I apologize for not having all my Amazing Praises written out yet -- but this is hard to go back through so Iíve got to take it in small bits
Oh, what an amazing opportunity weíve had to grow in grace & truth . . . itís one thing to say that you trust, but itís another thing to be forced to trust (or not) when the world seems to be spinning out of control.
Over & over we received blessings large & small Ė and Iíd like to tell some of those stories here as a reminder to myself & as a testimony to others, that God is our refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms (Deut 33:27a).
If you reread the emails, you will see many of these praises in their context Ė how we were in turmoil and God breathed peace and comfort to our souls. So many blessings fell upon us that I do want them written out, recorded -- just as the Israelites set up altars as reminders of God's great goodness, so that we never forget how great is our God.
A very early blessing was the time of prayer shared between Rachael & I & Sandy & Brenda the night after the bone scan and before the hospitalization Ė when we knew things were very, very bad but we didnít know exactly what we were facing. We sat on the cool concrete of Rachaelís back porch and held each otherís hands and poured out our hearts to the Maker of Heaven and Earth who holds each of our lives in His loving hands. We begged for mercy, for healing, for strength, for wisdom, for spiritual steadfastness and growth. We praised Godís name as the all-knowing Author and personal Creator and trustworthy Lover of our souls. We thanked Him abundantly for our family & prayed for each family member repeatedly by name and with tears. We brought our requests to the Throne of Grace and we received an abundant measure of His mercy.
Looking back, I am ever so thankful that this experience was so bathed in prayer . . . from the very first we entrusted ourselves to God,
- through the emails we shared our requests and our hearts with the family of man & the family of God that loved us with His own love,
- gifting Mom with the prayer quilt - so that she was literally covered with prayer,
- our Sunday School classes praying as a group, individually and ever so earnestly in the Prayer Room at TBC when a group gathered together, around Rachael & I to shower us with their love & prayers
- Mom's own prayers were a continual crying out of "Oh, God, oh, God, oh, God" which sounded so odd at first but then one afternoon as I collapsed on the bed next to her bed in her room & internally cried out "oh, God, oh, God, oh, God" and realized that my prayers had been exactly the same as hers for nearly an entire year -- when I did not know what to say, what to ask for, I was relying upon God: "in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." Romans 8:26 & 27 - and then Dad & each of us kids & all of the grandkids prayed again, for each of those that would gather, as we stood in the parking lot at the church before the funeral. What a blessing that we could speak heart to heart with our God and Savior.
I learned that God speaks loud & clear in the parking lot of St. Francis hospital: on so many trips to the hospital or doctor I would take the time to pray as I drove, whether it was the hot summer nights when Mom had to return to the ER or the cold winter mornings when she was undergoing radiation to her brain. Mom was upset the first day that we took her St. Francis that it was ďtoo much,Ē and she couldnít do it. I told her clearly that the diagnosis was not only her, it was all of us & we all would do it together, that she would not have to do this alone.
Oh, what thanks I offer to God for a large, faithful, and willing-to-serve family! What an enormous, incredible blessing that my dad was able to be home for almost all of my momís year-long illness. It is nothing short of a miracle and many people participated in that miracle. Dad was gone for a month prior to Momís diagnosis but only had to return to work for about 3 months when Mom appeared to be improving. The critical first two months and last four months Dad was available to care for Mom 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That was so special. We are so thankful. He was so needed and he was so there. Before the diagnosis & in the few months Dad was gone, we needed help taking care of Mom & all the siblings pitched in. Oh, how great is our God that he would have given us this overwhelming opportunity to work together, to pray together, to encourage one another like never before.
One particular afternoon was fraught with such pain & turmoil that I cannot recount it - horrors to the eyes, horrors to the ears, horrors to my heart. And I prayed and I cried and God sent some of His very own alongside me, seen & unseen. A cousin who prayed aloud with me, hedging us around with protection. A call to the breaking hearts of my family speaking peace and love and comfort. Several different friends and acquaintances who, that day & the next, let me know that they had been reminded to pray for my family repeatedly over the course of that day. What an encouragement that is! To know that God stirs hearts to lift us in prayer, to hold us before His throne of grace & mercy. Thank you, Lord. And may I be ever-mindful of His stirring.
more to add: the haircut
the clear reminder to pray with Mom
praying Fri & Sat at sunset...
being able to comfort (2Cor) praying