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

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post-thanksgiving catch up

Hi everyone!!  I’m here, I’m doing okay.  Let me catch everyone up on the holidays, my health, and just my overall happyhippiness.

I’ve missed you dear bloggy-readers, (all seven of you, ha).  To those who’ve missed me and checked in on me, thank you.  And to those who just read, I’m thankful for you too!  (((hugs)))

Today’s post is a long one, but I think it’s a real gem.  Enjoy!

Post-Thanksgiving Catch Up

Thanksgiving!

We had a lovely Thanksgiving.

Duggs and I woke up, put on the parade and got to cooking, baking and smooching.  Yeah. We smooch a lot. I love watching the parade, just so I can get all annoyed at it’s cheesiness and weirdness, it’s so so so commercialized it’s just like a two mile long inflatable advertisement.  Bee tee dubs, when I just wrote advertisement, I totes pronounced it the Brirtish way in my head, so please do so while reading.  It’s much more sophisticated.  Ad-vert-is-ment.

Moving along…  So ole Duggs and I baked and cooked, and it was fun.  Christmas music was playing and I was just so happy.  I LOVE the holidays.  I miss my family, but to celebrate the entire holiday season with my husband: amazing!! what a gift!!

We spent the day with some great friends, here on base.  The Tanners (of course, we heart the Tanners so hard!), our friend Chiffon came and our friend Dana. So six people total.  Luckily, we cooked for about thirty, so the leftovers abounded! Score!

me and ole stinky duggs at thanksgiving dinner and he made a weird face to ruin my photo. thanks a lot duggs.

duggs and his man-friend, jed, at turkey day

the spread of amazing food. such a bountiful feast.

ashley was kind enough to purchase special doggie thanksgiving dinners for the pooches. they went totally nuts. it was great!

dana and chiffon were our other guests. this isn't a great photo bc chiffon isn't looking, but i didn't want to leave them out of my recap!

On Being Thankful

I have so much to be thankful for now. It would take up shifty-five blog posts to even list it all.  I try so hard to focus my daily prayer on thanksgiving year-round.  This season is a great opportunity to reflect on our blessings, to immerse in gratefulness for what we already have.

Also coming along with this season: the temptation to want want want, to shop, to desire things.  The temptation to become materialistic is immense.   In order to shop for others, we see many other things we want.  I’m going to write another blog about gift-giving and my process and etc.

But to summarize the concept of being thankful on Thanksgiving: I am.

  • Thank you God, for life, for your Grace, for everything.
  • Thank you family, thank you friends, for your love.  I need you all so much.
  • Thank you kind strangers, the little random angels that were at the right place at the right time to just get me through.
  • Thank you people who have allowed me to learn, facilitated the improvement of my health, offered me comfort.
  • Thank you United States Marine Corps for training my husband, bringing hom home safely, for putting a roof over our heads and food in our bellies, for taking care of our medical needs.
  • Thank you Hawaii for being beautiful.
  • Thank you church family for loving me, fostering my faith, giving me chances to love on my community and do good works, teach children, help those in need.
  • Thank you tie dye customers for your support and belief in me.
  • Thank you Cletus, for teaching me a special kind of love I never knew.  I miss you greatly  and severely.
  • Thank you JJ, how would I have ever survived this year without you?
  • Thank you Matthew Duggan, your relentless love, patience, care, charm, wit, strength, protection and devotion keep me alive in every literal and metaphorical way. I love you so much.
  • I am so thankful for TV, giggles, my warm and safe home, snacks, cold clean water, hot clean water, the Bible, Scentsy warmers, baked goods, art, music, I could go on and on and on…

Catching Up

So after Thanksgiving, we spent Saturday watching the MICHIGAN/ohiostateblah game at my pal Trish’s house.  Since the game came on at 7:00am here, we had a breakfast party!

trish and me on gameday

a rather sassy photo of me with like one third of duggs back there.

Thanksgiving weekend was a mix of awesomeness and awfulness.

Awesome, because Duggs got a 96 from work (four days off!).  I really wanted to hike one day, maybe snorkel. The weather wasn’t suited for it though, it was rainy and dreary most of the time.  I prefer exploring Hawaii on super sunny days!

It was awful because of how I was feeling.  My ear and thus my face/under-eye-area/cheekbone all started hurting.  All the plans we had for the long weekend were dumped and we spent the whole time, sans Thanksgiving Day and the Michigan game, planted in front of the TV.   We actually went on a huge movie streak and I did some Christmas-crafts, card designing, and present planning.

So… I just had to take it easy.  Rest.  Lay down.  All of which I really don’t care for.  I’m a mover and a shaker, a dancer and prancer.  I was in a lot of pain, and just really not doing well.

On Sunday night I got ambitious.  I know know know I’m not supposed to so much as touch a drop of alcohol.  And while I don’t really mind being dry, every now and then I just miss it.  That missing it has become harder around the holidays.  Spiced wine.  Eggnog. New Year’s champagne.  I cannot partake in any of it and it’s bumming me out.

Sunday night I told Duggs that I wanted to try some wine.

Sweet Duggs went out and picked up a bottle of red.  A nice pinot noir.  I had about half a glass, was enjoying it.  Then bam! All of a sudden it hit me and it was all over from there.  My throat was burning.  My tongue, swelling.  I was getting hot and clammy and I was so incredibly nauseous I couldn’t move.  We busted out the saltines and ginger ale, and I just held on.  We prayed. We prayed so hard.  And eventually, it came to pass.

Because of the porphyria, my liver just cannot metabolize ETOH like a normal liver could or would.   My doctor suggested it may have been the red wine, and that if I’d like, I can try something different.  However, that risk of feeling  acutely crappy is pretty impressive.  I felt MISERABLE.  Like, downright awful.

On Monday morning, I woke up feeling better.  I went on a decorating and cleaning rampage.  I gave this house the deepest cleaning I have since Homecoming!  I was on hand and knee scrubbing out every nook and cranny.  This place is sparkling. Seriously.

look at the shine off that floor! and this was taken a day later, even.

I cleaned so hard I was sore the next day and I chipped my nail polish, *gasp*, the horror, I know.  Don’t worry, I fixed them on Tuesday.  Monday night I started slowing down and the pain started creeping back.   I assume I pushed myself a bit too hard on Monday.

i stole this idea from my friend trish and i think it's so cute. i'll opine on gift wrap at a later time.

kitchen table, set for xmas

Tuesday.  I woke up feeling okay again.  My ear was hurting a bit, but I decided to push through and go for a run.  Post-workout I felt amazing!  Runner’s high, endorphines, it’s all good and they really do make me feel better.  It’s natural pain relief.

i fixed the nails i chipped on monday

After lunch my friend Lynnie called, and as we were chatting I decorated the Christmas Tree, lights, ornaments and all.  I’m so proud that I cranked it out in like two hours!  I had a lovely catch-up with my darling pal (thanks for calling, Lynn, I love you!).

this year's tree!

my fav ornament, courtesy of my friend krista! LOVE!

winnie-a-pooh (how i used to say it, so it's my family name for sweet ole winnie)

i like my own reflection in the ornaments. sigh. my vanity is an issue i need to work on.

Then… it hit me.  A wave of pain came over me that was so incredible all I could was just lay on the couch and text. I was texting Duggs explicatives.  We discussed going to the E.R.  I didn’t know what to do.

I realized my super tight sports bra was still on from my run.  The straps pull hard on my shoulder, which then trigger neck and ear pain.  It sounds weak, or maybe bizarre.  But this whole area of my body is so tender, inflamed, wacky, that even a simple touch like a shoulder squeeze can set me off into barrels of pain.  Hours of uber tight sports bra = crazy amounts of ouch.

I just layed out on the couch.  I cried.  I packed myself with ice. And I just hoped and hoped it would go away.

here i am, tuesday late afternoon, icing and praying ... laying in the worst pain it's been in a long time.

It was bad.  We (Duggs and I) discussed going to the E.R.  My two main docs are both out on holiday leave though, and I so hate to go to the ER blind, without someone who knows the particulars of my case to be there to help out.  (And that’s not snotty… someone unfamiliar with porphyria could accidentally make me super ill, or even kill me; also, explaining my whole medical history takes an hour, the meds I’m on are staggering and I hate explaining them all, and I just get stressed out dealing with new hands in the mix – which I know is inevitable – but it is what it is).

Tuesday evening I felt the worst, strongest, most direct pain I’d felt in a long, long time.  I could have sworn an ice pick was being jabbed into my ear and going through to my cheekbone and under my eye. Just miserable.  I couldn’t concentrate, think, do anything.

I decided to stay home, to ride it out.   I posted this on FB the next day:

it’s been a really rough week/ten days. i was miserable on thanksgiving – but i was having such a nice time with my friends – i didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. the whole long weekend was ROUGH. it’s just been crappy lately.

i’m staying positive and optimistic, and my faith is really getting me through. my lovely amazing husband helps a lot too ♥

but, i’m being honest: it’s been rough. i’m not well, and i’m not sure what we’ll try next, what there is to try next. all my docs are on holiday leave till next week =(

….

[thank you miles!!] i know i’m known for being so cheerful and upbeat, but there comes a time when i have to just be honest and admit that’s it’s been harder than i make it seem.

something HAS to give, i just know it. God has brought me through many many challenges before, and i just know He’ll do it again. and through every struggle i’ve endured, amazing good has come from it. so my hubs and i just keep examining and seeking… looking for the good that will come out of this, the lessons we can learn, the path this is leading us down. and well, we have ideas, but we’re still in the weeds. hindsight is always 20/20, so once we’re out of this, i’m sure we’ll have gained much from it. it’s just no fun going through it!

…it’s tough. but when bad things happen, when times get rough, He pulls me out and dusts me off and shows me some good that has come of it. even cancer.

loss is hard to understand. death, pain, suffering…

but i trust Him. that was my prayer last night. i was literally ailing, just tears rolling down my face from the pain and the anguish and frustration of being in so much pain for so long. and i just prayed, “i trust You. now, get me through this, please.”

so we’ll see. cancer made me a better person, times a million. i was just rotten beforehand. mean, bitchy, bitter, jealous, etc. cancer slowed me down, gave me appreciation – made me NICE. i’m tellin ya… i wasn’t always sugary sweet.

Wednesday was much better.  Still in pain, but it was calming down.  I was starting to rope it in and get ahead of it.

hi, wednesday morning!

I worked on some crafts, took it easy, and just tried to focus on feeling good and calm, asking peace into my body.  Inviting Grace to just come in and soothe.  And it started working a little bit. Thank God.

a cup of tea is oh so nice.

Wednesday afternoon Duggs and I had doctor’s appointments and errands.  During and afterwards my ear was just aching.

my fun outfit for rainy cool wednesday

We came home and had a veg out night, and I just had to ice and take it easy.  It’s just been a rocky road lately.

Thursday. 

Today is Thursday.  I woke up feeling alright and I’m trying to be productive.  I’m doing lots of chores, working on a romantical surprise for Duggs, sprinkling some more Christmas flavor around the house.

this me and the pooch right now. hi!

I have a lot I want to talk about, but I don’t want to have this textual diarrhea and blurt it all out in an unthoughtful manner.  I need to write and edit before I post.  I’m thinking about opening up the floodgates to some feelings I’ve been plastering in for a while.

Losing my health is something worth grieving.  I’ve been really emotional lately whenever I think of past memories that highlight my vitality and strength, like my English Channel Expedition, for example.   On a related note, I actually went swimming recently and I was so slow.  It left me sad and longing for when I was quick, sure of my physical self, toned and in shape.

But, it’s not a total wash. Not by a long shot.  I’m still so very able-bodied and well in many many ways.  I must keep that in mind, be grateful for the many parts that do work, and the oddles of things I can do.

On the worst of days, this medical malady of mine is debilitating. Sure.  But I have okay days, good days and wonderful days on which I’m able to do quite a lot.

I have no idea how I could maintain a work schedule while I’m in this condition.  My docs don’t consider me stable enough to work, and it’s hard taking criticism from people for not having a job.  It’s been really hurting my feelings lately.  I WISH I was working right now, I WISH I was doing what a normal, healthy person of my age would be doing.

Similarly, we want to start a family soon.  But with my meds, it is out of the question.  And there’s no end in sight.  I have no idea, no clue, how long I’ll be on these meds or when something will work.  Family planning is 100% on hold now.  And after the miscarriage, it’s hard to have zero clue when we can try again.  It’s very painful, and I don’t think many people realize how that feels.

So yeah, I have more to say, but I want to say it carefully and tactfully.  In the meantime, at least I’ve come this far in opening up my vulnerability and being honest about what’s really going on.  I am happy, and positive, optimistic.  I do smile.  But I also cringe and cry, I worry and I get upset.  I feel loss and sadness, and most often: physical pain.  There’s two sides to this whole thing, and I think I can show both now.

As always – thank you for reading !! xoxo, hhr 

P.S.  I totally have so many blog posts I’m just dying to type out and put up! More fun stuff, less heavy stuff, too.  Like: Holiday craft and gift ideas, more cruelty-free product reviews! Christmas tie dye, Making your own giftwrap (a fave of mine for years now!), etc.  I want to post about giving, and what orgs Duggs and I are giving to this year.  So, I’ll try and get back on a more regular blogging schedule, I mean it.

operation christmas child part 2: seven new awesomely crafted care packs

I asked and y’all answered!

OCC Part 2 – Seven More Boxes Made With Love, Thanks To You!

My Church, Hope Chapel Kaneohe Bay, participated in this year’s Operation Christmas Child project, a drive to send shoes boxes stuffed with toys, gifts, candy and what-not to underprivileged kids world-wide.  The church’s goal was 3,000 boxes.  Matthew and I made two on our own.  When we turned them in, our church was well under it’s goal.  I solicited an offer – if anyone funded the cost of a box, I would do all the legwork to create, shop and fill a box.

I wrote this blog about OCC a couple weeks ago.

Seven more boxes were funded, packed with love and turned in – thanks to y’all!  My friends and family came together to help us with this amazing project. And ultimately… our church reached it’s goal!  3,002 total boxes are being sent to kids in need.

AMEN!

How awesome is that?!?!?

Thank you: Miss Alice (my wonderful mother-in-law), Viper and Anna (my Dad and step-mom), Claire and the Williams Family, Kayla and the Hayes Family, Staci and the Ostrowski Family, and my lovely friend Ariana!  With all of your love and funding we were able to make SEVEN boxes to go out and send some love to seven more children.  How amazing is that?

I’m so appreciative.  I love this project and just believe in it so much!

So, because I’m too lazy to sort through all these pics… here’s a big mishmash of the assembly and turn in process, including what the inside of each box looks like.  Check ’em out:

Just to mention, every box got a hand-written note from me… I finished them so late on Saturday night though, I was too tired to snap any pics.  I used some nice stationary I had, and I just kept the letters simple and sweet.  For those of you who OK’ed it, I included your name, photos and address!   I basically just said that God loves them (the kids) and that we’re thinking of them.  And for each of you, I gave a couple generic/simple sentences about what you like to do… “We like going to the beach” or “I live in New York!”  etc.

THANK YOU SO MUCH EVERYONE!

operation christmas child: cute crafts that bring big blessings, you can help too!

Operation Christmas Child

I’ve totally found the most perfect charitable project for my skill set: Operation Christmas Child!  The important part is that it’s an awesome project, delivering gifts to children in serious need.  The fun part is that I get to make care packs, and not just regular care packs, Christmas care packs!  How perfectly rad is that?!?!

And there’s more… you can help me! 

christmas care packs for an amazing cause

Samaritan’s Purse is a world-wide ministry that brings food, medicine, clothes, vocational education, supplies, and love to the world’s most vulnerable populations.  Operation Christmas Child (OCC) is a project that delivers hand-packed boxes of small toys, candy, clothes, toiletries, personal letters, and The Gospel to children in 130 different countries.

My church, Hope Chapel Kaneohe Bay (HCKB), is participating in OCC this year with a pledge of 3,000 boxes!  National collection week is later this month, and our boxes are due by November 20.  (Boxes are actually collected year-round at Samaritan’s Purse HQ, but HCKB’s 2011 drive has a hard deadline).

the OCC pod at church, handing out empty shoe boxes and then collecting the full care packs

so much empty space that needs to be filled with OCC boxes - this whole pod needs to be packed!

This video moved me to tears when they played it during our Sunday service a couple weeks ago: 

So how can you help?  My church is shy of their goal.  We haven’t turned in 3,000 boxes yet.  Duggs and I made two, and while we wish we could make a million boxes, we have financial limitations of our own.  Here’s where I’m asking people for help:  if you would like to fund a box and send me some cash money, I’ll do all the legwork and handicrafting! I’ll shop, decorate, pack and pray over a box that will have your name, contact info and any personal touches you’d like me to include (if you want I can put pics of you in there, we have a photo printer, and if you give contact info some children will write back as pen pals).

It’s up to you how much you’d like to spend per box, and you can pick if you’d like it to be for a boy or a girl, and what age group.

you decide!

Samaritan’s Purse does ask that $7 be included with every box to help cover the shipping and handling, so please keep that donation in mind as well.

If you’d like to just donate directly to the organization, you can always just do that.  Go to http://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/occ/ and you can give money online to help kids get boxes that way.

I know there are so many charitable organizations to work with, and there are so many projects this time of year.  I know that so many of you are tapped out and pulled in many directions.  Please don’t feel like I’m panhandling… I’m just putting the offer out there: if you’d like to fund a box, I’d love to put it together for you.   Matthew and I had such a great time making our boxes this past weekend, we’d be honored to keep it going.  Something about OCC has seriously touched my heart and I just feel so compelled to do as much as I can.  If even just one more child gets a box, that’s a great thing to me.

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve picked some kind of service project to do at the holidays. It used to be because my Mom made me… but the tradition stuck and I’ve kept it up as an adult, happily!  Since being married, my hubs has gladly jumped on board (thank you Duggs, for sharing your hard-earned money with those less fortunate than us). This year, making the boxes and having such a hand in the actual gift the kids will get, felt so special to me.

I love how personal OCC is.  I like actually selecting the items, the possibility of being pen-pals, that every single box will be unique.  OCC is specialized, it’s different, and I really know and believe in my heart that these boxes will have a great impact on the children who receive them.  Based on the religious nature of the project, I know it’s not for everyone.

I’m so pumped to work on the boxes, to give these kids a smile, and to offer them the hope and peace that is the love of God.   In the darkest of places, God’s Light is needed the most!

….

Check out the boxes we already made: 

i busted out the glitter glue, of course!

our boxes are going to mongolia, so i looked up how to write "merry christmas and happy new year" in mongolian cyrillic!

tie dye was included!

all the goodies we packed on in

costume jewelry!

we wrote personal little notes and included pics of our lil fam

packing it all in there was no easy feat. but i mean, i am a care pack expert.

i used every inch of space i had

As always, thanks for reading and looking at my photos.  If you are interested in funding a box, we have just less than two weeks to get it done!  Email me: happyhippierose@gmail.com or just comment here.  THANK YOU!!

Just saying hi + I have a couple prayer requests

It’s your favorite tie dye wearing housewife checking in!

Hi There 

Today is Monday, and well, I’m just buried in the laundry and catching up on cleaning.

We had a super fun weekend, spending time with friends as well as being super lazy around the house.  Whenever we have lazy Sundays, I always have busy Mondays, catching up on cleaning.

me and ashley on saturday night, weaing glitter eye make up because we're fancy and awesome like that!

the boys team when we all played "cranium." since we didn't technically finish the game, i can't really say who won.

jj came out with us! he's so popular, he got to visit with our friend's pooch, bailey. they had fun!

Today I’ve been working on a pot of red sauce, that’s happily bubbly away.  I’ve been browning meat, chopping onions and smashing garlic, sautéing, tasting the sauce and adding the right amount of this and that.  Red sauce is an all-day affair!

I woke up feeling not-so-hot today.  It’s certainly one of my crummier days as far as my health is concerned.  I know I need to finish up the health update I’ve been promising and working on, the Part II of my blog about my health.

Writing the post about my health history last week was intense.  It drained me in some ways and in other ways it gave me a lot of closure.  Cathartic is the fancy word.  But when you dredge up all that stuff, it’s a big deal.  Reflecting back on the cancer days and thinking about my health in general can drain me; but in so many ways it uplifts me and reminds me how grateful I am for all that I do have!  (Don’t know what I’m referring to?  I made a blog about my health last week: read it now).

So I just wanted to pop in and say “hi.”  I’m just hanging out at home today, being super housewifey and homemakery.  I love that feeling!

hi there! this is me today in all my homemaker glory

I love whipping our home into shape, and when Matthew comes home from work, the house is tidy, clean, the smell of delicious food fills the air.  It’s kind 1950’s in some ways, and it’s kinda perfect and fitting.  The whole point of women’s lib is to give us choices, right?  And well, considering how tired and crummy I feel (I’m in a fair amount of pain today) , staying home is nice.

laundry is crappy dappy!

Serious Stuff – Prayer Requests

For my friends who’d like to do some praying or send some good vibes out: my Grandma Sally is in the hospital, and my Grandpa Lyle has Hospice taking care of him now.  I’m worried about both of them, and I know that their caretakers (my Dad/Stepmom and my Aunt Sheila, respectively) are exhausted, burnt out, worried, and scared.  So send some good vibes or prayers for them too please.

a photo of me with my gma sally

a recent photo of my cousin justin with our gpa lyle

My family is tight-knit and all of us sick folk worry the well folk.  They want us to all be okay.  We all take care of each other and the phone calls, emails, texts, and messages are nonstop.   I love my family and I love how well we keep in touch, from Afghan to Hawaii, and all in between!

At times like this I wish I was closer.  Most of my fam lives on the East Coast, and when I say that I mean both Matthew’s and My families, I don’t discern between the tow any more, family = family, by marriage or blood.  I wish I could help all of our family members who are sick; I wish I could be in New York, Virginia, and Florida all at the same time.   Thank God for technology though, that keeps me in the loop and keeps me connected.   And prays work no matter where you are; God can hear us all the time.

So that’s all that’s going on here. 

Matthew’s at work.  I have some clothes to fold.  I may try and force myself to run a bit.  Even though I’m in pain, I think working out a bit will actually help.  (Maybe that sounds weird, but it makes sense to me – running relieves stress and stress causes pain, and I’m always in pain and I can’t just sit around on the couch forever, I have to break the cycle at some point and just go for it!).

I’m trying to figure out how to make a signature to sign off with on all my blogs – but until I do: thanks for reading!!  Love, happy hippie rose

happy hippie birthday to me!

On July third I celebrated my twenty-eighth birthday.  It was one of my very best birthdays to date!

happy bday to me!

Last weekend as a whole was just great.  

Church Stuff:  Friday night and Sunday morning I was blessed by being able to share a testimony at Church, live!   I’d never gotten up and done anything like this before in my life: publicly talking about my faith on a microphone, sharing my personal life and beliefs with others like that, talking about our family finances.  But the story that prompted me to give the testimony was too good not to share.  A real God Story.

My hubs came with me on Sunday, and like a real champ he went to both services with me.  He also recorded me.  You can check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ja_xf6w_VK4

Or you can go to my church’s archive page and check it out there: http://www.hopechapel.com/Publisher/Article.aspx?ID=1000053339  on this one, i’m about 35 mins into the 3-Jul-2011, 8am service.   If you feel like watching sermons, watch the Sunday 10am service.  It was an epic epic sermon.

screen shot of my testimony

making faces and flossing my iphone = totally standard.

Getting up and telling my lil’ story was just an honor.  I feel like it was a special birthday present from God.  And it’s a super rad story!!

Leisure Times With My Duggs: My hubby and I also got some nice beach time this weekend.  Being Active Duty military, he had a “96” to celebrate the holiday:  a 96-hour period off work to enjoy the long holiday weekend.  Having him home and getting to spend some laid back time with him was just perfect and awesome, we needed some time like that.  We cooked together. relaxed, worked out, went to the beach, etc etc etc.  Luxurious!

i heart peace and the beach and sunshiny happy days

ole boring stinky duggs reads and gets burnt

I dyed my hair black!  WOO!  My natural hair color is like dirty blond, I think.  For the past year I’ve refrained from putting any color in my hair to see what it would do.  It’s gotten soooo light, it’s been fun.  But I dig contrast.  I love having either dark dark hair or white blonde platinum hair.  Which is weird, because I don’t do a lot of makeup and really look done up.   But I like fun hair.

So anyways, I went back to black.  I had a box of dye that was collecting dust, so I just used it!

dying my hair on the back porch

Oh the food!!!!!!

I’m probably addicted to food.  As soon as I’m eating, I start worrying and wondering what my next meal will be.  I think about food all the time.  So for my birthday, all I asked for was some snuggling on the couch with my boo and some really good food.  And, because I’m spoiled rotten, I got both!

We ate at Koa Pancake House on my birthday morning!!  I love that place.  We had banana pancakes, pork vinha d’alhos, eggs, fried rice.  Oh yum.  It was just Duggs and I, and it was a cute date.  I love breakfast dates.

my birthday breakfast

crazy duggs, eating some eggs n stuff

This is the first birthday of mine that I’ve ever spent with Duggs.  That made it so special and wonderful.  My heart is just all full and bursting, ya know?  It was so nice to have a happy birthday with him!  I’m all mushy and sappy for my Duggs.  What a great guy, I really am the luckiest gal in the universe.

He made me pineapple upside-down cake from scratch with fresh pineapple.  Then some lovely friends came over, and we had a DIY Sushi party!  Duggs made an amazing spread of hors d’ouvres to snack on, fried panko shrimp, and he cut and prepped a kajillion things to go into sushi rolls.

my birthday cakes that duggs made me

nom nom nom... i heart the homemade sushi

chef duggs!

Duggs took some cute pics of me opening my presents, but I don’t have them.  And I was just flooded with emails, FB posts, calls, cards, texts, etc.  I just felt so much love from so many people!  So to everyone who was friendly and gave me some b-day love: thank you so much!  Y’all made me feel so happy and special.

All in all, it was just a lovely weekend and one of my happiest birthdays to date.  That husband of mine sure did good this year!

girl’s night out – women of hope april 2011 event

Hope Chapel Kaneohe Bay’s women’s ministry is the Women of Hope.  Almost every month there’s a different event for us and April’s was “Girl’s Night Out.”  Held on Thursday, April 28th 2011 – Girl’s Night Out was a really relaxed and fun night of fellowship, meeting new women, and getting some tools for us to go out and be the best, strongest, most graceful women we can be.  So rad!

And I got to use the Britney Spear’s handless mic, so you know it was an awesome event.  (Yeah, they let me have a microphone, please read on for the full explanation!)

As always when I write a blog – this is just my own reflection/rambling based on my point of view – nothing official, okay?

Girl’s Night Out


The whole mentality behind the Girl’s Night Out event was for us to have a more casual way to fellowship, but yet not a free-for-all.  Tami, the Women’s Pastor, approached me a while ago.  She really buttered me up and told me the women at retreat had so much fun making tie dye and that it was such a hit.  So just when I was all placated by the flattery, she asked if I would be interested in teaching the women how to make friendship bracelets at an upcoming event.  How could I say no?  (I would have said yes without all the flattery, but that part was nice so I let her go on.  haha!)

Not only was the bracelet-making going to be a fun activity and something new for a lot of the women (and something fondly nostalgic from childhood for many of us), but it would be a craft that reiterates a really cool verse from Ecclesiastes that spoke to Tami.   I love when things all connect, and this whole bracelet thing was one of them.  Not only did the craft tie into the Word, but now all of us who attended would have matching bracelets.  So rad, right?

My Prep

all the strings

At the planning meeting for the event it was decided that all of the women would have the same colored string.  Like true “friendship bracelets,”  we’d all have matching ones!  So cute.  So Tami and I played around with the colors, and found this coral pink, a soft blue, and white that all looked very pretty together.

I took home a giant sack o’ string and set to work prepping it all so the night of there’d be no measuring, cutting, and all that stuff.  While I was sitting at home making all of the little bracelet starters, I was thinking about the shells we got at women’s retreat.  Tami told us that she had prayed over all of the shells before we all got one.  So while I was touching all the string, prepping it, I just thought about all of the Women of Hope.  I thought happy thoughts for everyone, and I prayed for each person who might end up with a particular string.    It just felt nice and positive, and I felt so honored and humbled to get to do such a thing.  I’m so new to Hope Chapel, being welcomed in the way I have been is just awesome.

one table's worth of string

The Event!

We had a great turnout.  It’s so awesome to see so many women make the time to come up to church on a weekday evening and spend some time with their sisters.   All twenty tables had people at them – so that means there were almost 180 women present! Good job!

the view from standing right outside of the sanctuary. the mountains, the big cross lit up. i just thought this was a pretty scene. this was taken right before the event started.

The event was in the Clamshell (the sanctuary), which had been set up into tables of nine.  There were some pretty paper lanterns hanging.  And the vibe was just really casual.  We were coming together to worship and learn, yes – but to just chat and get to know each other as well.  The design of the seating was so that we’d meet new people.   Even though that whole concept was a little harder to pull off in practice than it was in theory – I think everything ended up working out just fine.

all set up and ready to go

(Not to dwell on the plan that didn’t work perfectly – but to explain it I’ll say… The plan was for everyone, as they entered, to draw from a basket a table assignment.  That way, people who came together would sit at different tables and meet new people.  It was a great idea – but ended up being a bit tough to pull off seamlessly in real life.   It’s of no matter though: the intention of the idea did work out, a lot of the tables had mixes of women who don’t necessarily hang out all the time or know each other).

All of the tables had a “hostess,” who led everyone in the ice breaker game and just sort of facilitated the evening.  A big thank you to the 20-ish women who stepped up at hostess tables.  What an awesome thing to do to help ensure a great time was had by all.  Thank you hostesses!  (I don’t have a copy of the list or else you betcha I’d thank everyone).  Patti was my hostess and she was such a pleasure to be seated with, she’s so sweet and fun!

Oh, the snacks were awesome!  Veggies, humus, pita chips, and more.  The food is always such a highlight for me, I totally have a problem.

the awesome table of snacks

dessert table

Two Truths and A Lie

As an ice breaker, we all played this cute and easy game at the table.  Everyone had to give three statements about themselves – two of which are true, and one is a lie.  Everyone else tries to guess which is which.   You end up learning fun little things about each other, and the chosen “facts,” usually lead to a story or two and a lot of laughs.  Our table was totally giggling the whole time we played, and I could other tables busting out into laughter at various times as well.

The whole point of an ice breaker is to get people warmed up, talking to each other, and to help us get to know each other.  So hopefully for all of the tables the mission was accomplished.  And it was accomplished in an easy-going, fun way!

here's carly lying away about pink being her favorite color!

I’m trying to remember what my three things were… I know one of my truths was about swimming the English Channel, and my lie was about doing a semester of study abroad in Singapore.  Shoots, I can’t remember my other truth.  I’m sure whatever it was it was rad, because well… I’m rad. (hehehe).

Rikki Talks About the Strength of Lady Friends

Next up was the beautiful and sweet Rikki Wurlitzer praying with us, and saying some words about what Ecclesiastes 4:12 means to her. The verse this whole bracelet thing is based on, is as follows:

A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. (NLT).

Rikki talked about how when we’re together, like a triple-braided cord, we’re stronger.  She told us that the enemy tries to isolate us, make us think that we need to be alone, and that is such a lie!   It’s good to need each other, and to want to be together as sisters in Christ.

because of the lighting, it's so hard for me to get decent quality pics - but here ya go, here's one of Rikki on the mic

She gave the example about that girl, we all know one (or maybe we are one), who says the ole I don’t like women!  This is another lie.  Rikki spoke out that we do need our sisters.  And she gave the illustration of life being like a game of red rover.  When hard times gets hurls at you, if you’re standing there with your arms tightly linked around your best girlfriends – you’ll be able to resist breaking down and getting beat up by life’s challenges. Afterwards you’ll still be standing tall and intact.

First of all, I totally related to the “I don’t like women” statement, and I just loved the red rover analogy.  I used to be one of those women.  I used to have all guy friends, and I used to think that being friends with girls just wasn’t for me.  I went through a couple different stages of this kind of thinking. Once was in high school when I was a total surfer chick, and all my pals who I surfed with were boys; it seemed like the girls didn’t really like me back then.  I said, in a way to protect myself, that I didn’t need those girls.  Later in college I was in a sorority, and after being hurt by some of the women who were supposedly my “sisters,” I was very defensive about gal pals, and again donned the “I don’t need girls” attitude.

But it sure isn’t true these days.  I LOVE my lady-friends, and I have no idea where I’d be without them.  I’m blessed to have a whole army of awesome women I know I can count on.  I do have some guy friends, but they’re really tiny in percentage compared to the amount of women in my inner circle. I’ve come to love and embrace all that is being a woman, and I’ve come to love and embrace having women all around me.  I relate to women, I get advice from them, they help me as I help them.  During deployment, I feel like my gal pals and I really pull each other through.  I heart girl’s nights. And finally… I cannot imagine the look on my husband’s face if I told him I was going to hang out with my dude friends. Haha!  That would be a riot.

Looking back, I see that when I was in anti-girl mode, I was doing it out of defensiveness.  I was saying it because I was scared that they wouldn’t like me back.   Now I see how great having female friends really is.  And every time one of my girlfriends tells me that they don’t like women I need to point out that I happen to be a woman!

Back to what Rikki said, the red rover analogy was just so cool.  As she was talking I got this awesome mental image of me linking arms with all of my best gal pals and just daring bad things to try and mess with us.  Seriously, we’re pretty hard to take down and we know it!

Rikki shared some really wise and sweet words with us.  I love that she was shooting from the heart, talking to us all with such love.  I totally see a Pastor-in-the-making, as she was well-spoken, comfortable on stage, and so right on with her words.  Well done Rikki, you had such an awesome contribution to the evening and to all of us who were blessed to hear the thoughts that God put on your heart.

My Turn- Bracelet Making Time

Because it’s my blog and all I do is talk about myself, I’ll keep this short and sweet.  I basically just stood up there, showed everyone how to make the bracelets using three cords and a really simple knot.  Then I wandered around to the tables and helped out anyone who asked me for a bit of help.  I used the term “y’all” a lot, and I was probably louder and more nasally in real life than I am in my head.    I did have one sweet thought that I shared with everyone:

Seeing as we were all making these bracelets together and they’d all be matching, I thought that maybe it would be cool to remember this evening whenever we looked at the bracelet.  I told the ladies:  Maybe if you wear it on your wrist every time you see it you’ll think about church, your sisters of hope who sat with you on this night, maybe you’ll think about praying, and seeing the bracelet will remind you to do so.  Whatever the connection is that you have with it, I hope it’s happy and positive.

here i am, barking away instructions

adjusting the hands-free mic, lol. of course i had to mess with it and fidget. my mom is sighing just reading this, lol.

I had a really fun time helping out, and honestly I was honored and humbled to do so.  It’s just so flattering that everyone has such a fun time with these little crafts that I do enjoy so much.

We didn’t really go out of our way to advertise “friendship bracelet making” when the event was being promoted, for fear that no one would come.  For a lot of people, the thought of making bracelets is probably a turn off and sounds boring, not fun, or whatever.  But all in all, I think it was a hit.  Or at least it was tolerable.  Some women really surprised themselves and had way more fun than they thought they would.  In the days since, I’ve had a couple gals tell me they can’t stop making bracelets on their own and they’re having so much fun with it.

And the gift that keeps on giving?  The Dom Rep mission team is going to take the leftover string with them on their trip and use bracelet making as a way to bond with girls they meet in the DR.  How cool is that?  I love that this is being paid forward!

Kacie told me that she made 9 knots in each color, for every woman at her table.  Then, after repeating that a bunch of times to make the whole bracelet she finished it off with 33 white knots: one for every year that Jesus lived.  How cool is that?  I love that Kacie took the concept, and made it her own and made it special and as a remembrance of this evening, her sisters, and Jesus.  So perfectly done!

kacie's bracelet, groups 9 with 33 white knots at the end. so awesome!

here's what my bracelet looked like

Worship

The Women’s worship team moved us all with three songs: Blessed Be The Name, Came To My Rescue, and How Great is Our God.  Kacie, one of the women’s worship leaders told me after the event that she was almost in tears as she was leading us through “Came To My Rescue.”  All three songs were beautiful.  And as 180ish women stood and sang together, I was honored to be part of such a pretty tribute to our God.

the women's worship band

every lady in the house was on her feet and singing to God!

Since three songs were played, Kacie pointed out to me that the worship team was giving us all a musical triple cord braid, how cool is that?  Another connection.  I love it!

Tami’s Sermon

The meat and potatoes had yet to be served.  Tami, our Pastor, gave a sermon after the games and crafts were done.

The main idea of the whole evening was about equipping ourselves, strengthening ourselves for whatever may come our way.  And while having our sisters with us is one way of equipping ourselves, prayer is another.  Prayer is something that any of us can do, in any situation.  Tami’s message was about different places to find prayers (for when we don’t have the words on our own), and different ways in which prayer equips her to be the strongest, fiercest warrior-princess she can be, as a means to inspire and motivate us all.

Tami told us that no matter what happens to her, prayer is her first reaction.  As we’re told in First Thessalonians to “pray without ceasing,” Tami prays all the time, and for any and everything.  As an aside: this is so true!  I’ve tried to watch a movie with Pastor Tami, and she spends the whole time praying for the characters.  It’s so cute, her heart is pure gold.

tami speaking from the heart

In Hebrews 4:12 we’re told that “the word of God is alive and powerful.”  Tami told us that something she really loves about our God is that He’s a living God.  His word is alive just as He is.  Meaning that, what He’s told us rings true now and always and we have the privilege of calling on our God and interacting with Him whenever we need Him.  This is amazing.  He’s alive and accessible and open to us.    And our way of accessing Him is PRAYER.

Tami opened up to all of us about some of her more personal struggles.  She’s talked about social situations that were like salt in a wound for her, but all she could do was sit and smile and trust in her God.  (I don’t want to disclose all of Tami’s personal business on my blog – but she opened up about her own fertility issues, a struggle that can pang so deep into the heart of women that long for babies but aren’t able to have them).  I was sitting at the table crying, knowing the feeling now myself, of congratulating another pregnant Momma and wishing so badly that it was me.

But it’s in these sad and hard times that we have the option to pray.  We can ask our God for solace, for comfort.  We can ask our God for whatever it is that we need in the moment we need it.  That’s what is amazing about loving and interacting with the real and living God:  He’s always just a prayer away.

For some people, prayer is a challenge because choosing the right words is hard to do.  The Bible has a verse for just about every situation you could ever find yourself in, or at least there’s a verse that can apply to just about every feeling you could have.  So in those times of needing to pray, but not knowing what to say: use God’s Word!  You can pray the Word!

It’s one of those things that seems so simple and so obvious for some people.  But for someone like me (I grew up in the Catholic church), praying the Word back to God is new to me.  It’s unfamiliar territory.   Hearing Tami speak about how our God wants us to learn His Words, understand the Word, and say them back to Him – it was like turning on a light bulb.  Of course I can do that, I should do that, I need to do that!

Tami printed up these really cool cards for all us and they’re full of the Word.   There are a couple dozen bullet points with different Words to inspire us, to remind us of how much He loves us (His daughters!), to show us where in the Bible we can go for different needs (healing for example).  The last bulletpoint simply reads, “Pray His Word.”

the cards Tami made for us

In John 10:10, we know that Jesus came so that we may have life and life and live it abundantly.  It’s the part of John 10:10 that people always focus on.  But the first part of that verse is telling us that there’s a thief – the enemy.  And the enemy comes to steal and kill and destroy (NASB).  So to battle this thief, and to enjoy life abundant – we must equip ourselves as best we can.  Prayer is essential in this way (Ephesians 6:18).  Tami, at this point, literally pulled out a cardboard sword and brandished it for a minute.  Giving us the visual of fighting.   Her point is that in real life we don’t carry around swords of metal – but we can brandish the word, or use a prayer to fight back the thieves we encounter, the enemies that attack us.

a blurry washed out photo of tami waving a sword

Finally, the point of us all being connected by the triple-cord braid is that just like we can use prayer for ourselves, we can use it for each other!  When one of our sisters falls down, we can pick her back up with prayer!  (I totally got the Sister Act song in my head “if my sister’s in trouble so am I” – remember that from the movie Sister Act? It totally came to mind then and now, lol).

So, at our tables we all had these little cards.  And since we were seated in groups of nine, we were asked to get into groups of three, and make a commitment to be prayer warriors for each other.  To be there for one another spiritually.  This is bold and important commitment, and one that I was so honored to make.  What a cool idea, that not only are we connected by having fun times, fellowship, worshipping together – but we’re not becoming three-cord bracelets of prayers!

Tami ended the evening with some closing words and then by praying for us all.

I have to say:

I hope that the women had a great time.  I know that there were aspects of the evening that were very new to some of us.  I’m not used to speaking in front of a big group like that.   I don’t think many of the women were used to sitting at tables with new people, working on a craft like bracelet making. But sometimes getting out of our comfort zone is a good thing, and I appreciate the effort everyone made.  And hopefully we can all learn that when we’re with sisters-in-Christ, we’re always in our comfort zone.

women’s worship night (women of hope)

March 31st 2011 was Hope Chapel Kaneohe Bay’s Women’s Worship Night – a part of the Women of Hope Ministry.

Not only did I attend, but I was honored to participate as well.  It was an amazing night full of joyous worship, an amazingly delivered message by our lovely Pastor Kanani, a performance by the Hula ministry, as well as our own Cardboard Testimonies (that’s where I got to participate). Oh, and an epic snack spread.  Super epic!  Major props and thanks go out to Pastor Tami, who runs Women of Hope with the fiercest love.

So here’s my point of view on the whole event, along with blurry pics taken from my iphone.  Oh, and if you want to scroll past me talking story and rambling and get to meat of the meal, the Sermon, I won’t be mad at you!  The Word and its message is the most important part of this post.

Getting Ready

Okay, so like I said – epic snack spread.  I may be talking it up a bit since Carly and I helped out and we produced some delicious baked goods.  But the rest of the snack line was truly awesome.  Hummus and veggie rolls and veggies and all kinds of chips.  And Subway sammies!  Zoiks!

carlita baked about a million cookies

yummy!

kitty and kano were there for moral support (and hoping for hand-outs, but since chocolate was involved, no such luck!)

I made rice krispy treats, in Carly’s kitchen, and I made a total mess doing so.  But they were a hit, everyone loved our bake goods! Yay!

Back it up – Getting Ready… and not the day of.  Prepping for the Cardboard Testimony!

Let’s talk about the Cardboard Testimony thing for a minute.  Do you know what this is?  If you don’t, just google “cardboard testimony” and watch a couple videos.   It’s so powerful!  Well.  When the powers that be (in this case, Tami and Laura and Lori and Kacie) decided on having a cardboard testimony done during this worship night, they asked me to participate.  I was so honored!

So, I needed to come up with a bad and a good side for my cardboard.  A before and after, almost.  Okay – for the people who didn’t go google yet or just don’t know, a cardboard testimony is a presentation.  Basically, a bunch of people come out one at a time and silently hold up a piece of cardboard and show you one side that has a statement on it, then they flip their piece of cardboard and show you an opposite statement, then this person silently exits front stage and a new person walks up.  The two sides are sort of a before/after… a godless/God kind of thing.  Or just a hard challenge/God-got-me-through-it thing.

So, for example… someone could have a cardboard that says “Addicted to meth” *flipover* “Addicted to HIS Love,”  or their’s could be “Diagnosed with Stage 4 Cancer” / “That was in 2004, He heals and sustains!”  You get the idea?  Some powerful videos I’ve seen have all kinds of testimonies that run the gamut with issues we, as people, face.  My favorite one ever shows a couple walk up together, husband and wife.  His card says, “we’ve been having trouble”  and her’s says “trying to have children.”  Then he flips his, “we’re adopting this May.”  (btw- at this point watching, I’m teary-eyed).  She flips her’s, “and we’re pregnant now!”  When I saw that one, I just cried.  (I totally paraphrased btw).

Just watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvDDc5RB6FQ  (copy and paste the link, i’m not fancy enough to be able to insert vids)

So I was asked to make a cardboard.  And I wasn’t sure what direction to go in.  Do I talk about cancer? I could have… and I think maybe that’s why I got invited to this shindig.  But really, when I had cancer (I fought Stage III Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2004 – surgeries, chemo, radiation, the works, and here I am today, thriving and happy)… back when I had that battle with cancer, I was so close to God.  I was so happy and grateful and not feeling spiteful or mad.  I was seeing and experiencing blessings EVERY day.  (That’s a whole ‘nother blog in and of its own, really).

So I didn’t truthfully know what to do.  I just prayed on it and figured it would come to me.

Then one day I was hanging out at the beach with Carly, and I ‘splained to her what the whole cardboard testimony thing was and that I was going to be in it.   Next thing you know, we just kinda came up with a really cool idea that we could do as a team.  It just came to fruition organically (duh, God!).

I texted Laura and asked if Carly could do it too and we could be a team, pls.  (I love that I’m so the little sister Laura never wanted.  At some point I need to write a post about how great Laura is and how much I love and admire her.  Seriously.  She’s become a mentor to me, and she just always takes care of me, looks out, and loves on me.  Its such good stuff that I am privy too and I’m grateful to be so blessed).

Woah, I ramble a lot.  Okay, back on track…

Obviously, Laura said yes, and I’m so stoked she did.  You see, for me public speaking or being up in front of everyone is usually something that doesn’t scare me.  For my dear friend Carmela (Carly) – not so.  Carly is wicked shy, and just the fact that she was willing to put herself out there like that, to be bold, to step up – I am just proud of her and I feel lucky that I got to be a part of her pursuing something that is a challenge for her! (and not only was she bold enough to participate in the event at church, but she’s allowing me to blog about her involvement, so rad!!)

Saturday night Carly and I had a cardboard-making fiesta at my house and we watched movies (documentaries, we are nerds), and ate pizza (Kashi, we are healthy nerds), and made our signs.  It took us such a long time to get the wording just right.  We really wanted to keep it simple and keep the statement clear, but strong.  Editing is tough work; we really put a lot of thought into the whole endeavor.  We were super ready to go for Sunday’s practice, and I think its cute how into it we got.

The gist of our signs is based on the fact that if Carly and I met five years ago, we would NOT have liked each other, tolerated each other or gotten along at all… let alone become BFFs.  She was a teensy bit on the judgmental and pious side.   I was a tad on the reckless, wild, devil-may-care side.    And well, now we’s like peas and carrots!

Let’s actually talk about the worship night!  Seriously, I bet you’re thinking, can I get to the goods already? Y’all know I ramble… whew!

The Night Itself – March 31st!

me and carly in the car - we had quite the ride there! (we totes forgot our signs at home and had to go all the way back. oopsies!)

laura coleman gifted me this parallel Bible with the rad purple case... here i am walking into the event all excited with my Bible!

we can't let anyone see our signs until go-time!

Everyone gathered up at the church and we did some hugging and snacking and fellowshipping before things got officially started.

we had an awesome turnout. i caught two women going in for a hug. how awesome, so much love and fellowship! (i know this pic is so blurry... but it was a cute action shot).

carly hitting up the snack line. i love how they do the water with lemon and mint, i gotta do that at home. its so refreshing!

I should have taken more pics of the before-hand.  Of everyone saying hi, and what-not.  But since we had to do a final run-through of the cardboard testimonies, I was a little hectic and I had the excited nerves going on.

Praise and Worship!!

Pastor Tami welcomed us all, and started the evening in prayer.  Tami is just such an amazing lady, and I’m so grateful to know her and have her in my life.  The way she shepards her flock, the way she truly loves all of the Women of Hope – its just a really neat thing to be a part of.  We are so blessed to be under her guidance.

Tami calls us her Warrior Princesses.  I love it!  She always tells us we’re the warriors in sexy armor (but not too sexy).  It’s an awesome image really – we’re tough and ready to fight for what we believe in, but we have that femininity that we love to embrace too.

pastor tami kicking off a great night

First up was the Hula Ministry, Makana O Ho’omana (Gift of Worship).  They did an interpretive Hula dance to “I Am Blessed” by Racgel Lampa. It’s so cool living out here in Hawaii and being privy to a culture that’s new-to-me.  It’s so rad to me that my church has a hula ministry, right? They did a lovely job and we were all blessed by their special way of praising Him.

hula dancing for God, what a beautiful thing

Up next was the Cardboard Testimony.  Because I was in it myself, I didn’t get any pics during the presentation.  And well, our of respect for some of the participants, videos and photos weren’t taken for privacy reasons.  Some very gritty, real, tough and personal things were aired out on cardboard signs.  Eating disorders, rape, drug use.  Heavy stuff.  Sad stuff.  But the awesome thing is that EVERY card had a flip side, every story has a happy ending (my most favorite kind of stories).

The testimony was powerful.  As I stood on the stage and looked out at the Women of Hope, I saw so many ladies wiping tears away.  It was moving, for reals.  May I add at this point that it was a packed house! Standing up there on the stage, it was pretty durn rad to realize what great attendance the event had.

Here are the signs Carly and I made:

our "before" side.

and our flip

bam! surprise drop-down panel with the awesomest part.

Once we got back to our seats it was time to jam out with the women’s worship band.   Worship Pastor Kacie (guitar, vocals) and Worship Pastor Lisa (guitar, vocals) led us in so many awesome songs, along with musicians Tammera (guitar and vocals) and LeeAnn (drum).

ladies leading ladies in rocking out

We praised Him with the songs, “God is Great,” “God of Ages,” “Here I Am to Worship,” “All Consuming Fire,” “How He Loves,” “Empty Me,” and “All I Need is You.”   I’m sure all of these songs have writers and I’m not annotating them properly at all (copyrights and stuffs?).  But that’s all I know – the names of the songs.   The energy while we were praising was just awesome.  I’ve always LOVED female vocals in music, and I just get so moved by a pretty female voice; I’m a girlie girl.  Well.  To hear all these women singing together, it was just a super lovely sound.  At one point I was just looking around and marveling in all the prettiness going on.  This womanly fellowship, all of these ladies from teenagers to great-grandmas, all singing in unison.  It was just a rad thing going on.

When it came to jams, we got not one, but TWO special treats last Thursday.

1. Lisa led us in the song she wrote at the retreat in February, “Arise N Shine.”    While at the women’s retreat, named Arise and Shine, Lisa was inspired and she composed this awesome song.   I tried to sing it to my mom on the phone the other night and I have a feeling she threw the phone across the room.  I mean, we all know I can’t hold a tune , but trying to imitate Lisa’s range… dang!  I really hope some version of Lisa performing this tune gets recorded, put on youtube or something.

2. Worship Pastor Trevor came in and played a special Hillsong jam for us, “Aftermath.”  (I’m actually listening to the Hillsong version right this very minute while I type).   I know what you’re thinking… Trevor sounds like a boys’ name, isn’t this was the womens’ night?!?! Well, Trevor is in fact male, and it was women’s night – but this was a special situation.

Kanani had this awesome experience while driving her kids around the other day: this song, “Aftermath,” came on and all these things just clicked for her, it just hit her like a ton of bricks and the song affected her super deeply.  So she asked Trevor (last minute!) if he could play it so we could sing it.    If you haven’t heard it, check it out.  Its a pretty song, and its a really powerful song.  I got goosebumpes and teary-eyed while we were all singing.  Not to mention Trevor has an awesome voice and sounds just like the Hillsong version.  For serious, y’all!

So the whole time we’re singing I have to admit, I was kinda waiting on a certain song.  At retreat Kacie led us in her version of “I Will Celebrate,” a couple different times.  And her arrangement, her personal version, is just epic!   I have spent over a month now searching for a version anywhere near her’s – and I’ve come up with nothing.   A lot of “I Will Celebrate” versions are really mellow and hokey.  Kacie wrote a bangin, hardcore, rock out arrangement that is just way too fun.  WE HAVE TO DO IT SOON!  (I’m going to beg that they let you do it at 10 o’clock Sunday service, I have to hear it soon or I’ll just have a temper tantrum).

(Kacie, if you’re reading this… I love you!  You are so talented, sorry to stomp my feet.  I loved all the songs you did lead us in that night and you did an amazing job.  You’re an awesome Worship Leader!  Your arrangement skills are just so talented, there’s not a single thing online/in existence elsewhere comparable to what you do).

The Sermon (for the folks scrolling down: salad and apps are over, this is the main entree)

We were blessed last Thursday to have the beautiful, witty, and genuine Pastor Kanani preach at this service.  I want to give credit where credit is due: part of the reason I so love the women’s ministry is because of the privilege it is to get to hear Kanani preach.  She’s hilarious, and makes me legit LOL.  She’s genuine, and just such a real person.  Not some stuffy, untouchable, stereotypical Pastor’s wife – Kanani is down to earth, fun, and just so full of His light.

So anyways… the teaching part.  We’re in Isaiah 52, and the rest of this blog is quoting and paraphrasing Kanani, based off the notes I took that night:

Isaiah 52:1

This teaching started out with the message that God is telling us to wake up!  That we are not fully awake, meaning we aren’t really living up to our full potential.  And God wants us to wake up, and go for it.

We aren’t created to exist.  We’re created to thrive.

I totally believe in a get-the-most-out-of-life mentality, 100 percent.  And I do believe that our God wants us to be happy, enjoy life, be all that we can be and really thrive.   I really enjoyed the phrasing though of that nugget o’ wisdom- that “we aren’t created to exist, we’re created to thrive.”

So in Isaiah 52 we’re told to strap on the armor and suit up.  My NASB says “Awake, awake, Clothe yourself in strength…” (Isaiah 52:1).   And “The Message” version (which conveniently happens to be right next to the NASB version in my rad new parallel Bible (thank you again TuTu Laura; for those of you who have never checked out a parallel Bible, its so super duper awesome rad.  I lurve having my side-by-side translations. I love me some biblegateway.com for comparative reading, but I love having a hard copy with the two versions literally right next to each other. And I love that my Bible was gifted to me by my awesome friend, mentor, teacher, guide, sister-in-Christ, doggie sitter, gal pal TuTu Laura.

(Now…  where were we?  Clothing ourselves in strength, Isaiah 52:1, yeah).   “The Message” says: “Wake up, wake up! Pull on your boots…”

Kanani talked to us about wearing the proper armor for the task at hand.  A soldier puts on his boots when he’s off to war.  These March Madness fellas gotta wear their best pair of sneaks!  “The Message” is giving us that metaphor of putting on the proper attire, your boots, to do the tough job.  We need to wear the armor of God – and that will give us strength.  God wants us to be strong.

At this point Kanani taught us that we are being strong when we’re being real.  I have to hold it together for my family is one of those commonly heard misnomers.  No.  You don’t have to hold it together for your family.  Let them see you cry.  Be real, show your loved ones what is really going on with you.  “You’re the strongest when you’re real” – Pastor Kanani.

Isaiah goes on to tell us to wear our “Sunday Best,” or our “beautiful garments.”

Isaiah 52:2 – Remove the chains of slavery.

Honesty time: During the first part of this Sermon, I was a little not locked in.  I was sorta thinking that this sounded like a re-heating of what we had been served at the retreat.  I respected the power of this message, its relevance and meaning, the fact that it’s always good to re-study the Word, and most importantly that women who didn’t make it to the retreat could now hear it.  But despite rationally knowing all of this, my heart just wasn’t into it.  I was selfishly kinda bummed we weren’t doing something “new.”

Oh me of little faith!

Perhaps the first part of the Sermon had some carry-over themes from Sermons we heard at retreat… but once we got to Isaiah 52:2, things got heavy and powerful!  Its zing! time now.

Remove the chains of Slavery.

Kanani: It’s easy to hear that command, or read it and just say to ourselves I’m not a slave, this doesn’t apply to me, moving on. But that’s not true, you are a slave.   The USA tried to abolish slavery, we still have slavery in America today, sex trafficking is just one example.   But we are all slaves in another sense: we’re in bondage to sin.  Anger.  Bitterness.  When someone wrongs you and you can’t forgive them – we become slaves to that grudge.

During this part of her sermon, Kanani has the tech crew throw some images of human slavery up on the screen.  Photos from slave auctions in the 1840’s, and an image of a sculpture in Tanzania, depicting slaves in chains.  POWERFUL IMAGES.

I actually found the images that were used:

(i could not find photo credits for this, but i found it via google image search)

a sculpture in tanzania - courtesy of david wilmot: http://www.flickr.com/photos/david_wilmot/2319811838/

The point in using these images was to give us a visual on the HEAVY chains of slavery.   We’re talking giant, heavy, burdensome, painful, debilitating chains.  Humiliating chains.  I was affected; I got how powerful the literal image of slavery is.   Seeing these photos during the Sermon was making my stomach churn.  I just hate the thought of people being treated like this.

Kanani says, “those chains are HEAVY!  How can you live life in these chains?  How much fun can you have with those heavy chains?  Take them off!  Live life!  Have fun!”

So I’m hearing her words and looking at these pics and really feeling kinda sick to my stomach over the thought of having those chains around my neck: those rusty, nasty, rough chains just hurting me and restraining me.  And then I go back to the statement Kanani had just said.

You are a slave.  Bondage to sin, anger, bitterness, to holding a grudge from when someone has wronged you.

We all have spiritual gates that guard our hearts and minds.  Jesus forgave us, and He wants us to forgive each other.  The whole part about clothing ourselves in beautiful clothes – Kanani tells us to interpret it as forgiving others.  Is there a more beautiful act?  When we forgive other, as He forgives us – we are literally casting off the ugly, painful chains and donning beautiful garments of love and lightness.  (Woah, this image is just so powerful to me.  I love it).

When we forgive others – they don’t enter our spiritual gates anymore either.

So not only is forgiveness liberating us, its protecting us too.  <– AMAZINGLY POWERFUL AWESOME STUFF

In my own life I really have a hard time staying mad or holding a grudge over most things.  Holding a grudge is so hard to do!  It’s draining.  I feel like to stay mad with someone takes up so much energy, and to keep focusing on that anger, bitterness, hatred, or what have you – you’re giving so much power to the act, thoughts, or person who wronged you.  You’re letting them come right on in through your spiritual gates, because you’re focusing on them all the time!

So Kanani is telling us it’s time to forgive those who have wronged us, and set ourselves free.

She says, “if you’ve been abused – you should be allowed to be bitter and angry, it’s a natural reaction.  But ultimately, forgiveness will set you free.”

[sidenote: Have you ever heard Terry Caffey’s story?  IT IS AMAZING.  When you finish reading my blog, go listen to his story.  He has a website:(http://terrycaffey.com).  I heard his story because recently he was on an episode of “The State We’re In” (a radio show; you can actually download the podcast for free on itunes – he was the Feb 18, 2011 episode “Let It Go”).   What happened to Terry and how he reacted – it’s a story about forgiveness, and it’s just incredible.   If Terry can forgive after what he lived through- I feel like I have no excuse.]

So Kanani urges us to forgive the people we’re mad at, the ones who have wronged us, hurt us, abused us.  The people we’re carrying around a grudge for and in doing so we’re actually letting them in past our spiritual gates.  “Forgive those who have devastated you.  Say it out loud.”

WE HAVE TO GET OUT THE BROKENNESS.

We cannot be spiritual hoarders.  And we are not museums (an amazing Kanani original metaphor).    Don’t keep carrying around that junk. Speak forgiveness out loud.  Burn the pictures, write the memories out on paper and burn them too.  Literally, get rid of that pain and hurt, let it go. TAKE OFF THE CHAINS.  Stop carrying the anger.  Forgive.  Do what God wants you to do: don’t exist in slavery, but thrive in beautiful freedom.

We are all worthy of worshipping.  We all deserve freedom and to live out our fullest lives possible.

Our Pastor then tells us the story of Harriet Tubman.  Of course we’ve all heard of her and we know of her remarkable bravery.   But what Kanani wants is for us to all step up and become Harriet Tubmans.  Now that we know the way to cast off the chains – to let ourselves be forgiven by Him, and to forgive others as He forgives us – its time to go get other slaves and help them find freedom.   Find the lost and bring them to the light; be a Missionary.   And in doing so, do not be scared.  God goes before and behind us.

The lyrics of “Aftermath” (by Hillsong) are just ringing through me and I now understand even better why Kanani insisted that we had to hear that song last Thursday.  It’s just so perfect.  I’m going to play it again now myself (ya know it takes me a few days to write up a post this long – so its not like I have the song on repeat as you could interpret, although right now I’m tempted to listen to it a few times, its just really hitting me):

And in that moment, of glorious surrender / Was the moment You broke the chains in me / Lifted out of the ashes / I am found in the Aftermath / And in that moment You opened up the Heavens / to the broken, the beggar and the thief / Lifted out of the wreckage / I found hope in the Aftermath

AMEN!

And to think I thought we were going to get a re-hashed message that was leftover from retreat.  Wow.  I’m so embarassed.  I should know by now that my Pastor knows how to bring her A-game when she’s teaching.  I’m so sorry.  I have a feeling she will forgive me though.

The whole event was a serious success!  Sunday at Church, women who had been there on Thursday were coming up and saying how awesome the cardboard testimony was, how powerful.  It was cool to get that feedback and to know that the testimonies had spoken to people.  I just feel so blessed to be a part of the Women of Hope, and I’m honored that I was able to help contribute to a great worship night with my sister warrior princesses!

Thursday night, after the event,  I went home and prayed for a long time.  During my prayer I really did go through and forgive people who have wronged or hurt me. Even if I’ve already forgiven them in my heart, I went through and said it out loud.  I forgave a guy who stole from me, some ex-boyfriends who broke my heart, some mean girls who stabbed me in the back (sorority drama in college, oy)… ya know, the list can go on.  I even ended up talking to a couple people and just clearing the air that I had forgiven them, there was no hard feelings.  (It was sort of like a reverse AA).

I know that a lot of people reading this will be the ladies who were there, and they’ll read this as a sort of way to re-cap the night – and that is so fun! I hope y’all like my write-up.

To everyone else who may read this – I hope and pray that you’ll take this opportunity to toss off the chains and end your own slavery.  If you need a Harriet Tubman, please just let me know, I want to bring everyone out of bondage and into true freedom.

We all deserve to be happy, have fun, and live out our lives.  It’s what God wants for us.   Let go of the negative energy, and forgive.   I speak from experience: the lightness feels amazing.

Everything God is good, everything good is God.

tsunami, march 11, 2011. our own little adventure.

The earthquake and tsunami that started in Japan on March 11, 2011 brought an incredible amount of destruction, death, sadness, and fear.  I ask that anyone reading this blog just take a moment to respect the gravity of these events.  For some of you, I know that means you’ll pray.  For others, maybe just take a nice moment of silence or just send some positive vibes to japan.  If any of y’all reading this would take that moment, it would mean so much to me.

My Wacky Tsunami Adventure – March 11th!

My flight landed around 10:00pm Hawaii time.  I’d just been on a ten day vacay from Hawaii to Florida to Minnesota back to Florida, to Washington state and now back to Hawaii.  WHEW.   By the time my plane touched down I’d been traveling for 22 hours.  So as I’m sure you can guess, I was super thrilled to hear the tsunami alarms going off.   All I wanted to do was sleep, but stepping off the plane and into such chaos gave me a second wind, big time.

Carly came to the airport to pick me up, but since we couldn’t call or text each other, it was a bit of a mess.   You see, during an emergency all of the cell towers get clogged up making calling or texting impossible.   Luckily, Carly and I both have smart phones and we literally used FB statuses to communicate.

“I just landed, Carly if you can see this I’m in Hawaii, but still on the plane.”

“Rose’s plane is 40 minutes late and the sirens are going off, yikes!  Does anyone know her flight number?”

I’m just paraphrasing from memory… but you get the idea.   So we kept commenting on each other’s FB and eventually we linked up. Facebook would actually become the primary way everyone kept in contact throughout the whole night.  (I feel so validated that FB finally has a serious, legit purpose.  Now the millions of hours I’ve logged in FB world seem justifiable, right?)

So anyways.  My plane lands way late, and I’m all confused about what’s going on.  Tsunami? What does that even mean?  I’ve been out of the house for two weeks (reatreat + my vacay).  I have no food, no flashlights.  I’m probably low on toilet paper.  I’ll need water.  And what do I even do to prepare my house?  I don’t have a plan.  Uh oh.

Carly was in a real pickle too.  She’d been in the cell phone lot waiting for my plane to land, and as she’s just waiting and waiting (because my flight was so late) the sirens keep going of and the doom seems more impending.   I’m so glad that Carly is a trooper and she waited patiently to hear from me.

So now that we’re linked up, and together – its almost eleven at night, we have no supplies, we haven’t prepared for this thing at all, and its expected to hit at three in the morning.  We have four hours to square away our lives.  EEEEKS!!

Carly and I drove back to our base and braved the only store that was open.  Of course it was packed.  It was so packed that it actually took us 20 minutes to even get our vehicle into the parking lot, the line of cars was that long.   Once inside, everyone was going nuts.  Buying water, dry goods, supplies, booze, etc.  We personally stocked up on water, snacks and pooch food.

After stocking up at the store we decided to check out what was happening and make a plan.   Carly’s house is in a low-lying neighborhood and we assumed she’d have to evacuate.   My house is on a hill, and a sign denotes that my neighborhood is a tsunami safe zone.   The assumed plan was for Carly and her pets to come hunker down at my house.   We found some MP’s doing evacuation noticies and our assumptions were confirmed.  Carly’s house = not safe.  My house = shelter.

We saw on FB that our friend Megan was also being evacuated, so we swung by her house and told her to come hunker down with us as well. Why not make it a party, right?  Megan has a dog, a cat, and a husband.  Carly has two doggies.  I have my pooch.  So all in all, it would be a full, fun, animal-friendly house.

I kept updating my FB status letting my friends know they could come seek safety with us, and that their pets were more than welcomed.  (I can’t even imagine evacuating and not being able to bring JJ with me.  I literally get sick just thinking about it).

 

The Scary Part

So I finally get home, GREET MY EXCITED POOCH WHO I HAVEN’T SEEN IN TEN WHOLE DAYS, and turn on the TV. The footage from Japan is plastering across the screen and they’re making predictions about wave heights and arrival times for us.  This thing, this giant 100-foot-deep wave is confirmed and headed our way.  I’ve lived through many a hurricane and tornado.  I’ve rode out storms.  But something about the massive wall of water coming towards you creates a unique sense of impending doom.

So we just tried to say aware? I guess?  We kept the news on, and all of us had our laptops out.  Since we couldn’t use our phones, we were all using social media to update everyone about our situation.  I was posting that anyone who needed a place to stay could come to my house.  I was letting family know I was back in Hawaii and okay.  It was just a weird, chaotic time.  And thank God for FB!  Seriously, I can’t say it enough.

carly's doggies, kitty and kano

my jayjers!

sweet, chill, awesome kano

megan, violet, and kano.

me and my boy

What should we do?  So many questions.

The drama I personally have with a tsunami is that I don’t really know what to do.  Do I pack a backpack of my photos and keep my sneaks by the door so if I need to literally run for it I can?  Do we practice scampering to the roof?  If this thing really comes, and the water really rises, what do we do? How do I maximize the hour or so I now have before it hits?  Do I grab up all of my first floor valuables and schlep them upstairs?

To say that I felt unprepared was an understatement.  I know what to do in a hurricane.  I know how to hide in a bathtub under a mattress if a tornado is coming my way.   But what the eff is one to do in a tsunami?

 

So we sat around for a couple hours.

At first I went nuts trying to make the house all welcoming and nice.  I was so unprepared for guests!  Luckily, I had done a good amount of cleaning and tidying before I left on my trip – so the house was presentable.  But I was all flustered about making everyone comfy, so I spent a couple hours scurrying around making sure there was plenty of toilet papers to go around, and that everyone knew where to find clean towels. etc.  Finally Carly talked some sense into me and I simmered.

We ate some snacks.  And I was so exhausted I just kind sat on the couch and nodded in and out of sleep.  Dear sweet Carly made me dinner. We ate corn dogs.  Literally, I got to choose a possible last meal… and I went with corn dogs.  I’m not even sure what that says about me, but I think it might mean something awesome.

i love corndogs

this ridiculous and embarrassing display is my apocalypse stash of dry good. this is how i planned to survive for days in a worst case scenario. i'm such a twelve year old.

We took all of our important documents, and got them together and put them in ziplocks.  I had my marriage certificate, birth certificate, nursing license, etc., all that jazz safe and on me.   I think that was one of the smartest things we did.

We also gathered all of the candles and lighters and flashlights so they’d be in one spot and easy to access if we lost power.   I filled the bathtub up so we’d have a freshwater supply.   That one may have been overkill.  But then again, if there wasn’t any running water and we were stuck in the house for a while, I bet everyone would have been pretty durn thankful for that tub!

baby when the lights go out... we'll be ready.

We knew the estimated time the wave should hit our island was around 3:20-something in the morning.  So we just sorta stayed awake and watching the news and played it by ear.   We didn’t really have a plan on what we’d do if the house started to fill with water, I still don’t know what to do.

Finally it was like four in the morning and we assumed the worst of what could happen, happened.  So we went to bed.  Carlita and I took our doggies upstairs and we all got snuggly.   As the morning grew out, cell service started to kinda come back to us.  Then it was a nonstop buzzing of  texts and calls as family and friends checked in on us.   So we really didn’t sleep too much at all, but at least our loved ones who had been worried about us were able to check in.   Its nice to be loved, its nice to know that people were worried about our safety and well-being.

Looking back, I have NO idea how we didn’t get hit worse.  I have no idea how that water went around us and hit California.  I don’t understand it, and I probably don’t want to.  But for whatever reason Hawaii was (mostly) spared, I thank God.

doggies in bed

kano wishes he could get up in the bed too. aww sadface kano.

look how jeals jj is of kitty. jj LOVES carly, that's his girlfriend. and there's kitty, hogging carly all to herself!

soooooo cute, sleeping jayjer.

good morning my pooch!

The Reality Now – JAPAN

What’s happening in Japan now is just tearing out my heart. All of the dead and dying.  The displaced people.  Those who can’t get in touch with their loved ones.  The reactors and the brave brave people trying to work on them.  The radiation and the terror its causing.  People who have lost everything they owned.  I could just go on and on… the situation is far too immense to even try to understand, let alone describe in a blog.

The other day I wrote a small prayer for Japan:

Dear God: please heal, protect, comfort and be with the people of Japan. Cool off the reactors, protect the people from radiation, unite loved ones who are still separated from each other. Bring the hungry food, the thirsty clean water, let the devastated have arms to cry in. Please God, I PRAY FOR JAPAN.

Prayers, good vibes, money, volunteers, donations, water, clothing, flights out of there… help is needed in so many different forms right now.   I’m not even sure how to wrap this up, how to properly end this blog with tact and the proper amount of reverence for the situation – so I’ll just say that my heart goes out to Japan and all of the people affected by this disaster, and they are all in my prayers.

arise and shine (and tie dye)

Arise and Shine was this year’s retreat put on by my church’s women’s ministry, Women of Hope.  February 25-27, 120 women all met at Camp Mokuleia for a weekend of fellowship, sisterhood, singing, s’mores, laughter, swimming in crystal clear water, and a giant tie dye adventure.  It was an amazing time!

I know this entry is SUPER LONG, but its full of such good stuff and happy thoughts.  (the end is the best part of the whole story btw, i’m for serious!)

How I ended up at Retreat:

Before the retreat, I didn’t even know what a retreat was.  They kept mentioning it during announcements at church… but I wasn’t really sure what it entailed, I sure couldn’t afford to go, and I had no one to watch JJ.   But, A few of my friends from church kept asking me if I was going, and insisting that Carly and I should go.  Finally, about 10 days before retreat Carly and I talked to Pastor Tami (who was in charge of the whole shebang) and we got on the list for sponsorship.  We decided that if we got sponsored, it was meant to be.

A few days later Carly and I were sitting in Church.  During his sermon, Pastor Carl mentioned that some people had just recently donated to pay for scholarships to the Women’s Retreat.  I just got this hunch that it was for us.  After service I spoke with Tami, and it was official – we were going!

We (yes, I’m speaking for Carly here) were full of a mix of excitement and nerves.   But we were officially going now, so it was time to keep an open heart and just see what happened.  God obviously hooked it up, and it came at a time when we both could use a weekend away… so we were eager to make the most of it. (Carly and I are make-the-most-of-it kinda people in general anyways).

On top of covering the costs, God also found some amazing friends to watch our dogs for us, AND to drive us all the way up to the North Shore.  Everything fell into place.

But wait. It gets better…

Tuesday morning (three days before retreat) I was having coffee with Laura and some other ladies.  One gal complimented the tie dye shirt I had on, and I mentioned that I dyed it myself (of course I was wearing tie dye, I do pretty much everyday).   I went on to say I was actually a tie dye expert, and it’s one of my most fave hobbies.  Laura gets all excited and eager… and informs me that they planned a huge tie dye project for retreat, but no one is too sure on how to do it.    Moral of the story is that I will gladly be helping to guide the project; talk about things just working out perfectly.

First Day of Retreat (Friday)

Whitni, Erin, Carly and I all carpooled up to Camp and had a super fun time snacking on McD’s and chit chatting in the van.  When we arrived, I was so taken back by how pretty the site was.  The North Shore of O’ahu is so gorgeous, and we’d be spending the weekend right on the beach taking it all in.

carly and rose (me) in the van

welcome to camp!

beautiful north shore sunset on friday night of retreat

We checked in and went to our cabins to get settled in before dinner.

our cabin

i call top bunk! (notice how nerdy and neat i am. sigh.)

We went and ate a super tasty dinner in the cafeteria.  With full bellies, we headed to the Chapel for some Praise and Worship, and some teaching from the beautiful and strong Pastor Kanani.  After some silly icebreaker involving singing Christmas Carols (which obvs my team one, I know like a million), we filled the night air with sweet feminine voices, singing up our Praise.

The theme of retreat was “Arise and Shine.”  The whole weekend we’re learning about how to shake off the burdens of everyday life, let God’s light on in, and shine it out for the whole world to see.   We got away from our everyday routines, to relax in a beautiful location.  No TVs, no chores to do.  For many of the women this weekend meant no kids, no work, no carpool, no meetings.  It was a time for us to be selfish in a good way, to let our hearts and bodies rest and recharge.

Friday Night’s message focused on being truly ALIVE.  On making the most out of life, of living the best we can.  On living for God and feeling truly alive and we’re filled with His light.

kanani teaching friday night*

My notes from the first night’s teaching:

We can rise up and accept the Lord and as He fills us with this light we can SHINE.  When we shine, we share this light and love with others.   God wants us to love life, to enjoy life – too often daily life crushes us, crushes our spirits and brings us down.  God’s love can un-crush us – rejuvenate our souls and give us light.

God sends the Holy Spirit into us, and that’s what fills us with light.

Proverbs 18:14, “The spirit of a man can endure his sickness, But as for a broken spirit, who can bear it?”    – As long as our spirit remains intact, we can endure anything.

Given all of my health issues, past and present, the teaching on Proverbs 18:14 just spoke straight to me.  I can handle being sick, I can handle any physical pain – as long as I have my spirit.  I know I’ve been blessed to have a strong, optimistic spirit, and I thank God for equipping me with such a light that’s helped me get through many a hard time.

After teaching we broke for prayer and a bonfire!  Some of the ladies graciously helped pray for me and for my health, they prayed for my healing.  And while physically I’ve been in a rough place and going through a lot since the retreat (the update on my trigeminal neuralgia will be a totally separate blog) – I know their prayers helped me because my anxiety level relating my health has been totally reduced.

Outside of the Chapel that night I met a lovely lady, Lori (alliteration station right there, lovely lady Lori, whew!).  Lori was chatting about some injuries she’s endured as a result of a bad fall she had.  Hearing her talk about surgeries and medications, doctor’s visits and hospitals… I just knew she was a kindred spirit.  Her positive attitude through such adversity was amazing!  She fell at work, and refused to sue (knowing it was an honest accident).  She bears severe pain with a smile, and unless she told you what she was dealing with – you’d never know.   She embraces life and refuses to let her injuries affect her happiness.  She truly has an intact spirit, and thus sickness cannot stop her – she’s so living Proverbs 18!  Talking with her reinforced the nights’ teaching to me, so amazing.  I love this type of life-goes-on, making the best of it, attitude.

As we kept talking, I found out that Lori was an artist.  When we checked in, we were all given journals to use during the weekend.  Each had a hand painted watercolor on the front.  They are beautiful, and Ms. Lori here painted them ALL by hand.  120 paintings!

handpainted journal covers - with glitter sand, omg, glitter sand!!

Since she’s an artist, Lori was originally asked to run this whole tie dye thing.   Wanting to help out, she agreed – but admitted to not having any experience.  She bought the supplies, got all of the fabric, and hoped for the best.  When she heard that a lady with lots of experience would be at retreat (me), she was seriously relieved.  We had a funny chat about how she was so glad I ended up there, and once again – things were working out so perfectly.

SIDENOTE: I mean, how uncanny and random is it that the ministry was in need of someone who knew how to tie dye, and then I was sponsored at the last minute to attend?  It was all really overwhelming.  Honestly, I was humbled by it all and I was just so excited to be able to help.  After a stranger had paid for me to be there – I wanted to do anything I could to help out, give back, contribute.  So I was excited and honored to be asked to help.

After chatting with Lori and getting some prayer, I went to the bonfire.  Hooray, s’mores!!

bonfire

my gal pals roastin' mallows*

Saturday Morning

We woke up to an insanely gorgeous sunrise:

breaking dawn

oh hay sun, i love to see you!

I didn’t get much sleep that night at all… so I was in serious need of coffee first thing.

i wish i had tiger blood so i didn't need coffee. or sleep.

We walked the beach, chit chatted over coffee and slowly we all seemed to wake up.  At 8:00am, it was breakfast time.  Cafeteria breakfast!  I was so excited.  I happen to LOVE cafeteria food.  I love the trays, I love scooping out my food.  I think its so fun.  So, no surprise, I was right at the head of the line rarin’ to get some bacon.

cafeteria brekky, yum! scrambled eggs, melons, hashbrowns, rice, and BACON.

me and erin in the cafeteria

After breakfast, we spent some time enjoying our surroundings:

carlita and crystal clear water

we met such a nice sea turtle

he decided to swim away as soon as we met him though. rude!

pretty pregnant whitni

from the rocks, looking out into the ocean. so rad!

awesome

oh hay! i'm having so much fun at camp.

Mid-morning we had another session of Praise and Worship, and teaching.  We all went into the chapel, ready to celebrate God together.

setting up for worship

carly, erin, myself and whitni in the chapel*

kacie leading worship - "i will celebrate and sing unto the Lord"*

Saturday morning’s teaching started out on John 4:7, the story about Jesus and the Samaritan woman.  As we were learning about this parable, I pulled out my iphone and went to Biblegateway.com and started reading the Scripture in so many different translations.  In my journal I even wrote out “The Message” and “The Amplified” versions.

My notes:

This Scripture speaks to me as Jesus didn’t judge the Samaritan woman.  He went and talked to her, He showed her that He was/is the Son of God – and her choices, her sins, and the fact that she was a Samaritan has no bearing on His want to approach her.

Jesus is for everyone.  It doesn’t matter what you’ve done or where you’re from.  The only thing he has for us is LOVE.

Sometimes participating in a church is intimidating.  In the past, I’ve been scared of being judged, of not fitting in.  I was worried that if people know where I’d been they wouldn’t want me around.  (I am a sinner, and trust me – I’ve sinned big and hard).  But the deal is, if a church is truly Christian (Christ-like) – it doesn’t matter where I’ve been.  Just like Jesus didn’t judge, and he accepted sinners, a church that is genuine should and will accept me.  Reading this Scripture and knowing how open and welcoming Hope Chapel has been to me just solidifies what an amazing and genuine Church it is, this Scripture was reinforcing to me all those good, happy feelings I get when I’m doing anything with the Hope Chapel Family; its real.

journaling during the service*

women worshipping*

The teaching went on to talk about Fragile Clay Jars (2 Corinthians 4), and the parable of the one lost sheep (Matthew 18:12-14).    The teachings of the morning focused on letting go of what ties us down.  We talked about how special we are to God.  The theme that Pastor Kanani kept reiterating was to live your life with “no strings attached.”  To not let things burden you down, and hold you down.  I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes:

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose,” Jim Elliot, missionary and martyr. (Kanani actually talked about Jim Elliot and his mission the night before during her teaching, full circle!).

The gist of that quote is to get rid of the things you cannot take with you, in exchange for the things that you cannot hold.  Get rid of your worldly, material things.  Get rid of the items that stress you out, that bog you down.  Because when we die, the Chanel handbag and Gucci clothes ain’t coming with us.  Instead, fill your life with the intangibles: love, happiness, laugher, pooch smooches, hugs, rainbows, smiles.

More of my notes:

We need to empty our hearts of all our worldly stuff: pride, hate, anger.  And we need to fill them [our hearts] with love.  With God’s love.

Kanani says: God has way more stuff than we have.  Annie didn’t bring her bed from the orphanage with her into Daddy Warbucks’ house.  We cannot drag what we have into Heaven, why would we?

Saturday Afternoon

After morning worship, we had free time before lunch to go swimming! Hooray! I love the ocean so much.

me and whitni in the ocean

me and carlita. we are fishies.

After lunch… it was TIE DYE TIME!

The Tie Dye Project

According to Wikipedia, a Pareo is a wraparound skirt.   Pareos are popular in Hawaiian culture, and we would be making tie dye Pareos, that could be used as skirts, wraps, prayers shawls, tapestries, almost anything!  The fabric Lori got was this really light linen.  And Laura had picked out all kinds of pretty colored dye for us to use.  Most of the women at camp had never tie dyed before, so it was really fun seeing them learn and get excited and just enjoy themselves.

Everyone met in the chapel after lunch and did some icebreakers, while a small group of us was outside mixing the dye.  As we were mixing them up, and setting up the buckets, we realized we were way short on salt.   I advocate for dying wet garments (pre-soaking in water vs. dying somethin dry; optimally soaking a garment in water w/ soda ash) – so the idea to have people soak their fabric in the ocean came up.  The dye needed more salt mixed in, and the garments needed to be wet first.  Perfecto!

I popped into the chapel to try and give some direction.  Talking on the mic was more intimidating than I though, and I’m pretty sure my instruction was more confusing than helpful.  I ended up telling everyone to just find me and I’d be down to help anyone with anything I could.

i'm on the mic, laura is my vanna white

mixing the dye right out on the beach*

getting all set up

The only instructions I gave: get your fabric wet first (there was a spicket of fresh water, or the dunk in the ocean idea), choose a pattern and use rubber bands, we have gloves available so you don’t dye your hands, you can hang your pareo up to dry right away or you can bag it and let it soak over night – I recommend the soak and wait.

For the people doing the soak and wait I gave some washing tips – wash on the hottest cycle you have with a cup or so of whit distilled vinegar.  vinegar will help lock in the dye (think: Easter Eggs).

THE MOST IMPORTANT TIE DYE INSTRUCTION: don’t sweat it and just let it happen.  Colors will run together.  It will get messy.  Its supposed to, the meshing and blurring of colors makes tie dye beautiful.  The imperfections make it unique and show that it was dyed by hand.  Just embrace and go with it.

All that said… and they’re off:

tie dye bonanza

getting the fabric ready*

dipping the linen right in the ocean*

My hippie heart is just exploding at this point:  tie dying outdoors, right on the beach, dunking the fabric in the saltwater and just shooting the breeze with all these wonderful women… such a rad afternoon for me.  The setting was gorgeous, and here I am teaching all of these women about one of my most favorite crafts.  I was just so full of excited energy and joy.

twisting the fabric*

i'm so large and in charge

usually i dye with squirt bottles, but mixing enough individual bottles for 120 women would have taken so long and been expensive. instead we used buckets of rit dye and powdered tulip dye - so i came up with the idea of using these tiny cups to help localize where the dye went instead of only dunk dying. the technique worked SO WELL, i was so stoked.*

of course, dunking is always still an option when you have buckets o' dye*

whitni dying with some pink, pretty!*

pastor tami tie dying*

action shot of me being all bossy*

Ready for the results?  Finished products:

pareos in the wind*

they came out so awesome, right?

leeann did an AMAZING job

love how bright this one is, amazing

the starburst technique was epic on fabric of this size. perfect!

this makes my heart so happy

bright and pretty, just awesome!

are you sick of tie dye pics yet? i'm not! i love them!

I helped all of the ladies tie dye for four hours.  It was such a gorgeous day, we had so much fun out in the sun chit chatting and laughing and dying.

And then I realized, I hadn’t made one for myself yet!

i didn't get to do one yet

i labeled my fabric

super tight twist = the bomb

My final product:

my pareo is hanging up in my kitchen to make me smile everyday

Saturday Night

We had another service Saturday night.  Again we started with singing worship songs, and then had some preaching and teaching.   Saturday night’s theme was about being awake.

My notes:

Rev 3:3 = You must wake up or you’ll miss it all

Being aware, being awake not just to what’s around us – but being honest with ourselves.  Its about taking a long, hard look at ourselves; self-actualization.

God doesn’t want us to be something we’re not – He created us the way He wants us!  -That said, its about living up to our potential, being the best versions of ourselves that we can be.

We need to wake up to who we really are.

We learned about asking God to wake us up, to really open our eyes to what’s inside us and what we are.  This can mean so many things: tapping into potential that isn’t being used, facing and dealing with the things we’ve suppressed, learning who we really are, smashing down those walls and guards we’ve put around our hearts.

I believe this message is something really powerful.   But at the same time, I was having a hard time figuring out how to live it.  I feel like in the past few years I’ve gone through a huge process of learning who I really am, looking way inside me and digging up all the junk, of going through a lot of the exercises that were being discussed this night.   I feel like I know the burtal honestly about who I am, and I’ve even come so far that I love the real me and I want to be the real me forever.  Icing on the cake: my husband knows, loves, and accepts the total real me.  (seriously, does it get any better than that?)

I loved the message about not being perfect.  God never asks us to be Perfect – but just to be who we are, and to try.  I love that.  What an empowering and liberating thing to know.  I wish I could spread this message to all the women in the world, all the people even.  So many people waste the fun and happy parts of life by trying so hard to be perfect, or be something they aren’t.  I am who I am, and its such a freedom that I have not pretending to be anything else.  I wish my lightness for everyone, I really do.

Sunday Morning

Sunday morning, after breakfast we had a different kind of service together.  Pastor Ruby gave us a beautiful devotional.  She talked about Psalms 102 and 103.  Just the night before I had diligently studied Psalm 103, and it was so crazy to me that she was preaching on it the very next morning.

What Ruby had to say was personal, and touching, and I don’t think there was a dry eye in the chapel.

After Ruby, Pastor Tami talked to all of us.  She put in so much hard work to make this retreat a wonderful event.  Its crazy to know she had been working and planning this all for months and months, and until a few days before I didn’t even know much about the whole thing.  I’m appreciative of her hard work though, I had such a great time and I don’t have the words to properly tell her how much I look up to her.

Then the microphone was opened up for retreat testimonials.  Hearing these women, my sisters, get up and just open up their hearts was amazing.  Women talked about what they got out of retreat.  They admitted to not wanting to come and being dragged there.  Some talked about being nervous and how they ended up making friends and having fun.  Some asked for prayer.  Some had praise reports.  It was just a cool experience to be a part of.

Last, but not least, I decided to get up on the mic myself.

tellin' my story*

I told everyone how just a couple weeks before I didn’t even know what a retreat was.  But God brought me to this retreat.  Someone paid for me.  Someone’s husband was watching my dog.  Someone even drove me there!  All I had to do was pack and keep an open mind.

I explained how it had been a rough couple of months for me:  My husband deployed in November with three weeks notice, I lost our baby right before Christmas, I was so ill because of the miscarriage I was unable to go home for Christmas and I spent the whole time alone on my couch, and the stress on my body has spurred up some exacerbations of pre-existing conditions that I have.

I’ve been trying very hard to get back into the swing of life.  I’ve been staying busy, spending time with friends, laughing, having fun.  I’ve been throwing myself into church and I’ve been loving it.  I go hiking and swimming, and try to keep my heart light and move past this sadness.  I like to be happy, and usually I am a happy girl.  But to be really truthful, the past couple months haven’t been a cakewalk, yo.

Saturday afternoon of retreat Matthew (my husband) called me from Afghanistan.  When he asked about how retreat was going I told him all the great things I was doing:  I had so much bacon for breakfast and s’mores around a campfire!  I went swimming in the ocean, and this afternoon I taught 120 women how to tie dye!! His response was, “sounds like your most ideal day ever, huh?”  LOL, he’s so right.  He also told me that I actually sounded HAPPY.  I sounded genuinely happy to him and he loves to hear that, it does his heart good while he’s over there.

So I thanked these women.  The chit chats, the giggling as we all had melted marshmallows covering our faces, swimming in the ocean and scaring away the sea turtles, just having someone to pray with: all of this sisterhood, in such a beautiful place away from my usual surrounding was just such a great way to hit the reset button.  I felt so refreshed and alive, and I just thanked all of them for being part of it.

Then I sat down.

Well, remember how I keep mentioning that a stranger paid for me to come. After I sit down, Laura leans over and whispers in my ear, “Lori is the one who sponsored you.”  Lori! LORI! The one who I related to about smiling through the pain, about doctor’s visits and being in the hospital.  Lori who loves arts and crafts, and who painted those journals for us.  Lori who didn’t know how to tie dye but said she would anyways and then heaved a huge sigh of relief when she found out some random gal attending knew how to do it.  LORI! Talk about kismet.  Talk about full circle.

I was so overwhelmed I started crying.  I ran up and grabbed the mic and announced this little tidbit to the group, and everyone burst into applause.  What an amazing, perfect, God-given fit.  The coolest things like this always happen to me, and I love it.

hugging and thanking lori as soon as i found out*

Finally it was group photo time, and retreat was over.  What an amazing weekend!!  I was so blessed to be a part of this, and I know I’ll carry these north shore memories with me long after I leave this island.  I am just so thankful.

arise and shine 2011 retreat*

THE END!

*All of the pics with the lil asterisk are courtesy of the beautiful and wonderful Joy Pishcura.  Thanks Joy!!!!!

BONUS UPDATE!

here’s a photo of Lori and me outside church on 13-March:

lori + me (and yes, i dyed that skirt!)