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

 

Despicable Soil & Spiritual Growth

“The soil that we despise grows the spiritual fruit that we most desperately need. It can become a greenhouse for spiritual growth, but that doesn’t make it any more enjoyable to live through. It’s awful space but God can do some wonderful things in it.” – Jeff Manion

Listening to a Boundless podcast from earlier in the year, this was said in response to a question about feeling like your life is always in the “in-between” stage or that you’re just waiting for the next thing to happen. It speaks such truth and I’m glad I can say i can see it in action in my own life.

I have not felt like I’m just “waiting around” for a couple years now, and it feels pretty great. As my bestie would say, “You’re going out there and livin’ life!” And that really is what it’s about. Through this time of singleness, God has grown me. I am no longer wishy-washy or uncertain in my faith. I know where I stand and am confident in it. I have moments of doubt, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t get stuck in them like I used to. I know where to go, who to talk to, to find the answers I need.

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. – 1 John 5:13-15

The word “know” there refers to an intimate knowledge, a personal knowledge, one that can only be gained by spending time with the One who created knowledge to begin with. While I’m sure that there is still much more for me to learn and some that I will never attain this side of heaven, I know Him in this way. I know with certainty that nothing can snatch me from HIs hand.

If you would have told me 3 years ago that I’d be working with teens or training for a half-marathon in the future I would have laughed at you. Probably in your face. These are the things God has me doing now; leading the youth group at church & getting ready for a half marathon come February. He gave me a strong desire to start the youth group at the beginning of the year. My heart was pulled to do it and I could not say no; here was an opportunity to share my faith with those younger than I; to be a role model for them – someone I desperately needed when I was their age. I take joy in getting to know these kids more and letting them know how much God loves them and all He did just to have a relationship with them. It’s even better when they show me examples of this from their day-to-day, acknowledging that God is the One behind it all.

As for running, I’ll just leave it with saying there is no way I’d be able to do it in my own strength. I haven’t started the long runs yet, but I plan on relying on Him even more through those 🙂

So, basically, if I were where I really want to be (married with a kiddo or two or three), there’s no way I’d be able to do what I’m doing now. There’s no way I would learn to trust God in these situations (though I’m sure there would be many other different situations I’d be dealing with). This space in time is fertile soil for the growing & maturing of my faith. Exactly what it’s maturing me for, I do not know. But He does.

If you are in a place in your life where you really don’t want to be, a place you cannot wait to get out of & on to the next thing, just stop for a moment. If you cannot think of anything good that has come out of this time, ask God to reveal it to you. But even if He doesn’t, know that He’s got a plan for it. And a plan for you.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

In Which I am Undone…and Put Back Together

There is a reason my Bible falls open to a certain page. The spine is broken from pouring over the same words time and time again. Words that lift my heart. Words that give me hope. Words that led me on to Christ some 13 years ago.

O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.                                                                                                               You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.                                                                       You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.                                                             Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.                                                                                         You hem me in – behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.                                                                               Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.                                                                                     Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?                                                                             If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.                                                     If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,                                                                               even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.                                                                                 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”                                                           even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.              For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.                                                                 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;                                                                                                    your works are wonderful, I know that full well. ~Psalm 139: 1-14

Not only have some events of today pulled me down, but also battles within myself. Battles that I want to ignore or explain away. Ones that, more often than not, find me glued to a screen or my nose in a book in attempts to escape. Because facing them head-on would be hard. Facing them could hurt. Acknowledging they exist would mean…my being aware that they exist. And that makes them rather hard to ignore.

I lost one such battle this afternoon and yet…

I came to a place when I knew I had to turn to my Father. Much too often I try to do these things on my own. I let it all out, no holds in telling Him the things I desire most. Things I’ve spoken of too many times to count. At first, He does not answer, but the author of lies does. “Really? What makes you think you are worthy of such things? Why would any man spend the rest of his days with you?”

Tears fall once again as I attempt to retreat within myself, somewhere no one can find me. But then there is the still small voice. The nudge that tells me I know just what I should do, just where I should turn to find His answer. So I take the worn book off the shelf. Pages are falling out. Tears have soaked through many pages. Yet it still gives me what I need to hear as it falls open to the place where the spine is broken. Open to what I know I need to read. What I know I need to remember. What He knows needs to be refreshed within my heart. “O Lord, you have searched me…”

He knows all I do before I do it, even before I think of it. He knows what is to come. If anyone is to know that, I’m certainly glad it’s Him. He’s got a plan, one He created way before I was born; I can rest & trust in that. He will hold me through it all.  I may have lost this battle, but the Lord is victorious in the end; and as I’m on His side, what have I to fear?

There is no place of escape that is too far away from Him who loves you. There is no place so dark or dire where He cannot reach. There is no act too horrid that cannot be forgiven by the One who stretched His arms out wide to save the entire world. His works are wonderful. As He is the Creator, and we, the creation; so what does that make us? Sometimes it just takes a reminder, maybe a word from a friend or a Bible opening to where the spine is broken, to let us know that we are loved. More than we could ever fathom.

In days ahead that might leave you broken, I pray you’ll look to the One who completes us all, Jesus Christ, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

God Only Knows

How many times have you heard those words, “God only knows”? How many times, when you heard them, did you associate them with something positive? Until recently, I must admit, I always heard and said those words with a negative connotation. In my thinking, I heard them as sarcastic and maybe a little frustrated; similar to the response “Who the heck knows?”.

My thinking changed, though, in a late night conversation with a dear Sister of mine. We spent an evening together; preparing dinner & taking it to her hubby at work, playing with the munchkin, catching up on old episodes of “Once Upon a Time”. The last episode ended and we started chatting. At least a week prior I had felt the need to talk with her and explain some things that had happened in the past few months. I thought she might already have an idea, but needed to fully verbalize it all; not just for her, but also for myself.

And so the conversation started. It was about a lot of what I write about here – being single, thoughts on dating, the desire for a family. And then I asked the question that I can never find an answer to. The very same question many girls and women, alike, ask themselves when faced with heartache when a relationship has ended or there is a lack of one altogether. “Is there something wrong with me?”

“No,” she answered emphatically. “You are amazing. God only knows why you are not married yet. I have been praying for you because I know it is something you desire, and it’s something I want for you, too. You are my Sister and I love you. I know He has something awesome planned and I’m excited to see what it is.”

Praying for me, really? I was struck at God’s providence in this as one of the main reasons I had for this conversation was to ask her if she would be praying for me. To find out that she already was…well, I was more more encouraged and felt more love than I can express, even now. We continued our conversation with smatterings of tears and laughter, sometimes both at the same time. I left (much later) that night feeling as if a weight had been removed.

As I drove home, those 3 words were stuck in my head. God only knows. And it clicked.

“I am the Alpha and Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” -Revelation 1:8

If He is the first & the last, the beginning and the end of it all (which He is) then He is sovereign over all. If He is sovereign over all (which He is) then He knows all. If He knows all (which He most certainly does) He, well, knows all.

If He decides to reveal any of His knowledge to us, bonus. If He doesn’t (which seems more often than not when you’re in the middle of something), that is where faith comes in.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. -Hebrews 11:1

If God, only, knows who He has waiting for me to marry (and again, yes, He knows), I should have no complaints. He, the Almighty, knows what He has in store for my future. Am I glad He’s the One running the show? The One Who has had it all in His sight before the foundation of the earth? Most definitely, yes, and indeed! I know if it was all up to me, it would be a waaay bigger mess than I could deal with.

I can take comfort in that which God only knows, because if only one could know what the future holds, wouldn’t you want it to be Him?

Love & Blessings,

KJ

 

A Letter of Thanks

For those of you who don’t know, I’m the head children’s librarian  for a county library system. I completely adore my job and think it’s one of the most fulfilling ones out there. Today (and yesterday) some pretty simple things were said to me by a new patron and a coworker; so nonchalantly that I doubt they realized the impact they had on me (in a most wonderful encouraging way). Here is my letter of thanks.

Dear Mom at the library,

Thank you so much for bringing your little boy in today. It was a delight to talk with him and with you and share with you the finer things of the library, aka free pencils and toys to play with. Thank you for sharing with me the fact that you love being an older mom; you mentioned you were in your 40s and your little boy was 4 at the oldest. Thank you for expressing the joy you receive when seeing what he takes wonder and joy in; that because you are older, more mature, you are not so wrapped up in yourself to notice your child. You asked me if I had kids and I replied with a simple, “No.” You added, “Not yet,” and that really did make my day. You didn’t ask if I was married, but you were certainly close enough to see if there was a ring. And still, those 2 words were so confidently spoken.

You couldn’t have known that just the day before I had a conversation with a coworker at lunchtime. We were talking about his kids and kids in general, adoption, fostering, and the like. I don’t remember exactly what lead to it, but all of a sudden I hear the words, “You’ll be a great mom,” come out of his mouth. So matter of fact. So certain. No question about it. Not “You would be” or “You could be,” but “You will be.” He said that and my heart lifted, just as it did when we were chatting. 5 words one day followed by a simple 2 the next. An encouragement for me that at 31 it is not too late. That God’s timing is perfect and His promises are true.

Your little boy got his first library card today, but you gave me so much more with two simple words that I won’t soon forget. I do hope you’ll come into the library more often and that I might one day be able to let you know how much those words impacted me today and the days to come.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Salt & Light

Last week we had a visiting pastor preach on Matthew 5:13-16, in which Jesus says:

“You are the salt of the earth. but if the salt loses it’s saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

I have often heard this passage referenced, but never really understood the salt part. The light makes sense, but salt? Pastor Tim did a great job explaining this to me and this past week the Lord did one better and actually showed me how we, as Christians, can be salt in this world.

As Pastor explained it, salt is a preservative and also holds a great influence over anything it touches. Salt has such a distinct taste that it is noticeable right away (especially if you mistakenly use it instead of sugar in your coffee). We are called to be the same; to help preserve and slow the decay of this world by living our lives for Jesus. And to do so in such a way that others cannot help but notice how different we are. And we are to be salt wherever we are; home, work, church, grocery store, gas station, dentist’s office, school; and also to everyone, believers and unbelievers alike. That is something I didn’t think too much about until this past weekend, when some of my friends, my Brothers & Sisters in Christ, were salt for me.

That may sound strange, so let me explain. The past few weeks have been some rough ones for me. Between being sick (which stinks doubly when you live alone), and having car problems (one after the other, after the other), and a few frozen pipes in my house, I had just had enough. Add some extra hormones in the mix and you get one really frustrated and exhausted lady. Friday night we had music practice for church. I got there first and had just gotten my car back (for the second time in a week and a half) and was still trying to figure out when someone was coming to unfreeze the drain pipe of my bath tub (which was half full of water from the day before). I was done. No more. I knew God would not give me more than I could handle, but I wasn’t handling this all very well. Of course that is when some Brothers came in. Clearly I was distressed so when the question of, “Is everything ok?” was asked it was met with a small meltdown of all that was going on. There were hugs and reassurance as everyone else joined us and as we got into the music I was good. Afterwards one of my Sisters asked if I’d like to join them all for dinner. I had thought I would stop and get soup on my way home and mope about, as that was the mood I was in. I’m not sure I responded as I was asked again by at least one other person. I decided it was a much better option and went along. We all chatted and had a nice time and the kids ran around with shouts of laughter.

What has any of that have to do with salt, you ask? Later I realized that these Brothers and Sisters of mine were acting as salt for me. For my spirit. For my heart. For my mind. I was so ready to go home; probably end up watching some horrible romantic comedy that would push me over the edge and end with me in tears longing for my own Hollywood ending (which can sometimes happen when my brain isn’t thinking properly and hormones are involved). But they stepped in. Whether they were aware of their impact, or not, they helped preserve my heart and my emotional state. The love they showed kept me from sinking further down.

Jesus also says we are to be light. Pastor Tim also did a great job explaining this. Most of it is understandable on its own. We, as Christians, are to visibly live our lives for Jesus so people can see us brightly, so that darkness is exposed in our presence. Light is another great influence as when it appears, no matter how dimly, it casts out some of the darkness and changes everything. We are not the source of the light, though, that is Jesus. He is the Light; we are His reflectors. We reflect Him and represent His presence here on the earth. We can do that many ways, but one of the most noticeable and quite astounding, is by loving.

This love, though, is not just a feeling. It’s not just something we do when we like a person. It has nothing at all to do with emotions toward anyone. It all has to do with a choice. This is agape love. Unconditional love. Sacrificial love. A love rooted down so deep, a decision made unwaveringly, that no matter what happens, this love remains. It is the love that lead Jesus to not only come to earth, but also to go to the cross to give up His life for us, that we might join Him and the Father in heaven. He, of course, is the perfect example of agape love; He gave the ultimate sacrifice. We are not often called to lay down our lives for another, but there are so many ways we can reflect the light of Jesus through the love He gives us.

I also experienced that these past few weeks. As I mentioned, I had been sick and my car had to get some work done. I was without my car for one week and then a few days more just a couple day after I got it back. Other friends, other Brothers and Sisters, were willing to get me things I needed when I was sick and drive me to and from work (even when it meant one got to work earlier than usual). They chose to love me in a way that they didn’t have to, but they did. And in doing so they reflected the love of Christ, and it is to Him I give thanks and glory.

I may be living on my own right now, but these past few weeks God has shown me (to a great extent) how very un-alone I am. Thank you, Brothers and Sisters, for doing so well what we all have been commanded to do. Thank You, Father, for blessing me with this awesome Family. Without You, and without them, I would be living a very sad single life indeed.

May you be granted the opportunity to be both salt and light today. And as you reflect His goodness and love may others praise our Father in heaven.

Love & Blessings,

KJ