A perfectly loved Bride

a perfectly loved bride We are perfectly human, and I see a church that {imperfectly} loves.

Loves through trying trials and healing hurts, humans loving humans.

I see a church, Corvallis Church, that is patient with me, though I am ever so full-of-mistakes and imperfection.

I see a church that is made up of humans, humans that struggle with pride because they live on this earth. But humans who strive to walk in humility, denying the pride of man. I see a church that is not proud, but instead points to Jesus.

I see a church that is not rude, but craves to offer grace. Offers kindness to those around us, the disheveled and the put together alike.

I see a church that is not self-centered. Individually, we battle the reality that this world says Life. Is About. Me. But I am part of and see a church that works to look outside of self and view the world as a place to offer Freedom.

I am part of a church that loves. Loves like Jesus, intentionally but like humans, imperfectly.

The world today is not only hungry for bread but hungry for love, hungry to be wanted, to be loved. They're hungry to feel the presence of Christ...It is too easy simply to talk or concern ourselves with the poor who are far away. It is much harder and, perhaps, more challenging to turn our attention and concern toward the poor who live right next door to us.

-Mother Teresa in No Greater Love

I see a church that cares for the widows and the homeless. We invite them into our homes and offer them food, yes, but also dignity. We offer love. We hug and shake hands and speak to them as if they exist as human, because they are human and that makes them a child of God.

I am so honored to be a part of Corvallis Church, a church that knows it's loved perfectly, and therefore goes and loves one another and this city. Imperfectly, but radically.

- Are you a part of a church? I read so much bashing the church. Yes. We are broken, imperfect people; but we are also the Body Of Christ, Himself. What beauty do you see in the church? -

Learning to fall in love with His bride...learning that I am part of His bride,

Natalie

Our 4th of July Weekend {a photo-journal story}

For the first time in my life, I didn't enjoy fireworks on the 4th of July. I wasn't in the city, eating elephant ears {which are not made from elephant's ears} or stealing candy from little kids during a parade with big fire trucks. For the first time since moving here, Loren didn't have to work on the fourth. It was a different sort of 4th of July; but it was great.

We traveled the 3 and a half hours to Lake Wikiup {near Sunriver, OR}. We set up camp and spent a lot of time laughing at and with our baby niece Elsy. She is almst 13 months! I can hardly believe it. Emily and Anthony have become some of Loren & my best friends. They also happen to be our siblings. Do you know what a joy it is to be best friends with your sisters and brothers? To share the same core-beliefs and encourage each other closer to Christ simply by being in close relationship? Jesus unifies powerfully as we are connected by Something so much bigger than ourselves. So cool. Such a gift.

We fished, we laid by the lake, we went in the lake, we had Angry Orchards, we ate literally tons of great food, we were dusty, and we talked about Jesus. We played Rook - have you played Rook? It's great. Also. We witnessed the BEST parade EVER! There were signs all over the campground saying there would be a parade at 7 pm, face paintings at 6:30. You could say we were well pleased.

There was so much yummy-ness: the creation surrounding us, the baby's laughter, the conversations had, the everything. Check out all of the beauty Jesus gifted us with in a photo-journalist layout:

Lake Wikiup Camping

Lake Wikiup Camping

Lake Wikiup Camping

She is intrigued by his beard

Lake Wikiup Camping

Lake Wikiup Camping

Lake Wikiup Camping  Lake Wikiup Camping

Lake Wikiup Camping

Lake Wikiup Camping

Lake Wikiup Camping

Lake Wikiup Camping Lake Wikiup Camping Lake Wikiup Camping

Lake Wikiup Camping Lake Wikiup Camping

Lake Wikiup Camping

Lake Wikiup Camping

Lake Wikiup Camping

Lake Wikiup Camping

Lake Wikiup Camping Lake Wikiup Camping Lake Wikiup Camping

Lake Wikiup Camping Lake Wikiup Camping Lake Wikiup Camping

Lake Wikiup Camping Lake Wikiup Camping Lake Wikiup Camping Lake Wikiup Camping

Lake Wikiup Camping Lake Wikiup Camping

My brother caught the only fish - but I'll tell you what, fishing casting is one of my favorite things to do.

Lake Wikiup Camping

Elsy helping Uncle Loren prep his sermon.

Lake Wikiup Camping

And now for the legendary parade:

Lake Wikiup Camping 4th of July parade

Lake Wikiup Camping 4th of July parade

One excited 1 year old.

Lake Wikiup Camping 4th of July parade

Lake Wikiup Camping 4th of July parade

Lake Wikiup Camping 4th of July parade

Lake Wikiup Camping 4th of July parade

Lake Wikiup Camping 4th of July parade

Lake Wikiup Camping 4th of July parade

The last two..laggers.

Lake Wikiup Camping Family photo

Lake Wikiup Camping 4th of July parade Lake Wikiup Camping 4th of July parade

You could say this weekend was legendary and I will never forget it. There were many moments that I looked up to the great beautiful sky to thank my Father in heaven who blessed by deeply by providing a time away, unplugged from the world, rest with friends/family, and my beloved husband. I feel refreshed and ready for the week, day by day.

I feel a possible tradition forming.

This was my goodbye to the sweet girl who holds part of my heart.

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Reason to Drown in Bitterness & Survival.

Wild flower, PNW

Do you ever go through the days, surviving? Waiting for your 5 o'clock {or whatever it is} to arrive so you can just go home to sleep? Only to wake up the next morning, again barely surviving the day and looking forward only to the end. Getting through the week, looking forward to your Friday. Oh if only we could reach the end of..the day, the week, the season, the year. I think so often, "We are all just surviving..there could be so much more to every days."

When I worked at US Bank I heard this statement of relief every afternoon: "My day is almost over." And "Just getting through the day." I also often heard, "I just can't wait for Friday."

Constantly, I saw the yearning for the next end. Just get through life. The hearts of those around me craved to be out of the now and into the future, and when the "future" arrived, the response was to keep on wishing for the next phase of the day [week/season]. I was grieved by these words - saddened that, it seemed, no one was content or happy with where they are right here, right now.

We are always rushing, always busy, always stressing to get DONE. Done with what? Where are we all going? The other day at the coffee shop, I overheard a 30+ year man say these heavy words:

"I just can't wait for retirement. Then I can slow down and enjoy life, then I can actually be with my family. I work so hard for that retirement fund."

Oh my soul. He is missing out! By that time, his family won't be around. Heck, he may not be - you never know when you will take that last breath. You never know when the soul's dearest and nearest to you may swallow up and die. To wait 20-35 more years to enjoy what little life we have left sounds like hell on earth. Literally.

I was just told that a young wife & mother of two kids, each under the age of 3..she died. She was in a long boarding accident. You never know when the soul's dearest and nearest to you may swallow up and die.

Friends. There are hard seasons, bitter seasons, rocky rough and ragged seasons. Days and seasons we want to be over - sometimes those seasons seem unending. But can we pause and rethink our view? Our outlook? Our hearts themselves? Can we see the life we have as beautiful and bright, even when all seems lost? I know without a doubt that I won't regret choosing joy in the hardest of times, when looking back in 10-15-30 years from now. I do know that I would regret looking back to remember my response to life as bitter and angry; discontent, entitled, and selfishI hope to leave such a legacy of choosing the joy of Jesus, that my Grandkids have a generational habit built into their gene pool.

A generational habit of choosing joy even when.. Even when the most precious, innocent, little children live in hell itself, on this earth, and you can't do a thing about it but pray and trust Jesus. Even when you lose dear people within close proximity of time. Even when parents hurt you because they are hurting from deep within. Even if you often live paycheck to paycheck, in a moldy apartment or a ghetto janky house that may not be "the dream." Even when..whatever your situation may be, the list goes on.  Even when we have REASON to drown in anger, becoming so self-centered, so bitter, so...darkened...we access to choose the truest of true joys and hopes. Guys. This is the stuff that leads others to Jesus - when we have all the reason in the world to suffocate in bitterness and crave the "end" of everything, but we don't. We instead choose the genuine joy and hope unending, which is offered to us at every second of the day. Offered to us in the darkest of nights while walking this earthly world. If only we would choose to drink the cup of grace and keep our eyes on things ahead: Heaven.

Bird watching pnw

Peering up and ahead at Jesus makes this life worth it, it's when we stare our circumstances straight in the face, entering mere survival mode, that we are swallowed up in them, and unable to selflessly ove those around us.

There is a difference between looking ahead at Jesus, which brings confident hope, and just getting through life, which brings dissatisfaction. I only know because it's a constant battle for me, a wrestling match between myself and Jesus.

I went bird watching with a lovely woman the other day; she is part of our church community. The entire time I could not stop thanking God for every moment given. What sweet, calm, peaceful moments. What beauty my eyes and soul held. The grass and the flowers and the water and the birds and every single thing that my being soaked in...was good. It was good and it was from God.

Make time to choosingly soak in the beauty God has surrounded you with and let it bless your inner being. Let your heart soften into thanksgiving.

"All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small, All things wise and wonderful: The Lord God made them all.

See that little guy up in the top of the tree?

Bird watching in Corvallis

Each little flower that opens, Each little bird that sings, He made their glowing colors, He made their tiny wings.

Fields of grass, Corvallis

He gave us eyes to see them, And lips that we might tell How great is God Almighty, Who has made all things well.

Duck pond at Starker Arts Park in Corvallis, OR

The male ducks literally follow the female ducks around... they follow and they wait and they follow and they wait. It's like they want something.

Starker Arts park in Corvallis

All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small, All things wise and wonderful: The Lord God made them all."

All Things Bright & Beautiful by Cecil Frances Alexander

Bird watching in PNW Binculars, bird watching in PNW PNW PNW PNW PNW

This world is broken. It is full of sin and muck and yuck and pain and selfishness. Every human has reason to choose self-entitlement and bitterness.

We each have a daily choice to make: wallow in self pity {I choose this often}, waiting for the "end" or adventure. Journeying through the day as it really is: an adventure to be lived, a gift to unfold, beauty to behold. I crave to choose this over and over again - adventuring life. I fail often, but I get to walk in the assurance of grace and start over. The good news? That same grace is not only offered to you, but is chasing you ready to set you free.

Will you adventure life with me?

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Where I'm From

My good friend Haley sent me a message explaining one of her online assignments which was to write a poem as a means of introducing yourself: "Where I'm From." She sent me her first draft and I cried at how beautiful it was! She invited me to do the same.

- WHERE I'M FROM -

I am from fields of wheat,

gravel drive ways,

an acre of dust-filled air.

I am from a routine evening prayer,

staring out the second floor window;

sliding down stairs with siblings in slick sleeping bags,

I am curiosity and adventure, beware.

I am from farm animals,

the rooster crows every morning,

the dog barks stranger's warning.

I am from pigs as friends,

llamas as enemies,

chickens as pals;

spending time in the place they nest

was a sacred place, at best.

I am from anxiety, not much rest:

the yellers,

the hurt,

the crying,

the angry,

the beloved hand-me-downs.

A heart shared blankly

and frankly, I am from the dirt.

Dirty faces and fingers,

while the smell of beer lingers,

I am from tactics of manipulation.

I am from a small town with little population

full of people that differ in reputations.

People with money,

many without,

mostly just trying to make it through the drought

of the soul.

I am from swimming pools made of troughs,

old rickety swing sets made of wood,

miles spread out as the "neighborhood,"

a reliable & safe willow tree forever stood.

I am from angry holidays, where peace and joy feel no where near my soul.

I am from forts of tall itchy grass,

bebe guns for helpless Swallows,

sprinklers springing smiles on a hot sunny day.

I am from "school" in a friend's garage,

pulling daddy's long legs off and chasing barefoot boys around the grassy yard,

learning with Spelling Books, always a competition; yearning to win Mrs. Hinkle's positive attention,

pencils tucked behind our ears, desks unknowingly mismatched,

to 16 others I was very attached;

those were the parts of each day that moved by too fast.

Where I'm from, texts are in books and a Cassette Walkman is as technological as I could dream.

I am from rules and guidelines, scrawled lists of chores, do's & donts are black and white, defined by the belt.

I am from red wagons and pink cowgirl boots

a place of unknown destitute,

freedom through adventure was my unending pursuit.

I am from leafy gardens bloooming,

big sky, bursting stars, bright moon,

laughing, sleepless nights spent beneath it all,

us siblings singing a nursery tune.

I am from a small apple orchard,

trapped by a white splintery fence,

pig pens, dog dens, a house for hens,

a place of distinct scents.

I am from bare-foot days,

tough souls, running every which way.

Bike rides down the long narrow farm roads,

stumbling upon empty & abandoned homes,

where games like playing-house begins to flow.

I am from arguments and dark anger,

where hidden brokenness is the anchor;

hammered hardened hearts and pounding loud shouts,

building all sorts of fears and doubts,

confused and frightened,

but Jesus never left me throughout.

However. Truer than all of this, I am from His heart,

where redemption reigns.

I am from His mind of creativity

released from captivity to run into true freedom.

I am from the mighty hand, His palm

sounding my victory gong.

I am from beauty surrounding

His love always abounding.

You will find me resting in the song He has sung,

That,

that is where I am from.