Friday, October 28, 2005

Happy Birthday to me :)

Well I have been spoiled today, I must say.
The day before I hit the quarter century mark. I came late to work because of some errands I had to do, and found flowers on my desk! My friend Mel arranged for them before she left on a recruitment trip out West.
I love flowers! I buy them for myself sometimes.
Then, a few minutes ago, a delivery van came to our office and brought me more flowers, from the man in my life. They came with this note:
"Remember Jen,
The man who sends you these flowers loves you very much.
Love, Dad"

Here I am with the flowers in my office. I'm all smiles.
I guess it would have been too much if I bought myself flowers for my birthday AND made my own birthday cake.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Cake decorator extraordinaire... almost

There are lots of things I am interested in that I've just never had (or taken) time to do. I've decided to just go for it and do some of them, whether or not I can see any immediate practical value. The first thing is taking a cake-decorating class at Michaels with a friend, Beth.
This is my first cake. Hehe, I know it is hideous, look at all that pink! But I'm having fun!
Don't worry, I'll keep practicing. :)

Monday, October 17, 2005

My mother- my best friend

I've been realizing how little I communicate how much I value the people in my life. I think about it all the time, but forget that what I think is not immediately apparent to those around me.

I had a good, though quick talk with my mom today, and it was another reminder of how blessed I am to have the mom that I do. She is amazing. I think I could actually say that she is my best friend. Her unconditional love has been one thing that God has used to show me His love for me. Her voice in my life has been an anchor. The example of the pure love she has for God inspires me to know Him more. I count on her prayers.

She is an amazing woman, even though she doesn't always see it herself. She'd never call herself an intellectual but I love the way that I give her books like "Shattered Dreams" and "The Pressure's Off" by Larry Crabb, and "Grace Walk" by Steve McVey, and she soaks it up. I see how she takes hold of the profound truths she reads, and lets God shape and reshape her perspectives and opinions. She has wisdom like no one I know, and yet a willingness to look from a different perspective, and to learn and grow.

I could write a book on the virtues of my mother, but I'll keep it to this: all my life she has supported and encouraged my dreams and desires, with her words and with her prayers. I know she believes in me and expects God to do great things through me. I say, that I don't care if God does great outward things in my life, that's up to Him. But if God will make me a woman after His own heart, like my mom, I will be thankful and the world will be blessed.

Love you mom!

She won't like the wind-swept picture, but I have an alarmingly small collection of pictures of her... I guess she's just going to have to send the pictures that I've been asking for. :)

Friday, October 14, 2005

My incredible sister

The best part of my week was that I got a letter from my sister Melanie. One year younger than me, we've always been close, but we've always had "issues" too.

Two more different people you've never met... people never believe we're sisters, until they see us bickering. Of course, we have convinced a few people that we are twins...

I got a great letter from Mel this week that means a lot to me. I love my sister so much that it hurts. She's an incredible girl, and I am so excited to see God at work in her life. We've got so much history together, and we have experienced so much together that I wouldn't be who I am without her. My life would have been a lot more boring! She knows all my most embarassing secrets (though she doesn't usually keep them secret!) and I know hers. And the pictures...hehe... I have the most embarassing pictures of her... and I'd show you... except I'm in them too... and that's just not going to happen. :)

Twins :)

Us in Hong Kong

Us in Jordan.

(ok, with the last two I was just having fun in Photoshop... but someday, we'll travel together!)

Friday, October 07, 2005

So many missed opportunities

A few weeks ago I wrote about my realization that I've never really seen people. I've seen them, but I haven't seen them. My eyes are starting to be opened to behold the unique beauty and glory of God that He reveals in each person.

But my old habits die hard. I reflect on the various interactions I've had with people of late and realize that there are so many missed opportunities.

There are so many times that I interact with people, talk with them, listen to them- but fail to really engage. I enjoy myself rather than enjoying them.

I get so excited about what I'm learning, and what I want to say that I fail to just sit and behold the marvelous creature before me. I see them, but I don't see them. I listen but I don't listen. I fail to "practice their presence" so to speak.

I'm missing out, but I need to get past my own self-absorption to really engage with other people in ways that I rarely do. I think the goodness of God is evidenced in the fact that I actually still have friends!

:) *Smiling, but not joking* :)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Avoiding eye-contact with God

That's what I feel like I've been doing for the past few weeks. All too aware of the ways that I am not measuring up, I put Him off because I feel unworthy of His presence. The subconscious line of thought is that once I just clean myself up a little better I can approach Him.

So silly. Really. Of course I can't measure up. As long as I try, or delude myself into thinking I can, I embrace my selfish pride. I fail often. Let's get that out of the way now, so I can just accept the freely given grace, and the truth that I am forgiven!

Makes me think of a quote that stood out for me in Brother Lawrence's "Practicing the Presence of God":

"When an occasion of practicing some virtue was offered, he addressed himself to God saying, 'Lord, I cannot do this unless Thou enablest me'. Then he received strength more than sufficient. When he had failed in his duty, he only confessed his fault saying to God, 'I shall never do otherwise, if You leave me to myself. It is You who must hinder my failing and mend what is amiss.' Then, after this, he gave himself no further uneasiness about it."

and this one:
"He said he was very aware of his faults, but not discouraged by them. He confessed them to God and made no excuses. Then, he peaceably resumed his usual practice of love and adoration."

LORD Jesus, I thank You that I cannot earn your love, OR Your acceptance!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

A theology of suffering

It's been a crazy week. I think I worked, or was at work-related functions for about 80 hours this week. Don't get me wrong, I loved (almost) every second of it, though I'm a bit tired... We had orientation, with 4 candidates, our international director visiting, and a board meeting and barbeque yesterday. Well I didn't actually go to the board meeting, thankfully. :)

A highlight of my week though was this:

On Thursday afternoon with orientation officially over, I had a great discussion with Mel (friend and co-worker), Donnie (Canadian director and my boss) and our international director John Fletcher. We have these defining discussions with Donnie all the time, and it is one of the best things about working here. These talks, as we dig into our relationships with God, what He's teaching us, and how that works into how He has called us to serve. We've all been learning such similar lessons, about how our identity is found not in what we DO for God (as if He would be lost without us) but in WHO we are in relationship with Him. What we do has to flow out of that relationship, or else it's all self effort that will blow away in the wind.

Anyway, on Thursday, as we sat and talked, John Fletcher brought up the concern that we need to have a theology of suffering.... instead of a theology of success.

The theology of success is what we are comfortable with, and what we've come to expect when it comes to ministry. Find out what works and market it. Come do this _____ ministry with us because it is exciting, dangerous, needed, fun, _____ etc. The reality of ministry is that it inevitably involves suffering. If our faith doesn't have room for this... we'll either learn it as we suffer, or we'll crash and burn.

But suffering, brokenness and pain are not our enemies. Shattered dreams are most often the things that bring us to God, and refine us. In the loss of the things that we desire, we find that our greater desire and need is for Him.

(good references: Henry Nouwen, "The Wounded Healer""and Larry Crabb, "Shattered Dreams")