Sunday, January 31, 2010

Heading up the mountain...

Sunday is the day we try to do things together as a family.  As the kids get older, it is getting harder to get us all together.  So, we put our foot down today and called a mandatory family hike.  It was beautiful!  We scaled a peak that I've never been on.  Mark had taken our oldest daughter Steph when she was about 11 years old.  I thought, "How hard can it be?"  Well, as you will see, this was not our usual walk-in-the-park hike.  There were ropes to climb....  But the trail was cool, and the view was phenomenal.  And you should know by the name of this's all about the view with me.  Here are a few pictures of our day.

Our goal was the tallest peak of Mount Olomana.  As you can see, there are some steep climbs.

The trail was a bit muddy.

There are beautiful, old trees that shade the hike most of the way up.  Their gnarled branches and roots are great hand-holds up the muddy slopes.

Every once in a while, the trees clear for a peek of the upcoming view...

We just kept climbing, up and up, and up...

Here is Rachael on one of the rope climbing spots.  There are about 4 or 5 different ropes to climb.

Next up was Rebecca.

Andrew found climbing easier in his bare feet.  Mark spots him from behind.  Andrew will be 10 next month.  He's the youngest one in our family to make this trip.

Finally, after about 90 minutes of hiking, we reach the top!

This is the view looking out over Kailua, and on to Kaneohe Bay in the distance.

There are 3 peaks on this mountain, we stopped at the first and highest peak.

Resting at the top.  The view of Waimanalo in the background. 
(And our friend, Tom.  He's in his early 60's but makes this hike about once a month....)

Rebecca, me and Rachael with Kailua in the background.  Yes, I'm tired but exhilarated by the view!


We also brought our friend Jake.  Jake was with us on the hike that Mark punctured his leg.  We had to take him on another hike (get back on the horse, so to speak) and show him that all of our life is not such drama.

After enjoying the view for a few minutes, we realized that the sun was beginning to set.  We had to move back down the trail. 

Have you ever wondered how you got yourself into a situation. I was wishing a helicopter could just pluck me from the summit....but it was not to be. We had to go down the same way we got up...ropes.

My girls are so brave.  They just took off. 

Actually, I was much better at the ropes than I had thought I'd be.  I really wondered if I would be too scared to do it.  There was a time in my life, as I've said in other posts, where I would not have even attempted a hike like this.  (As my sisters will tell you, I've spent what seemed like hours in a tree being too scared to come down.)  But I realized that I would be missing so much.  You just can't explain the experience to someone else (even though I'm trying to here).  And these pictures do not do the view justice.

My man does wonders to get me to places that I really want to go.  His spirit of adventure is contagious.  I love him for it!   And I'll follow him anywhere.

 God is my strong fortress,
and he makes my way perfect.
 He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
enabling me to stand on mountain heights.
 He trains my hands for battle;
he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow.
2 Samuel 22:33-35 (NLT)

I haven't had to draw a bronze bow, but I'm thankful He provided strength to climb those ropes!

Here's this week's entries for the 1000 Gifts list:

53.  cool, rainy days that remind me that it is still winter.

54.  new battery for the car

55.  husband's daily gift of making our bed

56.  Andrew's short story

57.  the freedom of a well-timed "no"

58.  the freedom of a well-timed "yes"

59.  bartering for lessons: ballet and piano

60.  bird songs through the sound of rain

61.  sister's phone calls

62.  when eyes open minutes before the alarm goes off, easing the morning faithfulness

63.  "home education" in my jammies once in a while

64.  home made stew to share

65.  taking a break from my beloved treadmill to run on the open road

66.  safe trip up and down the mountain

67.  living surrounded by incredible beauty

68.  being able to see personal growth in shedding old fears

69.  sharing beauty with family and friends

70.  a cup of tea on a fancy tray

holy experience

Feel free to join in with your own list. Post a link on your comment. I'd love to see it. Thanks!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The faithfulness of God in second chances...

As I write this post, I'm reflecting on my list of "faithful" scriptures.   I came upon the story found in Exodus 34 were Moses brings new stone tables to Mount Sinai.  He has already smashed the first set.  But God, in his mercy gives the nation of Israel another chance.  He will again write his covenant on the stone for Moses to share with the people. 

5 Then the Lord came down in a cloud and stood there with him; and he called out his own name, Yahweh.

 6 The Lord passed in front of Moses, calling out,
“Yahweh! The Lord!
The God of compassion and mercy!
I am slow to anger
and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.

Moses climbed the mountain early in the morning, and the LORD came down to meet him.  That thought stops me in my tracks.  The God of the Universe, comes down to meet with Moses.  How personal, how loving, how patient He is with His people.  And God calls Himself by name, "Yahweh", the One who makes covenants with men.  The One who keeps covenants for He is faithful. 

Moses was literally left glowing from his time on the mountain with God.  He was physically changed by God's presence. 

It is no accident that the LORD brought this scripture to me for this moment.  I currently am feeling very short tempered and my love is failing...  I'm irritated and tired.  The women's retreat came to an end this morning, and it left me spiritually refreshed, but physically tired.  Right now, the physical is winning out on my attitude.  I'm behind on my gratitude list...  But out of obedience, I am determined to be faithful to my goal.

LORD, please help me to be more like You; slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.  As I come daily to the mountain of Your presence, may my life be a reflection of our time together.  Amen

This week's gathering of the 1000 Gifts:

44.  the faithful ladies who attended our retreat
45.  the opportunity and privilege to pray at the altar with hurting ones today
46.  old hymns that revive old hearts
47.  new songs that stir new passion
48.  returning home to a house abuzz with teens
49.  daughter at retreat as companion and friend
50.  Hersey's dark chocolate kisses
51.  curling up on the chair with Andrew and a new story
52. a gratitude community that challenges me to right attitudes

Thanks for stopping by.  I appreciate you!

holy experience

Feel free to join in with your list.  Post a link on your comment.  I'd love to see it.  Thanks!

Photo:  family hike to the Pali Lookout waterfall.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Faithful Pilgrimage

This weekend I'm off to our church's annual Women's Retreat.  I've been part of this group of women for 23 years, and I've been involved in planning the retreat in one way or another for about 21 of those years.  (I only missed one retreat during that time.)  No matter what is happening in our lives, we always manage to get away for a weekend.   Over the years, dear sisters have moved away or moved on to heaven and new sisters take their place.  But there is that core of ladies, the remnant that remains faithful year after year.  I guess I'm one of them.

I know these ladies love me.  How?  Because they always agree to whatever I throw at them.  From the country crafts we did in the 80's, to the fashion shows and karaoke of the 90's,  to the fire tunnels and contemplation of this decade, they jump in with both feet.  That is truly a blessing to me.  They have let me think I'm in charge, when in reality, they have been mentoring me and allowing me to grow up.  Such a lesson of grace.

So it is with a humble heart that I venture back to our retreat.  I know they will love me through all my shenanigans this weekend.  (That's what retreats are for!) And God will be faithful again to bring us loser to His heart, and to each other.

Have a great weekend!

Photo by my niece, Kelsi Kauhane on Pakele Nui.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Waves of Glory

We headed north for our Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.  It was a fun day.  The waves on the North Shore of Oahu were awesome.  Even though the swell was going down, the waves were still in the 15-18 foot range. 

It's so hard to photograph waves. 
They all look the same - there's no scale. 
No one was surfing, too "blown out," but trust me, they were monsters!

And the sound, it thunders!  You can feel it in your chest as you sit on the shore.  Such amazing power.

It got me thinking...I wonder what David would have written about these waves, had he seen them.  The psalms tell of the ocean roaring at the sound of His name, but I bet the Mediterranean never gets like this.
So I did my best to write my own psalm, inspired but these mega-waves.

The glory of the LORD is all around,
Like a winter, North Shore day
Where mammoth waves roar like thunder,
They declare Your awesome power and might.
Their never ending rhythm proclaims Your faithfulness.
David was right, there is none like You.
If he had seen the majesty of these waves,
He would have included them in his songs.
For just as with these waves,
Your presence commands holy fear.

I can't imagine living my life without natural beauty all around.  It's one of the many ways that God speaks to me.  I see His glory everywhere. 

Like the song says,  "Open the eyes of my heart, LORD, open the eyes of my heart, I want to see You, I want to see you...."

Here are a few more pictures of our day.  I tried to put people in the shots in order to get a bit of scale on the waves....still doesn't do them justice.  Enjoy!

The beach was actually "closed"...




A bit more scale in this picture...



Moana and Rebecca

No day at the North Shore is complete without shaved ice!

holy experience

Sunday, January 17, 2010

God is faithful to servants, too!

Since this year began, I've been keenly aware of the many references to God's faithfulness that come my way everyday.  Now that I'm looking for them, the just leap off the pages of my Bible.  I guess even that is an evidence of God's faithfulness. 

I did a Bible software search for the word "faithful" and "faithfulness" and got a list of 157 verses.  My goal is to study each verse and see what the LORD has to say about each one.  Here's the first:

“Praise the LORD, the God of my master, Abraham,” he said.
“The LORD has shown unfailing love
and faithfulness to my master,
for he has led me straight
to my master’s relatives.”  Genesis 24:27

As you can see, this verse needs a bit more background before it means a great deal to me.  It comes from the story of  Abraham and Isaac.  Abraham is getting old and wants to find a wife for his son.  He sends his servant to find a wife from his relatives.  The servant prays and asks God to show him who this woman should be.  And of course, Rebekah is found to be the one.  The verse above is the a quote from the servant.  He praises God for so FAITHFULLY showing him who he should take back to Abraham for Isaac's bride.

What strikes me about the servant, is that he refers to the LORD as "the God of my master," and considers the answer to his prayer to be faithfulness to Abraham, not himself.  He is an instrument of God's faithfulness in the life of his master, Abraham.   But God also shows his faithfulness to the servant, in allowing him to carry out his duties to Abraham.  On the other hand, God shows himself faithful to Abraham even through a "third-party" prayer.  There is just no end to the dimensions of God's faithfulness in this one verse.  Thank you, LORD.

Here are my entries for the 1000 Gifts listed this week:

31.  youth Bible study at my house ;)
32.  a chick flick and a snuggle with my honey
33.  free audio books from the library
34.  beautiful Ho'olmaluhia, my just-down-the-street getaway
35.  kids who help each other
36.  the gracious stranger who help me jump-start the Jeep
37.  Blue (my dog) dropping his ball at my feet, reminding me to play
38.  seeing the reward of our schooling
39.  a worship team that willingly follows my lead
40.  a pastor who believes in me and invests in my training
41.  the timer on my coffeemaker that makes a great alarm clock
42.  the soft bed that eases the strain of the day
43.  the luxury to sleep in a bit when I'm not feeling well

(I know this post is technically dated Sunday, but being so far around the world, most of you already have Monday's post up...  I'm just trying to keep current.)

holy experience

Feel free to join in with your list.  Post a link on your comment.  I'd love to see it.  Thanks!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The school with no walls...

Today, we took a "field trip" to one of our favorite gardens, Ho'omaluhia.  It was such a beautiful, clear day.  I had to get the kids outside.  We brought our school books and more or less, got some work done.

But in between the studying, we did a lot of this....

...and some of this....

and of course, some of this...

...don't forget this....

...and yes, even some of this....

I found myself very refreshed.  So much so, I even agreed to this....

Who wouldn't be inspired in a place like this. 

You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.  Isaiah 55:12
No matter where you find yourself today, let the glory of God that fills the earth refresh your spirit.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Multitude Monday

Recounting my many blessings is not as easy as I thought it would be.  I'm trying to find the things that are beneath the surface, the things that may go unnoticed if I didn't stop to ponder them.  I got a bit behind and had to catch up this week.  But, like all new habits, with a bit of focus I know it will get easier with time.  After all, that's why I'm starting this journey.  I know gratitude is something that needs to be cultivated in me.  I'm no farmer, but I know that to cultivate, you first must break the hard ground.  That's where I am in this new gratitude mindset; breaking fallow ground.  Ouch. 

I found that once I get going, more things come to mind.  Once I "put on" an attitude of gratitude, the list began to write itself.  So here are this weeks entries:

11.  divine help in fixing the garbage disposal
12.  health insurance to cover Mark's injured leg
13.  a wonderful step-mom
14.  the sound of Mark and Andrew building a Christmas toy
15.  the quiet wisdom of Mark as the father of his daughters
16.  my faithful Craigslist treadmill
17.  Facebook friends who make me laugh
18.  hearing my son read well
19.  Salt-dough maps of the Holy Land
20.  the feeling of a clean kitchen floor
21.  unexpected blessing of a women's conference
22.  a great family of in-laws
23.  youth leaders who love my teens
24.  chocolate chips
25.  the view of the Koolau Mountains out my window
26.  friends next door for my kids
27.  home-made yogurt (with chocolate chips)
28.  a craft project to work on
29.  my son's voice, singing in the shower
30.  folded laundry - folded by Mark

Today, I read in Genesis about Jacob's dream at Bethel.  I love his realization that, "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I wasn't even aware of it."  Jacob was so impressed by this event that he raised a memorial stone there and worshiped.

O LORD, You are always present and so often I am unaware.  Open the eyes of my heart that I may see Your hand in my life.  May my 1000 Gifts list become a memorial pillar to the many evidences of Your presence, and may I remember to worship You there.  Amen.

holy experience

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Faithfulness: unexpected day of blessing

Today I received a very unexpected blessing.  It came in the form of a women's conference.  I didn't even know I was going until about 5:30 last evening.  My SIL called me and told me 1) that she was in town from a neighbor island and 2) that she wanted me to go to an all-day conference - tomorrow!  I waffled.  I always have stuff...stuff that I should get done, stuff that I've been putting off, stuff that really shouldn't wait.  But Mark gave his blessing, and I jumped at any excuse to see my SIL.

I'm not really good at the unexpected, so I immediately went online to find out what I had just committed myself to.  The speaker's name was Carol Kent.  The name didn't ring a bell.  (Now, I realize that I've seen her many books all through the Christian Book Distributors catalog!  Sorry, Carol!)  Google brought me to her site.  Her testimony is very powerful.  Her only son was convicted of murder.  She is living through a level of pain that I can't imagine.  So when I discovered that, I really wondered what I would get out of this event.  I haven't experience anything like this.   Again, I was going just to be able to spend time with a dear sister that I hardly ever get to see...

Well, let me just say that today was a day that God showed Himself faithful to me in more ways than I could count in this post.  I was so blessed by the experience.  God was present and He confirmed, rebuked, encouraged, and equipped me for the days ahead. 

The word that God has planted in my heart for 2010 is FAITHFUL.  He fills my days with evidence of His faithfulness to me.  And today, I also caught a glimpse of the faithfulness He desires to cultivate in me.  He not only showed me where He wants me to be faithful, but has also given me the equipping to do it.  What a gracious and loving Father is He.

"O LORD, you are my God;
I will exalt you and praise your name,
for in perfect faithfulness
you have done marvelous things,
things planned long ago."  Isaiah 25:1

How about you?   I'd love to hear your stories of God's faithfulness to you in recent days...

Image: Danilo Rizzuti /

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Hiking and the Unexpected

I hardly know where to start.  That's something I struggle with as a recovering perfectionist.  It's hard to start something if I don't know exactly how I will finish it.  So here goes.  I'm going to fight that urge and just plunge ahead...who knows where this will end up.

Our Christmas was short but sweet.  Short because we had so many family activities leading up to Christmas.  The ballet production wrapped up on the 20th which only left us a few days to really relax before Christmas.  We were able to get our homemade goodies put together for gift baskets and actually got them all delivered by Christmas eve. 

On the day after Christmas, we decided to take the family and a couple of friends on a hike into Kahana Valley.  It is a beautiful area, and our family had not yet ventured into that part of the island.  I had bought Mark a GPS for Christmas, so we were excited to try it out with a bit of Geocaching.  It was a beautiful day.  We found a wonderful stream to swim in. It couldn't have been a better hike.  When we were about 36 feet away from finding the cache, Mark ventured off the trail *mistake* and lost his footing.  He only slipped about 3 feet, but ended up impaling himself on a piece of re-bar that was sticking out of a huge cement block that had tumbled down the side of the hill.  The re-bar went into his calf about 5 inches deep.  In an instant, the whole day changed.  He was able to pull his leg free and scramble back up the hill.  We were all stunned.  We went from laughing and joking to a potentially life threatening situation.

One of the friends we took with us that day was Jake.  He is our church's new intern and he's only been on the island for two months.  We were just getting to know each other.  There's no ice-breaker like a crisis....  Well, like I said, I didn't really know Jake.  I kind of supposed he must have been a Boy Scout or something.  I looked at him, and he looked back at me, white as a ghost.  It was at that moment I realized it was up to me.  (If you've read the book Captivating, by John and Stasi Eldredge, you'll know what I mean when I say that I was playing my "irreplaceable role in a great adventure.")  Ever prepared, Mark had an extra t-shirt in his pack. I used Jake's knife to cut the shirt into a bandage.   As Mark lay on the ground telling me what to do, I tied the shirt onto the wound as tight as I could.  We helped Mark up and started out.  Once Mark was steady on his feet, Jake found him a strong walking stick and took the lead and kept us on the right trail.  We knew we had at least a mile to go just to get to the trail head, then another half mile back to the truck.  I have never prayed like I did on that trail.  I knew we would be in real trouble if Mark's leg didn't stop bleeding, or if he passed out...  The kids were all very quiet.  There had been good-natured complaints on the trail going in.  But it's kind of hard to compete with re-bar in the leg.  No complaints on the way out.  And actually, they were encouraging their dad.  It was sweet.   After an hour more of hiking with no less than three water crossings, we were out to the trail head.  I left Jake with Mark and the kids and I started running down the road to bring back the truck.   Thankfully, I was offered a ride by a very nice woman who lived in the valley.  By the time I got back to the gang, everyone was laughing and joking again.  We took a quick peek at Mark's wound and found that the bleeding had stopped. Mark was in good spirits and since he had stopped walking on it, the pain was much less.  We decided to take the kids home, clean up, and then head over to the ER. 

God has been so good to us.  Mark's leg is healing well.  The doctors told us that he would certainly have infections that may need to be treated with surgery.  For the first 5 days after the accident, Mark had to return to the hospital for IV antibiotics.  But Mark has never even spiked a fever. The infections have stayed in check. Another issue was from the re-bar itself.  It was so old and rusty (from a WWII bunker) that quite a bit of rust flakes were left in Mark's leg.  Our prayer was they would be expelled and not cause Mark, an avid runner, any lasting effects.  So far, most of the pieces have come out.  (Mark found the use of a magnet quite helpful in fishing out pieces...but that's another very gross story.)  The ones remaining will not be a problem.  God is indeed answering our prayers. 

So with all that excitement, it seems like Christmas was months ago. 

As my usual bent, I tend to head into the new year with a list of resolutions.   I love the feeling of a new start.  It gives me hope and revives my ideals.  Implementing them is always a challenge.  But it's getting late, and one of those resolutions is not to neglect my husband... so I'll try to finish this thought tomorrow.

Even when the trail turns and bends in a direction that is unexpected, the name of the Lord is a strong tower.  And under the shelter of His wings, I am always ....enjoying the view.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Gratitude: A great way to start the new year.

A couple of months ago I found a wonderful blog from a woman named Ann Voskamp called A Holy Experience.  Every time I read her words, I was completely blessed.  One of her weekly posts is called Multitude Monday, One Thousand Gifts.  She began to list all the ways that God graces her, the everyday evidence of His divine, "I love you" that can so easily be overlooked.  The challenge is to recognize those moments and write them down.  Let the list grow until 1000 gifts have been recorded.  Ann has surpassed that number and keeps going.  Here is her story about the Gratitude Community.

I have been encouraged and inspired to start my own list of One Thousand Gifts.

There is so much to be grateful for in my life. 

1.  The spiritual heritage I have been given.

2.  A comfortable home.

3.  A husband who loves me.

4.  Good health.

5.  Four kids who love Jesus.

6.  My sweet dog, Blue.

7.  Early morning quiet.

8.  Warm sunshine coming in through the window.

9.  A car that starts.

10.  God's faithful whispers through His Word.

If you'd like to join me in this journey of gratitude, please let me know.  I'd love to walk the path with you!

holy experience