Category Archives: Vineyard

Corn seconds (or… “So Come”)

This morning, my five children and I sat around our island and shucked sweet corn.

My oldest, Ethan (who will be 16 on Sunday), expressed a new appreciation for pesticides.

I was a bit shocked, as was Grant, who is 13.

It was, however, somewhat understandable.

The corn we were shucking was from the CSA, from Crooked Sky Farms.  Organic, fresh, but quite wormy.

Wednesday is CSA Day, where (currently) 24 people come to my home and pick up their share of local, organic, single-farmer-grown produce.  However, on Wednesday, I thought that I was going to have a baby, and I called in the troops — a fellow CSA member who had volunteered to host the pick-up, should I be giving birth or something like that, especially since we’re planning a homebirth.

In retrospect, I feel like a chump for calling her, because here it is, two days later, and I still don’t have a baby.

Anyway.

The instructions from the farm said to give everyone three ears of corn.  She was about halfway through the afternoon when she realized, “We are going to have a LOT of corn left.  A LOT.”  She upped the remaining people’s share to four ears, but was also worried, like perhaps the farm unintentionally gave too much corn, and they were going to ask for it back.

So, she came to my home yesterday with all the leftovers, including four boxes of corn — each box holding 25-40 ears of corn.  Clearly, each member could have had SIX ears, and we still wouldn’t have run out.  I’m not sure what happened — if they delivered too much accidentally, or if they just gave extra so that folks could pick through the ears and get the best ones, or what.

In any case, she kept two boxes, as did I.  I assured her that she had done nothing wrong;  sometimes, you just have to go with the flow and adjust, and she just didn’t know that, as this was her first time.  And, one of the perks of being the host is that you get to decide what to do with the leftovers, and one of the decisions you are free to make is, “Why, I’ll just keep it!”

The substitute host has seven kids;  I have five (almost six).  We happily kept our corn.

HOWEVER…  I must say, this corn was definitely picked-through, and not nearly as pretty as what you’d see in the grocery store.  Most of the ears were, as I mentioned, wormy.  (However, cut off the top third or half, and voila!  You have a beautiful half-ear of corn.)  Some of it was way too mature — dented kernels throughout, telling me that it was over-ripe, and that the sugars had turned to starch, and that it wouldn’t be good eating.  Some of the ears were just too worm-eaten or even moldy, and the whole ear had to be chucked into the compost bin.

So…  It wasn’t exactly pretty work, shucking this corn.  There was a lot of, “Eeeewww…” and ears dropped like a hot potato when pulling back the husk revealed three caterpillars, happily munching away at the kernels.

Wesley (age 11) eventually got grossed out and became mostly the guy who carted all the shucks, silk, and “dead” ears off to the compost bin.

Audrey (age 7) became distraught that I wouldn’t allow her to make a habitat which would enable her to keep all the caterpillars.  Indeed, I was insisting that everyone simply throw away the caterpillars in with the shucks.  She was horrified by my casual discarding of life.

However, Ethan, Grant, and 4-year-old Fiala hung in there like champs to the very end.

I wish I had a “before” picture to show you just how ugly this corn was…  But, I didn’t take a pic.

I found myself, though, reflecting on the treasure we uncovered, in pale yellow and white kernels — one that required a little work.  One that required us to “extract the precious from the worthless.”

Jeremiah 15:19

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

19 Therefore, thus says the Lord,
“If you return, then I will restore you—
Before Me you will stand;
And if you extract the precious from the worthless,
You will become [a]My spokesman.

We have enough “pretty” whole or mostly-whole ears of corn to give us two — maybe even three — nights of sweet corn feasting with our dinners.  And that is for our aforementioned large family of seven.

I also took the not-so-pretty ears — those which were less-than-half-sized, those which needed multiple kernels trimmed out, or even whole sides cut off, due to being dried or worm-eaten, etc. — and cut the remaining good kernels.  Those efforts resulted in a couple of knife nicks on my left hand, a partially numb right index finger from grasping the knife for six passes per ear… AND, five quarts of kernels to add to our freezer.

I feel like that’s a win.

Corn!

It’s hard to tell from this pic, but there are probably 25-30 ears of corn in the plastic shopping bag — most of them only partial ears…. But it’s a lot of corn!

This song was running through my head this afternoon, as I extracted the precious sweet corn kernels from what previously appeared to be two boxes of worthless, picked-over, dried, wormy, partly moldy corn…

I don’t know how to explain it…  It just feels redemptive and rewarding to have rescued all that corn… to have worked for it, toughed it out when the going was gross, and now my freezer is stocked and we will feast on hot, buttered, salty corn-on-the-cob tonight.

In which I plea too earnestly

Note: If you do a Google image search for a mom talking with a teen, there are LOADS of fabulous mother and daughter pics chatting effortlessly away, but the ones of mothers and teen sons?? Weird. Or scary.

When your children are toddlers, you can write pretty much anything about them in a blog, and they just won’t care.

Not so much when they’re teens.

I had a conversation with my oldest son today — he’s 15 — and I will freely admit that I did about 98% of the talking, so it was more like a talking-to than a conversation.  I don’t want to call it a lecture, because as I told him a number of times, “I’m not mad.  You’re not in trouble.”  Maybe it was more like an admonishment.  I want to call him up.  I long to help bring out in him the potential that exists in him.  I do want him to “man up.”  I do want him to “put away childish things.”  Not that he must be serious all the time, but as he grows into an adult, it’s so important to me that he recognizes potential pitfalls in his own life and has the Godly strength of character to avoid them… not because of the threat of some discipline I might impose, but because he can discern right from wrong and make some of the hard choices for himself.

It all sounds so cliché, I’m sure.

I was thinking though — and told him about — my own teen years.  I really had so little guidance.  My mom, a single mother, worked full-time.  By the time I was a senior in high school, I was working (usually) 30 hours a week, and that was during the school year.  I hardly saw her.  I was the oldest of three children at home at the time.  I actually went to two different churches (my mother’s, and my church of choice), for a total of four times a week, and I was very involved… but I wasn’t really discipled.  It was more like — I received teaching which did my best to apply, but it wasn’t… personal.  It wasn’t one-on-one.  My mom uses the guiding paradigm of, “You’ll learn from your mistakes.”  While that often works, she gave very little guidance, very little input, little correction, virtually no advice, no direction, no admonishment.  I felt like I was just tossed out into the deep end and she didn’t even watch to see if I made it to the side or not.  I’m sure she cared, but I didn’t feel it, and I know that she felt a vast measure of relief when I reached adulthood, like, “Whew!  Glad that’s over!” and that she could step back from directly mothering me, except that perhaps she started three-ish years too early.  Part of that was us just not seeing each other that much.  Plus, I’m sure she was just plain tired.  Our personalities are extremely different.  We almost never fought outright, but we just didn’t share much.  Virtually never.

I was very much my own boss from about age 16 or 17 onward, very much aware that if I stood or if I fell, the results were entirely on my own shoulders.

This wasn’t really a good thing, for a variety of reasons.

The odd thing was, I was probably more mature about my freedom than most 16-year-olds;  I didn’t get into trouble;  it was important for me, even from a very young age, to do the right thing, as best as I understood it.

But, I truly had no one who spoke into my life who said, “You need to trim those weeds in your heart.”

Part of this, too, was due to (unknown at the time) flaws in my character, where I rarely saw fault in myself.  I didn’t know any weeds existed!  I was an excellent student, very responsible…  I was often receiving various awards, commendations, and compliments.  It never really occurred to me that I might have areas — VAST AREAS — in my heart that needed tending, some molding, some shaping, some pruning…

The first person who really did that for me was a friend’s mother, starting about my senior year of high school.  She was probably the first person who truly counseled me, probably because she was worried about my influence on her daughter!!  Honestly, though, that woman cared for me the way no one else had before, and I believe her input radically altered the course of my life, and greatly for the better.

She’s the wife of my pastor.  I’m 39.  I’ve known her since I was 15, and have had good relationship with her since I was 17 or so…

Lordy.

Time flies.

Back to my son…

It seems like the blessing and the curse of motherhood is the “gift” of extrapolation.  I have insight to see, “If this attitude/behavior/viewpoint/sin/whatever continues on a similar path, OH! the damage it could cause!”

I’m never sure how much to step in and bring direction:  “Is it too little?  Too much?  The wrong time?  The wrong way?  Will he understand?  Am I over-reacting?”

I don’t want to bring condemnation on my children, ever.

Yet, I will not just toss him into the deep end and walk away.

I do the best I can, praying for wisdom, praying for the Spirit to impact our conversation, to give me the right words, for the good seed to sink down into the soil of his heart, and the overwrought chaff to drift harmlessly away.

I tend to… earnestly plea.

I wish I was a better encourager, to more potential good and know how, exactly, to bring that out, like Your Mother, the Motivational Speaker, communicating with aplomb, humor, wisdom, and interesting anecdotes.

Instead, I end up talking too long, and pleading too earnestly.

Ugh.

I continue, though, because truly, truly, truly, from the bottom of my heart, I wish that I had known in my teens the million-and-a-half difficult lessons that I had to learn the hard way in my 20s and 30s.  I wish I had had some direction in my teens — especially my mid-teenage years — from someone — my mother, especially — to help identify problematic areas in my character and help me nip them in the bud…

The good news is that, in the end, I checked in, and he did not feel condemned, and didn’t feel like I was angry with him.  But, he did feel discouraged.

I think we both need an injection of encouragement.

(NOT THAT I’M SOLICITING YOURS.  What I mean is that it’s hard to give what one doesn’t own.  On one hand, I’m happy that in my personal life and in my mothering, I have steered clear of feeling and communicating condemnation, and that is GROWTH right there, let me tell you.  But, taking it one step further, to learn how to tend blossoms until the branches are dripping with fruit, filled with hope and expectation and excitement for the future….  I’m not so great at that, neither in my personal life and relationship with God, nor in my mothering.  Not yet.)

 

Hellfire and Damnation

I’m sure, in my 6+ year history of blogging, I’ve mentioned the frustrating (and for a time, wounding) experience I had while in university, being accosted by a street preacher.  It was my non-Christian friend, of all people, who had to pull me away from the man with the megaphone who was shouting at me that I was a Jezebel who would burn in hell.  I tried to reason with the preacher and tell him I was a sister in Christ, but he would have none of it, and hollered at me — at point-blank range, still through the megaphone — that I was lying.  My friend, meanwhile, growled at the preacher that he had “got the wrong girl” as he dragged away my offended self.

Ah, memories.  :D

That event, oddly enough, really cemented my heart in commitment to the Vineyard church.  With its emphasis on much-more-subtle (and practical!  and never emotionally-damaging!) activities like servant evangelism, it just seemed much more in line with what Jesus would truly do (and this, my friend, was way before the WWJD phenomenon).

Recently, I have decided to read through the book of Acts.  My pastor very often uses passages from Acts in his weekly messages;  they’re very practical for the everyday life of a Christian, for he is nothing if not practical.  So, I feel like it’s a book with which I have a good acquaintance.  And I tend to concentrate my Scripture reading in portions of the Bible that are less-familiar to me.  Nevertheless, I decided to read Acts for myself…  to reacquaint myself with what the early Church was doing, and to re-prioritize it in my own life.

Most days, I only read a few verses, before cross-referencing, word study, and contemplation take over, not to mention little girls waking up early, wanting to snug.  Yesterday, however, I read the whole of chapter three.  In it is the account of Peter healing a man who was 40+ years old of a lifetime of being lame.  The thing that really struck me, though, was the tenor of Peter’s sermon on the matter, and its effect.

Consider:

Not exactly the world’s most touchy-feely sermon, eh?  But what was the fruit of it?  What was the result??

But many of those who had heard the message believed;  and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.

Peter, the street preacher, with his megaphone, so to speak, delivered some really scorching words to the hearers.  And what happens?  Conviction!  Salvation!  Church growth!

His hellfire and damnation sermon WORKED.

Wow.

I suddenly have some compassion for my own street preacher — which I have never previously felt, in the twenty years or so since it happened!  Perhaps he was just trying to follow Peter’s lead, expecting the same result.

This morning, pondering it further, I was reminded of George Müller, whose amazing life is a profound testament to prayer, faithfulness, and God’s redeeming power, not to mention vast social change*.  If I am remembering correctly, when George first became a believer, he took his university Divinity education, and tried “pastoring” simple German farming folk** with high-falutin’ sermons, even copying, word-for-word, some of the most sophisticated ones he could find, in hopes of impressing those who heard.  The result was that he impressed them, all right, but he didn’t pastor them, nor bring any closer to knowing and loving Jesus, because they couldn’t understand what he was saying!

In other words, it may have been the right words, but it was at the wrong time, to the wrong audience.

The greater difference between Peter in Acts, and the megaphone-toting, hellfire and damnation New Orleans street preacher, though, may be this:

  1. Peter was filled with — and controlled by — the Holy Spirit.
  2. Peter’s words came after some serious manifestation of “signs and wonders“, which, in and of itself, made believers out of non-believers.

In Acts 4:23-31, directly after this event — Peter healing the lame man and being detained by the religious leaders of the day for it, and for preaching the resurrection of the dead in Jesus — the believers gathered to pray for further boldness!

I need that.  I need all of that:

  1. The right timing,
  2. being filled with the Holy Spirit,
  3. participating in the miraculous,
  4. and more boldness.

I really don’t want a bad experience with someone who had only one of those four in operation — the boldness part — to… well… I don’t know how to put it.  I think what I have done for the last twenty years, is mostly be afraid that anything I say or do out of boldness will have the same negative effect on others that my own experience had on me.  Until now, I really haven’t pieced it all together that it wasn’t the boldness, per se, that was wrong.  It was not having the REST of the package in concert with the boldness.

Having all of it together is the difference, I now believe, between wounding others and revealing the true heart of God to them.

As I re-read what I’ve written above, it sounds like a no-brainer.  “Duh.  Of course you need the Holy Spirit in order to be effectively bold.”  But, I guess that’s what a revelation is all about:  Really sealing things that you may have heard a million times before, and to which you can make a quick mental assent, into a true thing that goes deep in your heart of hearts, so that it’s really REAL, in a way that it never was before.

So.  Now.  Instead of tentatively praying for boldness, afraid of what would happen if God actually GRANTED that prayer to me, I will not just pray for boldness, in and of itself.  I will pray for His timing, His presence, and His power to accompany that boldness, continually in my life.

It’s a good recipe, I think.  And may it bear, oh God, the same fruit that Peter and the apostles did.***

———————-

*To my mind, no two men did more to change the way orphans were treated in Victorian England — and to this day — than Charles Dickens (who raised awareness in a socially-palatable way) and George Müller, who actually DID something about the horrid state of orphanages.

**George hadn’t moved to England yet.

***Might as well start now with the bold requests, eh??  ;)

Gluten-free Communion

A reader sent me a question about being gluten-free and taking communion.  It’s such an interesting topic, I decided to make a whole blog post about it.  First, I’ll write what I do, then follow that up with a number of alternate ideas.

My church celebrates communion only once a month.  We pass plates containing wafers — which are really oyster crackers — and mini-cups of grape juice.  (Vineyards aren’t known for their formality, after all!!)  I partake.  Here are the things that led me to my decision:

  1. I pick one out that is broken.  I literally pray as I do, “I believe; help my unbelief.”  In other words, I so want to take the Body of Christ into mine, and I have faith that He’s not going to do me harm.  But, at the same time, I don’t want to go foolishly ingesting a bunch of gluten.  So, each time I take communion, I pray — right then — that the Father would protect me from its ill effects, or quickly heal any adverse reaction.
  2. I have read (though I can’t find it right now) that a healthy celiac’s body can typically weather a storm of 1/8 gram of gluten and not suffer ill effects.  A whole saltine is roughly 3 grams.  Imagine a saltine cut into 24 pieces.  My broken piece of oyster cracker is likely not much larger than that.  I figure that communion is one more reason for me to be 100% faithful to the gluten-free diet, so incidental exposure, like in communion, isn’t difficult on my body.
  3. Plus… once a month, tops, is not much exposure, even if it does do me harm!  I sometimes miss communion anyways, due to taking care of my crying baby in the nursery, or I’m off in the children’s ministry leading worship, or I’m home that Sunday with a sick child…  So, I probably only take communion twice every three months, at most.
Ener-G gluten-free communion wafers

Ener-G gluten-free communion wafers

By nature, I’m the sort who doesn’t like to raise a fuss over myself.  If I were, I might insist on gluten-free communion wafers.  Here in the U.S., the easiest brand to find is Ener-G, and they’re available from many online retailers.  They’re about $8-9 for a pack of 50.  Alternately, if I went to a smaller church, I would probably buy them myself for everyone to take.

(I’ve also been to two different Lutheran churches who — as their own standard — have g.f. communion wafers.)

I’ve also read that a number of other people take their own bit of wafer, g.f. bread, or just a piece of rice cake with them, and use that for the Eucharist — either serving themselves in their own seat, or giving it to the pastor/priest beforehand, or whatever fits in with the communion protocol of their particular church.  (There are some ideas here.)

However, it just might not be something that you can work out with your priest/pastor.  In other words s/he might be unable or unwilling to make an exception for your diet.  In the mid-1990′s, the Vatican barred celiacs from serving as priests (really!) because according to the Catholic church, communion wafers must contain gluten.  (Read more about celiac Catholicism here.)

If some apparently unworkable situation is the case with you, don’t let it stumble you.  God the Father knows your heart.  Pray about it, and I’m sure you can come to peace before Him regarding communion.

The presence of God, faithfulness, “tribal culture,” and revival

I just know, as I embark upon this post, that words are just going to fall short.  There’s no way to convey — at least, no way for me, in all my writing inadequacies, to convey — the depth of reality of what I sense is happening, and about to happen.

I have been a part of the same church, Vineyard Christian Fellowship Phoenix, since 1994, when I married my husband.  I’d been a part of the Vineyard (VCF North Phoenix, and VCF New Orleans) since 1990, when I was introduced to it by a co-worker at McDonald’s.  From the beginning, it just fit.  I’d grown up in a highly Pentecostal church which, while it had its good points… well, it was like I didn’t know what I’d been missing, didn’t know what I was longing for, until my first night at VCF North Phoenix.

When I married, I thought it would be hard to leave VCF North Phoenix.  I was very involved there:  I was on the worship team, and I was trusted enough that I was the volunteer janitor that cleaned the pastor’s offices every week, promoted from cleaning the bathrooms.  :)  At VCFNP, Pastor Brian Anderson had (and still has, bless him) more of a teacher‘s style of delivering his message.  At VCF Phoenix, which I was marrying into, Pastor Dennis Bourns has more of a preaching style, more fiery and less cerebral than Brian’s.  I didn’t like it as much as Brian’s style.  It was a bit hard to adjust, at first. 

But, what drew me into VCF Phoenix was relationship — friendship.  As the date of my wedding approached, I realized that although I’d invested nearly five years into VCFNP, and had a good relationship with the staff and various leaders, I didn’t really have any deep friendships there.  It was weird to think that, upon my marriage, I could just walk away with a friendly wave, pretty much, with nothing but memories of good teachings from Brian.  From the beginning, I felt much more a comraderie of friendship and mutual service with the people at VCF Phoenix.

Nearly 14 years later, I feel the same, but even deeper.  I have served and been served, I have cried, encouraged, been encouraged, been instructed, and more than that, experienced the presence of the Holy Spririt every time we have met.  Some churches are dry;  mine is not so.  In fact, for some who leave, it’s just too intense.  God is there.  And, I think I’ve written about this before, but I think that one of the reasons that our church remains fairly small (300-350 people) is that Pastor Dennis actually expects people to be involved, both in service, and when ministry time comes — every week — he encourages people to be either giving or receiving.  In other words, it’s not a church where you could feel comfortable if all you wanted was a seat, weekly, in the back of the church, and to never be talked to, and never have anything expected of you.   

Anyways, the longer I’m there, the more I’m impacted by the faithfulness of the leadership.  There’s a core of people who have been there for even longer than I have, and they’re all Godly, faithful people whom I just want to see prosper.  Well, I don’t know if “prosper” is the right word, but I don’t know what is.  I love them.  I want to see their prayers answered.  I want their aches to be healed.  I want the cries of their hearts to be heard by God, and for Him to turn His face towards them.  There’s such a pureness of Christianity among the people with whom I serve, a lack of ungodly motivations.  There’s no desire for personal gain — like wealth or personal notriety — among the pastors and leaders.  It makes me just want to root for them.

More than anything, though, I just want the fire of God to come down and inhabit our church services.  I want the palpable presence of God.  I want to see the lost come to the Father.  I want to see the sick healed.  I want to see the empowering presence of God drive out the enemy and his plans, and for those who come to our church to see the purposes of God fulfilled in their lives, and to no longer be under the squashing thumb of the enemy, who has too long kept us ineffective and discouraged.  I want our prayers to be heard and answered.  I want worship to be…  what’s the word?  Where it just takes off.  Transcendental, maybe.  Worship that completely transports us to into the Holy of Holies, and we come face to face with our God and Father and King, and are simultaneously humbled and exalted.

I have felt like we’re on the verge of this for… five years or so.  At a church leadership retreat, I got a vision of a guy standing on the edge of a high cliff, with views out to infinity, and him on the very precipice, leaning out, and the only thing that kept him from falling was a strong wind.  Can you picture it?  Leaning maybe 30* from upright, arms back, hair flying, eyes closed, completely trusting in the wind that supports, just shy of taking off.

That picture has filled my thoughts and prayers on many occasions since.  I just want our church to take flight.  I’ve felt like we’ve been on the verge, and it’s been a good place to be, because at least we’re close, but more and more and more, I want to see the fulfillment of it, and no longer simply be on the verge.

Last week, Pastors Dennis and Doug went to Lakeland, Florida, to check out the revival that’s going on down there.  The style of ministry is TONS different than what goes on at our church, and it was an adjustment for them.  But, they did adjust because the presence and power of God was undeniable.  I loved Doug’s report:

I had this picture of me celebrating Christmas with another family, not my own! I remember feeling awkward and a bit out of place because they had personal traditions and expressions that were simply different than mine. Then i realized we were there for the same purpose, to “celebrate Jesus” and to “exchange gifts” and not to abandon our tribal culture. God has deposited wonderful and rich culture into us and has given us a great inheritance.

In other words, we don’t just throw out what God has worked in and through us, as a church.  We don’t just abandon all that He’s taught us, nor abandon our own style.  But, we can still receive from what Todd Bentley is quarterbacking, there in Florida.

This past Sunday, with Dennis & Doug fresh back from their experience in Lakeland, was just phenomenal at church.  We worshiped for nearly an hour.  Dennis gave some of his thoughts, but it wasn’t like a real “sermon.”  Then, there was more worship and ministry, and it was really intense.  All in all, it wasn’t over for a good three hours, and it was the sort of experience where you just wanted to linger, and not have it end.  If we didn’t have kids who were growing increasingly cranky from hunger, we surely would have continued.  :) 

It’s funny;  I don’t find our church lacking, per se, but it just makes me think of how, really, the Body of Christ is connected, and we all need each other.  Dennis and Doug needed to go to Florida and see what God was doing there, and experience that, and become charged and encouraged… and they needed to bring that back to our own church.  Not so that we can be Lakeland Jr., or Lakeland copycats, but they still, apparently, have something that our church needs, though its “tribal culture” is much different.

I’m hopeful.  I’m looking forward with great expectation to next Sunday, to see what God’s going to do, and how everyone will respond.

If you live in the north part of the Valley of the Sun, you may want to consider come joining us on Sunday at 10:00 a.m..  :)  It’s the northeast corner of 51st Avenue and Greenway.          

…so how does a mom of four get some real privacy?

She goes to church when no one is there.  Of course, she has to have a key, and the alarm code, so that doesn’t work for everyone, but it worked for me!

I’ve had a lot on my heart, a lot of thoughts tumbling about my mind.  Confusion and depression were at the threshhold, and I didn’t want those to take hold and set up camp, so I needed to *really* meet with God, without self-consciously wondering who was listening on the other side of the door.  So, to church I went.  I was able to pray out loud, to play my guitar and sing worship songs, to spew tears and snot freely. :D

On the downside, I was surprised at how much fear I had, being there from 9-10:20 at night, like some bad guy was going to bust the door down, or be waiting for me in the parking lot.  I wrestled through that, though, and it ended up not distracting me much at all.

I was also a little surprised, because I thought that there’d be instant presence of God, there at the altar, and it wasn’t quite like that.  I had to work a bit to clear my mind, to focus my thoughts and attention on Him.  It didn’t take long to get dialed in. 

I left feeling purged, happier, freer, more at rest, calmer, and less fatalistic about things in general.  Just voicing my worship, and verbally laying out my thoughts, feelings, concerns, commitments and hopes sorted them out profoundly.

I have wanted, many times before, to go to the church and do that, but I never have.  I’m thinking it now may be a semi-regular event for me. 

By request: Mike Bickle gets me a glass of water (and I almost get abducted by a trucker)

In another post, while referencing IHOP, I mentioned that Mike Bickle had once given me a glass of water.  My friend Lisa asked me to expand on that, so:

It started by me being lured to Alaska by my Aunt Phyllis.  She promised me that boatloads of money could be mine by processing fish.  Pay was fantastic for a college student:  $18-27 an hour, and I could live with her, so I would have no expenses, except for my plane flight.  Wow.  So, early May through early August of 1992, I was a resident of Ketchikan, Alaska.  However, due to the vagaries of the various fishing seasons, there wasn’t much work for me;  it turned out that, that year, most of the money was to be made right when I left, and into the early autumn.  So, I left Alaska with only about $100, or what was left after paying for my flight.  It was still a fantastic summer, and I have no regrets about going.

The reason I left when I did was to attend a worship festival — think Woodstock for Christians — that was to take place in Langley, British Columbia the first week of August.  You can find all sorts of outdoor, multi-day festivals for all sorts of music now, but back then, fifteen years ago, they were pretty uncommon.  The festival was put on by the Vineyard in Langley, and was to have all the really influential Vineyard worship leaders at the time, including Brian Doerksen, Kevin Prosch, Andy Park, Terry Butler, the violet burning, and others.  I was so looking forward to it.

The only problem was that my flight placed me in Seattle, not Langley (which isn’t too far from Vancouver).  I thought that it would be relatively easy and relatively inexpensive to find a place to stash my big duffle bag and get a bus ride to Langley.  Well, that turned out to be a, “NO” on both accounts.  There were no overnight lockers in the Seattle airport, and the cheapest place to keep my bag for the five or six nights I would be gone wanted $40, which just wouldn’t do.  I had only that $100, and that had to get me to Canada and feed me for a week, so I couldn’t spare it.  I did find a bus ticket, but I couldn’t find a route from Seattle directly to Langley, only to the US/Canada border.  I had to stay overnight in the Seattle airport, and by the time I had paid for a couple of meals, some snacks for the trip, and my bus ticket, I was down to less than $40.

I figured that, once I was inside Canada, I could find another bus to take me to Langley.  I envisioned a rather metropolitan place, as the map showed towns dotting the roads from the border along the roads into Langley;  it appeared to me that all of it was just one big suburb of Vancouver.  I was wrong.

I also had a bit of worry from the multiple signs on the bus, and at the border crossing, informing those coming into Canada that no one would be admitted with less than (I think it was) the equivalent of $100 Canadian, which was about US$140, fully $100 more than I had to my name.  I tried not to let my face belie my beating heart, as I stood in line and listened to the border guard grill each bus passenger — he was asking everyone how much money they had.  Finally, it was my turn, and the guard unzipped my giant duffle, and smilingly asked where I was headed.  Thankfully, all my accomodations had been taken care of beforehand, and I could honestly give my destination.  It was the dorms of a local college, and he wanted to know what was going on there in early-August, before classes started.  I told him about the worship festival, with which he was very intrigued.  He couldn’t imagine a bunch of folk getting together to sing “church music” for days on end.  We talked about that for a while, and then he zipped up my bag and sent me on my way.  Whew!!  No mention of money, bless God.

However, on the other side of the border crossing was nothing.  Just grassy fields, a few trees, and some long, straight roads with hardly even any cars on them!!  I had eight miles to go — it was eight miles to Langley.  The bus departed, and I was the only one who had not continued on it.  It was obvious that the border wasn’t a bus station;  there were no continuing lines, as I had thought there would be.

So, I started walking.  This wouldn’t have been a problem — I was in good shape, and very used to walking.  However, I had an insanely large and unwieldy duffle bag, and I was wearing a pair of relatively new jump boots (combat boots).

The day was gorgeous.  It was still mid-morning, and the air was cool, the skies clear, and the green land around me gently undulating.  However, it didn’t take long at all until I was very uncomfortable — hot, sweaty, and nursing a number of painful blisters.  My shoulders ached from the piece of heavy luggage I was hefting.  And the shirt I was wearing was a very dark green tee, almost black, which, of course, made me feel even hotter.  I wasn’t hungry;  I had enough snacks.  But I was very thirsty, and there was nothing in sight — no houses, let alone any stores.  There were a few farms, set back from the road, but I was not going to go knocking on any doors asking for water.

Finally, about two miles out from Langley, there was a gas station.  I got some water, and my first oddly-shaped pack of  Canadian cigarettes.  I was somewhat refreshed, but also very, very discouraged.  I was tired and hurting, and still had one quarter of my “walk” to go.

I was walking along a two-lane country “highway,” and a semi slowed down and pulled to the side of the road ahead of me.  As I pulled up alongside it, the trucker inside opened the door and called out to me, offering me a ride.  Knowing it was foolish, I accepted, hoping that Canadians were less crime-prone than Americans.  I told the man my destination, knowing that it would only take a couple of minutes to get there.  I immediately started getting uncomfortable when he started making complimentary comments about my appearance.  Then, he said he knew a “back way” to my destination, which would make it “easier” for me.  I said nothing, and started praying like mad.  We sped down the road, passing what I knew was my turnoff.  He said his alternate route was just a bit further on… just a bit further… just up here…  I stopped praying, looked him in the eye, and said with way more authority than I felt, “Stop right now and let me out here.”  Amazingly, he stopped.  I got out, panting my prayers of thanks and relief to God.

Consulting my map, I saw that he had taken me a good three miles past my destination.  Not only had I nearly been abducted, but the whole event added yet another mile for me to travel.

Finally, I stumbled up to the church.  I knew I wasn’t actually staying at the church, but I thought maybe I could rest for a bit there, and find out where, exactly, the college was where I’d be staying.  The front door was locked.  A side door was locked.  Around back was one more door;  it looked like a service entrance.  I didn’t have much hope;  there was only one or two cars in the parking lot.  But the door opened.  A man looked out and said, “Can I help you?”  It was Mike Bickle.  I had seen his picture before.  I told him that I was there for the festival, and was wondering if he knew where the college was that had rooms for festival attendees.  He told me it was about a mile and a half up the road.

I burst into tears.

I hadn’t cried that whole time, but now, an absolute flood came out.  I was so, so tired.  My body hurt so badly.  Plus, the emotions of almost getting abducted just poured out.  And now, yet another mile and a half to walk?  I sobbed.

I don’t remember the exact order of things, but he started asking me questions, and found out that I’d just walked from the border.  He was shocked.  He called his wife, Diane, and asked her to get a glass of water for me.  He called to another guy, whose little red pickup truck was one of the few cars in the parking lot, and asked him to give me a ride.  He found a muffin for me.  He found a napkin, which I used to wipe my tears and my nose, apologizing.  He sat with me on a curb, and chatted with me for a bit while I ate and drank.  He told me his name was Mike, and I didn’t let on that I knew who he was.  When we got up, I said, “Thank you, Mr. Bickle” and he smiled.

The festival is a whole ‘nother story, full of fabulous, rapturous, glorious worship for hours on end, and also a minor story of unrequited love.  This is the cover of the CD from the event, thanks to this site for the pic.  That’s me, on the cover, in the middle of the photo, with my black violet burning tee (which I still own), a fabulous silver bracelet (which I, regrettably, lost), and very short hair.  The CD is still listed at www.worshipmusic.com, but it’s out of print.

the Pink Revolution: Discipleship for girls, me leading worship, etc.

I used to play guitar all the time, before it became unnecessary.  I don’t think that speaks well of me as a musician, but it’s true.  When I was younger, my guitar was a means of sort of ministering to myself, an accompaniment to singing.  I played a lot of worship music by myself, and wrote a lot of worship songs for my personal use.  Now, I’m usually happy to just sing and let my hubby play the guitar. 

Over the years, I have led worship — with voice and guitar — in various situations, mostly women’s events.  I’m all right at it;  I have a strong voice, and I know how to lead, not just play sing and play music.  But it’s not my preference.  I’d much rather harmonize with whoever’s leading.  But, when I’m asked to lead, I put my whole self into it, and do the best job possible.  I just can’t say, though, that I’m really passionate about leading worship, though I am passionate about worship, and about singing in general.

I got a call on Monday, though, to lead worship for something, and I must say I’m very excited about it, and very excited (though a mite scared, as always) to pull out the guitar and prepare for it.

Our church’s elementary-aged population is burgeoning.  Thanks to a thriving bus ministry, there are a LOT of kids in the 6-12 age range, which we call SuperChurch.  Since many of the kids – half or more — are bussed in, many of them are completely unchurched, and new to the whole idea of Christianity.  Many of them (35+) got saved — became Christians — over the last year.  This is FANTASTIC.  However, it leads to some needs, including that of discipleship:  showing the kids how to live a Christian life.  Of course, they address that on Sunday mornings, but it’s been decided that there should be monthly discipleship “events,” as well, with the boys and girls meeting on different nights.  I’ve known about this for a while;  I helped the children’s pastor, Heidie, with some written stuff regarding what the girls would learn.

Heidie named the girls’ group Pink Revolution.  Anyone who knows me knows I’m not super-fond of the overly-girly, and certainly the overly-pink.  However, having a baby girl is softening me in this area… Plus, I realize that this group is not about ME, it’s about the girls.  Pink Revolution it is. 

Monday, Heidie, asked me to lead worship for the girls’ meetings.  Well, not just worship, but “music.”  Heidie told me she was also thinking about a theme song sort of thing, rather like an anthem that affirms Christian girlhood.  Heidie mentioned some stuff by SuperChic(k) — but I agreed that their music is more directed to teens and older, not really to 6-12yos.  Immediately, though, the idea for a song started forming in my mind.  Off and on, on Monday, I worked on lyrics, and by the afternoon, I had it all done, with the tune and everything.  Well, not quite everything.  I still need to sit down with my guitar and figure out the chords, but it’s a pretty simple progression.  I have the drum arrangement in mind, as well, and have drummed on countertop and thigh, beating it out….  I’m very excited about the song.  It’s fast, sort of punkish, a la Avril Lavigne, though it wasn’t my intent to copy her — I don’t even have any of her CDs — it’s just along that sort of vein.  On Sunday, I’ll be playing it for Heidie and others involved to make sure it is what they’re looking for.  I have high hopes.  :P 

On drums will be one of my favorite people in the world, Cassie, who at 20yo, has always been — to me — a model of Christian girlhood (now Christian young-womanhood).  And, on electric guitar will be my very dear Maggie Mae, my favorite almost-11yo girl in the world, which ROCKS!  I’m so very excited that she’s going to play with us.  It’ll just be (so far, anyways) the three of us musicians, plus some more vocalists…

The first meeting will be July 13.  I’ve a month to plan & practice. 

Anyways, usually, these sort of “opportunities” typically give me more apprehension than excitement.  But this time, knowing that it’s just for the girls, and having the opportunity to minister to kids… it just feels like all of the joy and none of the fear.

I’ll let y’all know how it turns out.

   

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