let's go to the beach

Ever since we hit the ground, we have been active non-stop! Running, walking, biking, climbing, hiking, etc. and it's been a blast. My legs and feet are definitely feeling it, but it is a welcome feeling. In no way am I a beast at all of these activities, but they are thoroughly enjoyable and I love engaging in fun new ways to exercise.

Back in mid-June we took a trip to Cannon Beach, less than two hours from Portland, and hiked in the nearby Ecola State Park. It is just a short fifteen minute drive into town from there, but when standing at the lookout point, breathing in the cool sea air, you feel isolated in nature. The sky remained overcast, but even so it was absolutely beautiful. It may have even been more vibrant because the sun was not washing out the gorgeous colors of flora and fauna. From the top viewpoint, we hiked down the "difficult" trail about 1.5 miles before reaching the beach down below. The easier trail was blocked by the tide, so our only option was the more challenging route. It was a bit of a challenge, but also very short. The clouds over the ocean were magnificent, stately and bubbling like rising bread dough. And just beyond them, the sun shone a few rays onto the water, creating a breathtaking ocean view.

Less than a year ago was my first Pacific Ocean encounter, back in September on a spur of the moment trip to San Diego and Pasadena with my Young Life team. Now I feel so privileged to be this close to the water and experience it more than just once a year. Being from Texas, I have not had many beach trips simply because the beaches in Texas although in existence, are not much of a sight to see. In fact, my first trip to a beach in my life (that I can remember) was the summer after my senior year of high school when I travelled through Europe. I saw a French beach as well as a Dutch beach. Both were amazing, but I am really glad the ones I get to enjoy here in Oregon are equally as beautiful. Now as for swimming in the water... well that might not ever happen unless I am in a wetsuit. The water was shocking. I literally felt shocked when I ran down the sand to about waist high water. I could not handle it for more than three seconds, so I darted back out and shivered until I was back to a relatively normal body temperature. We hung out at that spot for a while and then headed back up to the car to journey down the beach to the city of Cannon Beach.

The quaint little town is quite tiny with only a handful of roads, but it is most certainly a tourist spot. We stopped for lunch at a local pizza kitchen, where we scarfed down three extra large family size pies, all of which were very delicious. Just down the road from there was a new coffee shop called Insomnia. I love the atmosphere there and they serve coffee equally as good as any local shop in Portland. A huge plus! You might say this place is just as hipster as Portland too, although the patrons don't always match that vibe. Our next stop was the beach, which we were all looking forward to because that was our last stop of the day. We found a good site to build a fire and watch the sunset. We also played a few rounds of bocce ball, which has become a staple in our group and a game of ultimate frisbee, which was quite a challenge to play in the sand. Of course you can't have a campfire on the beach without s'mores! When the sun went down over the ocean, we gathered our belongings and made our way back to Portland. The relatively short trip was well worth it!


one week in pdx

Last Friday morning I woke up before the sun and flew out to the west coast to start this wonderful adventure in the north west. I can't even remember everything we have done so far because we have done a ton of things, and I mean a WHOPPING TON! Food is the main gathering center in Portland. There are millions of restaurants and coffee shops (I'm in one right now). And since we all eat, why not spend that time together in community? We've eaten out a lot because there so many new places and unique items to try.  Just to name a few, there is Laughing Planet, Chowdah and the Grilled Cheese Grill (both food carts), Blue Kangaroo, Papaccino's, Habibi (Lebanese), etc. My first meal off the plane was shamelessly Panda Express. This is very rare, but I had a craving for it and coincidentally I stumbled upon it and I couldn't pass it up. NOTE: Taylor, I solemnly swear from here on out to steer clear of the chain restaurants and eat local.

This list goes on. Very rarely have we eaten meals at home, partly due to the fact that we are in a practically sparse apartment with little food in stock. We have made two trips to the grocery store, so hopefully that will change a bit. My stomach is begging me! It's all good stuff, don't get me wrong, but I am used to eating meals that I have cooked myself a little more than this.

A major difference I have noticed here is how active people are and by active I mean they actually use their bodies to get from point A to point B. My body is screaming exhaustion simply because of the amount of walking we've done. This would be a good time to point out the obvious, that I am out of shape and sore! My butt is sore from riding my bike just ONE day! My arms are sore from playing frisbee and from climbing at a gym. My feet are aching the most because of the miles I have trekked so far. All of these seemingly complaints are quite the opposite actually. This is the kind of life style I love and I have been longing for. All of these things seemed like forever dreams and never realities while living in Austin and going to school. There was never enough time in the day to do everything even with a car! I was always and I mean always (my sister can attest to this) on the go, running around like a headless chicken. Now I am forced to go slowly and notice things. For instance, I have taken in the beautiful flowers here, like I have never seen them in my life. I'm serious. I stood looking at the fresh cut bouquets at the Farmer's Market in Woodstock because I just couldn't get over their beauty. My pictures aren't the greatest, but they give you a hint of the beauty. Calla lilies are my absolute favorite and poppies could easily be a close second. I am astounded at the variety. They all seem so exotic to me.

Another obvious difference between Portland and Austin is the weather. WOW, it has been crazy here! Everyone keeps telling me this is not normal June weather. My theory is we brought the thunderstorms with us from Texas. I think it has rained everyday so far, although the rain here is not an all day downpour-type rain. It is more like the clouds decide to dump a few buckets every so often, like a water amusement park. Then the sun comes out and warms the air. As I sit here typing, I watch the cars get pelted with hail. Hail! Who knew?

Now that I have spent a week in Portland getting to know the city and our drop zone in particular (the neighborhood Sellwood), I am settling in quite well, enjoying a slower pace of life, getting to choose what I do and how I spend my time, and learning how people live here. So far so good! I really do love it here. I am excited to meet people, make friends, and see how the Lord has planned out this summer, using our parachute team in Sellwood.


still here

If you were worried I fell off the face of the earth, well fear not. I still exist. I promise I will post soon, I'm just a little preoccupied with trying to finish school. That's right I'm graduating! More to come.


a spring afternoon

In just two short months, I will graduate from the University of Texas at Austin with two degrees. Where did the time go? I don’t even feel like I am old enough to earn that honor (although the man hours I logged sure do make up for that feeling!). I am still living life to the fullest and enjoying every moment I have here in Austin. This place I have called home has been good to me, and I feel, although I will be leaving very shortly, that I will someday return and come to enjoy it all the more.

As you can imagine, I am preparing for the “big move” by minimizing my stuff, which may mean there is a garage sale in store in the coming months! I am also gathering support for my summer in Portland. This means not only am I asking my comrades to rally for my cause, but I am also spending a good chunk of my own time AND money for this adventure. As a part of serving with Go Now, the students are required to give sacrificially for their own and other students’ trips. My sacrificial giving portion is coming form babysitting. It is my current trade skill, and a good one at that. I get to have fun playing with kids, eating snow cones, going to the movies, etc. and I collect my pay at the end of the day. So far I have contributed the largest portion of my support so far in this way. It is not strenuous; rather it feels good to be contributing to the Kingdom by intentionally apportioning my income to serving the Kingdom. It’s almost like working hard to tithe. Crazy, huh? Who does that?

There are times when I do feel anxious about arriving, and not feeling content with the journey. However, this posture has been thwarted by the Lord and replaced with JOY! I love that I get to live in a gorgeous place with beautiful people. My community has been nothing short of supportive and active in my life. It is phenomenal to have such a group of loving people surrounding me. Absolutely a stunning picture of the gospel!

I just wanted to keep up with my life here and put into practice this consistency of blogging. I hope this post finds you well and that you are taking pleasure in the exquisite spring weather! And one last thing to leave you with: Top 10 Reasons to Fly to Portland, Oregon Right Now.


a humble plea to join me

Okay, so here is the skinny. I have been saying I want to live in Portland, and my opportunity has come knocking. Most would think that since I am going on a long-term mission trip, that I would be doing some charity work, building houses, feeding the poor, etc. That may very well be what I end up doing in Portland, God only knows! However, my job description mentions nothing of the sort.

You might be thinking, “Why in the world would a missions organization send students for an entire summer into another U.S. city just to live?” That, my friends, is a great question to ponder. Upon first hearing of the Parachute Project I too was baffled. It seems almost counter-intuitive to allow students to do whatever they please for an entire summer on someone else’s ticket. Wouldn’t they just be lazy, mull around, and do practically nothing for the Kingdom? Well, let me tell you there is a new movement or approach, if you will, to how Christians are seeing the world. In a post-modern culture, the church today is struggling to keep up. It is drowning in dogmatic legalism ( <-- redundant?) and is currently doing close to nothing in terms of growing the Kingdom and making Jesus’ name known in the hearts of Americans. What a sad thing to admit, yet a humbling thing to acknowledge. Instead of struggling in the vortex of doing things the old-fashioned way, pockets of Jesus followers are coming through the woodwork. These are the people who see the problem clearly and are doing something to change it. A couple of these people are the authors of a recent read called The Tangible Kingdom. Hugh Halter and Matt Smay attempt to lay the problems out for everyone to see and offer ideas on how to make a change for His name’s sake. One point emphasized heavily in the first fifty pages is tension. This argument resonates within me:

Oftentimes, if you decide to embrace the tension and move forward, this is your first battle. To move forward, we can’t keep everything we’ve always had. We have to pick what to take, what is absolutely necessary, and leave behind some things that have been important to us. What used to provide comfort may now only take up space or be a hindrance to getting where we need to go.

Yes, as you can tell, this new way of living The Way is stirring tension because it often seems to go against what we know and what the church has been about in the past. But if the old way of doing things is working against the church, does it not make sense to change the way we live out the gospel? Just a thought.

All this to say that this is the new approach to life I am going to practice in Portland (well, really from here on out). In a way, I think my appointment to this project is going to be inconceivably more challenging than just building houses and feeding the poor. It is abstract and there is no handbook or how-to study. Discovering a new rhythm of life will be my “job” this summer. In fact, the coordinators of this Portland Parachute Project say that our “mission is simple: live missionally by building relationships and seeping into the cracks and crevices of the culture.” Cultivating the spiritual soil and living a missional life in community.

And well there is no easy transition to this point but I feel it must be shared. It is a huge part of the whole process. Finances. There, I said it. And I hate bringing it up. It is a touchy subject for many, including myself. For this part of the journey I am relying fully on God’s provision, meaning I know I am not capable of following through with this whole thing if I don’t trust God completely to aide me in raising support. As I said, I hate it, but He has asked me to do this, so I will remain faithful. Many of my family and friends know I need to raise $2350 by May 1st. If you did not know, well there you go. Not an easy task for a college student with no current job. My trust in the Lord here is knowing that you will all be able to support me, not only with money to go, but also with encouragement to go and be a doer of the gospel. So what does this support look like? Well, there are a few ways you can be involved in sending me to Portland!

1.  Buy a t-shirt! Who doesn’t love a good cotton blend with a quirky design, inspired by yours truly? The price is to be determined very soon. As soon as I know, you will know.

2. Come to my grill-out party! This is also to be determined (end of March, beginning of April?), but the idea is to have a great time with delicious friends and lovely food. That came out wrong. There will be delicious food and tons of fun with lovely friends. Again, I will keep you posted.
3. Make a donation in my name through Go Now Missions online. It is a simple three-step process on their website. I would love for all of you to take advantage of the first two options, but if that is not possible, or if you are just feeling extra generous, please support me in this way.

Dear friends, I consider you already a part of my journey to Portland. Through all of my relationships with you I am encouraged to be a carrier AND a doer of the gospel for Jesus’ name. Nothing would make me more joyful than to know from each of you I have your support in this mission. You are loved and cherished by me, and most importantly by Our Creator.

Peace and Blessinz
P.S.- You all should know that I could never say anything without a good joke to go along.



Hello dear friends of mine.
This is long overdue. I'm sure you have missed me, as I have missed you. I decided if I were to blog any day out of this year, this one in particular is a must. This day is the reason for  the name of my blog, after all. It is a unique day we get to cherish, and I have definitely done so. First, I would like to give a birthday shout out to my wonderful mother. She turned ** yesterday! I could have asked for a better mother, but no one would have ever surpassed the one the Lord gave me (or I guess He gave me to her). She is the best, by far! I love you, mom.

Another important note to make, which is another reason why I decided I must write today, is to inform you of some very thrilling news. It is official, folks. I am going to live in Portland, OR this summer as a summer missionary through Go Now Missions. There is a long explanation for what exactly I will be doing there, so I will save you the pain of reading a story as long as Harry Potter now. That will be for another post, or maybe even a series. This opportunity to be supported through Go Now fell in my lap, thanks to the Lord making that happen. I have expressed a desire to go and have felt peace from the Holy Spirit, but the logistics had not been worked out until a friend casually mentioned this ministry to me. I checked it out and about a week later I was scheduled for an interview. Not long after that interview I received word of my appointment to the Portland Parachute Project. I couldn't have been more ecstatic and blessed through that process. God is good!

So slowly, but surely I am navigating toward what God has in store for me upon graduating from the best university. It has been the perfect place for me. In less than three months I will be on the ground in the Northwest learning more about what it is like to live incarnationally. I crave these experiences and the best part is, they are even happening now with my church here in Austin. I pleaded with the Lord to take away thoughts of just wanting to be in Portland already and instead be filled with joy in life where I am at. He has come through. I can't tell you how blessed I am through all of this semester thus far, and I can't wait for more. Now please understand that this joy does not come from blessings of health and wealth as some "Christians" would say. It has come from a renewing of my mind through time with the Lord, and learning over and over how to abide in Him. It's so funny to me how many times we learn the same lesson. I am convinced we will never reach a moment in life where we have learned all there is to learn as humans. He uses the same lesson in different contexts to teach us more about His character. And every time I realize it, I laugh. The Lord has a sense of humor!

I feel like all of this is word vomit, so I hope it all makes sense. Maybe the Holy Spirit will intercede on behalf of my attempt at this. In any case, I hope this finds you well and that you enjoy this semester as much as He wants you to. I love you all dearly.