Last week I turned 53. It was a very significant milestone for me. Since I was 24 years old every birthday from that point on I've always felt like I was still 24 years old. That is until this year. For the first time in my life I feel older than I actually am. I feel more like I'm 64. Over the past 5 years I feel like I've aged 40 years. It has been very ugly physically, mentally, and emotionally. Caregiving was always the right thing to do. It was never even a question. And the sacrifices that my Sister and I made for our parents don't come close to comparing to the amazing & loving sacrifices they made for us. How many things and aspirations did they sacrifice in order to have us and raise us?!?! Countless. But Caregiving has been exhausting and brutal. The toll it has taken on us physically, mentally, & emotionally is hard to put into words. The best way I can begin to articulate it is that the entire overwhelming & exhausting journey DECIMATED me (nearly utterly destroyed me) in every tangible area of my life (health, church life, close friendships, finances, sleep, fitness, nutrition, consistent prayer life, missed opportunities, ability to be on top of anything, taking care of my responsibilities, being effective in anything, being behind on everything, watching almost everything in my life fall apart, watching our parents [who we dearly love] slowly die each day, crisis after crisis, emergency room visit after emergency room visit, prolonged hospitalizations, and the list goes on). In my mind I want to write a book titled, "How Caregiving Almost Killed Me". A Cautionary Tale of sorts. I'm actually very surprised I'm still alive. When I had to leave to go run physically demanding summer Adventure Trips in the summer of 2020, 2021, & 2022 I was so utterly beyond exhausted I was 1000% sure I was marching off to my death. I was 1000% sure I wasn't going to be returning home... that I would just keel over and die from exhaustion. But something amazing happened each summer - God actually used my own ministry to save me. During the past 5 years everything in my life has hit rock bottom except one thing - God protected & preserved GTD. In fact, He used each Adventure Trip to fill my life with all kinds of good & Godly stuff (fellowship, consistent prayer time, fitness, adventure, fun, new friendships, hope, community, love, rest, fruitfulness, challenges, competition, laughter, etc). It was everything that I was missing back home as we rushed from crisis to crisis slowly watching our parents suffer new lows. So here I is today 53 but feeling 64. My house is now eerily quiet. Mom is in Heaven. Dad is in the hospital/rehab for 6 weeks. The dogs have passed away. The cats have passed away. The sounds of living things are all gone. Except for two living things that remain. Me. And God's call on my life. It has been a brutally ugly 5 years, but by the grace of God I survived. Somehow I survived the worst 5 years of my life's journey. I'm years behind on everything. I'm the most unhealthy I've ever been in my entire life. I don't even recognize myself in pictures. Everything that I had to kick down the road so that I could be there for my parents is now standing before me like an undefeated heavyweight MMA fighter. BUT the fight isn't over until I tap out, and I haven't tapped out. I'm still standing in the middle of the octagon, and as bruised and as beat down as I is... I'm more ready to fight back than I've ever been in my entire life. This isn't a COMEback. This is a TAKEback! The enemy has been spending the past 5 years opportunistically using my exhaustion (and my anger) against me to take, take, take so many things of value from me. That's what the enemy does... he comes to kill, steal, and to destroy. Well he should have killed me when he had the chance because now I'm getting back up on my feet, and I've got something to turn my near defeat into my greatest victory. I've got the promises of God! This is what God says about my situation, and I fully receive it in faith, and declare it in full assurance & confidence: "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I AM doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I AM making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." (Isaiah 43:18-19) and "I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten..." (Joel 2:25). Oh man, I'm fired up! Forget feeling 64! Watch out 24, I'm not coming for you... I'm taking you back! This isn't a COMEback; this is a TAKEback!! Everything the enemy stole from me... well, in the authority of Jesus by the promises of God's Word, I'm taking it all back. My health in Christ (Jesus is my fountain of youth!). My life in Christ. My calling in Christ. My victory in Christ. My fruitfulness in Christ. It wasn't mine to lose, and it wasn't yours to take. God owns it all, and He lets us borrow some of it while we walk this earth. So I'm taking it back so that when I return it back to God He has a great Return On Investment (ROI) for letting me borrow it for 52+ years. So out with the Summer Blues and in with OctoberFEST! In fact, my OctoberFEST will be a result of my OctoberQUEST! That QUEST is to snatch (take back) victory from the jaws of defeat! Goodbye 64! Hello again 24! I'm fighting to take you back in Jesus name!