Saturday, February 26, 2011

Him and Me


Okay, not really him, but this guy was a sight to see...the most buff 75 + year old person I have seen, picking up garbage among the tourists on Waikiki. I wish I could have got a photo from the front, his gold chains, huge smile, and abs of steel.

Really Him
 Me Again
And, last but not least, Him
This guy was in heaven in the water.
In heaven I tell ya.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Chutes and Ladders

We weren't two hours on Maui and Mark, our host and guide for the three days on this beautiful island, took us on our first adventure to a "secret" spot called Chutes and Ladders.

It began with an easy stroll through some tall grass on level ground.
This isn't too bad, I thought. What's the big deal? Where are the chutes? The ladders?
Oh, here they are.  You have to take off your shoes like this - flip flops, which back in Minnesota I would NEVER have worn on a hike. But, here in Hawaii they are the preferred shoe for just about everything.

Then, you shimmy barefoot down this knotted rope. All the way down to the volcanic sharp rock below.
Like this.
Then, you hold on tight to the rock which can break at any point (all the guide books warned of this) and carefully maneuver around the ledge, being careful not to look down.

Then, you jump, dive, or flip into the secluded, calm, clear tidal pool below.
Some of us are better at this than others. Some of us (okay, just me) are afraid of heights, climbing down a shaky rope while wearing a skirt, and would rather die than dive into a shallow pool. But, this girl decided to bite the bullet and go for it. And this girl is so glad she went along for the ride. She would do it again in a heartbeat.

Like Our Extended Family

While in Hawaii, we wanted to make sure we took the opportunity to visit the Oahu branch of the People of Praise - our brothers and sisters in the Lord. The Oahu branch is located primarily on the windward side of the island in Kailua. One member of the branch in Oahu, Whit AU, was featured in our Vine and Branches magazine in 2008. How cool is this job?!

Ben and I were blessed to be able to spend an "open" Lord's Day with the branch members on a Saturday evening.  Most people we would see would be strangers. We went only knowing three people and we weren't sure they would be at this dinner. Nonetheless, we drove up to the house, walked into the back yard and were immediately greeted with warm smiles, hugs, and questions about who we were, did we know so and so in the Servant branch and how lucky we were to escape the cold for a couple weeks.  It was hospitality at its best. Where else can you drop in on a back yard potluck and feel like you are at a family reunion?  We don't have the personal history or relationships with most of the branch, but we share a common history in the Lord and understand each others customs, rituals, prayer, and ways of relating because we share our life in People of Praise.  Each of the 21 branches of the People of Praise certainly has its own "flavor" and uniqueness, but we also have a unique bond and way of life that transcends our local geographic locations and customs.

Sharing the opening of the Lord's day is a good example of part of our culture that you can expect to see in any branch. We thank God for his blessings from the past week, pray for our personal needs, break bread and pass a cup of wine around to share together. We then share a meal and conversation together. This evening Lord's day opened with some prayer and reading (by a father and son), a lighting of a candle (the Lord's day light, by the mother) and passing around bread, cheese and wine. It was fun to see all the kids who could participate in this part of the Lord's day. They walked around to share the food and wine. Some needed some coaxing to come down from the tree they had perched themselves in to get a good view of everything, but they willingly served us anyway. We also heard stories from a few people of how they had been blessed, healed, strengthened in faith and seen the Lord work in the past week.

I was able to catch up with one lady, Joan, who grew up in Minnesota and whom I have known for a long time, but haven't seen or talked with her in decades. You wouldn't know it by how easily we fell into conversation and by the end of the evening, she had me convinced to come back to the islands with our kids and she even opened her home as a place to stay.

We also met a couple from the Saskatoon branch who are staying on Oahu for three months and have plugged into the life of the branch there to stay connected to community and form friendships. We know a few people in common so it was fun to find all the connections of relationships that we share across the country.

Our evening also included all of us taking a walk around the neighborhood in an attempt to make ourselves more visible in the neighborhood. Indeed, the neighbors witnessed something unique. Old folks, young kids, teenagers, young adults, married couples, older singles taking a walk together. And yes, while some of the folks are related to each other by blood, most are not.

Another element to our common life is prayer for and over one another. A family of four who had been part of the community in Oahu for about a year was soon to move to Washington state, a big transition for any family. One way we chose to send them off was to gather around them and pray for the blessings and power of the Holy Spirit to guide their journey and all the details of settling into a new life. I think this is a powerful tool that unites and strengthens a people, when we can pray together and support each other in life's changes.

Anytime you are on Oahu and looking for Christian fellowship, I would not hesitate to contact the branch and meet these wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ!  They will open their hearts and homes to you.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Shine Like A Star

The setting:   A one story home with three bedrooms and one bathroom.
The time:   This morning right after breakfast.
The Characters:   A mom and her five year old.

Izzy:  Mom, when can I clean the bathroom and make it shine like a star?"

Me:  Umm, okay, ummm, well...(No kid of this mom has ever ever ever asked to clean the bathroom, much less promised it will "shine like a star", much less volunteered to do a Saturday chore.)

After her momentary shock, the mom says, "Go for it!  Here are the paper towels and spray bottle."

Fast forward 20 minutes.

Izzy:  Mom, come look at the bathroom.

She stands at the closed door ready to reveal her work. First, she opens her palm and asks her mom for a penny.  Like the mom needs to pay her to see the work.

Mom thinks:  Oh, now I get it. You did this for money. Now it makes sense.

She pulls out a pretend penny from her pocket, places it in her hand and waits for the big reveal. She is soooo cheap. But Izzy is five and falls for it.

The bathroom looks great. 

Izzy proudly shows the mom how she arranged the soaps and things around each corner of the tub; how she shined the mirror, and how she buffed the faucet.

Mom, smiling and thinking to herself:   Nice work, kid.  I will never ever ever ever underestimate you. You are full of wonderful surprises.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Once upon a time there was a guy who asked a girl to wake up very very early and drive 40 minutes to watch the sun rise over the Pacific Ocean at the Southeastern coast of Oahu.

She agreed.

They missed the alarm.

But, they thought they just might have time to catch it, if they hurried.

They scrambled to dress, down some coffee, find keys, a map, and out the door they went.

Just in time as it turned out.

The girl sat and watched. The scenery changing with each passing second.

Hello sun. You are beautiful.  
You gave the boy and girl an idea for a cool shadow photo.
You illuminated the horizontal lines in the rock beneath them.
And the vertical lines in the mountain behind them.
A mountain/hill that had they woken with the alarm the boy and girl would have climbed via thousands and thousands of stairs to watch all of this from the top.

I think in the end, they got a great view anyway.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sweetest Things

Sweetest Thing #1:

A sweetest thing for my sweetest pre-schooler. "Mom, I don't have any clothes with hearts on them."

I can remedy that.

Raid the drawers and find a too-small-for-my-middle-child-slightly-stained-past-its-prime white shirt to get creative with.
Find a few fabric remnants and grab some Heat n Bond iron on adhesive. I found mine at Joann Fabrics.
Cut three hearts, iron on the adhesive, iron on the shirt.

The sweetest thing with a sweet shirt.
Moms, it can take only a couple minutes to pull together a "brand new" wardrobe item.

Sweetest Thing #2:

A dad's love for his daughters comes through with a bouquet of red tulips, a love note, and 4 truffles a piece for each one.

Dads, show your daughters your love for them every day. In word and deed. In small tokens of affection and words that build them up.

Time flies and they will soon be looking for someone to do the same for them outside your home.

Show them how its done well now.

Sweetest Thing #3:

I can text my sweetest thing throughout the day when my throat is on fire and it hurts to talk.

I can thank him for the flowers, the chocolate that won't last until 5pm and the note.

I can share our love for U2 and remember when I first heard this song in college. We made it our theme for a dorm dance held on Valentine's Day. That blind date is long gone but the song still brings smiles.

Significant others, thank those that take the time to bless you.

Even if it feel like there is sandpaper aflame in your throat.

You can always find a way.

Hey, Bono did. He made an "I'm Sorry" video without speaking. And he was really really sorry.

Childrens Online Library

Check out this site for a huge selection of children's titles to read online in their original form.

It's not the same as turning pages of a book and handling the real thing, but its close.  It's not as quaint or romantic or nostalgic, but I am coming to believe that is okay.

And, if you have one of these babies, you could bring the "books" anywhere and always have them available.

How cool would it be to read the Infant's Cabinet of Birds and Beasts published in 1820 with your little one?

It's all about blending the old with the new.  Turn of the century texts with the latest  technology.  The classics you get to browse with a touch of a finger rather than collecting dust on your bookshelf.  Bringing authors back to life with convenience and ease.

Love this poem by Robert Louis Stevenson...its so true!

Or this book titled Chimes and Rhymes for Youthful Times published in 1871.

A page from the book and corresponding illustration:

Enjoy reading with your children!

I know I am.

Now, to figure a way to get that iPad.

I hear there is a new one coming out soon.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Waves - 1st Set

We came, we watched, we marveled, we jumped, we plunged, we dropped our jaws, we surfed (and that is a very generous word to use), we paddled, we compared size, height...

So, yes, indeed we saw waves. And I took many a picture of Ben just watching I predicted.

The North Shore of Oahu held the most spectacular waves I have ever seen.  Because of the length of the trip and not much of an agenda, we were able to head up to the North Shore multiple times and pull over whenever and wherever we wanted. That was a wonderful freedom to have!

These at Shark's Cove were the most explosive and beautiful and my favorite to photograph.  The setting sun provided the right light too.

This warning about Shark's Cove appears on one website highlighting the beaches on Oahu:

Cautions: During the winter waves can reach 40-50 foot on the north shore. They pound the rocks surrounding the cove. If you suspect large surf, DO NOT venture to the outer rocks (As seen in the adjacent picture) . And NEVER turn your back to the ocean. The waves are constantly changing and you can never predict their next move.

Cautions and warnings aside, this is a breathtaking beach.
And my favorite...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Upside Down?

We learned from Nadine, my sister in law and wise Hawaiian resident that King Kamehameha, former ruler of Hawaii, traveled extensively around the world and brought back treasures to share with his fellow Hawaiians.

One such import from India is the Banyan tree.

This one in the town on Lahina on Maui covers 2/3 of an acre. It covered a square city block! It is the biggest banyan tree on the island, so big that I could not capture the whole thing in one shot. It is impressive. Most impressive. (Name that movie.)

Keep in mind these photos are all of the same tree. Here it is at its base, the original trunk.
It's easy to lose track of where the tree starts and ends. Or know for sure if, in fact, you are looking at the same tree as you walk through it.  

To support its lateral growing branches, the tree sends down roots (spaghetti like) from above like this.
The roots reach the ground and plant themselves there growing bigger and stronger and becoming more intertwined.
 Keep in mind, this is all one tree.
We saw others like it on Waikiki but they were not nearly as big. Old and impressive and kinda funny looking. But not this big.
Why wouldn't you import this?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


The Humpback whales gave us quite a show.  It is mating season for these great mammals and they love to come to this place after having the feeding of their lives near Alaska. The water between Lanai, Molokai and Maui was teeming with these magnificent creatures. We saw moms with babies, pairs of whales and loners just showing off.

Our journey from Maui to Lanai took longer than normal since when you get within 100 yards of the whales you are supposed to stop and wait.

Well, we did a lot of stopping and waiting.

And it was so worth it. Take a look.
Oh, we were escorted by a school of spinner dolphins too - happy to be swimming along and posing for all the photographers on board.  They say we only really see about 1/3 of the whole group of dolphins. And we saw dozens at a time jumping up in pairs and even in threes as you see here.
 Imagine how many were just beneath the water that we didn't see!
Wait, how did this one get in here? This is the cutest 15 month old nephew and local Hawaiian host I have ever seen.

Sorry about that. He's just too adorable not to include in this post.

Back to the fauna.
We saw these little guys on the beginning of a rain forest like hike up to a water fall back on Oahu. More on that later, but I couldn't pass up the chance to capture these. Reminded me of being back on the farm. The one that I visit, not live on.
Gorgeous animals all around. Like the MN zoo, but without the tanks and 6 inch glass separating you from the bottlenose dolphins you paid $11 per adult and $9 per child to see.

We got to see these for free.
Well, almost for free.

The whole trip was a little more than free.

But it was worth it.