See You Down the Line — Regenternship Recap

I’ve had about 6 cups of coffee, enough to fuel myself to Venus and back so I guess I am prepared to write this. Maybe. Am I? 

I’ve been tasked with writing a summary paper about my time participating in the Regenternship, our loose guidelines suggested I write about three main zones: the head, the heart, and the hands. Those three major thoroughfares that direct daily life, but how could I limit myself to that? 

What about my legs? All the walking I’ve done through Oakland, the many times I’ve sauntered around the Jewel of Oakland, that picturesque lake complete with it’s necklace of lights.  

What about my mouth? The food and drinks I’ve had the pleasure of tasting. The many burritos I have consumed, the gallons of Schofferhofer grapefruit beer I have drunk, the ice cream sundaes at Fentons, the multifaceted layered and delightful and eclectic cuisines I have sampled. And oh so much coffee.

What about my nose? The familiar smells of the church cafe on a Sunday morning, the smell of my room with the windows open, the scent of Oakland wafting inside. Thick with the smell of cigarettes, organic lake smells, the spicy cajun seasoning of Rockin’ Crawfish, all mixing with my perfumes and laundered sheets.

What about my eyes? The beauty of Oakland and San Francisco, even Richmond and beyond from high above at Mountain View Cemetery. The grand and wonderful, even if somewhat tacky and gaudy, art-deco buildings framing out much of downtown. The tiles floors I now love, especially so when they are missing pieces, creating a new and ever changing into eternity pattern. The majesty of Golden Gate Bridge, that no matter how many times I visit has yet to lose any wonder or charm.

It’s unfathomable for me to summarize my entire 18 months here in one post, doing so will only begin to peak under the wrapping, but I will give it a go. I will confess I had to take a trip down memory lane via my Instagram to getting a fully-orbed scope of all that’s went down.

October 2014, Treasure Island. Already in love with Oakland.
May 2016, Fort Point. Same jacket and similar pose as above. 

The Head — learning, reading, etc

Until I took part in this internship I thought people read leadership books if 1) they were a sucker and 2) they had no leadership skills and naively believed you could learn them simply by reading a book. Obviously I was the naive sucker.

We’ve read about 10 books together the past 10 months, from heavy meaty theological tomes such as Surprised by Hope to tender and gentle memoirs such as Reaching Out by Henri Nouwen and even dry basic and sound leadership guides such as The Making of a Leader. Through these books I have gleamed wisdom and practical skills that I will carry onward with me. What types of critical questions should I be asking when I attend new churches? How can I tease out, shape, and hone my own leadership skills better? How can I find spaces, places, and faces to be vulnerable with and to? I love reading, I have even found time to read more than a handful of extra just-for-fun books so the actual load of book reading wasn’t a struggle for me. What was a struggle, and what I am continuing to work out for myself is what do I really believe?

Reading Nouwen at B2 in San Jose, probably my top pick of the intern books 

I find it so easy to read a book and instantly be drawn into what the author is proposing or pushing. This past year has helped me tremendously in finding a balance, in seeing God through it all. Taking a bit of this and a bit of that, a pinch of my Baptist roots, a dash of my charismatic experiences, all folded into my more resent liturgical and high church exposure to create a soufflé of God’s grace.

I enjoyed the many discussions we had on Thursdays for our weekly intern cohort meeting, the pushback, the laughs, wisdom, and guidance we received from each other. This has been more helpful and educational to me than almost any part of the internship.

The Heart — community, relationships, etc

This is the part I am most struggling to encapsulate. I feel a weird twinge of regret about community, I know that in the 18 months that I have been here I could’ve done more for my community. I could have gotten more involved in a home group, instead of the nasty truth which is that I ditched my community, my home group, when the water started to get too hot. I got uncomfortable and so I jumped ship. I don’t want to lie and say I don’t feel better now that I am out of that sticky situation where my patience was regularly tested because of a small fraction of individuals, I do and did feel happier when I bowed out, but I do feel not so great about leaving my friends and Oakland family in a lurch to wade through the mess of life and dealing with hard people. We learn from our failures and I know I only hurt myself and others through my selfish actions of self-preservation.

On a positive note I also learned how to cultivate deep and meaningful friendships with individuals. Through food, experiences, road trips, and baseball games I was fortunate enough to take part in many exciting friendships that blessed me beyond belief.

At the last two churches I attended I never felt the love and acceptance I do here in Oakland. In England I was chided for my outgoing American bubbliness, in Texas I was reprimanded for my natural (and yes, somewhat overriding) leadership skills and my liberal leanings.

Coming to Oakland was a freaking breath of fresh air after living in a tiny stuffy box for almost 2 years. I was able to be myself and discover myself.

My home group circa June 2015, Sascha’s last week

I am so grateful for the dating class Regen offered when I first moved here, there I was able to discover more about healthy adult relationships, I was able to go on a smattering of dates, and make some great friendships because of that experience. I had never been on any genuine dates before and I enjoyed it so much I even joined an online dating service to continue this journey, and thanks to that I now have an amazing boyfriend and pal that I am so beholden for and excited about.

Thank you to everyone who was part of my time at Regen, below are many pictures of my months here. You might see yourself in one or two, but if not I still love you so and have been blessed by you. Yes, you.

The Hands – serving, doing stuff, etc

My primary task at Regen was to lead the youth, something I’d done before and passionately love doing. I had lofty ideas of what the program would look like, what I envisioned for our youth room, the camp we would attend, etc.

None of that happened. I’m going to be honest and vulnerable, I feel like I have completely failed at this task. The youth group is smaller now than when I began, I have only one youth that regularly attends church, and I have ZERO tangible proof that I did anything good with the youth department of Regeneration.

I am frustrated, burnt out, and annoyed with myself and with God for this. I wanted the chance to grow a big youth group, to be the cool youth pastor, I wanted glory and praise for my hip and amazing lesson plans.

I got none of that. (Thankfully!)

What I did get was a new and deeper leaning on God. I got the chance to have some amazing one-on-one mentoring style sessions with the youth. I have this new taste of ‘failure’ in my mouth and you know, it’s not great but it didn’t kill me.

I attended Mockingbird conference in NYC this past April, the theme this year was Relief. I arrived carrying all this baggage of regret and frustration, I was desperate for God’s grace and relief and it came to me in the weirdest way. A speaker, Sarah Condon, an Episcopal priest from Texas, shared this clip from the BBC show Rev, in it the worn down and hurt Rev Adam has a bizarre close encounter with God. A God who loves us so torrentially, he showers us with understanding, grace, and relief from the weight we try to carry around. God is played by Liam Neeson, he’s wearing a track suit and drinking a morning beer. It’s spectacular and an amazing release of joy.

Other ways I served with my hands was through Cross Streets, my favorite weekly homeless breakfast. I love so many of those men and women and consider many of them friends, they check up on me and ask questions about my life, and I return the favor. I have sometimes felt more love and kindness from them than I have with some congregants at Regen on occasion. 
Hats I crocheted for a few friends at Cross Streets
I spent many months volunteering at the Maker Space at La Escualita and cultivated a good partnership there, unfortunately my time ended there around February because of other time commitments at my new school and job at Edna Brewer. At Edna Brewer I had many chances to love students and families, even multiple occasions to share the gospel. 

Reading a Mo Willems book at La Escualita
I even started giving blood while living in Oakland because of the blood drive we had here last summer, now I give blood regularly as a tangible way to give of myself to others. 

The adage says you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone but I want to pushback on that, I see what I’ve got and what I’ve gotten. I’ve gotten a thousand memories and special moments, I’ve gotten new friends, richer and bolder experiences, and most importantly I’ve gotten a more intimate understanding and deeper more mature love for my God.

As I transition onto a new and wonderful chapter I am sad to be leaving Oakland behind, but it feels so different than any other ‘goodbye’ I’ve ever had before. Because I often travel and move great distances ‘goodbyes’ usually seem finale. But, I have lived in Oakland longer than any other place in the past 5 years and so because of that, and because of the deep friendships that bloomed here I know that this is hardly a ‘goodbye,’ this is just a see you later, see you around, see you in a few weeks, I’ll see you for your birthday, I’ll see you for a weekend road trip, I’ll see you when you come down to SoCal, I’ll see you when I have the itch to visit my home in Northern California.

So, my friends and family, see you down the line.

All my love,

So I’ll go but we know I’ll see you down the line
And we’ll hate what we’ve lost but we’ll love what we find

Here is a small gallery of great memories

 from the past 18 months of my life. 

One of my first A’s game 

Regen Mission Statement 

My favorite building in Oakland
Intern Squad at Mariners church Irvine, Oct 2015
Aaron, me, and giant Scott on Easter 2016
Intern squad, May 2016
Mad Oak, July 2015. Many friends celebrating Lisa’s birthday!
Tea + Kevin’s Reina de Saba Cake with Josiah 
At Haddon Hill with Olivia with her art surrounding her
A day of hiking to Tennessee Beach that I thought would kill me!
The pumpkins for Trunk or Treat overtaking my car
❤ Thankful God and the internet gave me this dude and his beard 
Sipapu NM, family ski trip Feb 2016
Off The Grid, May 2016
Hydrangeas on Piedmont ave 
The view from Twin Peaks, May 2016

Coffee + flowers, my two favorite things in the world 

bye yall, see you soon
Jen xoxo

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