Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Baron Family Christmas

For the first time ever I experienced the Baron Family Christmas! (There have been a lot of firsts this year and will continue to be, I'm sure...)

The morning was lovely. Any day that Landon and I get to sleep in together is. However, these are few and far between. Opposite schedules make it impossible during the week, and typically on the weekends we are doing something adventurous on Saturday and then church on Sunday. And I am a sleeper. I take pride in my ability to take long naps, and I am a self-proclaimed bed lover, and make no apologies for it. If ever the day comes that we have kids, this may become a problem. But for now, I revel in it... I woke up later than Landon and when I went to the living room to see what he was up to he was perched in the mustard puke yellow St Vincent De Paul chair, with his headphones on and the computer on his lap. I asked what he was doing and the reply came that he was waiting for a song to load. We watched the music video together and as it ended he asked if I liked the music. "Ya. They're really good." "Well good, because we're going to their concert tonight and I got us a hotel room in downtown," he explained with a Cheshire Cat grin across his face. I was ecstatic! I love surprises and love that he went to all the trouble to plan something for us to enjoy together. It means more than I find words adequate to express it. So instead of staying the night in Salem at the Cantrall's casa, we would head to Newberg for the Christmas dinner and then go North to PDX. Stoked!

We made our way to Newberg in a drizzly haze, the blue Mazda humming up the freeway as we sat content, complete with Allann Brother's drinks in the cup holders and Brooke Fraser coming out of the speakers. We discussed music, traveling, careers, family... Anything and everything. We listened to songs over and over again, attempting to understand them, apply them to ourselves in a way. I giggled and swooned, taking in all that was happening, feeling very much like a princess out on a grand adventure. A deep part of my heart was impacted, and the result was very good.

We arrived and were immediately welcomed by cousins, aunts, second cousins, parents, grandparents and nephews. Landon's dad has two siblings, but they each have a two kids, and all the kids have kids except us and the Coopers. And though the hall was large, with a big table set down the middle, it was alive and bubbling with various conversations, kids squealing and laughter. Ah, commotion. I have been around it since birth and life wouldn't seem right without it.

Dinner was prayed over and dished up. I was again blessed to eat Gammy's cooking, something she is famous for. Ham, turkey, cranberry chutney, a potato dish, green salad... It was all there. The end of the table held the desserts, and in his 3 year old wisdom, Elliott was not too keen on leaving them alone. Who said having pie before turkey was bad for you? He patiently waited until his dad gave him the ok, though, and then enjoyed every sweet and satisfying morsel. As did the rest of us. And after the food, we all sort of pushed back from the table and the conversations continued. It was really fun to talk with family I had only met once or twice, and get to know more about them and what is going on in their lives. It was also fun to chase the little kids around, twirling Elliott in circles until both of us were nervous we'd lose our dinner.

Couldn't have been a better way to begin the holiday season. Again reminded of how wonderful this whole marriage thing is.

The Baron Clan. (Minus Joel, Danelle, Ilia, Baron and Aunt Bev.)

I've learned that this happens often.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Two and Six

I just realized I forgot to celebrate! Just this week I finished number 2 on the 25 before 25 list, which was to read all the Chronicles of Narnia books. There are seven in the series, and I definitely had moments of loving and not liking that I was reading them, but in the end I am glad I stuck it out. Lewis writes with great imagination and wonder, but also with a sense of gravity and sobriety. The parallels between the books and another book that I especially like (the Bible) were not only fun to realize but also intriguing. Who knows, reading these books may become a holiday tradition or something? Along with finishing number two, I began to work on number six. That is, I began ironing the squares for my quilt. They were already cut because we used them as flags at our wedding (my Aunt Carol did a fabulous job and I loved the effect), and instead of just discarding them I decided to utilize them in my first ever quilt. A few more squares to iron and then I can begin designing and sewing the pieces together. Pictures will follow...

Friday, December 3, 2010

'The Silver Chair' excerpt

Recently I finished reading book 4 of the Chronicles of Narnia, The Silver Chair. No one had told me about this book yet, as they had raved about A Horse and His Boy. And yet, I thoroughly enjoyed the read, especially this dialogue between Aslan and the newest child to experience Narnia, Jill.
But long before she had got anywhere near the edge, the voice behind her said, "Stand still. In a moment I will blow. But, first, remember, remember, remember the Signs. Say them to yourself when you wake in the morning and when you lie down at night, and when you wake in the middle of the night. And whatever strange things may happen to you, let nothing turn your mind from following the Signs. And secondly, I give you a warning. Here on the mountain I have spoken to you clearly: I will not often do so down in Narnia. Here on the mountain, the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down into Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind. And the Signs which you have learned here will not look at all as you expect them to look, when you meet them there. That is why it is so important to know them by heart and pay no attention to appearances. Remember the Signs and believe the Signs. nothing else matters. And now, Daughter of Eve, farewell--"
As I read over this portion of the book I was softly reminded of things God has spoken to me before, and where He has spoken those things. The veritable mountain-tops of my life, where the air is clear, as Alan said, and the my mind is not preoccupied with other thoughts. And to look for those things not by what I expected them to look like, not being thrown off by appearances. Typically, in my life, the things that seem to not be are the very things that are. I have so appreciated ready Lewis' works. I highly recommend them.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Five Months

Tomorrow will mark five months of marriage for my husband and I. It has been bliss. I love it more and more every day. These are some of my favorite photos from our wedding. Our friend Jay Eads did the photography and rocked it. Look him up. He's legit.

For some reason this image captivates me: I'm not girly yet here I am, getting dolled up.
My grandfather: my favorite and a shining example of redemptive love.
Ezra Steven Cantrall: he joined this world a month and nine days before our wedding.
My dad's face breaks my heart. An amazing moment.
Our first moment seeing one another in our wedding clothes. Speechless.
Six of my best friends from high school and the father of another who couldn't be with us. We saved her a seat though.
Prince and Princesse: my two favorite Rwandese kids.
Our good friend Joshua. This picture reminds me of God's perfect protection.
Julia looks up. I love her innocent wonder.
Our version of cutting the cake. Home made 3.5 pound truffle.
Husband and wife.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


For some reason I felt the need to change this blog today. I needed a new look, a fresh slate.
I feel like I'm in a re-defining time in life. I've experienced a few before, and this seems to fit the bill. Figure out what is stirring in my heart, what God is whispering, what I enjoy and am passionate about, and do all of this through massive amounts of prayer and dialogue. The difference with this redefinition is that now I am blessed to have someone to mull things over with. I am very fortunate that my best friend also happens to be my husband, and with that comes the trust, security and patience needed to work through deep questions. It is a process, and sometimes it hurts or brings tears, but the end is worth it.
Cheers to change!


"As he was about to climb another dune, his heart whispered, 'Be aware of the place where you are brought to tears. That's where I am, and that's where your treasure is.'"
(From Paulo Coelho's, The Alchemist)

My sister sent me this quote. The relevance of it in my life right now is immense. Each time I read it, I see something new. To put words to all that is stirring... Impossible right now.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The List, Revisted

I needed a refresher on what I said my goals were. So here is an updated 25 before 25 list:
1. Pierce my nose (Done: December 23, 2009)
2. Read all the Chronicles of Narnia books
3. Experience God in another culture
4. Celebrate my Grandpa's 80th birthday with him (Done: January 27, 2010)
5. Run a half marathon (Done: November 6, 2010)
6. Make a quilt
7. Climb Mt Thielsen
8. Learn how to make holiday walnut bread
9. Read Grandpa OJ's book
10. Go to Seattle (Done: with Jodi, February 5, 2010)
11. Introduce Landon to The Cabin
12. Visit the Jenkins in Los Angeles
13. Fly fish with Tyrell
14. Visit Gloria in Coure D'Alene
15. Learn how to ride a motorcycle
16. Visit with Jenny L. face to face (Done: June 16-19, 2010)
17. Learn how to kayak
18. Do something my Grandparents would call 'crazy' (Done: August 28, 2010)
19. Meet all of my second cousins
20. Start a blog and post on it regularly (Done: July, 2010)
21. Mountain bike on the McKenzie Trail (Done: August 21, 2010)
22. Get outside of the United States
23. Go bungee jumping (Done: October 16, 2010)
24. Go backpacking with my husband
25. Get another tattoo (Done: August 19, 2010)

Number 5, complete.

This past Saturday marked an accomplishment in my life. It is number 5 on the 25 before 25 list, and more than that, its a goal I have had for some time and it is finally done. I finished a half-marathon! The Silver Falls Trail Half-Marathon was on November 6th, at 9 am. My sister-in-law invited me to do it with her only two months ago, and reluctantly, I agreed. Mid way through training, I got sick, putting a halt on running. Then I never really regained my desire to run. Well, I'm not sure I had a desire to begin with. I like running, in fact, I love it. But there was something strange that happened when I felt like I had to run. All of a sudden I hated it, resented lacing up my shoes, and felt rather indignant about the race. How one can go from craving a good fall time run to loathing it so much is still a mystery to me, but anyway... With some much needed words of encouragement from my husband and a little stubbornness, I continued training and showed up on Saturday. As I surveyed the runners around me, all I could do was laugh. We ranged from rippled muscles tightly defined by too much spandex to pink tu-tus and goofy grins. Suddenly I felt a little more relaxed. Kelsey and I had unknowingly gone through some of the same emotions leading up to the race, though, like usual when someone else is depending on you, we stuck it out because the other one was running. (Glad I didn't know that before Saturday!) We started out running together but at about mile 2.5 Kelsey started pulling ahead and I just let her go. No use hurting myself trying to keep up with her. So I just settled into my pace, my comfort level, and I mostly enjoyed the rest of the race.

I went through a myriad of emotions, ranging from a sickly/nauseous stomach to sheer joy as I 'fartleked' down leaf covered trails. (Fartlek is a term I learned from my husband, and apparently its the word for letting go and running like a maniac down a hill so you utilize the momentum that is naturally created.) The best miles, by far, were six through nine. Wisely and strategically the race sponsors created the route so that we got to run under and around the Silver Falls waterfalls mid-race. It was a little extra 'umph' that I definitely needed at that point, and goodness, not much can match coming around a the Rim Trail and the waterfall being spotted in the distance. Immediately my thought was "I get to run under that soon!" I totally thought of The Last of the Mohicans and that epic scene under the waterfall... Mile ten was a little less excited, as it held the vertical line on the elevation map. Yes. That's right, we climbed some 200+ stairs in order to get out of the bottom of the valley. Who said trail runs weren't fun?? The last three miles were by far the hardest, as I had only ever ran nine miles at once before the race so my body wasn't used to it, but I got through them, and up that last dang hill, and then jogged across the grass and last bridge before passing under the race clock at 2 hours and 19 minutes. Considering my adventure leading up to the race I was happy just to run across the finish line with my feet underneath me.

All in all, I am stoked I finished it. There was something that got proven to me about myself as I crossed the finish line. Despite never considering myself a runner before (I still wouldn't say I'm one, I just like running) I finished 13.1 miles, on trails, and lived to tell about it. It had seemed like this lofty goal that was possibly not going to be accomplished, but it was and that was worth the sore ankles and tight hip flexors. Number 5, done.

Pre-run smiles, despite the chilly fall air.
A great feeling.
Still smiling, though a little exhausted and sweaty.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I never realized how much I would appreciate someone appreciating my writing. Its never been something I wanted fame from, just a way that I could express my heart more tangibly. A lot of times I feel as though I haven't even scratched the surface of what I want to say and find myself clawing through my intellect in order to find that one treasure of a word that will encompass everything I am trying to express in one delicious bite. It is frustrating, to be honest, and I feel like a small child trying to get out what I am thinking and feeling, when all that seems to be produced is a jumbled gabble of noises and grunts. But I try anyway, possibly naively clinging to the hope that if I continue to try one day it will click. Isn't that how we all learn how to play an instrument or ride a bike? If you sound horrible or fall off and scrape your knee, everyone says to keep practicing. Keep trying, and eventually it'll click. I think I'm in my eventually time... But that really isn't the point of what I'm trying to say right now. (See how this could be frustrating?) What I am saying is that someone very dear to me gave me feedback recently about something I wrote and it was comparable to the best unforeseen gift I have ever received. It was encouraging, inspiring and made me want to try again all the more. My husband loves to cook, and loves mostly when he gets the "Mmm... this is GOOD!" response from people. I guess that is what I enjoy too. Making something not only palatable but tantalizingly delicious that maybe someone will think about later and say, "Mmm... that was good..."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Half the Sky

I just finished reading Half the Sky, written by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, which had been suggested to me by my sister. Somehow she had heard of the book, read it, and then told me I'd love it. For some reason, I was dubious. Not sure why, but I was. Probably that little sister in me coming out that was as stubborn as all get out and never wanted to admit I actually liked something my sister did. Anyway, I finally put myself aside as I was searching for my next book and walked to the library one day to find this one. I'm not disappointed I read it. In fact, I would highly suggest it to people. In a surprisingly palatable manner the authors (who are husband and wife) present stories, statistics and research results on the crisis of women's oppression around the world. Ranging in topics from genital cutting to brothels in Thailand, the book exposes hideous truths about what women are suffering, but also rejoices and applauds the manner in which females are rising above such atrocities in order to create change. The book had me angry, frustrated, in tears, saddened and excited, seemingly all at once. It also caused me to beg the question, "what can I do?"
I probably am not alone in this inner questioning that seems to occur whenever I hear or witness injustice. The problem seems too big, too intricate, too convoluted for me to address. I used to be satisfied to remain ignorant, but that is ineffectual and, honestly, selfish. As the last few years have passed I have attempted to educate myself on whatever social injustices are occurring and pray through them. You see, I want to make a difference. I must be young enough and possibly naive enough to think that my life can have an impact on others, and I want to make sure that it does in the most dynamic way possible. Though the problems seem insurmountable, I want to try anyway. But I seem to get stuck on 'how.' I am willing, able and ready, but where, how and who? It is something I am in constant prayer about. Its a hard place to be, this waiting place. I don't like it, if I can be honest. I don't just want to tear up when I hear about young girls being raped by militiamen in East Africa, I want to help stop their abuse. I don't want to just shake my head in disbelief at the incredible amount of orphaned children after natural disasters like the earth quake in Haiti or the floods in Pakistan, I want to provide food, shelter, clothing and education for them. To show them that Jesus loves them. I keep getting stopped up though, quietly wondering what that looks like for me and my husband. And its like a fire that is burning in my bones and I can't hold it in, like Jeremiah says. I pray an answer comes soon.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Miles to Go

I am continually challenged and humbled at where I find myself. I have acted out of selfishness, pain and insecurity towards the people who love me the most, and I have neglected obedience in order to remain comfortable. I have avoided certain thoughts in order to hold on to illusions, and have traded invaluable things for the temporary. It is halting to realize these things. Often I'm disgusted by them, stomach turning as memories flood back, and my knees get weak. They weaken to the point that I find myself kneeling. A perfect posture to be in. Vulnerable, humbled, repentant. And its there that I am reminded of grace. The whispers are spoken to my heart about the worth that He placed on my life despite myself, and what that translates to in my day to day. I am reassured of direction and reminded that I have miles to go, and that is completely ok. I'm told to not focus on the destination but enjoy the journey, investing in community wherever I can. Let no life go unnoticed, none is insignificant. Open up and demonstrate heart.
I am so thankful for grace.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Number 23

On Saturday, the 16th, Landon finally received his birthday present and I completed number 23 on my 25 before 25 list. We traveled to just outside Amboy, WA, and bungee jumped off an old logging bridge. We jumped twice each, with me going first and screaming my lungs out. It was brilliant and wonderful, and the most terrifying thing I've ever done, all at once! We really enjoyed ourselves and as we left Landon told me it was the best birthday gift thus far. That made all the screaming and body shakes worth it. (Below is my second jump).
We survived and got these sweet T-shirts too!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Little Things

I used to pick up little things, unzip the Easter purse on my hip, and rapidly stuff them inside, so as to protect and keep them from getting lost after I just found them. The purse was a long shoulder strapped baby blue vinyl thing, that someone gave me as part of an Easter outfit one year. I must have been only three at the time, but able to walk, bend and grasp interesting treasures I'd find at Grandma's house, in our kitchen or in the aisle at the grocery store, and hide them away until a later time. I'm told stories of how I would empty the robin egg satchel every so often to display my 'pretties,' as my Grandma Jean called them. A dime I got from Dad, a not-sticky-anymore shiny star from Sunday school class, a unique button from Grandma's sewing room. The treasures would tumble out and I would promptly categorize and explain each one with great care and great detail, admiring the small object as if it were my most prized jewel. And as I was just looking at a friend's blog and scrolled through the conglomeration of photos, quotes, videos and suggested readings, I recognized a part of myself. I don't think that whoever gave me the purse realized they gave place in my life for me to collect 'little things.' Though I have traded marbles, buttons and shiny paper for more 'grown-up' things like photos, quotes and transcontinental earrings, I still find myself drawn to any small memorabilia which can invoke a story or memory in an instant, or just may look appealing to my eye.
Amazed at how some things never change...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Question Answered Through Writing This

Scatter brained and frustrated I attempt to capture feelings, thoughts, and experiences in words. Periodically this is impossible, and I crave another outlet. I long to express/vent/let go of all the things that fill up my brain space. Prayer helps. Jesus helps. He is the answer to it all, honestly. That is not a religious, over-spiritual statement. It is truth, and has proven true in my life time and again. I still try to express the questions. Maybe just to present them. Maybe because if I do I feel more human, as if I am not numb and just accepting of 'the way it is.' Indifference has been my most feared reality for some time. I want to know that it hurts to feel. I want no anesthetic when it comes to suffering, pain, death, war, disease, loss. It opens me up to discomfort, and yet that is much more welcomed in my life that ignorance.
Tonight I attempted to capture this all. The pictures and words represent what has occupied and caused feeling recently.
Hezbollah: a Shi'a Islamist political and paramilitary organisation based in Lebanon. It is a major provider of social services, operating schools, hospitals, and agricultural services for thousands of Lebanese Shi'a, and plays a significant role in Lebanese politics. It's considered a resistance movement in much of the Arab and Muslim world. A lot of countries have condemned it's actions, though Syria and Iran have been mostly supportive. Whether it is a terrorist organization or not depends on who you're speaking to. My sister is in Lebanon and there are some tensions surrounding actions of Hezbollah, as well as a visit from the Iranian president. Its unnerving and causes me to pray. A lot. Pakistan: wondering at how the population are coping with continued lack of resources after the floods. Realizing I have no reference for that kind of need. Taliban stoning: that still happens? Afghani girl: she was 14. U.S. Marines fighting insurgents and she gets killed. Her father's question: "Now what should I do with 'sorry'?" reminds me of people in Northern Uganda, forever maimed, disabled and debilitated due to 'cross-fire' during the conflict. Gypsy girl: displaced by the French government 'cracking down' on gypsies. Begs the question: why are we, as humans, so territorial. Habakkuk 3.2: Lord, I have heard of your fame, I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day... Echoed: Be still. Wait. Rest. Psalm 46.10: Be still and know that I am God...
The last part, the echo in my soul, Psalm 46.10, is all that I really need to focus on in this whole display. "Rely, lean, rest on Me."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I keep learning. I witness more of his heart every day. I learn new aspects of him each time a new circumstance comes about. His love for people is authentic in a way that doesn't even register to me. I've literally never seen in before. Watching him embrace a friend he hadn't seen in something like five years, who needs good friends right now, and it not mattering at all what has been going on. In fact, what had been happening is precisely why that embrace had to occur. I am brought to tears thinking about the sweetness of that moment. I stepped back and just took it in. Just tried to understand that grace. And its not even something that causes him to pause, or think twice about. It is normal to him. It is real life, not just pretend religion. And that ruins me. That amazes me. That challenges me in my own interactions with people. When it boils down to it, am I really as pure in my heart towards people as I would like to suppose I am? I don't know. I want to be as authentic as what I witnessed this afternoon. I want that to be my reality.

Monday, September 20, 2010


My judgements, biases and preconceived notions are typically not things I am proud of. I usually put the proverbial foot in my mouth on a daily basis, and find myself wondering at how I could really be so blind. I believe that in order to keep me in a place of humility God brings about circumstances that show me just how much I need His grace and mercy to help me in my time of need, as Hebrews 4:16 says.
Sunday morning had me humbled. On our way to church, the people behind us seemed pretty miserable, to be honest. He taking slow, steady drags on the cigarette hanging lazily out of his mouth, and her looking out the window in a generally indifferent way. My mind immediately tried putting their story together. The assumptions I made were nothing I am proud of. Though not horribly judgemental, I had my ideas, and let them color my perception. What a surprise to pull into our church parking lot and see the same car that had been behind us and then whizzed past us only a few minutes before. The very people I had assumed so much about were now holding the door open for me to enter into church. Wow. I was speechless, and inside, felt humiliated. They didn't know what I had thought, truly only the Lord saw my heart, but it was such a disgusting feeling to have judged like I had. It was a poignant reminder that I am a sinner, and if it weren't for God's mercy, I would not be redeemed or saved. Thank you Lord for having compassion on even me.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


for this to be released...


Last night I read back through some old journals, ones that held entries beginning back in June of last year. I have written in some capacity since I was probably, well, since I learned how to write. I used to just write little stories, fictional fables that now make me laugh, but were part of the process. And when I told a friend of my upcoming trip to Rwanda (in 2008) she offered the tip to journal everyday. Even if it was a short thing, just write. I did, and am forever grateful for the habit that began. But that is a side note, a rabbit trail. What those writings reminded me of yesterday was how waiting is worth every second. In one of the journals I read more than once to not misinterpret God's best for my supposed best, (or something to that effect). Wait on Him to bring about His will, because it will be much better than my supposed best. And I am convinced of this. Throughout my life, if I will simply wait on God's timing and perfect will, He will show me so much more than my supposed best. Anyone who has spoke to me in the past three months of marriage will have heard me say that it is better than I expected. Some people respond in downright shock. Maybe their first year was rough, maybe they have never heard someone say that before. I don't know. But I do know that had I settled for anything less than God's plan for me, for my 'supposed best', this would not be my declaration. It would have been a lot more difficult. A lot of possibilities came before, but none were in the right time, nor the right person. And this goes for much more than just relationships. I am convinced that patience and submission is worth every agonizing second when the result finally is provided. I have not arrived at this place of patience in everything I do. I can just see that it is worth it, and what I will attempt to make my life's reality.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Photographic Proof

Just a few favorite photos from the weekend in Newberg.
The Baron campsites.
One work project: remove an unwanted stump.
Enjoyed just sitting with Grandpa Dave.
Plenty to eat.
Mother and son making faces at each other.
The first of many hikes in this forest.
Grandparents and their grandson.
The other half of the table.
Elliott and Uncle.
Grandma Bev. Incredibe blessing.
Being a boy.
First meeting with a piƱata.
The family, watching the 'game-a-thon.'
Junk in the Trunk moves.
Moving better than us.
Sisters. Laughter. Joy.
Uncle Gary: successful!
The epitome of Aunt Raelene: joyous laughter.
Everyone looking on.
Classic look.
Sibling competitive spirit at its best.
Always wanting to share good food.
Making the horse face.
Gorgeous view, even without the sunset.
Bunco playing fools.
Breakfast camp-style: cackle berries, pancakes and bacon.
Elliott with his Ama.
Ezra with Ama.
Art project
He would say: finally.