Never the Same

Eight weeks and two days ago my life changed forever.

Gone are the early nights to bed and sleeping past 5am (6am occasionally) in the morning.

Gone is having the day to myself to do what I wanted, when I wanted.

Gone are the days of only being responsible for myself.

Gone are the days of being able to leave the house in less than 10 minutes (not that I was terribly good at that before).

Gone are the moments of quiet, relatively easy to find.

Rare will be spontaneous trips out or traveling with a tiny purse.

Here are the days of a new normal.

Here are the early morning feedings, as well as those in the middle of the night.

Here are the days of caring for someone totally dependent on me.

Here are the days of changing diapers, cleaning spit-up (and things a bit more undesirable).

Here are the days of wondering “What have we done?”.

Here are the days of riddled with self doubt, thoughts of inadequacy, confusion, frustration, and sleep deprivation.

BUT

Gone are the days of longing for this blessing.

Gone are the days, racked with heartbreak for a desire unfulfilled.

Gone is the asking, “How long, O Lord?”.

Here are the days of rocking in my mama’s chair; nursing my little girl as sun beams gradually fill the room.

Here are the days of singing “Jesus Loves Me” time and again, with great hope that the Truth will be made evident in this new life.

Here are the days of seeing my husband learn how to be a daddy (discovering such tricks like humming the Star Wars theme can typically calm her down).

Here are the times of snuggling, the three of us, and the enjoyment of just being together.

Here of the days of seeing the Lord’s faithfulness, yet again, and wondering why it was ever doubted.

Here are the days of thanking the Lord (though not at all nearly enough), for this amazing blessing He’s bestowed upon us.

I always knew that being a mother wasn’t going to be easy, but it’s harder than I ever imagined. Especially when it brings to light all the sin and selfishness that’s tucked away in my heart. We are still figuring this out (and will be for the next 20 or so years, or just forever) and adjusting to our new normal, but are oh so thankful to be blessed with friends & family we can turn to for support, advice, and encouragement, and even more so for a God who is always reminding us just how great His faithfulness is.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

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Idols Unveiled

We have just about a month (hopefully) before the arrival of our little girl and I’ve been horrible at keeping up with this – I haven’t even gotten to the part when we actually found out we were pregnant 🙂 That will be the next one; I promise (most likely).

One of the most difficult times in all of our fertility treatment was when we went in for a second consult with the doctor to talk about what to do next. It was the week after our third IUI and I was at the point where I didn’t know if I wanted to bother with it anymore. We were veering away from IVF, but still wanted to know what other options we had.

Our doctor was very well spoken and had a great way of explaining things with clarity. He told us more about IVF and the more he said, the more it made sense to me. If they limited the embryos and we used them all, surely there could be no wrong in that. As my mind was being changed I looked at Steve and couldn’t really read him. We had talked about it before and how we weren’t that comfortable with it. Amidst all the emotions I couldn’t help but cry, then and there, my heart and mind at odds with each other. The doctor was compassionate and apologized for going anywhere we didn’t want to, but said he was just giving us the facts (which he was; he was not at all pushy or manipulative). He moved on to talk to us about injectable medication and how all of that would work. It seemed way involved; lots of monitoring to make sure there weren’t too many eggs maturing (quadruplets were not the goal) and how if multiples occurred they could do selective reduction. That part was a hard pass and we told him so. Still, it seemed that injectables might be worth a shot (haha), though the thought of giving myself one was not my favorite. The only thing was we would have to order them soon because all of that starts earlier in the cycle than Clomid had and we would need them on hand. And then there was the thought or what would we do with the meds if we got them and then didn’t need them. We did not make any decisions right then; there was too much to talk about.

As we left, my fear was confirmed. Steve told me how he was still against IVF as I told him that I might be ok with it.

Before I go further, please hear this: I do not and will not judge anyone for going the IVF route. God uses what means He will; and that is totally a decision made between you, your spouse, and the Good Lord. If IVF worked for you, I praise God for the precious life He brought into your family through it!

We had sought insight from our pastor before we had this meeting. Probably even before we started down much of this road. We just wanted to make sure our perspective wasn’t skewed or we weren’t blinded by what we longed for. His suggestion (that stuck with me) was that because IVF could be really expensive, we should consider putting the money we would use for that toward adoption instead. At that time, this made sense to me. But as we came out of the consult, totally not on the same page, all I could think of was the fact that our insurance would pay for IVF while funds for adoption would have to be raised on our own.

To be completely honest, I was bitter on that drive home. Steve and I talked it over, he expressing why he didn’t want to do it, and me trying to convince him it would be ok. In the end (or maybe even at the beginning of it all) I knew it wasn’t going to be an option. I knew I would submit to my husband’s decision, because that is what I promised to do, but it torn me up inside. We all know it takes two people to make a baby; we both needed to be on board. I couldn’t do it without him and I knew arguing about it wasn’t going to do any good. Plus I knew, above all, the covenant I made, to love and respect him as the head of our home, was not made lightly. It is something I believe wholeheartedly in.

Does that mean I had no trouble putting IVF out of my mind? Absolutely not. The answer just seemed so easy, so right there in front of us…

Of course, nothing is ever really that easy.

Over the next few days I talked it over with a friend. My broken-heartedness over not being able to try something that could result in us having a child was raw and real. But as I spoke about the process, as I heard myself saying the words the doctor had spoken to us, I began to understand why it wasn’t right for us. I had done some research myself, months earlier, but just didn’t want to think about the possible disappointment in it all. Sure chances of getting pregnant with IVF are higher, but they are not guaranteed. I was already a basket case at least twice every 28 days, could I really handle going through with that IVF entailed; mentally & spiritually? And I knew my husband was right.

I wanted a child so badly, and IVF seemed like such an easy answer; we wouldn’t have to pay for it and it had a higher success rate than what we had been trying.  I wanted it so bad I was blind to reason. I was blind to the effect it would have on my well-being. I was blind to my husband’s conviction that it wasn’t right for us. I was blind to the Holy Spirit’s conviction within myself. This desire had become an idol (and not for the first time) and I was willing to look past the means as long as they met the end I wanted.

Laying down an idol is not easy. Nor is accepting truth you don’t want to believe. Admitting you were wrong, not only to the Lord but also to your spouse, is painful. Repentance and asking for forgiveness is difficult. Going through this whole process was the hardest thing I have ever done. The Lord reminded me through it all that He is in control, not I. He can see the whole picture, not I. He knows what is best, definitely not I.

I am ever so thankful to my husband for not caving in and standing firm in his convictions. Even more so for the gentleness and love with which he expressed them to me when I may or may not have been completely rational. In the end we decided to stick with Clomid and try one more IUI before moving on to injectables. Though we didn’t know it at the time, we would be dealing with any of that. The easy part was done and our lives would never be the same.

If you have ever been in a spot when an idol has taken over the Lord rightful place in your heart, you know how difficult it can be to dethrone it. If you haven’t, you might want to examine your heart… Oh so often the things we place as idols in our lives are not bad things; a child, a relationship, a career. It is when these become ruling things that there is a problem. Seek the Lord; all of the children, spouses, and money in the world cannot fulfill you like He can.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

Love & Blessings, dear friends,

KJ

365 Days

This post came up in my Facebook memories today. Of Sorrow & Shame

It has been one year since I wrote these words. One year since I was brought to such a place of brokenness that I could only share with others in the hope that it could be used for good somewhere.

I read those words I wrote 365 days ago with tears in my eyes. Maybe a little from sadness in remembering the pain, but mostly from joy in knowing that the Lord used those words to connect me with so many others. In knowing that He grew me in these past 365 days; to rely upon Him, trust Him, rest in Him, draw near to Him.

Of course, the joy also came from feeling some rather powerful kicks as I read those words. As if my little girl wanted to remind me that she’s here. This blessing I have longed for is here. And, Lord willing, I will get to hold her in my arms in a few short months.

This journey is far from over. It’s changing once again and I feel as if I’m at the beginning of it all. I realize I never finished my remembrances up to the point of finding out we were pregnant – there are just a few more things I’d like to write about in that process and I hope to get to them in the next week.

I know I’ve said it many times before, but, dear friends, nothing is ever wasted. Know that whatever circumstance you find yourself in, the Lord is using it, for your good and His glory.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

When Worship is Difficult

It all started with a song. One inspired by Psalm 118. One Sunday morning in church, probably in late August when I had all but given up. Somewhere in the middle of singing praises to the Lord, this song started. I know it was in the middle because I was already standing and then the weight of it all hit me, and I just couldn’t any more.

🎶Oh, give thanks to the Lord

Oh give thanks to the Lord

For He is good

He is good

For He is good

He is good, oh

His steadfast love endures

Forever, forever He endures 🎶

You can listen to the song here : Psalm 118 (Your Steadfast Love)

The truth of this washed over me as tears fell to the ground. I didn’t want to believe it in my heart, because I had felt that He was everything but good at that moment. But my head knew it was true. His Spirit inside nudged me along. And I sang, though I was angry and hurt and broken. And when I couldn’t manage that for the tears, I mouthed the words. No one could hear them, but I was declaring the truth to the One who is Truth itself. It was my sacrifice of praise. While I didn’t want to acknowledge Him at all, it was really the only thing I could do.

If we praise God only when we’re getting what we want, how is He different from a genie in a magic lamp? His love for us is unconditional, and what’s more, He is God. That fact alone deems Him worthy of worship. Always.

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;

    bring an offering and come before him!

Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;

tremble before him, all the earth;

    yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice,

    and let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!”

~1 Chronicles 16:29-31

This is not easy. It’s not easy to worship God when you feel unseen by Him. Or when you can’t help but think He’s holding out on you. We all have ups and downs. Times when we feel super close with our Lord and times when we distance ourselves. But He stays the same. He doesn’t change. He sees our struggles and heartache. He sees our success and joy. None of our circumstances can change who God is and so our worship of Him should remain steady through it all.

A few months later, probably some time in November (after we knew I was pregnant), we sang the same song again. As the words began I couldn’t help but cry. Not out of brokenness this time, but because I knew, with all my being, the truth and grace in the words. He was good to me and His love endured. Through all my craziness. Through all my doubts. And sorrow. And questioning. How could I have ever thought differently? I praised Him for His providence in it all; not knowing the reasoning behind it, but grateful that He did.

I don’t know where you are, dear friend. You may be high on a mountain or low in a valley. Know this truth, wherever you find yourself; God is God and He is good. Always.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

September 15-18

As a deer pants for flowing streams,
    so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
    for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
    “Where is your God?”
These things I remember,
    as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
    and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
    a multitude keeping festival.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.

You can read Psalm 42 in its entirety here.

I knew at the beginning of the month that I would find out if I was pregnant while away on a girls’ weekend with my mom and sisters. I dreaded the thought of getting my period and my reaction to the let down. The emotions, the sorrow and the disappointment, had started to grip me with such intensity that I worried about it happening around them. Not that they would see it, but that they would see it and question, “Where is your God?”

And the morning came. I woke up and there was blood. I had since stopped being hopeful that it could be implantation bleeding. I couldn’t raise my hopes like that just to have them dashed. Self preservation mode was what I was running on. I went back to bed trying to control the flood of tears. Sobbed into my pillow in hopes that no one would notice. Tried to gather myself as everyone else started waking up much earlier than I had hoped. I just wanted to stay in bed, but we had a full day ahead of us and adventures planned. I hadn’t flown to Minneapolis to stay cooped up in a hotel room. I prayed for strength. For grace for one more day. For contentment in Christ and not to obsess with what was or wasn’t happening within my body. He brought me through to the other side of the day. I dealt with it as well as I could. I don’t remember any other melt downs that day. It wasn’t the best day ever, but I remember being able to enjoy the time with my mom and sisters and I was grateful for that.

Despite not wanting to get my hopes up, they were slightly. That or I was in denial. I spotted through the next couple days and still went in for the blood test because this period just didn’t seem normal for me. I went to watch the kiddos and tried to forget about the phone call that would be coming in a few hours. We went to the grocery store and as I was just getting them back in their car seats when my phone rang. I knew what was coming, but had to hear it to be sure. “I’m so sorry, but it’s negative.” I tried to coherently speak with her about details and cycle days and setting up the next appointment. I’m sure she heard my voice crack and the extra moment of silence it took me to gather myself. As soon as I hit the red icon, the tears came freely. Another disappointment. Each got harder and harder as I wondered why. And I wondered how much more of this I could take.

I honestly don’t remember much more of that day with the kids. I went to help a friend with wedding plans that night and quietly skipped over a telling of highs and lows for the day. I just couldn’t muster bearing all to them, though a little later that evening it did come up as one of them asked me how it was all going.

What I remember most is lying on our bed with Steve. Not being able to look him in the eyes as I voiced my fears. Fears that I knew to be untrue but had such a tight grip on my heart.

“Am I doing something wrong?”

“Am I not good enough?”

“Is God holding out on me?”

He answered a firm and confident “No.” The answer applied to all the questions swirling in my head and he continued to remind me of the Lord’s great truths and promises, something I needed so very much.

Dear friends, have you had such moments? Ones when circumstances seem dire and there’s nothing but sorrow and fear and oh so many tears? I believe those times fall upon us all. And while we may not see how we could possibly praise God in that moment, take hope in knowing, like the psalmist, that you shall yet praise Him again. He is our only salvation and God.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Thankfulness: Day 30

Well, this was an interesting experiment. I did not keep a perfect record of writing every day, but I did make it a point to think about something I was thankful for each day.

After a season of not really being sure what there was to be thankful for this was a really good exercise.

Today it was more of the simple things. We’ve had various commitments in the evenings for the past few days and tonight we got to just hang out, which included breakfast for dinner, pj’s by 6, and watching a movie. I’m thankful for this relaxing evening at home.

I’m also thankful that tomorrow is December 1st & Christmas preparations will begin. We’ll tidy up so we can put up the tree. I’ll soon be baking up a storm to have a supply on hand for Christmas parties, gifts for friends and neighbors, and just because. Most importantly, though, is the preparation inside myself. Preparation to celebrate the coming of the Lord. The preparation of remembering what He left behind to come into the world as a totally dependent baby. All to bring the Father glory and restore a right relationship between us and Him.

I pray, as the season of Advent begins, you, too, will take time to prepare. Not so much with gifts and cookies and decorations (though those are all well and good), but with remembering the reason behind it all. The glorious miraculous birth of the One who will make all things new.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Thankfulness: Day 29

Tonight I went to a mosaic class with my mother-in-law. There were just 6 of us there, plus the teacher, and everyone’s project looked so different despite the fact that we all were working with the same base and materials.

I am so thankful and in awe of the creative process and how everyone approaches it differently.

When I think about the oh so many art forms out there (and I’m sure there are some I don’t know about) I’m overwhelmed by it all. That two people could see a sunset or perhaps a snowy lane and respond so differently. The scene could be painted or written about in numerous ways. You could choose to photograph it, weave a story of it, create a melody from the emotion it brings forth, cook something delicious based on a memory brought about by it. The possibilities are endless.

And when you think about it, can you really be surprised? With a Creator Who fashioned those sunsets. Who designed such creatures as jellyfish and moose and hummingbirds. Who created us in His very image (and how very different are we, even when just looking at us, not to mention adding in our personalities?).

I’m just so grateful that we have so many ways with which to praise Him and all He has done, created, promised.

I hope you have found at least one way to express your gratitude, friend. A way which you can bring glory and honor to our Maker Who so rightfully deserves it.

Love & Blessings,

KJ