BE STILL

 

Jenny-Rose-Foster-Be-Still3

Today is my birthday. I am 35…Mid thirties! Wow, how does this all happen so quick. I am thankful for this big, full, messy, beautiful life and I am honored to have the opportunity to share my writing at SHE Loves Magazine today. Follow this LINK to read.

Much love,

– Jenny Rose Foster

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I See the Spark of God in Your Eyes

I have started a morning practice with my kids this summer. A practice of sitting down with each child, just the two of us and taking time to meditate and greet our day with prayer.

So many mornings go by without a pause to simply soak into and embrace the gift of the day in which we get to live. So many mornings are too often the kind that feel rushed with a swift kick in the butt tumbling into the day. It’s not a healthy way to enter life, and I am working towards changing the rushed moments into a slow present space in time, when my attention is required to love my children and be loved by them, rather than rushing myself forwards.

I think that love is slow. We can love fast, but I think we can love much better slow. What do I mean? I mean that, love takes time —  ( I know, I am one of those people too, that if I hear a few words that I have heard in a song, then the song ends up rolling around in my head and usually I have to belt it out… “Love…takes time, to heal when you’re hurtin so much…” — Did you hear that song too or was that just me…..) Anyhow, Love takes time. It takes time to stop and hug one another. Have you ever heard of the 20 second hug? Yes, there is some major science behind that one! A truth in taking time. Even just to hug a little bit longer!

Love takes time to listen to someone.

Love takes time to talk to someone.

Love takes time to pray with someone.

Love takes time spent with someone.

Love takes undivided attention. (No cell phones, no media, no movies – staring at screens together, which is all well and good, is not considered quality time. We love a good movie in our family, but I never count it as undivided time together, it is more of a chill out decompressive relaxation that we all do together, when we are just too tired to give any more and want to zone out).

Also, love takes kindness.

Because, being kind is thoughtful, purposeful, and often pre-meditated.

I notice that when I start the day off rushed and want the kids to just get on with their kid things so that I can get on with my Jenny things, I am quicker to be irritated with them. Quicker to snap. Quicker to want my own space, because I am quick to think about myself and quick to get into the day without a moment of pause, of soaking in the fresh awakening of life, of meditative sweetness. And we all have those things that we want to do and accomplish each day, and it is so easy to just get up and eat and just start doing.

I have been there on the reciprocating end. I have felt the difference. I can tell when a moment is being rushed. I have been part of prayer with others and the prayer was constricted into a quick slap-it-up time frame, and people are looking at their watches and waiting for end cues.

Or when you are hanging out with a friend or a group of people and some of them are looking at their phones while you talk directly to them… Hmmmm. I can feel the difference. I get it, I have done it too…but most importantly, I don’t want to be that person, that watch glancer, that distant listener, that quick to move-on-er with my very own children. Them most of all. I just don’t want it.

Summer-time has its perks, I get the luxury of fairly easy going mornings, but I am looking at it as an opportunity to practice a slow beginning before the wild blur of school hits in the fall.

So my kids and I began to take a moment of sweet connection with one another each day, or nearly each day, or at least a couple times a week. It’s called a practice. We are perfectly imperfect and we are getting to it. I am getting to it.

Nevertheless, each time we do this, the practice becomes more of a beautiful habit. My conversation starter topics will change, we are just getting started, and as all things go, things change in the way we approach them, but for now it looks a little something like this:

My son and I will sit next to one another. Or my daughter and I. We will talk about God together. With questions like, “Do you have any questions about God?” or “What do you think about God…” or “Do you think about God lately and if you do what do you think about?”

And then we will go onto topics of “how are you’s” but much deeper than the simple reply of, “good”.

The questions I try to use are intentional with the hope to pull more out of my child then generic answers. I want my kids to feel comfortable to express how they are really feeling. “How are you feeling today?” or “Is there anything that you are concerned about?” “Is there anything you want to talk about?” “Do you have any questions about anything?”

And then we talk about our hopes for the day: “What are your plans for this day?” “What are you excited about doing today?” “Are you reading any good books? Tell me about it.”

And then I end our talk with a time of slow – thoughtful – prayer. A time when I first ask them about anything they want to pray about. Usually their answer is reflective upon praying for others in need. I love that about children. So we will go ahead and begin by praying for those people or the animal or the circumstance. Then we will move onto thoughtful words of prayer for one another. I will pray for my child and then my child will pray for me.

“I am so thankful for my son – He is so beautifully made. Every part of him is perfect. He is a joy in my life. I am thankful for who he is, for his sense of humor and his creative mind… I am thankful for his smile and his laughter.” And so on. Speaking truth words about them. All positive words.

“I am so thankful for my daughter God – She is a gem. Everything about her is perfect. I pray that she feels loved by you. I pray that she feels loved by me…most of all I pray that she feels love for herself, for exactly who she is. I am thankful for her kindness and thoughtfulness, her excitement and compassion and curiosity.” And so on.

Then they will pray for me. We give and receive. We talk and we listen. My hope is that it opens a space and a doorway in which my kids can practice being still. Saying kind things to those that they love and to speak life into others, and a time to be able to open up and talk.

Then we end it with something like this… I hold my sons face in my hands. Or if I am with my daughter I hold my daughters face and I look into her eyes and say: “I see the spark of God in your eyes…”

Or I look into my son’s eyes and say, “I see the spark of God in your eyes.” With his personality, his eyes smile back at me and he sincerely replies, “Thank you” and then says, “I see the spark in your eyes too…” He looks deep into my eyes with his rich brown eyed-gaze, contemplating the spark with depth and warmth.

My daughter’s reaction, when I first told her those words was to open her eyes really big and dramatically and say back to me, “You can see the spark!!?” And then inquires with her inquisitive mind, “What do you mean? How can you see God in my eyes?” And question after question, which I am in a mind frame of listening and talking, so I am devoted to her questions wholeheartedly… she then tells me that she sees my personality in my eyes and I tell her that I see her personality in her crazy eyes.

I love the differences between my two kids. Different personalities. Different reactions to the same scenario. A different language.

Namaste, is a word that means I see the divine spark within you. I remember learning what this word meant years back after reading a book by Shane Claiborne, as he was inspired by his time spent with Mother Teresa whilst volunteering in Calcutta, India where he discovered this word. It inspired me to end my prayer time with my children by speaking about the spark of God in their eyes. Namaste is such a relevant word. We are all created in the image of God. ALL OF US. Thus within our eyes, we see the spark of the divine. I personally think it is seriously one of the most beautiful concepts in this life-lived-world.

May the peace and love of God be with you in the spaces in which you live on this day.

Namaste,

– Jenny Rose Foster

 

 

Dirt I dig you 2

Teach Me

… She opened up and explained to me that as a black woman she has too often been described in her life as cool or brave or strong; she has more often experienced compliments that are masculinizing. She shared with me that her hair is like an object to people: different, trendy, or interesting. What she wants though as a woman, is to be embraced with adjectives such as beautiful, stunning, and pretty.

White people, she told me, always get those kinds of compliments. Black people … get strong.

In that moment held between the two of us, I leaned into her story and I empathized deeply with her words. It was something that in my privilege I had been completely naïve about. It took asking questions and listening, despite my pride.

And at that table, I looked at my friend and I apologized:

I am sorry. I am sorry that my words put you back in that same place that you have been rising up out of. I am sorry that my words belittled your beauty. I am sorry for my ignorance within my privilege. I am sorry for your pain. … 

[ I am overjoyed to guest write over at SheLovesMagazine today! READ THE REST HERE ]

– Jenny Rose Foster

RISEN INDEED

 

Risen Indeed

“He is Risen” were the first words my brother greeted me with when I saw him at church on Easter Sunday.

I had forgotten for a moment how to respond back, it had been so long since someone had said that phrase specifically to me. In the back of my mind I pictured the words “Risen Indeed”, it came from a faint memory from attending the Nazarene church as a child.

Then my brother reminded me of the code words shared by the original followers of the “The Way”. The first believers, who claimed Jesus Christ as Savior; risen from death — with the tomb left empty.

The People of the Way used to greet one another exchanging these words: “He is risen” and the other person would reply, “He is risen indeed…” It was a code between the people; a knowing signal of faith.

As my brother explained this, I began to remember hearing these words echo throughout my childhood as people at church passed by one another exchanging the age-old custom.

He is risen, audacious words of the first believers, He is risen indeed. This long-held practice captivates my imagination and grabs hold of my heart.

These ancient words communicated the revolutionary belief of Jesus rising up from death into life again. This transfer of a few words was essentially an affirmation of yes and hallelujah for the belief of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ as son of God, and Jesus Christ as RISEN MESSIAH.

The People of the Way faced great persecution and opposition; they held these key words deeply and shared them amongst their brothers and sisters of faith… this was a time when believing that death had no victory over Jesus was a DANGEROUS belief to hold.

It is dangerous when our faith says: “Where oh death is your victory, where oh death is your sting” …

Because when we rise up and really grab a hold of that belief we recognize kingdom living: To live RIGHT NOW on earth as it is in heaven… It means, we live to love right now, we live to give right now, and we live to be the change we want to see…right now. Without fear of death, but rather joy of life now and life eternal.

We live to create beauty, on earth, just as love and life and value would be expressed in heaven. We live the now kind of hope. We live out the now kind of justice, your pain is our pain, when you hurt we hurt with you. When you rejoice we rejoice with you.

To defy deaths sting, is to claim a bravery like no other. This is dangerous living, because as followers of Jesus, we are beckoned to LOVE dangerously. Loving even when it hurts. Loving those who may stand behind things we don’t necessarily agree with. Loving people, not issues. Loving people, not politics… Loving people! Loving BEYOND THE LIMITS!

This kind of love looks like many different things to many different people in many different places with many different scenarios. We live this out in a myriad of ways in our local and global spheres of influence. What this looks like to me, will not neccesarily be the same as it looks to others, but we share the common rooted calling as People of the Way, that it is “for freedom that Christ has set us free!”

Anytime we fight for freedom through war and battle there will be pain and suffering and death. Death that clings and burdens that deepen. But with Christ we don’t have to fight for freedom, because it has already been freely given to us. Through Christ our burden is lifted. Thus we can carry the confidence which propels us forward as peacemakers, knowing that we are called for the making of beauty: the making of peace.

Every year we celebrate the ancient and mystic story of Jesus Christ rising from death. We celebrate because we are set free! A story so powerful that it permeates across the world thousands of years later. A belief passed down from generation to generation, as we the People of the Way, continue to this day, to carry on the practice and celebration of our Messiah!

So as a person of “The Way”, I will whisper to you with a knowing sense of joy, a camaraderie of credence held between us, “HE IS RISEN…” and I will hope to hear you say back to me, confirming that you are also a maverick follower of the wild freedom of Christ, “HE IS RISEN INDEED!”

– Jenny Rose Foster

The Rose and The Thorn

“The rose’s rarest essence lives in the thorns” – Rumi

I remember studying as an herbalist apprentice last summer. We were on a trail, four women, hiking through a high mountain forest in Oregon. The terrain was thick with depth and diversity and then it would unfold into holy sanctuaries of wild flower meadows; surrounded by choirs of trees.

We continued on our path; winding and ascending and descending. We passed a small waterfall and stood in its sacred mist as if being baptized once more. We pressed onward, slowly. It was always slow. We were never in a hurry; for there was much to behold.

When I hike, I often reach my hands out to greet plants along a trail as I pass by. To feel the leaves and the pines and the bark and the moss; to experience the textures. On the path there was a bush of bright pink-salmon colored flowers…

– Jenny Rose Foster

My writing: The Rose and The Thorn is featured over at She Loves Magazine today. Click HERE to read more. 

Rose & Thorn

OAKS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

 oak tree

I grew up running wild through the property across from my grandma’s house. I spent many weekends there with my cousin, catching giant pond spiders, building forts, meandering through the water paths with his drift boat, riding his dirt bike, and exploring. We were the best of friends.

At some point, during each visit to grandmas, I always found myself at the great oak tree. This tree was massive. The kind of tree that stood in absolute wonderment amongst the other trees. This tree had the presence that held my attention. The trunk was wide with deep lines. The branches spread out in all directions as a display of worshipful expanse. The covering created a shelter beneath; a place of safety. There was one branch that thoughtfully hung low enough for a little girl like me, to reach up and pull myself onto.

I treasure finding analogies and symbolism between this created earth and our created humanity which holds spiritual significance. Our Maker has purpose in the formation of things. Mindful beautiful thoughtful purpose! We are valued and remembered in the making and in the life-living.

The oak is a tree of righteousness. The prophet Isaiah used the oak tree as a symbol of God’s righteous people, planted for the glory and the splendor of the Lord.

Isaiah spoke of the Year of the Lord’s Favor by declaring the anointing to “preach good news to the poor…to bind up the brokenhearted…to proclaim freedom for the captives…and a release from darkness for the prisoners…to comfort all who mourn…and to provide for those who grieve in Zion…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes. The oil of gladness instead of mourning…a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” And then it goes on to say, “They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.”

***

Those words resonate with me like a beating drum, rhythmically asking me to stand to my feet and partake in the beauty. Isaiah’s words hold so much relevancy, right here, right now, for we the people.

The prophecy proclaims the mission of Jesus Christ, and in the act of sacrificial love and reconciliation, Jesus fully imparts to us the same calling. The bride is to fulfill this beautiful path of love as long as we are the church on this earth.

This calling is ours to take hold of. Ours for the claiming. This calling is imparted to us with authority by Holy Spirit.

We are called to be preachers of good news.

We are called to be mindful of the binding and mending of the brokenhearted.

We are called to be proclaimers of freedom for the captives… (WOW!)

We are called to be light bearers and key holders; releasers of the darkness.

We are called to set the prisoners free.

We are called to be comforters and providers to all who mourn.

We are released to wear our crowns of beauty instead of ashes.

May we receive and offer the oil of gladness.

And in this calling, this life-path of kingdom living, we the church, are named Oaks of Righteousness.

YOU SEE WE ARE CALLED TO BE ACTIVISTS! ~ ACTIVATORS OF LOVE

We are oaks of righteousness! We are to be a covering. A safe place. A sacred space. May we raise our banners high to be people of the open doors!

We as the church, the bride of Christ, we hold a sacred solidarity, a sister and brotherhood of EQUAL VALUE. Despite our differences and in celebration of our uniqueness, we as one faith, one body, one oak tree, we carry the flame and we journey together.

With equal value we are all invited to partake. We are all welcome to join in. There is room enough for all of us!

Our roots are planted, and they intertwine and overlap and they make new paths within the soil as we press forward in the making of righteousness.

Oh church, we are a planting of the Lord for the display of HIS SPLENDOR!

What an honor. What a calling. What a life-giving life this is.

– Jenny Rose Foster

Standing For

standing for people

Last night I took my dog Moonshine out for an evening walk. I love the silence of the neighborhood when all of the people are tucked inside and the aroma of home cooked meals are released as incense traveling through the streets.  The shadows envelope me in-between street lights. I cherish the alone space I feel between myself and the quiet hours; it gives room for reflection.

As I was walking I noticed a sign posted in a neighbor’s yard. It is vibrant with bright red words on a white background. It is a statement piece declaring activism for environmental defense. Things that I found myself nodding in agreement with. I have always considered it a no-brainer, and have understood it to be my place, my responsibility and my duty to contribute in the protection and stewardship of this earth, as it is our home and created by the God that I worship. Why wouldn’t I care? So naturally, I felt connected with the calling that this yard post was declaring. The sign began with the words: “I STAND AGAINST…”

I STAND AGAINST… and then it listed a number of things.

I continued my walk thinking about the words displayed. I agreeThere is so much to stand against. Yet, this question rose up within me: “But what do you STAND FOR?”

What do you stand for?

I have stood against many things. I have no problem defending what I believe to be good and just for both humanity and our created earth. I have been an activist for years on many levels.

I have marched alongside hundreds in the streets of Portland, I have stood with signs in the bitter cold in Fairbanks, Alaska. I have conducted speeches with megaphones. I have gone door to door canvasing for votes. I have spent countless hours in conversation with communities fighting off an industrial plant to-be-built next to a neighborhood. I have attended more rallies than I can count.

I suppose it all started when I was young. I stood for the insects and the birds. I was their advocate; protesting the poisons used to kill the sugar ant nest outside of our home or the bees nests or whatever else needed saving. I snuck food to the colonies from table scraps to help them survive the terrors of pest control.

I mothered many baby birds fallen from their nests. And oh have I had words with God, tearful angry words asking, “Why didn’t you let that baby bird live!?!” – Mind you, I also had a painful prayer session expressing to God my frustration that he didn’t make my cabbage patch dolls hair curly after I braided it. I prayed that he would and he just didn’t do it. You can only imagine how disappointed I was when I unraveled my dolls braids to see that it remained straight! God and I, we have a pretty transparent relationship.

Then, there was my mom, taking us to pro-life meetings and giving us little signs to hold. We stood next to her, my two younger sisters and I, huddled together for hours holding signs in front of courthouses… watching my mom work persistently for what she believed in.

I remember my mom rallying the neighborhood for speed bumps. She met a man that partnered with her activism and he marched down our streets banging his drums as a declaration proclaiming, “safer streets for our children!” She petitioned and wrote letters and went to meetings – she got those speed bumps and our street was safer for it.

So yes, I have been taught and raised to defend what I believe to be true and noble and good and just.

But sometimes standing against things can hurt people.

Sometimes taking the position to stand against can be lived out as a friction word with an exclusive posture.

A word that activates one sided debates and head on collisions.

Standing against can sometimes result in the very polarizing pain that I find myself fighting to relinquish. 

Consider then the words: TO STAND FOR…

These words create a sense of FORWARD movement. A rising and activation of support. An opportunity for inclusivity and hands held. Voices raised in harmony. Banners lifted high.

To stand for something is being an agent of change whilst willing my ears to listen in order to hear my brothers and my sisters.

To Stand FOR equals FORWARD.

Forward to Love

Forward to kindness

Forward to peace

Forward to equality

Forward in integrity

Forward in value

Forward in reconciliation

A Forward march.

Can you feel it? I feel it!

Yes, I am an activist. I stand against acts of injustice. I always will.

But to consider the position of STANDING FOR the people behind those things that I stand against. It might look a little more like loving thy enemy. Or it might look a bit more like doing good to those who hurt me.

It might look like the kind of revolutionary love that steps outside of my comfort zone to help my neighbors both locally and globally, in ways that I have never been stretched before.

I am quick to stand for the labeled “under dog” … but would I be as quick to stand for the labeled privileged. Do I believe that they deserve it? Do I believe that I deserve it? Do I really value everyone equally? Do I value myself equally? 

My answer would be yes yes yes! But in the act of standing against I am afraid that sometimes my actions might say no. I am afraid that in my zeal to stand against, I have in the past hurt some friends along the way. In my journey to be more loving, more understanding and more compassionate, I have also judged and misunderstood and reacted to things in ways that excluded what I did not understand or rather WHO I did not understand.

I love activism. I love the movement and progress of change for good things! We the people throughout history have risen up together in great force to bring forth good change. My desire is to be an agent of change through the kind of activism that is of love.

So I made a list of what it is that I stand for. A vision statement so to speak, worked out by my desire to stand forwards and to rise up with a yes!

In that list I wrote down a whole bunch of really pretty words and inspiring statements.

Summed up, though, it all comes down to this:

“I stand for you and I stand for me. I stand for the Way of the Peacemaker”

With that vision I can hold those words as a life compass with chosen hope to align my feet on the path in the direction I should go. This is my “in the works”, always growing, always changing, desire. We are a big messy beautiful work in progress.

Finally, sisters and brothers, I stand for whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—I BOLDLY STAND FOR such things.

 – Jenny Rose Foster