Friday, October 24, 2014

We're Engaged!

If you're wondering where I've been or why I've been so silent the past several weeks, I have good reason.  Things have been quite busy, but very good.

The first major thing taking up quite a bit of my time was the MTI auction which took place on Saturday, October 11th.  This was my 6th auction for Medical Teams, and it went very well.  It was a wonderful evening with a silent auction, our new Impact Market, and a dinner and live auction.  Our guests were quite generous and we raised a record amount of $1.4 million.  Amazing!

Some people compare the auction to childbirth: 9 months of preparation all culminating in a quite intense and stressful event with an amazing result at the end.  I see it as a really long marathon, in which you just can't wait to cross the finish line.  Needless to say, it's exhausting.

I always look forward to the day after the auction with anticipation of sleeping in, relaxing and doing pretty much whatever I want or don't want to do.  However, throughout the week Chris kept checking in to make sure that we were still going to go to church on Sunday, to which I kept replying that I would really like to play it by ear since I'm sure to be exhausted.

But we did decide to go to the 10:30 service on Sunday since it is one of our favorite things to do together.  Chris came over to my house before church and we were able to enjoy good conversation over a cup of coffee.  When it was getting close to time to leave, I told him I was going to go upstairs to change clothes to which he said, "Oh, what are you going to wear today?"  I gave him a strange look and responded, "I don't know. I'll probably just look in my closet and pick something."  That was weird, but whatever.

The church service was wonderful and we decided to go to brunch afterwards like we usually do.  Chris really wanted to go to Jam on Hawthorne (where we went on our first date), but I insisted that we go to Slappy Cakes.  After brunch I told him that all I wanted to do that afternoon was take a nap.  I'd been looking forward to that nap for 9 months now.  But he really wanted to go for a walk.  I pushed back and so did he and I finally started picking up on his slightly unusual behaviors and decided that I should just go along with the plan.

So we drove to Mt Tabor to go for a quick Sunday afternoon walk.  I was starting to get suspicious, and as he got out of the car I thought to myself, "Surely he doesn't have a ring on him right now.  I'm going to watch to see if he gets anything else out of the car."  Sure enough, he opened the trunk and grabbed his jacket.  I decided that even though I wasn't going to take my purse on the walk, I would grab my phone... just in case.

We got to the top of Mt Tabor and stood and enjoyed the view of the city.  A woman was walking by with her husband and dog and Chris said, "Let's see if this woman will take our picture."  Another odd behavior: we are so bad about taking pictures together and this was a really random time to take a picture.  The kind stranger snapped some pictures using my phone then showed us the pictures.  "These look great.  Thank you."  I said.  But Chris handed her back the phone and said, "Could you take a few more?  Maybe we could try something different.  Maybe a different pose.  Maybe like this..." and he pulled a box out of his jacket pocket, got down on one knee and said, "Will you marry me?" 

I was so surprised by that moment and had to take a second to take in everything that was going on around me.  Freeze frame...
1) Chris was on his knee: which I'd never really thought about this, but that's actually an odd position as he was not standing face-to-face with me).
2) there was a sparkling diamond ring in an open box in his hand: was I supposed to look at the ring? should I put it on my hand?
3) there was a complete stranger with a camera standing very close to me, sharing this moment with us - thankfully she was quick enough to realize that she should be snapping lots of pictures at that moment. (Imagine the stories she must have been telling her friends over dinner that night!)
4) the stranger's dog was licking my leg.  enough said.

After what was probably about 6 seconds (but felt like 6 minutes to Chris), I finally said YES! and then I think I said, "Will you please stand up? I don't know what to do!"

We hugged (there might have been a kiss) and Chris slipped the ring on my finger.  The woman handed me back my phone, said Congratulations, and continued her walk with her husband and dog.

Just a normal Sunday afternoon walk...

...that turned into the best walk ever.
*note the dog*

Chris and I sat on a bench on the top of Mt Tabor and facetimed with our family.  That evening, we went to a Trail Blazer game with some friends.  Just 6 months and one week after we met at a Blazer game, we were back at the Rose Garden arena celebrating our engagement.  What a perfect end to the perfect day.
I couldn't be more excited to spend the rest of my life this such an amazing man.  He brings me such joy.  I can hardly remember my life without him, and I couldn't have dreamed of a better partner to get to walk down this path with.

In Chris' Words...
On Sunday morning, I met Mary at her house as she was getting ready for church. We went to service, where we both received well a sermon on Zacchaeus, and then I asked (insisted) on brunch afterward. My intentions were to take her to the site of our first date, Jam on Hawthorne, but she instead asked if we could go to Slappy Cakes on Belmont. I obliged.

It occurs to me I was being more sentimental than usual during the morning, and she became slightly suspicious. I, of course, had been carrying a ring in my pocket, and was likely more nervous than I realized.

After brunch, I again asked (insisted) that we go for a walk on Mt Tabor. She refused at first, being tired from a long several weeks of preparation for the MTI Auction. Seeing my plans begin to evaporate, I continued to press her to join me for a short walk. Eventually, she relented and we drove up Belmont toward Mt Tabor.

When we got there, I grabbed my jacket (which contained the ring), and we walked up to a spot that allows you to see straight up Hawthorne toward the city. I suggested we ask a passing couple to take our photo, which again raised her suspicions. A kind lady agreed, and took a photo on Mary's camera.

After the first photo, I asked her to take one more. At that point, I fumbled for the ring in my pocket and got down on one knee. I asked her if she would marry me.

Mary stood there, apparently stunned for several seconds that felt like years. Finally, she said yes, and I stood up to place the ring on her finger.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Deschutes Fishing

This past weekend, Chris and I went on a fishing trip with his family.  His dad, Dan, is an avid fisherman and he invited us to go out on the Deschutes with him to fish for some Steelhead.  This was different fishing than I've even done, and I loved it!
Chris and I drove out to a campground near Maupin (Central Oregon) on Saturday to meet his dad, mom, sister and brother who had gotten there the day before.  Most of the crew had been out on the river fishing all day.  His sister caught a hatchery fish (identified by their clipped back fins) which you can keep, as opposed to the native fish which you have to throw back.  We ate good that night - Dan cooked up some steak and a bit of the fish.  Delicious!  As it got dark, we all sat at the picnic table and played Apples to Apples by lantern light.  You could hear the river rushing just about 50 yards away - so relaxing!
The next morning, Dan, Chris and I headed out on the river in Dan's drift boat around 9am.  The river keeps a good steady pace, but Dan knows how to maneuver that thing through the water.  We wore waders and boots and fished in sometimes waist-deep cool water (no fishing from the boat allowed on the Lower Deschutes).  We would stop along the bank, climb out of the boat and cast our line out using a jig and slowly walk down with the current waiting for a bite.  I caught one fish, and fought it with everything I had to actually get the sucker in.  He was a big one and right as Dan was trying to get the hook out of him, he swam off with the hook still in his mouth.  He was probably about 10 lbs, but we weren't able to get a picture of him... so in that case, I actually think he might have been closer to 20 lbs.  I fought even harder for what I thought was a bigger fish and ended up realing in a big mossy stick... I'll tell you more of that story later, Uncle Les, so you can get a big laugh out of it.
It was a beautiful, fun day on the river.  We came in around 4:00pm, headed back to the campsite to pack up and then drove back to Portland.  We're so fortunate to have such close access to amazing rivers and fishing!

Monday, September 22, 2014


A time to withdraw from your natural rhythm to rest, relax and refocus.  A period of seclusion for the purpose of prayer and meditation.

Last week, my department at MTI went on a 2-day off-site retreat in Western Washington.  We stayed at a simple retreat center in the middle of nowhere.  We were surrounded by dirt roads, trees, deer and cows.  There was no cell service and hardly any internet connection.  It was a true escape.

And it was wonderful.  A much needed time away from the normal routine.  We were all forced to disconnect with the outside world, and engage with one another.  Rather than watching tv, we played bocce ball.  Rather than being in our rooms checking Facebook on our phones, we sat on the back deck and gazed at the stars.  Rather than being consumed by work emails, we talked about how we wanted to grow as a team.

The second day we were there, we even had a morning chapel service where the theme was Stillness.  Here are a few scriptures and quotes for you to contemplate as you start a new week...
  • "As soon as we are alone, inner chaos opens up in us. This chaos can be so disturbing and so confusing that we can hardly wait to get busy again. Entering a private room and shutting the door, therefore, does no mean that we immediately shut out all our inner doubts, anxieties, fears, bad memories, unresolved conflicts, angry feelings and impulsive desires. On the contrary, when we have removed our outer distraction, we often find that our inner distraction manifest themselves to us in full force. We often use the outer distractions to shield ourselves from the interior noises. This makes the discipline of solitude all the more important."
    - Henry Nouwen, Making All Things New
  • "Silence of the Heart is necessary so you can hear God everywhere - in the closing of a door, in the person who needs you, in the birds that sing, in the flowers, in the animals. What is essential is not what we say but what God tells us and what He tells others through us. In silence He listens to us; in silence He speaks to our souls. In silence we are granted the privilege of listening to His voice."
    - Mother Teresa, In the Heart of the World
  • "Be still and know that I am God."
    - Psalm 46:10
In our culture, we pride ourselves with being busy.  In our world busyness = importance.  I am guilty of this.  I like to always be going and doing.  I strive to be constantly "productive."  Being still is a discipline.  Focusing can be difficult.  As summer comes to a close and we settle into our less busy "hibernation season", I hope to remember and embrace more stillness and solitude.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hood to Coast 2014

Last weekend was this year's Hood to Coast Relay, one of my favorite weekends of the year.  This was my 6th year to run this race.  My goal is to eventually have run each of the 12 legs in this relay, so I am now half way there!

This year I ran Leg 12, the anchor leg for the team.  The breakdown of the legs was... 1st leg: 6.29 miles along the Springwater Corridor ending under the Hawthorne Bridge, 2nd leg: 4.92 miles near Mist, OR between Portland and the coast, 3rd leg: 5.23 miles ending at the beach in Seaside!  I didn't have any crazy middle-of-the-night runs - they were actually at very normal times: 9pm, 6am, 4pm.  And not too many hills either.  I actually wasn't really sore at all after this weekend.  Maybe that means I didn't run hard enough!

I was in Van 2 with 5 dudes: Drew, Jed, Robbie, Marty and Ben.  Fun group, but always a little interesting being the only girl in a van with 5 smelly guys.  Let's just say we all got to know each other pretty well.  By the end, I was practically just one of the guys.

I would love to say that the race weekend went smoothly without a hitch.  Our team did awesome and no one was injured.  But the race organization had a few hiccups along the way.  Around the 2nd big exchange, traffic got really congested and vans were backed up for miles.  Our van dropped Drew off for his second run and started driving to the next exchange where he would hand off to me.  Well we got stuck in the nasty backup of vans and pretty soon I see Drew running by our van, headed to the next exchange (where I was not waiting).  So I jumped out of the van and ran the last mile of his leg, grabbed the baton from him at the exchange and then ran another 5 miles of my leg.  When I completed my leg and got to the next exchange, there was no one from the other van there to meet me.  So I waited... and waited... for an hour... in the cold... wearing wet sweaty clothes... for an hour.  My runner finally showed up.  They had gotten stuck in traffic, too.  And thankfully he brought me a sweater and some cash to buy some coffee that the local church was selling.  Bless him.
Our van finally got out of the traffic, and continued on to the coast.  I was the final leg into Seaside and once I reached the beach, my team was able to join me for the final steps across the finish line.  We gave high fives and snapped some pictures, then quickly got out of there and started the drive back to Portland.  We were done with crowds and standing on our feet and being sweaty.  I was so ready to be home, take a shower and climb in my bed.
What a fun, crazy exhausting race.  Somehow all of the memories of traffic and sleepless nights and stinky vans is already fading and I'm already looking forward to HTC 2015!
Van 2: Drew, Jed, Robbie, Marty, Mary, Ben
**please note our awesome van... there is a queen size bed in the back of that thing!
geared up for my first run... headlamp, reflective vest, and front and back flashers required

during my hour wait at the 2nd exchange... I don't think I've ever been so cold in my life

finish line!!
the whole team
Unknown Injury
A couple of weeks ago, I went out on the river with Chris' family and some friends.  It was a great night for boating and we all enjoyed wakeboarding and tubing.  While tubing with my friend Courtney, my tube got some air, did a flip and I tried hanging on for dear life.  In my attempt to hold onto the tube handles (and my pride), I injured my finger.  I thought it was just jammed or a bad sprain.  It hasn't really been getting much better, so I decided to go see the doctor today (with a nudge from Chris).  And what do you know... my finger is broken.  I've been walking around with a broken pinky for two weeks.  It's in a splint now, so hopefully it will start healing quicker, because I can't let a pinky slow me down.
 the tube flip that took out my pinky
see the break on the pinky between the knuckle and middle joint

Friday, August 8, 2014

Paradise Camping

Last weekend, Chris and I joined in his family's annual camping trip at Paradise campgrounds near Bend, Central Oregon.  We got there on Friday evening and his younger brother had already set up a tent for us - thanks, Eric!  Despite an air mattress that deflated during the middle of the night both nights, it was actually a pretty comfortable camping setup.

Saturday morning, Chris and I went for a run and then we all went out on the boat on the Cougar Reservoir off of the McKenzie River.  It was a perfectly sunny day and the water was actually pretty warm.  Our boat party included Chris and I, his parents, his little brother and 4 other teenage boys.  The boys knocked around on the tubes for a while, and then Chris' dad told them it was time for them to get out so that he could take me out to learn to wake board.  The boys really wanted to stay in the boat; I agreed that they could stay as long as they understood that it might be a slow, frustrating process for me to try getting up on the wake board.  Chris gave me an impressive demonstration of how to be a stellar wake boarder, talked me through everything I should and shouldn't do in order to actually get up, and then strapped my feet into the wakeboard and pushed me out into the water.  I surprisingly got up after just 4-5 tries.  I was able to get a few rides in before feeling totally exhausted and worn out.  I climbed back into the boat to the cheers of the teenage boys - I think they now accept me as a somewhat-cool-20-something-year-old girl who didn't totally eat it on a wake board... phew!
Teenage boys have unlimited energy and they stayed out on the boat all day.  Chris and I headed back to the camp site for some downtime.  We played cards for a while then drove to a driving range at a nearby golf course.  We hit golf balls for a while (most of mine ended up somewhere in the woods) and then I dropped my clubs due to developing hand blisters and relaxed in the sun watching Chris do what he loves.
We came back to the campsite where dinner was being served.  We hung around a campfire with the group and made smores and enjoyed good company and conversations.
The next morning we ate breakfast, packed up the campsite, and headed back to Portland.  The thing I love most about camping is that it allows you to really get away from your everyday life, and to unplug and relax.  Another great Oregon summer weekend!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Through the Eyes of Children

Innocent, naïve, pure... these are all words that describe young children.  There is so much they don't understand.  They have so much to learn.

But there is so much beauty in the innocence of a child.  Being naïve can be a precious thing.  And the pure heart and spirit of a child is something that is impossible to regain once it is lost.  To be able to see the world through the eyes of a child again... what would that look like?

On Saturday, I babysat three kids from Texas who's parents were in town for a wedding.  We were hanging out in a fancy hotel in downtown Portland, but needed to get out of the small room for a while.  So we ventured out onto the streets of this eclectic city.  I held 10-month old Peter on my hip and grabbed the hands of 3-year-old William and 5-year-old Ruthie and emphasized the importance of staying close together.

We stood on a corner near Pioneer Square and waited for the "walking man" to replace the "stopping hand" so we could cross the street.  We visited the walrus statues they saw earlier that day and liked playing with.  An older woman was near the walruses and struck up a conversation with the two older children.  She started singing a few songs to them that she used to sing to her children.  She apologized for not remembering some of the verses (she admitted that she had just come from the Oregon Brew Fest on the waterfront).  After each of the songs, the kids would laugh and clap for her lively performance.

We decided to keep walking and little Ruthie lead us down the street saying, "Come with me - I want to show you something."  We waited for several of the walking men to allow us to cross a few more streets, always looking both ways and holding hands through the crowd of pedestrians.  Ruthie stopped on a corner where a man was sitting on a bucket playing a bucket drum set.  "Look!" she exclaimed.  "Is this what you wanted to show me?" I asked.  Ruthie smiled and nodded as she joyfully watched the dirty man who was banging out a loud beat.

We stood and enjoyed the music until the kids were distracted by a man and his dog walking by.  "Excuse me - may I pet your dog?"  Ruthie asked.  The man with dreadlocks smiled and said, "of course."  He introduced the kids to his dog, Toby, and they laughed and played with Toby and then thanked the owner who continued on his way.

We pet at least 4 other dogs on our outing.  Ruthie politely asked each owner, "Excuse me - may I pet your dog?" William would jump in to play as well, and they would both said "Thank you!" after playing with the dog for a minute.

We walked back into the hotel lobby, where Ruthie excitedly told the bell hop that we were having pizza for dinner tonight.  He told her that he had pizza for lunch today and hoped our dinner was yummy.  The kids were fully energized by the outing, and my arm about to fall off from hold baby Peter for so long.

What a wonderful (and slightly terrifying) outing in downtown Portland with three young children.  The contrast between these adorable kids from Texas with matching monogrammed pink and navy outfits and the grungy Portlanders was drastic.  I kept thinking, "I wish someone was videoing this, or that I had someone with me to witness this experience."

Through my eyes, these encounters were not normal.  You don't just strike up a conversation with people on the street that you don't know.  People from a higher social group don't interact with people who aren't "equal" to them; much less ask for a favor from them such as petting their dog.  And taking time to recognize the talents and joys of people around us, such as the guy playing drums on a street corner, is something we normally miss.

It was beautiful to see these innocent, naïve, pure children interact with people that society would tell them they shouldn't interact with.  They haven't yet learned that yet.  And it breaks my heart that this is what they'll learn as they grow older and less innocent.
Jesus said that we are to receive the kingdom of God like a child... we are to see God's creation and His people through the eyes of children.
I believe that children are close to God's heart because they have not yet been corrupted or conformed to the ways of this world that we live in.  They naturally see people as God would see them.  And what a beautiful sight that must be!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Carters in Portland

Last week, my parents and uncle and aunt were in town for a whole week!  My dad has been to Portland 6 times, my mom has been to Portland 8 times (wow!!), and this was the first trip to Portland for Uncle Les and Aunt Jennifer.  We packed a whole lot into the week!  Get ready for picture overload...
First night in Portland: dinner at my favorite restaurant, Ox,
followed by dessert at Papa Hyden's by Dad's request/insistence.
Seriously amazing food that night!
Sunday afternoon wine tasting in Oregon wine country: picnic lunch and wine at Domaine Serene.

Such a fun, relaxing afternoon!

As we drove around the Willamette Valley, Uncle Les said, "Mary, I hope you know how lucky you are to live her."  I do!
The perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon!
Quite the set up for our tasting at Soter Vineyards.
And yes, we did work our way through all of those glasses.
Monday night at the food carts on SE Belmont.

We took our food cart dinner to Laurelhurst Park.

And did a little after-dinner geocaching!

Mom's first geocache which she found all by herself!  New hobby?
The Carters drove out to Cannon Beach on their own on Tuesday while I worked.  They loved their first trip to the Oregon Coast.  It was nearly 100 degrees in Portland on Tuesday, so that was the perfect day to be at the cooler coast.
Wednesday evening: walking around Pittock Mansion after happy hour at Oba with the Moores.
My parents seem to always choose the best times to come for great, sunny weather in Portland!
Thursday afternoon: a quick stop at Cathedral Park on our way out to Sauvie Island.

Picking raspberries and blueberries on Sauvie Island. So fresh!

Mom and Dad reliving their childhood.

We stopped at my friend's beautiful home on Sauvie Island to relax and enjoy the amazing view.
Thursday evening we had dinner at Deschutes Brewery and then walked around the Pearl for First Thursday, a night once a month when shops and galleries are open late.
I'm so thankful that my family was able to finally meet and get to know this special guy.
Chris, thanks for spending so much time with the Carters last week!
4th of July morning breakfast at the Waffle Window. It took a while to find a place that was open, but this ended up being the perfect spot.

We drove out to the gorge so Les and Jennifer could see Multnomah Falls. We continued on across the Bridge of the Gods to the Washington side where we hung out and played lawn games at Skamania Lodge.
Not a bad way to spend the 4th of July!
For the evening of the 4th, we headed down to a family friend's home in West Linn to meet Chris' parents. Chris and I took the kayaks out on the Willamette, then had dinner on the patio with the parents who easily hit it off. Later that night, Chris' teenage brother and friends gave us a pretty great firework show.

Amazing views!
God bless America... and Mount Hood (peak barely visible in the background there).
The Carters left Portland early the next morning to head back to Texas.  I am SO THANKFUL for family who comes to visit me, for the first time or for the 8th time.  Mom, Dad, Les and Jennifer: thank you for taking a week off, flying all the way up here, doing fun things around Portland with me, treating me to great meals, hanging out, and wanting to continue investing in my life despite the distance.  Love you all!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Week in Texas

I was able to spend a little over a week in Texas at the end of May, which was so wonderful since my Texas trips are usually whirlwind weekends.  Having 9 days in Texas gave me the opportunity to spend good quality time with family and friends.
The first weekend I was in Texas, my whole family went to my sister's lake house for a belated celebration of my dad's 60th birthday.  I love being at the lake house with the family because there are no schedules or distractions or people coming and going - it's just good quality time together.

lots of time in the water!

there was plenty to do including playing baseball, jumping on the trampoline, laying in the hammock, and ping pong

tubing behind the boat

Happy birthday, Papa!

smores around the firepit

our own fireworks show

morning fishing off the dock in our pjs

I was able to work remotely and take a little time off so that I could stay in Waco during the week and then help host my friend Hannah's baby shower in Waco the following Saturday.  It was great to have some time to do day-to-day things with my family that I don't normally get to do...

brunch at Lula Jane's with my mom

(rainy) Memorial Day cookout with friends

Carter's tennis lesson

meeting the newest member of the Carter family: baby Luke Jr.

froyo to celebrate Hannah's last day of 1st grade

pool time at Uncle Les'

The baby shower the following weekend was wonderful - mainly because our close group of friends from college were all able to be together, which doesn't happen often.

the cute mama and shower hostesses

reliving the good ol' days at Baylor

just hanging around Waco after Sunday brunch
I loved being back in Texas for such a good amount of time with friends and family that I love and miss seeing more often!