"Count it joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness." James 1:2-3

Happy Monday Ladies! Some of you are probably wondering where I have been, well I am back in Virginia after extending my trip to Florida for an extra week. Has anyone ever made extensive plans and see them be thrown out the window? Well, this is exactly what happened when I arrived to Florida two Saturday's ago. As soon as we landed, we rushed to the ER to see my dad, no one in my family knew what exactly was going on except for we knew it was something serious and was getting worse. On Monday, just when we thought things couldn't get any worse they did, my dad had lost all movement in his arms, legs and face–he was then transferred to the ICU to keep a close eye on his lungs, making sure they did not collapse. Tuesday came and we were yet to see any improvement or receive a diagnosis. This was an extremely trying time for my family and I (we are all oh so incredibly close) and to see my dad in such a state was absolutely devastating. 

It was then, in our state of suffering with no answers or solutions that we became most desperate for Christ. I used to struggle with worry and anxiety but over the years, the Lord has really worked in my heart, ridding me of such sins. But for a small moment these feelings clouded my thoughts. But as iron sharpens iron, whether it was my mom, sister, brother, Mike or Chris one of us was there to quickly remind us of who God is. So often during our times of suffering we focus on what we are going through and how big the problem seems rather than on who God is and his promises. On Wednesday, I broke down but was comforted when Mike shared with me 1 peter 5:10 "And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you." It was then that my vision was no longer clouded but in the midst of hardship I was able to see what the bits of grace the Lord was sending our way. That same day my schedule for the following week cleared up, which allowed me to stay an extra week. 

I was also reminded by my parent's Pastor that faith without suffering is no faith at all. "...for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness." James 1:2 So often during times of trials I focus so much on being strong and not allowing myself to worry that I keep everything in, but I was reminded that God desires for us to cast all of our anxieties on him because he cares for us. See 1 Peter 5:6 During this challenging time I was humbled by God's grace to see how much He loves His people and cares for them. Although my dad was sick and was in great danger, God was with us, He never left our side (even when we felt alone). I was encouraged by those around me, my mom demonstrated such great acts of love, never leaving my dad's side. My dad remained joyful and hopeful, he never once uttered a complaint, worry or doubted. 16 days later when the Lord restored him, every nurse that entered his room he was quick to share the grace that the Lord had shown Him. 

In these moments of suffering I couldn't help to think of how meaningless this life here on Earth is without Christ. How I ought to be living a life most glorifying to the Lord. And I would like to remind you ladies, "living in this fallen world inevitably brings sorrow and suffering to all mankind. Because of Adam's sin in the Garden of Eden, God cursed the world. All people live under the curse but the Christian understands that God uses the pain and suffering to bring about His eternal purpose in the believer's life. The promise of God for every believer is that 'All things work together for good to them who love God and to them who are called according to his purpose.' (Romans 8:28) We weep and are broken-hearted when we see a loved one sick or injured or lying helpless with a terminal illness. But God has given us hope and understanding that each sorrow and affliction is ultimately going to cause us to humble ourselves before divine providence and be more thankful that we have hope of reaching the celestial city where there is no curse anymore. In times of hurting and sorrow during your trials, remember that Jesus cares, oh YES, He cares. Our Lord makes no mistakes." -Pastor Dennis

and finally, 

"In this you rejoice, though now for a little white, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith–no more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls." 1 Peter 1: 6-8

The Lord has restored my dad, he is still not 100% better but He is improving significantly and is now able to walk. If any of you are going through a tough time and would like for me to pray for you, please email me or contact me, I am so thankful for all of you and the love you have for the Lord. Hope you have a wonderful week!