Thankfulness: Days 11 – 16

Soooo, have I ever mentioned how I have difficulty with follow through? I was doing good for the first week or so and then we went away and I spent a day doing mostly nothing at a condo in Virginia and that was that. I have been thinking about it every day, pondering what I have been thankful for. Here’s my catch-up list; in hopes that I’ll now stay on track.

Day 11

One of these little girls turned 7 today (bottom right)! I am so thankful to be their auntie! They have brought me countless laughs and smiles over the years. It has been a joy seeing them grow and seeing my sisters become mamas. Super thankful that I’ll get to see two of them next week (though sadly, have to wait until next summer to see the other two).

Day 12:

Today I am thankful for the simplicity of some dinners – soup and grilled cheese it is! Little prep and little clean up makes for a happy lady and an evening spent doing other things other than the dishes 🙂

Day 13:

Today Grandma would have been 103 (if I’ve done my math right). She and Grandpa and Baba (my mom’s mom) were such big parts of my life. We saw Grandma & Grandpa close to every weekend and some of my most fond memories in childhood involved spending the night at their apartment over the summer or during Christmas break. Baba lived with us since I was 4. I would watch her “stories” with her when I got home from school and often retreated to her “house” when I wanted to be away from my sisters. She’s been gone 3 years now, but I still can’t think of that section of my parents’ home as anything other than Baba’s house.

I am thankful for them all today and all the things they have taught me in my formative years; about sewing, cooking, gardening, storytelling, and life in general. I’m thankful for the memories passed along. The truth. The wisdom. The love.

Day 14:

Today I got to chat with friends I haven’t talked to in at least a year. Not for any one reason, just life being what it is and people moving and having new things added to their lives. I still find it amazing how we can pick up right where we left off like no time has passed at all. I’m so thankful for these friendships that stand the test of time; not all do. That’s how you know they’re pretty special.

Day 15:

I meant to take a picture of our first snow before it got dark, but it was a little bit of a crazy day. Not that I’m thankful for the snow – it was the cause of some of the craziness. It was pretty, though. No, today I’m thankful for growing up and learning to drive in a place that has frequent snow. So now, as I’m in a place where people go crazy over an inch (and the roads aren’t always well maintained during it), I can be ok (for the most part) and know what not to do while driving in it. I suppose that was also learned by landing in ditches a couple times in college because of the ice and/or snow.

Day 16:

Today I am thankful for a half day of school which means I get to do some crazy running around/baking/laundry done before our very busy weekend and then flying out to Michigan on Monday. We are both very ready for a longer vacation and the chance to see more family! I’m so grateful for this time to get a few things done because we still have to get through this weekend before vacation really starts.

Whew! What a wrap-up! Here’s hoping I can stay on track even through our time away. As you prepare for the coming week I pray you have some time to stop and think about those things you’re truly thankful for as well as the One to whom we owe all thanks.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

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Delight in Hope

It struck me Friday, as I was at church for music practice, singing “I Will Rise” by Chris Tomlin. It marked 3 years since my grandma went home to be with her Lord. While the date marked that, back in 2011, Good Friday was the day of her funeral, and as we sang, it hit me with double the impact. I didn’t really take that in then. All I remember was that it was my daddy’s birthday, and how sad it was that he said goodbye to his mom on that day instead of celebrating the blessing of another year.

My grandma was an amazing, God-fearing woman. She taught me so much; never knowing that when she was gone I would learn even more. I would learn about hope.

ImageI remember my mom calling me at work that Monday morning, telling me Grandma was gone. While she was old (95) it was unexpected and caught me off guard. I cried, of course, I cried. Then I went outside behind the library and cried some more. I called my pastor and he told me something I’ve heard him say many times since. It is okay to mourn, we are sad and missing our loved one; but unlike the world, we are to mourn as those who have hope. Hope in what? You may ask…

Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him. – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

Later that day I went to the beach. To sit and think and pray. I laid back in the sand, wind softly blowing around me. Closing my eyes I saw Grandma running into the arms of Jesus, smiling like never before. Running? My Grandma? I had never seen her run in my life. But I imagine that when it’s His arms you’re running to, you can’t get there fast enough 🙂 It gave me peace, knowing, without a doubt, where Grandma was going to be spending that Easter morning, just 6 days away. And I was jealous, to be honest. To be completely honest, I still am; for she’ll be doing the same thing today. I imagine, in heaven, it might seem like every day is Easter morning.

So, yes, I discovered hope. Hope in the promise of 1 Thessalonians 4:14 – that I would see Grandma again. More importantly though, is the hope I have in this promise:

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” – John 11:25-26

Do you believe this? I do.

It is a fitting time of year to be delighting in hope, don’t you think? Today Christians all over the world will be celebrating the hope we have in our risen King as we remember His resurrection. Jesus rose from the grave, on the third day (just as He said He would), victorious over death. He did it for us. For you, For me. Because we have all fallen short of the glory of God. And there’s just no way we could ever make it to heaven on our own. We cannot be good enough, go to church enough, give enough. Period. But Jesus is good (no enough about it). He lived a perfect life here on earth and gave Himself as a sacrifice for all. Of course, it would be for naught if He didn’t rise again – but the empty tomb proves that. Those who believe, who have accepted God’s gift of faith, stand in that hope. Knowing we will see our Lord one day, whether it is when He takes us home or comes again, it doesn’t matter; we will see Him.

This morning, when I’m in church, singing “I Will Rise” I will be doing so standing in the assurance that it is true. Knowing that, one day, I will rise. I pray we all are able to keep that promise of life, and of hope, in the forefront of our minds. Not just on Easter Sunday, but every day.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Seemingly Delightless Days

Today is one of those days. If we’re honest, they are not hard to come by in this fallen world of ours, but they are hard to take.

A little boy died yesterday; he wasn’t really even a little boy yet, just 2 years old. Again, not hard to believe. I did not know this toddler & I do not know the exact circumstances of his death. I do know the small Yup’ik Eskimo village where he lived. I do know the community he was being raised in. My heart goes out to them all.

Eight years ago last month I set out on my biggest adventure. I moved to a small Eskimo village in Alaska to teach. I could see the Bering Sea out my bedroom window and walk down to it whenever I wanted. I lived there for two years and then God led me elsewhere, but those are two years I would not trade for anything. I learned more about community there than anywhere else I had ever been; a lot more about friendship; and a whole lot more about finding God in the quiet, lonely places of life.

I taught this little boy’s mom in my high school knitting class and one of his aunts was in my 3rd grade class. Having found out about this tragedy this morning, my mind has constantly gone back to them and their family, the whole village. I cannot pretend I know the pain they are going through, but my heart breaks for them.

Yes, these are the times when delight is hard to come by. But when these times come barreling down on us there is one thing we need to hold on to with a grip so fierce and strong; the Light is still with us.

“I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” John 8:12

God knows what is going on. Indeed, He is sovereign over all. I have no doubt that that little boy is being held tight in the arms of Jesus right now. I pray that all of those who are left here without him can find comfort in those same strong arms. My love and prayers go out to you all. Kenkamken.

Love & Blessings,

KJ