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 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.