As September comes and goes each year I find myself reflecting on my life with chronic illness. 13 years ago, this month, my body experienced a drastic change. The anniversary causes me to reflect on the trial I’ve been called to but mostly God’s goodness and grace to me in the pain and loss. I’m reminded of the day when I tried to go for my usual run and my body told me I couldn’t (and haven’t since), of black outs that caused me to sit on the floor in the grocery store with my head down wondering if things would ever be the same, of fatigue so intense that moving my arms felt nearly impossible. I’m reminded of how in those first months of marriage I went from a vibrant bride to a weak wife wondering what my purpose was. I struggled, especially early on, wondering how I could ever serve the Lord with my life and He was quick to show me that I was bringing Him glory when I joyfully persevered and pressed into Him. Even when my body didn’t allow me to get out of bed I had the opportunity to testify of His power in weakness and to bring Him glory with a heart of thankfulness (even though sadly there are plenty of times my heart battles for a posture of thanksgiving). Truthfully the overarching memories are of the Lord’s constant care and provision. Whether through a promise of truth from His word, my loving faithful husband, an understanding and praying friend, a Gospel rich song washing over me, a kind insightful Dr, my mom driving an hour to fold my mountains of laundry, or the Lord’s comforting presence, I am cared for and it’s humbling. My shepherd isn’t going to let this weak sheep wander away or fall behind, even if He has to carry me. I’m reminded of God’s kindness to me as He keeps my heart from bitterness and anger and promises to perfect the work He’s doing in me (Phil 1:6). He is gracious. There are many days when I think of the hopeless mess I’d be apart from Him. His patience and gentleness in the midst of my questions and doubts is pure abounding grace and I praise Him for it. I love how He grows my faith through those shaky times and makes me more aware that He is the rock I’m standing on. Friends, He is GOOD. So on this 13th anniversary, instead of mourning my losses I am declaring that He is gracious and powerful, a God of comfort who is quick to forgive and eager to speak if we will press into Him and allow Him to reign over us.