Monday, June 27, 2011

Life is Tough...

Have you ever noticed how there are rarely (if ever) times when everything in life is just right?  There is always something wrong, something a little off, something missing, something you wish you had or didn't have.  When I think of my life and all that I have, I am so grateful.  How could I ask for more?  But I often find something to worry about, complain about, long for.  Have you ever noticed how in each stage of life there is something that makes you think "when I have that, then things will be better"... or "if only this would happen, then I would be happy"?

Lately I've become very aware of my complaints and negativity; be it work, living situation, relationships, personalities, the weather, culture, things not working out like I hoped, temporary annoyances, whatever.  I strive to find all of the good things in life (which are plentiful and completely surrounding me), but sometimes I let other things (which can seem significant, but really aren't) bog me down.  While thinking through some of these things at church yesterday, I wrote on my bulletin: "Life is tough... get used to it.  Get over it.  Move on."  A sudden, way-past-due realization.  A scripture referenced in the sermon came from Ephesians 4: "...put off your old self which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires, to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness... Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry... Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths but only what is helpful for building others up, that it may benefit those who listen."

At the same time, I do believe that there is a difference in complaining vs. being open and honest with people to whom you are close.  But there is a fine line between productively processing struggles and difficulties in life and detrimentally tearing others down.

So I guess my challenge to myself (and to you) is to:
- let go of the negatives and cling to the positives
- take heart and remember the important things in life
- turn over your worries and just have faith
- live in the moment instead of hoping for things unseen
- be an encouragement to others

Oh You Bring...
Music can be so theraputic.  This is a song that I love right now.  A good listen when I need comfort, when I need to refocus, when I need a reminder of God's love, protection and providence.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mary Poppins

Last night, my friends Erin, Kathy and I went to see Mary Poppins the musical... and it was magical.  I saw Mary Poppins in its opening season in London in 2006 when I was traveling with Baylor in Great Britain.  I've always liked Mary Poppins (maybe its because she has such a great name), but I love the musical!  I think it is even better than the movie - although it is hard to top Julie Andrews.

Keller Auditorium was packed with young children (with an overwhelming amount of girl scouts in the audience) which made it a fun atmosphere.  The actors were amazing, the set was incredible and the songs were spectacular.  My favorite numbers were Step in Time with the chimney sweeps and Supercalifragilistiexpialidocious (which took me back to the days of Baylor SING - skip to 4:20).

Mary Poppins and the girls


Yes, Burt is dancing upside down on the stage frame. Magical.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Another Day at the Office

I have a wide variety of roles and responsibilities at work, but today included one of the best parts of my job... taste testing for our big event coming up this fall.  Deb, Chiqui and I made a visit to our caterer's office during lunch and sampled the delicious menu options they have put together for our auction.  They presented us with 2 salad options, 3 main course options, and 2 amazing dessert options... let's just say that we left with full bellies and 2 bags full of delicious leftovers.  It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it!

Roasted Sturgeon Filet

 Jerk Chicken with Fried Grits (that's right, Dad!)

Island Curry Flankiron Steak with Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Passion Fruit & Lime Bavarian Sponge Cake

Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

Eat What You Earn...
When my alarm went off at 6am this morning, I wanted to just knock it off my nightstand, put a pillow over my head and go back to sleep.  But then I remembered that we were having our big taste testing today and I knew I needed to burn some calories this morning in preparation :)  So I went for a nice cool jog (in the rain) which is always a great way to start the day.  But after our delicious lunch meeting, I decided a little extra activity today would do me good.  So when I got home from work this evening, I decided to go for another jog (again in the rain) to try out my new running shoes.  I got these Vibram 5-Fingers at the REI used gear sale this past weekend.  They had only been worn once and were a great deal and I've always wondered what they would be like to run in.  It definitely felt different.  I got a little blister on my left heel so they need to be worn in a little more.  I could tell that I was using different foot and leg muscles when running in these barefoot-feeling shoes and it will take some getting used to.  I probably won't trade in my favorite Nikes for them, but I'll try running in them maybe once a week or so.

kind of weird... I know.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Smith Rock and Tumalo Mountain

This past weekend I finally made it down to Bend in Central Oregon, probably the most outdoorsy town in the whole state.  My good friend Josh just moved down to Bend a few weeks ago.  Although we were all sad to see Josh leave Portland, we now have a great excuse to travel to Bend (and a wonderful house to stay in when we visit).

Some of Drew's Australian friends just finished climbing Mount McKinley in Alaska and are now in the Pacific Northwest for a couple of weeks.  So we all packed up our gear and headed down to Bend on Saturday afternoon.  We met up with Josh at Smith Rock where we did a little rock climbing.  Let me just start by saying, I felt completely intimidated in this crowd.  It's been a while since I last rock climbed and that was at an indoor climbing wall where I tended to stick to the easier set routes.  I've never climbed outdoors and here I am at a world-renowned rock climbing park with my two buddies who practically climb for a living and three Australians who just climbed Denali, the highest mountain peak in North America.  No big deal.  I tried hiding behind a few big rocks, but the crew quickly pulled me out, slapped a helmet on me, strapped me into my harness, threw a rope at me and told me to start climbing.  It was tough (I'm still sore), but it was so enjoyable.  It's amazing to be out in nature like that just shimmying up a 80 ft rock wall.

 stopping along Hwy 26 to Bend to take in the
clear view of Mount Hood

the Deschutes River running through
Smith Rock State Park

Josh showing me the ropes - literally

making my way up the Ginger Snap route

you can barely see me at the ledge of Peapod Cave in the middle of this picture with Hugh climbing up Cinnamon Slab crack on the left

Hey, Hugh!

Drew on Cinnamon Slab, which he said is
possibly the hardest rock climb he's attempted

just hanging out on the rocks

The next day we wanted to get some mountain climbing in so we drove out towards Mount Bachelor to Tumalo Mountain, which is a 7,779 ft volcano that was completely covered in snow.  It only took us about 2 hours or so to make it up and back with an elevation gain of around 1,000 ft.  It was a good little climb and it was nice to get outside for the afternoon.

me and the boys on top of Tumalo Mountain
with Mount Bachelor in the background

on the summit... this picture says it all

I'm still amazed at all of the mountains, trails, parks and adventures Oregon has to offer.  I'm so lucky to have great experienced friends to explore with!  And I've barely scratched the surface.

Let the Adventures Continue...
"A large volume of adventures may be grasped within this little span of life by him who interests his heart in everything.”
- Laurence Sterne, Anglican clergyman

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cold Climate Region

I hear that summer has arrived in other parts of the country, but I haven’t experienced it first-hand yet here in the Pacific Northwest. Despite the fact that it is past Memorial Day and June is now upon us, the dreary rain and cooler temperatures insist on hanging around Portland. I’ve defiantly donned summer dressed and sandals in an attempt to “stick it to the (weather)man”… which usually just leaves me with goose bumps and threats of going back to Uganda indefinitely.

I was hit with the depressing reality of the climate in which I live a couple weeks ago…
I bribed myself in that if I finished the Eugene Marathon, I could buy myself a new swimsuit at J.Crew. So one Saturday in May, I went to the downtown J.Crew store and started wondering around looking for my great new swimsuit. After walking through the entire store and not spotting any pool wear, I asked one of the sales people where the swimsuits were. “Oh, we actually don’t carry swimsuits in store since we live in the “cold climate region” of the country. You have to order them online.” I think my jaw dropped and I nearly spilled my hot coffee on myself (which wouldn’t have mattered anyway since I was wear my rain jacket). Come to find out, none of the J.Crew stores in all of Oregon and Washington carry swimsuits. That’s just ridiculous.

But I have faith that the sun will eventually find its way out here. Until then, I will continue to wear summer dresses (and a jacket) during the day and sleep in my long pajamas with my electric blanket turned on at night.