I Hide

 I Hide

I hide because I don’t want you to see my insecurities. I hide because I am self loathing yet full of pride With fear that either might bubble over, I hide to protect what little shell I have. This façade is to make you think that I’m fine, perfectly fine. All the while I’m bleeding from the lies and compromise. Darts flying left and right, One says “I suck”, the other says “I am god.”  I hide so that you won’t be put out. I hide so that I won’t be put out. Paranoid that you will find out that my life is one big wash. Afraid I’ll find out that you are not really strong. Shame is my general disposition and I can’t see past myself I can’t see that you already see me from the inside out. And, you love me still. Why do you still love me?

Offerings

Have your heard of the ancient temple of the Lord, built by Moses and his people? It is said that this temple was made of the finest gold, silver, bronze; blue, purple, and scarlet material; fine linen, onyx stones and lamp oil; spices for anointing oils and for fragrant incense. All were offerings, freely given by any who were willing. It is recorded that the offering was made to the Lord, not to the tabernacle (for a tax deduction). In fact, this story is amazingly God-centered. God is present in every step of the process. In the text that this story is recorded, Exodus, God details the need, tells how to use the supplies, prompts Moses to ask for them, prompts certain people to respond, the people give to God and the gifts are used to glorify God by craftsmen God gifted.

It is an amazing story of how the great designer pulls together the most amazing mysteries and wonders, engaging with us to create community.

We are not building a temple of the Lord but we are building a bus that we long to use to create and encourage community. The bus is empty right now yet there are divine appointments happening daily. Folks are coming forward to share the load, excited and ready to help. It is humbling and almost unexplainable, expect for the fact that I know there is One I can trust through it all.

Here are a few of the offerings we had over the last weeks.

Troy, a neighbor, called and offered a fantastic deal for our sheet metal. Paul, another neighbor, stopped by and took a tour. He was pretty excited about our endeavor and announced that he is a mechanical engineer and would like to help design the heating system. We found reasonably priced salvage windows online through Factory RV Surplus, out of Elkhart, IN. Then our friend, Saul popped over and shared his expertise as an electrical engineer. If time stays on our side we will have heat and electricity by our departure date of Oct. 12. If not,  at least we’ll have the plans for what needs to be finished.

Another wonderful offering came from Allen Gokey, owner of Packerland Builders and a long time friend. He graciously donated a trailer full of cabinet grade birch wood that was once used for a skate park/outreach  in Appleton, WI. A word of delight greeted us as we loaded the wood on the trailer. Most of the wood is in great condition. One side was coated with the memories of youthful skaters enjoying life and company. The other side was pristine and will make for a beautiful home.

                        

To top it all off, Craig’s old band mate and violinist on our album Ashes to Beauty, David Baumgartner arrived with his fabulous family and Swiss expertise in furniture architecture. We dreamed, designed and built for two days straight. David’s mind moves a mile a minute and his design ideas were brilliant! Debbie, his wife and dear friend, brainstormed ideas for fabric and decor. She helped with meals and was such an encouragement.

                

We are so excited to see what else comes our way this week. “Once the commitment is clear, you do what you can, not what you can’t. The heart regulates the hands. This isn’t so others can take it easy while you sweat it out. No, you’re shoulder to shoulder with them all the way, your surplus matching their deficit, their surplus matching your deficit. In the end you come out even. As it is written, Nothing left over to the one with the most, Nothing lacking to the one with the least.” (2 Cor. 8:12-15 )

On a side note: My skin cancer issue has been resolved as my appointment with the dermatologist concluded that I am healed. Thank the good Lord and thanks for all your prayers, concerns and well wishes.

These Old Bones

fear came knocking

it found me waiting

they call it skin cancer

i call it frustaiting

i’ve got things to do, you see

this is not how it’s suppose to be

there’s the downtrodden and tired

i long to offer good company

i’ve got things to do, i say!

and you’re getting in the way

souls to offer healing and music to play

you’ll just have to come another day

surrendering my mind, body and soul

is that the key?

well, take these old bones

and LORD have mercy

take these old bones

and set me free.

Faith For Real

Tour is in full swing. We just finished 10 fantastic days with our dear friend, Sammy Horner. We had seven hours to pack and now find ourselves in Bushnell, IL at Cornerstone Music Festival.

I’m not much of a camper. In fact, I’m probably a level -2 camper (if there is a scale). It’s hot and sticky. Long days of loud music, thousand’s of people and offering more that any one person can do in day. I have felt oppressed lately and uneasy about the future, so my surrounding aren’t helping. For so long we have been focused on the vision of our call. The vision of sharing family, song and encouraging community and connection through reconciliation. That is all still there but I find myself totally absorbed in my mind, trying to control the details and it’s not working out very well.

Yesterday, I was so overrun with weariness and desperate to leave the festival. My family was having a lovely time and didn’t want to leave. I knew I was being a downer and a bit selfish as my reasonings were all based on fear. “I need to get back to our home so we can have our garage sale, so I can book shows for our future, so I can bla bla bla.” It all sounded so responsible but what I really needed was to stay and be open. I talked myself into just taking a deep breath and seeing what comes. And it came!

I meet three families. All of them servant minded, “kinfolks” as I like to call them. All of them gifted in their craft and all of them focused and moving forward. They told me their stories about how they found themselves as travelers and faith and the mystical ways that God worked out the details. My skeptical mind listened but kept a distance.

Grace, a wife and mother of three darling little girls, is a leader along with her husband of the “Tribe of Judah,” a school out of Iron Mountain, MI. They weren’t planning on traveling except for a few times a year with the students from their school. But last year, just before Cornerstone Festival, a bus was provided and they have been on the road since. She told me a story of a time in New Orleans where they only had a bit of change left, (mind you there are more than a handful of students plus her family on the bus) It was one of those nick of time, testing of the faith stories. I listened but probably squirmed a little.

Later I meet Tony. He was standing by a wagon full of sweet little children in the back of the Chelsea Cafe’ Tent. He was watching his grandchildren while his wife, two beautiful daughters and son set up for their show. I’m not even sure how it happened but in the course of about 20 min. I learned about his 20 + years on the road, traveling with his children and now grandchildren. When I began to ask him questions about the logistics of finances and where they traveled. He just answered, “No, no we didn’t book ahead really. We just did the faith thing.” Hmmm. The Faith thing.

Then there’s Alan Aguirre and his band Men As Trees Walking. He has quite a presence at the festival. He rolls in on his big ol red bus with a fierce lion on both sides. I heard a bit of a buzz about who he is and what he has accomplished. The camp site is busy with movement and I don’t usually approach folks with this sort of presence because of pride, I’m sure. I fear they will think I’m needy… I’m laughing because I am needy. Anyway, I walk past several times and then my feet just start moving in and all of a sudden I’m by his side introducing myself. Craig is with me and we start asking questions about logistics, busses verses RV’s, traveling with family. (He also travels with wife, daughters/son-in-laws, a new baby grandson. About 11 total) He talks of obedience and working through trials. He shares a story about the bus. It’s a disheartening story about the cost of the journey with this bus. He is convinced that God wants him to be in this bus and I’m not going to argue with that but I do ask him if he ever get frustrated with God and question why God would have wanted him to by such a burdensome bus? To paraphrase, he answers, “No where in scripture do I read that if I obey God, he will…. I just read obey because I love God.” I start to tear up. I ask him how he and his family get through. He doesn’t answer in material terms talking of marketing and networking (although, he does that well) but he says two simple words, “prayer and fasting.” He encourages our family to stay in unity with one another spiritually. My defenses are down now and the tears rush out. He hit the nail on the head. We have been so focused on the material issues of selling our home and what we’ll live in next, booking and getting life organized that we’ve lost our vision. The ultimate vision of loving and obeying God. Really it doesn’t matter where we live, what we do or become. My deepest longing is to know God and be open.

Then this morning as I sat down to reflect this came to me…

“Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.” Rom. 12:3

I rest in the encouragement and advice that comes from such wise souls. Allowing the waves of faith to wash over me and laying my pride down. Today I look forward to gleaning more of the goodness will come my way.

Reckless Words; The Struggle to be Real

The burden of the future has become to heavy for my weary soul. My fears and anxieties have bubbled over and the acidic residue has seeped out and burned those around me as well as myself.

My own words taunt me. “Reckless words pierce like a sword… You pride yourself with moral standards, teaching the world as their commander. Hypocrisy bleeds from within. Oh! for the state of sin.”

I want to walk my talk. I want to be authentic but my heart is exposed when conflict arises and fears heightened. My mouth exposes me and I am a hypocrite. I bow to the lowest common denominator and venom spews from my lips (or in the recent case, my keyboard) I could blame the send button, but I’m the one who pushes the send button.

I realize this is contrary to our current culture of “self love” but the honest truth is that when I am consumed with self and protecting self, my pride takes over and I become a double tongued snake. I become a reflection of the short sighted, ill-tempered, weak, ugly, jerk of an enemy. And, I hurt people I love and really anyone in the way.

“My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.” I John 3:18

The Light exposes the darkness, thank God. Although it is painful to look in the mirror and see this truth, the isolation and condemnation I have felt over the past week is more painful. I want out of shadows. No matter what uncertainty comes in this life, the idea of realizing that I’ve hurt another to feel more in control,  and doing nothing about it is no life at all. And so, I cry out for mercy. I cry out for forgiveness. Thankful for the provision of the ministry of reconciliation. Longing for reconnection with God, my fellow man and self.

“So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.” Colossians 3:13

Here, There or In The Air

My Paw Paw used to say this in conversations with others as a good-bye greeting. He’d bellow, “Here, there or in the air.”

Although, I only knew my grandfather til I was 16 and my time with him was limited, I grew up with a very vivid memory of his legacy and all that went with it. In my mind, he was a sort of “Johnny Cash/Al Capone/Billy Graham” sort of character. Grander than life, full of colloquialism and most especially mystery.

I knew his story like the back of my hand as my father, his 1st born son, would read the “track” written about my grandfather every christmas before we opened presents.

Following the footsteps of his elders, raised in Indiana by outlaws, bootleggers and God-haters, my grandfather found himself in the Indiana State Penitentiary. He was a hard fellow with 30 day old twins (my father and uncle), a daughter from a previous relationship (my aunt) and married to a teen wife.

While in prison he found himself in the “hole” as they call it. The only way out was to attend a chapel service. He sat reluctantly, listening to a man preach about the cross and a blind girl sing, “No One Ever Cared For Me Like Jesus”. Although, I always thought it was “The Old Rugged Cross” Either way,  it was there that the story changed for my Paw Paw. He sat, his mind wrestling and felt a tug on his heart, maybe a whisper in his ear. He began to argue, “I’m not selling out to some sky pilot in the sky!” he said to himself, “I did the time, I can do the crime” but his heart betrayed his hard prideful mind as he began to feel his feet move out from under him. Eventually, he submitted to the call and without hesitation walked towards the altar saying, “swim, sink or die, it’s all the way with Jesus.”  And, that was that. He laid his life down, came home and began to serve those down trodden and tired.

As my story continues to evolve I find I am becoming more and more drawn to the past characters in my lineage and the impact this story has had on my life is profound.

I was not raised by God-haters and criminals, rather a father and mother walking the continued path of commitment and service to the triune God. I know they each had to come to a place of surrender and acknowledgement of that path but was it a little easier because of the foundation laid?

I’m not so sure. Although I do believe that environment has something to do with our belief systems and ideal, I think that deep down, despite our circumstance we are all faced with the same question. Do we recognize the “hole” we are in (this can be as drastic as my grandfather or a realization that we have failed to love) and are we willing to swim sink or die to reach up out towards the provision that God has for us?

I used to think that if it weren’t for my grandfather changing directions we’d all be going to hell in a hand basket and maybe we would, but I believe that God is faithful and whether it was my grandfather, my father or myself, there would be an opportunity. I am thankful for my grandfather’s choice and I think his story is amazing but I also know that to live vicariously through his testimony is to continue to live in the hole. It’s just a pretty hole.

And so, the question becomes why does it matter then, to remember our heritage? My conclusion is that it matters because the story of my lineage testifies of God’s presence and desire to connect with all people even those in the “hole”, which is why I especially love my Paw Paw’s quote, “Here, there or in the air.” It’s inclusive and far-sighted. We are one body, all in the same boat. If one of us falls, we all fall. My desire is that we would focus not on condemning those around us but just as my grandfather did, looking in the mirror to see our own junk and testifying about God’s amazing love and amazing grace. I believe that the way to God is Christ and Christ is for everyone.

EXCLUSIVE music video by FARSON’S ARMY, from the Haunted Cassette Tapes release, “REFORMED RAVER” created a video mixing old footage of our Paw Paw to electronic music.

On Hospitality and Citizenship

I’ve had random thoughts racing through my mind all day. They’re all seemingly important but not necessarily connected. So, I chalk it up to cabin fever.

First thought: I have moved over 19 times in my life. I have lived on three continents and in 5 US states. I have been the visitor and the local.  Through all of these moves I have come to understand this; being hospitable is crucial. I’m not convinced that folks understand the impact they have on others and the life-giving ability they have to make someone feel at “home.” To bring someone into the fold, to treat one like kinsfolk. That is the calling for us all. Not just the few Martha Stewards out there (bless their hearts)…

Second thought: Craig is going to the consulate office tomorrow to take his big test to become an American Citizen.  Australia and the US have an agreement allowing him dual citizenship.

What does it all mean? Well, first and foremost, he’ll be able to vote. When I met Craig 12 years ago, he was in politically based punk band. Typical of most punk rockers,  he was pretty opinionated about the powers that be and the way the poor and downtrodden are oppressed. However, living as an alien (legally but still an outsider) pulls a bit of voice out of one and for the past 10 years or so he has been observant but relatively silent on most issues. As we near his citizenship I have noticed his voice getting louder and I wonder… if  becoming a citizen makes a difference in one’s credibility or feeling of credibility?

Third thought: The house is getting in order for our grand gallery night event coming up this weekend. It was started purely as a way to make friends and build community with like-minded creative folk. And to support the arts, which we love dearly.  In a sports town that over shadows the arts this event has been a diamond in the rough for us. We are looking forward to hosting our 4th and possibly final gallery night.  How it works: We invite about 15 local fine artists to show 3-5 pieces.  We live in an old Victorian house in Historic Astor Park. We take all of our decor down in the 4 lower main rooms and use them as the gallery walls. The kitchen is used for a delicious spread of desserts, wine and cheese. We also invite many of our musically inclined friends to perform throughout the night.

As we prepare to move on this fall, our hope is that folks in this area will continue to see the value in creating and connecting with each other. I hope that we inspired those we met to be more hospitable. To reach out to those who are “visitors” and bring them into the fold.

~jh