my culinary tour of Texas

Last week, I accompanied Brent to Texas for a pastor’s conference.  We spent the whole week in the Dallas area.  If you know anything about Dallas then you know that it has an extraordinary amount of shopping and restaurants (especially the restaurants).  No exaggeration, there are restaurants everywhere!  So when Brent was in meetings and coaching sessions, I had a lot opportunity to visit some of those restaurants.  I know, I know!  It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.  And last week, that someone was me!

The first evening was a big group gathering at The Rustic.  It has the biggest backyard of any restaurant in the downtown area.  We arrived early in the evening, but it was pretty late by the time we left.  It’s kind of funny that when you’re in a major city, you have to plan your outings based on how you want to avoid rush hour traffic.  There was a lot of yummy barbecue, a lot of music, and a big screen to watch the Monday Night Football game.  The culinary tour had a begun.

in the day

in the day

in the night

in the night

 

Another one-of-a-kind, first-time-ever place that I was able to visit with some of my new fellow-pastor’s-wife friends, was The Bin in Rockwall.  Caesar salad, a beef slider, and fries (half regular, half sweet potato) made a perfect lunch.  I love going to a restaurant that is a totally new experience for me.

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On the other hand, I must admit that I was most excited about some “throwback” places that I haven’t been to in a very long time.  As some of you know, we lived in the Dallas area when we were first married.  We left there when Emma, who is now 13, was just one year old.  So, needless to say, it’s been awhile.  And when I had the chance to revisit some old favorites, I was definitely a happy camper!

One of those “once upon a time” places was la Madeleine.  It’s cute and cozy and Frenchy and they still have my favorite tomato-basil soup of all time.  Thank goodness there are some things that don’t change!  If I could get away with it, I could probably eat la Madeleine food every day of my life.  It just never gets old.

the spread

the spread

Another stop we made was a place that’s not fancy or expensive, but Brent loves their sandwiches and we can’t get it here at home.  So we made sure not to neglect the chance to have some Chick-fil-A.  And they didn’t disappoint!  How can you go wrong with a high quality chicken sandwich, waffle fries, and a drink that even comes with a bendy straw?

I think all those funny cows in the Chick-fil-A commercials would approve.

I think all those funny cows in the Chick-fil-A commercials would approve.

On the last night of Brent’s conference, it was time for another group gathering.  Everybody came to our host’s home for a night of fellowship and funny stories.  To feed everybody, they brought in a pizza oven food truck.  How cool and creative is that?  Good food and good people made for a great night.

The mobile restaurant set up in the street

The mobile restaurant set up in the street

Boards waiting to bring in some piping hot pizza

Boards waiting to bring in some piping hot pizza

The fire in the oven, where all the magic happens

The fire in the oven, where all the magic happens

There were a lot of other places where we ate during the trip, but honestly, after awhile I just stopped taking pictures of them.  At the end of a whole week of eating out, I was starting to get restaurant weary.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for it all, but I just don’t think I could do it all day every day (unless it was la Madeleine, and then I think I could definitely do it!).

 

along came a spider

On our recent trip to Great Wolf Lodge near Centralia, WA, we had one of those “that was really good timing” experiences.  When we first entered the lodge, there was a gigantic balloon spider on the main floor.  (I never thought I would ever type the term “gigantic balloon spider” on this blog!)  It was so cool!  I’m not a big fan of spiders myself, but we couldn’t help but appreciate the creativity and organization that went into such a massive project.  And when we learned that they would be hanging it from the ceiling later that evening at 10 p.m., we didn’t hesitate to put that event on our schedule, even though it wasn’t really an official event.

Maybe it’s because Brent’s job as a pastor and leader involves so much creativity, but we almost can’t help ourselves when it comes to big projects like this.  Others might sit back a be amazed at the sight, but we always have a tendency to want to ask questions and get a look behind the scenes so we can see the “how” of this kind of stuff.  For us, sometimes the process is just as impressive as the finished product.  Who knew you could accomplish so much with just a whole bunch of balloons and some fishing wire?

We appreciated watching the teamwork involved with hanging the big spider, chatting with the balloon artist, and how creativity was being prioritized.  I must admit that if it had been some kind of spider that was more scary and “Halloweeny”, I probably would have avoided the lobby at all costs, but fortunately that wasn’t the case.  I just thought the whole this was pretty neat.  We had fun brainstorming about different huge balloon sculptures that could be used at our church:  Noah’s ark, a lion, the sun, an angel, almost anything!  The possibilities are almost endless!

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October

I think Anne Shirley might have said it best when she proclaimed, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”  The air is crisp, the leaves are beaming with bright colors, and I get to start wearing cozy sweaters.  All great things!  And don’t get me started on the vast amount of pumpkin products that I’m finding at Trader Joe’s right now.  It’s like some sort of pumpkin madness has taken over the store!  But I’m not complaining.  Believe me, I’m enjoying every minute of it.

Awhile back, we went with some friends to gather a few (and by a few I mean many) branches of fall-colored leaves.  And now those branches are spreading their fall cheer in all kinds of nooks and crannies of our home.  The biggest bunch I put right on the front door.  I want to guests (and me) to walk into the house being welcomed by fall’s warm colors.  The saying usually goes, “Take time to smell the roses,”  but right now I think it would be appropriate to say, “Take some time to enjoy October.”

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my buddy and me

my buddy and me

my beautiful friend, Jo

my beautiful friend, Jo

Conquerers!

Conquerers!

someone is on a brave adventure

someone is on a brave adventure

fall vacation

If we can’t figure out how to take an extended summer vacation, we do the next best thing:  we just take it in the fall instead!  Sounds like a great idea, right?  So last week we opted out of all our weekly obligations (except Brent’s staff meeting) and took the kids up to Washington to spend a few days at Great Wolf Lodge near Centralia.  We’ve been to indoor water parks before when we lived in Minnesota, but that’s been awhile.  And our kids are much bigger now, which makes things easier.  But it also makes me a little sad to think that we never once went to the kiddie pool area the whole time.  My how time flies!

We made use of the water park, which has some pretty cool slides and stays at a temperature of about 84 degrees all the time, but we also splurged and bought passes to the ropes course so we weren’t just climbing stairs to the water slides all day long.  And, of course, we took some time out to explore the antique district down the road in Centralia.  We have a tendency to drag our kids into all kinds of crazy shops, and I have to say that they are very patient with us.  Thank you kiddos!  The other highlight of the trip is was that we took advantage of some of the restaurant opportunities that we don’t have in Bend.  We’re still waiting for the day when a Chipotle or a Burgerville comes to our side of the mountains.  But until that day comes, we’ll just keep visiting those places when we take trips like this one.

We had a great time just being together.  When one of my friends asked me if we had fun, I told her that the best part was having uninterrupted time with the kids.  I’m grateful that we had the chance to take the trip.  We become more aware every day how short our time is with the kids.  And that no stage that they’re in is going to last forever.  So for now it’s back to the real world, with meetings and schoolwork and laundry and no secret sauce from Burgerville.  Oh well.  A girl can dream, right?  Enjoy the pictures.  There’s a lot them this time!

our wolf pack

our wolf pack

watching a little show

watching a little show

ready for the slides

ready for the slides

my girls

my girls

Blake

Blake

getting ready for the ropes course

getting ready for the ropes course

ready to go

ready to go

Superman with his super gear

Superman with his super gear

up so high

up so high

I conquered it!

I conquered it!

crossing the chasm

crossing the chasm

Lauren and me

Lauren and me

character greet & meet

character greet & meet

a place of yumminess

a place of yumminess

our patient children waiting around for their parents

our patient children waiting around for their parents

My Surgery

Since this blog is about my life (not just the kids, not just the church, and not just homeschooling), I would be remiss if I didn’t post something about the surgery I had two weeks ago. Don’t worry. It wasn’t an emergency and it wasn’t life-threatening.

Here is how it all went down. In August I went in for my annual exam. Everything looks great and I’m feeling good. All of my blood work numbers came back with healthy results and I have still managed to avoid getting on any regular medications and I’m hoping to avoid that for a very long time. At the doctor visit, the wonderful nurse practitioner asked me if I had any concerns. I told her that my only concern was the bump on my head. She said, “I don’t see a bump.” But as I pulled back my hair she could see what I was talking about and didn’t think twice about referring me to a surgeon. The best way for me to describe the bump’s location is to say that if the bump continued to grow, you would think I was growing a unicorn horn. Kind of weird, but still true.

A few weeks later at the surgeon’s office, it was decided that the bump was too big for a quick fix. I was going to need surgery. So we made plans and tried to be as prepared as possible. For the outpatient surgery, Brent went with me and kept reminding me that everything was going to be okay. Before the surgery, it was fascinating to watch all of the nurses and doctors work together as a team. At first it was a little overwhelming to have a whole bunch of people buzzing around me. But I reminded myself that all of them were there to make sure of one thing: to make sure that the procedure was a success. I kind of like having all of those people on my side. It ended up being reassuring to have them all there.

When I first woke up from the surgery I had two clear thoughts. The first was, “I woke up! Hurray!” The second was, “Wow! My head hurts!” They tried to give me some kind of narcotic medicine for the pain, but my body didn’t react very well to that. So I was sent home to start my prescription pain meds that I had filled ahead of time. That meds kept me in a daze for about a day. But honestly, it wasn’t helping much with the throbbing in my head. So eventually, I just decided to scrap it. Goodbye weird medicine!

During the surgery, the bump removal also meant there was some skin removal. Which means that there was a lot of skin stretching to bring everything back together. (Sorry if that’s kind of gross for some of you.). So now, instead of a unicorn horn, I have a Frankenstein scar! What an exchange! At least it isn’t permanent. All of my stitches will be gone after awhile, some next week and some a few weeks later.

I’m pretty pleased with the post-surgery progress. Here are some of the things that have been helpful with my body’s recovery:

1. Ice packs. (and a little ibuprofen). No medicine has been nearly effective as an ice pack in helping with my head’s throbbing. So I just take some ibuprofen once or twice a day to avoid a headache for the sensitive head, but I’m much more diligent about icing the scar area on a regular basis.

2. Vitamins. My surgeon gave me some literature that recommended taking vitamin C and zinc to help the body as it was healing. I like any solution that’s cheap and easy.

3. Walking shoes. (This is another part that might seem kind of gross.). Any surgery veteran knows that the first question your doctor will ask you is, “How are you feeling?” But the next question is usually, “Have you had a bowel movement?” Awkward! But still important. I tried to eat lots of fiber, even though I wasn’t eating much, and tried to start walking as soon as possible to try get things “moving along.” On the day I was ready to go buy some milk of magnesia, everything started working again! Thank goodness.

The other advantage to staying active was that it caused a distraction. Going for walks kept my mind and body busy about lots of things, so that I wasn’t always focused on the hurting head.

4. Accepting help. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Don’t be too proud to let your friends and family help you. Prayers, meals, rides for the kids’ activities, whatever helps.

5. Patience. I wanted to be able to just jump back into regular life with a regular schedule. But there was no way I could pull that off! Oh well. I guess it’s better to heal right than heal fast. I also didn’t want to overdue it and make the recovery last even longer.

Just so you know, the bump the surgeon removed was tested. It was a cyst and had no cancer in it. Praise the Lord! And now I’ve made it three days Ina row without any ibuprofen or ice packs. Hurray! So there you go, the complete surgery report with more details than you ever wanted. At least I can say that I’m not holding things back from the blog, right? Happy healing!

presenting the 8th annual . . .

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Mission Church Fall Fest!  It’s hard to believe that this was the 8th year that we’ve done this event, but it’s true!  It gets bigger every year.  Our people are faithful to volunteer and invite their friends each time.  And it all results in a fun evening where people who don’t come to our church can connect with the Mission Church family in an easy going environment.  Plus, it’s just a whole lot of fun.  How can you go wrong with hay rides, inflatables, and a beautiful and crisp Central Oregon day?  You just can’t!

Our friends, Tim and Julia, were the ever-gracious hosts again.  They let all of these hundreds of people enjoy their beautiful property.  And give people and opportunity to have a wonderful night with their families.  Plus it gives the church leaders a chance to get to know people without having to worry about a church service or be under any kind of time limit.  The Taylors’ generosity has been a huge blessing!

This year we had a few changes.  We finally put any and all parking out to pasture, literally.  Everybody, not just the volunteers, parked out in the back field.  I think that’s a sign of growth when you know that the cars won’t fit out in front of the house anymore.  It’s a good problem to have.  Another change was the food.  Sadly, we ended the annual tradition of a chili cook-off.  It was a bittersweet decision.  It was always a fun competition to be sure, but changing the food situation also meant that we ended the annual tradition of running out of food and having people, especially volunteers, leave the event hungry.  Not good.  So instead, we outsourced.  And what was the solution?  Food trucks, of course!  It was pretty cool seeing the food truck owners come out with their families to enjoy the festival.  They not only had a good evening of work, but also enjoyed all the fun stuff with their kids.  I think it was a win-win!

And now here is where I get a little bit nostalgic.  Sorry, but it just can’t be helped!  Back in 2007, the Fall Fest started out as something we came up with so that when Mission Church had our very first services we would have some kind of event to invite people to.  We wanted a chance to get to know people outside of a weekend service setting.  It was actually very strategic.  But honestly, we had no clue that we would still be doing it all these years later, and that the event (and the church) would have grown so much in that time.  I realize that we’ve been doing this awhile, but every time we do this thing, or even on the weekend services, I still look out at the cars and think to myself, “People came!  Woohoo!  People actually showed up!”  I’m hoping that I never stop having those feelings when someone walks through our doors and decides to give church a chance.  Even if the first time they do it is out in a pasture on a ranch at Fall Fest.

Pastor Scott, the welcoming committee

Pastor Scott, the welcoming committee

face painting

face painting

You're never too young to have some fall fun!

You’re never too young to have some fall fun!

a couple of cuties

a couple of cuties

the riding bull

the riding bull

The beautiful Rachel and her trusty horse giving some pony rides.

The beautiful Rachel and her trusty horse giving some pony rides.

Are these inflatables big enough?

Are these inflatables big enough?

This last picture I just put in so I could show you my new toy, the iPhone6.  You can see it’s shadow as we’re taking the selfie pic.  It’s a lot of fun.  I do have one complaint, though.  It’s so slim and skinny that it disappears into my purse too easily and now I’m having a hard time finding it when I need to dig it out to make a call or take a picture, which is really about the only two things I do with my phone anyway.  Brent could run the world with his phone, but I’m still trying to keep it simple.  Happy fall!

Superman and me

Superman and me

summer summary- part 2

Labor Day was our last big hurrah before the beginning of school.  So we took advantage of the beautiful day and packed as much into every minute as possible.  It’s the best kind of busy:  with friends and family, enjoying the outdoors, exercise, and fun!  Not too mention some yummy food.

We began the day on the annual All-Church Labor Day Hike.  This year we went to the world famous Smith Rock State Park, home of Misery Ridge and world-class rock climbing.  The scenery is gorgeous!  And watching the many rock climbers that were at the park that day was amazing.  They are some pretty brave and daring souls!  I kept telling the kids that it was the first day of school and we were starting the year with a field trip to Smith Rock.  I don’t thing they believed me, though.  After hiking, we enjoyed a picnic lunch and then headed into Redmond to do some antique shopping.  We know where all the good spots are for antiquing in Redmond.  I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but we had fun with it either way.

Then it was time for some dinner!  Mission Church’s Redmond campus hosted a family BBQ, so we had some fun hanging out with some more of our church family.  Lots of people, lots of food, lots of fun!  It was a great way to finish the summer and move on to the school year.  Happy hiking!

a beautiful girl in a beautiful place

a beautiful girl in a beautiful place

You know it's serious climbing when they have crutches and a stretcher at the ready.

You know it’s serious climbing when they have crutches and a stretcher at the ready.

Gimme some burgers!

Gimme some burgers!

Jump!

Jump!

The teaching team as targets for the water balloon launch.

The teaching team as targets for the water balloon launch.

This was after they had been properly drenched.

This was after they had been properly drenched.

My buddy, Holly

My buddy, Holly

 

summer summary- part 1

Now that school is underway, I’m looking back fondly at the last weeks of summer that we enjoyed.  I guess the saying is true, “Time flies when you’re having fun.”  In August, Emma went on a youth retreat to beautiful Crescent Lake.  This was just one more of the many places is Oregon that we have not visited before.  Sarah, our amazing youth pastor, let us tag along a little bit.  We camped nearby but tried to give Emma as much space and freedom as possible.  It’s always a fun balance between being the pastor of a church and a parent of a church member.  But our rule of thumb is:  if you’re going to disappoint someone, don’t let it be your kids.  Anyway, we were around, but tried not to be in the way.

We were excited to see this National Forest area.  The big lake is great for boating in the summer.  But we also learned that it’s a popular location for snowmobilers in the winter.  That would be a fun adventure!  I wouldn’t be surprised if we come back here sometime in the future.  Happy camping!

preparing lunch on the Biolite.  Love that little stove!

preparing lunch on the Biolite. Love that little stove!

sibling love

sibling love

it's selfie time!

it’s selfie time!

skipping rocks

skipping rocks

meeting new friends

meeting new friends

Lauren, where is the rest of you?

Lauren, where is the rest of you?

campire and s'mores

campire and s’mores

the Superhero couple

2014

2014

1964

1964

When your names are Lois and Lane, how can you be called anything else but a Superhero couple?  And they truly are!  This month, my uncle and aunt, Lane and Lois Zachary, celebrate their 50th anniversary.  This is one of those couples that have done more than any of us will every know this side of heaven.  But I’m sure that when we get to heaven there will be a long line of people wanting to say to these two precious people, “You made a difference in my life.”  Then maybe we’ll all finally have a better picture of the time, effort, love, and care that they have poured into people.

They have lived in many places.  Lane has ministered in many churches.  Lois has taught in many schools.  And they have walked through life with many people.  But most of all, they have loved the Lord and loved each other.  Happy 50th anniversary, Lane and Lois!  You guys really are Superheroes.