Surrender -- to trust in God's plan for our lives; to set aside our own plans and eagerly seek his. 

Embrace -- to receive or take with willingness that which is offered; to lay hold, to seize.  

So fitting that today's themes are 2 words that pretty much are the anthems to my life. I like to think of it as God's mysterious humor and perfect timing -- 1. Today is a Sunday, the day He's assigned for rest. 2. I'm also on a trip as we speak to relax, reset, rest and rejoice. 3. Currently, sitting in a car basking in the majestic landscapes, views, and landscapes. 4. Forever seeing my daughter, Havey everywhere and in everything. 

As I pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help enlighten my heart to find the words for today's topic, an overwhelming sense of peace hugs over me. I feel assured and loved as I know these random gentle hugs are from heaven -- (thank you babygirl, for always sending your mama your love).

I've honestly never had any difficulty with my grief yet so far. I believe it's because of the (always) emotional person that I am. I've never been the one to hide or lock myself away as my feelings and heart tend to flow out freely. Realizing + understanding that this journey isn't and will never be an easy one, being able to openly grieve makes it a lighter one to walk through. A blessing in disguise. Another reason why there hasn't been much difficulty in grieving I believe, is because of the constant dance of surrendering and embracing in my life. 

Three years ago, I graduated from nursing school. I struggled for a little over a year with taking and passing the NCLEX -- the big, scary, intimidating national licensure exam that nursing graduates have to take in order to become licensed and registered to practice nursing in the state, in my case, California. This easily became the greatest, darkest battle I've ever had to face. To some, this "battle" may appear petty and minuscule in comparison to others. The truth is, the Lord had never given me and/ or placed anything "larger or more difficult" than this in my whole life. Ever. During this time, I found myself in dark places, became depressed, not eating, looked down on myself, and thought of myself and then, current life situation as "low" + "hopeless" -- my mind even began to convince myself that I was stuck forever, unable to pass the "one exam" I needed to move on and begin to "live" and "start" my life. Though been having lived through what I thought was my most trying season yet, it was in those months that I began to find myself, what my real purpose is in this life is, and ultimately, who my heart serves. 

I found myself re-opening my bible (something I hadn't done in high school), buying a new one plus devotionals, soaked myself in prayer, came across the amazing community of SheReadsTruth and began to re-study and learn the permanent truth in God's Word. In between my studying for the exam, I also collected new hobbies that were good for my heart and soul -- hiking and starting a monthly hike group, the magic and therapy of DIY-ing and floral arranging, and even started a small bible study group with my sister. I slowly, began to see this darkness as a light for all the other things and ways God wanted to teach and show himself to me. Reflecting back on this, I now thank and understand Him for using my "not-passing-the- NCLEX" season as a time to seek Him and his purpose for my life. 

1 year and 5 months later, with His grace and grace alone, and in his always perfect timing -- I became a nurse. What I easily thought would "cure" my drought and be the key to starting my life, now also came with more hurdles to overcome. Finding not just an ordinary job or line of work, but one that was also stable + steady became a challenge for me as well. It took 1 exact year from obtaining my license to finally settling in an ideal work environment I've always prayed for. I look back and now, shake my head at how I allowed myself to become easily consumed with passing the "1 exam" I thought would open the door to my life and then finding the right job. I see now what I didn't see then. That -- this life is not ours. Our purpose on earth is not ours. They are both His. This constant dance of surrender and embrace has never sang louder than it does now in my life. 

After becoming a nurse, landing a good job -- the hurdles don't stop; He's not yet finished.  

The surrendering and embracing in the early seasons of my life was what shaped me, my faith and my heart for the future that was still yet to unfold for me. Had our Lord not molded and used that particular season to reveal himself and His sovereignty that demands the ultimate ruling in my life -- I feel would not have allowed me to "easily" grieve and heal the way that I have so graciously been. He used that dark, difficult time to prepare and ready my heart and faith for the things still yet to come. I know now that this meant:

- Haven's heart defect  

- My unexpected, unknown pregnancy condition of Incompetent Cervix  

- The life & death of our first + only child

- The scary and uncertain future I have yet to face with my future pregnancies and children (God-willing)  with my newly discovered condition

The beautiful, sweet dance of embracing and surrendering isn't done yet. It hasn't stopped. It keeps going. At times, easy and liberating, and others, uneasy and painful. The two words so evident and clear throughout my life -- in every season, in every song. 

My daughter's life and her legacy continues to teach me, stretch me, and make me grow in ways I didn't think would be possible had she not passed.  

I surrender her back to the One who loved her first, gave her purpose, and so intricately knit her inside my womb to embrace the unique + beautiful purpose He's always had for her. 

I surrendered the big dreams and plans for her here on earth to embrace her bigger + better ones in heaven.    

I surrender my parenting her physically to embrace the special gift in parenting an angel.

I surrender the pain, anger and questioning that consumes my flesh to embrace the peace, mercy and healing He desperately wants to give me instead. 

I surrender the uncertain + scary prognosis of my condition to embrace the promises and peace He has set out before me. 

I surrender the plans and hopes my husband and I have to grow a big family for ourselves to embrace the pregnancies and children (short or long lived) He will allow and has already prepared for us.  

I surrender the life I thought I wanted and was going to have to embrace the distinctive calling God has for my life, one that may not have been wanted but is so needed. 

A life with a calling that in so many ways is because of my Haven Faith. 

This is me.  

This is my life.  

This is my great surrender.  

And my greatest embrace.  

"To surrender my all so that I can embrace His."