Dream Talk 2016

The year of mystery.

Sept of 2015 we were guided to “ditch the bus” and buy one way tickets to Australasia. We were looking forward to a folk music tour booked in Australia Sept-Nov and then had a loose routing through SE Asia for Nov-Jan. However, after that we had no vision or clarity. That wasn’t really to worrisome for us as we typically can only see about three to six months out. And, we knew we had an upcoming dream talk for 2016 on the books. So, we were hopeful to receive some clarity for the new year.

For those that are new to our dream talk, it’s sort of like a family business meeting with a supernatural element. It’s usually at the beginning of the year and takes anywhere from a few weeks to a few days to hash out. The talks involve us sharing the desires of our hearts, insights from the year prior, putting our requests before our Creator and a receiving a tangible vision and routing forward and then sharing that vision with you all. Ultimately, it’s a time where we sit down as a family and wait on the God of all gods to bring things into focus and then build a plan around that vision.

However, this year, our dream talk was unusually different. This time when we sat down, there was no focus, no tangible vision forward.  Our ideas wavered all over the map, from settling in one place, going to back to school, learning new languages, writing books, to traveling more of SE Asia and Europe, and making a new musical album. We were unable to see clearly and our sense of unity seemed unsteady. When we moved all of our personal desires to the side and got to the core, we all agreed that until we heard differently, that we all still felt a steadfastness about our over all calling to be and go into all the world, shining the light of love and offering encouragement. However, the lack of clarity and unrest really threw us off as we could not seem to find the tangibility in any of it, at least, what we could grasp of it with our limited mindsets. Were we meant to continue on in Australia or make our way back to the states? If we stayed we wanted it to be because we had an invitation. Likewise, if we made our way back, we wanted it to be because there was an invitation back. At the same time, after months of living out of backpacks, we also longed for the comfort of our home on wheels and that seemed to be tainting our dream talk as well. Then an actual sleeping dream was thrown into the mix. This would be a first.

I woke the morning of our scheduled Dream talk, aware of every detail.

16circlesWe were standing at the front of large room with our instruments in hand. Lines of children came flooding in. Then lines of soldiers followed and they stood next to the children creating a stripped pattern. (So a line of soldiers, then a line of children, and so on.) A gruff looking Sargent followed and stood near the door. We knew we were suppose to play music but we didn't know what or why. Was this a sacred or secular thing? Was this a school workshop or was it a concert performance?

Time stood still and in a flash we all saw the scene, set in full... We saw the Sargent blowing his whistle and the soldiers turning to their individual child, berating them verbally, saying horrible things about their worth, identity, cursing their future and telling the child terribly graphic things about what the soldier would like to do to the child. Then time sped up and we all flashed to the present. The Sargent was just about to blow his whistle but before he could Graciana began to bellow out the old hymn 'Be Thou My vision.' Then Craig and Banjo kicked in on guitar and drums. As I looked at the children, singing along with Graciana, I stepped off of the stage and began to walk around the room praying in the Spirit. The soldiers began to spew their words of shame, condemnation and death. I walked up to a soldier in the front of the first line, reached out and tapped his forehead with my pointer finger. He was absolutely stunned and fell backwards, knocking the rest of the soldiers down like dominoes. I looked back to Craig in dismay and he nodded for me to keep going. I continued to walk around the room tapping the front soldier in each line, praying and singing. We didn't get all of the words right on the song but kept on and the soldiers fell one by one. 

The Sargent was last to stand. With fear and rage in his eyes he turned around and ran out, disappearing into the horizon. All during this time the children were taking great delight singing and dancing, oblivious to what was going on with the soldiers. Then I woke.

What did it all mean?

We all sat, trying to find some way of making the dream work with our framework of reality. We began to look back over 2015 to see if there was a pattern building up to this dream. We saw that many of our dreams and desires for that year were fulfilled. Moments sharing in deep community, stepping into the thick of it with kinfolk, fighting for our brothers and sisters bound by lies, sharing woes and joys and being used in the ministry of reconciliation. Then there were the many bus riders who joined us along the line, who we were able to share in life, learning, and faith. We experienced a new-found freedom to share music wherever, to whomever, without worry of commerce, traveling to far off places and seeing the beauty of the saints around the world, all of which were and are dreams come true. We were open to continue to walk in that, however, we also noted that it was a season of great transition, new cultures, loss of friendships, physical aliments and such a fast pace that we almost broke as a family.

And so, the dream, although it evoked a deep desire to be used in the fight, was a bit overwhelming. We sat on it and began to pray for words of insight, knowledge and wisdom. Over the next few weeks we were each given a word. Craig received the word, ‘Praise’ and I received the word, ‘Healing.’ Banjo received the word, ‘Learning’ but Graciana received the most profound word, ‘Wife.’ Her word signified separation from us as a family unit, which we had obviously sensed was coming but the how, when, where, was unknown. And, how did that fit into the dream? So, we cast it aside for a time, just focusing on trying to get our feet on the ground in a new country.

When we landed back in Australia from SE Asia, we met with our kinfolk in Glenrowan, VIC. We were weary and weathered from the road. We shared our lack of uncertainty and vision for the year. Then our friend, Di, prayed for us and for our future. As she prayed, she saw a picture of us all.

IMG_0153This was her picture: 'There was a family; a mother, father, sister and brother, bound to one another in blood and a vision to spread a deep and unequivocal love throughout the lands. They found many along the way who were hiding in the shadows. They offered light and love to all they met. They ran and ran as fast as they could to as many places as the fingers on their hands. 

Then, one day, they stumbled upon a cave. They wandered in, They followed the path deeper into the cave and finally into a large open cavern. They halted to observe the many openings. 

12718056_10154298429069026_6590766396457928282_nThey knew this place for this place had been foretold to them and they knew that it was time for each to take a different path. They were told that this was an important part of their journey. That the individual journeys would strengthen them and they were assured that these paths would one day all wind back together. 

They meandered around the opening for quite some time contemplating, praying, putting fears aside and saying goodbye. And then, one day they got up, bid farewell and each entered into their path."

My heart panicked at the thought of all of us going in different directions. However, she could see the other side of the cave system and assured us that the paths would all lead back together. The picture didn’t really give us a grand plan but it did offer comfort when a few weeks later we all literally separated, Graciana moving in to her first new home in Bendigo, Craig and Banjo tooling around Victoria staying with family and friends and me flying over to the USA to help my parents through a time of healing. That took us to April. When I flew back, the fella’s picked me up from the airport and the three of us made our way to Adelaide to refresh and regroup, then drove north to Byron Bay. However, it definitely felt like we were all still in our own tunnels, with Craig starting an online University program in International Studies, Banjo beating to his own drum with schooling and the things a typical fifteen year old enjoys, and a bout of spiritual and physical issues for me.

As we made our way up to the Byron Shire however, things started to shift. Our first stay was with a small community of believers who welcomed us with open arms but also warned that they were in a season of disarray. We were grateful for their welcome and for a place to call home for a moment. We were also grateful for the openness they showed us in allowing us to come alongside them in their difficult season. We found that through the working out of our gifts of wisdom and counsel that a sense of purpose and renewal in our energies emerged. Our time with them was fruitful as we saw the mystery and ministry of reconciliation take hold. We found a deep sense of friendship and community with them and are so thankful for the ways that God knits us together with the body.

As I write, it’s late August and were in Sydney for a few more weeks. We’re house sitting for our dear friends, The Perini’s and the opportunity to stay in this home as offered us a bit of a reprieve from our backpacks and well as a hub to host gatherings, which we love. We’re just starting to feel comfortable with the way this year is rolling out, just now feeling ok with the lack of control over our future. We can see that this year has been less about us neatly packaging our year so that it is palatable to both us and you and more about us taking an even deeper launch into this life of faith, one step at a time, praising, learning, healing and exploring all it means to rely totally on Him as His bride.

In the meantime, we’ve done some really cool things and visited with some really amazing Saints throughout Australia. We’ve released this need to control the dream talk and we’re excited to get back to sharing those stories. We’ll continue to walk day by day as the Spirit moves and trust that the sleeping dream is a sign of things now and to come. We’ll keep singing and know that when we do that the powers of darkness will be overcome. Oh! that we might be used to set captives free and to make way for celebration. That’s the ultimate dream right?!

For our logistical friends. We can see far enough out to know we’ll be in Australia through the New Year. Our routing looking something like this…

Currently we are in Sydney

Mid-Sept, Melbourne area then west to Adelaide by first of Oct.

Mid-Oct, Alice Springs back to Bendigo

Nov- Dec, we are hoping to make our way down to Tasmania and possibly to New Zealand. Back to Melbourne to be with family for Christmas

Our desire is to do what we do, making merry, story telling, encouraging, and offering a helping hand. If you’ve got kinfolk in these areas, please let them know we’re coming.

Peace and Love, The Hollands!

If you feel led to lend us a helping hand, we have partnered with Modern Day Missions and hope that you find the giving process safe and efficient.

1

Our friend Jeff Skeens, wrote: “Jesus, move us. His Spirit changes us. He gives us beautiful dance moves. He give us courage to act in the face of oppressive pressure, as well as, to remain silent. He grants us grace to rest and listen. He offers his presence to us in fresh new ways. He shapes our thoughts, directs our passions, creates new life, and moves us to continue reforming. And when he does, his people listen, follow, and give him all the glory and fame!”

May you be encouraged to step deep and wide! May you be encouraged to dance and trust His unfailing love.

Organic Spiritual Fruit

I’m calling this post Organic Spiritual Fruit to explore the possibility of “pesticides,” in the form of manipulation, contaminating our spiritual mandate to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. 

What is fruit? Scientifically, it’s the final product from a season of growth, tilling, watering, weeding, etc… As a spiritual term, it’s a word often used to describe if someone is doing their job and bringing others into “salvation.” There have been debates through the centuries on how one produces fruit and quite honestly, we’ve found it to be quite a tiring conversation. Specially because, in the gardening process, we are often in the position of being tillers, which happens well before any fruit will come. And so, we’ve come to recognize that how God uses one, isn’t necessarily how he’ll use another. In the ancient text it says that God is the one who puts the body together and we find this an encouraging and trustworthy saying.

vine-iconIn the ancient text, a disciple named John, records Jesus painting a picture of the relational aspect of having faith in the God of all gods. He says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” 

He is showing us that we, as the branches, are involved in the process only so far as allowing the Father to graft us in. As a branch, connected to the vine, it’s expected that fruit will be produced, it’s part of the reality of being connected. However, as we read on it’s clear that the point is not about our ability to produce fruit but about being connected, relying on Jesus (the vine) to produce fruit in and through us.

He continues, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” Then he goes on to give the ultimate purpose of being grafted in. He says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.Emphasis on loving each other. 

As itinerants, meaning kinfolk who come alongside others to offer wisdom, counsel and encouragement, we often have problem solving type conversations with our hosts and one of the ideas that comes up is the idea of producing “fruit.” What I mean by that is, we often meet Christian leaders who really struggle in their “ministries” if others don’t respond the way they think they should regarding their mission/message. They are frustrated because they thought their church or community would be bigger or have a different demographic. They talk about revival and express a deep desire to reap from the harvest (meaning make new converts) and are often left in a quandary when the folks who actually end up walking through their doors are already believers, just disenfranchised or disillusioned. We hear them say things like, “I want to produce fruit. I want to see fruit.” They might add that they are living obediently to God’s call and feel they are doing what God asked but are consistently questioning God’s timing, as well as, their own abilities and wondering why they aren’t we seeing fruit? It seems that maybe their understanding of fruit is somewhat twisted. As we’ve thought about it, scoured the ancient texts and prayed for understanding, this is what we’ve found thus far. 

In Acts, during the ascension of Christ, Jesus affirms his disciples by telling them to go into all the world and share the story. And, they do. The message of God’s covenant to all of humanity through Christ crucified spreads like wildfire and the world is invited to be grafted into the vine as well. It’s a beautiful start to an awesome story. However, somewhere along the way this fantastically personal story of God reaching down and touching humanity was replaced by formulas, debates, wars and institutions. Add to that a taste of a Holy Spirit initiative to bring revival, and you have humans twisting up the idea that somehow the branch can produce it’s own fruit, which is an especially attractive idea for those who would benefit from such a wave of conversion financially.

So in the name of producing fruit (i.e..make conversions), we see ancient followers of Christ fighting over who gets the credit and a rebuke from one of their apostles stating that he planted, another watered, but God gave the increase. Yes, we just can’t help ourselves and the church is lining up behind favorite teachers and boasting in them in such a way that quarrels and divisions are happening. We pick our leader and then we follow their formula, whether that’s debating and rebuking, making stands politically and socially, shouting on street corners hell and damnation, knocking on doors or in modern times, setting up healing tents at festivals, or taking on an agenda based missional relationships approach; whereby “conversion” is still the measure of fruit. We know, we’ve sat with fellow believers who think they have the corner on the market, we’ve been to the meetings where the question was asked and a tally was taken regarding how many people we shared the Gospel with (i.e., the four spiritual laws) with over the past week or month. Those who had high numbers were well congratulated. Those who didn’t were told that they wern’t fruitful and given more tools, tracks, other tactics or teachings on how to share “the Gospel,” etc…

On a personal note, both of my grandfathers had radical conversion testimonies. Through out their lives, they both shared the redemption story of the Gospel of Jesus and how that changed their lives with whomever would listen, whether on street corners, under a big tent, in a meeting, prison, really anywhere they could. They were both “evangelists” and they introduced many into a relationship with Jesus. I’m sure it would have been said that my grandfathers produced much fruit. And, maybe they did. 

However, when I look beyond my grandfathers ministries, what I see is their daily need to tell their story, to bear witness to the way the living God reached down and redeemed their lives with unconditional love. In retelling their story over and over, they stayed connected to the vine. I reckon it was the same for the disciples and all of those who met Jesus along the way. How could they not tell of His unfailing love and faithfulness. How could they not tell about his amazing healings, teachings, and practical ways that he sat with those who most would not consider. How could they not tell of his upside down idea of the Kingdom of God. Even some who were specifically told by Jesus not to tell of their interaction with him, couldn’t help themselves. They were compelled because they were grafted into the vine. They were compelled without an agenda for conversion but because it was the natural response to being healed or restored and brought into the fold. 

As we listen to Jesus telling the story of the vine and branches, there is a profound message woven in between this idea of producing fruit. Jesus says, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command.  I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”  Jesus says, loving him and keeping his command to love each other is a sign of friendship and friendship is very fruitful because he says it leads to joy! We see that participation in Christ’s life is the source of all good, all fruit, and that abiding in Him is the means of participation in His life. Obviously, what is meant is not our continuance in the attitude of love to Him, but rather our continuance in the sweet and sacred atmosphere of His love to us. He further assures us that, by keeping His commandments, we shall continue in that sweet home and safe stronghold of His love. (MacLaren’s Expositions) Of course the keeping of the commandments is something more than mere outward conformity by action. It is the inward harmony of will, and the humbling of our whole being. 

We have radical testimonies just like our forefathers, and like our forefathers, we find life in sharing our story with whomever will listen. We believe that God is an amazing creator, composer, promise-keeper, restorer. He is faithful, truthful, loving and just. He is everywhere all of the time, he knows everything and he is Holy. And, we believe that when God says that he is the one who puts the body together, that he is the one who puts the body together. We believe Jesus is the living God and when he tells the story of the vine and the branches, we respond in humility in our understanding of what it means to produce fruit. We have surrendered our self-sustainable version of producing fruit, our need to manipulate the seed, thus allowing God to make us apart of the greater whole. And so, it is by the grace given us that we say or do anything. It’s important that we who long to see fruit, do not misinterpret ourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to us. 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.

I know this idea of questioning and redefining what it means to produce fruit, flies in the face of traditional missions or church organizational ideology. For many, this idea of releasing the need to quantify our fruit production is a difficult one because there is actually something deeper hinging on that quantifiable fruit. It is money and we know, it always looks good if you can show financial supporter results. It validates to them that we’re a good investment. But listen to me, the Apostle Paul knew this too and he warns us through out his letters to not switch this up to make it about ourselves or our funding. And if we’re really being honest about it, that is a hard one to let go. But after five years of nomadic life, hearing the stories of those we’ve met around the world, we can testify that the Father really is an amazing gardener, Jesus really is the vine and releasing this manipulative, twisted version of what it means to produce fruit, to somehow prove to everyone that we are worthy, has not only allowed us to see God do amazing things for us, but also in and through us.   

We have come to understand that there is a bigger picture here. We continue to tell the story of God and the story of us, but not with an agenda for quantifiable fruit so that we can feel validated or so we can keep our funding going. We share this amazing story of God and story of us because we are compelled by Gods trustworthiness and because telling this story breaths life into our very beings. It is a direct response to the friendship Jesus calls us into and we are compelled to love. Any fruit that comes is directly because of the one who created us. 

Of course, we’re always learning and growing. We’re open to hearing other thoughts and perspectives on this issue. But for those we’ve met along the way, be encouraged by us tillers; God is faithful even when it feels like the land is parched and infertile. God is an amazing gardener and the harvest is His to reap.

So, for our kinfolk in ministry as a vocation, who have been struggling with this idea we leave you with a few questions and encourage you engage honestly in this conversation. Do you find your desire to produce fruit has been laced with manipulation? Do you resonate with the need to showcase results so as to prove your worth to the rest of the body? Are you selling your witness short based on your self-interest for profit or status? Are you caught up in church quarrels and feuds, offering your allegiance to your favorite teacher rather than to the living God? Are you twisting up the Gospel message so it fits in your nice little box? Are you willing to take the risk of trusting Jesus is who he says he is? 

We encourage you to take a good look in the mirror and evaluate the hold that this twisted ideal of producing fruit might have over you. Are you willing to explore what it means to function in “friendship with Christ” when the Christian culture around you says if you want to do this job, this is how you do it, this is how you prove your worth? Are you ready to swim upstream? 

Don’t Be Jealous

kinfolkRecently, I was tagged in an Instagram photo of Socialite Barbie, who happened to be appearing in Kinfolk Magazine, which is a trendy hip magazine featuring people doing really cool stuff. Anyway, in the photo Barbie is letting everyone know that she was featured in the magazine and then hashtags a number of things, but most notability she hashtags #humblebrag.

At first I though it was funny (I can laugh at myself) but then, I had a series of events where friends made reference to feeling jealous for the way we travel and the things we get to do and see. Then we performed a house concert and at the break almost every person came up to me to let me know how jealous they were of my family and the life we live. I started to feel a bit bothered by all of the comments but mostly deflated. I almost felt like apologizing or trying to down play our adventures by highlighting the really hard times. Then I started to wonder if I was over reacting and maybe I just needed to lighten up but I couldn’t find rest in it and the more I thought about it the more it all just felt yuck.

Jealousy is nothing new and in some instances it’s actually a positive thing, like a healthy jealousy the lover has for the beloved, or the beautiful kind of jealousy the creator has for his created. But there is an ugly side for sure. Trust me, I have had my own seasons of fighting with feelings of unhealthy jealousy. I have compared my home to others, my financial position, my beauty, my parenting, and more. But, something changed in our perspective when we  began to seek the heart of God in things like justice, purpose, love, and righteousness. Jealousy and comparison just fell out of our vernacular. We started to see miracles, and things that seemed to be offensive or dangerous became opportunities to see the supernatural ways that God is faithful.

None the less, I never want to miss an opportunity for growth so I took another look at my writings and photos and saw a trend. I noticed that I do have a pretty awesome life and I tend to share how awesome it is. I also saw that behind my sharing is a heart longing for others to see that this life we live is not our own but our makers. It’s true nomadic life has allowed us to be in the “front row,” seeing the fabric of humanity knit together in amazing circumstances. We also get to do and see a lot of freaking awesome things on this journey but it comes at a cost. Our security and comfort are constantly compromised and there are days that I can hardly believe we are still alive. But, when I step back and see the Glory of God I can’t help but to shout it out.

I was reading Donald Millers, ‘Searching For God Knows What’ and he wrote about how this old saint named Paul was exhorting his friends telling them they shouldn’t think they were better than other people, and how folks should submit to one another in love, thinking of each other as more important than themselves.

Donald makes a statement in his book that I really resonate with. He says, “Imagine how much a man or woman’s life would be changed if he/she trusted that he/she was loved by God? They could interact with the poor and not show partiality, they could love their spouse easily and not exact them to redeem them, they would be slow to anger because redemption was no longer at stake, they could be wise and giving with their money because money no longer represented points, they could give up on formulaic religion, knowing that checking stuff off a spiritual to-do list was a worthless pursuit, they would have confidence and the ability to laugh at themselves, and they could love people without expecting anything in return. It would be quite beautiful, really.”

I thought long and hard about that. And, honestly this question of what life would look like if we trusted God is core to our families abilities to continue forward. We always come back to this starting point and as much as our natural tendency is to seek the approval of others, and we understand, as Miller says, “people (including ourselves) are biased and really have no idea what is beautiful or ugly to begin with.”

So, back to the #humblebrag hashtag. It’s funny because even as I write this proclamation of really trusting God’s love for me, I sense some eye rolls. But, here’s the thing, I am responsible for my own emotions and the impact they might have on others. I know I can’t control others emotions but, when I feel the impact of others jealousy, I feel bound. I feel robbed of joy and of uninhibited relationship. And, then I realized, that those feelings of jealousy rob both parties. It robs us both!! And, that makes me angry!

But what do we do about it. Blogger,  gives this suggestion. She says, “It helps me to see jealousy as my enemy. You can sit around all day and try to not compare yourself. You can try to keep your blinders on and be grateful for what you have. But when you start to identify jealousy as something that’s attacking you personally, that’s when you start to fight against it more. And that’s when it starts to lose its power.”

And so, back to Paul’s exhortation, We have to work together, yielding to one another in love and thinking of each other as more important than themselves. And yes, if there is a potential that I am practicing “humblepride,” then I need friends to help me by gently showing me, but if jealousy is the heart of the prod then we have to recognize it and fight for each other, extending grace. Because, in the end, that’s what we all want, isn’t it? Amazing Grace. To know we are loved.

PS. By the way, I do find the Socialite Barbie thing quite funny. It all just got me thinking. This is what happens when I start thinking to much. Ha!

 

 

Emotional Inventory – Lessons Learned

Lessons learned.

On Feb. 12, 2012 we crossed from Oregon into the state of California. As we made our way down I-5, we realized that this was our first moment alone as a family in a long time and it was our first stop where we were not staying with friends or family. The Gateway RV Park welcomed us to Redding, CA and as we pulled into our site (late night arrival) we found the ground to be uneven. Grant’s pass was not kind and we were exhausted from the drive. I could tell Craig was limited in the energy he had and I didn’t want to nag much about the leaning of Celu’haven but I did voice my concern just before heading into town to pick up some groceries. I was gone for about an hour and during that time I had resigned myself to the fact that we were probably going to end up sleeping with a tilt.

The site was quite upon my return and as I crawled in bed I propped my pillow up so the blood wouldn’t flow to my head all night. I had a restless night sleep, tossing and turning as I felt myself slipping head down. The next morning when we woke Craig asked how my sleep was and I answered, “horrible, I felt like I was falling all night.” He lay silent and offered no empathy or mutual concern. As I made my way back from the community bathroom I noticed that the left wheels of the bus were up on blocks. I was in a quandary. I thought, “What?! When did he do this? Couldn’t have been when I was in the toilet as there wouldn’t have been enough time and I would have heard him.” And then it dawned on me,  “he did this last night, when I was at the store!” I rushed into the bus and had a look. Sure enough, it was level. I went back to my bedroom, it was level too. I slept all night totally convinced that I was on an uncomfortable angle!

I went to the main room and everyone had a big smile on their faces. I lowered my eyes and said, “So, it seems I’ve deceived myself.” We all had a good laugh. Funny thing is, this is quite common. We walk around believing that we are the victim, truly believing it and all along our perception is wrong.  If only I would have been open, maybe trusted that Craig was really going to look out for us, maybe investigated a little, I would have had quite the restful night. In the end, it was a good lesson to learn. The lesson that my emotions aren’t always the end of the story. The lesson that we are on this journey as a family and the biggest lesson in learning to trust that we can trust one another. Really trust.

Sea Pens

Have you heard of Sea Pens? They offer a fascinating analogy of community!!

A sea pen looks and acts like a single organism but it’s actually a colony of tiny animals called polyps with a bulbous foot at it’s base–the bulb anchors the sea pen in the muddy or sandy bottom. The primary polyp loses its tentacles and becomes the stalk of the sea pen. The various secondary polyps form the sea pen’s “branches” and have specialized functions from trapping food, reproducing to channeling water in and out of the colony. Others make slime that glows in the dark…

Oh! what a longing we have to be apart of something that fantastic! We believe that we are connected to the stalk/foot but what if the other polyps don’t respond or they withhold from us because we don’t have the right marketing or enough credibility or what if we are judged and ignored? Do we need the other polyps? Well, sure we do, it’s not a sea pen otherwise.

…But, this is the hard part, trusting that everyone is working in one accord.

We aren’t the only ones to acknowledge this issue of trust in community. One of the founding fathers of “tilling and traveling” wrote of the same dilemma. His name was, Paul, formerly Saul. He had a remarkable revelation one day and turned full circle from his life of high society and religious piety. He became “all things to all people” by making himself available to go where ever the door opened. His soul desire was to spread a gospel of revolutionary magnitude. A gospel that suggested we could actually experience real reconciliation and freedom in our lives. Paul was convinced that like the sea pen we were made individually but meant to come together as a whole, clinging to the stalk that was connected to the foot. Folks seemed pretty excited about his passion until he started going into parts of society that they deemed unexceptionable and his support dwindled if not ceased. He responded with a push back to those who called themselves believers, to those who claimed to be his family. He shared his pain and disappointment but not for his own gain. No, he understood the heart condition and knew that if his “family” had treated him this way, they were probably treating others, who were doing a good work, the same way.

Paul admonished them to take a look in the mirror. To realize that their perspective was off and they have forgotten where they came from. Then he encouraged them to remember. He warned them of their past and the danger markers in their history book. He said, “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!  And, when you see people reducing God to something they can use or control, get out of their company as fast as you can.” And later he says, “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well.”

And, so we remember the pit that we have been pulled out of. We remember the pain and discord of our rebellion. We remember how quickly our pride can lead the way. We remember the faithfulness, mercy and compassion granted us when we deserved a good slap in the ass. We remember the refining process thus far and we refocus our perspective on not only living well but living to serve. We remember that it is not up to us to know the “how” only to be available and continue to be all things to all people.

We are like the polyps who are connected to the stalk and channel water in and out. We have to trust that those who are suppose to light our way, will do so with their glow in the dark slim.

Learning to trust, becoming trustworthy and remembering; that sounds like a good way to start 2012. We look joyward to putting this into practice. with. you.