Rest Doesn’t Come Easy

IMG_9969We’re in Austin, TX for four months, resting. Well, that’s what we tell people.

But, after three years traveling two different continents at a relatively active pace, I would say we are here in Austin to learn to rest.

Rest doesn’t come easy when one’s value is based upon what one accomplishes. Poet, David Whyte writes; “Rest is the conversation between what we love to do and how we love to be. Rest is not stasis but the essence of giving and receiving. Rest is an act of remembering, imaginatively and intellectually, but also physiologically and physically. To rest it to become present in a different way than through action, and especially to give up on the will as the prime motivator of endeavor, with its endless outward need to reward itself through established goals. To rest is to give up on worrying and fretting and the sense that there is something wrong with the world unless we put it right; to rest is to fall back, literally or figuratively from outer targets, not even to a sense of inner accomplishment or an imagined state of attained stillness, but to a different kind of meeting place, a living, breathing state of natural exchange…”

Oh! It it is nearly impossible to engage in. All of the elements are in place, our desire to seek rest initially lead us to have conversations with kinfolk in Austin when we were here in May. They in turn began to share our need for rest with their neighbors, etc… We prayed and asked for this rest. Then a friend spoke with a friend, who had a friend, who had a precious plot of land right on Lake Austin. He was happy to gift us with a place to park our rig, allowing us amenities of sewer, water and electricity. He met us when we arrived and welcomed us, stating he hoped that we would use the property well and that rest would come. He then took us for Texas BBQ and went on his way.

So here we are with this beautiful setting, the sun shining on cue each day we wake, and just enough in our fridge to fill our bellies.

The first week, Rhys was still with us, finishing out his four weeks on the bus. So, much of our time was spent showing him the amazing sights and sounds of Austin, including Barton Springs, Torchies Tacos, Congress Street, the University area, Contra dancing and a day for packing and swimming at the lake. It was a great week and I’ll write more about it later.

The second week there was an inkling that rest was upon us, but the slow down was going to take time. Our bodies were ready, but our minds were still consumed with outpouring and giving. We volunteered with our kinfolk at MLF, we sought new friends on street corners, and through our social media and began hosting gatherings at the lake.

Then in the third week, we were scheduled to attend a folk music conference. We went, engaged with our fellow folkies and shared music. We met Matt Nakoa, a fellow muso from NYC, and quickly found kinship with him. We were careful though, as we didn’t want to distract him from benefits that the conference had for him.

All the while, we could feel a wooing happening in our hearts towards rest and the desire to give in to the rest was coming upon us like a wave far out in the ocean, building and building. What a dichotomy to have a spiritual awakening in such a physically driven place. It started to feel like we were trudging through mud, we were meant to be networking and gleaning wisdom about the music industry. Instead, many conversations, which started with practical ideals about traveling and touring full-time, ended in philosophical and spiritual musings about faith and purpose. Some of the conversations where so beautiful, and others were met with a deer in the headlights stare.

You’d think after that weekend we’d finally give in, but instead we had another party at the lake. (And, I should mention, that we all were feeling different levels of this pull towards rest, however, I was the one most resistant) The party was relaxing and some really great conversations happened. Another weekend passed and then it hit. My mind started to spiral after a few misses from friends who we still hadn’t seen in Austin, all whom had worthy excuses. None the less, it brought up insecurities and feelings of unworthiness, and lack of purpose. On Saturday night we shared sacred space with a group of folks we met a few weeks earlier. It was refreshing, yet I struggled to maintain composure. We went to church on Sunday and the minister talked about how important encouragement is to the soul. He talked about how we need to encourage one another day after day, so that we won’t lose heart, leaving us vulnerable to temptation. I could feel my heart slipping. I wanted rest, but rest seemed to represent loneliness, a feeling I know all to well.

IMG_9971So, here we are one month into our stay and this morning, after weeks of mind battles about rest, white knuckling, running here and there on supposed errands, worrying about this and that, I woke with an ever-present monkey on my back. I knew it was there all along, but I finally decided to let it go. I spoke, “I want rest. Real rest.” I needed worship. I needed a moment of intimacy with the one who offers rest. I downloaded “All Sons and Daughters, Tonight” and as I listened and sang along I allowed the wave of rest to wash over me, remembering and releasing the need for an inner sense of accomplishment or even an imagined state of attained stillness, but rather to a different kind of meeting place, a living, breathing state of super natural exchange. I’m sure it will be a journey but as these waves wash over us through the next few month, I trust that we will slowly, rest easy.

How do you define rest? And, how do you find it?

Byron Bay And The New Earth Tribe

20140228-190313.jpgI’m a beach girl. The surf and sand call to me in my dreams. Craig has taken note of my intense need for this natural setting and booked us a few shows up on the New South Wales coast.

We made our way up from Melbourne to Wollongong, Sydney and as far north as Yamba. We had 2 days free between shows and had our eyes set on Byron Bay. Only another few hours north through banana and sugar cane fields and we could be basking in the sun on one of my dream beaches. It was a birthday wish of mine, but an expensive wish, at over $200 a night in Byron Bay. So, we needed to find a host, and actually really we wanted to find a host. There is nothing more life-giving than sharing a meal and story with kinfolk. And, even better than that is, sharing in that community, ON THE BEACH!

A friend in the US, went to a school called Deep End School of the Supernatural in Byron Bay and sent out an SOS to friends there. At the same time another friend in Australia, totally unrelated to our friend in the US, sent out an e-mail to a friend named Phil Mason. Phil and his wife, Maria are the spiritual directors at a grassroots Spiritual Community in the heart of Bryon Bay called New Earth Tribe. And get this, the Tribe runs a ministry school, the same school our friend in the US attended, so we knew it was meant to be!

20140228-173627.jpgPhil put us on to Hans, one of the Tribe leaders, who was happy to host us. Hans welcomed us to his rustic jungle surf shack.  There was talk of spiders, lizards and the Boa that lives on the roof of the front house, just above Hans’ room. We also talked about the possibility of sharing a meal and an impromptu house concert, which we were happy to do. However, it was the first week of school and both Hans, Phil and Maria were flat-out getting life in order for the new students. And so, we all decided to play it by ear and see what unfolded over the next 48 hours.

Byron Bay BeachAfter we settled in, we found our way down to the beach and experienced one of the most mystical, beautiful, and joyful places we’ve ever seen. We dined that evening at Orgasmic Food Byron Bay, a Middle Eastern Restaurant boasting the best Falafel around. We couldn’t agree more, even our 12 yr old with his picky taste buds, loved it! After a long stroll on the beach we finished off the night with a gelato from Bella Rosa.

Despite the fear of spiders, we had a decent sleep in the surf shack. We woke the next morning before the sun and hurried down to the beach to watch the sunrise. The air, colors and gentle movement of the waves were mesmerizing and enchanting. We stood in awe and savored the precious moment with praise and thanksgiving.

Byron Bay SurfAfter a light breakfast and nap we were ready for the surf! We had our first lesson in Carmel, CA in October and our son was stoked to give it another go.  The waves were fluffy, that’s really the only word I can think of to describe them. They were like riding on fluffy clouds. The sand was softer than talcum powder and a light brown color.

Besides the 9000 locals, Byron Bay attracts millions of backpackers from around the world.  The beach was packed with crowds, but everyone was kind and had a sincerity about them. They all seemed to be as genuinely amazed as we were by the surroundings. We enjoyed a light lunch and a spent another hour or so in the crystal blue water before heading back to camp to get ready for dinner and the gathering that Hans organized.

Phil and Maria MasonAt dinner we dined with Hans, Phil and Maria. Although, our first time meeting Phil and Maria, it was as if we were old dear friends. We sat across the table soaking up every word they said, taking it all in, and longing to stay. We were encouraged to hear about their work in a community that is a mecca for a diverse range of creative and alternative cultures. Also known as the rainbow region, the area in and around Byron is considered to be the spiritual home of Australia’s hippy movement. With that climate in mind, New Earth Tribe was birthed. They are disciples of Christ who are seeking to recapture the essence, power and relationship with the Spirit that He walked in.  I love it when a ministry is in context to the culture around it, meeting people where they are at and offering and opportunity for folks to truly know God more.

After dinner we drove about 25 minutes into the hills to the Cloverdale house. There were fairy lights and candles lit, wine and nibbles set on white linens and blankets strung about the lawn. The vibe was festive and four beautiful women welcomed us to their historical Queensland home. More kinfolk from the Tribe joined the gathering and we enjoyed a night of festivity, celebrating a faithful God who delights in putting the body together.

One day at a time. That’s become a motto, not so much because we are so laid back and easy-going, but because we have been so stripped back touring here in Australia that we really have had times where we go to bed at night unsure what the next day will hold.

Sometimes the weight of logistics can really take its toll on our little family. But, then there are times where we let go and just allow things to unfold. These have been the times where we have experienced provision, seen the most amazing miracles, connected with hidden community and found deep solace in a God who goes before us.

20140228-174927.jpgBy the way, we were smitten with this lovely little bus. We spotted it in a town called Bangalow along side of the road. And, it was for sale! $21,000 or best offer.

After two months without our bus/home we are missing the conveniences of having a home on wheels. There was a tickle of a thought that maybe we could purchase this darling orange mobile but it was too quick to catch and it fluttered away. How cool would that be though?!

Maybe This Is The Storm That We Won’t Make It Through

“Below the street,” is a term counselor, Jerry Price, uses in his teaching on “twisted thinking.” It represents going deeper, being more transparent, removing the mask. You have to go below the street if you want to find out what’s really going on, if you want real change.

Well, for the past two weeks I have had a bitter root taking hold of me. Fears about things that might happen to my children to harm their minds and faith. Fear of what our future holds, how we will sustain. Little thoughts of discord, here and there, about my husband. Anger brewing, to the point of tiny outbursts. Stupid little moments would arise where I would feel he was not protecting me or the kids and I would blow up at him. Things that were totally out of his control or things that I misunderstood.

For instance, a few days ago we stopped in at a local youth center. We got out of the car and my husband made his way a cross the street. I was still back at the car and shouted, asking if we could get a business card out of the trunk for the director. Looking back, I’m sure my tone was harsh, as I felt he was abandoning me by going ahead so quickly. He responded, with a slight shift of his head and plainly said, “no.” He then stated that the case was buried under all our luggage. I really didn’t hear his whole comment but everything in me went hard and I began to yell at him, scolding him for speaking to me that way, like I was a child. He was a bit taken back and begin to explain that he was just stating a fact but I read it so differently. We didn’t really take time to work it out then and there but rather kept walking into the building; greeting the director only moments after this outburst.

After our meeting with the youth director (which went fine, by the way. Amazing how we can put a mask on and just soldier on when we want to) we returned to the car and just carried on with life but deep down I knew something was going strangely wrong. Harmony was absent, but who’s fault was it?

I could feel a storm brewing, and remembered Jerry Price’s teaching in our  More Married sessions, where we learned about “storming” and how it’s a natural process in relationships. However, we learned that when we don’t enter into the storm we go back to a dysfunctional “norm,” and stunt our growth, keeping everything on the surface. However, if we engage the storm and allow it to clean house, so to speak, we come out in a new form; a form that allows deeper connection and harmony.

Investigative, I scoured through the gamut of reasons to why my heart was so hard. From dire straits “this is it, maybe this is the storm that we won’t make it through,” to the more rational, “this is definitely a storm, how do we make it through?”  I began to move from focusing on what my husband was doing wrong to what I was doing. I considered that maybe it was hormonal or maybe it was the change in my diet, maybe it was living out of a suitcase in a foreign country or the uncertainty of life and feeling out of control. What ever it was, self loathing crept in every time a little blow up would happen. I felt more and more insecure and I began to feel extremely isolated.

I’m practiced at “white knuckling” and was able to fend off some of the outbursts; keeping them at bay, specially when we were around others. And, I even choked out a few prayers. However, all I could get out was a whisper of “help me.” What in the world, I hadn’t felt this way in years. What was going on?!

 

Then the final straw broke. We were planning on going out to a local coffee shop to work on web stuff.  We had spent a comfortable morning, sharing breakfast and getting ready for the day. I was lingering and at a certain point in the morning, my husband announced that he was going to get in the car. That was it, just a simple announcement and I flipped out. His declaration seemed abrupt to me. I began to bark at him, “What? What about the computer… and the bag…and what about the kids…are the kids ready?” I panicked, trying to reel the words back in. He stood there looking at me like a deer in the head lights, asking what he was meant to do? He asked, what did I want him to do? No words came but rather I began scurrying around gathering the computer and bag, yelling at the kids and we all clumsily made our way to the car. Once inside the car, we all sat utterly stunned. My mind was racing, what is going on with me? Why am I so out of control? And, then I saw it plain as day, a manifestation of my past began to come forward.

My husband sat patiently, quietly, and then the vision became clear. Seems that when he announced that, “he’ll be in the car” it triggered a memory from my childhood and my dad saying this to my mom and then leaving the house. Then for the next 15 or 20 minutes my mom would hurriedly try to get all of us children out the door. I don’t really know what was going on between them but from my little person perspective, it seemed that my dad abandoned my mom to do all the heavy lifting. I made note of this at that young age and developed a belief system about men based on that belief.

I began to weep. I was paralyzed and didn’t know what to do next. Seriously, everything could have gone south at this point. He had every right to admonish me but he didn’t. Instead, he began to speak gentle words of truth over me. He declared harmony in our relationship and then he asked if he could pray for me and not is a sappy patronizing way, but in a genuine I care for you way. I wept even harder and said yes. What followed was an experience I can only describe as supernatural. His petition for Abba’s mercy, power, discernment and his declaration of Love began to envelop me to the point that the hard casing around my heart shattered. I felt immediate relief. I could see clearly now, all that had bound me up.

Look, working to get below the street was no easy task, as my ego was bruised and my natural tendency was to try to hold face. However,  the more his love covered me the more my pride was laid low. His was a true act of grace; the kind of grace that bleeds for another. The kind of grace that trusts the repentance process, that leads the recipient back towards Abba’s original intent for our lives. Not the cheap stuff, not the fabricated kind that says, “it’s OK, you’re just living your truth, you can be an ass and we’ll all get by” but the kind that says “this isn’t who you’re created to be and I will cover you in order that you might actually have a moment to reflect without the distraction of self-protection.”  It was in this moment that I could see my twisted thinking errors, my stubbornness, victim stance and manipulative thinking. I could see that my own ability to “fix” them was not enough. I began to pray silently along with my husband, weeping for forgiveness, thankful for this relief and new hope.

freedomLook, we don’t always get it right, but in this situation, my husbands humility and grace, is a beautiful example of how we are called to care for one another in the body. His faith carried me to the cross and in doing so, carried me into the presence of God. He fought for me, stepping out-of-the-way and allowed Abba to heal me. Had he allowed his pride to get in the way, we would probably be at ground zero, still storming. His willingness to fight for me and surrender his own pride set a wise tone that allowed me to surrender my own pride, see clearly and fight for us.

In the end, we stormed and can now get on to enjoying the new form. Everything is above the street. For now. 🙂

 

The Real Raiders

Love Your EnemiesThe idea of visiting Oakland, CA. really wasn’t on our radar, however after a brief shout out on a group forum via Facebook we found a welcoming host, Josh Harper excited to have us come to his New Hope community.

Oakland, isn’t that the city we always hear about in crime reports? Highest murder rates per capita, gangs, drugs, sex trafficking, homelessness, orphans, violence, immigrants, and extreme poverty. I mean, who just goes to Oakland? And yet, as we learned from our visit, there are a handful of highly educated, doctors, lawyers, nurses, social workers and teachers that have moved purposefully from their exterior, safe, comfortable lives into this dynamic and dangerous neighborhood. They have moved here intentionally to live in community with one another and with those they feel called to engage, inspire, and protect. These saints are the crux of our story about Oakland. These saints are the “Real Raiders.”

Celu'havenThere is something intriguing that happens when we pull our big ol bus into a tight city block, it takes all of the neighbors efforts to make it happen. This means, that all of the normal ‘hello’s and get to know ya’s” have to take a back seat, because there is problem solving to do. And, so when we finally settled into our little nest of a driveway (let’s just say we had about 6 inches on each side to spare) we were already fast friends with our host family, the Bekaert’s. They are precious people who just returned from four years in Guatemala. Nic, a frenchman and social worker, and his wife Mo, a nurse, Layla and Gabriel. Prior to Guatemala, The Bekaert’s lived in the New Hope community for about 15 years and are considered “pillars” of their community. They are wise beyond their years, they are generous and they are kind.

The Bekaert's The Harpers

Along with the Bekaert’s welcome, was the fella we had been corresponding with via the world wide web, Josh Harper. Josh is the ultimate host. He is an organized, highly social visionary and his wheels are always spinning. He’s the husband of Marjie and the father of Lucy ad Beatrice. He’s also the National Coordinator of Urban Projects for a group called InterVarsity. However, you would never know that he’s the “big dog” as his focus is often on listening and meeting others needs. If not for his willingness to hear, we probably would not have connected in the deep way that we did. There are kinfolk and then there are “Kinfolk.”  The Harpers are “Kinfolk.”

Josh knew exactly how to plug us into his community. In the five solid days that we were with them, we shared a movement and song class with the pre-school that New Hope runs, and we offered a workshop for third-fifth graders on “Sound scape.” We also performed a house concert and shared our gifts of music on Sunday morning at Sacred Space. We enjoyed meals within the community, enjoyed encouraging and rich conversation and learned much about the history of New Hope’s vision to care for the “poor, orphans and aliens” by living and engage in an area where there are obvious consequences. Sometimes in life we feel stuck in the place where we are at. Here, in Oakland, with the New Hope Community, it felt quite the opposite. It felt vibrant and purposeful.

On our final full day together we shared an intimate moment where everything about why and what made sense. Sunday morning, we gathered to worship in unity. The morning started out with prayers. Specific prayers for this community, this neighborhood. It was tender to hear prayers for individual teachers from the local school, for specific people enslaved by poverty and hopelessness, for International Blvd. which borders the neighborhood and is where much of the sex trafficking in Oakland takes place. Their were prayers for specific neighbors, for local government, for peace to come over their neighborhood and for unity. It was deep, meaningful and reflective. During that prayer time, it all made sense, why 60 or so educated folks would move into this neighborhood, why they would risk safety and give us monetary gain. If not for their purposeful decision to engage, their prayers would have been second hand. Their is nothing wrong with praying for communities far off, but there is something profound about living out the message of reconciliation in and with those you pray for. To see the gospel manifested in a way where the sacrifice was apparent, humble and in it for the long haul. That inspires us! And, we look joyward to more times with these “Kinfolk.”

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.