Barren

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As you can see, the homefront has been pretty barren around here. I have not had the willpower to post anything. At all. Obviously. I say a lot of vague things when I write, and I’m trying to break that habit. Old habits indeed die hard.

Even posting this is viscerally difficult for me. I am fighting to find the right words. Mincing. Piecing. Deleting. Re-typing. Nothing seems to fit. My words go on in circular a manner and often add up to puff and fluff. Awkward phrasing. Lack of focus. These things have in turn played out in my social endeavors. Tired words. Cliche phrases. Vapid remarks.

I have been working two jobs and going to school full-time for the past 6 months, and apparently this has drained every ounce of creative control from my writing. There seems to be hope however. The Lord, true to His ever-constant character, has provided opportunities for me. He has irrevocable faithfulness even in my unutterable groans.

Nuggets of His faithfulness:

-Opportunity to go to Costa Rica May 2014-June 2014 to study abroad and finish my Spanish minor

-Provision for my major and minors: MAJOR- Communication Studies MINOR(s)- Creative Writing and Spanish

-An eCourse entitled “Story Session” via the Story Unfolding (@eloranicole)

I can’t even finish this post in full because I have just discovered another post that made me weep. My tears are now dry, and I have a project to work on. I shall see you soon.

-Jenna

Just ’cause I said it doesn’t mean that I meant it

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A friend recently told me they missed me, and I replied by telling them I missed me too; I wasn’t trying to be cute or smart. They asked me what I meant and I replied with these self-centered words,

“I miss my passion, my drive, my motivation, my inspiration, my go get ’em attitude, my discipline, my finesse, my strength, my inner light, my spark, and my love. I miss being happy all the time. I miss never being in a bad mood. I miss having a carefree attitude, I miss my energy, I miss who I truly am. I’ve become a shell of who I used to be, I’ve become a creature that gets blown by whatever wind passes my way, and I’ve lost my capacity to withstand trials. I can muster conversation and I can pretend to be by the memories in my heart but when the doors close I retreat and I’m lost.”

There was a reply from friend, and I was reminded once more how sordidly selfish I have become through the midst of trials and hardship. I once again replied,

“Even as I say those self-deprecating words I know they are lies planted by the Enemy. Fact of the matter is though they are deep seated psychological issues that I can’t seem to overcome. And as soon as I say THAT I am reminded by a different voice that I don’t have to try to be or do anything. I simply am. However, there’s a hold on me that is a daily battle and I feel as though I have lost the drive to fight most days. My false mindsets keep me from sitting, resting, and taking in all that God says about me. I have this tendency to think I have to be ‘on’ at all times and it has an adverse effect where I retreat and become the absence of my true self – all the qualities I just mentioned. I become so self-centered and I’m left to eat all the bad fruit offered in the garden. I run around in my head all day long and I get lost and then I end up spinning once more on the viciously cyclical merry-go-round of futility.”

End rant.

I can’t say that I’ve gone through anything much harder than the rest of the world. Simply put however I am currently admist what seems like my crowning battle, and the crown doesn’t seem to fit. I know that there’s nothing I can do of my own accord, and that is the beauty of the Gospel. When will I ever learn this life isn’t about me? Who am I living for, after all?

Stepping into the Promised Land

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For the past several weeks, pastor at Church has been presenting sermons out of Exodus and Numbers in a series entitled ‘Leaving Egypt’. He’s been re-telling Moses’ story but more than that… the story of the Israelites. He has drawn many illusions for us to better understand how God is still calling upon His people to travel a journey they never dreamt possible for themselves, and the promise is immense. The obstacles can and will be great, causing us to question our ability to excel. However the Lord is asking us to focus on His splendor and His strength to pull us through the challenging courses that require skill and adeptness. We have to be focused on Him, turning things around in our mind to lend perspective. When God reaches down into our world, He sees the possibilities abounding, and He wants to give them to us. However, we often clench our fists in obstinance, believing we hold some innate power to change the circumstances and bend them our way. More often than not we haven’t the slightest clue what God’s trying to do. If He has already imparted vision in revelation into the hearts of men, then those men need only cling to what the Lord has bestowed upon them and move forward fully confident in the strength of Lord Jesus.

For as long as I can remember, I have had vision. Not simply physical vision but the spiritual kind. For whatever reason, the Lord decided to show me a blueprint of a plan long before I was even capable of understanding the slightest fraction of what this could possibly mean, or how it could possibly be fleshed out. I’ve toiled and tarried in child’s play for far too long, hoping I could escape the weight of glory He honorably placed on my shoulders. I don’t believe I hold some secret key to unlocking the true meaning of life. *Cue dramatic music* I am faithfully aware THAT has already been finished at Calvary on a hill in Golgotha, outside the walls of Jerusalem. However, 2013 years later here stands an almost 22 year old young woman who has stored a vision in her heart, and she can feel how imminent the tides are as they change. Whether Jesus is coming back tomorrow, I do not know. But in His design for me, He placed a crucial puzzle piece in my heart that fits into a grand canvas He’s painting, and if I’ll just sit still and listen He will show me how to be delivered into a promised land here in this life, not for my glory but for extended fame to His name. BUT not just for fame rather for HEARTS BEING TURNED OVER. He’s given me an outlet to achieve, but I stand back in fear. Desperately wanting, I find too much doubt in my heart.

Lord. Teach me not to tarry.

Alive and well

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I haven’t posted since December, and February is almost over. This is the first time in almost two years that I haven’t posted at least once a month. I definitely miss writing, and I know I need to write more in general. I’ve had an interesting past couple months. I’m not in school this semester, so my head tends to get clogged pretty easily. I really need the structure of schoolwork and deadlines to keep me going. There’s a huge part of me that hates routine because it makes life seem mundane at times. However, there are times when I realize how badly I need this structure present. It’s a little concept I like to call self-discipline.

I sit down to write and I don’t even know what to say.

Breathe steady, breathe deep

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Disclaimer: the following post is one I wrote over 2.5 years ago in my freshman year of college. Since the elapsed time, I have grown tremendously so in the following arena. My liberal friends call me conservative and my conservative friends call me an activist. Regardless, I love Jesus and He is my political agenda. I thought that perhaps with the passage of time I would have realized a deeper understanding of the matter, but my convictions remain the same. Have I grown tremendously closer to certain people under the same affliction? Yes, I most certainly have. I have perhaps a grander understanding of certain idiosyncrasies of a much afflicted people group. I maintain a huge level of respect of said persons, lest I forget the shalom of the church is at risk when we slay God’s precious children upon the rack. It should be increasingly obvious if you know me at all what I am about to talk about, so here I go… (In a not so expedient manner, so I hope you haveth the time)

I have a heart.

I understand that many of you read my blog. Many of you lurk it in secret, a couple of you dare to comment occasionally, and a few of you tell me about it later and cause me to realize that I’m not posting blogs that fall into cyberspace bouncing off firewalls. I preface my following post content with this disclaimer, because what I am about to talk about doesn’t digest easily. For anyone. We all have our opinions. We all have our prejudices. We all make assumptions and judgments. I am not exempting myself from the realm of judgment and am not placing myself on a pedestal. I am simply sharing my heart. Please understand that: sharing my heart.

“Homosexuality is romantic or sexual attraction or behavior among members of the same sex. As a sexual orientation, homosexuality refers to “an enduring pattern of or disposition to experience sexual, affectionate, or romantic attractions primarily to “people of the same sex;” it also refers to an individual’s sense of personal and social identity based on those attractions, behaviors expressing them, and membership in a community of others who share them.” -an excerpt from Wikipedia (very reliable source, I’m aware)
I am willing to wager that every single one of you is friends with, knows someone, loves someone, or has a family member who is gay, a lesbian, homosexual, etc. It’s no light topic. It’s not something I enjoy discussing, but it is something I have found myself wondering about, praying about, and asking others about. Five years ago, shoot, even a year ago, my response to any and all discussions of homosexuality being “right” would have been, “Absolutely not, never, never, never.” Then, I started experiencing homosexuality in a realm that hit much closer to home, I acquired friends whose sexual orientation was gay, and I became more comfortable with the idea.
I began to ask myself questions such as this, “What does the Lord have to say about it?” “Does the Bible specify what will happen to those who are homosexual?” “Will homosexuals go to Hell?” That last question is one that I hate. I hate, literally, HATE that some Christians have the propensity to tell homosexuals that they are going to hell because of their sexual orientation. It makes me want to slap a fool. “Excuse me, but could you please stop being ignorant for 2.5 seconds? Please take a step outside your provincial mindset and be empathetic and understand the root of our sexual orientations. Your density is cramping. my. style.”
Most of you may wonder why I would even write a post such as this, one of such controversial value. Trust me, I’m not doing it for the rating of my blog. (Not that I even believe my blog has a rating) I’m writing it because it has been on my heart for a long time now and it has come to a sort of culminating point over the past few weeks as I’ve pondered its weight in my life, what it means for the people around me, plus I recently watched a video about a Christian artist named Jennifer Knapp who has recently come out. Such is my reasoning. Take from this what you will. Another element to my post is that I want to be able to read this later and understand what I was facing in my college years.
Onward, I will share with you now what I believe about homosexuality.
-I don’t believe that just because you are a homosexual means you are going to hell. Nope, not at all. I don’t know of a Scripture that translates to all homosexuals going to hell. Now, if you are a homosexual and you are Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, agnostic, atheist, or just don’t care for any of it then that’s a different story…
-I understand that sin is sin. We lie, we cheat, we steal, we slander, we disrespect our parents, etc. I’m not excusing myself from the responsibility of sin I carry as a Christian who will ultimately be judged by my King. However, I do believe that the Bible (our Sacred text) is truth and on that truth, I stand. As a God-fearing, Bible believing Christian, I have to ask myself the question, “What does the Bible say about this?”
  • Before I dive into what the Bible says, first I would have to establish that homosexuality is indeed a sin then move forth on that premise.

    1 Corinthians 6:9-11, “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders  nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the Kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

    I can draw a few conclusions from this passage of Scripture. 1) Homosexuality is sin based on the context of this passage. 2) It is one among MANY sins listed here, therefore I would group these sins together as being equally offensive to the Lord. 3) I can’t say definitively what is meant by not inheriting the kingdom of God – does that mean a sentence to hell? Does that mean you simply won’t have as many rewards in Heaven? Does that mean (insert scenario here)? I can’t make up mind, especially without knowing the original script and many words do change meaning when they are lost in translation.

What it seems to boil down to for me is such: all of these sins are offensive in the sight of the Lord, but there is hope offered! “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified…by the Spirit of our God.” My ultimate conclusion is this: if you are a Bible believing Christian who fears the word of God and wishes to live a life worthy of the Lord, then turn from your sin, recognize your wrongdoings as such and be redeemed and washed by the cleansing power of the Lamb. It is possible.

I should also cover the fact that I do not believe homosexuality is a gene encoded in our DNA. Some might argue, but I am under the conviction that it is not. The same way I don’t believe being an adulteress is a DNA encoded gene. Some argue that homosexuality is a choice. I agree with that statement partially, because it has a few layers. The first layer: I believe some homosexuals have felt this way since they were little children and honestly could not help the way they felt about the same sex; I would say in this instance, it isn’t really a choice. The choice comes later… will he/she pursue the same sex? I believe other homosexuals turn to the same sex because of bad relationships with the opposite sex and find that they can receive “real pleasure” from the same sex, because the same sex understands them better. Even still, I believe some people choose homosexuality because it makes them feel good, yes, but also because they are starving for attention and will turn to any measure. So, in those capacities, yes homosexuality is a choice regardless of whether or not you’ve felt that way all your life or not. I should also say that I believe some people are born with a propensity for the same sex, in a similar way to some people being prone to alcoholism. I have certain sins in my life that I struggle with more than others. On the premise that homosexuality is sin, it is that sin for some.
“Love is a choice.” Of course love is a choice. Any married person will tell you that they don’t “feel” love for their spouse every single day when they wake up. They don’t always roll over in the morning and exclaim, “I feel so much joy and love for my husband/wife today!” Especially if he/she didn’t wash the dishes last night. It is a continual choice to choose LOVE. Do things for your significant other. Shower them in compliments. Do something unneeded that shows yes, you do love them. I am not a big fan though of this counter argument that many homosexuals use to justify their lifestyle. You are right, love is a choice. But that really has nothing to do with the sanctity of matrimony between a man and a woman.
I could go on and on about the ins and outs of homosexuality, why it is right or wrong, the many different opposing views and I could attempt to counter them all or bolster their strength as a legitimate argument. However, I am under the conviction that it all boils down to this one thing: Do you love the Lord Jesus Christ? Is He your savior? If the answer to those questions is yes, then I believe if you are struggling with homosexuality then you should get real with Him (He is after an honest heart; there’s no point in evading His truths; they will find you). Ask for forgiveness.
But before you do anything of this sort, you have to make a definitive decision about sin. The reason many aren’t right with God is because they are being wishy washy about the sin in their life. Trust me, I have been far from God at times because I didn’t want to make a definitive choice about the sin in my life, “Eh, it could be sin, but…” Always an excuse. Stop making excuses, decide based on the Scriptures what you believe about homosexuality, and if it is truly something you struggle with then daily ask Him to deliver you.
It may not appeal to you at first to be with the opposite sex, but I believe that He can wash away all sin and make us new again. It may take EVERY SINGLE DAY OF YOUR LIFE, but if you are truly seeking to honor God with your lifestyle then you will choose to please Him by seeking a life that He intended for you. And, I don’t believe God created homosexuality. I don’t believe God created sin. Man sinned, not God. I see sin as one huge man-made lake. That however is a large topic that I could expound upon forever, so I won’t. I should also add that if you are struggling with homosexuality and feel alone because you can’t be with anyone due to your convictions or because you can’t be with the opposite sex, then spend time with the Lord in His word. Hang out in the New Testament with Paul – you’ll discover quickly that he didn’t think that everyone needed to be married. In fact, he sometimes encouraged us to refrain from being with a man or a woman.
There are many things that I didn’t even cover in my analysis and journey through this topic. I know a lot of people ask the question, “Why do we have to judge homosexuality so critically if it is a sin among many other sins?” I believe the answer to that question in part is such: homosexuality affects individuals on a heart level, it is a struggle, it can be an uncomfortable topic to discuss, it hurts us, and because it has become so prevalent in our culture. I charge fellow believers who are not homosexual to stop judging so quickly. Understand the root of the problem, get to know the person, offer them mercy, and show them love just like you would to anyone else. Don’t discuss their homosexuality at every conversation. Be their friend. They aren’t some freak show. And homo phobics, GET OVER YOURSELF. Just because he or she likes the same sex doesn’t mean they’re an animal and will jump on EVERY single same sex member… Remember: you aren’t attracted to every opposite sex member. In the same way, they aren’t attracted to every same sex member.
I want to close by saying, I have a huge heart for this matter, and I am not going to judge you or not be your friend simply because you are homosexual. I just want you to examine your heart. If you don’t believe in God, then this is a completely different matter, one of salvation. If you are a Christian and do want to please the Lord, then please pray and ask Him honestly what He has to say about this particular sin and your life, and remember you have to decide what you believe is and isn’t sin…and go forth from there in your relationship with God. I can’t judge every person’s walk, but I can tell you if there is fruit in their life. All of this to say, we as a culture need to stop being so harsh and critical, but we also need to take sin for what it is. The Lord has a lot to say about it in His word.
I am finished sharing my heart.
Over & Out,
J

Where We Are

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I am wearing the same outfit I wore yesterday and not even because I had a shameful night. Quite the opposite actually. Anybody who knows me at all knows this is going against the very grain of who I am. WEAR THE SAME OUTFIT TWO DAYS IN A ROW IN PUBLIC, WHO THE HECK ARE YOU AND WHAT DID YOU DO WITH MY FRIEND JENNA!?

I share this with the class to touch on (and possibly expound upon if we know me) the fact that I am so not the person I always thought I was. This is a startling realization when you wake up one day and think to yourself, “Umm, am I really allowing this to happen? This is not where I’m supposed to be right now.” And that may be so. I should probably be graduating college this weekend (many of my high school friends are), but I happen to be about a year and a half behind in school, which really isn’t a huge deal because there is undoubtedly (my favorite adverb of the moment) too much pressure on high school graduates to have it all figured out. If I had been asked one more time what I wanted to do with my life upon graduating I might have shot somebody in the eye (See… WHO AM I?). I had this self-assured attitude and may not have outwardly proclaimed having it all figured out – in fact I probably “humbly” said, “I just have so much to learn…” – but I definitely inwardly thought I had it all figured out. So I bounced my happy dairy aire off to college with all my supposed knowledge in tote. However, there is a certain stigma (perhaps self-indcued) that comes when the question is posed, “So what do you do?” Of course the question is posed in the midst of many self-motivated people all of which have sustained careers (because I hang with big whigs) and I’m all, “Uhhh well I’m super smart, witty, cute, and courageous.” Then I’m like, “Jk… I go to school and I ‘work’.” It’s really not that shameful, but it still hurts because of the goals and aspirations I have always had for myself and the overwhelming feeling of falling short.

Enter my outfit of the past two days dilemma.

It is not that I feel so ashamed that I’m wearing the same clothes two days in a row (I did shower in between…), but it is a silly metaphor to the fact that I am not who I always thought I was. I am capable of doing very naughty things, those of which Santa would bring me coal for, and that is astonishing to me, because I always thought I was an angel of God. Note to self: child of God. Children have a tendency to do absolutely ridiculous things, and I have witnessed that on an obviously personal level the past few years.

I really do not know what else I have to say about this other than the fact that I am entering a stage in life where I am truly starting to see the virute in solitude (being an extroverted introvert I have always realized this), and I am scaling back my social life. Not immensely because let’s face it… I do love people. But I am being more considerate to myself. I am not allowing myself to splurge on the levels that I had been. If I have splurged with a friend lately who may read this they may think to themselves, “Pssh, could’ve fooled me…” The thing is though I can seriously sense the Lord revealing a very sweet season ahead. I say this a lot and it’s totally cliché, but it’s totally true. I may not be the same person I always thought I was, but I am who I am. The Lord has gifted me in numerous ways and He breathes life into me every waking moment. He is my strength, He is my portion, He is my prize, and even though I am not resting in as much abidance as I would like to I am still opening up my arms and sprawling them out to say, “Jesus, I am so weak and it’s only in my continual observance of said weakness that I am cognizant of your Holy Spirit.”

Ahhh, so here I am December, take me as you will,

Jenna