Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Precious Friends

I get to see these two amazing people in only two days...and I CANNOT WAIT! Forth of July weekend has never before held such excitement for me. :) Shelley And Tony are dear friends of mine from Bible school. We began together in August 2007, and graduated together six weeks ago. Shelley's big brother is marrying my big sister this July, and Tony has been like a brother to me these past two years. I desperately miss seeing them every morning in class, hanging out together, and just talking. We three were steady desk partners all through our second year of Bible school! God has taught me so much because of my friendships with these two...and I praise Him for the ways He has grown (and is continuing to grow) them in Christ! Love you guys so much.

Here in 'Real Life'

I'm learning that life is not what I was expecting. Reality really isn't all that easy. In fact, it's pretty difficult. That may be old news for you...but I'm learning it right now. God is currently allowing my old expectations to be torn apart. And I decided to blog about it. We had a flood in our basement this morning. The sump pump broke for the umphteenth time and my dad had to buy and install a new one...and then squeegee an inch of standing water back into the concrete hole in the corner of our house. Some stuff got wet, but nothing was ruined. I guess in real life, things break and get wet sometimes. I don't think that's ever clicked in my head before. Again, it might sound silly...but it's what I've been thinking about.

And you know what, these days I'm finding that good communication is very hard work. Building relationships in the here and now, without a million fun memories as a foundation, is tough. For me, life used to be a bunch of amazingly fun events all strung together by time: as soon as one thing finished, I started looking forward to the next big thing. Consequently I've spent a lot of my life either reminiscing about times gone by or living in the future.

But God is a God of the present tense, and He desires me to live in the here and now, to build strong relationships now. What is today really worth? I guess life is kind of an esoteric number of 'todays' that we're each given to do with what we will. What's it worth to me? God is pretty amazing to know exactly how we're going to live our lives, even all the bad decisions we're going to make, and still desire to work through our choices. He's more amazing to me now, in 'real life' as they call it, than He ever was in Bible school. In the classroom, I learned historical truths about God, yes. But in application, I learned in theory. I learned a lot of it in a bubble...a spiritual greenhouse, as it were.

Now that bubble has popped. And you know what? I'm finding God to be faithful; His character hasn't changed. He's the same God I learned about when studying the history of Israel in the Old Testament. He's the same God who sent Christ to save the world. He's the same God whose Holy Spirit has lived in me ever since I believed the Gospel thirteen years ago. He keeps proving Himself to me, here in real life. And I guess I didn't expect that. First of all, I didn't expect reality to be so harsh. But secondly, I didn't expect to need God so much. It's amazing.

It's also painful. Being tested by the fire that 1st Peter 1 talks about hurts. I want to grow in my endurance, so I'm thankful for those flames. And you know, my life is anything but full of trials and persecution. Still, there are many ways that I am being pushed and pried...and that is good. God is using the irony of my discovering 'real life' to humble me and convince me of my need for Him. Bring it on Lord! Because I want to be SO needy for Jesus that I'm done with trying it myself. Whatever it takes, Father. I trust You.

Here are some common sayings I'm actually starting to understand:
"Money doesn't grow on tress."
"No news is good news."
"Absence makes the heart grow fonder...(or forgetful)."

Friday, June 26, 2009

"Oh the Summertime"

So here are a few favorite photos from my trip to see Mr. Jebediah James in Iowa. He and a couple friends picked me up at the Chicago Union Station on Saturday night, then Sunday was spent adventuring through sunny Chicago. Man was it HOT! We wandered Navy Pier, and of course ate a classic Deep Dish. The rest of the week in Iowa I stayed with my friend Tara and her mom. Both of them were amazing! I've never felt so at home. Each work day I got to sport a Dish Network/Direct TV polo and learned how Jeb and his co-workers sell door-to-door. It was a lot more difficult than I expected. By Friday afternoon there was nothing so refreshing as playing in the rain...especially since the humidity had been practically 110% all week long!

Jeb and I got all dressed up for my very first "official" Friday night date...dinner and a walk through downtown Iowa city. :) This "first" experience also included a slightly crazed (and thoroughly bearded) street-flautist, serenading our conversation with his untraditional songs and running commentary...good grief! Oh the memories we make along the way.

Seven AM Saturday came early, and we got a rather late start. I missed the noon train. Praise the Lord for an extremely nice train lady who honored my original ticket fare and got me a seat on the six PM train! I think my tussled hair and frustrated expression provoked in her some kind of pity, which I was happy to accept with gratitude. She sternly reminded me to be at the station an hour early next time, and of course I assured her I would. During my ticket fiasco, Jeb faced the ornery and ridiculous Chicago streets. I sat on my suitcase waiting outside the station as hundreds of faces came and went. Tourists were easy to spot; I marveled at those clearly comfortable with the chaotic system of never-ending motion. Then finally...a familiar face. (I must admit I was by no means disappointed with the idea of more time with the boy.;)

So Jeb and I spent our last afternoon snoozing/people watching at a nearby Starbucks, and then enjoying the (shaded) scenery at a Chicago riverfront. What a great week with a great guy. :) God has really encouraged me and faithfully challenged my thinking through this relationship...I'm so thankful.

Monday, June 8, 2009

33 Years!


Archives photo...summer vacation - 2005??

You are amazing parents and I thank God for you both.

So, It's Official as of Friday

There's this boy from California.
We graduated from Bible school together.
We're dating now.

Jebediah & Jenna

Saturday, June 6, 2009

"You." (A Poem)

You who dwells in unapproachable light,
who makes Your home in the Third Heaven,
who holds time in Your hand...

how is it You find joy in revealing Yourself to me?

You who sees the sparrow fall,
who calms my heart with Your Word,
who calls my mind to ponder Your eternality...

how is it You have come to rescue me?

You who holds back oceans,
tears down cities,
and relocates entire language groups of people...

how is it that You find joy in teaching me?

You who knows all things,
is everywhere-present and all-powerful,
who cannot be tamed but was led as a lamb...

how is it that Your death could steal death's sting?

You who designed and created,
breathed life and welcomed,
forgave, redeemed, and sanctified...

how is it that by grace through faith, I'm justified?