My baby girl turns one today. I cannot begin to imagine life without my spunky little miss. Harper’s bright eyes and mischievous little grin makes each day just a bit better. Her tenacity and determination make my heart swell with pride. She is hands-down, one of the best things to ever happen to me. And, she was one of the last things we ever saw coming.

The morning I found out I was pregnant with Harper is forever burned into memory. I was a few weeks late, and had been worrying about a potential pregnancy for days. I woke early and took the test. Before I could even glance down at the stick, I knew what it would say. As I looked down and say the two pink lines, tears started to roll down my cheeks. But, unlike my other pregnancies, these were not happy tears. I did NOT want this baby. But, God knew I needed her.

I was done having babies. I hated being pregnant. I don’t do well with infants. Crying stresses me out. I was ready to move out of the baby phase and get into the “big kid” stuff. I didn’t have it in me to go through this again.

But, I made it. I survived. What didn’t kill me, made me stronger. What was viewed as utterly impossible and undesirable transformed into something beautiful and life-changing. This wasn’t the first time life worked out this way. EVERY SINGLE TIME I’ve come face to face with a change I didn’t ask for, my life has transformed.The day your spouse loses a job. The day you hear the word divorce. The day the doctor says “cancer.” The day you miscarry. The days you never see coming, and never would have asked for. I’ve been smacked across the face with these days more times than I care to count. I’ve walked through the valley and have been certain I’d never see the mountain-top again.

In hindsight, I now understand why these days had to come….why they were meant to be a part of my story. Without each of those change-filled days, my life would be so dramatically different. I would be different. We were not meant to stagnate. We MUST go through seasons of change in order to grow. Consider fruit trees. The good farmer knows that in order to get the best growth, and the most abundant crop, he must trim and prune the tree. When we walk through trials and life’s “surprises”, it’s as though we are being pruned……We’re being made ready for the harvest.

To think about it another way, when you work-out, you’re going to see the best results when your body is worked hard enough to hurt. That pain is there to let you know that you are re-building…Your muscles are getting stronger as your body faces pain.

The pain and suffering of life’s surprises are there to make you stronger. You are re-building. You get to grow. Good things fall apart so that better things can come together.

The surprise of Harper, the loss of my precious Holden, the loss of income, the betrayal of trusted friends….each of these “surprises” paved the way to change-filled days and times of pruning. I was put through wild tests of faith and personal strength as I faced pain so that I could become stronger….so that I could yield a more abundant crop. God (the ultimate “apple farmer” or “personal trainer” if you will) knew that I needed to walk through a season of pain and change in order to move forward into something different.

I can tell you that my little birthday girl is something I needed. I didn’t know it at the time, and could only see the hardship of what I was about to face. But, God knew. He knew that not only could I handle having a fourth child….He knew I wouldn’t be the same without her. Recently, my husband was let go from  his job. A lot of pain and hurt was involved and we weren’t sure what God was up to. Today, my husband and I began a new ministry adventure as he began work as the Senior Pastor at a new church. We would not have this opportunity or get to work with this group of people if we hadn’t gone through the pain and trial of the last few months. There is always purpose behind the pain. There is always re-building or growth to be done. Don’t fear the change-filled days….embrace them. Face the pain with confidence, knowing that you will come out on the other side stronger and “re-built.”

The surprises WILL come. They’re inevitable. You never know when they’re coming or how they’ll “re-route” you. When life’s surprises hit you, pray, keep moving forward, and be ready….you never know how that surprise will change your life. You just may end up with something you never knew you needed.


If you’re looking for more encouragement or devotionals, please check out my Daily Encouragement section.