One year. It was one year ago that I picked up the phone and heard Kris’ voice on the other line tell me he was going to the ER. It seems like yesterday and a lifetime ago at the same time. But I honestly didn’t think one year later we’d be here.

When we went to the hospital that day, I thought we’d spend a few hours in the ER, figure out what was wrong, and get some medication to make it all better.

Instead, we left five days later with a chronic diagnosis and more questions than answers.

Still, I thought it would just take a few months. Perhaps that’s why we didn’t tell anyone at first. We only shared the news with those closest to us. I thought we’d figure this Crohn’s thing out and be back to normal soon.

As the weeks turned to months, we began to realize that this journey was going to be much longer than we anticipated. Life was really hard, and I honestly felt alone.

Then I felt God ask me to share our story – to not hide our suffering and trouble but allow others in, allow them to pray for us, allow them to journey with us. Oh, friends. I am so glad we did.

In Ephesians 6, Paul talks about the Armor of God. Priscilla Shirer’s The Armor of God study is a great resource to dive deeper on each of these, but today I want to focus on one:

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. – Ephesians 6:16

The Roman soldier’s shield was about two feet wide by four feet high and made of wood planks. When groups of soldiers would advance, they would lock their shields together – around the sides and over their heads – creating what was called a turtle formation. Often, they would douse the shields with water so that when the enemy sent fiery arrows into the air, their wet shields would not burn.

They were protected from the enemy when they advanced together.

When I shared our story, our journey, our suffering, we became stronger against the enemy. It was as if the faith of each of you, the prayers of each of you, helped fill in the gaps where Kris and I were too weak to fight. You surrounded us with prayer. You fought the battle against the enemy on our behalf.

This year has been one of the hardest in my life, but it has not been without purpose. I have grown more this year than any other year of my life too.

I have learned to have joy (Philippians 4:4)

I have learned to simplify.

I have learned to be thankful (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

I have learned compassion (Colossians 3:12).

I have learned patience (James 5:10-11).

I have learned grace (Colossians 3:13).

I have learned to ask.

I have learned to (mostly) stop comparing.

I have learned to listen (Proverbs 1:5).

I have learned to trust (Isaiah 26:3-4).

I have learned to let go.

I have learned to be weak (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

I have learned to let others in.

I have learned to share.

I have learned to not be ashamed of the testimony the Lord has given us.

So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. – 2 Timothy 1:8-10

How are we now? We are waiting. We are much better off than we were a year ago, but we are still in the waiting. It may be a few months before we know if this treatment is working.

So we wait.

Thank you for being on this journey with us. Your prayers mean the world to us. They are shields of faith, protecting us from the enemy, covering us completely, as we advance together.

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