Thankfulness: Day 4

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

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

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

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

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

Love & Blessings,

KJ

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Thankfulness: Day 3

Today I’m thankful for this man; my husband of two years. A great friend who listens to my crazy ramblings, helps me remember things that get lost in my ever-scattered brain, and never fails to make me smile (even when I’m really grumpy and just don’t want to). I’m thankful for how he humors me and follows me all around Target as I wander aimlessly without tapping his foot or seeming like he’d rather be elsewhere. How he washes all the dishes as I take a nap because the day just wore me out. How he loves me and lets me cry on his shoulder (even when I soak his shirt). How he patiently listens when we’ve just gone to bed and I’ve gotten my second wind and want to talk his ear off. How he has been by my side through this season of infertility, reminding me that we’re in this together. How he points me to a Savior; One who truly loves me and is working for my good no matter what, when I’ve felt overlooked and unworthy.

I pray, friends, that you are blessed with such a person in your life, whether it be a spouse, a parent, a sibling, or a friend. One who encourages you and helps to hold you up when you are weak. One who speaks truth to you, even if it’s hard. One who loves you.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Learning Curve

Just a few thoughts on things I have learned (thus far) in this season of infertility.

*God is steadfast & faithful. While I can wish that He would be faithful in the way that I want, I am oh so grateful that He is faithful in the way that I need. In friends willing to keep me occupied during the time when I cannot help but be on edge with waiting. In friends who have offered listening ears, who have cried with me, who have encouraged me, who have shared their stories with me. In a husband who is more than I deserve, who loves me through the crazy, through the sorrow, and through the hormones (which just intensify the first two).

In all of this and more, the Lord has been faithful in His care for me, His love for me.

*Sorrow and joy are not mutually exclusive. Fear & love; those two things have no business together as “perfect love casts out all fear” 1 John 4:18. Sorrow and joy are very different from that. I can be sorrowful and grieve and still have my joy. That sounds a little funny, doesn’t it? Perhaps I can explain it.

Over and over I have been taught that our joy is not bound to our circumstances, because our joy, true joy, is only found in Christ. As God, Christ never changes, never waivers, and in Him our joy is complete. Just because I grieve it doesn’t mean my joy is gone. Jesus Himself wept.

This has been a struggle for me to get to. In the beginning of this all I thought that my grief and sorrow were in opposition to my Lord. That I was spitting in His face because I couldn’t not grieve as each month went by. If I was so complete in Him why did it hurt so much?

Yes, I grow weary at times. Yes, I cry. Yes, I mourn. Yes, I wonder why. But the joy of the Lord is my salvation, and in the midst of all this turmoil; times of sorrow and grief, I cling to that, knowing it is the one thing that will not change.

My moods may go from silly & giggly to withdrawn & quiet in record time, but the joy of the Lord is my strength. I may not know what tomorrow brings, but my hope is secure in Him.

Dear friends, I hope you’ve experienced these truths in your own lives. That the Lord is teaching you about His love, grace, and faithfulness, no matter your circumstance.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

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

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.

Hope and a Future

As I finished a run the other morning I was recalling all of the things I was thankful for. So many good things are happening right now, it just all feels so right. But there are times when I feel like I’m just waiting for the bottom to fall out. A verse from Jeremiah came to mind at that instant and struck me in a way it never had before.

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 hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

How many times have you heard this verse? Maybe you’ve written it in graduation cards (I have). Maybe you’ve shared it with friends who can’t see a way out of the valley they’re in (yep, done that too). Maybe you’ve spoken it to yourself when you’ve needed encouragement, knowing our God’s promises are never failing and certainly things should get better (all the time!).

But what about when the bottom does fall out?

How in the world could He bring us hope through that?

And I was thinking about that when the lightbulb turned on. How in the world indeed?

Our hope is not in this world, nor is our future, ultimately. Our hope is in Jesus Christ. In the cross on Calvary. In an empty tomb. Our future is more amazing than we could ever try to imagine. Enveloped in the full glory of our God and King, for eternity, rejoicing and praising Him. There’s nowhere I can even think to start about how awesome that will be.

So, while there are blessings here on earth, and our Father does give us good things, it’s important to remember this in times when they are hard to spot (and even when they’re evident). Our everlasting hope and eternal future are not in this world, come what may. They reside in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Praying you have found security in your hope & future, through Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Love & Blessings,

KJ