A Changing of Seasons

A couple Sundays ago my pastor opened his sermon by thanking God for the change of season. Fall is such a welcomed time here; not only does the weather start to get cooler, but our population decreases hugely as we live in a popular summer vacation destination (I, myself, like the fact that I can go grocery shopping whenever I want and don’t have to think about avoiding the store on the weekend). We start thinking on the beauty of changing leaves, the aroma of home-made applesauce, and pumpkin spice flavoring in almost anything you could imagine. I love all of those things, but when Pastor commented on the changing of seasons, none of them were going through my mind. At that moment I was struck with the thought of how God was bringing a change of seasons into my life. And how thankful I was for it.

Over the past few months God has gone and changed seasons on me. He (along with some of my friends) nudged me into the “dating scene” earlier this year. It was with a varied mixture of hesitation, anxiety, excitement, and hope that I joined a popular online dating site. After a month or two I had down a pretty good system for figuring out if a guy’s priorities lined up with mine. Ladies, well, this goes for the gents too, don’t ever be afraid to ask someone what they believe in and why. If you do not want to end up “unequally yoked” – 2 Corinthians 6:14 – it’s a question that should be asked straight out of the gate. There are many people who identify themselves as “Christians” yet tend to leave Christ out of the reason for calling themselves such – I know this for fact as I came across more than I cared to when I asked that question.

After jumping through hoops of communicating in online dating (and feeling good about the answers to the questions I asked) I actually talked to a few guys and went out on a few dates. They were scattered through the spring and summer. I got to experience the “guy who thought there was chemistry when there was none” and the “guy who decided he shouldn’t be dating right now” as well as the “guy who fell off the face of the earth.” I was none too sad about any of these meetings as they proved to be good learning experiences. I certainly didn’t expect to connect with the first guy I met…the fourth, however, is a different story. He’s the one who ended up (after about a month of dating) being the “guy who asked me to be his girlfriend” AKA, my boyfriend.

*I shall now take a brief moment so you can all shriek and/or giggle like 14-year-old girls. This is what my friends do when I mention him, including an actual 14-year-old girl (and a 36-year-old one 😉 ). I myself would never do such a thing; I tend to either get a ridiculous grin on my face or blush at least 5 different shades of red. Or, if I’m in particularly rare form – both.*

This season is a totally new one for me. It’s not like knowing winter always follows fall; i’ve experienced that many times (32 to be exact): this has only ever happened right now. I will be completely honest in saying it has been exciting, strange, nerve-wracking, and wonderful – all at the same time. As much as I don’t know where this will lead, I’m not too concerned with that. I’m enjoying it and jumping in with both feet.

What I do know, is that every season prepares us for what’s to come; good or bad, joyful or sorrow-ridden.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven – Ecclesiastes 3:1

My past has prepared me for this season. The heartache of the past pulled my focus where it should always be, on my Lord & Savior. Building upon that is the knowledge, and practice, that now, when new and exciting things are happening, that is where my focus should still be…that is where my focus still is. These events, in time, will prepare me for whatever future He has planned. And whatever it is, I know it will be good.

I am thanking God for this changing of seasons. I pray, that no matter what season He’s taking you through right now, you’re able to see His hand working through it, for your good, and His glory.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

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A Guarded Heart

Guard your heart. What does that make you think? I have often thought of it in the negative, like stacking bricks around it so nothing can get through. That’s not really the intent though:

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. -Proverbs 4:23

This makes me think more of someone standing guard, not only protecting my heart from that which seeks to enter, but also that which longs to be made known.

One of my great friends is constantly sending me links to articles and things she thinks I’ll enjoy or find helpful (I love it, Sara, don’t stop!). As we share so much with each other, she is in a good position to know where I’m coming from a lot of the time.

A while back we had a conversation on the topic of keeping your heart guarded while a relationship is developing. I had just read about it, probably in an article she had sent me, and had come to a realization. My heart is poorly guarded. I, too quickly, think of where something could lead (and in turn rather freak myself out) instead of paying attention to the here and now. I easily share thoughts that come from the very deepest part of my heart and then wonder why I feel heartbroken over a relationship that never really was one to begin with. Now, I can’t say I have the answer to how to guard your heart (or mine), but I know Who does…

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  -Philippians 4:6-7

If you don’t recognize this verse then you must not be reading my blog nearly enough 😉 It is often my go-to verse when I am anxious or worried, when I need to be reminded to hand things over to God & He will take care of them, when I don’t know what’s going on or what is to come in the future…basically all the time. But the part about guarding hearts did not ever quite resonate with me as much as it does now; now I understand it a bit more. And I will faithfully put my heart in the hands of He who can guard it best.

Praying you are able to do the same, no matter the situation, for your peace & His glory.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

My Way? Or the High Way?

I was in an amazing place last Wednesday (you can read about it here). A place where I finally felt content with all that is going on, though I am far from understanding any of it. In the few days that followed a couple things happened that made me second-guess my stance on it all & my resolve to let God have control over it all (really, we are just kidding ourselves when we think the control is totally in our hands). I have been thinking on it, praying on it, but of course I cannot deal with this all on my own. Not when temptation to pick that burden back up and try to carry it myself is so strong. I know it is better left at the foot of the cross, but I was at a loss.

Then, yesterday morning, I read the entry for the day in devotional book Jesus Calling by Sarah Young and came across these verses:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8 & 9

Yes, that is right. His thoughts are higher than mine. As much as I like to think I know what I’m doing or that I have the best ideas, I know that’s not true, deep down. Ultimately He knows what He’s doing and He has the best ideas. And in the end, who am I to go up against the Creator of it all?

So, it is now my attempt to continue to be focused on Jesus, to fully put Him on the throne of my heart, and not shove Him off because a guy says “Hi” and I think I know the best way to handle the situation. No; I am going to keep Him there where He belongs, at the center of my very being, and listen for His Spirit to lead me along. To be honest, I tried it my way, and ultimately, it ended with me in tears. I’m all for trying it His way now; come what may.

May you, too, be able to keep Him on the throne in the days ahead, come what may.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Daily Struggles

The past couple weeks have not been easy. They have been filled with struggles; from feeling completely alone with a group of my closest friends to wondering just what God has up His sleeve and couldn’t He please, oh please, just give me a little hint or insight. Through it all though, He has been teaching me, which, of course, is the reason for these struggles to begin with.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

Some of these lessons I cannot quite verbalize yet, but there are a few that I can.

  1. When God’s Word says “all” that is exactly what it means. Of course, you say, what else could it possibly mean? The truth is, until last week I didn’t really think it applied to me or my circumstances. How many times have you heard “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26b)? Hundreds, probably. In Christian culture it seems to be one of those things that just fits in anywhere and can be said without really thinking. Are you out of work & looking for a job? Is a friend sick and need to be healed? Have you lost your keys and need to get to work? Don’t worry, With God all things are possible. See what I mean? It is something we can automatically say, knowing it was the “right thing” to say. Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe these words to be true, 100%. I just don’t think we always believe them to be when we say them, or we say them not expecting anything to change. Last weekend I heard something on the radio that made me rethink how I perceive those words. To be honest, I don’t remember what the radio host said, or if it was more than those few simple words, but the Holy Spirit used them to flick on a light switch in my head. All means all; it means it is possible for me to meet a man I will one day marry, it means it is possible for me to overcome thoughts of inadequacy, it is even possible for me to run a half-marathon (but not any time soon). But here’s the catch, I can’t do these things on my own. Ok, so technically, maybe I could; honestly, I have no desire to. I cannot see any way I could make it through these struggles, on my own, that would help me become the woman God is molding me to be. While the word all was my focus, my a-ha Erlebnis, if you will, those two words at the beginning; With God, are really the key.
  2. I am not alone. And neither are you if you struggle with similar things. A friend of mine sent me a link to Focus on the Family’s program for today entitled “Navigating Dating and the Single Life.” The only problem I have with it is that it is part one of two, so I have the wait until tomorrow for the other half. Take some time to listen if you have a moment, and if you don’t have a moment, make that time. Lisa Anderson, director of Focus on the Family’s Boundless ministry for young adults, shares her story of singleness while addressing the common questions and myths in today’s dating scene. What I like most about this was that I was wrong about the woman in this program. I (somewhat bitterly) assumed that she was going to talk about singleness and then go on to say how she just found her “Mister Right” and is happily married with a kid on the way. I was wrong. She is 10 years older than me, in her 40s, and single. As I listened to her speak with such open honesty, I heard myself. I cannot say there was one thing she said that I have not experienced. I found out I am not alone in my circumstance; being a woman who wants to be married, who wants to share a lifetime of love with one man and receive the same from him. In a small church where there have been 4 new babies in the past 6 months and the only other single women are widows and teenagers, this was an important thing for me to realize. She also makes a great distinction between being lonely and being alone, a good thing for everyone to realize.

No matter what, He is the God Who is in control of it all. These struggles are taken to Him with Whom all things are possible. He constantly shows me I am not alone. For these reminders, that would not have come without these struggles, I am thankful.

Love & Blessings,

KJ