Thankfulness: Days 22-28

Another catch up post. I was doing pretty well, even while away, but then being with family, Thanksgiving, a birthday party, and traveling home (and recovering from it all) left little time. I have been thinking of things with each passing day, just haven’t had time to get them down.

Day 22:

Family. Plain and simple. The one I have been born into and the one I’ve acquired through marriage. we got to spend today with a lot of my family, some that we hadn’t seen in two years or longer. I am just so thankful to them all for being such a great support system and encouragement to me over the years. Plus Steve got to see that my crazy was (mostly) inherited from my family 😁

Day 23:

Today we got to spend time celebrating my youngest niece’s 2nd birthday. I’m so thankful that we were around for that. It’s been a while (over 6 years) since I’ve been with any of them for their birthday. This day I didn’t have to see photos posted on Facebook with the longing of having been there. I was there and got to delight in all of the silliness and fun.

Day 24:

I know I wrote before about being able to chat with friends after years of not and being able to pick right back up with them. Today I’m thankful for something similar, but not exactly the same, so it counts.

Today I’m thankful for meeting up with friends; old and new. This afternoon we got to meet up with an old friend that I hadn’t seen in 16 years (16 years!!!). We have both moved away from our home state and have always seemed to just missed each other when traveling to visit family. I’m so glad it worked out to finally meet up.

We also got to have dinner with friends who we hadn’t seen in only a few months. They moved to Michigan over the summer and it was nice to catch up and see them and their adorable baby boy.

Day 25:

While parents are a part of family, today I am thankful especially for them. For being willing to wake up in the wee hours of the morning (3:30am) to take us to the airport. For hosting us in their home all week long. For supporting me in all of my crazy endeavors (“Yes, I’m going to move far away to go to college, and after that I think I’ll live in Alaska for a couple years, then I’ll be off to Pennsylvania. After that I think I’ll move back home for a bit and then head out to New Jersey.” I can’t imagine what they’ve thought about all of that). Things definitely would not be the same without them.

Day 26:

Today I am thankful to be home. Traveling is nice, but nothing beats being able to sleep in your own bed.

Day 27:

Today was back to business as usual. Both kiddos decided to sleep in a little bit today so I actually made a point to read my Bible (something that I’ve been sadly lacking in). I’m just so grateful for God’s Word. How it is unchanging and how it changes us. The passage I read was Jeremiah 33 and I was just reminded how He is truth and His promises are forever. Such a comfort to be reminded of this.

Day 28:

Today we had our first appointment with the OB. I’m thankful for people in the medical profession who have the knowledge of all thing pregnancy related and can answer questions and tell you of things you never even thought of. All of the information is a little overwhelming, but we have a bit of time to look through it all.

I’m also really thankful for the amazing technology that not only allowed us to see the baby (we have a few times now), but also hear it’s heartbeat. So very amazing. I can’t fully wrap my mind around it all.

Hopefully, I’ll be back later with today’s thought. Praying you are well and finding things, both big and small, to be thankful for.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

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Thankfulness: Days 11 – 16

Soooo, have I ever mentioned how I have difficulty with follow through? I was doing good for the first week or so and then we went away and I spent a day doing mostly nothing at a condo in Virginia and that was that. I have been thinking about it every day, pondering what I have been thankful for. Here’s my catch-up list; in hopes that I’ll now stay on track.

Day 11

One of these little girls turned 7 today (bottom right)! I am so thankful to be their auntie! They have brought me countless laughs and smiles over the years. It has been a joy seeing them grow and seeing my sisters become mamas. Super thankful that I’ll get to see two of them next week (though sadly, have to wait until next summer to see the other two).

Day 12:

Today I am thankful for the simplicity of some dinners – soup and grilled cheese it is! Little prep and little clean up makes for a happy lady and an evening spent doing other things other than the dishes 🙂

Day 13:

Today Grandma would have been 103 (if I’ve done my math right). She and Grandpa and Baba (my mom’s mom) were such big parts of my life. We saw Grandma & Grandpa close to every weekend and some of my most fond memories in childhood involved spending the night at their apartment over the summer or during Christmas break. Baba lived with us since I was 4. I would watch her “stories” with her when I got home from school and often retreated to her “house” when I wanted to be away from my sisters. She’s been gone 3 years now, but I still can’t think of that section of my parents’ home as anything other than Baba’s house.

I am thankful for them all today and all the things they have taught me in my formative years; about sewing, cooking, gardening, storytelling, and life in general. I’m thankful for the memories passed along. The truth. The wisdom. The love.

Day 14:

Today I got to chat with friends I haven’t talked to in at least a year. Not for any one reason, just life being what it is and people moving and having new things added to their lives. I still find it amazing how we can pick up right where we left off like no time has passed at all. I’m so thankful for these friendships that stand the test of time; not all do. That’s how you know they’re pretty special.

Day 15:

I meant to take a picture of our first snow before it got dark, but it was a little bit of a crazy day. Not that I’m thankful for the snow – it was the cause of some of the craziness. It was pretty, though. No, today I’m thankful for growing up and learning to drive in a place that has frequent snow. So now, as I’m in a place where people go crazy over an inch (and the roads aren’t always well maintained during it), I can be ok (for the most part) and know what not to do while driving in it. I suppose that was also learned by landing in ditches a couple times in college because of the ice and/or snow.

Day 16:

Today I am thankful for a half day of school which means I get to do some crazy running around/baking/laundry done before our very busy weekend and then flying out to Michigan on Monday. We are both very ready for a longer vacation and the chance to see more family! I’m so grateful for this time to get a few things done because we still have to get through this weekend before vacation really starts.

Whew! What a wrap-up! Here’s hoping I can stay on track even through our time away. As you prepare for the coming week I pray you have some time to stop and think about those things you’re truly thankful for as well as the One to whom we owe all thanks.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Thankfulness: Day 6

As today is Election Day, the most obvious thing to be thankful for is my right to vote. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m totally grateful for that right, but that’s not at the top of my thankfulness list today.

Scrolling through my FB feed, along with all the photos of “I voted” stickers, I was surprised by what I’ve seen. Friends of mine, most with varying viewpoints, writing thoughtful statements of understanding of those who might vote differently than them.

Two years ago the atmosphere was volatile between a lot of people of varying views and beliefs. People saying they no longer wanted to be friends with those who may have voted differently than themselves. People saying hateful things all because of a box someone checked.

I have hope that some truths were learned in the last two years, on all sides, about how letting party lines divide friendships, families, cities, a nation helps no one at all. In the end no one wins if we are a people divided.

I may sound naive and idealistic. I can’t say I’d argue with that, because it’s probably true. I am thankful, though, to see people encourage others to vote, knowing the boxes checked may be different than theirs. I am thankful to see people be open with their thoughts on the matter and also admit that others have the right to their own thoughts. I am thankful that people have said outright, “How you vote will not effect our friendship, just please, go out and vote.”

Love & Blessings,

KJ

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

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

 

That Girl

I never wanted to be that girl. The one who thought she wasn’t good enough, or pretty enough, for any guy, much less one with admirable qualities. I didn’t want to be that girl who thought she didn’t deserve to be in a relationship. I read all of the Twilight books (a mistake, I know), and wanted to smack Bella every time she mentioned or thought about how undeserving of Edward she was. I vowed never to be that girl…until I realized, I am.

In this season of preparing for a wedding & marriage there have been many well wishes and congratulations. When I talk with people, many have expressed their happiness for my fiance and I, and many have said, “You deserve this.” It has always rubbed me a little funny, that phrase. And I have finally figured out why. I don’t. I don’t deserve any of this.

Hear me out, now, and let me explain. In this life, I deserve nothing. Wait, that’s not quite right. In this life, I deserve death. For the wages of sin is death ~Romans 6:23a. I have sinned against a righteous and holy God. More times than I could ever count. Death is all I deserve. But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~Romans 6:23b

I deserve death, but have been granted life. and not just any life, but eternal life! You know that means forever, right? Because Jesus paid the price for my sin (and for yours), I can accept the free gift of life eternal (and so can you). That is an amazing thing all on it’s own. And now here is the rest of my point – it is all I’ll ever need. 3His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. ~2 Peter 1:3 & 4

Because of my salvation in Jesus Christ, I should want for nothing. In not getting what I deserve (death) and getting what I don’t deserve (eternal life) I should be forever grateful. I am forever grateful. Any other blessing that God chooses to bestow upon me is icing on the cake. My job that I love, my comfortable home, a car that still runs, and, yes, even a wedding at the end of the month and a future with a man I adore. All of those are bonuses on top of the most precious gift I could ever be given. Especially considering I had all but given up that that last one would ever happen.

God never promised we would find a soul mate, but He promised rest for our souls (Matthew 11:28-30)

God never promised us a spouse, but He promised to work things out for our good (Romans 8:28).

God never promised us each a wedding on earth, but He has prepared a marriage supper for those who belong to Him (Revelation 6-9).

If you are single and struggling, I pray this gives you hope, knowing that all you will ever need will never be found in a relationship here on earth. I have been in your shoes and it is a hard pill to swallow, but as long as you are in Christ, He will sustain you.

If you are married and struggling, I also pray this gives you hope, knowing that your spouse can never be your savior, but Jesus Christ can. With Him in the center of your marriage, you and your spouse can focus on how your relationship is working to glorify Him.

And if you find yourself with a that girl mentality, know that it’s ok, but also remember my most favorite two words; but God. You may feel undeserving, but God knows you are worth the greatest sacrifice, and He gave it all so He could be in relationship with you.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

 

A Guarded Heart

Guard your heart. What does that make you think? I have often thought of it in the negative, like stacking bricks around it so nothing can get through. That’s not really the intent though:

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. -Proverbs 4:23

This makes me think more of someone standing guard, not only protecting my heart from that which seeks to enter, but also that which longs to be made known.

One of my great friends is constantly sending me links to articles and things she thinks I’ll enjoy or find helpful (I love it, Sara, don’t stop!). As we share so much with each other, she is in a good position to know where I’m coming from a lot of the time.

A while back we had a conversation on the topic of keeping your heart guarded while a relationship is developing. I had just read about it, probably in an article she had sent me, and had come to a realization. My heart is poorly guarded. I, too quickly, think of where something could lead (and in turn rather freak myself out) instead of paying attention to the here and now. I easily share thoughts that come from the very deepest part of my heart and then wonder why I feel heartbroken over a relationship that never really was one to begin with. Now, I can’t say I have the answer to how to guard your heart (or mine), but I know Who does…

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  -Philippians 4:6-7

If you don’t recognize this verse then you must not be reading my blog nearly enough 😉 It is often my go-to verse when I am anxious or worried, when I need to be reminded to hand things over to God & He will take care of them, when I don’t know what’s going on or what is to come in the future…basically all the time. But the part about guarding hearts did not ever quite resonate with me as much as it does now; now I understand it a bit more. And I will faithfully put my heart in the hands of He who can guard it best.

Praying you are able to do the same, no matter the situation, for your peace & His glory.

Love & Blessings,

KJ