St. Helens Day Trip

As Papa Bruce drove us (me, the kids, and mom) up I5, passing into Washington, he debated changing the course of the day-trip he ‘d planned. Looking to the east, we saw a thick haze shrouding the mountains, from summer forest fires. There was no use in going to Mt. St.Helens if it was just going to be smoky and visibility dull. The coast sounded like a good alternative to me. So at our pit-stop, the Kalama River picnic area, he declared, “Ok, ok…I can be democratic. Let’s take a vote. Hands up for the beach. Now hands up for St.Helens.” St. Helens won by 1 pair of hands so after exploring, berry picking, monkey bar swinging and discovering thousands of strange spidery snail-like creatures in the river, we revved up the minivan and were off for Braylon and Angel’s very first adventure to an erupted volcano.

Papa has a knack for finding places to stop that have hidden treasures. One stop we made was a simple turn-out o viewpoint. But when we got out we could hear the sound of rushing water across the road. When we followed him over, and through an opening in a bush, we saw the gorgeous flow of a waterfall splashing into tons of loose, slippery rocks. It was hot by then, so I sure welcomed the fresh water spray and the sight of this lil oasis. The kids were quite brave navigators til Angel started screaming wildly … she saw a bee. We stayed long enough to chat with another visitor who was traveling from the east coast and must have needed a shower, cause he had his shirt off and gave himself one right there in the fall. Off we took, to the land of parched and blasted trees.

Another stop we made on our way, was the Forestry Visitors Center…a very nice building and gift shop, where Bray and Angel got to buy souvenirs (a sling shot & a lil frog with magnetic limbs).

When we got to our destinations off of Spirit Lake Rd, an amazing viewpoint and the Johnston Observatory, the kids were all over the dry land. Throwing rocks, feeding squirrels and having an adventurous time. And so was I. The volcano was spectacular. We were so close to what Papa called its “throat”! And we even got in on an official tour-guide’s speech. Bray got himself an adventure-scope and mood ring – more assurance that he will never forget this day.
I honestly don’t think any of us will. It was a blast.

















The Someone Else

The kids are out of school all week – Thanksgiving week.

I met with a new friend who is interested in spreading awareness about sex trafficking. So the kids had to come along to Starbucks, but were patient and colored and read and played quietly for over an hour. Before we went there, we noticed an older gentleman by the exit, asking for food on a cardboard sign. It read, “Just Hungry”. The kids and I discussed that we’d see about buying him lunch if he was still there later.

After my meeting, I was hungry too, and in my search for food as I drove through Tualatin, I noticed that man was no longer standing there. But a young man was…also holding up a sign, and stood on the other side, toward I5 north. I rolled my window down and asked him if he’d let me read his sign. It said, “Clean and sober over 1 yr. Anything helps.” I yelled “would you want lunch?” to which he replied happily, “Yes!” and off I drove through my green light, still looking for a place to buy food. I ended up at Subway. As I told the Sandwich-Artist my order and how one was for a homeless man, he asked me what the man looked like and where he was. I told him, and his reply kind of took me off guard, “Yeah, he’s not homeless”, he said with a smirk. “You know him? I presumed he was homeless” “His name is Wade. He’s actually got a nice home and a nice vehicle too”. Well, I didn’t change my mind. I still bought my two subs and left, and said a little prayer as I drove off. What should I do, Lord? I then shot the same text to Ricky. He quickly replied, “Drive around looking for another one”. So we headed south on Boones Ferry. Perhaps there would be someone at the Wilsonville exit. Braylon was swift to ask, “Uh, mom? Where are you going? You promised that one guy lunch.” “Well, I don’t know if you heard the man in Subway, but he knows that guy…and it seems as if he’s not really in need. Me and Daddy think we should look for someone else to give the sandwich to.” And a few minutes later, we came to the Wilsonville exit.

And there he was. The someone else.  We turned around and parked in a perfect spot nearby where he stood. As we approached, the sound of the freeway drowned us out, so when we said hello, and he saw Braylon and I, it shook him a bit. Bray didn’t ask him his name like I suggested, but asked him if he’d like a sub sandwich, and handed it to him. He was very thankful.  I got his name, “Raymond Woods”. Before either of us could then ask him what his story was (because we all have one, don’t we?) Raymond told us he has been battling cancer. Colon Cancer. He’s been ok for the last 7 months, but needs to see a doctor to make sure it hasn’t returned. He said he’s travelling from WA to CA., in an old van, but it only gets 8 mpg, so he tries not to drive too much.

His skin was leathery and wrinkled, probably 50-60 years old. Most of his teeth seemed to be missing, and his eyes were a soothing baby-blue hue which off-set his unshaven cheeks and chin dotted with unruly salt-n-pepper hair.

Angel was in the front seat of our van, watching, as I asked Raymond if he minded if we prayed for him. I’d never done that before, not like this. It was surprisingly easy and comfortable. And I was glad it wasn’t raining at the moment. I took his cold hand in mine, noticing his long, dirty nails. Braylon followed suit, later telling me he didn’t want to hold it tight, so he held it loosely, but also noticed how cold it was. I knew that serving the homeless last Thursday with Bridgetown Inc. prepared Braylon’s heart for this moment.

I prayed for a minute, in Jesus’ name, for Raymond’s health, healing, fulfillment in this life, and provision as he travels to California.

He thanked us again and off we went. As we turned the car around again to head home, Braylon was filled with excitement. He said to me, “Let’s go to the Dollar Tree and buy a bunch of stuff, and go around looking for homeless people to give stuff out to, all the rest of the day! And we can get a few things for me too, there at the Dollar Tree.” How could a mom not smile at that? What a incredible, kind, and honest little 10-year old I have. Angel chimed in, “Me too! I want to too!”

It was a beautiful opportunity God gave us, to be a small part of His story, and be used to possibly make some kind of impact on him. And he on us.  On the way home, I told Braylon and Angel how what had just happened ties into scripture…as  Jesus said, “when you did this to the least of these, you did it to me.”..and conversely, “when you didn’t do it to the least of these, you didn’t do it to me.”

 Today, Raymond was Jesus. And in a strange way, we got to be, as well.

Who knows… one day we may be the someone else.


How to Open an Applesauce Jar

While attempting to open an applesauce container:

Bray: Can you open this?

Me after several attempts: Nope. We need a man.

Bray: I’m part-man…lemme try.

(6 minutes later…)

Bray: Listen… (as we hear the jar sucking in air)

…I think I did it.

Me: Ok, now try opening it one more time.

Bray as he he take the cap off & raises a fist to heaven:

“YES! I’m FULL man.”

That’s the Way to Think

When Bray was in 3rd grade at Boones Ferry Primary, Mrs. Parent & I had a talk about how we can come together to help him remember all his homework, as school lets out each day. I thought we crossed that creek, but here we are again in 4th grade & Mrs. Banet & I are saying the same things. We’re trying to come up with strategies to not just remind him when needed, but to help him think of ways he can remind himself…or simply put, remember what he needs to remember. This week we were particularly challenged, as something was forgotten 3 out of 4 days. But as Angel & I picked him up from school in our Mercury Villager, I went down the list (this time, before leaving the parking lot. Do I get a mini York Peppermint Paddy for that?). Each item was replied to with a proud & verbal “Check!” I said, “OK then. Are you sure you have EVERYTHING? You didn’t even leave your reading log?”

Then as we drove home between the tall colorful trees that line Wilsonville Rd, Braylon said back to me, “That was the OLD me.”

I smiled and high-fived him for that one. And I said THAT’s the way to think. Picture how you want to change – what you want to be & decide that the old habits are not YOU, anymore. Speak out loud what you want to become. Even if you’re a 4th grader who wants to be more responsible. Visualize it. Speak it. And don’t be afraid to ask others to help you reach it. Grown-ups, parents… it’s true for really anyone. You’ll probably surprise yourself and everyone around you with how close you come to that goal.

A Braysay about…Beauty and the Laugh

Tonight as Ricky & I laid beside Braylon just before he went to sleep, I asked him to name one thing that he liked about Dad’s personality that I don’t necessarily have, and something about mine that dad doesn’t have. About his dad, he said, ” his laugh. Mom, you don’t really laugh like him, and not as much.”

When it came to my turn, after much deliberation (which was borderline-upsetting! ) he actually thought of something: “I like the way you look at things. Like…how you see them. You say stuff like, “Wow, look at this beautiful bridge over this lovely river!” to which I replied, “oh! like beauty in nature? Yeah, dad doesn’t really talk about beauty a whole lot” & Braylon replied,

“well… he does when it’s about you.”

The Boring Way

Braylon loves to add excitement in stories whenever he can. Sometimes that means a little … well, exaggeration.

As we watched the movie, Radio today, Angel told us she wanted to go to church a few times.

As the credits rolled, she said it again & Braylon said,

We KNOW! You said it like 3,000 times already!

I replied to him, “…or 3”

He retorted with a smirk, “Well, yeah, if you want to say it the boring way!