Paul & Julie
I work at a nonprofit stroke recovery centre, which means they do fundraisers from time to time to raise money & awareness.  Just a few weeks ago we had our 1st annual Gala.  Sounds fancy.  Paul & I got to dress up which we never get to do anymore.  Thankfully our friend Ian let Paul borrow a suit.  I can't believe Paul doesn't own a suit!  I've only seen him in a suit a couple times in 4.5 years of marriage.  We may have to fix that.  Anyways, the Gala turned out great.  My boss worked her tail off & did a great job.  Our staff at the centre helped throughout the night.  The food was great & we got to take home one of those edible bouquets (fruit dipped in chocolate & shaped like a flower bouquet), YUM!  


Paul & I got a package in the mail this week from a church in Decatur, Texas that gives us some support.  Paul was about to open it & then he said, "wait this has your name on it, so you should open it."  I sat down & opened the box  & it was a fun gift from the women at the Decatur church.  There were like 30 cards, which were so encouraging!  I sat & read every one of them, it was great.  I haven't even met most of these women, but their words were perfect for me.  Several of them included their favorite verses & it was just what I needed.  The box also contained all this bath & body works stuff 3 different lotions!  Hand soap!  Shower Gel!  Candles!  If I'm ever stinky, I have no excuse, because this stuff is awesome.  It was truly like Christmas, they even gave me 2 new books to read, which is perfect because I am about finished with the one I'm currently on & was wondering what I would read next.  I felt so loved & encouraged.  What an awesome surprise.  Thank you Decatur!



Paul & Julie



We live in such a cool place.  Random things occur in our community all the time.  A few weeks ago, we found out there was a random group getting together in the park across from our apartments to blow bubbles.  So, of course, we had to check it out.  There really were like 100 people (adults & kids) who just got together to blow bubbles.  It was lots of fun for about 15 minutes.  But the kids in the neighborhood were loving it.  Here are some other random things that have occurred...just this past weekend, I heard the song "beat it" out our den window, I thought it was in a car driving by, but no...it continued, so I went to the window to see what I could see & there was a group of people dressed like Michael Jackson (MJ as some lovingly refer to him), gloves & all just dancing in the park.  I especially loved their "thriller" dance.  This is one reason why Paul & I don't have cable because often we can just look out our window.  




Rivendell
Since Amy & I have both been on a summer break we decided to take some time out to go to Rivendell.  It is on Bowen Island, a 30 minute ferry ride from Vancouver.  We had been there once before with the guys, but this time we took our friends Min Jeong and Dianna from church.  Rivendell is a retreat place of peace & quiet away from city noise that is for personal prayer & spiritual renewal.  It is amazing how used to the city noise you get, I had forgotten that I had not heard crickets in the longest time.  I have found that it takes almost 2 days to wind down & really be able to sit still & listen to God.  Why is it so hard to sit still & be at peace with that?  It's like you have to detox from everyday life, always on the go, always something to do.  So, this time, I really tried to focus on just relaxing in God & enjoying being His daughter.  Everyday they have a chapel service at 5:00 pm, that is always thought provoking.  We had a good time & I think next time should try to stay longer.  Although I thought I might die at the beginning of the trip...you take the ferry to Bowen, then walk up a steep hill for about 1 hour to get there.  We had all of our stuff for the trip in our backpacks & I was sore for like 4 days, guess I won't be backpacking the Appalachian trail anytime soon.  Although, Min Jeong did not flinch, she was texting her friends as we walked up the hill!  - Notice the deer in the picture with Min Jeong.  
Paul & Julie
I have had 2 months off of work, which is a blessing since we are so far away from family & close friends that we had a chance to visit.  My Mom, Sister, & Niece came to visit in early July.  Paul & I then had a chance to go to Atlanta to see the rest of the family later that month.  While they were here we went to Stanley Park for a picnic, Granville Market, Queen Elizabeth Park, Shannon Falls in Squamish, and Whistler.  One of our friends gave us a coupon for the Peak to Peak Gondola ride that goes from Whistler mountain to Blackcomb mountain.  It was beautiful & the weather was perfect.  We had lots of laughs & even learned that we did not like heights so much.  








Paul & Julie

















  

I know, I'm embarrassed of this first picture so it may not stay on the blog long, but this blog is for my friends who may be concerned for my fashion & beauty well-being.  Most of you know I have had the same haircut since high school with a brief stint of a "short bob" only because the lady at supercuts cut my hair uneven & had to take off 4 inches instead of 1.   My dear friend, Amy, has been cutting my hair for the past few months.  But I finally decided to be brave & do something a little different.   The last picture is supposed to be the "after" picture, but it's kind of hard to see.  
Paul & Julie
video
Above:  a short video clip of a band at the beginning of the day.  I've been meaning to blog about this for a while.  Each summer in Vancouver there is a Car Free day, with festivals in 4 different parts of the city, Commercial Drive (our neighborhood), Kitsilano, Main Street, & West End.  They shut down the major streets & the street is then filled with performers, vendors, bands, some protestors of various things, good food.  They also have free guarded bike parking...I have never seen so many bikes in one place.  It was pretty awesome.  This year was our first time to be a part of the Commercial Drive car free day.  We helped put out food in the green room where volunteers at the festival could come to rest & replenish.  At the beginning of the day we looked out our window at people setting up their tables & things seemed pretty calm, then around 11:30 random bands began forming & walking down the street together, one group was dressed totally as pirates.  Then we went to the green room, we came out 2 hours later & could not believe how packed the street was.  There was a roller disco on one side street where they were playing rap music that was from my high school days.  There was a group called the "white ladies" dressed all in white with parasals & their faces were painted like mimes & they just walked very slowly down the street barefoot.  Also, I found out that hula-hoops have made a comeback.  People were dancing with hula-hoops & it was actually very impressive.   I could never keep a hula-hoop up for over 2 spins, much less dance with it.  Another interesting part that was unique to the Commercial Drive festival was a healing garden with tents set up providing everything from massage, sound therapy, reiki, and one church in the area provided prayers & blessings from scripture.  People were lined up for prayers & blessings!   Here are a few pic's
Below: At the roller disco, check out the speed skater with the manual lawn mower.
pic #2 - Commercial Drive at the end of the day!  pic #3 - Notice the hula-hoops!  
Paul & Julie
We recently joined a community garden that is about 2 miles from our apartment.  First of all, may I say that I know absolutely nothing about gardening except that I have killed several herb plants on our patio. However, this spring I have had this strong desire to learn.  I   went to a party they were throwing at the Cedar Cottage Community Garden because I was looking for a gardening mentor, you know, someone I could follow around the garden, teach me how to plant, when to water, etc.  When I got to the garden I found that they had just built at least 10 new raised beds and they were available for those who wanted to join the community, come to work parties (where everyone comes out to weed stuff, plant stuff, shovel compost, etc. - I'm so technical).  So, I ended up getting a gardening plot!  The great thing about being in a community garden is the "community" - I have met people in the garden who grew up on farms & have been gardening for years & some others who are just starting like me.  Everyone has been very helpful & willing to answer questions.  I figure that gardening is a great experiment, so you are always learning & I've heard things may never grow quite the same from year to year.  It has been a fun adventure so far and a great activity for Paul & I to do together.  We have planted tomatoes, zucchini, bell peppers, strawberries, lettuce, carrots, basil, thyme, & nasturtiums.  So, maybe we were a little overzealous for our first planting, but once you start putting stuff in there it is hard to stop.  
































Notice the baby green pepper on the tall plant behind me!  
Paul & Julie

We had a great weekend.  Saturday was a full day, especially for Paul (who had to work at s-bucks after a long day of grilling...).  There are a few community gardens in the area.  One is called, MOBY (My Own Back Yard), they decided to reclaim a lot across from their garden, that I think was known for drugs, trash dumping, etc... & turn it into a playground.  They also decided to dedicate it to a local neighborhood police officer who was killed in the line of duty some years ago.  They have been planning & fundraising for this for quite a while.  Paul & I went to a fundraiser a few weeks ago at a local restaurant, where we ran into Michelle, who works with the Business Improvement Association in the area (we met her during a community clean-up that some Harding students helped us with during spring break).   She asked us if our church could grill hot dogs for the volunteers building the playground.  So...we called around to find a grill to borrow & went to the playground build which was this past Saturday.  There were over 175 volunteers from the community!!  Paul is now a Master hot dog griller (he can even do veggie dogs), after grilling like 200 hot dogs.  It was so cool to be a part of.  They had a dedication that afternoon & tons of police officers were there to honor, Sgt Larry Young.  They also encouraged the community to take ownership in the playground area to keep it clean.   

Meanwhile, our good friends, Aaron & Amy were helping with a community clean-up day sponsored by the local community policing centre.  They led a group of people through the neighborhood to pick up trash & keep it clean.  Afterwards, they joined us at the playground, where Amy helped with landscaping and was on the local news.   She is famous now.  We all had a great time meeting new people & being a part of this wonderful opportunity to improve our community.











Paul & Julie
So...it has been a long time!  A lot has happened since I last blogged (a year & some months ago).  I thought it was about time for an update.  The short story...Paul & I moved to Vancouver, BC (That is in Canada for those who are geographically challenged, I'm not pointing any fingers, I didn't know where it was either until we were talking about moving here!)  It is just above Washington state, where we had been living for 2 years.  We were so sad to say goodbye to our friends there.  We had actually not planned on being there for 2 years, but God in all His wonderful goodness allowed us more time for training & growing up in him.  So, we received our Canadian permanent residency (that is a whole other story) in September of 2008 & that set the ball rolling for our move.  We moved up in January (I just love driving & unloading moving trucks when there are threats of snow & ice) to the Commercial Drive neighborhood in East Vancouver.  It is a quirky, trendy, grungy, hippy, diverse neighborhood that is always full of surprises.  I'm working part-time as a speech therapist at a stroke recovery centre (notice the Canadian spelling : ).  Paul is working part-time at a starbucks within walking distance from our place.  We are a part of starting a new church in the neighborhood called, The Vine. Check out www.thevinevancouver.com - we just put it up so it is a work in progress.   We meet in homes, share a meal together, & study the Bible together.  It is quite an adventure.  Here are some neighborhood shots.


Paul & I at the Chinese New Year Parade earlier this year



The park across the street from our apartment.  There are always people hanging out here, playing music, etc...


The view of Commercial Drive from our roof, looking North.  You can see a ski run on the mountains!