Speechless in Seattle

My brother, BJ, theorizes that during the days of Westward expansion and
settlement in America, the most ambitious people made it all the way to
the West Coast. Then they had to stop because they couldn’t go any
farther. The result is that you have “established” people on the East
Coast, “the give-ups” in the Midwest, and the crazy weirdos with endless
motivation on the West Coast.

Well, I’m not really speechless in Seattle. But I wish I had the words to
describe the “coolness” of this city. This city is more cool than Snoopy
himself. Sarah and I are here in the great city of the Northwest for a
few days for the wedding of some good friends.

I have never been to Seattle before. I must say that I have not been let
down. The people here are eclectic, earthy (they recycle everything), and
open-minded to just about anything. Last night, we went to a Thai
restaurant in Queen Anne’s and a local told us how during the summer, all
the shops and stores have dog treats and water bowls for the canine
population. Now, what other city caters to dogs like that? Where I’m
from in Kentucky, horses are treated like royalty, but dogs are seen as
poop-producing critters.

Sarah and I also went to the famous Pike Street Market. Yes, we saw the
guys who chant at customers and throw fish at one another. That was
pretty neat to see. We knew that the longer we stood there, the more
susceptible we were to becoming a customers without realizing it. So we
continued on through the used book stores, the large magic store (with
juggling equipment) and even “Lefty Store.” That store sold left-handed
scissors, can-openers, and novelty shirts with quotes like, “Hire
Left-Handed People, It’s Fun to Watch Them Write.” Another good one was,
“We’re All Born Right-Handed, Only Some of Us Overcome It.”

Here is another neat thing about Seattle – it is a pedestrian’s city.
Cars honor and respect those on foot and bike more than any other American
city I have visited. The sidewalks are wide and smooth – and the rolling
terrain provides plenty of hillside views of the city, the water, and the
mountains. I wish Sarah and I could spend more time here. I can’t
imagine enjoying the city without her. And we get to attend a sacred
nuptial worship service together tomorrow at 11am. If festivities are
over in time, I might try to make it to the Seattle Juggling Club (Cascade
Jugglers) in the late afternoon. Then we take the red-eye back to
Louisville starting around midnight Saturday.

Now I’m drinking coffee in the city that founded Starbucks. And it’s made
by Anna Abernathy, the hospitable wife of Luke Abernathy (former manager
of the first Starbucks). But more important than that, they are friends
from Taylor and if they respresent the way people are in Seattle, then I
love the people of Seattle.

-Peace Out, Jesse

Congrats to the Iron Man and Gwynn!

My childhood athletic hero is Cal Ripken, Jr. I had the privilege of going to Baltimore as a child and watching him play many times. Today, he and Tony Gwynn were elected into the Hall of Fame, baseball’s most distinguished honor. Whereas baseball has gone through strikes and steroid abuse, Ripken and Gwynn have been enduring role models of integrity, work ethic, and sportsmanship. Both played for the same team for twenty years (only 16 total players can claim such devotion to one team). Ripken is a two-time winner of the MVP (1983 and 1991) and he was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1982. He holds the record for the most consecutive games played (over 2,600). This is a man who went to work everyday for twenty years, and he still gives back to the community in many ways today. Congrats Cal Ripken, Jr. Congrats Tony Gwynn. May there be more professional athletes like yourselves.

Things to do in 2007

Things to do in 2007 (one per month):

1. Make a new juggling video (January)
2. Attend the Marriage Retreat with my wife (February)
3. Stand in Michael Kaspar’s wedding (March)
4. Celebrate my wife’s birthday (April)
5. Graduate from seminary (May)
6. Attend Ichthus Music Festival with family in town (June)
7. Go to the 49th annual International Juggler’s Association Festival (July)
8. Watch my wife stand in Ginnie Wiseheart’s wedding (August)
9. Celebrate my birthday! (September)
10. Juggle for someone’s Fall Festival (October)
11. Thanksgiving in Mexico? (November)
12. Christmas – nuf said (December)

What part, if any, do we play in our eternal destiny?

I have recently been grappling with the whole Calvinist-Wesleyan debate recently. I have read a great deal of John Wesley’s original works this semester. He is a great preacher. But some of the key points of his theology fly in the face of Reformed/Calvinistic doctrine (to which I feel attracted in my heart/spirit). I grew up in a Pentecostal/Charismatic church (which was Armenian-Wesleyan). Now, I am at a Wesleyan seminary. But I still want to believe that we as humans have absolutely no claim on our salvific status. I listened to a John Piper podcast tonight, and he said something about justification coming by God’s grace, not by any work of man.

Now, even Wesley believed that justification comes only by God’s grace and not through works. But Wesley would say that God enables us and woos us to have the faith that chooses Christ. In the podcast, Piper continued to say that God justifies by His grace alone – not by works, nor by God enabling us to do anything that would in turn save us (because that still gives even a tiny bit of credit to man’s action). Piper holds the bold view that God plainly imputes righteousness unto his children. They are saved by grace. In the courtroom (by the way, the metaphors of king or judge are often used by Calvinists), God looks at us and calls us “not guilty.” Why? Because Jesus, the Son of God, died on the cross and rose from the dead because of His great love for us. This is cause for us to simply respond in praise and glory to the great sovereign Lord who by his grace has saved us.

In other words, though Wesley says that God saves us by his grace, in practice and principle he believes that man has a choice in this whole matter. I’m still grappling with this one. I want to side with the view that takes all claim away from man. This is an ongoing thought process of mine.


Thanksgiving 06 Update

Hello all. Thanks for checking out my meager blog. I have this week off from classes for Thanksgiving. But I still need to put in many reading hours (and volunteer hours at the Catholic Action Center). The CAC is for my mentored ministry class. It is a homeless ministry. I’m learning that the men and women we often walk by in disgust on the streets are actually very fun people to get to know. I like playing cards with many of them (particularly Rummy and Spades). On Thanksgiving, Sarah and I will be having a meal with some folks at our church, and we’re inviting a few of our homeless friends from the Catholic Action Center. Someone in our group told us that homeless people don’t want a meal as much as they want someone with whom to eat the meal. Ponder that…

I’m trying to learn Spanish from a friend of mine named Augustine. I’m getting a few words and verbs. I never took Spanish in school but that should definitely be a requirement for elementary school kids these days (go Dora!).

Last night, I got to juggle for an Upward Event at Burlington Baptist Church in Northern Kentucky. I pulled out the unicyle for the first time in a show. I had a blast in the show – especially when I pulled four coaches up for the human table. They thought they were volunteering their wives when they raised their hands. Then I told them to come forward. I stole that idea from a friend of mine named Roger Fields 🙂

Also, Shawn Hoke, an eighth-grade juggling student of mine, got to come along and be my assistant for the evening. He was a great help. I know that I was greatly inspired to perform juggling and use it as a ministry when I saw other performing jugglers who were ahead of me in life.

One more thing – Sarah and I are graduating in May 2007. We still do not know our post-graduation plans, and we are currently in the process of gathering options and praying for the Lord’s guidance. Please keep us in your prayers. Right now, I am applying to four PhD programs in Biblical Studies (Baylor, Marquette, Notre Dame, and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School). Sarah is interested in some sort of family counseling with her Counseling degree. We would also like to explore options of international missions (YWAM or a similar organization). Virginia is an attractive location for us, because that’s where most of our extended families live. Or, I may just become Jesse the Juggler full time around the year (I love my job). We’ll let you know. But for now, happy Thanksgiving.

-Jesse Joyner

Lexington Juggling Club

I don’t know what our name will be (The Thoroughbread Jugglers? Wildcat Jugglers? The Garbanzo Brothers?), but I’m trying to shuffle together this club with some cool local jugglers I’ve found through different means (internet, bumping into on the street, my school, etc.). Juggling clubs are so cool because you make immediate friends with everybody no matter what kind of person you (or they) are. I’m looking forward to this and I’ll let you all know how it goes.


Back to School!

I have attended school every Fall since I was 4 years old. I am now 25, and I am used to this ritual of strapping up the backpack, kissing someone (it was my Mom, now it’s my wife), grabbing a banana if I can, and rushing off to school. Thankfully, Sarah and I live so close to school that we can walk. I love September. High School football games, new faces, new socks, and that perfect cool breezy weather. I think I also love September because my birthday is on the 27th and our wedding anniversary is on the 20th. And classwork is not too hard yet. This is just party month for the Joyners!

I have a few juggling gigs lined up, but for the most part this is a break from the busy schedule of the summer. It’s nice to have the time for school.

Upcoming Tour

I’m embarking on a brief tour through Indiana and Illinois over the next few weeks. This will be exciting because I will pass through my old college stomping grounds. I have the opportunity to begin this trip at the Illinois State Fair with the Child Evangelism Fellowship tent (Aug 14-15). Through the medium of juggling equipmnt, I’ll get to share the message of the Wordless Book and the “little flip book” made popular by CEF.

Then I’ll go to a camp near Peoria, IL that I recently did a program for back in June. The group of kids will be different, though. I especially remember the tether ball stations that this camp offers! (Aug 16)

Then I head to Indiana for a string of churches near my alma mater, Taylor University (Aug 17-21). By this time, my wife will meet up with me so we can share the rest of the trip together. She also went to Taylor. By the way, Sarah is back from her summer trip and I am so glad to have my best friend around again.

Finally, Sarah and I will have a day off (Aug 22). Maybe we’ll go hike in Brown County or something. Then we’ll head to Church at the Crossing in Indianapolis on Wednesday, Aug 23. Maybe she and I will have time to have lunch or dinner at the Greek restaurant on the South side of Indy that was the location of our very first date back on Valentine’s Day of 2002.

So, come see us on this tour. The calendar is on my website, www.jessethejuggler.com. So far, I only have one groupie – her name is Sarah!


If It Plays in Peoria

Before I tell you about my trip this past week, I’ll tell you about this picture. This is my first attempt (after a practice run) at the armor of God with balloon animals! The kid is holding the shield of faith sideways, but I must admit that the shield came together much better than I intended. It was fun. I had the kids repeat back to me all the parts of the armor several times while I was fixing up this guy. It was great watching him go back to his seat. His friends had to “de-suit” him just so he could get back into his pew seat.

So I just got back from a week-long juggling trip in Peoria, IL. I got word that back in the Vaudeville days, performers of all types would test their act in the great American town of Peoria, Illinois first. If they flopped there, then they would probably never make it on the big stage. But if Peoria liked the show, then that was a sign that they could take their show on the road.

I guess I can say that things went pretty well. I did eight programs in four days. I was exhausted at the end, but I loved every minute of it. There is nothing I would rather do than share the Gospel of Jesus while I juggle. My friend Brad Habegger carted me around and saw most of my presentations. He was able to give me some great feedback on what worked and what did not work. That is valuable information. Not everybody is willing to tell you about the parts of your program that should be edited in order to improve the overall effectiveness. He is a great brother in the Lord and has a heart for ministry to children as the Director of Camp of Champions USA in Peoria.

I also got to present my juggling to Camp Good News (CEF) and Faith Bible Camp. These were overnight camps – the latter one having their “middle schoolers” week. And boy was that a hoot. I intentionally picked out one the outspoken male eighth-graders and made him be my guinea pig for my routine with the hammer of death, the Arabian saw blade, and the American grillmaster pitchfork. He didn’t flinch much, but it was fun messing with him.

While on this trip, I read a great article by storyteller Stephen James. He said that the success and effectiveness of ministry should not be how much the audience laughed or how many people showed up for the event. If that were the case, then people like Jeremiah and Jesus would be considered ministerial failures! Rather, let us measure our effectiveness based on the mantra of John the Baptist: “He must increase and I must decrease.” Was God glorified? Were people given the space and opportunity to worship God? Was the Word of God proclaimed? These are the questions I want to learn to ask myself after a juggling program.

I Miss My Wife

My wife, Sarah, is working out of state right now – for a two month period. We have just passed the one month mark and there is still another month of distance for Sarah and I. I just want the world to know that I miss her. I really respect couples who do this for longer periods of time – such as military families. There is a student friend of mine at the seminary who is from Kenya. His wife and kids are back in Kenya while he is studying in America. They will not see each other for about a year. I cannot imagine that kind of distance – but somehow people do it and maintain healthy marriages at the same time.

All I know is that I am now more thankful for time with my wife than ever before. Our distance teaches us not to take one another for granted when we are together. I told her last night on the phone what I wanted for my birthday this Fall – two tickets and dinner for the Cirque du Solei show in Cincinatti. Talk to you later.