Our Unexpected Journey

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Over this Christmas time we have tried to surround Floyd with love, Christmas carols, and special readings to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  I’ve had some sweet times with him.

Some friends drove to Cape Town this week to visit Floyd.  The husband had been with us in Colorado many years ago.  We hadn't seen them for 9 years, but Floyd smiled real big when they walked in the door.  We had a precious, tear-filled visit - and a very emotional time of prayer.  I think Floyd's heart was touched as he heard how they have loved and prayed for him from afar.

I'm so grateful for the good, on-going care Floyd gets at the hospital he is in.  It relieves my heart.  Christmas was a sweet time for me, but also a very tender time.  

During this second Christmas season of Floyd being in the hospital, I am focusing on God's goodness, the blessings in our lives, family, and friends.  I have so much to be thankful for!

When I ponder the Christmas story each year, I always relate to Mary - on so many different levels.  This year I've been thinking about the "load" she had to carry.  She was being chosen for the greatest honor a woman could have - being the mother of the promised Savior.  And yet it wasn't easy:

- her friends didn't understand

- she was faced with accusations of promiscuity

- she could have lost her betrothed, Joseph

- she had to deal with loss of reputation

- what was happening brought shame to her family

- and then when the baby came, there was no place for her to give birth

And, just think - this was all part of God's will for her life!!  It wasn't bad consequences of something she had done wrong.  It wasn't an "attack of the enemy."  Nothing had gone wrong.  She was being given an awesome privilege.

Mary's response was to say "for with God nothing is impossible - be it unto me according to your word."  (Luke 1:37,38)  One of my friends said - "placing faith in God's Word is the only way to settle our hearts when God's purposes are beyond what we can know."

Mary's difficult, hard circumstances were part of God's magnificent design and plan.  He had foretold of it long before - "unto us a child is born, to us a son is given......and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."  (Isaiah 9:6,7)

The things you and I walk through in life - our joys and our sorrows - may well be part of the plan God has for us.  My heart's desire is to trust Him like Mary!  I want to magnify the Lord like she did.

"My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has looked on the humble estate of His servant.....For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.  And His mercy is for those who fear Him from generation to generation.  He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; He has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty."  Luke 1:46-53

God graciously walked with Mary during this season in her life.  I am so very thankful for how He has walked with me, with our family, in the season we are in.  How wonderful and faithful He is!

Another thing that has ‘jumped’ out at me as I ponder over the Christmas story is the word joy.  "Joy to the world, the Lord is come."  What a different world it would be if He hadn't come!  How different our lives would be if He didn't bring and give joy.  I am so grateful for His joy.

It's only because our Savior came, and what He has done for us, that we can have real joy.  Sam Storms, who we worked with for a season in Kansas City, said "Joy is not necessarily the absence of suffering, it is the presence of God."

I, and our family, have gone through a long season of suffering on a number of levels.  It has been hard.  There have been times when I've wondered if I would survive this season.  And yet, beneath all the suffering and difficulties, there has been a joy in the midst of the suffering because of the presence of God.  It's hard to even describe it, but it's there.  It's way down deep.  It's rooted in Him.  It's strong, and it gives strength.

It's not a happy "feeling."  It's not a giddy laughter.  It's not magical.  It comes from crying out to Him from the depths of our being, and telling Him we need Him.  And somehow, inexplicably, joy wells up from within us by His Spirit.  The weakness we feel in our suffering becomes strength as He pours His joy into our hearts.

This joy, that I find so indescribable, begins to carry us in moments of weakness.  It brings healing, comfort, grace to persevere, and courage to face the next day.  We can't push a button and get it.  All we can do is cry out to Him and let Him release it into our hearts.  I am so grateful that He comes and fills our hearts with a joy that seems in such contrast to what we are walking through.

"I bring you good new of great joy.....a Savior has been born."  Luke 2:10,11

"When they saw the star they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.....and then they saw the child."  Matthew 2:10,11

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

It's only because Christ came, and because of what He has done for us, that we can have real joy.  As the song "It's about the Cross"  by Go Fish says - "It's not just about the manger, the angels, the shepherds, the wise men.....it's about the cross."  He came as a babe so He could die on the cross for us.  Because of that, there is joy!  Thank you, Lord, for your joy.

Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd has had a good week.  He's at peace, attentive with the carers, smiling - everything is just holding steady.  No big ups or downs.  He seems a bit quieter these days, but he's not upset in any way.  This week when I went to see him, I took him a small wooden tree that they make here locally with colorful ribbons tied on it.  We can't take plants or flowers.  I wanted him to have something festive for Christmas.  He smiled real big when he saw it.  Christmas was always a special family holiday season for us.  I miss him more profoundly during these weeks.

I feel so blessed that the nurses told one of the carers this week that they are making plans for Christmas.  They will sing to him and read from the Bible.  I plan to visit him on Christmas too. 

Some days for us are hard.  Oh how I wish they weren't, but they are.  Floyd still faces all the "big" conditions in his life - he can't speak, he can't swallow fully, one side of his body is immobilized, his awareness isn't one hundred percent......and as time goes by, other complications arise.

I also don't know what's ahead for me in my battle with ovarian cancer.  At the moment I'm feeling good, I'm regaining strength, and I'm initiating ongoing treatments.  But those nasty cancer critters may be growing even as I'm typing this.  We'll know more with tests we'll be doing in the new year.

The thoughts of all these things are often in my mind.  I was committing them to the Lord recently when I read this verse:  "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own."  Matthew 6:34

How very true that is!  Some days the "trouble" of that day feels like too much.  And if you add in possible future trouble, it really gets overwhelming!

I am learning, and relearning, and learning yet again - that I must fully keep my focus on HIM......not the troubles.  He is sufficient for the troubles, but I must stay in the present and keep my eyes on His goodness, His grace, and His sufficiency.  I can't allow my mind to wander into the "what ifs" of the days to come.

It seems so simple, and yet I find it a challenging, daily battle in the mind.  Thankfully God is patient, and He brings me back again and again to what I'm dealing with today.  He helps me get through one-day-at-a-time!  He's so faithful.

He also graciously adds in special "gifts" that warm my heart and remind me of His love for me in knowing what I enjoy.  Things like the beautiful rainbow I shared about last week.  And a few days ago there was a whole pod of whales in our bay.  It was hard to count them as they went up and down enjoying their tasty meal - but there must have been 20-30 of them.  I marveled at their magnificent beauty and graceful movements.  It's late in the season for whales, so that made it even more special.

As I give my "troubles," my cares to Him - He carries them for me......and He gives me little joys that bring a smile and help lighten the load.  How can you not love a God like that and be in sweet awe of Him?  He is so good!

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

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

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

"The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles."  Psalm 34:17

Faithful, faithful God that He is.......He carries our heavy loads.  Thank you Lord!

I have gotten lots of information about possible ongoing treatment for me over these past weeks.  I will be praying and seeking the Lord about all this over the next couple of weeks.  I'm so grateful for all the prayer the Lord has surrounded me with from many around the world as I make these descisions.  

When the angel came to Mary, to Joseph, and to the shepherds - the common theme was "do not fear, do not be afraid."  It's a good thing they said that because, well.....angels!  You might be a little nervous!  I'm so glad that God knew they would need to hear those simple words - "do not fear."  

In fact "do not fear, do not be afraid" are instructions mentioned more than any other command in the Bible.  One study I looked at said it's mentioned over 365 times in the Word.  God knew we'd need to be reminded of this simple instruction over and over, even daily, as we face situations in our lives.

On this unexpected journey we've been on, I've heard God whisper it to my heart many times.  And I remind myself repeatedly that I don't need to be afraid.  With God holding my right hand, walking with me, carrying me - I don't need to fear anything that comes our way.

But sometimes it's easier said than done.  I have had to face so many HUGE issues on this journey.  I can say I don't need to fear, but it's much harder to get rid of very normal, human fears that pop up.  A key for me has been bringing my fear into the light, into the truth of God's word.  Fear tends to thrive in the dark and in the mind.  By speaking out my fear, the Lord can help me in both areas.

When I speak my fear to the Lord, it allows Him to lift it from my mind and my heart.  He can then carry the "burden" of that fear.  He is able to pour His peace into my soul.  He is able to shed truth and revelation into the fear so that it loses its power.

I'm so grateful for God's clear instruction to us to "fear not."

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

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me."  Psalm 23:4

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

"The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.....The Lord is with me; He is my helper."  Psalm 118:6,7

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

God isn't saying there's nothing to be afraid of.  Life is scary - there are frightening things that come.  But He's saying we don't need to fear - because of who HE is in the scary things of life!  And often when He gives the command to not fear (it's a command, not a suggestion!) - it's followed by His action, His response, His help.

Like Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds in the Christmas story - we don't need to fear!  God is with us!  As you reflect on our Savior over this Christmas time may you be blessed with joy! 

Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd has had a quiet week.  One of the carers said she had the most responsive time with him ever.  And the next carer said he slept through the whole time. :)  You just never know how he'll be!  I'm so grateful that he is well and healthy.  Several friends have had bad "warm weather" colds.  I'm praying that none of those germs get to Floyd.

This week I was reading about Noah.  I was struck afresh by his faithfulness to God in the midst of a people who weren't serving God.  And his obedience - oh my!  Can you imagine being told to build an ark no where near water?  And to gather a pair of every animal on earth?  And then to go into the ark and stay there when everyone was ridiculing you?  Noah had a level of hearing the voice of God and obeying Him that I think I'm still working towards.

I get terribly seasick on boats, so I can't imagine being shut into that ark for about a year.  And I can't even begin to imagine the smell!  And then finally when they could be on dry land again - God sent the rainbow, His promise to them that the earth would never again be destroyed by a flood.  God "sealed" His promise with that rainbow.

I've always loved rainbows.  God has spoken to me through them on several occasions - including once on this unexpected journey when a rainbow was with us all the way home from the hospital as we drove home on what had been a very hard day!  God spoke to me so clearly that day that He's with us, with me.

As I’ve been thinking about this over a few days, one morning this week I looked out the window - and there was a beautiful rainbow spanning the sky.  I've made it the picture for this post.  It only lasted a few minutes, so it's quite amazing that I even saw it.  It immediately resonated in my heart of God's goodness, His faithfulness, and His continuing care for me, for Floyd, and for our family during this long season.  I was so blessed.  A little spark that leapt inside me when I saw it has stayed in my heart.

There was a phrase I read in my devotional this week that said to look for how God speaks to us as we go about our day.  God certainly "spoke" to me through this beautiful rainbow.  I'm grateful for the symbol of His promises and faithfulness.

"I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.  Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind."  Genesis 9:13-15

"Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love Him and keep His commandments, to a thousand generations."  Deuteronomy 7:9

"The Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one."  2 Thessalonians 3:3

"The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness."  Lamentations 3:22-23

I've had an intense week.  I've been dealing with big issues of Floyd's care, and of my care.  I found myself quite weary after all this, and feeling the aloneness of carrying all these things without Floyd's help!  It was so special, so meaningful to me to see that rainbow.  I love how God knows just how to speak His goodness and faithfulness to our hearts.

Once we enter Dec., I love thinking and meditating on the Christmas story of Jesus's birth.  I usually think through the whole story, and every year something "pops" out that I haven't thought much about before.  That's what happened this year.

I love how the angel spoke to Mary and to Joseph about Mary being the mother of Jesus.  I'm continually amazed that a young woman (in many ways still a young girl), could so willingly obey such an unusual request. The "load" she had to bear was huge.....not the baby - but the questions, scorn, shame, etc.  And what Joseph had to deal with was almost as big.  I'm sure his friends were telling him to put her aside and marry a "good" girl.  I would imagine a key point was the angel coming and speaking so personally and clearly to each of them.

So what impacted me this year is the fact that both sets of parents also carried a heavy load in all this.  I'm sure they had lots of questions!  An angel came and talked to their daughter???  That might be hard to believe.  And there was shame, embarrassment, confusion, and loss of reputation with her pregnancy.  Why didn't an angel come and speak to them too?  It sure would have made sense to me for that to happen.

As I was thinking about all this, I began to apply it to my life.  I would love for God to give me some clarity on this journey we're on.  Yeah - an angel would be great!  A few answers to nagging questions would be so helpful.  And yet God doesn't work by our pushing a button expecting answers.  He knows who to send the angel to.......and who needs to walk a trust journey of resting in His sovereignty.  It looks like I'm in the second category.

I'm sure you can identify with me wanting more clarity, more answers.  You probably have your own questions you've brought to the Lord about things in your life.  God could easily send an angel to help us understand our situations!  And yet He rarely does.

I'm convinced that one of the purposes of this journey that we're on is what God is doing in my heart, what He's teaching me.  Everything I've ever known about Him, everything in my walk with Him - has all been taken deeper and deeper as the months have ticked by.  It's hard sometimes (lots of times!), but I'm so, so grateful for all the lessons.  I'm so thankful for the increased intimacy with Him.  And I'm so grateful for how He's carried me, held my hand, and sustained me when I didn't think I could survive another hour.  He has been so faithful!

I'm not quite to the place where I can say I'd willingly walk through all this again because of what He's done and what He's taught me - but I hope I'll get to that place.  I certainly don't begrudge any of the precious lessons He's brought my way.  They are worth more than silver and gold!

"O God, You have taught me from my youth, and I still declare Your wondrous deeds."  Psalm 71:17

"I have not turned aside from Your ordinances, for You Yourself have taught me."  Psalm 119:102

"And many peoples will come and say, 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that He may teach us concerning His ways and that we may walk in His paths.' " Isaiah 2:3

"Who is the man who fears the Lord?  He will instruct him in the way He should choose."  Psalm 25:12

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you."  Psalm 32:8

"Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; For I trust in You; teach me the way in which I should walk; for to You I lift up my soul."  Psalm 143:8

I love the personal-ness of a God who loves His children enough to teach them valuable life lessons.  I'm so very grateful for what He has been speaking to me and teaching me on this journey.  

Our Unexpected Journey

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I had a meeting this week with the hospital staff regarding Floyd's care.  It was a helpful report and there have been some good improvements.  There are, of course, also areas of concern as time goes on.  Floyd still needs miracles and breakthroughs to fully recover.  All we can do is commit him to the Lord's care, and to His sovereignty.

They all expressed such love and warmth for Floyd.  I can't tell you how much that means.  God so obviously led us to the right place for Floyd’s care.  He is not their "normal" rehab patient and they don’t usually have patients there for such long periods of time.  I appreciate their expanding their guidelines to allow him long term care there.

Acts 17:26 says that God knows the exact places where we should live.  I'm so grateful that He chose the right place for Floyd!

There have been so many things on this unexpected journey that I have had to trust God for.  Big things - and little things......but all things that I needed His help and His wisdom for.  I thought I had always trusted God, but He has taken me to new depths, new understandings of "trust."

I've learned that the deeper my trust goes, the greater my thankfulness is!  It's amazing how the two are so closely linked.  And the more I'm thankful - the more my heart overflows with joy......which is my strength from Him.  I love how God planned this all out.  Trust = thankfulness = joy!  A wonderful equation.

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

"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me.  My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him."  Psalm 28:7

"Love......always trusts."  1 Corinthians 13:6, 7

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

"Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you."  Psalm 84:12

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

As I've endeavored to trust God at new levels - His joy, not a worldly joy, has helped me persevere and survive.  I'm so grateful for that.  

In the prayer updates that I write I have recently shared on what the Lord is teaching me about love being patient - and what I'm learning about being patient with the things in my life.  In response to that update, someone sent me this prayer of St. Theresa:

"Let nothing disturb you, nothing distress you.

While all things fade away, God is unchanging.

Be patient, for with God in your heart, nothing is lacking.

God is enough."

I love that - nothing is lacking when God is with us.  God is enough!  Amen!

I had a sweet time with Floyd this week.  After giving him a nice shave and face massage, I shared some encouraging emails with him.  He seems quieter in recent days, but perks up when encouraged.  I try to continually remind him that God is still using him even though he's quiet and still right now.

Every time I'm with Floyd, I come home with a tender heart.  As time goes by, it seems to get harder to see him suffering.  And there's the continual question of wondering what is ahead.  I give that question to the Lord, but I guess it never goes away completely.  It pops up again after my visits with Floyd.

After my last visit with Floyd I came home, once again, with a tender heart.  I was taking with the Lord, lifting this all to Him - and I was suddenly struck by the beauty He surrounds us with.  The blues of the ocean, the puffy white clouds floating by, the warm sunshine, the strong mountains, the colourful birds flying outside, the greens of the trees, the hearty flowers that bloom in spite of a lack of water, the succulent plants that flourish in dry surroundings - the list goes on and on.  Each thing I noticed seemed to remind me of God's goodness and greatness!

I was given some lovely roses by a friend.  Amazingly they lasted over 3 weeks in a vase in my living room.  Every time I saw them, I was struck by the beauty of God's creation.  Just in the realm of flowers there are so many expressions of God's creation.

Two things came to my heart as all this went through my mind.  The first is simply that God created all these things to touch our hearts.  He could have created a much simpler, less beautiful world.  But He gave us all these "touches of beauty" to feed our souls.  He knew we'd need that.  I certainly have!  On some of my lowest days I've been ministered to and touched by the beauty of God's creation all around me.

And I also thought of the fact that the God who created all these many, many "touches of beauty" is also aware of the detailed needs in our lives.  He's mindful of each need, each care, each sorrow, each burden, each question - and He's ministering into them in His own loving way each day.  I'm not alone when I come home from visiting Floyd with a tender heart.  God is pouring His ointment into my heart - even by pointing out the beautiful creation all around me that testifies to His greatness.

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

"And why are you worried about clothing?  Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these."  Matthew 6:28-29

"Thus says God the Lord, He that created the heavens, and stretched them out; He that spread forth the earth, and that which comes out of it; He that gives breath unto the people upon it, and the spirit to them that walk therein.......I will hold you by the hand and watch over you."  Isaiah 42:5, 6

"Listen to this, Job; stop and consider God's wonders.  Do you know how God controls the clouds and makes His lightning flash?  Do you know how the clouds hang poised, those wonders of Him who has perfect knowledge?"  Job 37:14-16

Just as God spoke to Job long ago, He reminds us of His power and might in creation!

Our Unexpected Journey

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I had an unexpected "gift" from the Lord this week that I'm thankful for.  One of the side effects from chemo - that goes back to my first time of battling cancer 3 years ago - is peripheral neuropathy in my feet.  This is a condition where the nerves are damaged resulting in pain and numbness.  It has gotten worse with the chemo this year.  My feet are now quite numb, often painful, and I must move very purposely in order to keep my balance.

As a result of this, some of my activities, including driving, have been more limited.  I have been trying some treatments, and have seen some small improvements.

Through some unexpected things happening, I found myself in the situation of needing to get to an appointment with no one to drive me.  I prayed and felt I should give it a try!  So off I went to my appointment, and to do a few errands.  I went slowly, praying continually - and managed it all.  I arrived back safely!  I had to do the same thing the next day, and it went even better.

I can't quite describe to you how wonderful this was - freedom, a sense of "normalcy," and it felt like "me" again.  I truly felt like I'd been given a wonderful gift.  It was one more step in the forward direction of rebuilding health and strength.  I am so, so thankful!

Even though I’m gaining strength my body is still adjusting, and recently my sleep has been unsettled.  I've been waking up a lot.  A couple nights ago I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep.  I laid in bed wanting to pray, but was having a hard time working up the strength to do that.  I felt the Lord speak into my heart to just "whisper" a prayer - that He's always in "whispering distance."  So I began to whisper my prayers to Him.

I found that so comforting!  I didn't need to perform.  I didn't need to have an energetic performance of prayer.  All I needed to do was "whisper" to Him.  He was already right there with me!

I remembered a chorus we sang in my church when I was growing up.  

"Whisper a prayer in the morning.

Whisper a prayer at noon.

Whisper a prayer in the evening -

To keep your heart in tune."

We can whisper to Him all day long.  As I went about my errands on my own this week, I kept whispering prayers to Him - asking Him for strength, for His help in doing things on my own, for His safety and protection, and for His continued rebuilding of my health.  I loved that I could whisper to Him wherever I was!

"Lord, they went to You in their distress; they poured out whispered prayers."  Isaiah 26:16

And sometimes God speaks back to us in whispers too.

" 'Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.'  And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind.  And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.  And after the fire the sound of a low whisper."  1 Kings 19:11-12

Our whispered prayers are just as powerful as any of our strong, loud entreaties to Him.  Maybe they are even more powerful because God knows that in our quiet, whispering state of coming to Him - we need Him so much!  He's always faithful to meet us.  He always hears!

Floyd has had a quiet week.  He's been on his own a lot, but has been content and peaceful.  The journey we're on isn't over, so I'm trusting the Lord to help Floyd in his situation.

On my recent visit with Floyd, I sang some songs to him.  I lifted my hands in worship as I sang - and Floyd slowly lifted his arm with me.  He hasn't done that in a while.  I was moved to see his effort to join me in worship.  Our worship was simple, but I couldn't help but think that God would be blessed to receive our simplicity of worship as it flowed from our hearts.  We both cried as we thanked God for His goodness and faithfulness to us.

It's always hard to leave Floyd.  I hate that he's on his own so much.  I know it must be so hard for him in his "silent" world.  I stay as long as my strength allows.

It was rather emotional for me when I came home - thinking about all this.  God tenderly ministered to my heart as I poured out my cares to Him.  I repeatedly spoke out my trust, and my need of Him.  I felt He kept reassuring me that He is at work in our lives and in this situation, even if I can't see it or understand it.  I just need to keep my hand in His as I walk this journey.

Shortly afterwards I got an email from a friend.  He told me how Floyd had ministered to him shortly before he became ill.  The "fruit" of that time continues on in some wonderful ways.  It was a sweet encouragement to my heart.

Someone shared this quote with our prayer group a couple days ago:  "Thanksgiving is our response to His actions, praise is our response to His character, and worship is our response to His presence."  - Kris Vallotton

I loved that description of the prayers we lift to the Lord!  It helped me be more purposeful in what I'm speaking out to Him.  I'm thankful for how He has sustained me on this journey.  I praise Him for His faithfulness.  And I worship Him for ministering so sweetly to my heart.  God is so very good!

"Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song.  For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods."  Psalm 95:2-3

"Great is the Lord, and  highly to be praised, And His greatness is unsearchable."  Psalm 145:3

"All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name.  For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God."  Psalm 86:9-10

Whether it's thanksgiving, praise, or worship - He is so worthy! 

Our Unexpected Journey

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I had a sweet, tender visit with Floyd this week.  I told him about sharing at our GLS and "passing the baton/commissioning" our new international leader, Mary Ho.  I showed him photos, and played a short video clip of me speaking.  He gently cried.  I'm sure it was hard for him to not be part of all that.

I read him several messages from people which touched his heart too.  And then he was tired and wanted to rest.

As our long unexpected journey continues, I find I'm facing 2 things on a daily basis.  As my strength is slowly building and returning, it seems that lots is happening.  "Life" has ramped up!  Things in our home need repairing/replacing.  Medical appointments are ongoing.  Details of Floyd's care need attention and sorting out.  It just seems suddenly very busy.  I am so, so aware that I can't make it in my own strength and ability.  I need God's help and strength.

The second thing is that I feel like the enemy tries to bombard my mind on a daily basis with anxiety about my future.  I resist him, direct my thoughts in trust towards God - but something will trigger anxiety again, and I have to start all over.  I particularly feel vulnerable in regard to Floyd's care if something happens to me.

I've always thought that each of us has an inner "stress quotient" - the ability built in us in how God has made us to withstand pressure and stress.  I've had times when I've asked the Lord to increase that ability within me, and He has!  I feel I'm in a season right now where that ability has been depleted by all that we've walked through - particularly as I've battled cancer this year.  I'm rebuilding from the bottom to get my stress quotient up and running.  I don't seem to have enough quite yet to face the stresses coming my way.

I know I can't make it through all these things on my own.  In fact, if I try to do that I think it disappoints the Lord - maybe even grieves Him if I try to do that.  He's created us to need Him, to work with Him.  And I know very clearly that I need Him!!

I find myself talking to the Lord continually through the day - over big things and the smallest of things.  I'm aware that I need Him for every detail.  He comes with His grace, His strength, and His wisdom to carry me through the day.

I'm equally aware that His unfailing love completely surrounds me.  He upholds me.  He fights the enemy for me.  He carries me.  His right hand loves, protects, guides, and sustains me.  Sometimes I feel like He's holding me in His arms, and carrying me close to His loving heart.

The season seems to be changing in various ways, but I know God is faithful in every season!  I'm sure He has new lessons for me to learn in this season as He carries me through it.  I don't think we ever get to a place where we've learned a lesson completely, and it's over.  I think God circles back around, and takes lessons deeper and deeper into our heart.  I have a feeling that's what's happening to me right now.  I've faced these lessons before, but God is applying them in a new and deeper way in my walk with Him.  How faithful He is!

"He will not allow your foot to slip.  He who keeps you will not slumber."  Psalm 121:3

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

"The very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows."  Luke 12:7

"You have given me your shield of victory.  Your right hand supports me; your help has made me great."  Psalm 18:35

"In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one."  Ephesians 6:16

God has been faithful to meet me each day.  But I shared in my update to our praying friends what I'm walking through because I feel the need for their prayers.  Their prayers have helped carry me on this journey, and I still need them. 

Prayer is such a wonderfully awesome thing!  After I shared I had so many sweet messages of encouragement that people are still praying for us.  I felt the impact of those prayers.  I have felt the love, care, and support.  I’m so grateful.  It's so special.

A few days ago I received an email from a friend in Asia.  He told me that he, his wife, and his children pray every night at bedtime for Floyd and me.  He said if he forgets, his children remind him.  My heart was warmed in thinking of being carried by their faithful prayers all these months.

I've felt the Lord reminding me in recent days that not one single one of these prayers are wasted.  He hears every one.  He is working in ways that we may not see or understand, but God is mindful of every prayer being lifted to the throne.  Someday He'll let us see what has been accomplished through all the prayers on this unexpected journey.  I have a feeling that so much has been accomplished that it may take a few years in eternity for us to see it all, but we'll have plenty of time! 

"Pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."  James 5:16

The Lord "hears the prayer of the righteous."  Proverbs 15:29

A few days ago Floyd had a visit from 3 wonderful men.  Two of them were visiting here for the All Nations gathering.  They had a special time of prayer with Floyd.  While they were praying, they felt to do a "foot washing" - and did so with sanitizer!  Floyd smiled the whole time.  I thought that could be the first time that's ever happened anywhere.  Maybe Floyd is still part of "pioneering."  :)

The prayer time must have been impactful for Floyd because he slept soundly when the next carer arrived shortly afterwards.  He never woke up the whole time.  He sometimes sleeps when we're there, but usually wakes up after a few minutes.

Being from the US I thought about the Thanksgiving celebrations yesterday.  We don't celebrate it here, but my heart is so full of love and gratitude for each one whos love, encouragement, support, prayers, and "joining hands" with us on this journey has carried me.  I am eternally grateful!

"I thank my God every time I remember you."  Philippians 1:3

"I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers."  Philemon 1:4

My heart is filled with "thanksgiving" for our friends and family aroung the world!

Our Unexpected Journey

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This past Sunday was a special day for our All Nations family.  As part of the Global Leadership Gathering I was able to go to the meeting and share a few things.  The special thing though, was being able to "pass the baton" on behalf of Floyd to the new International Director, Mary Ho.  It was a sweet morning, but very emotional for me.  I never dreamed I'd be doing this without Floyd.  

I heard something this week that I didn't know.  It happened the day that Floyd got sick in February 2016.  He had woken up at 2 a.m. with severe pain in his left leg.  He was to speak that morning in our training program (CPx), so he took some pain medication and went to the meeting.  The pain got worse and worse until eventually he called me to pick him up and take him to the doctor.

While he was speaking to the students, he made this statement: "If I can't continue, will you finish the race?"  Little did he know that the next day he'd be in ICU!  It was a prophetic "call" without him knowing it!  It was his very last time to speak/preach.

I only learned of this a few days ago.  He didn't know what was ahead.  He didn't know that in a short time he would lose his voice.  But out of his heart came that "call."  I was so moved when I heard this.

Our Cape Town leader, Neil Hart, told me that "what Floyd said that morning is a clarion call for us now.  It must have been the Spirit of the Lord."

We are praying that God will speak clearly to All Nations - His plans, His strategy for reaching those who have never heard of Jesus.

One of the things I shared on Sunday with our All Nations family - when hard times come, we shouldn't waste time asking God all the "why?" questions!  I've found that God rarely answers those.  I frequently get emails from people telling me they're asking God "why??"

What I think we need to do instead is to declare in prayer who God is in accordance with His Word.  We need to "lean into" the truth of who God is.  We need to choose to trust Him - repeatedly, continually.  And we need to let Him hold our right hand and carry us through the hard time.

We can ask God some other questions - what is He wanting to say to us?  What does He want to do in the hard season?  What is He wanting to teach us?  I've found He'll readily answer these questions!  He longs to draw us closer to Him in the hard times.

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts."  Isaiah 55:8,9

" '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

I'm so grateful for how God has spoken to me, how He's carried me, and I continue to trust Him for all that's still ahead.  

Floyd has been enjoying some visits this week from our All Nations family that are here for the international gathering.  Floyd has known many of these friends for quite a few years......and he's such a "people person."  I'm sure his heart has been warmed by seeing them.

I got an email this week from a young man who was telling me his story of how God rescued him using one of Floyd’s books.  It was a beautiful story of God’s miraculous intervention and faithfulness.  Floyd cried when I told him the story.  I reminded him that he can't speak, but his voice isn't silent.  And I also talked with Floyd about how much God loves us.  He never abandons us.  He is constantly pursuing us in our various situations and circumstances.  How loving, merciful, and persistent He is!

God loves us in spite of our sin, our failures, our weaknesses, even in spite of our anger towards Him when we feel He's let us down.  He never lets us go.  He never forgets what we're going through.  He never just leaves us in hard times.  He reaches out to us and pursues us.

I was deeply touched by that young man’s story.  It reminded me that for Floyd and me, for each of us - God is with us, looking for ways to speak to us and help us.  He never, ever gives up!  He never stops reaching into our situations to help us.

"Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; If I make my bed in the depths, you are there."  Psalm 139:7,8

"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

"As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you."  Joshua 1:5

"Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."  Philippians 1:6

Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd's week has been steady - which is a good thing.  No big ups or downs.  He has been peaceful and smiley. 

Our All Nations ILT (International Leadership Team) is in Cape Town at the moment for the All Nations Global Leadership Summit which happens every two years.

The whole team had a sweet visit with Floyd this week.  I went in early to have my own visit with him, and as soon as I told him they were coming - he started tearing up.  So you can imagine the tears when we were actually all there together.  They shared news and encouragement from around the world, sang quite a few songs, and had a very special time of prayer.  I'm trusting that was a blessing to his heart.

I saw a friend this week that I haven't seen in a few weeks.  She commented on how much stronger I looked.  I can't tell you how good that was to hear!  I'm thanking the Lord for helping me to rebuild strength.  It is slowly, but steadily, coming! 

But…I do get a bit of a shock every time I look in the mirror!  I think "who is that?"  I'm getting hair again (thankfully!), but it's curly and a different color from what my hair has always been.  I don't really have much in the way of eyebrows or eyelashes - I lost those when I lost my hair.  And I've lost a lot of weight.  It somehow doesn't seem like "Sally" when I look in the mirror.

In the midst of that ‘shock’ I had a thought.  Thank goodness God still recognizes me!  I don't look different to Him.  The Bible tells us that God looks at the heart, so thankfully my heart hasn't gone through drastic changes from chemo.

I was thinking about that as I had my quiet time, and I realized that actually my heart has changed.  I've loved the Lord since I was a little girl, but through this hard unexpected journey - I've come to love Him more.  His faithfulness, His care, His love, His grace, His holding my hand each step of the way, His carrying me when I've been so weak - how can you not love Him more and more and more?!

Someone was recently asking me a lot of questions about this journey, and as I answered I kept talking about how good God has been.  Then, without thinking, I said "I have nothing to complain about."  It just came out spontaneously - and in that instant I realized how true it is.  

Has it been hard? Yes!  Do I wish some things were different? Absolutely!  But in the midst of all the hard things, God has been more than I could have asked for in meeting me, in meeting my needs.  If I look back over my shoulder at the storms I've walked through, what I see is Jesus carrying me through them.  He has helped me each step of the way!

The journey isn't over.  I don't know what's still ahead.  I'm still walking through some really difficult things.  But I know God will continue to be right by my side.  I don't have to fear what's ahead.  I have anxious moments sometimes, but then I remember how faithful God has been - and He never changes!  He'll help me with whatever is ahead.

"But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not consider his appearance or his height.....The Lord does not look at the things people look at.  People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.' "  1 Samuel 16:7

When we think of Biblical characters and all they accomplished for the Lord, I think we tend to look at them through "rose colored glasses."  We think of them as rugged/handsome/beautiful/powerful.  They can take on mythical proportions in our minds.  But, in reality, I think they were ordinary, every-day people like you and me.  They had their weaknesses, their failings, but God saw their hearts and their potential.  He saw in them who He had created them to be.  And He used them for His glory!

That's what I want for Floyd and me.  I hope we can bring Him glory in some way on this journey.  I don't know if I'll ever look like "me" again, but I hope my heart will continue falling in love with Him!  He's so good.

I have been reflecting on James 1:4 - "Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

I realize as I continue walking on this journey we've been on, that I need to persevere, to be patient, and to be careful not to miss the things God still has for me on this journey.  It's so easy to want to speed things up!  But when the journey comes to its conclusion, I want the work to be "mature and complete."  I want all the lessons God has for me.

Sometimes my mind wanders to things in the past.  I miss many of those things.  And sometimes my mind wanders to what the future might look like.  When either of these things happen, I feel the Spirit gently reminding me to be careful.  I can't let my mind wander or move on prematurely.  I need to stay in what God has for me right now, today.  He will give me grace for today!

I'm asking Him, trusting Him, to help me persevere.

"Being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience."  Colossians 1:11

"We know that suffering produces perseverance."  Romans 5:3

"You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised."  Hebrews 10:36

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

"Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand."  Ephesians 6:11

As I’ve continued to read in James 1, verse 19 has captured my attention.  "My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this:  Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry."

We read that verse and think immediately of our friendships and relationships.  It's great advice - well worth heeding!  If we listen carefully to what people say, and pause before responding, we can often save ourselves a lot of trouble!

But as I've been reading this passage, some different thoughts came to me.  I thought of my conversations with the Lord!  I'm usually pouring out my heart to Him - my thoughts, my needs, my cries for help, my prayer requests.  He listens very patiently to me!  And He answers me.

But I felt a nudge of the Spirit that I need to listen more in my conversations with God.  I do listen, don't get me wrong - but I often have such a full heart that I talk a lot in my time with Him!  I felt Him saying that He has more things to say to me, and I need to listen.  

Quieting my heart from the tumult of all that is going on is challenging!  I'm usually very anxious to share my heart.  But "being quick to listen" kinda changes the whole equation!!  If I listen more, God may alleviate the tumult before I even share it with Him.

God loves to speak to us, His children.  He speaks into our minds.  He speaks in that "still small voice" in our inner being.  He speaks through verses we read.  But we can miss what He wants to say if we're in a hurry, or if we do all the talking and we don't listen.

Listening is an art, a skill.  And because it's a skill, it's something we can learn to do.  After all, we have 2 ears and 1 mouth - so we should be able to listen more than we talk. :)  But it requires practice.

I'm going to adjust my quiet times with the Lord, and start listening more.  He has been so very faithful to teach me so many lessons on this long journey.  I can't wait to hear what more He has to say.  Stay tuned, and I'll share those lessons with you.  I'm sure He has much to say to you, too, as you listen to His voice.  Join me in "being quick to listen."

"Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known."  Jeremiah 33:3

"And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it," when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left." Isaiah 30:21

"My sheep hear my voice.....and they follow me."  John 10:27

"And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, "Samuel! Samuel!"  And Samuel said, 'Speak, for your servant hears.' "  1 Samuel 3:10

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you."  Psalm 32:9

I could never have survived and navigated this unexpected journey we've been on if the Lord hadn't spoken into my heart so faithfully.  He has truly counseled me and helped me.  I'm looking forward to all that He still has to say.

Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd has had a good week.  During the "40 Days of Worship," we have been endeavoring to have at least one person with him each day worshipping in his room.  There have been some sweet and special times.  On Saturday when I was with him, he slept through most of my visit - but I still sang and prayed over him.  Then he woke up with a smile!

During the chemo I've gone through this year, I've had many unpleasant side effects!  I'm still battling a couple of them.  The very term "side effect" conjures up painful memories for me.

But I was reading recently about another kind of "side effect".  I read that thankfulness has the wonderful side effect of increasing our joy!  I like that one.  I can live with that side effect.

One of the things I've learned on this unexpected journey we're on is that thankfulness is a choice.  It doesn't just happen.  It flows from our thoughts.  Proverbs 23:7 tells us that "as a man thinketh, so is he."  I know I've shared about thankfulness before on my journey, but I just can't get away from it.  God keeps bringing my focus to it over and over.  It is such a key to walking in victory through hard seasons.

We may not always have control over our situation and circumstances in life, but we do have control over our thoughts.  It's so important to think in accordance with the truth of God's word.  Our thoughts will impact our emotions.  Our emotions then influence our behavior - and, consequently, our response to life's circumstances.

I've found if I don't take control over my thoughts, they bounce all over the place.......and my emotions bounce with them.  I have to focus my thoughts on God's goodness, faithfulness, sovereignty, grace, and sufficiency.  When I think on those wonderful attributes of God, thankfulness fills my heart!!  And joy then bubbles up.

I've also found in the hard, difficult circumstances of life that I need to constantly look for God breaking into those situations with His goodness and mercy.  I can miss how He's helping me if I'm too focused on the circumstances, and not actively looking for God at work in them.  God is always at work in our lives.  He never takes time off!

"Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind."  Psalm 107:8

"I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds."  Psalm 9:1

"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever."  1 Chronicles 16:34

"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me.  My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him."  Psalm 28:7

"Give thanks in all circumstances."  1 Thessalonians 5:18

I hope one of these days to be finished with the chemo side effects.

But I don't want to lose the side effect of joy that comes from a thankful heart.  I'm asking God to help me continually have a heart of thankfulness. 

There are several dear friends going through hard times right now.  Everything in me wants to "do" something to help, but truthfully all I can do is pray.  What I call "valley times" are hard!  I keep thinking of a teaching Floyd's mom gave on the valleys in our lives.  I may have mentioned it last year.  She said we have to go through the valleys of difficulty, trial, and preparation in order to reach the mountaintops of release, fulfillment, and provision.  In between the mountaintop of God's promise, and the mountaintop of God's provision - there is the valley of preparation.

The valleys are often where things are planted and cultivated in our lives.  We have to till the ground of our hearts.  It sometimes means digging very deep into our lives.  But it can be fruitful in the valley, too, as we wait for the mountaintops that God has for us.  God uses this time to grow us, and to teach us important life lessons.

There's no denying the valley times, but it's not meant to be the focus.  God is the focus!  He holds our hand as we go through the valley.  He doesn't plan for us to live in it forever.  He wants us to grow, to even live above the circumstances as we cling to Him.

"Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me."  Psalm 23:4

It feels like I've been walking through a valley for a long time now.  I'm thinking that surely it's time to move on to the mountaintop!  As I look back I realize that as I've been going through the valley, God has been carrying me on His shoulders.  I haven't been alone - or even had to do most of the walking.  God has truly "carried" me!  And He knows when the right time is to move on to the mountaintop.

There's a song by Michael W. Smith that says "even in the valley He is faithful - He's working for our good."  So true!  He's doing beautiful things in our lives while we walk through some of the hard valley experiences.  When I look back over the journey, I see God's hand at work in so many ways.  He has been very faithful!  I can't thank Him enough.

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

"For everything there is a season, a time for everything under heaven."  Ecclesiastes 3:1

"The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble.  He cares for those who trust in Him."  Nahum 1:7

Sometimes as I'm walking through the valley, the vegetation and trees are so thick that I can't even see the mountaintop God is guiding me towards.  I don't know what's ahead, but I can trust His direction. 

Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd has had two really special visits this past week.  On one of them something special happened when two ladies were visiting Floyd.  One of them is getting ready to go work with refugees in another country.  Before he became ill, Floyd had spent time with her and her husband praying with them about their future and direction.  The lady said she knew that Floyd talked to God while he's laying in bed, and she asked him to pray for them.

A few minutes later they bowed their heads in prayer.  Floyd lifted his good arm and started crying.  He was praying for them!  It was so sweet and special.  I don't think we've seen that happen before.

I read somewhere that "tears are liquid words."  I'm sure God was hearing Floyd's "words" in that prayer!

There are many times when I don't quite have the words to express what's in my heart - but I often have tears as I pray.  I'm so grateful that God hears my heart through my tears.

I sometimes feel, too, that as I pour out my heart in tears instead of words - God uses those tears to cleanse my heart of the heavy burdens.  It's a bit like a release valve - when the tears ebb, the burdens have been lifted.

I'm so grateful God gave us tears.  They truly are a gift to us, and God always understands the "liquid words."

"Then David and the people who were with him lifted their voices and wept until there was no strength in them to weep."  1 Samuel 30:4

"I am worn out from sobbing.  All night I flood my bed with weeping, drenching it with my tears."  Psalm 6:6

"Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry; do not be silent at my tears."  Psalm 39:12

"He will swallow up death for all time, and the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces, and He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken."   Isaiah 25:8

The other one was when two of our life long friends came to visit him.  He cried, they cried, I cried - it was an emotional and tender time.  There was a walk down memory lane, some sweet encouragement to Floyd, some "oldie" songs, and beautiful prayers.  I sensed a lovely fragrance of the Lord with us.  I'm so grateful for the time together.

Being with our friends reminded me of what our real "treasures" are in life - it's people!  The world makes us think that our treasures are land, houses, cars, money, art, jewels - but all those things fade away.  The greatest gift we have is the gift of people.  Our greatest wealth is not measured in terms of riches but relationships.

I've always known that, believed that, and lived that way, but this long unexpected journey has taught me this truth again.  I couldn't have made it without all the dear people around me - and all of the dear ones praying all over the world.  

I read a story about some fir trees in Washington state.  A strong windstorm hit the area, and many of the trees that were standing by themselves were blown over.  But the ones that grew tightly together in the midst of the forest didn't fall.  They were strengthened by their intertwining roots.  When we link hearts and stand together, the storms of life can't blow us over!

Years ago, when I was quite young, I wrote this in my journal:

A friend - 

- strengthens the heart

- repairs the hurt

- encourages the discovery

- enlightens the mind

- dissolves the pain

- banishes the loneliness

- understands the anxiety

- increases the joy

- deepens the spirit

- frees the soul

That's a pretty big order!  But I'm so grateful for the friends we've had in our lives who have done all those things, and more, for us.  God wants our lives to be interwoven together.  He strengthens us in that way.

Floyd has had a number of friends come from far and wide to visit him over these long months.  It's been so special.  One of the nurses said to me "Mr. McClung sure has a lot of friends."  I smiled and said "yes, they're our greatest treasure in life."

"Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others."  Philippians 2:4

"Moses' hand became heavy.....and Aaron and Hur supported his hands."  Exodus 17:12

"There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."  Proverbs 18:24

"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.  If either of them falls down one can help the other up.  But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up."  Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity."  Proverbs 17:17

Wednesday was a special day too.  11 years ago on October 25, we moved here!  God has been with us, and blessed us in this land.  How faithful He has been.

Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd seems to be growing weary.  I can only imagine how exhausting all these months have been for him.  He is sleeping more.  He hassometimes been asleep when we visit him, but will wake when we walk in.  Now he sometimes sleeps deeply even while we're there.  But he continues with his lovely smiles. 

I have had some sweet visits with him though.  I’ve played worship songs that he seemed to connect with.  He tried raising his good arm when I raised mine in worship, but he's weaker - he couldn't raise it as high as normal.  I’ve held his hand and prayed for him and us.  He smiles and smiles as I share news - and sometimes he tears up as I share some things.  I love being with him.

We are praying for God's grace for Floyd during these days when weariness is creeping in!

This last week I had a "good" day - all day long!  I can't even remember when I last had a fully good day.  I felt "light" and almost giddy.  It was wonderful!!  I kept thanking the Lord all day long.  I hope I'll have more of them.

I was singing a worship chorus about God's goodness, His faithfulness, His holiness - and I began thinking of how I've sung these worship songs all my life.  I've lifted my hands, I've worshipped with my whole heart, and I've meant every word I've sung.

But when you're going through a trial, when everything in you is being tested, when life itself is hanging by a thread - the words you sing take on new depth and meaning!  They're no longer just wonderful words of a song, they become the cry of your heart!

I'm not a song writer, but I found myself grateful for those who write these songs that help us express our hearts of worship and gratitude to Him. The songs are a rich part of my daily conversations with the Lord.

I'm so grateful that God created worship.  It blesses Him that we can express ourselves in adoration - but, much more importantly, it gives us an opportunity to pour out our hearts with our love and thankfulness to Him.  There is something about worship, especially in singing, that draws me in close to His heart.

"Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.  Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness."  Psalm 29:1,2

"I will sing of the Lord's great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.  I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself."  Psalm 89:1,2

"Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.  Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs."  Psalm 100:1,2

"Exalt the Lord our God and worship at His footstool; He is holy!"  Psalm 99:5

"I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble."  Psalm 59:16

I'm so grateful that I can thank Him for His goodness even on the hardest of days.  Worship is a gift to us.

The "40 Days of Worship" that we are in the midst of has proven to be such a blessing to us as we worship Him!  I hope many of you are able to join us.

The phrase "patient endurance" has caught my attention recently.  I know I'm enduring, but I'm not sure I'm always doing it patiently.  I try!  I've keenly known that I need the Lord to strengthen my heart to handle all I'm walking through.

The need for this kind of patient endurance only comes in very hard, ongoing times of trial.  In smooth seasons - or in trials that are over and done with quickly, we don't particularly need patience or endurance.  But in lingering, on-going hard seasons - we certainly need this kind of grace to make it through.

I've found it helpful to acknowledge to the Lord how hard the trial is for me so that I can receive the full measure of His help.  I've even tried to thank Him for trusting me with such a hard trial.  He must have confidence that I can make it through it if He's allowed it to come into my life.  I ask Him, trust Him, to take the dark and heavy time and bring good and beauty out of it.

The waiting that I wrote about recently is part of the patience.  "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

I'm working on learning the lesson of waiting in patient endurance.  A "key" for me has been to constantly focus my eyes on Him, and not allow my mind to drift to the "what ifs" that may be still to come.  I have to rest in God's sovereignty, and keep my heart focused on trusting Him.

Rick Warren says "The more you pray, the less you'll panic.  The more you worship, the less you worry.  You'll feel more patient and less pressured."  

God wants to help us to have patient endurance for the trials He knows we are facing.  He's provided prayer and worship to help us get through them.

"Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times."  Romans 12:12

"The Lord is good to everyone who trusts in Him, so it is best for us to wait in patience - to wait for Him to save us."  Lamentations 3:25, 26

"The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still."  Exodus 14:14

"For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised."  Hebrews 10:36

"You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful."  James 5:11

"But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved."  Matthew 24:13

Someone reminded me recently of words Floyd had written in one of his blogs.  It certainly applies to our lives right now.  "A testing time in our lives, big or small, is one of the ways God uses to teach us to depend more deeply on Him.  As we go through tests, we discover God's goodness in new dimensions.  We gain confidence that God can and will meet us in the crisis experiences of life."

God has faithfully met me each day.  And He has blessed and encouraged me through the prayers of so many faithful ones around the world!  I couldn't have done it alone.

Our Unexpected Journey

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I had a sweet time with Floyd this week.  Due to some change in the schedule, I overlapped with one of the carers when I went to visit Floyd.  This carer brings his guitar each week to play and sing over Floyd.  So we sang, worshipped, and prayed together over Floyd!  It was lovely.  There was a sweet presence of the Lord in the room with us.

It is springtime for us in South Africa.  I think spring is my favorite season because of all the new life.  Everywhere I look there is beauty and renewal.  It brings joy and fresh hope.  And it very naturally causes my heart to lift up prayers asking God for new spiritual life too!  During these days of worship I am asking God for a release of new life in the hearts of people- from Cape Town pouring out into the continent of Africa!  And also in Floyd's room!!

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."  2 Corinthians 5:17

"Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."  Isaiah 43:19

"And he who was seated on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new.'  Also he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.' "  Rev. 21:5

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."  Lamentations 3:22,23

Trusting God to use these days of worship to bring new life in Cape Town, in South Africa, in the continent of Africa, and on into the world!  Our hearts long for new life in Him.

I was talking with a friend a couple days ago.  We were both having a hard day.  We've been participating in the "40 Days of Worship," but it had been difficult with things we were each going through.  Without thinking about it, I said to her that persevering, not giving up, and being faithful is part of our worship.  I said it - and then I stopped to think about it, and realized how very true that is!

It's easy to worship when everything is going well.  But worshipping, trusting, and keeping our eyes on Him when we're walking through difficulty is when our worship gets tested.  On days when I'm weak, when I'm not feeling well, my worship may not be as powerful.  It's quieter and more mellow, but it's very heartfelt.

As I was worshipping out of weakness, I realized that God loves me on my weak days.  He understands.  He is holding my right hand.  And He receives my worship to Him because He wants me to worship Him in every "season."  I don't have anything to prove.  I'm simply pouring out my heart of love and thankfulness to Him.

He has lessons to teach us, and ways of revealing His love to us that come in the hard times.  We can't learn them any other way.  He's with us in the "fire and the flood".......and it's very different from being with us in beautiful meadows!  It's so important not to despise the lessons learned through trial.

And the wonder of it is that as I worship Him from a place of weakness and need in the midst of the trial, He in turn strengthens me.  How unbelievably wonderful that is!!  Only He can do that.

"But He said to me, "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.....for when I am weak, I am strong."  2 Corinthians 12:9-10

"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you....as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing."  1 Peter 4:12, 13

"Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid.....for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you.  He will not fail you or forsake you."  Deuteronomy 31:6

"Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."  Isaiah 41:10

God has been so wonderfully faithful.  I thank Him and praise Him!  

Someone wrote and said to me that there is suffering in the waiting.....that sometimes the waiting is as hard as what we are walking through.

I've thought a lot about that.  There's certainly a big truth in that statement.  The waiting to see what's next, what God has in store for us, how this journey will end, is intense.  It is it's own kind of suffering.  There's no control, no way to plan for what's ahead, no lessening of the pressure.......all you can do is wait!  You feel stuck in a kind of limbo.

As I was praying about this, I also thought of a different kind of waiting......or maybe a different aspect of it.  I thought of choosing to be still in His presence, and waiting patiently for Him to act.  Out of need, of necessity, I've learned a lot about being still during all these months.  Many days when all strength was used up, I had no choice but to be still.  On other days I simply chose to be still before Him because I needed to quieten my own heart.

We need time in His presence, in the stillness, for Him to minister to us what we need.  I sometimes get impatient.  I want to move on.  I want to get things done.  And I definitely want this journey to end.

But I'm learning.  I'm learning about waiting patiently for Him.  It's part of trusting Him.  One song says "beyond our understanding, you're teaching us to trust."  I don't have all the lessons down yet, but they're working their way deeper into my heart.  And He brings comfort, grace, hope, strength, and peace as I wait.

Yes, there's suffering in the waiting - but there's also the invaluable lessons that come through waiting that can't be learned any other way.  He hears each prayer I whisper, even if I don't see or understand the answers yet.  And the more I wait in His presence, the more I hear His whispers back to me.

"Be still and know that I am God."  Psalm 46:10

Our Unexpected Journey

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When Floyd and I were praying about moving to South Africa, one of the pieces of the puzzle for our future direction was hearing about a prophetic word that had been spoken about Cape Town for decades.  The word was that God wanted to send a move of His Spirit "from Cape to Cairo" - impacting the continent of Africa.  We knew we wanted to be in Cape Town to pray and believe for that to happen.  It was consistent with what was on our hearts - to see revival break out over this continent with tens of thousands coming to know Him.

Since we first heard of this word, Floyd has carried it in his heart personally - asking and believing to see it fulfilled in our lifetime.  Believers have come together to pray for this word to be fulfilled by having "40 Days of Worship."  The theme is to praise and worship the Lord and believe that that worship will spread to the nations of Africa.  Earlier this year there was a national day of prayer with over a million believers joining together in a field in the middle of South Africa......asking God to come and heal our land.  Worshipping Him is a natural follow up!

It began this past Sunday, Sept. 24 and will go through Friday, Nov. 3.  We trust that many of you will join us in worshipping God for His goodness, His faithfulness, and His desire that all may come to know Him on this wonderful continent?!  

I've asked the Lord what part I can play in this, and His answer was simple.  Just set aside time to worship each of these 40 days.  Even though I'm still feeling very weak, I can do that!  I'm also endeavoring to have someone with Floyd each of these 40 days to worship with him.

Please join us - even if only for a few minutes each day.  I am excited about what God will do as we humbly worship Him.  Our primary purpose in life is to praise and worship our wonderful Father.  May these days of worship release what God has for Cape Town, for South Africa, for the nations of Africa, and to the rest of the world!

"Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago."  Isaiah 25:1

"Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!"  Psalm 150:6

"All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name."  Psalm 86:9

"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

"Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, 'The Lord reigns!'"  1 Chronicles 16:31

There is SO much to praise Him for!  40 days won't be long enough.

This past weekend has been a holiday in South Africa.  It's called "heritage day."  That word heritage has stuck in my mind, and made me think of Psalm 16:6  - "I have a goodly heritage."

I have been thinking about our "goodly heritage."  I'm very grateful for what has been deposited into our lives down through the years from our family, our friends, and our leaders.  The things God has deposited in our lives from our "goodly heritage" have prepared us to walk on this unexpected journey!  We have much to be thankful for.  

Monday was day 2 of the 40 days of worship over Cape Town, so when I went to be with Floyd I played worship music for him and sang to the Lord.  I thanked the Lord for our "goodly heritage" and for His faithfulness all these months.  I have a sense that this time of worship is important.  I'm praying we'll see God move in special ways during the 40 days.

Right after David mentions his "goodly heritage," he says "I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.  I keep my eyes always on the Lord.  With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken."  Psalm 16:7,8

He finishes off the chapter by saying, "You fill me with joy in your presence."  Psalm 16:11  

Our heritage in Him includes His counsel, His helping us to not be shaken, and His joy!  What a truly "goodly heritage" we have!  I couldn't have made it all these months without it!  I can't help but worship Him.

Our Unexpected Journey

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The last few days my heart has been troubled about a couple things.  In both situations, I want to see change, answers.  But there's nothing I can do.  Because of my concern, and because of the need - I want to be able to "do" something.  It's hard because the troubling situations weigh heavily on my heart.

Someone wrote and told me about a message they heard called "Catch the Wind."  The theme of the message was that we can row our boat through life, or we can raise the sails and catch the wind.......His Spirit. It's hard not to row like crazy (doing something!) instead of waiting for the wind!  But if we raise our sails and catch that wind at the right time, it's certainly a lot easier!  

As soon as I read this, I knew the Lord was speaking to me.  I'm now casting my burdens, the things I'm troubled about, on the Lord, and waiting for the wind to come!  I know God has answers, and that His timing is perfect.  I know this in my heart - it's just hard sometimes to be still and wait!  I'm waiting for the wind of His Spirit!

I was able to see Floyd again over the last weekend.  While I was in the hall putting on the protective gear we wear to keep from taking germs in to him, he already saw me and smiled real big. :)  It was very sweet and tender to be with him again.  We keep praying for grace, courage, and the sweet fellowship of the Spirit to be with him.

"I am laid low; preserve my life according to your word........My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word......Give me understanding, so that I may....obey with all my heart.......Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope.  My comfort in my suffering is this: your promise preserves my life."  Psalm 119:25, 28, 34, 49-50

His word always brings help and truth, and revives us day by day!

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

On hard days, I run to tuck myself under His wings where I'm safe!

This has been a long journey.  I'm so glad God doesn't get weary like me.  And He never gets tired of my asking for help!  How faithful He is.

This week as I’ve pondered these long months of pur journey, I have once again been overwhelmed at the massive wave of prayer that God unleashed.  It went from sharing with family and a few friends to thousands overnight!  Only God could have put that prayer burden on so many hearts.

I have also been impressed afresh that this unleashing of prayer has so much more to do with things on God's heart than just healing Floyd.  Floyd's illness was a catalyst to something much bigger and greater that is on God's heart to see happen.  I don't fully understand it, but I know in the depths of my being once more that God is at work and He's doing something very special through all these prayers.  He is at work in our midst!

The sweet messages, the "words," the dreams, the impressions, the scriptures - such a common thread of God's heart, and that He wants to do something among His children.  I feel humbled and privileged to be part of it.

I’m so grateful for all those praying for Floyd, for me, for our family.  We are all so very grateful.  The undergirding of prayer has carried us through all these long months.  We wait for the "wind of His Spirit" to see what all He still plans for Floyd and for us.

"The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."  James 5:16

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

"You will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you."  Jeremiah 29:12

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

Our Unexpected Journey

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At the moment, I've been thinking about so many things that I'm thankful for - and so many things that I'm lifting up to Him in prayer.  I'd like to share some of those.

Things I'm so grateful for:

-  I was finally able to go see Floyd on Sunday. :)  I've been trying to build my energy, and get enough strength for this - but it's been hard while I'm recovering!  Sunday is always a quiet day at the hospital, so I knew it would take less energy than normal.  It was such a precious time.  There were smiles, tears, and lots of "blinks" from Floyd communicating agreement with what I was saying.  My heart is filled with gratitude for this sweet reunion.

- I'm very grateful that the Lord kept Floyd's condition "steady" while I was going through such a hard time from the chemo.  It brought such peace to my heart while I was weak to know that Floyd was doing okay. I know it was an answer to prayer.

- I'm very grateful to be on the other side of the recent very horrible chemo treatment.  There were some frightening moments when I wondered if I would make it through.  Now that I'm able to eat, that the side effects are slowly going away, and that I'm getting some new strength - all I can do is say "thank you Lord!"

Things I'm praying for:

-  for continued grace and courage for Floyd for however much longer this journey continues

-  for protection for Floyd, me, our family, and All Nations against any attacks of the enemy

-  for breakthroughs for Floyd, whatever plans and purposes God has, be it healing or heaven

-  for healing, fresh strength, and renewed health for me as I recover

-  for wisdom from the Lord about many decisions ahead of me

-  for grace to persevere

-  for strength for all our hearts to keep pressing in to Him in the place of prayer

Someone was reminding me recently about George Muller who lived a life of fervent prayer.  When he died, he had 50,000 documented answers to prayer!  5000 of those were answered on the day he prayed for them - which means that 90% of the time he had to keep praying and waiting!  Sound familiar?  He prayed for 63 years for one man to come to Christ before he did so.

George Muller said "don't let yesterday's seemingly unanswered prayers stop you from praying in faith today."  I know my place is to keep praying, trusting, and waiting until God can be most glorified with bringing the answers.

And, in the meantime, I want to have a heart filled with gratitude for what's He's doing all around me!

"We ought to pray and not to faint."  Luke 18:1

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

"You will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you." Jeremiah 29:12

"I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer."  Psalm 17:6

"Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up."  Luke 18:1

"Never stop praying."  1 Thessalonians 5:17

Being with Floyd this week took my mind back over the journey we've been on.  We've seen so many answers to prayer!  I'm so grateful for every one of them.  I purpose in my heart to keep my eyes on Him, my heart full of trust towards Him, as I keep lifting up the needs we still have to Him in the place of prayer.  He is faithful! 

There's another lesson that I've been learning over the course of this journey.  When going through a hard time, the things that we are dealing with are "front and center."  It's what's happening, what we're having to cope with, so it's natural that our focus is on them.  But therein lies a trap of the enemy if we aren't careful!

The enemy wants us to focus on the problems - our pain, our weakness, our sorrow, our loneliness.  God wants us to keep our focus on HIM in the midst of all these problems.  When we keep our eyes on Him, it puts the problems in the proper perspective.

Someone sent me this definition of FEAR - false evidence appearing real!

If we focus on the problems, it's so easy for fear to creep in.  Before we know it, the problems and the resulting fear can overwhelm our trust in the Lord.  

In the midst of hard, very difficult days I have to constantly remind myself to keep my focus on Him, His goodness, His answers, His grace, His sufficiency, His strength.......instead of focusing on the problems.  I have to choose my perspective!  I never "conquer" doing this.  It's something I have to do in the midst of each new difficulty and hard time.  His grace for the problems is sufficient - one day at a time.

I have some large windows - some of them high off the ground.  I have someone that helps me clean them.  I get nervous just watching him climb the ladder!!  But this helper has been away on holiday.  We've had lots of windy/rainy/stormy weather.  So my windows are dirty, streaky, and spotted.  My view through the windows is a lovely one - the ocean, trees, mountains.  But right now, if I'm not careful, all I see is the mess on the windows!  I have to look beyond that to see the beauty.

So it is in life, we must look beyond all the problems we're facing and see the beauty of Jesus who is greater than the problems.  When we keep our eyes, our focus on Him - it invites Him into our situation!  He enters in to help and strengthen us.  He enables us to have joy even on the hardest of days.  How faithful He is.

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

"In all their suffering He also suffered, and He personally rescued them. In His love and mercy He redeemed them.  He lifted them up and carried them through all the years."  Isaiah 63:9

"The Lord stood at my side and gave me strength."  2 Timothy 4:17

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

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

I'm so grateful that He helps us through life's difficulties each day.  He never grows weary of stepping into our lives and helping us.  Thank you Lord!

Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd has had some good days this week.  He's had some lovely visits with the Care Team, and his condition continues to be steady.  After all the ups and downs he's had, this is such a wonderful blessing and answer to prayer.  But he has also had some days where he has seemed very tired and a bit down.  I can't even begin to imagine how hard it's been for him to endure all these months.  We continue to pray for fresh grace and courage for him!

I've sensed the Lord with me and answering prayers for me this week too.  The last few weeks have been so, so hard.  I feel like I've scraped the bottom of the bottom physically.  Some of this, I think, is from the accumulated stress of the last 18 months, and then also from all I've been through in recent months with treatment - chemo, surgery, complications, another surgery, new chemo.  My body has just worn out. 

I had an appointment with my oncologist a few days ago.  As we talked, we agreed that I need to stop all treatment and work on rebuilding my health and strength.  I'm not strong enough at the moment to endure any more of these harsh treatments.  Once we made this decision - which is what I had felt the Lord had already been saying to me - I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off of me.  I've been filled with peace.  So I'm starting the process of rebuilding! 

As I've been thinking and praying through my decisions, someone sent me a song by Juanita du Plessis called "Four Days Late."  It’s about the story or Lazarus being raised from the dead.

So very many have prayed with and for us on this journey we're on, I’m so grateful!  And I know some have wondered why we haven't seen answers to some of those prayers.  I can understand.  There have been times when I've asked the Lord what He's up to?  Why have some prayers been answered and not others?  Why the long wait? 

On this journey, and especially in recent days when my own strength has gone to rock bottom, I've had lots of long talks with the Lord.  The bottom line from all this is that my complete and absolute trust in Him has amazingly grown deeper.  I have felt His sweet assurance that He is at work.  I don't have His perspective to see everything, but He has not for one second abandoned us.  He is working fervently on our behalf, and there are things yet to be seen of what He is doing.

As I listened to this song, I realized afresh that "He's NEVER late."  We may think so, but He's not!!!  He has plans and purposes that we can't see.  But we can keep asking and trusting!!  The enemy thinks he wins if we don't get our answers.......but God wins when we keep affirming our 100% trust in Him.  As we do that, our fellowship with Him grows deeper and deeper.....and oh how He longs for that deeper fellowship with us.  His Father heart opens His arms wide to us!  He uses the waiting time to love us, teach us, and draw us to Himself.  He's never in a hurry, but He's always on time!

I don't know what's ahead.  I've gone lower than I thought I could go physically in recent weeks, but He has constantly been by my side.  He has held my hand.  He has whispered encouragement.  He has reminded me that He is working on my behalf in ways I can't see.  My weakness has been very clear.......but His faithfulness has been even clearer.  

"These trials will show that your faith is genuine.  It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold - though your faith is far more precious than mere gold.  So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed."  I Peter 1:7

"God, your name is eternal; God, you'll never be out-of-date."  Psalm 135:13  The Message

" '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

"Do not fret......trust in the Lord.....take delight in the Lord.....commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this.....Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him."  Psalm 37:1-7

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

"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."  Hebrews 11:1

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him."  Romans 8:28

We can keep trusting Him - pressing in in the place of prayer.  "God has perfect timing; never early, never late.  It takes a little patience, and it takes a lot of faith, but it's worth the wait."

I look forward to His perfect timing in things He has planned for us on this journey.  I don't know all the answers He has, but I trust Him.

While I’ve been working on gaining strength and energy, and rebuilding my health (even while I'm battling some of the lingering side effects of the recent chemo), my mind is thinking of many things I want to do, but my body is saying not yet. :)  

When I feel frustrated about that, the Lord has shown me something that has been very helpful… to make a gratitude list on the hard days.  I tell Him what I'm thankful for.  I often do it in my mind if I'm too weak to speak it out or write it down.  I start with simple, every day things:

- thank you Lord that I'm alive and breathing

- thank you for my husband of 50 years

- thank you for my children, my son-in-law, my grandkids, my extended family

- thank you for the dear friends who are helping to care for me while I'm sick

- thank you for our home

You get the idea!  The list goes on and on!  It doesn't have to be big things - the Lord loves it when we express our gratitude for the simple, every day things!  They all come from His loving hand.

The communication of our gratitude to Him is wonderful!  But the amazing thing that happens when we do that is that it releases joy!!  The simple act of expressing thankfulness triggers a flow of joy from His heart back to us.  I was amazed on days when I was too weak to hardly move off the bed......as I expressed my gratitude to Him, the room filled with His presence and joy.  Such a gift - especially in my weakness!  I felt encouraged and lifted by His joy.

"In every thing give thanks."  1 Thessalonians 5:18

"Through Him let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise."  Hebrews 13:15

"Don't be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!"  Nehemiah 8:10

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

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him."  Romans 15:13

"Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away."  Isaiah 35:10b

In our hardest moments, there is still so very much to be thankful for. And I love how He turns our thanks to Him into joy back to our hearts!  What a wonderful God He is!

Our Unexpected Journey

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I have continued to be radically impacted by the last round of chemo.  Even though it’s slowly getting better there are still certain side effects that just won’t go away.  The doctor thinks my body's immune system is so low that it's just not able to fight.  I'm working to build myself up again.

While doing my exercise walking this week, I was thanking the Lord for how faithful He's been.  The last few weeks of recovery have been so very, very hard.  I've been "dismayed" at times.  But God has stayed close and helped me through them.  I am so grateful that He's held my hand, and for the prayers of those around the world that are ‘carrying’ me!

I'v been blessed by many encouraging messages I've received about my "strength."  But I have to tell you that I feel so incredibly weak.  I read the messages, and wonder who they are talking about. :)  I don't feel strong.  But I know the Word tells us that "His power will be made perfect in weakness."  2 Corinthians 12:9.  I trust and pray for that when I feel so very weak.

In the midst of these difficult times - when I feel so weak – the Lord has taught me to remind myself of who He is, and to call to mind the promises in His word.  I remind myself that He is my refuge!  And I continually speak out "I trust you Lord."  There is power in that, and it blocks the way for the enemy to get in.  The power of those simple words dispels darkness and heaviness.  

If I'm too weak and I can't say it out loud, I just whisper it or even think it in my mind.  "I trust you Lord.  I trust you Lord."  I say it repeatedly.  I've found it to be a powerful spiritual "tool" that the Lord has placed in my hands to get through hard days.  

One of His promises is that He'll never give us "too" much - never more than we can bear.  I remind Him of that, and tell Him I know I can trust Him in that promise.  It's a wonderful reassurance to me.

"The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms."  Deuteronomy 33:27

"For who is God besides the Lord?  And who is the Rock except our God?  It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.  He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; He enables me to stand on the heights."  2 Samuel 22:32-34

"Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me."  Psalm 54:4

"He is my mighty rock, my refuge.  Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge."  Psalm 62:7-8

"But the Lord has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge."  Psalm 94:22

The Word is filled to the brim with promises of His goodness and faithfulness.  He never leaves us - He continually holds our right hand - we are safe in His shadow.  I know I'm weak, but I also know He is strong and will help me!

Floyd is doing good.  He seems to be hanging steady.  The most often reported thing from all the carers is that he smiles a lot, and that there is a sense of peace in his room.  That always warms my heart to hear.

He had a very special visit with a long term friend from the U.S. who came in for just a few days.  He and Floyd had a sweet time of reminiscing and sharing.  It was so lovely that he could come see Floyd.  

One of the nurses told the carers recently that she had a clear dream about Floyd.  He was wearing a suit and holding a Bible.  She thought it was a sign that he is going to get well, and wanted to tell us to keep praying.  If it's a sign or not, I don't know.  But it did warm my heart to hear how much the staff at the hospital love and care for Floyd......and even dream about him. :)  I'm so grateful for this blessing.

We're still in winter here in South Africa.  I was looking out at the mountains recently, and saw huge sections of bright yellow flowers - in the midst of the rain and cold of winter!  It reminded me that there is beauty in every season!  Sometimes we have to look a little harder to see it, open our eyes to see it, but it's there.  I love that about how God does things.

"To every thing there is a season....He hath made everything beautiful in His time..."  Ecclesiastes 3

"But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you.  Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?  In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind."  Job 12:7-10

"Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it.  Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy."  Psalm 96: 11 & 12

"The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of His unfailing love."  Psalm 33:5

Thank you, Lord, for surrounding us with your beauty, with testimonies to your awesome power and faithfulness, and with reminders of how much you love and care for us.

Our Unexpected Journey

Floyd 28.png

I have been so so grateful for the prayers on behalf of Floyd and me during this unexpected journey.  I'm especially grateful that those prayers have been lifting my weak hands in recent days. 

A few days ago I was lower than low.  The side effects from this round of chemo had beaten me down.  I felt I was battling to survive.  Someone sent me Proverbs 14:26  "In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence; and His children shall have a place of refuge.  The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death."

I'm so grateful that our trust in Him, our "fear of the Lord" is our refuge!

I've been reading a devotional on joy.  In the midst of these hard days, I have felt the Lord reminding me over and over to look for His joy.  I have to say that in the midst of these hard, painful days - "joy" isn't the first thing that comes to my mind!!  And yet I felt Him continually reminding me that His joy is my strength, and that it's always with me.

I started seeing that in the hardest, darkest of moments - there were glimmers, little streaks of His joy.  I began to pull them into my heart, to treasure them there while claiming His strength.  The little glimmers carried me through until I could see brighter rays.

Some of the little glimmers that carried me through:

- In His presence there is fullness of joy.  Psalm 16:11

- He never leaves us, never forsakes us.  Hebrews 13:5

- His strength is made perfect in our weakness.  2 Corinthians 12:9

- He continually holds our right hand.  Isaiah 41:13, one of many verses - and He doesn't let go!  He holds on in good times and bad times.

-  He has angels watching over us.  Psalm 91:11

Then there were other more tangible glimmers:

- The smiles and prayers of dear friends who were helping me, caring for me.

- The warm sunshine flooding in the window.

- The calls and songs of birds outside.

- The continual sound of the ocean waves, never ceasing, like His love for me.

- Worship songs that remind me of who God is, how great He is.

Any one of these "glimmers" of joy is special!  But as I treasured them altogether and let them grow in my heart, my joy grew too......my strength started returning......I could smile again......I could speak again (I’ve had such painful mouth sores which got so bad that I was writing notes to communicate).  Truly He helped me see, discover joy in unexpected and hard places.

I've learned a new lesson.  His joy is always there if I look.  It may be just a tiny glimmer, but He'll give me eyes to see His joy during the hardest of hard moments.

On Floyd's side - he has been smiling, peaceful, and the chest congestion/phlegm is a bit less.  This week one of the carers had the most precious time of prayer with Floyd.  As the carer shared it with me, I could just sense the presence of the Lord that had been with them.  There were so many tears that one of the nurses stepped in to see if everything was okay.  It was very okay - God's hand was present and touching their hearts!  It was so encouraging to me.

I have missed Floyd very much during these very hard days.  In some ways I felt I've been at a new point of "oneness" with Floyd because of the level of suffering - although his is so much greater.  But I so long to see Floyd released from this long season.  We continue to lift up our prayers to God, and trust Him for His conclusion to this long journey.

I know only too well how easy it is to get weary, or simply complacent, in the place of prayer after such a long time.  It can be disheartening when we don't see specific prayers answered.  But the journey we're on together isn't over.  God is still at work!  And we continue to keep praying and pressing in.

In recent days some things have happened to remind us how important it is to keep praying for protection against the enemy, and asking the Lord to put a shield around us.  We can't let our guard down.  The enemy would love to sneak in.  The waves of prayer that have been unleashed in the last 18 months have been accomplishing great things in the heavenly realm.  I think the enemy is fighting back.  We pray for protection against the attacks (in any form) of the enemy.  We pray for warring angels to defeat the plans of the enemy.  We pray for all of God's plans and purposes for this unexpected journey to be fulfilled and accomplished.  We pray for healing or heaven for Floyd.  We pray for healing, fresh strength, and renewed health for me.  We pray for grace and strength for our whole family.  We pray for all of us to be energized afresh in the place of prayer.

Prayer is mighty.  It's a weapon of spiritual warfare against the enemy.  As we storm the gates of heaven in the place of prayer, we can ask God to move in powerful ways!

" 'No weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgement.  This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me,' declares the Lord."  Isaiah 54:17

"Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you."  Jeremiah 29:12

God is faithful and sure, and He has the victory!

Our Unexpected Journey

Last week was Floyd's birthday.  He's 72 years old.  This special day got me thinking of how grateful I am for the spiritual history we've been part of.  I think the seeds of things that have happened in our lives were planted many years ago through the prayers of our godly parents. They loved us, prayed for us, and mentored us in the ways of God.  We wouldn't be who we are today without their input.  They modeled God in our lives.  They shared their experiences with God, and, in so doing, created for us a "godly heritage."  Thank you Floyd Sr., Enetha, and Memaw (my mother)!

I wasn't able to see Floyd on his birthday because of my chemo recovery, but I celebrate his life!  We have much to be thankful for.

He had a sweet day.  The nurses sang to him, and put balloons on his bed.  A friend sent a passage of scripture that brought tears to his eyes when it was read to him.  Another dear friend paid him tribute that night, and they cried together.  Other friends spent time with him through the day.

There is still congestion in his chest (with accompanying phlegm), but the nurses are working to manage it.  He looks good, and he's at peace.

"Train up a child in the way he should go (teaching him to seek God's wisdom and will for his abilities and talents).  Even when he is old he will not depart from it."  Proverbs 22:6

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home, and when you walk along the road, when you lie down, and when you get up."  Deuteronomy 6:5-7

As I celebrate Floyd's life, my heart is also full of gratitude for the wonderful spiritual heritage we have been given.  May God help us to faithfully follow the example of those who have gone before us.

In recent days my grandmother's heart has been tenderly warmed by my granddaughter doing a summer missions outreach.  She's almost exactly the same age as when I did my first "summer of service" many years ago. :)  I love seeing history repeat itself in this way.

Floyd would be blessed by that too.  Only after we made plans to be married did I find out that he anonymously paid quite a bit of my outreach fees!!  He was a sweetheart even before I knew he'd be my sweetheart! :)  God was already starting the intertwining of our lives.

My birthday was just two days after Floyd’s. :)  I'm 69.  Some sweet friends visited me with balloons, snacks, and tulips.  They sang "happy birthday" to me.....we had a sweet visit.....and they prayed for me.  And one of them massaged my numb feet as we talked!!  That was a lovely "gift."

I like to express my heart in simple poems.  I've been writing one for my birthday, and I thought I'd share it with you.

I Wonder as I Wander

I wonder as I wander

On this unexpected way.

I wonder what is still ahead,

And what will fill my day.


I never planned to come this way -

This path is so unknown.

The twists and turns go on and on.

They’re not what I thought God had shown.


Our “golden years” were just ahead, 

And we planned to slow the pace.

Instead a whole new course we’re on,

And we’re in a much different race.


I wonder what is still ahead -

I wonder what the end will be.

I wonder what God has in store –

I wonder what He has for me.


I’ve not been one to wander,

As the years have all gone by.

There’s always been a plan He’s shown,

And I’ve never questioned why.


I’ve followed each path where He’s led,

All over the wide world;

And looked to Him to fulfill what He’d said,

When I was a young girl.


I even felt at that young age 

That someday I’d live here;

But I would have never dreamed 

That this journey would be so severe.


I wonder as I wander what is still ahead.

Then I hear, as I listen to His sweet voice,

To keep trusting and holding His hand

As He shows day by day His choice.  


I do wonder, as I walk along this journey, what is ahead.  I have no idea where this journey will still take us.  I have no idea how much longer it will be.  Sometimes that is hard.  But I'm so grateful He lovingly keeps assuring me to take it one-day-at-a-time and keep holding His hand. How faithful He is!

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

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

"To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy."  Jude 24

"The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still."  Exodus 14:14

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

I'm resting in His shadow.  His word is full, full, full of assurances that "we're gonna be okay" if we stay tucked in close to Him and keep holding His hand!

My progression through this round of chemo has been rough.  In the beginning I did fairly okay some of the time - nauseous and shaking some of the time.  Then as time has gone on I've been quite ill on a number of levels from the side effects.  It has been very debilitating.  The nausea is awful, the weakness from everything is quite overwhelming, and the mouth sores are really terrible.  I'm treating them, but they are so painful.  It makes eating and drinking very hard.

My doctor said I had an unusual number and combination of side effects.  In talking with her this week, we decided to delay the next round of chemo.  I'll see her in the meantime, and we'll reassess everything afresh.  I'm anticipating that we need to make some adjustments to my treatment.

I realized what a "gift" my birthday was from the Lord, in that it was a "good" day - because it's been very, very rough since then.  I've been battling on almost every level. 

As I've had these very hard days - the hardest round of chemo I've had, I've thanked the Lord that there are dear ones praying for me.  I so, so need that right now.  It is truly holding up my weak arms.

Someone sent me this acronym for August:

A - ask

U - until

G - God

U - unveils

S - something

T - tangible

I think that's a really good way to pray!  I'm asking for some specific, tangible answers to prayer in the coming days of August.

"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."  Matthew 7:7

"Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress.  He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed."  Psalm 107:28-30

As I've been so low physically that it seems hard to even reach out to the Lord,  I have read in my devotional that just the effort of reaching out to Him, even in weakness, pleases Him.  And, wonder of wonders, He will always be found by us when we reach out to Him, no matter how weak we are! Thank you Lord.

" 'You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,' declares the Lord."  Jeremiah 29:13, 14

Our Unexpected Journey

Floyd is doing well.  He's at peace, and the phlegm/congestion he struggles with hasn't been bad. 

As we pray for miracles still, I've had the marvelous thought that I've had a "miracle" in how God has carried me over these many months and through the various trials.  He has been so faithful.  When I look back, it's amazing all that He has brought me through!

Last week I quoted Corrie ten Boom:  "if God sends us on stony paths, He provides us with strong shoes."  Someone sent me this verse from Job 29:6 in response:

"When my path was drenched with cream, and the rock poured out for me streams of olive oil."

I've been grateful that He is pouring forth the balm I need on this new path and journey.  It hasn't been the most difficult few days after the chemo treatment that it could be, but still lots of nausea, shakes, weakness, racing heart, hot/cold flushes, and difficulty eating.  One thing that is particularly bad is the neuropathy in my feet.  I really need prayer for all these things and am so grateful to know that so many are lifting Floyd and I up in prayer.

I read a quote this week - "Trust is not a once-in-a-lifetime decision, but a choice made within each moment."  I am choosing that trust in Almighty God each moment - knowing that He can keep carrying me on this rocky path even as He's done in the past!

"Lift up your eyes to the heavens....My salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail."  Isaiah 51:6

How awesome and faithful He is! 

Hard to believe we're almost 2/3 of the way through this year already.  It has flown by!  I'm actually hoping the next 6 months of chemo treatment fly by for me.

A friend wrote me recently about the passage in Mark 9:49 where Jesus says,  "Everyone will be salted with fire."  He said it occurred to him that the fiery trials we go through actually make us more "salty" and ultimately more effective for the Kingdom.

I'm trying to come through this chemo fire more "salty" and closer to Him.  Trusting God to help me in these days when the fire is raging.

"I pray that out of His glorious riches He may  strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith."  Ephesians 3:16,17

"Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord."  Psalm 31:24

"We should hold fast to the confession of our hope, unwavering; for the One having promised is faithful."  Hebrews 10:23

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it."  John 1:5

The truth, strength, and promises of His word are without measure!  We have solid ground to stand on while the fires rage around us.

"God's story never ends in ashes."  Elizabeth Elliott.  I don't know what's still ahead on this unexpected journey with it's "fires," but I know God has beautiful things in store for us.