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Following Dreams {everyone has a different purpose}

Oh my.

Tomorrow Richard comes home.

Thankful.

So right after I got home from serving at Created for Care–my sidekick took off for Zambia to love on these little loves…

And while he’s been gone.

We sold our home.

I got the list of “fix its” from the inspection that the buyers wanted. A very detailed inspection asking for 38 items to be done…by us–before the 27th. SO–this momma has been managing caring for 5 littles, homeschooling, flying solo, getting wood around windows replaced, new windows installed, door stops put on, GVAC electric plugs exchanged…big things–little things…

We thought we’d found the perfect farm–but the day before Richard left–it turned out not to be the farm for us. We went back to the farm we’d had our eye on for awhile that needs A LOT of work–but has a lot more land…and he took off–leaving this momma in charge to get it done.

Appraisals. Inspections. Surveys…

All with my 5 little loves tagging along.

And tomorrow–he comes home. And I can’t WAIT!

Yes. We found a farm:)

And we are excited.

It’s peaceful.

It’s 8 miles out from where we are now. Not far–but not a hop, skip and jump away.

It’s quite.

When I see it…and walk out there…and hear the birds and see the momma cow next door feeding her calf…the word SHALOM comes to my mind.

Shalom…

Peace.

Complete.

Full.

Shalom…

Hello and Goodbye…and the peace all in between.

Richard and I have had a dream to have a farm together for a long time.

Growing up–I always felt like dreams–were…well, just dreams.

But I married this really amazing man–who dreams with me…who shares my dreams…and takes risks to make those dreams happen.

And we all have them.

They all look different.

Mine are not yours.

Yours are not mine.

But they are good.

They have purpose.

They are on our hearts for a reason.

Deep.

Some hidden.

But there.

And living and pursuing and taking a risk at our dreams feels so vulnerable and scary and “oh my–what if we do this and don’t love it”…but it still feels so right.

As we have taken this step. Following another dream…as we have done in the past with orphan care (www.wiphan.org in Zambia)…as we have done with growing our family again and again and again…and as we are doing now in moving to a slower paced atmosphere and trying this farm life…

Others voices some times come in–and make us question.

Be careful.

Be very careful at the voices you here.

And be very careful at the words you speak.

Because we all have different desires.

The Lord has different plans and purposes for each of our lives.

And what we need to do…is LISTEN. To celebrate one another’s different purposes, future, and dreams as they unfold.

Some things I’ve heard the last few weeks…

Just wait until your kids are bigger–you are going to hate living farther out…

I’m worried about you being farther out–I mean…will anyone swing by?

Your life is in the city–won’t you get tired of driving back and forth?

Think of all the time you will be spending in the car?

I mean–I guess it’ll be fine as long as you homeschool forever.

GULP. And fear…it begins to lurk around the corner…but…BUT…instead…

I step back and smile.

Because this is MY dream. Our dream–for our family. And I can hear those things and remember…truth…and remember we live in a fallen world…that likes to remind us why our dreams might not be the best for us…

Deep breath…

Because some times–we are pretty good as putting a damper on other people’s dreams.

Because really–we have to also remember–that the dreamer has probably already worked through all of these things.

So…

Yes. We will drive further. A whole 8 miles.

Yes. 8 miles can be 15 minutes–adding to 30 minutes round trip for soccer or ballet or whatever my loves want to try…and yes–we realize this can be seen as “wasted time” or “time lost”.

Yes. Many probably won’t be swinging by.

And maybe–we will hate it when the kids are bigger like Sally Jane said we would and want to move closer in later…but…

What if.

What if we don’t?

What if we were made for this?

What if our dream is to have families out? And when they come–they experience SHALOM…and it becomes worth an extra 15 minutes to come see us…or for some 30 minutes or more?

What if I told you no one swings by now in my neighborhood because no one has time…because everyone’s too busy (because living in the mix some how makes you more busy some times)–and right here…this mom who doesn’t say “no, I can’t” well–is asked to help here and there or pick extras up…when you think about it…living out for this mom who says yes and offers every single time my ears catch a need…well…it may actually be easier. And I have a feeling–that those who make the hike already to see us because they love us here…will love us and still make the hike there to see us.

And we’ll make the hike to see them too.

And just maybe it won’t be hours off our lives…but rather so much more…so much richer…so much fuller.

So maybe my kids will no longer live in the mix.

But maybe feeding a goat at 5am will do something to their hearts…adding tenderness, compassion and caregiving skills that take them farther in life than just our culdasac would.

And I’m all for the culdasac. Because we’ve done it for 10 years.

But I want to live a life of no retreats, regrets or reserves–and we are excited to step out in this new adventure.

It’s beautiful y’all.

Pictures…melt.

Pictures to come…lots of them I’m sure–promise;).

Next week.

More pictures of the rest of this lovely new place.

We close and move next week…and it will take a lot of work, and a long–spread out–but worth it labor of love.

And I will probably be entertaining my Instagram friends daily with our farming skills and the lack there of as they grow. (Seriously–I spent an hour on the phone with someone selling goats–and she lost me when she said “You just tie up their balls when you don’t want more goats”…um–did SHE just SAY that?) I think farm life is obviously very different–and we are excited and ready and hopeful that others that don’t “get us” will at least smile and say “Go for it!” or “I’m excited to watch!” instead of sprinkling doubt or trying to talk us out of our dreams or causing us to second guess…before it’s “too late”.

But this is how it goes.

With all of us isn’t it?

Whether you are being called to dreams of adoption, fostering, moving away, staying near, ministry, investing more here or there–for a purpose…YOUR purpose…HIS purpose…for YOU.

But such a wonderful reminder that I never want to be the other one…

Causing anyone to second guess their dreams–

But rather the voice of encouragement–supporting them and celebrate with them…and when invited…to witness the beauty beside them.

Make us THAT voice Lord.

More to come for those of you who want to celebrate this next fun season with us!

Meet Lauren and her sweet family {love this momma}

It is such an honor to call this momma a friend. She is truly the most tender, sweetest person I know. What an honor it is to be on the Created for Care team with her…and what a gift it is to call her a friend. Her story blesses me…thought it might bless you too–and just had to share.

Papa Don {Donald Mutumba – A Life Well Lived}

Today–in Zambia Donald Mutumba, the COO of Wiphan Zambia, will be laid to rest. He was a great and compassionate leader with a heart for the widows and orphans he served. Please pray for his wife and family as well as all of Wiphan as we grieve. He will be greatly missed.

Our hearts are heavy and we will miss Papa Don…. Please pray for his family as well as the Wiphan family.

My sister, April, once asked Papa Don WHEN he was going to retire. His answer? “You never retire from the Lord’s work.”

Papa Don led well. A father figure to 450 children we love in Zambia. A loyal husband and role model for the men surrounding the compound and teachers in our school. An encouragement to the widows in our program. This man will be greatly missed on this side of heaven.

Giving to a ministry is good. BUT digging in–joining to serve…to stick with even just ONE ministry…for the long haul (whether it’s a nursing home around the corner or a family up the street or a ministry of 450 kids across the world–whatever it is…pick one)…that’s where the beauty is. Making a commitment that this is where I will stand and the people I will be a voice for–changes everything. Through thick and thin…through people watching and tearing it apart when it’s not perfect…just stand and run and serve and don’t give up. THIS is what I am reminded of when one of our dearest servants leave us. When they succeed–you dance. When you see many around you join you to sponsor kids–and you see funding for meals and schooling for many happen–you thank Him that we get to be a part of it all. When you get to see a kid with cancer that couldn’t afford treatment go through a year of treatment and you hear “cancer free” from a village in Ndola–you shake your head in disbelief and awe. Because–they deserve a fighting chance too. To see Him work wonders and people love them who don’t even know them. And when the ones you love in this ministry go to be with Jesus–you get to smile and say, “Well done–good and faithful servant. It was an honor to run with you. See you…one day–after our race is also done.” And then–keep running.

THIS friends is so worth running for. DIG IN. DO LIFE. KNOW THE PEOPLE YOU SERVE AND SERVE WITH BY NAME. DANCE WITH THEM. REJOICE WITH THEM. GRIEVE WITH THEM. And keeping running. Until you see Him face to face too.

We will miss you Papa Don!

To join the legacy of Papa Don and us in Zambia–please visit www.wiphan.org. We would love and be honored to have you join us.

Beauty from Ashes {His immense love from one stranger to another}

Today I got to catch up with my dear friend Kristin. We met through a ministry mutual friend–and oh my…this girl has challenged my faith, spurred me on closer to the cross and reminded me of many things–like “God’s got this”…only she shares it in a different phrase—hilarious–much better–and a God story to go with it. I love the vulnerability of this sweet friend of mine–and today she had a story–that just had to be shared. A reminder, a challenge and a miracle of how He guides among daily difficulty. Be encouraged. And you might want a Kleenex as you read her story…

Today, a simple trip to the “financial vortex” we like to call Target, ended up being an experience that God would use in my and my son’s life for quite some time. It is NOT a story about me. It is a story about the God that I serve and His infinite ability to make beauty from ashes.

As Luke and I turned off of North Point Parkway and into the strip mall that boasts the big red ball of happy, I noticed that there was a terribly obnoxious amount of traffic. I felt rather sorry for the cars that were trying to exit, (they had a yield sign to us) and so I (not noticing the “keep moving” sign) stopped to let a car squeak by. It was at this point I heard the BLAST of a horn – and when I say blast, I mean it sounded as if the driver had climbed out of his seat and was sitting on his steering wheel. And he didn’t let up. He followed me into the Target parking lot, and followed my minivan until I turned into a parking space. It was at that point that I realized we were going to have to exchange words… because he had intentionally stopped his car right behind mine so that I could not get out. Gulp.

I took a deep breath, I knew I was not dealing with a rational, good spirited person. Nope, this was an angry middle aged horn happy man who was severely enraged by my choice to let a car through traffic. Dear Lord.

My feet had not even hit the pavement before a barrage of arrows came flying from his mouth. This man, I did not know, was screaming at me in the Target parking lot. I watched his mouth moving, his forehead squinched, his cheeks bright red with anger. I heard the words. “Idiot” “You should learn how to drive” “can’t you read?” “It’s people like you who cause accidents.” I stood in disbelief. Was this happening? All I could think was “Why is he so angry?” So, that’s what I asked him In the gentlest tone I possess. “Sir, why are you so angry?” He was so taken aback by my response that he stumbled over the next few words, scoffed a little, and then carried on with more arrows. Ugly arrows. Flaming arrows. Hurtful, sharp and wicked arrows… and then… he was gone.

Luke and I stood in the parking lot hand in hand with our mouths gapping, our hearts pounding, and our spirits completely stomped on. We had just been harassed by a perfect stranger, for being kind to another stranger. (And I admit that technically I had made a traffic mistake, but I am fairly certain that my abuser has made at least one of those in his life time? Just a guess.)

After I collected myself, (and sucked any tears that threatened to fall out – back into my eyeballs) I leaned down and looked into my son’s eyes. “Son, I am really sorry that that happened. You know that we NEVER – no matter how mad we are – we NEVER treat another person like he just treated Mommy, right?” “Yes ma’am” “And son, the Bible says to love our enemies and so I think we really need to pray for that man.” “I do too mommy.” “Alright, I love you so much” “I love you too momma.” “You ok?” “Yup”

And although I had resolved it with my son, I could not quite resolve it with myself. As we got our items from inside the store, a trail of “poor me” thoughts like “How could a person who does not know me or who I am, attack me like that? I’m like the nicest person ever, that wasn’t fair, my saturday is ruined, that was so mean, I’m so sad, tears… uh oh, tears… here they come..” And I burst into pitiful self pitying tears, right there in the happiest store on earth. I was letting that man crush my spirit. I was swimming in the ugliness that he had thrown on me and I was so close to MISSING the beauty that God was, in that very moment, effortlessly replacing it with.

As we walked to the car, I believe God spoke to me. “That man put something ugly into the world, now GO and put something beautiful in its place. I am God – and I turn ashes to beauty, evil to good, hurt to healing… Go and be my light. Go and bless someone.”

So friends, here’s where it gets GOOD. Luke and I prayed right there in the car. Where do we go? What do we do? Who do we bless? I felt the urge to drive across town to the Kroger near my house and so I took that as part of our answer. We prayed on the drive over that HE would lead us, show us who to bless and how to do it. I suspected we would be paying for someones groceries and so I immediately started to plan “Operation Bless A Stranger” Actually, it was more like “Operation bless a stranger who looks sad or down trodden with just a grocery basket, not a whole cart cause we can’t afford it if they’re not in the ten items or less lane.”

God had something else in mind.

After grabbing a very schizophrenic assortment of unnecessary items that I absolutely did not need, we neared the check outs. I started to question what I had heard. I felt nervous and embarrassed. What if this didn’t go down well. Who is it Lord? What if I…

And there she was.

A nicely dressed 50 something. Well put together, a typical southern lady, with a very substantial amount of groceries. Really Lord? She does not look like she needs me to buy her groceries…ALL millions of them. But I knew. The holy spirit was pushing my heart toward this woman, this perfect stranger.

I watched the grocery bill climb higher and higher, a bead of sweat flew off of my forehead, I felt a little nauseous. It was now or never. Her last item had crossed the finish. It was time to pay. “Ma’am?” I said. “My son and I would like to pay for your groceries.” She looked at me like I had just said “My son and I would like to eat your groceries.” Adamant, she replied. “No. You can not buy my groceries, there are way too many here. Someone did this for my mother. No, I can’t let you buy my groceries.” To which I replied “Ma’am, my son and I had a horrible experience today, and we prayed a lot about this, and you, and well, we’re going to buy your groceries.” At this point the woman realized that I was going to buy her groceries. There was no talking me out of it. She grabbed me. She literally wrapped her arms around me and began to sob. I sobbed too. Then she pulled away from me and looked me in my eyes and said this: “My husband is terminally ill, you just, you just have no idea… thank you.” And off she went, pushing her millions of groceries that God had just paid for, out the door.

At this point everyone was crying. The people in line behind us, the checkout girl, the tough guy one isle over “had something in his eye”… (he totally cried). The check out girl looked down at Luke and said “you have a great mom” to which I say this: This is not about me. This is about the God that I serve. This was FOR me from Him. He turns ashes to beauty, evil to good, hurt to healing, pain to laughter, and traffic violations to stories of His immense love – from one perfect stranger to another.

So my challenge? When someone is terribly unkind to you, GO do something for someone else. He has given us the power to replace the bad with something good.

My God is an awesome God. That is all.

Kristin Grunewald is married to South African Justin Grunewald who is on staff at Buckhead Church. They have two awesome boys Birkley and Luke. Kristen writes, home schools–and what I love about her most–is how she loves and follows Jesus. Thank you Kristin for shining His glory. Beauty from ashes. Praying how I can replace daily–the bad with something good.

How Lyme Disease Changed Me {lessons for this mom’s heart}

I haven’t written much about my awful, dark, difficultonce hopeless days…weeks…months…years of dealing with Lyme disease. It was such a hard season for me–and a time in my life that I had what is known in the Lyme world as “brain fog”–so forming logical thoughts, much less writing a blog about it was impossible for me.

But tonight–I received yet another email…from a mom that reached out to me because of this disease. She is now in the midst of the hard. And months ago I was able to encourage her. She checked back in tonight to let me know how things are going with her treatment–and I just thought, “You know–I need to encourage here too. Because you just never know what person in the THICK of Lyme–disease–or even any hardship for that matter might stumble across this post…and be encouraged.”

I don’t know what hard–bad–terrible–not–fun things happen to us. Some crazy folks will tell you that it’s because there is sin in your life. I had a few of those pray over me during my not fun time–and while they were praying I wanted to gently or not so gently grab their hands off of me and say, “The Lord loves me. I love Him. And it’s not because I’ve done anything wrong that a stupid tick bit me. Some times really bad things happen to His children. And it doesn’t make sense. We just have to cling to Him through it. And honestly–if it doesn’t all work out like we want it to–He is still good. I wasn’t made for this world. Heaven is my home. And this world–well, Jesus said there would be many trials. BUT He has overcome the world. So I’m gonna trust Him no matter how hard it gets.”

If you are there. In the hard right now. I want to encourage you.

To cling to Him. Even if you aren’t that close to the Lord right now.

You must know that He loves you.

His Word says–you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

And He has a plan–even…for THIS.

My story is a success one. But I know in terms of healing in this world–they all don’t end like mine. BUT when they do–I believe we are to encourage one another.

While you are in the thick of it–hold tight and remember THIS for when He brings you through:

2 Corinthians 1:3-5, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”

We are to comfort and encourage others with the same comfort we received when we were in the thick of it. So this is my story of how Lyme disease changed me.

It was the summer of 2011. I had just stepped off the plane from Ethiopia with our 4th child. My husband–Richard–and I had been so blessed with 2 children early in our marriage. Then we were followed by what seemed like forever of not being able to conceive. This gave me an appreciate for the miracle of life that I hadn’t known or truly embraced–as well as a heart for adoption. We also helped start a school in Zambia, Africa during that longing for more children. The Lord was using our longing to bless more than just our family–and we were seeing how perfect His plan are even in the loss and disappointment of the unfilled longings of our own hearts. In March of 2008 while Rich was in Africa–I sat filling out adoption paperwork–and also feeling queazy took a pregnancy test to discover we were expecting! Our 3rd was born in November and shortly after–we picked up the adoption paperwork again–and in June 2010 landed on American soil with our sweet boy who at the time we weren’t sure if he would ever walk based on his diagnosis.

I was ELATED to be home with our 4th child whom we felt we had prayed over for years–and I was sitting out on my driveway watching all my little loves ride bikes on a hot July day (2011) when I felt something on my left shoulder sting. I looked to see a tick embedded in my skin–and not knowing anything about ticks or how to properly remove them–I squealed, yanked him out and rubbed the rash that was already beginning to appear on my shoulder. I truly didn’t think anything about it–nor did I think the 3 day “flu” that followed that bite was anything but the flu. So–I went untreated. For the first time that weekend, I experienced vertigo–followed by lots of vomiting and feeling like I had lead limbs unable to move. I just laid there for days–thinking it was an awful bout of the flu–and slowly each day I felt a bit better.

Days and weeks went by–and I was overtaken with fatigue. I had just started homeschooling our children after having one of our children tested for dyslexia. I kept telling myself that the fatigue was homeschooling PLUS an extra child–and with time I would adjust. Richard, my sweet husband, saw a huge difference in my energy (he says I make coffee nervous!)–and I needed daily naps now to just make it to 8pm. I would get so tired even after a night’s sleep (although restless sleep–insomnia is another symptom of Lyme)–and I would fall asleep at 10am while reading to the children. Only a couple weeks into homeschooling, we hired Karissa to come. Karissa had her elementary degree–so she would teach the children while I played with the younger kids and napped in the afternoons–OR I’d teach in the mornings while she played–whatever I could do…until I adjusted to homeschooling and 4 kids.

Months went by–and nothing got better for me. So finally–I went in for blood work. This can be challenging and frustrating for someone with Lyme’s because the testing out there–well, it’s not the greatest. The blood work came back from my primary doctor and she called me to ask me to come in. She explained I had some markers for Lupus or Sjogren’s Syndrome–and she was sending me to a rheumatologist. The rheumatologist guessed (because y’all–I’ve learned that’s what doctor’s do–they mostly guess and that’s why it’s called practicing medicine). I got a prescription for blurred vision (doc guessed it was dry eyes from Sjogren’s causing that) as well as some anti-inflammatory meds. But as I was leaving…I just didn’t have a peace…

I have to add to this part of the story…be sensitive to that when you do NOT feel a peace–and keep searching. So I didn’t rush to get the prescriptions filled. Instead–I made an appointment with infectious disease.

As the weeks past–I saw I felt like every doctor on the planet. I went to an infectious disease doctor as well as another opthamologist (my vision in my right eye was getting worse–and I knew it wasn’t dry eyes). I also schedule an appointment with a GI doctor and internal medicine. I had Western Blots and Elisa testing because that is what the CDC says you do–which I know know…um–that’s not always so accurate. Every doc had a different thing for me–and I just knew there was NO way I had that many problems. There had to be one thing causing all of the havoc in my body. I didn’t have quite enough bands for the Western Blot–really meaning I had probably had the disease by that point for almost a year. FINALLY–I went to another doc who suggested the CD-57 test and my score was terribly low suggesting that I had possibly had Lyme for quite some time at that point. Later I learned about IGeneX testing and before it was over–oh my…I was having my hair pulled out for testing even.

I started on antibiotics–just because from all the research and doc suggestions–that is just what you do. But over and over I felt like there was something else I needed to be doing. Then I thought back to the holistic doc that I had taken my son to after coming home from Ethiopia. The top pediatric pulmonologist in Atlanta diagnosed our son from Ethiopia with severe asthma. We were given loads of enhalers–all color coded for different times of the day. And once again–I had left…thinking–there’s something else I need to be doing. I took him to this holistic doc–to have him tell me that it wasn’t asthma at all. I assured him I saw the x-rays myself–but he assured me to STOP the inhalers and instead treat him for giardia–a parasite common in third world countries and orphanages. I also assured him he had ALREADY tested negative for giardia–which I later learned isn’t always the most accurate test either. I felt a PEACE. Took my son off the inhalers. And in 2 weeks–my boy was a DIFFERENT boy. No more thrashing at night. No more night sweats. No more wheezing. To THINK–I was giving my son and giardia lots of steroids…just what parasites need…right?!

This doc had been a God-send for our son–so I thought–why not try him now. He was the doc that said my problem was spirochetes (Lyme)–but with no co-infections (co-infections often accompany Lyme disease–and can wreck just as much if not MORE havoc in a body). He suggested the CD57 test to see where the infection was–and being as low as it was I began to think back to when I could have been bitten by a tick. Was it followed by sickness. And I sat there. Thinking. OH. MY. GOSH. That. WAS. IT.

I wish I could tell you it was an easy fix.

But–when the body starts healing…some times–it is even harder.

In the first few weeks of treatment–I felt like NOTHING was changing. Was I a fool to go to a homeopathic doc to treat Lyme? For real? At one point–I really thought I was dying. I would watch my little ones playing–and wish and pray that I could just be old enough to be an amazing grandmother to their children. I would long to be able to homeschool and play without needing any help. I would meet friends out and I knew by their faces I looked different…having lost weight and having red puffy eyes…and constantly pulling out supplements every couple of hours or meds or whatever. Oh my. Those were the HARD days. Days I now often forget. But some times…need to remember.

Adrenal supplements, immune builders, blood cleansers, digestive enzymes, powered vitamin C, colloidal silver…the list goes on and on and…it felt like on. We did anything and everything our doctor suggested. Richard even bought me a infrared sauna (thankful to have that gem now;). Gluten-free. Whole foods. A different way to treat Lyme–that is for sure…but after months and months and months…in the spring (after starting treatment holistically in the Fall)–I turned a corner. Not a “I’m healed corner”…but rather–I don’t need a nap and I’m not crashing every night at 8pm corner. My kids were starting to get their mom back…and about that time—we felt the Lord was calling us to host an orphan in our home from the Ukraine. It felt completely crazy to even consider–but I felt like the Lord was asking us to trust Him.

The whole time–I also just felt in my heart the words in His Word…”you are fearfully and wonderfully made”…and I really believe in some diseases–the body really can heal itself with the support, rest and nutrition it really needs.

In May we decided to host–and in June–a week before a sweet 15 year old girl from Ukraine arrived–the holistic doc said spirochetes were undetectable in my body. Because my western blots were not fully clear–by the CDC standards–it wasn’t Lyme–but I know now that this isn’t even the best way to detect Lyme. BUT because our main doc (like MANY doctors in the South that know very little about Lyme disease) only recognized the CDC way of testing–she cleared us to host because according to her I didn’t have it. That doesn’t by any means make it wise that we signed up to host–BUT we felt the Lord WAS calling us to host–and by uneducated folks…I guess you could say He made a way.

All in all–it was a 2 year battle for this momma. A little over a year of having it and trying to figure out what the heck was going on. And about 9 months of treating it through a God send doctor. We hosted–and the Lord wrote another MIRACLE story through it.

I also found out we were pregnant that summer. But at 11 weeks–we lost the baby. Something that is actually pretty common after Lyme disease. I had to wrestle so much with hating that disease–and feeling like it took so much time from my life…and possibly even a new gift…but instead of bottling it up–I chose to look forward.

Years before I would listen to people who were sick–and sadly…I wouldn’t listen. I didn’t know how. I didn’t understand. Some times–because they looked well…I wanted to just tell them to pick themselves up by their bootstraps and move on. Stop complaining. Yadda. Yadda. Yadda. But the Lord taught me some lessons that I needed to learn. That honestly…were worth it.

I needed to know and understand what it felt like to be helpless–and even hopeless.

I needed to know what it looked like to really appreciate EACH DAY–because you might not have tomorrow.

I needed to let my kids dance in the rain–and not worry about my house being clean…because I needed every memory to be sweet…not full of fussing–but rather memories.

I learned to let my kids help–and that it didn’t have to be perfect…but their helping was character building–even if the folded towels didn’t really look folded at all.

I needed to know in my bones–that just because someone didn’t look sick…that it really truly might be impossible for them to pick themselves up…because their illness could be paralyzing…and there are many diseases that are crippling although it doesn’t appear so at first.

I needed to see that there were people in my life that would be there–and it might just be 3 instead of 300 or even 30…but those 3–I know now. And I’d do anything in the world for them…as they did for me during my hardest days.

I needed to know–that no matter how hopeless things seem–there is still hope. Not because there are good doctors. But because there is a Great Physician…in Heaven…who I can trust. And that if He had chosen not to heal me–I could trust Him with my greatest treasures on this Earth–my husband and my children.

It’s been years since I heard the words “undetectable”…and like a crazy lady–I go back for testing every 6 months just to make sure. After losing our baby in 2012, we grew again through adoption–and today–I’m homeschooling 5 without help…and instead of watching my kids dance in the rain…I’m dancing with them. Through the help of the Lord and precious friends–I started an adoption/foster ministry that pours into moms by giving them retreats–a weekend to rest and remind them of the hope the Lord gives us–no matter our situation. And I say we are done growing by numbers–but not in Him…as we still have so much to learn and so much I know He can do through us as we continue to trust Him.

Three years ago I couldn’t have typed this blog because of my “fog brain”–but I hope today–these words have encouraged you that we serve a Healer–and even when there isn’t healing–He gives strength and there is purpose in every single hardship. Cling to Him through the hard–and constantly look for what He is calling you to do even when you can’t lift your head–because in those days–it may be simply to rest and trust and wait. Know that He is faithful–and maybe you just happened to stumble on this blog that I’m not sure anyone reads–just to be encouraged and lifted up today. If you are going through hard–know that I would love nothing more to pray for you and to trust Him for miracles with you!

May you know and experience and see His goodness through the hard days!! And may His mercies and goodness rain down on you all of your days!!

In His Love,

Andrea

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