I'm 27 today, and it's hard to believe how quickly 26 sped by me. I'm pretty sure I only acknowledged I was 26 a handful of times before I turned 27! This past year has been the most difficult yet, and I believe this may be the first birthday where not a single picture was taken to remember the day. But I can tell you this: God is good to me and so, so faithful through every trial. I am so thankful for the life and many blessing He has given me, and I believe I can now honestly say that I am also thankful for the tough times/seasons my 27th year of life held. God is transforming me, molding me, helping my clouded eyes to see and my blocked up ears to hear the things He has for me. As painful as this process can be at times, isn't that the best birthday gift of all? I belong to Christ, and I am being made more and more into his likeness. What a gift. I've struggled with dread and fear for the future a lot this year, wondering what suffering, what pain, what challenges it will hold for my family and I. What does 27 hold for me? But I've had to let go of this fear, cast it upon the Lord, and ask for His peace today. Natural, unmedicated birth taught me a lot of things, and it continues to teach me things to this day. One thing you absolutely must do during labor, especially during pushing, is to take it one contraction at a time. You must live completely in the present moment and not allow your mind to add up the sum of your suffering though the labor. If you allow yourself to feel the cumulative effect of the pain and suffering of the entire labor process, you will drive yourself to utter defeat. Life is quite a bit like labor; there will be pain and suffering. There will be burdens, tears, and darkness. But we must live in this moment...now, today...not tomorrow, the next 5, 10, 50 years. We can't allow ourselves to attempt to view the cumulative effect of suffering in our lives. We cannot try to imagine what things we will have to endure. Allowing our minds to linger there will drive us to defeat. Someone pretty wise once said that "each day has enough trouble of its own," and we need not worry about what the future will bring. What really and truly matters is that the Lord loves me, cares for me, and will be with me through any and every situation I come up against. He has promised His children His peace and joy in the best of times and in the very worst of times. The Lord is helping me to trade the worry and fear for truth and love; despair and defeat for joy and peace; discontentment and hopelessness for rejoicing and thankfulness. As I turn 27 today, I honestly feel like my mind has undergone a renewal, and I am so very thankful.