I need a job. I've been scouring classified ads and have made some phone calls. All of the following are in the running, in some shape or way. Put in your vote.
Saturday, September 30
I want to be more honest. Not just on this blog, but in real-time, too. I like to think I'm awfully honest. But, lately I feel like I've put bars in front of my words. Maybe it's because I'm living in such transition. Or maybe because I'm an approval-suck. It's both/and, I'm sure.
A few years ago, I started scribbling about the lack of bare naked honesty I've experienced in Christian-circles. Like most of the songs I write, I never finished it. It is an indictment of my own laziness as well as the sub-culture of sugar-coated words that we tend to welcome in the Church. I'd like to break the bars of both.
In a dream last night, my tongue was wrapped (delicately) in cellophane. Very strange, it was. I was in a room of thousands, but they all thought me fine. Through numerous conversations, no one seem to notice that there were layers upon layers of thin clear plastic jacketing my tongue. Under their quick glancing inspections, it seemed red and fleshy. It was visible, at least.
"Oh now, your tongue looks just like our's, dear."
I too quickly believed them. In the eternity-seconds of dreams, I instantly learned how to talk through layers of thinned plastic.
They patted me on the back. Someone quickly handed me a sugary-drink as we held our glasses high, and (all too awkwardly) toasted, "God bless us, every one."
Thursday, September 28
Greetings from Baltimore. A.K.A. “The Greatest City in America,” and, even more hysterical (considering the literacy rate), “The City that Reads.” I love Baltimore. She is the rough, sassy, audacious younger sister to Washington, D.C, just forty minutes up highway 95. I always loved inventing the rivalry between these two close cities. I’m still a little bitter that I’ve lived so close to D.C. all my life, and yet, without fail, get lost every time I drive there. (How can you have four different addresses for the same street, in the same city? For the love.)
I've just started my first week of classes this quarter with Fuller’s M.A. - Global Leadership program. The class is on Mentoring. I’m halfway through the program and I’m doing my best to get ahead of this reading for the first time in my life. To those of you sweet souls who were cheering me on in that last Bobby Clinton class, I just got my 47-page paper back, and passed, quite miraculously. Next time I’m doing a cross-continental move/major life-transition, someone please yell at me to put on hold any classes demanding 50 page papers. That baby required two all-nighters to finish on time. Oh me.
As I’m drinking coffee in a very-not-European café, my current thoughts are swirling around two things:
1. How to resurrect the combined total of over 300 pages of academic writing I’ve done over the last decade into something that might give life to my friends. And strangers.
2. How to live out the Psalms more. I always like to think the Psalmists were absolute emotional wrecks. So, at least I'm living myself into that part of the song.
Tuesday, September 26
Until the end of September, Sermon Cloud is offering a free audio book download of G.K. Chesterton's classic, Orthodoxy. Go to Sermon Cloud and scroll down to the bottom right corner for the banner. It's not a hoax. I just downloaded the baby. No credit card or anything. Boo-yah.
I have been wanting to read Chesterton for ages. He's been on the proverbial unending list of read-that's. (Maybe now my iPod will help.) Chesterton's name has been creeping up on my thoughts a lot more these days, especially after talking with my new friend Linnea, in Kansas City. Linnea is writing a book about how she sees the Church mimicking the outrageous architecture of Gaudi's (yet unfinished) La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. She talked of Chesterton as if he were her Grandfather. Her writing is good. Very good. Linnea's words paint pictures as rich as the stuff she puts on canvases. Of course she made me want to read G.K. At least now I'll get him narrated to me by a guy with a nice British accent.
Thanks to Andrew Maude for the noisy drawing-design above. Good boy.
Sunday, September 24
(This post has nothing to do with my cat, Gus. I just really miss him. He's back in Portugal with a wonderful new family.)
I had a teary-fight with God a few days ago. I know he's asking me to spend time back here in the USA to Rest. But, I said, I don't know how to rest in America anymore. I know how to rest in Portugal, but I'm not there! He calmed me down. In my journal I started scribbling a running list of ideas.
HOW TO REST IN AMERICA:
1. Listen for God's voice first.
2. Listen to music loud.
3. Make Re-cycled stationary.
4. Read outdoors where you can smell Creation.
5. Write people written notes. Mail them.
6. Look for new and creative ways to feast on God's Words. You tend to starve on cheap imitations. Fast food is gross, girl.
7. Play instruments like Jesus is the only one in the room. Joyful noises!
8. Resist American over-indulgent impulses. (They are many.)
9. Run and stretch at sundown.
10. Go to the Farmer's Market. Eat 5 a day. (Veg-Fruits, not Farmers.)
11. Get a Part-time job that you can walk to. You want work that won't follow you home.
12. Put some legs on your old-writing. Then, send it to strangers.
13. Sing aloud your prayers and questions much more often.
14. Stay connected with old friends. But don't get addicted to the Net.
15. Journal and Blog about Portugal.
16. Make your family meals with the freshest stuff possible.
17. Give away the things you don't need. Simplicity is Sabbath. (See also: Barbara Leite.)
I think 17 could keep me busy for awhile.
Saturday, September 23
(We interrupt this eleven-day blog "hmmmm" on the Church in the End Times for a brief breath of garden air.)
When I first arrived in Portugal with Jane, back in 2003, I stayed with the lovely Luxton family. The Luxtons have an outrageous garden. I couldn't stop sitting in it. One day in that garden I took this picture in a (grappling) attempt to be cute. And to have a cute entrance page to my (now defunct) hellosaidjenelle dot com website. (Thank you, Gideon and Tim. You both worked really hard to help me get web-settled.)
This here bloggy-blog is a resurrection of that there website. The one that I failed to maintain. Little things hidden in the HTML (which I don't speak) kept creeping up on me and driving me insane. The website started to feel like a garden with too many weeds. I got bored with it and just stopped weeding. And then it died. Sad story.
Raise your hand if you remember that old site. Ok good. I really don't want to let this blog get overgrown with weeds. Please shout at me if I go any longer than a week without a new post. Especially if I don't give a decent reason, like say, I'm out weeding in Mama's garden. (Ma, do we have a garden? We should get a garden. Or at least a kitty.)
Tuesday, September 12
I have often been moved by books that slip under the radar screen of popular approval. (In fact, I tend to duck from those ones. I'm a little stubborn and prideful, I know.) This book is one of those quiet messengers: "As Storm Clouds Gather: A Sleeping Church Must Be Awakened," by Jim Maher. I am only five chapters into it, but it is asking me to reexamine words that Jesus said...the ones that I always, well, sort of skimmed over. Especially Matthew 24. If you are intrigued, forget the book, but go and read that chapter and let me know if anything stirs in you. (I heart when people leave comments to tell me they're reading this bloggy-thing.) I'll be checking back as I try to finish it before I leave it on my friend's bookshelf here in Kansas City.
I am without words for how refreshing it has been to be with both the 24-7 Prayer community, and here at IHOP.
I'll turn instead to tattoos.
Tonight I went with a ministry team of ordinary people into inner-city Kansas City. We left from the IHOP parking lot, prayed we'd bring with us God's love and compassion, and packed in loads of food to hand out to those who have little. We arrived in a park that is known for being dismal after dark. I sat down and talked with one man, named Santos, who had about four tattoos on each of his arms.
"Tell me the stories of your tattoos," I said.
Santos went on to tell me, through his beautiful toothless smile, that he'd seen the inside of a maximum-security prison for many years. He'd been a drug-smuggler from South America and made ridiculous amounts of money each day. He had many regrets. But Santos never did any dope, or even drink much booze. His primary vice? 3 packs of cigarettes a day. He’d been hopelessly addicted.
Somewhere along the line, Santos got out of prison, and found Jesus. He rejoiced with me of his most recent victory: God had given him the power to quit smoking, cold-turkey. He talked more about his job, his life, and we prayed together for all of his nine kids to find Jesus.
I was so humbled to hear this man’s story. I felt absolutely safe sitting in the middle of this crowd with an ex-con, hearing the stories of his not-so-glorious tattoos. He had a peace about him that was other worldly.
Before we left I dreamt with Santos that he’d see far more of God’s supernatural power, beyond the power he’d given to quit smoking. I don’t know if that’s prophecy or what. All I know is that I want to dream more for people, in that way. And I want to take time to listen to more people’s stories. Especially the ones that the world calls “poor.”
Picture taken from Sacred Ink
Sunday, September 3
I am on a plane headed to Kansas City. There’s a nice view. I salute Southwest Airlines. They are cheap. (Ahem…the flight from Denver to KC cost the same as filling up my car’s gas tank in Portugal.) And they serve plane-shaped crackers! They are such a crack-up when they give the safety-instructions. Today our stewardess said, “Please put your seats in their upright, most uncomfortable positions…Yada yada yada.” She really said the “yadas.” Excellent.
I am jumping out of my skin in excitement that I’m heading to KC for ten days. The first three days I’ll be at the mission base for 24-7 Prayer USA. The last week I’ll be at the International House o’ Prayer mission base. 24-7 Prayer and IHOP are two different expressions of the same basic vision: non-stop, around-the-clock prayer to impact the nations. Both of these prayer movements began in September 1999: 24-7 in Europe, and IHOP in Kansas City. I think God is up to something. I wanna be a part of it.
24-7 Prayer Movement
International House of Prayer (IHOP)