Friday, October 14, 2011

Tunnel 13: A Hidden Jewel

I love adventures. I love off the beaten path fun. I love history. Tunnel 13 is all these things.

On a recent perfect, sunny fall day a friend of mine took me to this place of history and mystery.

This little known attraction is located off the freeway exit for Mt. Ashland and the trail begins just across the street from Callaghans Restaurant. We walked through the 3,000 + foot tunnel and back. It was dark and cold and water dripped on my head. There was a point in the middle that it was so dark I couldn't see my hand in front of my face. I could barely make out shapes on the ground and the thought went through my head.."that could be a pop can, or it could be a rock...or it could be a rat. Who knows"

After emerging back into the sunlight, we pulled out a book and read in detail the story of the Last Great American Train Robbery. Exactly 88 years ago, on October 11th, 1923 history was made in this tunnel. Brothers, Ray, Roy, and Hugh D'Autremonts heard a rumor that a train coming through here would be carrying up to half a million dollars in gold. They decided this was their chance to get rich and make a name for themselves. So they jumped aboard the train and blew it up with dynamite. Sadly, they were mistaken...there was no gold, many people lost their lives in the explosion, and after being on the run for several years the boys spent most of their lives in prison. You can read more details here if you are interested :)

Today, there are no signs to mark this place or tell the stories. It is just home to a bunch of lizards. But it's a great place to walk around, practice photography, and have a little mini adventure. I love it :)

So go out and do something adventurous matter how big or small. You won't regret it!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Pumpkin Season!

In honor of favorite explosion of pumpkin! I found an ode to the pumpkin that sums it up much more eloquently than I ever could, over at Please allow me to share:

"We found our favorite canned organic pumpkin back on the store shelves this week. So be prepared for pumpkin recipes. I, for one, Darling, can't get enough. Pumpkin is my favorite fall ingredient. Maybe because it cozies up to gluten-free flours so well. It adds moisture and depth to g-free baked goods. It flirts with cinnamon and ginger like the sexiest, inscrutable movie star. You know what I'm talking about. It's not overt. Or blatant. It's not over the top. It is subtle. Secure. Pumpkin doesn't demand to be admired.

Because it doesn't have to prove itself.

It's not a bully flavor that crushes gentler flavors in its wake. It doesn't bark and claw to be Top Dog twenty-four seven. It doesn't have a deep seated need to own the room, to dominate, to control the ingredients it shares a bowl with. Pumpkin goes with the flow. It likes vanilla. And it likes chocolate.

You could say, it's bi-flavorful.

Which as it so happens, is a quality I admire. Even embody and embrace. Because life is brimming with diversity. Life is rich and complicated, sticky and glorious. And for every preference I may think I cherish, there are sure to be a dazzling array of alternative preferences twinkling beyond my peripheral vision like so many bokeh jewels.

Read more:"

These are some off the beaten path pumpkin recipes I am trying this season...

Veggie Pumpkin Seed Quinoa Salad

Sunday, September 18, 2011

How Great is Our God

I don't know about you, but I need a daily dose of perspective with the way that life is lately. When everything around me seems to be falling apart and everyone around me is struggling with all kinds of issues it's easy to become discouraged and forget exactly Who is in charge and how AWESOME He is. I needed to be reminded today how BIG God is and how much He cares, so I popped in the Louie Giglio DVD How Great is Our God. It leaves me in awe every time and reminds me how small and insignificant my worries are. If you have never seen this DVD I highly recommend it. Check out this link to see a snippet of the video about Laminin, the amazing protein God created that holds us all together.

May your worries fade today as you melt into the arms of Jesus :)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

I will never be able to watch reality television the same way after this week. It's Hollywood, people...lots of staging and lots of re-takes. I have often watched Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and wondered what really went on behind the scenes. Well now I know! Ty, Paul, Ed, Paige, and the rest of the awesome crew from EMHE pulled into town and surprised a very special and deserving family this week: CJ and Lindsay McPhail and their three sweet boys (whom I have met on several occasions!). I was excited and honored to be able to help out in some small way...even though my shift was after the big reveal. I watched the house go up all week and saw the community come together to raise over $50,000 and help in so many ways. For hours I waited in anticipation with nearly 1,000 others to yell MOVE THAT BUS and see the family's first glimpse of their fabulous new home. Then after all the excitement was over I spent the day picking up garbage, moving barricades, taking apart signs, dancing, singing, and chatting with the crew and some great local people with big hearts. The day after the reveal the family was still filming their reactions to the inside of the house and twice I was asked to be in a scene, but then they canceled on me. O well...I don't have a need to be on television or be famous. It was just exciting to help.

Everybody wanted to be a part of this project or at least talk about it...but why? I have been asking myself this question, as I know some of the rest of you in this area have too. It's fun to have a project that the whole community can be involved in. And of course it is exciting to have film stars like Ty Pennington in town, and camera crews, and the chance to get a few seconds of fame. Maybe it's the chance to get one of those signature blue Extreme Makeover t-shirts to prove that we were involved. But when there are no shirts involved, no camera crews or publicity, and no movie stars, there will still be thousands of hurting and needy people in this valley-people with no home at all, children who struggle with illnesses, mothers who fight every day to be able to feed their children, families that are breaking apart. Will we care about those people? Will we do something about it? Will we rally around those in need to love them and meet their needs? Will we pool our resources to take care of one another? I loved watching this community rally around the McPhails this week. It is my hope and prayer that this would be the beginning of a revival here in the Rogue Valley. Let's continue to love and serve one another, people. Let us glorify God and live in true community as he intended us to live. What do you say? Will you join me in praying for this community and reaching out to those around you?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Year of Learning

I just recently passed the one year mark of being sick and mostly stuck at home with random and somewhat mysterious health problems. I praise God that He has brought me through and I am feeling much better these days. Though this journey has seemed long, emotional, and full of valleys I rejoice in who I am becoming, because of Him, through it all. As I have pondered what specific way I have grown and things I have learned this year, I came up with this list. I'm sure it is not comprehensive, but it's a pretty good start...

God's nearness on the lonely sleepless nights

On those nights when I laid awake for hours in the dark, shaking and feeling like I was going to die, the only One who could bring me comfort was my Savior. I prayed, read scripture, and listened to praise music on YouTube. He got me through every night and gave me breath each morning.

Compassion for those who struggle with hidden illnesses

When you have a disability that shows on the outside people see it and they treat you with compassion and understanding (hopefully!). But when you have an illness that nobody can see or understand it is difficult. You feel the need to constantly explain so people know how you feel or you just wish for people to GET it. I understand that much more clearly now.

God uses the most unlikely people to encourage

People I never talked to and hardly knew took time this year to send me cards, pray for me, and encourage me. People I never expected that God would nudge to speak into my life. They shared their own stories of illness and struggle and together we were able to praise God in everything.

Living an adventurous and full life doesn't always mean traveling and changing scenery

The past ten years of my life I have traveled a great deal and experienced so many wonderful places. I am grateful for those opportunities, but I recognize now that while traveling is awesome the adventurous life God calls us to live does not always HAVE to include travel and moving to be exciting and meaningful.

Every small thing is a gift from God

From the morning glory blooming in my yard to the friends that enrich my life...I have begun to write it all down in a notebook each day and not take for granted all the beauty around me. Life has slowed down and while it doesn't always seem exciting I have plenty of time these days to enjoy all the small things.

Trials are a gift from God

Difficult and painful circumstances may seem like they are consequences or just seasons to survive, but indeed they are a gift. They draw us closer into the presence of Christ. They build our character and develop us into more mature, compassionate beings. When we suffer with Christ, we also are able to share in his victory and blessing.

Perseverance produces character

I've read it a thousand times and believed it every time. But now I KNOW it first hand.


So much about this year has been very humbling. I've had to be very dependent on the Lord and others. I have had to give up so much of what I love to do. He has refined me and humbled me in my ideas and stripped me of much pride. Thank you Jesus.

The crippling power of fear

I've never experienced fear like I have this year. It's horrible. I hate it. I will overcome it. In His power. Now I can better understand those who struggle with so many different fears every day.

In person friends are vital

O, how I have missed so many of my dearest friends who are in other states and other countries and cannot be by my side. I shall never take good friends near me for granted. And thank you to the few people who have taken the time to encourage me with a hug or a visit this year.

It is important to respect people's fears even while helping them to overcome

when I didn't struggle with fear it was easy to dismiss another person's fears as silly and just expect them to get over it. I can now say from experience that is not helpful. It is important to acknowledge a person's fears and be sensitive while pushing them to face what makes them afraid.

Spiritual growth takes time-it can't be rushed

I've never been one who liked to wait a long time to see results. I like to make things happen..quickly. Unfortunately spiritual growth doesn't work that way. I used to try and grow quickly. Silly me. Day by day, moment by moment, trial by trial; He stretches us and shapes us and teaches us to let go of ourselves and identify with Him.

Dying to self means letting go of my longings and ideas of my ideal life in this world

I used to have so many aspirations, so many passions, so many goals, so many ideas about what I thought I might do with my life. This year I have learned to let go of so much and yield to whatever my Lord's plan entails. It is much greater than my plan. I am sure of it. Maybe I won't live in Africa. Maybe I won't continue to travel all over the world. Maybe I won't teach thousands of kids. Or maybe I will. Either way I'm okay with it.

I NEED children in my every day life

Children bring me immense joy. They bring healing and make me smile. I have had very little interaction with kids this year and that has been so difficult for me. I need them and I look forward to hanging with kiddos on a regular basis again one day soon.

It is okay to let go of some friendships or allow them to change

I've met a lot of great people over the years in many different places. I have diligently attempted to keep in touch with most of them. But some just don't work out. People don't write back. People change. People get busy. Some people are friends for life and some people are friends for a season..and that's okay. I don't have to fight to keep every friendship alive forever. Thanks to all the people who have impacted my life over the years, to all those who are still here reading my ramblings, and to those who are so faithful to pray for me. I am so blessed.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Kickoff

Summer officially kicked off today with some finally hot temps here in Southern Oregon. We celebrated over the weekend with the annual Medford Cruise. I'm not like a huge fan of old cars. Now don't get me wrong, I like looking at the shiny beautiful automobiles of old, but I don't know the names of most of them and you won't find me drooling like so many men I noticed over the weekend. It was a classic event to practice my photography skills, however. And the people watching was amazing!

Apparently the apple doesn't fall far from the tree when it comes to this Dad and his kiddos...

If I had a fancy old car I think I would paint it something close to this color (because it is all about the color with us women :)

Insert your own comment here...I don't know what this guy was thinking...

Some people preferred to stay out of the crowds and pick up a little wi-fi in the shade...

Sizzling ......

A little something for everyone...hold on tight to that balloon son!

I ran into a childhood friend and his kids...

Ain't they adorable???

Cry babies...

Even the M&M's were out to celebrate :)

Hampster Balls for kids??? Who knew...

A little friendly competition...

Welcome Summer...I am enjoying your lazy days in the hammock and all the community activities and celebrations, though I could do without the blazing heat. Just sayin...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Lazy Summer Days

So...who wants to come lay in the hammock and drink fresh squeezed lemonade with me this summer??? I'll be here waiting for you...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Shout Out to Taprock

I have a new favorite restaurant. Ladies and Gentleman I must give a shout out to Taprock Northwest Grill in Grants Pass. Last night I enjoyed a leisurely dinner at this classy establishment, overlooking the river. The atmosphere is rustic and relaxed, yet classy. The service was excellent and they were very accommodating of my needs with all my food allergies. The prices are super affordable for such a nice place. And of course the food is great! I highly recommend checking it out. It's worth the drive people...

Take a walk along the river through the flowers...

Sit inside or on the deck of this lodge-like dining establishment, nestled in the trees on the edge of the river...

Check out the view!

Enjoy the many waterfalls and pathways around the area...
You can watch the jet boats come in to dock, and if you are in a mood to soak up every possible second of the perfect summer night, have a sit on the dock, dangle your toes in the water and watch the sunset. :) It's the perfect evening!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Green Smoothies

This is what our dining room and Kitchen look like right now...

It's like a jungle, or a giant garden, or something like that...

Mama always told us to eat more veggies, but I never really paid attention until now. As I continue this road of healing and trying to become the healthiest version of me I keep coming back to the absolutely necessary nutrients that we can only get from the vegetables God gave us. It is pretty much impossible to get enough of them in our regular diet, so like so many people I have resorted to drinking green smoothies. They really aren't that, really..I promise. Every morning I just fill my blender with spinach, chard, kale, dandelion greens (don't worry I didn't pick them in the front yard), some fruit, coconut milk, water, and stevia sweetener. Yum! Yum!
Just make sure you brush your teeth afterward.

This week mom bought over $70 worth of greens at the growers market and we have been busy dehydrating them and filling jars, for those days when the fresh organic ones won't be available. So at the risk of looking like a total health freak, or a raving lunatic....that is what I have been up to lately.

Check out for more info on green smoothies, recipes, and health information. It's quite interesting!

Here's to a healthier, happier life!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Saying Goodbye to a Part of the Family

Dear Red Ford Aerostar,
You served us well for many years. You put up with us even when we didn't treat you well. We covered your seats in crumbs, and vomit, and garbage, and dirt, and tree sap, but you never even complained. You just served with a humble attitude and kept persevering.

Oh the miles we covered with you. Road trips to the beach, Southern California, and the most memorable trip to the Grand Canyon

You provided a place for us to rest and also to find adventure

We ventured into the woods and snow with you to find the perfect tree at Christmas

You weren't even afraid when we grew up and learned how to drive you. We put you in some pretty precarious situations and you pulled through.

We have watched you grow old and sick, we have spent every last moment we could with you. You have served us well and we thank you for all the memories. But now it is time to say goodbye. May you rest in peace dear red van... we will miss you.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Gifts of Spring

I dug my fingers deep in the cool, damp dirt and took a deep breathe of fresh air.

In between the daffodils and crocuses in the front yard I planted two tulip plants from small pots, that have recently been given to me as gifts. I am hoping that in the natural habitat of our front yard they will be revived and give me the gift of beautiful tulips over and over again.

As I took my small shovel and reached to place it on the shelf in our backyard...there she was. A mama dove sitting on her precious young. Nurturing them to life, protecting them beneath her soft, warm wing. She wasn't more than 2 feet from my face. Her small black eyes looked at me very directly. She did not seem afraid, nor startled, just ready to protect her youngins if any harm were to come their way. I gently backed away and then came back and carefully took this photo, not wanting to disturb her.

Sitting on the front porch, with coconut ice cream in hand, I added these things to my list.

  1. Daffodils and crocuses popping out of the ground

  2. Coconut ice cream-a treat for a girl with many food intolerances

  3. A nest with a mama dove and her babies in MY backyard

This is the beginning of a list of God's gifts to me. His love come down in many small packages for me to unwrap and enjoy. I've been inspired (as I know many others have) by Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts. Seeking to cast aside the sin of ingratitude and to cling to God and his goodness, I open my eyes to the many gifts God has given me. Like Paul, I desire to be content in any and every circumstance. I thank Him. I cultivate an attitude of gratefulness.

Spring is full of many beautiful gifts...and the reminder of new life. A land that has been cold and dreary for so long comes back to life with brilliant colors, delicious smells, and sunshine that warms me to the core.

When we lay the soil of our hard lives open to the rain of grace

and let joy penetrate our cracked and dry places

let joy soak into our broken skin and deep crevices

life grows.

-Ann Voskamp (One Thousand Gifts)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Joyful Reunions

The hugs...
The laughing...
The dancing...
The questions...
The new experiences...
The joy...

I miss it so much. I miss them so much. My African Children's Choir family will always hold a huge chunk of my heart. I love them dearly and I look forward to a grand reunion one day in heaven, where we shall all dance, and sing, and worship Jesus together for all eternity. Yahoo!!!

I don't know if I shall have the opportunity to see those precious children again on this earth, but this week I got that much closer to a few of them. Racheal, Sarah, and Geofrey have returned to America to join Choir 37 for the remainder of their tour!!! I danced around the house when I heard the news.

I got the opportunity to chat with Sarah on skype the other day. My heart rejoiced. My smile reached from ear to ear. She has grown and matured, but she is still the same Sarah. I can still hear her laugh like music to my ears. Her smile reached a place in my heart that hasn't been reached much in the last year. We danced and I did a fashion show for her. She told me how she has excelled in school and I beamed with pride.

My buddy, Geofrey! I haven't had the chance to speak to him, but I hear he is as good a boy as ever. Always endeavoring to be the best behaved, always seeking ways to serve others, always a gem in my life and the pride of his parents.

My dear, wonderful, precious Racheal arrived just in time to see one of her sponsor families, who live in Austin, Texas. What a privilege! Racheal and I stayed with this wonderful family for several days, and then I ended up staying an extra several days to recuperate from my emergency surgery. Morgan and Susan got to spend time re-connecting with Racheal yesterday and today and that brings such joy to my heart. They informed me that she quickly found my picture in the ACC handout. She rubbed her fingers over the picture and said "I miss Auntie Angela sooooooooo much." I miss you too my little Racheal. I cannot wait to hold you in my arms again and dance with you. I hope to see you soon.

Welcome back to America my children. I am so proud of you, for everything that you have become and everything you will become. I love you so much and I can't wait to shake my cabena again with you one day soon.

Auntie Angela