A God of His Word

Have you ever doubted the truth of God’s word? Have you ever thought He’d go back on His word because surely things could never turn out for good? In trying times it’s sometimes difficult to trust that God’s promises are true, though, to those that do, they are a great source of comfort and encouragement. What if you knew that He said things would get worse?

Reading 1 Samuel 3 reminded me of the truth of God’s word. That what He says will come to pass. And regardless if we see that as good or bad, who are we to judge the Creator of the universe? Eli was a good example for us in this. Previously a man of God came to him and told him his sons would die because of their actions in the temple. When God called to Samuel and told him the same, Samuel passed the news on to Eli. Did Eli stomp his foot and say it wasn’t fair? Did he curse God?

No.

He simply said, “It is the LORD. Let him do what seems good to him.” (V18)

To be completely honest, I’m amazed at his response. Eli knew that God was true to His word. Eli also saw the bigger story and was not focused on just himself. With his sons gone, there was no one to pass his priesthood down to but Samuel. The boy God put in place to be His prophet to Israel in a time when they so desperately needed him.

How are you at looking at the bigger story? Most times I stink at it. I get so focused in on me that I can’t see any possible reason for my circumstance outside of how it affects me or those very close to me. This is also a big reason why I’m trying to get into God’s Word more, so that I know what it says. So that when time are trying (regardless of how they got that way) I can rely on God’s word, His promises, knowing they are true. Knowing He says that nothing can separate me from Him.

For I am sure that neither life nor death, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~Romans 8:38-39

I pray you are striving for that understanding, that comfort, that assurance, as well.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

 

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Who I Am

Have you thought much on how would you describe yourself? I suppose that may seem like a silly question. Every day we are barraged with how the world might describe us. Sometimes we just adopt those. But how do you really see yourself?

Any given day I’m sure there are multitude of descriptors you could use. I look at myself and know there are many. Children’s Librarian. Lover of Books. Soon-to-be Wife. Friend. Sister. Daughter. Knitter. As well as playful, thoughtful, caring, scatter-brained. Most of those are things I see on good days. Knowing I am these make me smile. Things seem well in the world on these days and I’m glad to be described with any of those (yes, even scatter-brained).

On not-so-good days the bully in my brain is unleashed and the devil whispers in my ear. Those days I am more apt to think of these descriptors: careless, unlovable, ugly, worthless, incompetent, undeserving, fat, shameful, unwanted, lazy. These days look a little different. I question choices I’ve made. I question how others can love me when I am all these things. I wonder how long it might be until someone decides I’m not worth the effort. I withdraw into myself and want to hide from the world. But there is One I cannot hide from.

If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.                                                                                          ~Psalm 139: 11-12

Not only can I not hide from Him, the Lord of heaven and earth, but He truly knows me for who I am. He calls me loved (1 John 4:10), a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), a co-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17), and His child (1 John 3:1-2). This is where my true identity lies; with Christ, my God & King. Here, too, is where my Joy is found; in knowing that, no matter what, I am His and He is mine, and nothing can ever change that.

28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me,[a] is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”            ~John 10:28-30

While I know this to be true, there are times when the stress piles on and I forget. I forget that my identity in not in my job title, or anything else, except Jesus Christ. Two men I greatly respect reminded me of this one day when it felt like the walls were closing in and everything was tumbling down. One was a great friend (really more like an older brother) and the other was my soon-to-be husband. When both of them reminded me of this just hours apart, I knew it was something I needed to focus in on. Something I needed to make known not just in my mind, but also in my heart.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who needs this reminder from time to time. I encourage you to get in your Bible and really see who you are (or can be) in Christ. Write verses down. Post the around your house. Put them on sticky notes on your desk at work. Remember that you are loved. Remember that you are valued. Remember that you are His.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Some Thoughts on Joy

Now is one of those times where there are a few (ok, a lot) of different thoughts swirling about in my mind and I’m not entirely sure I can do any one of them justice in attempting to express them here. So that’s my disclaimer – you’ve been warned 😉

We had a women’s retreat at church this weekend and the speaker spoke on joy. Not only on joy though, but also on how it manifests itself through sorrow; and how, through sorrow, we can gain a firmer grip on our joy.

You see, as a Christian, my joy is not a result of any given situation or circumstance in my life. My joy is found in the Rock of my Salvation, the Prince of Peace, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. My joy is found in Jesus Christ.

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. John 15:11

It is a difficult truth to grasp. It’s one that, on most days, my mind knows to be true; but on more trying days, my heart has a hard time following suit. A new thought was added to that today as well, that joy is not the absence of sorrow. They are not feelings that are mutually exclusive, but rather, they can happen simultaneously.

In our sorrow, in our brokenness, we can still experience joy. “You’re crazy!” you might be thinking…and you probably wouldn’t be too far off…but not because of this. This is something shown to be true in God’s Word.

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials ~1 Peter 1:6

She also shared a definition of joy from John Piper:

Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the Word and in the world.

We can still see that through our sorrow, can’t we? It may not be easy, but it is still there. There’s also the wonderful truth that our joy is indestructible, while our sorrow is merely temporary.

Little by little, we grow in this way.

Trials come.

We cling to our Lord.

He guides us.

Grows us.

We come through the other side and marvel at His grace.

And we see the beauty of Christ all around us. In a prayer from a Sister when we are broken and hurting; carrying the weight if a burden too heavy to bear any longer. In the conversation with a loved one, being reassured that God knows what He’s doing, and it’s ok to lose any semblance of control, because it’s not really ours anyway.

While I cannot say I am a most grand example of a joyful woman, or even a good one, really; I do know true Joy. Traveling through sorrow has only made it more evident to me.

If you are a follower of Christ, you, too, have a joy that no one can snatch away from you. Just as you cannot be snatched from His most precious hands, your joy cannot be taken from yours. I pray in this day you are able to see it for what it is, regardless of what is going on in your world around you. Christ is there with you; always. And nothing can take Him nor the joy He gives, away.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

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

God is Good…All the Time

I first want to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers over the last few weeks. The well wishes, phone conversations, visits, and cheery cards in the mail are all very much appreciated.

The day of surgery was somewhat nerve-wracking: we got stuck in traffic and got to the hospital at least an hour later than I was supposed to be there. I was really worried that they would say, “Sorry, no time for you now. You’ll have to come back another day.” Thankfully, they did not and everything got moving less than an hour after I got there. God is good.

It’s funny the things you remember before and after a surgery, especially when anesthesia is involved. I had an epidural (though it didn’t really work as it was supposed to), and while I remember sitting up and getting ready for them to do it, that’s the last thing I remember – not that I’m complaining. The next thing I remember was darkness and someone asking about my pain. I remember saying it was an 8, but thankfully, again, I don’t remember the actual pain. God is good.

I don’t remember a whole bunch from the days in the hospital either. I remember one of the sweetest, most gentle women I have ever met – a nurse – coming early in the morning, while it was still dark, to wash me. Her words were soothing and soon they were all about a God who could get me through this pain and trial. “Oh yes, I know Him.” I wanted to say. “He’s the one I’m leaning on.” But the words just weren’t there. When she was finished, though, she asked to pray and I agreed. I don’t remember the prayer, but I do remember the comfort and peace given in that moment. God is good.

There were countless requests for ice and water that my mama was quick to fulfill (because the surgery was later in the day she spent the first night with me). There was a visit from friends during which I’m sure I made little sense (I suppose drugs do that to a person 🙂 ). There was a phone call from a friend just to let me know that she had been praying and was wondering how I was doing. There was the news that the tumor, though 8 pounds (yes, you read that correctly), was benign, just like they thought, and little else was taken with it. God is so good.

I have been home now for 2 weeks and recovery is going well. I drove for the first time today and there was no problem there. I still walk pretty slow and felt a little in the way when I entered into the crazy bustle of Walmart today. Bending over is tricky and I can’t lift heavy things, but as I sit here typing, I’m in no pain. And the worst it comes to is this soreness like I just did 100 too many crunches. God is good.

There’s not much more I can say. I knew before this all happened that God is good, all the time. This, perhaps, is my first time of being aware of the complete truthfulness of that. I wouldn’t change this experience or wish it never happened because of that;

2Count it all joy, my brothers,b when you meet trials of various kinds, 3for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

Remember the last time I posted that? It might have been one of those times when you say something because you know there’s truth in it and you very much want to believe it. Not this time. I had no doubt in it’s truth before, but now I know I have experienced its truth for myself.

Are you struggling to see God’s goodness in your life? I pray He will make it evident to you. For He is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Feet of a Deer

For who is God besides our Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He make my feet like the feet of a deer; He enables me to stand on the heights. Psalm 18:31-33

A deer’s feet are such that they can bound quickly and steadily through uneven ground and not fall even when the terrain is most treacherous. God does the same for us – we might not get through the rough spots as quickly as a deer, but He helps us stay steady and not fall.

I “just happened” to come across these verses this morning and sent them along to a friend to encourage her. Little did I know that God would work these verses out in me this very day.

If you know me, you may, or may not, know how this crazy brain of mine latches on to thoughts sometimes and will not let go. It happened this morning on my way to work. I tried rationalizing and talking myself out of it; “You don’t need to be thinking about that; let it go and move on,” which never really works. I don’t know about you, but often this is my first reaction. Why, I ask you, do we look to ourselves to fix these problems when we have the God of the universe on our side? Eventually my thoughts will go to Him, but not too often first thing; I’m working on that.

After getting to work, the anxiety began to grow and I knew I couldn’t handle it on my own. I texted the same friend asking for prayer and I went to a quiet place where I could get some work done, alone and out of the public eye. After praying myself and just standing in one spot for 5 or so minutes, wondering where to start, I busied myself and got to work. After an hour, it had mostly subsided, and I returned to my desk for some more organizing and such. There was still a knot in my stomach though and after a few more hours I decided a change of scenery would be best. I left a few hours early and went to my friend’s house.

We went for a run and I got to talk it through with her. While we were no where near as quick as deer, I felt God doing just what the psalmist describes in the verses above. He was getting me through the rocky terrain and helping me stand on the heights, so that I might be able to look at it all from a different angle. To see it objectively from a distance, rather than getting trampled in the midst of it all.

How good He is to enable us to do that! I pray I’m able to keep that mindset as I don’t think this particular trial is yet at end. Not thinking about it as much is half the battle; handing it over to Him is the other. Though I have no doubt that when I let go (and not pick it back up) He will be faithful in taking the burden from me and helping me bound along the path He’s set before me to whatever lies ahead.

Praying He is making your feet like the feet of a deer; that you may not falter when the terrain is rocky.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

One Step at a Time

I was at the store last night, trying to find some goodies for my Secret Santa exchange at work, when I overheard two women having a conversation just down the aisle.

“I’ve been praying for you,” one of them said. “I hope things are getting better.”

“That’s funny; things have been getting harder again & I was going to call and ask for you to pray. It just seems like this is the hardest time to pray. I’m in so deep, I don’t know where to start.”

“That’s when you need to pray the most,” the first woman consoled. “Pray and run to God – He can get you through. Get in His Word and He will sustain you”

The conversation went on as they traveled down the aisle and over to the next. I, very much, wanted to follow them down the next aisle and let them know the blessing their conversation was to me, but I couldn’t get up the courage. I was so amazed at what I had heard. It is not often that I hear talk of God so out in the open (when I’m on my own), but that wasn’t what surprised me the most. What surprised me was the fact that the first woman could have been having that conversation with me and would have gotten the same response.

Something snapped this past Sunday; and in a manner of minutes it felt like the rug was yanked out from under me. So many thoughts were swirling around my head and there was nothing I could do to stop it. It’s scary to be fine one minute and to be sobbing the next. I’m ever so grateful I was at church when it happened as they have become my family here. Enveloped in hugs and prayers I pulled it back together and headed off to work.

Later that night I felt it again. Unable (and somewhat unwilling, I admit) to formulate words of prayer, I texted a friend. “I feel as if I’ve fallen in a hole,” I told her. “And I have no idea how to get out.” She reminded me of what I already knew: I can work these things out when I work through them with God; one little bitty step at a time. Indeed, the ladies’ conversation at the store mirrored the one we had the day before.

It seems to me that whenever I get a good grasp onto something, that is when the Devil comes knocking. He whispers lies, and I, relying on only myself, fall for them. I don’t know if it’s because over the years I have become rather self-sufficient or what, but it is not often enough that I go straight to Jesus when these things happen. It’s so silly, when you really think about it, pretty dumb too. Jesus was tempted in all ways. He faced the Devil directly. And through it all, He remained sinless. I am so far from that, why would I not choose to rely upon Him? It is something I am still trying to figure out, but I do know this: I am relying on Him more than I did a year ago. I am aware of my need for Him, for a Savior, now more than ever. I trust Him with so much; my very life. But as you may have heard, the problem with a living sacrifice is that it keeps getting up off the altar. Often we lay things down at the foot of the cross – worries, troubles, heartaches, bitterness – just to pick them back up, again, and again, and again. All because we, as silly humans, think we can do better than the Creator of us all.

It is always in times like these that a specific Bible verse or passage is brought to my attention, one way or another, and through it the Holy Spirit gives me comfort, reassurance, and grace to continue on. This morning it was again through today’s entry in Jesus Calling. The entry itself spoke right to my heart as it opens with, “Make Me [Jesus] the focal point of your search for security. In your private thoughts, you are still trying to order your world so that it is predictable and feels safe.” I was blown away as it put into words the exact thing I had been doing. Then it referenced Isaiah 41:10.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

I do believe this is the next verse to go up on the chalkboard in my living room. A constant reminder for when the bottom falls out. Turning to Him sooner, rather than later, I will not sink as deep. But regardless, He finds me in the dark places, for the dark is as light to Him, and He will guide me out; one step at a time.

Love & Blessings,

KJ