Category Archives: miscellany

Run Zane, run!

Sir Ken Robinson’s talk entitled “Do schools kill creativity?” may be old news to many, but I just discovered it today via this place. I think I love this man. Or, at least his message.

I’m almost always angsty in regard to my children’s schooling. I think, wonder, question, ponder, imagine and pray (sometimes in that order and sometimes in the reverse order) about it nine days out of 10. I’d guess that this intense preoccupation is deeply rooted in my own schooling experiences, but maybe not. Whatever the case, I think about it a lot. I desperately want my children to have a positive schooling experience. That sounds so generic and vague but it (“positive”) truly is what I mean—in the biggest, best sense of the word. Of course I want them to learn stuff, but I’m passionate (again with the overused and thusly generic sounding word) about them learning about themselves as created, creative beings and learning how to think and learning to love learning and acquiring and nurturing internal resources that will both allow and spur them on to be the best versions of themselves possible. Oh my, I feel a preachy, esoteric fight song coming on.

Presently, our six-year-old son attends first grade at a local private Christian school. It’s been fine. A bit costly and fine. It’s not perfect and I don’t expect to find a perfect school. Duh. We’re trying to “take it one year at a time” as many parents say and we are glad that in this day and age (and state) there are so many great schooling options.

This darling, beloved, love-him-so-much-I-can-hardly-stand-it son of mine talks almost all the time. If he’s thinking it, he’s saying it. I think it would drive even Jesus himself bats. We’re trying to help him with this way in which he relates to life and processes information as we don’t want the poor child to drive everyone around him bats. It occurred to me this evening, as I listened to Sir Ken’s speech, that perhaps I should be helping dear son learn how to be an amazing orator, speaking with authority since he so loves to do it. He also loves to run. He can run quite fast and for a suprisingly long time. We recently made a path around the back half of our property (1.4 acres) for him to run. He enjoys it, but still likes to go to a park or track where he can just run sraight and fast and flat out for, like I said, a fairly shocking length of time. It’s like he just comes alive when he gets to runrunrunrunrun. So what is second grade at the Christian School he attends known for? Sittin’ down and shuttin’ up. Hmmm.

So, what say you about elementary education?

the good, the bad and The 405

The Good
Brian and I have spent the last week away from home and it’s been good. Home is good too, but I’m first in line for any chance to have a break from the norm. There has been mostly good on this trip, with very little bad and most of that badness has had to do with The 405. Some of the goodest of the good was the goodness of this beautiful, highly taxed state we call home. I’m certain my husband’s salt and pepper hair would still be a youthful all-over brown if we lived in a state where a house mortgage was a three digit number and property taxes didn’t make grown men cry, but then we’d have really, really high medical bills what with all the anti-depressants and therapy I would need to get through every winter. So, financially, it’s probably a wash. But back to the California goodness…. As we sat in a charming Morro bay restaurant this last week, munching incredibly fresh and tasty fish tacos while gazing out at the sea, being uninterruppted by the dearly loved and pesky small folk we call our own and watching sailboats drift by, I said to Brian: “Could you ever live in the midwest again?” (Ok, I said it more like “Could you EEEEEEEEEVER live in….”) He nearly cut me off with his impassioned “NO!” and then made that little scoffing sound in his throat. Brian is not a man prone to being impassioned about much. Technology (yes, all of it), a really great egg-salad sandwich, and cars that look pretty and go much faster than any husband and father of two ever need propel himself anywhere are usually the limit of B’s impassionedness. So, being that I’m not a fan of my own SAD, this response of his brought me great comfort. As we glanced up at the bar tv between bites of fishy taco, we marveled at how very happy the snow-covered football fans in some large midwestern stadium seemed to be. Sitting where we were, it struck us as a bit ludicrous that being covered in snow, whilst hooting it up about one’s favorite football player sludging around hundreds of feet below at a stadium packed with other chilly, pale, casserole-lovin’ midwesterners could elicit the kind of happiness that the people on the screen were showing. But apparently, it can. I’m sure that whole snowy football, bleak landscape and no spring until May or June thing just totally rocks. Rock on midwesterners! Whoo-hoo! So yeah, California, even with it’s high prices and even higher taxes is to me, very very good. The mountains, sunshine, beaches, forests, lakes, sunshine, sunshine and sunshine outweigh the cost in my book. California good.

From Morro Bay we went on to Santa Barbara (State street: bad. Rural Santa Barbara and the wineries and the ocean: good.) From Santa Barbara we went on to L.A.

The Bad
Here’s the thing: we liked L.A. when we lived there. We liked it a lot in fact. Previously, we had lived in indiana, Virginia and Tennessee and between the two of us, we also have spent time living in Washington, New York, Michigan and Minnesota. When we lived in L.A., we always said that out of all the places we’d lived, we liked L.A. the best. We meant it. Having now lived in northern CA for three years, we experience the predictable culture shock whenever we come back. Perhaps L.A. isn’t “bad,” per se, (though parts of it are…um, why exactly were we so ok with living in the valley?!?!?) but seriously, why is everyone so sad and angry here? When did the L.A. politeness level become something akin to that in NYC? I discovered the key to a happier L.A. consumer/retail experience last night though: just go to a really extra nice restaurant with your girlfriends and whenever the server comes near, order yet another item off the menu. Just keep ordering. For hours. Then leave a really big tip. Everyone gets really nice when you do this. Then go home for another year because it will take you that long to financially recoup. (Somebody get an oxygen tank for Brian…he just grabbed his wallet and then passed out when he read this. Oh, and look at that, his hair just went ALL gray! He looks so cute like that! Kinda distinguished and everything.)

The 405
What’s worse than “bad?” Are you thinking of those words right now? Yeah, it’s that.

My psyche hates me before a show

You have no talent worse yet you have no skill worse yet people secretly know this but no one is telling you even the people who have purchased your work and can’t stop gushing on about it are really just a part of a well hidden secret plan called ‘let’s just be nice to June but not tell her she sucks as an artist (cuz’ didn’t she have some weird, big head injury awhile back or something like that?)’ and no one except your husband and your mother-in-law are going to come to this show and no one is going to ‘get it’ and certainly no one is going to buy anything and if they do it means you’re not really an artist anyway which you well know and if you really loved your kids you wouldn’t have played Go Fish with them only twice today and Bingo only once and made homemade pizza for them but you would’ve instead not painted at all today and how many times in the last week do you think your husband has internally rolled hie eyes and somewhere deep, deep, deep down wished he’d married one of those nice midwestern girls who love to cook and are babymakers and who think sports are fun to watch and buy regular milk instead of organic and are you forgetting that all these paintings are stupid and infantile and look like your preschooler made them and people are just going to smile and tell you how great they all are and how great you are and how great the desserts are and how great the setting is and how great it is that you do this because what the frikkity do you expect people to say when you’re standing right there and they are looking at your sorry excuse for a piece of art and thinking ‘what the frikkity is she thinking…I could so do this’ because they are they really are they really no kidding seriously are a part of that secert ‘be nice to June even though she sucks’ plan.

Saturday, November 3rd, 7:00pm in Auburn, CA: my next show.

On 30

Well, it happened. October 14th came and went. And with it, out went my 20′s. For the past few days I’ve been fielding questions like, “How does it feel to be old?” and “So, what is 30 like?” and “Are you depressed?”  And I answered:

“It feels sort of the same.” “It’s just like 29.” “Yes, I am depressed.” and “Please go away.”

I’m not sure why I’m feeling like this. It doesn’t have anything to do really with health or age or social interaction. For me, the pressure is this:

It’s time to get your shit together. 

Pay your cell phone bill on time. Stop living paycheck-to-paycheck. Get serious about marriage. Stop just keeping your business alive and grow it. Make sure your health insurance is the best coverage you can afford. Think about selling the motorcycle. Stop pretending that certain people you’ve called friends are actually friends. Have a plan. Quit smoking. Don’t eat fried food like a crackhead smokes rock. Have faith in yourself. Don’t just expect things to happen in your favor; make them happen. For God’s sake, just get your shit together, dude.

You’re all older and presumably wiser than I.  Any advice would help.

Birf-Day Shenanaginz

Ally totally stole my thunder. But that’s fine. No, really. I’m really OK with it. I’m not bitter.    :)

Here’s the deal: Next month I turn 30. I hate it. It’s awful, really. But I’m burying my 20′s in the desert, in high style, albeit a month early. Sara and I, and a few other couples, have rented a big ol’ house in Palm Springs for the weekend. (Yes, this weekend) It’s got a pool, spa, swim-up bar, and A LAZY RIVER.  Yes.  A Lazy. Frickin’. River.  Totally insane. Pool table, putting greens, basketball court, and more. It’s like adult Disneyland in the desert.

The party is this Saturday, the 22nd. If you’re a reader of this blog, and I’ve shared at least one beer with you in my twenties, you’re invited. If you qualify, chances are you know how to get ahold of me for directions/address. (This is to ward off Mike’s APU students looking for free booze. Damn freeloaders!)

So, get your asses to Palm Springs this Saturday. Blow off the Sunday morning church gigs. Drop the newborns off at the neighbors.  Whatever. Food and drink (lots ‘o drink) are provided. If you’re planning on staying the night, you’ll need a hotel, as the owner of the house has strict rules on occupancy. But the Travelodge is down the street, and cheap.  Here are some photos of the house, to get you all excited.

The Ride Cymbal : A Rant

So, you’re a worship drummer, let’s say.  You’re rokken like Stryper with your bible hangin’ out of your khakis, if you know what I mean.  You’re there in that drummer crouch, working that hi-hat and snare.  Your food is a lead anvil, saying here’s the pocket, boys, come and get it.  The band’s together, the people are gathered and singing, and all is well.

And then it happens:  you get bored.  You think to yourself, “Self, this last chorus needs a shot in the arm.  Hang on boys, ’cause daddy’s gonna pivot right.”

I watch you go for it, your spine goes straight and you make your reach.  Away goes the tight, focused snare, and the well-placed, fat kick, and away goes the musically appropriate hi-hat subdivision and in it’s place we, your aural captives, hear this:

CLANG!!!! CLANG!!!! CLANG!!!! CLANG!!!! CLANG!!!! CLANG!!!! CLANG!!!! CLANG!!!! CLANG!!!! CLANG!!!! CLANG!!!! CLANG!!!! CLANG!!!! CLANG!!!! CLANG!!!! CLANG!!!! CLANG!!!! CLANG!!!! CLANG!!!! CLANG!!!! CLANG!!!! CLANG!!!! CLANG!!!! CLANG!!!! CLANG!!!! CLANG!!!! CLANG!!!! CLANG!!!! CLANG!!!! CLANG!!!!

The snare starts to meander!  The kick rushes and sometimes just isn’t there at all!  The rhythm guitar players begin to dig harder, searching for the pulse, having vague memories of where it went.  The bass player starts to stomp his right foot on the ground in a physical reaction to groove dissapation.  The worship leader’s face begins to constrict, brow furrowed, eyes squinty.

Amateur drummers of the world:  the ride cymbal is not your friend.  She is a siren.  She is a temptress who leads you astray.  She’s a heartless mistress who hates all things groovy.  Shun her.  Shuuuuuuuuun!

Hooty McDeal

Woot is a website that sells one thing each day, until it sells out, or until it expires after a 24 hour period. Typically, they sell electronics, computery parts, or gadget-type stuff. They’re super awesome people. They also have a site called Wine Woot, where, predictably, one can buy quartets of old liquid grapes for substantial savings. (My girlfriend is the wine drinker, and she spends 35% of her annual income at Wine Woot. She’s like a choca-holic, but for booze. ) So…

If you’re one of the 4 people on this planet that doesn’t own an iPod, today is your lucky day. Today’s Woot is a 20 Gigabyte Apple iPod. You know, the 3rd generation White one that doesn’t do anything more than play music, and the occasional game of Parachute. (Lame)

It’s $99.00. It’s refurbished. Shipping is $5.00. Get ‘em quick. Good stuff on Woot doesn’t last long!

PS – if you become horribly addicted to Woot, please don’t blame me. PPS – the site refreshes with a new product at 10PM Pacific Time, every day.

Banal Minutia

In my ongoing effort to contribute nothing more to this blog than slightly psychotic rants about themeparks, heavily-biased music reviews, and photos of midgets, I give you…


My new car. A 2003 Ford Focus SVT. (SVT means Special Vehicle Team. Yes, I am now a superhero. Basically, it means the car goes like stink) The Scion XB was only a year old. But it was so slow it felt like it was tied to a post. And the doors felt like they were going to cave in when I closed them. Anyway, 180 horsepower, 6-speed Getrag transmission, and scapel-like handling are all good for the soul. Hazaah!

Blogging is Easier When You Know Everything

Yes, easier indeed. And… I would wager… more interesting. No one likes wishy-washy bloggers.
Even before Mike posted his most humorous (and accurate) list of why we’re not blogging, the question has been ruminating in my mind for weeks now: why aren’t you (Chad) writing?

I poured out my soul for eight straight days and then… nothing. Well… a little thing here and there, but nothing of significance. In the past, I’ve waited for things to strike me that I wanted to share.

I think about movies a lot, so some of my most well-recieved posts have been about movies.

I think about the church a lot, so some of my most aggravating posts have been about the church.

I am a dad, so a lot of my posts have been about raising young children.

Sometimes, weird shit just happens to me, and I have to tell you all about it.

But then July 1 rolled around, and I quit my job to become a full time rock star with my wife. Now, the clock’s ticking, and I don’t know anything about anything, and I kind of find myself thinking that if I get on this website and just start typing, a lot of mindless, naval-gazing drivel will start to come out, and now that you’re all potential fans, I just don’t think that’s a very good idea.

Or maybe it just doesn’t matter.

Or maybe it does.

This was a lot easier when I knew everything about everything.

When you’re stuck and discontented, it’s much easier. We all know how to do stuck and discontented, don’t we? Even better if there’s a boogeyman to snipe at, and in the church, there are always boogeymen aplenty. The reason I’m unhappy is: (insert elder-related issue here). Rant rant rant, make funny, sleep. Repeat.

But now I’m out in the great wide open, under them skies of blue, and seriously… I am totally clueless. I mean… it’s been a perfectly good first month. I’ve gotten the studio organized, I’ve got ideas for new songs and preliminary sketches going, we did a couple of gigs, and I have more on the hook, trying to reel them in, we have a good idea of what the next 6-9 months need to look like… it’s just… there’s no actual roadmap. Oh, and if I don’t supply the go-juice, it’s a no-go. None.

Normally at this time of year, I am getting ready to start hating Christmas. Do I have to like Christmas again?

My angst and frustration about The Church (and when I talk about church, allow me, again, my ABFfers, to mention that I’m spelling with a capital T & C) has sort of settled into vague indifference.

Vague indifference has not been part of my lexicon. Maybe I am ready to be a rock star.

Actually, just sitting here typing this has been theraputic, like reconnecting with an old friend. Maybe I do know everything after all. Maybe I never knew anything to begin with and I have to work out all my demons on the interwebs, in front of all of you.

Ok, here’s some old school Chad for you:

To Gore Verbinski and Sam Raimi and every other film director in Hollywood: The Bourne Ultimatum kicked the unholy stuffing out of every other wanna-be action spectacular this year, (except for maybe 300, which emerged with only minor abrasions.) Matt Damon, Paul Greengrass, and Tony Gilroy are all geniuses, and the rest of you are idiots who’ve forgotten how to make action movies. Stop trying to remake Lord of the Rings. No one gives a shit if Jack Sparrow has a moral compass, we like him because he’s funny. You all suck and I hate you.

.

Dear elders: Andy is kicking ass as an interim worship leader. Stop trying to replace him. Give it six months and then start looking.

To my kids: I love you. I mean… I really love you. If you don’t start sleeping through the night again, daddy is going to lose his marbles.

Dear CCM: You still suck. I mean… the #2 song on iTunes was released SIX F***ING YEARS AGO! The song that follows that one is about Jabez! For the LOVE OF GOD, TRY SOMETHING NEW!

Aaaaah. I feel much better now.

Over 35

Happy 36th Birthday to Stick!…aka, my beloved husband, Brian.

36 things I like about Brian, in no particular order:

1. I like that even though you love golf with a passion just short of your passion for me, you don’t bring your clubs to bed.
2. I like that you are artistic but not tortured. No wait, I love that!
3. I like the brown birth mark in your blue eyes.
4. I like that you play the piano. Quite well.
5. I like that you’re here. With me. Living life.
6. I like that you laugh easily.
7. I like that you don’t expect me to keep the house perfectly clean at all times.
8. I like the way you unconsciously hum when you’re having a good time.
9. I like the sound of your voice.
10. I like your aptitude at things that shall not be spoken of out loud…wink, nudge, wink, nudge, wink wink wink!
11. I like that now most people are either rolling their eyes or switching to another site.
12. I like that you’re kind.
13. I like that you get enthused about small things in life. (egg salad, a friend’s new iphone…)
14. I like that you (mostly) put your clothes away and don’t leave them on the floor. If you did, it would be a real problem…mine take up all the room we have.
15. I like that you don’t catch the first flight out of town when I say things like “I’m soooo done with everything!” and “See my new shoes?”
16. I like that you are and are not the same person you were when I met you (14 years ago)
17. I like that you are cool but not bent on it.
18. I like it WHEN you put your cereal bowl in the sink, not on the counter. (I feel something other than liking when you don’t.)
19. I like that you cried when Zaney was born.
20. I like that you didn’t cry (at least in front of me) when I was in the ICU.
21. I like that you scoffed a bit when I suggested you could get remarried when there was some question of my continuing to be here. (But really, you can!)
22. I like that you take pictures of flowers for me.
23. I like that you are fine. at any given moment, you are, more often than not, fine.
24. I like that you don’t ogle other women.
25. I like that you haven’t bought an iphone. yet.
26. I like that you are practical and reasonable and loving…ie: you’re still driving your totally crappy grandma car. Private school tuition trumps dad’s desire for a nice car. You rock Daddy-O!
27. I like your big ol’ hands.
28. I like that you are only 36 cuz’ I’m dyin’ here…
29. I like that you are not easily swayed.
30. I like how your eyes squinch up when you are trying to not smile really big…but then you never can stop yourself and your whole face squinches and smiles.
31. I like that my quirky ways don’t throw you.
32. I like how you play outside with the boys.
33. I like that you are good at building stuff.
34. I like that if someone provokes you, it doesn’t usually actually provoke you.
35. I like that you’re ok with no grand gestures on your birthday.
36. I love you!…for all your years to come.

The Abyss and The List

into the great wide open  // under them skies of blue  //

out in the great wide open // a rebel without a clue

Tom Petty

Into the abyss I plunge.  Structure is gone.  Deadlines are gone.  No teaching pastor will be calling me to talk about the message.  No ladies from the worship team are calling to see if there’s going to be a rehearsal.  On Sunday, we will simply arise, and go to church.

Or not.

We’re in uncharted waters, now.

For those of you just joining our regularly scheduled program, here’s the situation.  Last year, we made this record.     It was an art project, meaning we didn’t have any expectations for it.  We weren’t thinking about the future, or marketing, or careers.  We just made a record for art’s sake, because we missed recording original music.

We thought it was pretty good.  We did a couple of concerts, and lo and behold, other people thought it was pretty good too.   Come December of ’06, my poor little psyche was just about fully cracked from eight years of Professional Christianity, working as a worship pastor.

In January of this year, I resigned, effective as of July 1.  In those five months, we packed up our belongings, rented out our condo, moved back to my parent’s house, did Easter, did the Agape Singers mini and summer tours, and I was done.

My new job is Band Promoter.  I have zero training.  I have only hunger, and it’s gnawing at me, and it will not be easily satiated.

I don’t fear the lack of steady income.  I don’t fear the uphill battle.  I don’t fear the rolled eyes when someone asks me what I do for a living, and I respond… I’m in a band.   What I fear is The Abyss.  I fear not knowing what to do next.

My first order of business, in an effort to begin charting a course towards success, has been making The List.  We got a good piece of advice several months ago from a friend who said, “Make a list of everyone you know who might be able to help you in any small or significant way.  Any church.  Anyone you know in the industry.  Anyone.”

I want to make The List a public project.  If you like The Dailies, and you want to help us out, and you have any ideas of where or for whom we should play, spit them out.  I’d love to hear what’s on your collective mind.

No distance is too outlandish, no lead too obscure.  I know Mike has a stack of ideas for the group for internet promotion, but what about the rest of you?  Which APU people are scattered across the fruited plain, just waiting the opportunity to book some old friends?  You know someone at a radio station?  You know someone who might like our music?

Let’s feed The List.

Road Journal – Day Eight

Posts in the Road Journal series

  1. Road Journal – Day One
  2. Road Journal – Day Two
  3. Road Journal – Day Three
  4. Road Journal – Day Four
  5. Road Journal – Day Five
  6. Road Journal – Day Six
  7. Road Journal – Day Seven
  8. Road Journal – Day Eight

Friday, June 29th

11:52pm
Loma Linda, CA

Just finished perhaps the most successful hospital concert I can remember in my time with this group, at the Adventist Children’s Hospital.  Most of the time, when we sing in a hospital lobby, people kind of stop for a song or two, nod or smile, and move on.

For some reason, everyone parked it today.  Doctors, nurses, patients, and parents just pulled a chair, or a spot of floor, or just stood, and listened for a half hour or more.  It was really cool.  One of the administrators told us that most staff people just ignore groups that come through.  Perhaps it was because I addressed the staff specifically as we began, thanking them for being the hands of feet of Christ, the great physician, the great scientist.

We’re on our way to El Torito for our last group meal together.  The mood is light, the end is near.  I can’t wait to hug our kids.

3:25pm
101 west, Universal City, CA

We’re in the home stretch now, fighting L.A. traffic on a Friday afternoon.  It’s comforting, somehow.  In two and a half hours, an In-N-Our Burger truck will roll up to the church parking lot and serve 175 people meals.  We’ll then make our way into the sanctuary, and do our final concert of the year.  This group, as it currently stands, will be no more.  Seniors will be graduated, the classes will shift up, and in a few months, it will begin again.

Erica and I made the decision that we are going to lead the group musically for at least one more year.  This ministry is too special to fall through the cracks, and the new pastoral leadership team is not yet fully in place at ABF.  Andy will shift into my worship leading role for a few months, one of our sponsors named Dave has been asked to become the interim youth leader, and we will begin a new life.

There’s a chance that there might be a new worship leader and permanent youth pastor in time to provide leadership for this group before the next season begins, but I doubt it.  We told the sponsors what we had decided, and they were excited.  We told them that we were going to have to make some structural changes for us to do it, and they were game.  I cannot speak for the years to come, but I do know that this will not be my final Agape concert tonight.

It’s the right thing, the good thing, to do.

Choirs are special to me.  Choirs are about people of average ability coming together to be a part of something extraordinary.  Choirs are about giving yourself away a little bit to become a part of something beautiful, something bigger then yourself.  At the same time, your individual participation is critical.  One sour face, or sour note, can throw the whole picture off.  It’s about the group, it’s about the person.

It’s about suspending chaos.  It’s about shutting off the noise, and aligning frequencies upon harmonics upon tone upon timbre.  It’s about capturing imagination and stealing breath.  It’s about unity.

It’s the church, four minutes at a time.

Previous in series: Road Journal – Day Seven

Road Journal – Day Seven

Posts in the Road Journal series

  1. Road Journal – Day One
  2. Road Journal – Day Two
  3. Road Journal – Day Three
  4. Road Journal – Day Four
  5. Road Journal – Day Five
  6. Road Journal – Day Six
  7. Road Journal – Day Seven
  8. Road Journal – Day Eight

Thursday, June 28th

12:52pm
I-40, West of Seligman, Arizona

We just stopped for a potty break in Seligman, which was allegedly the inspiration for the movie, Cars.  It’s kind of spooky, actually, how much the main drag reflects the film, or vice-versa, as it were.  The town seems to be enjoying the connection.  They’ve lined the main street with vintage cars, some of which are painted to look like…

2:33pm
I-40, Kingman, Arizona

…the characters in the film.

Well, it’s my birthday.  I’m 31 today.  31 seems like a lame age to me, I dunno why.  I guess it’s because 30 felt like such a significant milestone, and 31 just sounds well… older.

I have sort of mixed feelings about spending our birthdays on tour every year.  It’s sort of tradition now, but invariably I find myself wishing we were alone, somewhere, near a beach with a couple of fruity drinks with umbrellas in them.  Oh well.

All tour long, we’ve been grappling with whether or not we want to continue to provide musical leadership for this group after my paid employment ends on Sunday.  Did I mention that next Sunday is my last as a Professional Christian?  I may have.  Well, anyways, it is.

On one hand, I have a real heart for this ministry.  These kids grow a lot in the time they’re in this group, as musicians and in character.  Choirs are a dying breed, and I lament that reality, and wish to not go quietly into that not-so-good night.  It’s a rare and wonderful thing to see upper middle class suburban teens giving sacrificially of their time and energy.  It gives them a little perspective.  Parents tell me over and over that they see changes in their kids for the better every time we go out on one of these tours.  I happen to know that you really need a unique gift mix to make this work.  It requires knowledge of choral and group singing, endless patience for and tolerance for teens, and incredibly low standards for your own personal comfort.  The last one has taken me a few years to develop.

I have an advantage in that I participate in the much of the same media they do.  I am engaged in pop culture.  No Borat reference goes over my head.  Sometimes I catch them offguard, as I complete the lyric to Justin Timberlake’s last hit or talk about why I think OSX is superior to Vista, or why I like the Wii vs. Microsoft or Sony’s boxes.  I’m basically an overgrown child.

I’m extremely comfortable improvising, making it up as we go.  I learned this at APU, and have honed it for years as a worship leader.  There is no amount of craziness that can phase me, except perhaps our concert experience yesterday, during which I felt more direct spiritual oppression then any of the other 100+ concerts I have led in my time with this group.

We’ve had some crazy stuff go down.  One time, at the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission, I had a drunk, homeless dude in a wheelchair roll up and start conducting along side me.  The kids looked panicked, wondering what I was going to do about it.  I, of course, sat down and let him “conduct” them, with a huge grin on my face, until (to my sadness), one of the workers came and removed him, apologizing profusely.  I had thought it was kind of sweet, a sincere expression of flattery.

We had two women nearly get into a fistfight just as a concert was starting at a shelter in Oakland last year.  I actually think having a 200 pound black woman shouting, “You better sitchoass down and listen to these chillen sing, cause you need Jesus, BITCH!” is a great way to begin.  Maybe that’s just me.  I just looked at them, cocked an eyebrow to tell them that it was ok, and started the first tune.

In many ways, I was just straight built for this gig, and Erica’s a heck of a wingwoman.

On the other hand, Erica and I have a clear sense that it’s time to focus on three things, and three things only, in order of priority: our marriage, our kids, and our music.  Maybe it’s a seasonal thing.  Maybe it’s the only ministry we’re supposed to do for the church.

I don’t know.  I’ve been praying a lot about it, and have not felt a strong sense about it.  I was dead set against doing it again earlier this year, but am feeling like I want to keep doing it now.  Erica has reminded me that this is the typical pattern for me with Agape: despise the rehearsals, love the tour.

No matter what, the structure has to change.  I’m not committing to Sunday afternoon rehearsals 9 months out of the year.  That is simply not going to happen.

Meh.  It’s too soon to call, I fear.  I need to get through the weekend, log a few miles on the other side, and then reconsider.

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Next in series: Road Journal – Day Eight

Road Journal – Day Six

Posts in the Road Journal series

  1. Road Journal – Day One
  2. Road Journal – Day Two
  3. Road Journal – Day Three
  4. Road Journal – Day Four
  5. Road Journal – Day Five
  6. Road Journal – Day Six
  7. Road Journal – Day Seven
  8. Road Journal – Day Eight

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

3:00pm
Grey Rock, Arizona

This is going to go down as a strange day among strange days.  We have no schedule.  Allegedly, we’re supposed to be doing an afternoon hang with the locals, play with some kids and then serve a dinner (which we brought and prepared) and then do a concert around 7pm.  As of this moment, we’re the only ones here.

Erica’s family has deep ties to the Navajo nation.  One set of her grandparents were teachers here on the reservation, the other were missionaries.  Her folks met here, and one of Erica’s uncles married a full-blooded Navajo woman.  Erica spent many summers of her youth about 80 miles north of where we currently are, in a town called Page, at the southern tip of Lake Powell.  She has cousins who look like they came from The Big Book of Native American Stereotypical Appearances, and the best part is that they have the last name O’Reilly.

Erica has told me that the Navajo people are very informal, very reluctant to commit.  Gatherings happen in an impromptu manner.  We whiteys like structure.  We like to know when things are going to start and stop.  We like to know the exact running time of movies.  We appreciate precision.  I do not know if this is a good or a bad thing.

So… we’ve done basically nothing today.  We’re hanging out in this sweatbox of a gym, and the sanctuary next door, waiting for something to happen.  Erica and I are frustrated, feeling like this tour, which thrives on structure, is mismatched for any kind of significant ministry to Navajo people.  It seems like it would take a week (or longer) just to begin to even figure out the basic ebb and flow of this culture, much less be some sort of encouragement or service to them.

I’m praying that we’re proven wrong, that sometime in the next few hours, the hundred or so kids that we’ve prepared for and are told are coming here will arrive, that we may have something to do.

Oh, I forgot the best part.  Our bus company, seeing that we weren’t scheduled to go anywhere today, decided that James (our driver) should go get the routine maintenance done back in Flagstaff.  We’re literally stuck here.

Maybe this is a good experience for this white boy.  Maybe it’s a good thing for me to have to surrender my agenda, on a trip where I’ve already surrendered my agenda.  Maybe that’s the point of today.  Maybe God is just looking at me, waiting for me to stop looking out the window, waiting for me to just embrace the day.

I’d kill for wi-fi.  Well… at least maim.

6:11pm
10 feet to the left of last time I entered something, Arizona

This day is endless.

I just offered a sponsor $1,000.00 to make it tomorrow.  She didn’t take my deal.  There have been a few kids that have shown up, so that’s cool.  I guess it just seems strange to me to spend an entire day literally in one space, after spending five days in a row moving with such rapidity.

Nina and Rebecca, our two resident Top Chefs, have put together a huge meal worthy of a picnic.  Hot dogs, watermelon, chips, baked beans, veggies.  I’m actually about to go get myself a plate and have a bite.  After all my running and good dieting, today has just been a gut-buster.  So much time, so little to do, so much food, nowhere to run.

I don’t know if I will take the time throughout next week, as I am posting these, to insert some pictures for you all to enjoy, but one of the ways we have been passing time today is playing with our new toy.  For our birthdays, we decided that our gift to one another was going to be a really good camera.

I wanted an SLR type, but I had no idea that it was multiple thousands of dollars just to get in the door.  We settled on a Canon Sure Shot S5IS, which was the top of the line non-SLR camera available at Best Buy.  If we were talking audio gear, it would be called, “Pro-sumer.”  It has great optics, and a nifty feature that recognizes faces, no matter how many are in frame, and makes sure that they’re in focus.

It’s actually quite creepy, as these little boxes magically form around any human face, and then track with them as they move around on the screen.

It’s an extraordinary little piece of consumer electronics, in my opinion.  Today, I’ve been shooting the abandoned trucks in the open space about 200 yards behind the church, the bell tower, the clouds as they changed shape, the endless vista and horizon of the high Arizona desert, and of course, the inside of this truly interesting gym.  The pictures are striking, the best I’ve ever personally taken.

The kids have all made fun of me, calling me the stalker.  I hate posed pictures.  I like the ones that are real moments… expressions… laughter… frustration.  Those are the ones that really grab my attention.  So, I stalk them from on my two and a half inch screen.  They’re unpredictable targets, always darting here and there.  Their faces are beautiful, innocent, unblemished.

I’ve also had a great time shooting the sponsors, who are mostly in their fifties and beyond.  I think I mentioned Neva, who’s 82 years old and has gone on this trip, sleeping on church floors and wrangling teens, for 24 consecutive years.  She shared with us yesterday that it was the 25th anniversary of her husband’s heart attack and death, in McDonald’s of all places.  We just sat, stunned.  This anniversary happens every year on Agape tour, as do our birthdays.   We asked her if she ever considered remarrying, as she was only in her 50’s when it happened.   She said no, that it had never appealed to her.  She had her work and kids and grandkids and church, and simply never felt the urge.

Earlier today, she was sitting in the pew in front of us while listening to the pastor of this church tell us about what we could expect.  Her left arm was extended and I flipped the camera to super macro mode, and shot a picture of her wedding and engagement rings glistening on her time worn finger.

It will be, without a doubt, the most beautiful picture I take on this trip.

9:41pm,
Grey Mountain, Arizona

Matthew 10:11-14, New International Version

“Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave.  As you enter the home, give it your greeting.  If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you.  If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town.”

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