Friday, October 14, 2011

Tim Wheeler

A person who works with his hands is a laborer and a person who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. But a person who works with his hands, his head and his heart is an artist.
~ A wise man.  

Thank you Tim Wheeler of Tim WheeleMasonry, your father was an insightful man.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Last weekend, dear reader, was lovely. Markus and I headed to Port Orchard primarily for the memorial service of an incredible lady who was a good family friend of the Bulthuis clan. I personally didn’t know her well, but my word she was an amazing woman. It was sad and beautiful at the same time, and as the flute swept the service to a close, I felt myself being challenged to live a life even half as full, gracious and giving as hers was.

We sauntered around pretty Gig Harbor thereafter and went out to Indian food – and I have confirmed with myself that tika masala is always, without fail, a sure-fire win.

And then joy of joys, Sunday morning dawned and after church I got to go sailing! Minus the sails, because there is only so much a sail can do with wind that is but barely a breath. Still I was on a sailboat, I was on the open water and I saw a jellyfish in the wild. Need I say more?

I was a huge help, obviously, what with my boat know-how and mad sailing skills. No. I tell a joke. This particular trip was set upon mainly to haul the boat safely to shore from her buoy (it was a dirty breakup), and my skills with effective mechanical problem-solving are limited to adjusting the temperature settings on the space heater, and maybe lighting candles with a clicker. I was graciously asked to step into the role of photojournalist, which I did with much pride and gusto. 



Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sunday, August 28, 2011


The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases
His mercies never come to an end
They are new every morning
Great is thy faithfulness O Lord.

Lamentations 3:22-24

These last four weeks I've experienced:
Not having a house to live in.
My best friend not having a house to live in.
Being unemployed.
Packing up a beautiful year into cardboard boxes labeled things like "knickknacks".
Amazing opportunities threatening to fall to pieces.
Tidal waves of schedules, feelings, worry and confusion sweeping me off my feet.

And yet I find myself so far from drowning.

These last four weeks I've experienced:
Being offered a beautiful house to live in - complete with hot tub and wine cellar.
Becoming an art teacher.
Getting an internship with Seattle Metropolitan Magazine.
Being filled with kind of joy that makes one laugh out loud at the littlest things.
Constant reminders that next year will be another beautiful year, with memories just waiting to be made.
So many actions, words, notes and a million moments letting me know how much love I'm doused in.
Life's puzzle pieces falling into place.
Beautiful sunny days.
Those tidal waves always flow out after sweeping in.

And really, they're not tidal waves at all. I'm just a child and they seem so big. And there are always hands to catch me when they go over my head.

I'm just excited now to see how He continues to unravel his perfect plan.

Friday, August 19, 2011


Last summer, in a weak moment of melodramatic sentimentalism, I rushed out onto the sunny sands of my island shores with an empty coke bottle in my hands and proceeded to fill it up with the kind of golden sand you see in postcards. I packed the bottle away and carted it over several oceans to stand it on my Seattle windowsill to remind me that beaches exist in the world still. Because America has beaches…beautiful beaches even, where the imagination can run wild and the sea spray plays with your hair and clothes…but they’re not beaches-beaches, you know?

And then I went to Seabrook this weekend…and not only were there blue waves and pretty sea cottages, but also miles and miles of the kind of golden sand you see in post cards. Enough to fill a million coke bottles with no additional fear of being blacklisted at customs for bringing illegal foreign materials into the country. And so nostalgia died a sheepish death.

Seabrook, for those who don’t know (and I didn’t until I got there), is a little sea-side village of sorts, on the Washington coast and I got to mill around its picturesque locale with the Bulthuis family for four days.

After the most dramatic and draining house hunt of all time (all’s well that end’s well, fear not), it was a marvelous thing to get away from Seattle for a little while with this wonderful family and put things back in perspective.

We lived in a little house called “I’ll fly away” and I got to be roommates with this little miss:

I learned that reading Noah’s Ark is always more fun in whispers and preferably after 11:00 pm, birds trump anything else in creation and also that mornings are best.

We biked on old-fashioned bicycles and built sand castles, we read and talked and played rounds upon rounds of Dominion (which has maybe become my new favorite game). Calvin has become my new crossword cohort and Jenny and I decided it would be worthwhile to invest a morning in teaching Bjorn and Markus how to play badminton. We even let them win.

The one glitch was the Great Throwup that swept the masses, kind of like the Great Plague except for the part where it didn’t kill people. It spontaneously picked one person at a time to banish to the Realms of Sick for twenty-four hours at a time, during which the said person would suffer the re-tasting of any food he or she chose to consume during the previous twenty-four hours. It was really quite efficient and got through seven people in the course of four days…so far Markus and Peter are the only ones who remain standing strong.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday therefore were spent with fluctuating numbers at any given activity but then Monday – with its beautiful weather and prime beach time – saw everyone well and happy and we spent a perfect day by the sea.

To swim in the ocean again was glorious. There are few things I love better than a romp in the waves - a refreshing one in this case (cold, freezing and/or invigorating are also adjectives of choice depending on ones view on life) - and salty hair and tingly skin.

To the kinds of weekends that get people through the winter.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Well dear reader, with the customary 3 month break between posts, it came to my attention that I should probably jot down a bit of an update. I’m writing to you from the sunny terrace of Fremont Coffee Company, iced coffee in hand and post cards written – such is the life inspired by warm weather and freedom.

Today is the 12th and we will have, thereby, been graduated all of two months. Two months of birthdays and sun and visits to distant shores and change and house drama and rides in the backhoe and cousins and…oh yea…learning how to be a grown up.

No fear, the latter lesson has a long way to go before it can be called a thing. Four weeks of applying for jobs just about had me signing my life away to a future as a Sherpa in the Himalayan foothills…except the definition of Sherpa specifies that they are “renowned for their skill in mountaineering” which may prove to be a stumbling block. But as the Lord would have it, a week ago, I became an employed teacher. A music and art teacher. A music and art teacher that instructs children ages five and under. Perhaps I won’t cross out the Sherpa idea just yet.
Misplaced humor aside, I’m very excited. I’ve always said I want to teach, so this is it! The very beginning! I’m going to get a big-person job also, I think, just for the sake of sanity balance. Today I was informed that after numbers 9, 10, 11, and 12, 40 obviously comes next.
“Really Alisha? 12 then 40?”
But back to my original thought – graduation. We had a whirlwind of a weekend wrapping up shop. The biggest highlight? My kit and kin who took Seattle by storm. My parents flew in from Sri Lanka and seeing them was the biggest graduation gift I could have asked for…Uncle Ken and Aunty Kathy sped in from Portland…Cousins Kevin and Erin and Jad, Dana and Kyler decided to hop over from Costa Rica…and dear friends Glen, Anna, David and Stephen joined the festivities from across the I5. I learned that “Graduation” just means a lot of ice cream, mimosas, Frisbee, chocolate cake and catching up. Some walking I guess.

Also graduating with this bunch:

There is little I can say about them because they could take up 2 or 6 or 17 blog posts but they are the best and I am so thankful for the quirkiest, warmest, funniest, most passionate group of friends ever.

Besides saying goodbye to life as we once knew it and hello to family from all over the place and picnicking and traipsing all over the country side in what looked like batman’s grandma’s evening attire (probably my favorite part of the whole thing, if I’m honest), me and this kid (refer to picture following) celebrated one year!

How blessed I am by his company. I’ve learned more about relationship this last year than in maybe the last 20 combined, I have seen first hand how much patience and grace God can instill in one human being (him, not me in this case), I have been delighted time and time again by his wonderful balance of humor and realism and comfort in quiet, and I have a vague feeling that this whole thing may even lead to my learning how to think before I speak. Sometimes. Maybe not. Also he got me the world map poster I’ve wanted for years, what’s not to love?
This was all followed by my birthday...cue fulfillment of college-dream of going to Ivor’s Seafood House, beautiful misty walks along the water front and the best rum cake of all time...

...various visits to Trout Lake...

...and the beginning of the said life inspired by warmth and freedom.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Earth moneys.

The other week, my boss asked me to write a post for the spilling hope blog. Don't know what that is? Well you should. Here, click. The general gist of the matter is simplification - living with less so other people can live with more (and we got little blue arm bands to remind us not to forget). Anywho - this was a fun thing for me to reflect on because thinking constructively about money is not my forte. But I did...I did. So I give you: Aunt Jemima and The arm band challenge.

Finances. The word that immediately causes my eyes to glaze over, my ears to magically muffle all sound and my mind to travel straight to the lofty heights of Not Here. It is one of those subjects that moms love to bring up in concerned tones, leaves one feeling rather like a cantaloupe has settled in the pit of ones stomach for an unforeseen amount of time, and is often the enthusiastic initiator of guilt trips over rampant latte habits and growing cardigan collections. In short, it’s a word I avoid – along with all its itchy implications. You know, savings, budgeting, being a good steward, all that sort of thing.

But now I’m wearing this little blue armband that says “Spilling Hope” on it. What this means is that the term “finance” must now be revived in my vocabulary –in a way that turns the monster good. Kind of like a metaphoric Great Aunt Jemima that you thought was wicked when you were five because of her glass eye and cane but then, it turns out, she funded your college education, bakes great cookies and is really nice.

And so I decided to look at my finances and see them for what they are. Turns out they’re a blessing. Turns out, they really did fund my college education and are really nice. Turns out, budgeting might mean I have more to give.
So in the name of the little blue armband, budgeting is what I did.
Challenge to self: See where it goes. Rein it in. Give. (Feel free to adopt.)

Step 1: The unveiling.
I love to cook. I love to throw parties, go out to coffee with people and get bagels at the bagel place. Frequently, going out for Pad Thai sounds better than reheating pasta. So I decided to add it all up – coffee dates, groceries, dinners out. In just over two weeks I threw down a grand total of $188.95, averaging at $82.67 a week. Woof. I’m a college kid, mind you. I’m feeding me, myself and friends now and again. Not the U.S. military.

Step 2: Wooooah there, Bessy!
In my mind, I never really go grocery shopping. I pick up things here and there, being frugal. Coffee is only about 3 bucks right? Hey, it’s half off today! I’d be saving by buying lunch here instead, I’m pretty sure. Not really. The numbers by themselves are not ruinous, but added up…well, you saw. I needed a plan.
I planned a week’s menu. I looked at what we had in the house, and got creative (creative is a loose term – not even I can call corn bread and chili innovative). Cheap, healthy meals that minimized superfluous shopping was the goal.
Again, feel free to adopt. And season according to taste.
Give yourself a coffee allowance. I’m making the bold decision to save going out for special occasions. I’m taking the arduous, 2 block hike home for lunch (no one said this was going to be easy, people). You get the gist. Cut out what needs cutting out.

Step 3: Give.
$82.67 last week. $44.82 this week. $37.79 for Uganda and Rwanda.

Be Great Aunt Jemima.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

You've won my heart

And you've won my heart.
Now I can
Trade these ashes in for beauty
And wear forgiveness like a crown
Coming to kiss the feet of mercy
I lay every burden down
At the foot of the cross.

Thank you for allowing your unfathomable wrath and your limitless love to collide and to vanquish.
Thank you for fighting for me.
Thank you for making living an infinitely good thing.

Friday, April 22, 2011


20 years ago Alyssa Sutherland was born.

Our friendship was destined to happen the day we we banded together like a flock of monkeys to fight the onslaught of the previous years STUB team. We found out they were going to "initiate" us into our new positions with a raucous and perilously early morning call and a series of possibly uncomfortable activities and decided to one up them - armed with nothing but the element of surprise and a healthy quota of water balloons.

I have been blessed to know this girl and am so happy to call her friend. She is strong, full of passion, zeal ambition and is beautiful in every way. She has also been favored with a knack for politics, robust and witty banter and Dutch roots - yep, she's going places. I was honored and so pleased when she asked me to take her campaign shots and I thought I'd share some of them with you.

Happy Birthday miss!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Girl meets World.

Capstone is a bit of a drag. That said, I have decided to take away something from every class. It'll be a game, kind of.

Yesterday we read Boy Meets World, ie, the Parable of the Prodigal Son. (
Blah until proven unblah. I thought for a second about good story telling. What makes Shakespeare Shakespeare? What makes the stories of Cinderella and Rapunzel as magical now as they were a hundred years ago?

We identify with them. We become invested in characters because we see traces of ourselves in their joys and sorrows and fears and hopes. These are human things and as it turns out, humans haven't changed a whole lot across the centuries.

Jesus knew how to tell stories. We were asked to write our own versions of the story, and here is mine.

* * *

Sometimes I am the lost brother. I love the idea of being independent, of taking off into the wild world with all the gusto, enthusiasm and fervor that is in my young, if admittedly naive self. So I go. I pack my things and pluck the pen of authorship from Abbai's hands with a quick smile and a Thank you and I am off.

curled up and broken because I can't dance anymore.

My joy is gone.

I come home, into the presence of my father - I dare not call him Abbai now - with hands behind my back and my eyes to the ground. I mumble an apology.

He sighs - a sigh of relief, exasperation and love - much like my mother does when she catches wind of adventures of the thoughtless variety. He lifts my face to face his. I still can't quite meet his eyes but I see that smile I know so well. For a moment I am almost angry - why is he letting it go this easily?

But then I am suddenly weak, suddenly aware of how tired and small I am. I hold the pen out to him, my hands are smeared with ink. He takes it back with a smile and a Thank you. My hand feels weightless suddenly in his.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Gung-Ho for Senioritis and Such.

And so we bid our adieu to break as we once knew it. It's gone, having given way to what we've fondly termed "The Beginning of the End". Spring Quarter. Yep, this is is it, the last quarter of my undergraduate career. It's a strange feeling and one that is, for the most part, still a vague, distant thing that is by and large not real. But then there are those moments of when I ordered my cap and gown or when I trip over my own tongue in response to that really insightful question "so, what are you doing next year?" Fear not, I too have asked that question many times and oft. Of others and of myself. Or when the kindly gentleman at the next-door ticket stand offered me a job application with a schedule that was flexible for students, and I replied with an aura of chagrin that it just didn't matter, "I wont BE a student, sir."

Despite the timbre of angst you may be gleaning from this post here, I really am excited. A few days off was just the ticket to the final stages of senioritis and the beginning of the steady march to the finish line - whereupon we will start a new race altogether.

Revival, let me tell you, is a great thing. The best remedies in the world include:

Coffee, Agatha Christy and snider bits at Nielson's.

Theatre, champagne and Steinbeck accompanied by only the best.

Thai food by the canal, almost being run over by Dan Armading and sunshine.

But now we have Shakespeare to look forward to. And capstones and sailing. And then to join the bandwagon of some of my favorite alums (mainly I'm excited about this so I can finally feel deserving of my Alumni mug.)