The farm where I pray and pick apples is a scenic forty-five minute drive from Cambridge.  With a passion to connect with like-minded women burning like a fire in my bones and my friend’s encouragement to warm my heart, I pondered the word “tribe” on the drive.

Before this trip and leading into this thirty-one day challenge, whenever I prayed for direction and community, the word “tribe” rang clear and strong in my heart.

But that’s a loaded word for me.

It sounds like “clique”, “divisions”, “snobbery” and “exclusion”.

All things that are not in line with the Kingdom value of unity in the body as directed in Ephesians 4:3.

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

I wondered:

in what way does creating a distinct group— identifying with a “tribe” within the Body—make an effort to keep the unity?’.

This became my Drive-Time Lectio Divina; I turned that word around and around and around. I even quieted the car, turning off NPR and Carson daily to create space for Jesus to speak. Every time “tribe” made is way out of my mouth and back into my heart, I hoped he would give me a new picture of that loaded word.

Sometimes I tried to replace the it with:

“Small group”, “house church”, “girlfriends”, or “family”

Nothing. No change. No new word or softer phrase.

Just “tribe”.

Forty-five minutes of meditating and not single clear thought or new revelation.

To say I was a little annoyed would be an understatement.

I parked my car, got out, and headed to the farm store still tasting the bitter aftertaste of “tribe” in my mouth.

“Is this where I pay to pick apples?” I asked the round matron behind the red-checkered counter

“Yes.  Would you like a peck or a bushel?” she asked as sweetly as a cinnamon sugar cider donut.

“Uh…a peck.” I decided after looking at the steep price list, remembering why it’s a commitment to shop directly from farmers, it’s not cheap to support local agriculture!

She pulled out a small yellow bag that holds about twenty apples, I paid my eighteen dollars and as I turned away towards the orchard gates, she called out, “What are you looking for today?”

For a moment, I was taken aback.  ‘Apples, of course’ I thought. Until I realized she meant “what types of apples am I looking for today?”

“Oh! Whatever you have” I threw out flippantly.

“Well, honey come look at this map with me” she advised, knowing I needed a bit of guidance and patience.

She showed me several types of apples blooming right now.  There were rows of Cortland planted next to Macintosh across from Macoun.  She explained how some are not in season yet and so they’re sectioned off.

It was overwhelming.  There is an incredible diversity available of one thing at Shelburne Farms—apples.

I stepped into the orchard (serenaded by Allison Krause and Yo-Yo Ma reminding me “tis a gift to be simple”) and began to walk in between the rows of apple trees.


I stood at the intersection of the three in-season varieties and breathed in deep their crisp, sweet, tangy fragrance.  I planted myself among the apples tress and breathed in and out, in and out,  letting their aroma wash away my drive’s annoyance.

After a while, I realized, I couldn’t parse out distinct varieties…I could only smell apples.


And it dawned in me.

One delicious aroma in the midst of three very distinct trees.

Cortland tress only grow Cortland apples.  If you cut into one and take a bite, you’ll notice it’s tart tangy flavor.

Macintosh trees only grow Macintosh apples. Frank Browning poetically describes it’s flavor in his book, “An Apple Harvest”,

Snap a rosy McIntosh from the tree and it’s like walking with Thoreau past Walden Pond in the 1840s, as the complex play of honeyed, tart, and spicy juices trickle down your throat

Macoun tress only grow Macoun apples.  With it’s complex flavor apple connoisseurs have described as a hint of strawberry and spice, it tastes dramatically different than the Cortland or the Macintosh.

One gorgeous fragrance; Three distinct apples,

Each variety’s seeds dictate their make up and flavor. In order for them to give off that delicious, inviting aroma and cultivate their unique flavors they must grow in community with apples planted from the same seeds.  You’ve never seen a tree with several different types of apples blooming on the same branch because God designed like to nourish like.

Every tree represented a little tribe.


The Cortland Tribe.

The Macintosh Tribe.

The Macoun Tribe.

But, I still felt unsettled. It’s true, the times I’ve thrived as a believer was when I surrounded and availed myself to mentors who “got” me. Women who may not look like me but have similar seeds of faith planted deep in their hearts. Women who when cut up, are complex and sweet and a little spicy.

I became ripe for God to use on those trees sharing branches with my sisters.

I grew strong in communities that I shared common interests and passions.

I’ve forgotten that I was well acquainted with tribe life. I became the women I am today because of a strong tribe in my younger years.

“But, how does the “unity and diversity” described in 1Corinthians 12 play into this tree/tribe analogy”, I asked the Lord.

Standing in that intersection it all became clear to me; the apple tree tribes were growing healthy and strong in community with each other, even as they were a community within themselvesThey were all Sherlburne Farm apple trees, yet they were distinctively Cortland, Macintosh, or Macoun.

To Whom they belonged mattered as much as who they were made to be. 

Since coming home from the farm, I learned something interesting about how farmers plan their orchards.  In order to cultivate the healthiest crops, they intentionally plant differing varieties of trees next to each to maximize pollination.

According to

“In order to have successful pollination, it is necessary to have two different varieties of apple trees. Most apple varieties are self-unfruitful, which means their blossoms must be fertilized with the pollen of a separate variety in order to achieve good fruit set.

Apples also need pollinators—certain wasps, flies, and bees—to transfer pollen from one variety to the other. The apple trees must be planted within 100 feet of each other in order to help ensure that the pollinators visit both trees.”

And I imagined many tribes in the Kingdom of God with the Holy Spirit, our Divine Pollinator moving between us, taking what we’re passionate about in our tribe and encouraging another, challenging one tribe with another’s success, fertilizing the dreams he’s placed in one tribes heart with the wisdom he’s given another.

I asked Jesus, “why tribes” on my drive to orchard and he answered back in the variety of the Shelburne apple trees.

The orchard and The Body of Christ are both the design of a thoughtful creator.  The variety of trees reveals something of the farmer’s character and offers exciting diversity, just as each tribe within the Kingdom of God reveals Him in unique ways.  Just as specific varieties of apples thrive best and most naturally grown from the same root system, tribes of like-minded women can thrive well  when we connect and grow together.

As sisters in Christ, we should give off similarly enticing aromas, all originating with Jesus, yet we can—and in this series, I’ll suggest we should—maintain our variety identity.  We should be true to who God made us to be and to the convictions He’s placed on our hearts. We should find our tribe.  Seth Godin, best selling-author and TED Talk speaker on tribes define them as this:

A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.

So this series will be an exploration on the ideas I’ve connected with as a believer, the leaders who helped formed those ideas and hopefully by the end, I’ll connect with many women who like me are looking for a tribe who find encouragement and resonate with the teachings and writings of Greg Boyd, Bruxy Cavey, and Jonathan Martin.

Going forward, here’s the lay of the land from now to the 15th.  Starting with peacekeeping between tribes tomorrow.

Day 3: Keeping the Peace Among the Tribes

Day 4: FMF (I’ll write in the Five Minute Friday tradition, but I’ll work the word into this “tribe” series)


Day 5 and 6: Unity prayers


My Tribe’s Campfire Calls (parts 7-15 will be taking from the ReKnew Manifesto)

After a weekend of unity liturgies, I’ll move onto my “Campfire Calls”—the distinct flavors of this tribe.  What words do we savor?  God do we see Jesus?  How does the cross affect our day to day life?  These questions, ideas, and convictions will be explored in the next fifteen days as “Campfire Calls”.

This imagery— calling women to come and sit by the fire to process God and womanhood—comes from  “Jesus Feminist” by Sarah Bessey.   I’m reading an advanced copy and I’m loving her poetic, beautiful writing.

She begins with painting a picture of pouring ourselves glasses of smoky, chalky, sweet wine or steaming, spicy cups of tea, pulling a warm sweaters around ourselves and sitting knee to knee or across the fire from one another and just talking this stuff through.

So, in this series, my tribe’s defining characteristics or convictions will be called, “My Campfire Calls”.  I’m calling my sisters to come, sit by the fire, and let’s share our stories and struggles with women who hold similar values— God looks like Jesus,  blessed are the peacemakers, and our lives should be shaped by the selfless love of Jesus.  We hear these calls from Scripture and the Spirit and they resonates with us.

So from day 7-15, I’m going to share how each Campfire Call became a conviction of mine as an invitation to come, let’s sit by the fire and encourage one another.


Day 7: Sister, Where do you get our Life


Day 8: Girl, Come and Ask the Hard Questions


Day 9: Friend, Describe our Tribe Leader


Day 10: Kingdom Woman, Warm your Feet by This Fire


Day 11: Warrior, We’re in the Middle of a Battlefield


Day 12:  Christian, Christ is Victorious


Day 13:  Sister, Come and Follow Our Tribe Leader


Day 14: Ladies!  Grace Wins!!!


Day 15:  Beauty, Let’s Be Diverse Not Divisive.

So Lovlies, come and sit by my campfire and let’s talk peacemaking tomorrow.  Join the conversation by receiving the posts via email, following me on Facebook, or Twitter.

Excited about tomorrow’s post,