WHEN YOUR LIFE SKIDS TO A HALT WITH NO WARNING…

I FOLLOWED THIS CAR INTO THE HOSPITAL PARKING LOT ONE MORNING!

Twenty-three days ago, our lives came to an abrupt stop. Figuratively speaking, we skidded to a halt with burn marks on the tarmac!

We had been camping in Elands Bay at the Vensterklip Caravan Park along the West Coast of South Africa approximately 220kms from our home town, Cape Town. A truly beautiful place. My husband had complained of a headache for a couple of days prior to this and on the 1st May he woke up vomiting, with a high temperature and suffering from an excruciating headache.
Our daughters and I broke camp, hooked up the caravan and drove back to Cape Town. It was a public holiday and no clinics or doctor’s rooms were open locally.

We arrived in Cape Town three hours later and I took Steve to the Emergency Room at our local hospital.
We waited eight minutes and then he was taken into an examination room. As he lay down on the bed he had a violent seizure – broke his watch, bit his lip open and almost gave the doctor a black eye. They put a drip up which he promptly ripped out and I sat and held his hands for the next hour to prevent him ripping the second drip out and taking off the oxygen mask. An hour later they did a CT scan and a lumbar puncture.
The doctor came into the room we were in and told us that the CT scan showed Steve may have a brain tumour and they suspected he also had meningitis. He then left the room!

Steve turned to me and said, “That’s quite scary” and the first words out of my mouth were “He is a good, good God. That’s who He is. And we are loved by Him, that’s who we are”.
No-one could have been more shocked then me to hear those words come out my mouth.

I had just been told that my best friend of 26 years, my soul mate, my husband, the father of my children may have a brain tumour and all I could say was “He is a good, good God”

It was in that moment that Philippians 1:6 became a reality in my life “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
My faith and belief in Jesus Christ was no longer based on feelings but on the Word of God.
God’s Word was finally beginning to take root in my life and become a reality “Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:7). I knew in that moment that my God, Steve’s God “would never leave us or forsake us” (Hebrews 13:5)

We decided not to mention the possibility of a tumour until the diagnosis was confirmed, and our daughters and family informed, but I immediately sent out prayer requests worldwide for healing for Steve for meningitis.

Later that day, Steve was admitted into a hospital ward where he would spend the next 13 days. The following day he had a MRI scan and on Wednesday we were given the news that Steve did not have a tumour or meningitis but was in fact suffering from a viral form of encephalitis – the right temporal part of his brain was totally inflamed. This resulted in him being confused and forgetful those first few days. The neurologist later informed us that even with all our modern medicine there is still a 20% mortality rate for people suffering from encephalitis.

A week after being admitted into hospital a second MRI scan was performed and this showed that the brain had increased in swelling despite the intravenous antivirals he had been on. His hands and arms were bruised and swollen because every two days they had to move the drip because the medication caused his tissues to swell. He also received a daily injection in the stomach to prevent blood clots forming and was on intravenous pain medication.

As a result of the second MRI, Steve was given a daily dose of intravenous cortisone (along with the antivirals) for three days. His response to the cortisone was miraculous. Almost overnight his memory stabilized and he knew what had happened to him and where he was.
He was discharged after 13 days. His recovery will be long – he is weak and tired and will be off work for a month and then will only be able to go back on a part time basis initially. He isn’t allowed to drive for a month and will remain on anti-seizure tablets for six months. He has lost 10 kilos in three weeks because of a drug induced hepatitis which is affecting his liver which in turn leaves him with no appetite.

His staff have been amazing and they have continued to run the business, with no input from him, and are doing a wonderful job. A lot of the staff are praying people and we thank God for them.

My heart is overwhelmed with thankfulness.

I thank God that when Steve had his seizure, he was in hospital surrounded by medical staff.
I praise God for the couple who came and prayed with us whilst we were still in the emergency room and who visited faithfully every day whilst Steve was in hospital.
I am thankful for the men of God who anointed Steve with oil and prayed for him.
I am thankful for all the meals and lifts provided and the gifts given.
I praise God for a picture I will always carry in my mind of three of Steve’s staff members surrounding his hospital bed, two holding his hands and one putting his hands-on Steve’s head and praying God’s healing and restoration into his mind and body. What a precious memory.
I thank God for the wisdom, empathy, and wonderful sense of humour both his physician and neurologist blessed us with.
I thank God for the men at ROTOP who have encouraged us with their prayers and messages.
I thank God that He heard and honoured the prayers of His people who were praying, interceding, and standing in the gap for us.
I also thank God for our family and especially our three daughters – their love, support and humour are such a blessing.
My thankfulness knows no bounds that Steve’s mind has been restored fully and he will suffer no long-term consequences.

And I thank God for this “gift of time” this “enforced rest” – this time to re-evaluate our lives and spend time in Him.

“We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

I believe, in time, we will be thanking God for this interruption!

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FOR THOSE WHO ARE DISCOURAGED…dreams do come true, miracles still happen

One of the main desires of my heart is to write.

I completed my first book when I was 43 years old. I believed with all my heart the promise God made us in Psalm 37, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him and He will do this”.

A few years prior to me writing the book I had been given a prophecy that God would indeed give me the desire of my heart to write and this was confirmed in Jeremiah 30:2 “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says:  ‘Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you’”.

 I had covered all the bases – I had prayed about the book, someone had confirmed it with a prophesy which was then followed up by a scripture verse and the book itself is very scriptural.  In fact, a friend of mine who read the manuscript before I submitted it for publication had this to say “Noel, it would be a very good book if only it didn’t have so many scripture verses in it!” The title of the book was even based on Scripture – God’s Promise for Families.

 I truly believed and had absolute faith that the book would be accepted for publication.  I posted it off to three publishers – two of them never bothered to reply and the third one sent me a politely worded rejection letter.  To say I was devastated is an understatement.
I was totally shattered and my faith and trust in God’s faithfulness was shaken.  I spent days crying and weeks asking God why?

After a period of mourning and crying, I started working on the manuscript again.  I rewrote quite a few things and added some other things.  I spent a lot of time in prayer and reading the Gospel.
Six years later I submitted the book to a partner publisher in America and they accepted it.
In hindsight, if my book had been accepted the first time I submitted it, it would have been disastrous for myself and my family.
I would have taken all the credit and been insufferably proud.  I would never have coped at that time with the public speaking that goes hand in hand with advertising a book.
A lot of healing still had to be done in my life and issues from my past dealt with before my story was made public.

I needed those six years to grow in Him, to learn to rely solely on Him and to trust Him in all things. I have come to accept that God’s timing is always perfect and He will not give us our heart’s desires until we are equipped to deal with them.

In Psalm 107 the psalmist writes that the Lord “satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things”. He does not simply fill us, He fills us with good things.

In 2015 my second book All God’s Stones was published.

Never in my wildest dreams would I ever have believed that my books would be on the same bookshelf in book stores as Stormie Omartian, Angus Buchanan, Gary Chapman and one shelf below Joel Osteen and Karen Kingsbury OR placed next a book by Richard Bonhoeffer.  Authors whose books I have been reading for years.

When your dreams are not coming true and your heart’s desires are not being met reflect on these words by Oswald Chambers;

“If you have only come as far as asking God for things, you have never come to the point of understanding the least bit of what surrender really means…”

When your situation is not changing – your relationships are in turmoil, your children are hurting, there are no finances, you are not being healed…steep yourself in the study of God’s Word, meditate on it and pray until the vision of healing, restoration and promise are fulfilled.

“For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay.” (Habakkuk 2:3 NASB)
“But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, stedily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day!” (Habakkuk 2:3 LAB)

Click on http://godspromise.co.za/books.html to buy the books

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IS GOD SPITEFUL?

There is a story in the Bible about Jesus and a fig tree.

His unfairness towards this fig tree has always troubled me.

I don’t want to serve a God who makes fig trees die out of spite just because they don’t have fruit on them when He wants fruit.

The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.….In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots.  Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look!  The fig-tree you cursed has withered! “Have faith in God” Jesus answered” (Mark 11)

Working on the premise that God is a God of love and does not do things out of spite, I finally researched this portion of Scripture.

I, discovered that God often does or allows things that make no sense to us BUT there is always a purpose, based in love, for what happens to those of us who put our trust in Him.

Fig trees are a source of food in Israel and it takes three years from the time they are planted to when they bear fruit. The figs are harvested twice a year – in late Spring and early Autumn. It was early Spring when Jesus walked past this fruit tree and the leaves should only have been beginning to bud.  This tree, however, was full of leaves. Figs grow as the leaves grow and as there was no fruit it meant that the tree would not produce any fruit that year.

If we are not living in the fullness of God we are like that fig tree.  We are called to bear much fruit If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit” (John 15:5).

If we are not bearing fruit we are spiritually barren and we will wither and die.God warns us about this in Revelations 3:16:

“So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

 This tree symbolises God’s immense love for us, His desire that we live our lives to the fullest in Him.  It is a reminder that if we are not producing fruit we are dying.

So, the next time something happens that makes me doubt God’s love, I will reflect on the fig tree.  Either I am not bearing fruit or He has a wonderful plan that I am not privy to at this moment so I will just continue to do what Jesus said and “have faith in God”.

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MARRIAGE ADVICE FROM WINSTON AND CLEMENTINE CHURCHILL!

Mrs. Clementine Churchill, right, laughs heartily as British Prime Minister Winston Churchill talks at Chigwell, England, during his election campain, May 27, 1945. (AP Photo)

One of the best ways to prepare yourself for marriage is by studying married couples.  One couple that has always inspired me are the Churchill’s.

Sir Winston Churchill was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955.  He also won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953 and was the first of only eight people to be made an honorary citizen of the United States.

And yet, despite all these achievements, he maintained the following:

“My ability to persuade my wife to marry me was quite my most brilliant achievement…”

Churchill was born in Blenheim Castle in Oxfordshire and it was here that he proposed to Clementine. He said:

“At Blenheim I took two very important decisions: to be born and to marry.  I am content with the decision I took on both occasions”.

Judging by the divorce rate in the world today there are far too few husbands who echo those sentiments.

Pride in persuading their wife to marry them and a feeling of contentment in said marriage!

Winston and his wife, Clementine, were married for fifty-six years and had five children.    The couple stayed true to the marriage vows they took in 1908 “till death us do part” as their bond was only broken by Winston’s death in 1965.

In a letter that Winston penned to Clementine in 1935, twenty-seven years into their marriage, he said this:

Time passes swiftly, but is it not joyous to see how great and growing is the treasure we have gathered together, amid the storms and stresses of so many eventful and to millions tragic and terrible years?

They had lived through one World War and were on the brink of a second World War and yet he took pride in the fact that their marriage was a growing treasure.

They had some wonderful advice to give married couples.

His advice “If you are going through hell, keep going”.

(…suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character and character hope. – Romans 5:3,4)

Clementine’s advice was to feed your husband well and to write down anything that was contentious and hand it to the other person so that they could consider it before responding.  We, wives, could learn a lot from Clementine.

“If you find yourself in competition with men,” she said, “never become aggressive. She who forces her point may well lose her advantage. You will gain far more by quietly holding to your convictions. But even this must be done with art and above all with a sense of humour.”

(“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1)

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A HUGE COLLISION BETWEEN MAN AND GOD

The heart of salvation is the Cross of Christ.  The reason salvation is so easy to obtain is that it cost God so much. The Cross was the place where God and sinful man merged with a tremendous collision and where the way to life was opened.  But all the cost and pain of the collision was absorbed by the heart of God.  (Oswald Chambers)

How can we doubt God’s love?

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HE WILL SEE US THROUGH…

Jesus loved us enough to go through the agony at Gethsemane followed by the agony of hanging on a cross because He loved us then and He loves us now.
He knew then just how much we would sin, time and time again, but He still went through with God’s plan because He loves us.
Hold onto that thought when you feel you are not worthy and your world is in pain.

UNDER A JUNIPER TREE

SAM_0869

Whatever you may be going through at the moment, hold onto this promise from God:
“…He will deliver us. On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us…”

He will deliver us from our circumstances in His time.
“With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”

If it feels like He is taking His time and you just cannot continue:

  • living in the circumstances you are living in
  • staying in the relationship you are in
  • struggling with an addiction
  • crying because of the wrong choices and harmful behaviour of your children
  • mourning a loved one

Remember then these words:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them – your circumstances – for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

2 Cor 1:10…

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MY FAITH IS SO FICKLE

I have spent the past few weeks questioning God and being angry.

I have spent the past twenty years praying about something and not receiving any solution.

I have spent the past year and a half praying about something else, and am yet to receive an answer, and in the past few months I have had another prayer request that God may or may not answer as I have asked!

Faith is not a feeling – it is an act of our will.

In every situation and circumstance we need to pray ‘let your will be done, Lord’. And then we need to thank Him and trust that He does hear us. Often it will not be the outcome we want, at other times there will be no outcome and it is then, in that moment, that hour, that year even if our hearts are heavy, that we need to cling to Him through the despair.

“Faith is not intellectual understanding; faith is a deliberate commitment to the Person of Jesus Christ, even when I can’t see the way ahead.”  Oswald Chambers

It is in my darkest times that God speaks to me – I am coming to value these times of doubt and fear because these are the times that I am at my most vulnerable and open to hear from Him. I make Him a priority again, spend more time reading the Bible and praying and then realization dawns, once again, how fickle my faith really is.

Today I am resetting my priorities according to His will, yet again.

I am His dearly beloved child and as I repent and seek Him, He will reveal Himself to me in His time.

The painting above is titled ‘conversations unspoken’.  I found it poignant and a reflection of so many of us.

Conversations unspoken with the ones we love

Conversations unspoken with strangers

Conversations unspoken with God

A vast majority of us live in our own worlds, shrouded in fear and worry and silence…ignoring the words that Jesus spoke:

“”Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

““The LORD your God is in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”  (Zephaniah 3:17)

Just for today I will rest in the knowledge that it does not matter whether my prayers are answered or not it only matters that Jesus is. I will live the words of The Serenity Prayer:

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardship as the
pathway to peace.
Taking, as He did, this
sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it.
Trusting that He will make
all things right if I
surrender to His Will 

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