Author: marriageisacovenant

Purpose in Restoration

Exodus 9:16 (NIV)
But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.

Maybe you are wondering why you should go through all the pain of restoration. I mean, standing itself is hard enough, right? One could easily get discouraged discovering just how difficult the restoration journey is. Here’s where I encourage the socks off of you!

Let me remind you that God has this grand plan for you. In this plan, He changes you and your spouse to become different people. A peculiar people set apart for His work (Deut. 14:2). He changes your family tree. No longer is the curse of divorce passed on to your children and grandchildren. Finally, He changes your marriage. It will no longer be what it was, it will become this amazing thing you couldn’t imagine.

God changed us. I honestly tell others that God changed me on a molecular level. I saw the world in a different way. When I saw my husband struggle so much spiritually, God gave me a glimpse of just how real the spiritual world is and the battles that constantly ensue. My husband saw that too, after he came back home and realized what happened and what he came out of. We learned that we must be on guard at all times, because Satan really does go around seeking whom he can devour (I Pet 5:8)! We saw God on a deeper level, too. No longer was He this obscure, distant being we called ourselves serving for years. Instead, He became very intimate and personal with us. This amazing God of the universe talked to us, comforted us, really cared about us. Prior to the destruction of our marriage, this was head knowledge. Afterward, it became real and tangible. And as time marches on, He continually amazes us with the depth of His infinite love of us…from the great big things, to the tiny things too numerous to count!

God changed our family tree. For us specifically, we couldn’t have kids prior to restoration. We’d been infertile for 10 years. God promised me kids, though. So a month after JW came home, we got pregnant. Haha, God really changed our tree that way, but what I mean is the legacy passed on to our children after God restores marriages. Divorce is a curse that plagues our society, and it gets passed down more and more into future generations. Restoration is the blessing that stops that curse and teaches our children to never give up. It tells them, “See, look what God can do! Nothing is impossible for Him (Lk 1:37)!” It’s concrete evidence of faith that passes down to our kids and changes their lives as well as our own.

God changed our marriage. There’s this country song that’s popular. She calls her man a “Good One” and describes how wonderful he is. I think it’s sweet, because that’s how I feel about my husband. And I say that understanding there are those out there that would stop and ask, “Wait, how can you think that when he left you, cheated on you, and wanted to divorce you?” EASY. He’s not the same guy who did those things, just like I’m not the same person I was either. I’ve mentioned before that I felt, at times, that I hated my husband for what was done and begged God to release me from this marriage, but God wouldn’t. God just kept telling me that what He was doing was the beginning. Now I understand. Those times I begged God for a more worthy man, a better marriage, and a fresh start weren’t unheard…they were on hold. I had to wait, let God do His thing, and change us. Oh how much would we have missed if we had given up! Our marriage is so strong now, tried by fire. My husband knows that I’d stand by him through anything, because I have. And I know my husband loves me beyond words, because (as He told me) one who is forgiven much, loves much (Lk 7:47). We are that one flesh that God planned, and we desired.

I am so grateful for where we are and who God has changed us to be. It has been such a blessing in dark times like our daughter’s leukemia diagnosis, a failing business, the loss of our dads, miscarriages, etc. etc. I know that God has a purpose for all of it…the greatest of which is to tell others what God can do: that He is REAL and HE LOVES YOU! God has a purpose for your marriage restoration too. And it’s worth all the agony, because whatever we give to God, He multiplies (John 6:1-14), including our pain.

Pitfalls in Restoration

Pro 27:12 NLT – A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.

RMM has launched a new weekly devotional focused toward encouraging newly restored couples. The early days of restoration is a difficult time. I’ve been reminiscing lately about our time spent there. Looking back, I see now there were things that seemed to cause undue pain. I want to share them here, to help others try to avoid our same mistakes.

  1. Successful restoration requires understanding each other. Be prepared that you, as a stander, will need consolation and affirmation after being rejected by your prodigal. It is hopeful to receive this from them once they choose to come back home. HOWEVER, they are full of questions themselves and get attacked constantly from the enemy with guilt and condemnation from where they’ve been. They struggle so much, they just CANNOT give more than they have to soothe you. Understand this and seek your balm from Christ alone. Only God can edify you during this very painful, raw stage. 
  2. We found outside influences effected our marriage and our personal walks with the Lord. The Lord started leading us to disconnect from people, media, and technology that drew our attention away from each other and Him. We cleaned out our house of music and films that contained filthy language, premarital sex, etc. We withdrew from all social media. We turned off our house WiFi, only keeping internet on our phones. And we removed ourselves from others who were a negative influence on our marriage and in our lives. This may seem extreme to many, but it brought such peace, that we were able to hear God better and focus on each other.
  3. Keep in mind, too, that extreme emotions Satan attacks with are not to be taken as the general feeling of each spouse. Here’s two examples of what I mean:
    1. I stood for my marriage. I wanted my husband. I loved my husband, but in the thick of severe attacks, times when I would be exhausted from trying to make it work, or after a disagreement with my husband, I would journal that I hated him. I hated what he had done to me and done to our marriage. I begged God to release me and allow me to find someone who hadn’t hurt me so badly. If my husband had read my journal that day, he probably would have given up and left again, thinking there was no hope. However, I didn’t feel that way most days. Most days I’d look him in the eyes and thank him for coming back home. Most days I’d love him with all the strength I could and choose to fight for us. 
    2. On the flip side was my husband who had chosen to obey God and come back home. He knew this was what he should do and what he wanted to do. He may not have returned out of love for me at first, but the obedience was there. Well, he also suffered extreme attacks from Satan…obviously. One morning, he woke with constant thoughts of the other woman. He, too, journaled how much he missed her and wanted to be with her. He struggled with wanting to leave me again, and even suggested it might be best if he left again. About a week later, I found his journal entry throwing me into a tailspin of more doubt and mistrust, (Doesn’t Satan just love the twisted cycles he throws us in?) By this time, though, my husband no longer felt the same as he had that day. He explained that he did want to stay and fight for our marriage, that the journal entry was just a moment of struggle and attack. He was right, and we kept moving forward. 

All that to say: Don’t assume the emotions and thoughts felt under Satan’s attacks are how the person truly feels. Stay the course and remember how fragile you both are. Show grace and mercy toward each other’s struggles and imperfections. Separate yourselves from the world to get back what you’ve lost. Maintain the mindset that your marriage is permanent. God put you together originally and has placed you back together. Believe God knows what He’s doing. Restoration is unbelievably painful and hard, but it’s not impossible. All that pain won’t be in vain. And one day, in the near future, you’ll look up and find it’s not as hard.

Pain in Restoration

Isaiah 58:12 (NLT) Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes.

I sliced my finger deeply months ago. A few weeks after the initial injury, the outside wound healed back together, but still felt weird on the inside as if it wasn’t healing to what it was prior to injury. All of a sudden, months later it became painful to the touch. I researched pain in scars and discovered that pain can occur as nerves regenerate and reconnect. I worried that the pain would remain permanently, even praying that it wouldn’t. After a few days, the pain subsided to more like sensitivity, and now it doesn’t hurt at all. I can finally say it feels normal as before the accident. It’s been a long process for such a small wound to heal, but it makes the best example. Restoration is just like this wound. Although, the prodigal has returned home and the marriage is back together on the surface – there’s much more to heal hidden underneath that requires a lot more time. HOWEVER, there is regeneration. There is reconnection. It’s just a more delicate process, and there’s gonna be pain in the healing.

God had to show me that restoration was not the end of what I’d been hoping, praying, and waiting for…it was the beginning of the work He was gonna do in us together! That perspective helped me wait expectantly for the changes I wanted to see in my prodigal, rather than get angry for the changes to not have already taken place. We, as standers, must realize that God reveals truth to the prodigal the same as he does for us…in layers. It will take time for the prodigal to realize all that he/she came from out of the Far Country. They were deceived to think another person could be this dream come true, and it takes time to realize it was actually sin and wrong in so many ways.

There were so many times, even after standing for my marriage and my husband coming back home, I begged for God to release me from the marriage, because I was so hurt and devastated by it all. I couldn’t understand why God didn’t bring my husband back as some radically changed man. I look back now in my journals and at my marriage the way it is now, years later, and see how it’s been a process of rebuilding. The breakdown of our marriage was a stripping away. The early days of restoration was the beginning of a rebuilding process. God tried to show me many times, but I was so raw with emotions going in every direction, I couldn’t catch on. BUT we pushed through and took baby steps everyday. God was repairing the breaches, at the same time Satan was still trying to destroy them! Marriage restoration is just like the Israelites in the days of Nehemiah (4:16-18) trying to rebuild the destroyed wall of their city. They were trying to build, while their enemy tried to tear it down. So the Bible tells us they would build with one hand and carry a weapon in the other! That’s what you and your spouse MUST do!

The enemy will attack you both with low self-esteem, doubt, insecurities, mistrust, extreme emotions, and fear. These will come like a flood and threaten all the progress that’s made, but you combat it with prayer, the word of God, the promises He gave you, worship, journaling, zipping lips, patience, perseverance, and cutting out the world’s negative influences. These are the weapons we use to fight the enemy, Satan, not our spouse!

I look back over those days written in my journal and can see where we’ve been. God was right. It was the beginning. We aren’t the same people we were when we first married. Thankfully, we aren’t the same people we were when we came back together. Our marriage now is what we always dreamt it could be. Just like my sliced finger, the pain will subside. Regeneration will happen. You will reconnect with your spouse. And one day, it will be stronger and better than it was before!

The Chosen

The Chosen is the best series about the life of Christ. I don’t know if everyone has already heard of it or not. That’s why I’m posting information about it here, in case there is that one person who hasn’t seen it yet. It’s completely crowd-funded…no Hollywood moguls financing and dictating this story. It’s written, directed, and produced by an ACTUAL believer of Christ! And one who wants to tell the Good News all over the world for free! I highly recommend any and all people watch this series. Download the app. Watch it for free online. Then help them fund future seasons! You won’t regret it. 😀

http://www.thechosen.tv

Shabbat

For those that don’t know, Shabbat is the Hebrew word for Sabbath. Sabbath is the last day of the week (Saturday) where we are commanded to do no work, rest, enjoy family, and honor God, the Father. A Hebrew day begins at sundown the day prior, therefore, Shabbat begins at sunset Friday night. Many years ago, the Lord led us to begin observing this special time in much the same way as Jewish people. Keeping the Lord’s Sabbath and His Holy Feasts is such a blessing! Not only do we learn more about our Jewish Messiah, but they become special family memories and traditions with our children.

Speaking of blessings…that is what this post is all about. The Jewish people has such a rich tradition of blessing each other, their children, food, creation, etc. Notice the Patriarchs in the Old Testament, how they blessed their children. This very spiritual pastime has been mostly lost, to our detriment. Speaking blessings over a person releases such profound power in a life and can open doors for God to fulfill wonderful purpose in him/her. I encourage anyone seeking to go further with God, to explore the spiritual concept of blessing.

Back to Shabbat…every Friday night typically Hebrew, and Messianic Observers, light candles, speak blessings, and enjoy a lovely meal with their family concluding another busy week. These blessings include the blessing of the children, the Aaronic (priestly) blessing, the blessing of the wife, and concludes with a blessing of the bread and wine. This is our family’s favorite night of the week. Our kids love it, because everyone sits at the dining table. We play worship music, and there’s complete focus on family with no distractions. This is my favorite night of the week, because my husband reads Proverbs 31 as a blessing over me. The Jews call this Eshet Chayil, Woman of Valor. It’s a beautiful practice as a husband reads these precious godly qualities over his wife. I absorb the words every week, praying the Lord makes me into this ideal woman. Through the years, I’ve seen improvements, but God still has His work cut out! I also speak a blessing over my husband from Psalm 1. I’m not convinced everyone does this, or is as traditional as the Eshet Chayil, but I do it. It’s much shorter than Proverbs 31 and feels more rote than personal. For awhile now, I’ve wanted to compile verses together to speak specifically into my husband’s life (and actually ours as well). Yesterday, I finally took the time to write a more personal blessing. I share it here to help anyone else wanting to begin blessing their husband. Any portion can be edited to include other verses a wife so chooses or deleted if it doesn’t pertain. As always, I hope it helps!

Shabbat Blessing of the Husband

I bless my husband in many areas of his life. I acknowledge that as I bless my husband and he increases in these areas, so too, will I and our children increase and be blessed for he is our head and authority. 

I bless you with LOVE: John Wesley, may you love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. (Mk 12:30) To love me, your wife, as yourself (Eph 5:28) and bring up our children in the training and instruction of the Lord (Eph 6:4).

I bless you with FAITH as a mustard seed, so you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. (Mat 17:20) That the Father increases your faith (Luk 17:5) more and more.

I bless you with FEARLESSNESS: There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. (1Jo 4:18) For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2Ti 1:7)

I bless you with FRUIT: Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal 5:22-23)

I bless you with WISDOM and to have the mind of Christ. (1Co 2:16) God grant you wisdom so that it brings success. (Ecc 10:10) That you abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. (Rom 12:9) And whatever things are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, has any virtue and is praiseworthy that you think on these things. (Phl 4:8)

I bless you to PROSPER: Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper. (Psa 1:1-3) Keep the charge of the LORD your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn; (1Ki 2:3) The LORD be with you; and whatever you do, the LORD make it prosper. (Gen 39:23) That as the Lord has brought all this great calamity on us, so He will give us all the prosperity He has promised us. (Jer 32:42)

I bless you with God’s PROTECTION: May no weapon formed against you prosper (Isa 54:17) May God be for you, and therefore, no one can stand against you (Rom 8:31) Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your heart and mind through Christ Jesus. (Phl 4:6-7) The LORD be with you as a mighty, awesome One (Jer 20:11)

I release God’s PURPOSE in you: Although many are the plans in your heart, may it be the LORD’s purpose that prevails (Pro 19:21) May God count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2Th 1:11-12) May you be planted in the house of the LORD and flourish in the courts of our God. May you still bear fruit in old age; to be fresh and flourishing, To declare that the LORD is upright (Psa 92:13-15) And may He grant you according to your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your purpose. (Psa 20:4)

Jesus promised you would do even greater works than He did on earth, because He goes to the Father (Jn 14:12) I bless you with His POWER and authority over evil. That you will drive out demons; speak in new tongues; place your hands on sick people, and they will get well.” (Mar 16:17-18) That you walk in the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.(Luk 10:19) Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. (Eph 6:10)

I bless you with God’s PROVISION, to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Mat 6:33) I pray God will never stop doing good to you, and will inspire you to fear Him, so that you will never turn away from Him. (Jer 32:40) That you may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of your life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple. (Psa 27:4)

Fight for Your Marriage RMM Podcast

I realized I never copied our testimony podcast from Rejoice Marriage Ministries. We had the honor of sharing our testimony on their wonderful Fight For Your Marriage Podcast February 2020. Then coronavirus hit and things were even more crazy! So I’m posting it here now and recommending this wonderful new resource for marriages! Hope you enjoy! 💖

https://www.rejoiceministries.org/media/session/74820

God-Given Tools for Decision Making

Having a conversation with the kids this morning explaining that just like the Lord, I don’t want them to be forced to love me because I‘m their mom. I explained that now they love me because I’m their mom and they don’t know any differently.  However, one day, I want them (once they are grown and gone and in charge of their own lives) to choose to love me. I will no longer be a parent to them, always their mom, but rather (hopefully) a friend. I want them to grow up to see all the things I did and said and realize it was for their good and to love me for it. And then I want them to choose the right way I’ve taught them for themselves. I tried to explain that one day they will make decisions for themselves and I won’t be around to help them make those decisions. They must decide to use what they have learned from me to make the best decisions.

While having this conversation, it reminded me of something I’ve been questioning for quite awhile. I even talked about it this past weekend with a friend. Why doesn’t God just tell me what He wants me to do? I’d happily do it…well I’d at least do it because I have learned His way is best…so why doesn’t He just tell me instead of me trying to guess what the right thing is or what direction I should take? Then it dawned on me, God is doing the very thing I just explained to the kids.

God has walked me through many situations in the past that have taught me much about His ways. When my husband left me, God told me to stand. I had to decide to obey the command, but I was in no doubt of the command. Then there are times like when we had to decide to leave a job or not. We felt like it was the right thing, but had no clear command. So then we wondered if it was the right thing to do or not. It was. We had to trust. I believe those times of no clear direction are moments when God steps back to see what we are going to do based on what we’ve learned from Him, just like the parent He is.

All this contemplation made me want to compile a list of just what lessons I’ve learned from God that I would need to make the best decisions when He decides to step back and watch me make them.

Lessons I’ve learned from Abba in decision making:

1. Alignment to God’s Word. If it goes against the Word of God, it’s already a mistake.

2. Pray for guidance and His best (Jam 1:5). God may step back, but He never leaves us alone (Deut 31:6). Pray He closes doors that aren’t His best, and opens doors that He wants us to walk through (Rev 3:7-8). Also don’t pray for God’s permissive will. Sometimes, it’s permissible, but not God’s best for us (1 Cor 10:23).

3. Submit to authority (1 Pet 2:13). Children obey parents (Col 3:20). Wives submit to husbands (Col 3:18).

4. Spousal agreement. Usually when we need to make decisions, we need to wait to find agreement with our spouse (Eph 4:3; 1 Pet 3:7-8; Rom 15:5-6).

5. Utilize God-given counsel. Ask those I know that walk closely with the Lord (Prov 19:20).

6. Follow the peace. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s usually not (1 Cor 14:33).

7. Take my time. Rushed decisions tend to be poor decisions (Jam 5:7)

8. Avoid pressure. This is a combination of 6 & 7. When we make a decision purely out of pressure, something gets missed (Philippians 4:6).

9. Wait till I hear. Sometimes it just takes longer to hear God (Ps 85:8).

10. Listen better. Remove distractions so I can ACTUALLY hear the voice of God (1 Kings 19:12)

11. Check myself. If I’m not actively pursuing God and walking close to Him, decisions made won’t be good (2 Cor 13:5).

12. Let God move me. Honestly, not doing anything is doing something. Sometimes we must let God change circumstances. Trust His timing. (Ps 130:5)

13. Make the hard decisions. A lot of times we know what we are to do, we just don’t like it or want to do it. We must accept that God’s will is best, even if hard. (Rom 8:28)

14. Don’t get upset. I’m still working on this one. I have to remember that no purpose of God’s can be thwarted (Job 42:2). That tells me God will either prevent a bad decision or He’s gonna walk with me through one, because I got things to learn!

Hope this is helpful to any and all. If anyone has any other tools to share to this post, please do! We welcome anything that helps us make godly decisions and ways to follow Him! God bless!

Superpowers

What if our biggest flaw was actually our greatest superpower? I met a woman today with a limp. She didn’t seemed disturbed by it. It didn’t seem like it was from a recent accident, disease, etc. Maybe it was something she was born with, or perhaps polio had messed up her leg as a child. I don’t know. She seemed like a normal, capable person otherwise. Then I thought, perhaps I should’ve asked to pray for healing – but just as quickly the thought came: “What if that limp isn’t something she needs to be healed from? Who says a flaw must be a bad thing? What if she relates better to others because of that limp?”
Then I thought of my youngest daughter’s speech delay. What if she always has difficulties, but why would that be bad? What about my son’s crossed eyes? What if they never became perfectly straight? Finally, I thought of my oldest daughter’s leukemia diagnosis. What if these flaws, or defects, weren’t something to be ashamed of, hidden away hoping no one discovers or points out, but instead were our greatest triumphs? To be the very things that make us who we are? Who we are meant to be? What if those shameful defects became our superpowers? How we view the world? How we see people? And instead of shame or bitterness and anger because of them, they help us see the weakness in others to grow within us compassion, grace, mercy, & empathy.
I believe all these perceived “negative” issues arise, not to harm us, but to empower us. They give us the ability to see people better. To be the kindness we want from others. I believe our defects can be super, if we find the power within them: LOVE.

I know it’s been a long time since we’ve posted anything, but life has been hard for awhile. I don’t know if I mentioned we found out we were pregnant with our 4th child shortly after Ariel’s diagnosis. While it has made a bright spot during an otherwise dark time, it has added quite a level of complexity…leukemia treatments at the same time of having a newborn! Then my dad died suddenly after the baby’s birth. So, it’s been a rough few years to say the least. We appreciate any and all prayers! However, the best news is Ariel has completed treatment and her immunity is almost back to normal. She is now a beautiful active healthy 6 year old little girl! We still must keep check ups on her blood and body frequently, but all is well. Praise the Lord!

Fear

Matthew 14:29-31 (NLT) 29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. 31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

Acts 16:25-26 (NLT) 25 Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. 26 Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off!

Fear has erected a prison around me, my heart, and my thoughts. I’ve been stifled by it. I’ve been in bondage, but if I take the time to get grounded back into what God has to say, then the walls begin to shake and begin crashing down. Then the freedom Christ promised me is lived in once again. Just like Peter, if I take my eyes off of Jesus to look at the waves crash around me, I begin to sink, and I yell, “Master, save me!”

The people who work for the government to identify counterfeit money don’t waste their time studying the fake bills. They meticulously study the true money, so that when they see the false, they quickly identify it as what it is and move on. That is what I must do. I must be so intimately connected to God’s truth that I can quickly recognize Satan’s lies and move on, and not let his deceit hinder me from what God has promised me!

I encourage you to read this blog about identifying counterfeit money and apply it to your spiritual life. What spiritual heights we could achieve and victories seen, if we quickly and efficiently identify the falsehood of the enemy!

Counterfeit Detection (Part 1)

Not Looking Back

[Luk 9:62 NKJV] 62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

I have been dealing with a heavy heart lately…actually, if I’m honest, I live with a heavy heart since Ariel’s diagnosis. Lately has been worse because my daddy died all of a sudden. I miss my dad. I miss the days before Ariel’s leukemia diagnosis. I miss the carefree days of just enjoying our babies, the joy of our marriage restoration, and having both of our dads around.

It is so hard looking at our pictures now…something I used to love. Everything is seen through a datestamp. I look through the pictures and something wells up within me and wants to scream at my son in that picture, “Enjoy it, son, Granddaddy is gonna be gone in 10 months!” Or every picture of Ariel is viewed as pre-diagnosis or post-diagnosis…and I so wanna climb into that picture and go back to pre-diagnosis days. I can’t help it, that’s just how I feel.

The past few weeks have been especially trying. Ariel has been sick…the praise is this is the first time she’s been sick since her diagnosis in over a year! She’s had a stomach bug. And while she handled that like a champ, unfortunately, it’s taken a toll on her already delicate GI system from all the meds she takes. When one of my babies gets sick, it’s hard. But when Ariel gets sick or doesn’t feel well, I don’t handle it well…I admit. I worry. I fret. I stress. Not that it does me or my family a bit of good, but, again, it’s what this Mama does. I just want her better.

Her dad finally asked about what life would look like after treatment ends in 13 months. It was a great question I could never manage to think of, since I can’t get past the stage we are always currently in. Once treatment ends, we will still be going to the doctor once a month for another YEAR! Then it will slowly taper to fewer visits over the next FIVE years till we are just going once every six months! I swallowed that news. When we left the hospital that day, I cried in the car as we were driving home. I knew they would monitor her closely after treatments ended, but I never imagined this. This is our life. This is my baby girl’s early life. She won’t remember a time without hospitals or clinics or pills or needle sticks or procedures. I was devastated. It’s all very heavy.

There’s such a strong duality to all of this. I am so grateful my baby girl turned five years old yesterday…ARIEL IS STILL ALIVE. I STILL HAVE HER. When she feels well, she’s full of life and fire and sheer will. However, there’s this flip side to it all. This is a very difficult and, apparently, long journey to trudge. Life is so fragile. I feel like we are always one step away from this vast precipice and any chaos we experience or one more extra thing and our lives shift out of balance ready to topple head-first into the expanse. That’s not really a fun way to live. It’s heavy.

Thanksgiving this year was so picturesque. It was this normal bustling holiday. Kids were excited about the meal while watching the Macy’s Parade. JW and I were busy in the kitchen preparing the feast. A handful of guests came. I watched football. JW took the kids hunting. Then I went Black Friday shopping while they cooked s’mores over a fire. It was normal when normal isn’t normal at my house. I couldn’t believe it. It was the most wonderful Thanksgiving I’ve ever experienced. I walked around the house thinking how happy I was, but my happiness nowadays is muted. It’s no longer carefree happiness with giddiness and a light step. My happiness is experienced in the heaviness…will it always be this way? I hope not, but at the same time, I’m so very grateful for it now. Heavy happiness is so much better than the sadness my life could be…and I know that full well.

I want a life that isn’t so heavy. I long for carefree days. I want the joys of my babies in perfect health. I want my dad back. I long for simple days and normalcy. God knows my secret thoughts. He knows the desires of my heart…better than I even realize them. This holiday weekend, I read a t-shirt that said, “Don’t look back, you’ll miss the road ahead.” That grabbed my attention. Then yesterday morning my heart was heavy again, because it was Ariel’s birthday and she started out her day vomiting all over the floor and I had to clean it up. Then my morning message popped on my phone: “The only thing the past has to offer you is lessons. It’s time to look ahead and move forward!” Honestly, God, I don’t wanna move forward. I don’t like this path I’m on. Can’t I just get off this crazy train?

But God doesn’t leave me alone. He makes His presence known. He lets me know He’s here on this crazy train next to me. As I was sadly going through pictures this weekend, I noticed something I’d never seen before. Around times of tragedy, there would be pics we had taken of rainbows. Who doesn’t love rainbows? So we try to get good pics of them when we see them. But I started noticing a trend, and I couldn’t believe it. Ten days before my Father-in-law died, there was a huge wide rainbow in the sky. Around the time my dad died, I found a rainbow on my bedroom floor and used it as a science lesson for the kids, thinking nothing of it. Then yesterday morning, I felt inclined to read the Blessings of God I have typed out hanging in my kitchen…and there it was…another rainbow on the blessing sheet! I believe God, in His way, is reminding me of His promises: His promise that He will bring health and healing to Ariel, His promise that we will laugh and will rejoice again, His promise that great shall be the peace of all my children. I cling to these promises daily.

I also cling to the promises that have already been fulfilled. I just had a birthday myself. The background pic on my phone is of my husband holding my birthday cake with the candles lit and all the love in his eyes. I don’t forget there was a day when that wasn’t the case, or that I didn’t know if I’d ever celebrate another birthday with him again. What you don’t see in the pic is in the bottom corner there are three tiny kids all excited to be bringing their mama gifts. They don’t understand THEY are the gifts. And somewhere sleeping in the background is the tiniest one whose name means there will be happier days ahead.

Our journey is long and hard. My heart is heavy most times right now. I miss my daughter’s health. I miss being able to lean on my dad for support and his love. I do wish I could go back, but God is telling me not to look back. He’s promised me miracles. And I have learned that when God promises stuff, I gotta hold on to my hat, because it’s gonna be big! I tell you, I’m ready for big!