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

Advertisements

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

Just Like a Roller Coaster

Up, down, around, and back again…

Sometime last week I realized Mother’s Day was coming up soon. I was worried about what it might bring with it this year: heartache, sorrow, bitterness, a few tears (or many), maybe, just possibly, a little joy? We’re in the middle of a lot. Ok, that’s not so very true, but with the extra hormones I’m on, this week has seemed about 20 days longs with all of the ups and downs and very far downs. I typically have some pretty awful mood swings a couple days a month and wasn’t too thrilled when I found out that the effects of the drug could be worse than that. But first, let me back up a little.

We first saw a fertility specialist a couple months ago. It had been almost a year since we’ve been trying and with my only having one intact fallopian tube (the result of surgery a few years ago), we decided it was time to see if there was anything else preventing this all from happening. After a month of collecting info from blood work and other tests the doc found nothing out of the ordinary and ruled it as “unexplained infertility.” Not something really encouraging, but it also means it’s not impossible for us to get pregnant.

When we met with him again, one of his first suggestions was that I take Clomid. It stimulates ovulation so that there’s a better chance that I’ll actually ovulate from the ovary that has a tube intact to carry it down. And before you think I’m crazy and could end up with septuplets, let me tell you that I’m taking a low dose and it has only 10% chance of twins and less than 1% change of triplets. I will admit I’m at the point where I think I’d be ok with twins and wouldn’t have to think about all this any more 🙂

Along the way & through all of this we have been praying and have been prayed for. For a child to be conceived. For strength from and trust in a God who knows what He’s doing. For His will to be done. There have been ups and downs and I’ll probably write about those later, but back to where I started.

Mother’s Day has been hard in the past when I was single and not knowing if I’d ever be married so that I could have a chance to be a mom. Last year it was hopeful and I don’t remember being at all sad. This year I was uncertain.

Yesterday marked day 3 of 5 that I have be taking Clomid and I felt it. I’ve been watching two sweet kiddos since we moved into our house and I left the library. Yesterday we went out for a stroll at Walmart. I needed just one thing but we wandered around and after a little bit I felt like I was slogging through mud. My brain was foggy and unfocused and I just couldn’t get my thoughts together. That, itself, made me start to freak out a little. Anxiety rose as thoughts wracked my brain, reasonable and irrational alike. I made it to the check out and as we left (me pushing the kiddos in the cart) the greeter called out, “Happy Mother’s Day!” I took my sunglasses from atop my head so I could cover my eyes before the tears started to fall.

I knew this reaction was not my typical one. I’ve been watching the kiddos for over 6 months now and have gone on many a shopping trip where I get complemented on how cute they are or asked if I think one will have curly hair like me (ummm, no, I don’t think so :)). It has never bothered me; sometimes I correct them and let them know I’m the “aunt” and sometimes I thank them, smile, and go on my merry way. This time, though, it tipped me over the edge. I knew the hormones were mostly to blame, but I still didn’t know what to do about it. We grabbed a snack and went to the park as I tried to regain myself.

The rest of the day I felt like I went from one extreme to the next, mostly between getting annoyed and angry to being desperately sad. We had dinner with friends and that was nice, but I felt pretty quiet and reserved most of the night. Once we got home and were doing family worship I told Steve all about my day. He, of course, let me cry on his shoulder, waited patiently while my thoughts collected themselves into communicable phrases, held me tight, and prayed to our great Creator.

I felt better, getting all of those pent up thoughts out of my head where they swirled relentlessly around. I felt better, being reminded of a God and Savior who will never leave me, forsake me, or stop loving me.

Today I woke up and felt like a new person. I got lunches and breakfast made and even prepped some for dinner while I thought about what I’d do with the kiddos today. When I got to their house, there were some lovely flowers waiting for me, along with a sweet note of support & encouragement. As we headed to Walmart again…we needed things for a secret project, G (who’s 2 1/2) started asking me about the songs on the radio. As I explained to this little boy that people were singing songs about God and how great He is and how they are glad that He’s always with them, in good times and in bad, my heart swelled.

This is one of the reasons I so very badly desire a child of my own; so I can share with them the greatness of God, the awe and wonder and majesty of Him and the amazing things He’s done for us all. And yet, I can do that while I still do not have children of my own. Is it the same? Absolutely not. But seeing knowledge and wonder of God grow within these little kiddos is amazing, and I wouldn’t trade that, either. There’s still an ache in my heart for a child of my own. A dark-eyed, curly-haired misfit who will drive her parents crazy (because there are only ever girls in my family 😉 ). But as I walked out of Walmart today and was, once again, wished, “Happy Mother’s Day” I simply smiled, said “thanks,” and strolled out the door.

I cannot say that tomorrow or Sunday will not bring different emotions. We will cross that bridge when we get there.

If you anticipate Mother’s Day to be difficult this year, because of the ache you have to be one or the sorrow of having lost yours, know that you are not alone. I’ll be praying for you. If you think of it, please send one up for me.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

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

 

Let it Begin

It seems when a new year comes along I always make goals that never become reality. They can be crazy big (I’m going to lose 70lbs) or basically simple (I will wash my dishes every night); but sill, the next year comes around and sees them unfulfilled.

This year goals will be met.

What makes this year so different, you ask? I know I cannot do it by myself, and I know I’m going to have to rely on God, as well as the family and friends He has put in my life, to get through it. This really isn’t a new thought for me. I have known this for a while, but it’s the putting-it-into-practice part that trips me up. Every time.

Choices I have made and the road God put me on has taught me to be a fairly independent person. The only time I’ve lived close to family in the last 15 years was when I moved back in with my folks after I finished grad school and was job hunting. I’ve always made friends fairly easily, and do have those I confide in and rely on. But when it really comes down to it, more often than not, I don’t ask for help when I need it.

The same can be said when I approach my Lord. Yes, I have grown and matured, and I thank Him for that, but I still find myself not asking for His help first. I’m guilty of trying to work things out on my own and then (usually after failing) sheepishly turn to Him. I cannot help but picture Him looking down on me, shaking His head with a sigh, and saying, “My dear child, I might not have saved you that hurt, but I could have carried you through it, if only you had given it to Me.”

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7

Oh, I know I’m not the only one. Maybe in reading this, you come to realize that you do it, too. I have no real explanation for why I do this other than a simple issue of pride. I can do this on my ownI don’t need anyone’s help. Or, what gets me the most; I don’t want to bother anyone with my problems because they have their own to deal with. These, especially the last, are such blatant lies. We are to share our burdens. It was not intended for us to do this alone.

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.  – Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

I’ve touched on this before, which just goes to show how much I need to be reminded of it. And now comes the test. When I have to put it into practice. Relying on God to see me through & others to do that which I cannot do myself.

A few weeks ago I had a routine doctor’s visit. Which led to the scheduling of an ultrasound. Not two hours after which came a phone call and the words “large cystic mass” followed by “GYN oncologist.” My breath caught for a couple seconds. Did I just hear what I thought I did? Yes, I had.

The following week I had the appointment with the oncologist. I asked a friend to come with me, a dear Sister who had also been a nurse and just a great support to me all around – a mom when mine lives over 600 miles away. Surgery was scheduled and then came the news I was not fully expecting. The cyst is so large they cannot operate laparoscopically. The incision made will be about as big as the cyst to insure they can get it out without difficulty. Depending on where it is in relation to other things, I could most likely lose an ovary as well. If it is cancerous (which, from what they can tell of it short of a biopsy, they think not) I could be losing more than one ovary.

I don’t really think I need to tell anyone who knows me that it was at this point that I lost it. One of my greatest desires is to, one day, get married and have a family of my own. I know that adoption is a viable option, but still. The possibility of losing that ability myself scares me. And there it is again, my ability.

I do not doubt God has a great plan. I do not doubt that He is sovereign over all. Do I wonder about His methods? …….yes. Do I love HIm less or blame Him? Absolutely not. Am I leaning on Him to see me through? There’s no other way i could make it.

As for relying on others. There’s the fact that I’m going to be out of work for 4 weeks or so and my awesome coworkers stepped up to take care of my weekly programs so they wouldn’t have to be cancelled. My mom is coming out and staying with me for a couple weeks. Friends are going to be driving her and I to and from the hospital (which is not local). Many have offered help with the only condition that I ask, including one threatening a smack upside the head if I don’t ask when I need it – how well he knows me 🙂

So, after all that, you may think me crazy for this: with less than a week before surgery, I’m doing fine. My God is in control. The path He has before me will only bring me closer to Him when I reach the end. Yes, I will still get anxious. I do not doubt I will end up in tears at least a few more times. But above all else, I know He’s got it in His hands. And who am I to say He’s doing it wrong?

2Count it all joy, my brothers,b when you meet trials of various kinds, 3for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. – James 1:2-4

So, my goals for this year? They all stem from this main one:

5Trust in the LORD with all your heart
            And do not lean on your own understanding.

      6In all your ways acknowledge Him,
            And He will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6

What about you? Are you starting this year with plans to do it all on your own? Or are you, willingly and actively, leaning on Him with Whom all things are possible?

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Reboot

Every now and again things are in need of a reboot. Whether it’s to take a rest, refresh, or just start over. I’ve been feeling like that too, lately. Worn out and just plain blah. Out of sorts and wondering where this path God’s leading me down is headed. Wondering if there’s a turn coming up ahead and what that might involve. But, most honestly, really wanting to be “on fire” for Him again. In the past weeks I have felt like there was something more I should be doing, but really had no idea what it could be. As I pondered, prayed, and talked about this with friends nothing really came…at first.

I have been coordinating Operation Christmas Child at my church for 3 years now. (If you do not know what OCC is, please take some time to check out their website – they are nothing short of amazing.) It is something I find great joy in; knowing that not only will kids around the world be given a shoebox full of gifts, but will also be told of the greatest gift ever given to mankind; Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and the sacrifice He made for us to be able to have a relationship with God. I cannot help but get excited when I talk about it, even when I think about it. I organized a packing party at church this year and we had a great turnout! We had at least 20 people come and we filled 54 boxes! It was such a great night of fellowship and fun. I was overwhelmed with what people were willing to give; especially when it came to paying for the shipping of all of the boxes. During that night and later I was talking with some friends about organizing a group trip next year to go to the processing center in Maryland and volunteer. This really got me excited; excited in a way I have not been in a long time. The more I thought about it, the more I felt a nudging to go…and not to wait a year to go, but to go now.

So, tomorrow, after church, I’m taking a young friend of mine and we are driving to Maryland! I’ve booked a hotel for the night and our volunteer shift is from 9-1 on Monday. I cannot help but smile when I tell people this. Who am I kidding? I cannot help but smile as I’m typing this! I get to serve “the least of these” and I don’t think there’s anywhere else I’d rather be come Monday morning. I don’t know what this means for the future, or where it will lead me, but, right now, I’m not worried about that at all. I’m already planning ideas for next year’s packing party, devising ways to collect various supplies, thinking of how we could plan a church-wide trip to volunteer. This feels so right and I’m excited (yes, I’m going to say it again), so EXCITED, to see where this leads!

This is the reboot I needed. Coming at just the right time (Thank You, Father, for showing me, again, how perfect Your timing is). Please pray that I continue to seek out His will and follow His path in this delight-filled endeavor. That I may be as excited to share the Gospel with my neighbors as I am to share it with children around the world.

As this time of year tends to be hectic, I pray you will take time to reboot. Take time to ask our Father just what it is you should be doing in this festive season. Most importantly, once He’s told you, do it. I have no doubt that it will bring Him glory, and you great joy.

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