Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pearl of Great Price.

Matthew 13:45-46

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Being Miss Javens.

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

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

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

Dear Miss Javins,

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

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

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

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

From your Student


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

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Teaspoon Kind Of Love.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Simple Moments.

I am a blogging misfit as of late.

I am sorry...more for me then for you.

It is no secret that I love writing and this new trend of reenacting a chicken-with-its-head-cut-off (which is frightening in real life, I have seen it in person, believe me) has caused this love to escape me. This frankly, will not do.

So, I promise I am back. Even if I write short little snippets, I will write. You have my word on it. Ha.

Lately with the craziness of my life consumed by lesson planning and teaching for the masses (and I mean literally, “the masses” I think I am up to about 170 students), I have been struck with the simple little moments that make it all worth it. These seemingly mundane and otherwise insignificant moments that make this little chica squeal inside. When these moments are stirred altogether, they become a recipe that mixes perfectly into a life of rich fullness with the sweetest aroma.

Delectable Moments As of Late...

My nephew Joshua (by choice, age 2) laying his sweet head on my shoulder and patting my arm while we read Martha Stewart's Living together on the sofa. That little fella melts my heart in a hundred million ways.

The youthers playing endless games of Skipbo in sweltering heat while incessantly laughing, chatting, and savoring each others' company. Oh, the delight of family.

The brilliant musical happenings of two of my high school students who agreed to beat box and “free flow” rap for me at break time. “Miss J” got a shout out like you wouldn't believe.

Opening up my birthday packages from home with endless giftings and finding not 1 BUT 4 boxes of Cracklin' Oat Bran. It is the little things people, little indeed.

My 6th grade darlings presenting me with my birthday present that was a pretty little bag filled with:

3 small bags of chips, 2 oranges, 1 yogurt, 5 sweets, 2 pieces of bubble gum, 2 juice boxes, and exactly $1.12 in coins (in Pula, naturally). Makes you wonder what they all ate for lunch that day, ne? Oh, the sweetness of sincere sacrifice.

Having the joy of busting a' move alongside my fellow African teachers in honor of Botswana Day and Shakira's, Waka, Waka dance. I was rewarded with a, “Well done, Mam, well done,” from my students whose faces were painted with shock. They just never knew I had it in me.

Phone calls on my way to teach from beloved, missed friends at home that have me laughing so hysterically that I look I have been weeping (and if you know me, well, you know I had been) as I go to teach. I am crazy about a hearty laugh.

Countless uniform-clad little African darlings racing to greet me along the path with ear to ear grins. The endless echoes of “Hello, Miss Javens,” across the school yard from squirmy littles.

Befriending Walter-the postman, who waited an hour and a half at the central post office to fetch my birthday packages which seemed to be “lost” and then miraculously “found.” Getting long-awaited birthday packages ON your actual birthday...priceless. Walter, I couldn't have done it without you.

Hearing the mysterious whispers of Hope at the most unexpected times. Sensing unexplainable joy rise up when circumstances in no way warrant it. Sensing the nearness of my God who can't be seen but is at work in powerful, miraculous ways all around me.

These moments make up my life.

This life I have been given... is certainly a good.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

God's Word Blows My Mind.

So, there is the verse that I can't get over. I am totally in love with its consistent ability to blow my mind, shoot adrenaline into my faith-life and make me smile. The thing is God's Word IS living and active and when I found myself waning in the faith department the HS reminded me of this little treasure. Not only that, He dared me to put my name in it and to dream big. He is just good like that.

I know that this verse recounts the glory of the fabulous faith of Abraham but I have found it my goal and prayer that this verse could also be said about me when I am old and gray. For effectiveness sake, I have included my name right next to Abe's (feel free to plug your little name in there too!) as verses 24 promises that the same goes for us if we dare to outrageously believe God. I am in. You?

The Original...
Romans 4:20-22
“Abraham never wavered in believing God's promises. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was absolutely convinced that God was able to anything he promised. And because of Abraham's faith, God declared him to be righteous.”

The “Yes and AMEN to that!” Version...
“[Jenna] never wavered in believing God's promises. In fact, [her] faith grew stronger, and in this [she] brought glory to God. [She] was absolutely convinced that God was able to anything he promised. And because of [Jenna's] faith, God declared [her] to be righteous.”

Friday, September 3, 2010

Obedience is Bliss.

Living in a house with a 2 ½ year old lends itself quite easily to repeated lessons on the topic of obedience. It is a fact that on any given you day you will undoubtedly hear the words, “Joshua, listen and OBEY,” uttered with forced-patience from the lips of his Mom, Dad, or me, his Auntie. I am finding that obedience sometimes is a funny thing. From the youngest age so many of us form ideas on this slippery little word that relates the action with either reward or punishment. Sadly, obedience tends to become associated with being forced to submit and do the things that we do not want to do.

The thing is that God didn't create obedience that way.

This morning while reading the somewhat dismal judgments on the rebellion of God's people in the book of Ezekiel, I found this little verse (actually repeated twice so you know it HAS to be important!) that popped out at me and shown a pretty little light on obedience.

Ezekiel 20:13

“...They [The Israelites] wouldn't obey my instructions even though obedience would have given them life.”

Let this truth of God's Word settle a bit in your spirit...Obedience gives LIFE. I can tell you there is this unspeakable joy, peace, and richness to a life lived in obedience to the will of God. It is not a life lived in numb, mindless obedience but rather a life fully alert to God's very best and willing to jump right in. I have gone through seasons where obedience was not fun and was for sure a choice of my will, but the more I allow the Holy Spirit to work in my life this remarkable thing happens...I actually become delighted to obey the Lord. Yep, it is totally true.

As I thought over this alternative perspective on obedience before the Lord this morning, I felt my heart begin to ask some thrilling questions they may challenge the way you view obedience too.

What if the things God is asking us to do in obedience were actually the very things we desired to do most? ...Then obedience would be easy and delightful.

What if we viewed obedience as a way to express our love for a God who has done more then we can fathom? ...Then obedience would be intimate.

What if I allowed my heart to be so tuned to the Spirit of God that it was easy for me to hear and know what God would ask of me? ...Then obedience would give purpose.

What if we just simply trusted that God is for us and obeyed Him?

...Then we would find this life God speaks of.

Obedience will always be a matter of the heart.

I so desperately desire my heart to be in step with all the marvelous plans of my God for me that obedience is no longer a duty but a pleasure. For obedience truly is bliss.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I Spy.

So, I realize I have been absent for a bit and thus I thought I would break the silence with a nonsensical thought that has been bouncing around my noggin'.

I occasionally get emails from the American Consulate & Embassy in my little inbox. Sometimes the info is of the mundane nature (fees being raised) and other times if is shocking (multiple gang attacks targeting foreigners at the mall I frequent, no worries).
Regardless of the email's contents, the bottom of each email reads...

“This email is UNCLASSIFIED”

This sentence leaves me with the suspense and anticipation that someday I will actually receive an email on the contrary with four little words filled with intrigue and espionage possibilities...

“This email is CLASSIFIED.”

If only, people, if only. I will keep you posted.
However, if I tell you, I may have to kill you.

Friday, July 9, 2010

2010 FIFA World Cup: The Noisiest Classroom There Is.

Who would have thought that FIFA's 2010 World Cup would prove to be such a willing teacher? I sure did not and yet, with these matches being in my backyard so to speak, I have consistently learned new and surprising things about myself. In honour of this momentous event coming to a close I feel inspired to share these new realizations. Here goes (in no particular order)...

I DO enjoy watching soccer on TV. Who knew? I had no idea. I have never before been so captivated and addicted to watching any sport on television. In the past I have naively claimed that watching soccer on TV is like watching chaotic ants dancing. Alas, it is not so. The rhythm and precision with which which these players execute their moves is mesmerizing. After all of these years I admit I was wrong. I love the World Cup.

I am diseased. All along I have been infected with a disease that has only now come to my attention...I call it the “Unable-to-keep-your-mouth-shut-during-a-match-disease.” There is no possible way for me to watch a soccer game and not a)Hold one-sided convos with players/teams b) Make ridiculously embarrassing sounds of excitement, despair, or any other emotion that arises. c) Feel the need to offer my verbal condolences to the losing side. It's an illness and I am looking into getting medication.

Vuvuzelas are our friends. Having lived in Africa for multiple years I have already had time to develop a relationship with the obnoxiously loud and uncalled for nature of a Vuvuzela. But guess what? It is physically possible to develop immunity to the incessant hooting of this excessively used celebratory instrument. I know, because I have. It is brilliant. Attention: Vuvuzela-ers...hoot away at all hours of the night for no apparent reason, your racket is dead to me. HA.

Player look-alikes. I have begun to take note that far too many times I have looked at a myriad of players and said to myself, “Oh my goodness, that Spanish (German, Uraguan, fill-in-country-here) player looks just like [so and so] from home!” Can it really be that these players really,truly look like my guys friends from home? I doubt it. Having the same freckles, facial hair and hair colour does not a look-alike make. Homesick much?

Work out regime. When it comes to watching the World Cup matches I can't not care. Me caring means that for the entire 90+ minutes I have every muscle in my body clenched as deep stress and excitement overtakes me. Thus I have inserted this viewing pleasure as part of my weekly work routine. Boy, am I toned let me tell you.

I Heart Soccer Talk. I am completely obsessed with holding conversations with knowledgeable soccer fans (usually of the male persuasion) whilst dropping impressive soccer vocabulary, repeating what I heard analyst say the night before, and giving my take on the previous match. I even got into a convo with my trainer at the gym this week. I sounded so smooth and soccer-educated you have no idea.

Compassion. I am sad to say that the close of the World Cup does offer me some relief. One thing I have definitely learned about myself is that I am WAY too compassionate during these games. Every missed goal, every goal keeper mistake, every team error twists my heart in pain as compassion overwhelms. I have to cover my eyes when they show the losers on their knees crying and for some reason I find myself channeling the players' moms and imagining how heartbroken their Mommy's are. I realize this is weird but I can't help it. I wish I could transport myself into the TV at times and give these sad little fellas a hug. If only. It would really do my vicariously-aching heart some good.

Soccer, Futbol, Football...Call it what you like. It's a beautiful game.

Oh, and GO SPAIN!!!!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Road Trip Revelation.

My fresh revelation for today...neither holy nor anointed, but still just as true.

I have begun to view my 2 hour (round trip) drive from my village to "town," as a road trip.
I know this because I find myself incessantly overcome with the urge to purchase road trip edible essentials every time I am heading home.

You know the stuff they sell right by the register? Yea, that stuff.
Sad thing is the urge too often gives way to purchasing. Now road trips are awesome because you can embrace the beef jerky, pop, candy and sweets guilt free because you can justify it as necessary sustenance for the once in a blue moon journey. It is part of the "road trip experience." Trouble is that I make this trek almost everyday...sometimes twice.

Have you ever considered what might happen if you, too, viewed your commute as if it were a road trip. Yes, it is a scary, scary thing indeed. But then again, somewhat thrilling too.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Choose Faith.

Hebrews 11:40

God had a better plan for us: that their faith [The faith of the Saints before us] and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours.

The faith of the Saints that have gone before me is not complete until I walk the path of faith that God has set before me. My faith completes and bring wholeness to their picture of faith. Their faith beckons me on to believe when things look impossible, to walk in hope, and to cast aside the tendency to make decisions based on sight. My faith will also blaze the trail for those that follow behind me.

Today, I feel the responsibility and thrill of being a woman of faith.

My mustard seed faith is part of a masterpiece that God is preparing for His glory.

In the depths of my heart I just get this sense that, Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith is not finished writing my story quite yet. And so, today I simply and sincerely choose faith.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Gardening for God's Glory.

I am not a gardener in the natural.
However, God has called me to garden in the Spirit.
If I had known what this job entailed, I pray I would have still said, “Yes,” to Him.
The soil He has set before me is the rich, tender, and sometimes ornery soil of the next generation in Botswana. God has filled my sack with seeds of His truth, echoes of hope, and a fierce faith that though the seeds seem small, they will produce a harvest.

Sometimes the soil is soft, receptive and prepared for the seeds.
Other times the soil is hard and even rolls it's eyes in my direction.
Regardless, the seeds never change. They are sown faithfully each week with no regard to the status of the soil. Though I rejoice when I see the seeds to take root, I have been called to sow seeds with confidence and in obedience.

Being a sower in these fields takes hard work.
It requires investing time, walking in wisdom, watering the soil in love, and deep, sometimes painful sacrifice.

The soil that I am referencing is the hundreds of 6th &7th grade students at Mmusi Primary School who I have the privilege of teaching each week. In this public school I get to sow seeds of truth about God's heart for purity, being people of character, making wise choices, and stepping into the incredible plans that God has planned. Often I am asked to speak truth on subjects that the very culture around me hides from. It can be mortifying and challenging at times. But sow I will. I believe if I faithfully and boldly proclaim the heart of God over these young ones, there will be a harvest. This week I saw that faith come to sight.

Behold my first harvest...
115 seventh graders who have decided to pledge abstinence until they are married. Those seeds have taken root. These young ones believe there is another way. They believe God has a plan for them. They believe that they can start a new heritage of purity in their village, country, and continent.

I believe it too....for “I am sure that God, who began this good work within [them,] will continue His work until it is finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again.” Ephesians 1:6

Monday, May 24, 2010

Things I Love and Adore Part V.

Items in my purse that daily remind me of home...

  1. Lip Gloss I “stole” from my Mom (Check)

  2. Favorite chap stick (Check)

  3. Ice Breakers gum...who doesn't love the cubes? (Check)

  4. Cucumber Melon Hand Sanitizer from Bath & Body (Check)

  5. Westside Church pens...I love these little guys-never run out, always there when you need 'em!

    (Check, Check)

  6. Cruel, cruel joke from some beloved friends who secretly hid a reminder of my LEAST favorite word in my purse...Can't seem to throw it away, however. (Check)

It's the little things. I'm thankful.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Good Answer, Good Answer.

That night God appeared to Solomon. God said, “What do you want from me? Ask.”

Solomon answered,“...Yes, give me wisdom and knowledge as I come and go among the people...”

God answered Solomon, “This is what has come out of your heart: You didn't grasp for money, wealth, fame, and the doom of your enemies; you didn't even ask for a long life. You asked for wisdom and knowledge...”

2 Chronicles 1: 7, 10-11 MSG

It's like a dream. Just as young Solomon was busy taking “a firm grip on the reigns of his kingdom,” God chose to appear to him and asked him a vitally important question. “What do you want from me?Ask.” Just like that, the King of the Universe offers Solomon any little thing his heart could imagine. Sheesh, I have always been astounded by Solomon's response. Solomon does not delay. He does not hmm and haaa. He delivers a brilliant answer. Wisdom. Such an answer would surely have gotten a round of applause or an enthusiastic affirmation of “Good answer, good answer!” had he been on Family Feud. (Oh, was that just me that watched that show?) I have always been struck with the cleverness of this young king to ask for more cleverness. Today, however, when I read this familiar passage something new popped off the page in technicolor hues.

In verse 11 God responds to Solomon. He states that this brilliant answer or request came straight out of Solomon's HEART. I finally get it, it's not a cleverness thing, it's a heart thing. God was impressed that Solomon had the kind of heart that would desire wisdom above all else. He did not grasp (cling to and pursue) the things of this world, the very things in fact that most young people spend their lives trying to grasp. Solomon had established deep in his heart a value system that caused the things of this world to pale in comparison to the wisdom of God. Wisdom that comes straight from God. Wisdom to accomplish the task God had laid out. Wisdom that in fact led Solomon to all the other blessings that God wanted to pour out. But this wisdom began with a humble heart.

I often pray for wisdom. My day to day life has a habit of screaming reminders of how desperately I need it. I desire God's wisdom. Wisdom that goes down deep and draws me to the only source able to complete all that is on my plate each day. However, if God were to appear to me today and say, “Jenna, what do you want from me? Ask,” would the answer that came from my heart truly be wisdom? Do I value the wisdom of God above all else or do I choose to spend my time grasping for so many less worthy pursuits? The challenge stares me in the face on a day like today.

I don't just want to be wise. I want a heart that seeks wisdom, a heart that reflects the maturity and knowledge of my God. A humble, teachable heart.

How about you? What do you want from God?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Things I Love and Adore Part IV.

My Mom.

There are frankly no words to express the love and adoration I feel towards my Mum. She has always, always been there for me. She is such a rock in my life because I know I can always count on her for a listening ear, a good story about her littles, a kind word, and a sincere prayer. The fact that I never in my life have had to doubt her love for me or the fact that she would be there on the other line ready to be my Mom, is simply breathtaking. I am overcome not only with gratitude that God would choose her to be my Mom and best friend but so very humbled that she has again and again made countless choices to put me first, to sacrifice something of herself so that I could be cared for. On this list of things I love and adore...my Mom is at the top.

Happy Mother's Day Mum O' Mine.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Things I Love and Adore. Part III

The Sensation of Pulling Up Socks Nice and Snug.

(I realize this is strange, but then again, so am I.)

Winter is fast approaching this side of the globe and with my little toes getting cold I am reminded of this marvelous sensation. There is something so comforting and securing knowing your feet are toasty and your socks are firmly in place. Sounds a bit odd, but it is true, I love it and am thankful for it. Thankfulness is thankfulness if you ask me.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Word on Joy.

Since arriving back in Bots in January, there has been an underlying theme of my life...JOY. Though it is not something I necessarily always have, there has been this insatiable desire growing deep within to really understand how to truly obtain it. I NEED joy and my guess is so do you. Now, I am not talking about sunshine and flowers kind joy, I am talking about the kind of Joy that can be my strength when challenges come, the kind of Joy that will steady and sustain me and cause me to walk in faith and hope in otherwise hopeless situations. I have desperately needed it and thus have begun a deeper pursuit of the source of all my Joy. (Psalm 43:4). Through the consistency of the gentle, yet powerful Holy Spirit, God's Word, not to mention a little help from my beloved friend Bo Stern's, The Joy Project, I am learning to live it out. I have discovered a few things about this treasure that is found in the JOY of the Lord and wanted to encourage you that you too can walk in true joy. Things have not been easy in the past few months to say the least but God's delightful Joy has kept me.

A few words on TRUE JOY...

When circumstances demand despair, this kind of Joy remains.

It is only found in God's Presence.

It is a CHOICE made from your will not your emotions.

God causes it to well up from the deepest places in your heart, in the most unlikely moments.

It purely reflects, as in a mirror, the goodness of God.

It restores a weary soul.

It's contagious.

It will make you laugh, and sometimes cry “happy tears.”

It steadies you.

It's always available.

This JOY well will never run dry.

Over the past few months when I have been...



internally weary,

dealing with naughty students,


carrying burdens,

facing impossible circumstances,

aching deep within,

...God's JOY has faithfully had the last word each time.

I find myself utterly humbled by a God who delivers TRUE Joy when it is needed most.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Things I Love and Adore Part II.

Number 2:
Being an Auntie to Joshua and Anika Jorgensen.

There is just something delicious about hearing my name, “Annie”...(used to be Aaaan-TEE, then Addy, a variation of daddy-we are getting there!) shouted with excitement or gently said with as much endearment as a nearly-two year old can muster up every time I enter the house, or the room for that matter.
I love love love these Jorgensen kiddos.
What a privilege to be a part of their lives, watch them grow up, and be their Auntie who gets unending affection and love.
I adore it.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Things I Love and Adore Part I.

In honour of this tremendous turn around that God has so graciously delivered deep within me, I feel compelled to spend sometime being thankful. Thankful for the things, seemingly ordinary and perhaps unimpressive things, that demonstrate God's wonderful love for me. These would be the things that I truly love and adore. Not just like or think are ok, this is some serious love and overflowing adoration. Some of these things make me laugh, cause me to smile, and may even instigate my signature squeal, you never know. Here goes.

Number 1:

One pair of brand new white Converse shoes, size 6.

Mailed by a dear friend half way around the world to fit securely and joyfully upon my child-size feet. Sometimes friends just make me cry with how ridiculously kind, sacrificial, and loving they can be.

I adore new shoes.

I adore friends who spend more then the shoes cost to mail them to me in Africa.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Smoke Signals.

I'm back. You may have not known I was gone but I, on the other hand, have been glaringly aware of this dark and discouraging place I have been in for the past month or so. I have tried to snap out of it as it were, fight to make it stop, but this anonymous ache deep within me has ceased to subside.

Weighted down by uncontrollable circumstances threatening my faith in God's provision, thrashed about by the lies of the enemies, my knees have buckled under the intensity of life lived in the midst of a fallen world. It has been painful, confusing, and left me exhausted to my core.

In spite of I all, I have never stopped coming to Jesus. I have waited upon Him, clung to the faintest whisper of His Spirit speaking. Longing for the lingering darkness to lift I have waited in expectation for hope to pierce through. Little by little I have felt God pushing back the darkness and exposing the brokenness inside me. God has led me out of the ashes demonstrating along the way that His single purpose is my wholeness, my restoration, and making me look like His precious Son. God is willing to let the darkness and the gut wrenching pain remain so He can accomplish His eternal purposes in and through me. This astounds me.

Tonight as I sought the Word of God, I came across a verse that blew into my mind and heart like a fresh spring breeze. In it the prophet Isaiah describes Jesus, the coming King.

“Before you know it, his justice will triumph; the mere sound of his name will signal hope, even among far-off unbelievers.” -Matthew 12:21

The mere mention of His name signals hope.
Hope. Tonight I felt it. That Name is the source of all my hope.
Jesus, my Redeemer.
Jesus, my Provider.
Jesus, my Restorer.
Jesus, my Victory.
Jesus, my Prince of Peace.
Jesus. At the end of the day, He is enough for me. As I meditated on the Name of Jesus and all that this precious Name means to me, I felt like on the horizon there was a flicker of light. Jesus, the signal for hope. The Spirit of God has sent me a smoke signal in this wilderness I have been circling and it's the Name of Jesus. With each mention of His Name overwhelming circumstances seem to fade, fears are cast out, and the darkness has fled. In His Name is power to bring triumph, delicately create wholeness within me and bring beauty from ashes. It takes my breath away. The Word of God speaks and it has spoken of Jesus.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Sometimes I wonder.

Sometimes I wonder what my life would be like if...

I didn't daily drive my car past a straw-hatted man steering a team of ornery donkeys pulling a cart.

Droves of beautiful African children didn't run wildly waving their hands and screaming, “Dumela!” every time I passed by.

I didn't regularly confuse my cell phone vibrating with the lulling sound of the neighbor's cows.

My nightly routine didn't involve locking up the main house in it's security “cage” and then proceeding to lock myself into my own safe “cage” across the yard.

I didn't repeatedly scan the white walls of my cottage for critters of the creepy persuasion.

Going to the “Mall in Mochudi” didn't consist simply of buying groceries and gas for my car.

I was not compelled to scrub my filthy feet immediately upon arriving home from church.

I didn't have to legitimately avoid chickens, goats, and a plethora of other livestock who feel that the road is their territory.

I never had to use the phrase, “ I am going to town.” (As opposed to being in the village)

A day could pass by without having to repeatedly use the terms, “Premarital Sex,” “Risky behaviours,” “STDs,” and “HIV/AIDS,” in front of a classroom of charming uniform-wearing children.

I wasn't forced to master the slipper/Doom-Spray cockroach, poisonous spider, scorpion, (fill in nasty, disgusting creepy-crawler-invading-my-personal-space-HERE) death blow.

I didn't daily ponder why the littles in the village consistently greet me in the HIGHEST-pitched nasally voiced, “Helllloooooooo!” (Do they think I sound like that? Sure hope not.)

I didn't get to hang out every weekend with the most entertaining, about-to-rock-the-world-around-them-for-the-Kingdom-of-God youth.

I never got to see the love of God and the power of the resurrection transforming the lives of my precious church family.

Sometimes I wonder, what if... then it would not be the life that God has designed for me to live.

It wouldn't be an adventure.

It would be a counterfeit to God's best for me.

Forget that.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Prayer that Moves the Heart of God.

I love to pray. I am astounded that the God who created the universe would bend His ear to listen to me as I pour out worship and woes before His throne. One of the delights of my week is gathering on Wednesday nights with one or two others from our church family to pray.

Tonight I was delighted to see our newly assembled Prayer Team early and eager to join me as we pace inside our church tent in prayer. Among these new faces was a neighbor of mine named Lydia. Lydia is one whom God has knit my heart to as I first met her in a time of great suffering and pain. God is stirring something real and tangible inside this woman that is undeniable.

As we spread out throughout our tent I began to pray. As I prayed I could hear the women pouring out their hearts to God and in a brilliant symphony.

Then I began to hear the faint prayer of Lydia.

I tried to keep praying but I was silenced.

Lydia, a women suffering from HIV, living in great poverty with her two children and trying to sort out what it really means to walk with God, repeated a prayer so simple, sincere, and sweet.

Her humble heart repeated again and again.

“Jesus, I trust you.”

“I trust you, Jesus.”

“Jesus, I just really trust you.”

Her prayer was piercingly pure, raw and authentic.

That is a prayer that moves the heart of God.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Call Out.

Deep within my heart I know there is more of God and His marvelous Kingdom.
Yet finding God can be so slippery sometimes.
Some days I seek Him and find Him and then there is this insatiable desire within me that rises up.
I know there is still more.
I am in an undivided pursuit of the One pursuing me.

Then there is a week like this one.
When my soul just gets tired.
My vision becomes blurred by life in all of its fullness.
I know I need Him but I don't know where to get Him.

I peel open His Word and my knotted heart is gently untangled by the power of a simple word of truth spoken at just the right moment.

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things that you do not know.”
Jeremiah 33: 3

When I find I only have strength to call out, His promises echo back with hope.
All that's required is a call to Him.
He will answer.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Everything I Am I Owe To My Mother.

Today just happens to be the day of birth of a beloved Mum of mine.

Truly everything I am I owe to my Mother. She is such an incredible example of a Godly woman, wife and Mama, let the whole world know. In honour of this fine day of her birth I have compiled a list (In no particular order) of reasons why I adore my Mom. Take a gander and stand in awe at the cutest lady there is, Jean Javens, my Mum...

How I love her. Let me count the ways...

  1. She can polka AND break dance. Not only that but she was purposeful in teaching us kids of hers how. In doing so, she provided me with invaluable skills to pass onto my African kids. Have you ever seen an African teenager trying to do the “corkscrew?” If not, you haven't lived. Her and I also share a deep down desire to someday learn how to Krump. Oh, that will be a wonderful day...Mother/Daughter Krumping!

  1. She loves unconditionally and beyond measure. There has never been a day in my life where I doubted my Mom's love for me. Her love makes me stronger and steadies me.

  1. She is a woman of prayer. I used to get annoyed when I would ask my Mom for advice and she would consistently and simply say NOTHING except, “Let's just pray.” Her wisdom in taking me to the Lord first has not only taught me that habit in my own life but also demonstrated her knowledge that God knows, is real, and is at work. May I always do the same as my Mom.

  1. The woman can laugh and make others laugh. My Mom has a joy and enthusiasm about her that is contagious. She genuinely loves life which makes those around her love life too. (Not to mention love her!)

  1. She is a firm believer in Feng Shui. My Mom can move any piece of furniture around the room all by herself on any given day. If you chance to drop in on her you will surely find her moving the most massive piece of furnishings around her classroom at school or in any old room in her house. Not only can she be likened to Mighty Mouse but the freshness about her decorating style keeps everyone on their toes and in for a new view. Change can always do you some good.

  1. She is an awesome teacher. My Mom loves her students with the same kind of love that she has always lavished on me. Her genuine care and concern not only for the education of her students but also their little lives is heroic. She loves well and in doing so is transforming little pumpkins daily. (Not to mention teaching them to read, write, and do arithmetic.)

  1. She is the queen of the one-handed cartwheel. I am convinced that when she is 99 she will still perform this ever-impressive stunt for her adoring fans. (That would be ME!) I used to be so jealous until I realized not many Moms can or would even attempt such a feat. My Mom would...just ask her.

  1. She is so darling and stylish. My Mom is the most adorable creature I have ever met. She has such a precious little style that expresses her amazing personality and attention to detail. When I grow up I want to be as stylish and stunning as my Mom.

  1. She is my biggest fan. Whether it was cheering me on as I stumbled around the bases in tee-ball, playing drums through the unkind of years of junior high, or finding room for all of my artwork over the years, I have always known my Mom was my biggest fan. Her support and encouragement has always breathed life into whatever I put my hand to. Now living on the other side of the globe and knowing that she is still cheering me on allows me to keep going when challenges come and overall live well.

  1. She knows me. There is this overwhelmingly settling feeling when I know that even if the whole world misunderstands me or turns their back on me, my Mom really, genuinely knows me. She is consistently there to remind me who I am when I seem to lose myself and always believes the very best in and for me. The biggest blessing is that I truly and completely know my Mom. I know her heart, her thoughts, her fantastic little ways. What a treasure that I can count my very own Mum as my dearest and best friend.

Happiest of Birthdays Mommy of Mine.

You are adored and loved in abundance.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Come on and Let God Love You.

I am a youth pastor.

Though I find myself often in total denial hardly able to believe that God has taken this elementary school teacher and sent her to Africa to be a youth pastor, the bottom line is I love it.

I love the youth and how they make me laugh with their antics, make my heart break with the struggles they face and overall just their genuine love for God. They are a delight in every way. As a youth pastor, I get the joy and privilege of seeking God for the powerful words of life that He would want to speak to this next generation. As mentioned previously I am an elementary school teacher (or was) which means “sermon prep” a term and habit embraced widely by pastors around the globe does not come easily. I find myself in this wonderful, humbling state of having the Holy Spirit teach me first hand what it means to be a pastor, prepare sermons, counsel with Godly counsel, and love this flock like Jesus would.

So it was that this last week I found myself with spiritual shovel in hand attempting to dig out that deep, powerful truth from God's Word that would divide bone and marrow in my heart and then the hearts of the Unbound Kids. Did I mention I love it? It's really hard, but OH, I love it. As I let the concept of God being our First Love percolate in my heart and mind all week, I knew God had a fine-tuned heart-piercing Word to speak. My job was to search deeper as to let the Holy Spirit have ultimate wiggle room in the lives of these kids. I took time to quiet myself and God spoke this REALLY simple and yet life changing Word to me that I felt compelled to share with you. My feeling is (and I am pretty sure the Holy Spirit would concur) that if each one of us took this statement and made it a daily habit in our lives and a truth to really live by; our lives, relationships, identities, and world would be transformed. Here it is in all of its simplicity...(a two part sermon to be exact)...

Let God Love You and Love Him Back

My challenge to you in this moment and each day this week is to take a few minutes and quiet your heart and mind. Then allow the miracle of God's love to settle in and get cozy deep within you. Let God love you. His love is the kind of love that will bring wholeness, perspective, forgiveness, security, and like a warm blanket wrapped around you remind you that you are safe. Dear friends, this is my pray for the youth here in Botswana and each one of you whom I love so much...

May your roots grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God”.

Ephesians 3:17-19

Wednesday, January 27, 2010



The ability to see through something to what might be revealed on the other side.

Having just arrived back home in Africa I have been savoring the saturated state of my soul that is the result of having been in fellowship once again with my family and friends. I find my heart overwhelmed by the way that God reveals the endless aspects of His character amidst relationships of weak, broken people. We are imperfect children of a perfect, Living God. Somehow because of God's grace and kindness He shows up in power in our relationships. During my holiday at home, I experienced this supernatural move of God during conversations over a warm cup of tea, a yummy crepe, popcorn chicken, chips and salsa...the list could go on. As I have pondered how it could be that a myriad of fine food establishments could be transformed into holy ground as it were, the key I believe was transparency. Transparency amidst relationships.

I don't know how or when God taught me the delight in being transparent with people but the truth is once you start being real, it is almost impossible to go back. There is this marvelous freedom in openly taking a look at your struggles, weaknesses, doubts, fears and hurts and then coming back to what you know to be true about God. The reason I feel compelled to share this thought on transparency is that in the middle of openly processing while at home I found myself verbalizing things I believe about who God is, what He is REALLY doing in my life, and at the end of the day walked away healed in ways I cannot explain. It seems that the more transparent I became with the friends I love, the more Jesus was able to reveal to me what He has been doing all along. God has in turn deposited in me a huge arsenal of truths about Him and His ways that are no longer theories but something I can sink my teeth into. Through this openness and sincere love for people from the get-go God has blessed me with authentic relationships where He is free to move in this miraculous way. Transparency and authenticity amidst relationships becomes an opportunity for the stunning work of God to be revealed, hearts are knit ever closer, and love just grows.

What I am left with is this...

A beautiful reflection of the family of God being the family of God.

I just simply stand amazed.