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

Help Me Find It – Sidwalk Prophets

This is one of my most recent favorite songs. With all that is going on right now, I feel that hearing this song serves as a reminder of what I need to be focused on. The other day I was in a bad place, mentally & spiritually, as I got in my car to drive to a friend’s house. As I turned the key, this was the song that was playing. It ended and the morning talk show came on. I’m not too fond of it so I switched the station. Can you guess which opening chords were playing? Yep, twice in a row; no coincidence about it. After a run and a good chat I was on my way back home, just a little low because I just wasn’t in the mood to get cleaned up and head to work. That’s when I heard it for the third time that day. It never gets old and it always strikes a chord in my heart. In this moment in time, this song is my anthem.

That Still Small Voice

As of late I have felt the need to just stop and listen stronger than I have in a while. It might have something to do with the fact that I don’t do it as often as I should. This past week I have been reminded over and over again to just:

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

It’s hard to do when so many things of this world are vying for attention. But, as I found out the hard way, it’s even worse when you don’t take that time. I was reminded as well this week that God has given us the most perfect gift of salvation and everlasting life through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ, and if we have that, what else do we really need? The wanting of a family of my own jumps right in my mind when that question was asked of me. I know at the beginning of all of this I said I am living where God has me, knowing that His plans are good and I am trusting and waiting on His timing…this is no less true now, but it is something I struggle with. With the thought of a potential relationship on my mind, my heart ached to know if I was right to pursue it; if it was His will, or just my own. I spent time that night asking for a clear answer and listening for His still small voice. While I found peace in crying out, knowing He was listening and knowing I was not the first, the answer I was listening for eluded me.

The next day I realized I had only been listening for one answer; “Yes.” I never heard it, and so my way of thinking has changed. At the onset I believed that if I was within His will I would just continue on and if I wasn’t, doors would be closed. I don’t think that is a wrong way of thinking, but I do think it led me to feel more heartache. The absence of the “Yes” answer I was waiting on, doesn’t necessarily mean “No” though, I do believe it could mean “Not yet.” This is where my thinking has changed. As I walk this “road of singleness” I pray for my heart to be guarded. I also am staying put, until He gives me the nudge  and lets me know which direction I should take.

I know it might seem pessimistic of me to assume the answer is “No” or “Not yet,” but for now this is the right path for me. I know there will be days when the heartache is strong, but my God is stronger. I know there will be days of darkness, but even the darkness is as light to my God. I am making it a point to be still more often; to listen and pray more regularly, and wait on Him. For truly, my greatest desire is to be within His will for my life. His still small voice does still speak to us, if we are diligent in reading His Word and listening. Has He spoken into your heart lately? Have you been listening?

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Living Delightfully

In my 31 (and a half) years on this earth I have had many thoughts about this crazy thing called life. They’ve ranged from, “What is going on?” and “How could this be happening?” to “I am so blessed!” and “This is amazing!”. A few years ago I was really stuck in a place of “God, what are You doing with my life?” which, uncoincidentally, was also riddled with the question, “Why am I not married yet?”. I remember discussing this with a pastor and his wife and Psalm 37:4 was brought up.

Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.

They said how often this verse is misconstrued; that many people think if they do things for God He will give them whatever they long for, when really the psalmist is saying that as we draw near to God and delight in what He has for us, our desires will also come into line with what He has for us in the future. That, of course, is not to say that something you strongly desire will not come to fruition, for it could be in His will for your life. You just might not know how or when it’s going to come about.

My desire to share this life with someone, to have a family of my own is so strong. Despite praying for His will to be done, the desire is still there, which, for now, leads me to believe that this will happen, in His timing. I cannot help but think sometimes, “What’s holding this up?”. I continue to pray that God is building up the man He has who will one day be the leader of our household. I do not focus on this one thought and put my life on hold while I wait for it to happen, however. I delight daily in what the Lord has given me, here and now, knowing that each day is ripe with blessings and how silly of me it would be to forgo today’s blessings because I am so focused on the future.

My goal is to share these delights, be they thoughts, inspirations, creations, or otherwise. My prayer is that your eyes will be open to the blessings He has bestowed upon you each and every day. Dare to live within these delight filled days.

Love & Blessings,

KJ