Posted in The Self Series

Remaining Aware of God’s Strengths in a Season of Self-Awareness

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Our society is deep in a season of self-evaluation and self-awareness. We are encouraged to take personality assessments to better understand ourselves, are encouraged to go to counseling to understand what memories from our life are subconsciously shaping our present behaviors… and there truly is great value in understanding those parts of us. We need to know where are strengths and weaknesses lie in order to discover the unique talents God has given to each of us. However, I think something very important for Christians is being left out of the conversation. We need to be as aware of who God is as we are aware of who we are. We need to understand that God doesn’t always call the equipped – more often He equips the called. We see it in how He works through so many imperfect individuals in scripture. When we get too wrapped up in figuring out who we are, we all too often forget who He is. 

Too frequently we are basing our beliefs about what we are capable of achieving too heavily on what we think to be true about our personality type. We end up looking like Moses at the burning bush – telling God, “no my weaknesses are too great, call on someone else because you’ve got the wrong guy.” We come up with a list of reasons we cannot succeed at an assignment; we are not skilled communicators, we are overly skeptical, we are fearful of conflict – all based on what we are told by mere men. Think also about Peter, who I’d be willing to guess might be an Enneagram 6. Sixes are full of worry and doubts. They are the skeptic, but they are also loyal. Imagine if Peter had given up after he doubted Jesus on the Sea of Galilee, if he had thought “Jesus is right, I am one of little faith, and therefore I am not qualified to serve as one of Christ’s disciples.” Peter’s doubts, his weaknesses, do not make him incapable of being such an instrumental disciple of Christ. His weaknesses are meaningless in comparison to God’s glory and God’s plan. 

In placing overemphasis on what man tells us about who we are, we forget that – through that very encounter with Moses in the book of Exodus, and through Peter’s role as a leader in the early Christian Church – God is teaching us that our weaknesses don’t matter when it comes to God’s plan for our lives. He knows our strengths and weaknesses better than any personality test. To think that God would call us to something we’re not capable of is preposterous. We have to stop focusing so much on what we believe we’re capable of and remember what God is capable of. There are plenty of scenarios where it is appropriate to say no if we don’t feel capable of completing a task well. There will be plenty of moments when you feel doubt about your ability and God’s plan. Yet regardless of all that, we must never say no to God’s calling for us.  

Posted in Adoption

Our Roadmap to Adoption

So many of my friends and family know I have wanted to adopt for much of my life. It made me so happy to find out my now-husband had an equal passion for adoption when we met. Given that many who know us were aware of this mutual desire before we were married, we’ve been asked a lot since March if we have started the process, etc. so I decided it was time to formally fill you all in.

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This image from Adopt-Connect does a great job of laying out the general process, but in regards to our individual process there would be an added step between “evaluate” and “home study” – finding an adoption consultant. While consultants are not required for the process, I know many people who’ve used them to help make the process less intimidating and for the education they offer regarding grants, fundraising, and interest-free loans available to adoptive families. We are currently preparing to cross “find an adoption consultant” off our list and move onto the home study!

Now that I’ve explained what our process will look like, I want to address some more specifics about adopting and our desires to adopt:
1. For us, this was never a “second choice” or backup plan! While there are many people who do make the choice to pursue every possibility for having a biological child before choosing adoption, that wasn’t our choice. I have known since early adulthood that the odds of me having a biological child without medical assistance were slim, and while this was a difficult thing for me to accept initially I have gotten to a place where I don’t feel the grief of infertility often (if ever). While we would be overjoyed to have a biological child without intervention, we would rather spend the money we could spend attempting IVF to give a loving home to a child who needs one.
2. Fundraising doesn’t wait until you are matched!! Consulting agencies present your adoption profile to every adoption agency they work with to give families the best chance at the speediest process possible. For this reason, waiting until you are matched to fundraise would put you WAY behind. We will be pursuing grants along with considering interest-free loans for adoption, but we will likely do some fundraising to supplement what we are saving for this process. Many families start fundraising as soon as their home study is complete, because once that is done you are “ready” to adopt at any time. We will likely do the same.
3. Lastly, there are rumors out there that there are too many families wanting to adopt domestically and not enough children up for adoption to meet the demand. The truth is there are many, many, MANY babies who need to be adopted – there just aren’t many caucasian babies who are also free of prenatal drug exposure or history of mental illness available for adoption. Lucky for us, we don’t require that the baby we adopt look just like us!

I hope this has given you some insight both on our process and adoption in general. You can expect more adoption related posts in the future as we continue with the process and once we have completed our adoption.

Jennifer

Posted in Uncategorized

Word of the Year or Work of the Year?

When choosing my word of the year for 2018, I considered a few things: I thought about what I was needing, what my goals were, but most of all I thought about what I felt God was calling me to. I was fresh out of eating disorder treatment, had largely isolated myself during the months beforehand when I was sick, and was really trying to discern what greater purpose I was supposed to serve. After a lot of consideration, I settled on ‘community’ for a few reasons.

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One reason being an obvious response to what I state above – I had isolated myself as a result of my eating disorder, and something brought up a lot in eating disorder treatment is the need for community (isolation breeds illness). I was also feeling called to be more involved in my Church community throughout last year, and although that took a hit when I was sick I knew I wanted to be more actively involved as soon as the new year began.

As the year progressed, I focused on building a sense of community. As an introvert, part of that was putting myself out there to meet new people and broaden my circle of friends. It also involved deepening connections with existing friends, which lead me to join a discipleship group with some young women I already knew at church. I put myself out there, going to events where I knew no one and trying to get to know new people. I practiced radical honesty with friends new and old in an effort to connect more meaningfully. However, no matter how much I put myself out there, I found myself still lacking a sense of community.

It didn’t make sense to me. I felt like I was doing all of the things that cultivate community. How could I be so involved, be broadening my circle, and NOT feel like I had a true sense of community?? As it turned out, it doesn’t matter how much of a community you build around yourself – if you lack a sense of belonging you will lack a sense of community, because deep down they are the same thing. Ultimately what I interpreted as a need for community was actually a need for belonging. I didn’t feel like anyone actually liked me and I based my belonging on that when the truth is that I belong simply because I am a beloved child of God.

I wish I could say this realization was all it took for that sense of belonging to finally take hold, but that wouldn’t be real life. While I have come to recognize my need to truly identify as a beloved child of God and feel secure in the belonging that is inherent in that identity, I still have to exercise this mindset. Much like “the power of positive thinking,” the more you practice it the more natural it will become. So for the remaining five months of the year that is what I’ll be focusing on. My word of the year turned into my “work” of the year, and that’s okay. Because honestly, we pick our word of the year as something we aspire to and becoming what we aspire to be takes work. So while I could stubbornly cling to a word I chose to represent 2018, I’m choosing the “work” and the growth that will come by shifting my focus instead.

 

-Jennifer

Posted in Delve into the Discomfort

Blog Series: Delve into the Disfavor

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Recently in my discipleship group we had a lesson that was paired with John 15:5-7. While this is a favored verse for many, I was not the only one in the group who expressed disfavor for this verse. However, I had by far the strongest feelings about it. After being confronted with this verse four separate times in the same week it showed up in discipleship group, I decided that I needed to delve into my disfavor toward it. This also inspired me to decide to have an on-going blog series called Delve into the Disfavor, which will focus on verses that I or many Christians struggle with and my thinking through of what shaped my feelings toward those verses. I hope this helps others delve into the reasoning behind their own discomfort with certain verses. So here we go!

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
John 15:5-7 (ESV)

There are a couple parts of this passage that rubbed me the wrong way for many years. First, I believe “apart from me you can do nothing” is difficult for anyone who isn’t firm in their faith to hear in a largely post-Christian society that promotes the idea that we all have control over the direction of our lives. Especially during my time separated from the church, I fully believed that it was I (and possibly the people I knew) who controlled the route my life would follow. Even once returning to church and rediscovering my faith, I think fully giving in to the belief that God has full control over our lives was one of the hardest parts because as humans we crave control. While we can try to control our paths, ultimately we are most fulfilled when we give ourselves to God to be used for the purpose he has intended for us.

Second, I have struggled with being able to believe the last verse of the passage, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” Some of the life events that surrounded me separating myself from the church included my parents’ bitter divorce, my grandmother dying of cancer, and my dad being diagnosed with cancer. It felt like no matter how much I prayed, no matter how many times I asked God to heal a situation I was affected by, it fell on deaf ears. This ended up having quite the effect on my life views. It was after I returned to church as an adult that I took a new approach to prayer. I had spent my whole life praying that God would change how things affected me, but I never prayed that his plan would be played out. I never prayed for the best interest of the other person/people. Shortly after I returned to church, I began praying for others instead of myself. Instead of asking God to help someone see that I was good for them, I prayed that God help someone work through whatever struggles they were facing in the way that best served that. If I started to think “I wish God would make ______ situation with so-and-so work out in _______ way,” I would stop myself and instead pray that the situation worked out in the way God knew was best.

So when I was confronted by this passage in discipleship group after having not paid it much attention since returning to church, I had a reaction of disfavor because it brought up a lot of baggage I still carried from past life experiences. Delving into this disfavor helped me see this passage for the positive, encouraging word of God that it is.

Jennifer

Posted in Uncategorized

Who I Am and Why I’m Here

Hi! I wanted to do a quick introduction before I start my official blog posts.

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I’m Jennifer Konyn. Newlywed, Nashville Native, and community volunteer. My husband and I currently live in my childhood home on seven wooded acres in the Nashville neighborhood of Bells Bend.

I have been feeling a strong pull towards sharing my stories, thoughts, and experiences for the purpose of helping others know they are not alone. I also have recently felt that I have many thoughts on Christian living that I’m not hearing elsewhere, and think it is important to discuss those.

My plan for this blog is to consist mostly of faith related posts, but also general lifestyle posts to keep things light. Some things you will not find on this blog: perfectly styled professional photographs for every post, fashion posts, or any idea that things are all rainbows and kittens in my world. I value AUTHENTICITY, and that means I’m going to keep it real with you. I’m going to talk about sad stuff, heavy stuff, uncomfortable stuff… because we live in a world that is placing far too much value on “insta-perfect” lives and not nearly enough focus on REAL LIFE. I will add a little disclaimer that I do not intend this blog to be a place to discuss my political views, but I suspect that given the nature of some topics on my heart my political views may occasionally be made known. However, I ask that you help me to ensure that political views never become the main takeaway or topic of conversation from my posts.

I look forward to everything the future holds for this blog.

Jennifer