This is Hope.

This Easter was the best of my life. This Easter, God redeemed, restored, healed, mended, and molded. Lives were saved. Heaven rejoiced. AND Y'ALL. MY HUSBAND GOT BAPTIZED!!!

There are some times life goes in ways we don't expect. Things happen we didn't choose or would ever want to choose. People make choices we had no part in. We do things to hurt other people we'd never want to hurt. A diagnosis comes out of nowhere. We grieve the loss of loved ones. So many things happen, but sometimes God allows us to go through the fire to test our faith, to show His love for us and for Him to be glorified in the victory when it comes (and it will come). I think all of us kick and scream against the fire haha. I don't know of anyone who'd ask to go through difficult things, but I will say that I've learned to treasure it because in it I've experienced a closeness with God I couldn't experience unless I had to rely on Him.

Is it fun? No.

Is it worth it? Absolutely.

No matter what you're going through, big or small, your fire is important to God. And He is right there with you - you are not abandoned and you are never too far gone.

I love how sweet Jesus is to us. Every sermon and every friend specifically placed in our lives have spoken truth over us in so many incredible ways. It's Jesus whispering and it's the most sweet yet powerful sound spoken I've ever heard.

Stan has told me he wanted to get baptized, but I didn't think it would be this Saturday. After the service he turned to me and said, "would you mind if I got baptized?". Stan. So polite. He could be drowning and still say "please" haha.

Of course I was immediately a puddle on the floor because I'd been praying and praying, even during that very sermon, that he'd get baptized and allow Jesus to claim His victory over his life once and for all. I sat in my chair and prayed, "Jesus, I know you know that I really really want Stan to get baptized, but if now isn't the right time, then I leave it in Your hands." Little did I know about 10 minutes later Stan would be turning to me with a smile on his face wanting to get baptized. Y'all. My Jesus. He's amazing.

We walked outside to the baptism pools where a large crowd of our church family was already gathered, music playing, breeze blowing, sun setting, friends dancing and cheering - you could almost hear Heaven rejoicing over all the lives being saved that night. It was pure joy. I wish we could do baptisms every day. As soon as our dear friends found out Stan was about to get in that pool there were tears of joy, bear hugs, screaming, chanting, and praises to Jesus. He really is loved so deeply by so many people!

Of course I'm an even bigger puddle by now and my heart was so overwhelmed yet I had this deep peace as I took in the beauty of the sky around us, the sound of worship, the laughter, tears and pure joy radiating from our friends and church family. There I realized we had true friendship (the kind that really knows you and all your weirdness and still loves you) and community around us that we didn't put there, but God did, just at the right time, and I kept saying to Jesus under my breath, "thank you Lord for hearing my prayers and answering me in such a big way."

Our pastor reminded us of the story of the angel sitting on top of the rock of Jesus' tomb. You know how dogs like to sit on top of things to show they own something? This is what this angel was doing. The rock wasn't enough to keep Jesus in. And the first thing out of Jesus' mouth when both Mary's found him was, "Do not be afraid...". How amazing that those were the first words out of His mouth!? I don't know about you, but God doesn't do anything by accident, and I fully believe there was a reason why those were His first words after He rose from the grave.