Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thankful Thursday: Ugh

Dear Days-When-there-Doesn't-Seem-to-be-Much-to-be-Thankful-For,

Thank you for being few and far between. I know I'm blessed, even when it doesn't feel that way.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Week 8: A Photo That Makes You Sad/Angry

Well, if last week was a celebration, happy picture, here's the picture that made it so. Ugh.

Cupcake Nike, September 2008

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thankful Thursday: Seasons

Dear Fall,

Thank you for providing an awesome array of colors. Sure, you're chilly and smell like burning fields and dust, but without you we wouldn't have winter, spring, or summer. Changing of the seasons is kinda exciting - like a fresh start every 3-4 months.

All the best,

Monday, September 20, 2010

Week 7: A Photo That Makes You Happy

*Note: I realize Week 6 isn't up. It's turning into a rather in-depth post, so it's going to be late. This one was easy.

Nike & Jason, Baker City, OR - photo copyrighted Carly Carlson Photography
 The photo above is our "sneak peak" from our photo shoot this weekend with my dear friend Carly, of Carly Carlson Photography. (Go give her some blog love and "like" her on Facebook!) The girl is a whiz with the camera and I am so excited to see how the rest of the shots turned out. Thanks Carly!

This photo makes me happy for a couple reasons...

One, that guy next me? I'm pretty much in love with him. Like, crazy in love. I'm very much enjoying forever with him.

Two, this is the first picture taken since our wedding that looks like "us." If you'll allow me to dive into the shallow for a moment, we both gained a lot of weight after marrying. We were both unhappy about it, but introducing change to our lives took awhile. We've worked hard and it's great to have tangible evidence that it's paying off. (To see the picture that started the revolution click here. Ugh.)

Lastly, the colors of this picture are awesome. Carly said, "Go down the stairwell, just trust me," and we did. Even if this is the only frame of the 500 she shot that turned out, it is well worth the investment.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


I don't believe in coincidences. I don't really believe in fate either. I believe we make our own path and that there is reason and purpose in everything. With that in mind, I am struck by the timing of coming across this song.

Saving Jane has the soundtrack to my life. It's uncanny, really. Girl Next Door describes my inner battle with myself. Autumn and Me always makes me think of my best friend. Most of her songs have an acoustic sound I usually don't like, but I love it when it's Saving Jane. 

For my 99th post I wrote about faith, God, and free will. How fitting I should come across Grace, sung by Saving Jane. This song speaks to where I am right now, where I've been, and I could have written the line "as I fumble with the gift of free will..." 

Thankful Thursday: Running

11 of the Speedy Turtles. Also my greatest fail as Captain.
Dear Running,

Thank you for sucking less when I'm surrounded by people I love. Even the ones who make me batty. Let's meet up more often. We'll be friends one day. 

All the best,

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

El Shaddai

A fellow blogger has inspired me to examine some of my thoughts in regards to God, faith, and what it all means to me. This is my reflection.

Religion is not something I have ever acknowledged as part of my life. Sure, I "grew up in the Church." My family has a long-standing faith practice and we observe the Christian calendar. Despite all the outwardly appearances, nothing makes my skin crawl more than being referred to as "religious." 

For me, it has never been about the meal time prayers, church attendance, Bible study groups, or do-gooded-ness that seems to scream "Religious!" for most people. Religion is something you do, but is not something you feel. I have no room in my life for religion.

My "religion" has always been about relationship and my actions pour out from that place - a personal relationship with the Messiah and relationship with humanity. I have shared before that I am finding my way back to that place of peace that I have when I am secure in my relationship with Christ.

When confronted with the possibility that there is not an all-loving god I had a very strong gut reaction. After several classes with Dr. Ben Anderson-Nathe, I have learned to delve into what value system is causing that reaction. So, I explored those feelings...

After a couple days of mulling, I think what I read, "I thoroughly reject any possibility of an all-loving god," and where I went with that, "God is/does not love," was the root of my reaction.

*Warning: I will now dive down a rabbit hole that has little connection, except in my head, to the subject at hand...*

I have a deep appreciation for the Hebrew language, especially the names for God. Jehovah-Shalom, The LORD our peace. Adonai, Lord. Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord will provide. These names hold meaning for me. What I did not find in the list of 60+ names was "God of Love" or "All-loving God."

*Popping back from the rabbit hole now..."

The conclusion I came to is my God is not all-loving. All-loving limits the grace and power I have felt. My God loves, but also extends free-will. Free will is a beautiful, wonderful, and in some ways tragic concept.

God extends free-will to all of humanity. It is because of this gift disaster and tragedy reigns seemingly unchecked. This concept has always made sense to me on a level I can't explain in words. I believe God has a perfect plan for each of us, but we have the choice to lean on Him and be sensitive to direction or try and go it alone. Going it alone has never worked out well for me.

Love, as I define it, would not step in to prevent mistakes. That is part of the tragedy of free-will. Sometimes, in our humanity, we commit heinous acts against our fellow brothers. My heart breaks for every tragedy and hurt I am exposed to - be it mine or someone else's. I believe the Father's heart breaks even more. I don't believe God is powerless to stop it, but to do so would be to forfeit our free-will. A little known (and slightly irritating) band, Lost & Found, has a beautiful song illustrating this conflict... (sorry, I couldn't find audio.)

Ever since you went away, I have been watching night and day. Oh I could have made you stay, but it would not be love that way... You have always been free and always a part of me.What was I supposed to do? I would not put chains on you.

Some see that as weakness. Why not stop all the evil if you have the power to? That time is coming, but it is not now. Now we live in a broken world, but I see the love and grace of the Father in (almost) all of it.

It's in the words of the young mother who came home from delivery empty handed and brokenhearted, but a year into her mourning said, "This I know, God is not in the sky. I have felt Him."

It's in the face of the teen reaching out to help an old man who recently lost his wife. In the smile of strangers. In the hugs of friends. It's in every act of kindness that is poured out when our neighbors near and far suffer.

Most of all, I feel that grace and love in every fiber of my being in those moments I slow down. My life is testament and I need look no further than the people I have been blessed to share this life with to see that love and grace in action.

My God may not be all-loving, but He is El Shaddai, God All-Sufficient.

Friday, September 10, 2010

5 Question Friday: Getting to Know You

It's Friday again! Go link up with Mama M to join in!

1. Do you feel guilty spending money on yourself?

Not usually. At some point in life I decided if I didn't spoil myself no one else would. This mindset says a lot about me, actually.

2. How well do you know your neighbors?

I talk to Ron and Alex next door whenever I see them and consider them friends.  I keep trying to get to know all my neighbors, but the driveway into the cul de sac is the great divide and it's only people on my side that will even talk to me, with one exception, and my plans for a beloved community keep falling short.

3. What age are you looking forward to being?

I had always looked forward to being 25. I'm still finding it an odd age to be. Mid-twenties, how the heck did that happen? After this... I guess 50. My aunts make it look amazing.

4. Do you get excited when the mail comes? Why?

I used to. Then someone invented e-mail so the mail became less exciting.

5. What is your earliest childhood memory?

Shoving my brother's face into chocolate pudding when I was three. I have ones that were probably earlier, but that was the first to come to mind.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Thankful Thursday: Marriage

Mr. & Mrs. Bentley. September 8, 2007
Three years ago I sat in the Bridal Suite of Old Laurelhurst Church, anxiously awaiting 6:00 pm and surrounded by my best friends. At 22 years of age I had found the one I knew I was meant to share my life with. Jason was everything I had dreamed of - patient, funny, a fair fighter, compassionate, and supportive - and I couldn't wait to embark on our next adventure: marriage.

Anniversary dinner at Benihana's. My first time.

Yesterday marked our three-year anniversary. In November we will have been married longer than we dated. Neither of us knew what the future would hold when we said our vows before our family and friends, but we both entered into the union knowing we would face whatever came our way together. I believe that has been the cornerstone of our marriage's success: we talk about everything and do everything together. We seek the best for each other in every decision we make, both as individuals and as a couple, and the joy in our marriage is testament to that.

I still don't know what the future holds for us, and I'm okay with that. What I do know is I am blessed beyond measure to have Jason as my husband and as long as we keep choosing each other every day our adventure will only get sweeter. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Miss Goody-Two-Shoes Got a Tattoo

At some point in my life, notably around age 13, I got a reputation for being judgmental and a goody-two-shoes. (Would someone please explain that term to me?) I'm not sure what spurred that or how it followed me into adulthood, but that is precisely what happened.

As best as I can tell, I am perceived as judgmental because I hold myself to a very high moral code. Please read that again. I hold myself to a very high moral code. I do not expect that others live by my standards. Where would be the fun in that?

The goody-two-shoes part I more easily understand. I don't drink (much). I don't swear (often). And I don't smoke. I don't have an aversion to any of those things, I just don't have any use for them in my life. Alcohol is not a social lubricant for me - it makes me sleepy and less fun to be around - so I limit my intake. I was profoundly influenced by a  For Better or For Worse comic strip about the beauty of language when I was a child and never had any use for swearing. (Sometimes nothing less than a good swear will do, but for the most part I sound ridiculous when I swear, so I don't.) Smoking is a nasty habit I never picked up. That's really all there is to it. I do enjoy a good "chick cigar" from time to time, but it's not really something I have occasion for often. 

Somewhere along the way I also got the reputation, mainly among my mother and siblings, that I am a horrific prude. Which I find hilarious and take advantage of often. We'll just leave it at that. 
So, all that said, I should not have been surprised by the reaction to my coming home with a tattoo. (Coming home used metaphorically, no one in my home was surprised.) I have talked about getting a tattoo for six years, but never knew what I wanted or where I wanted to put it. Tattoos became more mainstream my Junior year of high school and many girls went to Boise on their 18th birthdays to get what are now known as tramp stamps. So glad I didn't go through with that plan.   

Three years ago I decided I wanted a memorial tattoo for my friend, Rhiannon. I thought about getting something similar to the logo, but was (appropriately) mocked for that idea. I still wanted some form of sailboat, though, but could never find the right design for the size I wanted (smallish). Sailboats get cheesy really fast. The second inhibitor to my getting a tattoo was I really didn't want to go by myself. 

During the hike to Lonesome Pine on Sunday I was carrying on with my whining about the girls going to get tattoos without me earlier in the week. (Ya'll have realized I don't let go of things easily, right?) Lynn, Rhiannon's mom, had asked me what I wanted to get and I told her a sailboat for Rhiannon and she said, "You could do that, but what about a compass rose?" I instantly loved the idea and knew that was what I should do. At that moment my friend said, "Actually, we found a tattoo parlor in Baker and were going to take you there this afternoon." (What she didn't say was, "So you'll quit your whining," but it was understood.)

Lynn, Nike, and artist Lindsay at Shifty's Tattoo.
Lynn helped me pick the design and colors at the tattoo parlor, which was conveniently open on Sunday because the owner's girlfriend was out of town, and she and my best friend sat with me while the work was done. Having them there made it that much more meaningful.

The work was painful. Some of it was more irritating than painful, but pain was involved (think having a needle drug over your skin and bee stings). The thing I can't explain is somehow going through that process and having a beautiful piece to remember my friend with released something in me. I went home to my parents that evening and cried, really cried, for the first time in three years. The pain of loss has always been there, but I've never acknowledged it. 

Part of me feels as though I've taken a step back because I am actually feeling the grief and hurt. Another part sees this as a huge stepping off point. During my counseling session yesterday I did some more crying and told my counselor about my weekend. As I was blabbering I realized there's a part of me that has been holding back from life because Rhiannon's gone. She experienced everything first - driving, boyfriends, moving away from home, etc - and in many ways paved the way for the rest of us. Her choices weren't always wise, but she set out to do whatever she set her mind to. 

Part of me feels guilty for living life and doing things she'll never experience. Turning 23 was really difficult for me cause all I could think was Rhiannon didn't come home for her 23rd birthday and for the first time I was older than she'll ever be.

From this point on I am taking steps to live life intentionally and with purpose. Being consumed by grief is not what she would want. Holding back from experiencing life to the fullest does not honor her memory. She is with me in memory and in spirit and the best way to acknowledge that is to chase after my dreams as fearlessly as she did.  

Compass Rose for maritime direction.
As long as you know where North is you will always find your way home.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Week 5: Favorite Quote

To narrow down a favorite quote is just too hard. I have been collecting quotes since I was ten or eleven years old. My high school locker was covered in them and I drew comfort, inspiration, and motivation from each one. A collection of the ones I turn to often...

"Be the change you want to see in the world." --Ghandi

"Democrats aren't evil and God isn't Republican." --My political motto

"Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people." --Eleanor Roosevelt 

"Life is ten percent circumstance and ninety percent how you react to it" --Charles Swindoll

“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”-- Audrey Hepburn 

"I'm selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best." --Marilyn Monroe

Monday, September 6, 2010

From Sea to Land: Rhiannon Remembered

The Borisoff's Broken Heart by Lone Pine Tree
This weekend had more packed into it than even I could imagine and I tend to fill up my weekends really well. I will attempt a coherent post, but even now I am overwhelmed by yesterday's emotions.

Every year, on or around May 7th, I write a post reflecting on Rhiannon. My heart still hurts and I am also stricken by guilt for not taking as good of care of Rhiannon's parents as she would have done for mine. They are wonderful people who lost their only child and we are their only link now. I'm trying to do better.

Yesterday, a couple of the girls and I picked up Rhiannon's mom, Lynn, to hike up to Lone Pine where she and Mike had set a broken, heart shaped rock in the ground, along with a time capsule of Rhiannon's mementos. Mike, Rhi's dad, had always wanted to take Rhiannon up there but it never worked out, so when they serendipitously found the rock they knew that was where it needed to go.

It is a hard climb up a steep hill with no path. There is a lot of sage brush, prairie dog holes, and rabbit brush. We had to take a few breaks, but with every step the tree came a little closer. The view from the top, mixed with the emotions of Rhiannon having  "a place" made it worth it. For the first time I feel like I can really grieve. This is both scary and relieving.

Lynn said this may be her last trip to the tree. Now that we know where it is, we will continue to visit it and keep remembering.
The tree complete with eagle's nest

Friday, September 3, 2010

Week 4: My Favorite Book

I am a prolific reader and always have been. My tastes tend to run to historical fiction, top sellers, and whatever I happen to cross in the library or bookstore. Below are a few of my favorites based on the following criteria: number of times I've read the book, how often I think about the book years later, and recommendability of the book.

1) Pretense, Lori Wick. I have read this book no less than five times and every time I do I pick up some new gem in it. As I type this I'm thinking, "Hey, I haven't read this book since I married. Wonder what new insights I'll find now."

The Amazon editorial review wrote the following:

Marrell, a happily married army wife, adores her family, but throughout her life she’s felt something missing. When she discovers that the void is spiritual, she is afraid to tell her husband. Will he understand that he cannot meet all of her needs, and that she cannot meet all of his? Covering the lives of Marrell and her two daughters, Mackenzie and Delancey, from the 1970s to the 1990s, Pretense is a character–rich novel written from Lori’s heart that shows the patient love of God and the promise of His forgiveness for all who seek Him.

 2) Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver. I have read this book twice and think of it often. The story is so... haunting, for lack of a better description. When I read it I had several missionary friends and wondered about their experiences in Papau New Guinea; Johannesburg, Africa; etc. In many ways, this book was my first introduction to exploring different cultures and cultural tolerance. Even with my limited knowledge of cultural acceptance, fanatical Nathan's approach to converting the natives was so awful it has stuck with me and has helped monitor my own interactions in regards to faith and God. 

From Amazon: The year is 1959 and the place is the Belgian Congo. Nathan, a Baptist preacher, has come to spread the Word in a remote village reachable only by airplane. To say that he and his family are woefully unprepared would be an understatement: "We came from Bethlehem, Georgia, bearing Betty Crocker cake mixes into the jungle," says Leah, one of Nathan's daughters. But of course it isn't long before they discover that the tremendous humidity has rendered the mixes unusable, their clothes are unsuitable, and they've arrived in the middle of political upheaval as the Congolese seek to wrest independence from Belgium. In addition to poisonous snakes, dangerous animals, and the hostility of the villagers to Nathan's fiery take-no-prisoners brand of Christianity, there are also rebels in the jungle and the threat of war in the air. Could things get any worse? In fact they can and they do.

 3) The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd. If you haven't read this book, please stop reading this and take yourself to your local library. Run, don't walk. How have you not read this?

I don't know what it is about this book that captures me so much. Maybe it's my obsession with the South. Maybe my fascination with bees. Maybe I identify with Lily on some level - constantly trying to make up for a shattered childhood. Whatever the reason, this book is sure to be a classic.

(As a side note, do not read Sue Monk Kidd's The Mermaid Chair. It was awful.)

There you have it. In short, the three books I'd take to a deserted island if I could only have three. If I could take more I would take Harry Potter 1-7, Twilight and Breaking Dawn, and a few of Philippa Gregory's books.

Happy reading!

5 Question Friday: My House

Sorry it's been so long! I have a ton of things to tell ya'll about, but the boy is doing midterms and I haven't had a moment at the computer. Lots of posts re: family, old friends, and the Hood to Coast coming soon!

For now, Mama M at My Little Life, hostess of 5 Question Friday, is at it again. Be sure to visit her and link up!

1. What do you do when you have time to yourself?

Sleep. I'm a champion napper. I also like to sit on my balcony, drink tea, watch the birds, and read a book.

2. When you look out your kitchen window, what do you see?

A Japanese Maple, my grill, and lots of squirrels.

3. Who/What would you want to be reincarnated as?

Claire, our little tabby cat. That kitty has the life. Or a hummingbird. They're pretty fascinating.

4. What is your biggest pet peeve about other people's kids?

Do you mean what pet peeves do I have about other people in relation to their kids? I don't have any pet peeves about other people's kids cause I believe kids are a reflection of their parents. I can't stand it when kids are disrespectful, but when the parents are not being firm when the situation calls for it and becomes just as whiny as the child, why would you expect respectful behavior?

5. Regular or Diet soda?

Regular. Diet leaves a weird taste in my mouth.