Friday, June 30, 2006

Jake's Story

This is my husband's story as I understand it.

Jake's family lived in Arizona for a long time and were very well off. His Dad owned a company, but after some very bad advice had sold shares of his company to make capital. About the time he was 11 his Dad was forced out by a hostile take-over and they lost pretty much everything, the business, their house. And then he had to find a job somewhere.

They moved to Seattle and Jake had a very hard time adjusting- school, his neighborhood, a lot of yucky stuff. (if you've moved a lot you know some of the kind of stuff he was dealing with- rumours, bullies, just plain yuckiness) Plus the Seattle schools were much harder. He did not do well, became a loner, very angry, and had a series of major school issues. By the time he got to high school he had a reputation of being "trouble". After some really bad choices, he got expelled his freshman year, and then after some even worse choices he was expelled his sophmore year.

He tried going back to school in Arizona, which didn't work. (you can't go back, no you can never go back)When he was 17, he tried a community college in the Seattle area and got involved with this girl. She pursued him and convinced him that the child she was pregnant with was his. He took her to Arizona and married her against his parent's wishes. She wanted someone to take care of her and allow her to continue the life she was used to- drugs, multiple partners. Jake would say that she did not pursue him to give her this life- that it just happens where she goes... I don't know...

After some really bad stuff, they ended up divorced. In the process of him attempting to take custody of the baby he discovered she was not his- His wife had lied to him because she knew he would take responsibility for her. He was 19. He went through a serious time of depression, and it's amazing to look back at that time and realize the load of anger and depression he survived. God was watching over him...

He ended up moving into a house with a friend of his parents. Armando had Bibles and music instruments (keyboards and guitars) all over the house... And God romanced him... that's what Jake says- that he was romanced by God- that God allowed him to understand scripture in a way he never had before- that the words leapt off the page... He gave Christ his life at the age of 20, started attending church, and learned to play keyboard (by ear, for all of you that know what that means... he still doesn't read music very well, but he can figure out pretty much anything that he hears, even something like the Moonlight Sonata, and if I want a specific song off the radio for a service or just for fun he can figure it out. Since I can't do this it's just amazing to me to watch him figure it out. He takes a song, listens to it and breaks it down into parts for bass guitar, piano and himself on guitar. He hears the different harmony parts possible for voice. Working with him has allowed me to grow a lot in hearing and understanding music- I'm a much better musician now.). At that time he started playing back up for the praise team at his parent's church.

He was working in his dad's machine shop in the Seattle area and listening to a tape of a promise keeper's conference when God called him to worship ministry. He quit and asked to be hired by his church, and they gave him a trial period... He has been involved with worship ministry since that time, and in fact, was the interim worship leader at the church that originally hired me in the Seattle area. (Jake loves telling this story- that I was hired to take his job...) We ended up working rather closely together because the church was singing a lot of music he had written. (his songs are excellent, and yes, I thought that even before we were married.. :) I thought he was pretty great and he thought he had no chance with me... He had no clue I thought he was hot, cute, smart, funny, fun, sweet, great... okay, I'll stop before I REALLY embarrass myself.

So that's Jake's story... very briefly, and skimming a lot of details.

The Plan

So, Tillman asked me about "the plan"- where are we going? what's our goal? First, I'm gonna say what the plan WAS, then what happened, and then I'll say what it IS now. (WARNING: this is a long entry.)

Okay, it's late 2002, about November, Jake & I have been married about 2 1/2 years- I'm teaching school (which I love), Jake's got a job he mostly likes (which is RARE, I figured out he's had about 9 jobs in the 5 years we've been married), we're leading worship at a church we like, I'm the youth director, and Jake's working with musicians. Things are going good... and SURPRISE!! I'm pregnant! and BOOM it goes bad (I start going into labor) in March of 2003 and I'm put on bedrest.... So, my principal freaks out 'cuz she's got three teachers pregnant in two years and she hires somebody to REPLACE me!!! I'd understood it was just to cover for me, but when I talk to somebody else I find out my job's pretty much gone... So, Jake's job won't pay for living in the Seattle area which is VERY expensive. He ends up deciding this is a good time for him to go back to school so that he can get a job that pays more, that he likes (more important) and that allows him to do what he was called to do- be a worship minister. We look into a lot of options and the one that ends up clearest is going to live with my parents and him going to UAF.

So the plan is for him to get a degree, any degree and then go to Southwestern, a school we both respect, where I've still got my Texas family, and has lower living expenses. He'll get an MDiv (I don't know why, but that's what he wants..), and we'd find a church that would support us through Seminary. Then... who knows where we'd end up...

So he does two years of college, gets at least a 3.5 average and finds that he really likes it and studies all sorts of new and fun things. (Jake liked school!!!, which he'd always hated before) But he finds it's hard to be a student, have a job and be a husband and Daddy. Then we find out SWBTS has really changed a lot in the last two years and not for the better. Jake ends up dropping out this last year(2005-2006), 'cuz a new baby and school and a job and church life and me... well, it doesn't mix as well as he hoped... So, he was in the middle of deciding whether to go on back to school next year and feeling like the effort is futile since it's going to take so long, when we get a new pastor. Who doesn't think anybody divorced should be in ministry. (Look up entry Jake's story to find out why this is a big deal for us) Also, doesn't think women should be in leadership roles of any kind at church.... pretty much that they should be silent... (except for his own daughter, who used to lead worship in the evening at his last church... I guess scriptures don't apply to your own family....) how'd we get this guy?????

So now the New plan is for us to go to one of Golden Gate's sites, 'cuz Jake can enter as a "special student" even without his BA. He still wants a MDIV, but he'll probably start out just getting a diploma. We're trying to get hired by somebody along the I-5 corridor in Washington, Oregon or Northern California. After our last experience Jake is pretty much saying if you don't want to hire us as a team, then we don't want to come... I don't know, I'm kind of at the point of not wanting to work for a church. Instead I just want to volunteer... We'll see what happens. I am sure that God has a plan for us, that he did call us to serve and that He will get us to wherever he wants us...

My Mom and Beth are going to move down to Albany, OR where my Mom's sister and brother live. We're hoping to move this year, 2006, before September, 'cuz driving through Canada starts getting pretty dicey around then... lots of ice and snow, not so good with a moving van.... For my Mom to move and find a place to live, her house needs to sell. Which is gonna be hard. During the last 6 years, as my Dad got sicker, more bed-ridden and immobile the house pretty much went to pot. When Jake and I got here we started doing a lot of the house care, but then my Dad passed away and my Mom's income halved. Which means a lot of the stuff that needs to happen to the house is just too expensive. So we're praying for somebody to buy the house and do the work themselves, maybe as part of the house package.

So, I'm sure this is way more information than ANYBODY wants... But that's the plan, and I'm very sure God will make even more changes as we work through it all. :)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Books I've read in June

Since I've just decided to do this , it won't include everything....

Not For Glory by Joel Rosenberg- Dark Sci-fi military story, Interesting bit is that it explores the culture of a world established by Jewish refugees from Israel after the homeland is destroyed by Islam, good story, interesting ideas
Mystic & Rider by Sharon Shinn- Love her stuff, just love it, haven't read anything of hers that's yucky yet, good characters, interesting story line, cool world
Once Upon a Time She Said by Jane Yolen- This is a book of short stories and articles written by Yolen, Excellent stuff, she is the queen of new fairy tales, but the sad truth is that I only made it 2/3rds of the way through this one, I enjoyed it, but she is so DARK, I was getting major depressed and then I had to turn it into the library, so we'll see... maybe I'll check it out again and finish it...
Remnant Population by Elizabeth Moon- very good, particarly fun because of the cross-cultural alien stuff
Sanctuary, Phoenix & Ashes & Gates of Sleep by Mercedes Lackey- I do like Mercedes Lackey :), very satisfying
Julia's Last Hope by Janette Oke- interesting choice since I'm now moving...
In Death Ground by David Weber- Dark, dark, dark, a no-win space battle, I love Weber's characters, but I probably won't read the rest of this series
High Wizardry, A Wizard Abroad, A Wizard Alone, and A Wizard's Dilemma by Diane Duane- young adult fantasy, I love it when I can go to the library and they have every book in a series and I can just read straight through, These have all this 'almost Christian language', but then there's this weird thing with the Lone power (the bad guy) getting reconciled with the Powers That Be (the good guys), and being raised back to their level...
Plan B and I Dare by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller- the final two of their story arc, Sci-Fi stories of manners with touches of Austen... I like these... Satisfying ending
Blue Smoke by Nora Roberts- yes, it's a romance and I rarely read these, but Roberts characters are actually believable people... this one wasn't high on my best books I've read recently list, though

That's all I can remember right now... Maybe I'll be able to pull the rest out of my poor beleagured brain... Of course, this doesn't include all the stories I'm reading with my girls. Those are just pure fun.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Things I will NOT miss about moving away from Alaska

the darkness in the winter
snow on Easter
wearing a huge parka
tracking snow and mud into the house
my eyes and eyelashes freezing
hiding out in my house (cave) all winter
gaining winter weight
trying to lose winter weight in the three months of beautiful weather
smoke from forest fires
Things I will miss when we move from Alaska

Midnight sun in the summer
seeing Fairbanks grow and change
friends from high school and college
our house
leaving my Dad's truck
watching the seasons change
breakup (the snow and ice melting)
the mountains
driving Chena ridge
no traffic (takes 15 - 20 minutes to get to the other end of town)
our church
our library (the most user friendly library system I've worked with,
including the Seattle system and the Fort Worth one)
no library fines for late books!
my daughters attending the same schools I did
knowing the teachers they would have had, 'cuz I went to high school with them
70's F in June and July
Fairbanks casual dress
taking my shoes off at the door when I go into anybody's home
knowing so much of the town and being familiar with the names (oh, you're so and so's brother)
walking in my neighborhood and feeling safe

Friday, June 23, 2006


I am moving. Again.
In fact, my entire family will be leaving Fairbanks permanently. And if you've been up here or ever explored the possibility of visiting, you know that it's incredibly expensive to come up. Which means we'll probably not be back again. I can't even begin to describe what this means to me... .

We moved to Alaska in 1982, lived in a tiny Eskimo village for a year and a 1/2 and then moved to Fairbanks in '84 and have been here since then. That's almost 25 years... Way more than half of my life. I've thought of Fairbanks as home for so long. It's been the heart center for my family - even when I lived outside (lower 48 states for you who wonder) I thought of this as HOME.

I always thought it was incredibly cool to be able to say I was from Alaska, or that my family lived in Alaska. Mostly because it's different, I guess. Alaska is enormous (if we divided it in half, Texas would still be smaller than the two halves!), beautiful (with snow covered mountains and glaciers as big as some cities, dancing Northern Lights, moose walking through your backyard), rugged (in Fairbanks we can get temperatures from +95 F to -75 F), unique (eskimo and Native indian cultures right next door to Russian immigrants and people who still live without running water or electricity BY CHOICE, which I personally think is crazy, but, hey, whatever floats your boat, or doesn't...) I went to jr. high, high school and college here. I've had my second child here, and been able to show my husband most of the places I've loved or that have special meaning to me. I love the summers with everybody madly rushing about taking as much advantage of the light as they possibly can.

I'll miss that uniqueness... the sense of being someone from a special place that most people want to see... But also I like the feeling of knowing what has happened here in the last 25 years. I know the changes that have taken place- we've got a Wal-mart here now, which seems crazy to me. Two huge Fred Meyer's, a Barnes & Noble, there's a Chili's on what used to be a plot of trees and a small mall that reminds me of some of the ones in the Seattle area. And I miss what Fairbanks used to be. Smaller, more intimate... Although there are really only two clinics, with family doctors working together... And I know at least by face, sometimes by name, everybody that works in the Fred Meyer's over by our house.

Here's something else I'll miss: it's 8 p.m. right now in the middle of the summer and as light as if it were 4 or 5 p.m. in Seattle... and it will stay light all night. It will get "darker", but the sun really won't go much below the horizon. The flip side is that I WILL NOT miss the middle of the winter when the sun just pokes his face over the edge of the horizon for 2 or 3 hours and then dips down again.

I'm still processing what it means to lose my physical home.. or at least the place I've thought of as home for so long...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


So, God, I'm just wandering what on earth you're up to here... 'Cuz it's SO not clear to me, and you know how I start fretting when I don't get what you're up to... Our Pastor doesn't want me leading worship 'cuz I'm a woman, and he doesn't want Jake leading worship 'cuz he just figured out he'd been divorced (which, by the way was never a secret, it's just not something you go around mentioning every conversation you have with someone... "You liked the songs we chose? How nice and oh yes, have I told you yet that I was divorced twelve years ago?") It's funny how quickly "I could just worship all night with you guys leading. God has really annointed you" changed to "God doesn't call divorced people to any form of leadership".

So now, we're being pretty forcibly removed from the leadership roles we've been in. I know you have a plan for my life, for our lives, but it is so unclear. And I'm scared. It doesn't seem possible for there to be someplace out there that we can both do what we love, that I can do drama, write and act and Jake can write more songs and we can lead worship together, and maybe I could do a children's choir, while at the same time make enough money off of it to eat and pay for housing and maybe have a car...

God we have so many hopes and dreams wrapped up in the next place, 'cuz we've been in four different churches together and we admit that none of them was right. The first one was a miracle you brought us through and taught us both so much in, but something we thank you over and over and over for removing us from; the next one was stuck in the sixties, wanted me leading and didn't want Jake playing that 'newfangled' keyboard; the next one couldn't pay us more than gas to and from, and was so tiny, sweet, but not growing at all; and this one has a music minister and a youth director who've both been there twenty years, and a pastor who's quite happy to see us out the door. "Quick, shut that woman up, she's out of line, she's stepping out of her place, and she's teaching other women, other girls!" Yes, God, I'm still angry and hurt. Please forgive me. My box of you is no more perfect than his box. I'm not seeing how big you are right now any more than he is, not really. There are messed up sinful pieces of me that he's got right in line with you... Just like there are messed up sinful pieces of him that I've got straight with you. Help me as a I finish out my commitment there.

So, where are you sending us? We're ready to go, but without some direction from you we might as well head to China... Show us the way. Make the path clear, at least the next few steps.

"Where am I going? I don't know.
How will I get there? I ain't certain.
All that I know is I am on my way."

Monday, June 12, 2006


Loving a person just the way they are, it’s no small thing…
There’s a lot of pain in reaching out and trying
It’s a vulnerable place to be
Love and pride can’t occupy the same spaces baby
Sara Groves and Gordon Kennedy off of “Add to the Beauty”

Okay, I admit I knew it would be hard, but I had no idea how hard it would be some times… There are so many times when I want to just scream, ‘that’s it! We’ve tried this. It doesn’t work… and I just want out.” Which is NOT to say I don’t love my husband, but love and pride don’t work together… They just don’t. And being married let’s you know just how mean and small and ugly and selfish and proud you really are inside. If you didn’t know it before you dove-tailed your life and heart and body and future to this person, you sure know it after that first year… That first wonderful year where almost everything was just delight and pure magic. Too soon “Wow, I never even would have thought of doing anything that way!" and "how wonderful.” becomes “what an idiot! when did you turn your brain off?!" and "where do you think the money is coming for this new stupidity…”

Loving my husband and living with him often means giving up the high ground and my need to be right. It means accepting and then admitting out loud that I’m wrong when I’m wrong. It means making space in my understanding of me, in my concept of us- space for who he is and all that entails, wonderful things- like new songs and stars and exploring how things are made, and awful things- like his sins and anger and impatience and selfishness and spending money on things I see as foolish… Knowing that while I’m working on making room for him in my life and heart and dreams of the future, he’s also trying to make space in himself for me, my dreams and hopes and sins and ugliness… Knowing that he sees me more closely and intimately than anyone but God, who made me and can search my thoughts and knows what I’m going to say before I say it.

And frankly, I can’t do this- I can’t love this person I’m married to me like I love myself- I know this. I want what’s easy and feels right and good- I want to sit on my butt and let everything just flow to me like a river- happiness and success and money and escape from pain and hard work… Let me sit up on a throne and have the world bow to me, saying, “how right and beautiful and perfect are your thoughts and ways and will.” Ha! And I know how ridiculous that it! The only way I can do this is by saying “help, God! Love this man through me, ‘cuz there’s not enough left of me in between the sin and selfishness and self-righteousness and pride to put him first.” And that’s what true love is really, putting the other person first. How on earth can I do that? Even when I try I fail, ‘cuz I keep offering what I’d want, not what he really needs and wants.

All I really can offer is a promise to stay and work it out. The vow that I won’t leave when it gets ugly, and that I will let God’s love keep us together, keep us growing into the people He knows we can be. I will let God keep cutting off the ugliness and edges no matter how much his knife hurts, no matter how scared I am that there will be nothing left of me as his knife cuts deeper and deeper. My love, I’m here to stay…

“Hold on to me, I’ll hold on to you
Let’s find out the beauty of seeing things through
Loving a person just the way they are that’s no small thing
It’s the whole thing
Loving me just the way I am it’s no small thing
It takes some time”
Sara Groves and Gordon Kennedy off of “Add to the Beauty”

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Bill Reese

I haven't journaled about losing my friend, because I haven't been able to yet...
Last week a dear friend of mine passed away. He fought cancer and then finally was released to go home, home to be with God.
I haven't seen him since 1999- haven't written to him, his wife or family since then-
We were in a drama ministry team together. About 15 adult men and women traveling on weekends during the school year and full time during the summer. Traveling to youth camps and churches and schools and block parties and other ministry events. I don't know if I can explain what this was like- living on top of each other for weeks on end, working together and trying to do life...

Christian life and love was defined for me during these trips.
Yes, I grew up in church, but my family traveled so much that I always felt outside of it all. And I tend to view the world differently somehow than many Christians anyway- And no, I don't know if I can explain that- being shy, and an artist seemed to define my life somehow. I was always asking why, and was rarely fully satisfied with the answers.

The relationships I experienced during those travels changed me. I understand love as living every day with people, putting up with a lot of stuff, letting people disagree with me, being kind when it hurts, holding back words and thinking about what it will mean to let them out- forever to be heard in someone's mind...
Knowing Bill, knowing this group of people helped me understand 1st Corinthians love- love is patient, love is kind... We were in each other's laps all the time, driving each other crazy, and laughing and sharing good things, and bad things and it was so sweet. Sometimes I want to go back and live there. As shy and separate as I kept myself- I miss that time dearly. I love those people and I miss them.

Bill was one of the first men I trusted- his relationship with his wife, Jane, was one of the first that made me think: "well maybe men aren't all selfish assholes" and "maybe I'd like to have what they've got together"-

God, Thank you for letting me know Bill. Thank you that he's at home with you now and not hurting, Thank you for the time you let me live with Company, for letting me know what Christian family can be like, and for letting me see Christians at their best and at their worst. You grew me during this time- You changed me while I had the opportunity to do what I love for you.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Women in worship leadership

I've served as a worship leader for more than five years now- more like fifteen years. I've led worship for more than four churches. My husband and I have led worship together at our current church for three years... We've loved it here! Of course it's hard work, but it's worth it. We have been doing what God has called us to do...

Now we've got a new pastor. He arrived in February and two weeks ago told us that women may not lead worship- that they are to remain silent in the church gatherings, except for giving testimony. He said that I have completely misinterpreted God's call on my life- not that I've done a poor job leading, just that it is not an appropriate leadership role for any woman to be in. He's perfectly okay with me planning the services, just not speaking.

So, we're leaving obviously- which is killing me. This is the longest my husband and I have been in any church together- I can't believe I'm losing my church family over this-
This is the first time I've had to deal with anyone in a pastoral role who believes this... I did not have a single professor at seminary who believed that women were restricted from this role- I have served in six churches with women in worship leadership, and my current church is the only one where I've been the only woman they've ever had in this role... He has so much scripture to back him up-

I'm very sure God has called me to worship leadership... He has confirmed this is so many ways- the one good thing about this is that I've started using drama more. I'd kind of not been doing it and focusing on the music, which is ridiculous since I know beyond a shadow of a doubt how powerful drama can be in worship services.

this is killing me- I don't want to leave my church...
Wow, God uses the hardest things to move us out of our comfort zones...

God, please use this hurt, this ache for good things. Please put my husband and I where you want us to be- in a place where we can both fully use our gifts and talents to glorify you and lift you up. Please use our lives to glorify yourself... We offer you our lives, our minds and hearts- Please lead us like Abraham to the place you have for us.