Wednesday, June 29, 2005
And these two gorgeous little guys are my nephews. One of the greatest honors in my world is being an aunt. I adore these kiddos, I mean they have got my heart bad. I have learned so much about my relationship with God from loving them. I guess I'm showing them off, but I'm also asking today for your prayers that as I journey to Honduras to minister there that God will give us creative ways to stay close at heart. It will be hard to leave lots of folks I love a bunch but these three are the ones that might just break my heart. Pray for them to understand far beyond their childlike years and that God will use this to teach them about following Jesus with all their precious little hearts. Braydon, Cameron, and sweet Carley, your Aunt Jen thinks you are absolutely terrific, loves you so way much, and prays for you every single day. I adore you guys forever and always!!
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Technically speaking however, here are some of the plans as of now...
- GRAND OPENING of Casa de Esperanza (House of Hope) will be December 10,2005.
- We still need to raise approximately $100,000 to have it up and funded for the first year of operation.
- It will house 20 girls of all ages by early 2006.
- Departure date is October 25ish to be in Honduras permanently.
- The childrens home will be located on a piece of property about 30 minutes outside of Tegucigalpa called Santa Ana.
- It will be located within a village called Villa de Esperanza (which means village of hope) are you seeing a trend here? praying to offer a whole lot of hope. :)
- On the property there with the childrens home there will be a church building, a police post, a medical clinic, 20 concrete block houses, and a training center affiliated with Mi Esperanza which will train women to have a skill so that they can provide for their families. It is an exciting time to be a part of the vision for this project.
Think those might be the major updates for now. I have no idea why God is allowing me the honor of serving these precious people, but I so desire to always treat it as such...a tremendous honor! Thank you all for what you are doing to encourage, support, and love me in and through this!
All for Him, JEN
Sunday, June 26, 2005
Went to a Beth Moore conference this weekend and needless to say I am feeling pretty filled to the brim on this Sunday evening after a weekend with some terrific gals and a whole great big dose from God's word. So many things I heard that are worthy of being passed on and yet am still processing so much of what she said and attempting to make sense of it in my own mind, I am not sure I would be able to do justice to it here just yet.
One thing though that made absolutely perfect sense and needs no process time was this...sitting in this big arena, speaking to thousands of women, before she said much about anything else, Beth addressed an audience we sometimes overlook. She said, "I have no idea what you brought in here with you tonight. I have no idea what you think about this Jesus guy or how much you know about this great book I hold in my hand. But I want you to know you are welcome here. If right now you are tempted to look around and think, I do not belong here, please know that the God of the universe welcomes you here. You are welcome here. You belong right here." She never took for granted that there may be some there who didn't know where they stood on this whole loving Jesus business and I so appreciated her offering warm welcomes on God's behalf.
Just wanted to remind any of you who may be reading this who aren't sure exactly what you think about all this God stuff, that you ARE welcome here. You are welcome right here. I pray that somehow He will show you how welcome you are near His heart.
Blessings in abundance....
Friday, June 24, 2005
It not only reminds me of how brokenness had to occur in my life as I walked away for a little while to realize that there was nowhere in this world that I would rather be than in the arms of Jesus, but about my responsibility to be a Paul and give broken people the freedom to fail and find God's love in my presence as they seek to be the people they really truly want to be. You have anyone you love who has walked away for a little while, perhaps a lot longer "while" than you ever thought possible. The waiting is so hard, I'm not dismissing that. I'm simply offering myself and anyone else who is graciously reading any of this, a reminder from the powerful life speaking word of God that I believe there are times when walking away for a little while allows us to come running back to Jesus forever. I've heard several testimonies lately that bear witness to this fact. Thank you to those of you who are sharing from deeper places than we sometimes offer to share.
Hang on my dear friends, pray your hearts out, continue to plead with God to claim places those we love are not allowing Him access to, but hold onto the hope this verse offers in the fact that running away for a while often only means we come running back fast for forever. Thank you Lord for being patient and for loving relentlessly and thank you to you "soldiers of the cross" who fought for my soul on this earth and loved with His heart.
From a heart that ran back for every day of FOREVER and pleads for those who will choose to do the same. Wait and trust....He yearns for their heart far more than we know how to.
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
So I come humbly asking questions of my heart this evening...what did I see within them that I lack? What so touched my heart that I feel I've lost touch with? And this is my conclusion at this point...UNINHIBITED PRAISE!!! I've forgotten how good it felt to not base my worship or my response to God on anything else but God! I saw that tonight in some young people who renewed and refreshed my heart.
If they are any indication of all God has planned for the future I await the coming days in eager expectation! He's raising up some giants in the land!
It's like I feel like in some ways we're redeeming ourselves. Let's face it, it is no secret, we can be pretty caddy, sometimes extremely petty, and for a long time we've been labeled as having a hard time controlling our tongues and deciding when they should wag and when they shouldn't. Not that we've solved all of those problems by far, but I think we're figuring out more ways to be good to one another also. We're figuring out how to come alongside and encourage and draw out one anothers gifts and rejoice in them using them. We're choosing to "be there" for each other in true senses of the word not just when it's easy or convenient. We're learning how to help make each other better, really.
This wasn't at all what I intended this post to be about. When I sat down to write I thought I was going to give a recap on last night and the beautiful way God used it (and perhaps I have just in a different avenue.) Regardless I guess the thought of sisterhood just took over because it overjoys me sometimes. I think God must at moments sit up there and grin from ear to ear when He sees a room full of gals enjoying being His girls. That catches my heart and makes it leap because of all the pain I cause Him in my humanness, I love times when I think about Him looking and being able to just smile in sheer joy.
Lots of words I love...one of my favorites is definitely becoming SISTER!! I'll learn more about what it means as I add days and years of experience to my life, but right now it's such a sweet word to my heart. I've learned so much in the presence of my sisters as we've invited the Spirit to overtake us still more. We've discovered so much of God together, and I suppose that's my prayer. Which brings me back to this OASIS thing, I so pray in this time of fellowship and sharing together that we'll discover more of Him together.
And so my sisters...shine on!!!
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
So before I pillow my head tonight, I just felt the need to make an entry into this journal for this day about another one of the people who have most impacted my world and today seemed the right time to do it.
So here are the lessons I've learned from her that perhaps benefit far more than just me. Seems pretty selfish not to share.
1) I've learned that honor is something you give to those you love and it's demonstrated as you seek to make them look good (whether they are present or not) in front of others by both your words and actions.
2) I've learned that a faith that is lived out takes a Bible that is lived in.
3) I've learned that seeking out the one soul who needs loved on and encouraged most today is loving like Jesus loves.
4) I've learned that grace can be worth more than a million dollars when you forgive mistakes and help people forget them.
5) I've learned that quiet time in a prayer chair each morning produces wisdom from heaven.
6) I've learned that of all the accomplishments I may achieve in my life, being God's friend is the single solitary best undeserved one.
7) I've learned that we get the same number of hours each day and we can choose to go through life spending minutes or making moments and I prefer the latter.
8) I've learned that living with a purpose makes others want one too.
9) I've learned that loving God contagiously makes your sphere of influence absolutely huge, and that having a heart the size of Texas gives Him all sorts of opportunity to use it.
10) I've learned that when I grow up I want to be a lot like her cause she's a lot like Jesus!!!!
The list could go on and the lessons are many. Thank you Lord for this day and for the contribution of this lady to the lives of so many of us. You outdid yourself!!
Happy Birthday one more time. Your adopted daughter loves you!
Monday, June 13, 2005
Saturday, June 11, 2005
Yesterday I got the opportunity as the theme for our room this year is "A Whole New World" and so we're discussing different places in the world and reading The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis, where the children step through the wardrobe in the Professors old house and step into Narnia (a magical world engaged in a battle for good and evil). Anyway, yesterday was the beginning of studying Honduras and how children live there and what is the same and what is different from how we live here. I showed them pictures and we talked a little bit about their houses and what they eat and schooling and so on, and this sweet little guy who hasn't said much up to this point said, "I am so glad I came to summer school today." I said "well good buddy, you wanna tell me more about why you are glad?" He said "well I'm just glad I could see the way those kids love so I could be thankful for what I have." Spoken from a kid who doesn't have much materially by our terms here. He got it though whether he realized it or not. Then at the end of the day when we were going through our list of things to do over the weekend to complete and bring back for Monday, the same little boy said, "and pray for those Honduran children." He touched me. Hopefully the reverse could also be true. Lord may you continue to touch those precious little hearts with your truth, your vision, your heart.
Made me think about how many times I have had to speak those same words, "Lord I am so glad I came today, so I could learn to be more ________" Perhaps often the blank doesn't even need to be filled in. Lord I thank you that my stubborn, selfish, prideful, lazy, hesitant heart chose to run to you today and that you allowed me to come so that I could be MORE! Far more than I could ever be on my own. Oh Lord thank you for this classroom of life, may we always seek to be learning to be more!
And by the way, keep praying for those Honduran children, and the American ones too!! :)
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
I love the moments I get to sit with a friend and laugh and be silly. I cherish the moments when life forces us to our knees and we go there together with and for one another. I delight in those days when we are able to delve into the depth of something God is having us chew on and we think through and mull over His love and truth together. I love encouraging one another. I even love the tears together.
I think it's awesome and humbling that one of the ways God chooses to reveal Himself to us is through people. I read recently in the book, "Blue Like Jazz," that we learn that we are either loveable or unloveable by other people and that is why there are so many commands to love one another in the Bible. Struck a chord within me and I prayed as I read that that I might always make other people feel by word and action that they are completely loveable.
Thank you to those of you who have done so for me. I am so thankful for each of you and what you add to my world! Goodnight friends. I thank God each time you come to mind. :)
Monday, June 06, 2005
Today I sit wondering how much of Jen has truly died. When Christ asked me to pick up my cross did I ever really say ok.
I don't think I've ever been so fully aware how many times my own name and the word me and I come up in my conversations or in my heart. I notice how many times "my" feelings get hurt by things said or done and how many times "I" feel "I've" been wronged. "I" want this and "I" want that and they aren't necessarily even bad things, it's just that so many times they are "mine" and when it's all really boiled away "my" desires got nailed to a cross with my Lord.
Wheww.... I'm chewing on that one today and praying, so praying, that someday I might learn what it means to die. Truly. To lay this life down without selfish motive or prideful thoughts. Without wanting the atta girl and without being hurt by the oversight or the neglect or the thoughtless words.
To lose so much of me that my one and only aim is to glorify Christ, oh Lord may it be so! Are you dead yet?
Sunday, June 05, 2005
I went this morning way out of my comfort zone and my 3 inch box which in some ways was a result of my post from yesterday as I mentioned my having lunch with a new friend (have I mentioned how much I love new friends who love Jesus...well I do if I haven't, they each just bring such rich unique fabric squares into the quilt of your life). Actually I just love people, I think that it is through one another that we experience so much of God. I think Jesus loved people and I'm learning that as I fall more in love with Him I am able to do the same. Anyway, that was a sidebar sorry.
Went this morning to a place called Extreme Encounter. Now I realize what's coming next is a very BOLD statement and I'm going to make it anyway. I saw with my eyes this morning what I believe to be a modern day replica of the way Jesus ministered to people and what He asked us to be fore people. I saw young people and older people. I saw families and singles. I saw cleaned up and I saw messed up. I saw middle class and I saw poverty. I saw....well I saw Jesus. I just saw Jesus.
Allow me to share here about the setting because I believe it plays a huge part in the moral of this particular blog. You pull up to this "church" building and it is an old run down warehouse looking building with a sign outside that says EXTREME in big black letters above the door. As I walked up the sidewalk to the entrance there was this middle aged black man sitting on the steps with a bag of canned goods he'd just received from inside the "church," where for the first hour on Sunday they open up the doors and allow people who need it to come inside and get food and clothing. They have a super ministry to the homeless who live under the bridge. This sweet man was sitting on the steps and as people passed he would say "good morning." I had huge tears before I ever entered. As I walked in, the room was dimly lit and in the corner there was a coffee shop and donuts and people mingling in this very casual room with sofa's and chairs and just a living room type feel. Then I watched this lady come in who was almost without a doubt a recovering drug addict with two children. She spoke loud and she shook some as she talked. She was speaking to a very "cleaned up" lady and she was explaining to her that she'd been sick and up all night and this gentle kind lady who had Jesus hands today placed her hand on this lady's forehead and said you're burning up and took her to get a drink and stood there with her just listening and loving. There was so much dignity given in that moment and I learned something about Jesus in 5 minutes of watching two other human beings interact. We learn so much that way if we take the time to pay attention.
Ok so all of that was before the worship. The worship was incredible. It was Spirit led, it was deeply felt. The message was completely centered around the cross of Christ and urged us to come and die...to boast in nothing but the cross of Christ and challenged us that the only way we could boast in the cross is on the cross. I must place myself on the cross, dying to myself, realizing I have a lot of dying left to do. WOW!!!
I realize that hundreds of words here fell far short of doing this justice. I saw today though with these two eyes God gave me one of the most beautiful things I've seen in a long time, perhaps ever in my life. My hope has been restored that there are places who really are doing this ministry thing the way I read about in the Bible. Who really are setting up worship stations where anyone could feel welcome to enter. Places that really do structure themselves so that not knowing how to "behave" or "conduct" one's self in church is never a factor.
I pillow my head tonight so refreshed. So completely refreshed. Saw something absolutely holy today and it inflated my Spirit in ways that I don't remember feeling before.
Oh Lord that we would always seek ways that mimic what you've asked us to. Thank you for this precious glimpse into Your heart today and for being so utterly kind to allow me to be just one small part of that moment in time. You are awesome! Help us get it God please. Help us be it God with all that we are and all that we do. Please help me die that you might live in this temple.
By the way thanks Jen, for being a conduit for Jesus. I appreciate you!
Saturday, June 04, 2005
Anybody else out there reading this ever have one of these moments where your spirit is in crisis in some way you can't describe necessarily in words? I feel like that right now when I think about the way we do church. It's not that I doubt the existence of God anymore, I don't. He is as real to me as the air I breathe. Now it's that I find myself questioning some of the surrounding elements of that as if taking other people's word for what God asks me to do and be is not enough anymore. It isn't enough to me to sit in a church building where we talk about feeding the homeless, I want to hold the spoon and find the hungry and feed them. It isn't enough somewhere within me anymore to talk about leading people to Jesus and never invest enough in people that don't look and act exactly like we do to know what it feels like to truly lead someone else into Christ's arms. Finding it difficult to sit in a service that is structured in some ways so that sinners who don't know how to "behave" in church would never be able to feel comfortable there. I'm not sure we've set up a mimick version of what Jesus established. I think we've so gotten in the way of some of that. I guess what I'm saying in essence is, what has always been enough, in my mind isn't enough anymore.
Guess that means somehow we're going deeper. It means some things are being reframed in my mind. It means a lot of things I don't even know yet. Here's the one thing I do know, it is making Jesus' heart for people beat within my own chest in ways I can not fully explain and I am so thankful for His kindness in allowing me to be part of His passion.
Thanks for listening or reading my jumbled thoughts. Of course they are subject to change and I pray they don't step on your toes. I am in no way abandoning the church...perhaps just seeking to be closer to what Jesus asked me to be as a member of it.
Goodnight for now.
Thursday, June 02, 2005
Spent Tuesday night this week giving a presentation on Honduras to a group of gals in Williamstown and it was delightful to be with them. It's funny, I could give the same speech a thousand times I think and still be completely touched by this story...this country...and God's heart for these people. A few of my very good friends from there tearfully committed to going with next years team from here. I'm delighted about that. Please pray for more opportunities for me to be able to share what God needs me to about this place. It is an honor to share their story and I do not take that lightly.
As plans continue with the Santa Ana property and I continue to work with Marc, I appreciate him more and more. What joy to be a part of something that's bigger than we are and requires a divine providence to enable it to come true. It's vision. It's faith. It's just way past exciting to give God room to blow our minds as we attempt to get out of the way. I love it!! Was thinking tonight that in just a few short months I'll be living in this country. Not going to visit for some days, not going with a project mentality for a short stint, but going to do the fun and exciting and the mundane ordinary moments of life, all of it in this country. Thought about how refreshing the simplicity is going to be.
I moved out of my apartment last week completely and in so doing, I sold a lot of my stuff and I boxed up a whole bunch of it and I noticed something. I didn't have trouble getting rid of the "stuff" and almost welcomed it at points. It was neat to think through the purpose and realize that God had released the grasp in my heart so that it could release the grasp with my fingers on the "stuff." Just became so apparent that I need very little in this world and sometimes I'm better when I just get away from all the distractions from all of it.
Well gonna close this one tonight, that's enough update for a bit. Still attempting to be His vessel where I am right now and praying you're doing exactly the same.