Thankfulness: Day 8

Since yesterday I’ve had the hymn “Sweet Hour of Prayer” stuck in my head. I found it ironic, because if I were to add up my prayer time for the month so far, I might get up to 30 minutes.

This has been something I’ve been struggling with for some time; finding taking the time to spend with my God. To cry out to Him. To call upon His strength. To repent and ask His forgiveness. To praise Him for His many blessings.

And then this songs pops into my head. And I suggest it as one we use to open our LifeGroup tonight. It reminds me that I can leave it all with Him. All my worries, sorrows, pain. And I can find rest there.

So today I am thankful for two things: these songs that were written to remind us of Truth when we’ve forgotten; and a God Who is always ready to listen when we come to Him.

Oh that I would remember that daily and put it into practice. I hope you’re able to do the same.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

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Delighting in the Little Things

On days like today when I want to pull the covers over my head and not leave the comfort and refuge of my bed I need these reminders the most. Reminders that in every moment we can find something to delight in. The kiddos help me so much in this and I see so much more than I would have on my own.

There’s delight in the happy growlings (yes, growlings) of a one-year-old successfully feeding herself with a spoon. There’s delight in the shouts of, “Come look!” by a two and a half-year-old proud that he was able to stack all of his LEGO cars together.

These accomplishments may seem small or trivial at first, but there are other things that need to be considered. Like when I previously let her use a spoon, T would continually take it, full of yogurt, and put it down in her high chair. Or that when the LEGOs won’t connect together the way he wants, G can get so frustrated that he tears his creations apart.

We adults are oh so similar. We, so often, miss the small delights, thinking they are “no big deal,” because we don’t remember where we started at. I, for the past few days, have passed on cakes and cookies (sooooo difficult) and have chosen some healthier options. While I doubt the scale reflects any of that yet, I can delight in knowing I made some good choices. Better than ones I have made previously.

All in all, when you’re feeling down and out, take a moment to reflect at where you are and where you started at. Even when things seem dire, God does not forget you and He will not forsake you. He uses circumstances that you’re in, circumstances that I’m in, to sanctify us. To refine us, as gold.

As I continue to delight in the small blessings He’s bestowed upon me, I pray you’ll be able to do the same. If you’re having difficulty with that, then think on the greatest one – remember where you once were, dead in sin, and where (I pray) you are now, alive in Christ. Ultimately, if we find ourselves in Christ, that alone should fill us with delight that will last many lifetimes over.

If you don’t have the delight of Christ in your life ask questions, pick up a Bible, venture into a church, talk to someone of faith that you know and respect. Don’t miss out on the greatest delight you will have in this life, and in the life to come.

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.

Giving Thanks

It seems to happen around this time every year. I start to think on all of the things I’m thankful for. There are always the “basics”: a loving God, a great family, amazing friends, a job that is just right for me. But there is so much more.

The night of our Thanksgiving Eve service at church always helps me see the great ways God has been working in my life in the past year; tonight was no different. As people stood to give thanks to the Lord for His provisions, love, guidance, mercies, and blessings I was reminded of how this year started out for me. I was trying to put my thoughts together and wondering if I should say anything. Of course at that moment there was silence as everyone waited for the next person to stand. I suppose someone noticed me and the face I make when I have something to say but am unsure of saying it (yes, I’ve been told I have such a look), because I heard someone say, “C’mon, Kell.” It’s now or never, I suppose so I stood.

The box of tissues was placed next to me within the span of my first few words. A dear friend took my hand before I finished the first sentence. My smile was ear to ear as the tears fell; as I spoke of a God so good, great, marvelous, amazing, and how He got me through the rough patches in the beginning of the year and led me into the wondrous season of today.

Amazing things happen when your feelings are spoken out loud; especially when they are things you might not want to say out loud, for everyone to hear. Saying them out loud seems to make them more real, while, at the same time, gives them less power over you, for you are no longer the single bearer of these thoughts.

So I remembered and spoke of the fear that came with going into surgery with the outcome unknown. A surgery & recovery that God brought me through with my hope still in tact that I could, one day, have children. For He is so good. And as I spoke, the fear, though it was from something in the past, was finally freed, and the gratefulness enveloped my heart.

I went on to speak of the joy I found in that outcome, as there is now someone in my life who I could see spending my future with. And those words, spoken out loud, (not just to one person here or there, but to over 30 all at once) hit me with the amazing reality of it all.

I spoke of my gratitude for my security in Christ. Whether the future turns out how I imagine it, or not, His will will be done. I know His plan is the best. He’s got me covered, and at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters. A few years ago I would not have recognized the woman speaking these words. They were spoken with such conviction and confidence, as one who not only believes them, but knows them to be true.

1Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
2 Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

3Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

5For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 100

We all have much to be thankful for this year. I pray you’re able to take time to share your thankfulness with not only your family & friends, but also with the God to Whom all our thanks should be given.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Your Grace Finds Me

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
Psalm 139:7-12

This is my favorite psalm. Indeed, it is the one that the Holy Spirit used to change my heart and draw me in. To show me the great love God has for me; a love unlike any other. A love so strong that He can find me no matter where I am; He reached me then, when I felt like I was in the dark and all alone. His unfailing love and His amazing grace found me then. It rocked the foundation of all I knew to experience a love so strong. Through His Word & through the prayers of those who already believed, I began to understand that love and just how far it went for me; How far He went for all who would believe. “From the creation to the cross, then from the cross into eternity.” I marveled at that love then, and I marvel at it still.
May you find the wonder of His love rekindled from when it first found you, and praying that if it is finding you for the first time, that it knocks you off your feet.
Love & Blessings,
KJ

Thanksgiving

I have thought a lot about what I am thankful for this month, as I’m sure a lot of us have. It wasn’t until right before our church service started tonight, though, that I fully realized what I am most thankful for in this time and place. Remembering that last year our pastor asked us all what we were thankful for on the “Thanksgiving Eve” service, I thought on what I might respond with. And that is when it hit me – the Holy Spirit revealed it to me and I knew I had to share, no matter how hard it would be.

Sure enough the time came when Pastor asked for testimonies of thanksgiving. My heart beat faster in anticipation, but I was thankful someone else went first. Before asking for another, he went through Psalm 136 in which every verse ends with “For His steadfast love endures forever.” It’s truly amazing to realize the fullness of what that means; God’s unchanging, always present, love for us withstands the test of time. As He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, so is His love for us, until His kingdom comes and then forevermore. Even now I cannot completely wrap my brain around it, but know that it is an amazing gift He has given to us.

Again Pastor asked for a testimony and I knew it was my turn, so my hand went up and I stood in front of the congregation to share with them (and now with you) that which I am thankful for this season. Over the course of the past few months I have come to really see how God is working in my life. I can honestly say that I am thankful for things not going the way I thought they would. It might sound silly to some of you, but had they worked out so simply it all would have been too easy, too good to be true, if you like. As things have not gone my way, but rather His way, I have learned much more about myself. You can think you are so ready for something (ok, I’ll put it all out there), say a relationship, marriage even, only to find out that your timing is way off from His. Only to find out that you’ve only just arrived at the place where God wants to really start showing you how you’re supposed to be serving Him, and what you might want (that relationship or marriage), is not in His plan for you yet. I’ve come to a place where I am just starting to realize how I should be serving Him. It’s exciting and frightening all at the same time, but this I know to be true: His steadfast love endures forever. I’ve come to a place where I can say with my mind and my heart (for previously it was just in my mind) that I am putting what I want aside. I have no doubt that God knows my desires, but right now, following Him and what He has for me is the most important thing. Honestly, it is always the most important thing. I know that what He has for me is the best and sooo much better than anything I can come up with for myself. For that reason I’m going with Him; following Him, truly, with my whole heart, for quite possibly the first time since I became a believer.

I cannot wait to see how this all is going to play out. I cannot wait to share with you what He has in store. He is good all the time; in our highest highs and lowest lows. I pray He reveals to you what you have to be most thankful for in this season of your life. Take some time to think on it, pray on it, and above all else, give Him the glory for it all.

Love & Blessings,

KJ