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

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Another Ride Around

I first want to thank you all for your prayers. There’s just something about knowing that brothers and sisters are praying for you that brings about such comfort and encouragement; so thank you! I also have been touched by many friends and family who have reached out to tell me they had experienced similar situations; that it can suck, but God still used it, in His perfect timing, to bring about the child(ren) they longed for. There were many grateful tears shed as I read your stories. Thank you for sharing them with me.

I have wondered through these months just how other women deal with this. Hearing that there are ones who have been through this and have come out the other side has meant more to me than you could possibly know. I praise God for you all and Him placing you in my life for such a time as this.

This past week I had an appointment to check and see if/how my body responded to Clomid. It did what it was supposed to do; providing more hormones so that there would be the potential of more than one egg released during ovulation. The hope is that at least one will be released on the right side where there is a tube that it can travel down. Unfortunately, this month, the ultrasound showed that all of the most likely viable follicles were on the left side.

I wanted to be upset when the doc told me that. All of this, and still nothing?! I thought. But really, I didn’t feel so bad. I laughed slightly to myself (is that strange?) as I praised God for the reminder that even with all of the doctors, medicine, & technology available, He is still in control.

Please don’t form an image of Him lording His power over the universe for “the good of the people” like Thanos or some equally horrible super villain (though I’m not sure if there’s anyone worse). Knowing that God is in control brings comfort and hope, because, indeed, “all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” I don’t see the God of the universe looking down on me from on high laughing to Himself thinking, I sure showed her Who’s in control. No, that is not my God. His is more of a still soft voice that speaks lovingly of His promise to see me through, to sustain me, and to be all I ever need.

Also, as strange as it may sound, this news brought with it a blessing. The blessing of knowing already that this time around getting pregnant is highly unlikely. There is still the rare possibility of transmigration (where an egg starts on one side and somehow moves over to the other side…I have no idea how. That just goes to show how amazingly created these bodies of ours are!), but it is just that, rare. In knowing this a couple weeks ahead of time I do not have to worry about thinking if some strange feeling could mean possible pregnancy and get my hopes up only to have them dashed when day 28 comes around. In knowing this I hope to stabilize my thoughts in the week to come so hormones won’t carry them away as is known to happen. All in all, I am thankful for this knowledge, though it is not what I had hoped to hear. I praise God for giving it to me so I may have peace of mind and the confidence that He’s got it in His ever-loving, ever-capable hands.

One thing I am not looking forward to is riding the Clomid carousel again in a few weeks. I know how it affected me this month, but I don’t know if it will be the same or different this next time around. Knowing what could happen, though, gives me somewhere to start from, I guess. I can only take it one day at a time, stay close to my God, His Word, and His people, and know that, this too, He will see me through.

In knowing what I know about it all, I will continue to delight in my Lord. I will continue to rejoice in His goodness and His grace. I will continue to pray to Him for peace and comfort and strength. I will continue to thank Him for these circumstances; though they are not ones I would choose for myself (or anyone else), I know He is using them for my good and His glory.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. ~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I pray, my friends, you are able to see the great hope in these words, and that you, too, would know that whatever it is you’re traveling through, the God of all creation sees you. He does not waste experiences or circumstances, but uses them. To accomplish His will. To refine you as gold. I pray you might find comfort in that.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

“O soul, are you weary and troubled?” Last night and this morning those words ran through my head among the lies that floated in last night and made for a difficult nights sleep. I couldn’t remember the rest of the words but I knew who’s voice I heard singing it. Just looked it up and thought I’d share, because maybe, just maybe, you’re in need of this encouragement too.

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.

Another Change of Season

Spring is here! Or so they say. It’s a little hard to be sure when the daffodils bloom one day and then a layer of snow falls on them the next.

However, it is always so wondrous to me to see the first blooms of spring. It seemed that overnight the blossoms on the trees had budded and a patch of daffodils appeared in my neighbor’s backyard. The earth warms up and new life begins as plants of all types awaken from their long winter nap. Every year it is the same; spring always follows winter.And yet it seems like such a surprise to see those first signs of it. I believe that is how God designed it; to help us remember the hope He gives us in what is still to come in times when we may have forgotten His promises.

“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 a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Just as this fall brought a season of change in my life, so has this spring. It was actually the day before, but it was one of the best lead-ins to it that I could imagine. March 19th was chilly and overcast and it could not decide if it wanted to snow or rain. I know that doesn’t sound like the greatest lead-in to spring…and it wasn’t. But this was: on March 19th, my boyfriend asked me to be his wife.

I knew it was coming. We had talked about marriage. He took me to look at rings a few weeks prior. I overheard him ask my dad if he could call him some time. I even had a pretty sure feeling that he was going to propose that day. All the signs were there.

And yet…when he turned to look at me and whispered, “You ready for this?” right before he dropped to one knee, I couldn’t help but think, Is this really happening? When he asked the question I, of course, said yes, though at that time I couldn’t tell you how he phrased the question (thanks for thinking of having someone film it, my dear). I was happy and stunned all at once. There were many smiles and much laughter and surprisingly no tears (if you know me, that just goes to show how stunned I was). It wasn’t until about 30 minutes later, when he asked me if I liked my ring, that I realized I hadn’t even looked at it. Then he added, “We’re going to get married!” and it all came together. I processed all that had just happened and knew my life was never going to be the same.

If you’ve been with me on this journey from the beginning you know of the heartache I’ve been through. The desires of my heart and the topic of oh so many prayers. And the waiting. All the waiting. And now this prayer has been answered. God has brought into my life a wonderful, God-fearing man. One who is caring and responsible, trustworthy and forgiving. One who makes me laugh more than I ever have before. And soon he will be my husband. And I will be his wife. Words cannot fully describe how amazing this all is to me. And though wedding planning is in full swing, I do not think it’s fully sunk in yet. I don’t think it really will completely until I’m walking down the aisle arm-in-arm with my daddy.

I want to thank you all for your prayers and encouragement over these past few years and appreciate those that continue to do so. Big changes are up ahead; exciting and scary and wonderful. And while the topics of my writing might change, the focus of it won’t. As God is the author and perfecter of my faith I cannot deny His presence in my life, nor the great many blessings He’s bestowed upon me. Stay tuned…our journey is only beginning.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Despicable Soil & Spiritual Growth

“The soil that we despise grows the spiritual fruit that we most desperately need. It can become a greenhouse for spiritual growth, but that doesn’t make it any more enjoyable to live through. It’s awful space but God can do some wonderful things in it.” – Jeff Manion

Listening to a Boundless podcast from earlier in the year, this was said in response to a question about feeling like your life is always in the “in-between” stage or that you’re just waiting for the next thing to happen. It speaks such truth and I’m glad I can say i can see it in action in my own life.

I have not felt like I’m just “waiting around” for a couple years now, and it feels pretty great. As my bestie would say, “You’re going out there and livin’ life!” And that really is what it’s about. Through this time of singleness, God has grown me. I am no longer wishy-washy or uncertain in my faith. I know where I stand and am confident in it. I have moments of doubt, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t get stuck in them like I used to. I know where to go, who to talk to, to find the answers I need.

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. – 1 John 5:13-15

The word “know” there refers to an intimate knowledge, a personal knowledge, one that can only be gained by spending time with the One who created knowledge to begin with. While I’m sure that there is still much more for me to learn and some that I will never attain this side of heaven, I know Him in this way. I know with certainty that nothing can snatch me from HIs hand.

If you would have told me 3 years ago that I’d be working with teens or training for a half-marathon in the future I would have laughed at you. Probably in your face. These are the things God has me doing now; leading the youth group at church & getting ready for a half marathon come February. He gave me a strong desire to start the youth group at the beginning of the year. My heart was pulled to do it and I could not say no; here was an opportunity to share my faith with those younger than I; to be a role model for them – someone I desperately needed when I was their age. I take joy in getting to know these kids more and letting them know how much God loves them and all He did just to have a relationship with them. It’s even better when they show me examples of this from their day-to-day, acknowledging that God is the One behind it all.

As for running, I’ll just leave it with saying there is no way I’d be able to do it in my own strength. I haven’t started the long runs yet, but I plan on relying on Him even more through those 🙂

So, basically, if I were where I really want to be (married with a kiddo or two or three), there’s no way I’d be able to do what I’m doing now. There’s no way I would learn to trust God in these situations (though I’m sure there would be many other different situations I’d be dealing with). This space in time is fertile soil for the growing & maturing of my faith. Exactly what it’s maturing me for, I do not know. But He does.

If you are in a place in your life where you really don’t want to be, a place you cannot wait to get out of & on to the next thing, just stop for a moment. If you cannot think of anything good that has come out of this time, ask God to reveal it to you. But even if He doesn’t, know that He’s got a plan for it. And a plan for you.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

A Letter of Thanks

For those of you who don’t know, I’m the head children’s librarian  for a county library system. I completely adore my job and think it’s one of the most fulfilling ones out there. Today (and yesterday) some pretty simple things were said to me by a new patron and a coworker; so nonchalantly that I doubt they realized the impact they had on me (in a most wonderful encouraging way). Here is my letter of thanks.

Dear Mom at the library,

Thank you so much for bringing your little boy in today. It was a delight to talk with him and with you and share with you the finer things of the library, aka free pencils and toys to play with. Thank you for sharing with me the fact that you love being an older mom; you mentioned you were in your 40s and your little boy was 4 at the oldest. Thank you for expressing the joy you receive when seeing what he takes wonder and joy in; that because you are older, more mature, you are not so wrapped up in yourself to notice your child. You asked me if I had kids and I replied with a simple, “No.” You added, “Not yet,” and that really did make my day. You didn’t ask if I was married, but you were certainly close enough to see if there was a ring. And still, those 2 words were so confidently spoken.

You couldn’t have known that just the day before I had a conversation with a coworker at lunchtime. We were talking about his kids and kids in general, adoption, fostering, and the like. I don’t remember exactly what lead to it, but all of a sudden I hear the words, “You’ll be a great mom,” come out of his mouth. So matter of fact. So certain. No question about it. Not “You would be” or “You could be,” but “You will be.” He said that and my heart lifted, just as it did when we were chatting. 5 words one day followed by a simple 2 the next. An encouragement for me that at 31 it is not too late. That God’s timing is perfect and His promises are true.

Your little boy got his first library card today, but you gave me so much more with two simple words that I won’t soon forget. I do hope you’ll come into the library more often and that I might one day be able to let you know how much those words impacted me today and the days to come.

Love & Blessings,

KJ