Monday, December 7, 2009

Beautiful Things.

1 Timothy 2:10
“And I want women to get in there with men in humility before God, not primping before a mirror or chasing after the latest fashions but doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it.”


As I read this verse this morning I was struck with a tinge of delight in the fact that God actually views the small things I do in obedience to His voice as beautiful. I want to be beautiful by living a life of humble service to God that reflects His beauty. The Spirit of God urges me to not just do good “things” for God but to live a life that is beautifully running after Jesus. It is not my desire to have people say that one moment or event was such an amazing “thing” I did for God. I want my life to scream surrender and to be summed up as a beautiful life lived onto God. Whether in the mundane or the magnificent, I choose to let my life as a whole be something beautiful for Jesus. The fact that He will make me look like Him (beautiful) along the way, that is just a brilliant bonus.

Monday, November 30, 2009

I'm So Excited and I Just Can't Hide It.


I have been trying to blog. I really have. I keep thinking of witty little tales to tell of scorpions in our house, battles with bleach and other mundane/amusing stories of my life. The truth is I am distracted, distracted in the best way. I am coming home so very soon!!! In a matter of weeks I will be boarding that plane in shorts and a tank top, where I will proceed to slather on the layers hour by hour to transform my Summer self into all things wintry and wonderfully home. As anticipation builds, I find my thoughts drawn to home like a rickety old cart consistently veering right no matter which way you steer it. In an attempt to ease the antsy-ness arising in me, I have compiled a list of people, places, and things I am beyond excited to see, go, and experience. Feel free to pencil in your name next to any item with which you so desire to join me in while I am home...

Disclaimer: I am well aware that over half of the items listed have something to do with consumption of food and in my mind I am justified with the truth that I will never consume said food alone.Friends and family will be present in all circumstances mentioned, I promise. Scout's honor.

I am so excited and I just can't hide it!

I can't wait for...

Being reunited with my precious and amazing Family

Froggin' around with my fabulous Friends

Christmas Eve Javens Family Talent Show 09

Millions of coffee dates to get the haps (though I only drink tea)

Lounging on my parents couch

Christmas morning traditions

Hiking the Butte

Drinking Hot Chocolate

Devouring a $5 footlong from Subway

Getting to eat a Caesar Salad

Backporch-I intend to sit there for hours and watch the snow fall

Decorating the Christmas tree

Bowling with my Dad

Hanging at the Moyers house

Holding Olivia Faith Unruh for the first time

Skipbo Tournaments

Seeing my brother Nathan after almost 2 years!

Charades (Holiday Version Please)

Watching Christmas movies

Westside Church-Nothing like my home church

Laughing and lots of it

Drinking Dr. Pepper & Mr. Pibb (Hello old friends)

SNOW

Walking in Drake Park

“Jamming” on the guitar with my brother Nate

Savoring Carmel Apple Cider from Starbucks

Corporate worship led by my friends

All things Christmas

The Nutcracker with my Mum

Buying Sale Summer clothes (just what I need!)

Shopping in real malls (hallelujah)

El Cap

Recording music with Katie and Noel

Ice Skating in Sunriver

Trout House with the girls

Breakfast at McDonalds with my parents

Hearing all that God has been up to Stateside

Speaking truth and encouragement into my beloved friends' lives

Sisters Coffee Company...London Fog, be still my heart.

Getting hugs

Sharing stories of the move of God in Bots

Praying in person with those I love

Resting

Being HOME.









Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Moved By Compassion.

Throughout Scripture describing the days that Jesus walked our sod you will find again and again that Jesus was not in a hurry. He was attentive, aware and ready. We also read that Jesus was consistently, “Moved by compassion.” He was moved by compassion to feed hungry people, teach the mysteries of the Kingdom, heal the sick, raise the dead, minister to people with the simplest to the most profound of needs. I have read these words many times standing in amazement at Jesus' ways and yet wondered what does that really mean? What would it look like for me to be “moved by compassion?” Or better yet, what would it take? My heart's desire is to look more and more like Jesus each day I live on the earth which means that sometime I must experience this mystery firsthand.

I believe in the last week I felt it. I know for certain that Jesus gave me a glimpse of what was happening in His heart those many times when He Himself was so overflowing with compassion that He was moved to action. Over the past few weeks, I have become a sort of answering service for the sick in our church and community who need prayer. It has been amazing to me because each time I receive these late night desperate calls (and they are always late night) truly the only thing I have been able to do is pray. Every time we have prayed God has come through with supernatural healing and provided testimonies of His power and grace at work. He is just so good at that.

This past week following my lessons at Mmusi Primary I was approached or rather stopped in my tracks by a student of mine named Tirelo. This sweet, quiet, 6th grade boy who I know from class, ran up to me after school begging me to come and pray for His mom. To be honest, I was shocked and then really humbled. There he was with his big brown desperate eyes reaching out for someone to join him before the Throne on behalf of his pregnant and suffering mom. Tirelo's family is not saved as far as I know but this boy had faith and just like Jesus was prompted to act in response to faith, so was I.

Late last night Tirelo, his grandma and I went to visit his mom, Lydia, at the public hospital. Even as we approached the maternity ward with the nervous and anxious Tirelo running ahead, I could sense the Lord about to ruin me in new ways. While I will edit out the heart wrenching conditions that I find at this hospital, as I sat in the courtyard with my hand on Lydia's shoulder, my heart was aching with compassion. As she recounted the various pains and concerns for her health, I could physically feel my heart breaking. I wanted to find a doctor and demand answers, share some words with the cooks who refused to feed her something she could safely keep down, protect the baby growing inside of her, just do something. My skin was crawling with the sensation of the Spirit moving inside of me (sounds creepy but really it was amazing). As I was literally moved by compassion and love for this women I don't know and her son who looked on with eyes of faith, I was able to give her Jesus. She needed healing, comfort, love, and covering and in Jesus alone she will receive all of the above.

I rose early today to greet Lydia with much needed breakfast and a tender dose of Jesus. To tell you the truth I still don't know this women well but Jesus is moving compassionately through me to make sure that Lydia knows Him. I have decided I want to be moved by compassion all the time. I want to let the things that break God's heart really ruin mine. I want to be attentive and ready for the miraculous move of the Spirit as He draws all men and women to Himself.

Please pray for Lydia's healing and salvation.
Please pray that I would walk in deeper faith.
Pray for yourself to let God move you in new compassionate ways to reach those around you.

Friday, November 13, 2009

To-Do.

Today's To-Do List:

1. Trust God Steadily.

2. Hope unswervingly.

3. Love Extravagantly.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I Choose Jesus.

Have you ever had one of those revelations that stops you in your tracks?
I did this week.
It was humbling, freeing, and life changing.

God's promises are not to be viewed solely in light of my dreams, desires, and life circumstances.
God's promises are meant to reveal the Promiser.
Yes, His promises apply and are at work in my circumstances
but the Promiser is the reward, not my desires.

I knew this deep in my heart once, but I let my heart forget.
I was sincerely grieved and then gracefully restored to an undivided pursuit of the only One worth running after.

Forget the rest, I choose Jesus.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Seasons of the Soul.



Though I live in and have lived in various places that lack the beloved change and newness that different seasons bring, I love seasons.

The changing of seasons fosters hope that change is around the corner and allows us to mark life's path on this journey. Through my many years walking with God, I have found that there also happens to be the constant changing of spiritual seasons that bring a new perspective, shape me, and display the works and creativity of my Maker.

As I have sought the Lord as to this mysteriously marvelous work He is doing in me, I have found a parallel between my spiritual season and my favorite natural season, Autumn. Autumn is marked by its brilliant array of colors, a majestic display of the manner in which God views change. With each leaf fading from deep cranberry red to rich burnt orange, creation declares that change in the eyes of its Creator is nothing more than stunningly beautiful. I have found myself many times stopping to soak in the colorful dance of drifting leaves, sense the fresh, cool winds that begin to blow, and marvel at the distinct signs of this savored season.

So it is with my soul. There is an almost indescribable newness stirring deep within my spirit. As I have faithfully come to Him, God has been tenderly painting His truths across my heart day by day. Each delicate and divinely decorated truth reflects the beauty of its artist and has freed me to embrace the changes that God is bringing about in my life. God is not harsh or demanding that changes be made but instead has sent the gentle, cool breeze of His Spirit. The wind of the Spirit is a wind of change.

With its mysterious paths about me it graciously removes places in me that are dead and dying. It strips me bare in anticipation for the future seasons to come. For me this has been a season where God has tended to the carving out of my character. I have felt the biting, cool air convict, correct, and shape the deepest places in me. It has also been a freeing season that releases me to let the molding hands of God transform and renew me. God has stripped me and strengthened me. He has delivered whispers of His love amidst the changing of my soul that allows me to embrace His loving transformation. I crave something new in me. I long for the sweet buds of Spring in my life and God has been faithfully preparing me for such a season. Until Spring comes, I choose to stand in wonder at this Autumn of my soul and let this season categorized by change reflect the works of God in my life.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Man in a Manger.

Dreams, I sincerely don't understand them.
I did, however, have a dream last night that is probably one of the funniest dreams I have ever had. So funny, that I have been repeatedly laughing out loud every time it comes to mind. No need to analyze this one, but I felt obligated to share the humor for your enjoyment.

(Disclaimer: The is not a true story, it was only a funny dream, do not be alarmed)

In my dreams...
My dear friend Branden Carpenter was scheduled to speak to the high school and junior high kids in 180 at Westside Church. All of my Bend friends were gathered in the 180 room and were delighted to hear the anointed Word as Branden brilliantly delivered it. He got so excited about kids taking notes on his talk while speaking that half-way through he peaced out of the sermon to find paper and never came back. That was funny...but it got so much better. I caught up with Branden later on in the entry way at church and we were discussing how he felt the first service had gone. Minus the dismissing himself half-way through we both agreed that he had done well. He still had two more services to speak at so, I, the wonderful friend that I am felt it necessary to give him some suggestions.

Due to the fact that Branden was speaking on the Christmas story, I suggested the genius idea that Branden dress up in swaddling close, climb into a man-sized manger and preach his sermons from there. Now, I was not being funny at all, I was completely serious. I went on to tell him that I felt that the visual would really be an asset to his sermon points. The best part is that he sincerely agreed and did it.

There he was swaddling himself up in a blanket and climbing into the giant manger (never mind why Westside church had a giant man-sized manger) and preaching to a room full of busy, bustling teenagers. The visual will probably keep me laughing for days to come. I love that dream, I love my friend Branden, and I love laughing.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ode to My Pops.

This past week my dear Daddy-O celebrated a birthday and I find myself compelled to compile this list of reasons why I adore my Dad.

Here goes (in no particular order)...

  1. He taught me to dance...and I don't mean slow dance. My dad has won multiple dance competitions versus people half his age and has instilled in me the principle to never just stand there, you've got to BUST A MOVE. For this I am grateful.

  2. He thinks I am funny and laughs at my frogginess. He may totally be faking it but regardless, he appreciates a good laugh and I dearly love to laugh with him.

  3. He loves bowling as much as I do. On my last day in the States before moving to Bots, he was so committed to our mutual love for the game that he took me bowling, a date with my dad that I adore.

  4. He rides a Harley and lets me come along. He nurtures his beautiful Heritage Soft Tail Harley Davidson with the an attitude of appreciation and impeccable care.

  5. He is a man that prays. I know that the work of God in my life is directly related to the faithfulness of my Dad to pray. His prayers have shaped me, covered me, and allowed God to do countless miracles. There are no words to thank him for this.

  6. He loves my Mum. The example and faithfulness of my parents to stick it out through thick and thin has created a heritage of faith that I am so blessed to inherit.

  7. He is just really darling...now I know that guys don't like to hear that they are darling but the truth is my Dad is. He IS muscular, dapper, handsome and incredibly manly too, but he also happens to be darling, a fact that he must accept.

  8. He is OCD like me. My dad is the cleanest, tidiest person I know. It has been rumored all my life that in his garage (yes, the garage is HIS room), the nails all point the same direction and you could eat off the floor. I have to say it is probably true and his OCD tendencies make me feel normal.

  9. He is the definition of friendly His friendliness once made our family create a rule that says he is not allowed to talk to strangers unless they talk to him first. Deep down, I admire my Dad's friendly ways for with them he is able to make anybody feel welcome, accepted and valued. I love him for this.

  10. He loves me. Sincerely, sacrificially, and consistently I never have to guess of my Dad's love for me. Whether it is in a hidden note, a quick email, or tender hug when I am home, my Dad competes vigorously to be my biggest fan. His love encourages, steadies, and strengthens me as his baby. Bottom line, I love him.

Happy Birthday Daddy O.

Thanks for being such a rad Dad.




Thursday, October 15, 2009

Off the Top Of My Heart: The Sting of Sacrifice.

In the last few days, I have felt what I call the “Sting of Sacrifice.” It's that feeling that comes like an unexpected wave washing over me and leaving a pit in my stomach, not to mention my heart. Serving God in Africa is what I was created to do in this season, there is no doubt in my mind. I love serving here because God has placed His heart for this country in me. As much as my heart is filled with dreams and desires for the future, when all is said and done, all I want to do is to please God. I long to please Him in fact. He is my greatest treasure and the pursuit of all I do.

The thing I am learning, however, is that running hard after God requires sacrifice. Sometimes I forget things I have laid down in order to follow Jesus. This week I have physically felt the sacrifice. I have been weighted down with my own wonderings about the future and groan in my Spirit for the Promises of God, those gracious whispers to me, to move from faith into sight. In terms of suffering, I know the way I have felt is minimal compared to the sufferings of Christ not to mention countless brothers and sisters around the world persecuted for their faith.

My soul has found reprieve in the truth that my God is a God of grace. He knows the sting of sacrifice in me and the weight of my wonderings. Sacrificing for the sake of Christ doesn't make me noble, but it does allow me to know Jesus more. I have found myself unsure of what to do with this sting that won't leave and He gently urges me to lay it at His feet. His burden is light and He alone sees the sacrifices I have made to say, “Yes,” to Him. For me, that is enough. As I lay down my all before the Lord, my sacrifice becomes no sacrifice at all. In the light of God's mercy and grace, my life becomes an offering.

I am grateful...
That Jesus knows.
That Jesus cares.
That Jesus is at work when I can't see it.
That I belong to Him.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Dear Thunder and Lightning.

Dear Thunder and Lightning,

I have always loved you. Always. I love the sound of your powerful rumblings and how it makes me feel so very vulnerable and small. I love that you make me jump with surprise and shiver in my gut at the strength of your disgruntle voice. I adore the way way you ignite the sky with cracks that seem to need mending. Your illumination awakens the earth to a renewed awareness of what dark really means. You are beautiful and surprising in such a way as to fill me with excitement and adventure. I have always loved you because you display the Sovereignty and Might of our Creator.

I told you, I have always loved you.

I would just like you to know that my love for you has been suspended. I thought we were friends. Why “friends” have you betrayed me? You know what you did. Yes, there I was cleaning up the kitchen after a deliciously cooked meal when with one swoop of the wet wash cloth across the electric stove, you betrayed me. You ELECTROCUTED me. You had to have known as the involuntarily scream passed my lips that our love affair was over. It truly hurt. Physically and emotionally. What were you thinking? Did you honestly think my hair needed to be more curly and Afro-ed? I think not. Did you think I would enjoy this experience? You never even considered how this would make me feel.

I am shocked on so many levels.

I always thought that this friendship was true. I suppose I was wrong. I look forward to your reply and am open to any sort of explanation to this unruly behaviour that you care to offer. I fear, however, were I to hear nothing, I will be forced to withdraw my love from you both and give it to another.


Shocked and Hurt,

Jenna Javens



Saturday, October 10, 2009

So Unexpected.

This past week I celebrated another year of my life. My age, to be honest, seems surreal to me and I began to wonder why that may be. While I am told countless times that I in no way look my age, the truth is, I am 28. Twenty-eight...why do I not feel it? Why is it so hard for me to truly comprehend? Even my own Mum couldn't believe it. As I pondered these mysteries of the big 28 this past week, I came to realize it has a lot to do with how unexpected my life has become.

When I was little I always pictured my life heading in a certain direction. By 28 I would surely be living in a quaint yellow house with a white picket fence, and perfectly green and groomed lawn. My husband and I would be driving our three children and our golden retriever in our family's Grand Wagoneer (yellow with wood paneling, of course) to soccer games and ballet recitals. I would be a teacher in some deliciously decorated elementary school classroom in America and of course, I would be perfectly content and satisfied. I would love Jesus as I always have and my life would be nice, happy, and safe. Very safe.

For many years, this dream was sincere, well thought out and completely expected. Looking back, I am not sure when I outgrew these dreams, but I know there was a time. I think it was when I found myself going deeper into the heart of the Living God. I came to a crossroads when God gave me the choice of whether to cling to the familiar, the safe route or throw everything else aside and abandon for the Kingdom. God began to unfold for me HIS dreams and in patience and grace allowed me to grow into them.

The result has been a breathtaking adventure with a great deal of unexpected twists and turns.
The truth is God loves the unexpected and unfamiliar. He is the ultimate giver of surprises.
Even in Scripture we see again and again that Jesus broke the expectations of the masses and brought the Kingdom of God into full view.

They expected a Mighty King to arrive with force and majesty to rule all nations,

...He arrived on a colt in humility.

They expected a rule keeper and judge,

...He came to give grace, forgiveness, and establish a new covenant.

They expected a Messiah to live high and mighty in his honour and glory,

...Jesus dined with sinners and outcasts.

They expected a Saviour to rescue them and win,

...Jesus died the death of a criminal and seemingly lost.

In reflection of these surprises, I see that the countless unexpected ways of the Master always accomplish the goals of the Kingdom. I know quite well from my own life that God's ways are not my ways. God does not think about things the way that I do. For this, I find such gratitude.

My life is very unexpected. God is constantly challenging the things I value, my priorities, even the desires of my heart. Long ago I surrendered my right to live life safely and instead have decided to embrace the unexpected nature of God's direction. For me, it has meant leaving my home, my friends and family to serve the Lord in Africa. To place value on the small child in front of me, the youth that needs a hug, a word that needs to be communicated from the Father's heart to His people. For you, living dangerously may look very different but in the end, it is worth it.

If somebody had described my life at 28 to me when I was younger, I probably would have laughed like Zachariah, and been left speechless. God has surprised me in so many ways in the last 28 years and the best part is that I have positioned myself for the surprises to keep on coming. I have learned to listen and wait as the Lord shows me what is next and to trust that His ways are to accomplish a goal I cannot always see. I am thankful for God's unexpectedness and look ahead to my future with hope and joy. It has been an incredible journey thus far, but I still have a feeling that the best is yet to come in more unexpected ways.

Not Really Sorry.



I have not written in ages...

I am ashamed and disgraced, I am agraced.

But not really though because God brought a friend to visit me.

Her name is Noel (Knowllers).


I adore Knowllers.

We laughed so much our stomachs ached and of course tears squirted from my eyes.

We danced in my living room which also made us laugh.

We ministered to those broken, hurting, mourning and in need.

We rejoiced with those who had reason to rejoice.

We lived and loved well.

Friends are such a gift and my heart is still full from the refreshing and restoration that God brought me in my friend Noel.

For truly, “How wonderful, how beautiful, when sisters get along! It's like costly anointing oil flowing down head and beard, flowing down the priestly robes....Yes, that's where God commands the blessing, ordains eternal life.” -Psalm 133

A-to the-Men.

Do not fear...

I am back to my writing ways indeed.





Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Breathing on the Ordinary.

I took a teenager to lunch today.

It was a delicious lunch, but that's not the point.

The point is that God told me to.

And I did it.


I drove two hours to town and back with a teenager who I have grown to love.

I listened.

I talked some.

But mostly I listened.


We ate lunch.

And I drove her home.

It was an ordinary thing to do, but somehow deep down I know that God was working.

God was breathing on the ordinary.


In these days I am struck with the truth that God continually calls us to ordinary tasks. Who would ever think that it would be worth the sacrifice to move half way around the world to fold and staple Bible reading plans, cut church invitations, transcribe Bible college courses, paint church signs, prepare Sunday School games, and take a teenager to lunch? But, these are the sorts of things I do and they are worth it. They are ordinary and simple.


For I, too, am ordinary and simple.

But my God, He loves these sort of things.

The ordinary tasks that He establishes for us to do become the target of His very breath.

He speaks, we obey, and then He breathes on the things we do.


He can make a stapled reading plan give a new believer strength to dig into the Word of God.

He can make the church invite become an invitation to a party that will last all of eternity.

He can use the Bible courses to feed the pastors who are called to shepherd their flocks.

He can use a Sunday School game to demonstrate His love for little children.

He can use an ordinary lunch to minister to the heart of a teenager.


In all these things, I am small but my God shows Himself to be Great.

Whatever God has called you to do today, obey Him.

For in that obedience amidst the ordinary things of life, the Living God will breath and cause the “ordinary” to yield eternal consequences for His Glory and Renown.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

African Adventure Part III: The Lion King.



During our holiday to Jo'burg we had the rare privilege of visiting a lion park to see...lions. I was amazed at the beauty, strength, and power that these animals possessed. Seeing these majestic animals strolling about the African scenery made me stop to admire not only the creation but even more the Creator. It is no wonder that God is called the “Lion of the Tribe of Judah.” It was such a delight (and slightly scary) to get to pet lion cubs and see these soon-to-be massive and powerful animals so up close. I did heed the warning, however, to stay from the head and tail. No problem by me.


On our drive through the park, we admired the beautiful lions from the safety of our vehicle as we also marveled at the stupidity of another animal found in the vehicle in front of us. And so it is that I share with you what NOT to do when visiting a lion park...

  1. Keep your windows rolled down. (Duh, it says it on the sign.)

  2. Continue to keep your window rolled down once the lion has jumped onto your car and her mouth is now a mere foot from your face.

  3. Try to take pictures of this previously mentioned lion with your cell phone.

  4. Try to move your vehicle forward with the lion still angrily atop your vehicle.

  5. Think it's funny.

  6. Make the pride of lions so irritated with you that then the vehicles behind you must navigate through a pride of angry lions after you. It's just rude people, rude.


The truck in front of us had this lion angrily pounce on their car and in a second she had ripped off the window frame of their back window. The passengers maintained the status of the rolled down windows and were fully oblivious to the immense amount of danger they were in. FYI when viewing lions even in a lion park in the bush of Africa, they are NOT TAME lions. There is a reason that park has multiple signs advising you to stay in your vehicle, keep windows up, and reminders that they are not liable for any damages (i.e. loss of limbs or life). You enter at your own risk but if you can avoid the stupidity of other human residents, the view of these amazing creatures is well worth it!


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cozy as a Quilt.

Snuggled up in my bed last night chatting with God I found myself beholding the overwhelming work of friendships in my life. I began to wonder before the Lord how it is that He has given me so many wonderful friends that not only span over years but across various continents as well. I have always been the kind of person who finds it hard to withhold love from those around me and therefore also have a hard time forgetting people or “letting them go” as I have been urged to time and again.

I just can't do it. I was asking God how it is that He has deemed me worthy of being connected with the kind of fabulous people that have crossed my path over the years. These relationships have served to speak truth into the very fabric of who I am, demonstrate a clearer picture of who God is and what He is like and in general fill the pages of my mind with more delicious memories that I could ever finish reading.

As I listened, God flooded my mind with the sweetest picture that not only brought clarity to what relationships such as these mean to Him, but also gave me passion to carry on spilling out His love on those I call friends. God showed me a picture of a cozy, well-loved, yet worn out quilt. The kind that is passed down from generation to generation and grows in beauty as the colours fade and the thread grows thin. This quilt represents the way that God intends my life to be knit together with those around me. Each square is a unique, familiar, slightly worn and real person that God has so intricately knitted my heart to. This quilt has been sown over the years with each loving expression that the Holy Spirit has poured out of me onto those around me.

As His grace, mercy, compassion, love, forgiveness and every delightful aspect of His character is given room to grow and take root in my life, it becomes a thread that reaches out and sews in another stitch of my heart to my friends. The stunning and gentle thread that is the Holy Spirit at work in our lives draws us together. It tells with every loving stitch that you and I belong to something bigger. We each play a role in this family where the architect is the one who made us all. He knows how we fit together to provide comfort, strength, and beauty in such a way as to bring Him glory. The Maker of this quilt takes great pride in His workmanship and in the end, knows that the stitches will work together to sew something that will remain. This quilt will bring Him glory and honour into all eternity.

As I took time to examine each square of relationship that God has so kindly allowed my heart to be knitted to, I found myself undone with gratitude. I began to see the reason I just love loving people. God has deposited that love in my heart for the purpose of withdrawing it to lavish on those around me. It is not that I am exceptionally loving, it is that my Father is. What a gift to not have to go this road alone, a lone quilt square vulnerable and worn. God has knit our hearts together and the truth is whether it's the years or miles that separate us in the physical, you are still stuck with me.

I love you friends.

So it was with this delightful picture firmly in my mind that I cozied up with overwhelming thankfulness for those God has allowed me to call friends. I was warmed by the memories, encouraged by words spoken, and amazed at the ways you have reached out to me. God's work is stunning indeed.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

African Adventure Part II: Facing Your Fears

Now, I am not a fearful person in general. I was not afraid to kill my third teenage-size tarantula in my room last night, I was notorious for being the “bat killer” when I lived in South Africa and while I may be heebed-out (As in they give me the heebie-geebies) on encountering some of God's creatures, I am pretty fearless.

During my holiday in Jo'burg I had the opportunity to get up close personal with plenty of creatures from creepy crawlers to sky-scraping mammals. During my days feeling connected with both Jack Hanna (The Wildlife Expert) and the Crocodile Hunter, I discovered a fear I do possess. I was honestly shocked but there it was again and again staring me in the face. My confession goes as follows...

My Fear: I am afraid of the unpredictable and sudden, spastic movements of animals.

Upon examination of this new self-discovered fear, I began to wonder, “When are the movements of animals ever PREDICTABLE or NON-SPASTIC?” I dare say, I do not know. Does this mean that I am afraid of all animal movements? A pathetic discovery if this is so.

Did I totally run behind a tree when the ostrich which happened to own a beak right at my eye level changed course and ran at me? Heck yes I did.

Did I totally tense up every muscle in my body when the Bearded Dragon was set gingerly on my shoulder? Yep.

Did I abruptly flinch when the enormous giraffe swung its nose towards my face? Oh, yes.

Was I again quite alarmed when the snake started slithering up my arm and towards my neck? You better believe it!

While I have always considered myself one who lacks in the fear department, I am human. After all of these years I am still discovering new things about myself. However, as I look over my fearful confessions I think I am able to better define my real fear....

My REAL Fear: Animals venturing near my face.

I feel in general that this is a valid fear if there ever was one. I mean it's my face, people. Do you want to get your eyes pecked out by a rambunctious ostrich? Your cheek clawed by the un-kept nails of a Bearded Dragon? Your noggin battle rammed by the long snout of Mr. Giraffe? You cannot tell me you seriously want a rare African snake wrapped around your throat? I think not. I am proud to say that in the end I bravely faced my fears with at least some sort of smile. It was overall an adventure and I lived to tell the story. What are you afraid of?

I am the essence of Calm, Cool, and Collected, ne?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

African Adventure Part I: Feeding a Giraffe

This past week the Jorgensens and I had the privilege of getting out of town for some much needed holiday time. Our trip to Jo'burg, South Africa included some very unique African Adventures that I know feel obliged to share with you. Over multiple-part blog entries, I intend to fling back the curtains and throw open the windows to give you a glimpse into life here in Africa.
I hope you enjoy the view.


Feeding a Giraffe

The funny thing about this experience is that I have already fed a giraffe in my life. It was, however, in San Diego and not quite the exotic African experience. As we approached the field we saw that the giraffe was ready to eat and we hustled up the large flight of stairs, waited in the queue behind the Asian tourists and leaped at the opportunity to feed a giraffe right from our hands.

I really do love giraffes. It was amazing to be eye to eye with this massive, beautiful creature. The giraffe was, however, eager to eat and could care less about admiring me. So it was that I reached my little hand into the packet, grabbed a grip load of sawdust-like grub and held it out for the giraffe to partake. What I was not prepared for was the sensation of the gargantuan giraffe tongue that wrapped itself around my entire hand and drew the food into its mouth. This was both very repulsive and tickled a great deal. Lizzy and I were so shocked at the sensation that our reaction eventually freaked Joshua out, poor baby.

While feeding this remarkable creature, I made some mental notes to pass onto you in case you happen upon this same adventurous experience:

a) Be ready for your entire hand to transform into the utensil needed to usher in the Giraffe grub.

b) Don't spaz out, as I did, it scares the babies.

c) The giraffe will not necessarily be interested or amused by you in any way. Just feed it.

d) The giraffe has gigantic eyes, nose, and mouth.

The better to see, hear, and taste you with. Watch out!

e) When given the opportunity to feed a giraffe, totally take it. It's radical.




Friday, July 31, 2009

To Sing Without a Beak.

I have this wooden bird in my cottage that sits in my cozy little reading nook. It's long, slender neck reaches high towards the Heavens and I call it my “Praise Bird.” Lizzy coined the phrase when she found these carved creatures pointing their beaks to God. When I saw her praise birds worshiping on the kitchen shelf, I knew my house had to have one too.

I handpicked my Praise Bird and settled on its new home in my reading nook as a constant reminder that each day I live should be one stretching my neck towards God and praising Him. This last week a mysterious occurrence happened. I woke up in the morning, glanced in the corner and found that my praise bird was strangely different. Upon closer inspection, I could clearly see that the beak was broken completely off. I searched high and low to find the beak so that I could restore wholeness to my beloved bird, but the beak was no where to be found. An accident must have occurred to de-beak my bird and having no solution for repairing her, I put her back in her spot and carried on with my day.

As the week has gone by I have again and again glanced at my Praise Bird, who is now broken and beak-less. I been struck with the fact that regardless of her state, she continues straining as high as she can to offer praise. It may seem strange but as I look at this funny, little wooden bird, I find within myself a level of relating. At times I have unexpected troubles and trials that come that leave me broken, humiliated, and un-whole. Just like my Praise Bird, I have a choice. I can choose to praise God out of that brokenness or not. The truth is that God, the Almighty, is worthy of praise on good days and bad days. Whether I am feeling strong to stand and declare His worth or I feel as though my life is busted and missing something, He deserves my praise, honour, and adoration.

This week I read, Psalm 92:1-3, it says...

What a beautiful thing, God, to give thanks, to sing an anthem to you, the High God! To announce your love each daybreak, sing your faithful presence all through the night...”

My heart is steadied in the truth that God does not change. His character, ways, and presence is never dependent on the state of my heart and circumstances. Amen, Hallelujah. As my broken, beak-less Praise Bird stands tall shouting her praises in the corner of my little cottage, so will I choose daily to lift my heart in worship and praise to the One who is always worthy and deserving.



Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Coleman 5309.

Tonight the power went out.

Ahh, to live in a village with “routine” power outages.

As I stumbled through the dark toward the kitchen where a pile of dirty dishes awaited me, I was dreading the task of scrubbing in the dark yet again. But alas, I remembered a little gadget tucked away in my house that would help get the job done. I enlisted my cell phone as a torch and made my way to my cottage where my new favorite gadget awaited me. Don't you worry, those dishes are spotless thanks to the help of the “Coleman 5309 Series”...

...This little puppy commonly used for Spelunking, [Spelunking (verb): the act of exploring caves], can be comfortably fastened to your head using the adjustable strap for hand-free, no-fuss illumination. It's wide-beam light is versatile as it moves up and down vertically for optimal viewing pleasure. Wherever the wearer looks, the Coleman 5309 lights the way with ease.

Once I finally regained my vision after squirting tears from hysterical laughing at how ridiculous I looked/felt, I gathered myself and set to the task of dish doing. The Coleman 5309 worked brilliantly-Oh, that has meaning on so many levels. I highly recommend this new little gadget to be added to this year's birthday and Christmas list. It's a must-have for the season.

Feel free to laugh your head off, I have been doing it all night. Especially when I finally looked in the mirror. I dearly love to laugh.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Still Standing.

I have been silent for some time...I have wanted to write but have felt I better keep quiet. I have sought solitude in pursuit of some much needed perspective and soul sorting out that could only be done in the secret, quiet places with my Saviour. It hasn't been easy but I am sensing His restoration and strength renewing me day by day.

Throughout the last few weeks, I have heard echoes of His Word deep in my spirit.

He has said...

Do not grow weary in doing good,

for in due season you will reap a harvest if you do not give up.”

(Galatians 6:9)


To be honest,

I have grown weary.

Circumstances have threatened my view of God and who He is.

My faith has seemed as small as a mustard seed.

I have been beat down and challenged.

I have wanted to give up.

Each new day I have run to Jesus from a place of wondering, weakness, and brokenness and found that His strength has renewed me. He has reminded me that He has created me to not be a quitter, that HE is the Author and Finisher of my faith, and that He is enough.

The strength of God's Spirit within me has caused me to stand. I have stood and I have purposed to sow seeds of obedience, sacrifice, and worship. I cannot see the harvest quite yet, but I know it is on its way. For He has promised and He is faithful.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

When I'm 94.


I recently happened upon this darling picture of my Great Grandma

(who we fondly called, “Grandma Great”) that has been making my heart smile all week.

She was 94 when this picture was taken.

Please note the giant sun hat, the dainty white pearls, and her tender little smirk.

I will have you know if by any chance I live to be 94 years old, I fully intend to look exactly like this.


By the way, Grandma Great had a robust version of “Onward Christian Soldiers,” played at her funeral. It was brilliant.


Friday, June 12, 2009

The Posture of My Pursuit.

God so gently and tenderly revealed to me today why I so often find myself spiritually sore.
The truth is I won't stay down.
I humble myself in adoration and love before my King, longing to serve Him and His people.
Then, the next thing I know, I have popped up again, out of that attitude of humility.

In Philippians 2:7, it describes my Saviour who,
“...Set aside the privileges of deity (though He totally could have claimed them) and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process.” (Italics mine:)

I am amazed that not only did God choose to humble Himself for me, but also that He chose to STAY humbled.
It's the Bent-Down Gospel at its best!
He became a servant and stayed a servant because He knew it pleased the Father.

I am weary of the repetitive spiritual squats that I frequently feel it necessary to do.
I go from humility
to selfishness
to humility
to entitlement
to humility
to plenty of other postures that in no way please God.

In these days I feel called to purposefully adore the Lord better.
This knowingly will involve staying face down before Him.
And so, friends, I am prayerfully down for the count.
Humbled in the Presence of the Almighty.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Confessions of a Manual Laborer.

Over the past month and a half I have had the rare “privilege” of getting an up close and personal look at the life of a builder and/or manual laborer. While finishing my darling cottage I turned into a sort of apprentice to the trades of tiling, painting, furniture staining and countless other odd jobs. To be honest, it hasn't always been pretty and has included a plethora of wounds, mishaps, and even late night work by candlelight. Through the 8 hour days exerting myself in ways I have never experienced, I have come to make some observations regarding the life of a builder. Take them for what they are, the confessions and random thoughts of an outsider looking in on a world previously unknown.


  • Manual Labor. Does anyone else notice that the word “MAN” is in the very title? Now I am a rather hard working and independent woman, if I don't say so myself, but I realize now that the reference to “Man” in the title of this sort of work should have at least served as a warning to me. This kind of work is stinkin' hard and ordinarily used to help the men (or women in this case) doing the work feel a sense of masculinity and affirm their strength and gender. Had I stopped to recognize that this is a purpose within manual labor, I perhaps would have a) Given myself some grace and b) Perhaps let someone else help.

  • A Lesson on Glove Wearing. Perhaps, like me, you may someday find yourself in the position of working with materials that are known to be harmful to your skin and include a mild, yet present warning on the back of the packaging recommending that you wear gloves. My advice on this one is that you WEAR GLOVES. Do not think to yourself, “Well, Tyler (insert any name here) never needs to wear gloves and he was actually a builder, HA why should I?” or “Warnings, shwarnings, how can I possibly work with such exact perfection were I to wear the said dorky looking and sweat-producing gloves?” Blame me. I failed to wear gloves while grouting my shower and thought the whole day I merely cut my finger which thus began the stinging. I WAS WRONG. The chemicals in fact ate the tips of four of my fingers off , boring holes into them that became like open sores that legitimately hurt like none other and didn't heal for weeks. When in doubt, heed the warnings.

  • Man Hands. This topic spirals off of the “Wear Gloves” advisory. Again, I should have stopped to think that partaking in MANual labor would naturally replace my dear, sweet, dainty little hands with MAN HANDS. What are “man hands” you ask? They are defined as hands that mysteriously peal in random places, have cuts, sores, and bruises who's origins are unidentifiable, nails often broken off and you better believe have paint, dirt, concrete, and various other materials forever embedded in every nook and cranny. My lovely hands are still recovering from their month-long thrashing and so again I say, if you can, wear gloves.

  • Fun Tools. Yep, I'll admit it. I actually pride myself on now being able to peruse the aisles of Builder's World fully aware of the names and uses of the plethora of tools and materials. From chuck keys to trowels, and fascia board to galvanized pipes, I have grown in familiarity and now see why men like their power tools. They're fun. But the real question is, have you ever used a chalk line? For those of you who don't know, a chalk line is a little magical tool that places a straight chalk line (thus the name) in brilliant violet across any surface with precision and ease. The perfectionist within was mesmerized by it again and again. I totally want one for my birthday.

  • R-E-S-P-ECT. In a nutshell, my month and a half chained to my cottage working early mornings to late, late nights has given me a deep sense of respect for those individuals who do manual labor for a living. It is hard work. This may seem obvious but working with nasty materials, dangerous power tools, toxic fumes, sweat dripping, consistently covered in something, day in and day out, is not all it's cracked up to be. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to physically invest and work hard to complete my little cottage, learn so many random skills and prove to myself that MANual labor is not just for men. However, I am relieved to be DONE. Amen, hallelujah!




Sunday, May 31, 2009

He Beckons.

Romans 8:14 (MSG)
God's Spirit beckons.
There are things to do and places to go!


God calls us to a new life. A life that is adventurously expectant on Him and His purposes in us to glorify Himself. The book of Romans has been nourishing me this week but I keep finding myself back at verse 14 of chapter 8. I am in a season where the Spirit of God is calling me to deeper levels of faith, trust and intimacy with Him. The Spirit of God truly beckons me. I hear His whisper telling me there is more of Him, more to this life in abundance, more than I ever dreamed or imagined. I don't know how to get this “more” but I can't help but feel my tiny box of expectations and my minuscule vision burst at these stirrings of God. The Almighty is surely on the move. Like a child, wide-eyed with anticipation, I want to be sure to be in these places to see these things that God is up to.

May you sense the Spirit of the Living God beckoning you.
This abundant life in Christ isn't what I thought it was.
I assure you, there is more. God is beckoning.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Little Waddle as I Wait.

Wait.

Wait and I have a love/hate relationship and always have. Nobody seems to want to wait for anything these days. I am, however, notorious for my ability to delay gratification. I love to wait to open presents on my birthday, wait to tear into packages until I am home from the post office (these days that's an hour away), and I always wait to read mail later on when I am free to savor and soak in every word. It may seem strange to be this way in the give-it-to-me-now society of which we presently find ourselves. I secretly love the ability to refrain, holding back until the timing is perfect. As anticipation grows, so does my sense of excitement and delight. I will work harder, stay more focused, and gain a strength along the way when I know something good awaits me.

God knew that in this life of chasing after Him that we would find ourselves in many, many situations where we have to wait. A wise friend once taught me that waiting can't mean idleness nor is it passive. It takes fierce faith and active trust to wait on the promises of God. It is dangerous to hope in the whispers of God while waiting for a glimmer of confirmation on the horizon.

This week in Romans 8:25 I read,

That is why waiting doesn't diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don't see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.”

Paul in this verse is describing humanity and all creation waiting upon the full deliverance into the Kingdom God. I find it poignant that he likens waiting on the promises of God to the waiting of a pregnant mother. As she waits, she grows. Whether or not she wants to wait, there is something being knitted together in her AS she waits that demands time. Though I myself have yet to be pregnant, I can tell you from watching my dear friend here in Botswana that the waiting of a pregnant mom is uncomfortable and painful along the way. However, we all know that the life created out of that hidden place deep within is more than worth the nine months of pain.

God knows that the seasons we wait upon Him will develop deeper levels of faith and trust in Him, and produce a deep, eternal work in us. There have been many seasons of my life where I am ashamed to say I have not allowed God to produce all that He could have as I was waiting. Sometimes I forget that the Creator of time doesn't waste it and is committed to finishing the work He has begun in me. When that means I must wait, He is faithful to ignore my whimpers and His Spirit is right alongside helping me along (Romans 8:26).

In these days as I wait upon the Lord, I intend to let the waiting enlarge the Kingdom of God in me. I have purposed to grow so joyful in expectancy and anticipation that like the massive belly of a pregnant mother people won't be able to easily maneuver around it. May the delight and joy from the hidden work God is doing inside of me enter a room before me, bump into strangers, and make me walk a little different.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

In Love With a Chair.





I have officially fallen in love with a chair.

Sounds silly, I know. But, it is totally true.

I know because I can't stop looking at it.



It also makes me burst forth with that little squealing noise that only comes out of me when I am utterly excited.

Why do I love this chair?


Perhaps it's because it's adorable and cozy, because it totally is.

Maybe it's because it is short and tiny kind of like me.

It may be because it's made of darling hand-woven wicker material.

It also has happily filled a previously lonely corner in my new little cottage.

It could be because a dear Motswana man spent 4 days weaving it and then waiting to sell it to me on the side of the road.

It also faces the sunsets that paint God's glory across the sky.

All these reasons are valid and have solidified my love and devotion to my new little chair.


However, the best reason I am in love with my new chair is because Jesus meets me there.

Early in the morning, snuggled with a cup of tea, my Bible, journal, and my new little chair meet with my Precious Saviour.

I think God likes my chair too.

He made sure we found each other amidst the vastness of the African bush.

I love my chair and I am pretty sure my chair loves me.


Friday, May 22, 2009

A Life Lived in Response.

“What we've learned is this: God does not respond to what we do; we respond to what God does. We've finally figured it out. Our lives get in step with God and all others by letting Him set the pace, not by proudly or anxiously trying to run the parade.”
Romans 3:27-28


Today in the midst of His Presence I heard a whisper of His Word that stopped me in my tracks.
It caused my striving and wrestling to cease.
The burden of self-judgment and disappointment fell off my shoulders.
God has called me to simply live a life in response to Him and what He has already done.

Because He has shown me extravagant love, I can show love.
He has been merciful to me, so I can show mercy.
I walk daily in His grace towards me, now I can be full of grace.
He has been so gentle to me, so I can show gentleness.
He has believed in and for me, now I can believe in Him.
God has shown unending compassion on me,
now I am free to be compassionate.
Somehow He delights in me, and He has become my delight.

A life lived in response to the magnificent works of God
requires something of me.
I have to know His ways.
I have to know where His Spirit is brilliantly on the move.
I must daily expose my soul to the Presence of the Living God.
My regular response must be one of worship and awe.
My heart is stirred to never miss an opportunity to respond to the majestic ways of my Maker.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Investing Partners.

“The servant given one thousand said, 'Master I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.'

“The Master was furious. 'That's a terrible way to live! It's criminal to live cautiously like that!...The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.

'Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won't go out on a limb.”

Matthew 25:24-30

With valuable things, I like to be cautious. For they are valuable things.
I am not necessarily the kind of person who likes to takes risks either.
In fact the very thought of skydiving instantly puts my heart into panic mode.
I know nothing about investing money or buying stocks in “risky financial endeavors.”
But really none of this matters.
That's not at all what Jesus is talking about here.
I fear the literal interpretation of this story would leave me right in the position of the last, unfaithful investor. I can be a real wimp, cautious, and not willing to risk anything.

When I think about this story, however, I sense that something has been deposited in me that is bubbling to the surface of my heart. My account is not empty. Not only has there been a deposit but there is an urge to defy my natural wimpy instincts.
In fact, I have been given something to invest. My Master paid a great price for the chance to entrust to me certain exceptional aspects of His Kingdom.
God continually asks me to risk it all for the Kingdom of God.
I am at a crossroads which demands my all.
I cannot “play-it-safe” now. I have already climbed my little self out on that limb and lately I have been looking at the possibility that I may smack my face against that not-so-soft-looking ground.
I forgot how much courage it takes to follow Jesus. I can't muster it up either.
I have already confessed I am mostly a wimp. But then the Spirit reminds me of something.

Jesus hung out on a limb for me.
He took a risk, investing His very life
for the chance that I would say, “Yes,” to Him.
He refused to live cautiously. He raised a ruckus for the Kingdom of God regaining territory that needed reclaiming. This included my heart and life.
For the One who paid to invest in me, I can find no other response.
I will risk all of my hopes, dreams, and desires for things that are more valuable, things that will last into all eternity. He becomes my strength, my courage, my reward.
I refuse to squander the deposit made in me. I want to double my investment and hear the words, “Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.” (25:21)

Friday, May 1, 2009

To Whomever Rooster This May Concern.



To Whomever Rooster This May Concern,
This letter is addressed specifically to the Roosters living in the Makakatlala neighborhood of Mochudi, Botswana. I am writing in response to a problem we have been having that has been ongoing and perhaps has not been placed squarely on your radar of neighborhood issues. It is my duty as a resident of Makakatlala to inform that there are roosters creating quite a ruckus during off hours for your specie. I am quite aware that with the new union agreements you have received a raise and that your hours have been adjusted for optimal sleeping/cockadoodledooing shifts but there are some roosters (dare I say more than one) who have been taking advantage of the new schedule and haphazardly cockadoodledoing during hours including but not limited to 1:34 AM, 3:52 AM, and even 9:15 AM (9:15 AM really? This roosters tardiness is embarrassing).

A little strange don't you think? Please correct me if I am wrong but my understanding since I was a small child is that the whole cockadoodledooing was established to announce to the world the sun has risen, a new day is upon us and yes, we must roll out of bed get going. I would just like to point out that the above mentioned hours that I have been hearing the disturbing roosters gone crazy has in no way included the rising sun or the dawning of a fresh day but rather has done nothing but disturb my much-needed sleep of which I am already surviving on the minimum. I have already asked myself, “Why on earth would a rooster crow at 1:34 AM?” I have come up with some hypothesis that can be investigated and prayerfully dealt with at your discretion. You will find my hypothesis and rebuttals below. I appreciate you taking the time to read my complaint and look forward to a speedy remedy to the situation.

Sincerely Your Sleepy Resident,
Jenna Javens


Reasons Why A Rooster Would Cockadoodledoo during off hours:
1.These roosters are idiot roosters and have no concept of the purpose of their cockadoodledooing and therefore should be fired.

2.Said roosters are hoping that by gallivanting all over the neighborhood at unseemly hours will attract the new hens that just moved in down the street. (Guys, your crowing needs some work besides just pertaining to timing. These hens like the strong silent types who still have some mystery left to them. I say ZIP IT.)

3.Perhaps said roosters are trying to represent the various time zones of residents in the area by crowing at the appropriate time that the sun would be rising in the various homelands. (Ahhh, how sweet. Ok, not really at all, knock it off.)

4.There are too many roosters in the neighborhood competing for the first shot at announcing the sunrise. Survival of the fittest means that the lesser roosters must take the 1:34 AM slot as opposed to the ACTUAL sunrise. (I say take some stinkin' turns. Maybe one day you could sleep in and let the others have a try.)

5.After final analysis of the various reasons responsible for this irritating disturbance to my nightly sleep, I find there are no excuses. These rebellious roosters have got to go.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Off the Top Of My Heart.

God ruined my heart again today.
In the best way.
When you give God your heart,
He will surely show you how His feels.
It feels broken for this broken world.

After letting him take my heart to new depths of brokenness,
I got to sensing that there is a huge world out there,
people broken, hurting,
lost, falling apart,
silently screaming for SOMEBODY
to hold out life to them.
To really LIVE.

The only way to be that person is to find out what God is asking of you,
throw everything else aside,
run hard after God,
and do that thing in the center of God's will.
Live.

It may be to hold a baby suffering with HIV,
loving someone that nobody else sees,
being faithful when it's hard,
believing the promises God has whispered.
Whatever you can do, please do it.
Nobody can do what you were designed by God to do.

What we do may seem small,
but our God is BIG.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Toothpaste.

I just spent a legitimate amount of time wrestling the last few drops out of my toothpaste.
I don't want to let it go.
Why? You ask.

If I admit defeat I have to throw away yet another link to the States,
my other home.
I had to buy African toothpaste today.
It made me sad.
African toothpaste is just like American toothpaste.
Only different.
It's from Africa and not America.

It's the small things that remind you that half way around the world is
another home.
A home in which I love and miss.
People whom I adore and ache to see.
However, God put me here...where they sell African toothpaste.

Decidedly, tomorrow morning I will enjoy my last day of American toothpaste.
Just know friends, my toothpaste will make me think of you.
It's true.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

African Driving School.


I recently had the rare “privilege” of finding myself surviving the “Botswana Driving School-Baptism by Fire,” (aka pray lots, drive quickly, and watch for everything on the road), and I am happy to report that I am officially an African driver. Throughout the week of passing the various, unexpected driving tests, I found myself compiling a little list of do's and don't's that I feel obligated to pass onto you non-African drivers. Considering the fact that the real Botswana driving schools consist of 10 cones on the side of a dirt shoulder, I think it would be helpful for any sensible person driving in Africa (HA, that's an oxymoron!) to take note of the few words of wisdom I have now compiled. Check it.

African Driving Rules: (The section they forgot to write)

1.Driving on the “OTHER” side of the Road and Car: Do not be alarmed, you aren't seeing things. People ARE driving on the left side of the road and right-hand side of the car. You'll get used to it. Shifting with your left hand (yea for lefties), turning right into the far, left lane and proceeding clockwise around the traffic circles. My secret is focus your attention on the car in front of you, it's like follow the leader. I love a challenge.

2.Traffic Circles: Yielding at a traffic circle (roundabout) is necessary but you must prepare yourself to go from 0 to 80 if you have any hopes of carrying on towards you destination. I suggest pausing and then flooring it. Traffic circles=survival of the fittest.

3.Yellow Lights: Before even thinking about stopping or slowing down for a yellow light look in your rear view mirror to make sure that there is NO car behind you. If there is any form of a vehicle or transport within vision, floor it. You stop, you die.

4.Animals: You will see a myriad of wildlife obstructing your ability to drive at any given moment. Keep your eyes peeled and your hand near the button for the hazards (signal for animals). If you are lucky, like me, you TOO may see chickens, donkeys, goats, mating sheep and drunk men standing in the middle of the road while going on a 10 minute errand. (While drunk men may not appear to fit in this category of “animals” I assure, they are.) Feel free to honk to your heart's content!

5.Taxis: Avoid them at all costs. Taxi driver's are under the impression that there are no rules to the road and if they stick their arm out of the window while driving 80 directly at your car to “signal”, they are following strict lines of “etiquette.” When you see a taxi or sense one creeping up from behind...BE AGGRESSIVE, B-E AGGRESSIVE!

6.Donkey carts: Yes, although we are living in 2009 you will encounter carts being pulled by donkeys alongside somebodies new Audi A4. They are quaint, charming, and vital in reminding you that, yes, this is Mama Africa. Take a picture if you like but prepared for lots of swerving, donkeys are like that AND hand on that hazard button, remember.

7.Driving at night:
This is easy, DON'T.

8.Driving in any parking lot on a Saturday (i.e. Builder's World):
If you choose to foolishly venture out on any sort of errand on a Saturday be prepared to perform a plethora of driving maneuvers only attempted by the experts. Just know, you WILL be parked in more than once and be forced to back your vehicle in and around other vehicles while being stared at by a large audience of men doubting your ability to avoid the roofing materials, lumber and the million other cars that just pulled in behind you. (FYI: I passed this test with flying colors. I channeled my Father's backing-up abilities and gave the audience of men something to talk about...”Who is that white girl who is reversing like it's nobody's business?” Oh, don't worry, it was me.)

9.Getting Lost:
Don't panic. Don't attempt to convince yourself that you do or don't recognize that bush on the side of the road. Believe me, they all look the same. PRAY. Truly, only God knows where you are. He'll get you home.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Thunderstorm.

The thunder is grumbling and stirring in the sky,
deep rumbles and pounding until it builds to its climax.

Crash after crash it hollers so loudly it rattles the windows,
not to mention my bones.

The lightning is flashing like a magnificent burst of visual energy igniting the sky.
Then the lights go out.

I find myself admiring the brilliance of this thunderstorm.
It makes me think of Elijah hiding in a cave waiting for God to speak. Like in the thunder, God expressed His power and might amidst the wonders of nature. Earthquakes, mighty destructive wind, and a raging fire. Even now as I hear the thunder roar, I feel so very small. I sense a sliver of the immense power of the God behind this storm. He is the Almighty.

Yet, just as Elijah cowering in a cave experienced the power of our God.
The truth is God chose not to speak with an earth shattering display of nature.
Nope.

God chose to whisper. Mmmmm. I love that.
The Almighty God whose very Words created the fierce powers behind nature, who is Sovereign above all, commanding the wind and seas to obey His very Words, He likes to whisper.

I savor this paradox.
The Almighty expressing His power in the tenderness and intimacy of a whisper.
As I sit here in the dark watching the show, you better believe I'll be craning my ear for that whisper.

Thursday, March 19, 2009




Mochudi, Botswana
According to the Five Senses

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. However, a captivating memory that instantly flashes a vivid picture of a time or a place that you once knew is often triggered by a sound, a smell, a delectable taste. I have found the myriad of memories stored in my mind like frames on a reel are captured as I experience life through the five senses God gave me. And so it is that I hope to take you on an adventure of my senses to my life living in the quaint little town (realistically a village) of Mochudi, Botswana where God has called my home. I want to share with you the things I have seen, smelled, heard, tasted, and felt over the past month and half. So here it is (in list form)...take a gander.

A Word from my Senses:

Sights of:
Kilometres and kilometres of green pastures, winding, pot hole-covered dirt roads, friendly faces of Mmas (Ma's) and Rra (Ra's) waving hello, tiny concrete homes, children flailing to wave frantically at the white people, birds flying and nesting in the roof nooks, cockroaches scurrying away from the spray of Doom, donkeys charging the vehicle, babies being carried on their Mama's backs, everything being carried on peoples' heads, children waiting impatiently for the gate to open for church, a small group of faithful church members gathering under the carport joyfully worshiping God, my cottage taking shape, breathtaking sunsets, God on the move in the bush of Botswana.

Smells of:
Burning rubbish and brush, cow manure, curry cooking, Joshua's dirty diapers, wet concrete smelling fresh and metallic, children smelling of sweet dirt and half eaten sweets, the stench of malfunctioning septic tanks, baby shampoo, sugary sugary Sunday school juice, toddlers relieving themselves in the yard, body odor (not my own FYI), hair relaxant, and fragrant roses from the garden.

Sounds of:
Roosters incessantly crowing from 4am on, birds screeching loudly, prolonged echoes of donkeys hee-hawing, persistent cow bells warning of meandering cow families, Joshua crying, cooing, laughing with delight, neighbor children singing praise songs from church outside the gate, hammering, pounding, scrapping cement, skill saws cutting with precision, shovels flinging sand, rocks, soil, and cement, Tyler playing the guitar, squeaking doors, neighbors shouting greetings in Setswana, taxi drivers racing down the dirt road blaring techno music, soccer fans cheering, rain pounding vertically and horizontally, thunder shaking the house, and every bug known to man buzzing in my ear.

Tastes of:
Chocolate chip cookies, tacos, pizza, lasagna, boervoers (African sausage), Pita sandwiches, banana bread, fried chicken, rice, beef stew, pudding cake, boiled bread (African style), curry chicken, fat cooks filled with mince meat (fried bread with ground beef), guavas (glory, guavas!), African fusion sauce, brownies, chapati (fat tortillas), and dry, tasteless Sunday School biscuits.
(Ok, that is totally just yummy Jorgensen food for the most part!
Needless to say, I am eating quite well!)

Feelings of:
Soft baby skin oiled with lotion, rough heads covered with braids and coarse curls, tiny hands grasping mine, guitar strings digging grooves in my poor fingers, hand shakes of kind, sincere new friends, sand and dirt between my toes, clothes pins clamping on sopping wet clothing, rough concrete-covered walls soon to be my cottage, plastic church chairs lovingly arranged, wrinkled, peeling hands from dish washing, refreshing air con wind bringing relief in the heat, humidity to transform my hair into an afro, thorns jabbing into the soles of my feet, damp air in the stillness after the rain, joy and a bubbling brook of hope. Such great hope.