Monday, August 31, 2009

Life Is Like A Potato Harvest

The best part of harvesting my garden is when I finally get to dig for potatoes. This year I planted three rows of Yukon Gold and Red potatoes. I don't remember exactly where in the rows I planted what, but to me, being surprised by what I dig up is all part of the fun.

To me, digging up potatoes is a lot like a treasure hunt. I carefully sink the shovel into the ground around the plant, loosen the dirt and then start running my hands through the dirt in search of the treasure. I love the feel of the earth in my fingers and the moment when they finally grasp the potato. There comes a point when I finally have to make myself stop digging because the bag is over flowing, so I reluctantly put the shovel aside.

This afternoon, as I was elbow deep in the potato trenches, I realized something about the actual potato plant:

1) The bigger, more beautiful plants did not necessarily mean the bigger the harvest. In fact these were the plants that had fewer potatoes.

2) The smaller, more 'sorry' looking plants yielded some of the biggest, nicest, most abundant amount of potatoes.

As I kept digging, I thought about what I could compare these interesting revelations to in life. But instead of me telling you what I think, I'd like to hear what your thoughts are and what comes to mind when you picture the potato harvest of two very opposite plants. The big beautiful plant that doesn't produce much versus the small, spindly plant that produces an abundance.

Monday, August 24, 2009

When The Mountain Calls You Out of the Valley

For the past few mornings I have gone down to one of my favorite trails along the river to walk the dog. While driving to the trail head, there is a point where I crest a large hill and I can see the Cascade Mountains looming majestically in front of me. While they looked close enough to reach out and touch, there are several miles of hills and valleys between me and the mountains. And as my gaze was drawn to the incredible early morning sight, I felt an intense longing to continue driving past the trail head and on into the mountains.

If you’ve ever been up to the high points of a mountain, you know that the view can be breathtaking. From atop the mountains here, for miles in either direction, one can see small towns, lakes, rivers, forest, winding roads, other mountains and even a dry, flat desert out to the east. The air is crisp and clear, the sun seems a little brighter and having the perspective of seeing clearly all around is itself a sense of comfort and peace.

It is definitely a much different point of view than that of being down in the valley.

In the valley the view is much more restrictive, or constrictive if you will and there are many more shadows to block the light.

I think life is a lot like mountains and valleys and from what I have observed both on and off the blogs there are a lot of people stuck in the valley or stranded on the side of the mountain, not quite able to reach the top.

I have walked through many valleys in my life and honestly, the valleys are not where I like to be. My valleys have been ones of fear, darkness, depression, financial struggles and loneliness. There have been times in the valleys where I have trudged along paths of uncertainty with no way out in sight. I have felt the incredible weight of life on my shoulders and the loneliness of being far removed from God. I have looked from the valley floor, up at the mountain that I must climb and cursed it for being so big. I have at moments, resigned myself to the fate of being in the darkness of the valley and been consumed by feelings of hopelessness.

I know many are in that very place and unsure of how to make their way out of the valley and up to the mountain top. I believe the first step is willing yourself to go. Sometimes the dark, as fearful and depressing as it is, is more comfortable than the unknown of the journey into the light. And while it was never promised that our journey through life would be painless or easy, God did promise that we can find rest from our burdens in Him. (Matthew 11:28-29)

I have also found, in my own experience that the moment I quit telling God how big my mountains are and instead tell the mountains how big my God is, the valleys don't seem so deep and dark. It's when I take the focus off of me and where I am (read: quit throwing myself a pity party) and decide to work on getting to where I need to be by putting one foot in front of the other I'm allowing God to be in control of the journey. This is extremely hard for a control-freak like me, but it seems my life is much messier when I take control and stick God in the back seat.

I believe God allows each of us to walk through the valleys so that we can learn to trust Him as we make our way up the mountain paths. And I don't know where you are in your journey of life, or what valleys you're in, or the trials you face but I do know that you are not alone. I have my own valley at this point in my life that I am trying to climb out of. Honestly, it is a valley that appears to have no end in sight, and I don't know the exact path I will be taking to get out of it, but I do know from my past experiences that I will put one foot in front of the other and allow the mountain to call me out of the valley.


If you are suffering or feeling alone in whatever struggle you are facing, please know that there are many who are willing to listen to you and help you through whatever it is you are facing. Feel free to email me even if you just need someone to listen.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Happy Birthday Sherri!

Today is Sherri's birthday. Who is Sherri? Well, she is this incredibly fabulous, crazy, 'dynamite comes in small packages', big hearted type of gal who has a rather eclectic little blog called Matter of Fact. I strongly encourage you to go over there and wish her 'Happy Birthday!'. And take her a nice pair of stilettos while you're at it cause she loves her some stilettos.

And Sherri, for your birthday enjoyment, some incredibly fabulous shoes.

(Because you like to chat as much as you like here's something that allows you to enjoy both hobbies! You're welcome.)

Who says 'Gold' boots aren't in?

Oh, whoops. Wrong Stiletto...

Happy Birthday Sherri! I hope Big Al treats you right!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Fear of Following Your Heart

I have noticed lately that people are living in great fear. I hate that. Fear is what keeps us from being who we truly should be and need to be. Fear stops us cold in our tracks. Fear tells us we're not strong enough, good enough, pretty enough, popular enough, rich enough. Fear takes all of our dreams, hopes and joy and squashes it. Fear keeps us inside a little box instead of living outside the box.

Fear keeps us from hearing our hearts.

Recently, here's what I see to be some of the greatest fears people experience:

Fear of failure.
Fear of losing a house.
Fear of losing a job.
Fear of not finding a job.
Fear of not having enough money to pay the bills.
Fear of loss.
Fear of letting go.
Fear of following ones heart.
Fear of being inadequate.
Fear of not knowing.
Fear of the future.
Fear of being alone.
Fear of others condemnation.
Fear of where the government is leading our country.
Fear of new things.
Fear of risks.
Fear of being weak.
Fear of illness.
Fear of trusting others.
Fear of themselves.
Fear of trusting God.

For most of my life I've been pretty fearless. Until recently. Recently I've wanted to live safely inside my little world, as imperfect as it may be. But then that little box that I stuffed my whole world into was given a good shake when this idea came to me one afternoon. An idea that I began calling The Hope Road Trip.

Through some pretty crazy circumstances it's starting to turn into something that I didn't expect. And honestly, I've got some real excitement about where I'd like to take this thing and where I want it to lead, but I've also dealt with the fear that I'll give up on it because I won't have enough trust to let God take me where He needs me to go. And then there's the fear of going this alone.

There are moments when the idea of taking a road trip across America to seek out those in need in order to tell their story seems like a crazy little pipe dream. Logistically speaking that is. But I want to see this through. Why? Because I think people need to know and hear this:

1 Peter 5:10, And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

And that is why I am going to work at overcoming the fear that creeps in and tells me I'm not good enough, strong enough, adequate enough, connected to the right people...

So what is your fear keeping you from? Do you feel there is something you need to do but you're allowing fear to keep you from following your heart?

You can read more about The Hope Road Trip at these links:

The Hope Road Trip

A Man In Search of Hope, Part 1

A Man In Search of Hope, Part 2

A Girl Rejected

A Young Mother, Her Baby and a Family in Need of Help

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Young Mother, Her Baby And A Family In Need

When I started this blog over a year ago, I didn't have a specific purpose in mind except to do a little writing and maybe meet a few people along the way. Recently, I have felt as though I am being 'prodded' to take my blog in a different direction and use it as a platform to help those in need. Honestly, I feel rather un-knowledgable in the area of how to specifically go about this and ill-equipped when it comes to ministering to those in need. And while I have big doubts about my own abilities in starting something like this, I know that the circumstances surrounding the initial idea of The Hope Road Trip and the people that have been put in front of me who need help are not of my own doing. I don't know how this whole thing will unfold or how long it will take, but in the meantime, I am going to follow my heart on this, obey what I believe God is asking me to do, follow where He leads and learn from the large doses of humility that it appears are much needed in my life.


After arriving at work the other morning, I opened up my email to find a message that had been forwarded to all of the staff. It was from the friend of a local family who have been a part of this community for many, many years and are in need of financial help for a severe illness their daughter is dealing with. The greeting read,

"Hi to all... This is a request for help."

Sherm and Janice Hess are friends of ours who retired after teaching many years in La Pine. Their son Steve and his wife Tammy graduated from Bend High. Steve and Tammy's daughter Keshia Cramer (husband Aaron) is being treated at Sacred Heart in Springfield, where she's been in ICU since July 5. A U of O student, Keshia was pregnant, contracted Swine Flu, and then developed severe pneumonia. Keshia is now a mother--though she doesn't know that yet--to baby girl Presley, who was about two pounds when delivered. Both are making progress although I'm sure you recognize the journey is difficult--and costly. Your donations, as well as your positive thoughts and prayers, are appreciated.

As of yesterday, the update on Keshia was:

It has been a blessing to finally have Keshia back! She was able to talk yesterday for the first time! No one can even explain how good it was to hear her voice. It had been over a month since the last time we had heard her talk! She is still on the vent when she needs to rest, but when the mask is put on over the trach; that is when she is able to talk. Her voice is still scratchy and she gets pretty tired from talking easily. She is working so hard with physical therapy and doing a great job! Hopefully today at six she will meet Presley for the first time! We are all just waiting for that time to come now! Keshia still has a lot of work ahead of her, but she can't wait to get started! Thank you for all the prayers and great thoughts!!

While Keshia is on the road to recovery, it is a long one and will continue at great expense. The exciting news is that after a month, she is finally going to meet her little baby girl who is a huge blessing amidst the incredible trial this family has been facing.

If you would like to make a donation or send a word of encouragement to the family, please contact me at so that I can share with you how to do so.

If you would like to visit the website that has been set up for Keshia and Presley, you can do so here. It does require you to log in, but I'm sure the family will appreciate any words of encouragement you may want to leave. And of course, your prayers are greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What A Miracle And 20 Years Will Get You

I know you've all been waiting with great anticipation and the day has finally arrived where I was able to harvest my first zucchini of the season. While some may mock me (I think Jon rolled his eyes when I grabbed the camera to take a picture) because growing a garden seems so trivial, it is quite an exciting moment when all of my hard work, sweat, tears, curses to the Central Oregon weather(not only did I have to deal with frost, but there was hail that wreaked havoc this year), planting, re-planting and throwing crap around (compost is crap folks) comes to fruition. And the most awesome thing is that in a week or so, I'll have enough zucchini to feed 5,000. Someone want to bring the fishes and loaves? Because my garden IS a miracle.

This past weekend was my 20th high school reunion. While many of the people still live in the area, it is a rarity for me to run into them because apparently Bend is just that big now.

I'm still close with a few and Jon is especially glad that Nan (my Mexican friend) and I are good buds, because 'mom' had family dinner on Sunday and she made Sopas with spicy shredded pork. And homemade refried beans with chorizo. And black bean salsa. And meatballs with red sauce. And green salsa. And homemade tortillas...(And yes, we called each other an coordinated outfits because that's what we did in high school. Okay, not really. We just happen to both dress kind of fabulously, I guess.)

And it's crazy to be good friends with someone you've known since you remember knowing someone(she's the one in the middle). And it's even crazier that you sang songs together in a little ol' Nazarene church in front of the congregation and now she's marrying a really cool guy who tickled the ivories for The Belagio in Vegas. (And we get our own private concert when we hang out together!)

And then, your really wild-fun friend(that you went to school with from first grade on) from Wyoming shows up and you start talking about when you both lived there and the crazy snowmobile rides: "Remember the time I rolled the sled, we got it turned over and I rolled it again? And then the Sheriff came and we were stuck and he got us out. And we finally figured out we should get helmets and goggles because that would keep our heads warm and the mascara from running. Good times." And it's pretty much one of those things where you start right back up where you left off. Those are true friends.

And it's always good to be friends with your hair stylist. Yes, I have been her most loyal customer since we were 19. Or so says me.

And yes, the Friday night gathering brought out the wild in some folks and Nan and I are both raising our eyebrows at someone who had taken liberties with their spirits a tad too much. I don't need to say more because the look on our faces pretty much says it all. (Ok, this picture just flat out cracks me up.) **And whoever comes up with the best caption for this will win a prize. Seriously. I'm feeling generous.**

I promise that my next post (in the near future) will be something that's more like eating a steak than sipping blended peas through a straw. It's just been a crazy few weeks and I honestly haven't felt the creative spirit hanging out in my space. I know, it's like I'm on blogcation or something. I'm sure it's the hundred degree weather and the fact that my office is upstairs and I have no air conditioning.

Well, it sounded good anyway.

A Little Boz fo' yo' Birthday, Katdish!

Dear Katdish,

I know how much you love Boz. So, instead of listening to me prosteletize on how witty, sassy, sarcastic, great, awesome and fantastic you are,(because I'm sure you'd get bored by that), I'm just gonna give you a bunch of Boz pics to look at. Besides, he loves you. Happy Birthday Katdish!

...just had to throw this in...

And here's me drinking a toast to you. The wine is called Jack. If you don't know Jack, you really should. (That advice was a freebie.) Happy Birthday Katdish!

I have no idea where he gets it....