share through the updates I write and have the support of so many people's prayers!  I know I can't make it alone, and the love and care I have received through this long journey has been incredible.  Some days I am so tired that I wonder if what I am sharing in the updates makes sense, but I have been graciously encouraged to keep writing them.

-            I can "grit my teeth" and force my way through the hard time.  But that will only last for a short period of time.  I could have never made it that way through this long journey.  And the stress from this kind of response only makes the hard time harder.  I know - I've tried it before.

-            I can choose to learn and grow and receive God's help.  That is what I have needed to do daily (often many times a day!) - and I am finding I need to keep doing in my tiredness.  Because the journey has been long, I just want to rest - not quit, but draw back.  I find the Lord saying to me to keep pressing in!

He's definitely encouraged me to take care of myself and get the rest I need - but that is different than drawing back on the learning and growing and pressing in for all He has during this time.  When I've had a hard day, I've felt Him encouraging me not to give up.  To not see a setback as irreversible.  To not see the difficulty as insurmountable.

Years ago I read a story about a family caught in a forest fire.  I went back and looked it up in my notes to refresh my memory.  They were in the path of a rapidly moving forest fire.  They jumped in their car to try and outrun it, but they quickly saw that it was impossible.  So they got out of their car and ran into the fire!  This way the fire would pass over them quickly.  They were burned, pretty badly, but they survived!  If they had kept running in front of the fire, they would have been killed.

I feel like I've needed to keep walking into the fire.  It's difficult - I feel like I have some scars from the burns......but it's not killing me.  With God's grace and help, I'm making it through the fire.  He is faithful!

 

Don't Rush The Process

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Floyd is doing good this week.  His eyes have been clear, and he has been alert off and on.  His upper body strength is getting better too, and he tries to pull himself up quite a bit.  He still struggles with coughing up phlegm, and we continue to pray that it will ease up.

The doctor and therapists have said that they are seeing improvement, which is so encouraging! 

Two sweet friends came today and gave Floyd a haircut.  I'm so grateful for their kind service!  He was beginning to look like he was back in his hippie days. His hair was getting so long.  Now he looks dashing again! :)

In the early weeks of this unexpected journey we are on, my right thumb got caught in our security door.  I was opening the door and our dog, Sossy, was in a hurry to get through it.  She pushed on the door, and my thumb got caught in it.  It was quite painful, and my whole nail turned black.  

I'm a very "down to earth" person, and I find it's often the simple, little, every-day things in life that "speak" to me.  That has been the case with my injured thumb.  I know it can sound a little crazy, but I love how God speaks to me in simple, crazy kinds of ways. :)

It's about 4 months since my injury, and my nail is about half way grown out. Watching the slow growth, and seeing the blackness slowly disappear, has reminded me daily that healing sometimes takes time. You can't rush the process.  My nail has looked ugly - I often find people staring at it when I'm talking to them.  But there's nothing I can do about it.

I know my nail will heal.  It looks like it will take about 7 - 8 months.  And, in the meantime, it's not very pretty.  Floyd's healing isn't coming quickly, and the suffering he's going through isn't pleasant to watch.  But I'm trusting that the healing will come in God's perfect timing.  He knows how much time is needed for the process.

People keep asking me how I'm doing.  Some say they pray for me more than they pray for Floyd.  I hope not, but I'm very grateful for those prayers.  I must confess that some days I wake up wondering how I'll make it through the day.  This journey has been long, and I do get weary.  But I try to make it one-day-at-a-time, the grace has been there each day.  God has been very faithful in sustaining me.

I read a quote recently: "Sometimes, the happiest people have had the hardest lives, but they choose to be happy because they want to make a good life.  It takes a strong person to be joyful and to be kind." When this unexpected journey began, I told the Lord I wanted to keep my focus on Him - that, whatever happened, I didn't want to be angry, bitter, or motivated in a negative way by the pain.  I asked Him to help me!

In Nehemiah 8:10 it says: "the joy of the Lord is your strength."  I have certainly found that to be true!  But we sometimes miss, as one friend pointed out to me, the first part of that verse.  "Do not sorrow."  There are, of course, times for sorrow and sadness......but we can't stay there or it destroys us.  I have cried lots of tears, but then I've turned my eyes to Him for the inner joy that I need to make it through.  He has been my strength!!  His loving care has put a deep inner joy in my spirit.  How thankful I am for that joy from Him that is truly my strength each day.

I long for this journey to come to an end, and for Floyd to be healed.  But I have trust and confidence that the Lord will help me, day by day, to keep going until His plans and purposes are accomplished.  He is faithful!

Often the joy comes as we rejoice and worship Him.......as we wait in His presence for His enabling grace......as we meditate on the truth of His word and His promises to us.  Choosing to rejoice and walk in His joy before we see the breakthroughs we trust Him for takes faith.  I'm asking the Lord for that kind of faith!

I was thanking the Lord today for all the lessons He's teaching me on this unexpected journey.  The tender lessons have made this a rich time in spite of the pain.  Only God can bring sweet goodness out of bitter pain. How awesome He is!

Someone has encouraged me to bury my anxieties in His "mighty bear hug of assurance."  I thought of that today amidst all my concerns for Floyd.  I'm glad He has broad shoulders that I can lean on!

"Pile your troubles on God's shoulders - He'll carry your load, and He'll help you out.  He'll never let good people topple into ruin."  Psalm 55:22  -  The Message

May Our Valleys Be A Blessing

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My journey with Floyd's illness continues to be a constant learning experience.  I've gone through seasons in my life when I've asked the Lord to expand my capacity - spiritually, emotionally, the ability to handle stress, even physically.  I remember as a young wife, being married to Floyd (who is such a visionary!), and thinking to myself - "I can't keep up with him!"  I asked the Lord to stretch me, to help me grow.  I didn't want to just trail along behind him.  I wanted to be by his side, a true "helpmate," to see those visions become a reality.

The Lord has answered that prayer many times through the years.  He has expanded my capacity.  There were times when I could almost physically feel it happening.  There were also times when I thought I was crazy to have prayed that prayer!!

But through it all, God has been faithful to answer my prayer.  The things I now live with as the "norm" would have probably "wiped out" the young, 18 year old woman I was when we married.  I didn't even know I could be stretched so much!  But God has done it.

I don't remember praying that prayer asking the Lord to stretch me recently :) But He's sure doing that on this journey!  There have been days when I've felt like a puddle on the floor from the weights, the sadness, the tears I've cried.  And then I feel the Lord picking me up, putting His strengthening hand on my back, and saying "you'll make it."  

And He's right - with His help, I'm making it.  This past Tuesday marks 21 weeks on this journey!  God has helped me day by day, moment by moment.  He's my rock!  He has been so faithful.

Someone said to me - "what we go through is to bless others."  That got me thinking.  It's hard to imagine a time like this blessing others, but God, in His goodness, can do that.  I immediately think of all the prayers being prayed - what an unleashing of blessing that is into the world!!  God is linking our hearts together through all the prayers.  God is doing something in aligning His Body with the purposes on His heart.  God is stretching our capacity to trust Him for more!  He is bringing blessing through this season!

Maybe that should be one of our prayers:  "God help us to bless others through what we are walking through."  May the prayers being lifted up pour out blessings of His love, saving grace, healing, compassion, and goodness into the hearts and lives of those around us.

God is doing something in all our hearts through the prayers being lifted up for Floyd.  He's stretching us, and He is wanting us to "bless others."  May He help us do that!

"I will bless you......and you will be a blessing."  Genesis 12:2

This week Floyd has been a little more alert each day but on Wednesday we had a very different day!  His eyes were the clearest, most focused I've seen them since this all started.  He was very engaged, listening carefully, hearing, understanding, and taking in every sound.  He was very tender, some tears in his eyes. 

He tried repeatedly to pull himself up with great effort.  I supported his back, but didn't help him.  He was quite strong, and lifted himself farther than he has before.  He finally wore himself out and went to sleep.  I was very encouraged, and had renewed hope seeing him this way! 

I’ve felt all through these months of prayer that God is wanting to do something more than just heal Floyd.  I’ve asked for prayer for the Body to come into alignment with God’s heart and purposes.  I’m sure there are other things happening in the spiritual realm that I don’t even know about.  But – we can’t stop praying for all the things God is doing through this season of focused prayer.

We’ve fought quite a few battles in prayer in the last few months.  I think we’ve done everything we know to do in spiritual warfare.  In Ephesians 6:13 it tells us “having done all else, stand.”  Through our prayers, we are “standing” on His promises, goodness, and faithfulness as we continue to lift our petitions to Him on Floyd’s behalf and for all of God’s purposes to be fulfilled.

When I am resting I have to keep my mind occupied otherwise I just go over and over all that has happened.  So I try to immerse myself in a good book!  I've been reading a novel about a coffee house in Kabul, Afghanistan.  It's been fun because I recognize every place that is mentioned (Chicken Street!), and so many of the words and phrases are familiar.  It's brought back lots of good memories of our years there......so long ago!  It's also made me think how grateful I am for the wonderful life we've had in serving the Lord!  I never dreamed when I told Floyd on our wedding day that "I'd go where he went" that he would take me all over the world!  :) God has given us a wonderful life.

Only He knows what is still ahead!  I trust Him, and I know He will continue to faithfully be with us.