Thankfulness: Days 9 & 10

To be honest, yesterday was a blah kind of day. It was gloomy and rainy, I’ve been battling stuffy sinuses, and despite not feeling well there was a bit to do to prepare for our trip this weekend.

In short, I was not thinking of things to be thankful for.

And then Steve and I went to Atlantic City for a show – Rhett & Link’s Tour of Mythicality. It was raining like crazy and I was thankful we got there safely. I was thankful we were able to see a fun show and that we were able to get all the things ready to leave in the morning. So indeed, even when we don’t think there’s much to be thankful for, even when a day is not going as well as we hoped, blessings abound, if we only look for them.

Today, we headed down to Virginia to spend some time with Steve’s family. We did some exploring, conquered an escape room, and found out we’re going to have a niece come the end of March.

Such good times with family and that is what I’m thankful for today; these people who welcomed me into their family well before Steve & I were engaged. I’m glad to be a part of it.

Hoping even in less than ideal circumstances, you can find something to be thankful for.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

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Thankfulness: Day 4

Today I am thankful for the community of faith where the Lord has placed me. I have not been a part of this church for very long (a couple years), but this family is one I am ever grateful for; a place I can go to be renewed by the Word and worship the Lord.

Here I find likeminded people who aren’t just a part of a Sunday morning tradition, but are part of my life. We stay connected through the week, encourage each other, speak truth to each other, mourn & rejoice with each other.

There is a reason we are instructed to gather regularly as the Body of Christ; this whole being set apart from the word thing isn’t easy on ones own. But with Brothers & Sister by your side, to remind you of the Lord’s promises when you’ve forgotten or to tell you, in love, the sin they see present in your life when your eyes are closed to it, it’s definitely more manageable.

I cannot fully put into words the great effect my various church families have had on my life; from helping grow my faith and teaching God’s Word, to countless discussions on salvation, singleness, infertility and prayer upon prayer. By the grace of God, these people have been used by Him to draw me deeper to Himself and there isn’t gratitude enough in my heart to say just what it means. I only hope that I never turn from opportunities the Lord puts in front of me to do the same.

Have you such a community, friends? I pray you do. And if not, I pray for wisdom and guidance that you may find one.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

The Truth of the matter

I’m always amazed when parts of scripture are pointed out to me or taught to me in ways I hadn’t thought of before. How the Holy Spirit works to open our eyes, minds, and hearts to such things are far beyond my understanding; I’m just glad He does.

We’ve been going through a sermon series at church about the Christian home. I’ve appreciated it thus far, especially a couple weeks ago when our pastor spoke on the family. Noting that he knew there were a few couples dealing with infertility he made a point of saying that a husband and wife are a complete family unit, just the two of them. The scripture he backed it up with was not something I expected: Genesis 1:26-31.

This section speaks of God creating man – male & female – after He told them to be fruitful and multiply, but before they ever had a chance to, He looked at all He had made. And it was very good.

Did you catch that? Man & woman. Husband & wife. God saw them and they were very good in His eyes. Just as they were. Even without children.

Hearing this just made me realize that while I may have times of feeling like less than a woman because of infertility, God doesn’t see it that way. My husband and I are no less a family than one with 4 kids and another on the way. And that encouraged me greatly. It spoke truth into my life when I very much needed it.

Dear friends, I pray you are able to find encouragement in God’s Word. That you would be able to read and the Spirit would show you wisdom & understanding through out. That it would bring comfort & joy in times when you feel all is gone.

Love & Blessings

KJ

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

Book Review: Unbound

Not so sure why I haven’t before done any book reviews, considering I both love books and am also a former librarian. I’m going to make an attempt to do them more often, but I make no promises on regularity 🙂

Book Title: Unbound: Finding Freedom from Unrealistic Expectations of Motherhood

Author: Jamie Sumner

What Caught My Eye: I spied this on the “New Book” shelf at my local library. Reading the subtitle I didn’t really think it was a book for me, as I’m not yet a mother, but I read the back anyway. And this is the sentence that caught me; “With honesty and vulnerability, Jamie Sumner walks readers through each stage of her own journey to motherhood through infertility and special needs parenting.” So, maybe, at least a part of this book would be relevant to me now…I added it to my armload to check out and headed home.

The Reading: I’d like to say I picked it right up when I got home from the library, but that was not the case. I actually had to renew it once before I started reading it. When I did dive in, though, it took me less than a week to finish it. The style of Jamie’s writing is like she’s chatting with a friend and it flowed fairly well. There are questions at the end of each chapter for reflection and Scripture readings that she references, but, to be honest, I’m going to have to read it again and do all of those. The first time through I just wanted to know her story and where it was going. As much as I do appreciate those added details, I just didn’t want to be interrupted by them.

My Thoughts: I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Going into it I imagined maybe just the first bit would deal with her journey through infertility, but there was so much more than I bargained for. I imagined that the “unrealistic expectations of motherhood” were how some people think it’s all going to be rainbows and sunshine. Or how some people think “I’d never do that as a mom.” That’s not what she was addressing at all. What she spoke of was how the road to motherhood often does not go as expected. It often doesn’t go as we plan. It sometimes doesn’t even go as we hope.

There were times when it felt like Jamie wasn’t telling her story, she was telling mine. I cried numerous times as she wrote of experiences I have also had, thoughts that have also crossed my mind (or just plain have gotten stuck in there), and prayers I, too, have prayed. The beginning of her story is so like mine: I read about how she found out her sister-in-law was pregnant, the joy and sadness felt, only a couple days before finding out that my sweet sister-in-law, whose road to pregnancy was also more difficult than expected, is expecting her first child. The comfort in knowing reading someone’s story that feels so similar to mine is really indescribable. I’m touched every time someone shares their story with me to let me know that I’m not alone and I’m thankful to Jamie for putting her story out there where so many women who may be facing similar circumstances can read it an know that they, too, are not alone.

I would be remiss not to mention more of the set-up of the book. Jamie writes each chapter in such a way so that it brings in a story of a different woman from the Bible. There are the expected ones about Hannah and Sarah, but the one that stood out to me the most was the one about the woman with the issue of blood. We never know her name, only that she has been bleeding for 12 years. Twelve years! She hears that Jesus is coming through town and knows she must see Him. Her faith is strong and she knows that if she just so much as touches His robes she’ll be healed. And that’s exactly what happens.

What I love about Jamie’s writing is her honesty throughout. She speaks of the woman with the issue of blood during the time she finds out her sister-in-law is pregnant. She doesn’t identify with this woman, but she does identify with someone else in the story; Jairus. Jairus was leading Jesus to his daughter who was ill when the woman stopped Him. In the delay a messenger comes to tell Jairus that his daughter has died. He feels like his opportunity for a miracle has passed. Who ever wants to admit that they doubt the might and power of our Lord? It’s not something anyone does with pride (and if they do, they have even more issues). I have great respect for Jamie and her honesty throughout this book. She reminds us what I try to remind myself of often; that God uses unexpected means to accomplish His will. Some of her final thoughts wrap it all up rather nicely:

Life is a continual etching and erasing. We form expectations, and God forms reality. Sometimes they line up nicely, like tracings at right angles. And sometimes God plays Jackson Pollock and we’re all over the place. But the point of it all is that a masterpiece is being made.

Who Should Read This Book: I highly recommend this book to anyone going through infertility, anyone who has suffered the loss of a child through miscarriage, anyone who has found out their baby will have difficulties because of a diagnosis while still in utero, and anyone who has a baby in the NICU for any length of time. I also think this would be a great read for women who have friends, sisters, or daughters in any of these situations. While not all experiences are the same, if someone you love is going through something like this and she seems somewhat unapproachable, this book might give a little insight.

Praying, that no matter where you are in life, you realize the masterpiece is in the making. The journey God has you on is not without purpose.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Glimpses

Dark curls catching sunshine as they joyfully bounce on the shoulders of a small girl.

She’s running around a yard, happily yelling as she entreats someone to chase her.

As I tried to fall asleep tonight, this is what greeted me in the almost-not-quite-yet peace of slumber. And now I find sleep an impossibility.

It was a split second. I didn’t see her face, but there were details I did notice. Like she was running in our back yard. And I was the one chasing her.

Never have I had dreams of being pregnant, or giving birth, or having children. I could just chalk it up to a late night and the fact that the thought of having children rarely completely leaves my mind. If it’s not in the forefront, it’s hiding somewhere in the background.

But this was so vivid.

Before I almost drifted off I was praying. Praying to the Lord God Almighty, Maker of heaven & earth. That He would sustain me. That our desire for a child would be realized. But most of all that His will would be done.

And then I saw her.

I’m not saying I had a “vision from God.” To be honest, I don’t know what I think about that idea; besides the fact that He is God and can do darn well whatever He pleases.

Lord, if it please You, I pray for a child. One to add to the joy and chaos of our lives. One who will surely drive us crazy, but will also teach us how to love even more completely. One we will do our best to teach about You and how much You love us and all You have done for us. I know it will not be easy, but I do know it will be good.

Maybe, now that I’ve released her into the atmosphere, I will get some sleep. Or maybe I won’t.

Praying tonight that you’re able to cast your cares upon the One who knows them all already. And that in Him you will find rest.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Ever Present, Newly Discovered

Yesterday morning was one I was excited to wake up to; which is probably why I was awake at 4:30. I made myself stay in bed and try to get more sleep until 5, when I just couldn’t take it anymore. It was day 29, and for almost a year my period had faithfully come on day 27. There had been an egg in the right spot this time around and I was so hopeful. I found that magical stick that could reveal in just a few minutes if you are growing a baby or not. It sometimes lies, though, so when it told me I wasn’t I thought, “Maybe I just didn’t wait long enough,” and went back to bed.

It didn’t lie, though, as I found out when I woke up again. I didn’t want to believe it. I tried to convince myself that this was different somehow. I even called the doctor’s office to talk to someone about it, to see what I could do. Of course, by the time they called back the truth of reality had already hit me like a brick. It was not to be.

For a little bit I was angry. All I could think was that this was all some sick joke. Then I was just sad, somewhat defeated, and in a whole lot of pain, because with me, menstrual cramps are no joke. I did not want to do anything. I just wanted to curl up in a ball and disappear.

My typical mode of avoidance is to fiddle about on my phone – I did that a lot yesterday. As I was going through my email I spotted one of the few devotionals that I usually just end up deleting. This time though, it had a reference to Psalm 139 in the title. I opened it up and read it. I couldn’t tell you now what it said, but it made me think that reading through that psalm would be good for my soul. So that’s what I did.

Psalm 139 has always been my favorite – probably because it was the first scripture the Lord used to break into my heart some 16 years ago. It speaks of a love that is unfathomable. A God who is unshakable. Whose promises are unchangeable and not retractable. Who sees me even when I want to just hide from Him and be miserable. Oh, He’ll still let me, but really, who is able to hide from our all-knowing, ever-present, and totally sovereign Maker?

 

If you are unfamiliar with this psalm, or would like to read it anew, please take a moment to here.

I always seem to go back to this psalm in great times of sorrow, need, and desperation, but this time around something new was brought to light. I stand in awe each time the Holy Spirit reveals something new in a passage I’ve read more than any other. This is the section that stood out to me:

For you formed my inward parts;

you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works;

my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from you,

when I was being made in secret,

intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance;

in your book were written, every one of them,

the days that were formed for me,

when yet there was none of them.

~Psalm 139: 13-16

As I read that section, I saw it in light of all creation. All people. Not just David who wrote it. Not just myself as I read it. But as all people who have ever populated this earth, those who are here now, and those who will be in the future; all who are made in the image of God. For the first time I realized that not only does my glorious God know all there is to know about me, but He also knows all there is to know about any children who will join our family, regardless if I give birth to them or someone else does.

This might sound silly to you. I mean, really, knowing that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent is a pretty basic thing to learn. I have known this for almost all of the past 16 or so years…but to really understand it? I don’t think I will ever reach the height and breadth and depth of comprehending it this side of heaven.

All of this brought me great comfort, eventhough there were still tears shed and a feeling of brokenness inside. The Lord used His Word to restore my soul. To bring deeper understanding of Himself and His sovereignty. To bring peace beyond understanding.

There will be many more tears along this road, of that I have no doubt. But I need not fear being alone in it all, and neither do you.

Love & Blessings,

KJ