Monday, April 23, 2012

San Francisco Girls Weekend

This past weekend, I enjoyed a girl’s weekend in San Francisco with my friends Meredith and Whitney from Baylor. Meredith moved there this past fall for a religion and arts PhD program at UC Berkeley in Berkley. Whitney lives in LA, so San Fran was the perfect in-between spot for us to meet. I’ve never been to San Francisco so it was great to visit and have a local to show us around!

Meredith picked me up from the airport on Thursday night and we got frozen yogurt and caught up on each other’s lives since we haven’t seen each other in nearly a year! Friday morning I worked while Meredith went to class and then we hit the town. We had lunch at a cute little cafĂ© in Berkley, did a little shopping, then drove across the Bay Bridge to the port of San Fran. We walked all the way down to Pier 39 (the Fisherman’s Wharf) and back. Along the way, we saw a sea lion, several fisherman pulling our loads of fresh crab, were asked if we were married or single by a friendly gentleman who we quickly declined, were asked what we were doing later by an outgoing silver robot impersonator who got so close that his metallic paint nearly rubbed off on us, had to resist the many offers of palm readings and bike cart rides and thankfully didn’t encounter the “Bushman” who apparently likes to jump out and scare unsuspecting pedestrians in that area.

After a nice glass of sangria by the bay and a deep discussion on faith (I love talking to Meredith about this kind of stuff!), we picked up Whitney from the airport and kicked off the reunion weekend at a quaint restaurant in Berkley.

Saturday we hit up San Fran starting with an amazing brunch outside in the sun at Zazie in Cole Valley then headed to Alamo Square Park to lay in the grass then take a quick pic in front of the “Painted Ladies” aka the Full House house (if only Uncle Jesse had been there). We created our own jams by singing Pickers tunes in the car with the windows rolled down as we headed down Lombard Street (the crookedest street in the world) to Union Square and Chinatown. After walking quite a ways, we tried to catch a trolley back to the square. After standing at the trolley stop for about 30 minutes, we had an inkling that our ride wasn’t coming. We asked the trolley driver of a different route what was going on and he casually replied “Oh, they didn’t tell you? That trolley line is out of service.” No, they didn’t tell us. Oh well, at least we tried.

That night, we went to The Top of the Mark for cocktails and an amazing view of the sunset behind the Golden Gate Bridge. We headed to the Mission District for a light dinner and great conversation. Gah, I miss these girls! We were at the point in the night where we needed to either rally and keep the night going, or call it a night and head home. We got to the car and one person said, “I’m feeling a little tired” and without skipping a beat I said “Start the engine!” Relieved that we were headed home to our pjs and beds, we all died laughing for a good two minutes before we could actually start the engine. I can’t remember the last time I laughed that hard. We made a quick midnight pit stop at Safeway for a box of amazingly moist brownies and went home and crashed from our big day in the city.

We slept in on Sunday morning, had breakfast at a creperie then walked around the Berkley campus where we saw a student dance club perform an interestingly motivational dance in the square and then were serenaded by a unicyclist in full tie-dye playing a recorder/lute as he rode around campus (I felt like I was back in Portland!). I was sad to leave these girls after such a great reunion weekend, but we decided to have our next West Coast Summit in Portland in August. So at least we have that to look forward to! Thanks Meredith for hosting Whitney and I in your city this weekend. lylas


Friday, April 20, 2012


I don't know how many times I've commented about how "things never work out as your plan." Sometimes when things don't work out as I plan, I take comfort in knowing that "God has a bigger plan and I should just trust in him". But other times when something that was definitely not part of "the plan" comes completely out of left field, I just get frustrated. And angry. And want to disconnect from God and whatever "plan" he might have completely.

Sometimes it just seems easier to not have a plan or be following anything... but to just apathetically mosey through life and see where that leads. But I've noticed that even if I don't have all of the details planned out, I'm still expecting that my mosey will be somewhat hassle-free, painless and possibly slight enjoyable. Is that really too much to ask?

By not having any hopes or expectations, I guess that I think I'm leaving the door open for pleasant surprises. But apparently sometimes I leave the back door open and disappointment and sorrow slip in.

When life seems to get you down, people tend to say, "Things can only go up from here." But what if they keep going down? What if you think you're at rock bottom and then the bottom drops out?

I guess that's when you realize that you're experiencing real life. Sometimes you walk through the desert alone. Sometimes people aren't who you thought they were. Sometimes you aren't as perfect as you thought you were. Sometimes other people get what you want. Sometimes the ideal is unattainable. Sometimes babies aren't born completely healthy. Sometimes amazing people unexpectedly die way too young. Sometimes you are slapped with the reality of how messed up this world is.

I think this is where I'm supposed to wrap up my complicated thoughts into a hopeful little package. And say "but this is what I've learned..." or "at least we can hold on to this promise..." But sometimes life's complexities are left unresolved. For a month. For a year. Forever. I guess what I'm saying is: we've been promised nothing. And there are definitely times in life when that's what you get: nothing. And I guess it's ok to sit in the reality of nothingness. And eventually you get up and keep moseying.

Blue Like Jazz
Last week, I went to the viewing of Blue Like Jazz (the movie) at Reed College. I felt insecure and out of place among the hundreds of mostly non-Christian college kids. In the words of Don Miller: “My dad says life is like jazz because it doesn't resolve... But what if we're not alone?... What if all these stars are notes on a page of music, swirling in the blue... like jazz..."

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Easter in Texas

A few weeks ago, I woke up on a Tuesday morning to a text message from my sister Sarah. It was the cutest picture of my little nephew Henry smiling as if to say, "Hi Aunt Mary! Don't you want to come kiss my chubby little cheeks?" I quickly replied, "That's it... I'm booking a flight to Texas."

So last weekend I was home for Easter for the first time in three years. The whole family was together in Waco, which was exciting because that only happens maybe twice a year. We didn't really have plans for the weekend - just hanging out and having Easter egg hunts with the kids. My list of things I wanted to do while in Waco included: soak up some sun, eat Mexican food and drink margaritas (which I accomplished every single night), see my friends Hannah and Anne, go to my favorite shop Roots, swing by Common Grounds for a cup of coffee, get Chick-fil-a, and spend as much time with the kiddos as possible.

Sunday afternoon, I drove back to Dallas with Emily, Brett and the girls and even got to see lightening for the first time in quite a while (it's funny how you miss those little things). That night I had dinner (Mexican food, of course) with Uncles Les and Jennifer and cousins Lisa (with her pregnant little belly), Luke, Laura and Ryan. I woke up Monday morning at 6:45 to Hannah standing by the couch staring at me... she does that sometimes (a little creepy). Later that morning we met up with Aunt Judy, very pregnant cousin Claire and her kids Genevieve and Anson, hopped on the trolley that goes through Uptown and had brunch at Bread Winners.  It was so great to get to see so much family in Dallas!  I was apparently pretty exhausted from the weekend and ended up taking an hour and a half nap with Alice Anne.  Then we went to a park, played Uno and cooked dinner before my flight back to Portland.

What a great weekend of just hanging out with the family. I'm so glad that I was able to make it back to Texas to see everyone - even if it was just for a quick weekend.

the picture that inspired my trip - I mean, seriously... have you ever seen a cuter little boy (even with a bucket on his head)

the kids with the Easter Bunny (who according to Hannah and Alice Anne lives in the North Pole with Santa and the Tooth Fairy)

sisters and kids at the Saturday Easter egg hunt at Ridgewood
we caught Carter in the middle of a sneeze

Mom and I at Common Grounds

girls' afternoon out - shopping at Roots

the kids and I on the trolley in Dallas

Monday afternoon at the park

Thursday, April 5, 2012

You'll Be Glad You Did

Sometimes taking that first step is the hardest part. When deciding whether or not to do something, it's easy to picture the worst-case scenario, you expect things to go all wrong, so you're hesitant to even give it a try. And then something or someone forces you to take the first step, or you muster up enough courage to jump... and you realize, "Hey, that wasn't so bad. In fact, I'm glad I did it."

I've felt that way about several experiences lately. It was really hard to get out of bed at 5:20am this week to go serve breakfast at the Blanchet House, but it ended up being one of the best mornings I've had there. Glad I got out of bed. I would have rather taken a nap this past Saturday afternoon instead of going for a long run, but once I started running I felt great and actually went further than I thought I could. Glad I put on my running shoes. Taking a red-eye flight to Texas tonight, then getting back to Portland at midnight on Monday night, and then going to work the next morning sounds draining, but seeing my family is going to be pretty great. Glad I booked that flight. Moving 2,000 miles away from home to a place where I only knew two people was a little daunting, but it was probably the best move I ever made. Glad I packed up and drove Northwest.

All that to say, I'm learning that some of the most rewarding life experiences could easily be missed just because we don't want to take the first step. But if you never take that step then you're just standing still.

Balance Beam Act
My boss loves this video and plays it as often as possible.  Francis Chan makes a great point...