Ricky, Public Speaker Extraordinaire  

This week my Ricky was asked to speak on Sunday to singles at church, on Wednesday to his largest crowd yet (close to 300?) to current students, faculty and alum at our old High School, Westside Christian, as an “Honorary Alum”, and then on Friday to 22 murderers at the Oregon State Correctional Institution. What a range!

He also got word of a Wash.Co. Drug Court participant who wrote a paper on HIS book, PCS & PHD, quoting parts of it that meant a lot to him in his journey toward sobriety and rehabilitation and success in life. Seems like he even quoted Proverbs from each chapter of Rickys book without even realizing that they were from The Bible. Hope is Hope and when God anoints it, it changes hearts. So much hope being released in Jesus’ Name. So, so proud of my husband.



The email from Ricky about the Drug Court participant is as follows:

 First, know I’m not tooting my horn 🙂
Everyone in Drug Court has to write a short paper on something they’ve learned in Drug Court before they can Phase to the next level (5 Phases total). 
This guy chose to write his paper on my PCS&PHD book. He’s not a Christian but he loves my book and shares it with people. I’m not sure he knows the “quote references” in my book are from Proverbs but he’s still getting the Word! 
There are so many different ways we can mentor/disciple people. Don’t underestimate yourself!!! 🙂
Read below for the letter he submitted to the court to move to Phase 3:
503-505-0995 • http://www.rickyrussjr.com
Begin forwarded message:
From: Stephen M

Date: December 21, 2015 at 10:01:21 AM PST

To: “abcruss@gmail.com” <abcruss@gmail.com>

The book I chose to read and relate to my life is PCS & PHD written by Ricky Russ
Each chapter in this book I’ve already used and can use in the future to help me in my recovery and lead me to positive choices and outcomes in my everyday life.
Chapter 1. Yesterday

Ive never liked to focus on what can’t be done, rather what can be accomplished. Not to say being realistic isn’t important in recovery it is. However when taking advice, especially from someone in a mentor role I seem to get much more out of a positive approach, rather then someone telling me I can’t do A,B or C because of my past. I realize I have to be responsible for my past and the the things I’ve done but the longer I let that dictate my future the longer it takes to get back to where I belong.”Fear based decisions have a shelf life. Their results are short term,whereas hope-based decisions bring life”. I’ve been given some tools to deal with the things I’ve done and put people through in my past. I’ve learned that as long as I remain true to myself and make that next right choice good things will come. “The wicked are edgy with guilt, ready to run off even when no one’s after them; Honest people are relaxed with confidence bold as lions(28.1). “There will always be those who mistake your confidence for attitude. Stay humbly bold. The author also mentions “Transparency” in this chapter something that is encouraged in drug court. I feel me being an addict this is so important. I need to be open and honest with myself and the people in my support group in order to remain on even ground.
Chapter 2. Today

What I take out of this chapter is that I have to surround Myself with positive influences. My environment is essential in continuing to grow and form positive relationships. “If your serious about discovering all thats inside you, you’ll find a place to do so. Find people and places that strengthen your plans”. I also take out of this chapter the importance in time management and being prepared. If I want to be successful and be able to deal with the problems in my life that will come up, and they will, I have to be willing to go the extra mile even in the things I sometimes don’t want to do. “Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run; hurry and scurry puts you farther behind.”(14.24). 
Chapter 3. Tomorrow

I take out of this chapter that while technology is great, and should be used, theres a lot to be said for good old fashion do it yourself education. I should learn from my elders, take advice from those who have, been there, done that. I should listen more and not be afraid to ask for help.”The wise accumulate knowledge-a true treasure; know-it-alls-talk too much-a sheer waste (10.14).
Chapter 4. Haters

This chapter is Important for me and my recovery. I use to take things personal, and ill admit i still do ,this is something I continue to work on daily. However its up to me how I react and their opinion doesn’t change who I am or where I’m going . “The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that(29.25). This part of the book also helped me realize how important discipline is.”Discipline produces something that cant be bought”. I have to be disciplined in my everyday choices to stay on the path of remaining clean and sober. 

Chapter 5. Advice
I learned that advice comes in all forms. I don’t have to like what advice is being given or the person giving it ,however I shouldn’t disregard it I should always consider it and try and use it to better myself. ”Although spite isn’t the best motive for not doing wrong it can work. If you choose to put “spite” in the passenger seat, be sure to let respect and honor ride in the back seat as well”. Im working on listening to any advice that comes my way because my ego and closed mind has caused me to miss out on a lot of good advice I should of taken. ”Simpletons only learn the hard way, but the wise learn by listening”(21.11).



On the Dark Path

In the spring of 1996, the two of us started hiking down a trail to a place we’d never seen. It seemed a comforting, intriguing natural wonder, this “Bagby Warm Springs”. We realized a half hour in, though, that we had not planned sufficiently for this hike as we noticed the sky turning dim. He walked on. So I kept trekking the path by his side; it was too late to turn back. 1 1/2 miles seems a breeze! It can’t take that long to walk, right? “Adventure awaits!”, he convinced me. He had no idea how right he was.
Under the right (and bright) conditions, this journey would have proven simple, even beautiful. But as dusk shrouded the sky, the thought of us getting abandoned to a bleak fate clawed at my mind. Every minute that passed, a shade darker. Until I placed my hand 5 inches before my face and could not determine even its outline. I was guessing we were half way there. At least once we arrived, I thought, we could sink into some hot water and soak there until well past the raisin-fingertip stage. At least we had the comfort of our fingers interlocking, and a well-defined pathway that we could feel with our shoes, if not see with our eyes.
He was a smoker at the time, and it dawned on him that he had a light source in his pocket. A lighter. A stick. A T-shirt. Ingredients for a torch. YESSS! We were madcap gamblers, opportunists at large! And off we went…until the wind stole our thunder. He pulled his brother’s old Texas Longhorns sweatshirt out of his backpack, wrapped it around the stick and Torch #2 was lit…for another 5 minutes. We walked on, with vision and determination, and an old Amy Grant song came to my mind and out my lips, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. And nothing will I fear, as long as you are near. You are near me to the end…”
But where was the end?
We sat down and tried to create a fire with moss, sticks and lighter fluid. It was too damp to burn. So we just sat there in the middle of the path, surrounded by the fated darkness. The sounds of harmless animals, breaking twigs and wind sent chills down my spine that would only be comforted by his kiss and the fiercest of side-hugs. I would not let him let go of me. I began to cry.
And then a prayer and perhaps an hour later, we heard noises that were not from animals or wind. They were the fast footsteps of college kids who were heading our way with flashlights in tow. The one item we regretted forgetting most. These kids were definitely on “speed”, but they were also on a mission. And it was all we could do to gather our things and call out for permission to follow, before they’d pass us by. So without their permission, we were on their tail. A slow run and just ten minutes more led us to those hot springs. We couldn’t believe it. How could a 1 1/2 mile hike take us half the night? Just like that. We sunk and we soaked in a huge barrel filled with water from the depths of the earth…until well past raisin-fingertip stage.
We resisted sleep, but we knew the light of dawn would lead us back. We planned to take turns sleeping in the car as we drove home. And with each passing minute, the sky was a shade lighter. Our journey a shade brighter. Our love for each other a shade stronger.







17 years with this Guy

He got us some overnight childcare (the Piland’s!) and we had ourselves a great day on the town to celebrate 17 years of marriage.

I started the day at a local church parking lot sale fund raiser with Angel and made out like a bandit! Then I got to make out with my husband for a while…even more fun.


At Red Robin, we enjoyed fries and campfire sauce among other sauces – and the server GAVE us a free Mountain High Mud Pie which was so delicious. It was the exact meal we had on a date we had about a month ago. The server told us she was impressed at 17 years and added “my parents made until 17 years when they got a divorce. They regret it now. So DON’T GIVE UP!” Ricky kept bringing up her comment throughout the night saying she jinx’d us. We might get a divorce this year, but hey – at least we got a free Mountain High Mud Pie out of it.

We then drove around Wilsonville and made our way to Sherwood for the best Sushi around, at Crazy Sushi where we ran into some friends. That sushi is SO good! We were jammed packed with deliciousness.

We went over to Beaverton (per my lame direction giving) and eventually ended up where we wanted to go: Progress Ridge in Tigard – our first visit there.

We found ourselves pretty entertained at the candy / gag store, wide-eyed and smiling in the comfy GXL theater seats at Cinetopia (How to Train Your Dragon 2), fashionably inspired at Urban Outfitters, and in tastebud-heaven at Ava’s Coffee House which to me, was a throwback to a classy, warm SunRiver Resort-style café bordering a duck lake and donning a live guitarist. Plus i’s open 24 hrs! I’ll definitely be back and may just order the same drink Ricky did – their Kahlua Creme Latte’.





Trying on girlie stuff at Urban Outfitters

The print of my new skirt

at Crazy Sushi

Ava's Coffee House from the outside

Ava's Coffee House and Cafe' from the inside


Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it all.

About a month ago, toward the end of June, we realized there was no realistic way we could stay in our house. We had to move. It happened to be right when our lease agreement ended. It was such perfect timing, because although moving wasn’t a great event we looked forward to, we didn’t really have a choice…and Ricky’s parents were moving in to their brand new home in newberg that same weekend we had to move out of ours. And they’d graciously invited us to stay with them in their two spare bedrooms while we got our footing again. We had no idea how long that would take.
Shortly after the move, Ricky and I had a coffee shop talk about our next place. I thought it’d be fun to dream together – go back and forth on something we’d like it to have.
Here are some qualities that come to mind. Some were realistic and some were downright silly:

C – central air conditioning/heating
R – lawns he doesn’t have to mow
C – Christian landlords/homeowners
R – nice carpet/floors
C – safe neighborhood in a cul-de-sac, w/other children, by a park
R – a hot-tub
C – a rentable portion of a bigger home (like, upper or lower half or MIL home)
R – small
C – a garden
R – the place comes FURNISHED
C – automatic ice-maker in fridge
C – kitchen sink that has a window over it
C – fireplace
C – something big enough for our LIFEgroup to meet at
C – washer & dryer onsite

Well, two days ago Ricky agreed to help Kenny Snyder move, and for his help, the Snyders offered to take us out to dinner. Afterward, they all headed back to the Piland’s where we are staying…and the conversation came up that we were living there, but would love to have our own place.

Well they perked right up and said their closest friends have been praying for a family to rent the top 2/3 of their home out to. Their friends live .4 miles from the Piland’s – literally walking distance…and they are strong believers (we actually kind of know already). They were home at the time, and invited us all over for a tour. When I arrived, I was in awe. She smiled and motioned me inside, “welcome to your new place!” I was beside myself. During the tour I kept crying but tried to play it off like I had bad allergies. Ha!
Even without an application or deposit, even without 1st months rent, they told us today, they know it is us they are supposed to rent it out to, and they just cleaned the carpets so we can move on in whenever we want.
Here is the kicker you may find a bit of a stretch but it is NOT: it has every single thing Ricky and I dreamed of in our coffee-shop wish game. Well, all except “small” and by a park – but the park wish doesn’t even count, because the entire backyard is like a huge nature-park for the kids to explore, complete with a winding creek with many little bridges over it, tall trees, hummingbirds, squirrels…and even their own beaver that likes to dam up the creek! Plus, the kitchen is amazing, there is beautiful hardwood in half the house, the back patio is retreat-like with a fire-pit and plenty of seating, a bedroom has a hidden secret cubby-room in the closet…and, and, and
And longs
To give good gifts
To his children.

That is it.

We are lying down, closing our eyes and smiling, so humbled by His goodness & generosity & power & favor & sovereign hand on us.

We move in a few days.

Sweet 16










We celebrated 16 years of bein’ married to each other Friday night 🙂 It was so sweet. We got to use a gift certificate to our favorite local sushi place, Sushi Ave…. Then we drove to NW 23rd to find Salt & Straw, the ice cream joint I’ve been itchin to try for like a year! It was soooo worth it. The flavors are crazy odd and the batches are super fresh with very local ingredients.



He enjoyed his Sea salt with caramel ribbon/Pear with blue cheese and me, my Woodblock Chocolate Freckled/Coffee with bourbon on waffle cones as we strolled along the sidewalks of NW 23rd, people watching and memory hashing all the way.
I made him dash into Urban Outfitters to take a gander at all the strange and slightly inappropriate items there…Among which was a cute black headband & fuzzy blue monster coin-purse he bought me. We may or may not have glanced at a “position per day” Kama sutra sketch book (with more like stick drawings for figures)! That was pretty entertaining.
Then I had him drive to a peak in Wilsonville just as the sun disappeared. There were no clouds which tossed my hopes for a great sunset, but we still saw a cool cemetery where we spread out a blanket (a throw back to a date we had in ’95 when we sat on a cemetery bench and he noticed I was getting cold… so he found a way to get the American flag down of the pole and he wrapped me in it).
This time, we did a brain-challenge game where we made a timeline of our marriage and thought of it in segments according to what we went through, where we lived or what we were doing for a living. It was all laid out on paper from ’97 to 2013…7 segments and we named them all together, using tiny Scrabble tiles. Weird, I know. But I just had to carry on the theme of weirdness our anniversary date had acquired from the get-go.

We were back by 10, & got to hug our lil ones good night.
The evening was delightful!


The Dignity and Sanctity of the Home ~ Trumped Again!

For my birthday, my awesome mother in law got me a book called “The Home Experience” by Devi Titus. I broke open this enormous hard-back coffee table book the other day and read through the contents:

Sanctuary of Love

…Essential Principles

The dignity and sanctity of the home Continue reading