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.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Black Caps and Cackle Berries

Labor Day weekend of 2010 had me at a small private camp site just outside Newberg. The reason: the Fendall Family Camp Out. My mother-in-law was a Fendall by birth. The second of two children born to and raised by Dave and Bev, she became one of many cousins. Dave (my newest, yet oldest living grandpa) is the oldest of the seven Fendall children. All grown and grandparents now, they still manage to reunite every summer over the Labor Day weekend and the joyous craziness that occurs is nothing short of amazing. We arrived on Friday, having once again loaded our car with our camping gear and making a drive to some place that would allow us a weekend of sleeping in a tent, and were immediately greeted by my in-laws and new grandparents. It was dark as we set up our tent, but we made a quick job of it, and then rejoined the rest of the campers around a campfire. A hexagon shaped shelter of sorts plays home to the concrete fire pit which is surrounded by picnic tables and affords one side for a counter that would hold meal elements. Sitting around the campfire were Landon's grandparents, a few siblings and a few more grandchildren, cousins, sons and daughters. Without much light to really see the whole camp, I was content to sit and visit with those I had been introduced to. To me, this weekend was an opportunity to meet and get to know another vital part of my husband: his family. I had never realized the importance of this to me until Landon and I began to get to know one another. And here I was, surrounded by all those I had heard so many stories about. I could not have been more excited.
Saturday morning found me waking up to the smell of grilled bacon and the sounds of laughter as other campers gathered around some good camp-style food. Landon's dad and I both really enjoy a good cup of coffee in the morning and were a little nervous when we didn't see any. Luckily Landon had suggested I pack our french press coffee maker, so with some Trader Joe's Bolivian coffee in the bottom, and the water Janelle had heated, both of our coffee cravings were satisfied.
After breakfast and a business meeting of sorts, we were invited to participate in some friendly 'games.' Janice and Jessica had researched and put together all sorts of funny challenges, the likes of which consisted of attempting to get a bunch of ping pong balls out of a tissue box that had been belted onto our waists, moving an Oreo cookie from your forehead to mouth without using your hands, and many more. These brought much laughter and playful jeering from the audience. Something I began to appreciate very much was the joy everyone seemed to exude. It was apparent who the older siblings were, and who was younger. Dave's sisters, Charlotte and Lois, were especially good at jabbing at people, but always in love. In my family sarcasm and laughter is welcomed and the norm, and I was relieved to experience the same with Landon's family.
After a full spread at lunch and being joined by even more family members, it was time for an interview. Charlotte began these a few years ago after realizing that sometimes we don't even know the simplest of things about our own family members. Phil (the second oldest) was in the hot seat this year, and so for about an hour we all sat in audience as Phil shared his life story with us with Charlotte acting as a sort of Barbara Walters. We heard of his birth, grade school years, high school adventures, marriage, children, career, successes and some regrets. I appreciated so much his openness and willingness to share, even when the subject swayed towards aspects of life that have not been pleasant for him. He shared about picking black caps, which I learned are a sort of black raspberry that are really good for dying one's hands, or other materials. It was intriguing and fascinating, to listen. For the past few years I have felt this desire to hear people's stories. How did they get to the point they are in life? What has driven them? What is their favorite part of their story? I thanked Phil later for sharing with everyone.
The evening meal was again a sort of potluck, with delectable dishes being brought by everyone. If I learned one thing this last weekend, it was that the Fendall's enjoy food. I'm glad I married into this family... Landon and I went on a walk after dinner, hoping to catch the sunset over the neighboring vineyards. To our dismay, there were no clouds to provide the art we were hoping for, but instead I got something much better. Sitting in the straw-like grass, next to my husband, watching the sun sink ever lower, I was blessed with an incredible contentment. I have only felt that way a handful of times in my life. A deep founded peace, knowing that where I am in that moment is exactly where I am supposed to be. It was a heavy and thick peace, and I was silenced by it...
Making our way back down to the camp ground we began laughing at the screams and exclamations coming from the camp fire area. Bunco had begun, and even if people didn't know how to play they were roped into it, and in true Fendall fashion, that meant plenty of jokes and laughter. I sat down next to Grandpa Dave and just admired the craziness. They sure did love rolling that dice!
Sunday morning was when our family was charged with making breakfast and conducting the worship service. Landon and Steve manned the griddles, cooking up pancakes, bacon, eggs and little smokies, as I cut up fruit and Janelle made sure everything was out. I had found some pumpernickel bread at the Kiva a few days before we left Eugene, and after asking Steve to toast it for me, was pleasantly surprised by how good it was with a little butter on it. Better not risk stomach issues when so many people had to share one port-a-potty.
Neil and Kelsey arrived about half way through breakfast. Kelsey and the boys had come the day before, but due to work my brother in law wasn't able to come. They made it for church, though, and Neil lead the gathered group in worship. There is not much that beats an acoustic guitar accompanied by voices lifted in praise, in my opinion. After Neil closed in prayer, Landon took his place behind the microphone. We had spoke numerous times about what he would say, to which the final answer came, "I'm going to just be God's mouth piece." It was poignant, what he said, and I fought back tears the entire time as I saw yet another side of my husband displayed. A peaceful reassurance swept over me as I listened to my best friend express his heart for his family, and their relationships with the Lord. This marriage honestly gets better and better, bringing joyous surprises every day. As Landon finished sharing his heart, he requested that the Fendall siblings pray over the rest of us, in a way imparting in us what God had placed in each of them. It was beautiful to me, and though I had sort of a back row view, I wasn't upset by that. Instead I was able to witness what God wanted me to, and able to take it all in. After we all found our seats again the microphone was 'open' for others who needed or wanted to share prayer requests and then subsequently for those who felt urged to pray for specific things. I'm not sure that everyone expected the service to go that way, but it turned out to be an incredibly healing thing for many of us, I believe. Church under the trees. Simply wonderful.
Sunday lunch was the 'all-out' potluck. This meal was when everyone brought their planned dish to share, and the spread was incredible. I ended up talking with another of Janelle's cousins, Cheryl, for quite some time which prolonged me going through the line but there was still plenty. I loved that about this weekend. Sharing, community, laughter, serving. It was incredible to watch and witness.
After lunch while games were going on, Elliott and I went on a hike of sorts. He is a mover, and very energetic, and began the whole adventure by climbing up a hill and standing near some tall grass. We weren't sure what he was doing so I ascended the same hill and asked. "I'm standing in the grass." We began to walk side-hill, heading for a trail. Elliott is really smart for the two and three quarter years that he is, and he was pointing out numerous things to me. Every question I asked, he knew the answer, so I felt a sense of accomplishment when I showed him what a thistle bush was, and demonstrated to him that it was pokey. "Fissle bush. Fissle bush. Fissle..." He repeated it again and again, reminding himself how to say it and what it was. Its amazing to me to watch as young children learn.
Sunday afternoon also held a golf tournament of sorts. Teeing off on the same road that Landon and I had watched the sunset, there was a long drive and closest to pin contest, with brackets for men, women and 18 and younger. I am not a golfer by my own admission, so to get out of the humiliation of slice after slice, Elliott and I went to visit the horses. A little startled at the size of the animal at first, he was shy, but as I showed him how to hold the grass at the end furthest from the horse's mouth and the horse actually ate it, he was excited. After that became boring we started walking down the driveway. I finally got Elliott to turn around after asking him if he wanted to see the puppy, otherwise I think we'd still be hiking across the valley.
That evening many people made their exit, so when Landon and I woke up from our nap it was only a select few left. We were able to spend more time with a few family members on more of a one-on-one basis, and I was blessed by the time.
The next morning was simply breakfast and clean-up. Gary made some pancakes and cackle berries, which I had learned this weekend are eggs. One thing to say about the Fendalls, they have a few interesting names for things. Snorks: hot dogs. Black caps: black raspberries. Cackle berries: eggs. Plus many more I can't remember now. Made for interesting conversations, and more laughter... Breaking camp was a semi-sweet thing. Though I was excited to get a shower (four days is a little long to go without) and needed some more sleep before work that night, it was also sad to leave. Family is huge to both of us, and I was welcomed in to the Fendall family as if I had been born in. The plain joy of the whole weekend is something I didn't want to leave, and both Landon and I were somewhat somber as we drove away from Heritage Hill. I am blessed to be a part of this family, and look forward to many more camp outs.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


This song by Brooke Fraser has impacted me time after time, and again, as I revisit it, I am struck again.