Wednesday, January 29, 2014


A couple of weekend ago, Robby and I went out to Washington Family Ranch for a planning meeting for the annual Wild Canyon Games that are held at the ranch every June.  I'd never been that far East in Oregon, and it is drastically different than Western Oregon.  That part of the state is high desert with a dry climate and lots of field full of tumble weeds.  I almost felt like I was back in Texas (except for that beautiful Cascade mountain range in the distance).

Our main mission for the weekend, in helping prepare for the games this summer, was helping place caches that would be found during the geocaching competition.  Have you ever heard of geocaching?  It's a thing, y'all!  Like a really thing all over the world... and I had never heard of it!!  I feel like I've been deceived my whole like - there was a whole other world surrounding me that I didn't even know about.

So what is geocaching?  In a nutshell, geocaching in an outdoor recreational activity, in which people use a gps to hide and seek containers, called "caches", anywhere in the world.  And they are literally all around us.  They're in our neighborhoods, by your offices, on our college campuses.  And we (or at least I) have been oblivious to them.  Have you ever passed by someone standing on a corner or in a park digging around in a bush or checking out the bottom of a light pole?  They're not looking for their lost right or dropped car keys, they're probably geocaching!

On our way back from Eastern Oregon, Robby and I stopped in Hood River for coffee.  We decided to pull up his geocaching app on his phone (he's known about this for years!) and we found that there were five caches within half a mile of us.  So we chose one to search for, pinpointed it on the map, read the description and headed to the hiding spot.  And what do you know: we opened a small silver "electrical panel" (it wasn't real, it was planted on a building simply to hide the cache - again, I feel like I've been deceived about the world around me) and there was a note saying "congratulations! you found it!" along with a little notepad where you could date and sign your name.
One cache found, 2,302,718 to go!

Check out this website and put in your zip code to find all of the caches right around you:
sometimes you run across wild horses while geocaching in Eastern Oregon - maybe they were out looking for some caches as well!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Best You

Last month, the week before Christmas, I was at a breakfast with a Catholic priest as the guest speaker. He spoke on a topic that is mentioned often around Christmas time: peace on earth. It’s something we sing about, dream about and hope for. But the idea of peace on earth, actual peace on earth, is quite unfathomable to me. Think about it… what would peace on earth look like? Sound like? Feel like? How would it change our economy? Jobs? Relationships? Newspapers? I can try to imagine peace on earth, but my mind can’t wrap itself around such an idea that is so unknown and seems so far out of reach.
The priest pointed out that time and time again in the Bible, Jesus reaches out to the poor and those in need, people who are treated unjustly and those who are outcasts. And time and time again he encourages us, actually commands us, to do the same. It’s easy for us to read some of these accounts and take them as metaphors for our spiritual lives; focusing on our spiritual poverty, hunger and thirst. There are many stories and parables in the Bible that Jesus tells to make such parallels to our spiritual lives. But I don’t believe that these accounts of injustice, poverty, and helplessness are merely stories given to us to analyze and mold into our means for personal growth. I believe that Jesus is pointing out the very real, very present hurt in our world. The story of the gospel is how God became a human like us to be an example of how we should live and who we should love (note: everyone). It’s very clear to me: being involved in being the hands of feet of God in this world is not an option. It is required.
War, inhumanity, violence, greed and conflict are very real. We are surrounded by it. It is overwhelming. Completely overwhelming. The problems seem too big. The circumstances seem too out of control. How can any of us actually make an impact? Where do we even start?
The answer that the priest gave was right on target: start with yourself. That is your first priority. You’re not going to save the world on your own. You only have control of your own life. Take on the challenge of yourself first. That seems doable. I have to be the best “me” I can be. And you have to be the best “you” you can be. Start with yourself: make a positive impact on the world: contribute to peace on earth.
Where to Start
Some questions to ask yourself to become the best “you”:
- What are my bad habits? Am I actively working to stop them?
- How do I spend my free time?
- Are my spending habits a good reflection of what I consider to be important in life?
- What is my leadership style or work ethic? Am I fair, honest and encouraging?
- Do I keep myself in a bubble, or do I surround myself with people of different backgrounds, lifestyles and ideas who challenge me and help me grow?
- What do I read, listen to on the radio, or watch on TV? Does it make a positive impact on me, or am I filling my mind with junk?
- Who are a few people I enjoy being around? What are the qualities I like about them? Do I exhibit those same qualities?
- What would Jesus do? WWJD: actually a pretty good way to check yourself :)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Christmas 2013

I can’t believe that Christmas has already come and gone – what a whirlwind! I was able to travel down to Texas for 6 days around Christmas. It was great to be home with family, but I was sick for most of the time. What a bummer.

I flew into Dallas the Monday before Christmas. My parents and Emily and the girls picked me up at the airport and we headed straight to Mi Cosina to meet Bret for some much-needed Tex Mex and margaritas after a long day of travel. Then we drove around Dallas to look at the incredibly extravagant neighborhood Christmas lights.
Seriously... every single branch and twig on that tree was covered in lights!

On Christmas Eve, we had lunch at the Coleman’s house with aunts, uncles and cousins and then headed to the Christmas Eve service at Highland Park United Methodist. We set out the cookies and milk for Santa, got in bed with dreams of sugar plum fairies dancing in our heads.
Silent Night by candlelight

So glad I got to spend Christmas with these girls!

Just wish these little guys could have been there, too!

Ready for Santa!

I woke up early on Christmas morning to see the girls open their stockings and gifts from Santa. I just love Christmas morning with little kids! Then we headed back over to the Colemans for Christmas dinner with the McCalls. My cousin Brandon drove to Dallas to be with us which was a highlight of my trip. I hadn’t seen Brandon in five years, right before I moved to Portland and he moved to Korea and then Russia. It was so great getting to spend time with him.

My parents and I drove back to Waco on Christmas night. Our immediate family got together the next day to celebrate Christmas and open gifts. I always love when we are all together, since it’s become somewhat of a rare occasion.

Chaos with the whole crew!

Taylor got this cool deer decoy...!?

My dad’s side of the family came in town the weekend after Christmas for my granddad’s 85th birthday. We all went to dinner at Ninfa’s on Friday night, but unfortunately I got real sick later that night and was practically in bed the rest of the weekend. Uncle Les and Jennifer graciously drove my sick self back to Dallas so I could fly out on Sunday. I headed back to Portland to continue recovering. Maybe it was the flu, or maybe the craziness of the holiday season finally caught up to me!

And now it’s 2014! Happy New Year to you – I’m looking forward to what it has in store for all of us.

If this doesn't make you smile...
We kept bribing sweet little Henry to sing these two Christmas songs over and over for our entertainment.  We couldn't get enough of it!  So stinkin' cute!!

Away in a Manger:
Santa Claus is Coming to Town (performed in his new Mickey Mouse costume):