OREGON – The Places: Part 1

Life is too good for words sometimes, and the most transformative experiences must have time to steep in memory. That’s a corny excuse for not writing about this trip sooner. But it’s been a month ago already, and so I think the time has come to break the silence and tell you everything.

Today I’ll tell you about the places we went and the sights we saw.

Lan So Chinese Garden: Right in the middle of the city there is this little Oriental oasis. We thoroughly enjoyed our experience there, walking through the arches, the bonsai garden, over the bridges, around the pond, and into the art and calligraphy room.

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The International Rose Test Garden: Above the city, neighboring a wealthy neighborhood full of super-interesting houses, rises a garden built into a hill, offering refreshment for the eyes as well as respite from the city skyscrapers. Evergreens tower here; roses romp, climb, and bloom; lovers stroll hand in hand; and tourists take lots and lots of pictures.

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St. Sharbel Maronite Catholic Church: Oh this dearly beloved church holds a special corner of our hearts! Its steps provided a calm and safe place to enjoy a picnic supper, and its sanctuary and faithful disciples welcomed us back Sunday morning to their worship service. Let me tell you how we found this place. On the west side of the Williamette River, there is a unique street design. We noticed it on our paper map, and immediately decided to investigate the circle in the center.

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And so, Thursday afternoon, we bought a light supper, and headed across the river, following the map to find this whim. Upon finding the circle, we discovered it really was smaller than we imagined it to be. It was full of lovely roses and had several benches around the middle, but the church on one corner of the circle (haha) caught our attention, and to its steps we gravitated. And that’s how we got acquainted with St. Sharbel.

Oblation Papers and Press: We were innocently walking around in the streets of Portland on our first full day there, admiring the shopfronts, when we discovered this hidden gem of a place. We walked in on a whim…and immediately realized we had found something really significant. There were letterpress cards, stationary, fountain pens, wax and seals, Moleskin and Rifle Paper Co journals, ribbons, and envelopes. We felt as though we had stumbled upon a slice of heaven. Fifty-four minutes later we emerged, wonderstruck and clutching bags of paper goodies. We enjoyed this place so much that we went back on Saturday for items we regretted not buying on Thursday.

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Books I’ve Been Reading

This is a very short summary of the books I’ve buried my nose into lately.

Forgotten God by Francis Chan: Educating and convicting my heart and life about the Holy Spirit, Francis Chan has changed my view of the Trinity. I don’t think I could be the same or pray the same way after reading this book. He challenged my misconceptions, dug deep into Scriptures, and introduced me to the Holy Spirit in a fresh way. The Holy Spirit does a vital work, speaking to us and directing our minds, thoughts, and actions. Do I leave room for Him to work in my life? Do I submit to Him when He offers His power in my weakness?

I Will Repay by Baroness Orczy: This work of fiction is part of the Scarlet Pimpernel series, which, along the Sherlock Holmes series, has been my most enjoyable fiction reading! In this story, a woman betrays her one true love (kind of reminiscent of The Scarlet Pimpernel, first book of the series), and the book simply chronicles the impossibility of their situation as they are ushered from court to prison on their way to the guillotine.

Erasing Hell by Francis Chan: The most convicting book I’ve read in a long time, besides the Bible. Chan goes over the doctrine of hell, how some people believe there will be chances to come to God after judgment, and what Jesus really said about it. He emphasizes how the truth of hell should revolutionize our lives, and the way we relate with the lost. It’s scary to examine my own habits, and see that I don’t often live like I really believe in hell. If there really is an eternal fiery punishment for those who reject God, then the most loving thing we can do is warn them! No one blames the doctor for telling his cancer patient he is going to die unless treatment is performed, or the father warning his child not to play in the middle of the street, with the threat of that big Dodge 4×4 coming around the corner. I’m not finished with this book, but it’s deep wading, with so many heart-pricks to ponder.

A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: This is the first book about Sherlock Holmes, and it educated me as to how Holmes and Sherlock met. The plot is a duet of murders, leaving the detectives at Scotland Yard stumped, as usual. Holmes solves the case in Part 1, then the author takes us across the ocean to Utah in 1847, in Part 2. It chronicles the beginning of the Mormon settlement, and the fascinating story surrounding the murderer and his lifelong quest for revenge. A fascinating read which entwines the roots of Salt Lake City and the London crime scene!

As you can see, my interests are balanced. I prefer reading fiction with the help of Librivox.org, which reads them to me while I work outside or clean the house. But tangible pages and spines and covers occupy most of my spare minutes. Reading is an addiction I am incapable of overcoming!