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

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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 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

True Beauty

Ever have one of those days when you’re just not happy with the person staring back at you out of the mirror? Those days where you change outfits at least 6 times and finally settle on something only because you’re going to be really late for work? I’ve done those things more often than I care to admit…but less and less as of late and for a very good reason.

A few months ago I had a conversation with a friend about beauty and it really got me thinking. I was used to seeing beauty in many things that God has created; not only in the visible & physical aspects of creation like nature, but in people and relationships that I observed. The perfect fit of a wife’s head on her husband’s shoulder. The joy of a parent seeing their child accomplish something for the first time. I saw His beauty all around, but never when I looked in the mirror. Over the course of this summer, I have begun to see things differently, though. I have begun to see myself differently.

I’m not sure what started this snowball; but something that really got it rolling was when someone told me I was beautiful. I know this is a simple thing to say. I know it can be said by people who do not mean it. To be completely honest, I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone say it to me who wasn’t family or one of my girlfriends (not that when you say it you do not mean it, don’t get me wrong. I just have typically taken it as a “whatever” kind of comment because I never saw it myself). So how was it different this time around? It was said by someone who is blind.

The insistence with which he said it struck me. Who was I to tell him he was wrong? But if he could not physically see me what was it that led him to think such a thing?

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

If you are in Christ, not only are you a new creation, but you are God’s workmanship. In a Bible study I went to the teacher said that the word translated to workmanship could also be masterpiece. We are each a masterpiece of God’s. Do you think He could ever create anything ugly? Anything that is not beautiful? Take a moment to let that sink in. After it has, ponder this:

I praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14

Psalm 139 is what the Holy Spirit first used to draw me to God. It spoke to me in a very broken place and told me of the great love He had for me; so much so that He would be with me wherever I was and would “hem me in, behind and before,” which always gives me this wonderful visual of being safe in God’s pocket 🙂 I go to it often when I need to remember these things, but verse 14 always stood out. I wanted to believe it so badly, but it was just a matter of my heart not believing what my head said was truth. Or that it was true of other people, but not of me. Now, on most days, I know better.

Being a wonderful work of God, you can bet there is beauty within me. My problem before was that I was searching for the beauty of the world. Something that has been distorted by sin and mangled by lies of the devil. That is not beauty.

True beauty is a cross on a hill.
True beauty is Jesus dying to cover a debt I can never repay.
True beauty is an empty tomb.

Just as Christ’s love and grace should be reflected in our lives, so should be the beauty of all He has done for us. It is something that people might not see with their eyes, but it should emanate from us so that they can sense it and know there’s something different about us.

Over this summer I have changed in ways I cannot fully describe. I am often surprised by the girl in the mirror. There’s a hint of radiance in her I don’t remember noticing before. I feel content in where God has me in this life. I have assurance that I am doing what He would have me to do. I have grown; in confidence, in faith, and, yes, in beauty, for I am growing in Christ. My prayer is that you are as well.

Love & Blessings,
KJ

Delight in Hope

It struck me Friday, as I was at church for music practice, singing “I Will Rise” by Chris Tomlin. It marked 3 years since my grandma went home to be with her Lord. While the date marked that, back in 2011, Good Friday was the day of her funeral, and as we sang, it hit me with double the impact. I didn’t really take that in then. All I remember was that it was my daddy’s birthday, and how sad it was that he said goodbye to his mom on that day instead of celebrating the blessing of another year.

My grandma was an amazing, God-fearing woman. She taught me so much; never knowing that when she was gone I would learn even more. I would learn about hope.

ImageI remember my mom calling me at work that Monday morning, telling me Grandma was gone. While she was old (95) it was unexpected and caught me off guard. I cried, of course, I cried. Then I went outside behind the library and cried some more. I called my pastor and he told me something I’ve heard him say many times since. It is okay to mourn, we are sad and missing our loved one; but unlike the world, we are to mourn as those who have hope. Hope in what? You may ask…

Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him. – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

Later that day I went to the beach. To sit and think and pray. I laid back in the sand, wind softly blowing around me. Closing my eyes I saw Grandma running into the arms of Jesus, smiling like never before. Running? My Grandma? I had never seen her run in my life. But I imagine that when it’s His arms you’re running to, you can’t get there fast enough 🙂 It gave me peace, knowing, without a doubt, where Grandma was going to be spending that Easter morning, just 6 days away. And I was jealous, to be honest. To be completely honest, I still am; for she’ll be doing the same thing today. I imagine, in heaven, it might seem like every day is Easter morning.

So, yes, I discovered hope. Hope in the promise of 1 Thessalonians 4:14 – that I would see Grandma again. More importantly though, is the hope I have in this promise:

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” – John 11:25-26

Do you believe this? I do.

It is a fitting time of year to be delighting in hope, don’t you think? Today Christians all over the world will be celebrating the hope we have in our risen King as we remember His resurrection. Jesus rose from the grave, on the third day (just as He said He would), victorious over death. He did it for us. For you, For me. Because we have all fallen short of the glory of God. And there’s just no way we could ever make it to heaven on our own. We cannot be good enough, go to church enough, give enough. Period. But Jesus is good (no enough about it). He lived a perfect life here on earth and gave Himself as a sacrifice for all. Of course, it would be for naught if He didn’t rise again – but the empty tomb proves that. Those who believe, who have accepted God’s gift of faith, stand in that hope. Knowing we will see our Lord one day, whether it is when He takes us home or comes again, it doesn’t matter; we will see Him.

This morning, when I’m in church, singing “I Will Rise” I will be doing so standing in the assurance that it is true. Knowing that, one day, I will rise. I pray we all are able to keep that promise of life, and of hope, in the forefront of our minds. Not just on Easter Sunday, but every day.

Love & Blessings,

KJ