2,922 Bonus Days: That’s EIGHT Extra Years of life!

It’s that time of year again, ALREADY.  Thanksgiving has somehow come and gone, and Christmas is right around the corner.  My childhood BFF Mary just celebrated her birthday on December 1st (a chronological landmark I remember every year) and now the third is here…

It’s my EIGHT YEAR CANCER-VERSARY! 

Can you believe it?  It’s been eight happy, wonderful, blessed bonus years that I’ve been gifted since beating Stage III Hodgkin’s Lymphoma back in college.

The funny part about this commemorative occasion is that for the last several years, we’ve been celebrating it on December 5th.  In writing a post for this very blog, I uncovered some old photos, and actually found my radiation completion certificate – and lo and behold, it was dated the 3rd.  So the third of December it is.

The certificate of radiation completion!

The certificate of radiation completion!

This morning when I woke up to some texts and emails from family, I kinda found myself reflecting for a bit.  My moods ranged from full of awe and reverence to downright giddy. On Facebook, I posted an image of my cancer-beating certificate, and I’ve gotten an obscene amount of likes on it, like in the 160s and climbing.  And my dear pal and former-roomie and current co-worker Sasha “Salsa” Freeman Gray has been quite lovely in uploading some of the sillier pics from those crazy cancer days.

I was in college, had already gone through some really crazy health issues (a mis-diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease led me down the garden path of insane meds and eventually a full bowel obstruction which required a surgical resection), when my neck started to look like a sock full of golf balls – at least that’s the easiest way I’ve come to describe it.   I was tired, running slower than usual (literally, I ran a 5k and noted that my time was really slow, even for me), and I was having terrible night sweats.  Eventually I developed a non-producing cough, and around the holidays I just assumed I had some kind of supercold that my immuno-suppressed body couldn’t really fight so well.  It wouldn’t be until February of 2004 that I’d begin the process of diagnostic testing, and actually April when we found out for sure that it was Stage III-BS Hodgkin’s Lymphoma that had taken my collegiate body hostage.

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With Sasha, while getting my head shaved. I didn’t want to wait for it to fall out, so I took the matter into my own hands and got my pretty round head buzzed after my first chemo round.

In the process of shaving my head, I of course, had to take pause when I reached the excellent stage of MULLET.

In the process of shaving my head, I of course, had to take pause when I reached the excellent stage of MULLET.

I’ve gotten some interesting questions today – people wanting to know what it was like, how I’ve made the most of my time since, how I’m doing now… so without boring you all to death, I’ll try and give some tidbits:

What is it like to know you have cancer? 

Cancer was wacky crazy and very surreal for most of the experience, with one grindingly serious memory that jumps forward in which I finally absorbed the fact that I indeed had fecking CANCER and that it was hardcore.  Most of the time though, when you have cancer and you’re all chemo-bald, people know what your deal is and they’re very nice to you.  In my ongoing health issues with “Crohn’s Disease” and what we now know to be Acute Porphyria – it’s different. 

The serious realization came about very randomly.  I was driving home, and I was getting on Hodges from JTB (Jax ppl know what I mean), and it just hit me: I HAVE CANCER.  THIS IS SERIOUS.  And it kind of quietly overwhelmed me for a few moments, but by the time I got home I felt “normal” again.

How old were you? 

I was 20 when I was diagnosed, and celebrated my 21st birthday between chemo sessions.  I remember going to the Pepsi 400  (because that’s what it was called back then) on my actual birthday (July 3rd) and when a freak rainstorm came through I was freezing.  My then-boyfriend, Rick Neidringhaus, went and bought me some sweats and a windbreaker for my two favorite drivers: Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt Jr, respectively.  I still have the pants and actually wear them often!

Sasha and bald-me, circa Fall 2004.

Sasha and bald-me, circa Fall 2004.

What got you through?

This one is easy: God, faith, family, friends, the entire UNF family, the Greek system, and my incredible team of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and techs – all the good people of Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville who efficiently and effectively saved my life.  I had top notch doctors – I was already a patient at Mayo because of my aggressive “Crohn’s Disease” (since I really didn’t have Crohn’s, my body would never respond to the treatment – rendering me a medical outlier with an extreme case and therefore in need of the best doctors in the land.  Luckily for me, I lived in Jax, FL at the time and had Mayo access just a few miles from home).

I kept a really awesome attitude the entire time.  I bore everyone to death with the stories I tell again and again – but the one that I must tell when I saw a mother and her wheelchair-bound small child park next to me at Publix the day I was officially diagnosed.  Seeing that kid who has likely never walked and likely never will, I refused to feel sorry for myself.  It changed my entire perspective on the situation.  The first 19 years of my life were spent in excellent health, as I lead a life of privilege, freedom and one full of lovely memories and special experiences.  Had I died the day I was diagnosed, I wouldn’t have had a regret or a single sad feeling for myself.  Having cancer is what it is – once that tough lump is swallowed, all that’s left is making the best of it.  So I fought hard, kept my chin up, and did what I always do: plow my way through with some jokes and a lot of laughs, and a firm anchor to God and faith in the ultimate plan He has for my life.

Have these eight years been well-lived?

I mean, according to me – YES.  Heck, yes!  I’ve done some pretty amazing things and I believe I’ve chocked eight years full of an awful lot of life.  I’ve traveled, I’ve helped others, I’ve tried new things, I’ve experienced love, loss, happiness, and pain, full spectrum human experience.  I’ve created art, made others smile, formed friendships in the strangest and most normal of places – and every now and then I hear the “I word,” that I’ve inspired someone else into doing something good or at least having a good attitude about whatever it is he or she has going on.

Knowing that I can actually inspire others is very humbling.

Knowing that I’ve literally been granted 2,992 extra days of this life (heck yes I counted Leap Years) is humbling.

Snorkeling in Hawaii.  I've had a very happy life, yes!

Snorkeling in Hawaii. I’ve had a very happy life, yes!

I ran my first marathon this year, 26.2 miles!

I ran my first marathon this year, 26.2 miles!

Helping Sandy Relief in NYC last month.

Helping Sandy Relief in NYC last month.

My husband + me, smooching from a deer stand.

My husband + me, smooching from a deer stand.

Me - hunting just this past week or so!

Me – hunting just this past week or so!

So what’s it like now?

It’s both far-removed and ever-present.  The scars have faded, but they’re still there; and I still have my very first tattoos – the radiation dots that they marked me with to make sure they hit the same spot every day.  (As far as scars go, I had a couple stitches in my neck from a biopsy, another incision on the left side of my neck from having a lymph node removed, and I have a scar on my chest when I had my port-a-cath taken in and out).  I don’t obsess or worry about relapsing like I once did, and I don’t have to do the often check-ups and scans as I did in those first crucial years of remission.  I passed the five-year milestone three years ago, and that was a BIG ONE.  That’s the “you’re cured” milestone.

I don’t ever want to lose touch with that experience though.  After all, having been through cancer is a huge definer of who I am as a person.  It shaped me into a MUCH nicer person in general, and a tougher person in many ways.  It gave me a glimpse of my own frailty and left me with a profound appreciation for life and every breath I take.  And with that comes a responsibility to carry out a life well-lived and to do good in this world – and I find myself still trying to grasp at the best ways to keep that promise.

From this experience, what still impacts you today? 

I forever live with inexplicable gratitude in my heart.  For every nurse who held my hand, every doctor who took the time to make sure I received exemplary care… to my loved ones who came with me to chemo, prayed for me around the clock, and supported me in so many ways that words can never express… to the friends, classmates, and total strangers who came together to raise funds to help cover the costs of my treatment, to my Dad for working hard and having a good job that provided excellent insurance for me and money still to cover the costs that even excellent insurance didn’t take care of.

I carry with me a legacy of the hopes, dreams, and the honor of so many people who aren’t as lucky, of those who came before me and the technology that saved my life, of those in circumstances that don’t allow for early detection or top-notch medical care, of those who just don’t win the fight.  And that’s something that’s very real with me, a part of who I am.  We stand on the shoulders of so many giants, and I can’t ever forget that.

Mostly though, I just feel like me: Rose.  A happy wacky tie-dye loving slightly-redneck weirdo who often smiles and laughs everyday, and who is truly loved.  And I’m happy to be me, and I feel blessed to be me – each and every day.

I suppose if there was ever a profound take-away from an experience like mine – it is knowing in every ounce of my being that I am loved.  By my God, my family, those around me then and now, my husband, my friends, my sister, and even strangers – yes.  I am loved.  And being able to come face to face with such colossal concepts as life, death, and love is an honor that I am humbled to have experienced and lived through to write about now.

This post is dedicated to all of the many, many people who saved my life.  And to the many more lives that are forever changed by cancer, in all manner of ways – both happy and sad. 

Thank you for reading and for your support.

XOXO, 

HHR

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Straight Christian Ally: Talking Points and Such

I just published a pretty intense post about the current gay rights debate going on right now – in the USA, amongst Christians, in the media – it’s everywhere right now.
Lately I’ve found myself tugged into countless online and verbal debates on the topic.  In case you missed my previous post, or don’t know me all that well, I’m a Straight Christian Ally.  Meaning, I love Jesus and try my best to follow His teachings, the Bible, etc., and I also support gay rights, including marriage equality.

thanks to tectonic movement for all of the images in this post!

I’m not alone in this either!
There’s a huge movement out there.  Sometimes known as “allies”  or “I’m sorry” – we’re growing every single day.  One of the bloggers I most respect, Tamara Out Loud, is an awesome mouthpiece for such shared ideals.  She recently attended a Pride Parade, and wrote about her experiences here.
LesBeHonest‘s Staight Ally Page: a variety of videos and quotes, great resource for allies here!
A random blog I found, that’s just one of thousands, that eloquently expresses the “I’m Sorry” aspect to this movement – this is Jeff Jackson’s Tumblr.
Towelroad, a blog with “gay tendancies,” posts some powerful images of apologizing Christians at a Pride parade!
The Atlantic on Gay Marriage and State’s Rights, it’s a bit of an arduous read, fyi.
The link party could go on and on – I just wanted to give y’all some starting points and spring boards.
In the post earlier, I quoted my Fb status from yesterday.  Well – here are some other gems that I’ve spewed onto the Book of Face in the past 24 hours about the issues at hand – quote me, copy me, emulate me, do what you want – I trust my words and intentions will be used in good faith, and if you have any doubts about it, just ask me.  I’m nice like that!

An  AWESOME and OPEN MINDED Fb exchange with a valued pal:
Leigh Palmer: No i know, but it’s not like there is a Chick-fil-A in Chelsea, they are mostly in suburban areas with lots of families, in the south. I could be wrong. ( I have no real research backing this statement up). Any thoughts Rose? I just mean, it seems to be that their customer base is more likely a young “Christian” family rather than someone who a more open mind.
Rose: You’d be surprised. For a few reasons:

Today, with the Internet as powerful as it is, geography isn’t a definer for political thought. The most rural SAHM can be on the up and up of social movements as fast as they’re happening.

Gay Rights and other progressive causes have infiltrated the suburbs. Claire Williams lives in one of the “gayest” zip codes in the country.

CFA is in urban and northern areas; The NYU campus being a major point of contention. Students at NYU voted to keep CFA on campus and it’s caused a huge stir given the locale and progressive tendency of college students.

The chasm of gay rights is causing huge division in the church. Everyday the “I’m Sorry” movement gains followers. More and more “conservative Christians” are waking up to the idea that hate is not a family value, and as such, change is happening. Hence why stalwarts are digging in their heels. They’re terrified.

Just look at Target. They were ousted for their support of homophobic politicians… and they’ve since recanted, donated money to progressive causes and issued apologies. The gay-supporting ban of Target wasn’t well-known or huge, but it was enough, because it evoked real change.

Rose (again): Don’t ever doubt your ability to be one voice that does matter – because to a big company like CFA – they’ve made their empire one sandwich at a time, and we can dissemble it the same way.
Leigh:  ♥ you Rose Duggan — thanks for reminding me of all of those things. 🙂
Rose: you got it girl!! love you too leigh, your honesty is awesome! i love that you aren’t afraid to ask questions!!
More random Fb gems from various threads: 
I love Jesus, and I’m not eating at Chic-fil-A. If you claim to love Jesus, get the hate out your mouth.

I’m just tired of “Christians” using a soap box to speak out from a place of bigotry.

Not all Christians hate. Some of us try to love everyone, just like Jesus asked us to. And I do NOT mean anyone personally in this thread – I mean the Pres and C-Suite of CFA. They’re comfortable projecting further the image that Christians judge and condone one another.

Love they neighbor. Judge not lest ye be judged.

I think the community works of CFA are amazing, really, I know so many people who’ve benefitted from fundraisers and money in their local communities. I also respect that they encourage family dynamics by being closed on Sundays – I truly love that about the company.

And I think their food is SO GOOD. I grew up on CFA. I crave that lemonade and those breakfast biscuits.

But.

At the end of the day this is 2012 and I am not okay with a corporation levying its public influence with such hatred.

 On the issue of boycotts being hateful and judgmental:
A boycott is a peaceful, legal, and proper way to engage in social criticism by voting with your consumer power. A boycott is NOT an act of violence or hatred.

This country is founded on a plethora of rights, including that of being able to express your ideals, freely, in a variety of ways. Being a capitalist society – the almighty dollar tends to be the vehicle that carries a belief the fastest.

I firmly respect anyone’s right to believe whatever they like – be that homophobic hatred or true Christianity. Or anything. That’s America, baby.

I just don’t have to use my money to fuel a machine that churns out vile, evil, hatred. A machine that donated millions of dollars to homophobic groups even in 2009. CFA is a massive consumer power – it’s ability to fundraise, lobby, and support the entities of its choice cannot be overlooked.

If you – this is the general “you,” meaning anyone – feels firmly that gay rights should not exist in this country and that homosexuality is evil, grab your picket sign and go to work. No one is stopping you from expressing an ideal or opinion. In fact, much like the SCOTUS upheld WBC’s right to hate away – I do the same for anyone. Just know that there are plenty of people, myself included, who don’t believe that same sex relationships are displeasing to God. And in fact – we go so far as to encourage them out of love, support, and kindness for our fellow man. Ya know… kinda like how Jesus asked to do so.

I truly understand and appreciate the local impact of CFA. I have so many friend who’ve personally testified to the greatness this one company can do for the location in which the restaurant is established.

But there’s something bigger at play here.

The President of a major company being so openly hateful – it’s just not okay. As good as their food is, as hard as the employees work, as much as they nurture and support the local communities they’re in – the damage of the power-wielding C-Suite is just too much.

If a boycott could effectively slice to their bottom line, I guarantee they’ll come back around hat in hand, singing a different tune.

Just look at Target. Same thing and they’ve come around, and now they’re trying to make up for their ways.

Andres posted a link to the NY Daily News along with this text:
“Over $2 million dollars donated to anti-gay organizations! They claim not to be a christian organization, and very supportive of the family, but only their definition of family. Well I can promise you that me and my non-biblically defined family will never be eating here again. Hate is not a family value.”
My reply:
THANK YOU! I’m up to my elbows in online debate right now… I’m SO FIRED UP.

This is NOTHING NEW. I’ve boycotted CFA since ’09 when I discovered that my money spent of delicious sandwiches was fueling the fire of hatred.

If you love Jesus, you have no business HATING others. That ain’t Christian at all.

….
On the issue of the south, particularly my home town, being tough to change:
I’m from Ormond Beach. And while I understand the stigma of the South being “set in its ways” – change can and does happen.

Florida was still a blue state in the ’08 election cycle.

With the Internet as it is today, physical geography is becoming less and less of a barrier to political thought and social movements.

Some of the “gayest” zipcodes in America are in southern states – like the northside of Jacksonville, Fl or Asheville, NC. Every single day the “I’m Sorry” movement gains followers.

And finally… it’s been done before. I know that Target is a farther-reaching company. But the boycott of Target did not get the viral attention this issue is getting, and yet that pressure was enough to elicit change. Target was caught supporting anti-gay political candidates in MN (the state of its corporate offices) and after public backlash the megastore issued apologies, pulled funding to such entities, and instead gave money to progressive causes.

More Resources?  You got it!
Chic-fil-A protest link party, here you can jump off to lots of info.
A crazy brightly colored page chock full of awesome talking points for the support of Gay Marriage.
Nation For Change – all you need to know about Marriage Equality!  (awesome awesome resource right here).
CanyonWalkerConnections – a ton of info and links for Straight Allies.
I could keep going, but really – I think this is tons and tons to get you started, right?
AS ALWAYS – Thanks for reading!  If at any time you have questions, concerns, issues, or more – reach on out and contact me.  This is a dialogue, a discussion, and it goes two ways! 
xoxo, hhr

Keeping The Tag Moving!

My blogger pal Mike, over at Run Till you Drop recently “tagged” me in a sort of blogging game (kinda like blogging awards).   He tagged me and asked me a question that I’m to answer here on my blog.  (So I will totes do just that).

mike, a former footballer now trainer, blogs about fitness and all that healthy stuff (and marriage and his cute kids) over at ‘run till you drop’ – an awesome and fun blog!

And then, I’m to pass the tag along! I’ll link your blog in this post + ask you a question; you answer the question and then keep the tag moving!

I don’t think there’s a set number of how many tags to pass on.  But yesterday I made a little list of some people who I hope will participate and actually write back. If you’re tagged here – come on back to the comments section and link us to your reply (I can always edit the post to include you answer link right on in the post body itself; technology is so fancy).

Mike tagged me over here.He wrote:

Secondly, I think it would be rude not to bring ‘happyhippierose‘ to the party! Rose is such a sweet girl who has just moved away from very different weather to what ‘bearrunner‘ experiences. After reading her posts about life in Hawaii, I get very jealous from time to time, BUT sadly she has recently moved and I’d like to know a little more as I’ve not seen many blogs from her recently. So Rose, how did the move go and are you settled now? Also, as Rose likes her exercise too, I’d like to know what you’ve done recently to keep yourself in shape whilst moving from one home to another?

Hey Mike! Thanks for thinking of me and for the kind words.  Well, at the time you actually tagged me, I hadn’t mentioned much about the move – but now I think I’ve actually gone overkill and I’ve given the play-by-play all up on here.  I have stories, photos, posts and what not (just scroll through my May posts, they’re almost all about moving – so it seems – sorry y’all, it was pretty consuming). I don’t want to be too redundant and bore you to tears, so I’ll say this:

  • moving always sucks, it’s always a pain, it’s always stressful
  • that considered, this one went REALLY well
  • we turned part of it into a short road trip through NY state and that was wonderful, we met up with fam and friends we hadn’t seen in years!
  • we’re nicely settled in now, and so far just LOVING it here!!

My cousin Nick’s home is great, he’s been a generous and gracious host – doing more for us than any one cousin should do for another; he is wonderful and his hospitality right now is one of the biggest blessings on our lives.  So we’re living with him, probably will for a year or so.  We get along well, it’s been super fun so far, lots of joking around and good times.

my cousin nicky, he’s a great fella

Also, we arrived at a great time of year – we live in an amazing small town near Lake Erie with SO MUCH to do. Because of said lake, there’s all kinds of water stuff to do: boating, fishing, tubing, swimming, sun bathing, etc., so on.  New York state is gorgeous, has mountains, and in the warmer months there’s a festival or something every durn weekend.

having fun out on lake erie, memorial day

smooching my hubs, aww!

On my health during this move: I was bad Mike. Like downright evil – I hadn’t worked out in a good, long time.  The house mold in Hawaii had really taken hold of me before we left, and my last couple months there I was just soooo sick.  I didn’t do much of anything. It took moving and getting a few weeks out of the moldy house to actually realize how sick I’d become – slowly, during the move, I started feeling better, regaining energy, and it was just dawning on me how really ill I had become.  This move has been wonderful in that sense and to feel like myself again is such a treasure. So I’m easing back into a better, active, healthy lifestyle…

Since arriving here I’ve been running again!

me, out for a an evening jog with the pooches a couple nights ago

Stretching, yoga and some abs work too. Pretty fancy, huh?  I’m slowly trying to get back into it.  I think after being so ill and not doing much of anything, all the fuss and movement of actually leaving and traveling felt like a workout at first.  Now that we’re settled – it’s back to running, jogging, the kind of exercise I can do for free and in my house.  The best kind!

post workout: i’m slowly getting back into fightin’ shape

So, I think that should have MORE than answered your questions, right?  Thanks for thinking of me, Mike!  You rock! And to my readers who’ve never checked out Mike’s blog before: it’s an awesome resource for fitness info, workout ideas, training motivation and wonderful photos of England, his adorable family and the fun stuff they get into on the weekends.

Now: I’ll Keep The Tag Moving!!!

Oh I have so many friends with blogs and blogs I’m friends with… I feel like I coould be here all day.  So if you’re someone I love and I didn’t pick you, please don’t be cross with me.  These kinds of blogging games always come around and get passed about – so I’m sure there will be others down the road, and when that happens I’ll mix up the participants for sure.

In no particular order:

1. Cult Fit – tag, you’re it!  A real game of tag would totally count as random fitness, right? Cult Fit is a wacky, eccentric, brilliant blog written for the fitness-seeker with a speedy mind.  They crack me up and offer a good wake up call to get off my rear and go out and sweat, they also write daily workouts of the random fitness variety – fun stuff, motivation, love the humor and style.

“cult fit” – the header from their blog, i don’t think they post pics of themselves, and i wouldn’t even know how many photos to look for!

My question to Cult Fit: How many authors do y’all have?  It always feels like there’s a whole mess of you penning blogs and you’re always referring to Uncle so-and-so, and this guy and that gal… but really, how many different writers are there?

UPDATE: Cult Fit already passed the tag – check out their post right here. So rad!

2.  Sleep & Salami is a blog I got connected with during my feeble attempt at 30 Days of Blogging Honesty (which I hardly made it halfway through)… Sleep and Salami is a funny, happy blog that covers all kinds of topics and I’ve been a subscriber ever since the 30 Day event.

“sleep and salami” never posts pics of herself, but here’s the image on her gravatar

Question: I really loved your happy go lucky postings of “Merry May” – what a fun idea. I’m sorry you had a crummy April and you were in need of a pick me up – what have you found to be the best way to pull oneself out of a funk and into happiness?  Do you think your focus on gratitude has been a big help?  (I’m a huge advocate of focusing on gratitude for sure).  How are you feeling now, emotionally?  What’s in store for June?

3. Nourish. Nature. Love.  Carlita!  Heya Carly, how’s it going in Florida?  Carly is a personal friend of mine who writes an incredibly educational blog about lifestyle, fitness, nutrition and health – she posts juicing recipes, all kinds of recipe, workout stuff, yoga stuff, just all kinds of holistic lifestyle good choices stuff.

carly, from “nourish.nature.love.”

carly, gettin’ her workout on!

I would like to ask Carly: Are you so stoked about your new job teaching/training Kosama? What about Kosama excites you? What all will you be doing as part of this new job?  (Congrats btw, I’m super excited for you!)  And if you want to get into Jordan’s new job, can you touch on what you’ll be doing to stay busy over the next year (other than working your tail feather off??)

yogi extraordinaire.

4. I am Rose’s Keeper.  Are you EVER going to write your own blog again?  C’mon pleeeeeeeeeease.  (That’s my hubby’s blog, I want him to keep it up!)

oh duggs – so handsome in his new civilian look, the guy who blogs at “i am rose’s keeper” (and my hubby)

the pic duggs has of himself on his blog

5. Ear-Sword-Miracle.  Why are you so incredibly awesome?? Seriously Miles, you rock.  You’ve become such a “mentor” to me – and you always inspire me and offer so much support and love.  I think you and Sharon are so so rad!  So I know I’m supposed to ask you some kind of question that you’re actually able to blog about… so let’s see:  Can you tell me more about the roots of your faith?  I know an awful lot about how you view things now, but I’d love to know more about the journey that got you there.  And then – how did you and Sharon come to love tie dye so much?  The whole 70’s thing, or is it just because tie dye is so fun and happy and bright, just like y’all are?

miles, from “ear-sword-miracle,” the texan cowboy!

6.  Twirling Girl.  Oh Victoria, I love your blog!  I think your writing is beautiful and inspirational.  You’re really an excellent writer – is this blog your first foray into writing, or do you have some other experience that’s given you such a talented, solid voice and wonderful skill with words?

“twirling girl” pretty victoria

Where does your inspiration for your posts come from?  And how on earth do you find the time to do so much reading?? You’re really an impressive lady, and I just want you to know that I love your blog and find beauty in everything you post.

7.  Hiking in Paradise. Goodness you make me miss Hawaii!  SO MUCH!  I’m glad you’re trying to include more photos with your posts (I know at some point you mentioned getting a camera to bring on dives, and how it can be a bit clumsy to use – or at least it was at first, right?).  Your adventures are always exciting and the enthusiasm with which you’ve jumped into SCUBA makes me wish I’d given diving a chance.  Did you like that pun back there?  I have ear drama though, so actually I’d probably not do well with diving, I can never go too deep when I’m snorkeling or swimming.

“hiking in paradise” is lovely and happy =)

My question for you:  What’s your most favorite hike in Hawaii?  If you ever leave the island, what will you miss the most?  And what adventure have you been on that’s your proudest accomplishment – ya know, what dive or hike was the toughest and left you feeling so great about yourself for getting through it?

8. Through The Tunnel.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!  I saw on Fb it was your birthday, so I just had to give you a shout out.  Doing anything fun for your b-day?  For the average person, what’s the most important thing we should know about PPD and those going through it?  Like the top bit of advice you’d suggest for being supportive or the top bits of info to know for the sake of having awareness awareness, can you give us a surface level little bit, and “intro” to PPD if you will.

esther, lovely mama and encourager of many at “through the tunnel.”

PPD, btw, is Post-Partum Depression, and my pal Esther writes a lovely encouraging blog about PPD and getting through to the light at the end of the tunnel.  She’s a smart, sweet, and loving mama who helps reach out to many through her blog and social media.  Again, Happy Birthday!! Love to you, Corny Esther =)

(fun fact: Ear-Sword-Miracle is Through The Tunnel’s Dad, so cool!)

Alrighty – I think that’s plenty of folks for now – right?

Now y’all have to Keep The Tag Moving!  So, write and publish a post on your own blog, in which you answer the question I’ve asked you.  Then “tag” some other blogs by linking to them in that same post and ask a question or two of them, thus passing the tag on to them.  Cool? Cool!

Have fun!

And as always, thanks for reading!! xoxo, hhr

*pics stolen from other blogs and in one case, facebook, totally without permission because i’m totally rude like that.

Losing My Religion

“That’s me in the corner, that’s me in the spotlight … losing my religion.”  Great R.E.M. jam, right?  It’s totally how I feel today.

Friends of faith, calm down!  I’m not being literal, or rather – I’m not talking about my spiritual religion, Christianity.  My love of Jesus is as intact as ever.  It’s actually thriving I’d say: going through this huge move with so much uncertainty and loose ends, Duggs and I have been very laid back.  I’ve really been able to just hand the reigns over to God and trust that we’ll be fine, it’ll all work out in His time, and that He has my back.  He always does, so why worry now?

love this!

Of course, we’re doing all we can to work hard and set ourselves up for success – but fretting over things out of our control?  Not happening.  We’ve had faith and it’s been very comforting.

What I’m referring to is my religion of eco-friendliness.

Practicing my beliefs through the way I run a home, the purchases I make, the products I choose to surround myself with, put into the environment and my body… I’ve lost that “religion” big time.

I’ve been SO BAD.

Drive-throughs, food dye, nitrates, preservatives… you name it, I’ve been eating it this past month+. I’ve had more take out and delivery than you’d even think humanly possible.  My first week in New York I ate at Dunkin Donuts literally every single day.  (There aren’t any DDs in Hawaii, and I was dying for jelly donuts and pumpernickel bagels like woah).

be still my beating heart

It gets worse…  Much worse.

Hi. My name is Rose, and I’ve shopped at Walmart recently.

(Hi Rose).

Yeah, I need a Walmart Anonymous meeting or something to help me cope.

i’ve been here, and i’ve spent money. oy.

I’m downright ASHAMED that I’ve supported the giant corporation that I’ve been a sworn enemy of for years.  I mean, I belong to an anti-Walmart watchdog group that keeps tabs on all of the pollution-causing antics, third world sweatshop supporting practices and employee rights-squashing shenanigans that the big blue box condones (and usually tries to hide with price roll back smoke and mirrors).

what do all these products have in common? check the brand. sigh.

It still gets WORSE.

I’ve used paper towels.  Lots of them.

the devil’s mess vessel

(I’m basically in tears at this point.  Who am I? Where has the real Rose gone?).

I’ve drank coffee made in a Keurig.  Oh how I swore I never would.  But I did. In multiple homes on multiple occasions… and I liked it.  It’s delicious.  I even bought more K-cups to refill the ones I willfully consumed.

the set-up here at nick’s. it’s sinfully wasteful… and yet sinfully delicious.

look out landfills, mama’s thirsty!

And if we’re getting really honest – which we are, I’m confessing to quite a lot of eco-sins here – I’ve also used some chemically crazy cleaning agents.  A little bleach here, a little neon colored scented spray there.  SIGH.

oh the shame. i should have to turn in my friendship bracelets and bandanna. am i even a hippie anymore?

I mean, I have excuses – sure.  I’ve been a guest in the homes of others.  I’m trying to be polite and keep things simple.  I’m living out of suitcases (essentially), and for a while we were technically homeless.  Going with the flow, not making waves, and so on… but you know what they say: the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

I know I’m being hard on myself.  But there’s a certain level of conscientious living that I’ve strived for and I feel like I’ve just totally ignored all of my earthly beliefs lately.

Really though, there is some adjustment period to be expected.  I didn’t pack rags with us like I had intended to (I was so ill the day the movers came to our house in Hawaii, so many of my plans for what was to get packed/shipped and what was to come with us for immediate access went totally out the window – I’m lucky to have underwear and socks with me, it was that crazy, I was that ill).

So I’ve been bad and I know it. 

Duggs and I went more than a year with only buying a single roll of paper towels for our home (for doggie pee when we were dog sitting and other such “emergencies”).  We use cloth napkins, rags, and towels.

I had actually kicked my coffee habit to the curb and was drinking tea, usually only one caffeinated tea a day – the others decaf, herbal, etc.  And even if/when we made coffee, it was with a regular pot.  Many of my (dear beloved) pals have gone Keurig, and while the idea of making one cup at a time seems convenient and nice, the waste just seems inexcusable.  All that packaging! Ugh.  (And I know there’s the “my K-cup” thingy that’s reusable, but still… who uses those? It’s way more fun and easy to just buy the regular disposable K-cups).

And Walmart? Ha! I haven’t been in a walmart in years.  Actually, Duggs and I made ONE purchase there the entire time I lived in Hawaii.  And before that, I couldn’t even remember the last time I’d been in one.

I like to practice what I preach.   I sure try to anyways.  We all slip up, yes.  I know I’m not perfect, but I try and that’s been something I define myself by, a source of pride.

As an American I know I have power in my vote, sure.  But we all have a power that seems to carry even more impact: consumer power.  Where we spend our hard earned money speaks volumes.  By not buying products I consider wasteful or harmful, by not shopping at stores whose practices I’m not down with – I vote with my money.

I’m proud of the strides I’ve made in recent years. It seems like every year since ’07, my resolution has been “to be greener,” and every year I’ve made imporvements.

Buying and eating better food to not support farming practices I don’t agree with (factory farming is downright evil) and to be kinder to my body is one that I’ve worked on for years.  The amount of waste reduction in our home has been impressive.  Using less and less “disposable” items and more reusable stuffs – it’s better for the earth and it’s better for our pocketbooks.

Do you know how pricey paper towels and paper napkins are?  That junk adds up! Back in Hawaii, I cut up one old towel and made like 15 rags.  They work better than paper towels and you just wash ’em and voila, good to go.  Cloth napkins are nice too, they’re softer on your skin and again, save money, waste less, so on.  Making our own cleaning products is WAY better for the environment and much, much cheaper.  Those fancy products add up; but white distilled vinegar?  Blessedly affordable.

oh wdv, our love affair will never ever end!

My crunchy habits do save us money, which is great.

But more than that, I’ve been able to live a lifestyle I’m proud of, one that allows me to live out my beliefs.  

So without those habits I feel like I’m being untrue to my heart.  I’ve had that R.E.M. song stuck in my head for days, and I don’t think it’s coincidence.  My eco-religion is a little lost right now.

I’m not all evil these days, though.  I’m slowly getting back into my green hippie groove.   The jostle of moving and being on the road, going from place to place was unstable.  But now that we’re here at Nick’s and settled in, I’ve been getting back into a greener routine.  I know it won’t be long before I’m up to my old hippie tricks and living at a level that’s reasonable and good.

It’s just the lapse that happened during the in-between for which I feel guilty.

I had to confess, get it off my chest.  But that’s it, I’m wiping the slate clean and moving on.  While I’m not pleased with some of the wasteful ways I’ve taken up lately, and the whole Wamart thing (*shudders*) … I’m not going to beat myself up too much.  What’s the point?

I’ve recognized the problem, and that’s always the first step.  So now, it’s about moving on and regaining my crunchy cred.  I’ll post soon (tomorrow maybe?) about the greenie ways I’m getting back and the hippie practices I’ve never lost sight of.  There are so many little, easy ways to keep an eco-friendly home, save money and be nice to ourselves and our animals (chemicals kill, yo).

And at some point I should post about all the crunchy hippie habits of mine that save money.  You’d be amazed at how my gentle ways also go so easy on the wallet.  But that’ll be a long post, and I’ll need to think of all the things I do – I don’t want to leave anything out.

For today though, the confession feels nice.  It’s off my chest – so thanks for letting me do that.

As always, thanks for reading!  xoxo, hhr

Image Sources for the ones that aren’t mine:
Trust God image (it’s actually a teeshirt you can order, rad!)
Dunkin Donuts pic
Walmart storefront pic

Running Into Tragedy

(Warning: sad content about a fatal motor vehicle accident).

Yesterday afternoon I went for a run.  Well, more accurately, it was a jog and walk mix up, doing three minute intervals of each.  Considering how sick I’ve been over the last few months and how little exercise I’ve gotten in (I haven’t gone on a run in way too long), I’m really rather proud of myself!

red faced and sweaty close up. yikes!

happy pooch on a run

It was a sun-filled, warm afternoon.  I wanted to get an idea of where I have to run around here, what the scenery and paths are like, sideswalks vs. grass, quiet roads vs. busy streets and so on.  I used my RunKeeper app to notice the mileage and keep track of landmarks – I now have a great idea of whereabouts my half-mile and mile marks are, etc.

these will be tall vineyards one day

on south roberts road, a little ways down from our house

The pooch was happy to stretch his legs.  The worst part about me being sick and not going for runs is that the pooch doesn’t get to go jog either.  Now, he’s had a lot of chance to play lately.  At the hotel in Hawaii there was a doggie park for him, all during our trip he got to hang out with other pooches and play, and without fenced-in yards – to go potty he was taken on walks.  So it’s not like he’s all cooped up… but the pooch LOVES going for runs with me.  He was so excited he pulled on the leash the entire time, to the point that it was straining and annoying.

exploring doggie

my jayjers

a little farm access road i found to jog down and get away from traffic

While I was out I had the music pumping, I took some fun snapshots with my iPhone camera.  I was really stoked for myself, exercising again, getting some sun, checking out my new home, etc.

a fun place to run, so green and open

I was on my way back to the house, jogging my last “run” interval when I looked further down the road and I saw a ton of dirt and dust clouding up into the air.  Traffic started backing up and I could see cars swerving and zig-zagging.  Something was wrong, and I could just tell.  It seemed like an accident.  So I took off in a sprint and tore down the road.

I am so out of shape, and I’m sore today already… but when I can tell something serious has happened, that lifeguard in me just responds and I sprinted the whole way there.  I got to scene and started yelling, “I’m an RN, is anyone hurt?”

I could see one conversion van, blue with handicap decals and a wheelchair ramp, just smashed to pieces and sticking out into the road at a weird, dangerous angle.  I saw a semi truck in the opposite lane pulled over, and who appeared to be the driver, trying to direct traffic.

a photo of the accident from observer today (link below)

From what I initially gathered, one man was dead and the other was fine – no one else claimed to have been involved and no one else said they were hurt.  The deceased was pinned underneath the rear axle of the blue van, and the scene was just horrendous.

Some volunteer firefighters on the scene started calling up more guys.  They said they would need a lot of help, and I asked if I should run home to get Duggs (“my husband’s a Marine – do you need him?” – “oh yeah, go get him now!”).

So I sprinted home as fast as I could, got Duggs and we hurried back to the accident.  It all happened a country block away from Nick’s house (where we live now) and we could see the whole thing from the end of our driveway.  By the time we got back there so many professionals were on the scene and taking care of everything, they didn’t need us at all and we were told we could go home.

we were really close to the wreck

standing in the driveway, looking toward the accident scene

Now.  I did take some photos with my phone.  I was worried that people were going to try and move the car or move the man, so since I was the first one on the scene with a camera – I just started taking some photos in case things weren’t left as is (I was just trying to do anything I could to help).  No.  I will not post those photos or share them.  I’m going to delete them actually, the officer directing the scene already told me he didn’t need them (it turns out they didn’t end up moving the vehicles or the man).

I went back home and I just felt so weird.  I was so sad for the man who died and for his family.  I know accidents happen all the time, people die everyday – but it’s sad when you deal with it firsthand, so up close.  And I was all mixed up.  I had been so happy, so excited to be out on a run – and now patting myself on the back felt weird.  It felt disrespectful or inappropriate.

But life has to go on, right?

I didn’t know the man who was killed yesterday.  I’m not suffering or grieving his loss.  But I know that many are, and that’s what makes me sad.  After we got back to the house I went out back to the vineyards and jogged, walked, prayed, and just cooled down.  I aksed God to bless the man who lost his life, to comfort his family, loved ones, the other driver and everyone involved.  Other than praying, I wasn’t really sure what to do.

happy pooch, running and playing

love the views of grape country

off leash running in back of the house, sprinting up and down the grassy access road between vineyards

Today in the news I saw the story about the accident.

Turns out the man who died was a very well-known and respected former public official: John Dillenburg.

john dillenburg, rest in peace – this is a photo of him they posted on the daily observer, from 1999

He’s been serving in government since the 70s, he was in the national guard and he went to State Ranger school out here.  His whole life he’s given back to his community and the people around him.  His wife of 45 years survives him, along with his daughter and grand-daughter.

Forty-five years of marriage.  Wow.

My heart breaks for his wife, and now I ask God to bring her comfort and peace.  I just can’t imagine what she’s going through.  I wish there would have been something we could have done, some way we could have helped or saved him.  But that’s not how this played out.  The only respite is that he didn’t suffer, it all must have happened so quickly.

Here’s the link to the news story, you can read all about his service and the work he did in this part of the country.

While I am happy to have gone on a run and to have worked out, I’m just left in an interesting state of mind.  I’ll take this experience as a call to appreciate life, to recognize how fragile we are, how fleeting and delicate life can be.  Each day is a gift, and every day we encounter so many blessings.

I’m in awe of God’s beautiful creation – coming from amazing Hawaii to wester New York, which although different in scenery, is another gorgeous, green, natural place.  I love living here so far, and I’m so grateful for my life.  I’m so grateful that I felt well enough to go running yesterday, that my husband and loved ones were alive and well at the end of the day.

Even on our worst days, there is so much gratitude to fill our hearts to overflowing.  Ever since having cancer, I try to approach and value every day as so special.  But it’s easy to get caught up, it’s easy to get into a routine and come to know distraction.

smiling, again – there’s lots to smile about and even more to be so grateful for.

So while yesterday is a tragedy and it’s sad, and the whole thing horrifies me and hurts my heart, at least I can try and take away some lessons.  A wake up call, a reminder, a poignant and painful lesson about just how precious every moment is.

I know I hugged Duggs much tighter than usual last night.  And I hope everyone who’s blessed enough to have your loved ones alive and well will do the same.  Be glad for all that you do have.

As always, thanks for reading my blog. 

 

Happy Mom’s Day, Catching Up, and Other Bloggy Stuffs

I know most of my posts have been about our big move.  It’s been pretty consuming.  Don’t think the ole wheels upstairs aren’t turning though!

After staying in so many different households over the past couple weeks, I’m excited to work on some posts about my happy hippie ways that have saved us money and helped to run our home in an eco-friendly way.  I’ve been passing on my tips to our gracious hosts along the way, and it made me think that I should do a post with a bunch of my household tips and tricks!  So that’s on my mind.   Of course I want to show off all the photos from the trip (from the nice camera, I haven’t posted any of those yet) and I want to show off Fredonia and what we’ve been up to here.

Oh, and the climate change has inspired me to keep track of my outfits.  Hehe… it’s not the same style that I could get away with in Hawaii.  So it’s been fun dressing in layers and changing my daily garb.  So there’s that too!

in pottersville on a dreary day- i’m wearing jeans, boots, and long sleeves. i can’t remember the last time i had all this on at the same time. it’s fun!

In good time, once I have more magical interwebs power I will post lots of fun and exciting happy hippie idears and posts (I know I always say that, but really I’ve been on the ball the past several days – Idk if it’s getting away from the moldy house or just moving in general, but man has my energy and motivation been coming back to me.  I’ve been incredible industrious since we’ve arrived in Fredonia – it’s outstanding!).

For now though, it’s great just to say hi!  I hope everyone is doing well.

To all the mothers out there, I hope y’all had a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend!! We spent the afternoon at my Aunt Patty’s house and had a lovely family dinner.  It was great.  I hope all the mommies out there spent time with your loved ones and were able to feel the love and appreciation that so many have for you!

aunt patty and nick, yesterday at dinner celebrating mother’s day and us being up here finally!

…I have to admit, it’s a holiday that’s a bit bittersweet for me… I can’t wait to be a mom someday and get to enjoy the celebration in a different way.  It’s certainly a day that made me wistful.

But I know things all happen for a reason, and that God’s got us covered.  So when the time is right, I know our family will grow.  And until then, I’m all about make the best of the millions of blessings we sure do have!  There’s a lot of exploring to do in our new home, so much to see and do, so many new places to check out.

Even though Mother’s Day made me a teensy bit sad, it’s a very exciting and happy time for us.  And sharing in that positive energy is so fun for me.  So keep your fingers crossed that we’re able to get some decent high speed and then I’ll be back up and running in full effect!

As always, thanks for reading!! xoxo, hhr

Retreat IceBreakers – Copy, Borrow, Steal!

This past weekend was the annual Women of Hope retreat.  140 women gathered on the beautiful North Shore at  Camp Mokule’ia.  I was invited to be on the ministry team for the event, and it was my pleasure to help out.

photo courtesy of robyn pratt - to give y'all an idea of the cafeteria we were in all weekend, this is where we played all of the ice breaker games.

One of my roles was to come up with and lead some icebreaker activities.  A lot of the women were new to retreat and new to the community.  Hope Chapel has multiple services and campuses, so even women who’ve been attending for years may not have had the pleasure to cross paths.

The theme of the ice breakers was to connect the women.  Our goal was to foster friendships, highlight commonalities, encourage teamwork.  Basically, it was all about bonding and creating a stronger sisterhood.

Annmarie, my dear Irish pal, was my co-leader and we had a blast all weekend!  We’re both pretty funny (if I do say so myself) and we were able to inject a lot of banter and jokes into our on-the-mic time.

here's a pic of annmarie - with her hubby vic. i snagged this off of her fb!

So, since I helped create all of these games, with lots of borrowed common ideas and a little bit of my own creativity – I’ll be the first to encourage any readers to go ahead and re-use them.  Borrow these ice breakers for your next retreat, workshop, classroom, whatever.  And if you do, let me know how it goes!

Stand Up / Sit Down

I’ve played variations of this game tons of time, in all kinds of group settings.  Since the idea was to connect women, we came up with this idea in a planning meeting for the event.  We drafted a list of categories to call out, some serious and some fun.

How to Play the game:  Basically, Annmarie and I read a list.  We told the gals, if what we read applies to you – stand up.  While standing, look around and see who else is standing with you.

For the first night it was a good way for the women to get a feel for who they’ll have things in common with – who’s going to be up nice and early, who will stay up late.  For the newest members, finding out commonalities is a great way to start a conversation.  It’s also a gentle way to start things out, no one had to do anything crazy or super outgoing.

The list had administrative items like “first time at a retreat,”  “if you’ve been to five or more retreats,”  we listed out all the church services HCKB offers, we asked about what campus they attend, if they’re visting from another church.  Morning people and then night owls were asked to stand – this was all so people could find a familiar face, so newbies wouldn’t feel alone.

We had a lot of silly items, “love sushi,” if you “like rock’n’roll” please stand up!  Dog lovers, cat lovers, parents, married, single, and so on.   Oh, and we called out for “motorcycle owners” knowing durn well it would apply to a specific person, and it was so funny!

Pros: it was easy, fun, our jokes made it funny, and people seemed to have fun when something they liked or included them was called.

Cons: it was simple, possibly kinda boring, and it doesn’t really work if it goes on and on forever.

I didn’t hear any negative feedback on it, in fact people said it was fun.  I know it sounds like it would be really boring, but when you actually do it – people get pumped.

Things in common game! 

I’ll preface this game by saying that when everyone checked in to camp, they were given a yarn tied around their wrists.  Groups who came in together were told to get different colors.  We had pre-cut a pile of them, seven different colors.  Then, during the event when we needed to break up into groups – using yarn color was the easiest way to go.  By breaking up people who traveled together, ladies were forced to make new friends and get out of their social comfort zones.

How to play the game:  Teams were given five minutes (or was it ten?) to brainstorm a list of things they had in common, every single one of them!  Team with the most commonalities, wins.  A prize will be given (we used a paper bag full of candy and treats).  The catch is that if other teams also listed the same thing, they’d cancel each other out.

After time was called, we went one team at a time and they read their lists, if others heard something called out that they had written down, they’d cross it off.

It went really well.  They ladies had to get creative, clever and learn about each other very quickly.  The ONLY way to succeed was to find things out about each other.   The pressure of the timer helps everyone to bond by coming together.

I created this game based off some similar ones I’d seen online.  I really loved it.  The winning team had 37 items!  Examples ranged from “we all love chocolate,” to listing anatomical consistencies, “we all have boobs,” “we all have hair” being some (it’s easier for a same-gendered team to play if you go that route!).  Some answers were really sweet.

Pros: Players get to know each other, it was fun, the sillier the answers – the more everyone laughed.  It got the teams working together, competing.  It was everything an ice breaker should be.

Cons: I think it could get a bit boring during the reading.  Since there’s only one list, a lot of people just had to listen and hang out during the reading phase.  It could be hard to figure out things you have in common, especially if they were more meaningful things/less superficial.

Mad Libs-styled Skits

skit performance - this one took place in narnia!

We ran this game in three parts – so it helped to fill a lot of time, and the opportunity for teamwork was immense.

How the game is played: 

every team did a great job!

Part One: Every team takes out a sheet of paper.  Annmarie and I give them six categories, they must come up with something for each one.

Our’s were:  a location (anywhere – real or fictional), a date (day, month, year – past, present or future), a food, a celebrity, a Bible verse, and an Olympic sport.

The teams filled in the lists and then we collected them.  And of course, we redistributed them so each team had a list they didn’t create.  The instructions were that each team must create a performance using ALL six elements on their list, each one must be incorporated somehow.  We told them they could write a song, put on a skit, anything really!

amanda on the guitar as her team sang an original, and hilarious, song!

 

i loved watching all of the performances

Part Two: We just gave them all 20 minutes to practice.  Practice during free time was encouraged, but just to make sure everyone did a great job, we opted for practice time instead of doing a different ice breaker.

Part Three: Performance time!

This was so fun.  Our lead pastor, Tami, was in tears watching the show.  She was so impressed at the great job every team did.

Groups were judged on creativity, humour, thoughtfulness, fact accuracy, props, energy and using everything on their lists.  Prizes were given to first place and two runner ups!  Picking the winners was about impossible, each team did an amazing job!

Pros: LOTS of bonding time.  We saw so much teamwork and creativity.  Groups spent a lot of time together.  Women who usually stay behind-the-scenes totally got up on stage and gave it their all. New friends were made, people had fun, it was fun for the audience to watch.  Since our retreat was faith-based, having a Bible verse in there was a good way for them to incorporate the Word into the project.

I just heard rave reviews about the skits, everyone seemed to have enjoyed it very much.  By creating the mad libs style lists, the skits were wacky and funny!  Since they had no idea they’d be doing skits ahead of time, they didn’t really have props, so it was fun to see everyone come up with stuff on the fly.  We had a lot of musicians at camp, with instruments, so the music abounded!

Cons: I used Curling as an example of an Olympic sport, and I’m pretty sure five out of seven teams used it, so that was kind of a bummer.  I’d caution anyone using this activity to limit the number of examples you give.   It was a time-consuming activity, a lot of the groups needed much more than the 20 minute allotment to put it all together.

The idea for this game just came to me Friday night during the teaching.  I quickly scribbled the rough idea down, then Annmarie and I hashed out the details.  I’m really quite sure the inspiration was Devine – it just popped into my head out of no where.  So praise God for the spurt of creativity!

So, if you were at retreat – what did you think about the ice breakers?  Annmarie and I really tried to give everyone activities that would encourage friendship, sisterhood, and bonding.  Mostly, we wanted everyone to just have fun.

If you’re going to use any of our game, please let me know how it goes and what modifications you make to suit the needs of your groups!

as always, thanks for reading!  xoxo, hhr

Whew. What An Amazing Weekend – Women Of Hope Retreat 2012

I spent this past weekend on the North Shore with 140 of God’s LOVEliest women at my church’s 2012 women’s retreat!

the women of hope

I’m fired up, filled to overflowing, loved, happy, encouraged, humbled, grateful, and … exhausted!  Hence, this post isn’t the actual rundown post.  No, this weekend was so full of post-able pieces of wisdom, insights, joy, fun, photos, and good ideas it’s going to take me a hot minute to compile it all together.  I think I’ll actually make a few posts.

I was so honored to be on the ministry team, working at the event.  I was in charge of the tie dye event and I came up with/led some ice breakers.  I want to post about the group bonding games we did in hopes that others could take the ideas and use them for their own events (Annmarie and I co-led the ice breakers and we are oh so clever, we invented our own games for the ladies to play!!).

The ministry was amazing.  We had devotionals, testimonies, teachings, praise and worship, prayer, prayer and more prayer.  Eight women were baptized in the ocean! EIGHT! Countless women had their faith renewed, re-ignited; sins were purged, the enemy was attacked, others were forgiven.

ocean baptism - amen!

The theme of retreat was LOVE.  We are Lovely, Overcoming, Victorious, and Eternal.

I learned so much, I just feel so pumped up.  I’ve been falling off in my obedience and commitment to God, and this weekend really gave me a chance to dig in and reconnect.  I was able to lay a lot of my own junk down and serve my God, happily.

So, there is MUCH to share, much to say and much to show.  Just give me a few days to collect my thoughts (and notes – I used like seven different notebooks, so everything is all scattered and out of order)… and a series of posts will ensue!

camp mokule'ia is amazing.

If you have any requests of stuff you’d like me to talk about, lemme know.

Oh, and the location!  The location was epic.  Camp Mokule’ia is peaceful and amazing.  The new direction of the facility is to live and run the operations of the camp in a way that is most kind to the land it’s on.  Sustainable living is totally promoted with a new gray water system, aquaponics, composting, gardening, and beefed up recycling.  A hippie like me couldn’t be more excited, especially because Camp management bases all of their green-inspired efforts in Scripture!  I’ll be interviewing the owner of the Camp and giving a full explanation of all their new eco-friendly installations, what the impact has been like, the theological inspiration for the efforts, and how camped have been responding.  So rad, right!?!?

I’m excited to get cracking.  Love to all of my sisters – thank you for a wonderful weekend.

Thanks for reading! xoxo, hhr

I Am Second

This weekend was a blur.  My hubs (Duggs) had duty on Friday.  I got sick and was up all night, so I did sleep either.  So, Saturday we both slept.  Today, I’ve been in recovery mode – we’ve just been taking it easy, spending some nice relaxing time together.  With a teensy bit of crafting in there.  I worked for a hot minute.  I haven’t been feeling awesome, so staying home has been nice.

But part of staying home is that we didn’t make it to church this weekend. Sad face.

I love going to church.  Our home church out here in Hawaii, Hope Chapel Kaneohe Bay, is wonderful.  The sermons are passionate, down to earth, funny, relate-able.  The people are amazing, loving.  It’s home to us.

Going every weekend is a way to center our lives.  It helps to ground us.  We spend some time praying, being with God, celebrating all the amazing blessings we experience.  Reflection, thanksgiving, and fellowship.

It’s part of the routine that we love, the foundation for the week. Sets the tone, ya know.  (I hope anyone of my high school friends reading this just shouted set the tone! in your head, LOL).

I know that a blog post isn’t nearly the same as church.  But, I did spend some time this evening focusing on an aspect of my faith that I wanted to share with y’all.   wanted to spend a minute posting about a super rad revolution that I am happily a part of.

I am Second.

Darrell Waltrip’s I Am Second Video

I am Second is this awesome movement I heard about on the radio a while ago.  We’re all in second place, because God’s first.  It’s about all of us contributing to take care of each other, lift each other up, pray for one another and be a community of God’s children.  From their website, here’s an explanation of what it’s all about:

I am Second is a movement meant to inspire people of all kinds to live for God and for others. Actors. Athletes. Musicians. Business leaders. Drug addicts. Your next-door neighbor. People like you. The authentic stories on iamsecond.com provide insight into dealing with typical struggles of everyday living. These are stories that give hope to the lonely and the hurting, help from destructive lifestyles, and inspiration to the unfulfilled. You’ll discover people who’ve tried to go it alone and have failed. Find the hope, peace, and fulfillment they found. Be Second.

 

You are here for a reason. We all have needs and could use some help. Talk to us. Call, chat, or email. 24 hours a day.

 

Go a step further, talk with the people in your life. Spread the revolution of Second. Share the videos with friends. Start an I am Second Group in your neighborhood, workplace, or school or join an I am Second Group already meeting.

 

Volunteer at concerts. Serve through I am Second community service events. Organize your own I am Second events. Sign up for an I am Second Expedition to help people in other countries. Check out Get Involved for other opportunities. Connect with us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

 

I am Second is designed to help people discover their purpose in life. Have you discovered yours?

 

I’ve yet to go volunteer at an event, but I try to get involved when I can.  They post prayer chains on FB – stuff like that.  I’ve chatted with total strangers, just to lend an ear, being there at the right time to just help someone.  It’s awesome.

The stories of I am Second members are so awesome.  People who’s been saved, overcome really incredible adversity.  The site has videos and stories that can really brighten your mood.  From huge celebs to everyday people, so many members are part of the movement.

I would love a chance to volunteer with I Am Second.

So, today, I went ahead and registered.  Not just following the FB feed or Twitter, I actually made an account.  So now, it’s up to me to see what opportunities may come my way.  I’m posting here for accountability, and in case others are interested in signing up!

Jason Castro’s I Am Second video

So while I know spending time on a website is totally different than attending church… I just wanted to take a time out from my day to invest some energy into my faith.   And hopefully I’ve sent a couple more people over to the site.  If you check it out and like it, let me know!

As always, thanks for reading!!  xoxo, hhr

capture: women of hope’s january 2012 event

Capture God’s Heart

January 23rd, 2012: Capture. Women of Hope’s Event at HCKB.

one of tami's capturings of God's amazingness - sunset over the koolaus

Monday night was an amazing women’s event at Church.  Oh man, it was really fun and well done and I feel like the message taught went straight to my heart.

The night started out with some really good worship jams.  I walked in and heard the band playing and I said to a friend, “oh man, they sound so good!”  And she was all, “what, they regularly don’t sound good?”  And I was all, “you know what I mean.”

Really.

So we sit down, Ola gives some announcements and then they played a commercial for Women’s Retreat (the first weekend in March, holla at me for info).

you can totes skip this next part, it’s totally a tangent: 

I bring up the commercial for one reason, and it’s totally vain.  I was in the commercial.  In fact, I was happy and blessed to be a part of it; I got so much out of camp last year, I was really super glad to tell others how good it is.  My problem is that I looked TERRIBLE in this commercial.  Like crawl under the table and die kinda terrible.  I’m still rolling in mortification over here. 

It was HD.  And the camera was lower than me and I was all acne and jowls.  I didn’t even know I had jowls until Monday night.  So anyways, I was super duper embarrassed.  Afterwards people kept telling me what a nice testimony I gave about camp, and so on, but really I just bee-lined it to my car to get out of there. 

I’m a little sad that I let it get to me so much.  I’m pretty sure this is some sort of lesson in my vanity.  Which I know is up there, I’m way too vain. 

But really? Ugh.  Why must lessons be so painful sometimes?  I’m trying to not let it be my focus and weigh me down.  So moving on..

The actual start of the post:

Tami started the event beautifully.  She let us in on one of the ways she prays to God.  Tami asks Him, “let me see the way you see.”  What a totally beautiful thing to ask God for.  She’s so sweet, I really love and admire Tami’s heart.

i totally forgot to take pics on monday night (i was writing so much)... here's a cute one of pastor tami. love her!

The enemy loves distraction.

So by keeping that in mind, the theme of the night is capture – to capture God’s heart, to capture those moments when you see His beauty and you feel His love.

Tami: “We aren’t here by mistake.  We all have people to reach; so focus in, and capture. We believe there’s a movement and He’s calling His daughters to rise.”

And then she prayed for all of us, and if you’ve never had the pleasure of being prayed over by Tami, you are sorely missing out.  She is an epic prayer warrior, and she so speaks to the hearts of women and just emotes out these lovely, heartfelt prayers.

“Holy Spirit come and capture us.” was the last line of her prayer (I can’t take notes while praying, yo.  It’s bad enough I was trying to “check-in” during praise and worship. oopsies!)

The Kanani came up to teach the lesson for the evening.

“Jesus didn’t go looking for fights, or telling people how broken they are.  Jesus didn’t point out flaws… He just loved.  He loved the broken.”

kanani, on monday night, as captured by tami!

Kanani opened by just speaking to us about brokenness and how Jesus isn’t the type top kick you when you’re down, or suss through your problems, your flaws, and point them all out to you.  He’s was an uplifter.  He was a positive speaker.  He spoke life and love.

Just like Instagram captures the moments of our lives, in pretty pictures.  (Instagram is an iphone app that everyone is totes obsessed with).

“You’re never too young or too old to capture Jesus. Take pictures of your life; you can see the beauty in so many things…

God is causing a seismic shift; there’s a groundswell for Jesus.”

Its like when you’re surfing, and you’re waiting to catch a wave and you feel that little pull back … God is tugging at us to catch this wave.

sidenote: my elementary school motto was “catch a wave with the braves” and I always think of that every time I hear the phrase “catch a wave” used in any sense other than when I’m physically surfing.  haha. random. 

Back to Kanani’s teaching:

NOTHING can separate us from God’s love.  No one,  no event, nothing can get between you and His love.

No higher price has been paid for you!

John 3:16

For He so loved the world… HE SO LOVED US.

He gave up Jesus for us, and through His blood we are bought and claimed!

“the Most High has summoned you into His presence… so what do you do?”
The rest of the teaching was on Psalm 34, as it’s written in The Message.  It’s just amazing. For this blog post I typed it out myself, and I was so blessed to go back through it and read it again.  How have I never focused on this gem before?  It’s seriously epic and touching and beautiful and it’s such a love letter.

Okay, read it.  Really, read it!!!

Psalm 34 (The Message version) 

I bless GOD every chance I get;

my lungs expand with his praise.

I live and breathe God;

if things aren’t going well, hear this and be happy:

Join me in spreading the news;

together let’s get the word out.

God met me more than halfway,

he freed me from my anxious fears.

Look at Him; give Him your warmest smile.

Never hide your feelings from Him.

When I was desperate, I called out,

and God got me out of a tight spot.

God’s angel sets up a circle or protection around us while we pray.

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see-

how good God is.

Blessed are you who run to him.

Worship God if you want the best;

worship opens doors to all his goodness.

Young lions on the prowl get hungry,

but God-seekers are full of God.

Come children, listen closely;

I’ll give you a lesson in God worship.

Who out there has a lust for life?

Can’t wait each day to come upon beauty?

Guard your tongue from profanity,

and no more lying through your teeth.

Turn your back on sin; do something good.

Embrace peace – don’t let it get away!

God keeps an eye on His friends,

his ears pick up everything moan and groan.

God won’t put up with rebels;

he’ll cull them from the pack.

Is anyone crying for help? God is listening,

ready to rescue you.

If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there.

If you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.

Disciples so often get into trouble;

still, God is there every time.

He’s you bodyguard, shielding every bone;

not even a finger gets broken.

The wicked commit slow suicide,

they waste their lives hating the good.

God pays for each slave’s freedom;

no one who runs to Him loses out.

Does it get better?

There is so much in there, and Kanani really went verse by verse, and I took like eight pages of notes.  So let me see if I can point out some highlights here.

Kanani showed us some slides of her sister, a woman who literally blesses God everywhere she goes.  There are all these pics of her out on the beach, out anywhere and she’s just hands up saying “hi” to God.  It’s amazing!  She sees God everywhere, she recognizes and thanks Him for the beauty all around us.

My own words here… Ever since I was little I remember by mom always saying things on a super beautiful day like, “how can people not believe in God?”  Like when we’d travel and step out into a gorgeous scene, she’s always be in awe of God and His creations.  I think her reverence for His masterpiece has really set into me, and that’s just something I’ve done all my life too.

Now living in Hawaii, it’s so easy.  I mean, really!  The views, the mountains, the clear water, snorkeling on beautiful tropical reefs, hiking through lush jungles.  Waterfalls, sunsets and sunrises over the water.  I see it all. DAILY.

No wonder so many people out here love God!  Hawaii is such a strongly Christian state.  (And it’s a blue state, just sayin).

It feels so easy to love God here, because even the rainy days are gorgeous.  There’s a rainbow every two feet.

So back to what Kanani was saying…

“Have a passion for everyday, have a lust for life.”

when you step out and see God’s love, capture that blessing in your heart and thank Him.  Talk to Him, praise Him for what you experience.  Keep Him with you, and be close to Him always.

Never hide your feelings from Him. If you’re in a tight spot, call out to God.  Cry out for Jesus!

“Even when your life is a wreck, He hasn’t abandoned you; God is in you.”

We should be declaring the praises of our sister instead of tearing her down.  We should be speaking victory and life.  Use your mouth to say nice things, don’t talk stink.

“God is there when your heart is breaking.  If you took a picture, you’d see God in there.  He’s right there.”  –   then she was speaking to different kinds of heartbreak, not just romantic.  And I know that when I lost my baby last winter, that was heartbreak.  My heart was shattered.

And it was God who pulled me through.  He dragged me out of the sadness and pain and into the sunlight.  Literally and metaphorically, and spiritually.  God was there right with me.

“We’re here to save souls, to connect with our sisters, putting God first.”

In the middle of a busy situation, be the one who notices the person having a hard time or who has a sad look on their face.  Be the one to not worry about the mainstream and go over to the one who needs some love and give them that love.  Be like Jesus!

“No one who runs to Him will be turned away.”

Preach by living. Worship by living.  Have joy in your life!

Okay, then there were some snacks and chatting, and the prayer team was there (which I took advantage of, and I got some prayer to seriously help me get better. Amen!).

And they had this photo booth set up with all these frames so you could “capture” yourself and your friends… (ugh, but after that vid I was so not into being in front of a camera, let’s not kid).

kanani and her daughter, captured!

But mostly what I walked away with was this call to arms to live a happy life.  To use my voice to speak kindness, and to help others be happy and to always praise God.  Just to put Him first, and then to love others like Jesus did.

I feel compelled to rally up my sisters and bring them with me on this movement.

And to notice the moments as I go.  To take pause when I see God’s wonder, and say, “yo Daddy God, thank you! This is amazing! I love you!”

I mean, my blog here is happy hippie rose… and well, what’s better to make one happy and to be a hippie than to be kind, love on others, help those in need, and to appreciate what we have.  Be grateful, love this earth and all its beauty and everything God has provided us with.

I feel like Psalm 34 is totes the happy hippie rose anthem.  Totes!

So go out, have a lust for life!  See beauty and be grateful.  And when you need God, call out to Him!  When you don’t need Him, still call out to Him!  Run to HIM!  He will never turn you away, and nothing will ever come between you and His love. Blessed are those who praise Him, so sing His praises all day long. 

as always, thanks for reading! xoxo, hhr

here's an instagram of me, capturing this moment of blogging and smiling!