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 connect 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 o 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 away 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

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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

The Danger of “If Only”s

“If only I could get that raise…”

“If only I could lose 10 pounds…”

“If only I could…” you fill in the blank.

Have you found yourself there lately? Thinking that if only this one thing would happen then all would be well in the world? It’s such an easy trap to fall into.

I found myself there one night as I tried to fall asleep. I went for a run after work before cleaning the house up a bit and making dinner, so I welcomed sleep, but my mind was still going full speed. Thinking about what the future holds I wrote a few notes in my phone before trying again. I turned to my Lord, where peace can always be found, and I prayed.

Thank You, Father, for this day. Thank You for the  great blessing of my husband and all he does for us. I’m so grateful for where You have us right now, if only…

I stopped in my tracks; knowing the words that were going to come next and realizing all I was insinuating about my precious Lord & Savior. How often have I been reminded …“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9a), and His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence (2 Peter 1:3)? And yet that is where I found myself; caught up in a lie thinking that I didn’t already have all I need, that Christ’s sacrifice for me was not enough, and that God may be holding out on me.

Without really thinking about it, I fell into the “if only” trap, and I was reminded how, on this side of heaven, I still have my flesh to contend with. I was thanking my God & then going on to say how what He has for me isn’t good enough. That, for whatever reason, there should be something more for me. And only a few months ago I was writing about how I knew I deserved none of this amazing life He’s blessed me with.

Being content with what God’s given us and where God has us, at any point in life, can be difficult; especially when the world around us is always shouting that we need more, we should be reaching for the highest rung on the success ladder, and the most important thing in life is our own happiness. That is why it’s so important to stay focused on what really matters; the amazing gift of grace, purchased at such a high price, by our Lord, Jesus Christ, and that because of His sacrifice, this grace reconciles us with God; so that we may glorify Him and enjoy Him forever.

I admit, I fall into this trap often. When you are waiting and hoping for something, it’s not a hard thing to do. I know the things that will help keep my focus (there’s a good chance you probably know them, too); prayer, reading the Word, seeking community & fellowship with other believers. But while I know these things, I’m not so good at actually doing them. I know of the great benefit they hold, and yet I find myself shying away from them. Do you find yourself there, too? If so, I have a proposal.

Of the above three things, I find it the most difficult to stop and get into the Bible every day. With a lot of craziness and changes going on in life in general right now, though, that is exactly what I need to be doing the most. For the next month, I am going to endeavor to read, every day, and share some of my thoughts and findings with you. I would be delighted if you joined along and posted comments about what the Lord has been showing & teaching you, day by day.

Love & Blessings,

KJ