Thursday, April 24, 2014

Anti Anti

This will brief.

If you're feeling anti social, fight it.

I'm telling you, I have never reaped so much joy from a social event as when I have to force myself to attend against my will.

Lately - perhaps because I've been writing more and therefore spending a lot of time growing things in the garden of my mind - engaging socially with people has been draining. I spend my time at work chatting with customers; when I leave, the idea of chatting further feels overwhelmingly tedious.

There are a select few people in my inner-circle who are exempt from these moods. Jeremiah my husband, my little doggies, and the folks we cook dinner with throughout the week (stomach defeats whiny mood, always).

I've made a point the past couple days to involve myself in social activities after work. Simple things, like pizza at our friends' house or beers with another couple. Particularly, things involving people who aren't in my "inner circle." I've been leaving work feeling like the art of making small talk has been lost to me, and ready to dive into a book with headphones and ice cream. Instead, when opportunities for social gathering have presented themselves, I've accepted them.

It's been a little painful, all this acceptance.

But the more time I spend in conversation, hanging out with people, the less anti-social I feel. A weird tingle is generated from my bellybutton to my lips in these social gatherings. I find myself smiling, laughing even. I'm not sure what to call this tingle, but I'm pretty sure it's happiness or something. Maybe even joy. (That said, I value alone time. Thrive from it and need it. We're talking about balance, here; I'm not suggesting forgo alone time.)

Some Mormon Missionaries came to my door recently. They were rather nice, took my trash out for me and even conceded when I told them they could pray for me if I could pray for them. In trying to convince me I needed to go to church, the concept of Communion was presented.

"I do that all the time," I explained.

"Well, the thing about Communion is that it's about the right mindset. It's the blood and body of Christ; someone in authority needs to bless the bread and wine," they explained.

Two thoughts occurred to me. One, I expressed: "I think you're right. Really, it's about Jesus. When we focus on him, our mindset is aligned with his. And ya know, in the Bible Jesus says 'All the authority of heaven and earth is mine; I give it to you.' So, I've got all the authority I could possibly need. And so do you." (Authority examples: Matthew 10:8 and 28:18, Luke 10:19)

Perhaps friends are like spiders that help keep the
garden of our minds pest free. Photo by: Josiah McLain 
The second thought, I didn't recall until I began this post. "The Last Supper," from which Christianity has derived the communion ritual, was definitely about Jesus. But it wasn't Jesus alone, it was Jesus surrounded by his friends. It was a social gathering; a shared experience.

We don't need bread and wine to have communion, though they are convenient symbols. We need each other.

I have a hunch our Oppressors would do anything in their power to keep us from communing - giving and receiving life - with our friends and Jesus. Without communion, we who are rivers at our healthiest, dry up into deserts.

While our moods are strong, we are stronger. The longer we go without breaking out of a bad mood, the harder it might be but the more enlivening the end result. It's a new struggle every time I feel an anti-socail mood coming on; it's yet to become easy to say Hmm, this mood is damaging me spiritually. I need to stop bitching and get over it. Practice, I'm hoping, makes perfect.


Click HERE for more posts about Communion in my heretical life.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Justified Servants

Kingdom reality turns earthly reality inside out and backwards. “To be first, you must be last and serve everyone,” Jesus told his disciples as they argued about who was best (Mark 9:33-35).


Humility is the key to the kingdom. 

So what’s the key to humility? I can tell you, it isn’t powerlessness, as I often find myself thinking. Neither is it enslavement - doing good deeds or good work while receiving nothing of value in return. Those who follow Jesus are heirs to his kingdom. We’re world changers; the most powerful, free people on the planet. Humility doesn’t negate this truth, humility makes this truth reality. 

I was working a morning shift at the coffee shack a couple weeks ago. Mornings are busy enough to require a two man team, so I worked with a co-worker named Ray. Mid-way through our shift, some friends of mine came in. 

A mother (Sue) and daughter (TJ) duo, I’ve never seen my friends together sans laughter. They told me a story about a time they laid hands on Sue’s back with a group of friends. They prayer warriors gathered around Sue in the hot seat, made declarations and spoke in tongues and all was very lovely, though not particularly healing. Until TJ started laughing. Before they knew it, the laughter had spread out of control. 

As the giggle fits subsided, without further ado, Sue stood, said thanks, and walked away healed. 

This day at the coffee shack they were particularly bubbly. They’d been listening to a song from Dispicable Me 2  called “Happy,” they told me. As they walked in, they were still singing raucously. Ray tried without success to focus them on their drink order, shrugged and resigned them to me.  

I barged into their happy parade, took their orders, and they waited in the window across from the espresso machine chatting and giggling merrily. Perhaps 20 minutes after they left, a woman in plaid came in and stood in the same window, waiting to be helped. 

“How are you doing today?” Ray asked, while I busily pulled shots and steamed milk. 

The woman in plaid paused, scrunched up her face in confusion for a moment, then answered, “Literally two seconds ago, until you asked me that, I was feeling really irritated like I was having a terrible day. But suddenly I feel really, really good. Thanks!” 

I want to utilize this post to speak to a specific group of people: Customer Servants. Those of us in the customer service industry often feel abused, demeaned, and pretty pissed off about it. Those of us who makes tips can easily find ourselves measuring our worth by the amount of money people are willing to put in our jars. Some days, despite our best efforts, we feel utterly worthless. 

I’ve written about customer service in the past. It’s a common topic for me to share on The Daily Heretic because I believe in Jesus’s commission to “go out” (Matthew 10:8). So strongly, I’ve shaped my life around it and chosen to make my everyday a mission. Most days, I find myself at work. To recap, I am a barista and my husband works at Trader Joe’s. And so, customer service. 

A day of customer service can leave me feeling a sense of hopelessness unlike any other work I’ve ever done. It’s so easy to notice the flaws in the people I interact with - ingratitude, pride, narcissism, ignorance. By the end of the day, I feel completely justified being fed up and miserable. After all, I’ve spent hours laboring to cater to the whims of wealthy people who don’t deserve it. I could be in Africa, or India, or Haiti serving people starving and dying. They’d be grateful, right? 

My friends Sue and TJ brought a cloud of kingdom joy into my coffee bungalow so thick it stuck around after they left. The woman in plaid stood within it totally unable to access it, until Ray unlocked the door with humility. That very simple “How are you doing today?” - a question we in customer service ask thousands of time in a week - was all it took to unlock the kingdom at hand and instantly change the course of the plaid woman’s day.

A few months ago I had a dream about a sushi feast being served to demons (if I find the dream, I'll link it here). Since that dream, I’ve started to notice that the negative feelings I occasionally have toward customers were feeding the demons they were carrying in with them. Whenever I noticed myself slipping into anger (or annoyance or impatience) I started to simply say “I don’t feed demons,” and that was enough to re-engage my spirit with the Kingdom and end the feast. 

The trick isn’t ending the feast. That’s easy. The moment I engage with Jesus, the feast is over. The trick is recognizing that a feast is happening. 

Following the dream, I realized my mood toward a person often shifted the moment they stepped out of their car. I’d watch them walk in, and a steady stream of reasons justifying my bitterness about serving them coursed through my mind. By the time they came in, I’d force myself to smile knowing full-well they didn’t deserve even common courtesy. 

Until I recognized this, my job was very difficult to enjoy for the entirety of a day. It was thanks to the customers who took care to beam their light and love my direction that I’ve kept my job as long as I have. 

After a period of weeks doing my best to diligently declare “I don’t feed demons,” the practice became second nature. Now when I notice a shift as someone steps out of their car, I begin asking Jesus what he likes about them. Sometimes, asking that question feels like pulling teeth. I seriously don’t want to hear it. 

But even if I want to ignore Him, I declare “I don’t feed demons” and make myself ask them “How are you doing today?” By the time this person I deigned to smile at minutes ago leaves, we’ve had a meaningful and worthwhile interaction and I feel good. Like, joy of Jesus good. It wasn’t until I watched Ray unlock the joy of the kingdom with that same question, that I began to recognize the power I wield as a humble servant. 

If you’re not relating to this, please at least don’t think I’m a rotten person you never want to get your coffee from. I should clarify, I don’t go through this with every person I serve. Gracious that would be tedious. Though I serve about 70 people per shift, it takes only few badly handled or unrecognized demonic encounters to really ruin my day. I’m describing those select few, not the vast majority. 

The problem with an unrecognized demon encounter when you’re serving people, is they’re simultaneously unrecognized Jesus encounters. Jesus said “When you serve the least of these, you serve me” (Matthew 25:31-46).

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Favorites of 2013

In honor of February's quick approach, I want to recap my favorite stories from 2013:

"A Dream and a Healing"

"Hearing Business"

"The Sky Is Falling"


"Oh hell."

"Divine Dice"

Criteria for favorite posts:
   Made me ask, do I believe this?
   Reminded me of productive, community building conversations.
   After re-reading, I had new questions.

Did you read any of these posts? Did they make you ask questions, throw your pen across the room, laugh until you pee? I would not one bit mind feedback; let me know what you're interested it. Maybe we have similar interests. Maybe God is talking to us about the same things. Like, wow.

Hints of Failure: Update

On January 23, after 3 months and 3 days, 3 breaks, 3 casts, and 3 surgical incisions, Kendal's cast was removed. And that was that.

We hoped he would be given a walking boot. We made declarations that he would not be casted again. And next thing I know he comes crutching into my cafe with nothing on his leg but a striped sock and paint splattered shoe.

His bones are still healing, and are still essentially broken as you can see in the photo. But he's been told to put as much weight on it as he wants. And we are laying hands like mad.


I went home the week before Christmas to visit my family. The day I returned to Olympia, my sister Brittany went in to surgery for an ACL replacement.

The process of putting an IV into her arm was traumatizing enough that the nurses doped her up with sedatives as soon as the IV was completed. When I went in to visit her, she was out of it to say the least. We talked about the mini-dreams she was having every time she closed her eyes, while our parents talked to the surgeon about things like cadaver tendons and recovery time.

I'm certain that my own knee problems and hers are spiritually related. As I learn about my own knee, I'm learning how to approach laying hands on hers.


My brain is melted currently; I've spent the month creating a business plan in order to open a coffee shop when I move (soon!). I have some stories, dreams, and learning experiences to share, but until then I just wanted to update anyone who has been reading along.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Hints of Failure Part 4

Part 4: Earthquakes and Turkey Soup

I went to see The Chariot when they stopped at Studio Seven in Seattle during their farewell tour in November. This was a momentous occasion for my husband and I. Our first date as an official "long distance" couple was a meet up at a The Chariot show several years ago. We've seen them about five times since. 

We mosh and thrash and scream, worshiping Jesus with the band. They jump off the stage onto our heads and hands. We pray with them and they invite us to eat with them after the show. We listen to their albums all year, eagerly anticipating our next joyous worship session together 

This show - the final show we'd share with them - was not like the others. 

More people attended this show than ever before. A beautiful sight.

As we waited and listened to the opening bands, I started imagining an earthquake and wondering what I'd do in the event one occurred in this crowded, stuffy place. Too many people, not enough doorways, I thought. But as soon as The Chariot began setting up on stage, my misgivings were forgotten.


Jeremiah and I spent Thanksgiving together, just us and the dogs. We cooked all the things we look forward to all year- a turkey, stuffing, rolls, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, two pies, a cake - and ate as much as we could.

Needless to say, we had ample left overs.

The following day, we boiled the leftover turkey bones and made broth. With our broth, we made turkey soup. Again, we ate as much as we could.

We had ample left overs.

Our friend Kendal (who you read about in Part 1) is a culinary artist. I am not particularly fond of seafood, and the thought of eating anything besides fish makes me squirm. But when Kendal made seafood gumbo, complete with shrimp, clams, muscles, and octopus, I ate it up. And asked for seconds.

Being rendered essentially immobile by the breaks in his leg, Kendal has been reliant on others to cook meals for him; in particular, Jen. Though I know he is grateful for every bite (he has an unparalleled gift of gratitude), I also know it can be tiring to be the person stuck cooking and cleaning every day.

It was Jeremiah's idea to pack up our abundance of soup to The Keep, where Kendal and some other friends live. We had enough to feed all four friends who were home. And thankfully, they ate the chocolate cake we brought over too.

While they ate, we shared stories from our Thanksgivings. I found my mind wandering, taking note of the number of doorways and people in sight, again wondering what I'd do if there were an earthquake. My thoughts were jolted back to the present when Kendal began to catch us up on the state of his leg. He'd just gotten X-rays and a new cast, so we were eager to hear of his progress.

Turned out, there had been no progress.

Not slight progress. Not mediocre progress.


Despite all the healing I could have sworn Jesus and I were giving, after a solid month of rest and immobility, there was no visible improvement to speak of. His leg was exactly the same.

I knew what I had to do.


Jeremiah is a musician. Most often, he plays the guitar.

For a year, he was the guitarist and vocalist for a band called Simon the Leper. We lived in The Yellow House with Simon the Leper's drummer, Jared Bugg. The band practiced in the basement of The Yellow House, and even recorded an EP there.

Simon the Leper broke up last spring. For nearly nine months, Jeremiah has been stuck playing guitar alone in our apartment, amp turned low as possible. As of November, Jeremiah was invited into two bands almost simultaneously. In one, he plays bass. In the other, guitar.

The bands have been progressing in parallel since their respective inceptions. Both began practicing the same week. Both named themselves during their third practice.

One of those bands, "A Friend," was formed by Jared Bugg. They practice in the basement of The Yellow House, where the drummer now lives. A Friend had their first show December 17. They played at Le Voyeur, a restaurant and bar in Olympia where Simon the Leper played countless times.

Le Voyeur is kind of a dive, though they have surprisingly delicious food and an excellent beer selection. We like the venue in part because the shows happen in back, and Le Voyeur patrons can choose to come watch rather than be bombarded with something they're not in to. Also, shows there are both all ages and free.

At least, every one of the dozens of times I've been there before to watch my husband and friends play a show, it's been free.


Thirty seconds into The Chariot's set, while I stood at center stage close enough to touch their vocalist, Josh, I had an anxiety attack. Overwhelmed, I tried to shove my way out of the pit but was unable to budge an inch in any direction. I turned to Jeremiah in a panic. His first instinct was to boost me onto the crowd so I could surf out. He was nearly trampled in the process, though. Instead, he shoved backward through the sea of thrashing kids and pulled me to a place I felt safe. 

From our safe place, we could hardly see what was happening on stage. We were separated from the worship we'd been craving, like wine-os with a new bottle and no corkscrew.  

We went to our car for a smoke, trying to tell ourselves we were still part of the show... We could hear   the band loud and clear anyway...

When we went back into the venue, I stood at the back of the crowd, well outside the mosh pit. Jeremiah made it to the front again, crowd surfing and thrashing to the end. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Hints of Failure Part 3.5

If you haven't read them yet, catch on up with Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Part 3.5: The Knees Continued

On the second day of the tournament, I watched my sister's team win another game. While them play, stepping periodically into the spirit to make the blanket of clouds recede, I noticed five or six girls with knee braces either playing, warming up, or watching. I reflected on my own knee injuries. I thought about the first time my friends and I laid hands and witnessed healing - an ACL.

I want to heal every knee I touch, I thought. 

Then you’d better start touching knees, Dad replied. 

Just then, as if cued by a script I wasn't given, a girl entered the gym on crutches witha familiar looking brace on her knee. She wore the colors of Blue Mountain Community College - a team well favored to win the tournament (and did, in fact, go on to do so).

Blue Mountain was cheering for Spokane from the sidelines, shouting in support of Eastern WA. The girl on crutches sat down several rows in front of me, surrounded by a boy and friends and parents. You'd better start touching knees...

After Brittany’s team won, and before I said my goodbyes, I pulled Brittany aside. “Let’s go lay hands on that girl with the crutches,” I said. 

“That is the coach of Blue Mountain’s daughter,” she said. Apparently this was reason to shy away from appearing crazy in front of her. 

“Do you know if she tore he ACL?” 

“Yeah, she did. A week ago. And she’s still on crutches. Isn’t that weird?”

“Did your doctor give you crutches?”

“No, he told me not to baby it.” We laughed, and I made my way to the girl on crutches. By now, Blue Mountain was on their own court warming up. The girl was standing near the bleachers, bearing no weight on her left, braced leg, still surrounded by a gaggle of people. 

I put my hand on her should to get her attention and said hello, trying to look friendly. “What happened to your knee?” I asked. 

She smiled, trying to act like she knew me, because I was acting like I knew her. “Tore more ACL right in half,” she said.

“So do you play for Blue Mountain?”

She didn’t, she explained, but helps her dad. She tore her ACL hitting with the team during practice. While we talked, none of the surrounding gaggle paid us any attention. They turned to each other and let the girl on crutches talk with this other girl no one knew. 

“We don’t know each other,” I said brightly. For a moment, relief replaced the girl’s well-masked confusion. The confusion returned quickly, though, when she realized that didn’t explain why we were talking.  “I’m Kaylani, I played for your assistant coach in high school. My sister plays for Spokane. I actually need practice healing knees, oddly enough. My sister tore her ACL too, and I’ve done damage to my own. Do you want some healing?”

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Hits of Failure Part 3

Two posts by Praying Medic convinced me to write Hints of Failure: Bell Rock - Revisited   and Bell Rock - Healing at the Circle K

I read these posts while sitting at Barnes & Noble trying to write something for The Daily Heretic that didn't have anything to do with the stories in this series. In Revisited, Praying Medic wrote: 
"As soon as I began speaking, I sensed a strong presence of God's glory being released. I saw a think cover of dark clouds in the spirit that were pierced by a shaft of light. An opening appeared in the clouds that gave way to a small hole of blue sky overhead..." 
This was the first parallel with my own story that caught my attention. In Healing at Circle K, he wrote: ..."I explained all this to the lady behind the counter and we started talking about chronic pain. Like the pain she has in her knee. (Cue spooky music)."

When I read this, I said "Woah! Oh my God!" rather louder than people sitting alone with headphones should speak in public. 

Before I had a chance to glance around embarrassedly to see if anyone noticed, Dad took me back to a dream. I was walking out on my coach and team. Flipping the lights off behind me. But my Dad wasn't following like I'd expected. You will experience the urge to abandon something I'm not ready to move on from. There's something of value here...

The Hints of Failure series is being written because I read Praying Medic's stories; they broke down walls that were preventing me from listening to God. I'm not sure where the stories are going - I've not seen their ends yet. But maybe they'll break down some more walls, and we'll walk away more intimate with our Father. 


Part 3: The Knees

My sister, Brittany, is a sophomore at Spokane Falls Community College (SFCC) and plays libero for their volleyball team. 

She’s really freakin’ good. 

Named regional defensive player of the week three times this season, and voted first team all conference libero and, she helped lead her team to the North West Athletic Association of Community Colleges (NWAACCs) tournament. (*This just in: She was voted MVP and broke her school's record for digs in a season. Bad ass!)

The top four teams from each region met in Gresham, OR, November 21 to 24, to vie for the coveted NWAACC championship title. On the last day of the tournament, players from across the region named 1st or 2nd team all conference joined to play the “All Star” exhibition game. 
Brittany and our Dad at NWAACCs
Brittany’s team played their last game of the season about a week before NWAACCs in Walla Walla on November 13. I stayed near my phone, expecting text updates on how the team was doing. Her team handily beat Walla Walla the first game of the match, and Brittany was playing great.

The second update read simply “Brittany hurt her knee.”

Immediately, I remembered her senior year of high school, when she tore her left ACL and meniscus mid-way through the season. “Was it her ACL? Which knee? Is she OK?” 

“Not sure,” the text replied. 

As with my friend Kendal in Part 1, I was stuck. I had no way of reaching Brittany and laying hands. So, with one successful spirit travel under my belt, I sat on my bed cross legged once again and asked Dad to take me to her. Again, the craving hit and I knew to put my hands on my right knee.

A few days later, an MRI confirmed Brittany’s ACL (her right one) was torn.