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

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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

There is Room for You

room enough

There is room for all of us.

Imagine a space with no capacity.

Imagine a space that shifts generously to compensate for growth and every square foot has your name on it. Your name. My name. Our names.

Yes, there is room enough for all of us.

There is room for your dreams.

There is room for your voice.

There is room for your gifts.

There is room for you.

Christ calls us beyond the limits.

Christ crashes through the overhead; the low ceilings that box us in.

Today, Women, Sisters, lift your eyes. Look up. SEE your value.

Today, Men, Brothers, lift the women in your lives up through your words, lift them up. We must do this work of rising-up together, men and women working together in the rising.

TOGETHER, men and women working together to push beyond the limitations placed over our lives; to raise the ceilings that have been set at a lower height. This work is not just for women to empower women, this rising-work is for men to contribute in the activating, in the lifting, and in the empowering ALSO.  –We need you. We need you in the voice of value-lifting.

May we be life-givers together, working symbiotically on the waking of dry bones.

On this day as we celebrate International Women’s day, may we remember that to truly be empowered we must also empower. Activators in the waking of value.

Your voice matters…You are valued. Your contribution is especially worthy. Your gifts are especially unique. You are especially loved.

When the doubt of “who do you think you are” sets in, remember, there is room for you to activate your hearts-call… for it has been planted there for a reason and for such a time as NOW.

On this day, a day that honors women, my hearts-call is that we rise up together. Not us and them. Not some. Not others. — My hearts-hope is that we rise up together in a sisterhood and a brotherhood. As a family. As a church. As a bride. As a people that choose to lift our eyes up and over and beyond the limitations of low ceilings placed on our women! Globally, cross culturally and locally.

May we be people that act in the mind-set of victory. The work of Love is limitless and there is never a set capacity, there is always room for more. There is room for your voice.

May we be people that crash through the limits. Audacious in our progression of Love. Bold in our declarations of freedom. Leaving no one behind.

Not just today…but always.

– Jenny Rose Foster

We are the Light Bearers

I am over at She Loves Magazine today! Head on over and join me in the sharing of hearts and dreams and rising up together: Bold For Change!

” There is a call to action traveling through the winds—to the north, to the south, the east and the west. All directions. All volumes. A calling … to Rise Up!

Now is not the time for silence. Now is the time to stand tall. Oh, lift your heads. Look up. A time to Awaken.

With the rising of the sun we are beckoned from slumber. I hear my own name and feel the call: “Rise Up.” This life. Oh, this life. Dry bones, rise up! ” – Jenny Rose Foster

READ THE ARTICLE  at She Loves jenny-rose-foster-light-bearers

One Life Gift

one-life-gift

I have been sick for days. When I say days I mean, right now, I am wrapped in blankets going on the 7th day of turning this far right corner of the couch into my quarantined personal medical center.

The coffee table is tucked up close littered with Nyquil, antibiotics, elderberry, colloidal silver, cups and bowls of half sipped teas and broths. Ibuprofen and tissues. Lozenges and a thermometer. The whole gamut.

The last 6 months has been strange; getting hit with lengthy health issues. Usually when I get ill I bounce back within a day or two. In fact, I often take pride in that.

The most curious part is that I may have the curse of the facial morph!

What I mean is, each time I have gotten sick, something seems to physically change on my head or neck area, creating a temporary morph of physicality…so to speak.

In October I dyed my hair. A deep dark brown with some bright streaks of teal. I absolutely loved it!! Within the next day my entire scalp felt tight. My neck was rippled with inflamed lymph nodes. I shrugged it off and carried on figuring it was just an irritation that would simmer down.

The following day,  I was nearly fainting on the floor because of how strange I felt. My skin was tighter. My neck was robotically stiff. And my forehead had begun to noticeably bulge. My husband rushed me to the ER and on the way we jokingly dubbed me as “The Dolphin” – Morph #1. (I cried though, worried that I would always look like a dolphin. Of course it went away).

In December I was volunteering for my daughters ballet performance in The Nutcracker. I volunteered by putting make-up on the dancers. Getting up close and personal to everyone’s beautiful faces. Person after person. Then a few days later I came down with conjunctivitis. The first time I had ever caught this virus. Hopefully the last.

My neck hurt, I had an ear ache, my eyes were weeping. One eye was bloodshot deep red. It would have been great for Halloween. And then the swelling began. I could hardly open my right eye. The area around my eye was bulging so big that I dubbed myself: “Igor”. My daughter titled me: “Blowfish” …I cried because I didn’t want to look like an Igor…but of course it went away. And then the virus kindly migrated to my chest and left me with a two week respiratory infection – Morph #2

This time, as we were heading up to the mountain I noticed that my throat was hurting. I figured it was nothing. Once we arrived to the ski resort, I slipped on some ice and hyper-extended my thumb, resulting in a sprain. I did a few runs and fell hard 5 times and suddenly it hit me how terrible I was feeling. I checked straight into the lodge to sleep all day and all night, while out on the slopes the most amazing powder was coming down fast. This set the precedent for the next 7 days.

In the past if I got strep throat, I would simply get an antibiotic and be free to get back to life within a couple of days. I have never had such a stubborn case! To follow the trend, of course, my neck swelled up so much that the doctor called it supple… Supple?!! — I looked in the mirror after the appointment and my chin was on a stiff double and my neck had expanded. I could feel it, I was just so sick that I hadn’t taken a moment to look at it. I also lost my voice and it sounded like a gremlin when I talked (just call me Mogwai). I of course took full advantage of my new voice and sent voice messages to some lucky friends and family. It kept me amused. This time I am dubbed: “The Bullfrog” – Morph #3

So here I am, as the bullfrog, sitting on my couch waiting for this to pass. I did cry a few tears of course even though I knew the bullfrog metamorphosis would soon pass…I mean who wants have a supple neck?!!…Ha ha ha… Ohhhh the humor. But mostly I cried because I haven’t been able to swallow anything more than broth or liquid for 7 days!! I think I want lobster, or lamb or duck when I am healed.

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel though. My body is slowly getting better each day and it gives me hope.

And as I sit in this spot on the couch I have found myself resting and reflecting on the little things. It is always the little things that I seem to go back to.

In moments like these all of my obligations no longer hold meaning. They become a distant concern.

Sitting here for days I think about how much I love my two children. I listen to them playing together all day long. Entertaining themselves with their imaginations and respecting that I am sick by giving me space. My daughter makes me soup and tea. My son takes care of our puppy for me and brings me more blankets. They both peek in to make sure I am OK. I love them.

My husband is the finest of all men. He cares for me like no other. Not only has he been physically working, but he gets home and does the shopping, the homework, the cooking, the cleaning. He brings me all that I need. He takes the kids out of the house to give me a quiet space. I tell him thank you and he replies, “In sickness and in health, babe, in sickness and in health…” — HEART MELT — He really loves me. The kind of love that takes care of your sickest most unattractive moments with care and gentleness. I feel beautiful even when I know I look a mess, just because of the way he looks at me. With those eyes…those brown eyes look at me with an admiration that no one has ever shown me in this life, except for him.

I am thankful beyond words. I am thankful for the little big things. Those are the things that will always matter the most. The rest contribute in the shaping of my life…our lives, and that is important. I will give my goals and my community and my church and my work a full attention helping of my efforts and care; passion and love and ministry… but my family I will give them my heart. My whole heart. They are my gift. They are my one life gift and I will always hold you in the closest most intimate parts of my heart. That is my promise to you, my family, my one life gift.

Release

After the new year I shut down my Facebook, for a hiatus of sorts, as a way to simplify the noise and the clutter of clanging symbols.

I decided if I simplify my connectivity sources, I will hear the friction a little less. This was a survival tactic…

You see, for me, when I see pain, when I see anger, when I see actions that make others feel lower. I become very sad. I become very angry. I begin to feel pain in a sometimes polarizing way. I carry empathy. In reaction, I can find myself in a protective mode, to guard myself from feeling too much.

Right now, there is so much pain and so much friction and so much chaos obliterating the connections between people, all due to political wars and terrible leadership. So many of us are tuning in and feeling it too. I feel it. And we should feel it. There is a lot to care about. It is all relevant. Pain comes before the shift and uprisings are birthed from tears.

When I declare that I am a follower of Christ, that means that I love my neighbor. My neighbor near and my neighbor far. When I see my neighbors being destroyed, my brothers and my sisters of this global earth, going through so much tragedy. When I see people seeking refuge and being denied. I feel it. When I see people that I love being denied opportunities because they are women. I feel it. When I see women lowered and not allowed to do certain things within the church…I feel it most of all! Like a fire blazing in my belly, I feel it.  When I see our first nation people being ignored and abused and lied to, again and again and again… I feel it. And it sometimes feels like a dark cloud of hopelessness…  I sometimes want to just sleep a little while longer.

It is a beautiful thing to encompass the joy, really feel the joy of someone else. I treasure hearing laughter and gaining that energy to laugh along with them. It is also a sacred thing to deeply connect to the sorrow of someone else and cry for them and with them. Emotion is a created part of us and it drives me to do things, to propel forward. Emotion beckons me to speak up. It motivates me to pray, in a way that I wouldn’t be able to pray if I hadn’t felt the pain, or the joy, or the struggle of my neighbor. Emotion is God made and we should not restrain the very essence of our beauty.

In this moment, for a small window, God is beckoning me to a place of prayerful posture and a time of quiet space away from the noise. I need the sacred throne…I need the consciousness from within my stomach to RISE UP and become words of meditation, intercession and declaration. With the outpouring of empathy also comes the power of authority. Authority to call out to the four corners of this earth and declare thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven! — Sometimes it is good to stand back a little, give time for release, make moments of quiet exchange. To rejuvenate and stir up the fire for a new ROAR!

With grit against the grain of sorrow, may we rise up with the defiance of joy and grab hold of those deep feelings of awareness and call out to the winds and release them.

– Jenny Rose Foster

 

I’m Spacing Out

Television blares. Talking heads spout, “blah blah blah”.

Shadowing mimics crow the nonsense as an echoing “caw caw caw”.

They debate their sides and then so do we.

So we copy…we copy?

They argue and then we argue.

They say they are right. Then we say we are right.

Shadows of the beast. Mere shadows.

Dark shadows.

Pretending intelligence. Pretending revolutionary thought.

It has already been written.

I’m spacing out. I’m spacing out. I’m dialing down the static.

The frenzy. The fuzz. The blur.

Time for space. Time for grace.

Time for thought. Time for rest.

Time to work and work…

And also time to create.

Create in me a clean heart.

Renew a right spirit within me.

Time to create. Beloved one. Time to create.

Creative spirit. Wake up. Make beautiful things. Wake up!

Clarity. Crystal pure clean clarity.

Drink. Water…spring water. Soak.

Stop yawning. Stretch your legs. Make beautiful things with words.

With sounds. With color. With lines. With shapes. Make them. Make them beloved.

Stand up. Flex your muscles. DANCE.

Make hope. Make kindness. Make love. Make peace.

Speak them. Speak it. Turn the caws into pure bell tones. The tone of kindness.

And rest and love and dream.

I’m spacing out. Not stepping away but Making space. Spacing out between the lines.

Spacing out the dusty fog. Spacing out the battling words. Making SPACE for grace.

Seeing through the fog. Sifting through the smoke. Clear horizons lay ahead.

Hands held high. Chin up. Touch the sky. Look up dear one. Stand tall. Look up.

RAISE YOUR VOICE. SING.

– Jenny Rose Foster