Red Vine Spirituality

Taylor K. Arthur balances Bipolar 1 Disorder, marriage, and motherhood with a nitty-gritty faith inspiring a twisted, blissful life.

Tag: Surviving Stillbirth

What No One Tells You At Your Baby Shower

Motherhood keeps surprising me. I just relaxed into the routine of summer with kids home full-time lolly gaggin’ around the house and whining bored. I just settled into morning snuggles and afternoon swims, grilled dinners on paper plates after the sun sets to our backs. Now it’s over. And this turning of the seasons from green grass to golden leaves always stings me just a bit. Why? It’s more than just summer being ended or school beginning; a whole season has packed up and left me. We’ve phased in seasons from summer to fall, but as a family, from babies to big boys. And this mama stares change in the face again, to find her way into a new season, to swim the current of motherhood’s phasing. Continue reading

In Pursuit

It was right then that I started thinking about Thomas Jefferson on the Declaration of Independence and the part about our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And I remember thinking how did he know to put the pursuit part in there? That maybe happiness is something that we can only pursue . . .

-Christopher Gardner, The Pursuit of Happiness

We never count on good weather when we go to the beach in March. We’re not necessarily there for weather. Rather, we come for the roar of the ocean, overwhelming and larger than anything we will ever hold. We go to feel the salt on our faces and the whip of the wind, to know our footprints still hold weight. We write Caleb’s name in the sand, hoping that maybe — just maybe — the same waves that will wipe his name clean from this beach may write our names on the shores of heaven for him to see. We bring our grief, our living hope, to spill out like a bucket of seashells upon the shore. We return to the sea to feel it all and wash it away and return home clean.

This past March was our 6th year. I can’t remember another year when the sun has shone as brightly as it did that day, right in the middle of Caleb’s week. We ran, all four of us, like a bunch of starved refugees, to fill our toes with sand and eat the light of this August-like March afternoon. Two-year-old Miracle and I sat deep in castle-making, his toddler gibberish dancing with the wind. I turned to watch Jack teaching our four-year-old Rainbow how to fly his first kite and caught a feeling I hadn’t hoped for.

IMG_1360

IMG_1805

IMG_1886

I can’t tell you why the sight of my tiny boy flying a cherry-colored kite, with Daddy crouching over him, struck me so. Was it the sunshine or the wind that wound me up into — dare I say it? — happiness? Was it that after so many Marches gray and salty, this beach surprised me with bright? Or was it that for the first time in so long, I could feel sand and absorb light and laugh at cherry red in blue sky?

What is happiness, anyways? Is it real? I remember happy, believed it was possible. But for me, now? Maybe not for me. Maybe what I could have, I thought and prayed, was just a bit of joy to make the days more bearable. And so, a whole year before this moment at the beach, I started to pursue joy – what it means and how to get it. I found 242 mentions of joy in the Bible, but only 6 mentions of happiness.

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. {Job 8:21}

But when a lifetime’s worth of Marches string out, how do I laugh and visit my child’s grave? Will there really be joy again?

I once sat in this house, in this room, with no children stomping down the stairs in the morning. There were no smudges on the windows, no little feet. I survived on the words of Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares The Lord, “plans for hope and a future.”

I learned I can hold onto God in an empty house or kneeling at my son’s tiny grave. I believe in His goodness through bed rest and preeclampsia and the terminal heart diagnosis of our thriving Miracle because I know He is working it all out for His glory, my good, and a forever past every tear.

The sun rose this morning, pinking up the sky over the backyard fence. I sipped my coffee and marveled at how this house rocks with boydom, kisses offer themselves up from little boys’ fish lips, and tiny voices cry “Mama” when they’re scared. These hardwood floors I picked out so long ago, swollen large with a baby who would never come home, are covered with crumbs and the tiny trails of chubby feet. This hunk of a man who partnered it all with me, bore the burdens and the tear-soaked nights, still comes home, parched through for us.

I get it now, how simple it really is.

Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him. {Psalm 34:8}

Yes, I still wake hard some mornings to the loss of my sweet child. But I know now that the Son shines in winter, and joy breaks me open to see it. No matter the day or the loss or the break, I know that living in joy is the only way to pursue happiness.

This post first published December 2, 2014 on (in)courage.me


Dear Mama: So you’re carrying a heart warrior?

. . . the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7

Dear scared-out-of-your-mind Mama,

Hi. I first want you to know I am not some over zealous pro-lifer trying to perform Jedi mind tricks on you. I also want you to know that I’m not talking down to you from any moral high ground. I am a mama, and that is it. I am a scarred and broken person who has buried one child the doctors told me was perfectly healthy and now raise the child they deemed terminal at 21 weeks in utero.

I’m hoping you will read this and gain a new perspective other than what the doctors can give you on your “unviable” child. I hope you can believe that this child is more beautiful than the fear you’re filled with, and more concrete than your many impossible-to-answer questions you lay awake at night asking the ceiling and God and Google.

Do you know I would get really desperate in those midnight hours, as Sam kicked in my belly and my head swarmed? Do you know I used to slip out of our bed and tiptoe down the stairs, open up the laptop and type in the search bar, “Is my baby going to live or die?”

Google never gave me anything good. But I can give you my story. And maybe there is some good in it (better than google, anyways.)

I will never forget the moment the cardiologist sat down across from us after Sam’s first echocardiogram. He drew a diagram of a human heart as we sat there listening to his big brother–not quite two–toddle around the room, bump into the exam table, open and close the drawers beneath it.

I will never forget the way he asked me questions about the medications I had taken when Samuel was conceived. I will never forget the blank, ghastly horror that climbed up my throat as I realized we were possibly the 1 in 2,000: me and Sam, the mama who takes Lithium, and the baby who has a heart defect because of it.

He wouldn’t hear an explanation that would satisfy him. He didn’t seem to care if we had tried to do the right thing, that we had researched for years the effects of lithium on an unborn baby, nursing on lithium, the effects of a bipolar mother going off medication while pregnant. He didn’t care that when I was fighting for my life at 25–before pregnancy was even an option for me–that I refused to try another mood stabilizer because if I somehow got pregnant nothing was as safe as lithium for a baby. And he didn’t care that all those years ago, my psychiatrist sternly, desperately tried to break through my depression to reach the part of me that still wanted to live: Taylor, if you are dead, there will be no babies.

“Which doctors were those? Were any of them cardiologists?” This heart doctor’s questions slammed against my heart like a storm against a tossed and sinking sailboat. I could see in his eyes he had decided what kind of mother I was–what kind of person I was–and there would be no changing his opinion. I cradled my face in my hands and started bawling.

Samuel was diagnosed with a very complicated, severe form of Ebstein’s Anomaly along with a pulmonary artery that was not allowing blood to flow through to his lungs and a VSD. He would require a series of surgeries at the beginning of his life, and would be followed by a cardiologist indefinitely.

The next day, at my perinatologist’s office, we were given even more daunting news. My doctor’s voice cracked with the weight of her words, “Your cardiologist asked me to tell you, because time is a factor. He shared the baby’s echo with a panel of cardiologists, and they decided that your baby is, indeed, terminal. We do not expect him to be born alive, and there is a chance that when he goes into heart failure, Taylor, that you will, too.”

The room dissolved around me. Only Jack’s hand interlacing with mine tethered me to this world I could not believe was our family’s reality. My mind filled with images of another tiny, white casket, and could we bury him next to Caleb? And how will we survive this again? And how will Abraham ever be normal, with two brothers in heaven, two graves to visit, two extra birthday cakes, but no brothers to blow out the candles? I could barely see through this hurricane overtaking us.

You see, my friend, Jack and I have already lived the nightmare of leaving a child at the hospital. We have already planned a funeral, designed a gravestone, ordered an autopsy, read the results. I already live with a wound that I pray every day God will fill and heal. After almost 7 years, I have learned to bandage it well so it doesn’t ooze. But it is far from the faded scar I had hoped it would be by now.

My doctor continued, “So, we need to discuss your options.”

All I could think about was the hours of conversations I have had with my friends who have also lost babies. Through the outreach of the TEARS foundation, I have been blessed with these friendships that are unlike any other. We can talk to each other about things we just can’t share with our “normal” friends.

I remembered when Caleb died, I grew so angry at the many instances where people tried to console me by saying, “Well, at least he wasn’t born alive. It’s better this way; you didn’t get to know him.”

When I mustered up the courage, I asked each of my TEARS friends to weigh in on this idea. Each one of them had a baby who lived minutes, days, or months. Each of them responded with the exact same sentiment, almost verbatim. This is what they said to me,

Taylor, I think what you went through was the worst, because after carrying Caleb (we always make certain we use our children’s names) for nine months and delivering him, you never got to look into his eyes, or feel his little hand close around your finger. You never knew him ALIVE this side of heaven. I did, and every moment was precious, no matter how much pain or stress I felt. Nothing can ever take that precious time away from us. We are so grateful we had it, no matter how small a window it was.

I looked up at this kind doctor who shared our tears, and forcefully told her that we didn’t need to hear about “options,” that we were keeping this baby as long as God would allow us to. Through breaking sobs I explained, “We’ve already done one funeral. We know that, I guess. We can do another one if we have to. But this baby has a purpose, and we’re going to let him and God figure out what that is exactly.”

Her face melted in relief, “I am so glad. I believe that every baby has a purpose, too. I just have to, legally, ya know? inform you–”

We left the doctor’s office that day without any idea of what was going to happen. I was supposed to call the office if I started to get sick; that would mean Sam and I were going into heart failure.

Our family gathered at our house. I asked my sister-in-law, Semmelle, in a whisper, “So will we ever have a life again? Will we ever go on another vacation? How are we going to afford this, even if he lives? Especially if he lives? How are we going to manage to care for both children? How are we going to do this? How?”

She stared back at me with tears in her eyes. There was nothing to say; we both knew it.

I am not going to lie, my friend. The next sixteen weeks were excruciating. I have never clung to God and my faith in a more real and desperate way. I was scared to be alone, which was incredibly inconvenient considering Jack’s job required extensive travel. I felt a desperate need to cling to my husband. I would go in and sit on his lap, big belly and all, or lay on his office floor while he worked. If I was driving somewhere by myself I would call my cousin Sammie just to hear someone’s voice in the car with me. I became addicted to the violent show, “Criminal Minds,” and watched rerun after rerun until I passed out in bed at night. I threw three parties that summer to find a positive way to channel my nervous energy. Abraham (2)and I spent our days gardening and playing in the back yard. I focused on the beauty of his little face, his little hand reaching for mine. I knelt by his bed and watched him sleep in his bedroom through the midnights. I prayed incessantly, cried, and begged God to give my sweet little boy this brother.

Still, I cherished every minute that Sam kicked in my belly. Every morning and every night I awoke and felt him moving, I praised the Lord. As he grew, his prognosis brightened, and we learned that doctors must give an opinion on the viability of your unborn baby before the state’s limit for a medical abortion. In Samuel’s case, his heart looked significantly different by the 25th week when we underwent his next echocardiogram. 25 weeks is 1 week past the legal limit for medical abortions in Washington state.

We didn’t know if Sam would be born alive, even while I was delivering him. I will never forget being wheeled into a new room with a full view of Mt. Rainier. Samuel was born on a bright-blue-sky day in Seattle, the kind of day we hold our breath in anticipation for during the 10 months of clouds and misty rain. The mountain shone against the cloudless sky, and I felt God come close beside me through my hours of waiting in labor. Every time I didn’t know how I would possibly handle one more minute of suspense, my heart was tended to. I felt God’s presence all around me, in every step. He never left my side.

There was a moment during delivery when I couldn’t hear his heart beat on the monitor. A doctor I didn’t know rushed into the room, “Okay, Taylor, your baby’s not tolerating the contractions well. We need to get him out now.” I pushed harder than I thought was humanly possible. The monitor went silent, and I thought he had died. My mind flooded with details of another funeral as I pushed, pushed. But, then, moments later, he was born pink and meowing like a kitten. They laid him at my feet as the NICU team rushed in. They weighed him, wrapped him, and handed him to me for a kiss. And then, they carried my brand new beautiful baby boy to the NICU, followed closely by his daddy. I remained behind, hooked up to a magnesium drip that had nearly poisoned me the week before.

Sam and I stayed in different rooms on different floors of the hospital. I had a complete nervous breakdown the night he was born, when we were forced to leave Sam in the NICU because they needed to intubate him. I was wheeled into a tiny recovery room–too small for any mother with a baby in the room with her. A baby cried in the room next to mine as I sat there, alone, wondering if my baby was breathing in the NICU two floors above me. Sam’s birth wasn’t pretty, or easy, or anything I would wish on my worst enemy. But my baby was alive, and I had held him in my arms and felt his breath on my face, the warmth of his little body against mine. And it was worth all of the pain, every moment of pain and uncertainty, just to know my child alive for that moment.

The next two years were filled with agonizing, heart-wrenching periods of waiting, a part-time job’s worth of doctor’s appointments, months of quarantine, five and a half weeks in the hospital, catheterizations, one open heart surgery. I ate too much chocolate and drank chardonnay every night just to stay sane. I sanitized my house constantly, but it was always cluttered.

Giving Sam up for surgery has been the most painful, horrifying part of this entire journey. Friend, please do not underestimate the impact these days of surgery and procedures will have on you. Please do not underestimate the level of stress you will endure, and the long-term impacts of that stress. There is nothing shameful about going to a doctor and asking for help. You may need an anti-depressant or an anti-anxiety medication. You may need something for the day of surgery just to help you make it through. Please: ask. The one time I forgot to ask my doctor for something to help me get through Sam’s surgery was the day of his open-heart. I smoked half a pack of cigarettes instead. The anti-anxiety medication would have been much less stinky! But if you need to smoke on surgery day, I understand. I did.

There were whole months that I cried every day. I never thought I could do this, never thought I was strong enough. I didn’t have a lot of time to pray or read my Bible. All I could do was cry out for help all day long, month in and month out. Many days I woke up and didn’t know how I would manage. Many days, I was so depressed I just wanted to go to sleep and not wake up. I screamed at my husband because there was no one else to scream at. I didn’t manage this as gracefully as some, I’m sure of that.

But we have capitalized on every moment we’ve had with Sam. WE have made a lot of NOW choices for our family. We have taken trips instead of paying down debt, we have camped instead of doing yard work, we have snuggled on the couch instead of doing housework. We have filled the boys’ childhoods with ferry boat trips, days out with Thomas, and cousin camps.

We have lived TODAY, trusting God to worry about tomorrow. And you know what? We have lived a beautiful life, in spite of–but maybe because of–Samuel’s special heart.

Sam is now three. We are in a holding pattern, and I’m recovering my old self. I am working out again, finding time to write, and sometimes cleaning the house (hee, hee.) I am not the same person I was before Samuel entered our lives; I am much, much stronger. I’ve found brave. I choose every day what matters most, what I want my legacy to be, with a deep understanding that my time on this earth and with my kids is limited. And, I know now that there is no end to God’s love and faithfulness, that when I cannot go on for one more minute, He will carry me. And, my friend, He Will Carry You.

Keep this baby for your heart, Mama. Keep this baby because you will never regret the pain and heartache you pour into fighting for your child. You will treasure the minutes or hours or months or years God gives you to carry, love, and fight for this gift. Nothing will cost you more, and nothing will heap more blessings upon you. You will live a deeper life, a richer life, because of this child. You will learn to let go of so much that doesn’t matter and live in wonder at the good and real things of this life that you will carry with you into eternity.

God becomes real to the mother living in her child’s hospital room. He holds her hand; He comforts her. He dries her tears, and brings angels to minister to her breaking heart. He upholds her.

You can do this. YOU CAN DO THIS.

Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9

Here is a peak into our journey with Sam. I hope it prepares, encourages, and emboldens you for your own journey.

God bless you and your beautiful, perfect child.

My love and prayers go with you,

Taylor

In Pursuit

It was right then that I started thinking about Thomas Jefferson on the Declaration of Independence and the part about our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And I remember thinking how did he know to put the pursuit part in there? That maybe happiness is something that we can only pursue . . .

-Christopher Gardner, The Pursuit of Happiness

We never count on good weather when we go to the beach in March. We’re not necessarily there for weather. Rather, we come for the roar of the ocean, overwhelming and larger than anything we will ever hold. We go to feel the salt on our faces and the whip of the wind, to know our footprints still hold weight. We write Caleb’s name in the sand, hoping that maybe — just maybe — the same waves that will wipe his name clean from this beach may write our names on the shores of heaven for him to see. We bring our grief, our living hope, to spill out like a bucket of seashells upon the shore. We return to the sea to feel it all and wash it away and return home clean.

This past March was our 6th year. I can’t remember another year when the sun has shone as brightly as it did that day, right in the middle of Caleb’s week. We ran, all four of us, like a bunch of starved refugees, to fill our toes with sand and eat the light of this August-like March afternoon. Two-year-old Miracle and I sat deep in castle-making, his toddler gibberish dancing with the wind. I turned to watch Jack teaching our four-year-old Rainbow how to fly his first kite and caught a feeling I hadn’t hoped for.

IMG_1360

IMG_1805

IMG_1886

I can’t tell you why the sight of that tiny boy flying a cherry-colored kite, with Daddy crouching over him, struck me so. Was it the sunshine or the wind that wound me up into — dare I say it? — happiness? Was it that after so many Marches gray and salty, this beach surprised me with bright? Or was it that for the first time in so long, I could feel sand and absorb light and laugh at cherry red in blue sky?

What is happiness, anyways? Is it real? I remember happy, believed it was possible. But for me, now? Maybe not for me. Maybe what I could have, I thought and prayed, was just a bit of joy to make the days more bearable. And so, a whole year before this moment at the beach, I started to pursue joy – what it means and how to get it. I found 242 mentions of joy in the Bible, but only 6 mentions of happiness.

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. {Job 8:21}

But when a lifetime’s worth of Marches string out, how do I laugh and visit my child’s grave? Will there really be joy again?

I once sat in this house, in this room, with no children stomping down the stairs in the morning. There were no smudges on the windows, no little feet. I survived on the words of Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares The Lord, “plans for hope and a future.”

I learned I can hold onto God in an empty house or kneeling at my son’s tiny grave. I believe in His goodness through bed rest and preeclampsia and the terminal heart diagnosis of our thriving Miracle because I know He is working it all out for His glory, my good, and a forever past every tear.

The sun rose this morning, pinking up the sky over the backyard fence. I sipped my coffee and marveled at how this house rocks with boydom, kisses offer themselves up from little boys’ fish lips, and tiny voices cry “Mama” when they’re scared. These hardwood floors I picked out so long ago, swollen large with a baby who would never come home, are covered with crumbs and the tiny trails of chubby feet. This hunk of a man who partnered it all with me, bore the burdens and the tear-soaked nights, still comes home, parched through for us.

I get it now, how simple it really is.

Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him. {Psalm 34:8}

Yes, I still wake hard some mornings to the loss of my sweet child. But I know now that the Son shines in winter, and joy breaks me open to see it. No matter the day or the loss or the break, I know that living in joy is the only way to pursue happiness.

This post first published December 2, 2014 on (in)courage.me

Broken open, rubbed-raw, scarred-up glory: that’s you and me, babe

Scarcely had I passed them
when I found the one my heart loves.
I held him and would not let him go–
Song of Songs 3:4

glory. When you think of glory, Love, what springs to mind? Power and honor, praise, magnificence? Halos and sunbeams, a golden throne? They all seem out of my reach. We mortals are not the stuff of angels; rather, we live and die of dust and breath and sin and stretch. And I feel this mortality in every new day, in every new way I find to wound and disappoint those closest to me, in the feedings and washings of bodies and the cultivating of souls. And I wonder now as I look down the long aisle of my life at that bride–that beautiful, innocent girl with light beaming from her face–walking on her father’s arm toward her forevermore, if she would even know this woman writing today?

glory. God meant us to live out Eden, you and me. We were fashioned out of dust for Edenic love: love transforming two strangers into one flesh, so complete in unity that we share a rib. We–me and you–twin stars pulling from different quadrants, blazing through universe, destined to share in this grounded-out life together. But stars start off high where glory seems possible. We believed. We chose anchor over the heights. We started this life. And like Alan Jackson says, “It was hard.”

glory. No one speaks of the meshing. No one speaks about fights over you leaving your dirty clothes in a heap on the side of our bed, and no one warns about rats in the attic. We held each other young and dumb and looked at each other with magnet eyes pulling us into this endeavor and we imagined being broke and how romantic it would be. But it’s not, is it? And we imagined “hard times,” but we didn’t see a psyche ward and funeral homes. NO, we never imagined that. And we didn’t know how hard we’d cry, or that there would be pictures hung just to hide the holes in the wall. grief does that.

glory. We never, ever believed we’d want out. But we have wanted out, more than once. We didn’t believe we’d ever out-grow each other, ever stop fascinating each other. We didn’t think your chewing and me never shutting up would get old. But it did. We didn’t know then that there is a rhythm to us, that we travel in circles. And we hold and then we push each other away and this world–the gravity pulling at our bodies–forces us to look into the mirror and make peace with my own soul. And God.

glory. The day I figured out you would never be enough to fill every crack, every gaping, gushing wound. Your love wasn’t enough to fix me or heal me or keep me from myself and every song that sung otherwise lied. They lied. The only truth when I kneel in the dark after a hard day, asking for forgiveness and strength, lies in me giving myself up to Someone who loves me more than you. And you love me.

glory. You love me Wordsworth-style, but sometimes your words come out really, really un-Wordsworth and enrage me. Okay, you’re not Wordsworth. You’re just this great guy who keeps trying and gets in the hospital bed and holds me as we deliver a baby we’ll never take home. And you cry when I’m not looking, because I’ve cried enough for both of us. But I know you do. I watch you bone-tired take the garbage out and swing the kids in the backyard, dawn-to-dark without a break. You’ve all but put your golf clubs away for a girl who clings to you when you’ve been gone all week and sons who would rather wrestle than be your caddy. You remind me so much of your own dad: all heart, watching each of us, finding the need.

glory. You get up in the morning and make the coffee and I try really, really I do not to pry when you’re looking at your i-phone because it’s not my business if you’re reading your Bible app or the ESPN app, but you know . . .The fight starts if I spend one more second on surveying your outfit before we go out. And when I am trying so, so hard, lip-biting-clean-through to not critique, but you read my face. How is that fair? And so the effort to love, serve, to rise above thwarts by a mate so close to your own soul I can sometimes feel your breath in my lungs. I ask you and your narrow eyes, how it’s possible for a wife to be held responsible for thoughts?

glory. And it’s just you and me in a million moments when the storehouse bulges and when the fridge is empty. I survey 15 years of waves upon this shore of a lifetime love, and I can see the glory. I remember Abraham’s first cry and the day we sobbed in the waiting room when the cardiologist told us Sam had a chance at living. My heart holds dear the camp fires lighting your face in ever-present memory, almost straight with angel light, and I remember that night you came back and we decided we wouldn’t give up, never give up. A thousand steps upon one hundred beaches, setting up the pup tent in the living room because we drove all day and couldn’t find a camping spot. And the glory of a bottle of wine and a night without sleep, the nights we’ll hold sacred all of our days.

glory. We’re messy, crazy, absolutely screwed up and we grow together. Sanding each other’s edges off. Sometimes cutting deeper than we mean, always forgiving with bandages and sutchers and a fire that keeps growing. Glory in fire, glory in the muck of life redeemed. Glory in coming home to a teammate who wins when I do, who glories in me. Glory in this mess, in a universe of shooting stars burning alone into night. Glory in the giving up of one’s own ego, my own bridal view, to live a life filled with dirty, salvific Glory.

Some glory in their birth, some in their skill,
Some in their wealth, some in their body’s force,
Some in their garments though new-fangled ill;
Some in their hawks and hounds, some in their horse;
And every humour hath his adjunct pleasure,
Wherein it finds a joy above the rest:
But these particulars are not my measure,
All these I better in one general best.
Thy love is better than high birth to me,
Richer than wealth, prouder than garments’ cost,
Of more delight than hawks and horses be;
And having thee, of all men’s pride I boast:
Wretched in this alone, that thou mayst take
All this away, and me most wretched make.

Glory. Broken open, rubbed-raw, scarred-up glory. That’s you and me, babe. Let them say that of us. God-only glory forged those two wills into one flesh. Let’s not just not survive the forging–not just endure it–but glory in it.

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Hebrews 13:20-21

Humbly,and praising-my-God-for-this-miracle-of-a-man-whose-name-I-share,

Taylor

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