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!