We are currently in the season where our beautiful, big yard (read – hard to keep up with yard) has so much growth that I think our azaleas may topple our house. Of course, I jest, but last year they did rival the hight of our windows on the sloping side of our house…maybe 8-10 feet? That is a big bush! I’m so thankful to live in an older home with older landscaping that has something blooming year round. It can be incredibly beautiful, or incredibly wild if left on it’s own. Every year we have to cut our azaleas back at least a foot, if not more. It’s ugly and shows what was dead and imperfections. BUT it makes the next year’s blooms even more beautiful. The bush is healthier. It doesn’t go crazy and block all the light from our windows! Pruning is required to make the bush at it’s best and most stunning. It’s time for us to get trimming right now actually.
I feel as if I’m in a similar season to our azaleas. Lately it feels like God has stripped my heart back to it’s bare, deeper branches. He’s cut away all the extra, all the beautiful growth and what felt precious to me. A few months ago I felt like He was offering me “freedom” in His way – the unknown way, or the comfort of what had become familiar for me. I chose Him, but as we often do, I didn’t expect my “yes” to result in MORE painful pruning. So often we are told that if we follow Jesus our lives will be beautiful, whole and blessed. While following Jesus DOES in fact bring those things, He also said to come after Him means taking up a cross. It’s easy to succumb to the subtle lie that we can follow Jesus and live how we want. All the while He says, “I am the greatest reward and prize. I am the treasure.” We can miss Him in living out what we think it means to follow Him, instead of what He actually requires in His Word.
God has used my business, my art to prune and grow me in countless ways over the past 5 years. It was an unexpected path, but one I am so thankful He led me on all those years ago. It’s been such a hard, rewarding and incredibly sweet journey to follow Him and trust Him in this area. It has become part of me, something precious that I have used to express who God is to me and hopefully use it as a way to show His love to others. And then He asked for it back. I wrote a while back how graciously He prepared me to say yes and step out in faith. But I did not expect even more stripping back. Within the span of a week, two irreplaceable things were gone – along with a few other unexpected life things. They left me pruned, bare, feeling the lack of the branches that had surrounded me for so long. The blooms were beautiful. They were good Lord! Why strip away something so good and precious to my heart? Why take away my tools for showing you to the world?
Pruning. It always reveals what lies beneath, things that need to be cut away and the unhealthy things hidden by growth. I’m left with so many questions about the road ahead. Is it over forever? Is what He has pruned something that is cut away permanently or will He allow it to grow back? How do you cope when you feel so stripped and bare? The answer is to let my roots go deeper. Cling to Him. Trust that my God knows the fruit He has designed me to bear and is doing what is required to help me grow. He’s been doing this a long, long time. It was never “my” blooms or growth to begin with, but all due to Him. In comparison to other sacrifices, this is small I know – I have been cut back so much further than this before and He brought me back to life. And as precious as having this job and art has become to me, He is far more precious. Even in the pain of pruning, His ways are far better. He is my life-source. Without Him there is nothing. He is life itself .
It’s been a little hard to blog lately, even though I have so much to catch up on these days. Plus, I have a lot on my heart too. #PregnantWithAToddler Anyway, I did want to humorously write down a bit of my current state these days…because I know all too well I will forget in a few months, wait scratch that, probably in 2 minutes. So here is the real deal with what it’s like to be 3 weeks away from my due date this time around:
What is sleep? I can’t remember. About 2 weeks ago (I think? lol!) something hit a switch in my body/ brain and I’m lucky if I get 4 consecutive hours. Last night I did end up in the bed more than I have lately, but I woke up every 2 hours like clockwork and dozed back off maybe 30 minutes after each potty break…because hey, might as well try to be more comfortable while I’m awake. Fell asleep around midnight…got up around 6ish. That was a good night. You can see how things have been going…Due to this, I’m staying completely incoherent things all the time and Elle will often repeat herself 3 or 4 times before it actually registers that she’s talking to me. Poor kid. Brain, brain, where art thou? Thankfully, I did get through my final wedding and shoot last week and all I have to do is cull, sort, edit, etc and once the film comes back. My goal is to finish it all before baby gets here. No big right? I’m totally sane in thinking I can do that along with washing ALL THE THINGS that Elle made disgusting as an infant. She also likes to play with said things I’ve washed, and you know, step on them with her shoes…drag them around the house where our dog has been. Maybe the bathroom. She’s learning not to mess with baby’s stuff, but I understand it’s so tantalizing. It’s like a room full of new things to play with, and it’s too irresistible not to venture in while I’m trying to stuff my pregnant belly into a shirt or something…So you can say we’ve done a lot of washing.
I say all this tongue in cheek, because I am incredibly thankful to be part brain-dead and having to wash all-the-thing for this sweet little life. Plus, I do all of this to myself. Hello, if I just waited until the last minute to wash then Elle wouldn’t have so long to get it all dirty time and time again! But we’ve already established I’m not sane right now. I’m ok with it. It actually helps to have a mile long list of things to do because it distracts me from being so tired, uncomfortable and achy. I could organize in my sleep. Just don’t ask me to lay on the couch – it’s torture unless I feel like I’ve crossed off a million things from “The List“ – then, around 7PM, it’s ok to take a hot shower and slump into an immensely pregnant ball of exhaustion. I keep hoping that will help me sleep at night, but alas…I should probably change my tactics, but only a sane person would do that.
I do remember, sort of in this foggy-brain state, that I wasn’t the best person to be around once I hit 37-38 weeks last time. 39 and 40? Haha! It only got worse. I think part of that came from all the people saying “you’ll definitely have her early” or “any day now” and such. Don’t expect to be on time pregnant people of the world! It’s not good for the shred of sanity there is left to grasp onto so close to the end. My mother told me that she called me one day (because I don’t remember this at all) and I answered with, “What do you want?” Ha! I’m thankful they didn’t hold it against me. Thank you saintly people that love me! Knowing that, and also not knowing what is actually coming out of my mouth these days, I’d like a sign to put on my forehead that states: “Please disregard me. I’m very tired and very pregnant.” I hope to be a bit nicer of a person this time around, so I think I’m over compensating too much. Like, “I’m so sorry if I say anything offensive or rude. Sorry I didn’t text you back! Sorry I didn’t hear you! Sorry, I couldn’t stay! Sorry! It’s just so easy to be selfish when you’re so sleep-deprived or say things you don’t mean. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry!” Probably too much right? Thankfully, no one thinks about you or what you say as much as you think they do. THANKFULLY right? But I’m still covering my bases I guess. When do I get that sign? Let’s print it up for real.
At least I’m not counting on having baby early, but I’d still like to be ready. I’d also still like to have a long list of things to do to distract me if she is a week late like her big sister. I don’t know. It makes more sense in my head. Whatever it takes to cope right? Organizing. Chick-fil-A milkshakes. Jesus. Lifelines. Oh, and the new episodes of Sophia the First when I do have to lay down and simultaneously keep track of my child. Bless. I’m also thankful to know I probably won’t come out of this fog for another few months. It does get better when the baby is out and you can finally sleep on your stomach again (praise hands) but sleep is still this elusive thing of the past for some time to come. And the hormones. Ew! I remember, sort of, not feeling quite in control of all my faculties post-baby either. It does lift for a brief, beautiful few days after the sweet one’s arrival, but it doesn’t last. I’m just glad to at least have a bit more of a clue this time. And, as Jonathan says to me often, this too shall pass.
No season is forever and I’m so thankful I get to be in this fog and I have the privilege of not sleeping for months on end in order to bring this beautiful life God has given into the world. It is a joy and a privilege. I think that’s part of the reason I like my projects so much. It’s something physical I can do to get ready for her while God is “knitting together” her form, that he has known and loved long before I will. As I’m only further exhausting myself, I am one, hanging on to sanity, and two, preparing for this incredible gift to enter our lives. I’m working so things will go more smoothly as we transition. I’m trying to fit in all the things for Elle I won’t be able to do after baby arrives. I’m trying to meal plan and craft and sort so that we can simply cherish her first fleeting months of life. Maybe that is sane after all, or
maybe probably not. Either way, this is where I am. It’s laughable, but also incredibly precious. And I’d do it all over again in a fraction of a heartbeat.
Wow! Only 5 weeks left to go. I’m not sure how we got here so quickly. My heart feels as peaceful as this image. There is so much unknown, but God has me in a beautiful place of trust. I can’t wait to see what He’s unfolding with this life. As for baby, we had a check up last Tuesday and I was measuring over 4 weeks behind on my fundal height…go figure. But the doc ordered an ultrasound to make sure baby was growing on track, and she’s exactly 6 days behind…just like her big sister was. And guess what? Eleanora was 6 days late! Ha. It just takes me a bit longer to cook these babes. We’ll know more when I go in on Wednesday. I also think I carry small and don’t have big babies. That’s ok. I’m thankful to have been through this before. It helps so much knowing what my body does and what it is capable of doing while pregnant. There are so many things to worry about but I feel much more at ease this time around. I’m so excited and thankful that we’re getting so close! I’m ready! Elle is excited too. The other day she said, “Mommy, I’m going to cuddle baby sis all the time and you can have pretend baby sis.” ha! She talks about teaching her to make bread with us, talk and how to use the big potty. It’s adorable!
How big is baby: as big as a honeydew mellon, around 5 lbs
How I’m feeling: Physically I’m feeling well, considering! I’m definitely more tired overall. I’m hoping I’ll have one final burst of nesting energy to finish my last few projects!
Weight gain/ clothes: 20 lbs. I’ve finally hit the part where I never know what is going to fit when I get dressed. Thankfully, it is warm so I can pull out my shorts. Pants will not stay up for anything. I’m just working with whatever will fit at this point and *hopefully* can avoid purchasing anything besides maybe one stretchy shirt at the very end. I’m about to pull out the only things I can wear and push the rest to the side for now. The struggle is real.
Symptoms: A little indigestion, back aches, ligament pain, tiredness, discomfort due to my growing size. It’s uncomfortable rolling over at night! Ha! I’ve also started having some “episodes” of contractions and pain, mostly in the middle of the night. I think I’m just prone to pre-labor, or prodromal labor as some articles call it. At least I know what it’s like from a solid week of it last time! Gosh, I felt so amazing after birth simply because I could sleep a little again and it was all over! I hope it’s minimal until the end this time.
Sleep: It depends on the day and if I have an “episode” or not. It’s not super abnormal for me to be awake for a few hours in the middle of the night due to discomfort.
Diet/ cravings/ aversions: All I want is milkshakes and fries these days. Eek! I’m trying to limit giving in to once a week until the last week or two…or I might just have to experiment with some tasty healthy treats very soon so curb my sugar cravings. It feels so good to indulge in the moment, but my pregnant body certainly doesn’t appreciate being filled with junk more than the occasional treat. I still feel best when eating as many raw veggies and nut/ seed proteins as possible. Watermelon and oranges have tasted so yummy lately when I want a sweet something! Almonds are basically by best friends these days too. I don’t leave without them so I always have a snack on the go!
Movement: For some reason, missy LOVES to try to murder me from the inside at church on Sundays. I hope people haven’t noticed my grimaces during the service! Ha! She is quite the active one. The other day it felt like she was doing summersaults for over 30 minutes! (In the middle of the night of course!)
Exercise: I’m definitely getting in as much as I can. I felt great during our trip a few weeks ago but my energy seems to have waned since then. I just try to listen to my body. If it is saying I need sleep, I try to rest. When I feel good, I try to go for a walk or do my pre-natal barre DVD. Swats and certain yoga poses are fairly easy to fit in if I can’t do much else…plus I’ll be needing those muscles for labor!
What I’m looking forward to/ best moment this week: We finally found the perfect dresser (more so perfectly in budget!) for little lady’s room! It is the same style as our hand-me-downs in Elle’s room and I actually LOVE the dark gray color. I intended to paint it, but I don’t think I need to do a thing! It was fun to wash and organize all the baby things and put them in the drawers. But then again, organizing just makes me happy in general. I’m hoping to finish cleaning out her closet and finalizing the decor for the bookshelf area and over the dresser. We’ve already been spending more time in her room simply because it makes us happy to be there. The light has always been beautiful in that room. It’s small but happy.
Mood: I feel so much peace these days. I’m so thankful that we are getting to steward another little life. I can’t wait to meet the special, unique person God has already formed her to be. It will be challenging, but I’m looking forward to the journey.
My heart has been on quite the journey over the last 10 or so months. I can barely put words to down to describe what God has done in me, but I’m going to try for the sake of remembering. It has not been an easy journey, nor is it even close to being over, but I look around and can only say, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.”
I know God has been shaping and preparing me for this season for a long time, but for me I see the start last July when I took a month-long sabbatical from work and social media (except for once a week check-ins.) “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” Sheep are stubborn, as am I. Rest is not really in my wheelhouse. If it is not complete and utter exhaustion then surely I can fit something else in. But He made me lie down. I thought I’d come away with so many new ideas and such fresh vision of the road ahead, but instead God broke me down and gave me only more questions – not answers. (As if He’d stick to my expectations, right? Hello Jen – He is God!) He helped me “catch my breath” as the Message puts it and “sent me in the right direction.”
Mmmm, direction. After July God really stripped back a lot of thing in me. I saw how addicted I was to what my job had become for me and how tightly I held onto it without even realizing I was in control. I saw the life that being successful in my work would require and it wasn’t appealing anymore. As much as I love what I do, I wanted more of being useful in building God’s kingdom and not my own. Things that make up our identity can creep in without us really realizing it – my business had certainly been something that had become part of me in both good and bay ways. God took away my drive and all the push I had to further “the art” and taught me a sweet freedom in simply living everyday life. My heart felt a beautiful freedom in being with my girl when I was with her, and being fully invested at work when it was time for work. I chose to do things His way, even if it didn’t make great business sense to dial down the “push.” After all, it was so evident to me that what I wanted to achieve most in life was not running a successful business. My end goal is to bring Him the most glory. To really live that out, I’d have to release the reins. God gave it to me in the first place. It is all His. It’s hard to let go of control, to stop doing “the smart things” but I did and felt I had come to a wide-open place my soul had been so hungry to find.
Then – there is always a then…“Even though I walk through the shadow of the valley of death.” I would love to say that God opened up the heavens and blessings abounded in every area of life, although I was very, very blessed. One of those huge blessings was the news we were expecting our second child! I found out October 12th and I think I cried all day for joy. It was something I had longed for, really since Elle was born and had been waiting and waiting for God’s timing. I don’t know how many kids we are going to be able to have, but I have this vision of a full home – ours, adopted, fostered, whoever God sees fit to bring in. For years now, it’s almost like I can see them here, making us burst at the seams of these four walls. But as with all life, it comes with sacrifice. As this precious new life began, I saw my business start to crumble – at least to me. It was such a tremendous blessing for God to have lifted my drive so that I could deal with the physical strain of growing a new life. I was sick for 4 months with sickness on top of sickness. (Although I’m fully aware my struggles pale in comparison to some.) All life, all beauty originates in dark and quiet places. So there I was, so sick and feeling the reprecussions of “trusting God” with my business, which meant less engagement and less bookings than I’d seen in a while. I’d been in slumps and down seasons before. Honestly, all businesses have them and if you’re smart you can know when and why they usually happen so you can prepare and learn from them. This felt different. It was as if I was an outsider watching the thing I loved slowly die, and felt powerless to do anything about it. I had given God control! I didn’t feel the freedom to go back to the things I knew would work to put fresh wind in the sails and get things moving again.
“I will fear no evil for You are with me; Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” God is so gracious. In love He hemmed me in with His staff. He pulled me back when I wanted to keep going. Much wiser people have told me that sometimes a shepherd will have to break a stubborn lamb’s leg so that it stops running away. Then he gently mends the limb he broke and carries the lamb until it is fully healed. Then the lamb doesn’t leave the shepherd’s side. That is what God did in me. I am headstrong. I saw Him leading through the shadow of death, into a hard place and I didn’t want to go. But He never gave up, and I submitted to the breaking. He’s had to do it before, stubborn as I am and it is always, always, ALWAYS for my good and His glory. In those months of wondering “what are You doing God?” and “where in the world are we headed?” He helped me to say, “the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed I have a beautiful inheritance.” It didn’t matter where it was as long as He was there, and He was – always. His rod both broke and protected me. His staff led and drew me into HIS freedom instead of the freedom I thought I wanted. Through it all I kept wrestling with Him, and in love He wrestled back and never let me go.
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Come March I was tired, tired of the wrestle and needing to come to a place of surrender and peace. I was finally healed enough to say “whatever You have God, is what I want” and mean it. In all honesty it was hard not to be afraid of what He might say. “What if He does want me to quit my business? Really God? Right before I have a baby? You know that means more expenses right? You know that would make things interesting for us. You know how much I love it right? You know we’d found a good balance. You know it brings my heart joy.” I fought the worry and anxiety. I fought the need to hang onto the gift of this job I loved. I fought the idea of the lack of freedom that would mean if He did ask me to walk away. But God is SO MUCH BIGGER than my fears and even the best I can think to ask of Him. In His vast lovingkindness He set a table for me and gave me a choice: my business back the “way it was” or His way – and whatever that might mean. For me this time, the enemies were inside myself. They were lies. They came as influences from the world and the desire for it’s ways. But I saw a glimpse of the table He was setting and I wanted it with every ounce of my soul. He had readied me to let it all go. Hadn’t He brought me into that quiet pasture in the first place? Hadn’t He been my refreshment? Hadn’t He sustained me until this point and never let me go? So I jumped face first into His six-course dinner of beauty and a cup overflowing with blessing that I cannot describe or name. When I pulled back and saw all of where He had brought me, it wasn’t even a choice at all. How could I want anything less than Him – even if it meant leaving what I had come to know and love behind. I wanted it even though it might mean a more slim, simple, parred down kind of living. He said “I want to give you more freedom, not less. I want you free from the things of the world and it’s pull.”
“Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life.” (The Message) I feel like a little kid being chased by a loving Father, who I let catch me and hug me and kiss me time after time. It is overwhelming. It’s such a beautiful and free place. He wasn’t kidding about the freedom He wanted for me. I feel this earthly domain lessening it’s grip on me and I am starting to know what it means to “dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” I am starting to get it. I’m headed where He is, getting a glimmer of what He is doing. And it has made the circumstances of everyday life matter so much less. I am here, right now, and I know He will move me when He sits fit. I’m at HIS table, feasting upon HIS goodness and that is not confined to x, y or z – location, status, job, situation or otherwise. In fact, it follows ME! Me? This broken little stubborn lamb. Me. I could care less about my table now.
The intangible table I cannot adequately express, but in practical terms my heart can only say “I shall not want.” He has provided when it looked like things would get…not so pretty. It’s crazy to me that I wanted to hold onto my pride of earning money, doing something I felt was important and being able to be comfortable, travel, etc. Those are wonderful, beautiful things but they PALE in comparison. And you know what? I’m still doing my job – and I love it more. Every client is an incredible gift, and what He allows me to create is an immense joy. The difference is that I don’t worry about how things are going. He gives and He takes away. It comes from His hand and I am the joyful recipient as long as He gives me this work. He has shown me the sweetness of small things, like making my own food and growing a garden. He already moved my heart to be a more contentious consumer and I’d already started learning to sew- so “less” in clothes, home and extras doesn’t feel so hard. He is so good! I could shout it. He made me ready to let go – He is still helping me let go. I’m happy to have a more simple life because it is making room for more of what is truly lasting.
On top of giving me this sweet freedom, He kept confirming that I’m right where I need to be time and time again. Just when I doubt, He gives me a message in some way, saying “don’t give up – this is exactly where I want you.” We recently took a huge trip out to the west coast for 10 days. I can say without a doubt it was 100% God’s gift. He made it happen and it wasn’t due to my work or anything I made happen. I didn’t do a single shoot. I didn’t work. It was just time as a little family. What a lavish gift! I will forever remember it as the incredible GIFT I didn’t deserve, but He gave it anyway. For my heart it was His way of saying, “I know you better than you know yourself. All that you are, all that you love, everything that ignites your passion isn’t over. In fact it’s just beginning. The pangs, stretching and painful moments are like the labor pains of this life growing inside you. It’s part of the birth of something new. It’s a beauty you can’t see yet, but you will.” I’m not a a person who gets overly emotional or cries much at all, but every time I think of what God has done tears well up in my eyes. I have no idea of what the future holds, just like I don’t know what our sweet second babe will look like, BUT I do know it will be beautiful. Are the labor pains over? Not even close. I’m sure the hardest part is yet to come but I am EXPECTANT. My cup overflows with all that He is pouring in my cup – and it has nothing to do with me. I’m being chased by His goodness and mercy. I’m more free than I’ve ever been with more unknown than ever before. It’s crazy. It makes no sense. But it’s so beautiful. The longer I sit at His table, the more I see Him provide at just the right time. It’s not me, it’s Him. I just trust and obey and watch what He does. With all that is within me my soul joyfully proclaims, The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
I am so thankful to be hitting the home stretch with this sweet babe! Notice the wall color difference between this photo and my last update? It’s such a pretty soft gray. I LOVED the blue in Elle’s old room, but excited for a new color for a new baby. The nursery is coming along ok. We still have lots to do, a dresser to find in our budget and curtains to hang. Thankfully it’s a small room and looks full without much furniture.
How big is baby: as big as an eggplant, between 2.5 lbs
How I’m feeling: Still feeling much better for the most part. My larger belly makes it harder to do things and running around after my toddler is definitely making me tired! Also, giving her a bath has become a method of torture for me. I used to lean over on the side of the tub! No more. I’m going to have to figure out a better way or Elle is going to be learning how to wash her own hair very soon.
Weight gain/ clothes: 12-13 lbs. I’ve finally hit the part where I never know what is going to fit when I get dressed. Thankfully, it is warm so I can pull out my shorts. Pants will not stay up for anything. I’m just working with whatever will fit at this point and *hopefully* can avoid purchasing anything besides maybe one stretchy shirt at the very end.
Symptoms: A little indigestion, back aches, ligament pain, tiredness, discomfort due to my growing size. It’s uncomfortable rolling over at night! Ha!
Sleep: We had colds a last week which made sleep not so fun, but other than that I sleep like a log! I’m so tired when I go to bed at night…probably from not stopping during the day. (I know, I should take breaks…but it’s just not in my nature.)
Diet/ cravings/ aversions: FOOD! Glorious food! I have been doing a lot of research lately on non-GMOS and plant-based diets. It has really given me quite the motivation to get better at making my own things in the kitchen. I’ve learned how to make bread and hummus in the last 2 weeks! It brings me so much joy to learn something new. And it’s incredibly rewarding to find a way to save money AND know exactly what we are putting in our bodies. I’m trying to get a few things streamlined in our weekly routines so I can have everything down pat when baby comes in June. T-minus 12 weeks give or take! So, no cravings really…we’re just loving a more “whole” outlook on food.
Movement: Kick-fest starts every night at 10:30 pm and she hits high gear around 11…I can feel her little hand, elbow or foot scraping my insides or pressing out with all her might. I love feeling her, but she sure does know how to hurt me!
Exercise: Still doing ok. I’ve found I can’t do a whole lot of exercise, since I’m fairly certain I get in a good bit during the day with everything Elle and I do together. I definitely have to rest for at least 15 minutes after working out. It isn’t always feasible to fit in a workout AND rest so I have to plan the workout days when our schedule will allow. But overall, I feel pretty strong. As long as I’m replenishing the calories spent with good nutrients, I feel my stamina is pretty good. Hopefully I can keep it up as I get bigger and bigger.
What I’m looking forward to/ best moment this week: (I did pass my glucose test, btw! Yay!) I don’t have anything in particular I’m looking towards. In fact, I feel the Lord leading my heart to stay focused on each day as it comes. Learning to truly savor each day, grateful for whatever He has for me to do.
Mood: Thankful. Expectant.
This has been such a season of change for my heart, perhaps even more than I felt I changed when Elle was born. Learning it’s ok to listen to God’s leading even when it makes no sense for biz/ finances, and that is is OK to slow down…like all the way! But the Lord knows my natural inclinations to be and do so much, and is pushing me out of my comfort zone into a rhythms of less. I’m excited (and honestly extremely scared) as I enter a few months of mostly just being fully present in our home each day. Choosing to trust in His leading for the sweet work He gives me and when it’s done, rest in simply being His and letting Him tell me when it’s time to pick back up. It’s so hard for me to “let go” of the reins on my plans on what He’s allowed me to build up so much, and totally opposite of good business practices. But His way, always. He knows me best. All I have and am is His…so when He says stay, I stay. He is my CHOSEN portion. His boundaries on my life win every time, whether or not I would have chosen them for myself or not. Nothing else will satisfy. All the comfort in the world can’t come close to the joy of being in His shadow, even in the most UNcomfortable of places.