Friday, October 14, 2016

Waiting on the Lord

Waiting on the Lord
Nancy Gardner

            In 2006 my husband and I were making a critical decision about our future.  He had already retired; I was to retire in six more years.  This was the year that my husband proposed a shocking idea for what he would like us to do when I stopped working.  He wanted us to pull up roots - move from Florida where we had been living for 45 years and build a home in North Carolina.  Prior to Rocky discussing this plan with me, he had already been to North Carolina and seen property he'd fallen in love with.  It was high up a mountainside having a panoramic view overlooking three states.
            Making such a move would be very hard for me since I had grown up and raised my family in Winter Park.  It would also require me to leave my family, my friends, and the places I was so familiar with - especially my church.  My church was as much a part of me as breathing!  Not only was it the place where my journey with the Lord began, but also where my children had begun their faith journey. The members of my church family were very dear to me -- having sustained me through some difficult times.  In addition, I had spent years directing the children's choir and singing in a ladies ensemble. Moving would be a real life changer!
            A short time after proposing this plan he took me to see the property.  It definitely had a  breath-taking view!  Now I had to make the very difficult decision. I agreed to go along "on this ride." However, I did have one fervent desire which I made known to my husband.  I was going to have to find a church where God's presence was evident and that had a warm and welcoming congregation.  It also needed to have strong music program where I could continue using my talents for praising the Lord.
            For the next eight years after buying the property and while the house was being built, I kept praying, asking God to help me find the right church.  During this span of time on our visits to check on the progress of the house, we stayed with friends.  My search was on.  We visited many churches, but neither of us felt as though the Holy Spirit was leading us to any of them.
            As our move into our new home approached, doubts flooded into my heart about leaving my family, friends, and a loving church.  However, I quickly learned to say, "Lord, I'm trusting you.  I know you will provide."
            Finally after moving into our home in 2015, I started searching the Internet to look for a church.  I found one that might fit us, but it was a forty minute drive from our house.  However, we did know people who attended there, and it did have a large music ministry.  Then while still online, I found myself looking at another church in a town closer to us.  This church offered a full music program, and there was even an orchestra!  To this day I know God directed me to this site.  My heart was so full.  I knew this was a God experience!
            The next Sunday evening we attended - thinking it would be a more relaxed atmosphere.  As soon as we got out of the car, we were welcomed by people in the parking lot; the pastor's sermon spoke to our seeking hearts.  Two people sitting behind us even asked me to join the choir!  I was so overcome with joy I could hardly speak.  Driving home that night I asked the Lord,“ Is this where you want us?" It certainly was even more than I was expecting. 
            We decided to go again the next Sunday morning just to affirm our feeling that we were in our new church home.  Afterward my husband and I both felt the peace of the Holy Spirit fill our hearts.  As I looked out over the tranquil mountains on our drive home, I was full of praise and thanksgiving for what the Lord had done.  It was another special moment with God.  These Scripture verses came pouring into my heart.     
            Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according    to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!
                        (Ephesians 3:20-21)

            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)

During the long nine years of waiting, I had kept on asking and seeking his perfect place for us.  Finally, the door opened. 
             Has this journey been easy? No, but I know through this experience that my God really does supply all my needs. And I will do as Psalm 146:1-2 directs:
            Praise the LORD, O my soul.
            I will praise the LORD all my life;

            I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Best Planner

The Best Planner
Esther Taggart

            In 2011, I turned 76.  I was energetic, going to Curves three times a week for exercise.  I was also active in church and enjoyed going out with family and friends.  However, during December I began feeling ill.  I lost my appetite which was unusual for me.               
            After seeing my doctor, my friend Valerie noticed I was not getting any better.  She said, " If you ever feel ill during the night, call me. I live a lot closer to you than your family." 
            I managed to get through Christmas, but on January 6, 2012, to my surprise, I woke up on the bathroom floor.  I was too ill to get up.  I did not even remember getting out of bed and falling.  I lay there for awhile before crawling out of the bathroom and to my night stand.  I phoned my friend Valerie who said, "I'll be right there."  It was 5 o'clock in the morning. 
            Soon I was in an ambulance on my way to the hospital.  The testing started right away.  The hospital staff was so kind to my family and my friend who were so upset.  When the ER doctor came in and told us I had cancer, I remember feeling sorry for the doctor.  He seemed so sad to be telling us that news.  After receiving two units of blood I was transferred to another hospital where I could be treated.
            Valerie called Rev. Tony Clark, who was our former pastor. He came and prayed and anointed me.  I was so glad to see him and I remember thinking "one way or the other I'll be healed."  I knew I was in God's hands.
            The final diagnosis was: diffused large B cell non-Hodgkins lymphoma over the coronary descending arota.  They could not do surgery or radiation.  Chemo was the only option.  My oncologist ordered 6 rounds of chemo - each one three weeks apart.
            The first chemo treatment was done in the hospital.  They started it in the evening, and my daughter Melanie and granddaughter Hayley stayed with me all night.  When I was discharged a few days later, I went to Winter Park to stay with my granddaughter Courtney and her husband.  She is a stay-at-home mom so I was not alone.  The rest of my chemo treatments were done as an outpatient.  I was blessed to have one of my two daughters take me each time.  
            During my stay with Courtney, my friends came to see me when they could, and we would go out to lunch. I was with Courtney six months. It was then that they sold their house, so my daughter Carolyn asked me live with her in Clermont, a town some distance away.  Fortunately, by this time I was able to stay by myself during the day. I was able to take nice walks around the neighborhood.  I also enjoyed reading my Bible and spending time with the Lord. 
            Sadly, the chemo treatments weakened my immune system. Consequently, I got a bad infection - ending up in hospital three times during 2012 with C. diff.  The third time, they let me stay home, and I was given a special medication which was hard to get. The Lord worked things out, and I was so grateful to be able to stay at home!
            Thankfully, by 2013 I was cancer free.  The good Lord answered each prayer that had been said for me. 
            Now that I was living in Clermont, I didn't get to see my friends often.  But the good Lord took care of that, too.  By chance, I discovered an old friend, Marge, was now living a few streets from me.  We had a nice reunion.  I attended Marge's home Bible study every Wednesday and on Tuesdays we went together to another Bible study.  God is good!
            I have favorite Bible verses that I say every day.
            My grace is sufficient for you for my strength is made perfect in weakness.
                        (2 Corin 12:9)
            With God all things are possible.   
                        (Matt 19: 26)
Reciting these gave me the help and comfort I've needed to sustain me during the challenging times I experienced.

            Now here it is 2016, and I'm now living in Maitland in my own apartment and attending church and a Bible study at the Church of the Good Shepherd.  Though I can no longer drive, I am within walking distance of my new church family.  My daughter Carolyn moved from Clermont and is living ten minutes from me.  And my granddaughter Courtney and her family live only a short distance away.  God is the best planner!