No Fear in Love

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There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love

1 John 4:18 NIV

I’ve tried writing this blog post so many times and then FEAR takes over and I stop and fill my time with something else. If I don’t talk about, it’s not there. Right? If you know me well, then you know that for many reasons I carry fear. Most of the time it comes from things that are 98% made up in my head of things that have and may not EVER happen. Am I the only one who has a mind that does this? Tell me I’m not alone! It could be something simple and my mind wanders to the “what ifs” and the fear creeps in…

God reigns over every aspect of our lives, and I’ve come to realize that the fear I have is mainly due to my lack of understanding and trust in Him. The One who can calm my fears, the One who already knows the whole story, the One who holds me in His arms and steady’s my heart. Like the verse in 1 John says, such love has no fear, because perfect love drives out all fear! He loves you, He loves me! Sometimes I don’t think we realize the depths of His love for us. He loves us so much that His love can break the chains of fear, because He does not want us the live life this way. God is love. It’s that simple.

Today I pray over you and especially myself Ephesians 3:16-19; I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. I pray that knowing this love would bring joy and remove out any fear and any doubt that has been brought over you. That you find peace in knowing that God is in control and that He is able to do ALL things!

Lastly, because I love music.. I leave you with this song.

Stir in me a love that’s deep
A love that’s wide
A love that’s sweet
And help me Lord to never keep it to myself
And if my heart should dimly burn
And if my feet should fail to run
Call my name and I will come right back to You

There’s no fear in love
I want to stay close to You
It’s really that simple
I want to stay close to You
Just as simple as this song

I want to stay close to You
It’s really that simple
I want to stay close to You
My whole life long

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Whole30- 11 Days Down, 19 More Days To Go

Like a lot of people at the start of a new year, Nate and I decided to get our health back. With both of us working full time jobs and coming home tired, a lot of our meals consisted of eating out. This was a very unhealthy lifestyle for us, not to mention expensive. Some friends of our told us a while about the Whole30 and how it made them feel. Last year, I’d browse Pinterest and pin some recipes and helpful ideas but didn’t do much else. I even checked out the book, It Starts with Food, from library, but didn’t get past the first chapter. But with Nate on board, we knew it was time to make a change.

What is Whole30?

Straight from the website, Whole30 is “a short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and help balance your immune system.” In order to do this, that means for 30 days (no cheat meals allowed here) we’re going to be eating REAL FOOD- meats, veggies, fruit, nuts- foods that do not have a lot of ingredients (no highly processed foods). And we won’t be eating… sugar (of any kind! Insert sad face), grains, legumes, alcohol, and dairy (Nate LOVES milk and I LOVE cheese- insert double sad face). Check out their website for deeper information here.

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail

This saying is so true! The first week I did not plan out our meals as much as I would’ve liked. We didn’t fail or slip during these first week, but trying to come up with meals on the fly is not my forte. So for this current week, I sat down at my computer and browsed all of those recipes that I had pinned and created a menu for this week. Then I jotted down all of the ingredients we needed to buy and went to the grocery store. We were reading every single thing to make sure that the ingredients were Whole30 compliant. I can’t believe how much added sugar and ingredients I can’t pronounce are in the foods we eat. Poor Nate was Googling every ingredient in the things we needed to make sure they were allowed. Nate and I had to have been in the store for what seemed like FOREVER! But I’m glad that we planned out a menu. The next day, we spent the entire afternoon, cooking and prepping the food. Doing that has made it so easy to come home and heat up the food and eat dinner.

Although the first couple of days we had headaches from the “detox”, the Whole30 has us feeling really good so far. I’m really glad to have Nate doing this with me and being just as excited about it as I am. We had a yummy Pork Stir Fry for lunch when we got home from grocery shopping. IMG_3142

I was wanting to have a chicken but it was still frozen and we were pretty hungry already. This was easy and quick to make. I put a little sesame oil (don’t use this all the time if you are doing the Whole30) into a wok and let it heat up, put the cut up pork in to cook. I made the pork into bite sized pieces. Once the meat was cooked through I added a little more sesame oil and added frozen stir fry vegetables. Cook those up to your liking (I like them with a little crunch still). Then serve and enjoy!

Here are some of the other yummy things we ate this past week:

Saturday: Cajun Jambalaya with Cauliflower Rice

Sunday: Protein Burgers (Grass Fed Burger with bacon, egg, avocado, tomatoes, and onion wrapped in lettuce)IMG_3154

Monday: No Bean Turkey Chili

Tuesday: Grilled Hot Wings

Wednesday: Bellpepper Stuffed “Tacos”

*Know that I am still learning all about Whole30 and am not an expert. This is just my family’s experience. 

I like cute things, so I made this meal planning printable so that planning can be a little less boring. Enjoy!

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Click to download: Weekly Menu Planner

What are some of your favorite clean eating recipes?

 

 

What’s Up Wednesday – December 2015

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So, it’s been a minute since I’ve been on here. The holidays are a crazy busy time! I thought I’d jump on for the last What’s up Wednesday of 2015. Can you believe another year has passed up by?! Remember when you were younger and a year felt like an eternity and now a year feels like it goes by so fast… Anyhow, let’s get to it.

What we’re eating this week…

Pizza, Alfredo, everything not good for us but oh so good! I’m excited to eat some prime rib for NYE!

What I’m reminiscing about…

The past year. It was filled with so many memories! Here are just a few…

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Huntington Beach with the family
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Wedding fun with my brothers and hubby
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Rueben got a taste of baseball. He played on the Junior Giants this summer.
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Hubby and I turned *ahem* 30 this year. This was his birthday dinner.

What I’m loving…

Having my nieces and nephew over for their holiday break. It’s nice to have a home full of laughs and to keep Rue busy.

What we’ve been up to…

IMG_2381Celebrating this beautiful season. This can always be a very busy month. Parties with friends and family coming over. Shopping for all my loved ones. Also remembering the reason we really celebrate this time- Our Saviors birth! It’s been busy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Maybe some relaxation will come in January.

What I’m dreading…

I’m not really dreading anything. I lied, hubby and I are going to be starting the Whole 30 next week. I’m not looking forward to not having grains and beans…and whatever else I’ll miss once Monday comes. But I’m also excited about it 🙂

What I’m working on…

Still working on my dining room chairs… I’ve got them stripped and ready to be stained. It’s just been too cold to sit in the garage and do it.

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So many staples to get the fabric off of the seat!
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Progress…

What I’m excited about…

I’m excited for a new year! That means new possibilities, new memories and adventures. I’m ready to reach goals this year.

What I’m watching/reading…

I’m a sucker for reality television… I know, I know… anyhow, I’ve been watching Married at First Sight. It’s crazy to see these two strangers meet for the first time at their wedding.

I’m reading Living Well, Spending Less by Ruth Soukup. I’m ready to stop spending frivolously and prioritize things in my life.

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In February, I plan on taking her Living Well, Spending Zero challenge. Which is basically 31 days of not spending…what am I getting myself into?! My friend Corina did it and saved a lot of money in that short span of time.

What I’m listening to…

Most of December has been Christmas music. For me it never gets old.

What I’m wearing…

Ugly Sweaters! For Christmas Eve at my parents house, we had an ugly sweater contest. Nate and I tied with 2 others for 2nd place.

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Hot glue, lights, tinsel and a bling necklace. Nate’s shirt says “Happy Holla Days”

 

What I’m doing this weekend…

Putting all of our Christmas decorations away, tidying up our house, and meal prepping for our 1st week of the Whole 30.

What I’m looking forward to next month…

New challenges, celebrating birthdays and continuing to enjoy the cold weather!

What else is new…

Not much else is new. I am praying for my family and friends.  We never know what tomorrow holds or what’s in store for next year.  Here’s to 2016 bringing you the joy, hope, love and peace that comes from Jesus. Happy New Year!

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Veterans Day- Awareness to the Invisible Wounds of War

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Today is Veterans Day. My husband, Nate, served in the U.S. Army for 6 years and was deployed twice to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Today I celebrate and thank him along with the many men and women who also served and are serving.

Veterans Day has a different meaning to me now that I’m married to a combat veteran and have become more informed. In the past it was just a day off from school or a way to get a good deal on a pair of shoes. Honestly, I never genuinely thought about the veterans who fought and served so that I could enjoy those freedoms. There are millions of men and women who decided to sign on the dotted line to serve their country each with a different reason for why they served. Whatever those reasons, I am forever grateful. In this post, I want to touch on the invisible wounds that some veterans may experience. This is solely based on things that I’ve seen first hand with Nate. Every person is different, even if two soldiers were in the same place and experienced the same thing at the same time, they could have been affected differently. With Nate’s permission, I’m sharing some of the things that he and probably others like him experience.

Nate’s Story

Nate joined the Army his senior year of high school. A short time after graduation in 2003 he went to Georgia for basic training, got stationed in Germany where the unit he was assigned to already had orders to deploy to Iraq. Within 6 months of leaving home, at the ripe age of 18 a naïve Nate was being sent to fight the Global War on Terror. Being so young, I would have been scared out of my mind. But Nate was excited. Excited to defend his country, and do the job that was entrusted to him.

2004- 18 year old Nate in Balad, Iraq
2004- 18 year old Nate in Balad, Iraq

From the first day his combat boots touched the dirt in Balad, Iraq in 2004 he was sent out on his first mission. Every day was busy and no day was ever the same. He says that tour went by very fast because it was so hectic. Through the excitement Nate felt, he also felt fear. During Nate’s first deployment he experienced many things; improvised explosive devices (IED) were going off and they did not know when or where they would happen, having to make decisions in an instant that would stay in his memory forever, losing friends, and becoming wounded himself which resulted in being awarded a Purple Heart. But despite all of that he pressed on and continued the mission that he and his platoon were sent there to do for 12 months.

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Kuwait- Nate with his squad
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Nate’s Purple Heart Ceremony

His second deployment occurred only a year and half after he returned home from Balad. Now he had orders to go to Baghdad, Iraq. This time instead of excitement, he felt scared and nervous because he knew what he was going in to. The enemy was smarter this time around. Many of the same things that happened during the first deployment were the same for the second. From the home videos and pictures Nate would send me, Iraq looked like a depressing and frightening place to be.

The timeframe to come home kept getting pushed back and his platoon was there about 15 months. This time he was tired and just wanted to come home. Many in his platoon were deployed multiple times after this. Nate was able to transfer and get stationed in California at Fort Irwin to finish out his time in the service.

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Nate on tower guard in Baghdad
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Nate on patrol in Baghdad


Invisible Wounds

Unfortunately, most men and women come back from war with wounds. They are not always physically visible. When Nate returned from his first deployment he began to drink heavily to avoid dealing with or thinking about the things that occurred in Iraq. He did not know how else to cope with the things he saw. Many veterans are like Nate and they come back from war and don’t know how to process the things that they’ve done or seen. This can cause depression and/or post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If you were to see a veteran walking around, you probably wouldn’t know that they are probably suffering from a nightmare they had last night or that they might be in a crowded place and begin to have anxiety because they don’t know whom they can trust. Some might have major migraines that are associated with having a TBI (traumatic brain injury). These are just some of the invisible wounds that are associated with many people in the military.

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According to the American Psychiatric Association, more than 300,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been diagnosed with PTSD. Countless others probably suffer from this condition but have never sought help for it. Even sadder, in 2012 more military deaths were caused by suicide than by combat. You can see other compelling statistics in the infographic above.

I’m so grateful for the men and women who chose to join the Armed Forces and fight to protect our country and our freedoms. I only wish that we could do and acknowledge them more. After coming home from war many of them suffer from these invisible wounds and some of them find it hard to transition from military life to civilian life. This Veterans Day I wanted to bring awareness to these invisible wounds and to let other veterans, past and present, know that you’re appreciated! Thank you for your strength, courage and perseverance.

If you’re reading this and can relate, please know that there are resources that can help.

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What’s up Wednesday – October 2015

whatsupwed1Today, I’m linking up with one of the blogs I read (Sheaffer and Shay are also co-hosts). It basically sums up the month and they do it the last Wednesday of each month. Would you join me?

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What we’re eating this week…

Monday: Mama’s Enchiladas. Yummy!

Tuesday: Out to Eat

Wednesday: Pulled pork sandwiches

Thursday: ummm… I should get into the habit of menu planning. It gets hard when we get home late and then have to come home and cook. I never am in the mood…

What I’m reminiscing about…

Last year we hosted an Ugly Christmas Sweater party. I’m already seeing so many sweaters! It was a great time, with great people!

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What I’m loving…

That the weather is finally cooling off! Although Saturday has a high of 84°… next week is showing 60’s and some rain! That is definitely needed in California.


What we’ve been up to…

This month, we’ve been staying home a lot more. Which I’m enjoying more than I thought I would. I’m one who always wants to be out doing something. My husband on the other hand is a homebody. If he could stay home and do nothing, he’d be in Heaven. But…I’m usually making plans for us!

This month, he was being nice and decided to do a load of laundry to help me out…shirt

The shirt that now has bright pink accents was a brand new one… C’est la vie!pie

We had my in-laws over for dinner and I made this delicious and easy Reese’s Peanut Butter pie. Maybe I should try a dessert without PB? Nahhh!

choir The choir has started practicing for our church Christmas program. Anybody else ready for the holidays?! Family, food, fun. Yesterday, my godson said it was the best time of the year!

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Instead of carving pumpkins this year, I decided to get small pumpkins and paint them. It was fun to be creative! Here are our finished pumpkins.
  (left to right: Nates, mine and Rueben’s pumpkins)

We also went to Apple Hill, which I wrote about here.

What I’m dreading…

Driving to work tomorrow in traffic…

What I’m working on…

I’ve been redoing my dining room set for about 2 months now… I plan to WILL finish soon. Here’s the table in progress which is now done. Now if I can get to moving on the chairs. Anyone wanna help?! LOL

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What I’m excited about…

Seeing my sister soon! She lives about 2 hours away and is a busy bee! She truly has a servants heart. Can’t wait to see her!

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What I’m listening to…

Our family has already started listening to Christmas music. The Christmas Pandora station is on a lot more recently. Other than that, I’ve been listening to the new Israel & New Breed album Covered: Alive in Asia. So good!

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What I’m watching/reading…

Definitely watching T.G.I.T- Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal… My husband and I have 2 shows we watch on Sundays during the fall- Homeland and The Walking Dead. Both give me knots in my stomach! They’re intense. On another note, I’ve recently finished watching Gilmore Girls (can’t wait for the reunion episodes!) on Netflix and I’m looking for a new show to watch. Any suggestions?

I just picked up Jesus>Religion by Jefferson Bethke from the library. He’s known for his spoken word YouTube videos. He’s also an author and I believe this is his first book, but just came out with another book this month.

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What I’m wearing…

These shoes! My little brother got me these for my birthday. They are super comfortable. I think he picked them up at the outlets. I’m planning on starting the Couch to 5K running app next week. These shoes will be great to use. Wish me luck!

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What I’m doing this weekend…

It’s Halloween on Saturday. I’ll be helping with the Harvest Carnival at our church. The choir is running the concessions stand. Sunday we’ll go to church and lunch with my parents. Hopefully I will get to do some meal prepping too. Is it really going to be November on Sunday! This year has flown by.

What I’m looking forward to next month…

We have a few birthdays the first couple weeks, Veteran’s Day (gotta take my hubby to get his free meals), Thanksgiving, family, friends and fall weather!

What else is new…

Not much. I’m continuing piano lessons, Rueben started Break Dancing classes, and Nate is enjoying (or maybe not) football season. He’s a diehard 49er fan. 

Here’s to the last two months of 2015!

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Monday already?

I can’t believe the weekend is over and it’s Monday! We should have a 2-3 day work week and a longer weekend. Who is with me?? This weekend we rearranged furniture in our master bedroom and took furniture out that was just being used as a dumping spot.  Our master looks and feels so much bigger and cleaner.

IMG_0007  Now I’m just waiting on my new bedspread to come and the time and energy to reupholster a chair I got from the Goodwill for $3! Yay for bargains! However, I did just see this on Facebook and that’s totally me…but I have supplies for my next DIY project! Anyone else have this problem?

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Apple Hill

We finally got some fall like weather in California this weekend! After church on Sunday, we traveled to Apple Hill. We met up with my husband’s side of the family and had a great afternoon. It was so beautiful up there and the weather was perfect. We went to a few different places and let the kids ride the train and run around. We wanted to pick some apples to take home, but unfortunately we ran into this sign…

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Out of apples?! Boooo! Maybe next year? It was nice to hang out with my husband’s side of the family. We don’t see them often enough.

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Breast Cancer Awareness

This post may seem all over the place… but it’s just a summary of our weekend adventures. My husband works for an awesome company that acknowledges many causes. This week they are spreading breast cancer awareness by having a baking contest. A few years ago, I found this delicious recipe for Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes and made them for a dessert auction at our church. They were so good! I’ve made them a few more times since and my husband thought they’d give him a sure win. I told him he had to help, so that he actually “made” them. We put some food coloring in the frosting to make it pink and they turned out so pretty! Of course we had to taste them too! The contest is tomorrow and I’m glad he volunteered to bake something to bring awareness. What causes are you passionate about?

UPDATE: Hubby won best tasting dessert!

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Stop Complaining – My PCOS Story

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A few weeks ago a friend of mine posted this on Facebook,

“Speak life into your situation. Negative words and thoughts can kill your purpose. Stop complaining about your situation and praise God for longsuffering. It only shows how weak your faith is. Praise Him through your situation and get ready for your blessings!”

The week prior to that, I had been wallowing on the fact that my husband and I may never have children of my own. I find myself doubting how big God really is and begin to have those negative thoughts.

Back Story

My periods have never, ever been consistent. But I never really worried about it until I was about 19 or 20. I went to my doctor and got my lady exam and expressed my concern about my irregular periods. I was told that everyone is different and that my irregular periods were “my normal.” I thought nothing of it and went on with life. Never knowing if my period would come next week or 4 months from now. Fast forward about 6 years. I started to do research on my symptoms, and I kept coming back to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). I expressed concern with my new OB/GYN and told him about my findings. He said it could be PCOS but didn’t do any tests or confirm it. Being a little naïve back then, I left the doctors, still with no concrete answers.

Finally, a diagnosis

Now it’s 2012, I changed my doctor again. This time I was going to get answers. I went into my appointment and again, expressed my issues and findings. She said that we could do an ultrasound of my ovaries. Yes! Finally, I can get some answers! After a few days, I had not heard from my doctor so I sent her an email. I was told my results were “fine.” Fine? FINE? What in the world does fine mean? After a few hours of wondering what that meant and thinking what else could it be if I’m “fine” she finally got back to me saying, the ultrasound showed many small follicles that most of the women with PCOS have.

Finally, a diagnosis. Now what? I made an appointment to talk to her about it and get some more insight rather that what I’ve been reading on the internet. She told me some of the symptoms and I was experiencing most of them.

The symptoms of PCOS can vary from woman to woman. Some of the symptoms of PCOS include: (source)

  • Infertility (not able to get pregnant) because of not ovulating. In fact, PCOS is the most common cause of female infertility.
  • Infrequent, absent, and/or irregular menstrual periods
  • Hirsutism (HER-suh-tiz-um) — increased hair growth on the face, chest, stomach, back, thumbs, or toes
  • Cysts on the ovaries
  • Acne, oily skin, or dandruff
  • Weight gain or obesity, usually with extra weight around the waist
  • Male-pattern baldness or thinning hair
  • Patches of skin on the neck, arms, breasts, or thighs that are thick and dark brown or black
  • Skin tags — excess flaps of skin in the armpits or neck area
  • Pelvic pain
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Sleep apnea — when breathing stops for short periods of time while asleep

So, now in addition to having irregular periods, I have an explanation for excess hair on my body (hello! it costs a lot to get a wax every week), skin tags, hair loss- I used to have beautiful thick hair, now it’s so thin. WHAT THE HECK?! I remember leaving the doctors office sad and in tears. Out of all of these symptoms, the only thing I kept thinking was that I was never going to have children.

Giving it to God

Many times when we face something hard, we try to fix the problem ourselves. We go to friends and family and try to get their insight and opinions. We look for validation of our situation from them. Sometimes, we pray, but we don’t get on our knees and fully surrender it. When I left the doctors this was me. I called my husband, mother, sister, friends, anyone who would listen. I wanted to know it was going to be ok. But for some reason I thought I needed to hear it from them to believe it.  After a few days of feeling sad and defeated I started to earnestly pray about my diagnosis. I began to cry out to Him. I prayed for him to heal me, to change my thoughts, I didn’t want to have this burden. In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul pleaded with God to take away the burden. But he heard God say, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV). When we are weak, He is strong!

When I’m drowning in my negative thoughts, He is my Peace, my Strength and my Healer. Because He already knows the end of the story. I know that He has a plan and purpose for this diagnosis, so with every pain, with every negative pregnancy test, and every new symptom that comes, I won’t complain, but I will praise Him through this hardship. Today, I encourage you as well to praise Him and remain strong in your longsuffering.

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