Monday, May 31, 2010

Angel Fall

With a Mothers' Day gift card to Borders and their 40% off coupon - I couldn't help but go exploring on Friday to find a good "escape book" to read while her at the Schillings. I ended up with ANGEL FALL by Coleman Luck. The back of the book reads:

"Alex, Amanda, and Tori Lancaster have entered Boresth, a world of ancient devastation and deep evil ruled by the Worwil - seven creatures of immense power who existed before any world began. Through the world they must travel, into terror and temptation, every choice taking them closer to endless night. Scarred with the fires of hell and heaven, their pasts are torn from their souls.

But shadowing each of them is a mysterious Being covered in scars who has faced ten-thousand battles. A being filled with the longing of ages. A longing to heal the broken-hearted.

With dark, glistening stranding from Lewis, Lovecraft, and Tolkien, the cloth of ANGEL FALL has been woven. But the journey it weaves is not just for Alex, Amanda, and Tori... it is for all those who cannot find their way home."

Sound intriguing? It was. But, it was also quite abstract in the beginning (even for me who embraces fantasy reads). But, as the story unfolded, it gripped harder and harder upon me, to the the point that with 100 pages left this morning, I was no longer distracted by anything propelling me to stop, but absolutely absorbed - with tears running down at the ultimate conclusion of redemption.

My favorite read ever? Nope, not even on the top ten list. However, this book was one that didn't shy away from gritty - particularly in the hearts of children whose hopes have been drowned by the evil one. After reading this book, I think my first impressions of the next insolent adolescent boy I meet, hell-bent on blaming everyone else for the problems of his life, will forever be viewed differently. As this book brought to light just what might be going on his heart. And, any time my heart is enlightened like that - I can't help, but recommend the read....

Sunday, May 30, 2010

I've Posted this Before....But It So Applies Right Now.....

I've got my annual doctor's visit on Thursday - with that annual weigh-in that stays in the medical records FOREVER...... Based on what I've consumed this weekend, I see some fasting in my future.......

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Lazy Days in Dallas

Greetings from Dallas, Oregon - our exotic Memorial Day weekend destination - and the home of my sister's family.

In about an hour we are heading to the great metropolis of Independence to take in "Prince of Persia" with the family. And, that, my friends, is pretty much the summit experience that this weekend has to offer.

As for the rest: reading, computer-time, tv time, kids playing together 24-7, more eating.... = GOOD TIMES.

I hope that however you've chosen to spend your three-day weekend, it's enjoyable......

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Sometimes, it just boggles my mind as to how two different people, experiencing the same exact situation, can come away with such completely different perceptions as to the the reality of the circumstance.

I just had the second meeting I've had in less than four months dealing with a scenario like this. In both circumstances, I have been "indirectly involved". The drama has unfolded because of other triggers, but because a line has been drawn, I have been unwittingly involved.

Both situations are completely different from each other, but both have been a direct result from being involved in some sort of ministry activity. Which is probably the only reason I have been strong enough to survive two "confrontations" (as that is such a dreadful occurrence for me), because I know if I weren't willing, it would only serve the enemy, and lead to even more division.

I have to say that the other commonality is that much of the conflict of both of these situations boils down to two different people's perception of reality - and it being a chasm apart. So much so, that as you listen, you shake your head and go, "that's not what I was led to believe AT ALL".

Walking away today, myself and the two others who arrived with me both shook our heads wondering if we'd just witnessed the "Alternative Reality" on "Lost" as it was so crazy how the information we'd been fed from one source varied so completely from the other source. It was the same way several months ago too.

All I can say, is that: 1) I'm glad I'm not one of those "sources", 2) I'm glad I am not responsible for getting to the bottom of what the truth is, 3) I'm glad I've done my part to seek restoration, and 4) I'm glad it's over. Because situations like these can really play with a person's head - and if you dwell too long, can really begin corrupting the heart. All part of the enemy's gameplan...........

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Why We Love These College Students

The last time we went to CCF, we knew Mikayla was super tired, so we purposely chose to sit in the back where the couch was, and even brought her blanket - as the nap was inevitable.

It didn't take long - and she was out. At the end, I ended up manuevering her off of my lap, and mingled a bit.

While I was gone, Katy and Shannon spent some time with her. Apparently, Katy thought it would be hilarious to be food in Mikayla's hand and have Kaela take a picture of it all. So, here's the pictures - one of Katy's stunt - and the second of their apparent laughter over the whole thing.

And moments like this - this one, caught on film - are why we just love hanging with the college students!

Shrek Time with the Whites

While we were off doing photography for the Trinity House, Travie and Stephie took the kids to see the latest Shrek installment in 3D. It was one of those movies that I didn't have to see in the theater, so I was happy that they all wanted to go together. (In contrast to the slew of movies coming out this summer that I do want to see.....I am taking advantage of every movie coupon gimmick out there -from Kelloggs to General Mills, to even feminine hygiene products!).

They had a great time, and afterward the Whites spoiled our kids even further by taking them to Red Robin. Those guys are just too good to our whole family.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Birthday Bar-B-Q for Will

Yesterday, we hosted a little bar-b-q shin-dig. It was originally purposed to have some quality time with this dude: Aaron, but then, given today is Will's birthday, we figured we'd use that as an excuse to expand the invites.

I like how Sydney finds a way to get right in on the action. She's our built in "Swiffer Picker-Upper".

Sunday was supposed to be our best chance of sunshine, but at lunch time, it chose to rain. It did end up clearing up later on, but still, with temps in the 50's.....brrrrrr!

Hence, we all moved inside.....

Here's me, trying to fit 21 candles into the strawberry rhubarb pie for Will (and they all turned out, yeah!)

The obligatory group photo - we had to get Kelli and Brian (front row - left side) to lean forward, as the sun coming in from the skylight had them looking quite ethereal otherwise! (And, note how Syd found a way to get in the pic too, even from outside!)

Kaela (who took all these pics) caught a great one of Trav and Steph. I love having them partner with us as we host all these "young-uns"!

Mikayla was super hyper - way over the top - with all of the students around. She begged incessantly to get them each to take their turn out on the tramp with her. Her and Keith caught some pretty good air.

This is the group of us, who weren't taking a turn on the tramp, reviewing the Trinity Formal pictures from the night before on the computer. None of these guys went.....they are a bit on the older end of the college student spectrum, so many of them are no longer in school - in fact, in this picture, none of these guys are.

I thought this pic was funny - Mikayla opening the door to request her next "victim" after wearing Keith out......

The picture of Mikayla and Kaela - taken at the moment where Kaela was tickling her to get her to smile.

Happy 21st birthday, Will!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Thoughts on "Lost" (Spoiler Alert)

Whew, just watched the finale of "LOST". In terms of what I was expecting regarding how they ended it all - I wasn't super surprised with the direction they went. But, in terms of how they wrapped up each character's story lines, I gotta admit, I had a whole lot more tears than I expected. And, since "Lost" became so much more about the redemption and relationships between the characters, for me, I am very satisfied.

I do suspect that the ending will become a hotpoint for spiritual debate. Even listening to Jimmy Kimmel say (in reference to the ending of "Lost") that "many religions, including Christianity require a testing in this lifetime, if you are good you are going to Heaven, [and so on]......" - yeah, there's a "cringer" for me to listen to. For sure, that seems to be a widely held belief (so, like I said, no surprise that that's the direction the show went), so, as such, I'm not offended by the ending. However, c'mon Jimmy Kimmel - don't throw Christianity into that mix when the very core of Christianity proclaims that not one of us would end up passing that test without the sacrifice of Jesus. - (And, NO, there's no way that the very flawed character of Jack - and the sacrifice he made is even close to the same ballpark....)

So, there you go. My take on "Lost". In terms of Hollywood entertainment, what an amazing achievement that show was. But, I gotta say, in terms of basing my life of its message - woah, so thankful I don't have to meet and conquer the smoke monster to make it to "the other side"!

P.S. - I'm so glad Dennis, Lisa, and the kids came over, it was perfect to end it all watching with them. Although, I gotta admit, when I was streaming with tears over Sawyer and Juliette, I found myself trying to maneuver myself so that Dennis couldn't see me and chastise my "girlie" break-downs!

Trinity House Formal

If I miss some punctuation, forgive me on this post. I've been pulling some sleep hours that by most standards aren't extreme, but for me.....well, it results in me not functioning at 100%. I need to get it together- we have a bar-b-q for about a dozen or so college students, and then a gathering with the Quigs family to celebrate (mourn) the finale of "Lost". No time for naps.

However, given this current state of mind, it's no surprise that my first attempts at a homemade peach, strawberry-rhubarb, and marionberry sour cream pie, just might not turn out right. While I was accidentally smearing egg over the top of the peach crust instead of the strawberry rhubarb at six this morning, I figured, oh well! There's always Rice Krispie treats if these don't turn out. (Will is turning tomorrow...hence part of the reason for the bbq - and with him having an affinity towards pie, it motivated my inner "Betty Crocker")

For sure, John is sleep deprived too. I have no idea when he finally gave in last night after trying to review and upload over 1200 images from the Trinity House's Formal last night. We were asked to return as photographers (well, he was - I'm just the groupie). This time, the setting was at the Meltebeke house - situated right along a canal just next to Autzen Stadium. We are very familiar with this location as we walk through it for every home football game as he kindly lets us park there. Fortunately for the Trinity House, one of their residents just happens to be his granddaughter - hence the connection. (The family are also amazing contributors to our church in so many capacities).

We were also blessed, that, for the most part, the monsoon weather we've been having lately broke up for the evening. We also got some amazing sun breaks. However, it was very, very cold (particularly for this time of year). So, by the time we made it home last night, my fingers were literally losing can imagine how those poor girls posing must have felt.

John has only uploaded the first 200 onto Facebook at this point, so I stole some this morning to get this post going. I'll add much more later, but figured these would set the scene.

First up, the happy duck family. I saw these guys first off and had it been me with the camera, I might have ignored the people and followed these guys all night! So cute, and yes, Daddy Mallard was around too, he flew in for an appearance later....

We are constantly trying to get these college students to come up with "great and creative poses" with each other (which they really achieved this year) and yet, John and I are really flunk-ees when it comes to that......oh well.......

This is Katy and John Mark - two upstanding people (both significant in helping us with the Football 100 event, so they get extra high marks). They are just friends, and as such, just cracked us up with their poses. And to hear Katy laugh - which is so funny it sounds like it can't be her natural laugh, well - she laughs often and because of that, just being around her makes you smile so much!

One of the perks of the night was the opportunity to ride in one of two drift boats. How romantic, huh? This is Caitlin and Joe - they came early to take a LOT of pictures. I wouldn't be surprised if they were soon used to commemorate a particular decision that could be made on behalf of their relationship....... =)

This was another favorite setting for John - and Nick and Shannon were the perfect guinea pigs to test it out. Love this couple too!

More to come, but I'll probably hold off on much more individual image commentary. While we didn't stick around for the dance portion - what we saw was a huge, resounding success!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Good Thing About Rain Is......

I'm trying. I'm trying really hard to be thankful for all things - which would include this icky extended forecast of rain. But, as I've looked out at the dreary sky and raindrops all day, here's a few "thankfuls" that have come to mind.

1. I just mowed and fertilized yesterday (yes, in the rain). The fertilizer and patch grass seed is getting plenty of moisture.

2. The more water that comes down from the sky means the more water in local reservoirs, which we definitely want when we are taking the boat out.

3. We have yet to turn on our sprinklers - thus saving us money.

4. All of the potted plants on the patio, no need to take the energy to water them by hand.

5. Colder weather means bulkier, warmer layers, hence hiding all of the weight I put back on over our vacation.

6. Without sunshine, there's no need to consider trying to lay out to keep the tan going - just think of all of the lazy time this is preventing!

7. We decided not to start the pool membership for the kids until June 1st (even though the pool opened at the club I worked out last weekend). I'm feeling pretty good about that financial decision right now.

Ummmmmmmmm, okay, that's about it. I think that's actually a pretty good list, given I'd trade it all just for more sunshine....... =)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

So Proud!

The following pictures were taken by Kaela Lee on the afternoon of the same day we put on the Football 101 event (which took place in the morning):

You are looking at pictures taken underneath the Washington Street bridge in Eugene. Most local residents, when hearing about that location, immediately think - homeless community.

For the last several months, on their own initiative, members of the AO House (guys' collegiate house owned by our church), set up a program called "Bikes and Burritos" where they would ride down to that location and distribute burritos. Our local paper even covered their story on the front page - how cool is that?

So, when our church, who distributes food in this location on one Saturday a month, asked if the "Bikes and Burritos" guys would like to take over a Saturday, they said "yes" - and ran with it.

Over 50 college students showed up to help - with about half of them having already attended our "program" (some of which were actually volunteering to help for ours too). Over 700 plates for food were distributed - equaling a lot of hungry people being fed. But, beyond just food, the event was turned into a "block party". Haircuts for both men and women were offered, crafts and games for the kids were set up, manicures, face-painting (for the kids) - and even bike repair was available. And, to top it off, a local Christian band, "Caleb and Sol" came and did a concert.

No pastors led this up - Corey wasn't even there - it was just the students. And, I'm so proud. I hope their fervor for giving of themselves - which so glorifies the Lord, never extinguishes with age. Right now, they are my role models!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Football 101

Today was one of those days when I got to witness God doing a mighty thing. And, it didn't really happen like I thought it would. Crazy how God delights in surprising us by following through on His plans versus the plans we concoct.

Way back in February, on a day I was chit-chatting with Lisa Q. on the phone, we were lamenting that our particular age group has not necessarily been targeted with specific activities within our church's women's ministry. It wasn't so much our "age" group, but maybe more so our "interests" group. The big dilemma has been what would be a draw - and very, very few ideas came to mind as to what would be a big enough lure for women who are already so busy. The one thing I could think of that had attracted our peer group in the past was the Oregon Football Women's' Clinic....where the coaches had the ladies come out to Autzen Stadium and ran though drills to teach us the basics of football. We live in a very sports-minded community, with a particular affection for our university. In mentioning that to Lisa we came up with a "what if" scenario - and before we knew it, we were putting together an idea to potentially use Jordan Kent (former wide receiver at University of Oregon, former Seattle Seahawks player, currently on the St. Louis Rams roster - and, most importantly strong Christian that has attended CCF) to run a program for the women of our church.

Within a couple of days, we had a team of four women - Lisa, Christy, Steph H., and myself - meeting with Ann, who then had us meeting with our head pastor to determine if such a thing was within his vision for the church. And then, finally, with the director of women's ministry to run the event under that umbrella.

I'm going to be perfectly honest in saying that running this event has not been without its complications. (Hence that blog post that got deleted). But, it's also been a learning experience on a whole realm of levels. And, growth is always good, right? =)

Today is the day it all came down. And in terms of how the event transpired, and the ultimate outcome, I could not be more delighted. It was the warmest day we've had so far in 2010 (God is good, huh?!) - brilliant blue skies so we could play outside, Jordan was absolutely outstanding, and over 100 women were in attendance to participate. But, you want to hear something wild, outside of Steph White (who was oh so helpful!), not one of that "peer group" we had targeted showed up. Yes, there were a few in the 30's-40's age group, but not many. Outside of the four of us organizers, no one from our social circle (that group that hits the pool together, goes camping together, celebrates each others' birthdays - etc.) were present. All told - by the time you trickle out the individual linking friendships, that number came to over twenty women. The twenty women that the four of us had in mind that initiated this whole ministry adventure.

Am I disappointed? Actually, yes. But, it's not as if everyone of these women (that I've at least talked to) didn't have a very legitimate reason for not being there. Whether it be vacationing out of state, family celebrations, or most-often kids' sporting events, families our day (and specifically moms) are just so busy! On a selfish level, I'm glad it wasn't just me running this event, because I might have gotten a complex over the obvious absences! But, that's the joy of recognizing that my narrowed way of seeing things can still be somehow of use to God - as He knew what might motivate me to take part in such an activity, and even though that wasn't His end-game, He used me nonetheless. Praise be to God!

College students, especially, had a blast. The older generation delighted in watching our pastor (who was one of the helping "coaches") show off his football skills of days-gone-by. Everyone enjoyed the cinnamon rolls and fellowship. Jordan Kent is the kind of guy that those under 30 would perhaps want to marry and those over 60 might want to adopt...... But, beyond all that, the highlight of the program was our "special guest". And though this "special guest" wasn't even sure if she had enough courage to set foot on stage, much less show up at all - I think her words impacted everyone the most. It was Jordan's mom, Dianna Kent.

You see, Jordan isn't just a star athlete, he happens to be the son of the head basketball coach of the UO for the last 12 years. - That is until about a month ago, when this coach was told his services would no longer be retained. In addition to that awkwardness, scandal surfaced several years back regarding the coach's marriage and his potential infidelity.

So, you can imagine, with all of those details, which have been widely circulated in our local media - Dianna was horrified that she would walk into a women's' function and be judged. Her current marital status, as she clarified today, is separation. She found out just a couple weeks ago that her sister has cancer - and has been commuting an hour each way to help her out. Even on her drive home from her sister's (past midnight this morning), she was unsure as to whether she would have the courage to speak to us.

But, sure enough, as Stephanie and I were greeting ladies coming through the door, we asked the name of one fine-looking gal wearing a Rams Jersey - and she sheepishly admitted she was Jordan's mom. I think she was delighted that for once she was anonymous and was hoping the rest of the group wouldn't recognize her either (for a change!).

She only spoke for about ten minutes - after Jordan had already charmed the audience with his life story. But her words were vulnerable, full of heart, and packed a punch. Several in the group had teary eyes. I think I was even more moved after she spoke, though - when she was immediately surrounded with women seeking to give her hugs, promise to keep her sister in prayer, and tell her how thankful they were that she shared her heart. How beautiful is the love of Christ!

Outside of some encouraging words spoken, left in comment cards, or on Facebook, we may never know what kind of impact this event really had. It didn't have the impact I thought it would - in the way I thought it would. But, I know an impact was made. And, thank you, Lord, for using me to be a part of it in some small way.