Encouragement for today

I was knitting as we waited for our appointment with the fertility doctor this morning. Soft music played in the background. The door to the office was closed as was the window into the reception desk. This did not hinder me from receiving encouragement in a way I hadn’t thought of before.

One of the receptionists was making phone calls. From behind the glass I didn’t hear any real details, but I did hear “congratulations!”. My heart swelled for the ones getting the news. Only for a moment did my heart ache for the day I might be on the other end of that call.

At least twice more I heard similar conversations, and thanked God for the new life He had allowed to be conceived in a way that was probably not expected. Like having heard so many times about friends who had met their spouses through online dating, this gave me hope that He may allow these means to work for us as well, to bring children into our family.

If I have learned anything in my past 5 years, it’s that God uses whatever means He sees fit. Starting down roads, we don’t know if what we desire will be at the end of it, or if there will be a turn we have to take. But as long as we’re following Him, it’s all good. Singleness, infertility, and a million other things I would never wish upon anyone; the Lord uses them in our lives for our good and to bring Himself glory. And so I will praise Him, whether I get what I want, or not.

I pray you will be able to do the same; to still praise the One who gives us grace upon grace, new mercies every morning, and life everlasting. No matter what this world brings. No matter if our prayers are answered in the way we hoped for or not. Even if it’s through tears and sorrow (which it often has been for me, as of late), may we be able to say, “Above all else, Thy will be done,” knowing that the Father of all knows what is best for His children.

Love & Blessings

KJ

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Learning Curve

Just a few thoughts on things I have learned (thus far) in this season of infertility.

*God is steadfast & faithful. While I can wish that He would be faithful in the way that I want, I am oh so grateful that He is faithful in the way that I need. In friends willing to keep me occupied during the time when I cannot help but be on edge with waiting. In friends who have offered listening ears, who have cried with me, who have encouraged me, who have shared their stories with me. In a husband who is more than I deserve, who loves me through the crazy, through the sorrow, and through the hormones (which just intensify the first two).

In all of this and more, the Lord has been faithful in His care for me, His love for me.

*Sorrow and joy are not mutually exclusive. Fear & love; those two things have no business together as “perfect love casts out all fear” 1 John 4:18. Sorrow and joy are very different from that. I can be sorrowful and grieve and still have my joy. That sounds a little funny, doesn’t it? Perhaps I can explain it.

Over and over I have been taught that our joy is not bound to our circumstances, because our joy, true joy, is only found in Christ. As God, Christ never changes, never waivers, and in Him our joy is complete. Just because I grieve it doesn’t mean my joy is gone. Jesus Himself wept.

This has been a struggle for me to get to. In the beginning of this all I thought that my grief and sorrow were in opposition to my Lord. That I was spitting in His face because I couldn’t not grieve as each month went by. If I was so complete in Him why did it hurt so much?

Yes, I grow weary at times. Yes, I cry. Yes, I mourn. Yes, I wonder why. But the joy of the Lord is my salvation, and in the midst of all this turmoil; times of sorrow and grief, I cling to that, knowing it is the one thing that will not change.

My moods may go from silly & giggly to withdrawn & quiet in record time, but the joy of the Lord is my strength. I may not know what tomorrow brings, but my hope is secure in Him.

Dear friends, I hope you’ve experienced these truths in your own lives. That the Lord is teaching you about His love, grace, and faithfulness, no matter your circumstance.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Weariness

Lost in the weariness of another day

Another disappointment

Another “not yet”

My soul longs to soar

As if it had eagle wings

But the weariness clings

And keeps me stuck in this muck

This mire weighs me down

Keeps me where I have no desire to be

If I had a torch, I would burn it away

If I had a hose, I’d wash myself clean

Free me, O Lord, from the weight of sorrow

Show me, O God, that there is an end

Bear with me, Savior, that I might carry on

Wait with me, Maker, for on my own doubt overcomes me

Strengthen me, Father, that I might endure

Teach me, O Spirit, that You are always good

Yet from this weariness may new life spring

May I be renewed in Your joy, unceasing

May I be aware of Your love, everlasting

May I be reminded of Your promises, faithful & true

May this weariness never keep me from You

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

“O soul, are you weary and troubled?” Last night and this morning those words ran through my head among the lies that floated in last night and made for a difficult nights sleep. I couldn’t remember the rest of the words but I knew who’s voice I heard singing it. Just looked it up and thought I’d share, because maybe, just maybe, you’re in need of this encouragement too.

Love & blessings,

KJ

Of Sorrow & Shame

I want to be honest and real. Not to gain anyone’s sympathy or pity, but to let those who feel the same know that they are not alone. To let those who are living through similar circumstances know that those things they feel in secret, behind closed doors, are not ridiculous; they are deep and real and raw.

This has been my biggest struggle in the last year, bigger than the heartache of being single when I so very much wanted not to be. It was a desire I had while I was single, but really couldn’t do anything about it then. It is my desire to have children.

Now that I’m married it’s something that just comes next in my mind, and as I’m 36, sooner rather than later would really be great. And before there are pat responses that I have time and God’s timing is perfect, know that I know these things. His Spirit within me reminds me that I am His, He is sovereign, He is good, and He holds all things in His hands. These things I know. These things I cling to. I speak them to my broken heart again and again. I whisper them in the quiet. I say them out loud to myself through the tears. At times I want to scream them.

Because the truth of the matter is, while I know that God is good and sovereign, almighty and all powerful, I cannot help but mourn that which has not come to pass. And because I know these things to be true, I also feel shame in this sadness. Which only serves to make the sadness deepen.

And that is really what I want to share. That is really what I want those who feel the same to know. The shame felt in this sadness is not something you are alone in. More importantly, I believe it to be a lie from the enemy.

Mourning is not wrong, as long as we do not mourn as those who have no hope. The clincher is, though, that that hope isn’t the hope of one day being pregnant, it is hope in the eternal life we can only find in Christ. I, myself, am just realizing this and speaking this to my heart as I type these words.

Have I mourned as one without hope? I would be lying if I said I haven’t. But His mercies are new each morning. I may forget that and that is when the shame drags me deeper into the pit. There is great sorrow felt when I feel that I have let my emotions overtake me. Sorrow that I have not rested in knowing God will provide. Shame that I have looked to something else to be my source of joy in this life.

There is a difference between feeling convicted and feeling condemned. It is right that we, as followers of Christ, feel convicted of sin so we can repent and be in right relationship with God once more. Not resting in God and putting something before Him as our joy is sin and being convicted of that and repenting of it is only right. But when such shame and sorrow is felt so that we believe repentance is not possible or will not be accepted is a feeling of condemnation. In Christ, we cannot be condemned, for we stand in His righteousness. God knows our hearts. That feeling should have no power over us.

I’m sorry if this has been a jumble of thoughts. It is what comes from me wanting to share my story for the benefit of others as well as process through it myself.

Just as the pain of singleness is real and can be overlooked by the Church as a whole, so can the pain of infertility. It has been so rarely spoken of that I often ask myself and those around me how other women deal with this because I am at a loss. And at that same time, I know nothing we go through in life is wasted. This season has its purpose. I can’t tell you I know exactly what it is, but whatever it may be I pray I can glorify God through it.

I want those of you who do experience that to know you aren’t alone. That pain is real and it can cut deep. I will not say that knowing Jesus takes away the pain; but knowing Him definitely sees me through it. Each month I come out on the other side knowing He’s still beside me, still loving me, still my everything. Sometimes it takes longer than others, but ultimately I know the God of the universe has this all under control. And if anyone does, I’m sure glad it’s Him.

So as not to give the impression that I’ve been mucking about in all of this, just me and Jesus, I haven’t (though if I had, I have to believe that would be enough). I have been blessed to have friends and family who regularly encourage me in this and keep my husband and I in prayer, not to mention a husband who is by my side through all of this, loving me through the sadness; ugly crying and all.

If you are going through similar circumstances in life, I pray you’re going through them with Jesus, the Light shining in the darkness, the One who provides Hope, and Rest, and Peace, and Joy, even through, especially through, trials and pain. And if you don’t know Him, I pray you would come to. The pain may not go away, but you’ll have the Creator if the universe by your side. And He’s a pretty good traveling companion.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

PS – if you see this through Facebook and comment there, don’t think I’m ignoring you if I don’t respond – I’ll be present there once again come April 1.

All the Way, My Savior Leads Me

Ten years ago I left my first job & first career in order to pursue my second. I had spent two amazing (and difficult) years in the Yup’ik village of Tununak, Alaska teaching 2nd & 3rd grade. I’m sure I learned much more than I was able to impart to my students, but that’s another story.

I knew I wasn’t really cut out to be a teacher. I couldn’t do as good of a job as I wanted to; so I thought about what I could possibly do next. I had wanted to be a teacher since the time I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up (except that one time I said I wanted to be a ballerina…). I then remembered that when I was in elementary school I once thought that being a librarian would be an amazing job. I also remembered a time while I was in college when I was telling my fellow soon-to-be teachers about all of the books in the Scholastic book order and what I loved about them. So that’s what I settled on, I would be a librarian.

Close to this time, ten years ago, I started grad school. Nine years ago I graduated with my Master of Library Science degree. Sounds super cool, right? Eight and a half years ago I was offered a job in a place I had never been; a place I had never even thought of. Cape May County, New Jersey. I, of course, accepted it.

I could tell story upon story of all the things that happen in my typical day to day at the library: parents telling their kids they need to leave or they will get locked in and the library monster will get them; getting Storm Troopers to come to a Star Wars program we hosted; moms being surprised that I remembered their child’s name 3 or 4 years after they started going to school and stopped coming to storytime; eating bugs because kids read over 7,000 books one summer. Maybe one day I’ll write about all of those and more. But not today.

What I want to share, and try to process through for myself, is how amazing God has been through all of this.

I came to this strange place called New Jersey knowing only one person in the area. I soon connected with a family that welcomed me with open arms. God used them greatly to guide me, teach me, grow me, comfort me, and support me through these years filled with many ups and downs (and I don’t think He’s done with them yet). Through them I got connected to a church that also welcomed me with open arms. The people there became my family, as mine was so many miles away. They, too, have been used by God to help me grow in my faith, encourage me, love me, and speak truth to me.

The past eight and a half years, as I delighted in my career, as I gained loving, godly relationships, God grew me immensely. I’m not sure I would recognize the 27-year-old who came to a place she had never been all those years ago. For that I am oh so grateful. Words cannot fully describe just how much.

In a few short months, I will be moving on again. But this time I won’t be on my own. And this won’t be a big move where I know few to no people. My husband and I have bought a house and are moving closer to where he works. This has always been the plan and we are both excited for it. Excited to be living near our church family & community. Excited to have a place of our very own, to paint and decorate as we please (I may be more excited about the decorating part than he is). Excited to be close enough to friends to have them drop by just because. Excited to be more active in our community.

But this time, I will have no official job title. We will be moving outside of the county so I will no long be able to work there. I am not searching for a new job as a librarian. It has been our hope to start a family. I have been looking forward to the end of my job title as “Head Children’s Librarian” in the hopes that I could replace it with one I desire even more “Mother”. That is not the case…yet. And even in this, especially in this, God is growing me.

Why do we constantly look to titles, people and other things to fill that place that only God can? Above all else, I struggle with this. I don’t know how many times I’ve talked with others about where our true identity lies. Or even how many times I’ve written about it. Do you know why that is? Because it’s the one thing I most need to be reminded of.

In the midst of this world, I get stuck.

I get stuck thinking that my career is the most precious thing.

I get stuck thinking that if I find out one more friend is pregnant I’m going to lose it.

I get stuck thinking that if I can’t have what I want the world is going to end.

Lies. Plain and simple. Lies.

Truth:

My career has been an amazing blessing. I’ve met so many precious souls and got to work in a place & with people I thoroughly enjoyed.

I rejoice with all of my friends expecting children. They, too, are a great blessing. I preemptively ask forgiveness if I ever act strange/rude/distant around you. Some days are just harder than others.

Who is here who knows what’s best better than the Creator of it all? Don’t I remember the times when I wanted something so badly (marriage) and God said, “Not yet. He’s not who I have for you.”? Don’t I remember all of the amazing things He’s done in the past? How do I forget those so easily? Why do I get so wrapped up in this world and forget about my God?

Thankfully, He always finds a way to draw me back. Sometimes it’s a sermon that sends me running to His open arms. Sometimes it’s a verse that causes me to cry out to Him. Sometimes it’s a song that reminds me of things so easily forgotten.

“All the way, my Savior leads me,
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His faithful mercies?
Who through life has been my guide
Heavenly peace, divinest comfort
Ere by faith in Him to dwell
For I know whate’er befall me
Jesus doeth all things well”

Forgive my winding trail this time around; one idea lead to the next. I’m sure you know how that goes. If not, you’ve just got an insight to my thought process 🙂

What I hope to convey to you (and to remind myself) is that if you find yourself struggling in this world; stuck in the mire and weighed down by worries, turn to the one Whose yoke is easy and burden is light. Let Him direct your path. Delight in where He leads you.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Not Relief, but Redemption

I’m starting my Bible reading in 1 Samuel. I have read through this book before, but it was brought up a couple of weeks ago and I thought I would like to read it again. Looking through it, I found it has 31 chapters – I think I’ve found what I’m going to be reading through for this month 🙂 If you don’t have a Bible on hand, go ahead and read 1 Samuel 1 here.

A couple of weeks ago I went with some friends to Spring Ladies Day at America’s Keswick. It was a lovely day that we got to spend in worship and fellowship, and teaching from God’s Word. Susie Larson was the speaker and she reminded me (and the other thousand or so women there) of some great truths about who we are in Christ and how disappointments can lead us to believe otherwise. In this, she brought up Hannah and how she looked for more than relief from her disappointment, she sought redemption.

Hannah was barren. Her husband’s other wife had many children and didn’t think twice about rubbing that fact in Hannah’s face. This more than saddened Hannah and every year when they went up to the temple she would find herself in sorrow for what she did not have. Her husband would ask her the reason for her sadness, for he loved her, and at one point, said to her, “Am I not more to you than 10 sons?”

It is here where I stopped to let this sink in. I am reminded that I, too, am blessed with a loving husband. Someone whose existence I doubted at one point (or rather many points) in my life. I am reminded of God’s great love and provision and perfect timing throughout our relationship. I am reminded that he and I are a family, with or without children. And I feel convicted by not being content with that, for now.

Perhaps Hannah was stuck in the trap of “if only.” I, for one, do not begrudge her for her deep desire to have a child. She went to the only One who could help her in this situation; she went in the temple and turned to her God. She could have just prayed for Peninnah (her husband’s other wife) to leave her alone. She could have just prayed for a child. But Hannah sought more than relief from her disappointment, she sought redemption. And so, Hannah prayed, not only for a son, but also that if her prayer was answered, she would give her son back to the Lord; she would entrust her son to the Lord’s service.

Hannah wasn’t just looking at how her disappointment in not having a child could be assuaged; she was looking to how her prayer could be answered to the benefit of God’s Kingdom. She was looking at a bigger picture than just herself and her desires and God, in His wisdom and compassion, fulfilled her prayer. She went home, no longer saddened by her circumstance, and soon she and her husband conceived a child.

We all can make grand plans and say that if God answers a prayer in our favor we will somehow use it for Him. I’m not saying that God will not honor that, but, truth be told, He doesn’t really need us for anything. And honestly, anything we have, be it material wealth, time, talents, etc., we should be using for His honor and glory anyway. Please don’t read this as if I always do…for that is nowhere near the truth.

But if there is a great desire you have; for a certain kind of job, for a child, for a spouse, what have you, take it to our Lord. Earnestly pray, asking Him to fulfill your desire, knowing first, that He is the only One who can truly fufill you. Look to Him for your redemption; knowing He is good, His timing is perfect, and His ways are not our ways. This is my focus in my prayer today as I work through disappointment to find not just relief for a day, but redemption for a lifetime. I pray, if there is something you’re struggling with, that you will look to the cross and find your way there, as well.

Love & Blessings,

KJ