Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Cross and The Olive Tree

We went on a hike down to a hermitage on the side of a valley. It took us numerous stairs to descend down the valley wall, and about two thirds of the way there we came to this landing sort of area where this rugged cross and old olive tree stand. The valley we were in was incredible enough, and the hermitage was phenomenal (built somewhere around 515 A.D.), but for some reason this scene has stuck with me. I often wondered, while on that hike, why the tree had been planted there. And who had erected the cross. Its an incredible place, one that I felt compelled to tread lightly upon, as it seemed to be holier than other ground. It was a fascinating experience.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Church and The Cave

Along with the monastery, there is also a church and a cave that have significance at Qozhaya.
The church is fascinating and awesome just in its architecture. It was literally built into the side of the mountain, so that half of the ceiling in the chapel is actually the rock of the hillside. Little prayer rooms off the main sanctuary also have this rock as their ceilings and walls. There is a large Maronite influence in this area, which is the kind of religion practiced in this church. I have never been one who feels completely comfortable in Catholic churches, for whatever reason, but I will admit that the architecture is beautiful and I do appreciate that.
If the church was uncomfortable, the cave was downright creepy. This large cavern with massive door to close it off from the rest of the world was a place where the 'possessed' were held while St Anthony was praying for their deliverance. [A note on 'possessed': mentally handicapped people are not very accepted in Lebanese society. Much of the time they are 'sent away' and live somewhere else. We all couldn't help but wonder how many of the prisoners of the cave might have just been mentally handicapped and not really possessed by a demon. Imagining the torture they endured was gut-churning.] The original chains were still attached to the large rock we faced as we entered, and stairs led up to an upper cavern. Landon climbed the stairs and said it went on for a while, though without a flash light he couldn't tell just how far. As I said before, if something makes me uncomfortable I'm going to do it just to conquer that fear. Well, this cave was a step above making me uncomfortable. It was one of those places that when you enter immediately the air feels thicker somehow, your little wispy neck hairs stand straight up, and you just know you're not the only 'being' in the room. I lasted about ten minutes, and then something dropped from the ceiling behind me and I was out. (Wow. Even typing about it makes my heart rate quicken.) Some bad stuff happened inside that place, and a lot of that bad is still there.

St Anthony's Monastery

The first night of our road trip we stayed at Qozhaya, the active monastery of St. Anthony, hidden back in the terraced slopes of the Qadisha Valley. Established some time in the forth century, this place has a rich and interesting history. As well as the monks who live there and cultivate the acres and acres of fruit trees and other agricultural products, the place also hosts group retreats so had a sort of hostel feel to it. My sister had seen it on a hike through the valley but had never stayed there.After we had been shown to our room and set our things down we decided to go on a hike to a water pipeline that offered an incredible view back down the valley. It was on this hike that I snapped this photo. The gate was the entrance into an orchard filled with olive, persimmon, apple and countless other fruit trees. And the monastery is captured above. The sheer size of the place was incredible.
On this hike I also had my first taste of a raw olive. It was harvesting season while we were there, so the olive I snagged off a tree was totally ready to be eaten. Ready except for the fact that it had not been cured. So. Gross. It turns out that the curing process is really important. I literally could taste the bitter olive taste the entire hike. It even seemed to 'burn' the back of my throat. Not a recommended snack.
Here's a link if you want to read more about where we stayed.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Elias, the Jeweler

My sister pointed out a little shop to us as we walked briskly by the evening before: "This is a cool artisan shop. You might stop in there for handmade jewelry." Ok, I thought, and then continued to focus on not tripping over all the objects littering the somewhat dark sidewalk.
Well, the next day we went back to the artisan shop. We walked in the open door and the shop owner stood up, nodding his head to us in welcome. His mouth was full of grapes, or else he probably would have said hello. We nodded and muttered a hello as we gazed at the wall of handmade bracelets, earrings and necklaces. As he cleared his mouth he offered us some grapes. Initially I refused, not wanting to take someones lunch, but as he insisted we both acquiesced. We began chatting with him, and fairly soon: would you like some coffee? Yes, thank you. Sweetened? No, thank you. We were offered seats, and soon enough we were having a conversation with Elias. Our conversation bounced from topic to topic, each participant listening hard to try to decipher what was being communicated through the foreign accents. We learned that our new friend made the jewelry with his son, who at the time was visiting his sister in the U.S. She's going to university in Philadelphia and has been there studying film for the past three years. Elias was close to 70 years old, but we wouldn't have guessed that. We spoke about the civil war, about other jobs he's had, how he takes his coffee and how much we had enjoyed the city so far.
This picture, to me, signifies hospitality. I think we lose it in the U.S. Some people know how to welcome others, but as a general rule, we're really good at keeping our distance from strangers. Elias showed us the epitome of Lebanese hospitality. And the jewelry we bought is gorgeous to boot!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Little Sister

Besides possibly my own children someday (a huge 'if' proposition), I am never more proud or excited than when I see my little brothers or sister do something they love. Its like the best gift ever to get to witness them triumphing over an obstacle, whether its a sporting event or a musical chord. I love time spent supporting them. Last weekend afforded such an opportunity.
My little sister is much younger than me, and this school year she decided to try soccer on for size. As a fifth grader she's actually starting 'old' but I think she is starting to get it, and likes it, if for no other reason than to be with her friends. Its just a kidsports team, made up of kids who go to her new school, but she seems to fit right in, listening to her coach and fearlessly attacking for the ball. Though she's still a little gangly and awkward, I hope she sticks with it.
She's in the blue shirt and low pony tail. Grace.

Monday, October 3, 2011

White Rock

This is by far one of my most favorite places to sit and wait. For someone like me (bored easily, don't like to sit still, equate movement with accomplishment) being still is a very difficult lesson I've had to learn in my life.
It began to conflict with my desires when I was in college. My sister was the ear who heard way too many times, "I hate it here! I'm doing nothing with my life!!" Somewhat melodramatic coming from a 19 year old college sophomore with 16 credits, 3 part time jobs and a boyfriend. But there was something deeper that was happening. Without knowing to use these words I was trying to tell her, "This isn't enough. Its not satisfying. There has GOT to be more to life than what I'm seeing." And that refrain continues to play throughout my life. Like a little ditty that gets stuck in your head, it's on repeat and refuses to be turned off.
But this rock, this view...
I can sit here for a while. I can be still here for hours, letting my mind wander from thought to thought, keeping my attention and eyes gently focused on the Eastern ridge, awaiting a Mule deer's approach over the rise. But I can just be here. Call it circumstance, call it determination, call it whatever you want. The point is, for the first time in a long time I could just be.
Too bad that buck never showed itself...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sweet Seattle Lovin'

Over the weekend my best girlfriend and I traveled to Seattle for our good friend Tony's wedding. He is someone we have both known since middle school, having been very close friends with his older sister who passed away in 2004. He tied the knot last Saturday to his love, Brianne, and their wedding was phenomenal. She is deeply Catholic and he was baptized as such as a baby, so they chose to get married in a Catholic church. It was so welcoming and bright, unlike my childhood memories of my Grandparent's church. The ceremony, though long, was lovely and I have never seen him so exuberant.
Their reception took place on a boat-turned-banquet facility, with a breath taking view of the Seattle skyline off the bow. It was fun, festive and so welcoming, once again. I could not have been happy for the two newlyweds and wish them all the goodness life together can possibly offer.
Isn't this the sweetest photo ever? I love Brianne smiling at her teary-eyed dad.
Exchanging their vows. (On a side note: I love the photographer's dress!)
Could the view be any better? Incredible.
Most adorable couple. They are both so playful and lighthearted.
And her dress! I loved it.
Myself and Brittney, congratulating Mr. and Mrs. Discerni.

Bill Cunningham

If you have the ability, I strongly recommend the documentary, "Bill Cunningham New York." I just finished this fascinating movie and absolutely loved it.
I used to consider my intrigue with fashion and clothing something of vanity or narcissism, however, Mr. Cunningham put it into perfect perspective for me while answering questions in the documentary:
Fashion is the armour to deal with the reality of everyday life. You can't do away with it. It's like doing away with civilization.
Fashion is not necessary to life, but it makes it more colorful, pleasurable and bright.
On another note, this 80 year old man's fervor, passion and sheer joy towards his job is inspiring. I hope one day to feel the same way.
"He who seeks beauty will find it." - Bill Cunningham

Friday, September 23, 2011

In Loving Memory

A dear friend and mentor of mine passed away two days ago in a bicycle accident. She had been riding on a bike path that weaves its way past farm land and Dorena Lake, near Cottage Grove, when she crossed the highway and was struck by an oncoming truck. I learned of her passing yesterday morning, as I was getting off work. Unfortunately I know of tragedy occurring to young people all too well, but for someone her age to pass away like this is more startling; something I am still having a hard time wrapping my head around. I think a lot of 'Grovers' are trying to do the same thing. This woman was the one who would console us as we mourned losses and tragedies. She was not supposed to become one.
My wonderful husband came home from work to be with me after I had called to tell him what had happened. For some reason her death deeply impacted me (in a way I wouldn't have expected) and I was so thankful to have his comforting presence with me. He drove me to get some flowers, which we delivered to her doorstep, and then he drove me out to the lake to just sit. I explained to him as we walked out on the dam how I find myself drawn to large bodies of water when something difficult or tragic occurs. Its like this primal desire or need to be near something bigger than myself. We sat for an hour or so, letting the sun warm us and the breeze caress our faces as we each gazed at the lake before us and were silently lost in our thoughts.
My thoughts pranced from memory to memory; recalling service projects, ASB duties, leadership conferences, back yard BBQ's, and numerous other high school moments spent with Michele. I thought of my friend Erika, who lives in Austria, and was Ms. Portmann's exchange student my senior year. I wondered if she knew yet. I thought of my 'second mom', Linda, and the upcoming wedding of her son, an occasion Michele and I had spoke about just a few weeks ago. The excitement and joy in her voice as we both reflected over the monumental significance of the wedding for Linda, and how excited we each were for her, but how we also understood her jitters. I thought of Tillamook ice cream: Brown Cow was a staple at ASB gatherings, and an ongoing joke. I thought of our mutual love for Oregon State and how I appreciated Michele's exuberance for the Beaver's, as I identify with that team as well. I thought of friends and classmates and other mentors who would be in tearful sorrow over the passing of this woman. And I cried.
But, I also thought of the immense joy I saw on her face the last time I spoke with her. I thought of how, quite unexpectantly for me, we had bonded in recent years over a mutual and intense love of traveling. I thought of how she had given me tips about my upcoming trip to Istanbul, and how there is a place just outside the city that was a deeply spiritual experience for her as a Catholic. I thought of how she had always made immense effort to be there for people, regardless of what they were going through. I thought about how her legacy is deep and wide, and extends much further than what anyone would probably even imagine. I thought about how deeply she had impacted my own life, without me being consciously aware of it. And I thought, again, about how precious life is.
Its times like these that I realize who I have around me and how much I hope they know I love and cherish them. And I also realize how much I want to give of my own life in order to follow such an example. All we really have to give in life is ourselves, our time. I am reminded again to not waste the minutes that make up my life.
Thank you, Michele, for all you offered all of us and all you gave. You will be dearly missed.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Birthday Surprise

I love birthdays. As well as surprises. In fact, if I know a surprise is coming (sort of an oxymoron, but completely possible) I will specifically ask to not be told any of the details. I want to experience the surprise.
Well this week afforded me the opportunity to surprise someone very dear to me.
Landon's birthday is just a few days before mine so it is completely normal for us to do things 'together' for our birthdays. This year was the same. Last week I asked if we could go out to eat for our birthdays. "Sure. Where do you want to go?" he asked. I gave a few options, one of which was Cafe Soriah, a nice Mediterranean restaurant neither of us had ever had dinner at. He chose that one.
Little did he know that a few days before I had e-mailed as many 'favorite people' of his in the general area as I could and invited them to dinner as well. A few couldn't make it (a lot of our friends have children and plans are harder to make when child care is a necessity) but a group said they could. Perfect. You all show up at 6:30pm and we'll get there at seven.
And it was perfect. We were taken back to our table in the garden by the host and as we walked through the back door chatting, Landon all of a sudden exclaimed, "Wait! No way!" Laughter erupted and the surprise was a success.
Our dinner was lovely and delicious, and the company was phenomenal. So glad it worked and he felt special on his special day.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Labor Day Weekend

Once again, the Fendall camp out was wonderful. Instead of a long, wordy post about the weekend, here are my favorite photos. Enjoy!
Even our vegan relative at the Baron Bacon. Score!
Finnegan. Brushing his teeth. Smart kid.
Stella, Finn's sister, doing the same. Smart family.
Ford tractor.
Great Uncle Roger 'leveling' the wood shed posts. Using a chain saw.
The girls inspecting 'Inch.' A little inch worm we found in the sand box.
Stella, Lucia and Margot. I played for hours with them in this sand box. It was lovely.
Ezrita, with his great grandma Bev in the background. We call her 'GG.'
Four generations and spouses.
Back: me, Ezra, Landon, Steve. Front: Neil, Kelsey, Elliott, Janelle, Dave and Bev.
The Cantrall boys playing in the sand with 'Bapo'
We paused from the goofiness and fun to honor Lolly, Roger's wife, who passed away earlier this year.
Lonnie Fendall, 'bowling' for water bottles as Janelle looks on.
Elliott and Finn. They're something like 5th cousins. Doesn't matter.
The sweet tooth is strong in this one.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Itty Bitty Coffin

I went to a funeral yesterday. The coffin sat on its perch, looking much like a small cooler on a picnic table as it awaited its final resting place. Surrounded by the memorials of other infants lost to death too soon, the yellow rose topped box was an ominous and tear provoking symbol. In deafening quietness it spoke of disappointment, pain and haunting questions. It reminded myself and other on-lookers that the much anticipated little boy was now someone we would have to wait to meet until we are reunited in eternity. That little white box represented my dear friends' dreams being once again submitted in faith and not being returned to them fulfilled in the manner expected and hoped for. It was heart wrenching to witness.
But there seemed to be something else that was represented by that little white, yellow-rose-covered coffin. Amongst all the pain, it still represented love. It still represented hope. And that little body that laid inside impacted more people through death than it might have ever through life. Every onlooker was forced to truly realize that life is precious. Every attendant came face to face with the reality that to love deeply and passionately is to be vulnerable, but it also the only way to satisfy our need to do so. Souls were broken and awakened in the same moments while gazing upon that coffin, and deep appreciation for life itself was experienced.
I would have much rather met Ethan James on this side of Heaven, but I don't know that I would have learned what I have already from him if I had.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Impending Doom, er, Day...

In less than a month a day will occur that marks the 25th year of my life on earth beginning. For anyone reading this thinking "Twenty five isn't old! What is she talking about??" please read on...
No offense meant to anyone, but this next birthday I am about to celebrate is a big one. Somehow, in my mind, 25 seems old. It seems like a plethora of things should be happening or have happened so far in my life, and to be honest, I'm not there yet. Now, I've never been someone who has put birthdays to events happening in life, probably because for most of my life I've believed (and still do) that all that 'being normal' stuff is ridiculous and I'm very happy having my life be on its own timeline, one that God particularly laid out for me. That being said, these emotions I've been feeling seem VERY foreign to me. Its not that I don't like what is going on in life right now. I very much do. Its just weird to be at the 25th year of my life and consider what I assumed would or would not have happened by now. For instance:
I thought by now I would:
- have figured out what style I like. I'm still all over the map. Sporty one day. Dressed up/girly the next.
- be working in a different modality than x-ray.
- own a car. (I did, but sold it. So now, to my name, I don't own one.)
- have a few more stamps in my passport.
- enjoy wearing makeup. (Still hate it.)
- be settled.
- know how to play the guitar.
- have grown out of being so attached to my family. I stinkin' love them!
I also thought by now I wouldn't:
- be living in the Eugene/Springfield area
- be married. (Might come as a shock, but I totally didn't expect to be married to such an incredible man.)
- be so physically inactive. I had assumed my twenty's would have me in the best shape. There's still time.
- be wondering about what my life's work really is.
- be living in a warehouse.
But for as much as I haven't expected or am surprised by in life, I am also excited for the fact that more is to come. I sort of left my 25 before 25 list to the birds, and yet the past year has seen numerous adventures and firsts. Huge successes and a few trials, and despite what I imagined life would look like a quarter of a century in, I wouldn't trade this for my supposed best.
Here's to 25.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I took a short break from posting. Obviously. But this is why:
I recently spent six days at Camp Crestview with a grip of jr. highers. They reminded me how cool they are, and God reminded me how precious they are to Him. It was worth every sleep deprived moment.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Got to Live It

A couple days ago I went to visit my grandparents. I was headed to the lake on my day off anyway, and since they live within five minutes of my favorite lake, I decided to stop in and visit. I talked with my grandpa about his recovery (he recently had a knee surgery), his medications and his plans. For an 82 year old, he sure isn't slowing down at all. The past couple of months were probably just a hiccup in his mind. To everyone else it seemed like maybe his life was nearing it's end, but to him, it was just a short diversion to keep him a little longer from completing his to-do list.
As I shared with him my newest hobby (rock climbing), I received the ever-familiar eye roll simultaneously executed with the head shake and slight chuckle. I'm not sure that everyone receives this response, but in the past few years, I have learned to appreciate and except this each time I share something new in my life with Grandpa. It is usually closely followed by a remark about his blood pressure rising or anxiety climbing another notch to which I typically offer a sheepish grin and chuckle of my own, but no apology. To me, the progression is a completely normal one. It was at Grandpa's house that we made forts out of hay bales, climbed trees too tall, and chased wild ponies with ropes, attempting to catch and 'train' them. It was all possible at Grandpa's, and all encouraged, I might add. And had it not been, I wouldn't be who I am. I'd have missed an integral part of myself, a part that I consider definitive. That's why no apologies are offered. He wouldn't expect one. I have got to live this life of mine, and really live it out. Giving an apology would send the message that it was a mistake, but it has in fact all been very intentional.
As I drove back home, I caught a scene that reminded me of this again: a small boy riding his bike next to his mom took a nasty spill, his bike on top of him, hands and one knee kissing the black top. My momentary glance didn't last long enough to see what happened next, but if the boy had any sense, and his mom was smart about it, he'd get back on the bike and keep going. He'd brush off the gravel, wipe his blood on his shorts and mount the bike again. Because that's the beauty of life and spills. We learn, grow and mature through the wipe-outs, but the benefit of that process is experienced in much greater measure when we get back up and try again.
Its a life lesson really: you're not finished yet. Try again. Give it another chance.
And just like my Grandpa, even at 82, we've all still got things on our to-do list.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Rattle Snake Scare

While we were at the cabin a couple weeks ago we went on what my dad calls a 'walk-about.' That basically means we head in a general direction for no other reason than to see what has changed, check on the fence line and get outside. Some firewood needed to be cut up and stacked for the fall hunting seasons so we took the truck and trailer up to a fence and then proceeded to hike up to White Rock so Dad could check out which snag he'd fall and cut up. While up on the look out point we saw a coyote. That got me thinking about the possibility of getting one, but all I had was my dad's .22 rifle. Though my hunting rifle was down at the cabin. Missed that opportunity! But Landon and I headed back down to pick up my gun, use the outhouse and shed our sweaters, as the sun had began warming the ground by that point. On our way back to the draw Dad and Jodi were cutting firewood in, we went around the bluffs and headed up under the tall pines, crunching pine needles under our feet the whole way. It really wasn't for any other reason than to enjoy nature.
As I have stated before, I've been travelling to this property since before I was born, and some things haven't changed. Just like when I was a scrawny little five year old, I still tend to step on top of logs, and then hop back down to the earth when I'm walking through the woods. I was doing just that, when behind me I heard Landon jumping and shuffling around like he had bees in his pants. I turned back around to remind him it wasn't good to act like that with his .22 in his hand, when he exclaimed, "Its a snake!"
Come to find out, the log I had just stepped on and then off of, Landon had started to step over and below his hiking boot he saw a rattle snake coiled. He jumped back, as the snake slithered back under the shade of the log and I turned around to see what was happening. We exchanged startled sentences and decided that even though he couldn't exactly see where the snake was he should try to shoot the thing with his rifle. He did, and after the third shot the snake was blown out the other side of the log, its rattle shot off and a few holes in its body. It was the most terrifying few moments to realize what could have been, had I not hopped off the log, or had the snake been a little more awake that morning. Needless to say, I was a little gun shy of the other logs laying all over the forest floor for the rest of our hike.

The Cabin

Just under two weeks ago Landon and I set out on a road trip that would take us 1676 miles in six days, driving most the length and width of Idaho, as well as across Oregon twice. My good friend from high school was getting married, and as usual, if we're in any kind of proximity to anyone else we know, we try to go visit. Well, we were 'close' (5.5 hours) away from Uncle Terry and Aunt Bev, so we figured, "We might as well go to McCall as well!"
But before we got to Idaho we spent a day in Eastern Oregon with my sister and Dad at the ranch. Its our family's go-to camp spot, as we not only know the land like it's topography is in our blood, but it also holds incredibly rich history for us. Its an incredibly magical place, conjuring up stories and memories at every mountain ridge and brush pile, and we each feel an immense sense of 'home' there. Its as if despite all the turmoil we each personally went through in our growing up years, this place remained. For as many houses and new places we lived in, this place stayed steadfast, always a welcome refuge from the busy life stuff of living in the 'valley.' It is still the same. For me, this trip was extra special, as it was the first time Landon and I had been there together. It just seemed so natural that he would be there with me, but it was also such a surreal experience. If we ever have a family of our own, I pray that the cabin is a place we can retreat to as well. Its just that special.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Remembering That Girl

There are some things that I consider foundational in my life: faith in God, family, and a kind of living that is simple but experienced at a full-tilt, adventurous kind of way. Much of my childhood was spent outside, I had bruises and scrapes on a regular basis, and I was never afraid of dirt. Recently, literally in the past few weeks, opportunities have come to get back to these foundational things... And its been oh. so. sweet.
We spent last weekend on a ranch just outside of Tiller, a small town southeast of Roseburg, and it was literally everything I've grown up loving rolled into one blessed weekend. Short of going fishing and swimming in the river, I could not have wanted to do anything more.
I have absolutely no aversion to sleeping in a tent. We were blessed to have enough gift cards/store credit/cash after our wedding to
purchase the exact tent we had hoped to have off our registry and have had a wonderful time utilizing the thing. It was a midget compared to our friends' tents, however, they all had children to consider as well. We both fit perfectly in the little half dome, and the spot we chose to pitch it couldn't have been better. (This picture only needs one caption: perfection.)
Riding horses became a from-afar obsession of mine at about the age of three, I believe. I watched my fair share of cowgirl movies growing up, traveled to eastern Oregon ranch country with my family every fall, and was always mesmerized by the enormous animals.
I think every little girl at some point wants a pony, well for me, ponies were too small and weak. I wanted a horse. I dreamed of being a barrel racer, of going on cattle drives, of spending hours riding over open country, just me and my horse. Life turned out a little different than my cowgirl-wishing ways, but I still have a deep, foundational love for the animals. (Luck would have it that I am now incredibly allergic to horses, but it definitely doesn't stop me from riding if I can). The Ellis family has numerous horses, a bunch of which they were willing to let us ride over the weekend. In this picture my sister Grace is on Thunder, my mom is on Tarzan, and I am riding Shorty. We went on a trail ride on these horses, along with some other friends, and thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing. In fact, my sister kept exclaiming "This is the best day of my life!!" while we were on the ride. Its a significant photo: the first time we've ever all been able to ride together. And it satisfied yet awakened something very deep all at the same time. I miss, yet am glad to have the reason to remember, the little girl who used to drag a rope around behind her as she pretended she was really leading her horse out to pasture, gently and attentively taking care of her friend and charge. Its a deep seated love and this past weekend carried a huge blessing in being able to experience that all over again.
A lot like riding horses, hunting was something I was introduced to very early on in life, and is an elemental part of not only my life but also that of my family. Growing up, October meant deer season and November meant elk season. We would head over to the 'ranch' at least four times a year, and spotting wildlife was always a joyful past time for me and my siblings. I took a hunter's safety course as soon as I was old enough and killed my first deer when I was in eighth grade. Goofy grinned and skinny, I proudly displayed my trophy. (It was a lucky shot and I had no idea how big it was until afterwards). And I've always loved it. Until this year, however, I haven't had the time to take time off from work and/or school to head over for hunting, so target shooting had to play as a substitute. Its not nearly as exhilarating as the real thing, but it sure is a lot of fun. Luckily my husband enjoys it as well, and he lets me shoot his .22 when we go out to shoot.
These elemental parts of me might seem funny to some. Some people may find them offensive. But this is me. Its the grown up version of an adventurous, outdoorsy, "I can do anything you can do" little girl. And I am loving remembering that girl.

Friday, July 8, 2011

On Life and Death

It seems as though the ebb and flow of life around me is sometimes overwhelmingly common. A relatively young patient in a stupor after overdosing juxtaposed with the news of yet another recently married friend finding out she is pregnant. A childhood friend welcoming a baby boy into the world, the story of a one year old child being mauled to death by the families pet dog.
It ebbs and flows, brings joyful congratulations and sorrowful tears. It is not something I have ever been able to 'get used to,' even with the type of work I am in, and the kind of people I hope to help. And so it begs the question: how does it all make sense? And honestly, I think the answer is, it doesn't. It doesn't make sense, logically, that one life would be created as another expires, as one life is cared for with the utmost provision while another is regarded as less than. It just doesn't make sense. And yet hope rises. Hope remains. Hope that one day I'll see the point of it all. Hope that one moment will bring me to a place of understanding. Hope that there is One who sees all of the seemingly chaos and understands the why behind it. That is the only answer that does stick. Hope.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Us, As We Are

I want to remember this. I want to wait on this, and sit with it for a while. Just us, as we are, no pretending, performing or attempting to be who we're not.
We may not be glamourous, we do not have it all together, and we definitely have not 'arrived.' But we are in the process, fully committed to one another and to who God has asked us to be, who He has created us to be, and that is more than enough. Our inadequacies are beautiful as they challenge us to improve, and our strengths are powerful, as they point to One much larger than us. We look funny to some, making decisions that don't equate, but as we work out this life thing, this faith thing, hand-in-hand, we'll see what we've strived for. We'll realize our dreams coming true. That is the very essence of our God. That He would grant us the desires of our hearts, in a way that seems too big for us, in order to make His name big.
And I want to remember this.

July 4th

Certain things have become tradition in my husband and my life. For our birthdays, we do something together. At Christmas, one buys an ornament to signify that year. For July 4th, we go to Nehalem.
Nehalem is where my in-laws live and where Landon spent most of his later school years. Its a small Northern coastal town in Oregon, but it is as unique as anywhere. And when fourth of July nears, Nehalem and it's close neighboring town, Manzanita, transform into bustling hubs of tourist activity. Though I wouldn't consider us tourists, we join the crowds too, and enjoy all the area will offer. Pancake feed, parade, bbq's, family, clamming, beach combing, and much more. It is welcoming, joyful and this past weekend the weather was unbeatable. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
The fireworks beginning, with Nea-Kah-Nie Mountain in the background.
Watching the show together. Thanks to my sister for snapping this picture.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

One Day

This past weekend a couple months worth of planning and preparing came to fruition. Our church participated in One Day, a Saturday spent loving on our community. We focused on Malabon Elementary school, painting, landscaping and cleaning up. It wasn't elaborate, it wasn't immense, but it was powerful.
We had over 140 people who came to help, joining together to bless someone else, and work out this faith thing. We had friends from Casa De Luz, a Latin church in the neighborhood, come and help, as well as PTO members and a couple community people. My cousin came down from Portland and spent the day with the landscaping crew. A neighborhood middle schooler stopped by in the morning, asked if he could help and stayed the whole day. We laughed, we sweated, we worked hard. But at the end of the day we were spent, and it felt good.
This picture is the only one I snapped the whole day, but to me, it holds huge significance. One of the projects was to repaint the United States out on the black top of the playground. Its sort of a funny thing to ask if you can do, but we really wanted to bring the color back to the playground, and luckily the school principal said ok. This was the last project to be done, so many people were watching, joking around with each other, making sure those with paint brushes were doing the job right. It was joyful and kind. And this picture means a lot to me now...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

One Year! Already??

Last Sunday marked our one year anniversary. REALLY?? It seems like just yesterday I was putting on that white dress, stepping into those cowgirl boots and walking down the grassy aisle. Its been an incredible year, and I am blessed to be married to Mr. Landon Baron.
Here are a few high lights from the first year:
  • Our wedding: so many family and friends in one place was like Heaven! Plus the 3.5 lb chocolate truffle was incredible
  • Our honeymoon: Central Oregon for eight days with no agenda, no responsibilites, and each other. Did I mention we didn't have an agenda??
  • The 1572 West Broadway house: though cold in the winter, it was a cute little place,perfectly situated near tons of fun stuff, and wonderful for taking walks.
  • Having my sister as a roommate before she moved overseas.
  • Weekends off: I had to start working nights instead, but oh well. I love having weekends off with Landon!
  • Mountain biking together!
  • Beginning attendance at Westside Church: such a unique group of people, and so what we both needed and wanted.
  • The Fendall Campout
  • Our birthday bash: backyard 'fiesta', again with a ton of favorite people, summer warmth and some sweet lights Steve made for us.
  • My road bike: happy birthday to me!
  • Bungee Jumping: Landon's birthday present!
  • Thanksgiving goodness: yum
  • Our Christmas tree: it took up 1/6 of our tiny living room. It was a presence.
  • The seven Christmas get togethers: yep. We made it to every one of them.
  • Random trip to PDX: fancy hotel room and The Civil Wars in concert. Lovely.
  • Weddings: Brian and Brittany Hughes, Scott and Erin Carroll, Ethan and Jessie Lohse, Justin and Carmen Meyers.
  • Random get togethers with friends: the Lenkers, Tim and Jen, Brittney, the Cantrall's, my awesome cousins!
  • Camping, fishing, mountain biking, runs, walks, coffee dates, sushi dinners, road trips...
  • Our second home: 2000 sq. ft. warehouse. Enough said.
  • Learning to be who we are, as a couple, and discovering what that means it all its contexts.
Landon Lee, I love you more today than I did a year ago, and look forward to another year full of adventure, craziness and a whole lot of fun. You are a better fit for me than I ever could have imagined, and I am so grateful for you every day.
Thank you for loving me. -- Your wifey

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Yesterday afternoon my cousin returned from Iraq. He had been deployed for a year, barely missing my wedding, with only a few days back at home around Christmas time for the holidays and his younger sister's wedding. As if him being gone wasn't hard enough, it was compounded by the fact that his relatively new bride was still here, attempting to live life and take her classes and remain hopeful of his return. She and I have become good friends in the past year and a half, so much so that I almost forgot the reason I met her was because she married my big-brother-of-a-cousin in December of 2009. So instead of it just being my cousin missing his wife, the reality was now my good friend missing her husband and wishing his return date would just arrive already. Well, by God's grace and provision they reunited yesterday, bringing to a close this period of time of separation. Never again will they have to be thousands of miles apart for reasons outside of their own wishes. They can go to sleep next to one another and wake up in those same arms every night, now.
I suppose it is the romantic side of me coming out, but I can't help but shed some tears of joy over this reunion. I can't explain how happy it makes me, and how ecstatic I am to know my cousin is safely home.
Thank you for serving, Jed. Thank you.
Every parting is a form of death, as every reunion is a type of heaven. - Tryon Edwards

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Surprise Party!!

This past weekend we made the drive up to Salem to help throw a surprise 30th birthday party for my awesome sister-in-law, Kelsey. It was so much fun, she was surprised, and the whole thing was a success.
One of the best parts was that we were able to hang out with this face:
Ezra and Uncle, bonding.
While we waited for the birthday girl to arrive, we played.
Love this wee-little-man. And his expression in this picture, especially.
A few shots of the set-up and spread. We got Kels a Sweet Life cake: Chocolate Rhapsody. Amazing.
Elliott telling his mom that he's ready for cake. Lets by-pass lunch and get to dessert.
"Happy Birthday to YOU!!"
Blowing out her '30' candles with the help of the boys!