Friday, December 14, 2012


They started as flutters, then became persistent tickles. Now it's a consistent strumming on the inside of my womb. Life. I am amazed and honored every minute of every day by this little miracle.

As I reflect on the past and look forward to the future, I am struck by the responsibility laid at our feet in bringing a child into the world. Children are so precious and their innocence is so quickly lost in this world.

Mary, did you know? As I wonder about who this child will be and as we prepare to become the parents we want to be, I look to the stars and wonder, "Why us?" The timing is God's and I am humbled in that knowledge. It is the time we had dreamed of for years, but had decided not long before those two pink lines appeared that now was not the time for us to grow our family.

Do you wonder, as you watch my face, if a wiser one should have had my place? The Christmas songs play and I'm reminded I am part of a larger story. This child is part of a legacy and I wonder if I am up for the task. Is anyone ever really ready to be a parent?

In a world as cold as stone, must I walk this path alone? Be with me now. This week's tragedies are a glaring reminder of all the evil in the world. Bigger than that, though, is the reminder there is also a lot of good. I so want to instill that in this little being... compassion, goodness, respect and, the greatest of these, love.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Help Me: A Thanksgiving Prayer

Thanksgiving (and my husband's birthday) is a mere six days away. As I entered into this month of Thanksgiving, and especially as I prepare for the culmination through next week, I can't shake the conviction that my life was meant for more than what I offer up.

I cannot read my Bible, attend church services, and send up the occasional prayer and be comfortable that this is all God asks of me. Because in reading, listening, and praying it is glaringly obvious that I am called to be the hands and feet of Christ and I am not doing it. And, today at least, I am very frustrated and feel very alone in my conviction that the Body of Christ has grown disgustingly complacent. How timely our President/CEO sent out his weekly update today with this simple prayer that cuts straight to the heart of my inner struggle.

O God, when I have food,

help me to remember the hungry;

When I have work,

help me to remember the jobless;

When I have a home,

help me to remember those who have no home at all;

When I am without pain,

help me to remember those who suffer,

And remembering,

help me to destroy my complacency;

bestir my compassion,

and be concerned enough to help;

By word and deed,

those who cry out for what we take for granted.


-Samuel F. Pugh

Thursday, November 1, 2012

30 Things you probably didn't need to know

*30 Things*

Rumor has it this is going around Pinterest and since I think a little self-reflection is in order this week, here goes...

I. List 20 random facts about yourself.
  1. I am named for the Greek goddesses of victory and wisdom
  2. I wanted to decorate with owls before it was trendy
  3. I have only dated two people and I married the second
  4. I am the same height I was at 13
  5. For a short period of my childhood I had naturally red hair and I'm pretty sad it didn't stick around
  6. I have been in 22 US states
  7. I studied in Alicante, Spain for four and a half months - that wasn't long enough to become fluent in Spanish
  8. I have travelled to Mexico about 5 times, but have never been to Canada, which is significantly closer to me.
  9. I could live on sushi and mashed potatoes
  10. No matter how I have them, I cannot bring myself to enjoy onions of any persuasion (though I agree green onions are less offensive than red)
  11. My family has roots in the South, though no one in the last three generations has lived there, and that's why I'm so sweet. (I love collared greens, grits, real sweet tea, red beans and rice, and hush puppies.)
  12. Though I lived in Illinois for nine months, my permanent residence has only ever been in Oregon.
  13. I took my driver's test in a 5-speed manual transmission in three feet of snow, and passed, so I get irrationally frustrated with people who can't drive in a dusting of snow.
  14. I had short stories and poems published in Highlight and a Highlight-like magazine by age 9
  15. I only lived completely on my own (without a roommate) for the two months between my roommate getting married and my own wedding.
  16. I presently struggle with budgeting; I'm really bad at being poor.
  17. Childbirth has never been something I've feared.
  18. There was a time I really thought I'd be a big time AP journalist in Washington, DC.
  19. Lime green and dark purple is still one of my favorite color combinations.
  20. Most people don't realize how bossy I am.
II. Describe 3 legitimate fears you have and explain how they became fears.
  1. Abandonment - yeah, that happened
  2. Rattlesnakes - they may have rattles, but they're surprisingly sneaky buggers
  3. Dying in a car wreck - I'm not sure what triggered it, and I don't know if it can be described as a fear as I've accepted it as my fate, but for the last ten years I've come to the conclusion that is how I'm going to die. (Not to go all morbid on you or anything.)
III. Describe your relationship with your parents.
      My dad is my best friend and I have chosen not to have a relationship with my mother.

IV. List 10 things you would tell your 16 year-old self, if you could.
  1. Seriously, learn how to study for math and science. You're good at it, but at some point it's going to get more difficult and you need to be prepared.
  2. Trust your gut, most of the things you wonder about in your journal come to fruition.
  3. Save half of every paycheck and listen to what Mrs. Ott is telling you in economics.
  4. You really do love him, but he is going to break your heart in a very real way and there are pieces you're never going to get back. First cut is the deepest and all that.
  5. Don't buy the ballgown for winter semi-formal. You are going to stand out like a sore thumb and your pictures look weird. It will be another six years before you learn what "semi-formal" and "cocktail attire" mean, so trust me on this one.
  6. You're going to end your relationship with your mother in nine years. I realize this won't come as a surprise, so go ahead and save your adult self some trauma and just say the things you're thinking and feeling now. Those things you hope change? They don't, they get worse and you get very, very broken.
  7. Don't be so afraid to forge your own path. You're made of tough stuff.
  8. There is a difference between fact and propaganda. Democrats aren't evil and God isn't Republican. To read some of the things you thought and believed at sixteen kills my soul a little now.
  9. Exercise is really important.
  10. You're going to be okay. Really.
V. What are the 5 things that make you most happy right now?
  1. The fall colors when the sun shines through them.
  2. Comfy bed.
  3. All the pregnant people in my life.
  4. That Jason and I can do the hard things.
  5. Thanksgiving is less than a month away.
VI. What is the hardest thing you have ever experienced?
  • Clinical Depression.
VII. What is your dream job, and why?
  • I want to be a midwife. I believe in women's ability to birth well on their own in an environment that supports them and want to be there to welcome new littles into the world.
VIII. What are 5 passions you have?
  1. Informed birth choices
  2. Comprehensive sex education
  3. Communication
  4. Healthy marriages
  5. Montessori/Waldorf education
IX. List 5 people who have influenced you and describe how.
  1. Abuelos - they have been married more than half a century and chose each other even when life got rough. They have such an incredible testimony.
  2. Dad - he put us kids first even when it meant foregoing a promotion or giving up something he wanted
  3. Jason - he taught me how to relax and not take life so seriously (something I still struggle with)
  4. Aunt Debbie - she has shown me what it is to live your faith and be a woman of prayer
  5. Colleen - I can't describe the ways she's influenced my life, she's affected the way I live my marriage, my faith, let go of the past, and view the future.
X. Describe your most embarrassing moment.
  • It involves being very, very ill at my in-laws my first Christmas as a wife.
XI. Describe 10 pet peeves you have.
  1. People messing with their phones when they are in a social setting (or church, or at dinner, or...)
  2. Pet owners who don't clean up after their pets in public spaces
  3. Not acknowledging the person who is holding the door open for you
  4. When people say "Or-eee-gone" it's "Orygun," c'mon now
  5. Thanks to Laura and Lily from HIMYM, the word "moist" now really unnerves me
  6. When couples say "we're pregnant!" No, you plural are not pregnant. You are both expecting, but only one of you is pregnant. It's weird to pretend otherwise.
  7. Talking during movies (or playing with your phone)
  8. There's something Jason and I were talking about the other day that resulted in me saying, "I had no idea how much that annoys me until this very moment," but I can't for the life of me remember what it was When people interchange "sex" and "gender." They are not the same thing. You do not find out a baby's gender from an ultrasound, you learn the sex.
  9. Not rinsing dishes. I don't care if they're stacked by the sink, but for the love, please rinse them
  10. Uggs. I absolutely hate seeing people wearing Uggs. They actually make me a little angry.
XII. Describe a typical day in your current life.

Right now, I wake up multiple times between 1:30 am and 5:45 am and generally kick a cat while rolling over. The alarm goes off at 6:30 am and I get in the shower at 6:45 am. Attempt to eat breakfast, Jason drives me to work. I throw up sometime between 8:30 and 11:00 am. Have lunch at 12:30, do some more work, head home at 5:00 pm, change into my pajamas and read or watch a movie while Jason cooks dinner. Eat dinner, read some more, then go to bed and start the cycle over. It's pretty exciting round here at the moment.

XIII. Describe 5 weaknesses you have.
  1. Caring too deeply about things I shouldn't
  2. I'm a people pleaser
  3. I don't follow through with things well
  4. I'm stubborn
  5. I don't easily forgive
XIV. Describe 5 strengths you have.
  1. I'm faithful
  2. I stand by what I believe is right
  3. I'm compassionate
  4. I'm tactful
  5. I'm not afraid to do the hard things to save a relationship worth saving
XV. If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
        A pelican. They fly, live near the water, and eat a lot of fish.

XVI. What are your 5 greatest accomplishments?
  1. Graduating from college
  2. Marrying my best friend
  3. Recovering from depression
  4. Walking 110km of the Camino de Santiago (enough to have a piece of paper from the priest of Santiago de Compestella stating my sins had been forgiven)
  5. Actually, living in Spain was a pretty big deal
XVII. What is the thing you most wish you were great at?
           Budgeting. I feel like I already answered this question.

XVIII. What has been the most difficult thing you have had to forgive?
            The most difficult is still a work in progress. The second most difficult was forgiving Jason for his fall from grace this summer.

XIX. If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?
         Central Oregon, namely Sisters. It's warmer in the summer and colder in the winter than Eastern Oregon with the most beautiful countryside and backpacking trails. And very little rain.

XX. Describe 3 significant memories from your childhood.
  1. When Dad brought Axo (our golden retriever) home. That dog was a saint.
  2. My mother walking out on my 9th birthday.
  3. Rollerblading at Sam-o-Swim skate park Christmas morning with Dad. All of us got rollerblades from "Santa" (Jillian got Barbie rollerskates; she was five) and it was ridiculously warm that year. When I see the pictures from the skate park I forget it was Christmas day.
XXI. If you could have one superpower, what would it be and what would you do with it first?
         Teleportation and first I would teleport to an sunny island and just relax.

XXII. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? 15 years?
  • 5 years - mother of two
  • 10 years - homeowner
  • 15 years - partner at a midwife-run birth center
XXIII. List your top 5 hobbies and why you love them.
  1. Reading - it's a cheap vacation
  2. Fishing - I love fish and it's so repetitive it's relaxing
  3. Badmitton - it's just fun
  4. Settlers of Catan - it's always a new game
  5. Camping - it's the one time I get to eat as many s'more as I want
XXIV. Describe your family dynamic of your childhood vs. your family dynamic now.
            My brother and I are even closer than we ever were. My sister and I are just as distant and maybe more so than we were in childhood.

XXV. If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would it be and what would you eat?
          There are so many interesting people... I'd love to have tea with the Bronte sisters.

XXVI. What popular notion do you think the world has most wrong?
            "Do whatever makes you happy." For one, it's generally said dismissively. Secondly, one of the things most wrong with the world is we're all looking out for our own happiness instead of caring for our neighbors.

XXVII. What is your favorite part of your body and why?
             My ears. They neither gain nor lose weight and always look right on my head.

XXVIII. What is your love language?
              Quality time.

XXIX. What do you think people misunderstand most about you?
             Contemplativeness for judgement.

XXX. List 5 things you would hope to be remembered for.
  1. I loved deeply
  2. I wasn't afraid to say and do the hard things
  3. My compassion
  4. My faith influenced my choices and the people around me
  5. I worked to make the world a better place for those who will come behind me

Friday, October 5, 2012

Our Story: Part III

Continuing our story... Read Part 1 and Part II by clicking the links.

That year long engagement was a whirlwind of activity. The prince was involved in every activity from setting the date, picking out the cardstock for the DIY invitations, deciding on the color scheme, and choosing flowers. He even attended a Bridal Expo! The princess knew she was very lucky.

As months turned to weeks and then windled down to days, the two became more committed to one another and more excited about their life together.

The September 8, 2007 wedding was a beautiful evening affair. Amongst candlelight, the two pledged their lives to one another among their dearest family and friends. They committed fidelity through better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health 'til death do them part them "and even then will I love you."

In those early months the princess knew more love and laughter than she ever imagined possible. The two grew together as individuals, as a couple, and in their faith. They truly believed the "honeymoon period" would never end as each day they found themselves more in love than the previous.
But, in life, as in fairytales, good things do come to an end, at least for a time. In the fall of 2009, Duke Depression started weaseling his way into their happy home. By the following June it became obvious the princess was not experiencing an unusually long bout of seasonal affect depressive disorder (SADD), but was in "big D depression."  The winter of 2010 was the darkest the two ever went through as the Duke held the princess in his grasp.

The knights and ladies of the Monday Night Posse circled around the two, surrounding them with physical, emotional, and spiritual support. The nearly two years that followed would have been much darker, and maybe had a sadder ending, without them.

While the Duke held the princess captive, the prince set about managing life for the both of them - cleaning the house, making meals, paying the bills - while attending school and working full-time. His caretaking was so appreciated by the princess who considered getting out of bed and going to work a victory.
With the loving support of family and friends, counseling, severing unhealthy relationships, and an 18-month dose of Lord Zoloft, the princess began to reclaim her life bit by bit. By April 2012 she could confidently say she felt like herself and she fearlessly kicked the Duke to the curb.  

Reunited, the prince and princess celebrated their victory, became excited about hopes and dreams they thought lost for a time, and looked forward to their brighter future with the same unbridled enthusiasm they had entered their union.

The two didn't realize they were merely in an intermission and a bigger story was still playing out. Soon life would take another unexpected turn.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Power of Stories: Part II

Lately I've spent a lot of time thinking about how we tell our stories, especially the less than glamorous ones. Do we hide them and let them own us or do we shape them as a part of us that we are learning/benefiting from? As we are currently in the midst of a shameful part of our story and are not of one mind on how to proceed, I've started thinking about what this season of our lives will look like five or ten years from now. Right now the emotions are raw and uninhibited. In time I know I'll see this with different eyes. How will the story be told then? This is the story I hope to tell my children...

Once upon a time, in the kingdom of Ocean Beach, a princess met a wonderful prince. The two became fast friends and after some time realized there could be more meant for them than friendship. After a few months of courting long distance, the prince took a leap of faith, quit his job, and relocated to the wonderful land of Oregon to be nearer to his princess.

Those were wonderful days! The two shared a passion for the outdoors, exploring book stores, and were active in their church. They made new friends, became really good at badmitton, and enjoyed many road trips together. The time the princess spent in Spain studying only increased their fondness for one another, and when she returned the prince knew this was the woman he wanted to spend his life with.

So, on September 7 he gathered their two best friends and sent them on a mission while he was at worship team practice. Of the princess, he requested a picnic dinner for after practice. By time practice was over, the princess was not up to a late night picnic dinner, but the prince sweetly convinced her and she really was hungry after all.

Once they pulled into Mt. Tabor Park, a place they had long enjoyed walking around, the prince asked if the princess would like to be blindfolded. This was an age-old joke between the two, so she relented to his silly games by allowing him to throw his hoodie over her head and then lead her through the park.

They stopped near the summit, and when the princess removed the hood she thought the mountain was on fire. As her eyes adjusted she found her princes on bended knee with a beautiful ring. The "fire" was actually candles arranged in a heart shape around their picnic blanket.

She said yes.

~To Be Continued~

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Power of Stories: Part I

It's the eve of my fifth anniversary. This Friday, September 7 is so very different than that one in 2007 I remember so fondly. The one where I was surrounded by family and friends, wrapping up wedding details and celebrating another milestone - my Aunt Pam's 50th birthday. Above all, I was looking forward to committing the rest of my life to a man who had so unexpectedly come into my life three years prior and for whom I was so utterly and completely head over heels for.

Five years isn't such an extraordinarly long time in the grand scheme of life, but it is a major milestone. We have endured nearly every aspect of our vows with grace, thanksgiving, and sometimes a lot of self-sacrifice. In this new season of our marriage I can reflect on the day we took our vows with such promise, and a healthy dose of naivete, and recognize a pledge taken in faith sometimes means you're agreeing to stay true through things you couldn't ever have imagined. I think if someone had told me that then instead of a month ago I may have run in the other direction. It is probably for the best we can't see every trial our relationship will face "til death do {us} part."

I am becoming the family storyteller. The keeper of the stories of our family's trials and triumphs. Some of the stories are hard to hear and some are inspiring or just plain silly. I believe it is so important to pass those stories on, even the ugly ones, so the next generation knows they are not alone and others have gone before them and come through stronger. Those are the stories I so desperately need to hear while I am writing this difficult part of my own story. 

There is power and freedom in being an active participant in your story. Sometimes things happen that you would rather not share, but most times those things you don't want to share end up having power over you. When you tell your story you take control of it. The stories of better times hold us together when we're going through the muck and remind us where we've come from and when we reach the other side of it we can point to that time and say, "We did that, we made it."

It's our stories that can bind us or tear us apart. They are also the legacy we leave for the next generation. It doesn't do any good to keep them locked up.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Heeding the Call

The Midwife, Loren Entz
"We ask them questions about their sex lives, eat their food, feel inside their bodies, snoop around their houses, drink champagne at all hours, and best of all, we get to catch delicious little naked, wet babies. What I can’t figure out is, why doesn’t everyone want to be a midwife?” ~ Peggy Vincent,
Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife

As far back as I can remember birth has been something that has held my fascination. It has evolved from childish curiousity, to a fear of pregnant people, and, finally, to recognition that the human body is an incredible work of art capable of the seemingly impossible.

I was fortunate to be raised in a family where birth was normalized. The female body was created to carry and deliver babies and do it well. There was no fear in childbirth. Now, at an age where it seems I am surrounded by pregnant women or recently delivered babies, I have come full circle where I not only have no fear of the childbirth process, but want to be wholly involved in it.

The plan had always been for me to pursue my Master's degree, but through research, books, and conversations with people near and dear to me over the last couple years, I have realized my calling is not to counsel in the manner I had always pursued. My deepest desire is to educate and empower women to have the births they deserve and assist them during that sacred time. I am so excited to start down this path and am blessed to have had many affirmations along the way that this is the right course for my life.

This fall I will start checking off my prerequisites in order to pursue a Master of Science in Midwifery at Bastyr University next fall. The six college courses include College Algebra, Biology, Microbiology, Anatomy & Physiology I & II, and chemistry - courses I took in high school, but have passed their expiration date so to speak.

In addition to bolstering my college transcript, I will take attend a Labor Doula workshop and a Childbirth Educator workshop (two separate workshops). My sweet friend wants me with her when she delivers this winter/spring, so I want to have my Doula training done before then so I can be of the best service to her. (I am so honored to be asked to be with her - it will be a first for both of us.)

Doors are opening and I'm delighted to have this opportunity. I am looking forward to following in the footsteps of great midwives who have gone before me and am excited for the opportunities and adventures that are sure to follow such a calling. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Carve Your Name

"Carve your names on hearts, not on marble." ~Charles Spurgeon

The beauty and simplicity of this quote that popped up on our office calendar earlier this week two months ago has stuck in my mind. Is the way I choose to live my life positively impacting the people around me? Am I investing in the growth of others or in things that won't last? I think these are questions worth asking ourselves daily - or hourly.

Monday, August 6, 2012


I wrote a guest piece for my mentor, George Rede over at Rough and Rede. Check it out here.

Be sure to support the other Voices of August guest posts as well all month long!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Do It Anyway

Do It Anyway
By Kent M. Keith, popularized by Mother Teresa

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

Friday, June 22, 2012


The last month has been a whirlwind of emotions. It has been a proving ground for my faith and values. It has been uncomfortable, painful, exhausting, and trying. In coming face to face with a nightmare I have seen what my values are really made of

As my support system has split into factions around the issue I have been able to hold my head up and keep pushing through with a sense of peace I've never known. Yes, fear of the unknown is there. Yes, my plans have been trashed. Yes, my life is upside down and inside out and none of it is fair or my fault. Yes, my heart is bruised and broken. Yet despite all the discomfort and pain, the knowledge that it is all out of my hands and at the close - however far into the future that ends up being - the Bentleys will be stronger for having endured.

In the time I've spent meditating on and practicing grace I have begun to wrestle with the question of redemption and restoration. I believe redemption is always possible, and out of that comes restoration, but in my humanness I don't always want to believe it's available to everyone. The beauty of the gift is I don't get to pick and choose who "qualifies" for redemption. I am comforted that not one of us is ever too far beyond the reach of grace and there is always hope for restoration if we're willing to do the dirty work. Redemption and restoration is dirty work.

Lord, help me stand by my relationships even in the yuck and see the work through to completion. May You make something beautiful from these ashes. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Thing About Grace is...

It doesn't make sense. It goes against our very nature to extend mercy to someone who doesn't deserve it and could never earn it. Yet we all long for it; even demand it of others.

When I chose "grace" as my One Word for 2012, it never occurred to me the trials that would come my way to teach me the meaning and depth of grace. I understand in a whole new way how the Father's heart must have broken when the price was paid for reconciliation.

Six months have passed since I committed myself to focus on grace. Each time I have made the choice to extend grace and withold condemnation, my heart has grown fuller. This is a phenomenon that I cannot explain. In the midst of my current storm I have felt tremendous peace when no less than five months ago I would have been an unconsolable wreck.

I like the person I am becoming, but Lord it's hard. It is so very, very hard to choose grace in the face of betrayal. It is so hard to choose grace in the midst of disappointment. It is so difficult to choose grace when I want to condemn. But it is a choice. I have a choice. And I choose to keep choosing grace.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Communication Breakdown II

I've talked about it before, this idea that maybe technology and social media isn't all it's cracked up to be. Three years later, I'm feeling even stronger about this.

I will be the first to admit I'd rather e-mail than talk on the phone. Texting has entered my world, so now I can send text from anywhere at anytime. (Three years ago to as recently as a year ago I was refusing to jump on the text bandwagon. Oh how easily we cave when every one else is doing it.)

My Facebook friends list has been parred down since I last discussed it. The people on the list are ones that I have regular connections with or are related to me. I'm seriously contemplating deactivating it as I waste so much time there and the interactions are rarely meaningful. I want my life to be a blessing and I'm no longer convinced that can be done through technology.

I miss the days when friends got together and talked with no interruptions from cell phones. I have nothing against cell phones - they're dang handy - but when I am spending more time looking at it than the person talking to me there is a problem. As a result, DH and I set a house rule that when we are together in public, sharing a meal, or visiting with other people our phones are put away. They were becoming too much of a distraction and took away from quality time with people we say we care about. I'm hoping this is a trend that we can extend to the people we live life with. Cause I love their faces and don't want them hiding behind a 3"x5" screen.

What do you think of cell phone dependency?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Beauty from the Muck

My world got rocked this week. I'm in shock and am more or less in damage control mode. We will survive this because that is what I want, but we're going to have to wade through a lot of shit before we get to the other side. The image of the lotus has been at the forefront of my mind the last couple days.

I've always thought the lotus was a neat flower. Recently a friend was having a rough year and she shared with me the story of the lotus. The lotus is unique because, as Confucian scholar Zhou Dunyi wrote, "I love the lotus because while growing from mud, it is unstained." It rises above its environment, it controls itself, and it is truly a beautiful flower.

Life is often a series of muck and yuck. I so want to rise above it and remain unstained. Lord, that I might have the strength to suffer well and come out the other side unstained and victorious.
"Yet the beauty of His grace is only highlighted and magnified by our sin, and all the more beautiful for it!  And I can't help but think that the result of redemption and grace is all the more beautiful and appreciated than the perfectly created original." Beautiful words from a dear friend.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Year Five: I Still at Sea

Safe to Port (9th Century requiem for the Abbess of Grandestine – author unknown)

Thou hast come safe to port,
I still at sea
Flying Colours tribute flag.
The light is on thy head,
Darkness in me.

Pluck thou in Heaven’s field
Violet and rose,
While I strew flowers
That will thy vigil keep.

Thou hast come safe to port,
I still at sea
The light is on thy head,
Darkness in me.

While I strew flowers
That will thy vigil keep,
Where thou doest sleep
Love, in thy last repose.

Today is the seventh of May. It snuck up on me this year. On Sunday, as I drove out to the Interpretive Center and saw "Rhiannon's" tree up on the hill, my chest constricted. Just like that I became hyper-aware of the date and the significanc the next day would bring. I couldn't breathe. Five years later and my heart still stops and my eyes still well up with tears. Time doesn't heal all wounds.

The poem above was brought into my life in November. Michael Hoppe, a local composer, came across it while on vacation and set it to music. A connection introduced him to our choir, Voices of Hope, and we plan to record it sometime in the next year. It is hauntingly beautiful and I can not sing it without seeing Rhi's parents laying white roses out in the Atlantic on what would have been her 23 birthday - two months after her boat was lost at sea. It has become a truly cathartic song for me.

Peace friend. We remember.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Grace and Thanksgiving

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. ~ Matthew 26:26-28, ESV

This morning, while riding MAX, I started reading the book I picked up almost a week ago. Since it is an actual book and not an audiobook it has taken me awhile to get to it. The title, One Thousand Gifts, deals with subject matter I've been especially interested in as of late: grace, living fully and intentionally. How apropos that chapter 2 ("a word to live... and die by") should dovetail so sweetly with these things and also teach me a new word: eucharisteo.

Yes, I am familiar with the term eucharist as it is used in the Catholic Church (which I am not familiar with) as the serving of communion. Ann Voskamp broke the word down into it's Greek origins - root words for grace and thanksgiving sandwiched together - and it made me look at the gospel in a new light. On the night of his betrayal - before he was tortured, crucified, separated from the Father - He gave thanks.

If Christ made it a priority to give thanks before his darkest hour, it behooves me to give thanks in my every day, mundane things. This is the message I will take with me as Semana Santa gives way to the glory of Resurrection Day.

May we all live fully in eucharist, giving thanks for every thing every day and extending grace.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Dr. Seuss Wisdom

“Be who you are and say what you feel,

because those who mind don't matter,

and those who matter don't mind.”

― Dr. Seuss
My best friend sent me the quote above after I had a difficult start to the morning. Over the last couple years I have been trying to find my voice again. This morning I was challenged and considered deleting a blog post that I consider one of the best pieces I've ever written. To do so would have been to silence a piece of me, so in the end I left it. It is a part of my family history and it has affected, and is still affecting, us. I will not recant how I felt in that moment, nor how the story has played out. You are correct: it cannot be undone. None of it can.
I don't know who sent me the message. If it is the person I suspect, despite it all I love you. You have been a part of my life for years and I honor that. My heart hurts that you would leave such an angry anonymous note instead of talking to me directly. The picture of you, my brother, and I in the Armory stairwell is still one of my most beloved pictures. Aside from the accusations, I don't know what transpired to cause such a drastic relational shift, but I think if you were to take a look at the history you would find the accusations mute.  I am sorry life has dealt you a crappy hand over the last year. It is my prayer you find healing for the hurts you carry and find comfort in those who love you.
If you are not someone I have a history with I don't know what to say that won't sound completely condescending, which is not my intent. You don't know me and I don't know you, so it is a leap to expect you to know my heart. It is clear I have offended you and it seems I have a very different picture of the course of events than you do. What I do know is myself, my family, and those who matter to me. I hope what you described was a gross exaggeration. If it was not, I hope you have people in your life who recognize that you are struggling and will rally around you. In the case you don't or they can't, it is my prayer you will see that there is always hope and find a way out yourself and make a better tomorrow.
Don't give up.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

My One Word

February is almost over and today I came across a quote that embodies my one word for 2012: Grace.

Grace is a concept and word I've been thinking about since late December. Words that come to mind when I think of grace are kindness, love, beauty,  forgiveness, charity, mercifulness. These are characteristics I want to build up in my life.

In 2012, I commit:
  • To live every moment of every day believing the best instead of the worst.
  • To extend compassion when anger rises.
  • To be honest and gentle at the same time.
  • To remember we all have a story that shapes who we are and why we do what we do.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


What if my greatest disappointment is Your mercy in disguise?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday Pondering

The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own.
No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, blame.
The gift is yours - it is an amazing journey -
and you alone are responsible for the quality of it.
This is the day your life really begins.

What is it that makes us feel like we aren't good enough or we are obligated to make others happy at the expense of our own well-being? These are things I wish I had an answer to.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

History of Reading + I {heart} Audiobooks

Once I learned how to read, which took me longer than most things to grasp, I devoured everything I could get my hands on. I read most of Nancy Drew, every Babysitter's Club book published until age 11 when I decided I just couldn't keep up (there are 131, not including seven off-shoots with 15+ titles each - insanity). The book fairs at school were nirvana and I listed the public library as my favorite place in town.

As time has passed, I wish more and more I had kept a record of the books I read. There is a particular book I remember bits and pieces of that I wish I could re-read as I might understand it better at 26 than I did at 9 (my reading material was not monitored as a child) and I think there should be a sequel as the ending was so weird. It may also be the reason I never really got into Sci-Fi. A couple years ago I started documenting the books I read, and the ones I want to read, and that has helped me greatly.

The amount of time I have available to read has fluctuated through the years, but it has always been a core part of my life. The night my Maid of Honor arrived at my house I was laying on my couch, surrounded by wedding favors, reading Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire. Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix kept me company in the pool lounge chair (in the water) while my new husband went up and down the pool slide.

Recently, I have had less time to read. I leave for work at 7 am, return home between 6-6:30 pm, try to spend some time with my husband, eat, work out, get to bed at a decent hour, etc. Life has happened and I'm trying to figure out where my reading time has gone.

While lamenting to my aunt about this, she suggested I start listening to audiobooks. I spend roughly 2 hours a day in my car, alone, and there are only so many songs and so many radio stations. I decided to give it a whirl and omigoodness has it changed my life! In the last month and a half I have "read" four books while on my commute. I still prefer curling up with a paperback, a blanket, and a kitty, but having someone read to me in the car is not a bad second option. (The trick is getting a reader whose voice isn't annoying. I will have to read "Lucky One" in print as the reader's voice was much too grating. All of Maeve Binchy's books are delightful on audio.)

So, if you can't find the time to read a book, go to your library and pick up an audiobook. It will rock your world, especially if you spend many an hour commuting.

What's on your reading list?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Run for Sherry: Why We Run

I've been dabbling with running for about three years. Only recently have I felt comfortable saying, "I am a runner." It always felt fraudulent before. One thing I know without a doubt is I am part of the running community. I rejoice with every victory, extend comfort to the broken, and know they would do the same for me.

In the wake of Sherry Arnold's disappearance, the running community has come together in amazing ways. We have lost one of our own; Beth, of Shut Up And Run, has lost her cousin. Sherry went for a run and never came home. It is a runner's worst nightmare and her story has touched thousands worldwide.

On February 11 at 8 am PST, the running world will come together and Run for Sherry. We will run with Sherry's smiling face on a blue bib with a sketch of Montana.

We will run because we have lost one of our own.

We will run with our friends, our family, and solo.

We will dedicate races, trails, and miles to Sherry.

We will run because we know it could just as easily have been us.

We will run because it is when we feel most alive.

We will run because it's the one thing we can do.

We will run to heal. We will run to remember.

We will run so for a moment in time all the bad that has transpired will be replaced with the goodness of humanity - of community.

Will you join us and make the world move?

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Q&A: Just for Fun

Nicole at Marine Wife Unplugged tagged me in this and I'm happy to oblige... (Sorry the formatting is so weird. I finally let it win.)
The Rules

1. You must post the rules (and link up who tagged you).

2. Post eleven fun facts about yourself on the blog post.

3. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post, and then create eleven new questions to ask the people you've tagged.

4. Tag however many people you want

5. Let them know you've tagged them!

11 Facts About Me

1. I enjoy a good hike, but about the only sure way to talk me into it is to promise a milkshake at the end.

2. Since childhood I have enjoyed eating oysters - pan fried, raw, steamed, whatever.

3. Sleep is my favorite thing.

4. I really want a redheaded child. Interestingly enough, my brother has shared that he is terrified of redheaded children under age 14.

5. Unassisted, I can only see three inches in front of my face clearly. I'm that blind.

6. I'm convinced I'm going to die in a car crash. I don't know why.

7. One day I want to have a self-sufficient household/farm. As of yesterday my dream includes animals of burden to till the land. I'm very Prairie House at heart.

8. I am one of the most empathetic people you will ever meet. True story.

9. I'm 5'3", but wear tall shoes to prevent having to hem my pants. This occasionally throws people off when I do wear flat shoes (which I would prefer to do, darn office job and dress pants).

10. I am married to the second (and last) man I dated.

11. Living in the Midwest for a year was the best worst thing I ever did.

Nicole's Questions For me

1. Have you ever told a stranger about salvation through Christ? Not that directly. I have shared my own beliefs with strangers and left the conversation open.

2. Have you ever been to a chiropractor? Nope, and trying to keep it that way. Though apparently I get discounted chiropractic services through work, so should I break myself during 1/2 marathon or relay training I have a less expensive way to get fixed.

3. When you first learned about PTSD, what did you think of it? It has always made sense to me and I was relieved to find it had a name.

4. Have you ever regretted being married? No, I married my best friend and have been blessed by him ever single day for the last five years.

5. If your spouse said he wanted you to wear skirts for the rest of your life because he loved how you looked in them, would you have a problem with that? He could say it and I would be flattered. I would probably make an effort to wear them more often, but I wouldn't wear them every day.

6. What are you most thankful for today? My health.

7. How often have you been angered by things you have read on my blog? I don't think you've ever said anything that's angered me. There's been times I thought you took things too far or had a vastly different viewpoint than mine, but nothing anger-inducing.

8. Describe a time you helped someone out anonymously and did not seek recognition for it. Wouldn't it be seeking recognition if I told you about it? ;-)

9. What household chore do you gripe about performing the most? Sweeping and mopping the floor! It's time consuming and within five minutes they're dirty again. Grrr! (Hubby does this chore most of the time cause he loves me.)

10. How can you tell if someone is really following the Messiah? Their words and deeds line up and you feel a sense of peace when you're around them, no matter what is going on.

11. Do you think that Barack Obama is a good president? I don't think there is such a thing as a good president. Each administration is at the mercy of the administration before him, the Congress in session, and the current world disasters. Why anyone would want to be president is beyond me.

Who I'm Tagging

- George at Rough And Rede

- Kim at (Just) Trying is for Little Girls

- Christie at Marathon Mama

- Nikki at My Story That I Like The Best

- Shawna at Pink Spandex

- Leslie at Pink Spandex

My Questions:

1. Which three books would you take with you if you were banished to a deserted island?

2. Who had the greatest influence on you growing up?

3. What was the best vacation you ever had?

4. What's your "one moment" - the moment in your life you wish you could go back and change?

5. Icecream or cake?

6. What do you want people to remember about you?

7. What is your favorite quote?

8. Would you live without internet or without your phone?

9. What has been your greatest accomplishment?

10. How do you celebrate an accomplishment?

11. How does life compare to what you had planned 5/10/15/25 years ago?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Promises

I haven't written a "Thankful Thursday" post in awhile and today I realized I'm thankful for promises.

My history is, as I'm sure everyone's is, littered with broken promises. Some that caused tears, some that caused scars, and still others that resulted in a complete loss of trust.

The thing with broken promises, though, is they make the promises that are kept that much sweeter.

Today, I'm thankful that my friend who said she'd always be there for me when we were eleven is still one of the few people I talk to on a regular basis.

I'm thankful my husband has truly stood by me in sickness and health, richer and poorer, good times and bad, especially the sick/poor/bad.

I'm thankful that the promise I most doubted, the one that people I trust most uttered one after another, seems to be coming to fruition. I'm going to be okay.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Grace and Strength

In keeping with my current ponderings about grace, strength, light and New Year's resolutions, today I looked up at my calendar and was challenged by this month's verse:

"Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." 2 Timothy 2:1

For some reason this hit me really hard this morning. I often think of strength as being overpowering and grace as being gentle. To see those two words side by side, complementing one another, has made my head spin in a way that will require me to sit with it for awhile. Be strong. In grace.

As I continue to reflect on last year and what I want this year to look like I have thought a lot (alot) about the My One Word challenge. While it is spiritual in nature, I think it could be applied secularly as well: How do you want to grow? What kind of person do you want to be by 2012's end? How would implementing one word change your relationships?

Passion... Grace... Intention.... these are words I'm mulling over.

What one word would you choose to guide your actions and what kind of person would that word shape you into?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who are we to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so other people won’t feel insecure around you… And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~ Marianne Williamson

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2011: Life is Good

I'm a little late on this annual tradition (three days!). I have been having so much fun with family and friends I haven't really sat down to reflect on 2011. Something I'll have more time for this evening, me thinks. 2011 brought many good things and was a far cry from 2010. Without further ado...

2011: The Survey

Was 2011 good for you? Yes, life was good.

What was your favorite moment of the year? Honestly, it may have been holding my dear friend's newborn. That is the moment that sticks out and I still get teary eyed thinking about it. Life is a blessing.

What was your worst moment of the year? It was pretty upsetting when I realized I'd spent all weekend taking pictures with a broken camera that didn't have a memory card. But the worst was gett the call from my brother after he'd just gotten home from the ER.

Where were you when 2011 began? At the Hall's house.

Who were you with? The Monday Night Posse

Where were you when 2011 ended? Snuggled in the guest bed sound asleep.

Did you keep your new years resolution of 2011? To live boldly. To be intentional in my actions, be present in every moment, and stand my ground. I didn't live as boldly or as intentionally as I would have liked, but I was more present.

Do you have a new year's resolution for 2012?  I want to live intentionally. That is, do what I say I'm going to do, be consistenet in word and deed, and cherish the moment. 2012 will be bringing many life changes and I want to soak them all up.

Did you fall in love in 2011? Every. single. day.

Did you make any new friends in 2011? A few.

What was your favorite month of 2011? August

Why this month? August was an awesome month for outdoor activities (hiking, Cascade Lakes Relay, Hood to Coast, etc) and lots of family time.

Did you travel outside of the country in 2011? No, I still need to renew my passport. Maybe 2012 will be the year I actually make it to Canada?

How many different places did you travel to in 2011? I don't know that I even got on a plane in 2011. Weird.

Did you miss anybody in the past year? Missed my brother, so glad those days are over.

What was your favorite movie that you saw in 2011? How to Train Your Dragon

What was your favorite song from 2011? "Raise Your Glass" by Pink or "I Love You This Big" by Scotty

How many concerts or plays did you see in 2011? Hmmm... everything I thought I'd seen I apparently saw last year. So perhaps none.

Did you have a favorite concert in 2011? Voices of Hope concert at The Grotto. I always love singing at The Grotto.

What was your favorite book in 2011?
Did you do anything you are ashamed of this year? Nope.

What was the biggest lie you told in 2011? "I'm doing better."

Did you treat somebody badly in 2011? No.
Did somebody treat you badly in 2011? Yes, but we worked it out.

What was your proudest moment of 2011? Accepting the job at Adventist Medical Center Foundation.

What was your most embarrassing moment of 2011? Possibly when my brother took his pants off during karaoke.

If you could go back to any moment of 2011 and change something, what would it be? The thing I would like to have changed was my sister and my best friend's wedding being on the same day in different (not close) cities. Not something I could change, but it is the thing I would have liked changed.

Where did you work in 2011? LifeWorks NW and AMC Foundation

Favorite TV shows(s) of 2011? Big Bang Theory, Grimm, and Once Upon a Time

Favorite Band(s) of 2011? The Band Perry

Favorite Food in 2011? Honey Lavender or Copa Mista gelato

Favorite Drink in 2011? Vanilla Chai Tea

Favorite Place in 2011? Bend

Favorite person(s) to be with in 2011? Jason, Aunt Deb, Dad, and Heather

Favorite person(s) to talk to in 2011? Aunt Deb, Bobby, Grandma+pa

Favorite trip in 2011? Anniversary weekend in Bend

Favorite stores in 2011? Stash Tea Warehouse

Hardest thing you had to go through in 2011? Starting depression medication was a tough decision, but one I'm glad I made.

Most exciting moment(s) in 2011? Getting chickens. New babies. Seeing family. Christmas. Planning a trip to Disney World/Disney Princess Half Marathon with Leslie. Little brother being discharged from the Marine Corp... lots of excitement.

Funniest moment(s) in 2011? I need to remember these better. Probably when I fell through the snow with one leg while we were hiking around the Strawberry Wilderness and yelled, "Hey, I found the trail!" Or my going away cake from LifeWorks NW.

Wishing you the most blessed 2012!

Four Happy Years - September 2011 - Bend, OR