What a Difference a Year Can Make

As I look back a year ago today, I am in awe of all that has taken place. I’m amazed at the goodness of God; seeing His hand guiding me through the trials and bestowing unmeasurable blessings upon me.

A year ago today I was somewhat of a mess; awaiting a surgery to which I did not know the outcome. Coming out of it, too, with one of the better outcomes. It left me with a sizable scar as well as abdominal muscles that needed to knit themselves back together. Pain and discomfort were feelings I became very familiar with. I walked around for the first few weeks (very slowly) clutching a folded blanket to my belly because if I let go I felt as if my insides would come pouring out. Through all of this I learned, firsthand, just how good God is.

And I remembered His goodness when I found myself flying to Michigan for a funeral, not even a month afterward. I was thankful that my mom had gotten home (after spending time with me, helping me recuperate) before her mom left us. I’d have to say that 2015 did not have the best start (probably one of the worst in my 33 years)…and yet…

This is not meant to be a sad story, a woe-is-me-because-bad-things-happened story, nor a feel-sorry-for-me story.

You see, the story of last year was not about me being broken (though I admittedly am), but how God used that brokenness to make me stronger. Not just physically stronger, but spiritually stronger as well.

In those dark, broken places it’s difficult for me not to see God. He is the Light shining in the darkness. There is truth to be found in the words, “Was blind, but now, I see.” With my eyes being opened to Him I am able to see some of the ways He is working in my life. I trust Him more than ever, for He’s gotten me this far. Oh, and this little promise helps boost my confidence in Him as well:

And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. ~Philippians 1:6

So while 2015 didn’t have the best start, much more happened this past year that is worth noting:

*I stepped into the world of dating

*I helped start a youth group at my church

*I had to say “See you later,” to friends who moved away

*I got to go on a super amazing vacation in which all of my immediate family was together (and then some) which hasn’t happened for about 3 years

*I met a pretty amazing guy who is now my boyfriend

Highs and lows: God saw me through them all; He will see me through them all in the future as well.

Last year I was on leave from work, recovering from surgery, until February 18. This year, on February 18, I’m flying to Orlando. I’m spending a week there and going to have a grand time. I’m going with a great group of friends, my parents are joining us there, and so is my boyfriend. But wait – that’s not all! I’m going to be running in the Disney Princess Half Marathon as well! This has been a goal of mine for  a few years and the fact that it is only a month and a bit away is a little nerve-wracking. The thought that I can actually accomplish this seems crazy to me; even more so when I remember that I had to take a hiatus from running for 3 or so months. Or the fact that before last year the longest distance I ran was 3 miles.

Last Saturday I ran 7. This is nothing short of amazing. Amazing how God designed our bodies to put up with the craziness we put them through. Amazing how God has given me strength and endurance when I’ve wanted to give up. Amazing that He’s brought me this far and will not fail to bring me the rest of the way.

So while today I might still be somewhat of a mess, I know God’s not done with me yet. I know there are great amazing things ahead in this year. I know there are hard not-so-fun things ahead in this year. But I also know He will be with me, all along the way.

I pray that whatever God’s brought you through in this past year has changed you for the better. That you see His hand in it all and know that He is working all things out for the good of those that love Him. That you give Him all the glory He so rightly deserves for seeing us through.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

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Much Needed Motivation

As a lot of you know, I plan to do the Disney Princess Half Marathon in 2016. I’m at the point now where I really need to start training right and see how my body reacts to the craziness that much running will put it through. I was excited when I saw this post from Peak 313 Fitness. Clare is hosting a 5 week “Living and Active” challenge that focuses on just that, living & being active 🙂 Starting next Monday, September 29, the challenge goals for each week are to work out 4 times (for at least 25 minutes) and memorize a key Bible verse. The community it offers is great for accountability, but I’m going to ask some friends to help me out on this one too. If you want to join, follow the link above and let me know! I plan to post something about it every week.

I go in late for work tomorrow, so I’m starting my prep week with a run – hoping to get at least 3 in to build up to the 4 the following week. I am ready and the time to do this is now!

I hope you’ll join me!

Love & Blessings,

KJ

All Things New

A year has come and gone and I’ve done what most of us have; reflected on what was accomplished in those 365 days and found areas that could still use some improvement.

One big goal I have accomplished this past year is losing weight & actually keeping it off. Every year for at least the past 10 I have said I would do this when it’s time for making resolutions, but the resolve was just never there. In 2013 I started running, and I have a spectacular running buddy (though we are on a kind of hiatus for these really cold winter months), and, by the grace of God, we are getting fit and feeling good. Which does beat out losing weight (though it is nice to start buying smaller sizes). In this year, my goal in the fitness department is to keep going. It’s actually kicking off tomorrow with a trip to the gym before work in the morning. I’m going to keep running, getting fit, losing weight, and ultimately train for a half marathon that will take place in 2016. My friend, Johanna, had this crazy idea for us to do the Disney Princess Half Marathon when she gets out of the Peace Corps. I ran two 5ks last year; surely, by 2016, I can work my way up to 13 miles…And what better way to do it than to have Disney cast members cheering you on? It’s hard to see it actually happening, but if you would have told me a year ago that I would be able to run a 5k, it would have been just as unbelievable. 

Another area that I have grown greatly is in my faith. This is, by far, the most awesome thing. Words cannot describe it accurately except to say that I feel so much more secure in who I am in Christ. A new creation. A joint heir. God’s workmanship. It is truly amazing to think about & one thing I am going to do better this year is make the time to think about this, to talk with and praise God for this, and not get so caught up in the day to day junk that I completely dismiss the One who gets me through each day whether I acknowledge Him or not.

The message in church this morning spoke, so loudly, to this rekindled faith of mine that I cannot help but share it. Pastor just showed the title of it on the screen and I knew I was in for it. I made up my mind that I didn’t want to hear it and it would be too hard. Maybe someone else in the room would hear what he was saying and think of deep desires I had shared and think of how pathetic it all sounds. His title, you ask? A Love Worth Longing For.

If you know me, or have read my blog from the start, you know there is one thing I struggle with above everything else in this life; the fact that I am still “on my own” in a world where my sisters, friends, cousins, coworkers; everyone else but me, it seems; has gotten married and are happily starting their families. While this is not a thought in my mind every second of every day, it is something that I think about and is definitely a button of mine the Devil likes to push as he roams this world. I would be lying if I said I have never looked on these relationships of my friends & family with envy. It is something I long for, a kind of love I long for, and so when Pastor began his sermon asking about the kinds of relationship people might envy, I did not really want to hear anything that was coming next.

But I’m glad I did.

The message focused on John 17:20-26, the end of Jesus’ high priestly prayer right before He was arrested. I’m sure I have read through this section before, but new things were brought to my attention this time around. the first being in verse 20:

“My prayer is not for them [the disciples] alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,

Do you see that? “Those who will believe in me.” Jesus prayed for all of us who come to believe in Him through the message of the Gospel. How amazing is that to know that the Lord of all creation has prayed for you!

Jesus goes on to pray that the disciples, and indeed all believers, would be unified as one, so they/we might show the world the love of God, knowing that God’s love for us is the same as His love for Jesus.

Through this walk of faith of mine, I have not much doubted God’s love. It’s what first drew me in, finding out there was One who loved me so completely. And while I think of it time to time, especially when I think of the great ways He has blessed me and how much He must love me to do so; or how about the fact that He sent His Son to die for me? Yes, I know God loves me, but what was said today about it all makes me see it differently.

So while I have been fighting with being envious of my friends and family who have these amazing relationships; who have found their “perfect match,” that perspective was turned on its head a little today – I realized that a relationship I have, am a part of, is worthy of longing for as well. I actually have something others look longingly for, usually not knowing what it is. I possess something that good – the love of Christ and my relationship with Him. I’m not sure I will ever look at this the same again, or ever be so quick to be envious of a relationship that I don’t have – I have something amazingly better. It’s hard to keep in the forefront of my mind because there is no physical person always by my side, who shares my home, my life, my bed; but this relationship will never fade away. No matter how I might want to run from it or decide I’m unworthy of it – because I am – He finds me, His grace finds me and He delights in me. I am His and He is mine, and nothing can change that. Ever.

And I feel made new all over again. I have a Love worth longing for. I pray you do as well.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Running the Race

If you were to ask me, at any time in my life before that last 4 months, if I would ever delight in running, I probably wouldn’t even give you a spoken answer. I would simply laugh as if that was the funniest joke. Ever.

Today, however, I ran a distance of about 2.5 miles in 35 minutes. And no, no one was chasing me (I hope I would be faster if that were the case). All kidding aside, I enjoyed that run. Yes, now that it’s been a few hours I can feel some muscles tightening up, but would I go back and not do it? No way. You see, there’s a light bulb that went off in my mind about 4 months ago, one that changed my thoughts of not only not wanting to run, but also my thoughts that I couldn’t, to ones of planning when my next run will be and how I am going to challenge myself on the next one. It goes something like this:

I became fast friends with a great gal, Sara. She and I started to go for weekly walks talking about anything & everything, with a special focus on how God is working in our lives. We had both mentioned we needed to do something more; we weren’t being the best stewards of what He had given us; our health & our bodies. My weight & eating healthy has always been an issue for me, and nothing could keep my motivation intact, until I thought about one of the things I desire most – having kids. Not being married, I know it won’t be for a few more years, if at all, but I could not bear the thought of there being complications because I am not at a healthy weight. That was my big motivational push to start; now I long to see what this body of mine is really capable of when I rely on His strength to pull me through.

We started the Couch to 5k running plan (you can find the basic plan here) 10 weeks ago and never looked back. Oh, and the plan is only 9 weeks long, and, yes, we are still going strong. We have not yet made it to a 5k yet, but we have a race at the end of the month and a good couple weeks to finish training. I have no doubt that we will make it, and I will proudly say that if not for the grace of God we would never have been able to.

Life itself is like training for a race; it’s always better if you’re being held accountable by one who loves you, nothing will get you through it but faith, perseverance, and hard work, and as long as your focus is on Jesus and you’re following in His foot steps you’ll make it through to the finish line just fine. And truly, that is where the real fun begins.

Love & Blessings,

KJ