Sunday, December 24, 2006

I Wish for You...

Laughter! Wow, tonight we enjoyed the entertainment of a 2 year old! It has been a while since we've loved playing in the wrapping paper and Garrett, my cousin Micky's little guy, brought us back to the simple pleasures of running back and forth through the mess. I'm still smiling...his first gift was a box full of musical instruments. He wasn't too interested as we all tried to show him how to use his new harmonica. After each attempt, he would grab it out of our hands and take it to the table where we couldn't touch it! He just didn't like it until he learned how to use it and that's when the show began. Clothed in a diaper, he held center stage laughing at us laughing at him and giggling til he had us around his little finger! It was perfectly sweet.

On the flip side, this is the first Christmas we've had without grandpa Jack. He's been in the hospital for the last few days and though Garrett had us going, Gramp was missed. I went to see him again today, but didn't stay because he was out with the medication. I left sad. I've had the most wonderful relationship with my grandpa so I'm not sad in that I feel like I've missed out on something, but having not seen him for the last six months he just isn't the same. I knew he would look older, but as I left the hospital today I kept thinking, "That's just not grandpa. That is not the man I remember." Life, that's really all I can reason.

Turning the corner again. We have developed a family tradition of watching "Christmas Vacation" on Christmas Eve. Every year we watch it as if it is the first time we've ever seen it! Cousin Eddie, we can't get over him and Clark, well, "Who is this Chevy Chase anyway?" We laugh. Of course in all of this, I find LOVE. The love of the Savior in celebrating His arrival and the love of family who I've been blessed to walk through time with.

Merry Christmas from me to you.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

His Coming to Us

A fun picture from our trip to EPCOT Sunday. Billina was in town for a few days and Brayshawna got us into the park for a fun evening traveling around the world!

His coming to us. As I wrote my final emails at work here this evening I found my fingers keying the phrase, "I hope you are enjoying this season celebrating His coming to us." Just talking about celebrating the birth of Jesus doesn't give this time of year the weight it deserves. His coming to us...not just about His being born (and the verses that follow) but about His coming to us. I know I keep saying that, but really when you think about it, doesn't it make your heart flutter that someone would come for you. Someone would lay it all on the line and jump in there after you because He could see you weren't going to make it if He didn't come to get you. After a year like this, my soul overflows! He came to get me and when He did get me, He sent me on this great journey which I feel like I've really had the opportunity to experience in 2006.

One of the great things I love about Powers, life slows down for me there and I have time to reflect. I have a dream of building a little cabin on my parents' property out in the trees overlooking the river...a place where I can hear the river flow. When I came down here to Florida for my "interview" in May, I had to take what's called the Strength Finder's test. Basically, a lot of questions to narrow down your strong areas. Guess what one of my strengths was! INTELLECTION! Yeah, well don't start thinking you have a genius on your hands! It merely means I like to be introspective, hence the time I love to take reflecting, processing, and writing! It is good to learn about yourself! I've had so much fun keeping this blog as it has allowed me to share my life with you this year.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas as you celebrate His coming to us. Take some time, reflect, forget about New Year's Resolutions of making it to the gym 5 times a week...get to know yourself better next year and enjoy the ride! He's coming for you!

A quick recap...

"My Year"
Bought a ticket, quit my job, rode a plane to Costa Rica, asked, “What have I gotten myself into?!”, studied Spanish, hurt my brain, nearly died on a snorkeling tour, cooked with Ticas, embraced the sunrise, interviewed for a job on Avenida Dos, traveled to Florida, struggled through telling you I was moving cross country, packed the car, drove through lots of states with Leah, learned about humidity, met some more really wonderful people, ate BBQ in Nashville, learned about mold, moved yet again, introduced mom to boiled peanuts, showed Sara and Alisa what white sand looks like, moved…again, shopped with Billina around the world, packed my bags and winter clothes… I’m flying in a plane home for Christmas.

Friday, December 15, 2006

This came across my desk today.

Some time when the river is ice ask me mistakes I have made. Ask me whether what I have done is my life. Others have come in their slow way into my thought, and some have tried to help or to hurt: ask me what difference their strongest love or hate has made.

I will listen to what you say. You and I can turn and look at the silent river and wait. We know the current is there, hidden; and there are comings and goings from miles away that hold the stillness exactly before us. What the river says, that is what I say.

-William Stafford, “Ask Me”

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

It was below freezing here today!

One week and counting...
I just got an email from Sara, "Steph is coming home..." She speaks truth! These past few weeks have been full of activities and I'm trying to get into the Christmas spirit. I decided to try and do my shopping when I get home, I can't imagine trying to haul a bundle along with me, so I haven't been out in the madness of the malls and it's still in the high 70s this week. Kinda difficult to feel like it "'tis the season."

A sweet treat this morning, I walked into my local Starbucks to order my new favorite holiday drink...grande, 3 pumps peppermint, with room, americano (yum) and as I pulled out my wallet to pay, Angel (my barista!!!) said, "No, no. This one is on us." What a treat, I really like my new Starbucks!

Tonight, I just got back from Gaylord Palms' ICE! with Jennifer and Melissa. ICE! = 2 million pounds of ice, 5000 blocks, used to make some really phenominal sculptures and all at a chilly 9 degrees. They keep an 18,000 square foot room blocked off for a sort of tour with an ice slide at the end. Ok, so it's beginning to feel more like Christmas! They even hand out special jackets that fall mid-calf and are equipped with a hood! I pulled out my wool gloves, down vest, stocking cap and felt like a fool leaving my place yet glad I had them once we entered the freezing zone. It was still cold!

With Jennifer and Melissa. Teachers I have met through Phil and Janann. Jennifer is Caden's teacher.

The Nativity Scene

Isn't it nice?

Not as nice as seeing you!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I can smell the cold!

I was just looking at my calendar and realized, "Wow! Only 14 days until I am home for Christmas!" Elated, that's me! All these pictures start flooding my memory, I-5 through Portland over the river, the boring stretch from Corvallis to Eugene, the winding turns on the Powers road and suddenly I see the Leatherman's house as the road begins to drop me into the most familiar territory I have known in my life...I've pounded on these roads with my feet, I've ridden horses and 4-wheelers through these trees, I've "cruised" countless miles along the straight stretch...and I can see the river gorging with water from all the rain. As brown as it is it still carries a mighty power. And the cold...I can smell the cold, feel it as it burns my lungs out on my run in which I see a mere 5 cars (mostly trucks) passing me, crossing into the other lane to steer clear of the runner! And there are the cows...for some reason they have become a significant part of my picture of home...only now as I watch them I can see my brothers newly built house surrendered to the hanging bluffs and supplying the backdrop of this simple picture of home. Home, I can't wait for it to hit all 5 senses!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Oh What FUN!!!

It is Monday and the weekend has passed, but what a great weekend it was. We held our annual State Youth Convention at the Rosen Centre Hotel on International Drive with, I believe, over a thousand middle and high school students in attendance from all over the state. I had two roles this weekend and I just loved doing both! The weekend was not a part of my paid job description, but because I work here, I was asked to help and privileged to do so. My biggest job was taking care of our speaker, the band, and our emcee. Friday night getting all of them there was the adrenaline rush! Two were flying in late, one band member lost her luggage on the flight down and then another switched rooms and lost her luggage in the hotel between floors and bellhops! EEEEEEEEEE She walked on stage with what felt like seconds to spare! My other job was leading the high school girls' session on Saturday morning which was also a ton of fun. So much personal experience came out in that time as I shared some about my life and reflected on the life of Esther. I had little sleep over the entirety of the weekend, but was energized at the same time.

I think I've mentioned Margaret on here before. She is the one who prayed for me even before I set foot in Florida and I still meet with her and Greg and another pastor on Thursday mornings for prayer! Finally, that's a pictures of her and I backstage in the "greenroom." She spent the weekend at the hotel praying for the whole thing!

This was our emcee for the weekend, Jeff. He kept me on my toes all weekend, but I had a blast running around after him! (Really Jeff, I did!) Jeff doesn't stop with the funny, but you know me...I did talk him into one serious conversation over breakfast!

Patrick (sitting), Bill, Maggie, Phil, and Steve. All but Patrick, are a part of GraceRiver Church here in Orlando. It was so much fun working this event with so many people on staff with the church or in the Resource Center. I'm just glad I still get to work with these folks and hopefully be a part of some more amazing events here in the near future! This was our hospitality suite and Bill made sure snacks were available all weekend when we could sneak away and grab a quick bite. Our only meal together was on Friday before the kids arrived and the madness began.

Can you believe the Christmas season is here. I'm so excited, it means I get to go home for a long visit and see so many of you! I have already put up some Christmas decor and I promise I will put pictures of my new place up this week. Just let me finish decorating and I'll take pictures then!

My love to you all.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Some more pics!

This post has pictures, but scroll down to "Happy Thanksgiving" for an update!
Three Amigas at Siesta Key Beach.
Ok, I think this one needs explaining! They have live bait vending machines outside of Wal-Mart! Worms...we used to pour soapy water on the lawn at night and wait for them to come up for air!
Alisa and I. That's my new house in the background...I always knew there was a (warrior) princess inside of me!Ok, this one was on my magic carpet ride! We were way too impatient to wait in long lines at Disney, so we hopped on the rides with short lines...we went with Aladdin to see a whole new world!
Sara and Alisa on the tram after a quick day at DisneyWorld! Yes, it's time for jackets even in Florida! I love these girls!
I am now in a 2 bed/2 bath condo and have plenty of room for visitors. You can see from the pics what fun we have here in Florida!:) Looking forward to seeing some of you at Christmas! You are loved!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm so thankful for so much. This morning as I sat in Starbucks and spent time preparing for this weekend (this is the weekend I'm speaking to the h.s. girls at our state convention) I realized this morning was a gift. The temperature was 39 with wind chill, I had an eggnog latte, my journal, my Bible, my wool coat, my insturmental Christmas tunes (I know it's early, but I play it when I can) and I sat and just enjoyed the moments. Life has been moving so quickly. I'm not advocating for it to slow down, but my plate has been full of activities and I sense I need rest and some new boundaries. Most of what is happening is on the fly and that catches me off guard and unprepared most of the time. The lesson I'm learning? I've got to continue to live and enjoy God in the midst of the fly and I need to take care of myself.

So much has happened in the span of this year. I'm surprised by some of it and thankful for all of it. The opportunities and adventures and people I've crossed paths I think of the gang I ran around with in Costa Rica, Eloisa-Anita-Damien, and that I am now in Florida and doing things I've prayed for. So much stuff---I feel exhausted in some ways and energized in others. I'm really looking forward to Powers over Christmas break...some major down time.

Alas, it was wonderful to have Sara and Alisa here for a long weekend! We did it all! Disneyworld, Siesta Key, Downtown Disney, Celebration, shopping in the boutiques (and Wal-Mart). It was just so good to have some home here. It was the perfect time too, not too short and enough time to really feel like we had time to visit. Because of this new job and all the exposure I've had lately to personality profiles and tests, I made them take a few tests. We did one of them over dinner while listening to a guy sing (well actually I think Alisa sang louder) some old favorites as we enjoyed dining on the roof top deck of a fun little mexican restaurant! We laughed alot! Good for the soul! Here are a few fun pics!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

It's Me...I'm Here!

Hey folks! Wow, I feel neglectful and I apologize because I have had so much I want to share and yet so overwhelmed and busy with work and life and company from home (Yeah!) that I've not been on here much at all. I want to put pictures on, but my camera was on vacation (hopefully only dead batteries) while Sara and Alisa were here, so I'm waiting on their pictures before I can put them up on the blog!

Alas, I have found a place to live and stayed up until 3AM last night settling in. You know me, I'm a nester and once I get somewhere, I have to unpack and I get so excited organizing and putting things away and rearranging my furniture. I have a very incredible place and I just happened upon it. Never lived in, 2 bed/2 bath, price was dropped right before I called, cozy small complex with a beautiful commons area. I'm excited about it and feel like I can really live here. Because it is newly renovated, the inside plumbing has been a problem, but I am hopeful for an easy fix.

It was warm again today! Wierd that Thanksgiving is only a week away and I'm still in t-shirts and flip-flops. I kinda like it right now though. I had my first eggnog latte (mmmmm) last week and it was the strangest thing to drink it and not be wearing a sweater and a wool jacket with mittens and a scarf! I miss mittens and scarves...I'll just wear them 24/7 over Christmas!:)

I want to continue this journey with you and I do intend to keep posting so stop by every once in a while. Something tells me the ride is going to get even more exciting! Just perspective on life!
Love you all and looking forward to visiting soon and some frost on the grass!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Mom's Visit

Just dropped mom off at the airport. Was great to have her here and run around the state for the weekend. Here are a few of the pics. She even went to sushi with me last night! Love and miss you all.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Siesta Key

Today I spent the day on the Gulf side of Florida at a beautiful white-sand beach, Siesta Key. Yeah, I had a bit of a siesta, mostly just a time of relaxation away. I stayed in Tampa last night and will again tonight to take the drive time off and visit with Drew and Allison.

So the adventure to Siesta Beach was a test of preference. For those of you coming to visit (Mom, Sara, and Alisa very soon and Billina in Dec.), I had to check this place out to see if it was worth the drive...yeah, I think so. The sand is white powder and the water is clear. The beach stretches about 6 miles so though it is crowded, you can find peace and quiet this time of year.

Florida...still acclimating. The weather is turning fall...finally. Last week was HOT and still humid...I mean hot! Eihty-six degrees at 9 PM! And then yesterday I walked out the door at 6:30 for my morning run and suddenly, COLD! Cold here can be 50 degrees, but the humidity makes it feel so much colder. The weekend its supposed to warm up again giving Mom and I good beach weather.

I really am enjoying the fact that it is late October and I can still go to the beach. Not that I've spent a whole lot of time there, but I'm embracing the gift of Florida. Still homeless and looking for a comfortable place that feels like me. Love and miss you all.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Gas Buy Down---GraceRiver Church

Today was our first official event with GraceRiver Church ( called a gas buy down. I'd never heard of such a thing, but we teamed up with a Hess gas station and paid $5 off the top of the first 127 cars to come through for gas. It was a great "splash" and well recieved by most. We pumped gas, handed out waters, cleaned windows...served the community.

Elizabeth and Gina chatting with UCF football players.

Our first I did not ride off without a helmet! Just wanted a picture on the Harley!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Fast and Furious

Well, that went much smoother than expected. The gang came over and had me out of my condo in about 5 hours. I've already unloaded and nested in my temporary space with the Rudloff family. A few more photos to add to the moving file!

Moving Day!

Oh I can't even believe the title of this post! Yuck. No wonder I've learned to "travel light!" I'm curious though...wonder how many countries/cities I camped in over the course of this year. I'm tired............................

Life has been so busy these past few weeks and I feel behind in communicating with you all either over the phone or email. We have just finished some major conferences, back to back weeks and now suddenly I realize I'm packing up my belongings. My landlord has been kind enough not to put up a stink about the contract, thankfully. I had been staying in hotels during the conferences and when I came home again this weekend, I realized how bad the smell in here really is. So, I'm outta here! Vagabond...maybe? Somebody want to write a song for me? I can hear it, a fiddle in the background!:) LOL Did Willy Nelson have a song like this?

Last night we (Mary Kay, Greg, Judy, and Mike) went out to Boston's for fish-n-chips and then to Jeremiah's for some really tasty coconut italian ice. mmm

I just got home from a 10 miler this morning. Feels great to be in running shape again, but I'm not so sure about the upcoming long runs...18 miles! My marathon partners, Erin and Sandra, are great to run with. Erin is our coach and keeps us on pace. We spend so much time talking during our runs, we often forget we are running...most of the time!

Sandra (making Erin pretty) works part-time at a sushi place so after our speed workout last week, we had some phenomenal sushi...I know you don't believe me, but this was succulent. Full of flavor! I'm seriuos, it's my new favorite food! Sunset roll and Malibu roll.

Oh, yes! The weather here is BEAUTIFUL. Perfect temperatures, not too humid, I'm headed to Siesta Key next Friday for a much needed mini-break! It's one of the top-rated beaches in the world...I'm checking it out to see if it is worthy of the 2.5 hours to take my visitors from the NW to. I will definately post pics next weekend!

Ok, I've avoided packing as long as possible!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Battle Within

I don't know why, but my head and my heart cause so many of my battles! I tear up at the idea of having to wrap all my stuff up in boxes again and live as a transient until I can find another place, but I'm left without much of a choice. The Rudloffs (Bill and Beth-Katie and Evan) have opened their extra room to me so I don't have to run out and find another place under pressure. I know I HAVE to move and am disgusted at the idea of mold spores in my lungs, but overwhelmed with the hassle and not having my own place and the reality of the price of houses/condos/for sale/for rent down here!

Saturday was a 12-miler and it felt great. Maybe in the midst of all this frustration, the intensity is relieved through the run. We have been going on our long runs early on Saturday morning while it is still cool and they have been has actually surprised me how much I am enjoying it!

Drew and Allison came over from Tampa this weekend for a visit. Remember, they are the couple I knew from Portland...Allison and I worked together for a short bit of time at my last job and Drew and I spent 3 weeks at Malibu in Canada on the same team, leading the high school kids. We met Friday night out at Celebration (the town Disney developed) for dinner. The weather is getting "cooler" in the evenings so we sat outside. It feels like vacation...the atmosphere and warm weather. Saturday night we went to Universal Studio's City Walk...lots of restaurants-Hard Rock, Emeril's, Bubba Gump Shrimp, Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville- and had dinner. Living around and near all these tourist attractions has made it feel like some ways!

In the midst of all of the commotion...I am sad and I miss so much. It doesn't change that I am here and feel right about being here. Never the less, I am still grieving the change and loss. Oh, the battle within! Love sent to you all!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I FINALLY washed my car!

That's right! I finally washed the bugs from Texas, the red dirt from New Mexico, and the pine needles from Vancouver off my car. It is cooling off down here and people are starting to show up outside. I have met a few more neighbors, but unfortunately the meeting with my upstairs neighbors, Famie and Benny, was due to a water leak. Yes, they had trouble with their AC or something and right after Labor Day weekend, I had a bucket full of water dripping from the entry to the laundry room and water "sweating" out of the walls and door frame. So what does that mean here, MOLD! Or so I am guessing. And I think that has been the smell I continue to deal with. My co-workers started an intervention group and keep bugging me about moving out. Oh how I want to get away from the smell! Oh how I don't want to move again this year! I have been moving physically and emotionally since January! AHHH to no avail, such is the theme for 2006 (of course with lots of exciting things in there too!). So, I talked with my landlord, condo management company, and handy-man about 3 weeks ago and nothing has happened. A letter has been written and will be mailed tomorrow giving them 7 days to fix the problem. I don't know what's going to happen. I told my mom I am just tired right now. I don't have the energy to deal with yet another "furniture-moving-apt" problem. Ok, I think I'm done complaining! :)

Tomorrow night a few of us are going to see Elizabeth in a S.T.A.G.E. performance, "Once upon a Mattress" based on the "Princess and the Pea" children's story. She works at Disney (remember I can't tell you what she does) and also does many shows and musicals. The play is at EPCOT. Though we will be bussed in and won't get to walk around the park, I will still get a glimpse of the park. During the next few months they have a food and wine festival going on. EPCOT is the park that has all of the restaurants from around the world inside. You can have dinner in Italy and eat dessert in France!

Things here continue to be super busy and I'm getting more and more comfortable with my job. I am still learning etc, but I at least have a bit of an idea how things work now!

Tomorrow is "Thursday Morning Prayer with Margaret." I don't know if I've told you about Margaret yet, but she is 82, lives about an hour west of Orlando, and a wonderful woman. When I came down for my interview in May, I met Margaret and spent a morning praying with her, Greg, and a few other pastors. When I was introduced to her she said, "So this is the face that I have been praying for!" It is a priveledge to meet with her weekly and pray.

I'm off to finish my chores tonight! Love and miss you all!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

A day by the Pool

Well, ok, not a day but a good hour or so. Saturday morning was my 8 mile run (Whew, am glad to get that over with, but here come more!) and after I drank a gallon of water, I grabbed my towel and headed out to the pool. NOTE: I have never sweat so much in my life and have realized how easy it is to get dehydrated quickly down here! Leah and I had a phone date so I took my phone with me, snapped a silly picture, and figured out how to email it to myself! Today was my Grandpa's birthday and he is doing better. It is Sunday night, I'm all over the map here, and I need to head to bed...not sure if I'm ready for Monday, but when are we ever ready for a Monday. Maybe Starbucks will help! :) Good night my friends and loved ones!

Friday, September 15, 2006

New New New

A few new posts!!

Moving Right Along

These weeks seem like they are flying by. Soon mom will be here to visit, then Sara and Alisa to celebrate our 30th birthdays (though I am still 29 ladies;)!!!), then Billina right before I come home for Christmas! Whew! I'm looking forward to it. Some more new news...Greg returned from Brazil on Wednesday. He was speaking at the same conference as the one in Costa Rica only this time they all met in Brazil. It sounds like I may have opportunity to go to Brazil in January for a youth forum. I will keep you posted. Looking forward to a relaxing weekend, some more exploring, and hopefully giving my car a bath. It hasn't had one since rains every afternoon and I don't want to be out in it! Have a great weekend!

New Faces

I am finally getting on the ball and getting my camera out for some new shots. Tonight we had a GraceRiver "cookout" (not BBQ down here!) and I informed them I would be snapping pictures so I could introduce all of you. After talking so much, here a few faces to put with the names! These are all folks that either live or have moved to Orlando to be a part of planting a church in SE Orlando where houses are going up like mad and people are moving in from everywhere. I learned from my flight buddy (chatty guy on the plane on my way home from Nashville) 800 some odd people are moving to FL every day! Any of you have plans I need to know about?!?!?

Carmen and Alejandro. I met Alejandro through involvement with Cuba while still in Vancouver. They moved their family from Tampa to Orlando about the same time I moved down here. Their oldest, Maggie, works at the Resource Center with us. Carmen is a fantastic cook...the best pico de gallo!

Greg and Mary Kay. Greg is the one who "interviewed" me in Costa Rica. They have been so gracious in my transition to Florida.

Mike and Kathi. They are some of the few that actually lived in Orlando previous to July of this year!

Bill (and Beth not pictured) with their daughter Katie. Bill and Beth helped me furnish the new place and Katie and I share a Napolean Dynamite bond!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

This is Phil and Janann. They have three boys Caden, Gabe, and Blake. Phil is the life of the party and Janann keeps it under control! They moved to Orlando from Lakeland (between Tampa and Orlando).

Meet Ken and Sheila Love. Ken was the lead pastor of a church in Ohio and they moved to Orlando over Labor Day weekend. Ken drove a u-haul down...I'll know better next time!

Steve and Erin. Erin in the daughter of Greg and Mary Kay. They moved to Orlando over Labor Day as well and are former residents of Bradenton, the gulf side of Florida.

Ken, Phil, and Nate (wife Elizabeth not pictured). Elizabeth works for Disney and was at a rehearsal during the cookout. This picture is not posed!

Erin again and this time with Mike (wife Judy not pictured). Mike works at the Resource Center also. He is our finance guy.

Meet Bray. She works for Disney although she can't tell you what she does! ;) Those Disney folks keep it top-secret!