Illuminate Me, Lord

Here’s a not so pretty poem I wrote about chronic illness in July of this year. I was really struggling, y’all. Having persistent Lyme disease, I don’t always know what each day will bring. It’s the nature of this beast. Thankfully, the past few months have been significantly better than the day I wrote this. This last summer, I was hanging by a thread of hope.

Waves of hope ebb and flow
as thoughts of death come and go

Held hostage to weakness
Pushing to merely exist

Fatigue the enemy 
Sucking life from this body

Beaten-slammed to the ground
No energy to rebound

A system waging war
No fight left here anymore

Pain shoved so far deep down
No longer can I be found

This illness has battered
My life long gone and shattered

Broken pieces of me
Shards of who I used to be

Nothing left but a shell
from days lived in brutal hell

Black as dark as the night
Alone, in bed, out of sight

Too frail to stop these thoughts
Into the abyss I drop

Undertows drowning me
A hope-filled heart now empty

Illuminate me, Lord
Fill me with Truth from your Sword
Copyright © 2020 Aimee Phillippi

Life with Lyme

*I wrote this back in May of 2019 for Lyme Disease Awareness Month. This is a big piece of my story, so I thought I would share it again on my blog in hopes that it might help those living with similar struggles. I still have my good and bad days, like many surviving chronic illness, however, the past few months my health has been slowly improving.

Being chronically ill requires a strength that I can’t explain. Although our bodies may be weak, those fighting this battle are among some of the strongest souls I know because each day we are at war with our bodies. Pushing just to exist, let alone parent our children, we climb mountains everyday.

I’ve been climbing mountains for 27 years and this is my story. It’s a story of surrender and acceptance, survival and perseverance. It’s a story about living with persistent Lyme Disease.

Prior to my diagnosis a year and a half ago, I was working as a Social Worker with Child Protective Services. My plate was extremely full, I was under a ton of stress and drinking up to 12 shots of espresso per day to combat the neverending chronic fatigue. 

Profound fatigue was something I have struggled with since I was thirteen years old. Before having our two daughters, I dealt with numerous “crashes” over the years. My body would give out and I would be bedridden for 18-24 hours a day, up to three months at a time. Doctor after doctor left me with no answers though, so I would eventually peel myself out of bed again and push through the fatigue in order to live life the best I could. That’s when caffeine became my best friend. But caffeine only masked my symptoms. The underlying fatigue remained. And as my tolerance grew, I had to increase my intake. I knew I had to stop, but wasn’t sure how I would function.

It wasn’t until I got off of the copious amounts of caffeine I consumed each day, that I could see how truly dire my condition was. Continuing my search for answers, I fought harder, yet still there were no concrete answers. I left each doctors’ office with a little less hope than when I walked in. 

Two years ago, I saw a Naturopathic Doctor who took the time to dig into my medical history and test me for Lyme Disease. The standard test which is often inaccurate, came back negative. Showing little improvement, she looked over my tests again and referred me to a Lyme Literate Naturopathic Doctor who encouraged further testing.

It was at this point that I finally had an answer: persistent Lyme Disease. As I sat in her office, my ND asked me how I felt about the diagnosis. I had a lot of mixed feelings. Having known in my heart that there was something very wrong, I was so relieved to finally have an answer. After the relief, came anger-towards the 20+ doctors I saw who missed this. Then, fear set in when I began researching Lyme Disease, learning just how complex and difficult it is to treat, that medical insurance covers little to no treatment, and that the few doctors knowledgeable in Lyme Disease are usually not covered by medical insurance. 

It’s been a year and a half since my diagnosis and the fear still comes in waves, intensifying on my worst days, days when I am so weak that I can hardly move my limbs or even my mouth to speak, when just brushing my teeth or taking a shower feels like I’m climbing Mt. Everest, when my joints are aching like I have the flu, and I feel like my brain is out to lunch because the thoughts I had the second before, have completely vanished, when existing feels like it’s stealing more energy than my body can produce.  

One of the hardest parts of this journey is the treatment. As treatment works to kill the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease, there is a die-off reaction in the body, called a “Herxheimer Reaction” or  a “Herx”. A “Herx” can make a person much sicker, before there is improvement. “Herxes” happen often for me during treatment and intensify my already debilitating fatigue and weakness.

But, it’s not just the physical symptoms and fear that take its toll. It’s other emotions too. There is the grieving of dreams I once had for myself and my family. There is the depression that settles upon me when I’m at my sickest, wondering if the unbearable fatigue and weakness will ever end. There is the guilt I carry from not being able to meet my own or my husband’s expectations for our family. 

Yet, despite the roller coaster of physical symptoms and emotions, I have learned to manage as a mother and wife. Some of the tools that I use on a daily basis are:

  1. Surrendering and leaning into God, first and foremost, by reading His word, Bible journaling and memorizing scripture. I’m not strong enough on my own to survive this illness. I need Him every moment of every day. 
  2. Pacing and prioritizing-Because the fatigue is often so severe, I must constantly pace myself, prioritizing and choosing between daily tasks that most people take for granted. On my worst days. I may have to decide between a shower or making my kiddos lunch. Of course, my shower is what waits because my kids always come first.  
  3. Patience-One of my toughest lessons has been patience with myself and with my family. When my symptoms flare, it’s easy to become grumpy with the ones I love most. I am still learning to have patience with my husband when he’s struggling because the weight of my illness and extra household tasks are wearing on him, patience because he will never be able to fully comprehend the relentless fatigue, patience with my kids because they’re being kids and patience with myself and the recovery process, because despite doing all I can to heal, I still feel awful much of the time.
  4. Gratitude-I count my blessings each day in order to stay positive. 
  5. Acceptance-This is ongoing. I’m learning to accept where I am and that what I’m doing is enough-even though it’s nowhere near what I want for myself and my family. 
  6. Setting alarms multiple times per day. I do this because my short-term memory has been affected and I forget things often. 
  7. Acting-I sometimes feel like my own puppeteer, forcing my arms and legs to move when by body is telling them not to, or laughing and smiling, when inside I feel like I’m dying. I “act as if” because my will to live is stronger than my will to die. I “act” and push because I want my family to have some sort of normalcy. I don’t want to be sick and I don’t want to wallow in my illness and pain-I want to live, not just survive, so I “act as if”, hoping that one day I won’t feel the way I feel. I “act” because being vulnerable and letting people see the real pain and struggle is sometimes just too much. I “act as if” because accepting that this is my life and my life for my family is really, really hard. And I “act” because on the outside I look fine, even though on the inside, I feel so far from it and people just don’t understand this. 

So if you know someone with an invisible illness, be that person who takes the time to really listen. Show kindness and compassion always. We are fighting battles you may not be aware of and you likely may never fully comprehend. Try to see the mountain we are climbing every day. 

A Father to the Fatherless

And he will call out to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’ -Psalm 89:26

My earthly father failed me. He failed me hard and I haven’t been the same since. Walking out that door at the age of thirteen, he turned my world upside down and I have never looked at it like I once had. A life where I felt safe and secure, suddenly became painful and scary. And it wasn’t like he just disappeared completely. He was still “around” after the divorce, but he chose not to parent me. The man I was supposed to be able to depend on, left me high and dry numerous times. He wasn’t trustworthy. The amount of pain, rage, and sadness I felt from him leaving, haunted me for years. One day though, something changed.

I remember hearing God firmly declare “I am your Father”. It was at that point that I realized I needed to stop looking back and instead look up to the One who has always been there. He is our rock and He will never forsake us. Our Heavenly father will strengthen us and help us. He will uphold us with his righteous right hand. He is not human, like our biological fathers are. And He will not harm us, like humans can.

Chasing his own selfish dreams, my dad caused me a lot of damage, including the need to have control in my life. It has taken me years to forgive my earthly father and trust my Heavenly Father. I’m still learning. I’m learning to surrender each part of my life to Him because He is ultimately in control. I’m learning to let go slowly and pry my fingers off of each thing that I hold dearly. And it’s scary to loosen my grasp. I don’t have to grip everything so tightly though. I have to consciously remind myself that I am safe and that surrendering my life to Him doesn’t mean I’m going to lose my life, rather, if I hold onto my life, I will.

I am not the teenager I was the night he left us and my Heavenly Father is not my earthly one. I have to remember that He wants what’s best for me. Actually believing this is one of the things I struggle with the most. But, He is love, even when He allows hardship and trials in our lives. In fact, by allowing trials in our lives, He is being a loving Heavenly Father, whether we see it at the moment or not. He is making us more like Him and this is a most loving act. Using trials to prune and shape us into who He wants us to be, He is helping us to become our best selves. He has our backs. And, He is always with us. He is for us and not against us. It is ok to let go.

If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it. -Matthew 10:39

Running on Empty but Full of Grace

“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children. -Matthew 14:17-21

Yesterday was a tough day. I’ve had a lot of those lately-days where hanging onto Him is all I can do. Today though, He poured out the blessings. Since our second move in two months-the first across the country, and the second just last week, money has been tight. We were unprepared to replace things once again lost to toxic mold and although we have a stockpile of canned food that we were trying to save in case of an emergency, we were running low on our typical supply of fresh meat. With just $20.88 left in our budget to purchase meat for the next ten days, I’ll admit, I was stressing a bit. It’s so easy to do, isn’t it? The world tells us that we have to figure it all out on our own, that we have to meet our needs in our own strength, but guess what? This isn’t true-because He knows just what we need and He is the Great Provider. He not only cares about our every need, He is our biggest need. And when we keep the faith and we trust Him even during the most trying of times, when we run to Him instead of our addictions or our distractions, we can be sure that He will always be there for us, filling us up with His love. He showed me today that He had us. I didn’t need to stress. I didn’t need to worry. He had us and He has you too.

He intervened today at the grocery store in a most peculiar, but incredible way. I have no doubt whatsoever that it was Him. When my husband ran to the store, I told him to just grab one $11 pack of chicken and we would somehow make what we have stretch. God had another plan though and he blessed the socks off of us. Typically, I would buy about $110 worth of chicken for our family of four, for a two week period. We needed a few other things to get by for the next two weeks as well, and twenty dollars just wasn’t enough. I was so wrong, because about twenty minutes after my husband left, I got the call from the parking lot. 

He called to tell me that as he had meandered his way toward the seafood department at Fred Meyer-still several feet away from the poultry section, an employee, out of nowhere, asked “Sir, are you looking for organic chicken breast?” A bit confused by how this man would know this, my husband looked around to make sure the worker was talking to him. The man was looking straight at my husband, while holding up a package of chicken breast, stating that it was currently 49 cents a pound. My husband told the man, that yes, actually he was looking for organic chicken, but he was perplexed by the price (it’s normally $6.99 a pound). The man stated that today is the sell by date and so the chicken would need to be eaten or frozen by tomorrow. My husband asked how many he had and the meat department employee answered “eleven packs.” My husband, humored by it all and oh so grateful, with a huge grin, later told me “I came for $11 worth of chicken, and He gives me 11 chickens instead!” Only God can do that. And the total cost of the chicken and few other grocery items he picked up? $19.88! Exactly $1 less than what was left in our budget!

That wasn’t all though. God did something else. I wanted to buy our girls some new colored pencils and erasers for school, but with extras we had to purchase due to the move, there was just no money to get them this paycheck. As my husband walked out of the grocery store, he found $12 rolled up on the ground outside. It was as though God dropped the perfect amount from the sky to be able to purchase the school supplies.

And He poured out yet another blessing tonight. New to Alaska cabin life, we are learning just how chilly it is. The wood floors are always freezing cold and slippers are a must. A day ago, my husband showed me that the entire front sole of his slipper had come apart and he was hoping to buy a new pair. I could tell he was bummed when I broke the news that there was not enough money leftover right now to do so. He had attempted to sew through the rubber sole, but I knew they wouldn’t last much longer. God reminded me of two $10 coupons sitting in my Zappos online shoe store account that I was given when they did not deliver my last purchase on time. With those coupons and a $1.00 VIP credit, I was able to order my husband a brand new pair of comfy slippers that cost $27.99, and I got them for just $7.20! He cares about us, y’all. EVERY LITTLE DETAIL. He cares about it all.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. -Matthew 6: 25-33

Acceptance for the Win

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God can bring peace to your past, purpose to your present and hope to your future. -John 14:27

During this crazy, isolating pandemic, I needed a way to serve and God put it on my heart to share my story. Tired of posting snippets of my life on social media, where lives are made to look picture perfect, I took a break and God spoke. So, here I am! And I’m going to be real here, y’all. I want to show the messy, the imperfect, and the struggle in the journey. My journey has never been a straight line or even just a little crooked. It’s been a full on three steps forward, two steps back–again and again, twirls and zigzags, abrupt stops and detours, a cliff drop here and there where I’m hanging by a thread, a long crawl back up, and yet another stumble. I’ve battled abandonment issues, food addiction, chronic illness, postpartum depression and more. I often wonder why I was put on this Earth to begin with, because compared to the amount of suffering I’ve endured, I’ve experienced much less joy in my life. Maybe this blog is why. Maybe it’s not. I don’t know, but I have to believe that He has a purpose for my suffering. Maybe that purpose is telling my story to let others know they are not alone or maybe it’s to bring hope to those who are currently enduring hardships and need some light shed in their lives. Right now, I’m needing some light too. I’ll be honest. Today, I don’t have a lot of hope myself, but perhaps, as I write, I’ll find some in this blog as well, because this last week-heck this last year—or three, have been really, really rough.

A couple of weeks ago, the waves of life came crashing down yet again, just when we were beginning to get settled into our cozy little cabin in Alaska. This cabin, we found out, had toxic mold, so we had to move a second time. Not only that though, less than a week moved in and we have run into problem after problem with this newest abode. I noticed I was becoming REALLY angry-like blood boiling angry, and I know there is always something more behind the anger so I started digging around and realized that I’m struggling with acceptance. I have been in a full blown boxing match fighting with reality because I don’t like the temporary living situation we are currently in and since I haven’t been able to accept it, it’s causing me more suffering and more frustration. I don’t know why our lives have been full of trials-so many, many trials. But as I write this, I can see how exhausting and futile it has been to fight against the things I cannot change, so I must accept our current circumstances as they are for the moment. This doesn’t mean I have to like them or approve of them or that these circumstances are what I’m choosing, but they are what they are for right now. The more I resist, the more I will suffer, so I will choose the less painful road this time. I will be thankful for the things I do have and look for the lesson, while continuing to hope in the One who has carried me this far.

Tonight, as I wrestled with anger and acceptance, I remembered a passage from the A.A. Big Book that had helped me in the past. I pray that this will help you too:

“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation-some fact of my life-unacceptable to me. I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake…unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes.” Alcoholics Anonymous (Big Book), 4th Edition P. 417

Riding Shotgun all the Way

We can make our plans but the Lord determines our steps. -Proverbs 16:9

We pulled out of a campground in Central Washington with everything we owned packed into a bright yellow school bus and our mid-sized SUV. After months of praying, God opened a door for us to live in Alaska. Having camp hosted at one of our favorite spots all summer long and eager to begin our newest adventure, we headed for the Canadian border. With borders closed due to Covid-19 though, getting there would prove to be a huge challenge.

Like much of our lives nothing went as planned. Isn’t that how life often is though? We think we are headed in a certain direction, the route mapped out in our heads, and then we come to an abrupt stop or we must take a detour. Many times, the detour proves to be a rugged mountain we weren’t expecting to climb. Whenever the terrain is rough and there is a slope in front of us, however, we can count on Him to help us scale it, no matter how steep it is or how unprepared we think we may be to do this next hard thing. We can count on Him because He is our strength and He is our refuge. He is our resting place and we can rest in the shadow of His wings when we need it most.

I need Him all the time, but I most definitely needed Him on this move. He was my strength during this hard thing I still cannot believe I did. And I ONLY did it because He was with me every inch of the way, giving me strength when I needed it most-a time when our big plans were completely thwarted. And anyone that truly knows me, knows I don’t do well when plans change. Well, guess what? Our plans drastically changed.

Despite having all of our ducks in a row and speaking with what we thought was the border crossing three times in the weeks before leaving Washington to make sure our “plan” was kosh, passing through Canada was looking grim. As we stood there at the border at 9 o’clock at night, with our nerves barely intact, all of our belongings in tow, two restless kiddos, and nowhere but Alaska to go, the combative Canadian border officials shook their heads and scoffed at us, stating that our quarantine plan was a “no-go”. Grilling us about why we needed to cross the border, they were not finding our reason to move good enough to let us cross. It was time to pray, pray, and pray some more. We had already put down a deposit on a rental cabin in Alaska, and there was no backup plan in place if they didn’t let us cross. We had to cross, but at the same time, we did our best to put it all in His hands.

As the darkness of the night set in, and we continued to be interrogated for at least an hour and the border agents whispered among themselves about our situation, one officer aggressively questioned if we had the finances to change our quarantine plan. She showed us a list of specific hotels along a another route, telling us that if they were to allow us to cross, the hotel names, nights staying and reservation confirmation numbers would need to be provided right then and there. We were threatened that someone “would come knock” to check that we were there, and told we had to make it through Canada to Alaska in two and a half days, a forty hour drive. Could we do it, she quizzed us? My husband and I looked at each other and nodded that we could, although I was not entirely sure two and a half days was nearly enough time, heck, I was nervous about our original four and five day plan, camping-and we did not know if we really had the extra funds for staying in these hotels. It was a big move and we had budgeted just enough to get us there. The agent strictly stated that we had to have enough food and water on hand to get us through and that there was to be “no recreating”, no camping, no stopping at grocery stores, eating in restaurants or going inside gas station marts along the way. If we did, we faced a one million dollar fine and up to 3 years in jail. And, as if my anxiety wasn’t already sky high traveling during a pandemic with a chronic illness, she also threw in that there was currently an American sitting in jail because he didn’t follow these orders and couldn’t pay the $750,000 fine for going off course. But, after much hesitation and intimidation, they gave us the green light to pass through.

We crossed the border into a foreign country just after 10pm, in the dark and had to drive another 9 hours to make it to our newly confirmed quarantine location. Although we made it through the biggest hurdle, this was just the beginning. After getting turned around, our 9 hours turned into thirteen, so at that point, I had been driving for a total of twenty hours since leaving Central Washington. We were still 3 hours away from making it to our first hotel stop and it was already 8:30am, just a couple of hours before checkout time. I had our girls in the car and I knew I couldn’t keep driving safely. Starting to get delirious, physically and emotionally, I knew I had to stop. This was not allowed, however, and it would completely throw us off course, not getting us to any of our required destinations on time. This perpetuated my anxiety. I tried to pull over and take a short break to see if I could continue driving, but instead I broke down. Either He was going to have to take the wheel and help us get there, or we weren’t going to make it. There was only one way through and it included Him. I had to make a conscious choice to put my faith in Him over and over again because my anxiety would not let up and I was far from calm. Fiercely praying, I asked my husband and our girls to do the same.

I had to pray constantly and just trust. The pressure of not having anyone to swap me out and drive part way there, the stress of plans being turned upside down, struggling day to day with my chronic illness, along with the time constraint and threats of jail time if I didn’t make it, staying in hotels during Covid, and my own thoughts running wild with “what if’s”, was too much. My anxiety was crippling and it was making me physically ill. I felt stuck, but there was no turning back now, so I reached for the One that I knew would help me. There was no doing this huge thing without Jesus, because with Him, all things are possible. They may not go as planned, not even the second time, but with Him, they are possible.

He didn’t completely take away the anxiety, but He drove next to me every mile of that journey. See, He may not take away the hard things, but He will walk with us-or rather, drive with us. We ended up stopping in places that were not on that list, having to go into a gas station store because we couldn’t pay at the pump, and meanwhile were getting several calls a day from the Canadian Health Authority. I called the Canadian/Alaskan border to let them know we would be late. The border official I spoke with on the phone was shocked we were given just two and a half days to get through and said she would have never given anyone that little time to make it. She stated that she would make a note of our late arrival, although we would still be “flagged”.

On Friday afternoon, the second day, around 4:30pm, we made it to Smithe, BC, and my husband accidentally hit the curb parking our school bus. The wheel immediately began leaking fluid and the tire shop across the street wouldn’t touch it. Again, reaching for Him was it, because my mind immediately went to “it’s 4:30pm on Friday and our bus is breaking down. How on earth are we going to make it now and who is going to have a part to fix an American Bluebird school bus on a Friday afternoon right before close with no appointment?” I called two mechanics. The first said we would not be able to drive it further than a few miles to have him look at it-then maybe he could have it fixed by Monday. That wouldn’t work. The other was willing to look at it right then. This was blessing number one. Blessing number two came when that mechanic fixed the wheel in ten minutes for $25 and we were on our way, something only He could have orchestrated.

After the quick fix, we headed to the second hotel, a day late, only to find out the room was moldy. Because we are highly sensitive to mold after living in a home with toxic mold and getting extremely ill, we had to leave. Being a weekend night, no other hotels in town had rooms available, but we happened to find a beautiful remote cabin just outside of town in a Native village, cheaper than the hotel. Again, I prayed and then prayed some more. We were off course and I’m a rule follower-so the anxiety was creeping in every chance it could. See His hand in it all though? He directed our steps and He had us the entire time, even on that dirt road-that rough terrain, late at night driving seven miles up to a remote cabin in an SUV and a school bus. Once again, He had us. 

On day three, we drove several hours, getting us as far as the Yukon Territory, which had its own Covid checkpoint. Being stopped and questioned-especially being late and not having followed our quarantine route, was yet another anxiety-ridden event. Since we were off course already, our current plan was to drive as far as possible to get to Alaska as quickly as possible. We just wanted out of Canada. Again, we had to stay at a different hotel than we had given to the Canadian border agents.

The next afternoon, being so last minute, as we drew closer to Alaska, I scrambled to find a place to reserve once we made it there. There was just one cabin left in the nearest Alaskan town of Tok that allowed dogs. This was blessing number three. That evening we made it to the Canadian-Alaskan border and crossed without issue. We made it to Alaska, ya’ll! And He made it possible. There is no way I could have made that drive on my own without His help and strength. And our plan to camp, which we thought was a better quarantine plan, was actually not a good plan at all. With temperatures dropping into the 30’s at night, we would have frozen, instead God kept us safe and warm in two beautiful log cabins, cozy hotel beds and hot baths to rest and relax in. It was His plan that prevailed and it was better than ours. Even with the extra hotel stays, He had it covered. When I budgeted our move, I had hoped we had a sufficient amount to get us there, but I hadn’t accounted for the difference in currency. The change in quarantine plan from camping to hotel stays that was required by the Canadian border officials, didn’t stop us from getting to our destination because He accounted for it. With the U.S. to Canadian exchange rate, it was just enough to cover our lodging. Sometimes He gives us just enough. This was one of those times. His plans triumphed and it was all we needed. There are times when we think we know what we need, but He knows better. He knows what we need and we can trust that.

Looking back, I wish I had trusted more. My anxiety wasn’t pretty. Despite reaching for Him constantly, I let fear in more than I should have, but I see the blessings He provided in these trials and I have learned to trust Him that much more. My faith is stronger because of this adventure. And despite the ugly anxiety rearing its head on more than one occasion, our girls got to witness us leaning on Him to get us through.

With man this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible. -Matthew 19:26