Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Princess in the Dalles (part I)


The princess and the pastor have been in a state of constant exploration and discovery. You need not brace yourself for any wild adventure tales, our exploration is really pretty mundane, yet its taking a lot of focus and energy from us! We have had nine days in our little orchard town and have managed to find little gems such as...

the library (great children's section and story time, the Princess loved it there!)
the grocery store (I can get there AND back without my GPS!)
corner coffee spot (that passes out suckers to children, score!)
playground with a beautiful overlook of the whole city and the Columbia River
the oldest bookstore in Oregon happens to be in our town with a vintage record store next door
our backyard, this seriously might be my little slice of heaven

While the gems we have found might not seem like anything very exciting, these discoveries have made our day-to-day life easier and is starting to turn our little orchard town into home. However, when so much mental energy goes to things like finding the grocery store and trying to remember where things are kept in my own home, I find myself EXHAUSTED at the end of each day! It probably doesn't help that we really haven't sat still for more than a day or so :) There is so much to see, do, find, and learn!

The princess has had some good times out west. This past weekend she met the Pacific Ocean for the first time – that was pretty fun to see happen! She also is loving the little preschool she'll be at for July and August (in the basement of the Lutheran church I'll be working at ¼ time). Its small and family run so I think that will be a nice change of pace for her in-between seminary preschool and full fledged kindergarten. Perhaps her most favorite thing is the fact that she can conquer any set of monkey-bars that stands before her! For some reason we have been at a lot of playgrounds lately (there is also a playground with monkey bars at the Methodist church I'll be working at ¾ time) and she loves to go back and forth and show off her “guns” and sweet monkey-bar-swingin'-skillzs. It is impressive...for a princess :)

Monkey-bar Princess!

I realize I have said little to nothing about my internship site. I'm still in the “orientation” time and after we return from a little jaunt to the east coast for a family reunion I will begin officially on July 10th. So, many details will come once I've actually started. For now I will simply report that the people are wonderful, the communities have rich histories that I'm very honored to be a part of and both congregations seem excited about where this next year could take them!  
Princess, meet the Pacific Ocean!

Ocean, meet the Princess (and all her sass)

Thursday, June 16, 2011


In between Minnesota and Oregon, there is Holden Village ( Some people come here to work, some to volunteer, some to play, some to rest. The Princess and the Pastor have come here to reboot. This is a familiar, safe, calm and restorative place – I will never tire of looking up and seeing great peaks of the Cascade Mountains looming over me. The absence of cell phones, vehicles, large crowds and meat don't bother me at all, in fact, I love it. In particular, this year has been a much needed reboot for the Princess. With all the worries she carried with her over the past year, we needed a chance to break out of the place where her worries were born (not to blame Minnesota, its just the genesis of her growing anxiety) and keep working with the coping skills we've learned in a whole new place. Oh, don't worry there have been plenty of arguments and a few meltdowns, but over all the Princess frolics with new joy, new buddies and is thriving out west! I too have been surprised again and again at how exciting this new chapter feels. After all those goodbyes and all the stress of leaving a very safe and familiar place, I felt in the short 24-hours we had in Oregon that this could feel like home right quick! Also, two weeks of doing nothing but being a musician and a that is gift, grace and the best reboot ever.

Here are a few highlights of our time in the mountains (pictures to come next week...)

  • playing a loud, gospel Eucharist service...with the Princess under the piano the whole time.

  • Playing a quiet, Taize service and right in the middle of a song the Princess, who is sitting on a stool in the dark next to me whispers, “Mama...mama...check out these guns” (with arms flexed). I giggled for most of the rest of that service.

  • Hearing the Princess say, “Mom, I'm going to go play with my friends!” She still won't go to a nearby bathroom by herself...but we're making progress.

  • The freedom for the Pastor to sit inside the library for two hour and read a book for leisure, taking breaks only to watch the rain fall. Also, four great hikes in two weeks!

Stayed tuned for the first installment of “Life in the Dalles!” coming soon!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Safety Dance

The princess loves to be all snuggled up, she surrounds herself with soft objects of security like stuffed animals and her favorite blankets. This was very true in the car these past few days as we made our way from St. Paul, MN to The Dalles, OR. Even though she had very little room in her corner of the car, she still wanted at least two blankets, two lambs and a dog to keep her company in the back seat.

I too like to surround myself with security, however I find that safety and security in people. Preparing to leave Minnesota felt like a constant removal of another layer of snuggled-up security. In that final week not a day passed without spending time with some really important people, getting one last hug and saying goodbye – ah, security blankets! One by one, the security blankets have come off.

On Sunday morning we packed up the car with some SERIOUS help from my Dad, Sarah and Mandy (via Skype from Green Bay, WI). My eyes tend to glaze over when there is a task like how to efficiently pack up all my belongs into the car or how to best secure the car carrier on-top of the car. This is where the gifts of my Dad, Sarah and Mandy (via Skype from Green Bay, WI) really shine...they were diligent, careful and totally took over the task (which I am eternally grateful for, I mean really, who sacrifices their Sunday morning to pack my car...did I mention Sarah was graduating from seminary later that day?!?) Yep, that was a really good security blanket.

Then we spent some time with the Fargo-family. Home-cooked food, snuggles with the niece and nephew and we were off for the wild, wild west. My last security blanket was removed and I was all too aware of the exposure and vulnerability I felt as I drove the princess and all our luggage west out of Fargo. The sky was dark...I mean scary, ominous and dark on Memorial Day morning. I suddenly didn't feel like driving, I didn't want everything in the car carrier to get drenched and I was pretty sure the whipping wind was going to pick us up and land us in a ditch in the middle of no-wheres-ville North Dakota. I had a moment where I wanted to turn the car around and felt like screaming “I want my blankies back!”.

Then a Bible verse popped into my head, it was Psalm 62 which was read at Micaela's baptism and has been endlessly helpful and encouraging to me these past five years.

“For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and salvation, my fortress,
I shall never be shaken.”

I deeply believe that God has given me every single security blanket (person) that I have in my life...we are so, so blessed and thankful. However, there is a time for these blankets to be removed so that I might remember the One who is my ultimate security and protection. So as we drove west out of Fargo Micaela and I sang Psalm 62 …

“my stronghold, my Savior, I shall not be afraid at all,
my stronghold, my Savior, I shall not be moved.”

(In other news, we are safely in The Dalles, OR! We had a lovely welcome by some members of the church, our house is really cute and the yard is amazing. The princess and the pastor survived three days of driving with no real problems (ok, I did get pulled over once)– of course, ending every day with a dip in the hot tub makes it a lot easier.)