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Twice as wide, plenty deep : the river is rising with the spring rains. But that’s not news here in the pacific northwest.

To be honest, there is little news emanating from our lovely little farmhouse tucked away between orchards and sleeping fields. My life has become decidedly less complex in the last few weeks since leaving Starbucks. Less drama, less rushing, less worry. More peace. I have found myself to be a little less focused than I used to be- that part of my brain seems to have gotten burned out. Hopefully the short circuiting is temporary. The silly little mistakes are just that: silly and little, but sometimes disheartening.  I think maybe I was stretched too thin for too long and now I am recovering.

And while I do, I am spending a great deal of time thinking about how not to get back in that same situation again.

Last spring, I decided that I wouldn’t wear pants (only skirts or dresses) for seven months. The decision came out of the realization that I have been wearing pants for a very long time but that I hated wearing pants. I felt happier and certainly prettier when I wore skirts and dresses. So why was I doing something that I didn’t enjoy? It was easy. It was expected. It was ridiculous. And so I made a decision and a change. Now I did wear pants occasionally- it was never my intent to be legalistic about the whole thing. I wanted to make the decisions that were life-giving and not always what was easy or expected.

In the light of hindsight, that practice was what made it possible for me to leave Starbucks. Sometimes we need to practice on little things long before the big things come along.

One thing I never expected was the extra time I would have on my hands (and the amount of it that wouldn’t be used wisely). So here I am practicing on little things again. Making lists of what needs to be done, what wants to be done, and what would be best for me and Lucas in the long run. Practice using the time I have been given for life and not simply letting it slip and fritter away.

Sewing. Baking. Reading. Living. Loving.



A lot changes in a week.

Even more changes in a month.

I am not exactly sure what started all this change- really it was a long time coming and a lot of small things building up. I was unhappy (and was, apparently, the only one who couldn’t understand why). I was in desperate need of a new normal.

Yes, it’s true that I have often verbalized a desire to leave, to move on, to get out of that mess I called my job. I had never acted on those words.

And then… there was that saturday at the end of January. The one where I was pushed just a little too far and I finally, (finally.) spoke the words I had secretly been dying to say:

I am leaving.

In that moment I felt a flood wash over me- nearly knocking me silly with relief and joy, fear and elation. I had done something forbidden. I had done this for me.

I made the right choice (even if it would scare me half to death over the next few weeks).
It has been hard- leaving is never easy until you actually get your steps into motion. I considered, too many times, changing my mind and returning. Eat my words, don my apron again and again, wear my heart pinned to it for far too long.

And so here we are today: exactly one week post starbucks. I am working full time at the pool. I come home exhausted, but it is good for my soul. I cry less- I smile a lot more. I am happier and I barely even knew that I was unhappy before.

Perhaps the most amusing thing to me is that I no longer stare down the highway contemplating missing my exit to keep driving until I reach the ocean: I don’t feel a longing to run away, to escape even for a moment.

Here there is peace and joy.


It’s cold here today.

We have slipped out of cool and into cold- at least for here anyways. It seems that this last week has been marked with change for a lot of people. And, while change is one the oddest constants, some weeks you just notice it more than others. In the news, the Mayor of Portland announced a change in how the whole Occupy movement would be tolerated and handled- protesters were no longer welcome to camp in the parks. Thankfully, that change remained mostly peaceful despite our worst fears.  At the pool, children changed and grew and learned.  At Starbucks, we reorganized and redecorated changing from regular retail into holiday. Lucas will begin a new job on friday, changing from floor staff to manager, one theatre to another (one city to another). And today, my sister begins her 24th year blessing us with her life and love.

In between the closing shift and the Holiday set-up shift, I sat with one of my dearest friends and coworkers in the back room. Perched on ladders with take-out boxes on our laps and tired eyes betraying our feelings, we talked about change and we confessed. My confession: I used to fear change, but I do so no longer. Sure, I absolutely take comfort in routine and the familiar, but change is not so bad either. The times in my life with the largest changes have been wonderful, terrible, and difficult in many ways, but they have always turned out right and good. Yes, sometimes the worst did happen, but we survived and God’s will was done. Most of all, I hope that God was always glorified.

The weather is changing and we do likewise.

As for me? I am not sure what’s changing right now except for all that which is going on around me. I feel a bit like this time of my life is spent living up to a name given to me long ago by some wise friends: authentic observer. Some days, I almost feel as though I am watching everything around me from behind some sort of partition, blessed for any opportunity to interact and speak into the lives of those around me. Forgive me if that sounds sad- I think it is quite rare and beautiful. Oddly enough, it is the one aspect of my existence I hope will never change.



It is the second day of September.  Lucas and his brother are off vanquishing evil, Gary has settled himself into his new bed, the rest of the house is quiet. Between laundry and other everyday tasks, I breathe. Summer is, thankfully, over.

As you can probably guess from my unexplained absence beginning sometime in mid-June, my summer was full. Too full. Despite the honest truth that there were moments of pure bliss and goodness, my summer was somewhat of a disaster. For eleven weeks, I worked an average of 50 hours, ate most of my meals in the car or at a desk, and had no full days off. It nearly killed me, and often succeeded in wounding my spirit. It cannot happen again. But rather than delve into the depths of my mistakes and the pain of living much too thin, I want to share with you the best moments then move on. I have learned from my mistake and have already put safeguards in place for myself this autumn.

Riverside- Early in the summer, I thought that my hours at the pool were too few. I was wrong, but unaware of that fact. In an attempt to bolster my paycheck I offered to host off-site swimming lessons for COTS. It was an excellent decision. The first few weeks were bitter cold in that outdoor pool with the broken heater and cloudy overhead skies, but it was well worth it to see some kids making huge strides in the swimming. Some of my proudest moments as a swim instructor to date happened in the eight weeks I was teaching at Riverside. By the end, I could hardly believe I would be getting paid on top of all the joy and triumph I felt on behalf of my students.

Four- Lucas and I managed to slip off for a couple of days to celebrate our wedding anniversary in what could only be described as perfect for us. We went to an arcade, drank tea, stayed at an old schoolhouse converted into a hotel, watched Harry Potter, and went swimming.  One of the best anniversaries yet, by far.

Farms- More than any other year in my life I have had to joy of spending some spare hours on our local farms this summer. The abundance of fruit and veggies has made me giddy with delight for this odd little city where we live. I have probably managed to eat my own weight in berries and peas in the last two months. It was also really awesome to share these places with my friends and their friends.

Canada- We just returned last night from a whirlwind trip to visit my family. It was among the greatest blessings I have had the privilege of which to partake. I finally got to visit my mum and dad in their new home and meet their friends (and new cat!). I was so happy to see that they have found themselves in the midst of a community that loves and respects them. I have missed my sister, and saw her for too short of a time, but a great time nonetheless. We even had the rare joy of visiting my dear friends Ron & Becky for a morning.  My only regret is that these people whom I love so dear must live so far away- but perhaps that makes our visits all the sweeter.

I find myself believing that the coming of September should be celebrated with the same mix of exuberance and reflection that is usually saved for January.  This is the only time of year that has ever really felt like a new beginning anyways. The summer, though spotted with some beautiful memories, was too much and I am craving the changing of the season, so to speak.

So, here we are: moving forward, moving on. Leaving ourselves some breathing room for the autumn so that we don’t repeat the mistakes.


The vague nature of this blog has become aparent as of late. I suppose that you could blame it on my limited time (there are only so many hours left in a day after working two jobs and taking care of life) or perhaps on my new fascination with habit– a blog in which the simply stated is beautified with everyday photographs. Would I fault those things? Maybe a little, but not really. The realitive silence and simply stated here is quite honestly a reflection of the stillness in my mind as of late.

But, in the interest of not leaving you, my loved ones, in the dark, there should be more said. And here it is:

I write this surrounded by boxes [half-full], a cat [currently ignoring me] and a cup of tea to bolster my courage. The boxes, now numbering above 20, began about a month ago. It was a warm day in late February when a letter arrived in our mailbox declaring our rent woul dbe increasing; we had the choice to stay and pay or leave. More than anything I wanted to stay, but realistically that rent would be too much for us to handle without getting into financial trouble. We pondered options which ranged from difficult to implausable and all were turned down. Thus, we knew that we would need to move on from this place.

I spent days, perhaps even weeks, scouring rental adds and mortgage options in our area, but came up empty handed when each lead was followed to its end. Our current apartment was the best option, but it wasn’t an option at all. I then spent days trying to figure out how we could press ourselves to the limit to make enough and make it work, but quickly realized that we were already reaching the breaking point when it came to energy and patience. The endurance at our limit would prove to last two, maybe three months at most, before damaging us somehow.

There are just somethings that are not worth that kind of prospect.

(Here is where I may get slightly philosophical on you, but it is in the interest of honesty and explaination- besides, what is a little philosophy among friends?)

I have never liked nor admired the phrase “Two steps forward, one step back”. To me it has long seemed incredably foolish and terribly unnecessary. But I have learned that, sometimes, you really do take two steps forward only to realize that it was one step too many and you are now required to muster up as much humility as can be attained taking that one step back. This is what has happened to us. Or, rather, this is what we are in the process of doing: going through actions that lead down a path of hopeful humility  in that one step back.

Just as a new wife is eager to please her new husband, so is a wife rejoined with her husband after an extended absence. A year ago I was anxious to move out of the generous hospitality of my in-laws home and into a place of our own. My own. Desires, seemingly pure (to care for my husband, create family, become independant together) became something other when they drowned out the voice of God in our lives. I greatly doubt that moving into our own apartment was plainly against God will: the process was blessed and has been often in the last year. It was, however, more for me than anyone else. I desired to be a good wife, but ultimately got caught up in idealism and not biblical definitions.  At the heart of the matter there was selfishness and pride.

We took our steps forward at my insistance, and now we must take our step back in humility.

And there it is: when you no longer know what to do, it is time to go back to the last thing.

With the generous offer of my in-laws, by friday we will be moving back both proverbially and physically to the last place. We have an assumed timeline of 6 months to collect ourselves, re-centre ourselves, save money, and then take one step forward at God’s leading alone. The timeline, unlike the purposes, is flexable and subject to change.

The decision was difficult, the process is proving somewhat easy but only because I now recognize it as undoubtfully necessary.   I have found packing the boxes to be an oddly formed version of catharsis. Above all, my thoughts have become settled, void of worry, rich in peace. The whole process is rather beautiful in a heartbreaking way. It is good because God is good and He is faithful even to the end.

So that is life right now.


It has been a month of silences from my end.  And, really, what is there to say? Lucas and I have settled into, what I suspect, is normal adult life in the first few years of marriage: a complicated, yet wonderful routine of working too much, being too exhausted to consider much beyond next week, and yet longing for the days we hope are ahead of us. We each picked up an extra job sometime in November bringing the total jobs between us to four. On any given day Lucas donnes his red Regal shirt and/or his blue Bestbuy shirt, while I settle into Starbucks black or a bathing suit to teach lessons at a private swim school.  For me, the decision to get a second job was complicated. Sure the money is great and I like the feeling of ending a day physically tired, but really, it all came down to needing a job that meant something. Serving coffee simply wasn’t enough to satisfy my desire to make a difference in someone’s life. COTS just sort of popped into my field of vision at the exact moment I had reached my breaking point (after having been turned down by another church), and we needed eachother. So now, as of Sunday I will be teaching my first ever unassisted classes in 30 minute segments and I couldn’t be happier. I am not sure that it is the sort of thing I can do long term, but for now it is enough and it is good.

Daily, I am discovering an odd collection of emotions wrapped up in, and likely exploited by, a tight, sometimes exhausting, schedule. Mostly, it is a feeling of extreme contentedness in today combined with a deep need for a different tomorrow. The contentedness comes from a memory of what once we did not have in our lives and knowledge of the blessing that it is now (a home together, food in our fridge, Gary… the list goes on, and I digress). The longing stems from a-long felt knowledge that, while all of this is an unpresidented blessing, we must continue to move on, to change and to grow into our callings both together and as individuals. Simply put, what we have is very good, but there will be more.

Perhaps oddest of all, lately I am feeling old beyond my years and yet left behind by my same-age friends. Interpret that as you wish without concern for my wellbeing- see above. If I had anything to complain about, I suppose it would be that there are simply not enough hours in the day to keep our little apartment as clean as I desire. And really, if that is all there is to complain about, my life is beyond good.


(lets try to keep the silence shorter this time)

Autumn is creeping in around the edges of this city. Later sunrises, cooler afternoons, and warmer toned plants are making their first, albeit subtle, appearences.  The fledgling Japanese Maple below our balcony turned from green to a red almost overnight, though it appears to be holding onto those firey leaves with a firm grip. I hadn’t really noticed autumn’s appraoch until this morning as I stood at the drive-thru window and felt my hands growing colder each time I reached out. It dawned on me then, in a sort of pleasing and urgent way even though I am sure there will be more summer-like days in the weeks to come.

With my love of autumn colours, wool sweaters, and a birthday just a month or so away, it is not suprising that autumn in my favourite of seasons. September in particular always stands out in my mind as it is the gradual assent into autumn and also the much anticipated back-to-school season. I aways loved the prospect of returning to school- yes, mostly because I was, and continue to be, a big nerd. Even the idea of buying school supplies still makes me a tiny bit excited even in the absence of class in which to return. There is no school for me this autumn, and thats okay.

Lately, I have been pondering the topic of friendship; mostly trying to recall how I became friends with many of those I now call dear. Some came from Youth Group or Girl guides, a few from work, and others from camp. The majority of my friends, however, have come initially from proximity caused by school. Which has left me asking the question:

How does a naturally introverted person make friends beyond school?

Lucas and I are both feeling something missing in the absence of local friendship beyond each other and our families. I have though about joining the local quilting guild, but fears of inadequacy, age gap, and the like have thus far held me back. Work friends are great, but I don’t always like talking about coffee and customers after I take my apron off.  I guess these things usually just come down to being open to the oppertunity and not forcing matters. Just a question and a thought.


There was no fanfare. I think that I kind of prefer it that way.

The fanfare can prematurely two years ago when I was allowed to wak across the stage in a cap and gown with promises uttered that I would, in fact, finish. That day, there were photos taken, music played, hugs given, family close by, dinner eaten, and thoughts of final classes to complete. That was a good day.

hooded in pink for fine arts

Today, was also a good day. A day in which the sense of completion washed over me without all the terrible goodbyes associated with leaving. Instead, I wrote an email thanking my liason at the office, attached my final assignment and pressed send. I changed my status on facebook while Gary crawled into my lap for so attention.

I have been in school since the age of three and it is finished. Soon, I will have a piece of paper to prove it.

And still, life moves on. I will spend the rest of the day cleaning the apartment, preparing for work tomorrow, making a list of things to do in my free time, and waiting for a phone call about a potential second interview. Dinner will need to be made and Gary will need petting. Funny how even on the most monumental days of life you must go on living.


I now have exactly seven days to complete my undergrad. To be honest, I am feeling confident that it will all be done. Yesterday I wrote a rediculously long paper on the Kurdish people of Turkey to finish off the assignment for my class on Worldwide Perspectives. Today I have been plugging away at another monumental paper on the Theology of Kingship found in the Royal Psalms. Once that paper is finished and I do a short presentation on the two theological themes found in Psalms, there will be just one exam between me and graduation. Crazy isn’t it?

Mostly, it feels good to be nearly finished. At time though, there is this odd panic-like sensation in the back of my mind that wonders what it will be like to no longer be called a student in the formal sense. I started school when I was three-and-a-half and have taken no breaks since then. No, its not exactly an identity crisis in the making, but it is significant. Unlike many students, I have had the benifit of experiencing the ‘real world’ while finishing my last few classes, so I doubt I will be in for any major culture shock when the diploma reaches my hand. And yet, there is still this sense of unknown.

Despite being married, having an aparment, and holding a job, is it possible that I equate adulthood with the absence of homework? Will releasing the final keystrokes on my paper and pressing the send button with my mouse mean stepping through a proverbial threashold? I’m not sure.

Suddenly I will lose an entire realm of responsibility and gain a piece of paper that will let everyone know I survived. And I have seven days to do whats left.


I have been very productive today- so much so that I think it is safe to take a break and update you all a little bit. And, you know, today has been a very good day. More on that later.

Last Saturday, Lucas and I went to a friend’s wedding out on Sauvie Island. It was a spectacular day weather-wsie, and pleanty of fun. The best part: getting to watch the union of two lovely people.

Did I mention that it was a pirate wedding? Sadly my camera died on arrival and so my pictures are very limited. I was super disapointed because Lucas and I had the best costumes!

Other than that pique of excitement, my week has largely revolved around working rediculously early hours and coming home to do schoolwork until I can’t keep my eyes open any longer. I think that I may have struck a working balance of life-work-school for the time being- with only 11 days left till graduation that is a big relief. I am, however, slightly embarrassed by the copious amounts of tea that have been required to survive the week.

Today has been a particularily good day. It started with the fact that I did not have to wake up at 3:30 to go to work- any day that starts later than 5am is a good day for me. After Lucas left for work, I went out and did some errands: buying cat food, father’s day gifts, and groceries. I came home and made some delicious colslaw (for father’s day lunch), then set to work on school stuff. Lucas came home for lunch, then it was back to school until about 4pm. At that point I had finished the homework questions for 9 of the 12 chapters and decided that the last 3 chapters could wait.

That was when my phone rang. You should probably know that there are like four people who call me: Lucas, Amanda, work, and the creditors looking for the guy who had my number previously. I get the occasional texts from others, but everyone else calls me on skype because they live so bloody far away (or, I guess, I live so far away). On the other end of my phone call today was a man offering me an interview for that exciting work oppertuinity I mentioned in my last post. I am rather excited and relieved- I had thought maybe I wouldn’t get an interview since they said they would call last Tuesday and didn’t.

So yes, a very good day. When Lucas gets home from work we are going to head down to Salem to try and see The Producers. A friend of ours is in the play and we really want to support her. I say ‘try to see’ because we were unable to get advance tickets so we will be depending on the absence of two other people in order to get tickets. Here’s to hoping my good day continue!

If nothing else, Lucas and I will have a fun little adventure date!


a tea for everything

More Pictures

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