28 March 2009

The journey so far

When I thought I would make a pilgrimage to Bethel, I figured on basically going with what was on my back (or in the back of my Jeep anyway). I didn‘t have anyplace to stay, I didn’t know anybody, and I had basically no available funds. And this week, as it started out with some interesting developments has continued to develop – though still on a path that is much different than expected.

I should note that the house thing has had a number of things that required immediate and personal attention to handle – additional confirmation that this was the wrong week to be on the road, but everything does appear to have been settled appropriately and positively including this little wrinkle that I only recognized as a blessing when #1 pointed it out. You’ll remember I need to cough up $3500 when the guy started everything on Saturday? Well for some reason he gaffed his paperwork up and the deal was never completed on their end. So when I call on Tuesday to say ‘Hello...where’s my paperwork? You know, the stuff you were supposed to fax or overnight?” they had totally lost it all and had to start over. And for whatever reason their little calculator, or further consideration, determined $2500 would be quite sufficient...so that’s awesome. :)

I also had another friend contact me out of the blue on Tuesday. This is a guy who I thought for sure had, or soon would go out of business in this economy and I hadn’t heard hide nor hair from him is months. Anyway, he rings up and wants to get together. Beside a very cool catch-up session it turns out he and his church have some really deep contacts down at Bethel including several of their church members who are attending Bethel’s ministry school. I don’t want to count an egg as a chicken but he seemed to feel that he could find me at least a couch to crash on during a visit...but potentially much more. For example, rumor has it that Bill Johnson (the guy in my dream) is a huge Apple fan and talks about how much he loves his iPhone during his sermons. How cool would it be to get Bill Johnson to pray over G and Soma?

I also suddenly realized that in another 10 minutes I turn 38...and if that isn’t a journey I don’t know what is. :)

Anyway, as it appears, the pilgrimage may be reshaping before my eyes even as it’s been delayed – but I’m totally confident that God is up to something in the clutch here.

One thing that did come up this week on the down side was the news that “Soma” may be a no-go with regard to that particular trademark. It seems that Marc Ecko of Ecko Unlimited owns the trademark but in some dark, dusty ‘intent to use’ sense. As far as we can tell, there is no actual company using that name but years ago it was registered as if somebody, someday, somehow hoped to use it and now it lingers out there in this legal gray area. (it’s gray because I was actively using that name at least 18 months before it was registered, but I’m no legal guy so it never occurred to me to register that trademark.) Anyway, it could be an issue that would force us to change our name which would be a huge downer. Mostly because I’m convinced that that is the name God told me to use. Finding a name with the same meaning...wouldn’t be the same. Still – I’m sort of going on the theory that if it is indeed His idea, then it’s sort of incumbent upon Him to make this work somehow. It’s not as if me and my $99 legal zoom trademark form can challenge a billion dollar fashion firm on some kind of common law basis so it’s not like I can play tough. So I’m thinking the the best course is really to pray and fast...and then just ask if we can have it.

24 March 2009


Well today was a very interesting and very important day...not at all what I had imagined for my third day of pilgrimage, but pivotal and undeniably providential.

First – the whole house thing is taken care of. Until I could say that, I don’t think I realized how much that’s been weighing on me. I’ve been able to keep a good game face on or the last several months and I truly had faith that everything would work out...but now faith has turned into physical, legal reality and I’m deeply relieved. This house has come to mean so much more to me than I expected when we bought it. Nine years ago, Re and I moved into this 100 year old project house when the previous owner was foreclosed upon...hmmm, I hadn’t thought about that until just now...anyway – we really thought we would be in it for three to five years, fix the thing up and move on. That seemed like a pretty reasonable plan given my upwardly mobile career with Aquent. It was an investment property, not a home. But now we’ve been here for nine years in April and I absolutely LOVE this house. It has totally become home despite its warts and dreadful proximity to the highway. We’ve hosted so many friends here which is at the core of what we both sensed when we bought it – it was a gift from God, but it was explicit that we were supposed to share it. Two families and three individuals have lived here with us over the years for extended periods (and we’re about to have another long term guest) plus an unknown amount of more temporary guests. And at every turn, we’ve been more than happy to do it. We’ve never felt imposed upon or jealous of our space (OK, hat’s not 100% true, but mostly) - that darn guest room is almost as used as our bedroom!

The dreadful thought of losing this place was probably the most heart-sickening thing of 2008, even more than thinking I’d lose the business. Those stupid unfinished cabinets are MY unfinished cabinets! But today – that threat went away when CRB told me the funds were available right away. And while I recognize the tradition of not speaking too soon...crappy economy and uncertain future in mind, I feel confident that the threat is gone for good.

[Insert deep sigh of relief here]

But where I basically knew this day was coming, today also held a totally unexpected surprise...

The other overwhelming misery of 2008 was the loss of a very dear and precious friend. (see Baldur the Beautiful is Dead from early last year) It’s not like he died, but honestly...it felt like that. Our parting had so very much pain for me. It was a long drawn out thing that seemed like it just kept hitting me over and over. I haven’t had grief like that, maybe ever. Even when Odin was in the hospital, that was intense and awful for a couple weeks but there was a happy ending. This was slow and lingering and every week seemed to bring a new and deeper layer of hurt.  And there was no happy ending, if indeed there was any kind of ending. The whole thing kind of boiled away until everybody involved was exhausted and bruised beyond recognition. (By the way, I’m well aware that I was in no way the only person hurt nor the most hurt...but like this is my blog...)

This man was one of my best friends and in al of that I didn’t know if I would ever see him again, much less if we would ever speak. I remember that point about six months ago where the grief of a traumatic event finally catches up and overcomes your ‘everything is fine’ face and I was screaming and balling in front of all the monkeys as I had to give all of that to God...poor monkeys.

So yesterday this guys calls me as my pilgrimage has been put on hold due to a bum alternator. (OK – he texted me...come to think of it, I’m not sure that he ever actually uses his phone for talking). I hadn’t heard a peep out of him in about 14 months and he calls/texts yesterday. ‘Hmmm’ I think, ‘could this be the Lord?’ and I think, “well I don’t know what’s on this guy’s mind. Could be good...could be bad.” but in the spirit of taking the adventure God was giving I managed to meet with him this afternoon.

Without getting into all the gory details – it was good.
We were able to make peace, and I think it’s a genuine peace not just a paper job.

[Insert deep sigh of relief here]

There’s a lot more to say about that, but at the moment it seems premature – like talking out of school or something, so you’ll just have to settle for the notion that the meeting went well.

So today the two deepest hurts of the last year, which was full of hurts, were set like broken bones. And they both have this feel to them like I don’t yet comprehend how important today will seem in a year or five years. Like things happened today that will have major implications in the future. But time will have to tell because for me...it’s just a dose of good medicine that I really needed.

Was this part of the pilgrimage that God called me on? Was this part of his plan all along? I don’t know.
But I am confident that both events were directly created by Him and for his purposes and glory. So either way I’m a happy camper (or non-camper since I’m home and not in the back of my Jeep...)

Still – the rest of this week was set aside for His adventure and I plan to be faithful to that. A few things come to mind in how I might still wing a trip down there and I may still decide to do something of a long shot, but I first want to wait and see what happens next. Rather than force my agenda or my destination, I’m happy to play this by ear and hang on for the ride.

23 March 2009

Pilgrimage: Cont.

Pilgrimage day 2: location: home

Um...yeah, so this isn’t exactly what I had in mind but here I am at home on Monday evening trying to se what’s next. It’s worth recounting an interesting chain of events that got me here, some will just have to go without explanation for the time being.

  1. On Thursday, I’m thinking it would be good to take that pilgrimage I’ve been thinking about and God has been talking to me about. Alice will be in town all week so it works out that way instead of leaving Rebekah home alone with her crazy husband chasing the Wild Goose. It’s a good idea, but really there are no funds to do that kind of thing – not even to buy gas really. I mean we could do it if I had to, but it seems frivolous and unwise.
  2. On Friday a friend gets it in his head that he’d like to kick in $150 to he weird idea his friend is having...and I am suddenly reminded about how things worked on the last trip God sent me on (to Fort Mill SC) - namely, if it’s his plan, he picks up the tab. So this is a good start, but not enough to make the trip.
  3. On Friday, on a hunch, I jump the jeep which has been abandoned in my yard for six months and drive it to AutoZone – turns out all that is wrong is the battery is shot. $150 may not be enough for an extended trip or a rental car, but it’s enough for a new battery. $60 later and the Jeep is running fine.
  4. Friday night I’m in Seattle as part of a BCNW detachment talking about spiritual warfare. The prayer team hears a specific word: ambush. But the event goes well with nary a hitch and I forgot the ambush part until just now...still don’t know if it fits in here somewhere, but I may as well record all the details.
  5. On Saturday I FINALLY get some good news form our bank about our house. (yes, we (like a lot of other folks) were in significant monetary distress from the infamous year of 2008). They were able to put us up on a repayment program to get everything back in line but on the stipulation that I cough up $3500 by Thursday. That’s not a trivial amount of money, but nor is it a gigantic amount of money. I’m pretty sure we can wrangle it all together...but there’s the rub – wrangling while on pilgrimage is less than ideal.
  6. Also on Saturday, Wane and Alice arrive – Alice hands me a birthday card fro Pat who insists that I get it right away, a week before my birthday – it’s $200. With that and the $150 I think that car camping in he Jeep is a doable scenario and I start planning to leave on Sunday.
  7. I hit the road at about 10:00 Sunday morning and head south – I figure I have an eight hour drive and maybe I’ll make the 6pm service at Bethel.
  8. The Jeep is running fine and while I’m not 100% sure, I could swear the little battery gauge was at 14 where it belongs, but regardless – just south of Albany the thing suddenly dies...less than a mile from the off ramp to my friend Tom Smith’s place, who’s 6 year old is having a birthday party in 20 minutes, to which my other friend John Bergquist is basically driving right past me on the way to Tom’s. AAA tows the disabled vehicle to Toms place and we stick a battery charger on the thing to se what happens.
  9. Several interesting things happen at he party, some of which may fall under the ‘trying too hard’ category but one is a ‘vision’ as  Carrie (6) is opening her presents – an old-fashioned plow over her head. A little later I tell Tom and ask, ‘Does that mean anything to you.’ And he says, ‘Oh yeah. Carrie desperately wants to be a farmer. In fact she’s saving up for her own farm and has been for years.’ Now while this is interesting...I’m not sure of anything more compelling than a kind of confirmation that I wasn’t sniffing glue...again...already.
  10. Contrary to the advice of many I decide I’m going to take the adventure God gives me and continue south – broken alternator or not. I get another 50 miles of so to Creswell and the dying car just barely makes it to a diner/motel. It’s dark now so I decide to stay the night here. (corned beef hash and eggs were great)
  11. The counter guy at the hotel has acute laryngitis. I offer to pray for the guy and he says (whispers) ‘I’ll take anything I can get’ - Monday morning he has his voice back.
  12. After lots of praying and counsel from friends it seems like I should head home. If I’m meant to get to Redding, it will have to be some other means than this Jeep as I don’t want to drop another $100 on an alternator and then maybe the next thing, the next thing, the next thing...you know the old-car-get-fixed cycle. Anyway, getting home is a trial - basically drive for 30 min, pull over to charge the battery for an hour, rinse, repeat. But God is good and twice, including the last leg to my driveway, the car sputters and dies just as it rolls to the place it needed to be with not another 20 yards left in the thing.
  13. Remember the $3500 I need by Thursday? Today, at least $2200 showed up unexpectedly, (plus a planned for $7500 gets in the pipe two weeks early)...so it looks as though that part of the equation is settled and with basically no wrangling. (w00t!)
  14. Totally out of the blue, as I’m headed north from Salem, I get a text from an old friend who's been estranged for over a year. I haven’t had a single word from this guy since like last January and he wants to have lunch...tomorrow.

So...as far as I can tell the Jesus gears are rolling at a full clip. It’s not really the trip I expected, but the thing all pilgrimage rites include is a notion that the journey is the important part, not so much the destination. So at least I seem to be on a journey...even here at home...which is a funny concept now that I think about it. Right now, I don’t know what else to say. I would still like to get to Redding this week but God will need to provide a way, and I have to be back here NLT Saturday for baked Alaska.

19 March 2009

Scenes From The "recession"

This is pretty powerful:

File under: ‘val.picture=1k*word’

It maybe only that for the fist time I’m old and involved enough to be aware of these things, but this is the first time in my life that I’ve ever sensed any meaning to such words as depression, recession, downturn, etc. And honestly it’s a strange experience. I think the biggest thing that has caught my attention is an awareness of the world-spanning nature of this economy. I’ve certainly read of things going sideways in localities before, but nothing like this.

I also know I’ve heard MANY people say things like : “if folks would just stop being so scared and spend some money this recession would be over”
And while I admit a certain logic to that train of thought, in the end I think it’s a misdiagnosis. While fear is certainly operational, that’s not really what I hear in people’s voices these days. Three months ago, sure – but today it sounds less like fear and more like a hangover. Where a lot of people are waking up to an awareness that they drunk way too deeply from the credit bottle and this pain, in the final analysis, is at least half self-inflicted. I know that’s a big part of my thinking and that’s led to a kind of sobering up that was really uncomfortable at first but feels increasingly good in the pain=gain sort of way.

I mostly just wanted to comment that I feel as if the whole world feels like it’s shifted in the last six months and in the end, my sense is that it will be for the better...or for the antichrist...which is maybe the same thing. :)

17 March 2009

Unexpected update

So I wasn’t expecting this but I had a friend offer to kick in a few bucks toward the pilgrimage.

It’s not what I was expecting (nor hinting at) but it reminds me of previous times I’ve felt God call to me specific places. It seems, now that I think about it, that he always provides for those things in his own way and time. In fact, that might be seen as one of the pounded in lessons of my trip to SC last year.

I’m feeling like there is a principle here that I need to apprehend but I guess the scope of this trip seemed within my ability to cover myself...

“...give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.” Prov 30:8,9

15 March 2009

Pilgrim? What's that?

First, to get something unrelated off my chest: Facebook is cool and everything but if it winds up taking the place of what was a rich and vibrant blogging culture then I’ll be sorely soreified (...that sounds pretty gross) What I mean to say is that no number of status updates and photo tags is in any way as deep or as meaningful as the way most of these blogs were going for a good long stretch. And as I look around I see a lot of blogs where November or December is the latest entry. >sigh< And I’m pointing the fingers back at me here as well. I know I’ve been totally dragging my tail in the same regard. But...I feel much better now.

OK – moving on to the ‘real’ blog.

For something close to three months, I’ve felt God gently nudging me toward what He’s calling a pilgrimage. I already laid out the main idea in my last post but that was pretty brief and I guess I’m not done chewing on this. Last year, the word God was kneading into my heart was ‘priesthood’ and some really neat stuff came out of that. So far, ‘pilgrim’ is the word or the season and again I’m at a loss to make any kind of emotional connection to the word. I’ve got just a few notions that seem archaic at best, silly at worst. I’m pretty sure God isn’t asking me to wear a tall black hat with a buckle...but you know, He’s known to ask some strange things.

The dictionary tells me the word stems from a Latin word meaning ‘foreign’ and of course explains a pilgrim as somebody on a long journey to a sacred place for religious purposes. But there’s got to be more to this than just a trip – it’s a tradition that has deep and ancient roots and we Christians are by no means alone in the process.

Certainly there is something here about understanding the journey as equally important (if not more so) than the destination. This root of ‘foreign’ reminds me of the thoughts about us being strangers in a strange land – citizens of heaven and not this earth...that all makes a certain amount of sense, but it also seems like there is a lot more to fill in here. I don’t know what to expect from this journey to Bethel. I’m intrigued but somehow less than excited (which I sort of expected I would be). And I have a feeling that over the next week God will explain more of the thing to me. I’m not sure how it will work out financially either. Not like I plan to stay in some sweet resort while I’m there but with things as tight as they are, even the gas is a stretch so I’m praying that God provide for this trip – it might be a good diagnostic to determine if this really is him, or if I’ve manufactured this in my head. In the past, waiting on his provision has been a great way of confirming as well as a faith builder.

Anyway, I expect to go...but frankly I’m not yet certain. Nothing at all like the trip to MorningStar. Maybe that’s part of the pilgrimage too. It has some sense in my mind of being an essentially aesthetic ascetic experience (is that the right spelling Kathie?) You know, the whole ‘deny the flesh’ thing. So driving my jeep down there with a sleeping bag doesn’t seem too out of the way.

Uh...ok I don’t know how to end this post. So – I'm done

13 March 2009


So I’m feeling led to take a pilgrimage which is an interesting thing to me. I really don’t have any context for that word beyond vague references in history classes and an awareness that Gandalf was known as the Grey Pilgrim.

Also, I’m specifically planning on going to Bethel Church (www.ibethel.org) in Redding, CA.

Right now the very vague plan is to show up...and then stay until I feel like I’m allowed to leave. Good plan eh? Tat said, I’m especially waiting to see what God provides in way of lodging and perhaps transportation. I know I can’t afford to stay in a hotel for a week. Renting a car...maybe that would be OK, but not ideal.

Anyway, prayers appreciated...and if you know a friend in the area who would be willing to host a pilgrim, let me know.