Saturday, December 26, 2009

San Francisco!

Paul and I are off to San Francisco! We're taking 17 high school kids to serve with the Center for Student Missions.

We're leaving at 4am December 27th, which means up by 3am - some of the high school kids are pulling all nighters so they can sleep on the way down. Paul and I are opting to go to bed early (with the help of some benadryl and a few episodes of Lost) so we will be alert to drive.

While I do not have an exact itinerary, the following prayer calender will help with some prayer points along the way.

First big prayer request: safety! It's a long drive, and we have a few passes to go over... please pray the mountains would be snow and ice free!

We'll be back next year... on the second!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Morgan + DMV + Me

The last two posts were incredibly timely considering what I found when I came home today. Paul and I were gone for maybe two hours this morning, and Morgan was waiting for me when I walked inside. She ate our mail. Not just any mail... the mail that contained my drivers license! Thankfully, the only piece of the mess that could be salvaged was my license itself. Had she caused a 7th trip to the DOL, she would be in the dog house. Literally.

Thanks, Morgan, for inspiring another blog post!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The DMV & Me

The DMV and I got extremely familiar over the past couple of weeks. And, I found out that I've been calling it the wrong thing - in Washington, it's actually the Department of Licensing.

Before my first visit to the ODL, I checked their websites to see what was required for obtaining a Washington license/name change. Naturally, nothing was listed, so I called. 1-3 attempts: busy signal. 4th attempt: recording. We decided to risk it, so I brought what I thought I needed and Paul and I went anyway.

Thus continues the story of the DMV drearies:
Visit #1, Thursday: Picked out a "drivers license outfit", curled my hair, pulled a number, got called up the counter, displayed my Oregon license and marriage certificate and was told I needed more proof of identification.

*in between visits, we went to the bank to add me to Paul's account. We ended up opening a new checking account to earn a little interest, and our teller assured us Paul's debit card would still work and she didn't need to change anything.*

Visit #2, Saturday: Picked out a second "drivers license outfit", curled my hair, brought passport, marriage license, Oregon license, took a number, sat for a bit, and then realized we didn't have any cash or checks on us and they don't accept credit cards. (Who doesn't accept plastic these days?!) Went to our bank's drive-through ATM, and it wouldn't accept Paul's card. I didn't have mine yet, because it was being sent in the mail. Couldn't go back to the ODL.

Visit #3, Tuesday: Picked out third "drivers license outfit", curled my hair, brought passport, marriage license, Oregon license, and met Paul at the ODL. He had pulled out some cash earlier in the day before work, but had transferred vehicles to haul some stuff to the dump. We took a number, got called to the counter. "You have the cash, right?" I asked sarcastically, already frustrated that this was attempt numero tres. Paul checked his wallet. "Uhhhhhhh......" blank stare from me. "...It's in the other car." blank stare #2 from me. He apologized and laughed out of disbelief. I didn't think it was so funny and I'm sorry to say I didn't show him much grace in the moment.

Visit #4, Tuesday of the following week: I recycled my first "driver's license outfit", curled my hair, and Paul met me at the ODL. This time, we had cash, my passport, Oregon license, marriage license. Took a number, sat for about 10 minutes, then noticed a sign that read "Our computers are down, we apologize for the inconvenience." Some people behind us muttered some choice words about how long they'd been waiting. One lady stormed out the door. We decided to try it anyway. When our number was called, we approached the counter. Paul signed something to prove that I live at his address, and then he had to leave for a meeting. I stayed up at the counter while the nice ODL man typed reviewed my documents and attempted several times to type my information into the computer. When he got to my marriage license, he told me I didn't have the one that had been signed by the County Auditor and that I needed that before he could continue. He asked if I could come come back later that afternoon after I had obtained the correct copy. I took a deep breath and walked to my car, while realizing that Paul had left with our cash and I wouldn't have been able to pay, anyway. I called the county office and they confirmed that they had a signed copy of my marriage license on file, and that if I paid $3 they would give me a copy. I grabbed my checkbook, visited the county office, paid my dues, and went back to the ODL.

Visit #5, still Tuesday: I didn't bother to take a number, because the nice ODL man waved me right up to the counter. I showed him my passport, Oregon license, the correct copy of my marriage certificate, and my cash. He started typing again, and said with a sigh: "Can you come back Thursday? Our computers are still down and we're closed tomorrow for Veteran's Day." I had to laugh.

Visit #6, Friday: I recycled my 2nd "drivers license outfit", curled my hair, and Paul agreed to spend his day off with me on my 6th visit to the ODL, and it's a good thing he did, because the nice ODL man couldn't find the form he had previously signed, verifying my proof of residence. Paul signed. I displayed my passport, Oregon license, marriage license, and my cash. The nice ODL man typed. He took my cash. He typed some more, then asked me to take a seat. The camera lady called me up, I took a brief look in the mirror to fluff my curls, and flashed my pearly whites. Flash. Voila.

"You should receive your Washington License in the mail in a few weeks. Here is your temporary license to use in the meantime. Welcome to Washington!"

Hooray! They even punched a hole in my Oregon license and let me keep it.

So, here I am.
Elizabeth Caitlin Bricknell.
Born in Washington, married in Washington, living in Washington, driving in Washington.

Now it's time to change my Social Security card, passport, savings accounts, credit cards, school loans, etc. But, I think I'll wait a little bit and revel in my sweet, ODL victory!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Morgan & Me

This post has been in the works for quite some time as Morgan, "our" big, friendly black lab/retriever mix keeps giving me things to write about. I'm sure you're familiar with the movie "Marley & Me" by now...

#1: The Futon. Upon arriving home from our honeymoon, I was initially very excited to see Morgan. She had really missed us! I gave her some love until Paul said "umm... El.... Morgan has been on your futon." I looked over and the futon, which is normally a mossy green color, was covered (and I mean covered) in black dog hair. It was so bad, in fact, that when I removed the futon cover from the futon, her hair had gone through the cover to the mattress itself. "Welcome home," I muttered.

#2: The Lip Gloss. Then, there was the time where Paul and I opened all our wedding gifts. We left a giant stack of gifts in our living room because we weren't quite sure where to put everything. Someone gave me a very thoughtful "wife gift" full of goodies including some yummy lip gloss. Apparently Morgan though it was yummy, too, because I found her smacking her lips. She had punctured a hole in the tube and was enjoying it a little too much.

#3: The Taco: I was sitting on the couch eating a homemade soft taco, when Paul came home for lunch. I got up to let him in the front door, leaving half of the uneaten taco on my plate on the coffee table. I fixed Paul his lunch and returned to the coffee table to finish eating mine while he ate his. Well, my taco had disappeared, and Morgan was just sitting there, looking at me.

#4: The Cookie. I made some chocolate chip cookies with our new Kitchen Aid and set them on the coffee table for our guests while we watched "The Office." Everyone was gathered around, so Morgan didn't dare steal any. Well, as soon as the last guest got up and stood by the front door, Morgan made a stab for the plate of cookies and had just gotten one in her mouth when we caught her.

#5: The Gas. I am thankful scents do not travel through the internet because Morgan has terrible gas problems and I think you might pass out. I was telling my parents that Morgan has a gas issue, and they said "oh, our dog does too." But I said "Dad, we can actually hear it when Morgan toots." to which my dad replied: "oh. uhhh.... " Exactly.

When Paul gets home from work, he'll often giver her a good rub. Sometimes he squeezes her belly a little too hard and ppffffffffffffff - Morgan farts.... LOUDLY. Louder and longer than any human being I have experienced. (If you haven't ever read "Walter, the Farting Dog" you really need to look it up at Border's or your nearest bookstore. It's a legit book in the kids section.) I am wrinkling my nose right now because "it" just happened while I'm writing this. We have begun slipping Beano in her food and are hoping this will improve.

#6. The Breath. Morgan smells bad from both ends which is unfortunate considering she's a mouth breather. Tonight, we left Morgan in the car for an extended period of time while we were visiting some friends. When we got back in the car, it smelled like dog breath and had to roll down the windows even though it was cold. We bought her some doggie toothpaste called "Kissable" and some breath freshening tablets. We both agree that her breath has improved and Paul is the token tooth brusher.

#7. The Slobber. Sometimes, I'll look over at Morgan, and slobber will ooze out of her mouth and drop onto the floor. Tonight, she made her way into the front seat of the car while we were running an errand (buying her dog food, actually) and when I got in the driver's seat, and put my hands on the wheel, I immediately said "Ew. This is covered in slobber." Gross.

#8: Obeying. Morgan doesn't listen to me the way she listens to Paul. When I tell her it's time to go outside, she goes the opposite way and crawls under the table. Sometimes I take advantage of this when I want her to stop breathing in my face. Paul thinks it's mean; I think it's great that she stopped breathing on me.

I'm sure there will be a "Morgan & Me: Part 2" in the future, but that's all I can think of for now. She really is a nice dog and aside from her quirks, a great companion. At least she keeps us laughing, and she's stopped drinking out of the toilet!

Here are the 2 of us with "Stinky" in July 2008.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Taco Soup & Peanut Butter Cookie recipe

I cooked up a feast last week for our "San Francisco planning meeting" and the soup and cookies were a hit!

Crockpot Taco Soup:
Place the following ingredients in a crockpot, in this order:
1 lb ground beef, browned and drained
1 packet taco seasoning
1 packet ranch dressing mix
1 large can diced tomatoes (entire contents)
1 can diced tomatoes w/ green chiles (entire contents)
2 cans corn (entire contents)
2 cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained

Stir together, and simmer on high for 8-10 hours or on low for 4-5 hours. Serve with shredded cheese and tortilla chips.

* I stretched the recipe by doubling the meat, adding another packet of seasoning, and some water.

Double Delight Peanut Butter Cookies:
This recipe is worth a million bucks! The lady who invented it won 1 million dollars in the Pillsbury Recipe Bake-Off contest. They have a cream peanut butter center and are soooo tasty!

Mix together in small bowl:
1/4 cup dry-roasted peanuts, finely chopped
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Set aside.

In a separate bowl, blend:
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Form mixture into 24 balls, about 1-inch in diameter.

Slice 1 roll (16.5 oz) of Pillsbury refrigerated peanut butter cookie dough into 12 circles. Cut each circle in 1/2 to make 24 cookie dough pieces. Flatten slightly. Shape 1 cookie dough piece around 1 peanut butter ball, covering completely. Repeat with remaining dough and balls. Roll each covered ball in peanut/sugar mixture; gently pat mixture completely onto balls. On ungreased, large cookie sheets, place balls 2 inches apart. Spray bottom of drinking glass with non-stick spray; press into remaining peanut mixture and then flatten each ball to 1/2-inch thickness with bottom of glass. Sprinkle remaining peanut mixture evenly on tops of cookies, gently press into dough.

Bake 7-10 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks.

* I couldn't find refrigerated peanut butter cookie dough, so I used sugar cookie dough instead and it was great!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pastor Appreciation

I am so touched by my new church family at Calvary Community. October was Pastor Appreciation Month and Paul received so many notes with these kind words:
  • Paul & Elizabeth: You are in this together now!
  • The youth group flourishes under your direction. We praise God for your love of Him and for your service to our youth.
  • What a blessing you are to us. It means so much to me that you asked me to be your prayer warrior. What an asset you are to our church. I'm so happy God sent you your lovely wife and parter, Elizabeth. What a team.
  • Thank you for all the hours and dedication you give and we never see. What we do see is the outcome. Blessings because of you...
  • I have never been in the youth group but can see how the young people love you - and how you love them. I'm impressed when hearing all the special events and trips that you have planned and done. God bless you both with his finest rewards.
  • Thanks Paul' the fruits that are in this church are the sweet rewards of the seeds you have sowed. The youth group has grown under your leadership. Good job!
  • We appreciate your service to our church family. Your message is very touching when you speak. We pray for many more years of ministry to touch many young people!
  • We feel so blessed to have you as our Youth Pastor. Your energy and dedication is having a tremendous impact. God knows your talents and He has placed you where you are needed the most.
  • The youth are the foundation for the growth of the congregation. We see how you and your dedication are "putting the blocks all in the right places."
  • You are amazing with the youth! A blessing from the Lord to this church family! May the Lord continue to bless you and your new wife!
  • God is doing a great work in you.
  • We feel the work you do with the church young people is outstanding. Thank you for all your efforts and hours put in.
I couldn't help but sniffle and wipe away tears today as I sat next to Paul while he read his cards. I wrapped my arms around Paul and said a silent prayer of thanks for my husband. "Lord, you have blessed me with a tremendous Man of God. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."

Yes, those are cashews in his nostrils. Can you tell he's a youth pastor?

Speaking of throwing up...

The title of this post sounds gruesome, because our weekend with middle schoolers was just that! Within 2 hours of being at Eagle Fern, we called two parents because their girls were puking. The next morning, we sent another boy home, and the same afternoon, called another mom. This poor guy vomited from his unfortunate perch on the 3rd bunk, which did make it's way to the floor. Yum. These poor kids! Being sick away from home...

I heard yesterday that at least 4 more more kids from the retreat weren't in school yesterday because they were "you-know-what-ing" as well.

Paul and I were definitely exposed this weekend, and are thankful for our good health so far, but are bracing ourselves for the worst!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The wedding weekend! (and then I threw up)

The events leading up to September 19th were all together lovely. My parents made the 5-hour trip on the Sunday before the wedding, so they got to be at the church potluck, meet Paul's parents, and get a feel for where I had been spending a lot of time, and would soon be living.

A few of us visited a sweet lady's backyard where we handpicked buckets full of dahlias. We're talking vibrant, gorgeous blooms which decorated the church. I was able to call on my middle school 4H years where I learned some tips on flower arranging, so we put the flowers together
ourselves. Our theme was to "bring the outside in", which we certainly did! I wanted it to feel like I was getting married outside, so we decorated the stage and aisle with hanging flower jars, pots of chrysanthemums, and live bushes and trees.

My girlfriends treated me to Urban Fondue in downtown Portland on Thursday evening where we dipped chunks of fresh fruit, cookie dough, cream puffs, and cheescake in pots of swirled chocolate, peanut butter, and berry sauces. Delicious!

A wonderful end to the evening was picking Chrislyn up from PDX and returning to Longview with my closest, dearest friends.

Friday morning began with Starbucks and pedicures, a delightful combination which should not only be reserved for wedding days, but rather repeated regularly with good company!

The rehearsal went smoothly and the dinner was held at a family friend's home of the Bricknell's. The back deck was adorned with Christmas lights and we ate a fabulous meal of pulled-pork sandwiches.

Paul and I finished up some last minute details at the church, and I was surprisingly in bed by my target bedtime of midnight. Unfortunately, however, I could not sleep. I was not stressed out, and yet I still spent the entire night envisioning how the big day would go down in history. I must have dozed off at 6am, because an hour later, my bridesmaids woke me up to a rendition of "Going to the chapel."

I was feeling great all through the hair, makeup, and pre-ceremony pictures.

The bouquets turned out beautifully, the 700 (no joke) cupcakes were a huge hit, the bridal party was incredible, the 500 chicken & beef kabobs (again, no joke) hit the grills at the perfect time, etc.

Before the ceremony, enjoying the moments to sit down.

The best bridesmaids EVER! They are even talking about having a bridesmaid reunion. :)

Me with Momma Bricknell

Paul and I with my grandparents who just celebrated 65 YEARS OF MARRIAGE!

Paul led me through communion

We may have danced down the aisle after the ceremony... and Chris may have put on aviators and done some Michael Jackson "Thriller" moves... and the rest of the bridal party busted their moves, too!

Sister, Me, Momma Seybold - notice the *slight* resemblance

So, the only hiccups, err, throw-ups, if you will, were just that. I threw up right before the following picture was taken:

I was mid-conversation with a guest (sorry, Anders), and started to feel nauseous. I turned to Kirsten and mouthed "I'm going to throw up." She graciously escorted me to the bridal room and held my dress out of the way as I leaned over the toilet.

After wiping my face, I stood up and said "I can't believe I just barfed in my wedding dress!" Paul came in shortly thereafter, and as the girls were commenting on how I was still looking beautiful despite my sudden illness, I turned to Paul and sarcastically remarked "Oh, I always look this good!"

Poor guy got a lesson in nurturing after we'd been married only half and hour!

Paul and I made it through pictures at the lake and then arrived at the "after party". I, after greeting a few people upon our arrival, bee-lined it for the bathroom where I had a second episode.

Next thing I knew, Paul and I had our first dance and I came back to the table to find that my shawl had been discreetly wrapped around a bottle of Pepto. On someone's camera there are pictures of me chugging the pink stuff, just in time for the cake cutting!

The DJ made the announcement that it was time to cut the cake, and then I think I turned green. I gave Paul a look that said "I can't do this right now" and turned around just as someone came over with a giant trash can. One of the girls took it and, thanks to a very conveniently and ordained opening in the trees behind the bride and groom's table, I was able to do my business again...and a fourth time, and finally a fifth time. Yuck.

Thankfully, when looking at the pictures and video, you can't tell I was sick. The memory, however, is still ingrained in my head and I've had a bit of grieving over the sickness because I had to miss out on hitting the dance floor, talking to people, and eating the food, all of which I was really looking forward to.

I did, however, make it through the "Sisters" routine with my sister, which was a huge hit!

It is still a mystery why I got sick that day. I woke up stress-free and was feeling GREAT up until the ceremony. I think it was a freakish bug mixed with the events of the most wonderful day of my life.

I am grateful for Paul's wise words when planning our honeymoon. "El, I really think we should wait a few days before we spend a long time on a flight. Let's take a few days to unwind."

Due to the couple of low-key days post-wedding, I was feeling 100% by the time our flight rolled around! Honeymoon stories to come. :)

Friday, October 9, 2009

I'm back! And leaving again...

I had wonderful intentions of finally getting caught up on blog entries this morning, and then the morning got away from me.

I watered the plants, got things ready for our dog-sitter, did the dishes, made rice krispy treats, packed, took care of some mail, and now I'm off to a thrift store to buy an outfit for the dance party Saturday night. The theme is "old people." I'll be sure to post pictures. :)

Just as I was rejoicing about unpacking my last suitcase and never having to live out of one again, (for a while, at least) I begrudgingly pulled out a duffel bag and packed for this weekend. Paul and I are going on a retreat to the Dunes Bible Camp in Long Beach, WA for a high school retreat. I am definitely looking forward to connecting more in depth with some of the girls in my small group. I am not looking forward to sleeping alone (if you know what I mean) and wearing wrinkly clothes out of my duffel.

Some snippets of what is to come in the next blog entries:
  • Throwing up in my wedding dress
  • Honeymoon to St. Martin
  • ...and how I'm bonding with Morgan, our dog, despite the taco, chapstick and chocolate chip cookie that she's eaten.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Free to Change the World

I'm fighting back tears.

I've been sitting at the Intermission Cafe (the coffee shop that is only a few blocks from my 'almost'-house, that serves Big Train coffee just like Chapter's) all day long.

Without any warning, I'm tearing up listening to a song by Casey Darnell. It reminds me of my friend Nicole who introduced it to me, and our desire to see change, and our love for the lost, the poor, the broken.

I'm trying to find a way to incorporate my love for missions into my wedding. It's just so.... me.

I'm also feeling a little overwhelmed - not by all the wedding details, but by the fact that I'm getting married in 17 days. I feel as though my life has already changed drastically, just by meeting Paul, and so I don't anticipate life being that much different than it is now, except that we'll be living together.

I think it's the other stuff - like not living out of a suitcase or car or garage anymore. Changing my name. Becoming a Pastor's wife. Oh, wow.

I'm thrilled, don't get me wrong.
Just a little emotional. :)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

"Cheese" Cake

While doing a google search for wedding cake ideas, I came across this delight:
The layers are different types of artisan cheeses.
Now that is a cheesecake in the most literal form!

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Weakness

I have recently put words to one of my weaknesses, or "opportunities for growth" (as a wise mentor used to say):


It's an ugly word, especially when wedding planning.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I'm not there

RA Training started yesterday, and I'm not there

Facebook albums of this year's Res Lifers are already surfacing

and I ache a little bit.

It's hard not to be there and it's easy to think something is wrong with this picture...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Crazy in Love

When Paul asked me to marry him two months ago (to the day), my "YES!" was said without any reservations. June 5th was the first time we shared "I Love You" and I am so glad we waited. I remember telling Paul that I hoped sharing "I love yous" with one another would always feel that good. He assured me it would just get better, but I think I was a little skeptical.
How could it possibly get better than this?!

One of our prayers when we first started dating was that love wouldn't be awakened until it so desired (Song of Solomon 2:7). My NIV study note says "love is not to be artifically stimulated;
utter spontaneity is essential to its genuine truth and beauty." Let me tell you, our love has been awakened. :)
And it's beautiful.
Because our love was based around a commitment to spend the rest of our lives together, it has grown immensly and I am so much more in love now than I was when he popped the question. I honestly didn't know I could feel this way about anyone and I don't think I've ever understood love in this light before.

When I was in Chile, I had committed to writing a letter to Paul each evening. Although I had hoped Paul would do the same, I didn't mention it. When I was able to check my email for the first time, I had a few emails waiting for me. Paul had written out our "would-be-phone-conversations" and sent them each day. The first night I was gone, he felt like the Lord asked him to commit to me in a new way. Instead of relaxing in front of the tv, he typed pages to me
about his daily adventures and thoughts, exploring new ways to learn how to love me better. It
was so special to read my letters aloud to him upon my return.

Since we've been in the same place (give or take a week here and there), Paul and I have enjoyed serving one another, finding pleasure in making the other person happy. Cooking dinner, doing dishes, offering to let the dog out when we're in the middle of watching a movie, etc. There are not adequate words to describe how it feels to GET to do these small things for him.

And the things he does for me... WOW.
The last night at camp, Paul came to my cabin and woke me up at 1am, took my hand, and led me to the dining hall where we got out choclate dip and strawberries - a delicacy anywhere, and especially after exhausting days of being dust-covered and sleep-deprived.

Paul pulled me up on stage twice in front of 300+ people and encouraged the campers to wait for the right one. Tears welled in his eyes as he told them about me.
This man loves me, honors me, and esteems me. I am so humbled...

As we drove home from camp together, we finally got a chance to debrief the conversations we had with campers. He told me had led a camper to Christ a few hours prior, right before he got on the bus to go home. I grabbed his hand and turned to him, saying "I did too!" With windows down and Hillsong playing in the cd player, we sat in silence for a few minutes, laughing and delighting in our perfect match and the way God has already chosen to use us as a team to
further His kingdom. It was our goal from the beginning to disciple people together, and we're evangelizing, too. And we're not even married, yet!

Last week, as we were pulling out of the church parking lot after a meeting with our wedding coordinator, we ended up at the Guler's home because he had a surprise for me. Remembering my dream to someday ride in a convertible, Paul had arranged to borrow their 40 year-old shiny red Datsun and chauffered me around the lake and through the hills of Longview. It was a hot summer evening and we cranked the tunes and rode around carefree.
I melted.

He often looks at me and says "I am so lucky." We both know it's a testament of God's faithfulness and our patience to hold out for each other.

As September 19th draws nearer, and the harder it is to leave each other each night (or for a week here and there) we are mindful that love is patient. :)

I am in awe of Paul's passion for Christ and people.
I am so moved by his thoughtfulness and creativity.

I am so crazy in love!

View our wedding website:
Photos courtesy of Jordan & Lianne Philips

Next Month

I'm getting married NEXT MONTH!
45 days to be exact.

I was supposed to help out at Kids Camp this week, but I'm practicing the art of saying "no" and so I stayed home instead.

(Home: the house I'm staying in until I get married, but really living out of my car, the garage, and my suitcase. Only 45 more days of this!)

Thankfully, my decision to stay home has brought on some immense feelings of discipline and motivation.

For example, I've been saying for a month that I want to go jogging around the lake, and that I want to spend this 'preparation before marriage' buried in the word so I can have the Armor of God on in the midst of trying times. Have I done either of these things?

Until yesterday, that is.

I'm on day two of a successful jog around the lake as well as spending time in the Word. The lake is only 2 1/2 blocks away from my soon-to-be-house, and it's my job this week to take care of Morgan while Paul is at camp. Right now, I'm showing Morgan who is boss by making her run with me - I literaly have to pull her along because she can't keep up (and I assure you, I'm not fast). This dog needs more exercise! I have also been warned that Morgan may eat my stuff and my mail - one of Paul's former roommates lost a phone charger to her mouth, and she tends to eat Paul's mail if she has been deprived of attention for too long. When I first moved up here, I also had a good-sized mark on my hand from where her mouth latched on while she was playing. Ohhhh Morgan. We have a lot to work on! :)

My push for digging in to the Bible has come from several wise women who have warned me that the time leading up to the wedding has potential to be quite difficult and trying. "The enemy still wants a foothold," they admonish me. It's true. I've felt up and down and easily overwhelmed, which isn't me. I LOVE planning things like this, but it's certainly more difficult than I thought it would be and it's taking a toll on my energy level. I want to enjoy this process!

Today I am working on invitations, getting pre-marital counseling arranged, tightening up our registry page, and thinking about a zillion other things.

After all, I'm getting married NEXT MONTH! :)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The BIG Move

My life has changed drastically in the last few weeks, and it's time to blog about it!

Unfortunately, my natural inclination to blog about my daily activities and happenings has been put on the back burner. I noticed that even in my final semester at NCU, I wasn't frequenting coffee shops as much, which is where I would normally zone out, read, journal, listen to music, and blog. I attribute most of it to the fact that I've been sharing my most intimate and immediate thoughts with Paul, and then don't feel as much of a need to write, since I've already processed through things with him.

The changes in the last few weeks, however, have required some serious need for reflection and additional processing. I'm hoping to get back into the habit of blogging once again and adding this back into my routine. I have already staked out a coffee shop within walking distance to the house with wi-fi, excellent atmosphere, and even opportunities to display art, should I feel so inspired.

So, where do I even begin?

Since my last post, I've officially quit my job and moved to Washington, and now I'm planning a wedding full-time and living out of 2 suitcases.

The morning I moved, I went out to my car and found that it had been TPed! I was actually flattered that someone had 'pranked' my car because no one had ever touched my things for the 2 years I had been at Northwest Christian. It was much welcomed, and I got a great laugh out of it. On my windshield are the words: "Bye E". (Thanks, Mike!)

Here I am with Kirsten on my last day in Eugene - this was before the tears and the painful goodbye. :(

Paul and I - sitting on the front steps of NCU after loading up the trailer. I was having a "sentimental moment" thinking about all the conversations I had in my tiny apartment, and locking the door behind me. It was emotional and exhausting, but I held it together pretty well...until I tried to put some things away at the house (trying not to call it "his" house anymore). I opened one cupboard and it was full. Opened another cupboard and it was full. Then I gave up, his mom came over, she hugged me, and then thI cried!

Here is the trailer with everything I own packed neatly inside:

Everything I own is now in the garage rather than in the trailer. (It's neatly stacked on the left)

My plants are taking over the house and it looks like a jungle inside! There are seven by the sink, and at least 5 in other places around the house. One of Paul's friends immediately commented "Dude! Your house has been feminized! I like it!" I think that's a compliment?!

As I write this, I'm in Grants Pass at a coffee shop, where I expect I'll be tomorrow, too. It is good to sit here with my mega to-do list and try to tackle some things like:
  • Figuring out where I'll get my dress altered in Longview
  • Completing the Save-the-Date cards and compiling addresses
  • Getting health insurance
  • Changing cell phone carriers
  • Deciding how to continue registering with Paul, who is 300 miles away
  • Trying to answer wedding-related questions that I don't have answers to, yet
  • Trying my absolute hardest to find beautiful dresses for my beautiful bridesmaids that don't scream "bridesmaid dress"
  • Answering the question "so why on earth did you choose September?! That's so soon!"
I am enjoying this season of my life being a fiance, and I am certainly getting ready to marry Paul. The Lord continues to affirm the timing and my new location. I have been warmly welcomed with a "Welcome to El-Town" party (Longview is referred to as L-Town, so it's only appropriate that I live there now), and so many relieved conversations with Paul.

I can't even begin to describe how wonderful it is to live in the same town and have face-to-face conversations instead of over the phone.

Goodbye, telephone boyfriend.
Hello, same-city fiance!

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Proposal

The Proposal, June 5, 2009

At 10:30am, this beautiful bouquet of flowers was delivered to my office with a note that read "Looking forward to the rest of our lives. -You know who"

At noon-ish, I met Paul for lunch in my apartment and we made sandwiches. He was expecting me to come home for lunch saying that my boss had excused me for the afternoon. Well, my boss never got the message, so I never got the message, and I went back to work!

Poor Paul was ready to propose and I went back to the office.

I finally came home around 4ish, and Paul told me he wanted to take me to Owen Park, which I recognized as the Rose Garden. After a little delaying on my part (I was trying to figure out if this was it or not!), we walked outside to my car. I figured he wouldn't make me drive to my own proposal, so I was really thrown off at this point.

We wandered through the maze of roses, and ended up inside a gazebo where a basket full of goodies was neatly displayed.

The card inside conveniently had my name on it, that said:
"Elizabeth, I've been waiting and praying a long time to say these words to you. I love you." This was the first time he had expressed his love for me.

I read the card over and over again and said "This is it!" out loud. I knew that when Paul told me he loved me, there would be commitment behind it. I gave Paul a huge hug, and I could hear and feel his heart beating abnormally fast. It really was beating INCREDIBLY fast!

He had to gently nudge me back so I'd let go of the bear hug so he could get down on one knee. He told me again that he loved me and then asked if I'd marry him.

Of course I said "YES!"

We sat on a bench outside of the gazebo and shared a glass of wine, cheese & crackers, and stories of the last few months and how we both knew "this was it."

As we were sitting on the bench, a live band had moved into the gazebo behind us and started singing love songs! I recognized them as well-known artists in Eugene because they had led worship at my church a few times. Another surprising detail of a very special day!

This is our first photo together as an engaged couple:

Because Paul thought I was getting the afternoon off, he had placed the basket in the gazebo 5 hours prior. He met a woman in the rose garden who was wearing a cross necklace and gave him the "I'm a Christian" look. He approached her, found out that she was, indeed, a Christian, and asked her to pray a prayer of protection over the things he was leaving in the gazebo since he wasn't sure when he'd be back to the garden with me. The lady expressed some concern over the unattended items because a lot of transients wander through the park. Then they prayed together! This is where he met the Christian lady:

Later that evening, we attended a Hawaiian themed dinner at Kirsten's house (pre-arranged plans) and we decided to show up wearing matching Hawaiian shirts and be "thaaat couple." It was a fun way to celebrate with friends and be goofy.


I accompanied Paul to Longview Saturday evening so I could be at church Sunday morning when he preached. He gave an amazing sermon based on Proverbs 16 -- man plans his course but the Lord determines his steps. To close the service, Paul talked about how this verse has meant a lot to him ... and how he had been in Eugene for the weekend and had asked me to marry him. At that point, he called me up on stage (in front of a few hundred people) and people cheered and clapped and screamed. Several people even cried out of utter joy!!! They commented to us over and over again how happy they are for us, and how they'd been praying for Paul for 6 years, ever since he started pastoring at the church. I was warmly welcomed into the church family and several people even told me they knew I was 'the one' when they met me at camp last July - before Paul and I even started dating!

It was a very special moment to share with his church, especially since I'll be relocating to Longview once we're married... in about 3 months! :)

My beautiful engagement ring:

My handsome fiance: :)

Monday, April 13, 2009

a funky week

Things are better now, but a few weeks ago, things felt funky/off/different/whatever you want to call it.

I first felt it on a Sunday night and dreaded going to work the next morning.
Sure enough, Monday morning felt like a Monday. And so did Tuesday. And Wednesday. And each subsequent day.

I didn't feel like myself. I lacked motivation and discipline. My job didn't excite me. My one on ones felt dull and lifeless. I ran out of questions to ask and things to talk about. The ones that usually run long ran 1/2 hour short. My mom even commented on my lack of drive as 'abnormal' so I knew it wasn't just me or a bad day.

Paul encouraged me to seek the Lord and reflect on what was making my days so difficult.

And so I cried out. And literally cried.
I realized I wasn't feeling fulfilled. I felt stuck, purposeless, and just. plain. tired. I thought of Bolivia - a place where I experienced similar emotions halfway through my time there, and yet I was absolutely convinced I was exactly where God wanted me to be. Right smack dab in the middle of His will for my life.

I know I've written about that feeling before - the longing to experience that certainty again. In the here and now. In the mundane, day in/day out, routine of it all. The present.

An RA shared a quote with me last week.. "today is a gift which is why it's considered the present" or something like that. I've been missing the gift of today.

I am thankful for good friends and good writers who blog more frequently than I and consequently give me something good to read when I am fresh out of words myself. Peter & Beth Smart's simple blog, Organic Fruit, reminded me that to practice the presence of God is enough (thank you, Brother Lawrence, too. His book is next on my "to read" list). Nothing matters as much as this.

And so, I am trying to practice the presence of God... in the present.
While still dreaming about the future and wondering about the past... and seeking answers for all the looming question marks about my near future.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Catching Up

I've almost written a few posts in the last two weeks. I log in several times a week, open a "new post" window, and then somewhere along the way, get distracted and don't end up writing a thing. It is time to catch up!

Life continues to be full. A few student concerns have heightened my awareness of campus activity and emotional stressers. One girl was recently diagnosed with Epilepsy and continues to have multiple seizures in the dorm. Another fell out of bed last night due to a nightmare and broke her arm. Two weeks ago, our campus went on "lock down" and the police showed up with sniper rifles and requested roof access because a former student showed up who had been deemed as 'dangerous.' Yikes.

On a more positive note...

We're at 4 weeks and counting, which means I've almost finished my second school year here at NCU. Tomorrow night, we're having a fondue night for all of next year's student leaders as a way to induct them into their new leadership positions. I hired a dynamo staff of 6, including a Senior RA, which will take on some additional responsibilities. This year's group appropriately named themselves the "Dream Team", and, like any group of stellar people, it will be different to move on and let this year be... this year. I rehired 3 RAs (the other 4 are either getting married or graduating) which speaks volumes about their capacity to do their job well. Way to go, Team!

4 weeks and counting... as with any month that starts with the letter "A", the storm is a brewin.' The winds are starting to pick up this week - with a CPR/First Aid training course and intramurals this evening, the fondue night tomorrow, followed by a Chile Team meeting, etc. I am savoring the placid waters this week, in spite of my evening commitments. Check out/Dead Week/Finals week/and my departure for Chile are quickly approaching and there is no looking back.

We received our plane tickets to Chile today. Unfortunately, do the economy, fundraising has been much slower than in years prior and we still have about $9,000 to raise by the time we depart on May 13th - exactly one month from today. We are continuing to believe God has a purpose for each person on our team and He has provided in the past.

On Saturday, our campus is sponsoring a Homeless Outreach event called the "Touch Project" to touch the people of Eugene. We are excited to offer haircuts, foot washing, clothes, a beautification station, and a big BBQ. A couple students are heading this up and our campus is getting on board. This is going to be awesome!

Yes, life is full, and yes, life is good.
Somehow, everything gets accomplished and I know we'll make it to the summer.
Well, for me, it's 4 weeks till Chile, then summer.

6 1/2 weeks... :)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

All Nighter

It is 6:35am and no, I'm not getting UP, I'm going to bed. Finally.
I haven't stayed up all night since college, and I have vowed (many times) never to do it again.

I was called at 1AM to accompany a student to the hospital, and I've been there ever since. Thankfully, she checked out ok, but I made the executive decision to take her, and although my body isn't too happy with me right now, I'm glad we went to the ER. I've been concerned about her health for quite some time and what I witnessed this evening left no room for negotiating! I'm pretty sure I even said "I'm making the executive decision. Let's go."

In a way, it feels strangely normal to be the decision-maker for such serious situations. I think it's because I'm in my groove, in my element, I've found my niche, I've upped my game... whatever you want to call it. There is a sense of "I know what I'm doing" and it feels great. :)

I sure haven't blogged lately. Sure, I think about blogging. Quite often, actually. I definitely have lots of everyday stories to share and heartaches to bear.

I'm blaming my blogging hiatus on the big questions I'm asking and the grand answers I'm seeking. Perhaps I'm still in the 'verbal processing and thinking stage', so blog posts haven't quite been formulated from my thoughts, yet.

Maybe I'll bust out a string of posts sometime soon.
Stay tuned!

Oh, and this was officially my last all-nighter... until next time!

Good night... or good morning... I'm finally going to bed!

Monday, March 9, 2009

NCU Butterfly Kisses

On Friday night, Residence Life sponsored the Hall Music Video Awards Night. For the past month or so, each residence hall has been filming and editing a music video for this awards screening. Residents could choose any song they wanted to and come up with their own music video.

They got extra points for involoving staff, faculty, and commuter students. They also got bonus points if their hall relic (gnome, framed 1970s picture of Jesus, a road sign, etc.) made an appearance, or if they stole a different hall's relic and incorporated it into their video.

It was a "Grammy's" style theme, so everyone came dressed to impress. I was the host and we had 8 judges.

This was the winning video, put together by the second floor of the apartments. Beware - if the song "Butterfly Kisses" has sentimental value to you, this video might taint this song from here on out.

These are the incredibly talented, hilarious students I get to see everyday!

Did you find me in the wedding scene?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Valentine's Day '09

Even at a retreat with 50 kids, we found a few quiet moments to spend together on February 14th. Our first Valentine's Day together!

Chapel Message from Feb. 6th

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of sharing in chapel again, for the third time.

I challenged our students to share their secrets and become children of the light (Ephesians 4.) I keep coming back to the concept of freedom, knowing that many students have junk they are hiding in the dark.

I've recently been intrigued by PostSecret and the man behind it all: Frank Warren. He's become known as the "most trusted stranger in America." Basically, Frank had an idea for a community art project which has now turned into a worldwide phenomenon of telling secrets. He left 3000 blank postcards in public places with these simple instructions: "reveal anything, as long as it is true, and send to to me."

The art project is long over, yet Frank continues to receive 1000 postcards per week. In addition to publishing several volumes of postcards (available at most bookstores), he has created an online community where he publishes 20 new secrets every Sunday. Many of the proceeds from Frank's work go toward the Suicide Prevention hotline.

Why is this secret phenomenon so intriguing? Why have over 1 million people visited the website? Why do so many people send this stranger their secrets?

Relief. Freedom. Healing. To not feel so alone. Community. Love. Forgiveness. Relief.

This whole concept is Biblical.

Proverbs 28:13 says "He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy."

John 3:19-21 Light has come into the world but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the Truth will come into the light so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.

Healing happens when we confess. James 5 says "Therefore, confess your sins to each other any pray for each other so that you may be healed."

I challenged our campus to participate in our own version of Frank's project: Campus Secret.

The message was way better received than I had anticipated. The response is heartbreaking and leaves me... speechless. My RA staff has been so affected by this project, too. During our staff meeting, I read each postcard aloud and laid them on my carpet. We sat in silence, feeling the pain, courage, and bondage behind each one.

Feelings of inadequacies have arisen: "How do we even begin to deal with such hurt?"
"I don't feel like I have anything to offer."
"These secrets are so huge."
"My problems seem so insignificant. I'm getting the bigger picture."
"For being such a small campus, I really thought we knew each other. I was wrong."

For me, I'm in awe of how big God is. Only God can handle all these secrets. Praise God.

The timing of all this has been incredible, too, and none of it was planned. Though this topic has been on my heart for several months, it "just so happened" to fall into a campus-wide concept of repentance and forgiveness. Our display was brought to an end with 15 straight hours of prayer, where at least 10-15 students signed up for at least one hour each. Our campus pastor even shared a heartbreaking piece of his testimony in chapel that has opened up another door for vulnerability, trust, and respect.

It's so humbling and lots of things are left undone. Many need counseling. They need help climbing out of the pit. They need someone to listen, to love them, to sit by them. I know about unwanted pregnancies, deaths in families, sickness, financial hardships, hospital visits, broken hearts, etc.

I devoted the proceeding blogs to sharing more about the Campus Secret project.
I encourage you to follow the steps (as outlined in the post) and take a virtual tour of our exhibit.

May you, too, experience grace and wholeness as you journey into freedom with our Healer.

Press Release

Students Collaborate For Campus Secret Art Project
EUGENE, Ore. — Students from the NCU campus have joined together to share a secret: they are not alone. Inspired by the Post Secret Campaign begun in January 2004, when 3,000 postcards were distributed for people to share their secrets anonymously, students at Northwest Christian University have also taken 126 postcards—some blank, some with designs, others with pictures and personal drawings—and are sharing their anonymous cards as a reminder of the need for living wholly without unhealthy secrets.
Elizabeth Seybold, Area Residence Coordinator at NCU, shared the vision for Campus Secret is “to provide more awareness for what students are carrying around campus.” Within the element of confession and repentance, she hopes that “people are experiencing freedom from sharing these things on their heart” in a Biblical sense.
As this is the first time Campus Secret has been held on this campus, many are questioning the authenticity of these secrets. Seybold responded “While I don’t know if all of them are true, I think there is truth behind all of them…But I’m treating them, like they are true, as this was the intent of the project.”
These postcards range from zany, funny, and strange to heart-wrenching confessions with images of teardrops. The most common secret shared is the feeling of being alone and unnoticed in the midst of such a small campus. Along with this posting, people have left anonymous responses: “You are not alone” and “You are loved.”
“I didn’t know this project was going to be so big,” Seybold commented. “I’ve been really, really impressed with the response and that people took it seriously.” Seybold hopes, along with many other faculty and staff members that this project will bring about a time of healing and communal bonding. As Seybold shares, quoting the Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.”

Campus Secret

Instructions for submitting secrets:

The secret dropbox:

A description of the Campus Secret project:

Steps for viewing the Campus Secret display:

The display in the chapel lobby:

Our campus' secrets:

"I think Jesus died for everyone else and I deserve to die and suffer in hell."

"You guys helped me not kill myself."
"I'm so ready to love, but fear is holding me back."

"I judge people who remind me of myself"

"My heart aches to be more important than your work. -daughter."

Almost every story I've told is fabricated since they weren't good enough. Now I don't know if I remember what really happened.

"I hate that the "beauty" on the outside keeps you from seeing what's REAL on the inside."

Visitors were encouraged to share their initial comments/reactions/responses on the paper provided. This is what some of them wrote:

"I'm sorry."
"We are all so much alike but so afraid to admit it."

"I just pray God uses this to heal the brokenhearted and bring freedom to this campus."

More responses:
"I don't care what you've done. I love you." "Prove it."

"Lord, please show each person both you are there and let them see they are not alone." "Hebrews 6:19 We have this HOPE as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure."

"God knew our secrets before the postcard. Don't fear His forgiveness. It is painful, but it works. I know from experience. 1 John 1:9 Romans 8:38"

"Faith. Is not just for the scared ones."

Displayed under the comment section:

The display, part 1:
The display, part 2: