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Over the weekend, I attended my first women’s retreat at Falls Creek. What an experience it was! It was such a blessing to cover such an event for work, by doing live social media coverage and photography, but also getting to experience the event with my church family of women.

One of the keynote speakers, Annie F. Downs, a new personal favorite speaker, talked about praising the Lord and abiding in Him not only during the mountain tops of our life but doing the same, fervently, in the valleys as well.

This was a message that hit close to home. Annie talked about how, sometimes, all we do as women, or just people in general, is look to the future as a beacon of hope and think to ourselves, “if only I can just do this or do that I will finally be able to be happy.” (This is how I heard the message so definitely take it as the EHPV, or Emily Howsden Paraphrased Version).

So many times in my life this has been me. In high school, I couldn’t wait to graduate and be a college student/collegiate athlete. In college, I couldn’t wait to graduate and be in the real world with a real job. Also in college I couldn’t wait to get engaged, then married, etc.

In our first year of marriage I couldn’t wait until we bought a home together and moved out of our apartment.

Now as I sit here, a wife, college graduate, home-owner, I find myself content. This is not to say I am content in my spiritual walk with the Lord, as we are always to be striving for more from Him and with our relationship with Him. But that being said, as I sat in the tabernacle at Falls Creek, I felt convicted at how many times in my life I said, “Lord what you have provided me is great, but I want more. It’s just not enough.”

When I find myself in the valleys of life, have I abided in him and praised him for the valleys and the mountaintops? It’s hard to not get caught up in the secular thirst for always the best and what is coming on the horizon while ignoring or looking past what the Lord is doing in our lives now.

This is something I see fellow believers (and myself, as I mentioned above) also struggling with. They see themselves only as single and lonely, not as healthy and loved by those already in their lives. They see themselves as unsuccessful, compared to others their age and their careers, not as someone who is privileged to live in a part of the world that grants them resources like an education and other first world amenities. They could not be more wrong.

This is where we must look to the Lord as Hebrews 12:2 says, “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Nothing I have been provided has been earned. It is all a gift from the most gracious Creator. And when we feel like we are in need, those are the times we take a step back and ask ourselves, why isn’t he giving me this? Could it be that he has something better in store?

Be patient, my friends, and trust that the Lord is good and has planned all of your days before you ever “knew what you wanted” out of this life. Praise Him in the valleys, because they will surely come!