It’s Not Really About the How

It happened after we had been dating for a couple of months. It was the first time he introduced me as his girlfriend. And then the inevitable question came. “So how did you meet?”

I don’t think I was nervous about this (ok, maybe a little bit), but we both looked at each other for a very long second and then he answered. “We met on eHarmony.” Apparently I rolled my eyes at this. I was totally unaware, but his friend called me out on it. I couldn’t help but wonder where that reaction came from, but I really probably knew all along.

I’m a romantic at heart. Totally. Completely. Hopelessly. Romantic.

That’s a huge reason why I struggled with the idea of online dating for so long. “It’s great for other people,” I thought, “But how could that possibly be the way I’m going to find my husband? How romantic could that possibly be?” (And here I just imagine God chuckling, “Just wait, dear one, until you see what I have in store for you.”) Meanwhile, I had a few good friends who met their spouses through online dating. It only took me a year or two or three to decide to actually try it for myself.

More than that, though, I came to terms with the idea that God can use any means to bring about His will. I didn’t think a lot of people would understand that, though. For whatever reason, I had the thought stuck in my head that people would think I was desperate to find someone if I had to resort to online dating.

*I do not quite understand the double standard I set in my head about this. I have never thought of anyone who chooses to go the online dating route in that light, not my friends or the guys I met, much less the one I’m about the marry. For whatever reason, this thought only applied to myself.*

And that was the reason for my hesitation in answering how we met, the first time it was asked. And the reason for the eyeroll. But I have more to add to that now, a year later (to the day, in fact). And it doesn’t involve any heavy sighs, or eyerolls, or shrugging of shoulders.

Yes, the first time I saw my now soon-to-be husband was on the screen of my laptop. The profile he wrote up was thoughtful, well written (with no grammatical errors), and I wanted to know more about him. Because I felt awkward initiating communication, I sent him a “smile” (think poking via Facebook circa 2004). He then sent me questions that I answered and then sent a few of my own. We finally got to writing our own messages and within a short time decided we wanted to talk/meet. That was put on hold for a week or so as I had just left for a family vacation of California, and then just one more week as I had plans with friends for the weekend I got home.

For our first date we met at Starbucks and walked around a mall for an hour or so. He said he’d like to see me again and I don’t think I could say yes fast enough. The rest, as they say, is history. For as much as I was worried about what people would think when they found out how we met, I don’t really think of that anymore. That is not really important in the defining of our relationship. I freely give the answer when asked; hoping perhaps I’ll encourage someone else to step out of their comfort zone, into online dating or whathaveyou, and trust that if it’s in God’s plan, He’ll make it come about whichever way He chooses.

No, I may not have a movie worthy love story (those aren’t real anyway), but romance, yes, it’s there. It’s in finding & reading a book to find out how it ends (because the librarian you’re dating wouldn’t want to spoil it). It’s in long walks and park benches by the water. It’s in hearing, “I love you” for the first time, under a starry sky. It’s in having a hand to hold that helps steady your clumsiness. It’s in a welcomed hug after a half marathon eventhough you’re sweaty & smelly. It’s in the quiet prayers, seeking God’s direction for your future. It’s in hearing the words, “I have never second-guessed myself; you are the only one I ever want to marry.”

I pray you find encouragement in my story, and not necessarliy in knowing that online dating can work. Most importantly, I hope you come to realize, as I did, God uses whatever means He chooses. Sometimes we hesitate to try something new because we think He can’t possibly bring anything good about in that way. We are talking about the Creator of the universe, remember! He spoke the world into being. He is not constrained to that which we can wrap our minds around (praise Him for that!).

Love & Blessings,

KJ

 

Who I Am

Have you thought much on how would you describe yourself? I suppose that may seem like a silly question. Every day we are barraged with how the world might describe us. Sometimes we just adopt those. But how do you really see yourself?

Any given day I’m sure there are multitude of descriptors you could use. I look at myself and know there are many. Children’s Librarian. Lover of Books. Soon-to-be Wife. Friend. Sister. Daughter. Knitter. As well as playful, thoughtful, caring, scatter-brained. Most of those are things I see on good days. Knowing I am these make me smile. Things seem well in the world on these days and I’m glad to be described with any of those (yes, even scatter-brained).

On not-so-good days the bully in my brain is unleashed and the devil whispers in my ear. Those days I am more apt to think of these descriptors: careless, unlovable, ugly, worthless, incompetent, undeserving, fat, shameful, unwanted, lazy. These days look a little different. I question choices I’ve made. I question how others can love me when I am all these things. I wonder how long it might be until someone decides I’m not worth the effort. I withdraw into myself and want to hide from the world. But there is One I cannot hide from.

If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.                                                                                          ~Psalm 139: 11-12

Not only can I not hide from Him, the Lord of heaven and earth, but He truly knows me for who I am. He calls me loved (1 John 4:10), a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), a co-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17), and His child (1 John 3:1-2). This is where my true identity lies; with Christ, my God & King. Here, too, is where my Joy is found; in knowing that, no matter what, I am His and He is mine, and nothing can ever change that.

28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me,[a] is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”            ~John 10:28-30

While I know this to be true, there are times when the stress piles on and I forget. I forget that my identity in not in my job title, or anything else, except Jesus Christ. Two men I greatly respect reminded me of this one day when it felt like the walls were closing in and everything was tumbling down. One was a great friend (really more like an older brother) and the other was my soon-to-be husband. When both of them reminded me of this just hours apart, I knew it was something I needed to focus in on. Something I needed to make known not just in my mind, but also in my heart.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who needs this reminder from time to time. I encourage you to get in your Bible and really see who you are (or can be) in Christ. Write verses down. Post the around your house. Put them on sticky notes on your desk at work. Remember that you are loved. Remember that you are valued. Remember that you are His.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

I’ve come to realize something about myself as of late. Maybe this applies to you, too. So very often, if something’s not right in front of me, I tend to forget about it. This happens with tasks that need to get done at work, emails I’ve read but didn’t have time to reply to right then, chocolate I might have stashed away for just that reason (though that is always a happy surprise to stumble upon). I will be the first to admit that I am rather scatter-brained. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. But then there are days when this rings true for what I hold most dear. Days when I cannot see Truth clearly and the promises of my Lord and Savior seem hidden. I forget them for a time; a few moments or a few hours, and everything looks grey, like an overcast sky just waiting for the rain to fall.

Yesterday was one of those days. I made poor choices and ended up rushing out the door to work. Frazzled, I stopped for breakfast along the way and made more poor choices (PopTarts are hardly a good breakfast option). I had storytime and that was all well and good and a bunch of fun, but when it was over and the kids were gone, I went right back down to where I started. I could feel my heart racing and anxiety rising with no idea where it was coming from. Having rushed out the door I had no time to make lunch so had to go out for that too and was not pleased with myself. Kellie, don’t you remember you’re trying to save money for a wedding? That was probably the most tame thought running through my head. And then, at lunchtime, I stumbled upon it.

I was escaping into the world of social media (something I do much too often), but even there God found me. Someone had posted these verses and it made me pause.

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.  ~Isaiah 43:1-3a

It made me pause because these words were familiar. I had just used them to illustrate a point in youth group last week. We were going over the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and the fiery furnace. I spoke to the teens about how we can stand firm in Christ, whether He chooses to rescue us or not, because either way, He is by our side. Five days later this truth had fallen through the cracks of my mind; it was lost in the crawl space among the dustbunnies. I was trying to right myself, pulling “happiness” from things of this world and not the Word of Truth. And I found, as I have many times prior (though perhaps never so clearly), that the world cannot satisfy.

So where does that leave me? It leaves me clinging to a Savior I so desperately need. It leaves me knowing I need to be more diligent about getting into the Bible every day so I can be reminded of His promises. It leaves me knowing that I, indeed, know the only One who can truly satisfy, and I need to follow Him more closely.

Yesterday was gloomy & overcast. It rained off and on; drizzling then pouring. But by evening, the clouds were breaking and the sun was shining through. I felt it was a pretty good reflection of my soul that day. I ended with recounting the little things throughout the day in which God showed His goodness to me. Something I think we would all benefit from doing more often.

As I try to better keep Christ in the forefront of my mind, as well as His many promises, I pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit to make is so. My prayer is for you as well, my friend, that, though you cannot physically see Him, His promises are tucked into your heart and brought to your mind, not only on days when the clouds are threatening roll in, but also when the sun is shining.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Some Thoughts on Joy

Now is one of those times where there are a few (ok, a lot) of different thoughts swirling about in my mind and I’m not entirely sure I can do any one of them justice in attempting to express them here. So that’s my disclaimer – you’ve been warned 😉

We had a women’s retreat at church this weekend and the speaker spoke on joy. Not only on joy though, but also on how it manifests itself through sorrow; and how, through sorrow, we can gain a firmer grip on our joy.

You see, as a Christian, my joy is not a result of any given situation or circumstance in my life. My joy is found in the Rock of my Salvation, the Prince of Peace, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. My joy is found in Jesus Christ.

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. John 15:11

It is a difficult truth to grasp. It’s one that, on most days, my mind knows to be true; but on more trying days, my heart has a hard time following suit. A new thought was added to that today as well, that joy is not the absence of sorrow. They are not feelings that are mutually exclusive, but rather, they can happen simultaneously.

In our sorrow, in our brokenness, we can still experience joy. “You’re crazy!” you might be thinking…and you probably wouldn’t be too far off…but not because of this. This is something shown to be true in God’s Word.

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials ~1 Peter 1:6

She also shared a definition of joy from John Piper:

Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the Word and in the world.

We can still see that through our sorrow, can’t we? It may not be easy, but it is still there. There’s also the wonderful truth that our joy is indestructible, while our sorrow is merely temporary.

Little by little, we grow in this way.

Trials come.

We cling to our Lord.

He guides us.

Grows us.

We come through the other side and marvel at His grace.

And we see the beauty of Christ all around us. In a prayer from a Sister when we are broken and hurting; carrying the weight if a burden too heavy to bear any longer. In the conversation with a loved one, being reassured that God knows what He’s doing, and it’s ok to lose any semblance of control, because it’s not really ours anyway.

While I cannot say I am a most grand example of a joyful woman, or even a good one, really; I do know true Joy. Traveling through sorrow has only made it more evident to me.

If you are a follower of Christ, you, too, have a joy that no one can snatch away from you. Just as you cannot be snatched from His most precious hands, your joy cannot be taken from yours. I pray in this day you are able to see it for what it is, regardless of what is going on in your world around you. Christ is there with you; always. And nothing can take Him nor the joy He gives, away.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Hope and a Future

As I finished a run the other morning I was recalling all of the things I was thankful for. So many good things are happening right now, it just all feels so right. But there are times when I feel like I’m just waiting for the bottom to fall out. A verse from Jeremiah came to mind at that instant and struck me in a way it never had before.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

How many times have you heard this verse? Maybe you’ve written it in graduation cards (I have). Maybe you’ve shared it with friends who can’t see a way out of the valley they’re in (yep, done that too). Maybe you’ve spoken it to yourself when you’ve needed encouragement, knowing our God’s promises are never failing and certainly things should get better (all the time!).

But what about when the bottom does fall out?

How in the world could He bring us hope through that?

And I was thinking about that when the lightbulb turned on. How in the world indeed?

Our hope is not in this world, nor is our future, ultimately. Our hope is in Jesus Christ. In the cross on Calvary. In an empty tomb. Our future is more amazing than we could ever try to imagine. Enveloped in the full glory of our God and King, for eternity, rejoicing and praising Him. There’s nowhere I can even think to start about how awesome that will be.

So, while there are blessings here on earth, and our Father does give us good things, it’s important to remember this in times when they are hard to spot (and even when they’re evident). Our everlasting hope and eternal future are not in this world, come what may. They reside in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Praying you have found security in your hope & future, through Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

My Two Favorite Words

There are so many words in the English language, how could someone possible have just two favorite words? Maybe, you think, three is a better number and those words could be, “I love you.” Or narrow it down further and have only one and it could be your name. As long as i’m not in trouble, I do like the sound of it. But just two? It might be akin to asking a librarian her two favorite books (it’s hard enough to narrow that down to ten!). Lately though, there are two words that keep making their rounds. Ones that come up and change everything.

You’re having a horrible day when you hear these words, and your day gets better. Perhaps you are full of anxiety; these words will bring you peace. You feel worn out and weary of all this life may hold; in these words you can find rest. So what could they possibly be? Just two short and simple words:

BUT GOD

You might think I’m joking. What could those two words possible mean? “But God” what?

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7

We are lost in darkness, but God has sent a Light so we can see.

We are dead, but God has given us a way to new life.

We are sinners, but God made a way for us to have a relationship with Him.

We owe a debt we can never repay, but God sent His Son to redeem us.

Goodness, perfection, love, gentleness, truth, humbleness; none of these are things we can really attain on our own, but God is all of these things and with Him we can strive to be the same.

God loves us so, that even while we were sinners He sent Jesus to take on all of our sin, so that we could spend eternity with Him. In the above verse from Ephesians it says we were “dead in our trespasses.” I don’t remember the first time I heard it explained this way, but I will think of it this way forevermore: What is it a dead man can do? Can he walk & talk? Of course not! He’s dead! We, while dead in our sin, because we are separated from God, can do nothing to save ourselves. BUT GOD! God can do these things! He can save us! He had sent the rescue plan in motion before we even needed it. Jesus came to live a sinless life, to take on our sin, to die. But He did not stay dead; He was resurrected. And through Him, we can live again as well.

So, you see, these two, seemingly simple, and small words hold a very big meaning. They can change your life. I’m so thankful for the day they changed mine.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Fix My Eyes

A new year has come and my goal is firmly set. This seems like a good theme song for it. It took a while for me to really hear all of the words – in fact I think it was only yesterday when I really heard & understood the first few lines. This morning I also read some verses that seem to speak on the same thing:

A discerning man keeps wisdom in view,

but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth. – Proverbs 17:24

So here’s your challenge (and mine) for the day: fix your eyes on the One who gives all wisdom. In doing that, anyone else who is watching will see where your heart and priorities really are. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll ask you what it’s all about.

Love & Blessings,

KJ