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Over the last few weeks leading up to today's one year anniversary of the loss of our little one (you can read about that HERE), I have felt peace. Even better, I've felt the sweet presence of the Lord. I have been reading the devotional One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and am becoming more aware of His goodness, His faithfulness, and His incredible love.

This last year has been filled with shame and hurt, and plenty of pain and suffering. I fought the Lord and was angry with Him for most of the year. I didn't understand (and still don't) why we had to experience the heart ache and brokenness. Initially, I asked the question WHY on a daily basis and demanded answers. My heart was filled with anger and bitterness and I was living in rebellion because I wasn't trusting in the Lord. But I am eternally grateful that God's mercy is new every morning. We have another chance to start afresh every single day.

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness." -Lamentations 3:22-23

You see, what I am discovering is that struggles are truly just a part of life. Everyone has them and they can't be avoided. In fact, it says in Matthew 5:45 "...that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." However, I'm also learning that when struggles come, my response to them can be different. I can choose to respond from a place of faith and trust instead of simply letting my circumstances dictate my reactions. It's really about a heart change. Where I am today is not an accident. God is building and molding my character. I can't fill with joy until I learn how to trust.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:13 NIV)

I think that is what God has been trying to teach me this year, if I'll listen and obey. If I truly believe, then I must let go and trust. But sometimes for me, it seems easier to stress and worry and let myself become anxious. It's sure easier than exercising discipline. A symptom of a lazy heart. And it's something I must work on.

If trust must be earned, hasn't God already earned it? He gave up His son for us all. Jesus. What an incredible gift. Isn't He more than enough? Isn't joy worth the effort to trust?

Often I am guilty of playing the comparison game, and sadly I let it steal my joy. But I am learning that the grass isn't greener on the other side. It's greener where you water it. When I dwell on the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord, I can't help but be filled with hope and joy. For the anticipation of what's to come in my life. Our lives. My Dad always used to say "bloom where you are planted." What will be our story?  Whatever it will be, I pray it glorifies the Lord.

"Praise Him for the unexpected and the unlikely, for the daily and the difficult, and the graces in disguise." (Ann Voskamp)