To the Mother in Waiting

“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise.” Proverbs 31:25

Happy Mother’s Day! I have spent many Mother’s Days celebrating the beautiful mothers in my life. This includes my own mom, my mother in law, grandmothers, sisters, aunts and friends. I have taken the time to learn from their wisdom, their strength, and their passion when it comes to raising their children. I know this day can bring pain to the hearts of so many, those who have lost a child, given up a child for adoption, those still waiting for a child of their own and many others for reasons I may not be able to understand. I know that this day can be a burden on their hearts, as it has been in mine for the years I have yearned for a child. This Mother’s Day I want to share reasons why you SHOULD celebrate this day.

God’s promises are good and he will bless you abundantly for your faithfulness.

This day is meant to celebrate strong women! I know the emotions that this day can bring to so many, but I believe in focusing on the good. Celebrate the women in your life who have been blessed with that gift. Ask for their support and guidance as you navigate your own journey to motherhood.

We should use this day to awaken a desire to celebrate mothers always! I know that the love from the mothers in my life is cause for celebration each and every day. While we know this day is set aside to honor them, I believe that special days like today will allow for us to find ways to express appreciation to our motherly figures more than just once a year.

We are called to be stewards of the faith! Celebrating the women in our life is another way to do just that. Anytime we allow God’s grace into our lives, we are able to proclaim the goodness that he promises.

Believe you are already a mother and celebrate this day for yourself! God’s innermost desire is that women fulfill their calling. If you are on the path to motherhood and it is something you truly desire, then you are already a mother. Your time may not come tomorrow, in a week, or even a year, but I truly believe that if this is your desire and you are purposeful in your actions then your purpose will eventually be fulfilled. It may look different than what you originally planned, but faith in God also includes faith in this image.

Your time is coming! We are all called here for a purpose and that purpose will be made known in God’s timing. Just like we are all made in God’s image, I believe that there will be a time when those yearning to be mothers will finally receive that gift. Believe in this promise for your own life!

Anytime we allow God’s grace into our lives, we are able to proclaim the goodness that he promises.

If you are waiting to become a mother, I hope that this Mother’s Day you will find comfort in your sorrow. Share in the joy of other mothers and know that your time is coming. God’s promises are good and he will bless you abundantly for your faithfulness.

Dear God, we pray for all those waiting to become mothers. We ask that their worries be calmed and their fears be put asunder. We ask that you bless them abundantly in the year ahead. Bless all mothers this Mother’s Day and watch over them as they continue to be role models for their children. In your name we pray, Amen.

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Infertility Uncovered

“It might be an uphill battle, but my God made the mountain I’ve been asked to climb, so I will trust him” – Unknown

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW), a week that is near and dear to my heart. Last month, during Endometriosis Awareness Month I discussed why, if you are someone dealing with infertility, it is important to share your story. You can read that post here Overcoming Your Diagnosis

My goal with last month’s post was to show how and why your story matters. This years theme for #NIAW is #InfertilityUncovered. This year’s goal according to InfertilityAwarness.org is to “raise awareness about the significant lack of access to family building options and emotional support for millions of women and men struggling to build a family.” Throughout this post, I am going to be highlighting TEN specific ways you can get involved with this movement!

1.Share your own story of infertility. If you have struggled with infertility of any kind, share that journey and help to bring awareness to the cause.

2.Reach out to someone you know. If you know someone struggling with infertility, reach out to them! Let them know you are willing to lend a listening ear during their struggle

3.Find the support you need. If you are struggling to find support yourself, reach out to a family member or friend for help. It may seem daunting at first, but chances are they will be supportive of you!

4.Join a virtual support group. If you are scared to share your story with family and friends, join a virtual support group until you are ready for that next step! Facebook has many different groups that you can be apart of. These groups help to provide online forums for sharing information, asking questions, and just getting some friendly advice from someone who has been there. One of my favorite groups is Moms in the Making. Search for it on Facebook. It is such a wonderful feeling to feel as though you are apart of something greater.

5.Attend a local support group. A little over a year ago, I went for the first time to meet with some local girls to share our journey. The first time I went, I was so nervous about what to expect, but I am so glad I did. We now meet once a month to support each other in our journeys. If you are not aware of groups in your area, reach out to me and I can help you find some great ones!

6.Share a Facebook or Instagram post about infertility. You can find many different posts online that would coincide with this movement. Search for #infertility and see how many posts you can share to show your support

7.Start a Twitter thread that highlights infertility. You can also search for #infertility here to further show your support.

8.Talk to your doctor about symptoms you may be having and be an advocate for your health! I know that throughout my journey to a diagnosis, I saw at least three different doctors before I finally got the help I needed. If you are not sure of how to go about this, reach out to me. I can share my journey and what I did to get help!

9.Search for #Infertility nonprofits in your area and like their Facebook and Instagram pages. Your one like, may be the one someone needs to see in order to become more familiar with their ministry. Here are a few of my favorite, Waiting In Hope, Embrace Bravery, Moms in the Making, and Beating the Infertility Stigma in North Dakota. Find them on Facebook or Instagram

10.Create a care package for someone you know who is struggling to start a family. You can find infertility devotionals online, send some chocolate, purchase a fun coffee mug, or write a card of encouragement. Anything to help bring some joy to their season of waiting.

These are just a few ways that you can show you care about this diagnosis that impacts so many. Statistics show that 1 in 8 couples struggle to start a family. This is your family member, friend, and coworker. Chances are someone within your inner circle has either dealt with this issue or is still facing this battle. You can be a comfort in their storm and a hope to their waiting. Do your part to positively impact someone! With your support we can truly make #InfertilityUncovered!

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Overcoming Your Diagnosis

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” Hebrews 10:35

I am a little late to the game, but March is Endometriosis Awareness Month. Last year, I shared the story of my own diagnosis, during April’s Fertility Awareness Week. You can read that article here: A New Perspective. Last year I reflected on, and for the first time shared with the world, my personal struggle with the disease, what it took to receive a diagnosis, and coming to terms with what that diagnosis meant for me and my fertility. This year I want to share a different story. This year I wanted to share how I traveled that journey to acceptance and what that acceptance has meant for my life.

As more time passed, the scars from my surgery began to heal and I did too.

I was first officially diagnosed with endometriosis in July of 2017. It was up until this point that very few, and by very few I mean six people at most, knew about this difficulty in my life. I was so ashamed, embarrassed, distressed, uncomfortable, and unsettled about sharing this with anyone around me. I didn’t want to have a label put on me or really let anyone know that my husband and I had encountered this hurdle in starting a family. Since I was having the surgery, naturally my siblings and some of my extended family found out. I can’t say I was upset about this, but it still did not take the shame away from having this “label.” As time went on, family members words of encouragement were so comforting to me and my husband that I began to be grateful that people knew. We felt that even though they may not have fully understood, their support was a huge help in coming to terms and accepting that starting a family may not go as smoothly as we hoped. As more time passed, the scars from my surgery began to heal and I did too. I was just so grateful to finally know what was causing our issue and that was relief in itself.

It was around this same time that Jay and I decided to send in our initial paperwork to our adoption agency which also helped to provide some comfort and healing. We were so excited about the prospect of adopting, which is something we had discussed before we were even ready to start a family, that the shame began to subside. With our paperwork in the mail, Jay and I kept this information to ourselves for the time being as we had a surprise announcement planned for our families later in the year. After our adoption announcement in late December 2017, this included starting a Facebook page, (you can find us by searching Journey to Baby Cournia on Facebook) and sharing our adoption plans with everyone we encountered, we continued to heal even more. While it still took until April 2018 to share my actual diagnosis with our friends and extended family, it was during that time that I realized how my life had continued to move forward, beyond what my diagnosis was doing to my body. To put it simply, life went on! It didn’t matter if I had endometriosis or not, even though at the time of my diagnosis I felt like everything was coming crashing down, it really wasn’t. Life just went on. It was a simple fact. It may have taken all of that time for me to realize it, but it was the truth.

I feel like this is an important story to share because of the millions of women affected by this disease. According to Endometriosis.gov 1 in 10 women between the ages of 15-49 will be impacted by endometriosis. That’s is approximately 176 million women in the world! Not hundreds or thousands, but MILLIONS! I can’t even comprehend that. And since endometriosis can’t be officially diagnosed without laparoscopic surgery, many women will go their whole lives undiagnosed.

Infertility is not your label.

Here are some things I have learned throughout this journey and if you are walking your own journey with your fertility, I hope it can be some comfort to you as well!

Infertility is not your label. I now use the word fertility, instead of infertility because I don’t believe that any woman or man, was born to have that label on their heart. This is grounded in biblical truth “Be fruitful and multiply” – Genesis 1:28, “He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children.” -Psalm 113:9, “I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations.” -Genesis 17:16

You are not defined by your diagnosis. I know this may sound cliche, but it is the truth! This is also rooted in scripture. God has come to heal us from all earthly dwellings and sufferings. This is the beauty of His promise for us. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it” John 11:4. You are more than the label!

Blessings will come. One day you will look back on the struggles you face now and smile. It will be apart of your history, your growing up, your learning, and a part of your story. Be proud of it! The Lord asks us to “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” -Romans 12:12. Trust in Him and His promises. He knows, he can see your hurt and the pain. Lean on him and believe in his love for you.

Don’t be afraid to share your story. Women need to hear you! The world needs to hear you! We go through this life ashamed and scared. I know because I was that person. Your story may not reach millions but it may reach one. And that one person needs your story right now. I can’t even count how many women have reached out to me and shared their own story, just because I shared mine. They have shared some of the same experiences that I have shared here today. Someone may need to hear your story to start their own healing process. They need you now more than ever! Proclaim these truths and start your own path to healing, “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.” Psalm 118:6 “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you” -Psalm 56:3 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6

As Endometriosis Awareness Month draws to a close, I want to leave you with one final thought. If you struggle with endometriosis or battle any other “label” in your life. Be free of it. Let it be what it is, leaning on those around your for support. You are greater than that one word which you feel defines you. And you are surely not alone in your battle; for you are armed with the greatest weapon of all…the love of God. Proclaim his promises…“What, then, shall we say unto these things? if God is for us, who is against us?” Romans 8:3. He is in the beauty that is you. Know that you are loved and you are not alone!

Have a story to share? Email me at journeytobabycournia@gmail.com or contact me through our Facebook page @journeytobabycournia

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Unanswered Prayers

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” Mark 11:24

As a teacher at a Catholic school, I have the blessing to have a weekly Mass built into my work week. Every Wednesday, our student body gets together for the Mass. A few weeks ago, our school chaplain was preaching about unanswered prayers. I was pleasantly surprised to hear his words, as they were just what my heart needed in that moment. I know I have talked about this in the past, but it is something that has been on my heart the last few weeks. I have experienced many different revelations throughout this journey, many of them are usually traced back to my prayer life. In the beginning of this journey, I used to continually ask God for different blessings to come into my life. Yes, I would spend time thanking him for the things I already have and praising His name, but I always asked for the things that I wanted. While I know that we should ask God for the desires of our heart, I found that I would become resentful when I didn’t get what I wanted, especially when it came to starting a family. I will be honest when I say, that I spent many months being angry at God when my prayers were not answered. I know this may sound selfish, but it was truly how I felt. What I realized through my prayer journey was that I needed to shift my focus to something else. In time, I began to ask God for patience and understanding in His will for my life. I was able to differentiate between what I wanted and what His will is for me. I was praying these words every night through the Our Father “Thy will be done,” but I wasn’t living them out in true form. Instead of really reflecting on what those words really meant, I was acting like a selfish child when I didn’t “get what I wanted.”  As time went on and my focused shifted, I found that my anger towards God began to subside and I was really able to become patient and understanding. If I am being honest, this wasn’t something that came easy and it is still something I need to work on every single day. I still find myself beginning to ask God for just what I want, instead of asking God what His will is for my life.

God shows us that our “unanswered prayers” are merely an invitation.

Throughout this journey, I found that God does not want us to respond in a negative way to unanswered prayers. Through these words: “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours, God shows us that our “unanswered prayers” are merely an invitation. This invitation is meant to foster a deeper relationship with Him and within our faith. Jesus knows that our unanswered prayers are a difficulty we have to endure. In this, He is asking us to move beyond our limits and draw closer to Him. A deeper relationship with the Lord, demands of us to have confidence in His word and His promised for our life.  1 John 5-14, tells us “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” Notice the words “his will” in this verse. His, not ours! This is a relationship that takes time, hard work, and open, honest communication. Just think about the closest relationships in your life. How hard do you have to work to keep that relationship strong? What do you do to foster a love for that relationship? I can bet that it isn’t a one way street, it takes time, patience, and understanding. I believe that this is what God is asking from us in our relationship with him. It isn’t something that we ask for, receive, and forget about. We need to foster our love for God, the same way we foster a love in our closest relationships. Jesus asks us to “not lose heart” Luke 18:1. He understands that we are tempted to lose trust in what we think is an unanswered prayer; however we are surrounded by a God who performs countless miracles every single day. Remember that, the next time you are tempted to lose heart in His plan for you. If you are ever in a situation in your life where you begin to question his faithfulness, I only ask that you keep praying. Don’t give up. Use His promise for a future answered prayer as an invitation to foster an even deeper relationship with Him. And someday, you just might find that a deeper relationship with God, an understanding of his Word, and the beauty of an unanswered prayer was what you were asking for all along.

We are surrounded by a God who performs countless miracles every single day.

Lord, help me to foster a deeper relationship with you. Help me to recognize that an unanswered prayer is your way of asking me to trust in you. Help me to hold on to the hope of your promises and trust that your will for my life is much stronger than any request I ask of you. Amen.

Persevering in Faith

“Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father.” Colossians 1:11

I wish I could explain the emotions associated with this journey. I wish I could fully explain the joys and hardships in a way that would make sense. The truth is that no one will truly know these emotions unless they have experienced them on their own. Over the last two years, I have felt joys, beyond anything I can ever imagine and I have felt more sorrow than I wish to express. One thing I know for certain is that this journey has changed me and for the better. I can’t tell you how many times my patience has been tested or how many times I have asked God, “Why me?” I have endured countless days of confusion wondering what plans the Lord has for me. Through all of this, almost every time I really began to doubt God’s plan and His timing, something would happen. Something small, most often in fact, I would actually miss that it was a small glimmer of hope and anticipation for what is to come. In my days of struggle, I was always able to find something that would allow that pain and questioning to go away. I have found what I need to make it through. I have persevered. 

Perseverance is “persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.” A person who has perseverance endures no matter what the trails or how much suffering or grief he or she has to go through. The root meaning of the word perseverance is “to remain under.” What does this mean? It means that a person must be willing to remain under trails, if necessary and to follow God’s ways. The key words here are following “God’s way,” not ours. It doesn’t matter if I am feeling down or hurt, what matters is God has a plan for me and I must be vigilant in seeking to understand his plan. I must remember that it isn’t about me. 

Romans 5:3 reads, “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” This shows that going through mental anguish and struggling through the hard times leads to something greater. For only in times of trial does one come to understanding. It is in a willingness to stay strong through those trials that leads to contentment. Re-read these beautiful words, “God’s love has been poured out for us.” Do you know what this means? God already understands our sorrow. He has given his only son for our suffering and our pain. He has been one to really persevere. 

So how do you endure the pain and suffering which you are feeling? That is where faith comes in. James 1:2-4 reads “whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” The testing of faith is what it comes down to. Do you really trust God’s ways and believe in his word? If so, he is going to test your perseverance. This is the foundation of our trust in God. Perseverance and faith must go together to find that great joy. Even though right now, this suffering seems so great. I know that the joy which is coming is far greater than even my most difficult days. 

I have learned so much throughout this journey. I wouldn’t be who I am today if this hadn’t been my path. In each and every day I began to find joy in the little things. I know this sounds cliché, but it is true. I have found that enjoying a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning or spending time with my husband has much more meaning now. I have found walking this journey has led to a greater understanding of what is truly important. I am able to enjoy the little moments, giving thanks for these seemingly everyday tasks and appreciating the blessings I have been given.

So why do I continue to praise God’s name, even in my hardest days?  Because I have worked too hard to be at the place I am now; a place of contentment, peace and understanding. I have endured patiently and I am ever so grateful for the Lord’s abundant blessings on my life. If you are struggling right now, I beg of you to persevere through your hardest days. Give thanks to the Lord, put your blessings and sorrows on him. He is there waiting with open arms. Continue to persevere in faith. 

Lord, I do not know the day or time my greatest prayer will be answered, so I ask for your blessings in my life. Hold me close to you; keep me wrapped in your unending love. Help me to stay strong in my afflictions and persevere into the path you have set for my life. Amen. 

 

 

Out of the Darkness

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” Isaiah 9:2.

As we approach Christmas, my anticipation is mounting. I am getting so excited to share in the joy of Christmas with family and friends. The anticipation of Christmas is much like my anticipation for a baby to come into our lives. I have prayed so many days for this beautiful gift and I wait in hope for a baby, as the world waits in hope for Christ.

Isaiah 9:2 tells us “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” The power of these words are so beautiful. I mean, just pause and really reflect on these words for a minute…“The people in darkness have seen a great light..” Wow! I sometimes feel like I am in the dark, always left wondering what God’s plan is for me. This is a constant battle and I have to remind myself often that his grace is abundant and everlasting. I am reminded to remain hopeful and keep my faith until I can see that great light, even though right now it seems as though it is so far off in the distance. If you feel that God has left you in the dark, yearning for something that seems so far out of reach, you are wrong. There is always room for Hope, when we take time to really reflect on God’s plan for us and really take the time to look at the deeper reason for our pain.

This Advent season, I am called to reflect deeper into God’s word. Reading, sharing, listening, and contemplating God’s glorious presence in my everyday life. I ask you to do the same. Take the time this Advent to really think about the reason for Christmas and thank God for your trials and tribulations. It really will help you to be thankful for the blessings you do have and allow you to wait in hope for the things that you are still yearning for. Jesus came to this earth for a reason, beyond being a Savior in the flesh, he came to free us from our sins. When we come to understand, to know, to celebrate, and to receive the fact that Jesus Christ is not merely a Savior, but our Savior, we can begin to understand his plan for us. Reflect on this and know that God is with you wherever you go. He will not leave you in darkness, he will not leave you alone. He will be there to carry your cross and guide you into understanding.

As I think back on this past year on all of the emotions, longings, and praying for a baby, I know that it was all for a beautiful purpose. I was able to reflect on God’s word and really believe in his powerful plan for my life. I was able to walk out of that darkness, where I felt so alone and left in such great pain, to a place of contentment and peace.

In closing, take one more moment to reflect on these words, “The people in darkness have seen a great light…” You see God will never leave you alone in the dark. He will always be there to bring you out of that darkness and into the light of His everlasting presence.

Lord, help me to remain hopeful this Advent season. Allow me to reflect deeper into your word and help me to stay joyful in anticipation for your coming and remain faithful to you. Hold me in the light and keep me out of the darkness as I continue to trust in your plan for me. Amen.

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Believing in God’s Will

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” Philippians 4:6

Last Christmas season was spent in agony. I was a mess. I never understood depression until I experienced what I experienced last year during the holiday season. Self doubt? You got it. Unworthy? Yep! That is me! Broken? 100%! Believe it or not, these are the emotions I was feeling. I felt so out of balance with my body. I felt shattered from the impact of this burden weighing heavily on my heart. At this point in time I had been on this journey for a year and six months. I spent a lot of days in a quiet pain and a silent suffering that even my closest family members knew very little about. My husband was a wonderful support throughout this journey, yet I was still missing something that would bring my heart peace. I actually spent a lot of days upset and angry at God for allowing this bareness to come into my life. I was angry, sad, confused, and depressed, most of the time sitting in pity and self doubt. Then quietly, and over time, I began to feel a peace make its way into my heart. The Lord was speaking to me in many small ways, most of which I barely even realized or in any way could have understood in those dark moments.

But why was I have it those constant thoughts of self doubt and negativity? It was because I hadn’t accepted the path that the Lord had set for my life. Ever since I was a little girl, I always had a vision of what my life was supposed to be like. As a rule follower and perfectionist, I always thought that if I did things a certain way or acted in a certain way then my life wold work out the way I wanted it to. God however had a different plan for my life and this realization, this shift in my thought process, saved me.

As I spent time contemplating God’s design for my life, I knew that I needed to seek ways to understand his plan. This came in the form of constant prayer, contemplation, and surrender to His undeniable power and love. The Bible urges us to be prayerful, steadfast, and willing. Philippians 4:6 reminds us to “not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” and Matthew 6:25-32 urges us to not be anxious as well “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life…your heavenly Father knows what you need.” Who was I to doubt a God who gave his only Son for my life? This shift in my mindset did not happen overnight. It took time that only I could know how to take. I needed to find myself wallowing in self doubt and pain. I had to surrender myself to God’s will and allow his grace to work through me.

As time went on, I would find myself slowly finding peace in my sorrow. I began to be thankful for everything in my life. Others joy became my joy as well, as I realized what God was telling me! He was showing me the beauty of life that surrounds me each and every day. He taught me how to be still in the wait, showing me patience with each passing moment. The Bible urges us to wait in Him throughout our days. Lamentations 3:25 tells us “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” The Bible is filled with verses filling us with the hope of Jesus Christ. Psalm 37:4-5 tells us trust in the Lord . . .delight yourself in the Lord . . .commit your way to the Lord . . .be still before the Lord. This is how God asks us to wait in the life of faith. We are called to trust God with our whole heart, soul and mind. We are to believe that he will do good in His timing and fully trust in his plan for our life.

So this Christmas season, even though I am still waiting without a baby in my arms, I am grateful, hopeful, and delightful for God’s plan for my life. I no longer wait in agony or cry tears of sorrow. I understand His will for me and trust in His infinitely beautiful timing.

God’s love for you is far beyond any suffering you may face. He has a plan for your life and a reason for your hurt. As you wait for the Lord’s plan to reveal itself to you, take heart in his joy for you. Hold on to the hope that only He can give. Know that you are not alone in this journey and that your life’s plan will work out just the way it should. For it is in Him that you can move beyond the frustration of self doubt, suffering, and pain to a world of joy, love, and contentment as you wait for God to reveal the plan he has for your life.

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