It’s week two of the Thankful Series, and my friend Katie from Katie Jane Says is sharing her story today.
Katie and I don’t cross paths as often as we used to, but I’ve been so impressed to see the grace with which she’s handled all life’s thrown at her in the past year. In April, she and her then-fiance Blake, along with family members, survived when a large tornado ripped through their community before hitting Tuscaloosa. They were OK, but the home her family had given them to live in was not.
Since then, they’ve gotten married and navigated some tough times as a young married couple, but they are coming through it well — and together. But that’s enough from me. Read what Katie has to say!
For the past seven days, my Facebook news feed has been filled with statuses regarding the things for which my friends are grateful. Parents, friends, family, Jesus, living in America, SEC Football… you know, the basics. I’m so glad to see the overflowing thankfulness, but there’s something to be thankful for that I seriously doubt I’ll see in my news feed before the end of November:
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1:2-4
I read those words a year or so ago, and they jumped out at me like never before. I remember writing the passage in my journal along with a big “WHAT!?!?!”. I was done with my Scripture reading for that day! But, I believed the words. I believed His words.
I’ve found myself in “trials of various kinds” over and over and over again in my life. (I wouldn’t necessarily say those times have been counted as joy!) This year has been particularly difficult. To put it simply: Tornado, unemployment, first months of marriage. We were overwhelmed, confused, and frankly unimpressed with life. Our biggest stress was figuring out how to pay for everything. “Married with bills,” I like to say! Looking at the bank account was terrifying. But, we kept holding onto James’ words and trusting that God really would take care of us.
Our families, friends, and pastors continuously encouraged us. The Holy Spirit gave us peace. And God the Father started doing something remarkable.
Little by little, things started coming together for us. Random people would call us and donate money to us (since we were displaced by the storm for a few months). We got EVERYTHING on our wedding registry (and then some). I quit a part-time job to start subbing (a HUGE risk) and immediately became busy with subbing. Blake got a job as a research assistant and another assistant job opened up for him. He got a raise for his TA position. I started tutoring again.
The list of little things could keep going… but I think you get the point.
It was like manna from Heaven. Little bits of goodness raining down on us from the clouds. Not enough to make us rich, not enough to beef up our savings account, not enough to go do whatever we wanted. But just enough to get us to the next point. Just enough to make it through the month. Just enough to keep our heads above water.
And now we are okay. We moved into a great apartment complex and we L-O-V-E where we live! I was offered an extended-substitute teaching position that should last until the end of the school year. We are finally caught up on old bills and we’re starting to see the light. Our marriage has seen some tough days already, and we love each other more because of it. God has been good, and we are forever grateful.
But that’s not the end of the story. We don’t roll down our sleeves and dust off our hands and walk away from the hardship. Though we don’t live in that place of struggle and fear and difficulty anymore, it won’t be long before something else comes along. We continue to remember how God provided for us in the desert. We are so grateful for the manna. We are grateful for finding our satisfaction in Him. And we know that without hardship, without discipline, without walking through the desert, there’d be no manna.
“And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” – Deuteronomy 8:2-3
Thanks so much for sharing your story, Katie!