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A few weeks ago my parents treated us to a family beach weekend. My husband works a lot and we don’t have extra money, so it’s rare to get away for a weekend. It was a gorgeous, sunny September weekend in Newport, Oregon. We walked along the edge of our continent, dined on corned beef and Scotch eggs at Nana’s Irish Pub, watched sea otters play at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, and slept deeply and peacefully against the white noise of ocean waves out our window.

On Sunday morning, I felt the urge to visit the wax museum. I used to love visiting the wax museum as a kid, hadn’t been there in about 16 years, and wanted to check it out as an adult. I thought it might be a tiny bit scary but surely my brave 3-year-old could handle it.

We arrived and then as soon as my mom purchased tickets and it was time to go through the turnstile into the museum, MJ started to freak out. She noticed it was dark inside. I wanted to go in, so I told her that she could just wait outside with Grandma and we would see her in about half an hour when we got done. My husband and I (plus baby in Ergo carrier) entered the museum and I was quickly entranced by the American Idol exhibit which featured…karaoke! Much to Spencer’s chagrin, I began singing “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” on stage, and then moments later MJ and my mom arrived. Both my mom and daughter were thrilled to sing on stage with me.

What made MJ change her mind and be willing to enter the wax museum?

Light.

The woman at the front desk gave MJ a tiny flashlight to wear on her finger. “Will this help you go through?” she asked. “Yes,” my little daughter nodded and bravely ventured in holding Grandma’s hand.

Light makes things not so scary.

Our world is in a crisis. The refugee crisis, the climate crisis, the gun violence crisis. There are a lot of scary and dark things going on in the world. Politicians don’t seem to be helping much. Religious people don’t seem to be helping much either. It would be easy to get very discouraged by the darkness. But….

The light has already come into this world. Jesus is our light. He helps us to see in dark places. And he is always with us .

“In him was life, and that life was the light of man. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” – John 1:4-5

I don’t have to be afraid, because God is with me always. I can be thankful for that.

At Oregon Coast Aquarium with MJ, facing one of my big fears. Photo credit: Alice Evans

At Oregon Coast Aquarium with MJ, facing one of my big fears. Photo credit: Alice Evans

Now that I’m a mommy, I sometimes wish that I had lived a more exciting life in my pre-mommy days. You know, now that it’s incredibly difficult even to leave the house to go to the grocery store. Sometimes I wish that Spencer and I had spent a year living in southern France like our friends Jay and Holly, or a year backpacking around the world like our friends Ted and Bethany.

But then I thought, I actually have had quite a few adventures in my day. I have:

Been booed off a karaoke stage in Ghana. My first time attempting public karaoke, and I was booed off. I didn’t even know this was possible! Apparently, people take their karaoke quite seriously in Ghana. Who knew? I felt like Simon Cowell was in the audience. If you have a trip to Ghana in your future, and you want to get your karaoke on, be sure to practice the song beforehand.

Climbed 10, 358 foot South Sister. The peak (ha!) of my mountain climbing career so far, I summited South Sister when I was just seven years old. I carried my stuffed kitty, Jennifer Snowball Husk, in my pink backpack. It was a slow climb, and when we reached the top, the late afternoon storm clouds were rolling in. Yes, we reached the top just in time for a lightning storm! After spending some time wedged under a giant boulder with my mom huddled against me to act as a human shield against the lightning, we eventually ran down the mountain, only to find our sleeping bags soaking wet because my parents had neglected to put up the rain fly. Exhausted, but glad to have survived, we packed up our gear and began the late drive across the Cascades, homeward to Eugene.

Swam with dolphins in the wild. Despite the fact that I’m not a great swimmer and I have an extreme phobia of sharks (stemming from too many childhood viewings of Jaws), I swam halfway across a Hawaiian bay to be in the midst of a dolphin pod. I had heard that dolphins sometimes protect people from sharks, so I decided I had nothing to fear. Watching the dolphins swim around me and hearing them talk to each other underwater was an amazing experience.

Appeared on a poster alongside Slick Rick. Need I say more? Okay, I was in a theater troupe in high school; we both had upcoming shows at the WOW Hall in Eugene.

Landed a double salchow. Perhaps the weirdest named of any figure skating jump, I nailed it the summer of 1998, before I quite skating. Fourteen years later, I still dream often of flying through the air above the ice.
So yes, I’ve had some adventures. And there are many more to come, now with my sweet Baby Bear in tow.

A few more memories:

Camping in the San Juan Islands.

Me (on the right) at Buckingham Palace.

With Spencer at the Dave Matthews Band concert in the Gorge.

Having the first dance with Spencer. (photo by TJ Cameron)