Sunday, July 26, 2009

Week 6 Adventure - Summer 2009 - Living Deliberately

This week my twins were at Boy Scout camp in Washington and my youngest was at a Fun in the Sun camp while I was working away having a new website created and getting bids on replacement windows and working on house projects and preparing for my class I teach this week at the Oregon Christian Writers Conference. So, did I have my weekly adventure with kids –
I can tell I am a legalistic person because when my youngest (age 6) and I went on a walk this week to Sourdough Willy’s for a sticky bun and some cherries, I said to him, “This can be our adventure this week” and he said, “No camping with Daddy will be.”
Okay, so Dad gets to have the adventure with the kids this week.
But really, so much of my life could be called an adventure of the week.
I like to live deliberately as Thoreau said and pointing out the adventures of life and that the very thing we are doing is an adventure and celebration helps me feel that I am living deliberately and with purpose as I believe God would have us do.
This week -yesterday- we went to our Sudan family friends again in north Portland and Rachel had organized once again and invited a few more of her friends and Breezy came again and even though not all of my children could come as is the case with kids of varied ages, I am calling this our adventure of the week. We had wanted to help lighten the load of our Sudan friends---there are seven children with the youngest age 2 ½ and the mom does not know English very well and we had hoped to help her clean a bit and assist her with groceries.
I know I always appreciated help when someone offered to help me with cleaning or with my children, especially when they were very young.
And I know how hard it is to keep a fridge filled for a large family and we have looked inside their fridge at their apartment and it is empty.
But the mom was quiet about our offer though last week she seemed happy about when we told her we were returning to assist her. Yesterday she just said that she is fine and does not need help and we of course were going to honor her. I know it is hard to accept help and we are just trying to be her friend. One of the sons said it is a pride thing and we are truly not trying to make anyone feel badly but only to help. I had to swallow my pride when I was on bedrest with the twins and friends offered to help me clean and my house is so hard for me to clean as it is—forget bedrest as an excuse. And my friends made me diners and took my children and I loved it and so appreciated it and it was in that spirit that we went to help our Sudan friends.
So, this time, we came up with a plan B.
Some of the group took the children to the park again for a makeshift sports camp like last week, while I offered to take the oldest son Jima to the store and he could pick out some items that the family might like and the mom was fine with that. My son Ryan came along to. Our entire family enjoys being with our Sudan family friends. I love to see all of my children interacting with people of varied cultures. To be in community with people of different backgrounds.
An adventure indeed.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Extraordinary Ordinary Everyday Moments

I had to go to a writing meeting tonight so I was not able to eat dinner with the family, but I did not want to miss what was happening at home. I did not want to miss the ordinary extraordinary.
Rachel’s friend had come over and I had initially thought they were going to go out, but instead they sat at our island in our kitchen and I offered that they eat dinner with us and they said yes, and I wanted the meal to be nice and my home to be a warm place for my children and their friends and I wanted to be a part of this very every day moment.
At the time I offered to have my daughter and her friend eat dinner with us, I had not even made dinner but then it looked like they were going to just stay at our house and so I offered to make dinner and I wanted it to be nice and I wanted to sit on our deck covered with trees and listen to the creek that is next to the deck and participate in the conversation of everyday life.
I want my home to be a safe and comfortable haven for my entire family and I felt like things were not in order enough, so I quickly cleaned up and made a salad and had Ryan help clean up and I got chicken out to barbeque and I took the husks off of the corn on the cob ready to boil and I cleaned off the table on the deck so it would be nice and clean and I just wanted to stay…but I did not. I went to my meeting.
And hurried back home.
I told my friend Janice about this blog I wanted to write, about wanting to be with my children for the ordinary every day moments of life, about the importance of creating a home that our children want to be in. A place that is not rushed, a place where our children can talk about life and God and faith and worries and questions and whatever comes to their minds. A place where our children can share their thoughts and dreams and frienships and everyday life. A place where our children can laugh and be silly and be themselves and in our home there is a lot of craziness.

It is not about quality time only but it is about time. Having the time. Taking the time. About creating a safe place, a place of warmth, that our children can bring their friends home to, a place where they feel comfortable. And Janice said that is exactly what is important to her, that is exactly what she has tried to provide for her family these 20 years as a stay home mom.
Two days ago, I walked to Sourdough Willy’s with my oldest son 17 and my youngest son 6 and we got cherries which are amazing this time of year and we got sticky buns and danishes, apricot and cream cheese and it felt good to walk together in our neighborhood, it was just a moment, but one that I treasure and I try to tell my kids to treasure.
Last night we ate our dinner on the deck again. It has been amazing summer evenings and we had corn on the cob and sausages and spinach salad and the twins are at Boy Scout camp right now so there are only 3 kids at home. And I wanted to savor every moment. The laughter, the discussion, the conversation. Before the dinner, Rachel and Augustin had been putting dried mint leaves into a bottle together in our kitchen/ It was an everyday moment they were sharing. Rachel was going to do this alone after she had been drying the mint leaves from our yard but Augustin asked if he could help. So they did the project together.

And a day before the two of them had planted herbs in a planter. Rachel works with someone at the county who plants his own garden and she wanted to do some of that as well. She had done some last year.

I went to get my camera to capture some of these everyday ordinary moments of an everyday summer day.

That feels extraordinary.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sudan Sports Camp . . . Praying for God's vision. . . Oh, and it's another Adventure

Yesterday we organized a sports camp for our Sudan friends in North Portland. They live in an apartment complex with many immigrants and we just invited whoever was outside as we walked to Peninsula Park where we were holding the sports camp. It was a pretty impromptu "sports" camp, very simple outreach to children. To give parents a break and to help children.
We had done similar “camps” a couple of times over the past couple of years; inviting members of the youth group -- where I help and where Rachel and Ryan are members -- to help as well. And Rachel and a couple of her friends have done these types of “sports camps" alone as well.
We got the idea initially for doing a sports camp after going to Mississippi on a mission trip with Rolling Hills, where we partnered with Pastor Jerry’s church --- they would take a church van and drive to the Projects and pick up children and take them back to the church for a sports camp – we loved helping with these. We set up water games and baseball and fed them and just shared the love of Christ.
With the Sudan kids yesterday we played kick ball and the older boys got some basketball games going and we played on the merry go round (which they do not have any more in the suburbs where we live - another column topic) and teeter totter (which they do not have any more in the suburbs where we live) and sipped lemonade and ate pretzels. . .then we bought them dinner before leaving.
It was so much fun to interact with these beautiful children and to see my children be so engaged with children from other cultures. We are worlds apart, north Portland and West Linn, yet they are all just kids who need love and need the hope and peace and direction of Jesus in their lives.
One of the little girls who came with us we met outside the apartment complex – her mom was braiding Nyboni’s hair – Nyboni is Jima’s (our Sudan friends) sister. The mom of the little girl who came to the sports camp introduced us to her mom who is a community organizer of 12 different cultures – which includes various immigrants -- Sudan families and Ethiopians and Russians.
I thought, wow, would it not be neat to be a part of this group of 12 cultures, to get our church involved, or West Linn or both.
Connecting cultures and people, bridging the gap. Bringing hearts and minds together is so much my heart. To share the love of God. And to be there with my children.
It was interesting, because I had considered not going yesterday as I have to get ready for a couple of writing conferences where I am speaking soon. But then I told myself I needed to go, and I was sharing this deliberating going on in my heart and m ind with Breezy and Rachel. I told them that I needed to go, to always keep that vision to reach out to others, to take the time to try to make a difference in the lives of others -- and I need to model that to my children, the importance of always making the time for others.
And I told the kids that I would pray that God would multiply my time if I went as I do have a lot to do, as always (just managing my household with 5 kids at home is a task in and of itself).
I also prayed that God would show me why I needed to be a part of the sports camp (besides just the obvious one of being there to experience this adventure with my children).
And after meeting that woman whose mother is a community organizer of 12 different cultures, I think I know why I needed to be there. Now I am just praying for God to continue to show me His vision for what He has in mind.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Week 5 Adventure ~ All-comers Track meet

I grew up going to all-comers track meets at local high schools and now it is fun sharing that time with my children. This week we attended the one held at Lake Oswego High School and we are calling that our adventure of the week - Last week we attended one held at Grant High in Portland.

It is great to see the children run their little hearts out and race against their cousins and friends and all are winners -- they receive these ribbons after competing. Just like I used to get.

I was not going to run any races but Mickael Josef talked me into doing the Predict a Mile. I had done it the week before at Grant High School but did not want to this week. But when my children say pretty please, how can I say no. Of course, I loved it and it got the adrenaline bug going as I broke the 9 minute mark. Next up i told my daughter when I got home- another marathon, though I had told myself after last year's that was it for me.

My daughter said, mom, that is one mile under 9 minutes. You will have 25 to go for a marathon. No big deal, I was thinking to myself. Now, that is.

I love how these track meets build confidence in kids [and adults] and they promote the sport of running, which does not have a youth club in West Linn where we live [all the other sports have youth programs]- Track is a sport all people can find something that they are good at.

A true summer tradition.

Writing Connection Meeting Monday July 20

The next Writing & Culture Connection meeting is Monday July 20 at 6:30 pm- 8 pm at Rolling Hills Community Church -in the conference room -

Any writers and aspiring writers are welcome-

We will look at an article in Christianity Today on the importance of an arts ministry in churches [thanks Marupong for forwarding that to me}

Come for inspiration, encouragement, feedback, connection, publishing ideas. Upcoming conferences will be highlighted

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Trying to be more like Mary

When Janice Seitzinger is in the middle of her weekly commitment organizing volunteers for Mondays at Transitional Youth, sometimes she catches herself being Martha.
“When I am doing the kitchen I can forget why I am there, but then I realize that I need to be the Mary not the Martha. It was Mauro Cettina who said that. When you hear a Scripture, it just hits us.
“I think we are all trying to be Marys but then we are always wanting to make sure everything is going well. I have a tendency to forget who is in control. I have to literally step back and remember it is not about me. It is about the kids. You are there to love them, not fix them.”
She stepped into the role of coordinating volunteers for Rolling Hills’ Monday night Transitional Youth commitment a few months ago. Janice arrives at the First Baptist Church where Transitional Youth is held every Monday at 4 O’Clock and stays until about 9 O’Clock. For her role, she makes sure everything will be in place each week. She calls or e-mails the volunteers who are committed to make sure they are coming. She goes to the Food Bank on some days to purchase items for meals. When a group of volunteers cannot make their commitment, it is Janice who finds replacements.
“I am what you would call in charge of the kitchen. I am the one that makes sure the food is on time and that the volunteers are ready and that there is enough food. And if there is not enough we have a backup plan. We always have hotdogs and chili available in the back room.”
But it is not the phone calls and e-mails and visits to the Food Bank that Janice considers the most important part of preparing for her weekly Mondays at Transitional Youth.
It’s praying.
“We just found that when you pray, you find God’s peace. Some nights kids come in edgy and anxious and we don’t know what happened at their shelters and we don’t know why they are anxious and edgy. We pray that we can be God’s hands and feet. We pray, ‘Let us hear with Your ears and speak with Your words.’”
She has learned to go with the flow and trust that all will be fine in the end.
“I go in and make sure things are on time and going, and then if we run out of food I don’t worry, and if food is not there on time, I just start to realize that it will work out. We just talk to the kids. I try to let the groups that come in do their own thing. I am there to make sure they have all they need, to direct them and be there if they have any questions.
And most importantly while there, she tries to be more like Mary.
“I just try to banter with the kids while they are getting their food. If kids feel that we are just there to feed them and love them they will begin to trust us.”

Reach Transitional Youth at

Week 4 Summer 2009 Adventure with Kids ~ Wahclella Falls

This week, week 4 of summer 2009, we drove to the Columbia Gorge and hiked to Wahclella Falls Friday, the two mile round trip hike was listed in my Best Hikes with Kids book and was perfect for our group of 7 kids between the ages of 17 and 6 – we had Riek and Nykwa from Sudan with as well as Ryan’s friend Brett-
When I had asked Wesley, 11, where to go yesterday morning the day of our adventure, he had remembered this hike from two years ago when we went with my sister.
“Let’s go to the water fall which has the caves,” he said.
I was amazed he had remembered that. And though I had blogged about it, I did not write the name of the falls so this time I will make sure to do that.
The hike begins on a service road and is a slow incline compared with Multnomah Falls. It then turns into a nice trail. What I like especially about this path is that it meanders along a creek, which is called Tanner Creek.
There are several bridges along the hike and the views of the rushing water and the trees are breathtaking. A dam makes it fun as well.
When we got close to the caves the excitement in the children’s voices was so sweet.
“There’s the cave. I remember this.”
They even brought their little lights. Wesley’s was a pen light given to him by his Sunday School teacher last year, Mr. Bill Tate.
The twins and Riek, all 11, explored the cave while Nykwa and Augustin threw rocks into the creek and Brett and Ryan climbed the rocks.
Later we got really close to the water fall and they got a little wet from the spray.
I loved being out here with my kids and friends along. I loved being in the woods. It felt so good to get away.
It is so very important to get kids outdoors into the woods and what I realize it is does not have to be for a long 8 hour day but can be a half day outing. For us the drive was only 45 minutes and we were home in time for dinner.
There is something about a deliberate time like this with the children. Fully engaged in a new adventure. Listening to the conversations. The excitement when they find animals. MickaelJosef discovered a little frog in the cave. Somehow it feels good for the spirit. And you are appreciating God’s amazing creation.
The Wahclella Falls Trailhead can be found by taking the Bonneville Dam Exit 40 off of Interstate 84, and staying right at the exit. The trailhead is about a quarter of a mile from there. It cost $ 5 to park which you can leave at the little self service station.
The trail to the falls is a simple 300 foot elevation gain and is perfect for all ages.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Week 3 Summer 2009 ~ When WORK is Adventure -

Okay, so it’s not a great hike in the outdoors or a wildlife refuge but the Week 3 adventure with my children ended up being Work projects. That’s right. What one of my twin 11year olds said to me during one of the work projects got me to realize that work can count as an adventure and has to this third week of summer as we just didn’t get to do the original adventure we had planned (going to the fountains).
My garage has been bugging me for a while and so one day during week 3 of summer I just could not stand it anymore and I began taking everything out of one half of the garage. What started it is, we could not find a certain pair of boots for one of my children. So, I dumped out all of the boxes where the boots are stored in the garage to search for them and one thing led to another.
Then as I looked at our garage walls I realized they looked terrible and had spider webs all over them and the walls had never really been painted. So I thought, one way to clean walls of cobwebs is to paint them.
So, paint we did.
All three of my three youngest boys helped me.
First, though, we took everything out of the garage. Some things I am guessing had not been moved, and I am embarrassed to admit this, for 20 years. As long as we have lived here.
Paint cans and tarps and shoes and sports gear and tools and sleeping bags and old roller blades and broken toys and and and. The garage becomes a storing ground for a lot of things.
After the prep work we got out the paint brushes and whatever paint I have had the past 20 years and we got to work. My three boys, 11, 11, and 6, were so enthusiastic to paint. That creative impulse perhaps.
They each took a certain section and we tried to keep it from getting too messy but because it was the garage I was not as worried as you are in the house.

When we got one wall completed, we took a break for lunch and Mickael Josef, one of the twins, said to me, “This is so much fun” and that is what made me think of work as an adventure. I have heard of the saying, "work as prayer" and in a way this is the same idea.

Looking at work as adventure - the kids were doing something new and different and somewhat creative and maybe most importantly, together with me. All qualities of an adventure. And, a bonuse of course- learning a skill and feeling good about being important in the family to help with work.
It wasn’t outdoors as my goal for outdoor adventures was, but it was something new, painting.
Yet, as I think of Week 3 of summer, there was another work project my kids were involved with and this one was outdoors- my 17 year old’s Eagle project which all of the boys were part of. Three of my four boys are Boy Scouts and they all helped Ryan with his Eagle project. The Eagle project was to build a new trail off Pimlico Court. The goal for Ryan was to put in 600 feet of trail and they got so much done that first day last Friday that they ended up putting in 1000 feet of trail, making it all the way to the bridge. Which the City of West Linn had hoped for!
It was great fun to see my boys working so hard with a shovel in their hands and a pick ax and the camaraderie amongst the boys and adults helping in the hot summer air.
You could just see and feel the reward of work.Indeed, the adventure of work!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Thursday with Theodore

He sits at the corner of the bend of Carriage Way. Every morning and evening to wave at the passers by rushing to work or wherever the day requires. Just seeing him, makes me want to slow down.
The first time I drove by a couple of years ago, he waved at me wearing his red hat and I thought he was signaling me to slow down. But later I found out he was just waving.
Every time I see him sitting there, I tell my kids, I would like to stop and meet him but we are always going somewhere and need to be at a certain place at a certain time. And I tell myself I will do it another time. Two years have passed by at least.
The last two or three summers I drove by both in the morning and the evening while taking my kids to church camp, and there he was and I always look for him when I am close to that bend in the road and sometimes when he is not there I worry that something happened to him.

So, finally, last Thursday I was driving home from picking up my 6 year old Augustin at a birthday party and it is about 4 p.m. and I see him in his red hat waving and I say to Augustin my son, “should we stop and meet him?” and my 6 year old says yes.
So we do.

I introduce myself and he reaches out his hand to me and says, “I’m Theodore.”
I ask him his story.

Theodore is 86 and has sat outside his house daily for the past 3 years on his busy through street and he tells me that he waves at every single car that drives by and he does this in the morning when people are going to work every and in the evening he waves at every single car that drives by but in the summer if it is too hot he will not go outside.

When he first started this people thought he was trying to get them to slow down but he is only trying to say hi to people. When he is not out there, people stop at the door to ask him if he is okay and that they miss him.

When I told him that every time I have driven by and I have wanted to stop and talk to him but I have always been going somewhere or needed to be home for something, he said to me that most people are too busy to stop.

That affected me and that is why I needed to stop on this Thursday. I did not want to miss out on his story and seeing him make time for others and just being out there waving at passers-by and not worrying about to-do lists and schedules. He did not even have a book out there with him to read. He was just smiling at the people. In the moment.

Some other people have stopped to talk to him, they will park nearby or walk by and he asks them what their plans are for the day.

June is Theodore’s birthday month and he received 30-40 birthday cards from some of those "friends" he has made and they have given him bottles of wine and other gifts for his birthday. They found out about his birthday because he held a sign up that said "today is my birthday"- At first when he started doing this-waving at people-they thought he was trying to get them to slow down but he was not.

Theodore is a retired music teacher and a church choir member and leader and played the organ and when Augustin and I stopped to meet him, he started breaking out into song several different times and he told me jokes and stories. He told me about his family and his children and he asked me about my children and we talked about church and life and God and music and heaven and children. I asked him why he sits out here every day and he says he likes to wave at people and he is outgoing and he likes to meet people.

Meeting him made me want to go back every Thursday. To take the time out of my busy mom schedule, to listen and talk to Theodore who has lived 8 decades. To hear his wisdom and advice. Today I rode my bicycle by to see him after riding with my daughter to work in Oregon City.

I am thinking about taking the time to make every Thursday with Theodore.


Hidden Lake


Cousins bicycling at Champeog Park

My Blog List