Tag Archives: Cannon Beach

Pure Joy.

brownie5It’s something everyone talks about. It’s the word my friend has tattooed on the back of her arm. I love the song “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.” I love to sing it and I love watching it in Sister Act II. Happiness is a feeling and it can be fleeting but joy is supposed to sustain us. It goes deeper, down into the marrow of our bones, so even when we feel weakened by the sorrows of life, our backs bent with pain as we weep, that joy is there, living and breathing in our bones. For that reason alone, it is a hard concept. How can this be? How can joy exist in this world?

But recently, I saw pure joy in action.brownie2It wasn’t a tattoo or a song (which are great in and of themselves). It was a dog at the beach. Her name is Brownie and I sat on the huge piece of driftwood and I kneeled in the outrageously cold Pacific Ocean so that I could photograph her joy. Then I just watched.brownie1I’ve seen happy dogs. I’ve owned them. But Brownie at Cannon Beach was no longer a dog. I observed her for the whole half an hour she ran up and down the beach, dug up wood from the sand, chased balls, swam. She was no longer a dog but a lesson. Here was joy. Complete joy.brownieIt was simple. It is simple. It is simple for a dog who does not know certain words–diagnosis, cancer, surgery, pain, death, loss, grief, illness, radiation, chemotherapy, disease–to be joyful. But Brownie knows other words. She knows sit and lay down. She knows stay and heel and come. But at the beach, Brownie’s owners did not use those words. They unclipped her leash silently and watched her go, watched her fly.brownie6She was blessedly free on that beach and she was also joy incarnate. So I have to wonder, after much thought, if there is a connection between those two big ideas. Can joy be experienced without freedom? Can freedom exist without joy? And what is freedom? Because Brownie was free and yet she was not free to bite humans or other dogs. She was not free to swim and swim and not return. There were parameters and yet she did not feel them nor mind them because she was joyful doing the things she could do–swim, fetch, dig, chase, all kinds of things. And I can tell you from watching Brownie, she did not feel horned in. Not a bit.brownie4It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Years ago, I spent weeks digging into Galatians 5:1, finding every sermon and commentary I could on it. Christ died so that we might be free but was I living that way?

After Brownie’s leash was unclipped did she stay still and sit beside her owners or did she look at the beach they brought her to and when they told her, “Have it,” she did? Was I having at it? And if I wasn’t (I wasn’t) then I was living as if two lies were true: Jesus did not complete his job on the cross if he died so that I might be live in freedom or Jesus did complete his job but it did not matter to me. I did not care.

Intellectually, I can spot both of those as lies. My heart though…My heart. Sometimes it sees the beach and takes off at a sprint and sometimes worries, anxieties, fear of failure leave me on a leash does not exist. And on that leash, there can be no joy.brownie3I am completely free and yet just like there are things Brownie cannot do, even with her freedom, there are things I cannot control. I cannot control other people or their reactions. I cannot control the diagnosis a doctor gives. I cannot even control large parts of my own illness. But I am still free and I can still know joy, even when I someone I love waits for results on a scan, even when another person goes into surgery. I am free to fail with the gifts and passions He’s given me. I know joy in Him, even when it is hard, even when I want to swim and swim and not return, even when I want to bite someone, because He has given me freedom to do a thousand other things on a beach  on a slightly overcast day about 45 minutes outside of Portland at Cannon Beach.

What are your thoughts on joy? And don’t you just want to dig alongside Brownie?





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Things To Do in Portland.

portlandpinEver since I moved to San Francisco for two years, there has been a desire to experience parts of this country I never considered before. Sure, I have a deep an abiding love for Italy, a place that I will always return to and a place that will never leave me. But before SF, I didn’t even realize I had this ignorant view of the United States. I thought it was a lot more homogenous than it is. There are so many parts, so many nooks and crannies, that are completely different from one another. You can’t compare Illinois to Colorado–not subtle ways of life or the scenery. The same goes for Maryland and Arizona or Maine and Southern California. The list goes on. I think you get it. (Yes, I know I was ridiculous. I was also young back then).

Since realizing how ridiculous I viewed traveling within the US, there have been places I have wanted to go. The Pacific Northwest, specifically Portland, was near the top of the list. I had the opportunity to visit for a few days and I took it.

It was a long weekend so here is what I would recommend in a shorter amount of time. So, Things To Do in Portland party people:

1. Powell Bookstore

Before we even left, this was the one place I wanted, no, needed, to visit. It’s an independently owned bookstore that is the size of an entire block. I could have spent an entire day or even days there since I felt like I was coming home to the Mothership. But I spared my companions. I didn’t even take photos because sometimes when I feel I am in a particularly sacred space, I have to turn my blogger brain off and just enjoy it.

This huge bookstore is divided by colors. The Pearl area is a rare books room where I saw books from the 1800’s and the 1500’s. Some were handwritten. You had to leave everything, including other books you were planning on buying, outside the door. If you looked at a book or turned it’s pages, you had to use a special holder to protect the binding. I felt like angels were singing in my ears. It was amazing.

Even if you don’t hear angels singing at the thought of books, this is a place to stop (all the guidebooks say so…therefore, I am not exaggerating).

2. Multnomah Falls

Don’t go chasing waterfalls…Or in this case do. If you continue down Historic Route 30 (no one warned us that the drive isn’t easy…I wouldn’t say that it is as hard as some of the drive in Colorado but it is by no means a straight shot) you’ll find several waterfalls where people pull off and take pictures. If you can and like to hike there are some great trails with incredible view both of the falls and the forest.portland2

The light was beautiful here. It was actually green. I felt as if I was in enchanted forest. The last waterfall is actually Multnomah and there is a bridge where you can get even closer to the falls (in one of the next photos below, my aunt has her hands in the air so you can see her). If you want to really immerse yourself in the scenery of the Pacific Northwest, do this.portland3

3. Vista House and Historic Route 30portland8

For the perfect overhead view of this enchanted forest, you have to go to the Vista House.portland7

It’s actually the first stop on the Historic Route 30 which will later lead to the falls. On the day we happened to go, the actual house was closed because the wind was crazy. I mean, it was crazy which makes me think they should have left the house open so all these people weren’t trying not to get blown away on this major peak. But the views…portland6 portland5You could actually see people windsurfing:portland4

4. Cannon Beachportland11

Cannon Beach is about 45 minutes away from Portland proper. It’s this picturesque seaside town (in fact, right beside it is a town called Seaside). The buildings, which include cute shops and restaurants, have a Cape Cod feel to them.portland12

The beach is my idea of paradise (I happen to love winter beaches…more on that and more photos coming Thursday). We sat on a piece of driftwood for quite some time taking in the huge rocks and the pacific ocean and the many joyful dogs. It may have been my favorite spot (again, more on Thursday on why a quiet beach can be just what the doctor ordered).portland9

I don’t know that man in the above photo but he seemed so quintessentially Portland.

5. Pittock House

I was skeptical about this place but man, you can see all of Portland. On a clear day (which it wasn’t), you can see Mount Hood, Mount Saint Helen’s, and Mount Rainer. portlandpretty

It’s also an incredible house. The Matriarch and Patriarch both took the Oregon Trail separately, eventually met, and married. It’s so beautiful and must have been so expensive. I was just imagining the game the Oregon Train and oxen fording the river and snake bites leading to this. Wow.portland13Plus the house kind of reminded me of the one in Psycho. Anyone? Bueller?

Have you been to Portland? I don’t know what else we could have jammed into our time although I really wish we would have done a food truck day. But what did you love about Portland?

Oh, Darlings. Let’s be Adventurers!





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