pounds & persistence

my journey toward fitness and wellness and faith

Archive for the month “May, 2012”

Grace

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This poster is something I found on pinterest recently. What I love about it, other than the verse at the bottom, is all that comes before that verse, is the dire circumstances listed, the great heroes of the Christian faith who were in impossible situations. And if you’ve ever spent anytime in a Sunday school class, you know all about how their stories turned out- as a pretty big deal. I mean, they are called HEROES after all. But I wonder if it felt heroic to them?

I mean, to them, they’re just an ordinary guy with a bad problem, an impossible situation, a big secret maybe. And it probably seemed pretty hopeless. Awful, no good, terribly bad. And they probably felt pretty weak. But then, God’s grace WAS sufficient, just as the verse says. Better yet, his power was made perfect through their awful, no good, terribly bad situation. Through their weakness.

The whole verse in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 says “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” You can see why I’m a little obsessed with this verse lately.

The thing I find so amazing about this verse is that the speaker in it is clearly stuck in some difficult situation he doesn’t want any part of. He asks God to take it away, to remove it, maybe even to heal him miraculously. And then God just says “no.” In fact, God says “heck, no!” Why? Because he isn’t powerful enough to do it? Because he doesn’t like this guy enough to help him out? Because he’s feeling especially lazy that day?

Because he wants us to trust him and only him and then to show off to the world around us what a God we serve.

Apparently, our hardships are not too big for us to handle when we’ve got God around. Apparently, our suffering is manageable when he’s on our team. And apparently, his grace will make us powerful when we are weak, which will be a testimony to bystanders. This man believes God is powerful and God is good and he knows God can take his painful situation away, so he asks for that. Bold move! But God’s response instead is that he won’t remove the problem, he’ll just make you capable of handling the problem as you get close to him.

Sometimes I wonder what I’d be like without this diagnosis. I feel like its already changed so much in such a short amount of time. I wonder what I’d be worrying about, thinking about, obsessing about. I wonder how I’d feel about my faith. I feel so strongly that his grace HAS been sufficient for me precisely when I’ve been weak and that has been a powerful thing. I know why this guy wants to boast about his weakness- its a pretty awesome thing to have God’s power rest on you. He really does take our weakness and make us strong.

Then he says something I find most startling, most provocative of all. He says he is content with hardships. He’s also apparently OK with weakness, insults, persecution and calamities. Even the really tough, ugly stuff is just fine by him.

I don’t really feel that way.

I mean, CONTENT has always been a kind of a dirty word to me. I’ve never been real good at mastering it. One time, in high school, my teacher shared a verse from Psalms with me that talked about God being a loving, protective Shepard and then said “I feel like, when you read that, all you can see are fences keeping you in and a man with a big stick holding you back.” Yep, he nailed it. Being content has never been my strong point. So I find it even more amazing that in the midst of suffering and hardship, he not only has grace, he also has contentment. Peace.

When I was diagnosed, I was careful about what I’d ask for prayer for from others. I asked for peace, for courage, for clarity. I asked that it not hinder my husbands budding quest for God, that it not hurt our relationship, that we be stronger for it. I never asked for healing. It’s not because I didn’t think God was capable of that, of course he is, or because those kind of miraculous healings don’t really happen anymore, I’m sure they could, but more because I didn’t want to get my hopes pinned on that. I didn’t want to fixate on this being taken away just because I didn’t like it, just because it sucked. Somehow I was sure, am surely convinced, that there is a reason for this, a purpose behind it, even if that purpose is just to point out how weak I really am and help me depend on God’s grace the way I really always should have. I was scared of an MS diagnosis, but there was grace for that. I was scared of my injections, but there’s been grace for that. I’m scared of the future, of all the ways I might lose myself and my abilities, but there will be grace for that. Who knows, maybe as I learn to depend on God’s grace more, God’s power might really be a sight to behold in me. Maybe this weakness is exactly what he had in mind. Maybe I should learn to be content too.

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20 miles later…

I’m sore this time. In preparation for the “mega ride” in less than two weeks, my lovely sister and I undertook a whopping 20 mile bike ride yesterday. Which is only 2/3 of the total distance the National MS Society, and all our supportive friends and family, are expecting us to cover in just over a week and a half, but it was daunting to us nonetheless. When she came to pick me up at the ungodly hour of 7 am (on a federal holiday no less), we kept commenting on our apprehension about the distance. Mostly jokingly, we developed a whole host of perfectly reasonable and only slightly ridiculous ways to get out of riding so far, to convince some poor young race official with a golf cart to give us a lift to the finish line in order to pose for victory pictures. Fake a stroke, pull a hamstring, imitate an epileptic seizure… anything but pedal our chubby behinds 20 miles, let alone 30! We created and laughed about our ridiculous ideas for the first 5 miles. Then we chatted about weighty life issues for the next 7. Then we laughed about trivial stories for the next 4. Then we suffered in almost silence through the last 3. We arrived, sore and out of breath but very, very proud, to the parking lot 19 miles later. We can do this.

We bike again Saturday. We know we can go at least 20 miles, and we think maybe more. We know we’ll be sore, my lower back and my calves were tender all day today, but we also know we won’t keel over. And, more importantly, we know we’ll be together. We know that when one of us needs a break, the other will hop off her bike and walk too. We know that when one of us is huffing too much to carry the conversation, the other will pipe up with a story. We know we’ll share water, share a sweat rag, share encouragement. Riding with my sister is a lot like living life with her- she’s in it with you. She’s never ahead of me, that annoying person who’s jogging backward, breathing lightly and coyly calling out bubbly encouragement from her perfectly fit lungs. She’s the girl who is huffing along next to you, telling you that you can’t stop, you have to get your chubby butt around the next bend, because she can’t stop either and it’s just as tough for her. There’s something really comforting about that. There’s something wonderful about the person who is struggling next to you, encouraging and supporting you. There’s something so nice about how hard it is for her as well, but how willing she is to help you nonetheless.

When it comes to MS, my sister doesn’t have all the answers. She doesn’t always know the perfect thing to say or the way to make it better. But she cares and she’s not quitting and she’s perfectly willing to live life with me, even a life with MS, even when life is messy. And she’s not the only one. I’m so blessed that my whole family will be at this ride- my parents riding the 100 miler, my other two sisters volunteering. They’re in it with me. My husband never blinks, not even a little, at the hand we’ve been dealt, what this could mean for our future. He’s in it for the long haul and he’s in it with me. My aunts, my uncles, my in-laws, my cousins- people have come out of the woodwork to support me, with donations, with emails, and I am so blessed.

I was commenting to my sister that part of what drives me to finish the 30 miles is the selfish hope that they use the funds raised and find a cure in my lifetime. It would be wonderful to see that. But another part of the motivation is simply because I have MS and I CAN ride 30 miles, and so many others can’t. I DO have a wonderful support system and do many others don’t. This will change my life, yes, but it doesn’t have to end my life and that is worth pedaling 30 miles for. Or at least 20- I know we can get at least that far!

By the way, our team name will be the “Fierce Fosters”. It only seemed appropriate.

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Sore and Psyched!

Yesterday, my sister and I pulled out our bikes, blew the winter dust off them, and set to the task of riding. Today my bum is sore.

We only got 10 miles done. Considering that the National MS Society bike ride in just 3 weeks is 30 miles, this is a little pathetic. But, my bike had two almost flat tires (don’t ask me how, I DID pump them up before we loaded them into the truck) and the 5 miles down the B&A trail we initially rode were grueling. Also, neither of had been on a REAL bike, as opposed to a stationary bike, in a LONG time and the hamstrings were complaining more than a little bit. However, once we had air in the tires and warmed up muscles, the riding was smooth. Not easy, but smooth. My lungs adjusted and stopped screaming. My thighs felt strong and powerful. My seat did not have as much cushion as I would have liked.

Today, my muscles aren’t sore. My legs aren’t cramping. And I bought a pair of padded biking knickers, so I’m psyched! Next weekend, we will pedal 20 miles. We will, very likely, still be the slowest chicks on the trail and, very likely, the obvious rookies, but we will be able to pedal the whole thing with the help of gatorade and chamois padding. And then, in a few weeks, 30 miles! My other two sisters are registering as official race volunteers and crashing with us in the hotel room. My parents are going to get matching jerseys and we will all be registered as a team. I’m getting so excited…

What do you think of the team name “Fab Foster Four”?

Easy

The last two days have been hard. Really hard. Unexpectedly so. Two days ago, I drafted my letter to my family asking them for their pledges and support while I participated in the upcoming bike ride. While I was writing it, my mom suggested that I include some information about what MS is, for those that aren’t familiar. I thought this was probably a good idea so I logged on the internet and poked around until I found some info to include. While I poked, however, I also found a whole myriad of possibilities for those with MS. None of them were good. Blindness. Paralysis. Dementia. Awesome.

Of course, I know about these things and the potential to develop them myself. But I had chosen to stay very focused on my own disease, my own treatment, my own experiences, and not let others bring me into a whirlwind of anxious “what if'”s. That is until two days ago.

The last two days, all I’ve been able to think about are the “what if'”s. All that keeps running through my head is how futile it is for me to have a bike rack installed on my manual transmission car (my husband’s latest and greatest idea), if I might lose the ability to drive, let alone bike. I’ve had bad allergies and am taking allergy medicine in addition to all the other preventative measures I’m taking, and the last few days I’ve been just exhausted. And I’ve had a headache. And I’ve been terrified that this could be some kind of flare-up of the MS, that maybe my brain was developing more lesions. I know that this is not likely, but the last couple of days I’ve just been scared, and fear is not known for it’s rationality.

The neurologist that said that at my one year mark, I’d have another MRI. He said that if those scans were clean, I could start thinking about all the things I wanted to do with my life, maybe even have a child, because the treatment was effective. And he said that he has great confidence that my scans will be clean. But the last 48 hours, I’ve been thinking a lot about the alternative.

So tonight, as I was cooking dinner, I was playing some of that “christian rock & roll”, as my husband calls it, and a few things occurred to me. First, in Matthew 11:29-30 Jesus says “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” I heard this verse in a song and scoffed a little- THIS burden doesn’t seem light, THIS yoke sure as hell doesn’t seem easy. How can he say this? How can he claim that if we draw close to him it’ll be all rainbows and puppy tails? Easy and light? Was he thinking of MS when he said this? And then it occurred to me- it isn’t easy because it isn’t hard work. It’s light and easy because he’s helping me, and the burden is easier to bear with him. In fact, because he’s so strong, he’ll bear the brunt of it.

As I was ruminating on these ideas, another song came on. The lyrics say “when the darkness closes in still I will say, blessed be the name of the Lord, blessed be your name.” And I was thinking, I really don’t FEEL like blessing you for a yoke, a burden, no matter how light you say it’ll be, no matter how much you say you’ll be helping me. And then the next line “my heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be your name.” Ah, there it is. CHOOSE. I won’t praise his name because I feel like it. I won’t praise his name because it’s all peachy keen and roses. I won’t praise his name because I have no burdens or even because he promises to make them light. I will praise his name because he deserves it and because I CHOOSE to. I’m certainly not always going to feel like doing it. I’m certainly not always going to want to. I will have days, even weeks, where I’m scared or life is hard or this burden feels heavy. And in the midst of that, I will have to CHOOSE to praise his name, to say blessed be the name of the Lord. Because this action, this defiant decision in the face of my circumstance, directs me back to him, back to truth.

I remember one Sunday, years ago, when I was talking with a friend at church about a particularly painful experience I was going through. I had just broken an engagement and it all felt very public, very terrible, very difficult- I couldn’t imagine anything harder. And as I was talking with her, I was pouring out how hurt I was and interspersing it with how good God was, she interrupted me and said “Laurin, have you noticed that whenever you talk about the situation and how you feel, whenever the focus is that, you burst into tears. But whenever you talk about God and state the things that you know to be true, you stop crying, you’re much more calm?” It was an epiphany. It was a lightbulb moment. When I focused on God and his truth more than my circumstance, which was painful, I was solid, sure, peaceful even. This is still true today.

I will bless the name of the Lord when it is hard because he deserves it. I will bless the name of the Lord when I am irrationally afraid because it is good for my soul, it reassures me. I will bless the name of the Lord even though this situation sucks because I know him and I know that even though this isn’t MY plan, it is a good plan, because he is good. So take that fear! I’m choosing to bless him anyway. Even if it isn’t easy.

Support Letter

Today I did something rather difficult. Today I did something I thought was pretty brave. Today I came clean to my extended family about my diagnosis. I also asked for their support. In June, I will be participating in the Bike MS: Chesapeake Challenge 2012, a 30 mile bike ride with the National MS Society. The whole point is to raise funds for research in order to (hopefully) cure MS and to give money to help those living with MS. So I asked for their donations. It was hard for me to do, but I needed to keep them all in the loop as well.

You may not know this, but I come from a large family. My dad has 6 brothers and sisters and my mom has 8. And then most of them are married. With children. And grandchildren. A VERY large family. So I sent letters to as many of them as I could, mostly via email. This was hard for me. I felt a little exposed, a little vulnerable. While I knew that they would be supportive, I also didn’t want to come across as just angling for their money. Also, I don’t really like talking about my diagnosis a lot and I worried that it would become the focus of conversation the next time I saw them, every time I saw them in the future. But, at some point, I knew that they would need to know, that should my health deteriorate they would need an explanation and that, even if it didn’t, my mother was going crazy trying to keep my “secret”. So I finally ‘fessed up. To the whole giant crew.

It went pretty well. They’ve been very generous in their outpouring of support, sending my lovely emails, and in their donations, helping me dramatically toward my fundraising goal. They’ve been wonderful really. But it’s also a very significant milestone- no going back, no putting that cat back in the bag, no denying the truth of the situation now. I definitely have MS. Of course, I don’t have any different MS than I did yesterday. It’s no more serious, no more or less severe. But it certainly seems more definite. The more people that know, the more those people talk to me about it, the more it reinforces what I already know but don’t always dwell on- that my life is forever changed, irrevocably different and very likely more difficult. That sucks.

It also sucks that every moment I have from this point forward will be viewed in light of the MS. Every smile, every joke, every witty banter, which before people would just accept as part of me and my personality, could now be perceived as heroic, courageous, a really big deal, because I have MS. A diagnosis like this really does change everything, like it or not, and sharing that with others does change your relationship, like it or not. Honestly though, I don’t think my extended family will spend a lot of time dwelling on my health on a day to day basis. I’ll be a story, like so many I’ve heard, that people will tell when someone they knew receives bad medical news- “You know, I have this niece (cousin, sister, friend…) that was diagnosed with MS and she hasn’t let it effect her life- you would never even know!” I wonder if, I hope that, these people who hear the future stories of me find it encouraging and not irritating.

Coming clean with the diagnosis, taking it out of the closet to show off, means that this is forever my story. That I’ve irrevocably changed the way people view me. But it also means that I’ve been as genuine as I can be, that I’ve been as transparent as I can be, and that they really know what’s going on with me. And, of course, if they want to see how I handle it, how I feel about the diagnosis and my every day life, if they want to see whether I’m doing great or just surviving, they can check here, where I’m as honest as I know how to be. I included a link in the letter.

Blessed

Happy Mother’s Day! My mom, my sisters, my friends- I am so fortunate to know so many incredible mothers!

Usually, at churches I’ve attended, Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate the moms and to talk about how awesome the responsibility of motherhood is. And though we did thank the mothers at our church service today, we didn’t linger in it because today was BAPTISM day!

OK, so… If you know me at all, you know my husband. If you know my husband, the awesome, wonderful, super spectacular guy I have the joy to be married too, you know that he hasn’t always been the biggest fan of church. Or Jesus. Or God in general. In fact, when we married, he was a self-proclaimed agnostic. He had grown up going to churches around the country, since he was an Army brat, and had seen pretty much all the good, the bad and the ugly of church life. And he never really felt a connection to God, church, religion, any of it. And, while pursuing his Masters degree in History, he read David Hume and a few other scholars and it seemed to give him the out he needed from religion and faith. You would think that this would be an odd choice for me, since I was raised in the church. Literally grew up in the church, since I also attended the private school run by our church and I was in church at least 6 days a week. Instead of electives, I took Systematic Theology in high school. And he was agnostic. We would TALK about religion and he would ask me questions and I would respond and we loved the discussion. Neither of us attended church- I had some bad experiences in my childhood church and never bothered to go when I moved away from home and he was not interested, even on holidays.

Then, last Christmas Eve, he decided to come to church with my family. And the pastor spoke about the importance of Jesus, of God, of going to church. He said “You don’t have to go to THIS church, just find A church.” This really resonated with my husband and we began church hunting in the New Year. In May of last year, we visited our church, Lighthouse Church, for the first time. We’ve been going ever since and SO MUCH has changed.

We had attended baptisms together in the past- his nieces were baptized in the church his sister and parents attend- but it was infant baptism and I wondered how this baptism, where those participating had each made a profession of faith, were each old enough to make such a profession, would compare. I thought it was awesome. HE thought it was awesome. We both felt that it was a powerful thing to witness. And I felt so blessed.

When we initially came to this church, my husband, who was raised in a lot of churches with the more traditional hymns, didn’t feel comfortable with the singing. He would spend worship in the lobby reading his Kindle and then come into the sanctuary and sit with me for the sermon. Little by little, he became more accustomed to it and now participates in all of the service, including the worship. Initially, he kept mostly to himself and observed. Little by little he has come out of his shell more and mingled more with the people at church. He met with our pastor to have lunch and ask him questions. He is purposeful about our tithe. And, most significant to me, when I came out of the neurologist’s office after receiving the results of the spinal tap and started to cry in the elevator, my husband, the agnostic, said that we should pray about it.

A year and a half ago, I could have never dreamed of this change. One year ago, as we started attending this church, I would never have imagined how much it would impact us. But over the last 6 months, as we’ve dealt with my diagnoses and all that it entails, I’ve been so grateful. Grateful for the church and the people who care for us. Grateful for a place that my husband feels comfortable and is committed to. Grateful for the changes I see in him and in me and the way that this allows us to face the future and our problems.

I identified so much with the people I saw baptized today. Each one held up a sign before they were baptized that had, in the their own words and handwriting, on one side, what they were like before their conversion and, on the other, what they were like after. For each one, God, the church, their faith, was a catalyst for change in their lives. It has equally been a catalyst for change in my life, in my husbands life. I am so grateful for that, so blessed.

Baltimore Zoo

My cousin was in town this weekend and decided to head to the Baltimore Zoo with my sisters, my nephews and I. Try to brace yourself, the cuteness may be more than you can handle…

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Faith & Fairy Tales

I was driving down the road the other day and I heard a new song by Maroon 5. The lead singer is Adam Levine, a judge on The Voice, and so the band is getting a lot of airtime. The song is catchy as all get out, but the thing that really stood out to me were these lines, “if happy ever afters did exist, I would still be holding you like this, all those fairy tales are full of s#@%.” Oh Adam, I know how you feel.

Life rarely turns out the way we plan. It rarely turns out the way we think it should. As a Christian, I’ve heard often and emphatically that God is in control of everything, even my life, but I’ve usually tended to file that away in the “yeah, that’s nice” category. I mean, of course God is in control of the big stuff, the fate of nations and natural disasters and historic events. He’s definitely in charge of keeping the earth rotating and the universe humming and all that. He’s probably in control of who wins the lottery, even. But, let’s be honest, I’M the one in control of MY life. Or at least I should be. God can be in control of everything else.

Oddly enough, though, that’s not really the way the idea of CONTROL works. You either have it or you don’t. And God does, or so I was taught to believe. And he’s really not taking suggestions. Which is a shame because, when it comes to my life, I’ve got a long list of them.

The thing is, I don’t necessarily want a “fairy tale” life. I just want life the way I want it. And the part that usually pains me, the part where I usually struggle, is when it doesn’t go that way. And the last few months have been textbook NOT going that way.

I, like the rest of the world, tend to fall into some kind of belief that, if God really is in control, and I do the things God is generally supposed to be in favor of, like being kind to others or not cheating on my taxes or not strangling that smart-alec kid in second period, God will repay this with a life that is pretty much how I want it to be. And, of course, if you do the things God doesn’t want people doing, say cheating on your spouse or treating other people like crap, life isn’t going to be so hot for you. So when I first got the phone call from my primary care doc and she broke the news of my results, I remember feeling cheated. Feeling tricked. Telling my hubby in a moment of rage that God didn’t make any sense at all because I, the humble, perfect person that I am, had spent my whole life trying to live reasonably responsibly and mostly by the rules, being pretty nice and all golden rule-ish, while a co-worker of mine, who is generally disliked, is rotten to people and stole another woman’s husband but SHE get’s to have two beautiful children and a postcard life while I get MS and very likely will never have a baby. And God is in control? The same one who made these rules we’re playing by? Clearly, God needed my suggestions on how to run things.

But oh, the things I’ve learned in a few short months. Things I could have never described to you beforehand. Things that may not even make sense to you now, unless you know them to be true yourself. Things that could sound ridiculous. Things that I KNOW to be true. And the first of these is that God is good.

What God does may not always FEEL good, but He is good. Odd, huh? I’d be hard pressed to explain how I know this in intimate detail, but I surely do. In awful moments, when my life spread out before me and looked to me like a wasteland, where I was scared and overwhelmed and felt alone, I clung to this. I repeated it again and again. God is good. I know this is true. This situation sucks and it feels like a cross I can’t bear, shouldn’t even have to bear. And God is good. I have to stick myself every day with a needle just to stay healthy. And I hate needles. And there is no guarantee I’ll stay well. And God is good. I may one day lose the ability to work at my job. I may one day lose the ability to walk. I may lose other valuable things, memories, motor skills. And God is good. It goes like this again and again. Every dark situation, every horrible “what if” and yet, God is good.

Better yet, God loves me. This part is a stumper because, honestly, I can think of at least half a dozen pretty big reasons right off the bat why He shouldn’t. I can think of things I’ve done, things I never talk about doing because the weight is too great. There have even been moments where I wondered if I didn’t get MS as a big payback for all my mistakes along the way. Like maybe MS was the price I was going to pay for the sins of my youth. A lot of moments. But I know this is NOT true because God loves me. And I know Christians always point to the cross as the ultimate evidence that God loves us, but that all seems so abstract to me, so distant. Yet, somehow, here and now, in the concrete day to day or living with a disease that can’t be cured and knowing that some of my dreams may be sacrificed because of it, I am confident that God loves me. And that makes his goodness personal.

All that is honkey-dorey and peachy keen but pretty insignificant though if God is not in control. I mean, it’s great that he’s good and that he loves me, but if he’s not powerful then it just makes him more like a super-duper cheerleader than the Lord of the universe. It just makes him the nicest of the nice, but not really God. Ultimately though, this experience has made me believe that he is in control. He knows what he is doing. He isn’t looking for a suggestion box full of my good ideas because he’s got it covered, he’s got a plan, and he’s powerful enough to put his plans into action. He isn’t ignoring me, because he loves me and he’s good. He isn’t letting this happen to me because he isn’t powerful enough to stop it. He is in control.

And that means that this disease I can’t cure IS an example of Him loving me. And his goodness. And his power. He didn’t give me MS in spite of his love for me, he gave it to me BECAUSE of his love for me. Somehow, in all of this, my disease is the highest good for me, for my husband, for my family and my friends and my church. Somehow it is intimately tied to his plan for my life, to the things that I will accomplish on my time on earth. I know I sound a lot like Voltaire’s Pangloss and that my impossible stumping of “the best of all possible worlds” must sound a little like desperation to some. How can I say this? How could I claim that this disease is actually ON PURPOSE? Because I know this God that is good and loving and in control. I know him better now than I did 6 months ago, when I was diagnosed. Than I did a year ago, before I could ever dream of any of this. I know he began preparing me, my heart, for this before I was diagnosed. I know he will use this to accomplish something very different than the plan I had laid out, but somehow better.

That doesn’t mean that there still aren’t tearful times. Three weeks ago I broke into tears in the arms of close friend at work, just minutes before my students came filing in asking if I was OK. A week or two before that I had one of those evenings where everything is so bad, so rotten, no-good, terribly awfully bad, that the only cure was a pint of ice cream for dinner and early to bed. OK, I’ve had more than one of those. But each morning, I awake with new strength, new grace to face the day. The book of Lamentations isn’t kidding when it says “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” In my mind, it’s easy to think that “happy ever after” looks one way, one specific way that I have laid out. That in order for my life to be “fairy tale” perfect, it should just so. But the reality is that God knows the desires of my heart, he knows EXACTLY what I want. He also knows what is best for me. And he is powerful enough to do any of it, all of it. I won’t have a child or not have a child because of the situations that I’m in, but because God, who loves me and is good, made it so. I won’t walk or not walk, work or not work, be healthy or not healthy, because of the things I do or don’t do. It will be because God, who loves me and is good, made it so. Of course, I still need to be responsible, show up to doctors visits, take my inconvenient medicine, exercise, eat right, rest, take my vitamins… but ultimately, the God who loves me and is good is in control of my future. I might not know what that future is, it might not look like a fairy tale to me, but I am confident that it is for my good because I believe him.

The song that I’m loving the most right now, that I’ve got on repeat in the car every chance I get, is “He Loves Us” by the David Crowder Band. Overall, awesome lyrics, but the part the really hits me, that I can really relate to are the lines “He loves like a hurricane, I am a tree, bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy. When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory, and I realize just how beautiful You are, and how great Your affections are for me.” At the end of the day, I guess I would rather dwell in the truth of that than focus on the fairy tales.

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