Monday, December 28, 2009

A Texas Christmas

What a wonderful holiday I have had here in Texas! I was lucky enough to be able to come home for 2 whole weeks and have enjoyed being able to relax and spend lots of time with family and friends. I got to see almost all of my good college friends at Kate Bailey's wedding two weekends ago (what a beautiful and fun wedding!)... and my four best friends from high school and I all happened to be in Waco for Christmas and we rendezvoused at Barnes and Noble, our old hang out. All of my mom's family traveled from Pennsylvania, Arizona, Abilene and Dallas to Waco before Christmas for a little family reunion. I loved having everyone in the same house again - a once common occasion that has become a rare opportunity.

My parents, Sarah, Taylor, Carter and I all went to the 7th & James Christmas Eve service which is one of my favorite Christmas traditions. The music and readings were wonderful and watching Carter and all of the kids at the service was quite humorous.

On Christmas morning, all of the Waco Carters gathered at Sarah and Taylor's house for breakfast and to watch the little guy open his presents from Santa. I don't think he had any idea what was going on, but he sure loved his Tonka truck and fake remote control! The Belfs arrived in town that evening and we all enjoyed a yummy Christmas dinner and spending time together opening gifts. The kids were completely wound up and full of the Christmas spirit which made for a high-energy evening!

All of my dad's side of the family came in town the day after Christmas and we had a good time hanging out, eating Mexican food, and playing Taboo together.

The Christmas season is my favorite time of year and it has been a wonderful Christmas vacation here in Texas! We even got snow on Christmas Eve - who would have thought!

the aprons I made for Hannah and Alice Anne - this shot shows a little of the chaos of the kids opening presents!

calmed down and ready for a photo shoot

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy 3rd Birthday, Hannah!

Yesterday was my niece Hannah's 3rd birthday - she's such a big girl! My sister Emily said that the night before Hannah's birthday as she was getting in bed she said, "Mommy, what will I do when I'm three years old?" if the next day she was going to experience a big life transformation. Hannah had a dress-up princess party and she was so excited for all of her friends to come over to celebrate with her. All of the little girls and boys threw on prince and princess clothes, loaded up on sugary snacks and ran around the backyard like wild! Little Alice Anne took full advantage of having aunts and grandparents around who will spoil her and stayed close to the goodie table where people continued to hand her treats which she shoveled into her mouth. It was a crazy, but fun party! I can't believe Little Hannah is already 3 years old, but I also can't remember not having her in the family. I love you so much Hannah!

Friday, December 18, 2009

You're Hired

It's official! After 2 months of working as a temporary employee at Medical Teams International, I have been hired on as a full-time permanent employee. My job title is Auction and Resource Development Coordinator so I will be working on the Great Adventure Auction when it is in full swing and assisting in the development department during the down times. I am so thankful to have a job, especially since the Portland job market is one of the worst in the country. But more than that, I am ecstatic to be working for such an incredible organization as MTI. It is truly a blessing to be working in the development department for an international organization - my two sweet spots. And the fact that it's a faith-based organization makes it that much better. I couldn't ask for more. This phenomenal opportunity makes me think, "What if this is the reason I came to Portland?" I am confident that this is God's plan for me during this stage of my life.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holiday Festivities

This has been a very festive week full of holiday celebrations. Tuesday was our Christmas work party at Medical Teams. We all gathered in the chapel for a midmorning brunch and wonderful conversation with coworkers about anything but work. We also had a couple of fun activities planned including a raffle and a game which involved Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas story. My team was given the task of telling the story "with an international twist". There are so many incredibly cultured and intelligent people at MTI who know several different languages. The people on my team quickly said, "Let's each tell a little of the story in different languages. I speak German." And someone else said, "I speak Dutch." I timidly admitted, "I don't have a foreign language to contribute." "Sure you do," they said; "Texan!" So I played little Cindy Loo Who and when my moment in the spotlight came, I buttered up the Texas accent and said, "Mr. Grinch (played by the organization's president), why y'all taking our presents?" We ended the party by singing several Christmas songs - with a Mexican flare.

This afternoon was the 1st annual Medical Teams Christmas cookie exchange (we really do find time to work in between parties). Everyone baked a couple dozen of their favorite holiday goodies and we all got to tak a variety home. I made candy cane cookies - a holiday recipe given to me by Katy Reynolds. Yum!

My home community group often volunteers at Marshall High school where my friend Amber runs the afterschool program. Tonight was their winter craft party where they made gingerbread houses, decorated cookies and could have funny pictures taken to frame and give as gifts.

And the week's not over... tomorrow night is a friend Terry's 50th birthday party. The festivities never end... party on!

Candy Cane Cookies
Mix together:
- 1 C soft shortening
- 1 C confectioners sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
- 1 tsp vanilla

Sift together and stir in:
- 2 1/2 C flour
- 1 tsp salt

Divide dough. Add 1/2 tsp red food coloring to half of dough. Roll about 1 tsp of each color of dough into a "worm". Twist into candy cane.

Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 until slightly golden (less than 10 minutes). Sprinkle with sugar while still warm. Best when eaten with a warm mug of hot cocoa!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Elk Cove Vineyard

Today my friends Katrina, Amber, Shari and I went wine tasting at Elk Cove Vineyards. Katrina's aunt and uncle started the vineyard, which is about an hour west of Portland, back in 1977. Elk Cove is one of Oregon's oldest and most respected wineries in Oregon and was named the "Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year" in 2007. It was so nice to spend the day out in the beautiful country and to just relax with a great group of women.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Christmas Time is Here

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas here at my house on Rhone Street! Christmas is my favorite holiday by far... how could it not be?! It's just so wonderful! I'm a big believer in waiting until after Thanksgiving to kick off the Christmas season... with two exceptions: Christmas lights and Christmas music. Lights take too much work and are too beautiful to enjoy for less than a month. And there is just so much wonderful Christmas music that you have to get a jump start in order to enjoy it all.

Last night my roommates Kathy and Tarah and I went out and bought our Christmas tree. This is the first real Christmas tree I've had since I was about 10 years old. I'd like to tell you a story of how we treked through the snow into a forest of douglas fir pine trees, labored to chop the tree down with an axe and then hauled it home in a trailer because it was to big to fit in our car. But we really just drove a mile to our neighborhood Fred Meyer grocery store and bought a $20 tree. The highlight of my night was when I was standing outside the store with the tree waiting for Kathy to pull the car around and a girl walked out, gave me a weird look and said "Why you hiding behind that tree?" Anway... we set the tree up in our home, decorated it and named him Rudy. He has already brightened and warmed our home.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


This was my first year to spend Thanksgiving away from my family, who all gathered together in Dallas. The Moores were kind enough to invite me (and 3 of my out-of-state friends) over to their house for Thanksgiving dinner. I am so thankful to have such a wonderful family here in Portland with whom to spend the holidays. My friends Alan, Andrew, Drew and I joined Steve and Thanne, Maegan and Mollie, and Jill (a Murdock employee) and her family for a wonderful Thanksgiving meal and even better fellowship.

The Moores have a family Thanksgiving tradition in which each person thinks of someone who has impacted or blessed their life that they haven’t said thank you to or spoken to in a while)a teacher, coach , youth director, friend). You them give them a call and let them know you are thankful. During the Thanksgiving meal, we all went around the table and said who we called, why and their reaction. What a great tradition! I called my piano teacher, Ann Lindsey. Mrs. Lindsey taught me piano for 12 years and has always been a great friend. I keep in touch with Mrs. Lindsey often, but have never really expressed how thankful I am for her and what an impact she has had on my life.

This tradition was a great excuse to say "thank you" to someone, but we really shouldn't have to have an excuse in order to show our gratitude. The conversation I had with Mrs. Lindsey was priceless. It was just as much a blessing to me as it was to her. After talking with her I wanted to call everyone who has had an impact on my life and say thank you! What a simple way to be an encouragement to someone.

The night before Thanksgiving, Imago had a prayer service. They asked each of us to reflect over the past year and write down what we were thankful for... be it answered prayers, unanswered prayers, trials, blessings. So much has happened in my life over the past 12 months. I realized just how much I have to be thankful for!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pumpkin Craze

I love everything pumpkin! And since most pumpkin treats are olny available this time of year, I have to enjoy them while I can. The two ladies who I work with love Starbucks. Having a rough Monday morning? Go to Starbucks. Forgot your lunch? Starbucks is all you need. Dreading working on that finance report? Drink your cares away with a Starbucks latte. In my case, a tall 2-pump, nonfat, no whip, pumpkin spice latte. I could probably live off of PSLs (Starbucks lingo) for the whole month of November, but I choose to have a little more variety... which includes pumpkin bread, slow-churned pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin creamer in my coffee, pumpkin bread pudding (thank you, Sarah) and homemade pumkin pie! When the sun is shining (which isn't that often these days) you can see a hint of orange growing in my hair. I've learned how to make my own pumpkin puree so that I don't have to use the fake canned stuff anymore. And it really adds a fresh taste to any pumpkin dish!

Homemade Pumpkin Puree
Cut a pumpkin in half. Empty out the pumpkin guts (I don't know the technical name) and seeds. Place the two halves face down on a slightly greased cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about an hour or until the pumpkin is soft. Let the halves cool and then remove the pumpkin skin so that only the soft pulp remains. Blend the remaining pumpkin and store in the fridge until you are ready to whip up a delicious pumpkin treat! Just use your homemade pumpkin puree as a replacement for the canned pumpkin.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

My Namesake

A name is a part of a person's identity. A person's name holds meaning. I was named after my grandmother, Mary Alice Earl Moore. My middle name, Leigh, comes from my dad's middle name, Lee, and is now my oldest neice Hannah's middle name. I love that the kids in my family have names that mean something. Alice Anne has names that come from her mom (Emily Alice), grandmother (Julie Alice), aunt Sarah (Sarah Anne) and both great grandmothers (Mary Alice and Anne). Carter Thomas is named obviously from his mom's maiden name and for both of his great grandfathers (Thomas Aldine and Thomas Edwin).

Family members leave a legacy through their names. They also leave us with precious memories. I have been lucky enough to own some small keepsakes of my Grandmother Moore which, although they are not expensive items, are worth so much to me. I have several of her old pieces of jewelry which I have worn often recently. I always receive compliments on these unique items and I am always proud to tell people that they were my grandmother's.

The only piece of jewelry that I am always wearing is a simple gold chain which was Grandmother Moore's - I never take it off. It's a constant reminder to me of all of my family who love me. A few other peices that I often wear are her red corn necklace, a unique green and gold ring, a silver and striped-stone bracelet which I always receive compliments on, and my favorite - a gorgeous glass stone pin that she brought me from Sweden.

Eternal Glory
One of my favorite sermons I've ever heard was the All Saint's Day sermon preached by Eric Howell last November at Dayspring. At the end of the sermon he talks about the multitude of people who make up the church in Heaven... young and old, men and women, every beautiful color of skin ever seen. As he describes the saints and people who make up this heavenly body, there is a part which always makes me think of my grandparents:
"There's an old lady. She fought with cancer in her last years. But look at the victory that's on her face. And there's an old man and he's shuffling in and it looks like he's coming up to a lady and he knows her. She takes his hand. They look like they've known each other for a long, long time."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Imago Dei

For the past 9 months I've been going to Imago Dei Community Church. Literally the first week I arrived in Portland, I was invited to visit a home community group... and the rest is history. Imago has been a huge reason that Portland has felt so warm and inviting. The supportive community and meaningful relationships that have developed since February played a big part in why I decided to stay in Portland.

Imago Dei offers classes through their School of Theology... "In a culture packed with differing worldviews, Imago Dei’s School of Theology exists to help people connect the guiding resources of Scripture (that is, theology) with everyday life."

Today I took the Church & Gospel course, the class required to become a member of Imago. Kevin Rogers, one of the church pastors, led the group through Imago's foundation and formation, core values, mission, structure, and the church's position on certain issues. It was a great overview of why the church exists and where I fit into their mission.

Imago Dei (which means "image of God") is different from the churches I grew up in and attended in college, but it is a strong body with a clear vision and a heart that reaches beyond themselves. "If loving community is core to God’s nature, and if we are made in God’s image, then loving community is core to our nature too. What we call Church, then, is nothing less than God’s own community extended to each of us and shared among all of us. What we call the gospel, in turn, is nothing less than God’s invitation to all peoples to commune with Him and with each other in His eternal love."

DIY for Advent Conspiracy
Today, Imago also had a Do-It-Yourself fair. Imago started the Advent Conspiracy movement last year in order to refocus people's minds and hearts about what Christmas is really about. So the DIY fair gave people creative ideas for meaningful gifts to give this holiday season. It was really fun to walk around and collect how-to sheets for knitting, cooking, and sewing projects.

This little guy (probably about 9 years old) was teaching people how to make jewelry - so cute!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Weird Words

Being a Southerner living in the Northwest, I am often told that I have a weird accent and pronounce words funny. Sometimes when I first meet someone and have a short conversation with them they will ask, "Where are you from?" "Why? Did I mention that I'm not from around here?" I respond. "No, you just keep saying y'all." I don't think twice about saying "y'all", but apparently that makes me stand out like a sunny day in a Portland winter.

Yesterday I asked a friend (another word people tell me I say funny and with a Southern drawl), "What are you doing for Thanksgiving?" and he just started laughing at me. "What? Do you not want to tell me what you're doing for Thanksgiving?" And that just made him laugh even harder. "You say Thanksgiving funny. It's pronounced thanksGIVING, not THANKSgiving." I could hardly tell a difference, but apparently I place the em-PHA-sis on the wrong sy-LAB-al. I thought I would get a second opinion, so last night I asked my friend Amber, "How do you say the name of the holiday that is in November?" She immediately said, "Yeah, you say it weird. It's pronounced thanksGIVING." Whatever.

Also yesterday, I mentioned to a friend (there's that funny word again) that during my networking I met with several lawyers. He immediately started laughing. I was so confused. "Do you think its wierd that I met with lawyers?" "Say it again!" he said between laughs. "Lawyer?" I said with a puzzled look. I have no idea how I say that word differently, but apparently its pretty humurous.

So if you ever want to drop a not-so-subtle hint that you're from the South, just say, "Hey y'all. Even though y'all aren't lawyers, I'm glad y'all are my friends. We should spend Thanksgiving together."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Medical Teams International Auction

For the past 2 and a half weeks I've been working for Medical Teams International, an incredible organization that provides aid for disaster relief, conflict and poverty around the world. MTI is currently involved in 25 different countries (including Uganda). I was brought on as temporary staff in the development department to work on MTI's biggest fundraiser - their annual Great Adventure auction. These past couple of weeks have been very busy preparing for the big event. I've practically lived at the offices for the past few days and feel a little sleep deprived, but have loved every minute of it.

The auction was held last night at the MTI offices (the warehouse was transformed into an exotic party room) and everything went great! We raised $1.25 million dollars, exceeding our goal of $1 million. The night started out with a silent auction in which the guests could write out bids for international items, artwork, entertainment packages and wine. The guests were then led into the dinning area by a Ghanaian drumming group where dinner was served and the live auction began. Most of the night I was running around with my walkie talkie headset and clip board (probably looking more official and important than I really was) helping take care of the details and making sure everything ran smoothly, but I was able to actually enjoy most of the live auction program. The auction items were incredible! Vacations to Mexico, Hawaii and Italy, wine tours, climbing Mount Hood with Stacy Allison (the 1st American woman to summit Mount Everest), skiing with Waren Miller, and even a little Terrier puppy that sold for $10,000!! Big numbers were flying up in the air - there were some very generous people in the crowd!

Overall, this was a wonderful experience helping out with an incredible event. I will still be working with Medical Teams for the next few weeks wrapping things up for the auction. And we'll see where this might lead!

Created for Purpose
I am currently reading the book Created for Purpose by Ron Post, the founder of Medical Teams International (formerly Northwest Medical Teams). It is the inspirational story of how one man got "thousands of ordinary people to get out of their chairs" and do something.

"God has a plan and a purpose for each of us and all we have to do is allow Him to work that plan... He will give you everything you need to accomplish this and the results for your life will be contentment and joy. Do we need anything else?"

-Ron Post, Created for Purpose

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

How He Loves

Allow me to be vulnerable with you. Life has been busy lately. Things keep going and don't slow down. Its easy to become overwhelmed and stressed out by all that life throws at us. Whether its 12-hour work days, being 2,000 miles away from "home", finances, relationships, singleness, exhaustion, self image... Have you ever lost your focus, wandered off the path and suddenly realized you're not where you need to be. I've been trying to consciously redirect my focus when I begin to wander. One way I do that is through music. I've set my ipod on the David Crowder Band for the past week. Every time I wake up in a crabby mood, leave work feeling exhausted or just need a boost, I listen to my current favorite song: "How He Loves Us". Take 5 minutes to listen to this song. Listen to the words. Let them really sink in. They hold so much truth.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Fall is Here!

The glorious Portland summer is long gone and the dreary winter will be here soon. The Northwest Fall seems to briskly blow in and out, but it's wonderful while it lasts. The leaves have painted the town in vibrant hues of red, orange, and yellow. There have been many times lately when I have turned the corner of a windy road and am blown away by the colors lining the side of a hill or the way the leaves turn the sidewalk into a fall runway.

With Daylight Savings Time ending this past weekend, it gets dark around 5:30. I have found myself turning into bed earlier than usual and stifling yawn after yawn during the day. I hope this isn't a sign of what's to come during Portland's "rainy season" when it is dark and dreary for 5 months straight. I may need to actually purchase a sun lamp - or maybe just take a trip to Hawaii!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Baylor Homecoming

This weekend was Baylor University Homecoming in Waco. This is my 2nd homecoming to go to since I graduated in May '08. It's always great to be home and see family and friends, but it can be overwhelming when there are so many people in town for just a day and a half.

Friday night, I had an early dinner with family at Ninfa's and then joined friends for a later dinner at Ninfa's as well (its important to load up on good Mexican food when in Texas)! My friend Emily drove in from Little Rock and spent the night with me - that was a special treat since I haven't seend her since homecoming last year. Saturday morning, we woke up early and went to Baylor campus for the parade. Hannah made her way to the front of the crowd, waved at every single person in the parade, and loaded up her purse with lots of candy. We all went to part of the football game, but the girls snuck out early to do a little shopping. Yesterday was Sarah's 27th birthday so we all hung out and had birthday dinner at her house. Later, all of my friends and I rondevoused at Crickets where practically all of Baylor was. It was a whirl wind weekend, but it was so much fun!

Granddaddy's Wedding

Sunday was a big day for the fam... Granddaddy got married to Barbara Boone! The ceremony was in the Columbus chapel and was followed by a reception with cake and punch. Congratulations Granddaddy and welcome to the family Barbara!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mount St. Helens

Monday was quite an adventurous day as I climbed my first mountain here in the Northwest. My friend Drew is an avid mountain climber and his equally adventurous friends Ross and Brandon flew up from Waco to experience the northwest climbing scene.

We left early Monday morning and drove an hour north to Skamania County, WA.  St. Helens is a 8,900 foot active volcano that last errupted on May 18th, 1980. Much of the mountain is covered in ash which feels like hiking in white sand. The weather wasn't the best - we got some rain, a little sleet and a whole lot of fog and clouds.  After about 4 hours of climbing, we ascended about 4,600 feet and reached the summit.  On a clear day, you can see Mount Hood and Mount Adams from the summit.  Unfortunately, the clouds kept us from seeing that incredible view.  Reaching the summit was an incredible experience and with it came a feeling of great accomplishment.

At times the climb was difficult, but I loved being out in nature with no distractions.  I couldn't have asked for a more peaceful day with any better company.  Being on a mountain really makes you think about things that I guess you just don't have time to think about when you're busy and surrounded by other people.  While on the mountain I felt completely content.  I can't believe that these mountains are right here in my back yard.  This climbing thing is kind of addicting... I think I've found a new adventure sport for myself!

The Glory of Nature
I think it ticks God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it.... People think pleasing God is all God cares about.  But any fool living in the world can see its always trying to please us back.  
~Alice Walker, The Color Purple

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Women in Leadership

A few days ago, I attended a Women in Leadership conference held by Murdock. I wasn't too excited to go at first; after all, I'm not a woman in leadership, I'm a girl looking trying to figure out my place in this world. I was pleasantly suprised by how much I enjoyed the two-day event. The main speaker, Gail, is a 55-year-old woman who was just laid off from being a Young Life director for over 20 years. I met many other women who are in a similar situation having been in leadership positions for years and are now facing a blurry future. After hearing their stories, I truly felt for these women, but knowing that other (older) women are in the same boat as me somehow gives me a new perspective.

The theme of the conference was "Emerging Leaders", so the women talked a lot about the younger generation (aka me). The first night, Gail threw out the question "What do you wish someone had told you when you were starting off as a leader?" I quickly pulled out my pen and paper and started taking notes of these valuable pieces of advice. Here are some things they said:

- you don't have to be great at everything
- there are a lot of different ways to do the same job
- it is really important to have a mentor
- being a leader is lonely
- nothing is more important than your spiritual life
- take time to recognize that each of us has different strengths
- know yourself and understand what makes you unique
- don't feel that its selfish to take care of yourself
- focus on people and relationships
- be courageous as a young leader, speak the truth
- don't feel that you have to have a plan, just be available and faithful

Gail also spoke about what makes a good leader (in her experience):

- listen and be teachable
- work really hard at knowing people's names (and know something about their life)
- say "thank you"
- be real and vulnerable with people
- be a team builder and realize that there is a place for everyone
- get feedback from others
- don't clutch power for yourself, empower others
- know your non-negotiables, the principles that you want to live/lead by
- know that you are God's beloved - no matter what
- obedience means more than performance
- serve for God, not others
- partake in spiritual rhythms

One lady reminded me that God doesn't call the equipped, he equips the called. Sometimes we feel like we are a mailbox in the desert. We keep waiting for God to answer us, but he doesn't seem to deliver. But God will not forsake us. All the little things along the way (however difficult they may be) are leading to something great. God is still working in our lives. And he is simultaneously working in the lives of others. We are all collaborating to create a story that God began writing ages ago.

Life Song
Another great question which was asked was "What makes your heart sing?" I think it is important to step back from your life every now and then to evaluate how you are living. What do you spend most of your time doing? Who do you spend most of your time with? What are you trying to accomplish? Are you really happy? When is it that you are most happy? What makes your heart sing?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Baylor Alum Gathering

We may be 2,000 miles away from Bear Country, but there is a great Baylor family here in the Pacific Northwest. A few weeks ago, I checked the Baylor Network website and searched for alum living in the Portland area... and there were over 200 of us! So I contacted the Baylor Network office in Waco and started working on connecting with the Portland alum. We threw together a quick email to invite anyone in the Baylor family to a social gathering last night.

The Moores were gracious enough to open up their home (even though they were out of town). I got about a dozen rsvps for people who would attend. Well, we ended up with 5 people (and 1 2 month old baby) at the event last night - welcome to the casual, go-with-the-flow Portland culture. It was fun to meet new people and talk about the one thing we all have in common: our alma mater. Margaret and I were obviously the most recent grads, so we updated the older folk on all the ways Baylor has changed in the past 10 years. They told us about the "good 'ol days" and we all laughed about those legendary professors who have taught at Baylor for decades. We tried to steer clear of Baylor football, but inevitably it came up. At the end of the night, we all gathered around the piano and sang The Baylor Line. Okay, that's not true. Wouldn't that have been wierd?!

It may have been a small group, but it was a good start in connecting with other Baylor alum. We hope to begin making more connections and continue having events. Sic 'em!

Baylor sent me a box of decorations

a table full of goodies

homemade Ninfa's green sauce - we all miss Mexican food!

delicious green and gold Baylor sugar cookies

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Our Daily Gluten

Every week at church we take communion. Every week we have a choice to make when we approach the communion table... dip your bread in the grape juice or the wine. This week, there is a new choice... regular bread or gluten-free bread.

Gluten-free diets seem to be all the rage here in Portland. Just to clarify, gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Can you image life without bread, granola, cookies? I love me some gluten! But many people are shunning products containing gluten - mostly so that they don't eat as much processed foods, but more fresh food such as fruits and vegetables. I always say, "All things in moderation." And Matthew (6:11) says, "Give us this day our daily gluten..." or "Give us this day our gluten-free bread..." or something along those lines.

I don't think this book was written during Jesus' time - otherwise Jesus would have offered the disciples more communion options.

For all of you who love having some gluten in your diet, here is a glutenicious recipe for you...

Old-fashion Potato Bread
from the kitchen of Grandmother Moore
1 & 1/2 cups water
1 medium potato, peeled and cubed
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk
3 T. sugar
2 T. margarine or butter
2 t. salt
6 to 6&1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 pkgs. active dry yeast
All-purpose flour

In a saucepan combine the water and potato. Bring to boiling. Cook, uncovered, about 12 minutes, or til very tender. Do not drain. Mash potato in the water. Measure the potato-water mixture. If necessary, add additional water to make 1 & 3/4 cups total. Return mixture to saucepan. Add buttermilk, sugar, margarine, and salt. Heat or cool as necessary to 120 or 130 degrees. In a large bowl combine 2 cups of the flour and yeast. Add the potato mixture. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a spoon, stir in as much of the remaining 6-plus cups of flour as you can.

On a lightly floured surface, knead in enough of the remaining 6-plus cups of flour to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (6 to 8 minutes total). Shape into a ball. Place in a greased bowl; turn once to grease surface. Cover and let rise in a warm place til double (45 to 60 minutes).

Punch dough down. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in half. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Lightly grease two 8x4x2-inch loaf pans. Shape each half of dough into a loaf. Lightly dip tops of loaves in the additional flour. Place in prepared loaf pans, flour side up. Cover and let rise til nearly double (about 30 minutes).

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes or til done (if necessary, cover with foil the last 15 minutes of baking to prevent overbrowning). Remove bread from pans and cool on a wire rack. Makes 2 loaves.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

New Friends and Old Friends

This past week, a new Baylor friend moved up to the wonderful and increasingly popular Pacific Northwest. Margaret is a year younger than me and just graduated from Baylor this past May. She decided she wants to have a year of adventure and chose Portland as her destination. Margaret and I didn't really know each other at Baylor but have some mutual friends that made the connection for us. So yesterday, we met for brunch at Bread and Ink Cafe located on SE Hawthorne where we chatted and got to know each other. Margaret literally doesn't know anyone in Portland, so I'm glad that I'm here to show her the ropes (even though I've only been here for 8 months myself).

Last night, Margaret joined a group of us for dinner at Bay 13 in the Pearl District. 4 out of the 5 of us were Baylor grads - poor Allen (a Tennessee grad) had to listen to several conversations about the SLC, Bear Trail, Common Grounds, our communication profs, and the upcoming Bears football season... but by the end of the night he had mastered the art of the Baylor claw (perfectly formed by placing your right hand over your knee, raising the hand in the air and making a diagonal motion toward your left hip and back up).

This afternoon was rumored to be the last beautiful, warm day of summer before cooler weather sets in for the fall. So Margaret and I packed up a blanket, our sunglasses and a few good novels and took advantage of the perfect day by soaking up the sun at Laurelhurst Park. Its nice having a friend who is up for Portland adventures with me - and who has a little extra time on her hands as well since she is also looking for a job.

This weekend, my good friend Daniel (a former Murdock intern and my former "counselor") was in town for a weekend graduate class, so we had lunch at Laughing Planet and caught up on our ever-changing lives. Come Saturday, Daniel will be a married man so it was fun to hear how all of the wedding plans are falling into place! Tomorrow we are going to go on a short run before he heads back to Grants Pass.

My life and community in Portland seem to be constantly changing, but I am thankful for old friends who come back to visit and new friends with whom to embrace the city.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Summer in September

I've heard that September is one of the greatest months of the year in Portland, and so far it has been gorgeous! I've spent a lot of time in the great outdoors over the past week - especially now that I have my great new bike! A few days ago, I decided to go to the gym to workout. So I got in my car and rolled down the windows as I started driving away. A few minutes down the road I thought to myself, "This is crazy! Its perfect outside and I'm going to workout inside at the gym?" So I turned the car around, headed home, put my helmet on and went for a bike ride out in the sun. I've been running little errands on my bike as well. It just makes more sense to bike to the bank or the store which are only a couple miles away instead of fighting traffic and having to find a parking spot (and hopefully I'll save money on gas as well).

Yesterday, the weather was perfect. So after church and a nice outside lunch, my roommate Kathy and our friends Kathy and Mike and I went for a 17-mile bike ride along the Columbia River. It was the perfect way to spend a perfect day. Tonight, a group of girls from my home community group went for a nice jog at Reed College. Last week we talked about starting a running club in which we would hold each other accountable and all get together once a week to run. And we actually turned that talk into a reality! We had a great run and the scenery was gorgeous as the sun was setting over the hills in the distance. I'll be soaking up the sun and enjoying this great weather as much as I can before the dreary winter sets in and everyone goes into hibernation.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Biker Babe

I finally own a bike! I feel like a real Portlander now. I think I might have been kicked out of the city if I lived here much longer without owning a bike. I've been talking about and looking into getting one for months now and today I made it happen. I bought the bike at Waterfront Bicycles, a great local business where you can rent bikes for advernturous outings. Waterfront Bicycles is part of "Mary's Portland Tour" - just come for a visit and we're sure to rent bikes there. The bike is a Fuji Sunfire 2.0 hybrid bike. For all of you Texans, yes the bike is "burnt orange", but I like to consider a golden brown.

This evening, I snapped on my helmet and took my new bike for its first ride this evening. The roads were wet from an afternoon rain, but the air was crisp and when I looked to the west the scenery was gorgeous - as the sun was setting, clouds were rising off the hills creating an incredible glow. I felt great riding down the roads in the bike lane... until a speedy little biker passed me on the left, spraying a little water from the road on me. Then, he reached his hand out to the left and wiggled his fingers as if to say, "Eat my street water. See ya!" At first I was offended and thought about squirting him with my new biking water bottle, but then I realized that 1) he was too far ahead of me for the water to reach him 2) my water bottle was empty and 3) his hand gesture was actually his left turn signal. I should probably read a street biking manual.

I kept biking down the road and came upon a 4-way stop. The car to my right looked at me on my spiffy new bike and gave me the nod. He obviously thought, "Wow. Look at that serious biker on her spiffy bike. I'll let her go on because she's probably going somewhere really important - like a biker's club." However, my fellow road bikers probably thought much less of me as I turned into biking lanes (without using my signals) and rode on the wrong side before swerving across the street into the correct lanes. I'm sure to get better.

I think my bike needs a name. Any ideas?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Keep Portland and Austin Wierd!

I'm back in Texas for a few days and this time I flew into Austin. I was able to spend some time with Anne Olson, one of my best friends from high school. The first thing we did when I got in town was to eat at a yummy Mexican restaurant - duh! We had a delicious meal at Z'Tejas on 6th Street. During my short stay in the city capitol of Texas, I realized how similar Portland and Austin are. Besides the famous city slogans of "Keep Austin Wierd" and "Keep Portland Wierd", here are some more similarities:

- great outdoor activities: My favorite park in Austin is Zilker Park, a 351 acre park located on Barton Springs Road. Portland is home to Forest Park, which at 5,100 acres is one of the largest urban forest reserves in the country.

- local venues: I love all of the great local coffee shops and restaurants and how much the locals support them. There aren't many places in either city that I've visited multiple times because there are so many different options!

- tattoos and piercings: Both cities are inhabited by lots of unique characters. Each has its fill of hippies and free spirits, but what I love is that everyone seems to accept everyone else. There aren't many judgemental in either place - just lots of peace and love!

- modes of transportation: Traveling by bicycle and public transportation is more common in each of the cities than in other places I've been. Both cities are very environmentally concious.

- great music: Portland and Austin are both home to some wonderful musicians. They are both seem to draw in very artsy folks. You might find a little more country music in Austin, though!

- delicious Mexican food: okay, that's just a flatout lie. The "Muchas Gracias" fast food chain around the corner from my house just doesn't match up to Ninfa's or Javier's :(

Sunday, September 6, 2009

24th Birthday

Yesterday I celebrated my 24th birthday. 24 isn't too exciting of an age, but I am glad that I'm not 23 anymore (which just sounds so young). And turning 24 does mean that I only have 1 more year until I'm a quarter century old. I kicked the birthday weekend off by having a fun dinner with some friends on Friday night. We ate at The Saucebox - a swanky asian restaurant in downtown Portland.

This weekend is our friend Mandy's birthday as well, so last night a group of us had dinner at a mexican restaurant called The Matador. Afterwards, we went to Duke's Country Bar and Grill for a little line dancing. I'm not much of a dancer, so I didn't really get out on the floor, but I love watching other people dance - I think it is quite entertaining.

It was a great birthday, but very different from years past since I am far from family and Texas friends. Thank you all of for your birthday wishes! I feel very blessed (not to mention wiser and much more mature)!

the group at The Matador

Mandy, Kathy, Kathy and Mike boot, scoot, boogying

Friday, September 4, 2009

Taking Time

You might be wondering what I am doing with all of my free time now that I'm "in-between jobs". The truth is, I haven't had that much free time on my hands! Over the past two weeks since I completed my internship at Murdock, I've had the opportunity to do a lot of things that I haven't done in a while... such as:

  • babysitting - Until last week, I hadn't babysat at all (not once!) since I moved to Portland. I know that's hard to believe since I was often referred to as "the queen of babysitting" back in Waco. But a friend from Waco made the connection that she had a friend in Portland looking for a babysitter and that I had recently moved up here. So I babysat for 15-month-old Aiden last Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. We played at his house, went to the park and took walks every day. It was actually really fun to babysit again and I'm very appreciative of the referral.
  • volunteering - just because I'm not employeed doesn't mean I can't do office work somewhere. A couple mornings this week, I worked in the Eternal Impact office wrapping up our Hood to Coast "Run4theCause" donations and such. I enjoyed seeing how that Uganda organization operates. Part of the time I even helped out by taking inventory of their Ugandan jewelry and enjoyed having a hand in such projects. This morning I went to the Imago Dei Church offices to have a brief "training" as I will be volunteering as an office assistant several hours a week starting next Tuesday. That will be a great way to really get involved in my church and get to know the pastors and other workers a little better.
  • just hanging out - I've loved being able to hang out with some friends that I normally might not have time to hang out with. Yesterday, Alyssa and I had a "cake ball making lesson" at my house. We made cake balls to take for our home community dessert last night. It was great getting to just chat and spend time with Alyssa for a few hours. Next week, Megan and I are going to get a pedicure! I can't wait for girl time and to be pampered a little (I think my feet deserve it after all of this running)!

So don't worry that I'm just sitting at home bored all day every day - I won't let that happen! I see this time as an opportunity to decide what is really important to me and to use my free time to enjoy life in a new way.

Encouraging Words
Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes."

- Luke 12:22,23

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God.

-Ecclesiasties 3:11-13

Monday, August 31, 2009

Hood to Coast - Legs 2 & 3

Mission accomplished... I survived Hood to Coast and had a great time doing it! After showers and a short break after Leg 1, our van met up with Van 2 for the baton exchange. I began running my 2nd leg at 9:30 on Friday night along Hwy 30 heading West out of Portland. It was dark and late so I wore my reflective vest, head lamp and carried a flash light. This was my longest leg to run (7.3 miles) but I kept a steady pace and ran it in 65 minutes (just under 9 minute miles).

After everyone in our van finished their 2nd leg and we made the exchange with Van 2, we headed to the designated sleeping area where we got no sleep. At about 2:30 am, I stretched out on one of the van benches and tried to catch a little shut eye, but just couldn't fall asleep. I felt dirty and sticky from the last run, it was stuffy in the van, people were walking around talking outside, I could hear the race officials announcing the runners coming in, and Ryan's escalating snore was reverberating from the back seat. Overall, I might have dozed off for 30 minutes and then 4:00 rolled around and it was time to head back out on the course.

My 3rd leg began at 6:20 in the morning just as the sun began to rise. This was my final leg and it was another long one at 6.3 miles. I was exhausted, but once I got out on the road, I felt energized - probably because I knew that I was almost done! I ran it in 53 minutes (about 8 and a half minute miles). Over the last half mile I was determined to catch the woman in front of me, so I kicked it into gear. I caught up to her with the finish line in sight and started to pass her on the right. She looked over at me and said "I don't think so" and that just motivated me to start a full-on sprint. From behind me I heard her say "Okay, nevermind." I streaked across the finish line and felt a great sense of relief and accomplishment.

Now that Van 1 was finished running, we headed to a teammates house to take showers and relax, grabbed some lunch, then headed to the beach to cross the finish line with our final runner John, the President of Eternal Impact. There was a huge party on the beach at Seaside with live music, food, and tons of people, but I was a little delirious and ready to head home. So a few of us hopped back in the van and drove the 2 hours back to Portland. I got home, threw my nasty clothes in the washer and went straight to bed. I slept from 6:45pm to 8:30am - an entire 14 hours and it felt divine! When I woke up yesterday morning, I was stiff as a board and it was torture to walk down the stairs. I'm getting a much deserved massage today!

Overall, the Hood to Coast Relay was an absolute blast and an incredible experience. I'm hoping to do it again next year. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to be on this team of diverse and amazing people. What an accomplishment to have participated in "The Mother of All Relays" and to have run for a wonderful Ugandan cause. We are wrapping up our Eternal Impact donations and I will give you the final report when we get it. Thank you all for your support and encouragement.

the route from Mount Hood to Seaside, OR I ran legs 3, 15, and 27

Final Results
Our team's total running time: 28:07:15
Overall finishing place: 435 out of 1005
"Open Mixed" category finishing place: 97 out of 314

Friday, August 28, 2009

Hood to Coast - Leg 1

I'm in the middle of the Hood to Coast relay and have completed my 1st leg so far. Our team met this morning at 6:45 and made the drive to Mount Hood - a little over an hour East of Portland. My 1st leg was the easiest leg of the three. It was just 4 miles and downhill the whole way (which can actually be pretty wearing on your legs). I ran it in 32 minutes which is faster than I projected. I will run my next leg at about 9:45 tonight. We made a stop at my house to take showers and relax while the 2nd van is out running. I'm pretty tired, but feeling good.
starting the 1st leg

being cheered on by Kathy

passing off to Kathy

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cooking Up a Storm

I've spent the day in the kitchen preparing meals for the big run tomorrow. We have to bring all of our own food and you don't want to just snack between runs. So I decided to make some healthy, filling, carbolicious dishes that will help keep me energized.

Chinese Chicken Salad - from the kitchen of The Scheller Family
2 Ramen noodles packages
1 bag Dole coleslaw mix
1 lb bag of veggies
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
pea pods (cook for 2 min, drain and ice, blanch)
2 TBS sesame seeds, toasted
chopped chicken
Mix all together.


4 TBS soy sauce
4 TBS sugar
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 C oil
6 TBS white wine or balsamic vinegar
Whisk, pour over veggie mix, toss!

Thai Noodle Salad: from the kitchen of Muggs, the Murdock caterer

12 oz linguine
4 TBS sesame oil
8 green onions, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 C honey
1/4 C peanut butter
1/4 C soy sauce
3 TBS unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
2 C mung bean sprouts
1 C carrots, shredded

Cook pasta, drain. Transfer pasta to large bowl and add 3 TBS sesame oil and toss to coat. Heat remaining 1 TBS oil in heavy large skillet over medium high heat. Add 6 onions, garlic, ginger and saute until onions soften - about 2 minutes. Add honey, peanut butter, soy sauce for 1 minute. Cool to room temperature. Pour over pasta and toss to coat. Add sprouts and carrots. Mix well. Transfer to platter and sprinkle with remaining onions.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies: from the kitchen of Emily Belf
1 C brown sugar
1 C sugar
1 C shortening
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 C flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
4 C oatmeal
chocolate chips to your desire
chopped walnuts (optional)

Cream together brown sugar, sugar, and shortening. Add eggs and vanilla. In seperate bowl, mix flour, soda and salt. Add to creamy mixture. Add oatmeal and chocolate chips.
Bake @ 350 for 10-12 minutes.