Wednesday, October 27, 2010

*Pumpkins*


Ok, so have you ever stopped to consider a pumpkin? They're pretty crazy.
My friends and I were carving pumpkins today and it just hit me that I should be marveling.

Who was the first to look inside a pumpkin, see the stringy, goopy, orange pulp mess, and think "hey, this might cook into something tasty... something smooth and sweet."? Uh, not me. I certainly would have never had the imagination.

or, Who would have thought to put hundreds upon hundreds of seeds inside this gourd, hang them on slimy strands by the handfuls like stalactites in a cave, and then wait for someone else to scoop them out, rinse them off, and bake them until they were this nutritious, easy-to-travel-with snack?

or what about this: They smell disgusting when you open them up, but once it's baked, the smell is family... it's holiday... it's home.

or this.... Their rough, chunky stems have delicate, intricate curls wrapping around them, as extravagant as pearls around a tree trunk.

I mean, don't even think about how big they get on such a small, skinny vine, or how they ripen from a deep green into a sunrise orange, or even how you can cut great holes out of it, and it not only holds its shape, but becomes this whole new piece of art with the flame from one tealight.

So, as of today, the pumpkin is no longer an underrated October-only vegetable to me. It is wonder.




Monday, October 25, 2010

*The Favor of God*

It must have been after the 34th red light that we were approaching turned green that I asked Elizabeth what was going on. So many perfect things had been happening during our 5 days together, and she replied, "It's simply the favor of God."

It hit me then that I dwell in the continuous presence of a loving God. So often I consider Him stingy or fickle, but that is not His heart . Not ever. I began opening my eyes to purposefully observe the goodness of God in my life. You wouldn't believe the things I discovered in those 5 days unless I put them here in a list...

It first started with Elizabeth's flight into Portland. I knew I would have to pick her up via public transportation, but I was afraid we would get back to late to catch a bus home. Well, that was the same day President Obama flew into Portland, so all public transportation was running more frequently and longer.

We decided to rent a car for the weekend so we could get around to see more places. Enterprise was running a special for a car for only $10/day of the weekend. They came and picked us up from our apt, took us to their office, realized they didn't have an economy car for us, so gave us a free upgrade on the spot. While we were thanking them, we asked if we could add an extra driver for just one of the 3 days. The employees tried to figure this out for a few minutes, were having trouble with the computer system, and just said we could add the extra driver for the whole weekend for free!! (instead of the extra $10/day per driver, which would have doubled our rental cost).

Next, the weather for the past 3 weeks had been stellar. Absolutely crisp, beautiful fall days. Wednesday morning's forecast for the days my sister would be here was dismal at best. Perhaps Thursday would be fine, Friday would have only spotty rain, but be prepared for torrential storms over and through the entire weekend. I was devastated, but decided to pray for favorable weather. Inexplicably (outside the Father's love), every day we had was beautiful. In fact, the worst day weather wise was probably that Thursday. It never rained while we were outside hiking, walking, browsing, eating, whatever... NEVER. We would get in the rental car, start the engine, and the rain would start falling. As we approached our next stop, the rain would begin to let up, and once we were parked, the sun was breaking through. This is no joke. It seriously happened from Thursday to Monday am.

So, before I even moved to Portland, I had this dream that I was in this pod-like thing that floated over a river as we were entering Portland. My sister Elizabeth was in this type of roller coaster ride with me, and my parents and younger sister Sarah were in one ahead of us. I had no idea what this dream was, but I had told Elizabeth about it. When I moved into my new apartment a few weeks ago, I noticed this cable wire that ran up this huge hill. And there, running along the wires, over the Willammette River, overlooking the city, were aerial trams. It was so surreal seeing something I never even knew about materialize in front of me. Obviously, when Liz came to Portland, one of our first trips was to ride on this tram. The ticket we bought that day, on the 22nd, had the time of 2:22. crrraaaazzzyyy.

We spent one day looking for thrift stores to help outfit my apartment. Needless to say, we kept getting lost, but here's the weird thing: every time we had to do a u-turn, we ended up doing one on a corner that had a thrift shop just waiting for us. One we hadn't even known existed.

Once, on a road detour, we were crunched for time and yet had to head down a road with a railroad track. Just as we approached, the lights flash, the barriers go down, and we groan as we see not only just a train approach, but a cargo train coming towards us. This was going to be a long wait. The engine passed, the first car, the second boxcar, the third... then it stopped. We begin to groan again only to stop in wonder as the strangest thing began to happen. The conductor looked out the window, saw the way was clear, and started backing up!!! It was as if God had said, "hey, a couple of my girls need to get past this section quickly... why don't you just back up, let them pass, and then go on your way again?" I'm not kidding, the train slowly backed up in front of us, the lights stopped flashing, and the barriers were raised. I have never seen anything like it in my life.

Sales were another thing that we were being blessed with. My apartment hadn't had some key ingredients in it yet, and we kept finding the things we wanted on sale, or readily available. I was going to buy a tv one day, but decided to just get it the next day. We walked in the next day and it was on sale... so much so that my added 2 year warranty was basically free.

Hiking was big on our list, but as the forecast was calling for rain, we weren't sure we'd be able to get around much on foot. So we decided on a whim to take the "ultra scenic" drive to a hiking spot, and as we did, we came upon waterfall after waterfall after sweeping vistas of mountain ranges. It was stunning, awe filled, and completely rain free.

Elizabeth's flight out from PDX left at 6am Monday morning. Since we were told to bring the car back with no fuel in it (we had prepaid for a gas refill), we were driving with it close to empty. We thought for sure we'd have enough left to get to the airport since it told us we were 22 miles away to empty. But, as we were driving, at 4:30 am, it became apparent that we definitely wouldn't be making it to the airport (or at least I wouldn't be making it back) unless we found a gas station open somewhere. Just as we realized this, a gas station shows up on the left hand side. We pulled in, put $5 in, and made it safely for the rest of the driving. We never passed another gas station there or back.

There were so many other things, friendly strangers, on time for buses, Elizabeth's cold healing, that just memorialized the special long weekend we had together. It was such a reminder of the goodness of our Father, and His sweet blessings that are poured upon us every day.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

*Best day out West*

Move over Airforce One-- there is a much more important figure flying into town today--
MY SISTER ELIZABETH!!

Sorry, Obama. Even though you too are showing up in Portland, you just don't reach that level of greatness.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

*Just a glimpse*

Now that I figured out how to add videos straight to my post, I can tell you this story that happened the first week I moved here.

I heard about a free concert the Portland Orchestra was holding in the waterfront park, so I decided to go to it, just me and my blanket.
The place was packed. Tents were selling delicious foods, cyclists went weaving through crowds, & elderly couples slowly picked their way through the organic aisles of seated humans. The famous bridges of the Willamette preened themselves in front of so many spectators. Everywhere there was an air of festivity and community. I picked a spot, spread my blanket, and made friends with my nearby neighbors-- (the couple behind me actually offered to share their fries and pizza with me! how nice are these people here??!!)-- finally, I settled in to listen to the performance.
As the music began, I heard the little 4 year old boy next to me inhale sharply. When I looked over, he had turned his head back towards his family and whispered, "Mommy, is this magic?"

Thank you for giving me the words, young one, because yes, that's exactly what this is.


(Wagner sophomores everywhere should recognize this song...)

video

*Highlights from a Lowlife*

sooo sorry it's been over a week since i've posted last. Since there is absolutely no way I could write everything here that I've been experiencing, I'll just give you some quick snapshots of what life has been like since October began:

* I started 3 classes with 2 different churches, and that has kept me busy at least half the week. They are all really good, really different, and filled with people I am turning into friends (via the powers of hypnosis) I plan on writing a post concerning these classes in more detail later.

*Pete, Kim and I discover more & more Eagles' fans each consecutive week we show up at the Bullpen for Sundays' games. (we've also grown accustomed to various adversaries as well)

* I attended Imago's open mic night a few Fridays ago, and it was incredible. I believe 98% of those who performed either have, or should have, cds out. Here was one of my favorites (whom I met the next Sunday at church and she was crazy nice):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUTeNbB6HLM&feature=related

* I have moved into my own place!!! It's funny because it isn't until now that I feel like I've actually come to Portland. Basically, for the past 6 weeks, I've been living out of my suitcases since my clothes were the only things I had out that were mine. Now I have dishes, art, furniture, lighting, etc, etc, that makes me feel more at home. Pictures of the place to be posted once I finish decorating.

* I met my new roommate Katie Lockard. We met through a church's website, and she needed a place to stay for 3 months while she attended PSU for a semester. It worked out great for both of us because I'll get a break on rent, as well as have company while I get used to my new place, and she has somewhere to crash land in between her 5 classes. She's wicked nice, is a huge travel bug, and has a degree in biology.

* The job I was hired for (tutoring with Mobile Minds) just called me two days ago to tell me they'd love for me to work full time with them coordinating and leading a team of tutors!!! This is such a huge answer to prayer because I am running low on funds, I've been having a hard time finding other work, and this company is not only in my field, but it will be a challenge for me, has flexible hours, and will pay me well. God has been soooo good to me here.

* I have some friends!!! (ha). They are few for the moment but I have met and hung out with the following great people: Aaron, Matt, Virginia, Josiah, McKinzie, and Kim. The first two are my "tight" friends so far, and there are other residual people I've met and liked immediately. Who knows? It may not be so lonely here after all (although this definitely does not make up for the loss I feel whenever I think of all of you back home).

*the view from my balcony is stunning. On a clear day you can see Mt. Hood in all its glory.

This is in no means an exhaustive list of the past week and a half, but I didn't want to bore you with the mundane details of each day. Now that I am in a more permanent situation, I should be a bit more on top of things from here on out. According to my new job description, organization and timely responses are the keys to my future! (I just heard about 10 people at Calvary mutter "uh-oh")...