Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bike Camping

What a weekend! I think I'm training for a triathalon (without even meaning to)! I went on two great runs around Reed campus on Friday evening and Saturday morning. The campus is gorgeous and there is a small pond hidden in the woods that is nice to run around. Then Saturday afternoon, a group of us decided to bike to Oxbow Regional Park in Gresham, Oregon - a 25 mile ride. So we loaded up our water bottles and sleeping bags and headed down the Springwater Corridor (a great biking/running path) toward Oxbow. We stopped at Safeway to load up on hot dog and smore ingredients, then kept treking. The 2 hour ride was beautiful and we ended with an intense downhill slope into the park. Once we found a place to set up camp, we walked down to the river and just relaxed. That night we made a camp fire, enjoyed a typical yet delicious camping dinner, sat around and chatted, then snuggled up in our sleeping bags on the hard ground and dozed off. This morning, my roommate Kathy and I woke up at 6:30 to head back to Portland. Remember that nice downhill ride into the park that I mentioned... well it was not so nice and breezy this morning. We walked the 1.5 mile hill then started the rest of the bike ride home. It was a great outdoor adventure, and I'm pretty pooped. But I recieved a last-minute offer to hike Mount Tabor this evening and I haven't made that trek yet, so I couldn't say no. Life in the northwest is quite an adventure!

the route from Adele's house to Oxbow Park

Friday, May 29, 2009

Hannah in Portland!

Last weekend I had my first visitor in Portland! Hannah Sprague flew up for the Memorial Day weekend and we had three days full of Northwest fun. Drew's friend Ross was also here from Texas for the weekend. We packed as much as we could into out time together - and it was an absolute blast!

Friday: got back to Portland from Idaho at 4pm and picked Hannah up from the airport at 8pm, ate dinner at Henry's Tavern, visited Powell's Bookstore, and walked around downtown Portland

Saturday: ate breakfast at Cricket's Cafe, rented bikes and rode by the waterfront, walked around the Portland Saturday Market and Farmer's Market, visited the Rose Garden (saw all 4 roses that were in bloom), enjoyed the view of the city from Pittock Mansion, basked in the sun, and then (my favorite part of the whole weekend) had a progressive dinner around Portland with Drew and Ross... soup at Tom Yum Thai, cajun tater tots at Bagdad Theater, sushi and noodles at The Sauce Box, drinks at The Tug Boat, and dessert at Papa Hyden's

Sunday: early church service at Imago Dei, coffee at Stumpton (the best coffee in town), then drove north to Seattle with Drew and Ross where we ate fish and chips at Iver's on the waterfront, walked around Pike's Place Market, ate fresh cherries, got coffee at the 1st Starbucks, walked to the original REI store, ate pizza at Zeek's, took a ferry ride to Bainbridge Island and back and sunset, got back to Portland at 1am

Monday: drove out to Multnomah Falls and hiked in the gorge, ate delicious fried chicken and biscuit sandwiches and fried green tomatoes from Pine State Biscuits, drove west to Cannon Beach on the Oregon coast, ate scrumptious crab bisque and crab cakes at The Wayfarer, drove back to Portland and stopped by the Moore's house to hang out for a while
It was so much fun having a friend in town to do everything Portland with me! A lot of these adventures I had never experienced before, but I am quickly becoming a Northwest tour guide. Come on up for a visit and I will show you the same good time!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Camp Lutherhaven

Last week I was transformed into a camp counselor - a hat I have never before worn. Camp Lutherhaven is a Christian camp located in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho which has received several grants from Murdock. I met the executive director, Bob Baker, a few months ago at a Murdock conference and he said if I ever wanted to have the camp experience I was more than welcome to visit Lutherhaven. So I took a week away from the office, packed up my sunscreen and Chacos, and headed to Northern Idaho. Being a part of the Murdock Trust, I was given the best cabin at the camp - the "Guest Cottage". It was a quaint and cozy cabin with a wonderful back patio overlooking Lake Coeur d'Alene.

Although I was a guest, I jumped right into the responsibilities of a camp counselor. On Monday, we hosted a group of fourth graders. I joined Alisa and took the kids out on the lake in large canoes called Voyagers. The weather was perfect and it was glorious being out on the lake all day. On Tuesday, I helped out with the challenge courses and the camp fire in the evening. The counselors asked me to join in on the silly songs and skits. That's not really my thing (being goofy and overly expressive), so I was pretty akward and uncomfortable. Wednesday morning I woke up and drove to Lutherhaven's sister campus, Shoshone Base Camp in Prichard, Idaho. The staff was a little short handed and needed me to help out with a group of 75 sixth graders. Little did I know that "helping out" meant taking on the Orienteering Course - all by myself! "What is orienteering?" you ask. I had the exact same question. Orienteering is a sport which requires navigational skills using a compass. Sounds like fun except for one small detail - I didn't even know how to use a compass! How am I supposed to teach orienteering to sixth graders? One of the camp counselors gave me an orienteering crash course and from then on I just acted like I knew what I was talking about. (I might have even been mistaken for an old girl scout a time or two!)

One evening after camp fire, I even led a night hike. I led the kids into a dark cove in the forest surrounded by tall pine trees and taught them about night vision. Here's something interesting that I learned on that night hike: Did you know that if you chew a wintergreen LifeSaver with your mouth open in the dark, you will be able to see sparks in your mouth!? I handed out LifeSavers to each of the kids and they laughed as we all chewed them with our mouths open - it was like a fireworks show in our mouths! Overall, I really enjoyed my time at camp. I realized that I am not exactly the camp counselor type (it was tough not knowing what the daily schedule was until 8am that morning, and sometimes working until camp fire was over at 10pm), but its definitely a job that is always exciting and will keep you youthful.

What I enjoyed most about my time at camp:

  • being outdoors in God's creation
  • not dealing with phone, computers and ipods
  • remembering the simplicity of being an elementary school kid
  • cleaning the mess hall after dinner with the kids as we all sang along to the Sound of Music soundtrack
  • late night smores
  • learning that I was the talk of the boy's cabin because of my "awesome LifeSavers spark trick"
  • playing with the program director's 7-month-old twins

Friday, May 22, 2009

Out and About

I have been in Northern Idaho all week at Camp Lutherhaven, a Christian camp that Murdock supports, and just got back to Portland today. Hannah, a friend from college, flies into Portland this evening and will be here for the long Memorial Day weekend! Lots going on... I will be back in business on Tuesday!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Cozy Room

After living in my new house for 6 weeks, I have finally finished decorating my room. Come on in! Almost all of the items in my room were given to me by friends and family or remind me of someone special. Here are some pictures from my cozy bedroom on Rhone Street...

a sweet picture of baby Hannah given to me Christmas 2007, a book by Mary Carter that I stumbled across in Powell's Bookstore, a picture of my best college friends in front of the Eiffle Tower during Baylor in Great Britain, photo albums from my Uganda trips

crosses given to me by Sarah and other friends

my bedside table given to me by Uncle Les and Jennifer, a framed homemade cross collage made by Ashley Sullivan, and 2 of my favorite prayers

a family picture from Christmas 2009, in the small box is a rock by which to remember my hike of Ben Nevis in Scotland with Baylor friends, a picture of Ugandan children, and a board full of cards and letters from family and friends

a chest of drawers originally bought for $8 for Emily's nursery, a glass dish given to me for my birthday by Merrill, a silver cup given as Merrill's bridesmaid gift, a jewelry dish given as Whitney's house party gift, a jewelry bowl bought in Uganda, a picture of my sisters at Sarah's wedding, a Japanese painting given to me by Anne, and on the side wall a picture of one of my favorite paintings The Kiss introduced to me by Sydney

My Favorite Prayer by Thomas Merton

My Lord God, I have no idea where I'm going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seam to be lost and in the shadow of death, I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Yesterday evening we had an "Intern Celebration" with Murdock interns from the previous summers as well as interns for this coming summer. We planned an evening of "fun, fellowship and food" (bowling and pizza). This event has been planned for a while and I was a little nervous to go bowling seeing how I haven't been in quite some time. So Mary Hill brought her grandsons' foam bowling game to work yesterday and we turned the intern office into a practice bowling lane. I did pretty well with the kiddie set, so I was feeling confident in my bowling skills. But it turned out that I wasn't quite ready for the big leagues. At least I broke 100 (in my 2-game combined score, that is). Terry had some bowling issues, too. He had really been talking himself up all morning and he even dressed for the part, but he burst his bubble (and his knees) on the first bowl. I think he threw too much of his energy (and body) into the release of the 14 lb bolwing ball, and he clumsily rolled down the lane with it. He actually ended up in lane 5 - and he was bowling in lane 2! He blamed it on his slippery shoes and exchanged them for a new pair - I don't think that was the real problem, Terry!

After a few bowling games, we headed back to the office where we enjoyed yummy pizza and took time to dig deeper in each others' lives. We each talked about the path which led us here and what we thought our future might hold. It wasn't just small talk over dinner, it was actual issues that we were actually facing. I enjoyed the vulnerability and openness of the group. You can just imagine what is on the hearts and minds of a bunch of young 20-aged adults. It was all very real - real situations, real fears, real uncertainties. We all had two things in common, though: we want to following God's calling in our lives (after we find it of course) and we were somehow lucky enough to spend some time at Murdock. I realized last night how blessed I am to be a part of such a wonderful group.

rolling a strike during foam bowling practice

Mary and Mary (my second mom)

Mary and Carrie

right before the ball rolled into the gutter

typical Terry

the gang: Katy (a fellow summer intern), Mary, Mark, Terry

Monday, May 11, 2009

Things Fall Apart

Murdock has a book club three times a year - spring, summer, and fall - in which a book is selected for the whole office to read and then discuss. The book we selected for this Spring was Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. This novel is world-renowned and considered one of the top 100 novels of the century. Achebe weaves two harmonizing stories which both give insight to the culture of Nigeria. The first tells of the main character, Okonkwo, and his life in which he is committed to becoming the most powerful warrior and leader in his tribe. The second story complicates the plot as European missionaries arrive in the village and begin to intrude on the Nigerian's set way of life. New ideas are introduced, rituals are questioned, families turn on one another, and things begin to fall apart - all because neither of the cultures try to understand each other or simply become friends:

...he does not understand our customs, just as we do not understand his. We say he is foolish because he does not know our ways, and perhaps he says we are foolish because we do not know his.
How often we become set in our ways and refuse to see other people's perspective. Why do we always assume that the way we do things is right and the way other people do things is wrong? Why do we try to change other people but aren't open to being changed? If only we could put our own selfish agenda aside and just love our neighbors.

Book Club Lunch
By the way, this was the staff lunch for which I chose the menu (since I dominated the NCAA bracket challenge and all). So while in the Pacific Northwest discussing the African culture, we enjoyed a delicious Mexican meal including enchiladas, chile poblanos, beans and rice, legitamit queso, and a sinful flourless chocolate torte. Yes, we are very culturally rounded.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Story of Our Lives

This week I had that wonderful pleasure of meeting Donald Miller, the author of one of my favorite books, Blue Like Jazz. Donald was the morning devotional speaker at the P.I.G.S. (Partners in Grant-Making Services) Conference at Skamania Lodge on Tuesday morning. Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality is currently being made into a full-length movie in which Donald is helping write the screenplay. In the devotional, Donald talked about what makes a good story...

1. a character who wants something, has a goal, a purpose: there is a screenwriting theory that says between pages 15-20 of the screenplay, the character should save a cat. yes, he should literally save a cat (or help an old lady walk across the street); some good deed that makes him likeable.

2. conflict: the characted must overcome conflict to get what he wants, reach his goal, or obtain his purpose.

3. what the character wants has to be self-sacrificial: the overcoming of the conflict has to benefit someone else.

4. the story changes the character: he becomes a better man by going through this story.

Blue Like Jazz
is somewhat of a memoir, a compilation of stories about Don's life. It's a wonderful story and it inspires me. But Don said, "I don't just want to live through random experiences anymore. At the end of the day, I want to be living a meaningful story." Me too. I don't want my goal in life to be saving up for a new car, striving for a job promotion, fitting in, being popular. I want my life to be meaningful. I know that it will involve conflict, I know that the story isn't just about me, and I know that I will be a different person at the end of my story than I am now. But I am the lead actor in my story as you are in yours, and it's up to us to make it a good one.

Blue Like Jazz

"It is always the simple things that change our lives. And these things never happen when you are looking for them to happen. Life will reveal answers at the pace life wishes to do so. You feel like running, but life is on a stroll."

"I will love you like God, because of God, mighted by the power of God. I will stop expecting your love, demanding your love, trading for your love, gaming for your love. I will simply love. I am giving myself to you, and tomorrow I will do it again."

- some of my favorite quotes from Blue Like Jazz

Monday, May 4, 2009

Free Shopping!

Yesterday evening, I went to my first "naked ladies party". Before you start blushing, let me explain. Its a party where women bring all the clothes, shoes, and accessories that they want to get ride of and we set up our own clothing exchange. This party gave me the motivation I needed to clean out my closet and let go of clothes that I haven't worn in years. So a group of ladies met at my friend Alyssa's house and we set up difference areas for shirts, pants, skirts, dresses and accessories. Then it was a free for all! We went through all of the piles of clothes and took the pieces that worked for us. I got a new dress and some shorts. All of the leftovers will be donated to organizations that provide clothing for homeless or low-income women. Apparently these parties are pretty popular up here and I think you guys should start them down in Texas!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Low Country Boil

Every Thursday my Imago Dei home community group meets for dinner and fellowship. We usually have three weeks of Bible study and discussion and one week of something different (praise and worship, games, small groups, etc.). This week Drew's dad was here visiting from South Carolina. It was great to have another Southerner in the group (and boy did his accent trump mine!). He made a special "low country boil" dinner for all of us. The delicious meal included shrimp, sausage, potatoes, corn on the cobb, and onions all boiled together in a large pot then dumped on a table for all of us to enjoy. It was a tasty dinner and great fellowship.

Friday, May 1, 2009


It's official - I'm signed up for the Hood to Coast Relay! H2C is considered "the Mother of all relays". It starts at the top of Mt. Hood and ends 197 miles away at the Oregon Coast. No, I'm not running 200 miles on my own; I have 11 other team mates. We will each run 3 seperate legs for a total of about 16 miles each. In between legs, we will pile into a van and drive to the next trade-off location.

It all began when my roommate Kathy mentioned that she was on a H2C team that needed a few more female runners for the relay which is the last weekend of August. I said that the race sounded fun and that I was interested. Before I knew it, the team captain contacted me and I was in. Only after the fact did I realize just how difficult it is to get on a H2C team since there are a limited number of teams which don't change much from year to year. Lucky me!

The relay is sponsored by Nike and each team runs to raise money for a charity of their choice. The week after I signed up for the race, I realized that my team was raising money for an organization that works in Uganda. What are the odds! The organization is called Eternal Impact and is led by John Garrick, one of my running mates.

This week, our team (yet to be named) had our first meeting. Apparently our team leader is a hard-core runner. She began the meeting by saying, "Okay, lets all introduce ourselves and say how many times we've run the Hood to Coast and our most memorable moment. I'll start: I'm Norma. I've run the Hood to Coast 3 times and ran the Boston marathon a few weeks (no big deal). My most memorable H2C moment was when another runner and I sprinted the last mile of our last leg because we are both so competitive and didn't want to let the other pass. Next." My first thought was, "What the heck am I doing here? Maybe I can slip out the back door and nobody will notice." Well, it ends up that only about 3 people on our team have actually run H2C before. Most of us are first-timers. I'm super excited about this challenge and know that it will be a great accomplishment! Let the training begin!