Insecure.

Insecure?

No more!

Well, at least not as much.

I’m pretty sure I don’t live in a vacuum where I’m the only female on the planet who has ever felt insecure, or even admitted to it. And I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only person the world who has compared myself to the image in a magazine or on a billboard or to the friend sitting on my couch chatting with me over coffee.

Right? Well, you don’t have to admit it out loud like I am. I’ve heard enough women talk about their insecurities to know I’m not alone in this. I’ve heard enough about it to know that this will be a struggle most of us deal with for a lot of our life, and we’ll have good days and bad days.

I have good days and bad days.

But, I have to say, that lately, my insecurity-laden days have been quite absent and I know why. So, I’m going to tell you.

My body is doing something it has never ever done before. It is growing and nourishing and nurturing another tiny person. A person that will bring joy to lots of people’s lives. A person that will most likely change the world, even if it’s just my world.

My body is doing something incredible, and I can’t be mad at it. I can’t be upset about my white legs and freckles and feet that I wish were a few sizes smaller. I just can’t. As soon as I try, I see the way my belly is growing to accommodate this tiny new person that is going to change my world and I can’t be mad. I just can’t be mad about my frizzy hair and dry skin.

I know a lot of women have struggled with the way their body changes during pregnancy. I’ll admit, the weight gain can be a bit frightening, watching the scale creep up little by little. But I’m very grateful that right now I can say I feel more confident than I ever have before even as I watch that number get bigger and bigger.

I have this verse hanging on the full-length mirror in my bedroom:

“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 139:13-14.

You’re probably thinking, “Oh that’s sweet, she posted that on her mirror to reflect on the tiny baby that is growing in her body right now.”

The reality is, I’ve had that verse on my mirror for almost two years now. I would pray those words over myself as I struggled some days at what I saw staring back at me. Convincing myself that I was fearfully and wonderfully made and that God knit me together in my mommy’s belly, and that had to be a pretty wonderful thing.

And you know what? It is a wonderful thing.

So, now what you were thinking is right. I do reflect on those verses and imagine the tiny baby inside my own belly that is being knit together. A fearfully and wonderfully made tiny baby.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made, too.

Love,
Janine

surprise!

So, who doesn’t love a surprise?

Okay, so some people don’t love surprises. And there are people out there who you just can’t surprise. But, I happen to love surprises and I happened to get the surprise of my life this February and have been absolutely in love with this little surprise ever since.

For those of you who don’t know… Andy and I are expecting our first little Crum!

Boy, was the news a surprise to us.

Especially because we had just had a conversation about how we’d like to wait a few more years before having kids so we can sort of figure out where our roots will be, but God had another idea.

He surprised us. He surprised us with a sweet little blessing of a surprise, and I’ll have to admit that my first reaction was that I was absolutely terrified and not as much just simply surprised. Especially since Andy and I had just talked about how we wanted to wait to have kids until we were ready. But then I remembered: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11).

These words have spoken much comfort into my life when I’ve been uncertain about what lies ahead or terrified at the prospect of what I see coming up around the bend.

At this point, I’m no longer terrified and I’m excited about the surprise. I’m four and a half months pregnant now and the major fears I had at first of not being ready yet and knowing about the possibilities of miscarriage have softly subsided. (They’re still there a little and I know they’ll be there until the day our baby is born.) But, now I can feel tiny little flutters inside of me and I know the baby is there.

I can also see my belly getting bigger. It seems like every morning I wake up and my belly has grown and my waistline has disappeared a tiny bit more. And as unsettling as this whole body transformation began, it’s been a bit of a comfort knowing that ‘The Plan’ God has for my life of being a mother is being carried out and I can see visible signs of it.

So, surprise! We’re having a baby!

And we find out in two weeks if it’s a boy or a girl. (Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to let you in on that little surprise.)

Love,

Janine

new things.

First things first!

I would like to give a big thank you to my wonderful, fantastically talented husband, Andy! He’s completely responsible for my adorable new blog layout. All I did was tell him what colors I like and said make it “cute” and “vintagy” and he did the rest.  (Just a little plug… check out www.andycrum.com to see some more of his awesome work!)

So.

You may have been wondering where the heck I have been and why I haven’t been posting for the past 80 days or so. (Or maybe you haven’t really minded one bit at all! haha)

It’s because I’ve been learning some new things.

I wish I could say I was learning fun things like how to speak French or how to hand-dye silk with household items or how to make a crown roast. Maybe those things don’t sound that fun to you, but I promise they are a lot more fun than the new things I have been learning.

You see, after all the hustle and bustle of just getting married and setting up house and getting a new puppy sort of died down, and Andy and I began to get in our groove of daily living as married folk and parents of our sweet furry baby, and I could come down off my bridal high and focus on things other than getting boxes put away and making sure our  puppy was fully house-trained… I started to pray. I started to pray because marriage and being a puppy-mommy made me start to realize a lot of really great things about life, but also a lot of not so great things about my own personal shortcomings.

New things.

Things I hadn’t really noticed about myself before.

Levels of selfishness I didn’t know were inside of me because I hadn’t ever had to take care of a husband and a house and a dog before. (Doing all three at once can be really hard sometimes…I’m SO not ready for kids!) Splashes of immaturity as it came to my attention that I fought like a child instead of handling myself like a woman when it came to disagreements between Andy and I. I realized a lot about the fruits of the spirit being displayed in my own husband…  peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control… and really began to see some areas in my life where I needed to grow.

So I prayed.

And I prayed.

And I prayed some more, asking God to help me grow. To change me, make me more like him.

And over the past 80 days or so, I feel like my life has been an emotional roller coaster as God began pruning me and is continuing to do so. In John 15:2 it says: “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” And even though some of this pruning is on my good, fruitful branches, it’s all been somewhat painful. Needless to say, I have cried more and felt more and talked more and prayed more than ever before. And I’m learning new things!

New things like how not only should I be a picture of Christ-like love to my husband, but to ALL the people in my life.  Like it says in Matthew 4:43-44;  “You have heard that it was said,’You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” A lot of times that’s going to  mean that I have to step-up and do or say things that I don’t want to. Especially when it’s regarding people that aren’t my enemies! People that are my brothers and sisters in Christ! 1 John 4:20-21 “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” That one really hit hard. I feel really bad for Andy because I was laying in bed one night quietly reading the scriptures and came across those verses and just started sobbing. (Must’ve been pretty freaky to have your wife reading next to you one minute and sobbing the next!) But I was sobbing at the realization that by being angry and hateful (even if only in my heart) toward my brothers and sisters did not go hand-in-hand with the love that I say I have for God… the most important love in my life.

Anyway, I’ve just been so up and down and feeling like I’ve been hit by a truck that I just couldn’t come up with anything worthwhile to say in a blog entry. Nothing that I felt would be encouraging. And I didn’t want to get on here and type up some long sob story about how so-and-so hurt my feelings and I’m angry because I didn’t get my way.  Because in reality, the only thing that would produce would be more hurt feelings or people feeling sorry for me.. and I don’t want that. I want to be an encouragement, a light, a reflection of who Christ is in my life.

So, I hope that somehow my pruning encourages you. The pruning that occurred because I saw some wonderful things in my husband that I didn’t see in myself and I asked God to change me.  Now I can see far beyond my own hurt feelings and selfishness. I can see so many new things about how He is shaping and molding me to be more like Him.

I want to see some more fruit grow. So if pruning is what it takes, that’s what I want.

I hope you do too.

Love,
janine

louder than words.

There is something heavy on my heart that I would like to share. It has been a huge encouragement to me and has been a source of life for my marriage.

We all have heard the phrase a thousand times that “actions speak louder than words.” And I’m learning (sometimes the hard way) that they really, really do. You see, someone told Andy and I shortly after our engagement that we shouldn’t waste our time together arguing. Not that we really argue all that often, but most of our usual arguments these days revolve around whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher or who should take the dog out. Let’s face it — neither one of those things are so important that they should take time away from the valuable time that Andy and I can spend together. So, why argue about them?

I keep coming back to these verses as a reminder:

1 Peter 3:1-2

1 Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.

I keep reading these verses over and over because how I conduct myself within my marriage is frequently on my mind. Now technically, the first verse of this passage is referring to wives of non-believing husbands and how these wives shouldn’t focus on trying to win their husbands over by convincing them they should believe, but rather they should live their lives in such a way that their husband can’t help but notice the purity and reverence in the life of their wife and therefore begin to desire a life of purity and reverence as well. However, as I read this more and more I keep realizing that wives of believing husbands can reap much from these verses as well.

How I act toward Andy is more important than what I say to him. Telling him that he needs to take the dog out and it’s his turn to put the dishes away typically gets me nowhere. Rather, when I just take the dog out without complaining and clean up around the house he usually follows up by taking out the trash and taking care of other things to help keep everything in order and our lives running smoothly. This works both ways because to be honest, Andy is usually the one taking care of dishes while I complain about being too tired to do anything after I get home from work. He is a GREAT husband!

Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t talk to your husband about things that are on your mind or that you shouldn’t share your feelings or anything like that, and I don’t think these verses are saying that at all. What I’m trying to say is that at the end of the day we shouldn’t be so concerned with whose turn it is or have a bad attitude about something because they’re having a bad attitude about it and it annoys us. But rather, we should seek to live lives that show Christ’s love to our spouse. And that means loving them more than they “deserve” to be loved, because none of us did anything to deserve Christ’s love, but he died for us anyway.

So, I encourage you to love your husband (or wife…. and I’ll keep going on to add brother, sister, mother, father, friend, etc.) more than they deserve. Don’t seek to get even. Seek to show them Christ’s love through your actions so they will see that your beauty comes from the inside.

Do something today that you wouldn’t normally volunteer to do.

Love,
janine

grace.

I’d like to think that in this journey we call life, we are constantly growing and learning and desiring to see ourselves become “better” people. And, what I mean by that is that I hope we are consistently becoming more and more aware of the other people in our lives and treating them with selfless love, which should in turn revolutionize our ability to understand those who are different from ourselves with great ease. Those who we may consider to be hard to love.

In the most basic sense, as a Christian, it is my personal desire (and I would hope the common desire of all Christians) to become this “better” person by modeling my life after Christ, who in fact was able to love others selflessly; even those that were deemed unlovable.

Unlovable.

It makes me cringe to think how we casually put people around us into this category of being “unlovable” in our eyes. How easy it is for us to turn our noses up when we disagree with them or turn a deaf ear when we think we know better than they do. Or what about when we simply don’t make time for that  person who just irritates the living daylights out of us. On purpose.

I do this. I do this all the time. I put people into the category of being unlovable simply by not loving them. It is a conscious decision I make and the only reasons I can think of for doing this are selfish excuses. They are just excuses. Excuses of being too busy or too tired or too overwhelmed with my own life situation to allow myself to understand what it might be like to be in someone else’s shoes.

And then I am reminded of grace.

I’m not talking about Grace Kelly, though I would love to write a post about her sometime! (note to self: watch Grace Kelly movies and reflect upon your experience) I am talking about grace. Grace. Grace — God’s grace. The unmerited, unhindered, favor we receive from God though we have done nothing to warrant it. And I think about the grace I have personally experienced and waded in, practically up to my neck, when I should have been completely parched and dry and how simply refreshing it was. Invigorating.

I want to learn how to better extend the grace that has been given to me so that I am better able to love others. I want to simply love more, just because. For no reason. No strings attached. No excuses.

I want to be more like Christ.

Let’s journey together in extending grace and love to those we have deemed hard to love or just simply unlovable. Let’s do this together.

Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:12

Love,
janine