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.