Friday, September 04, 2009

Jesus + Nothing

Here is a copy of the main letter I wrote in our City Church newsletter this month:

Jesus Plus Nothing – by Cassandra Tenny

The whole leadership team was shocked to realize that it was time to get our newsletter out again. Already? I think it is safe to say that time has been flying for us here on the mission field. Summer months are gone and we are already into September, our third official month here in San Jose.
September is going to be very big in the foundation of City Church San Jose. We are starting Gospel Groups on Thursday, September 3rd, which in essence is the kickoff of us as a real church body. We held an informational meeting in late August to ask a few more people to join us as a core group, and so far we are up to six people from four. A pretty good step in the right direction, I think!
We covet your prayers as we take the next step and invite our friends who don’t yet know Jesus to come and study the Bible with us, help serve others in our community, and generally “do life” together. Be praying that our new friends and acquaintances will come to love the community that they see exemplified, but more importantly, that they would come to know the Savior who inspires it all. In fact, we have titled our first study series “Jesus + Nothing” to remind ourselves and everyone else where our hopes and futures lie.
Every time that we meet as a leadership team, we remind ourselves that it is not about us being cool or flashy or having all the answers. It is not about our wonderful methods or the fact that we like to drink coffee and have BBQs and hang out. The reason why we all gave up our ordinary lives to become church planters and to really love this city?
Jesus, and only Jesus.
Jesus plus nothing.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The California Blues

So the past few weeks have been very intense and wonderful/horrible for me. Some of you may have read my husband's moving account of what he's been thinking and feeling recently of our newly acquired California identity. My account mirror's his somewhat.

If you've spoken to me at all recently, you may have noticed that I'm not necessarily my chipper, optimistic self. I was hit pretty hard with what the professionals call "situational depression" and "anxiety", but what I shall call "The California Blues". I don't need to be monitored or drugged or anything, but it was a major event that I'm not entirely sure is over. Even looking around me at the beautiful California sunshine, I was anxious, depressed, slightly panicky and an all-around mess. My health has been suffering, not to say anything of my demeanor!

I think part of this is that I was up until very recently working six days a week. This gave me little to no time to process our big move out here from Denver. Finding my way at my new job was very strenuous. You'd think that Gymboree in San Jose would be just like working at Gymboree in Denver, but it is not. So many things are different and that is very stressful for me. I'm coming out of it now. I asked for an extra day off and when it was granted, I felt like I had a whole new lease on life! TWO whole days off!!

I've been clinging to God and my husband and new friends in this time. Thanks be to God for the love and support of my family, as well. The Harmons are a huge, huge blessing. My mommy sent me some herbal supplements that are supposed to help with mood, so I'm looking forward to seeing a little improvement in my entire outlook.

The great news is that the church plant is blossoming and our plans seem to be thriving as we continue to seek God. As Chris mentioned in his blog, no book you read on the subject seems to tell you about the "honeymoon phase" of church-planting coming to an end. (Probably because what we're doing is more like becoming missionaries than the church-planting norm.) However, we continue to carry on. Prayer meetings are already under way, we are building relationships with area churches and their pastors, and hopefully beginning to really get a feel for where the city is at the moment and how we can best serve the people of San Jose.

As a side note, in case you are interested, here are four albums that I really leaned on to help me feel less panicky and depressed:

1. Ben Lee - Awake is the New Sleep
2. Regina Spektor - Far
3. Richard Buckner - Bloomed
4. Ray LaMontagne - Til the Sun Turns Black

(It's not surprising for a musical person to lean on music in a time of crisis, is it?)

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Way to San Jose

So, now I can say I know the way to San Jose (har har)...from Denver, at least. You just take highway 80 west and keep going...and going...and going. Then turn south at Sacramento, but be sure to eat In n Out first. Soon, you'll be in San Jose just like us!

Beyond the driving to get here (with a "check engine light" scare averted), God has been taking care of us mightily now that we are safely in the arms of our family. The Harmons are a most lovely and welcoming family. Being the ones to give us quality housing at the price of "free", they have immediately become our largest financial supporters. We are completely indebted to them...and they feed us, too! We also have fun because they love to play games like Farkle and Taboo (well, not Uncle Chuck, but he also doesn't respond to the term "party pooper" in the way I'd hoped).

Hold on to your seats, there's more. I've been conned into running a half marathon on October 4th, 2009. It's the Rock n Roll half marathon, and it is a San Jose community event, which means it is something that we should take part in. Letitia, Chris and I are going to try to run it, and Jason (the only one among us who actually runs) is going to be a water boy, or some other kind of volunteer. Let's hope I don't die or kill others in the process of training, since I hate running, as most of you know.

The church planting is off to a great start, although there is not much to report at this juncture to those of us not on our leadership team. It's just groundwork being laid and little things that God is doing to show us that He is for us, and that we are doing His work in His strength. Little things every day are affirming that we are supposed to be here, and that is really important when you have uprooted your whole life to answer a call to a city you barely know.

We covet the prayers of our friends and family. If you have a few extra dollars to throw our way, that would be appreciated also. To check up on us, you can always visit and we will have a newsletter available soon to our prayer and financial partners (and other interested parties).

Here we go!!

Thursday, May 28, 2009


I've been thinking a lot about this word "bearing".

There are a few ways that it is used in modern life, such as "Bear with me". (Incidentally, many people misspell this as "Bare with me", which is essentially inviting everyone else to accompany you in getting naked.) Think about "bearing children" or a tree "bearing fruit". People speak of "getting their bearings" in a new place. Or perhaps when something awful tops off an already awful day, it is "more than you can bear".

There are uses of this word "bear" in the Bible; many, in fact. I've been thinking about two of the uses in light of recent occurrences in my family that have been especially difficult for me to bear.

Gal 6:2 Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

When things befall me or my family that are too heavy for me to bear on my own, I turn to others in the body of Christ that I know I can trust and literally ask them to bear my burdens with me. I ask them without shame to labor with me in prayer. I ask in complete dependence, knowing that they will come through for me. Not everyone in the church will be willing to do this with such alacrity, but it is Biblical! In college I really learned this. People go through hard times and some things were never meant to be borne alone. This is why Christ sent the Holy Spirit after Him to establish His church, His body, His bride. We were not meant to live the Christian life in isolation; it was meant to be lived in community. Bearing each other's burdens fulfills the law of Christ.

Eph 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

This is what comes into play when you are simply tired of bearing everyone's burdens and you just want to shout at them to grow up, bear your own darn burdens, and leave me alone! I have been there. There are times when one must summon an almost inhuman amount of patience and humility, knowing what Christ bore for us. Then we must choose again and again to be gentle and patient and bear with one another in love. This can be especially difficult when you are in the midst of bearing your own large burden, and then you are asked to bear with one another, too! And not just barely bear them, but to bear with them in LOVE. Ah, now that's when I need help.

And here it is: Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus speaking,

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (New International Version)

Just reading those words brings tears to my eyes. Think about someone telling you to come to them and that they will give you rest. I know I need that. I know many people who need lighter burdens, who need some rest for their souls. Right now I feel that I am one of them. Where in this busy, bustling world can you find it?

Look to the Good Shepherd. Look to His Word. Look to His Church. The burden He gives us is never too much to bear, as long as we do not try and bear it alone.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Notes on a Sleeping Husband

Today is the day that my wonderful husband finally graduates from seminary! Praise the Lord! We had to get up at 6:30am on this eventful day, just when you think you're done getting up early for a little while, and drive down to Parker for the commencement ceremony.

Chris graduated with a Master's of Divinity degree (with honors, of course) and I couldn't be more proud. My dad and I sat in the nosebleed seats of a giant auditorium and hooted and hollered for my honey when his name was called. He could still hear me, of course, even across the large room, the nature of my voice being rather audible.

He didn't sleep a wink last night while I slept like a baby ( a very content and happy baby ), so he is now exhausted and napping in our room at home. This is the home we will be leaving behind, the one we practically rebuilt together in preparation for our marriage. We only have a little over two weeks to go before we depart it, most likely forever. I won't miss the house so much as the life we've built here together, although I know that the life we build in San Jose will be equally exciting and equally "ours".

One part of the graduation ceremony that was especially poignant for me was when the entire auditorium full of people stood up to sing "Great Is Thy Faithfulness". This is one of my favorite hymns because I can sing it with confidence in both good times and bad. I believe it equally in all situations because my God has been so faithful on so many occasions that I feel I can't help but sing about it. (Plus, he gave me a voice with which to do it, so I do!)

Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father. You brought Chris through six years of seminary. You brought Chris to me! You gave us a happy marriage with a purpose that is more exciting to me than anything that has happened in my life yet. Please pour out Your blessing on us for as long as we continue to heed Your voice. Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

What's New, Pussycat?

Chris and I got back on Tuesday morning from a little preliminary trip to San Jose. It was such a strange experience to actually BE in the place that we've been talking about, dreaming of, and praying over for so long...all four of the Downtown Synergy Team together. We had a good Night of Synergy, good times with our family and friends, good schmoozing opportunities, and a little bit of time off from our normal schedules.

Many people have been asking us, "Why San Jose?" I have a lot of good reasons now that I didn't have before, but the best reason of all that I can tell myself is the fact that God has called us there. Jason drove us up in the foothills a little bit so that we could get a good view of all of San Jose, which I have never seen from that vantage point before. As I looked out over the city, the Holy Spirit was definitely tugging on my heart. I had no real interest in the city before this venture, but as I looked out over the smoggy buildings and houses, 3rd most populated place in California, I started to cry. I can't really articulate why, but it was a mixture of brokenness, humility, and being completely overwhelmed by what God has called us to.

Probably the best thing that happened on the trip (for me) occurred on our last full day there. We met with Pastor Jeff Wenke of The Journey church in San Jose. He's a very cool guy that my grandma encouraged me to talk to, as he planted a church himself seven years ago in a similar area. We've sent him letters asking for prayer support, financial support, or missions support, and kind of explaining what we are hoping to do with Downtown Synergy.

He said to us, "I tried to ignore you guys. I didn't want to be involved. But I just couldn't." The Holy Spirit prompted him to be there for us, to help us, and he even asked us the church-planter's dream question, "What do you need?" At that point, we told him all we needed was prayer...lots and lots. But think about it...the Holy Spirit told him NOT to ignore our as yet tiny little venture. That, to me, is the ultimate in human affirmation. That means we are something worth helping. It means other people who are not our grandmas, uncles, brothers or moms want to be involved in this thing. It means God is with us, so who can be against us???

Praise the Lord! Anyone who has sent up a prayer...its working. Please continue to labor with us in prayer that we would continue in obedience and bring glory only to God. Amen

Monday, April 20, 2009

Check it out, I'm famous!

My friend Hannah Bath who graduated from and now works for the college I graduated from (Wesley Institute, Sydney), wrote an article about where I am and what I'm doing now!
I told her she makes me sound more intelligent than perhaps I really am. =)!.asp

Check it out!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Ned Kelly and Pretty Boy Floyd

A few of you know that I've been rather consumed with the research of my family tree recently. When I was just starting out, I was definitely standing on the shoulders of giants in terms of what had been researched before me. The whole reason I started doing this was because I saw that the Italian government will allow Italian descendants to become citizens if their emigrating relative never denounced their Italian citizenship. (I believe I have proven this and am very excited, but that is another story altogether.)

One branch of my tree is very English. has a cool little tool that lets you click on a button that says, "Find famous relatives". I thought I would have none. I was very wrong! Because of the English side, my closest famous relative was Ralph Waldo Emerson, my 4th cousin (six times removed, since he was quite a bit older than me). I thought that was pretty sweet. I fancied this is where my literary bone comes from.

Then, I decided it was time to explore the Southern contingent. My paternal grandmother's family hails from the Southern parts of the United States since even before the states were united. I explored that branch of the family, and decided to click on "Find famous relatives" again, to see if anything had changed. We did have a Confederate Captain who died in the war on our side, after all.

Instead of dignitaries and former presidents, NOW my two closest famous relatives are Pretty Boy Floyd (I think they had his character in O Brother Where Art Thou...a caricature, at least), and Frank James (older brother of Jesse James). Floyd is my 5th cousin, three times removed (since he lived in the 30s) and James is 5th cousin, 4th times removed. I'm even related to the famous Aussie outlaw Ned Kelly (6th cousin, 4 times removed!

I don't know what there is to be said for all this, and I know it all just proves the whole Seven Degrees of Separation thing. What the heck is a 5th cousin anyway? How does that have anything to do with my daily life?

I've been pondering this, and I think there is something to be said about legacy in all of this. To be perfectly honest, I got more excited than anything that my great-great grandfather William C Opie listed himself on his World War I draft card as "Occupation: Minister of the Gospel". I think that is just so awesome. He didn't just write "minister" and try to get out of the service. The wording itself is a legacy to me. I get to read it ninety years later and think, "Yes, that is MY occupation, too." I feel a kinship with William C Opie that has to do with the fact that we are, in fact, related. But I feel a stronger kinship with him because of the shared place we have in the family of God. To me, the Kingdom family is just as important, if not MORESO than the family we were born into.

Although being 9th cousin of James Dean is pretty cool too.

Monday, March 09, 2009

When Your ID is Thieved...

(Is thieved even a word? I'm unsure, but I like it.)

So, this is the second time that I have been the victim of identity theft, or at least of a big old error on my credit record. And let me tell you, it is a severe pain in the *you pick a body part*.

I have spent so many hours on this, and it all seems to be like a giant wheel spinning around, and I am the not-so-giant hamster trying to keep up. Trying to save my precious credit sometimes seems like it is very important, and other times I am tempted to just let them have it! Go ahead, ding away!! I'm innocent!

The other day I actually got to talk to a real live human being in person about this whole thing. It was so nice. Not only was she sympathetic because she had recently gone through the same thing, but she was really nice and actually wrote things down that I told her, as if they were important in some way. This is mostly because she was with the Wheat Ridge Police Department, but still! She wasn't even typing it up while we were talking (she would do that later); she was writing things down with pen and ink on lined paper. So refreshing.

So now I get to put a "fraud alert" on my credit with all three bureaus, which I'm sure looks great to anyone who is checking my credit. Oh well.

All this serves to remind me of a few things.

1.) As cheesy as it sounds, I must remember that my true identity is in Christ, and no one can take that away from me.

2.) There is no worrying allowed for the Christian. God is in control of even such inane things as my credit. I can try and make things right through the best of my God-given ability, but ultimately I will look up and say, "You handle this! I'm done!"

3.) Money is not my god. Credit will not save me. There are more important things in life, so I won't sell my soul to this thing.

Sorry if those sounded trite, but I think they are so true. The only reason they sound silly is because we are juxtaposing the insignificant ways of man and his money with the ultimate power of the God of the universe. And when you put it that way, it doesn't sound half so scary after all.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Revolution Continues

We are three and half months out from our potential move date to San Jose.

Three and half months?? When did that happen?!

Probably while I was stressing out about any of the following: my current work situation, or my family falling apart, or actually planning a move out to California, let alone what we'll do when we get there!

I'm not saying I'm worrying about these things, but being present in a stressful situation certainly can rub off on a person. I fully trust that God will take care of these things and all of my other needs, too. Meanwhile, my body needs each and every free minute it can get to process the things that are happening all around me.

Here are the things I am processing:

1. Leaving my current job situation and trying not to make it my worry to replace myself. That is my employer's job, not mine. Of course, I love my boss and will try to help her in any way I can, but if they are left in the lurch with no one to help run the site when I leave...well, that's not my fault! Also, finding a new job in addition to my full-time church planting job when we get to San Jose.

2. Which leads us to FINANCES. I don't really think I need to elaborate on this one, do I? Poor newlyweds uprooting to a new state to plant a church? God's got this one, so all I have to do is not freak out about it.

3. My Dad possibly going to jail and ex-step-dad possibly very soon dying of final stages of alcoholism. My heart breaks for my three sisters and my brother, because that is their father and there is no getting around that fact.

4. Keeping my eyes and heart fixed on God for everything having to do with my life, my marriage, the move, the church plant, family, friends, jobs, etc, etc, etc..

Hebrews 12:2 "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith..."

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Today we had our first official "Revolution" meeting as we like jokingly call it. I think it is because we feel like young rebels on the church-planting scene, meeting in coffeehouses and dreaming big dreams.

Things are becoming more and more tangible, for me at least, as we develop task lists, gain team members, and put actual dates in place for our move out to California. Jason is so all over everything, it is so amazing. I remember why I thought his church plant was such a good idea in the first place, which was immediately when it came out of his mouth and about ten minutes before I started dreaming of us going with him.

The fact that people are actually signing on to this thing, after much prayer and contemplation (Hi Letitia!), is one of the things that blows me away. Now I know a slice of what Jason must have felt when we told him YES. God is in, around, and through this thing, I can just feel it. Perhaps I'm too young to feel things in my bones, but as a woman, you are never too young to have intuition. Mine says that this is going to be a great venture.

If you're inclined, I would ask any readers to be praying for us in this time of planning and preparation. We know that we need God more than anything else, but a close second is finances! God can provide those, too, by the generous hearts of His people. I believe that prayer can bring this about.

So here's the the beginning of the revolution...may it be all God wants it to be.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Promise Keepers

This morning I was reading in the Bible about King David and how God promises him that he will never be forgotten and that his name and house will be great forever. I thought to myself, "I'm reading about him. Nearly everyone I know at least knows about him. God kept His promise!" And that is exactly what I was going to write about in this blog.

However, then I stumbled upon a headline that read "Obama to lift international abortion funding ban" and I yelled aloud, "WHAT?" Talk about keeping your promises.

I'm going to be very open and transparent with everyone here. This past election was a very difficult one for me, because by casting the vote that I did, and even by allying myself with the political party that I did, I felt like I was doing many things against type. I found myself in the rather childish and odd situation of trying to excuse myself to everyone. The commentary in my head ran like this: "I'm registering Democrat (Sorry Kev), but I'm not voting for Hillary (sorry Aunt Chris and other hopeful women of the US) because I don't trust her as far as I can throw her. I'm going against my conscience just a little bit (sorry conscience) in voting for Barack Obama (at least my generation will think I did the right thing) because of his very liberal views on abortion (sorry evangelical tradition and all the unborn babies of the world)."

In the end, Barack Obama at least is posturing himself to fulfill many of his campaign promises. I don't know what the heck he plans to do about the economy, and I doubt he's going to buy you a new house, Aunt Chris, or pay for my boss' $25,000 oral surgery. But he is probably going to try. Do I value his integrity? Yes I do. Am I filled with joy and pride when I look at the black community and see how filled with joy and pride they are at this election? Yes I am. Can I still feel some remorse about the abortion issue without saying that I think I was wrong to vote for Barack Obama?

Yes, I can.

Now enjoy this hilarious video courtesy of my friend Jared's roommates.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Farewell to a Great Man

I returned yesterday from a trip to my old hometown of Long Beach, CA. It was a nice trip, but the reason for it was sad: my grandfather's funeral.
When I heard that my grandpa Red had died, I was instantly transported back to January 2005, almost four years ago to the day, when my Grandma Betty (Grandpa Red's wife) passed away. I was there, along with many of her other family members, in the hospital room watching death ravage her body with each passing breath. People will speak to you about the peace of death, how it is simply a part of life and all that loveliness, but I tell you it is BULL. God created this world perfect, but because of SIN, there is DEATH. It is NOT natural, pretty, comforting, or any of these things. Watching my grandmother die did have a mystical element though, as I spoke to her not knowing if she could hear or understand, clutching her hand and reassuring her that we would miss her but that she was free to go. My grandma Betty loved Jesus and I know that I will be with her again when we all gain new bodies and get to be with God forever. That was the only hope or joy that there was in her death.
Fast-forward to four years later, nearly to the day, and my Grandpa, Sergeant Major Wilbur "Red" Jones left this Earth as well. I was summoned to Long Beach to say my farewells, and be with and be comforted by my family. Many of you know how my mother and my step-dad Kevin are no longer together, and might think that going to a family reunion (of sorts) with a family that is "technically" no longer mine would be a little awkward. But you would be wrong. The Jones/Klein family IS my family, and they welcomed me like family, and I read scripture at my Grandpa's funeral like family and we all took a shot a whiskey together like family (perhaps YOUR family doesn't do that at funerals...) to honor my grandfather's memory. It was a great day.
The Marines that were there to honor one of their own were a part of the ceremony that I will not soon forget. Not only were there two men left from his company, old men now with haircuts not unlike my grandfather's which never changed over the years, but there were young men there, too. These young Marines may have never met my Grandpa, but all they needed to know was that he was a veteran of three wars (WWII, Vietnam and the Korean Conflict) with the Marine Corps, a Sergeant Major, that he was a decorated hero and that he had done a great service to our country. His memory was honored with their presence, their respect, their gun salute, and a folded American flag enshrining the bullet casings from that salute. My dad Kevin was the one to receive this flag in my Uncle Dan's stead. It was a wonderful moment, and very soon after Kevin clutched my sister and I and told us, "My mom and dad are dead. You guys are more important than ever to me now." And indeed, the less of us that there are, the more important our remaining family becomes to us.
So although I met my grandma and grandpa Jones when I was probably about ten years old, and got to spend only half of my life with them, I miss them dearly. I wore a necklace that was a gift from my grandmother to both her and my Grandpa's funerals, and I carry their little cards from the Catholic funerals around with me in my wallet, to read the prayers on the back and remember them fondly by.
I will end with the scripture that I was privileged (and surprised, thanks Kev!) to read at this most recent funeral. I choked up because I always cry when things are happy, and I think that this is a comforting passage:
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.