Destination Baker Street

The Beggar's Bakery

Keys in Wilmington, NC Keys in Wilmington, NC

One single car ride.

I don’t even remember where we were are going, my mother and I … just she and I alone in the car. I must have been ten years old, right on the cusp of Mommy Worship and Mommy Disdain. My young mother still in her late twenties – a beautiful, volatile, ball of energy and light. I catch a glimpse of her sideways as we rolled down the road. She smiles, turning the radio up.

Baker Street, her favorite song. We hand-crank the windows down – Gerry Rafferty’s tinny vocals blasting us like the wind. She sings:

Winding your way down on Baker Street

Light in your head and dead on your feet

Well, another crazy day

You’ll drink the night away And forget about everything.

Filaments of her blonde hair whip about her face, and I feel a pain for loving…

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Testimony, Territory and TV Crews

lovedsign

By: Jana Greene

Hello, Dear Readers. I hope this post finds you staying nice and warm, safe and happy.

Remember when The Prayer of Jabez was such a big deal? It was a huge movement, based on Bruce Wilkinson’s book “The Prayer of Jabez: Breaking Through to the Blessed Life.” The premise was based on this scripture and encouraged readers to ask God to increase their territories in order to influence the world for God.

“Jabez prayed to the God of Israel, “Please bless me and give me more territory. May your power be with me and free me from evil so that I will not be in pain.” God gave him what he prayed for.” 1 Chronicles 4:10 (God’s WORD Translation)

I have been asking God to increase my territories. I don’t know why I’m even surprised that he is indeed doing so.

Next week, something pretty exciting is happening and I’d love to share it with you. I will be having my testimony filmed by a television crew for a Christian show that is widely watched. It is an incredible honor, and to be honest – pretty surreal that its really happening.

I’m just amazed, ya’ll. Because 15 years ago I was utterly hopeless where Christ found me. I didn’t expect to live – or to even want to live – sober. Nobody (and I mean nobody) knew how much I was drinking and hiding. It was the loneliest place in the world to be. I guess that’s why I’m so open and transparent about my alcoholism and recovery. I’m not alone anymore, and I live a life I love. And every day, that is a sheer gift. One that I am not willing to keep to myself.

It’s pretty easy to hide behind a keyboard to write and blog, but another thing altogether to share my story with such a large audience. I’m welcoming any and all prayers and warm fuzzies you’d like to send my way. For calm nerves. For boldness. For Holy Spirit to orchestrate my words so that they may reach exactly the ears that need to hear my story of HOPE.

I will update the post when I find out when the piece will air, etc.

Thank you again for your readership. I’m so blessed by it.

God bless us, every one.

 

 

Weary and Burdened: Mental Illness and the Church

The Beggar's Bakery

Stained glass in St. Patrick's Cathedral, NYC Jesus as depicted in stained glass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, NYC. My Jesus loves everyone. Everyone is precious in his sight.

Meet Joe.

Joe is a Christian who struggles to keep his blood pressure under control. Following his doctor’s advice and having the support of his family, he manages to healthy. He keeps encouraged by those who love him, and that makes all the difference.

Meet Sarah.

Also a Christian, she is a survivor of breast cancer. She has suffered through a double mastectomy and many chemo treatments, and is currently in remission. She surrounds herself with people who love her to stay in a positive mindset, and has the admiration of the community for the brave fight she has waged.

And Sam.

Sam’s  diabetes demands constant care. The dietary and medical choices he makes impact his life every day. Sam is very open with others about his condition, as…

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David Bowie Sums up Recovery in One Minute

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By: Jana Greene

Good Tuesday, readers.

I don’t normally post only content from another source, but I’m making an exception here because I believe it is so succinctly presented, and um…David Bowie reasons, of course.

I love when the reporter asks him “So you don’t drink, not even a glass of wine?”

(Oh my lord, how many times I’ve gotten that question. If you ever want to blow someone’s mind, confirm to them that no, not even a ‘glass of wine’ – not even on a special occasion….)

And Bowie patiently responds with: “No, it would kill me. I’m an alcoholic, so it would be the kiss of death for me to start drinking again. MY RELATIONSHIPS WITH MY FRIENDS AND MY FAMILY are so good and happy for so many years now, I wouldn’t do ANYTHING to destroy that again.”

BOOM! Boom chocka locka BOOM.

Enjoy this little video. And God bless us, every one.

DAVID BOWIE, DOING RECOVERY RIGHT

What David Bowie Taught Me about Living Authentically

What David Bowie Taught Me about Living Authentically

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I purposefully took my time to write this piece, as I wanted desperately to do the memory of David Bowie justice. Thanks for the memories, O Great One. You will be missed.

By: Jana Greene

In the summer of my 13th year, I fell in love. And the man I fell in love with passed away last week.

I fell HARD, much like the object of my desire who fell to Earth, when I first came to love his music, and again when I found out he passed away.

As a young girl, I’d  heard Space Oddity play on the radio and was completely transfixed. What did I just HEAR? I’d always loved music, but this…this? This was another thing altogether.

From then forward, I was obsessed. Everything Bowie wrote or sang, every cameo he made in a film, every poster featuring his amazing face from obscure and punk-ish Houston area shops, every book written about him – I couldn’t get enough. My bedroom walls were plastered with his beautiful visage.

I was David Bowie two Halloweens in a row. First, Ziggy – and then as Bowie from his Serious Moonlight tour. In retrospect, it seems a little creepy but I promise you, my intentions were purely meant to be the sincerest form of flattery. (There is photo evidence of the latter picture. I think I was 16 years old.)

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By the time Bowie enjoyed another wave of popularity even among my peers with “Let’s Dance” in 1984, I resented that other people were just now appreciating him.

SO mainstream, ya’ll. Have you even HEARD of Ziggy Stardust?

Still, I played the new album into the ground in my Sony Walkman cassette tape player – always with ear phones in so that I could enjoy it as loud as I pleased and as privately as I desired. Rewind, and play again. And again.

When I went to see Bowie in concert on his Serious Moonlight Tour, I’d spent hours fantasizing about meeting him, and – possibly one day, you know, marrying him and enjoying a lifetime soaking of his supreme and inconceivable amazingness. Pretty standard teenage girl stuff, but it didn’t feel contrived.

It felt possible, silly as it seems now.

Bowie made me believe anything was possible.

I would try to get my friends to listen (especially to the old stuff) and they would be like, “Yeah, he’s okay.” And I was like, “ARE YOU NOT HEARING WHAT I AM HEARING!?”

So, when I was growing up, everyone was all Madonna and Duran Duran and Rick Springfield and Pat Benetar, and I’m not dissing any of those artists.

But Bowie? He belonged to ME.

Maybe he belonged to you, too.

So I hope that you understand that –  as I write this post – I am considering the David Bowie who belonged to my heart. He will always be THAT Bowie to me. When I was going through a very tumultuous family life, he was a constant and his music was my therapy.

He taught me so much in those tender years, and I wouldn’t have grown up the same person without those lessons:

He made it okay to feel misunderstood.

The world is not going to understand you. You are entirely too unique to be fully understood, and thank God for that. Bowie did music like nobody had ever done before. NOBODY. He didn’t really care about topping charts or being popular. It was all about the music, man.

Unconventional beauty is FAR superior to conventional beauty.

Pale and pasty? The Thin White Duke fit the bill. His teeth weren’t great. His nose was crooked. But no matter how many ch-ch-ch-changes his persona underwent, I sincerely thought he was the most beautiful man on the planet. You go on ahead and wear makeup and spike your hair and shave off your eyebrows, and dress in an unforgiving leotard, you cool, confident cat, you.

Hunky is B-O-R-I-N-G. Keep your Tiger Beat Magazine hearthrobs. YAWN.

(Oh, and his eyes were two different colors, too. Did I mention that?  BRB…SWOONING.)

Reinventing yourself is perfectly acceptable.

Do it unapologetically, or not at all.

Treat everyone like a rock star.

One of the things that stuck out to me is that he treated reporters interviewing him with the same respect as he might the biggest names in the music industry. He was by almost all accounts, just a really kind person.

A gentleman’s gentleman. Equally at ease performing “Dancing in the Streets” with the venerable Mick Jagger as singing a duet of “Little Drummer Boy” with Bing Crosby.

Be refreshingly positive whenever possible:

“Don’t let me hear you say, life’s taking you nowhere.”  (Golden Years)

Whether I like it or not,  Bowie planted a seed of compassion in my spirit for the androgynous, the sexually confused, the gender benders.

I still don’t really understand transsexualism, etc. I’m just being honest, it’s just not my struggle. But Bowie showed me that it’s essential to love people different than ourselves. His sexuality, which seemed to morph as often as his persona, just simply was NOT THE MAIN THING about Bowie. He was so much more. I still carry that seed of compassion, and I’m grateful that he taught me how to germinate it.
You can love, admire and respect people who you don’t understand AT ALL. It’s just that simple.

Don’t let anyone put you in a box.

Bowie Culture is that it’s okay to reinvent yourself 1,000 times. You don’t owe anyone an explanation either. Switch it up and let that freak flag fly.

Be the best WHATEVER you authentically ARE.

“And these children that you spit on, as they try to change their world, they’re immune to your consultations. They’re quite aware of what they’re going through.” (Changes)

A better set of lyrics about the angst of youth I’ve never seen, and likely never will.

It’s okay to be a little weird:

Did you ever feel like the weirdest kid on the block growing up? Me too. Bowie taught me that we’re all weird in our own ways. And that it’s pretty wonderful, actually.

Addiction is overcome-able.

This lesson would come later in my life and in his. Like a good friend that you keep up through the grapevine, I’d heard that he’d conquered an addiction to cocaine in the ’80s. While not surprising that a great talent did battle with a drug (creative people often do) he inspired to to believe I may conqueror my own alcoholism one day. And I did. I’ll always appreciate his candor in owning his disease and strength in overcoming it.

And lastly, being a spiritual Seeker is an admirable pursuit.

Although Bowie experimented with all kinds of spirituality, it seems he camped out in Christianity, which gives me so much happiness, being of the faith myself. I can’t wait to see him in The Kingdom, maybe share a cup o’ Joe with him, and tell him what a difference he made in the life of one little girl.

CLICK HERE FOR STORY ABOUT BOWIE’S SPIRITUALITY

Rest in Peace, David Bowie.
May we remember that we can be heroes, just for one day.
Why can’t we give love
Cause love’s such an old fashioned word
and love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the night
And love dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves
Under pressure
Under pressure
Pressure”
–  “Under Pressure” (compilation with the great Freddy Mercury)

 

JUDGED.

The Beggar's Bakery

JUDGED

By: Jana Greene

“None of us has ever seen a motive. Therefore, we don’t know. We can’t do anything more than suspect what inspires the actions of another. For this good and valid reason, we are told not to judge. ” ― Brennan Manning, The Wisdom of Tenderness: What Happens When God’s Fierce Mercy Transforms Our Lives

You don’t understand me. You may think you know me, but you don’t.

If you only knew my heart … you might not judge me so harshly.

 Or, you might judge me even more harshly….if you knew my heart.

A few weeks ago, I posed the simple question on social media:  “If you could describe the feeling of being judged by others in one word, what would that one word be?”  I  received an avalanche of responses from people of all different ages and creeds –  in rapid succession. Most of the responses were graphic…

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St. Peter the Flaky and other Water-Walkers

“Save Me – The Hand of God” by artist, Yongsung Kim

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By: Jana Greene

A popular Christian culture adage is: “If you want to walk on water, you have to get out of the boat.”

I’m not sure the un-churched among us get the reference. So I’m writing this post for anyone who…

(A) Knows about the biblical Peter and chuckles a little at the phrase, or

(B) Is convinced that walking on water is impossible because SCIENCE, and considers stepping out of a perfectly seaworthy vessel to walk on the surface of water just another of the nutty things Christians like to think Jesus did back in the day.

But Jesus isn’t the only one who walked on the water – Peter did as well.

Of all the disciples that Jesus called his crew, Peter is my favorite by a landslide. Peter is my homeboy.

He was all emotion, all of the time. I GET that. If any disciple made Jesus want to face-palm, it was probably Peter.

Peter was a Flaky-Fervent paradox.

A story in Matthew 14 describes Peter’s bravery, faith and faint-hardheartedness thus:

“…With the crowd dispersed, Jesus climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night. While Jesus was praying alone, some of his followers – including Peter – were out fishing.

……Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves. At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared out of their wits. ‘A ghost!’ they said, crying out in terror.

But Jesus was quick to comfort them.Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.”

Peter, suddenly bold, said, ‘Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.’ And Jesus said “come ahead…

Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, ‘Master, save me!’

(I’m certain that Peter’s thoughts are legion – How deep IS this water? What is Jesus THINKING? Are there sharks in here, perhaps even giant squid? What about jellyfish? And getting struck by lightning?  I can’t believe I am going to die this way….and I’M SINKING!!!)

EYES ON ME, PETER…EYES ON ME…. Jesus reminds the sinking disciple.

Although Jesus slapped his forehead in frustration (okay, that part is my translation…) “(He) didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed Peter’s hand. Then he said, ‘Faint-heart, what got into you?’

…The two of them climbed into the boat, and the wind died down. The disciples in the boat, having watched the whole thing, worshiped Jesus, saying, ‘This is it! You are God’s Son for sure’!”
– Matthew 14:24-36 (MSG)

Ya reckon?

Peter was your passion guy. Even though he doubted, he JUMPED. He often didn’t let a thought cross his mind before it was out of his mouth. He was all-out, sold-out, 100% loyal to Christ, until that one time when he wasn’t…..and it was a biggie. He denied that he even knew Christ THREE  times during the night of Jesus’ trial. Jesus had predicted the denial earlier in the day, but Peter implored his master that he would NEVER deny him, no way ever, and how could you even THINK such a thing, Jesus?

I think Peter made Jesus face-palm, but I KNOW Peter broke Jesus’s heart. Still, his love for his follower was so great that it eclipsed Peter’s foibles. Even after walking on water, he denied Christ. Jesus could have washed his hands of Peter, but He didn’t.

Having changes his name from “Simon” to “Peter” – which means “rock” – Jesus assured his capricious, water-walking brethren “And on that rock, I will build my church.”

Jesus, who had his pick of any of the Holy Rollers of his day, didn’t choose the well-schooled priests and rabbis. The Torah memorizers. The judges. The Men who knew all the rules.

But he bypassed the most religious men of his time to build a church on the back of Flaky Pete. And it’s still standing thousands of years later.

After his resurrection, Jesus even took special care to rehabilitate Peter and assure him he was forgiven. He loved him, and that love was enough to spark a mission to redeem the whole world. Love is THE most powerful force. Stronger than gravity, or science, or giant squid. Jesus kept Peter above the waves, and He does no less for us.

God calls us to do impossible things at times. Are you a paradox? Welcome to the fold.

Do you find yourself called to believe what your eyes are telling you are not true?

Do you jump out of the boat and take a few steps, only to let your mind assess the reasons you will fail to float?

Your spirit may feel as heavy as a huge pack of rocks. But no matter….

EYES ON ME, Jesus is saying. EYES ON ME. You only start to sink when you take your eyes off of Me and consider all the dangers below.

If the Rock didn’t sink to the bottom of the ocean with Jesus guiding him, neither will you. Neither will I.

Courage, fellow paradoxical friends, and boldness.

God is calling you to do the impossible, Faint-Heart. Step out of the boat with the assurance that this is IT. He is God’s Son for sure.

And all things are possible with him!

I love, love, love this video (CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW). The music is stirring, the visuals stunning, and the message precious beyond all measure. I pray it blesses you today, water-walkers.

God bless us, every one.

OCEANS – By For a Season (www.ForASeason.com)