Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Katrina Disaster Relief

I've been watching in disbelief as we see the tragic events unfolding in the wake of Katrina. Here is a link to ongoing news. Sadly, I think this blog will be on the web for some time to come.

I urge you to give generously to disaster relief efforts and to do so as soon as you can. I will be donating to the Convoy of Hope. This wonderful relief organization was begun as an Assemblies of God outreach, but it has quickly become transdenominational. I've seen those beautiful semi trucks full of groceries firsthand.

You can donate directly online here.

Dr. Darrell Pursifel from Disert Paths posted the following prayer -- which I found both so sadly beautiful and so straight to-the-point (two descriptions not often found together) that I want to share it here as well:

Prayer in Time of Disaster

God of earthquake, wind, and fire,
tame natural forces that defy control,
or shock us by their fury.
Keep us from calling disaster your justice;
and help us, in good times or in calamity,
to trust your mercy which never ends,
and your power,
which in Jesus Christ stilled storms,
raised the dead,
and put down demonic powers. Amen.

(from the Book of Common Worship [Westminster/John Knox, 1993] 801)

And a small prayer of my own:

Merciful and Gracious God,

I pray for people caught in the misery of this disaster.

Give strength and courage and wiscom to all who are working long hours to help others.

Help your well-meaning but sometimes misguided children, to shine in this dark hour.

Give people of faith words of comfort, strength to help where they can, wisdom to
know when to speak and when to be silent.

Help them to weep with those who weep and yet still find small moments of humor, joy and respite.

Save those who still may be awating rescue, and for those who will not be found in time, grant, I earnestly pray, a grace of exceptional peace and calm.

May overwhelmed hearts and minds turn to you, even in distress and pain, and may you be found by those who seek You.


His mercy endures forever!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Family Pictures

Here is a picture of my Texas mom, aged 88, who lives with us now. Click to enlarge. She loves the outdoors and flowers, so we took this little picture on our back deck a month or so ago. Pretty soon the deck will be covered with snow. Well, soon enough anyway.

Here is our son, Joshua, the youngest of our two children. He lives in Minneapolis.

And here he is with Jane. Too bad Josh's eyes are closed, but it is a nice picture of his lovely girlfriend.

And our daughter Kris, with husband, Daryl. She is now about 80 lbs lighter, but I don't have a picture yet.

Here we are at Kris' college graduation a while back.

This is my sister, Paulette, and her brand-new husband, Bob. Well, Bob isn't brand new. The marriage is. ;-)

And here I am with sister, Darlaine. She's the skinny one in the family. I'm the plump one, and I guess that means Paulette is just right.

Friday, August 26, 2005

The Feminization of the Church

I'm steaming. Steam is coming out my ears, my eyes, probably my nose....taking deep

The annual men's conference is coming up in Septembe. It looks great. Great prizes (a HARLEY!) and great fun, and great speakers, wonderful worship team too. I was feeling a bit envious, frankly. Yesterday I received a page with the workshop titles. I was looking at them and getting really happy about the topics for our church guys. And then--there it was. "Making the Church Man Friendly." I am aware of the preponderance of women in almost all churches, and I am concerned about it. That led me to an internet search (why did I do that?) that has me fuming.

Slight digression about books:

I should not do internet searches like that for the same reason I avoid the "Men" or "Women" sections of a Christian bookstore as if it they were a pit of snakes or spiders.

In the men's section (predominate colors are strong and dark, brown, deep red, black, dark green) one finds books about how every man in the whole world can only think with the wrong head, is pondering sex about 90% of the time, only keeps himself from foaming at the mouth with great effort, wants to be "wild" and rescue a damsel in distress. And still he needs someone to help him learn how to be a real manly man. Grunt, grunt.

In the women's section the predominate colors, make that color is PINK. Welll, sometimes other pastels are evident too. But just count how many "women's" books are pink! Pictures of dainty tea cups, lace, ruffles, and roses are featured on book covers as if we all hanker for the Victorian era. Women, of course, never battle sexual issues. We just battle our desire to dominate. We must be taught how to be real women, submissive, sweet, yet we must empower or teach our husbands how to "lead" (something is terribly wrong with that), and we must fulfill our "highest calling"--that is to be good wives and mothers. (What if God hasn't sent a husband, or if the woman browsing the aisle is childless?) And we have to be ever more "feminine" (whatever that means). In those pink books it is a word repeated till it loses whatever meaning it ever had.

And here I thought my highest calling was to be conformed to the image of Christ Jesus!

What is this current obsession (fad?) in the Evangelical church with being masculine or feminine? And why are we so prone to these fads in the first place? Ah, that is fodder for a future blog entry.

I'll just skip those sections of the store and head over to the Bibles or the theology books, thank you very much! Give me a good, meaty tome by Andrew Murray!

Back to the feminized church. In my quest to find how to make our church more acceptable to men, I perused the internet last evening. There I read that women are taking over. Women love to sit around and talk, but men like to do stuff. Women like relating, but men like sports and competition. Women like to learn. Men like to sweat! Women like music. Especially sappy music. Men, on the other hand, like good strong lyrics. Women like sappy art too, but if we want to attract men we need strong art from classic artists. And men like to do stuff. Women like Bible studies. Men like to punch each other. And men like to do stuff. Men want to give their lives to a cause. Women, on the other hand, want to sway and sing Kum By Ya. (Okay, I exaggerated there, but the others really are all things I read.) Okay, I get it. Men like to do stuff.

Then I read that God told men to dominate and told women to help out. That God told men to subdue the earth but God told women help out. (Do these people read Genesis??) Oh, I forgot, it's women that like to study scripture. So much for all the male scholars.

I read that the real feminization of the church came about when we started thinking women could be leaders. It started with Indira Ghandi. We wanna be like her. Right. I read that "gentle Jesus, meek and mild" is repulsive to men. Men are looking for "the wild Jesus." I read that the church is full of pansies, "Nancy boys" and "simpering whiners who act like women" and homosexuals. I read that while we know men have dominated the clergy, male members of the clergy are effeminate! Psychological tests proved it! Ah, so that explains why centuries of men in leadership has led to a feminized church.

The insulting verbiage is not even veiled. It's in bold print for all to see. The anti-woman rhetoric is glossed over by such caveats as, "I'm not bashing women, of course..." Right. If a "feminized" man is whining, weak and simpering, what does that say about what women are like? (Note: I hate whining, I am NOT emotionally weak, and I have never "simpered" in my life.)

The insult is primarily to women, but it is to men as well. Men come off looking like sex-crazed Neanderthals.

I recently perused a Christian men's magazine. First I read how men need to step up and be men. (What does that mean, exactly? I thought God had already created the right plumbing for them.) I read how we need to make sure our boys grow up to be strong, manly heroes who can lead the battle. And play football, hopefully.

In the very same issue I read an article that encouraged the church to allow for diversity, to not expect every man to be the same or to have the same issues or interests. The author had been a quiet, musically and artistically gifted boy who was taunted and called "fag" because he did not enjoy sports and preferred quiet activities. He had struggled with his self image, and he had agonized over whether he might really be gay. He wasn't. It was an excellent piece of writing. But I was stunned that no one on the editorial staff had apparently seen that these two articles were in total opposition.

What happened to reading the Bible and finding out what God's plan is for us?

I do not read scripture about how to become more masculine or more feminine. Where are those scriptures? The Bible nowhere attempts to define those words at all. While we do have a portrait of a virtuous woman (Proverbs 31), she is not simpering. She is strong and courageous and hard-working and kind. I do not find scripture about the "wild" Jesus. On the contrary, he appears focused, self controlled and calm. I do not see scripture that says only men have leadership skills. I do not see scripture that says women all love to relate and men all love to sweat.

I do see where scripture talks about the priesthood of believers. No specifications about gender. I do see where spiritual gifts are given to members of the Body of Christ for the edification of all. No specifications about manliness. I do see that we are exhorted in no uncertain terms to die to ourselves and our old, sinful nature. We are told to renew our minds, to walk in the Spirit, to pray without ceasing, to be thankful, to rejoice, to love, to preach, to be strong, to gather with other believers--and much more.

And just for the record, I am female. See my photo. I do not think I am "masculine." My husband doesn't appear to think so either.


I hate whining. I've heard just as much whining from boys or men as from girls or women. I know simpering women exist. They make me crazy. So do simpering men. Stamp out simpering!

I believe leaders come in all sizes, colors, ages and both genders. So do those who help behind the scenes.

I believe in strong song lyrics, and I sometimes lament the lack of good strong theology in our current church music. (My favorite hymn is "A Mighty Fortress is Our God." According to what I read on the web, that is a manly song.)

I believe in a gentle, meek Jesus. (If some of these manly men would study Greek they'd see that meekness is not weakness, but is strength under control.) I don't think Jesus was "wild" but I do think he was strong and was not afraid to take on evil or to speak strong words.

I believe in dying to self and forsaking sin and following the Lord with all our hearts. That means counting the cost and giving up our lives if need be. (See previous post on "Getting Saved.") According to what I've just read, men are looking for a cause to give their lives to. So am I.

Stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the Cross! As a child, I loved that song. Something in my heart rose up in joy at the thought of lifting His banner high and marching against the foe. I knew who the foe was.

Just a few thoughts about men and women I know. All the names are changed, just in case I share something a bit too personal.


Lois dislikes the color pink. She used to wish she'd been born a man because she thought men were strong but women were not. Today she is learning that she can be ALL God created her to be. She likes to talk and relate and have lunch but also is a strong fighter for justice and a champion of the underdog. She wants to change the world, and she just might. She also is a wife and a mother who really loves her family. Actually, she can be a little "wild" for Jesus. Uh oh.

Penny has a very "feminine" home, and she loves crafts. But she doesn't talk much. She does not like shopping, singing or "doing lunch." She has only once attended a women's meeting, to my knowledge. But she likes to work hard. Yesterday I saw her actually sweating as she pulled weeds.

Suzy is a pastor, a counselor, a strong preacher. She wishes she had found a man to share life with, but while she is sometimes lonely she does not spend much time pondering what might have been. Suzy loves physical work and sports. She has a hard time sitting for long, and sometimes laments her lack of sociability and "relational skills." She also has the kindest heart of anyone I know.

Wanda is a secretary. She likes pink, roses, Victorian decorating, jewelry, singing, doing lunch, and conversing. She also is a leader (she won't admit it, but she is). And she is strong and courageous.


Stan likes hunting and fishing and rough play. He also loves to talk about spiritual issues. And he prays. And he is really very gentle.

Joe is big and looks "manly" and loves sports. He likes to do things rather than talk, and he sweats a lot. So far, so good. But he owns a pink shirt. He loves animals and small children and shopping. The man is a shopping nut. And he loves kitchen gadgets. He does the laundry. He can be bossy, but knows it isn't his God-given right to be. (Okay, I gave that last one away. It's my husband.)

Ron is quiet, meek, humble, gentle, wise, and very relational. And man, he loves to go out for lunch. But he loves golfing, and he used to be a cop, so I guess he is okay.

Leo loves music. He is creative, artsy, talks a lot, has many friends. He is very "sensitive." He doesn't sweat much at all, actually. No, he's not gay. He's engaged to a woman who also loves music.

Nick is musical too. He is a quiet loner He does like to work out, but he does not appear to care much about group sports, rarely shows up for group work days, doesn't hunt, fish, camp or even drive fast.

Jack likes race cars and grilling in the back yard. He also likes cats. (Cats? Is it manyly to like cats?) He's married to Lois, mentioned above, who prefers the dog! Oh dear!

Wayne is athletic, muscular, likes sports, seems a bit "wild," hunts, rides a Harley, doesn't usually read much. Ah, finally, a real man!

Okay, I despise stereotypes.

Now, back to the issue at hand. How do we encourage men to come to church?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Fruit of the Spirit is...Peace

Lovely bananas, vibrant with color and sweet to taste. Fruit, both natural and spiritual, is a wonderful thing!

I'm still working on Sunday's message regarding the fruit of peace in our lives. I'm becoming convinced that the fruit of the Spirit is about two things, primarily. It's about roots going down into the soil of God's love, and it's about removing the hindrances to the fruit. As I've said before, if God's Spirit lives in me, and my roots are healthy and planted in good "soil" then fruit will come, in time.

What hinders God's peace in our lives?

Well, the list is long, of course. But I'm thinking it may condense to two main things, fear and stubbornness (pride?)!

Peace comes when we trust and obey. Like the old song, "Trust and Obey."

This song gives a simple ex­pla­na­tion of livĂ‚­ing the Christ­ian life. The ti­tle ex­press­ion was used in a test­i­mo­ny meet­ing, fol­low­ing an evan­gel­is­tic cru­sade by Dwight L. Mo­ody. A young man stood to speak, and it soon be­came clear he knew lit­tle Christ­ian doc­trine. But he fin­ished by say­ing, I'm not quite sure, but I'm go­ing to trust, and I'm go­ing to obey. Dan­iel Town­er, who was in the meet­ing, jot­ted down the words, and gave them to John Sam­mis, who de­vel­oped the lyr­ics from them.

I think that young man was on to something!


When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word, What a glory He sheds on our way! While we do His good will, He abides with us still,And with all who will trust and obey.


Trust and obey, for there's no other way,
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies, But His smile quickly drives it away; Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear, Can abide while we trust and obey.

Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share, But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross, But is blessed if we trust and obey.

But we never can prove the delights of His love, Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows, Are for them who will trust and obey.

Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet. Or we'll walk by His side in the way. What He says we will do, where He sends we will go; Never fear, only trust and obey.

Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
Proverbs 3:5

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation
Isa 12:2

This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength..." Isa 30:15

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. John 14:1

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

In that day they will say, "Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.
Isa 25:9

Actually, there seems to be a corrolation with trust and JOY as well. All the spiritual fruit is connected. Like a bunch of bananas? (Ha! Got that in there.)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Getting "Saved"

An article was recently posted on my friend Darrell Pursifel's blog. which got me thinking about the nature of "salvation" and how different groups who call themselves "Christian" view it.

It used to be easy. In the church in which I grew up, salvation was being "born again." See John 3.. How one did that was simple. You walked up front, usually, and told the preacher you wanted Jesus in your heart, and you prayed with him what we called "a sinner's prayer." Something like, "Jesus, please forgive my sins and come into my life." Or perhaps you prayed at a Billy Graham crusade. Or maybe, like me, you prayed at home.

Now, I'm not dissing a sinner's prayer. I John 1:9 says that if we confess our sin God is faithful and will forgive and cleanse us. Praise God! I remember very clearly the day I knelt by my living room couch with my mother beside me as I, with very simple faith, asked Jesus to come into my heart. I believe I was "born again" or "born from above" at that time. I was baptized a couple of years later. Since our denomination baptized by "immersion" I paddled out into the baptistry with the help of my beloved pastor, Brother Stanley Polk. I stood on a couple of cement blocks, since my six-year old legs were too short to reach the bottom of the baptistry. And since the front wall of the baptistry was partly glass, all the congregates viewed my paddling feet as I exited the water after being "dunked." I would not, however, be turned aside. I was determined to be obedient to what I had learned from the Bible. I was getting baptized and that was that. I do believe my spirit was hungry for God, and as I reached out to Jesus (who I knew loved me) I became a child of the light, as the Apostle Paul puts it.

However, I had to grow in my faith. I did. I always wanted to please God, and from an early age I loved the Bible, loved church, loved prayer and loved Jesus Christ. I knew that obedience was important, and once in a while this led me to legalistic thinking and behavior. This is still a tough balancing act!

My life was certainly sad and confusing in many ways, and it was sometimes painful. But I held on to my faith for dear life. Even in dark times of deep doubt when I found myself unable to pray, unable to read scripture and unable even to sing (for me, that's bad) I held on in total desperation to the awareness that I was born from above, was God's child, and I would somehow come through it by God's grace.

Only in my 20s did I stretch my boundaries in terms of questioning what I had been taught. It started at a secular college and continued; this partly came about because I was married, a new mother, had moved across the country from one coast to the other, sought unsuccessfully for a church home...much change. I attended a Catholic charismatic prayer meeting and found myself very much at home. A priest spoke at my church, and he talked about the importance of an encounter with God. I agreed with everything he said. There were many more changes, too many to talk about here. I broadened my horizons and grew to appreciate other denominations for many things. I no longer think being born from above is quite so easy to understand or predict. Aha! That is exactly what Jesus said in John 3. Oh my!

Darrell Pursifel is pondering the nature of relationship with God. So am I. Especially lately. I am saddened by the Catholics around me in my community who seem to check their faith at the church door after the Mass is over. (Many have told me this.) Last week I spoke with a young woman with a Catholic background who admitted to me that she never learned anything about Jesus Christ...she just was baptized and went through confirmation and all that "stuff" and figured that was enough--but now she knows that her church experience has made not one whit of difference in her spiritual life. She is now beginning to explore the scriptures and I pray she will encounter the living God!

On the other hand, I also see that both my childhood church and my present one sometimes seem to think that a sinner's prayer is all that is needed. Just get someone to say that magic prayer and all is well. They escape Hell and head for Heaven and the rest is gravy. Something is very wrong with this.

There is also something wrong with our current emphasis on Jesus as our best friend. Is he? Oh yes. He is a "friend that sticks closer than a brother." But in our hurry to get people "saved" I wonder if we have not seriously changed what Jesus said. Jesus said that to remain in his love we must obey what he says. Obey? Huh! He did not ask the disciples to come be his friends and buddies and talk to him when they felt like it, and ignore him when it was convenient, and expect that all would be well either way. Yes, just before the end of his time on earth he did say that they were his friends. How wonderful! But what did he say when he first encountered the disciples? He said, "FOLLOW ME." He also said to count the cost before becoming his follower. Count the cost? My friend and deacon, Pat, says that we have no idea what that means when we first come to faith in Christ. She is right, of course. But at least Jesus warns us that while his yoke is easy and his burden light, being his follower will cost us everything. BEING JESUS FOLLOWER IS ABOUT OBEDIENCE, among other things, and it will cost us our all. What do we make of statements like "Keep your life for yourself and you will lose it; lose your life and you'll find it." Do we ignore them? Ah, I fear that all too often we do just that. While there are Catholics who do not know God, are there not Evangelicals who once said a sinner's prayer and who attend church and know how to find scripture verses and can sing all the hymns -- who do not know God either? And who check their faith at the door?

As I type this my mother is listening to a Christian program on TV. Ironically, the preacher, who shall remain nameless, just said, "It is simple. Just pray this prayer: Jesus, forgive my sins and make me your child. Did you do that? Then you are a Christian now...." etc.

Not one word about counting the cost. Not one word about following or obeying.

Magic prayer.

The Catholic church, and some mainline denominations, may be lacking in an awareness of relationship with God and not just religious ritual. But evangelicals have, to an alarming degree, lost any sense of the holiness of God We seem to have totally lost any real awareness and respect, what the King James Version of the Bible calls fear of God.

I do believe, and always will, that knowing about Jesus is not the same as knowing him. Being baptized is just getting wet if it is not about something that must happen in our spirits. Being "born from above" is radical! But how and when this happens is becoming more and more of a mystery to me. And I think I will soon be preaching (once again) about what it means to count the cost and follow Jesus.

That is, once I feel that I can do so with some degree of accuracy and direction from the Holy Spirit...who blows where he will...and we can't predict it.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

March of the Penguins

We just went to see the movie "March of the Penguins." Some are saying it is anthropomorphizing (is that a word?) too much, but I LOVED it. Beautiful imagery, and narration by Morgan Freeman (I love his voice). The penguins with their awkward waddle are so amusing and majestic at the same time! What they do each mating season is phenominal just for the fact that any of them survive. GO SEE IT! It was ninety minutes of awe, sadness, laughing, amazment, and wonder at God's creation. If they made the penguins a bit too "human" I really don't care.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Gaza Strip

An Israeli soldier weeps as he helps evict others from their homes. Lord, how long?
This morning I am reading news reports of the situation in the Gaza strip as Israelis are being removed from their homes. I don't know the solution to the Palestianian-Israeli problem, but I confess to being a zionist--one of those who believes that God bequeathed that tiny spot to Israel. Nonetheless, I understand the Palestinians who are on rooftops rejoicing as they watch their Jewish neighbors evicted. God, what a mess your world is in! The slideshow pictures made me weep. . I hope some families will clean their home and leave a note saying "This was a good house for us. I pray God blesses you here." Please pray with me for wisdom for those involved and that El Shaddai, the Almighty one who comforts like a mother, will be revealed to hurting people.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

By the Shores of Gitchee Gumee

"By the shores of Gitchee Gumee, By the shining Big-Sea-Water, Stood the wigwam of Nokomis, Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis. Dark behind it rose the forest, Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees, Rose the firs with cones upon them; Bright before it beat the water, Beat the clear and sunny water, Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water. There the wrinkled old Nokomis, Nursed the little Hiawatha, Rocked him in his linden cradle, Bedded soft in moss and rushes. Safely bound with reindeer sinews; Stilled his fretful wail by saying, "Hush! The Naked Bear will hear thee!" Lulled him into slumber, singing,"Ewa-yea! my little owlet! Who is this, that lights the wigwam? With his great eyes lights the wigwam? Ewa-yea! my little owlet!" From The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Many of the names in Longfellow's epic poem (over 200 pages), Nokomis, Wynona, Pipestone, Minnehaha, Escanaba and others are familiar in the north central states of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. My mother loved poetry and sometimes read passages to me when I was a young child. From the time I arrived at our vacation destination, near the small town of Ontonogan in Michigan's "Upper Peninsula" or "U.P." Region, I was thinking of the first lines of Longfellow's famous poem. Gitchee Gumee means something like "shining big water"but is plain old Lake Superior nowadays. I like Gitchee Gumee better.

The picture above is just like a beach we discovered, driftwood and all. Behind the beach, only a few yards from glistening white sand, is a forest, deep and green and lovely. Just like the poem!

References to Gitchee Gumee were everywhere in Ontonogan (pronounced Ottenoggen by the locals). UPers or "Yoopers" have a distinct accent. It is a Midwest accent such as you'd hear anywhere in this region...halfway between a drawl and a twang with a Scandinavian lilt added...but much more so. They really do say "up nort." The townspeople were very welcoming to all of us.

We were camped in a large meadow, surrounded by woods, participating in a Midwest Rendezvous of the National Muzzleloaders Rifle Association. Yes, there are a bunch of folks who like to get together and reenact the fur-trade era of 1690-1840 (I blogged about that in May, "Going Back in Time")--including firing off replicas of ancient weapons. So there we were, Singing Owl and Bearded Eagle, camped in our lodge by the shores of Gitchee Gumee. Well, almost on the shores, really only a couple of miles away. Our daughter and her husband (Kris and Daryl, aka Happy Otter and Two Foxes) came too, and another friend, Janis, arrived a few days later.

There were some miserable parts to the week. The most significant was the oppressive heat (over 100 some days!) coupled with high humidity. We all thought we'd go to the U.P. and get cooled off. Not so. We steamed in the sun like so many lobsters in a pot and longed to shed our "outfits" for shorts and tee shirts. On the worst of the hot days, we headed for "Gitchee Gumee," found a lovely beach and headed straight for the water. We gave each other looks of encouragement and a "thumbs up"--and plunged bravely in. Whoo! The water looked crystal clear; the wave patterns beneath our toes were clearly visible. Lake Superior is said to be the coldest of the Great Lakes, but after the initial gasp of shock it felt fabulous--and probably saved our bodies from heat stroke and our tempers from exploding!

I won't blog about the negative things though. Instead I'd like to share little impressions and joys that came throughout the week.

I want to recall:

Looking out over the camp on our first night

There were at least 450 people in our little impromptu "village." There were many styles of white canvas dwellings, of course. Pretty French Marquis lodges with their decorative scalloped tops, wall tents, one pole tents, little "lean to's" and more. Tepee poles with their fluttering streamers reached high into the sky. It was cold the first night, and many of the tepees glowed from the fires burning inside. Candle lanterns, ours among them, glowed in a heavy, low fog that blanketed the meadow. Above the fog, the twilight glowed pink and blue on the horizon, and as the sky grew darker the flog disappeared and we watched in awe as the stars appeared. I haven't seen stars like that in many years. It was magnificent! We pointed out the various constellations, gazed with wonder at the Milky Way...and then there were northern lights! I stayed up late just looking at the sky till I got a crick in my neck! I thought of God speaking to Abraham about how his seed would be as numerous as the stars and recalled the words of an old Phil Keaggy song, "...can you count stars, Abraham? Do you believe I AM?" The cool weather was short-lived but lovely while it lasted!

A light show of another kind

One evening lightening began to flash all around us. North, south, east and west, it was everywhere. Some forked, some sheets of light; it never stopped for over two hours. It was the most amazing display of power I have ever seen, and I've lived in many places and seen some awesome storms. This was phenomenal. The sky was full of enormous fluffy clouds in many shades of gray, and the lightening flashed behind them, illuminating the gorgeous banks of clouds in white light -- I cannot begin to describe it. There were no pauses between flashes--constant brilliant light and the distant rumble of thunder. People all over camp stopped what they were doing and pulled up chairs or lay down on their backs in the grass and just stared heavenward. Oooohs and aaahs around me made me smile. It was just like the sounds heard at a fireworks display, but this was more beautiful than man-made pyrotechnics could ever be. Eventually, wind began to gust sharply, and everyone ran around covering things, and tightening ropes and then disappeared into their lodges. Ken and I climbed into bed, pulled our quilt up around our chins, and lay quiet to listen as the rain finally came, a deluge of water--and hailstones. Nothing like being in a tent hoping the hail doesn't come right through the canvas! I thought about the many sailors who had been on Lake Superior in just such storms; many lost their lives. I fell asleep humming Gordon Lightfoot's famous song, "The Ella Fitzgerald."

Sunday morning worship service

About fifty buckskinners gathered in front of Father Thomas' little chapel set up. Father Thomas is a Jesuit priest who is also a historian of the first order. I wish I had a picture of him wearing his vestments in his little makeshift chapel. He is a sight to see with his moccasins, flat-brimmed hat, large French pectoral cross with his brown cassock flapping around his legs. I don't know how he stood the heat in that get up! On Sunday he added a lovely old white vestment that I'm sure was correct to the period. He was joined by Muskrat Jack of something called "Buckskin Ministries." Muskrat and his wife, "Dances With Bees" (yep, it happened, she says), flew a Christian flag in front of their tepee, along with the colonial version of "Old Glory" (the one with 13 circular stars). We have one of those flags too., Bearded Eagle that is, won ours in a tomahawk throwing competition. Anyway, I thought of Dr. P. as I listened to Muskrat's sermon and then received bread and wine from Father Thomas. He didn't do a Mass, exactly, so I suppose that made it all right for all of us to share communion together. A man dressed in a frockcoat and breeches stood by his wife (in chemise, bodice and long skirt) as Father Thomas led them in renewing their vows. He made a strong point of telling the wife that she was to "respect, not obey" her husband. And reciting "The Lord's Prayer" in a group that looks to be straight out of the 18th century was a bit surreal. What an interesting worship service!

Cooking in cast iron.

There were three cooking contests. Cooking over a campfire can be a challenge, but it is one of the things we like to do--trying to see just what we can come up with from a cast iron dutch oven. We often make biscuits or corn bread or pie. Once we made pizza (not exactly correct to the period)! Anyway, the first competition was for soup. Daughter Kris and I made a chicken vegetable soup together, and won second prize--edged out by a wild rice stew! Next days' entry was supposed to be a one pot meal, and we had purchased all the fixin's for two entrees, but it was so hot we couldn't stand to think of lighting a fire to cook it. We all skipped out and went to town for an ice cream instead (next entry). Ha! But the nex day the competition was for desserts. Ah, dessert from a campfire is a challenge! We gathered at "Baby's Fry Bread Kitchen" for the judging. It was so fun, observing all the women, and a few men, arriving at the large canvas lodge with heavy black kettles, placing them on a long wooden table, then sitting by pretending indifference to the outcome. What a mix! A woman on my left wore a beautifully beaded and fringed buckskin dress, another stood nearby in a French gown with a very low neckline (very proper to the period!). Another, dressed as a Metis, wore an Indian calico plains dress and a fancy French hat, complete with feathers! And the men! Ken in buckskins, another next to him in the knickers, long striped socks and jaunty knitted cap of the French voyaguer, another in nothing but a breechclout (that was my son in law) and another in a kilt. I could write an entire entry about the differing styles of facial hair alone--quite interesting and amusing. The judges were very serious about it all and took a long time, coming back for a second and third look at the entries and not a few extra tastes of pie, fried apples, or whatever. We won FIRST place for a cherry-strawberry dump cake. It was delicious, if I say so myself. Afterwards, we passed out samples to Muskrat Jack and our other neighbors, and then we sat by our campfire eating the remainder and congratulating ourselves on our victory.

I think that if some people we know from the rendezvous circuit saw us in our "regular" clothes they would likely not recognize us. Sometimes when someone looks familiar but I can't quite place them I wonder, "Are they a rendezvouser?"

A "Glacier"

Not the geographic kind, a sweet-frozen-treat kind. There was a little ice cream stand in Ontonogan. When we were dripping in the humidity and could stand the heat no longer, we headed for town and discovered a new taste sensation. The Glacier is some sort of slushy, fruity ice cream mixture that tasted like Heaven to me. Mine was pina colada and full of tiny bits of ice. Ahhhh! Nothing like cooling off from the inside out. Then we headed for a beach and took the aforementioned dip in the icy waters of Lake Superior. I could have stayed in the water all day. I imagined the shore as it might have looked as the real-life versions of Hiawatha or Minnehaha came in for a refreshing swim on just such a day. How unusual to stand on a white, sun drenched beach and look at a deep, green forest in the background.

The Porcupine Mountains

I wouldn't call them mountains, exactly. But then I grew up surrounded by California's majestic Sierra Madres. How I miss the mountains! Well, they were small by my standards, but they were lovely. Ken and Janis and I drove along the lakshore till the forested hump (looking like a quilled porcupine back) came into sight. After spending time in the visitor center looking at flora and fauna and listening to recorded samples of owls hooting and wolves howling, we headed for the hills, so to speak. We hiked into the largest "old-growth" forest in the midwest. The old maples, hemlocks and other trees were impressive. They have been there for many years, just saplings at the time of Lewis and Clark's trek west with Sacajaweah and Charbonnoe and the others in the Corps of Discovery. The river bottom was flat, sharp, shale and this rock, along with the brown flowing water and the many small waterfalls, seemed to me exactly like California's great Kern River. It brought back some of the happiest memories of my childhood; times spent outdoors in the mountains were the best occasions for my family. My favorite sound in nature is water rushing over stones in a river or stream.

It was a difficult day for me. I ended up bruised and weary and rather sad. People in braces should not try hiking over such rough terrain. Sigh. Without a good stout walking stick and a good stout husband ;-) to haul me up the very steep hillsides covered with rocks and large old tree roots...well, I never would have made it. I wouldn't do it again, but having done it I am glad for the experience. The bright sunshine above the canopy of deep green, the occasional grassy meadow filled with wildflowers, the rocks, the river--all were so very mysterious and beautiful.

The Music.

One of my favorite things about "rendezvous" is the music. Only at a buckskinner encampment is one able to hear a fiddle, a mandolin or banjo, a penny whistle, an Indian flute or perhaps even a bagpipe in the same evening. I purchased a beautifully handmade, cedar Indian flute and have been practicing a bit since arriving home. What a lovely mellow sound--like wind in the treetops! I hope I can learn to play it properly.

The Dog Soldiers.

These are the men who enforce, if needed, the rules of the camp, watch for modern items on trade blankets (a no-no) and do a multitude of odd jobs. Each day after any public visitors had exited the encampment, they tooled around with a four-wheeler and a trailer to deliver ice or pick up bags of trash. Not a thrilling job, but these guys made it fun by shouting things like "Douse the driver and win a prize" or "Bring out your dead." They had the camp looking forward to trash pickup time. Silly guys.

The American Bald Eagle.

One day we sighted a bald eagle over the encampment. The sun glistened on his white head as he spread his great wings and glided on the wind. He soared above us in a deep blue sky for some time.

How I wish I'd had my good camera!

Saturday, August 06, 2005

The Fruit of the Spirit is...Joy!

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener...Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful apart from me. "Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.... My true disciples produce much fruit. This brings great glory to my Father. "I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey me, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father and remain in his love. I have told you this so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!

From the Gospel of John, chapter 15

I'm home! I'll post soon about some of my experiences in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Yawn.....Meanwhile, I am up late trying to prepare for tomorrow morning's worship service. Everyone in church will receive a little bunch of grapes to eat, a sweet reminder of Jesus' words. Tomorrow we go on the the second in the list of the fruit of the Spirit, joy.

Joy is the hardest of the fruit to define--at least that is so for me. What is the joy that is overflowing? Without love, joy is impossible. Jesus makes that quite clear. It seems to me that if the Holy Spirit lives in me, the fruit begins to grow as a natural thing, not sometihng forced or contrived. Thus, if fruit is lacking, we must ask ourselves "What is the hinderence?" Perhaps the real issue is not figuring how to grow fruit, but simply finding how to remove anyting that blocks the natural process. What hinders the fruit of JOY?