PDX –> LAS –> PDX –> PHX –> OKC –> CMH –> PDX

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The other day, the kids and I flew from Portland to Las Vegas, and back to Portland… just for the heck of it.

Kind of.

Not really.

We were planning to connect in Las Vegas and fly the rest of the way to Oklahoma City…. but Sometimes you need to take a step backward in order to move forward. Or, in our case, you need to fly back home in order to fly to your final destination.

When we arrived in Vegas, we shuffled ourselves from one gate to the next, anticipating a short layover, with time for a quick bite to eat and onto our second flight. We arrived at our gate and were greeted with a longer delay. UGH.

Our original arrival time was already crossing into the middle of the night, and I did not want my parents to have to pick us up further into the night. SO….. I made a split second decision with a thousand thoughts running thru my mind…..

The kids were crying, missing daddy. We had no desire to stay and watch people play slots in the Vegas airport.  Could we hop on the next flight back to Portland? Try this again tomorrow? Was there another flight back to Portland? Does this even make any sense?!?

Yes. Sometimes going backwards makes sense.

I spoke with the airline agent and worked thru the details. We could fly back to Portland, sleep in our own beds, be with our church family in the morning, and catch the next afternoon flight back to Oklahoma City. Makes sense? Not really. Done.

We were excited to be at church the next morning to participate in sharing testimonies from our missions trip to Mexico the week before… yep. We had just returned 3 days prior from a 2,500 mile journey to Mexico and California. So, after I made the split second decision to go back to Portland, which turned into a 15 minute discussion, explaining my brilliant idea to my mom, Adam and the kids….. I spoke with the gate agent who told me – it was too late. The Portland flight was about to leave. Panic. Okay. Kids crying. Again.

Still with a thousand thoughts swirling in around my mind – I felt strongly this was the right decision. Mixed with the questions every human being has when they go on a plane – will we die on this plane? or that plane? or either??? Why am I thinking about dying anyway??? Geez THE PRESSURE!!!

Now the ordeal of a flight delay turned into a bigger ordeal I had complicated with my brilliant idea and now the whole deal was a big ordeal.

I sat down and talked with the kids, who had calmed down, drinking their jamba juice smoothie… and I looked at the flight screen. <> Well. Wha-do-ya know? The Portland flight had been delayed and we would have time to catch that plane.

So we did.  

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We had enough time to grab dinner at Pei Wei, laugh at the irony of the fortune cookie quotes, fly back home to sleep in our own beds, in a muggy 89 degrees in our un-airconditioned house, which reeked of a skunk who a just sprayed our whole street, go to church, share in the beautiful Mexico testimonies with our church family, and fly again… this time thru Phoenix… this time with no delays.

“The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord… the heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps…” and flights… 😉

My hearts desire is to please my heavenly Father in everything I do. Every decision I make. Every step -and flight- I take. We made it to Oklahoma City in the not – as – late time of night. Greeted by my parents, we have enjoyed a sweet visit with my family this week. This time together has been such a gift. Making the decision to go back to Portland was chaotic, but it was the right step in the backward direction. Yes. Sometimes going backwards makes sense.

…and in a few days, we fly again. This time to Columbus… allowing us the gift of seeing the old and new converge.

Follow the blog and Join us on the journey… the stories are only half written.

In Him, Leslie

 

Pursuing Love

We’ve been given nineteen years of love days together. This Valentines day was our best. one. yet. We had a wonderful date of adoration and conversation… No, this date was not filled with fancy clothes, flowers, jewelry or a lavish dinner… none of those things, really. We did not give each other gifts… we gave each other ourselves. We knew ahead of time we would not exchange gifts, we rarely do. Our expectations of each other were met, not by wants of material things we do not need, but the ease of an evening simply being together.

Our kids were well taken care of, unbound by any time frame, thankful money was no worry. We set out for a hole-in-the-wall middle eastern restaurant… Adam had a coupon for, of course. I love my thrifty man 😉 We prefer our own home cooked food to most restaurants, and enjoy cooking together, so we typically have low expectations of food when we eat out… yet we always hold high expectations of the coffee shops we frequent. We’re weirdos, I know.

We meandered our way thru downtown Portland, enjoying moments, even those we spent in traffic. Parking spot scored, with coupon in hand, we strolled on over to the restaurant. The owners greeted us and we settled in at our table. Their place is tiny, with only 5 tables, bustling with local customers coming and going. After we ordered, we observed everyone in the space was speaking Arabic, and greeting the husband and wife owners as if they were their own parents. Even though we were the only Caucasians in the restaurant, and I was the only female, besides the owners wife, we felt at home.

As we waited on our food, we were both in awe of what God was orchestrating. We were in the middle of another country, in the middle of Portland, Oregon, we were on our mission field. After we finished our food, the owner asked us how everything was. We told him the truth – they were the best gyros we’ve ever had. He began sharing about the restaurant and how he has been running the business. As we talked more, he came and sat down with us and we talked more. He was hilarious, sharing stories of how he took over the restaurant a few years ago, and made many changes, including not accepting coupons anymore – darn! 😉 But we didn’t care about the coupon, we only cared about the fact that our Valentines date was now being spent with an old Arabic man sharing his life story…

As we continued the conversation, we asked him, “How can we pray for you? How can we pray for your business?” He opened up, and we began to share with him our walk with Jesus. Adam told him he was a Pastor. Their response – “A priest? You’re too young to be a priest!” He hears that a lot from people, and he’s been serving in ministry for 20 years. He shared his own convictions and how he sees his relationship God… how he honors Jesus, Moses and Allah. I asked him more about Jesus… “How do you see Jesus?” He did not see him as equal to God or as Lord, but a prophet. We agreed to disagree, and after talking more, Adam shared with him John 14:6 and Jesus’ claim to be the only way to the Father. We talked with him for an hour, He kept saying, “I love talking to you about religion. It makes me feel good!” Their business began to pick up again, and he had to start cooking again. We thanked him for the wonderful food, said our good-byes and practically floated out of the restaurant.

Our date was spent sharing the pursuing love of Jesus with this precious man. Afterwards, we went to a coffee shop and had the honor to meet and pray for 2 more people the Holy Spirit connected us with. Throughout the whole evening, as Adam and I worshipped and talked about God’s furious love for us, His love could not be contained within us. The overflow of His love poured out of us and onto those we came in touch with.

We had the best Valentines date… in fact, the best date of all time. The evening ended with a deeper understanding and revelation of God’s love for us and His love for others. We were rested, refreshed and renewed from the amazing moments we shared with each other and others we met. We are honored to be used by God and look forward to the next person Holy Spirit leads us to!

For Valentines and every day, I am a girl who longs for the presence of God in every moment. Flowers will die, clothing will become outdated, jewelry will fade, fancy dinners will go down the toilet… but God’s furious love is everlasting and is the only treasure worthy of my pursuing. 

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God will stand forever.” Isaiah 40:8

Do you know God’s love? His love changes everything. The pages are open to share your story… feel free to comment, ask for prayer, ask questions and share this blog. Our stories rage on… In Him, Leslie

blackout

This poetic piece of awesomeness is a finally-finished post I began writing a month ago… Enjoy!

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A  month ago, we experienced our first Portland blackout. We were without power, internet and phones for 6 hours. <gasp, I know> We couldn’t watch the tele or cook or use the internet or make phone calls or go on Facebook or participate in any other nonsense we need electricity to take part in, and guess what…?

We survived. 

How, you might ask? 

We played outside soaking up our last bit of evening sunlight, we snuggled under blankets and read books by the light of a candle. We talked. We told silly stories. We laughed. We played games with the flashlights… and then we went to New Seasons for dinner.

We survived #Portlandblackout2014 by having fun and going to the grocery store. YES. You read that statement correctly. I said, we had fun going to the grocery store. 

We are experts at surviving blackouts.  

We’ve been thru several blackouts before. From Ohio to New York City. Remember #Northeastblackout2003? Yep. We survived it. We were living in NYC at the time and working at our church. When the city went dark, everything shut down… except for the people. People were still on the move. We responded by handing out water to thirsty tired travelers from the steps of our church in mid-town Manhattan. The city air was thick with August humidity and millions of people sweating their way thru the city. People were still on the move. They needed to get home, to pick up their kids. People had basic simple needs – like water.

The truth is – we are experts at enjoying simple things – such as going to the grocery store. In fact, the simpler, the better. If a task is too complex, detailed or complicated – forget it. Anxiety will overtake me and… the end. I will shut down. 

When there’s a blackout, life shuts down. There are fewer options and simplicity takes center stage. When there’s a blackout, I can only see what’s right in front of me. In the dark sky, I can see the moon and the stars. Oh, how I long to take joy in seeing the simplicity in front of me! Take it all in. Breathe in the wonder. Trace the stars. Stare at the moon. Soak in the sounds of my children. Slip into the arms of my husband.

I come alive when I ‘shut down’ and enjoy the simplicity of who is in front of me… My family. My friends. My neighbors…  The blackout forces life to slow down. To darken our ‘world view’ momentarily. To take hold of what we can see. The blackout changes our lens to purely see. An unfiltered view. To truly see. What is right in front of us.

In the blackout, life can shut down… And in the simplicity, we can thrive.

Do you thrive in simplicity? Please share! Our story rages on… In Him, Leslie

Life’s a beach in Oregon.

We’ve been Oregonians for five weeks now… aaaand… what does it even mean to be an ‘Oregonian’, you might ask? While I’m certain the answer varies from peeps to peeps, for us ‘Life in Oregon’ has been a b**ch. It’s been HARD. but hey, we’ve been to the beach. and that’s really why we’re here. Well, not really. but it helps. It helps to know when things are hard, we can go to the beach :).

When our cars break down… we can hitchhike to the beach.
When we can’t find a rental house… we can live with our parents… who live close to the beach.
When our kids are fighting… we can yell at them… and then take them to the beach… where no one ever fights.
When homeschooling at home sucks… we can go exploring… and learn something new… at the beach.
When we’re stressed out from moving cross-country, living out of boxes in disorganized chaos, living with our parents, starting over, Pastoring at a new church, selling our house we left in Ohio, and homeschooling in the middle of it all… we can say ‘screw it’ and head to the beach!

We’ve been to the beach twice since we’ve moved to the Pacific Northwest, and it’s been wonderful. I wish I could say things have been smooth sailing, and coasting on over to the beach has swept away all our problems, but no. Since we’ve moved, we have walked on water thru some very hard days. Wave after wave, the difficult circumstances have washed over us. At times, treading water, at times being pulled under. Sooo many days, I’ve wanted to run away to the beach, but there’s been too much to do. And reality is – life is hard – and we have to walk thru trials and circumstances without going to the beach to escape.

Have you ever worn a wetsuit? They are a pain in the ass to put on. Imagine squeezing a watermelon into some pantyhose. That’s me – squeezing myself into a wet suit. The last time we went to the beach, I was so frustrated with squeezing myself into the wetsuit, and I was very close to giving up. Selah was in the bathroom with me, encouraging me to finish putting on my freakin’ wetsuit. “C’mon mom, you’re almost done.” I was so glad she did. The time spent in the ocean was amazing. Although I was frustrated with the work it took to put on the suit, I knew I would regret not going into the water.

If you want to enjoy the Oregon coast, you need a wetsuit. You can dance on the waters edge without one, but if you dare to go deeper, you need a wetsuit. We can dance on the edge of Christianity without a care, but if we dare to go deeper, we need the armor of God to protect us from the enemy. 

As we prepared to move from Ohio to Oregon, I knew we would be swimming into darker, deeper waters of ministry. I knew it was going to be a lot of work. I knew our faith would be tested. I knew attacks of the enemy would come. I knew it was going to be frustrating to step into unknown territory. And I knew if we did not make this move, we would regret it.

We are not battling the raging waters. We are in a spiritual battle, unseen to the human eye. In the midst of this move, it has been easy to become distracted with the external problems, shifting our focus from the reason we are here. God prepared my spirit for this battle in prayer. As the trials have come, He has been showing me how to battle in prayer. We are here to know HIM and to make HIM known. There are times, a wetsuit and a trip to the beach seem like the ideal way to deal with the difficulties we face… but Oregon is so much more than a trip to the beach. This is a place full of people living in darkness, yearning for One they do not yet know. And I will spend my life making Him known here.

My armor is on. It is His presence. I fight from my rightful place in His presence. In His strength. His love. His hope. His joy. His peace. 

Our Story rages on… In Him, Leslie

*All water and cursing puns intended for the authenticity of this story.