Thursday, February 28, 2013


Yesterday was Rick's 42nd bday.  We did most of our celebrating on Sunday since everyone would be scattered around town doing their various activities on his actual bday.  The kids each presented him with the gifts they bought, mostly consisting of his favorite treats.  It was so fun to watch them shop for him and try really hard to think about what he would like.  That night, he and I went out on a movie and dinner date.

The 19th anniversary of our engagement was the day before his bday.  I said it to him in a text and I will say it here, "I am thankful every day that you popped the big question 19 years ago today!"  His response, "I would do it again."  (melt. my. heart.)

There are so many things I love about this man.  I am still amazed at the gift that God has given me in him.  
He takes his role as dad so seriously and lives it out with so much love for our kids
 He is such an example of grace and forgiveness and has challenged me greatly to embrace those character qualities in my life
 He provides for our family and is brilliant with our budget
He takes the time to know each one of our kids and invest in them individually 
He fights for those who can't fight for themselves
 He is a great leader to me, our family, in his role at the church, and through Beyond Survival
 He is generous and sacrificial in his giving
 He is the father to many(those in this picture and many others he has shepherded over the years)
He takes the time to learn who people are, why they do what they do, and meets them right in that place
I love it when he laughs, at me and with me! 

 I have known this man for 24 years, over half of my life!
I love him more with every passing year. 
 I celebrate who he is, how he loves, and the life that he lives!
Happy Birthday, Baby!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

6 Days in Paradise

It has taken me a while to get back into the groove of things.  I have been home from my trip for over a week now.  What a crazy week it has been.  Rick went to Dallas.  We had 2 snowstorms.  We got to spend some time with friends from Swaziland.  We celebrated Rick's Birthday.   All of that on top of the normal craziness that we call our lives(basketball, wrestling, gymnastics, piano, school, etc.)  Oh, yeah, and shopping, feeding everyone, keeping our house presentable, and driving over 50 miles every day.

I have pondered this blog post the whole time.  I am still processing my trip and all that it meant to me.  It truly was so refreshing and life giving.  I am struggling to share the full impact that it had on me.  But, I do want to share.  How can I not share the incredible opportunity that I was given.  There are so many people that made it possible for me to go:  Rick, my friends here who filled in all the gaps, my kids who really stepped it up in my absence, and the 3 amazing women who blessed me with their presence in Hawaii. 

I guess the best way to do it is start from the beginning and just share my trip in words and pictures.  I have LOTS of pics to share and these are not nearly all that I took.  I just wanted to capture every second.  I wanted to be able to bring this trip back home with me to capture those memories forever.  I can't even fully express how alive I become when I am at the beach.  Hawaii is all of those feelings on steroids for me.  

I left very early on Saturday morning.  I didn't sleep much.  How could I sleep when in only 12 hours I would be in Hawaii?!?!  I love flying.  I love watching people, reading, listening to podcasts, napping on the plane.  It is such a break for me because I cannot do any work.  It just isn't an option.  There is no one that needs me to do something for them.  I just get to relax.  I find that forced relaxation is sometimes necessary for me to truly unwind.  When I am at home, all I see is work around me.  

My first view at Hawaii.  Palm trees at the airport, of course.
Walking to baggage claim.
Aloha and Mahalo!
I was picked up at the airport and after dropping our things off at the condo, we headed to the Disney Aulani resort for some Pupus(that is appetizers for you non-Hawaii folk)
Our first pic together.  
I already enjoyed relationship with these women through email and text, but on this trip I truly fell in love with them and their hearts for adoption, the needy, their families, and the Lord.  We have a unique bond because of our shared adoption experiences.  We get each other.  We share in the joys and struggles that come with adoption, and heck, they are just fun to be with!!

My first sunset view
When I was looking at these views, I just kept saying in my head, "I can't believe I am here.  I can't believe I get to see this all week long!!"
Our condo
This place was perfect.  It had 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms.  Somehow, I ended up with the "suite" on one end of the condo.  I had a King-sized bed and my very own bathroom bigger than my bathroom at home!!  That is just another example of how giving these women are. They knew that I have sleep issues and wanted me to have the best possible opportunity for sleep on this trip.

The view from our lanai each morning as we sipped our Kona coffee from our Starbucks Hawaii mugs that Carrie got us and ate our breakfasts.  I swear even egg sandwiches taste better in Hawaii!!
It is almost like all of my senses come alive there.  The smells are tropical.  Many of the details there don't exist in my normal, everyday life.  The palm trees take me to my happy place. The pineapple and coconuts are so sweet.   Hearing the ocean and the seagulls is so relaxing.
Carrie even found sushi that I liked! 
Those little orange balls are caviar.  Yes, they are, and I ate them gladly.  In fact, I would eat them again, Sam I am.  I do like fish eggs on sushi! 
On our first full day, it was cloudy and rainy most of the day.  Well, that just gave us the opportunity to wear our jammies for half the day and spend the other half out doing some shopping, getting pedicures and having a yummy dinner at Aloha Salads.
We woke up early the next morning.  I tell you, in Hawaii, I am a totally different person.  I woke up early every morning, by choice.  I think I just didn't want to miss a second of paradise.  We went out for a walk to check out the resort where we were staying.  It was so beautiful and breezy.  Then, we packed up for a day at the beach. 

We were right by the chapel.  The bells would ring every 30 minutes and a newly married couple would run out of the chapel through the shower of flower petals.  Then they would take pictures on the beach.  That is my kind of wedding!
One view from my spot on the beach to the left
Front view
View to the right
View behind me
Each day at the beach was made complete by some Sweet Tea with Lemon
My pedicure and white legs
(I did get a bit of a tan before the week was over, but I think CO has sucked every bit of color out of my skin in only a week, not to mention how dry my skin is again now that I am back!)
After eating lunch on the beach, we headed over to the pool for some afternoon reading and napping.  
View behind me at the pool
Another pool view
Front pool view
We really picked the perfect time of year to go.  It wasn't crowded.  The weather was perfect.  It was 78-80 degrees the whole time.  Just when the sun would be beating down on us and it would start to get too warm, a mist would fall from the sky to cool us off or the sun would hide behind a cloud for a few minutes.  I am pretty sure this is what heaven will be like!
One of our meals on the lanai
We spent 3 full days literally on the beach/by the beach for at least 6 hours each day.  We found a little spot of chairs that we snagged each morning.  This became our favorite place to hang out.  I LOVED this chair(it was really more like a bed). It became my favorite spot to sit.
One of my favorite pics.  This pretty much sums up my week, a good book, the view, the life!
Another view from my spot
We took a day to do some island sightseeing and headed up to the North Shore.  This day became an eating extravaganza before it was over.  

I just don't think anyone should go to Hawaii without eating some Shave Ice
We roamed through the town, looking in shops.  I love doing that, but don't normally do it with children.  It was nice to look slowly and enjoy ourselves.  We had lunch at a burger place.  I loved my burger with the grilled pineapple on it!
This water is called Turtle Bay
There were turtles everywhere in the water.  We could see them in the waves as they crashed on the shore.  They would peek there little heads up.  So cool!
The North Shore is where all the surf competitions happen.  There was actually one going on when we were there.  It was so crowded and parking was really crazy.  We drove by it and took a peek.  It was really cool to see.

As we were driving, we spotted a Brazilian food truck.  Since Melanie grew up in Brazil for many years, we had to stop.  She ordered some yummy foods for us to try!
Next stop, Dole Plantation
We were not hungry, but I could not leave here without trying the Dole Whip!
Pineapple soft serve ice cream with fresh pineapple on it.
I could eat that every day!
I love these trees.  It looks like someone colored them with a crayon.
Baby pineapple
A different variety of pineapple
I would love to take a family picture at this spot.
I had to just settle for me
After all that eating and sightseeing, we had a special dinner planned that night at Roy's.  We weren't really very hungry at this point, but we couldn't skip out on our special, fancy dinner!  Melanie was especially glad we ate that dinner.  She had her favorite meal of the week that night.
We got all dressed up for the evening
My favorite part of the meal, molten lava chocolate cake dessert
My last full day was Valentine's Day.  We headed out early to claim our "prime real estate" spot that we loved.  It just happened to be right in front of the bar/grill.
Garrett, the bartender, was nice enough to bring us out some fresh pineapple.
Lava Flow, another Hawaii must!
Carrie's crew joined us midday for some smoothie making and swimming
My last sunset

I love the water crashing on the rocks
Chris, Carrie's husband, came over and grilled for us for our Valentine's Day Dinner
Even as I finish typing this post, I feel like there was so much that happened that I haven't expressed.  These pictures give the facts/details of my trip, but they don't articulate the relationships and community that were an ever present part of our time.  We laughed, we cried, we encouraged, we complained and vented, we challenged each other,  we cooked together, we skyped and texted with each other's families, and we lamented the fact that we all live so far apart.  It was all so good.
I believe we experienced what God intended in relationships.  I was ministered to and blessed beyond measure.  This trip was unforgettable.  Who knows where we will connect next time!!
Aloha and Mahalo!!