Monday, November 17, 2008

Smells of Cilantro.

The night smelled not of winter as I suspected it would...

it smelled of cilantro.

I know, strange.
I thought it was just in the church parking lot but alas,
it smelled like cilantro at my house too.

What does that mean?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Laundry with Jesus.

In the past week I have been struck with the simplicity and yet profound mystery of just being with Jesus.

I have been overwhelmed at the thought that God of the universe wants to be with me. He does! He was with me in the ordinary and I sensed His nearness and delight in me at the strangest of moments...

He was there when I browsed around at Target.
( I am sure Jesus loves Target, I mean it's Target.)

He was there when I ate lunch with His Word at Quiznos.

He was there when I slept in and then drank a cup of Paris tea.

He joined me in the laundry room as I sorted my clothes.

He spoke to me as I attempted to tame the mane He gave me.

He encouraged me as I obediently headed off to work.

In the past week I have enjoyed the treasure it is to recognize that my "time with Jesus" is not limited to the moments I spend in the morning with Him. I have grown tired of compartmentalizing my life in such a way to miss out on the truth that Jesus IS and wants to be with me.

We can chat, laugh, cry, sing together no matter what mundane activities are a part of each day. I don't understand it, but I sensed Him there. What a mystery. Jesus wants to be so near.

Whatever your days seem to look like, invite Jesus along. It makes it so much sweeter.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Quirks to Live By.

This blog is completely inspired by my dear friend Katie's confession of her little areas of oddity. I was told recently that I have more "quirks" than the average person. Here are a few strange things about me. I ordinarily think of myself as a fairly normal person, but I am beginning to be the judge.

* I have an extreme sensitivity to what I call "soft sounds." You know the sound of people chewing, water trickling, liquids being swallowed, the list goes on. Frankly it makes my skin crawl and it is quite hard to not go weak. Sad but true.

* I make my bed every morning while I am partially still in it. I realize this has OCD tendencies but it's a fact.

* I love monochromatic meals (foods of all one color). I don't know why but it's soothing to me.

* I also have a sensitivity to a few choice words. I will NOT say them here as to provide others with a weapon against me. They are not naughty words, they simply heeb me out (as in the heebie jeebies).

* I love my food really hot! I will even get up and go microwave a meal halfway through.

* I pronounce the word banana like "banawna," magazine like "megazine," and bagel like "begel."

* I layer my cereal...i.e. layer of bananas, Cracklin Oat Bran, and if I am lucky, strawberries!

The list truly is endless.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Go Take a Walk.

I had the sweetest moment today...
It wasn't too profound or life changing but it sure was sweet. I spent some time talking to God this morning and as I was praying I got this picture in my mind of the most beautiful fall tree. It reminded me of this awesome tree planted by the water in Drake Park. Honestly, I couldn't get this picture out of my mind. So, I put on my new running shoes and my comfy clothes and decided to go for a walk. I had this sense that God was calling me to go on a walk with Him.

While soaking in the sunshine and the brilliance of the Fall trees, Jesus and I just chatted. Mostly I listened as He encouraged my heart. Spoke about the exciting things ahead and reminded me that my utter delight at the beauty of Fall is nothing compared to His delight in His children. The views and weather were perfect and breathtaking. However, they were also nothing compared to my walking buddy today. I felt His nearness, His love, and His simplicity.

While I said that my walk with Jesus wasn't too profound, I guess I was wrong. The truth that the God of the Universe beckoned me to take a walk with Him, hear His voice, and enjoy His company...that is pretty profound.

I did see that tree from my head in Drake Park today and
God reminded me of Psalm 1:3 that talks about the people of God being like that tree...

" They are like trees planted by streams of water,

which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever they do prospers."

I love His Promises and I love Him.

Secrets of the Slammer.

The Secret is out...
I love prisons.
Now I don't mean the present day penitentiary's. I mean old fashion, dare I say "vintage" prisons. I know it is completely random and strange but I can't help it. I am intrigued with the cell blocks, solitary confinement, prison yards, and even more...prison escapes. I am a huge fan of prison movies (such as The Great Escape, Escape From Alcatraz, Shawshank Redemption, the list goes on) and really, who doesn't like stripes?

The truth is that this secret interest that I have had for quite some time may have been kept locked up (he he) if I hadn't had the awesome opportunity to visit one of these "Rocks." Recently on a visit to California I got to go see Alcatraz and I confess I totally turned into one of those crazy tourists who takes a million pictures and is WAY to excited on the tour.

Here is The Rock in all of it's beauty...
They say, "You break the law, you go to prison. You break the prison law, you got to

Sheer joy! I am sure I am the only prisoner who ever smiled from behind the bars.

After returning to from my trip, I could no longer hide my prison excitement which inspired my awesome roomie to plan a "prison" birthday party for me, which was BRILLIANT. We all wore stripes (because they are cuter than orange jump suits), ate chili & potatoes, and played Mafia. I never I thought I would see my precious friends turn into such thugs. It was a blast!

Plus, I got mug shots of all my the prison guests! How many people do you know have mug shots of all of their friends?? I sure do. Enjoy...

I confess. I love prisons. I loved my prison party. I love my friends.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Mmmm, Good.

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see-
how GOOD God is.
Psalm 34:8

I have been struck this morning at the goodness of God. Like a toasty blanket around me or a warm cup of something yummy seeping down to warm my insides, so is the goodness of God. Sitting here in His presence this morning I am overwhelmed at the ways that God demonstrates His goodness in my life.

Looking back over the past few months I stand in awe at the practical and spiritual ways that God has drenched my life with His goodness. I am reminded of the story of the ten lepers who were healed by Jesus in Luke 17. Today I want to be the ONE leper who, in seeing all that Jesus has done, runs back to thank Him. I want to shout my gratitude and make sure that the reflection of His goodness in my life truly brings God glory.

While my heart pours out thanks this morning, I also want to express how thankful I am for the friends that God has given me. I am daily reminded of the goodness of God as I look at each of you. You reflect His character and usher in more of Jesus into my life. I am grateful to walk this way with you. May you soak in the goodness of God in your own lives and know the love I have for you as well.

God is good...Mmmm...take a sip.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Weddings Morning, Noon, and Night.

This past weekend I had the privilege of flying home for a quick weekend FILLED with weddings. (Two in one day!) My mum and I did the flowers for the first wedding which proved to quite the adventure. I may be a lot of things in life but I am not a florist...we had a blast, stumbled through and in the end made it happen. Here are a few pics of before and after.

All of the wedding festivities were filled with rejoicing, pretty dresses,
flowers, yummy food, cakes galore, and general merriment. As took in all of the weddingness, I began to imagine my wedding day but more than that, I got lost in the thoughts of THE wedding that will occur when Christ returns.

Revelations 19:7 says,
Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory! For the wedding of the lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.

The Wedding of the Bride of Christ (the Church) and the Bridegroom (Christ) coming together on those Heavenly shores. I can't wait! I imagined all of the preparations that my sweet friends Emily and Becca had prior to their Big Days. The planning, inviting, sacrificing tons to make this day all that it should be. Then their is the preparations of the bride. This is no small thing. The bride prepares herself inside and out for the moment that her grinning groom stands at the end of the aisle waiting to receive the gift that His bride is to him.

My dear friends looked beautiful and their weddings were such a precious celebration of their new lives together. However, I couldn't help thinking about how quickly the Big Days pass after all of that preparation. Here's the best thing. The Wedding of Christ and His Bride ushers in a new life together that will last for all eternity!

As I think of that Wedding day, I feel an ache in my spirit to be ready. We the church must be ready! We will be preparing to spend all of eternity worshiping, magnifying, and lifting up our Groom in intimacy that we cannot imagine. What a delight the wedding of the Ages will be!
Oh, Hasten the day!

Congratulations to my sweet friends...
Emily & Jason
Becca & Ryan

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Forgiveness and a flat tire.

I started the day with a flat tire. Again.

After dealing with the tire, I sat down to check blogs and was taken back by a comment that an anonymous person posted on a recent blog of mine.

Recently, I posted a picture that was meant to be funny however it was at the expense of somebody else; setting a poor example for those around me particularly the students that are watching the way I live my life. This anonymous person loved me enough to call me out on it, which they were 100% right on. I instantly felt the sting of conviction and the sickness of sin. I know that I am a sinner but in this seemingly small circumstance I was flooded with the weight of my own uncleanliness. Of course I removed the pic but more than that I ran to the Lord in repentance. In this place of remorse, I found GRACE and FORGIVENESS.

Forgiveness from this and many sins and grace to not stay sick in sin but to be free and clean. Of course God arranged for the 1 John 1:8-9 to be in today's reading.

"If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness."

Today I have been overwhelmed with a new sense of the grace, mercy, and love of God. I am a Sinner saved by grace. I do not deserve to be forgiven but Jesus declared it so. I am sorry for the foolishness of my sins and SO thankful for His forgiveness.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Short and Sweet.

Jesus asked her. " Who are you looking for?"
-John 20:15

Simply put, Jesus asked me this same question.
With my life, my pursuit, my purpose...
Who is it I am looking for?

It's got to be Him.
If it is Him, then all I have to do is to come.

The simplicity of His beckoning call. He is actually looking for me.
What a breath of fresh air.

I kayak.

I Kayak.
After a long awaited kayaking debut, here it is.

The rapids were clearly ngarly...
and I am hard core.

This is reality.

My co-kayaker, dear, sweet Elisa.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Why I Love the Fair.

Reasons Why I Love the Fair:
(I recently had the privilege of Fair'n' it up and was reminded of the sights, smells, and horrible, yet familiar nauseating feeling from my childhood. Here's a little sampling. Enjoy!)

1. Prizes

2. Goats: Who does not love goats?
(I want names)

3. Rediscovering my childhood obsession with PIGS!
Oh Yes, I LOVED them and they LOVED me!
I bet you didn't have a puffy-painted sweatshirt that said,
"I love Pigs!" I sure did.

4. Small children wearing darling, full-on suits in 90 degree heat.
Muy guapo, si?

5. Rides that make you scream!

6. Pretending to NOT be afraid on the Ferris Wheel.

7. Friends
I know them, I love them!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I need to See His Face.

I sense the presence of the Living of God today...sweet like cinnamon in the air. It roles around my head, stirs in my heart, and seems so thick at times that I could reach out and touch Him. Oh I need Him, the more I sense Him I am overwhelmed with this insatiable ache within to lay hold of my Sweet Saviour. Oh, He is good.

I read Exodus 33 where Moses boldly asks not only for the Presence of God to go with him, mark his life, but even more-he cries out to see the face of God. Here I am sitting at Backporch and want to weep with this overwhelming desire to have more of this Presence and to SEE HIS FACE.

I sense the Spirit showing me the many places where the face of God has been present in my life in just the past few days. I have seen Him...

In the deep sincerity of Jocelyn, a 7th grade who just accepted the Lord. After hearing the brief gospel story, she looked me in the face and said that she just wished she knew the rest of the story. That was the Spirit at work. I saw Him in that longing. He put that within her. He will meet that desire by showing her His face. Oh how sweet that is.

I saw Him in the faces of my dear friends who send me encouraging notes, speak words of life, confirm God's call on my life, get behind my passions, and believe in me. God is there. He is living and acting in the lives of my friends to minister to my thirsty soul.

God is there in the quiet moments when first wake up in the morning. He satisfies me by letting me see His likeness. He renews me each morning with His mercy, breath of life, grace, and love.

Oh, the love of God. I see Him amazingly coming out of me as I am struck again and again with His heart for the lost around me. He stops me in my tracks to break my heart. To say, "Jenna, this is my heart of love for the world."

I sense His Sovereignty and then in that deep place in my soul I feel the intimacy of the Living God. He is all around us. His face is present where you least expect it. If we are willing to seek the face of God and not just His hands, we will be changed. For no one can see His face and live. (Exodus 33:20) As I encounter the majesty of the face of God around me, I want to be refined, that parts of me may die, and I may more clearly reflect the beauty of His face.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

No Difference to Him.

As I spent sometime with Jesus today I found myself overwhelmed with an ache in my spirit that my life-the way I spend my time, my relationships, words, actions-would matter. I have no interest in mattering as the world deems worth but desire so deeply that my life may matter in eternity, for the Kingdom of God.

In the last week God has provided a job for me at a local restaurant where I carefully inspect and deliver plate after plate of fancy food. While the actual position as an "expo" at a restaurant will do nothing in terms of eternal impact I am struck with the amount of people that I now have contact with on a daily basis. As I have been getting to know this funny mixture of people and sharing with them God's plans for my future, I have to admit that the reactions have been quite hilarious. When I tell them I am moving to Africa to work with HIV/AIDS orphans it is as though a light from Heaven shines down on me and all of a sudden I am in a different league. I assure you this is not the case. I am so humbled and blessed that God would choose to use little me in such a mighty plan of His.

Here is the thing, today I felt Jesus opening my eyes to see my fellow employees with new vision. While it is easy to evoke compassion and effect when thinking about orphans in Africa, God was reminding me that He sees no difference between the hurting ones in Africa and the hurting in Bend. The youth I will be serving in Botswana and the waiters, chefs, and managers in Bend have many similarities. I know, it sounds strange but here's what Jesus showed me:

1) God is passionately pursuing the lost ones to welcome them home.
2) In both places, there are souls at stake.
3) He has powerful plans for every heart present that were created before the beginning of time.
4) There are broken, hurting, wounded people in need of a healer.
5) God has called me to usher in His presence in both places.

Honestly, the list could go on but more than anything I am so encouraged that the call of God on my life is to make a dent in eternity through knowing Him. His heart is so big and He shows no partiality. Tonight as I head into work I know that I will not see with the same eyes. Orphans in Africa or people in Bend, God's heart of compassion and love is bursting for both. I pray that I may serve wherever I am with the same focus and passion, making the life I live mean something to those around me. I ache to be to others the fragrance of Christ and I am so thankful for every glimpse of the Father's heart.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


I think that quite possibly that is one of the most beautiful words in the English language.

Lately God has been making me stop and take notice of this little word and the thickness behind it. I say thickness because this seemingly ordinary word has intense power within. I believe that the Precious and Powerful Message that Jesus brought to the world was carefully packaged in the wrappings of love and tied neatly with a tender ribbon of Hope. To dig in and receive all that God has, you must encounter Hope.

As I read Isaiah 35:7 this morning, it said, "Springs of water will burst forth out in the wilderness, streams flow in the desert. Hot sands will become a cool oasis, thirsty ground a splashing fountain."

I have to admit, I have found myself in quite the wilderness/desert off and on over the last year and it has been these streams of living water that God brings forth that has given me a deeper understanding of hope. In the natural when one finds oneself wondering in a desert, water of any form is an extreme symbol of hope. The words that I have heard my Father speak is that I am to, "Swim in His Hope." Regardless of my circumstances I can walk through the desert with eyes of faith finding hope bubbling up here and there. The challenge is to not just look at His promises and take a sip, but rather to dive head first and wait for His hope to prove itself. Believe me, His hope will not disappoint.

Here is the remarkable thing: The more you swim in the hope of God, let it surround you, strengthen you, and fill the cracks of doubt that the desert has created, you will find hope pouring out of you. I wish I could pass onto you this deep undercurrent of hope I know possess in my soul. It is real, it is delightful, and it comes straight from the heart of my Daddy.

Hope changes things.
Hope sees what God sees.
Hope is that precious little whisper that always gets the last word.
Hope is bubbling up where you least expect it.

My friends, take a swim in the hope of God and watch it pour out of you.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

I am George Costanza.

Today was like any ordinary day. I was, however, sporting an extra spring in my step because I finally got hired for and began a new job! (Praise the Lord!) After getting off work I purposed to run a few errands never suspecting that I would encounter a quick, yet utterly embarrassing moment. Here it is in its entirety...short but nonetheless quite humbling. (Please feel free to laugh, it was funny.)

There I was walking jauntily out of TJ Maxx with a sense of accomplishment having successfully completed my return. As the automatic doors slid open I was met with the warmth and delight of the afternoon sun on face. I intended to simply slip my newest receipts into a secret section of my wallet so that I would easily be able to locate them on the day (oh there WILL be a day) when I actually balance my checkbook and clean out the plethora of receipts that I have been lugging around for weeks. I approached the curb completely unaware that somewhere in the vicinity of my exact location and more accurately the location of my wallet, there was a storm a'brewin'. Like a whirlwind (a very small one mind you, seeing as though it seemed only to attack my wallet) a GUST of wind blasted my pile of receipts into the air, out of my wallet, and all of a sudden it seemed to be snowing in July.

Picture 2.2 seconds every receipt that you meant to throw away, all of your dorky family pictures, your South African currency (oh, is that just me that carries that in my wallet?) flailing around you in a cyclone-like formation for the world to see. Papers fiercely flew into the street stopping multiple cars en route.

Here is the lowest and yet redeeming part. As I stooped down to start picking up the evidence of my secret disorganization, out of no where people appeared to aid in the rescue. I mean seriously, when I walked out of that store there was no one else around. Yet, miraculously as though they had flown in with the wind there was the grandma, the security guard, the teenager who hopped out of his car, and the friendly couple running around the parking lot attempting to salvage my "valuables." ( It was straight out of a Mr. Rogers episode!) "Neighbors" from all around pitched in to help the dork who clearly needs to clean out her wallet. The best part was when I heard a lady yell across the parking lot, " You are totally George Costanza!!!!" (Sadly, I knew she was referencing a classic episode of Seinfeld where George gets mercilessly mocked for having so many receipts in his wallet that he is unable to sit flat on a surface and has to sit with one cheek lifted due to the girth of his wallet.)

That was me, George Costanza completely exposed and laid bare for the world to see. I literally just stood there in embarrassment as my "neighbors" handed me pile after pile of papers and tid bits. I realized in that moment that, 1) I need to clean out my wallet and 2) People can still be neighborly in a delightful little way. Truthfully, I wish someone had been there to see it snow today, it was a real hoot.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Get Out Your Hiking Boots.

" Come, let's climb God's Mountain, go to the House of the God of Jacob. He'll show us the way He works so we can live the way we're made." Isaiah 2: 3

As I read this verse this morning I have to admit I sensed an ache in my spirit regarding two very important things. One is that these days especially I desire so greatly to truly understand the way that God works. I know by now that His ways are not my ways (which I am relieved about) but so often I look at my life and scratch my head. The thing I have come to realize, however, is that it is more than me just wanting to know God's plan and wacky ways that He brings about His purposes. I want to know Him. I see Him all around me and the amazing ways He orchestrates His Kingdom plans and it makes me thirsty to know the God behind it all. Yes, I know Him, but in those quiet moments before the Throne of grace I continually hear God whispering to me, "There is more!" I love this verse because it reminds me that God wants to let us in on His workings. It is hard to understand His ways but He so graciously reveals "sneak peeks" along the way via His Word, promises, and the gentle nudging of His Spirit.

The second thing that stirs me is the thought that I may truly live as I was made to. Doesn't that just make your spirit tingle? It does mine. The thing I have been battling lately is how to live life day to day filled with purpose and obedience to Christ when my days do not look like I expected or desire them to be. This verse reminds me, however, that I was created to live TODAY. Before the beginning of time God saw this day, had a purpose in it and is delighted to let me in on the secret of His ways. The challenge for me is to slow down in actions and in my spirit enough to seek Him. I must begin to set aside my expectations of the day to day and begin to tap into the resources and vision of the Kingdom of God. The truth remains, no matter what today looks like in the natural, God has an eternal purpose which He longs for me to become aware of. So many days I walk around spiritually blind forgetting that this is not my home. I am overwhelmed with the truth of God's word today. I ache to live as I was made to and to know deep within the ways the Almighty works.

Today I choose to get out my hiking boots, climb the Mountain of my God and take some time to see things at a higher elevation. My prayer is that I will come down the Mountain living fully as I was created to and knowing better the heart and ways of my God. What a treasure this trek is!

Thursday, June 26, 2008


I bruise easily.
I am aware of this.
I have done it all of my life.

Recently I have caved under the pressure of, well, let's face it the rest of the world and have fallen in love with the game known as futbol. Honestly, this new obsession has taken me by surprise. I had heard rumors of my chums playing soccer (as we Americans call it-it just doesn't sound as cool, however.) and casually agreed to play one sunny, Sunday afternoon. Once I felt the sheer delight of taking on players double my size, scoring my first goal, and running around like a crazy, "gazelle" (as I've been told I do) it was all over...I am in love with soccer. There are however, a few things I have come to grips with as a result of playing this beloved game.

#1. (As mentioned above) I am and will be forever covered in bruises.

There is NO way around this. Some may believe that bruises become a sort of trophy of athleticism, a sign of how hard core I am, or merely another opportunity for God to display His creativity in the amount of colors that can be seen currently on my thigh bruise. I, however, gaze upon my bruised infested legs and am once again reminded that it is quite possible that I may never be thought of as a lady. I mean seriously, try sporting a pretty little skirt and some heels (which we all know I rarely can handle) with massive, multicolored bruises up and down your legs. I highly doubt a real lady could hack that. I promise you on my wedding day my knees will have bruises on them. With all that said, I have come to realize that love requires sacrifices. And so it is, I love soccer and I will be bruised.

#2. I am under some delusion that I am not a small person.

I rarely think about how small I am. Honestly, I tend to think that in general good things come in small packages and have accepted the fact that, yes, I am done growing. I never thought this over-acceptance could be an issue. But, I was wrong. In the heat of the game, I have repeatedly run full force at players (majority of them being men) in an attempt to get the ball. The funny thing is it is not until they are JUST about to plow over me with momentum that all of a sudden I recall that I am a small girl. When the reality check is triggered by the mere mass of "Player A" about to take me out, I quickly blurt out,"Ooo, sorry!"(FYI "Player A" is not fat, I used the word "mass" simply to convey to you the severity of the situation). As this encounter repeatedly occurs, I ask myself a few questions: What exactly am I apologizing for? Is it for being small? For playing soccer with zeal? Taking on a grown man double my size? I don't really know. After further analysis, all possibles do not necessitate an apology and therefore I will never apologize again.

#3. I am and never will be David Beckham.

I cannot, " Bend it like Beckham" and I need to accept the truth and move on. I can't actually even kick the ball successfully with my left foot which means that on the half the field, I kick like a gimp. Shame. As I take some time to let the realities of these statements sink in, I must focus on the positive. I can still CLICK a little Xhosa! (That is Khosa for you non-clickers.)

The truth is I will forever be changed by the game of Soccer.
I will be bruised.
I will try to remember I am small.
For I love soccer,
and I am pretty sure it loves me.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Reason I Was Created.

Do you ever have those rare moments that overwhelm you so much with joy that you stop, take a breath, and think to yourself, "THIS is the reason I was created?" I was just recounting one of those amazing moments with a dear 180 student the other day...When I had the privilege of living in Mama Africa I would daily walk down the hill from my house to the classrooms where I taught darling African children and breath in that moment. Gazing across the green rolling hills of rural South Africa as the sun rose, the freshness of the new morning created by my Jesus, Preschool babies yelling, "Miss!" and the droves of blue-uniformed darlings doddling down the road to school. Taking it all in I would smile so big I would almost squeak. That is a delicious memory that I cherish. Walking away from this recent coffee conversation I found my heart a little sad that those mornings are in the past. But alas, Jesus knew what I was thinking and this is the best part of the story...

That night at church I found myself lost in worship, delighting in Jesus and feeling like a little child so full of joy I could burst. In the midst of it all I heard Jesus use the same words I had used earlier that morning. He said, "Jen ( I love when He calls me that!), THIS is the reason you were created." What a relief to know that the call of God on my life is not conditional upon location (Africa or the States) it is simply to know and love my Jesus. That's it, phew. Loving Jesus? THAT I can do.