Sunday, October 21, 2012

So He Waited.

After over a year stunned in culture shock and transitional silence…I have found my voice once again. I am little rusty, but here goes…

For weeks now my spirit has been yo-yoing on back to a Scripture from John 11.  This memorable story unfolds another breathtaking death-to-life miracle of Jesus.  The story of Lazarus’ resurrection is all too familiar as images of Sunday school crafts and forcefully sung renditions of, “Lazarus, COME FORTH!” echo in my mind.  However, as I read the account of this miracle a few weeks back, a couple of key, and somewhat irritating, words struck me in a manner I cannot seem to shake.

The story opens with the facts. 

John 11:1, 5-6
1 “Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.”

5 “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.”

Simply put, Mary, Martha and Mr. Under-the-Weather, Lazarus, were Jesus’ beloved friends. These were His, “Peeps”, if you will.   Jesus was out and about in a city nearby when news of His friend’s extreme health condition reached His ears.  Verse 6 says,

“ SO when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.”

In other words, Jesus had the ability to go straight away and save His dying friend whom He loved, and yet, He waited 2 more days.   In fact, the juxtaposition of verses 5 & 6 tell us, “Now Jesus loved…So,…he stayed.”

Jesus’ true love for His friends dictated that He wait.  He strategically delayed for a purpose that would make no sense to those who surrounded Him. 

To be honest, as this peculiar expression of Jesus love sunk in, my heart wanted to run from the thought.  Could this be true in my life? Are there possibly places in my life where Jesus knows and is the answer and yet He waits for the circumstance to become more desperate? I took this uncomfortable revelation before the Lord and was surprised at what He showed me. 

It is true that because Jesus loved His friends, He waited.

Jesus loved His friends and knew them well.  He knew that Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were Kingdom people.  Because He knew this to be the core of who they were, He delayed.  Loving His friends well, meant acting unexpectedly for the Kingdom’s sake.

Jesus reminded me that God trusts Kingdom people …

To put Kingdom purpose before their own agenda and comfort.

To not be offended when the King chooses a different way than what makes sense.

To value the glory of God above all else. 

When I look at my life and the places where I continue to wait for the Lord to act, I can take courage knowing that God counts me among His Kingdom people.  He knows and trusts that at the core of who I am His Kingdom will always matter most.    

Though the path marked out for us can be steeped with discomfort and pain, our stories, like Lazarus’, can be an avenue for a miraculous encounter for God’s glory to be revealed.  I can walk in renewed faith and hope knowing that because He loves me, He may wait.  How amazing that the Kingdom marks my life.   

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Today I am lovin'.

These pigtails.

On this little peanut...

...alongside her little partner in crime.

Being Auntie Jenna.

How the Caged Bird Sings.

This may seem inconsequential to you. It is, I admit. But lately certain habits of my days have struck me as odd though to me they have become completely normal. One of those habits I must endure repeatedly, everyday, all day, is locking and unlocking of an insane amount of doors, gates, and locks of all shapes and sizes. It is one of the joys of living somewhere where security is, well, not so secure. My cottage (as well as ALL buildings on our property) are currently sportin' what is fondly referred to as “Burglar Bars” on all windows and doors which on occasion makes me feel like I am locked inside a bird cage. It is nice to feel safe, but also a little disconcerting. To add to your insights into the oddities of my life, let me demonstrate for you an average day (laundry day that is) of my key usage.


Unlock front door.

Unlock Gate on my front door...(freedom).

Unlock gate on Laundry shed.

Unlock Shed door...(start laundry).

Lock Laundry shed door.

Unlock gate on the Jorgensens' back door

Unlock back door...(Chat with the Jorgensens)

Latch Gate to back door.

(An hour later)

Unlock Laundry shed door...(Change laundry cycle).

Lock Shed Door.

*Repeat steps above approximately 6 times.

(Heading to town)

Lock my front door.

Lock my Burglar gate.

Unlock the deadbolt and unlatch front gate to our plot.

Close gate and latch.

(Return from town)

Open and unlatch gate to plot...(Park)

Close latch. Lock Gate.

Unlock Burglar gate to my cottage.

Unlock my front door.


Lock my front door.

Unlatch the J's back door gate.


Lock the J's back door.

Lock the Burglar gate to the back door.

Unlock my front door.

Lock my Burglar gate.

Lock my Front door.

PHEW. Locked in my little cage for the night!

I'm exhausted just writing it out. You must know too that this does not include any car keys being used and excluded me forgetting anything...which I ALWAYS do once multiple gates are locked. So strange and yet so normal. Oh, keys, I've got a lot of you.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Beautiful Brokenness.

In these days, I find myself more and more encountering a raw and heart wrenching reflection of the depth of brokenness in my life and in the lives of those around me whom I love so much. Our world is filled with broken people wandering around declaring passionately how very, “fine” they are. But broken we all still are. We try to hide away these big and small areas in our lives hoping that with avoidance and time the wounds will heal. And yet they don't.

Years ago I heard a story about brokenness that caused my perspective to make a vital paradigm shift. It caused me to have the courage to pull out those areas in my life that really weren't fine and hold them up to the God who makes all things new. Friends, read on in the midst of your brokenness and see if the gentle whispers of our gracious God causes your view to shift too...

The glorious day finally came for the new priest to serve the communion elements to the devote crowds. He readied himself inside and out feeling delight in the privilege he had to be the one appointed for the task. He carefully poured the wine into the ornate, crystal goblet, gently placed the bread on the shimmering silver platter and walked into the sanctuary. The elder priest had just finished unfolding the brilliant truths that were to be commemorated in the Lord's Supper and the new priest quickly took his place at the front of the church right on queue.

The priest ceremonially lifted the silver platter with bread proclaiming with great joy the words of Jesus, “This is my body broken for you, do this in remembrance of me.” The bread was passed down each row and the church was filled with whispers overflowing from hearts of humility and gratitude for the Lamb who was slain in their place. As the last row was served, the priest lifted the ornate crystal goblet of wine high. As He did he proclaimed thankfulness to Jesus for His precious blood that was spilled to cover their sins. At the conclusion of the prayer, the young priest felt his nervous, sweaty hands begin to shake and his once steady grip on this sacred communion cup begin to falter. Without warning the priests now slippery hands lost all hold of the cup and the stunning crystal fell and shattered on the floor in a manner with such drama that the priest was sure that it took a year to finally land.

The entire church fell to a hush as the pieces of crystal tinked along the floor spreading the shards in millions of pieces in every direction. The crowd finally exhaled a united gasp and immediately began to mourn the beauty lost and the failure of the new priest. This sacred goblet had been used for generations during these precious memorial moments and now it was completely ruined beyond repair. The young priest stood stunned at first and as if by involuntary movement lowered himself in humiliation towards the broken pieces that now reflected across the floor his immense failure.

As he closed in on the shards of crystal strewn about the mourning crowd and utter embarrassment seemed to disappear. The young priest at once began to be stilled and captivated by the way that the beams of sunlight streaming through the stained glass windows gently and delicately sending beams of brilliant color across the sanctuary floor. The sunshine shimmered and danced among the millions of shards like a joyous waltz in every direction. The young priest had never encountered such beauty like this in all the world. Just as he had lowered himself involuntary to this place of his failure, he felt the corners of his mouth discover a mind of their own as they curled up into the sweetest and most sincerest of smiles. Tears gently streamed down his face as relief and joy overcame him. What had previously been his most horrific moment of failure now became a reason to rejoice in the beauty that had come out of this brokenness.

As time seem to stand still for this now weeping, smiling priest. He was amazed at the fact that the beauty of the this sacred goblet in its former, whole state failed miserably to compare to the magnified and multiplied beauty that was now so easily evident in each delicate broken piece before him. The young priest became hopefully lost in the beauty of this moment knowing that he would never forget this day. What a surprise to meet such unexpected delight in a moment that should have brought such devastation.

This broken crystal goblet and the captivating nature of each piece is symbolic of how God views each intricate aspect of our brokenness. So often we want to grieve over our moments of defeat and pretend that we can hold things all together or quickly clean up the pieces. The truth is we can't. If you and I would just authentically and openly expose the broken pieces of our lives to the restoring Presence of the Living God, we would witness real beauty from our ashes.

God is more interested in letting our brokenness be a doorway for the breathtaking aspects of His character to be reflected and illuminated. When allowed to, His Presence will majestically shine upon in each piece of our broken lives. To God brokenness is beautiful. It is something He can shine through. It is something He can fully restore. It is a brilliant way that His tender, gentle, and powerful resurrection life can burst through us, giving Him maximum glory. We don't have to be fearful of our brokenness. If in humility we offer the millions of shattered pieces to Jesus, He will faithfully shine His light in and through us bringing beauty from our ashes and wholeness we have never known.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pearl of Great Price.

Matthew 13:45-46

Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a pearl merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!

I may not be a pearl merchant, but I have discovered this pearl of great price.

Today looking out at my a classroom of precious six graders I saw glimpses once again of this priceless treasure. The Kingdom of God gently transforming, fully alive, convincing young hearts that there is another way. As I watched their pens sign purity pledge cards with great conviction and enthusiasm I could see it: The stunning reality of Truth at work. Many days my schedule pulls me in a million directions filled with the mundane and ordinary causing my heart to forget that the Kingdom of Heaven is all around me. It grieves me that I can forget why all of this matters so much. Why this great pearl I have so graciously been led to is completely worth selling my all that I may obtain more then I could ever imagine.

God's Kingdom shines so brilliantly in the ordinary and the extravagant moments of life. Yet, sometimes I miss it. In these days I desire to slow down and truly see it. To remember its worth. To stand in awe and behold its Creator once again. I see it...

In the faces of these young ones who are willing to take a stand for purity in a society and generation who mock the very idea.

In the faith of single church Mothers struggling with diseases and poverty who choose to simply trust God. Who are poor, but are extremely rich in Spirit.

In the courage of youth who rise up in the face of brokenness and take hold of the freedom that was so victoriously purchased for them.

In the sincere, heartfelt speeches of my sixth graders who thanked me for teaching them truth and changing their lives.

It's all because of my beautiful Jesus. It's life covered with the tender and powerful fingerprints of the Almighty. It is the pearl of great price worth my all. It's the Kingdom of Heaven invading today. It overwhelms my heart. What a treasure.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Being Miss Javens.

It is no lie, I LOVE teaching. I love every little detail about it; the lesson planning, clever “attention-getters,” witnessing AHA moments splashed across young faces, being consistently covered in chalk, marking books with smiley faces, and most of all, I LOVE the kiddos. As much as I adore the fact that God has called me to Africa to teach darling, uniform-clad littles (and youth), lately I have been feeling like a crazy teacher juggling 200 students ranging from 5th, 6th, 9th and 10th grade. I love it, but most days I am exhausted. Most days I need a little reminder as to why I am performing the one-woman show for the masses, why it is all so terribly worth it.

This week I got it. A little pick-me-up in the form of a letter shyly slid across my table as the author fled the scene.

Its contents are as follows (In its original form):

Dear Miss Javins,

I am writing this letter telling you how much I love you.

You are the rose of my heart. The first time I saw you, I sat down, took some time to look at your face and your eyes gave me courage. You are as precious as a dimond and your voice is as sweet as a piano. I would like to tell you that you are adorable, always intrigued and captiated lady. You are a great lady who is not afriad of challenges.

Wherever you are, you have my blessing. Even if you are poor or rich, I still love you and you are always smart and persistant. You are such a darling.

I realy love you Miss Javins, Mother, Father and members of your family.

From your Student


Ahh, being Miss Javens. (Or “Javins”)...simply divine.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Teaspoon Kind Of Love.

I love that our God is a God who speaks. The gentle and piercingly clear echoes of truth penetrate my heart in ways that consistently humble me. When God speaks I am encouraged to my core as His words of truth sweetly breathe life into my innermost being. Recently I was seeking the Lord on behalf of a friend of mine and I heard that gentle whisper say something that seriously shocked me. As I poured out my sincere concerns and fears about this friend before the Lord, I heard the Holy Spirit say to me, “Jenna, I don't NEED you to love them.” What? In disbelief, I kindly directed God to my mental Rolodex of Scriptures where He commands me to love others and humbly asked how this could be. Yet, I heard it once again, “I don't NEED you to love them.”

Now thoroughly confounded I asked the Lord to show me what He meant. In my mind's eye He flashed a picture of the most sparkling, beautiful, endless ocean, expanding as far as my eyes could see. God told me to look at the magnificence of the ocean, the sun reflecting upon the water, the roaring waves crashing and yet the stillness in between each set of waves. Trying my best to visually take in all that lay before me, I soon failed. He gently said, “This is like my love.”

The love of God is deeper, wider, longer then we can imagine. It's the kind of thing we can dive into, splash around in and yet never fully comprehend its depths or power. As I looked in wonder at this breathtaking view I began to notice that amongst the fabulously crashing waves were my family, friends, and the people that I love most. The Spirit whispered to my heart once again, “My love is enough for them.”

With sand wriggling between my toes I looked on in wonder and then began to notice I was holding something. Carefully balanced in my hand was a teaspoon filled with water. God spoke to me, “This is like your love.” Taking my eyes off the expansive ocean view I saw this tiny measure of water which now seemed so silly in contrast to the depths of water that crashed so majestically before me. Though my love was sweet and sincere, in comparison to the all-satisfying, never-ending love of God happily dousing my friends and family from head to foot, it seemed unnecessary.

Then God spoke another word that made my spirit stoked. He said, “Jenna, I will LET you love them. As you love others, you will get clearer glimpses of me and my love.” Dropping my teaspoon in abandon I ran into the ocean to join my friends in joy as the waves furiously crashed against me spewing water amongst us all.

As I have let this seemingly peculiar picture and revelation percolate on my heart over the past few weeks, I can see how true it is. God knows that I will never be able to comprehend His kind of love this side of Heaven and so he created relationships. It is the deepest privilege and delight of life to love others. God does not NEED us to love others, He LETS us in it. He desperately wants us to better understand His character and love. His brilliant plan is for those revelations to arise amidst our relationships.

Friends, as you have loved me well, I can honestly say I have gained glimpses of my God...

When you are patient with me and my shortcomings,
you remind me of my God who is utterly patient.

When you demonstrate levels of kindness that make my heart brim with joy,
I am astounded at the kindness of my God.

When you offer me forgiveness,
I encounter afresh God's grace and mercy.

When you walk in humility as my friend,
I understand a sliver more of my Humble King.

When you sacrifice on my behalf,
I am reminded of God's love that led to the ultimate sacrifice of His Son.

When you extend hope,
I am reminded of my God who is the source of all hope.

...I am so grateful for these (and so many more) treasured glimpses of God that you have provided me over the years. 1 John 4:12 says, "No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” I am humbled when I consider the opportunity I have to love you. Through the brilliance of relationships that God has blessed us with, may we continue to make His love complete and more clearly see our God.