27 July 2006

Blogs and broomsticks...

I was talking to some people who thought it would be great if we could hire someone who could just sit and type what is going on at camp throughout the day, so that people would know what is going on up here.

I thought about it for a few days and at first I thought it was a good idea but I am sure that after the first few days of this she would begin putting in her own editorial comments and by week 6 she will be a bit sarcastic and cynical and people would start emailing and calling me and asking me what is going on with the blog girl and why is she saying those nasty things about the campers and people from Merced and the corndogs and fruit punch and then they would tell me it must be indicative of my leadership and theology and then they would call the presbytery and the board who will form a new committee, if they can find enough people who will show up for a quorum, to monitor the blog and come up periodically to do surveys and urine tests...

I think we will rely on the campers' postcards for now...

(clarificational statement: I hope that the people on presbytery or the board will not take that last line personally, for it does not reflect my love and admiration to people who volunteers their time and talents to this camp and staff! Much of what I say is to get people to laugh, think, cry, or purchase hair product...)

25 July 2006

A sea of worship...

Tonight at the staff worship and prayer, we didn't use any Powerpoint or amplified guitar or voices we worshipped in the raw. I wouldn't want you to think nude but very simple and it was great. We turned off the lights so there was no light coming from inside, no candles or votives, no mood setting anything, just song and prayer with the lights of the surrounding building adding just enough light.

We first prayed for God to reveal a place on campus to each of us and we would pray for that area or building or room or bunk or whatever that God would fully inhabit that place with His spirit and purpose and remove any thing or spirit with an alternative purpose.

Then Josh led us in song which was glorious and simple. Christina played her viola softly. Without the lights and the stuff, it felt like the ocean at night. Couldn't pick out points or faces but there was a sea of worship moving through us. It was very soothing and much needed.

I spoke on Mark 13:32-37 and Luke 9:1-2.

Sweet night. I love what I get to do...

23 July 2006

Remodeling faith...

I have been going through a 3 year period of remodeling my belief structure. I started seeing something in my heart and life that was too small for the life God wanted me to enter. The structure became too restrictive for what, I felt, God was calling me to do. I needed a spiritual make-over.

In the beginning I brought in some of the professionals, McLaren, Pagitt, A. Jones, and Sweet Remodeling Service to reconstructed the place. There was a lot of talk of deconstructing, tearing out some of the structures that were superfluous and no longer significant to the structure of the faith. Things I have been thinking about for a long time, so it wasn't a big deal to lose them. After a while, though, I became a little nervous about the size of the job and began to wonder if these guys were really the experts. (I am not questioning their heart, spirits, or minds) But it seemed they were specialist in deconstruction and I was wondering do they know anything of the construction phase. I let them do some of the deconstruction. And they were pretty good. It seemed like there was a fluidity in their movement. Things got torn out and put out on the front porch for evaluations and determination. I could hardly recognize the place after a few weeks and books. That which I thought were so important became objectively removed and stored or thrown away. We brought in a huge dumpster. Some things were brought out to the lawn and then we needed to put it back with a better and more accessible purpose. But other things tossed. Some things didn't matter if it needed to go or stay so we put it back in the study near the big couches for future conversations. But we were still in the deconstruction phase for a long time.

Now after three years there is a lot of sawdust on the floor, in the furniture, in books and movies, in my clothes, TV set and AV equipment, in the kitchen, in my friends, in the bathroom and even the toilet paper seemed to absorb the sawdust (more effective but a lot more painful), and in my eyes, ears, and mouth. It seems every holy meal I eat there is a bit of sawdust and debris from the remodel in every bite. Sure, I hung up plastic to keep all the rubble relegated to one part of the abode but it seems like it is spiritually everywhere. It affects everything.

It is funny. As I am remodeling MY faith abode, it is starting to tick off other people. It is like during the remodel they don't know where to sit or can they still go to the refrigerator and get some cool water. They want to know is the hot water knob on the faucet still on the left or does that get remodeled as well and we put it anywhere we want? Is there a building code in deconstruction where the criteria is properly set? One issue is we are deconstructing the criteria, the way we look at everything, along with the rest of the place. Is that bad?

Recently, I got rid of many of the experts and started going into a do-it-myself type remodel. I have many friends who are helping me with particular aspects of the job as they have been doing some remodeling as well. Deep conversations with some of those who are working faithfully in this project in their own life. There are a lot of people doing remodeling right now so many perspectives are given. Seems healthier than just following a few who get paid to write books on it. Nothing wrong with their books but sometimes when one gets paid to be an expert in deconstruction they will never get to the construction phase because they won't be able to sustain the niche they have carved out for themselves. We found ourselves asking God what it should look like for each of us and for us as a community instead of copying other’s places. There was a consistancy but it was definitely unique.

I needed to start the construction phase, it is not that the deconstruction phase is finished but for my psyche I needed to start something positive. The deconstruction phase started producing some weird side effects. I starting thinking I may need to move out and get another place to have faith. It seemed everything was broken. Cynicism crept in and became the windows of how I looked at stuff. Joy was gone. Hope was up on the shelf with my old trophies from the 70’s through the 90’s.

I started working on the windows first. How do I look out and how do I see? What kind of view am I looking out at? Do I only look at the manicured front yard, where the Company has provided the yard service so all the faith places would look identical, or do we open up the walls and put in windows to the driveway, alley, neighbors, sky, and subterranean vistas. What were we missing with the original windows and walls and were windows put in place so that the Company would only let us look at what they wanted us to see? I started seeing things in a new way. Light was streaming in and opening up my eyes to things unnoticed before. I became a little uncomfortable with the way I was before. Perspectives changed. Depth of field was greater.

I asked God about the walk up to my house. I thought the front walk would be straighten or widen but it was not. In fact, it seemed to get harder to walk on with turnouts and benches placed in more appropriate places. It took longer to get there than before but the walk was starting to get more interesting. The place of faith had to be traveled slowly instead of a quick walk up. I also had to get rid of the garage door opener so that I took more time to experience the neighborhood.

I need to go rest now, hopefully more later…

20 July 2006

A slice of 90 minutes...

Sorry I am late with this update...
but I was just dealing with trying to schedule next week’s high school camp which is full and spilling over to the Apple Orchard which puts the AIM team in Reddingham, but we are not sure if the bathrooms will be able to work because the plumbing and septic are causing troubles and the concerned about the other bathrooms in Sherwood if they will do alright for next week’s Week in the Forest for people with developmental disabilities, where our numbers are approaching 50 people. I then took a step towards my office when I got distracted by a few people praying for a young woman, who in January was set free from a terrible and abusive past 5 years. I sat and wept as I heard the story but then the afternoon thunderstorm hit us and I had to make sure that everyone in the Junior High and Sherwood camps were under shelter and no one was playing out in the open and making sure that the people on the ropes course were safely taken off the wires. Craig Shigyo was concerned about how the dinner down in Sherwood would go and we decided to eat in the huts, using one hut as the distribution hut. Then I was approached by someone coming from Eastview who was concerned about the bathrooms up there and could we do something about them. I told him they could take some boys in the morning to the bathrooms in the Apple Orchard for showers and potty. He thought that might work as long as the mountain lion that has been heard on the manzanita trail doesn’t come and eat them. I told them to walk in groups and don’t scare the kids with any stories about lions, tigers or bears, etc. He assured me he wouldn’t talk much because of the distance he has to walk to the bathroom.
Then the storm hit and the dinner bell rang and the tables on the dining pad were getting drenched by the downpour so we moved the 160 kids and counselors inside the Dining hall to eat on the floor in small circles… like a picnic only with out a blanket and on red concrete. I gathered all the counselors together to make sure that all of their campers from their cabins are present. A few minutes later a counselor came in and told me one of his boys were missing and a youth pastor came to tell me that one of his counselors was missing as well. We found the boy up in the Eastview bathroom and his cabin having to change because the shower drain backed up and soaked his clean clothes that he was just changing into. The woman counselor, who last week found out she was pregnant and is having major nausea, went to sleep in a friend’s room in Cedar Lodge. Near the end of the downpour we were deciding about camp pictures and how to do them when Dave Davis drove up with a message for me to give to one of our Junior High campers that she needed to call her dad so that he could tell her what the evening news is saying about her missing mother. At the end of the storm many staff people came out onto the deck and danced. Even our speaker, George Freeman, who came up with his wife and mother (who is in the middle stages of Alzheimer's) was dancing with his mom.

I will try harder next time…

17 July 2006


A kid came up to me today and asked me what was the time. I looked down on his wrist and realized he wasn't wearing a watch...

16 July 2006

My friend...

A Pondering Piña...
The Splash...
The Peace...

A couple more Bass Lake shots...

Captains Cory and Lyndsay
Julie and Lily
Christel, Lyndsay, and Craig's Head
Artistic Photo of Geoff


Saturday, Christel and I were blessed by some of the camp leadership with an invitation for a day on Bass Lake in a party barge. Don't get confused and think DeBarge, the 80's family group. Cory and Lyndsay Piña organized the event with Nellie McKenzie cooking an incredible BBQ (it is an art and one of her spiritual gifts!).

We found a quiet cove and I really enjoyed conversations, swimming, floating, eating great BBQ, and the beauty. I am deeply rested and have the wonderful privilege of knowing these people.

These people work hard all week with a lot of responsibilities and care for many people that when it comes time to having fun and relaxing, they know how to do it.

Thanks guys...

14 July 2006


Tonight in the middle of the Sierra Nevadas there is a small plot of ground where music and laughter rings out, commitment and forgiveness is spoken, and wonder and expectations are standing with eyes shut, hearts open, and hands entwined.

11 July 2006

Letting my freak flag fly...

OK, I am bald and 52.

I think that the official designation for what I have is male pattern baldness syndrome. My head looks like a geodesic dome surrounded on three sides with moss.

I don't try to cover up. I don't do the comb-over. I don't color my hair to hide the gray. I have accepted it terminally.

In the 60's through the 90's I wore my hair long. I just let it go. Wore it in a pony tail. It went down to my back. (Where it transplanted itself because now that is where I get the best crop of hair.) I parted it down the middle. Bi-leveled it. Once I even let a friend who was a beautician perm it. I didn't need to because I had curly hair already I just like this person and when she asked if she could practice perming men's hair on me, I said what the heck, go for it.

Even after I started losing my hair I kept it long. Benj Franklin did it and he is one of my heroes. I had to use "product" to keep the top part glued to my head and in place but I did it.

When we moved up to Coarsegold and my wife started noticing that only the Imbredded who had the soundtrack from Deliverance playing in their pickup-armory-daycare center-livestock insemination laboratory-vehicle, with pony tails, she thought it was time for me to cut my hair.

So I did. I trust her judgement and I was a little scared of the mail I was starting to get from the White Pride Liberation Cigarette Shack and Diner Community. I started with a simple cut off the pony tail and kept the rest long. But that looked a little like a mullet and I just could do the mullet. One day I was sitting in the barber chair, and Mike the barber came up and said, should we start talking about growing it so that it covers more of the top. "The Comb-Over?" I yelled. "Hell no! I want a 1" buzz just like I had in the second grade. Block the back, no white-walls around the ears and save the clippings for "Locks of Love. Do it before I change my mind!" I thought I heard him snicker as he said, "Locks of Love" under his breath. He cut it. I went home my wife loved it. I have been wearing this way for the past 5 years. But after Mike's snicker I went out and bought my own clipper and do it myself with Christel's help for the back.

I have a healthy respect for my baldness. When Jean-Luc Picard was the captain of the Enterprise I found a new role model.

If we can talk confidentially... I do have a problem. Dry scalp. Flakes. I have tried dandruff shampoo but it didn't help. I don't think it is dandruff because on the commercials they never show a bald guy with it. I don't know who to talk to. I can't go back to Mike the snickering, freakin' barber, I am a little embarrassed about going up to a bald guy I don't know and ask him what he uses. I did that once and the guy was in Chemo therapy. I didn't know. How was I suppose to know?

The other day I went to Raley's SuperMarket and thought someone must make a shampoo for bald people. So I studied the entire row of shampoos. The row was full of "hair product," coloring for men and women, shampoos, conditioning, new growth products, combs, brushes, picks, tape, squeeze bottles, spray bottles, mirrors, shower caps, extensions, wax, etc... This aisle was full. Seven feet high by 50 feet of hair products. 350 square feet of stuff for hair. That is bigger than most stores in Ecuador have for bread, meat, produce, pharmacy, etc. all together.

Anyway, I was studying the products and looking for something that would be just for bald guys. I spent 20 minutes easily reading boxes, bottles, cans... nothing, bubbkiss, zilch, nadda, zero. No bald guy cream. I didn't want hair restorer, just want my scalp clean. My dad uses Ivory Soap, has for years, but that left my head feeling clean but not healthy. I want a healthy head like Jean-Luc Picard.

And then, as I was looking up at the row of hair care products, some people from church see me. And the weirdest thing happened. I was embarrassed.


I wasn't at the magazine rack. Wasn't on the women's personal hygiene section. (Side note: When I do have to buy feminine hygiene products, I always buy a package of giant tortillas and cover up the box.)

I haven't been that embarrassed since I bought a nose hair trimmer from the Sharper Image Store...

09 July 2006

So far...

I am either having the time of my life or I have a brain tumor...

08 July 2006

A tradition...

Yesterday was an interesting day. Very camp.

Arranged to have a staff member drive a camper home in Bakersfield. We do not offer this service very often. only if there is a critical concern for safety... and there was. But we couldn't find a vehicle that was road worthy because all of those where out with OutPost who got to eat at Jones' Store. We rented from Hertz.

Found out Thursday night high school campers unhooked the boats and threw the pool furniture into the pool (which I guess is where we get the name Pool Furniture!) Which reminds me of a joke:
Q: What's Irish and sits outside in the summertime?
A: Paddy O'Furniture!

Ok I am sorry, I will return to the blog.
I don't like pranks. Not only because they waste and destroy furniture, buildings, self-esteem, good pies, shaving cream, BUT mostly because they are not very creative.

Needed to talk to a pastor friend, who was concerned about what he was hearing about his Youth pastor. I don't want to go into details because too many youth pastors will think I am talking about them.

There was a fight that attempted to breakout over a girl, but the only damage done was when one of the guys (the jealous one) hit a folding chair instead of the guy. He made a good decision to channel that anger into the chair and not into this guy's face.

We spent the night until 2:30am, this morning, catching high school students plotting to carry on a tradition of ringing the bell at 2:00am on the last night of camp. It was a tradition carried on throughout the ages. I prefer the tradition of praying for someone who wants to commit their life to Jesus and the work of the Kingdom on Friday nights. We had the bell surrounded with about 12 staff people, I in my Mitsubishi Montero. And when about 10 boys came walking up to do the deed, we squirted them with water and I pursued after them in my SUV with brights and fog light blazing, as they took off running. I followed one kid running at full speed up the East View trail. I clocked him at about 18mph but I was going about 45mph! (I probably would have fired anyone doing what I was doing!!)

He finally gave up and stopped. We rounded up most of the young hooligans and told them to come to the dining hall at 6:00am this morning to help Accommo clean up the grounds. I was the only one who showed up except for two girls who were caught waiting for two guys for a prearranged MacOut time. Guys never showed. LOSERS!!!

This may be the new tradition...

07 July 2006

Brokenness part two...

I have been struggling with why the conversation of brokenness is so prevalent today. I think it is tied to a false sense of humility. The only problem I see is that brokenness doesn't lead to humility but being broken. Humility leads to humility and then to contentment in Christ. And you can't talk much of being humble.

We had a high school person in our discipleship program complaining that he wasn't being broken this year like he was the past few years. When asked why that is a bad thing he couldn't put his finger on it. Brokenness is an event, humility is a way.

I think when we talk about brokenness the central figure is us but when we walk in humility the central figure is everyone else but us.

I am not saying that we don't need to be broken, but our goal is not brokenness but being set apart, holiness, to do the will of the Kingdom. Glorifying the Lamb.

Just a late night ponder...

05 July 2006


Chris Erdman, senior pastor to the people of University Presbyterian Church, Fresno came up for a quick visit today. Great conversation regarding the state of the Presbyterian Church.

A surprise that revives the soul...

I ran into James Orr, an alumni staff person from a few years back, down in A Week in the Forest. a camp for people with developmental disabilities. James is taking a week of his summer to be a counselor for these wonderful people. It is a week that is hard on the body but great for the soul.

It was refreshing for me to see him and regain a friendship. I appreciated and admire his heart.

(I am the one who doesn't have "James" pinned to his shirt.)

04 July 2006

Staff shirts ala 2006...

Not sure if I posted the theme and logo for the the staff shirts. This was a collaborative joint with Cory Piña.

The idea is that we were not just created, but we were designed for a purpose, the Designer's plan and purpose.

The shirts were non-sweat shop certified!

03 July 2006

Sunday, Bloody, Sunday

I think I may like this one even more than U2's...


This week for our high school camp (and hopefully those that follow) we are asking them to consider that which the Lord tells us to consider. We are not trying to "fill in the blanks," download more information, but to read some scriptures and consider. "Do we believe this?" Why or why not? If we believe this, then how should we live?

Many scriptures will be read on a topic, today's is Living a passionate life. Other topics deal with the poor and oppressed and some will deal with having dominion over the earth and what are our responsibilities and authority?

The idea is to get them, the student, to take responsibility for the information and the action that it warrants.