And there she was-at happily ever after. Her prince had come, her kingdom had been saved and everything was just as it should be. We have seen it in movies over and over again. Life was feeling like it was falling apart, but then it was saved. The ending comes and all is right in the kingdom.

We have seen it in our own life. It feels like everything is falling apart. Sometimes we wait a long time for those grand resolves, and a lot of times they _do come-usually with an unspoken expectation that we have finally reached our happily ever after_. Only in life, as opposed to the movies, they don't seem to last. One problem resolved is-more often than not-followed by a new problem.

For a lot of us, we see the grand resolves like a rainbow, shining bright with a promise that this struggle will be the last. The high of overcoming the obstacle is followed with a breath of relief that hard times are finally behind us.

And then, when the next struggle comes it takes us by total surprise. Every time. Inside it's like we are screaming, "But what about Happily Ever After?"

I made a pact when I was just a kid that I would live happily ever after. I promised myself that I would be like the princesses in the movie-where the kingdom was always saved and the knights were always shining.

So these moments where conflicts needed to be resolved, I almost take it personal that technically I shouldn't be putting myself in these sorts of situations. Let's put it a little more frankly: I am a bit of a control freak. I want happily ever after-but I want it right now.

I don't want to feel like I am always working so hard. I don't want to have to go to the doctor to stitch up hands. I don't want my husband to disagree with me about anything. I don't want those I love to hurt, or struggle, or make mistakes. I don't want to ever lose anyone to death. I want people to see things my way, so we can all make it together to my envisioned happily ever after.It truly is a magnificent place, in my mind.

But there is one problem. It doesn't exist how I keep trying to make it- where everyone makes the right choices, and nobody hurts any more-it isn't a real place. At least not anywhere I have been on this planet.

So what are we supposed to learn? Why are we living in a world that is so imperfect? Why must we continue to lose sight of the plans we have created for ourselves? Why does life have to be so dang hard?

I asked these questions to God this morning and He let me in on a little secret: this was always the plan.

Every day we will get to prove where we stand. We will get to show not only our own personal growth, but the strength we have found as we have turned to God. He has given us grace-not just to use when we die-but to help us live. Without opposition, we can easily forget about God. Without the conflicts needing to be resolved, our pride tells us the kingdom was saved by our own strength.

So guess it's time to strap up our boots and quit getting stuck in the mud. Drop our expectations of living a Hollywood version of our life ... and prepare to be rerouted.

There will be conflicts to resolve, and kingdoms to save. This we all know to be true. But life can still be beautiful ... through the dark times, and the light; through the high times and the lows. Grace is real, every minute of every day.

Satan had a plan similar to mine-where everyone would just do what they should to make it super easy to find happily ever after. But instead God made a better plan- one where we get to prove that we want it bad enough.

Prepare for some surprises along the way, but also a happily ever after better than anything we could ever imagine.

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