Tuesday, September 3, 2013


At the end of most summers, ever since I was a child, I find myself in a state of mild disappointment.  Do you ever do this? Create these unrealistic expectations to squeeze summer of every last drop of fun and recreation possible, but then experience the inevitable disappointment when you fall short? You realize you spent too many days in an office or on the coach or doing laundry or…whatever. In the Pacific Northwet ®, we really only have a few months of weather that are suitable for swimming, camping, kayaking, etc. So every long winter I tell myself, This summer! This summer!

But as I approach fall this year, I’m not really feeling any regrets. If anything, I am feeling a good kind of exhaustion. This has been a full summer. 

Heather and I attended three weddings in three weeks…my buddy Bryan, sister Jaimie and my cousin Emily. At my buddy Bryan’s wedding, my son Z and I were both honored and delighted to be in the wedding party as Groomsman and Ring Bearer (or “Ring Bear” as he pronounced it and I think imagined it.) My sister’s wedding was a real family affair with my brother Jesse and I co-officiating, my brother Matt performing all the special music, and my son Z making his second appearance as the Ring Bear!  

All the wedding receptions were festive and included great food, beautiful decorations and (my) amateurish dancing. By the third wedding, I had finally mastered that “illusive” electric slide and was still working on the cha cha slide. But I still have no idea who shorty is, what gangnam style is, or how to do the wiggle? But despite my deficiencies, Heather and I still danced like it was 1999! 

I also had the pleasure this summer to lead several youth trips… to the beach, the lake, and Columbia River Gorge. Our first trip was to Cannon Beach. The days leading up to the trip, we had warm, sunny weather, but the day of our trip, torrential downpour. The rain threatened to interfere with our trip, but our youths’ spirits would not be dampened. Despite rain, cold, and slippery trail conditions, we had loads of fun. The youth spent their time looking for sea life among the tide pools, splashing around in the cold waves, hiking a most slippery trail, and huddling around a campfire roasting hotdogs and marshmallows. There was something special about sharing an experience together where we turned challenging circumstances into an adventure.

Another highlight of the summer, was our family's first sailing/camping trip, which included an epic treasure hunt involving pirate maps, complex clues, riddles, canoeing, sailing, and eventually the pirate's treasure. The whole adventure started our first morning when B found a bottle with a scull and crossbones on the shore of our campsite. Some questions still remain. Who is Pirate Jake? Why did he set up this elaborate scavenger hunt? Did Dad and Grandpa have anything to do with it? If so, where could they have gotten that elk skull?
Between weddings, youth trips, sailing, camping, hiking, swimming, kayaking, sailing, visiting friends, Yearly Meeting, and Vacation Bible School, the Tricolas have barely had time to catch our collective breath. It has been a good summer, but we are ready for some shorter days, and some colder, wetter weather. We’re ready for a season with a little less pressure. A season of stews and scarves and sitting around sipping coffee. A season that gives us permission to slow down, settle in, cozy up, veg out. This fall… this fall…

Saturday, July 14, 2012


When I was in high school, every summer our youth group would go on a mission trip to a place called The Campbell Farm. The farm was located in Central Washington, near the Yakima Indian Reservation. We would work at a homeless shelter - sorting clothes, processing food donated by local farmers, or feeding meals. And we would also work at people's homes - painting, clearing brush, building wheelchair ramps. Honestly, I'm not sure who thought it was a good idea to give high school students paintbrushes and power tools. One of my favorite (read: ridiculously monotonous) jobs was to match shoes from a pile of maybe 500 hundred.

For me, the work was important, the community we developed was incredibly meaningful, and what we learned in our worship times foundational. But what I was really into were the silly antics we would develop throughout the week. One small, but memorable antic, was that every time we would see one of those giant road signs that say FRUIT, we would all yell "FRUIT!" as loud and long as we could (to our delight and to the chagrin of the chaperones). I'm not sure why we thought this was so funny. Or why I still think it is.

I've been thinking a lot about fruit this week, because I'm going to be collabroating on a series about the Fruits of the Spirit (The 9) at Vancouver Friends Church. A few brief observations about the Fruits of the Spirit (Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control):

The 5 about The 9 

5. Aren't they great! When I am confronted with the questions what is the Kingdom of God? I keep coming back to The 9. It brings into focus God values and what it means to embody the Way of Christ. They are somewhat easy to memorize, and they are universally appreciated.

4. They have a context. Paul is writing to the church in Galatia, some 2,000 or so years ago about how they should be Christians... in community... in the world. This church was beginning to be convinced (Paul would say deceived) that individuals would first need to become Jewish (via adult circumcision) before they could become Christians. And that they would need to follow Jewish laws and customs to ensure they lived holy lives. Now Paul is in a bit of a tough spot. The way one lives matters. But for Paul Jesus and the Spirit were more important than outward signs. So he preached grace and faith... and fruit.

3. Fruit is delicious and nutritious. Vegetables of the Spirit doesn't quiet have that same ring does it. We all know they are good for us... but they don't have that same taste bud satisfying juiciness, do they? The fruits of the Spirit provide both spiritual nourishment and soul-satisfying flavor. Who doesn't want more love, joy, peace... you get the idea. They are work, but they are also play!

2. The image of fruit is natural. The scriptures are filled with images about the Spirit that are natural (fruit, fire, water, wind, breath). There is something mysterious and indescribable about the Spirit that requires the authors of scripture to use varying and almost contradictory images to describe it. Is it fire, or is it water? Yes. Jesus, the master teacher uses a lot of natural (one might say organic) images. He says that He is the vine and we are the branches. If we remain in Him we will produce much fruit.

1. Fruits need roots. Paul, in Ephesians, when talking about the church, prays that they will be rooted in God's love. The fruit of the Spirit, including love, are rooted in God's love. And God is love. I imagine some fruit producing plant (personified) focusing on producing fruit. "C'mon fruit! Grow already!" It knows that this is it's purpose. He's certainly heard the farmer talking enough about it. So it strains and flexes and grunts and then... Pop! A little fruit. It keeps this up for days. Pop! Pop! But in so doing, he/she/it forgets about the vine and the roots and it begins to become unhealthy. Its leaves start to dry up and it stops producing altogether. Its neighbor, on the other hand, lets its roots sink deep into the soil, to find the nourishment it needs. At first this looks like selfishness to the fruit-obsessed plant, but now it can see how naturally and restfully and healthily it's neighbor is producing fruit. Fruit (as Jesus says) that will last!

When I look back on my brief mission to The Campbell Farm, I'm not sure what fruit has really lasted. I'm guessing the paint on the houses began to crack and peal shortly after we applied it haphazardly on top of the old coat of paint. I'm sure that we didn't cure the hunger of those we fed. But my hunch is that those things that we did, which were rooted in God's love, and that were done with, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control... those things lasted in some profound, mysterious way among our little group and those we served. If nothing else, I'm sure that when many of us pass those giant road signs, we yell FRUUUUUUUUUIT! That will last.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The (Not So) Patient Farmer

I guess I'm not a real farmer. No. I'm sure of it. Actually this is my first crack at any kind of gardening. I made a 25X4 ft raised bed a few days ago. I'm looking at it right now (a little pridefully)from my dining room window. The reasons I know I'm not a real farmer are legion. There's the obvious - little knowledge, almost no experience, few tools. But mainly, I don't have the farmer's patience. While working on this small project, a few hours worth of work really, I was counting down the minutes to being finished almost as soon as I began. But something happened in the midst of the hoeing, shoveling, weeding. A shift took place... I got lost in my work. I went from toiling to playing in the dirt. It became meditative, even restful. It's funny that it took me so long, because my kids understood this immediately. The older boys were yelling "Can I help! Can I help! Can I help! Even L.M., our 1-yr-old, was grabbing clumps of grass and putting them in the weed pile. You couldn't tear them away. What was it Jesus said, something about the Kingdom belonging to ones such as these? Something about how a child will lead them? I was reading a book by Eugene Peterson this last year called Under the Unpredictable Plant. In it he talks about one of his mentors, Wendell Berry, a farmer-poet-mystic. Peterson says that he has learned more about ministry from reading Wendell Berry than anyone else. He says that anytime Berry writes "Farm," he just substitutes the word Parish and it works every time. I recently came across this modest paragraph from Berry that I think exemplifies Peterson's method:
"During the last 17 years . . . I have been working at the restoration of a once exhausted hillside. Its scars are now healed over, though still visible, and this year it has provided abundant pasture, more than in any year since we have owned it. But to make it as good as it is now has taken 17 years. If I had been a millionaire or if my family had been starving, it would still have taken 17 years. It can be better than it is now, but that will take longer. For it to live fully in its own responsibility, as it did before bad use ran it down, may take hundreds of years."
Things take time. People take time. I take time. When I become fixated on efficiency and results, I miss so much. And in an ironic twist, I get less accomplished. But when I let myself sink into Deep Time, I value process over product, people over projects, participation over perfection. That's the thing about farming (or parenting or pastoring), the thing I'm learning - it takes a kind of waiting that is more like being (with) than anything else. Friends (Quakers) have practiced a kind of waiting that tends to enrich some and infuriate others. This waiting insists on taking time. It admits that there is a kind of knowing that takes time to grow in our hearts and in our community. It admits that there is a kind of waiting that trusts that God is doing something in us even when we can't see or feel the results right away. Even when we feel desperately confused or desperately divided. A kind of waiting that is more like being (with God) than anything else. Sometimes we call it group discernment. Sometimes we call it open worship. We might even call it a business meeting. But it's made of the same kind of stuff. A deep listening. A deep trust. Deep Time.
7 Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. (James 5:7)
Try more related Blog Post from Brad :) Everything's Amazing and Nobody's Happy Everyone is Just Waiting

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Listening With Your Eyes

Here is a sermon that I preached February 19, 2012 for Transfiguration Sunday at Camas Friends Church.


Mark 9:2-10 NRSV
2 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. 4And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 5Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ 6He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!’ 8Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.

9 As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Equality, Quakers, and MLK

"Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for justice; for they shall have their fill." -Jesus (Matthew 5:6)

The day before Martin Luther King was assassinated, he gave a speech to a group of sanitation workers in Memphis. He stood in solidarity with the workers who were fighting for a living wage, for worker safety and the right to unionize. His final speech to this group, I've been to the Mountaintop, is incredibly powerful and more than a little eerie. Last Sunday, at Camas Friends Church, we listened to the full 40 minute speech and it seemed to me and others to be just as relevant today. His allusions to his imminent death were many and undeniable. He says:
And then I got to Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers? Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't really matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live - a long life; longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. So I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord

One of the things that struck me about King's speech was that he was calling people to go beyond fighting and arguing. He says that this is how the message should be communicated:
God sent us by here, to say to you that you're not treating his children right. And we've come by here to ask you to make the first item on your agenda fair treatment, where God's children are concerned. Now, if you are not prepared to do that, we do have an agenda that we must follow. And our agenda calls for withdrawing economic support from you...

King has a sense that argument, violence, fighting, quarreling only gives more power to those who already have the power. There are so many ways for those who are unmotivated to change to delay, to philosophize, to hear only what they want to hear. The question for King wasn't, can we win this debate. He was calling people to begin living into a different reality. We are God's children. We have dignity. The sanitation workers are famous for wearing signs that simply said, "I am a man." "We don't have to argue with anybody," King repeats over and over. Some truths are beyond debate. Some truths are cheapened by debate. Is this what Jesus meant when he talked about not casting pearls before swine because they will trample you under their feet? We don't have to argue. King's ministry was a proclamation of the Kingdom of God, the Justice of God coming. He had, after all, been to the mountaintop.

This month, Northwest Yearly Meeting Friends celebrate Peace Month. We are talking about the Quaker distinctives of Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, and Equality (SPICE). King embodied these qualities so well that is seems really fitting to celebration his life, work and teachings this month alongside the Quaker values. Early Quakers, like King were revolutionaries who fought for radical, systemic change in their system. Like King they were motivated out of a sense that all men and women were equal. In America, we throw around this phrase around so much that it becomes a platitude with very little transformative power. But in the time of George Fox and early Quakers, their opponents used this George Fox quote as evidence that they were hell bent on destroying the fabric of society: “No man should be above another." This philosophy led the Friends to do some really simple but apparently provocative things. They didn't don their hats to those of a higher class. They avoided titles and called everyone thee and thou. And they used plain language and plain dress as a way to fight inequality. But oh the beatings and persecution they suffered for such simple acts. King seemed almost to take a page out of the Quaker playbook with his simple, organized, nonviolent protests. Boycotts, sit-ins, marches, or wearing signs that just say, I am a man. I sometimes wonder if it would be better to live in George Fox's time, when believing in the equality of all was publicly scorned rather than to live in King's time or our time when the idea of equality is publicly applauded and then privately, or practically discarded. At least then it would be an honest discussion.

I have been thinking this week about how easy it is to look back on history and say who was right and who was wrong. Who was good and who was bad. And to just move on. But I'm sure that people on both sides thought of themselves as in the right. Thought of themselves as the good guys. And I was thinking about how easy it is for us to justify ourselves. maybe that was the genius of MLK's approach. He made it really difficult for those fighting integration and equality to continue to justify themselves. He knew something that I think scripture teaches, that Jesus teaches:
Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

Friday, January 6, 2012

January is Peace Month! (part 1)

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God." -Jesus

I know, the question you're probably asking yourself is, why only one month? Why not shoot for like twelve months? Good question. But have you ever actually tried having peace year round? Interpersonal? Intrapersonal? Global? It's exhausting! Another way to answer this question is to say, that a few years ago the Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers) decided that to promote and educate about our historic and present-day Peace Testimony we should take a month. January, being the most dreary and boring month, was chosen. I'm not sure how this decision was reached - extensive pew studies, polling, prayer, discernment, coin flip, phone a friend.

But when I heard about it a few years ago I was like, yeah, I'm in. In our previous church, where my wife and I co-pastored, I realized that we had a diverse set of beliefs concerning this topic (is that the politically correct way of saying it?) We had among us contentiousness objectors from the Vietnam War, WW2 Veterans, conservative, liberal and everything in between. One pastor friend, who I think was surprised I was attempting to tackle such a sticky topic (in Idaho) gave me some wisdom. He said, "I always start with the assumption that we all want peace." I took that to heart (and shamelessly plagiarized him over the next few years).

But you know, given all the different perspectives out there on war and peace... how our faith intersects... where we think Jesus stands on this issue... I begin with this one assumption - we all want peace. Right? (this insight just came to me one day). Now, the question is how to best achieve peace. Some follow up questions include: What is the right way of achieving peace? (Some wonder if this question even has a place in the discussion.) What does the Bible teach about peace? (like most things it depends in part on where you look and what you are looking for). What does Jesus really say about peace, conflict, violence? (This question seems really relevant and also really inconvenient for (many) Christians.) What means are actually effective in achieving sustained peace? (Movements like Gandhi's and MLK's which used radical, nonviolent protest were able to achieve what violence could not.)

These were some of the things we explored in past years and it was a great (although rare) conversation starter. Some people, who I had few words with previously, wanted to tell me the Bible verses that condone war and violence. Or they brought up hypothetical points about attackers breaking in at night. Others made logical arguments about justice and evil forces hell bent on destruction. For some this wasn't just speculation, they had first hand experience with the ugliness and brutality of war and the fear of said evil forces. I would mostly respond "pastorally" by nodding and looking thoughtful. If nothing else, it was good, real life practice in peaceful dialogue. Not always successful, but good practice. One thing I regret is that people didn't feel safe discussing their views in a nonanxious way, with those who didn't agree with them. I would see people cluster and support each other and agree with one another. We do this all the time. It feels good. It is the opposite of peacemaking.

This year for peace month, we (read: some) in the NWYM are going through the Quaker distinctives - Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, and Equality (SPICE). I am really excited to learn, grow, share, and build community around these values. Also, I am kind of a sucker for (and am annoyed by) acronyms. But this one, SPICE, has been rolling around in my brain for the last few months (in anticipation) and I have found it really helpful in centering my prayer and journalism time.

Well, I planned on talking about SPICE, but I think I'll save it for the next post. Happy Peace Month. Good Luck!

Related Posts By Brad
Give Peace Month a Chance
The Bomb and Truth Telling
How not to be a Knee Jerk

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas New Years Letter

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Tricola Transitions 2011

To our Dear Friends and Family,

A lot has changed in our lives recently, so we wanted to give you an update. In 2009, we moved to Boise where Brad and Heather were co-pastoring at the Friends Church. Levi Matthew joined our lives (surprise!) on April 5, 2011. Soon after Levi’s birth, we made the difficult decision to resign from our pastoral position and move to Camas. We found that the church was not the fit we hoped it would be. We really value the experience we had there and the relationships we built. We are happy to be back in the beauty and relentless green of the northwest, where we feel more at home and can see family and friends (and we are not missing the arduous drive over the Blue Mountains this winter).

We have settled into the Camas community nicely. The Tricolas moved into the second floor of the Goecks’ house (Heather’s parents) and are thankful that there is room in the Inn for this growing family. We have been integrated into the life of the Camas Friends Church community. We value the rich Quaker tradition and core values of Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community and Equality. We have found support and collaboration with this church community. Brad enjoys working at the Laundry Love project, leading music, and preaching.

Heather got a job that works perfectly for our family. She is teaching math at Union High School in Camas. Its proximity to our home, the engaged (mostly), quirky, and fun students, and the supportive staff make her work a joy. She is truly grateful for being able to balance meaningful work with a rich family life. This summer, Brad finished his Master’s degree in Ministry Leadership from George Fox Seminary. He is relieved-glad-sad to be finished. Brad really appreciated the experience and is grateful for his family’s support when he was busy with all the books and essays and online posts. Brad is beginning to see many rewarding and challenging life pieces come together. As a very active, hands-on dad (is there any other way to change diapers?), Brad also makes time for work that he finds engaging and fulfilling. He enjoys posting on his blog (www.bradtricola.blogspot.com if you’re interested). In this new year, Brad will add administrative and pastoral work with Camas Friends, and an online facilitator position with George Fox Seminary, to his job as an enrichment instructor with the YMCA. Brad and Heather hope to find that Work-Life balance that seems so elusive. It will take simplicity, restraint, discernment, and God’s grace. We think it’s worth it. The Tricola children agree.

Braden started Kindergarten. His teacher has them learning tons, but is still able to nurture and inspire a love of learning. He’s beginning to read more fluently using a combination of strategies like sight words, chunking, and context clues. It’s so much fun to see it all starting to come together. His teacher describes Braden as imaginative, an outside-the-box thinker, and a pleasure to have in class. He has found a few kindred spirits that have become good friends. Zachariah is vibrant and good-natured. Even when he is in trouble, he often has a smile on his face. Zac makes beautiful art work and has a great sense of humor. In their recent church Christmas program, Zac and Braden both charmed the socks off the audience, singing out with gusto and hamming it up. Braden and Zac have been wonderful big brothers. When Levi is cranky, they are sometimes the only ones who can comfort him with their silly faces and noises. Levi is a sweet, social baby. He is starting to copy words and actions, like clicking his tongue. He is a boy who knows what he wants and works hard to get it, climbing up entire staircases or crawling through tiny spaces. Our three boys (mom is completely outnumbered!) bring such delight and energy to our lives.

Thank you for being a part of our story. We hope many blessings come your way this year.

With much love,

Heather, Brad, Braden, Zachariah, and Levi