About Kathy Jenke

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So far Kathy Jenke has created 3 blog entries.

On Resting in God and Why I Vacuum My Garage

I love organization.

You know what this means, don’t you?

It means that I am constantly disappointed.

Anyone remember Murphy’s Law from science class? When left to themselves, systems tend to become more disordered. As a stay-at-home mom of six years this makes me want to sing the Hallelujah chorus: there is a reason my job can feel like bend over, pick up, put away, repeat!

Before having children, there were simply fewer things to physically organize be it clothing, books, or papers not to mention fewer things to mentally and emotionally organize like schedules, three other females’ emotions, and toys. Insert a few timely meltdowns and late nights and I could pretty much stay on top of my unrealistic expectations. But after children…well, the illusion of control died a thousand slow and painful deaths.

Despite how good ole Murphy normalizes disorder, I still try to recover what I’ve lost in time and control constantly. When I feel like I cannot get a handle on the mess around me, I want a quick fix (or a donut) to make me feel satisfied. So, what do I do? (besides buy the donut.)

I vacuum my garage.

(Wow, I’ve really got things figured out, people.)

I wrongly look for my sense of purpose and dignity in the ordering of my life, even if I can only find it briefly on the non-sandy floor of my garage. Theologically speaking, I’m right on track with God’s Genesis creation mandate for humanity: fill the earth, subdue it, have dominion over it…help bring order to the chaos of this world. But if I peer a little deeper, if I look past the beads on the floor and the unfolded laundry and check out my angst or irritability at these things, I begin to see a heart that is set on finding satisfaction where it’s not meant to be found.

I can call it nesting or hormones or personality, but really it is just plain unbelief. When I am looking for ultimate peace or affirmation from a new structure, a new parenting technique, or really in anything that I do, I am simply not believing that Christ has done enough for me.

I would rather work for what I cannot gain rather than rest in what I’ve already been given. And what is it that I’ve already been given in Christ? The Psalmist describes it this way:

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.” Psalm 62:5-7 (NIV)

Do you hear the refrain? Is God’s echo loud enough? Our souls satisfaction is in HIM alone.

When we remember, rehearse, and believe the promises of Emmanuel, God with us, it means our lives’ narrative can shift from scrambling to secure rest and contentment in personal accomplishment, order, or productivity to receiving the rest Jesus has already secured for us now and eternally. It means we get to enjoy the freedom of being less self-focused and then move forward in work and play with joy and purpose.

When we ask: How can I maximize my potential in this life and be recognized for it?

We can hear: HE IS WORTHY.

When we ask: What do I need to accomplish to feel satisfied and unshaken?

We can hear: IT IS FINISHED.

When we ask: What quick fix will relieve me of the pressure I feel to do this right?

We can hear: HIS BURDEN IS LIGHT.

Murphy’s law rightly echoes the reality of the disorder inside of me, too: if I am left to myself, I will tend towards disorder. But here is the good news: I am not alone. Christ in me is my reality. And Christ around me is the church. We need one another to remind us of Christ’s call for the weary and heavy laden to put down their vacuums, their to do lists, their winsome personalities, their five-year plans, their giftedness, even their good intentions to help and serve, and to first receive the rest he has provided for our souls. No amount of outer or inner disorder can ever be quelled apart from Him.

By |2019-05-22T04:27:55+00:00May 22nd, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

On Prayer, Dads, and a Dance Floor

I will repay you for the years the locust have eaten… You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you.  -Joel 2:25-26a

Recently I was at a wedding, and the DJ was doing magic tricks, as fantastic DJs do. One minute, we were dancing to Bruno Mars, and the next thing we knew, a Phoenix song was playing. The DJ would match the beats exactly, subtly mix the two songs, and transition us straight into another genre of music long before we were aware of any change. That night, when someone asked me, “How are things with your dad?” I realized: sometimes God works a little bit like that DJ.

My dad has been a dissonant note for a long time. Early on, in the earthquake years, I’d pray for change of a certain variety–front door reunions and big fat apologies, maybe a wedding, definitely some sort of memory eraser. But in the aftershock years, once my happy-ending visions proved unlikely, I accepted the new status quo–a serviceable but mediocre rhythm. Just a few weeks ago, though, I hit play on my voicemail and heard a single chord in my father’s voice: warmth, compassion, health; an unlikely triad. While I was listening for the old song, a new one was fading in. When I finally heard it, I couldn’t quite place it. Although new, it also felt vaguely familiar, like a stranger who resembles your best friend. And then I recognized it as something I almost prayed for, once, maybe fifteen years ago: the sound of a crack appearing in a familial Berlin Wall, tiny fractures in a generational curse. One mental breakdown and two decades later, my dad is back, and better. Now, I look back over the last years and can discern both subtle modulations (the job I prayed for him to get; a spiritual mentor in his life) and startling key changes (restoration between my dad and his dad; medication; forgiveness) that led to this different tune. Even so, it’s not over yet. This particular miracle isn’t complete: while my dad is much healed, the debris still floats around my family like an island of plastic wrappers. There are problems attached to each problem, other old rooms whose renovations haven’t yet begun–or so it seems.

The existence of even a single miracle is proof that while we’re still singing the old song, the tune is changing. We can pray with hope for change in the most chronic problems. The Bible is full of overly ambitious prayers: we know them, we quote them, we occasionally pray them, but they feel ridiculously implausible. Restore the years the locust have eaten. Turn a heart of stone into a heart of flesh. Let the dead rise. Let the dry bones praise him, the rocks cry out, the light shine in the darkness, the trouble overcome, the curse come undone. Restore the fathers to their children. These phrases are emotionally charged, hopeful, great in theory, but with some rather large logistical problems–flying insects the least of them. We rarely ask for miracles that span generations. It’s too much to ask, so we don’t. And yet God is already working on it, usually unasked. If he answers when we don’t ask, how much more will we be privy to when we do ask? In our asking and waiting, we just might glimpse the great dance floor, the God of restoration who is turning the tide, turning the tables, spinning his kingdom across the floor into new rhythms, splicing in samples of the change to come, slipping in evidence that all is not lost.

 

By |2019-05-02T18:44:36+00:00May 2nd, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

On Truth and Sharing Our Lives

We cared so much for you that we were pleased to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. 1 Thessalonians 2:8

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Ephesians 4:25

The first time I had to share my “testimony,” I wasn’t too keen on the idea. Liza, my peppy summer Life Group leader, explained that this was how we would all be getting to know each other, sharing our struggles and celebrating our victories. But, me, I knew better. “Testimonies” were for courtroom trials, disapproving jurors gasping in shock as the gory details were revealed. And, looking around the room at the perfectly-coiffed, doe-eyed-innocent girls of Campus Crusade for Christ, imminent judgment seemed probable. Frankly, I would have rather confessed to your garden-variety axe murder than to the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about who I really was and how much gospel I needed.

But, so-helped-me-God, peer pressure was strong and pizza was provided. I was relieved once I heard the first few: it turned out that “sharing your testimony” actually meant giving a generally embellished, highly-dramatized version of your life, adding a few jokes and backdoor brags along the way, and then nodding solemnly and thanking God that you were now a more whole and perfect version of yourself. A dramatic pause, perhaps a little tremble in your voice, and you were done. This? I thought. This, I can do.

But, just as I was putting the finishing touches on my one-liners, I was jolted back to reality by a girl named Kelsey. Kelsey was going wayyy beyond the token tear-down-the-cheek—the girl was full on sobbing. Kelsey was vulnerable. Kelsey was real. Kind of a lot for a group of strangers…I thought at first. But, as I looked around the room, faces filled with love, heartbreak, and affection, I realized that it wasn’t Kelsey who should have been ashamed—it was me. I was ready to trade the messy, complicated, beautiful, redemptive story God gave me for some cheap Hollywood blockbuster. Why? Because I didn’t really careabout the people around me. I didn’t wantto share my life with them—certainly not the real one, anyways.

But, Jesus? He lays down his life. He puts it all on the table; he spills all the tea. (Thanks, teens, for this effortlessly hip expression.) He doesn’t hold himself back—he lets himself be seen. And, as he hangs there, naked and exposed, we can feel how much he cares for us. How he shares not only the Gospel, but also his own life!

For us, then, our lives and stories are no longer our own—they belong to the One who writes them, the One who redeems them. And, yep, he asks us to share them, to lay them down. To be honest with each other about all the gory details. Because, we’re not on trial here. That stuff is over with. Thanks to Jesus, judgment is nowhere to be found.

With Stories of Grace, then, we’re going to be sharing our stories—the real ones. Because it’s silly to hide behind nice narratives when Jesus hangs naked on a cross. It’s silly to rewrite the stories penned by God, the best author of all time. It’s only God’s grace that allows us to tell these stories, with their awkward beginnings and their messy middles. But, without the pressure of those cheesy Hollywood ends. Because, here on Earth, God’s just not done with any of us yet! So, we can tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Scary as it is, so-helps-us-God!

 

 

By |2019-04-04T21:04:38+00:00April 2nd, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments