"May the God of hope fill you with great joy and peace as you trust in him." Romans 15:13

Friday, March 30, 2012

Peace Like A River

"For this is what the Lord says, I will extend to her peace like a river..."
Isaiah 66:12

"If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea"
Isaiah 48:18

"God chose such a unique word to describe His peace - a river! A river is not calm and void of activity.  It is active and cleansing and confident of the direction it is headed in.  It doesn't get caught up with the rocks in its path.  It flows over and around them, all the while smoothing their jagged edges and allowing them to add to its beauty rather than take away from it.  A river is a wonderful thing to behold.  Beth Moore says, 'To have peace like a river is to have security and tranquility while meeting the many bumps and unexpected turns on life's journey.  Peace is submission to a trustworthy Authority, not the resignation from activity."  by Lysa TerKeurst in What Happens When Women Say YES to God.

I have nothing to add tonight.  I just loved these thoughts so much that I want to hide them in my heart forever.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid"
Jesus quoted in John 14:27

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God which transcends all understanding,

 will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:6-7

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Searching for Significance

I have had a "poor me!" attitude all week.  (For the record, it is not becoming.)  It has been one of those weeks when nothing seems to be going my way, and although I say I want to live a life of service, the truth is sometimes I want something... anything! to be about me.

Indulge me a minute while I whine about my week.  This week:
  • We found out the "buyers" of our home do not actually have financing.  Which means they have no means to pay for said property.  Since we are not able to give them our home, we begin showing it again tomorrow.  While I am not stressed about our home selling (for the moment anyway), I am VERY stressed at the thought of keeping it in tip-top condition all the time AGAIN!
  • Because of some changes that will be happening in the Bismarck Public School system, we have decided it will be best for Brenna to remain at her current elementary school next year.  While Brenna is THRILLED, I am not.  Keeping Brenna at her current school means I have to drive her to and from school each day (she currently rides the bus).  Driving her to and from school adds another 45 minute task to each and every day of my life next school year.  Right now 45 minutes daily feels like a lot.  Sure, I should be happy that it is possible for me to drive her and keep her at her current school.  It is most certainly in HER best interest, but what about MY best interests?  (told you I am UGLY this week)
  • I have been researching, praying over, and dreaming of a very significant (to me) mission project for the past 2 and a half years.  This week the first concrete steps toward making that dream a reality occurred.  However, I spent the week watching it unfold through facebook, instead of in person.  My stepping back was THE BEST choice for the project.  I was and am supportive of the decision.  My heart, however, was not.
  • I could go on and on and on...  I am working more than I have ever worked in my life, but I would much rather be home full time.  Every job I have is about serving everyone else.  Everything I do needs to be repeated again and again and again - the laundry, grocery shopping, floor cleaning, bill paying, bulletin making, meal preparing, email sending... And NO ONE really cares about any of it, unless it is not done up to their standards.  There is rarely a "thanks mom for my clean clothes."  However I do hear "When will the laundry be done? I have nothing to wear!" (Obviously these statements are not truth, they are lies that I bought into this week.)
This has undoubtedly been one of the most difficult years of my life, though not because of tragedy or any other type of extreme hardship.  It has been terribly difficult because where I would choose to serve is not where/how God has called me to serve.  And honestly, I have not done a very gracious job of accepting my new assignments.  I may appear cheery to the casual observer - but my heart has been sad, questioning, angry...

My life has seemed unfair, unimportant, and unnoticed.  Try as I might to shift my focus and CHOOSE to see more clearly, I keep being sucked back into a negative swirl of thoughts. 

Yesterday I realized that what I crave is a feeling of significance. 

You see for the past 17 years, what formed my personal self-image or significance was the way I cared for my family.  I took care of my kids, myself.  And I LOVED it.  I took care of our home and yard, myself.  Our home was always dusted, the floors were always clean, the laundry was washed and folded, by me.  When Chad arrived home each evening everything was caught up, dinner was in the oven, and I was ready to pay attention to my husband.  I had time to exercise.  I knew my children's teachers, and I volunteered in their classrooms.  I did the ministry work of my choosing, when I chose, how I chose.  Even in the years I did day care time full time, and in the years I worked 3/4 time in Chad's office, I was able to maintain my home and family in a way that was up to my personal standards.

This year all that has changed.  I send my son to day care, which feels to me like a personal failure even though he is receiving incredible care.  I do house work and laundry late into the night.  Our floors are often in need of a good scrubbing.  I have not volunteered in the school once.   When Chad arrives home, I usually have several hours of tasks yet to complete before feeling ready to pay attention to him. My life revolves around ministry work, but I do not get to choose what I am involved in nearly as much. I am "failing" (by my standards) in all the areas that used to cause me to feel significant.

Last night I read these words:
"But sometimes it is down on your face in the mud in complete humility that you will find a sweet and tender truth.  it's from this position that you can say, 'Jesus, I love You and want You more than anything else.  I love You and want You more than the approval of my peers, family, and friends, and even the naysayers in my life.  I love You and want You more than the comforts and trappings of this world.  I love You and choose to believe Your truth over Satan's lies.  I love You and choose to worship You and You alone.  Jesus, I love You and want to come to You empty-handed and offer my life in complete surrender.'(from Lysa TerKeurst's book, What Happens When Women Say YES to God)

Perhaps I have worshiped the illusion of control/perfection in which I tried to live in during past many years?

If I truly believe (as I claim to believe) that serving God is more about being than doing, perhaps I need to somehow change my focus?

Reframing my identity is particularly difficult in this time of selling our home.  My ability to keep our home clean, organized, and well decorated is "judged" each time our home is shown.  I want to argue  that it is vital that I maintain (control) the perfect image of our home in order to sell it, but in my heart I know God is able to sell any home - messy or clean.

So, I am working on reframing my significance.  Asking myself ALL.THE.TIME if how I am "being" (reacting, speaking, thinking) is pleasing to God.  Trusting that if how I am "being" is pleasing in His sight, I AM significant in His sight.

And really, that is all that matters.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Lovin' His "Ethiopia Clothes"

 One of the promises we made when we adopted Joshua Gebeyehu was to do everything we could to foster a feeling pride in his birth country.  Although we feel so proud of Joshua's Ethiopian heritage, it is sometimes challenging to help a little guy growing up in North Dakota feel connected to the culture of his birth.  (Adoptive friends, I would love suggestions!)

The one things that Joshua loves most about Ethiopia is "Ethiopia clothes!"  He has always felt so special when wearing traditional Ethiopian clothing.  It is really something to see the sparkle in his eyes when he wears his "Ethiopia clothes!"

For many months, we had a problem.  Our little Ethiopian had outgrown all of his Ethiopia clothes!   Thankfully, Kristen came to the rescue!  She brought our Joshua Gubs two super cute outfits which he was very excited to model!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Staking in the House

Chad bought his first tractor.

He is loving it.

I had no idea I married a farmer at heart.
(Except that he is allergic to everything farm related. So, he has had fun playing in the dirt and trees and grass, but he sure feels crummy later!  Dirt work and contracting are definitely a much better fit for him.)

Here he is happily mowing the lot.
Brenna got the first ride in the tractor.  She pulled the "I am the big sister" card.

Notice how Brenna rides in the tractor?
She sits on Chad's lap, happily chatting away, thankful for the captive audience.
Notice how Joshua rides in the tractor?

He grips the steering wheel tightly, paying great attention, and doing his best to drive!

One is not better than the other, but the differences in each of our children make me smile!

After Chad got all the weeds cut down, we could stake in the house.
It was, of course, a family affair!
The BEST thing about having a big family is having many hands to make light work!

Saturday was cool and windy, but no one complained!
Everyone worked hard to find jobs that suited their skills.
After the house was staked in, Chad (and Joshua) began to scrape the sod where the house will be built.

Joshua even fell asleep in the skidsteer while "helping" his daddy.
The rest of us headed home early, but not Joshua!
There is no happier place than on daddy's lap in a piece of equipment!
Chad and Joshua finished scraping the lot.

This week we hope to apply for the building permit and begin to haul in fill.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Our Hunter Girl

 Miss Sierra had a very important document arrive in the mail today.  Her hunter's safety card!

She and Grammy (Chad's mom) took hunter's safety class together, and they both passed with flying colors.  Sierra had such a good time.  She is BEYOND EXCITED to begin hunting this fall.

These next two pictures have nothing to do with hunter's safety.
They are just too cute not to share!

Riley is one lucky dog!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ethiopian Treasures

I am suffering from a terrible case of travelers envy these past few weeks.

"Everyone" has been going to Ethiopia, and although I am so very happy for each traveler, my heart aches to return to Ethiopia in a BIG way.

It is really something odd and unexplainable the way Ethiopia has captured me.  From the very beginning, it has owned a corner of my soul.  I fell in love with the people and traditions during our wait for Joshua.  Becoming the mother of and Ethiopian child forever solidified my love for that land.  I want Joshua Gebeyehu to be proud of his Ethiopian heritage.  We certainly are.

In all honesty, being in Ethiopia was hard for me.  The language barrier is difficult.  The poverty is heart breaking.  Ethiopia smells different, looks different, and sounds different.  Going to Ethiopia was NOT a relaxing vacation, it was an eye-opening, life-altering experience.  Yet if I were to win a free trip to the location of my choice, I would not hesitate but choose Ethiopia.  There is no describing the longing in my soul to return.  It is there.  It is constant.  And some day, God willing, I will return.

In the midst of my longing for Ethiopia, I was blessed BIG today.

My dear friend Kristen just returned from meeting their newest daughter, Ariyat.  (Please cover sweet, beautiful Ariyat in prayer as she waits for her family to return for her.  The process has changed since we adopted Joshua Gubs.  You now travel for court and meet your child.  You then return home, alone.  Breaks my heart to even type it.  I am not sure I am capable of living it.  Kristen and family are currently awaiting clearance from the US Embassy to bring Ariyat home.  Please pray that that clearance is swift, not just for Ariyat's case, but for the cases of so many children waiting for their mommas and daddies to return.)

Anyway, Kristen agreed to act as my personal shopper while in Ethiopia.

Look what she bought me!
 This piece of art is an original done by an Ethiopian artist.  I absolutely love it!

 She also bought me an assortment of beautiful, hand woven scarves and several pieces of jewelery.
Most importantly, according to Chad anyway, she brought us Ethiopian coffee.  10 bags of delicious Ethiopian coffee to be exact.  I am hoping and praying that when this supply of coffee is gone, I will be able to return myself to shop for more!

She also bought Joshua two traditional outfits.  He will happily model them soon.
(He already tried them on, but I did not take photos.)

Thank you, my friend, for bringing Ethiopia to me. 
Drinking Ethiopian coffee, wearing Ethiopian accessories, and gazing at my new Ethiopian art makes me just the tiniest bit less homesick for the beautiful land that has stolen my heart.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Ready Yourself!

At least three times in the last week God has brought the verses of Luke 4:1-12 to my attention.  In scripture, and in life, three seems to be a significant number.  How many times have you heard mothers say, "I am going to count to three and then. . ."  On a couple of different occasions God does basically the same thing in scripture.

So, after reading the passage three times, I decided to really ask God what He wanted me to get from it.

In this portion of scripture, Jesus is being tempted by the Devil.  These temptations are very "in your face!"  Jesus is HUNGRY, he had fasted for 40 days.  (I can't imagine.  I am thinking I will die of starvation after 36 hours!)  The Devil tempts Him with food.  Next the Devil bribes that if Jesus will worship him, Satan will give Jesus "the glory of these kingdoms and the authority over them."  Finally, Satan wants Jesus to jump off the highest point of the Temple to prove that God will save Him.  (Notice 3 tests?!)

Each and every time Jesus is tempted, He answers Satan by quoting scripture.
  1. "You must not live by bread alone" (found first in Deut 8:3)
  2. "You must worship the Lord your God and serve Him only" (found first in Deut 6:13)
  3. "You must not test the Lord your God" (found first in Deut 6:16)
(I highly suggest you pull out your Bible or google this passage as I have greatly summarized it.)

Interesting tale, right?  But what does it have to do with my life, I wondered?  Why is God calling and recalling it to my attention?

As I have been praying about this, the answer seems to be "READY YOURSELF!"

Many times in my life (OK so more like daily) trials come.  During really difficult times, when I am really asking God for help, He has given me a verse to cling to.  Sometimes those verses have "magically" floated into my head at the very moment I have needed them.  Other times they have been sent to me by a treasured friend.  I have received meaningful verses via text, daily Bible aps, devotions, and through listening to Christian radio. 

Some verses I have claimed for a day or two.  Others I have clung to for months and months.  (If you have read my blog for very long you will have seen the evidence of this in my writing.)

Since the first of the year, I have not spent as much time reading scripture.  I have surrounded myself with other Christian materials - music, magazines, books, Bible study groups, etc...  I basically decided that because so many things I have been focusing on are Biblical, I was "in the Word."  However, I have recently realized that as I spend less time reading the Bible, the scripture messages that normally "magically appear" to calm and reassure me are also less consistent. 

I know this is not shocking at all, when I think about it.  The problem is I have been too busy to even think about it.  I am thankful that God takes the time to call things to our attention.  I am thankful that when we miss the first lesson, He loves us enough to repeat - and repeat.

So, I urge you (and me) tonight to spend time in His word.  If you are struggling, ask Him to show you the way.  Seek out scripture to claim in moments of anxiety, joy, confusion, hope, etc...  Check out the back of your Bible, you may have a subject index.  In that index you can look up a topic and verses about that topic will be listed.  And do not forget our friend "google!"  You can google verses about _________ and you will be instantly directed to verses about whatever you wish. 

Then USE those verses.  Write them down and post them in prominent places.  My son, Jamison, loves the verse Philippians 4:13 right now.  He uses it as his signature on his text messages.  He has also used it as the screen saver on out home computer.  Just getting a text from him reminds me of God's promises.

We all know that each day is filled with trials and temptations.  Choosing to "Ready ourselves!" (to arm our hearts and minds with God's word) will get us through each of those trials.

After all, it worked for Jesus.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Work Begins!

We spent the day working at our lot!
Pictured above is the early morning (OK 9:30 am) work crew.  We allowed Jamison to sleep in because he is growing like crazy AND because he works much more happily when rested. 
 This crew was AWESOME!  Everyone worked hard and had great attitudes.

The task of the day was far from glamorous.
We were cleaning up dead trees.

 Sierra says that by the end of the summer we will all be "country strong!"
 I asked the kids to stop working and pause for this photo.  I loved this tree.  Unfortunately, it was too rotten to salvage. 
Notice the shirt? 
He most certainly was Daddy's Little Helper!
He worked hard from 9:30 this morning until 5:30 this evening.
And he LOVED every minute of it!
Outside, helping Daddy is Joshua's favorite place to be!
He is make-me-laugh-cute in this begged for photo.
These girls worked HARD!  They are SMART, too.  This branch was too heavy for them to carry, so they rolled it!
Few things are as fun as being able to ride in a moving trailer!
Here is Daddy cutting up the monster tree!
It did not look like fun!

While Daddy worked on cutting up the monster tree, the kids and I filled the trailer with the branches we could lift. 
They were so fun to work with!  Sierra said, "I just love how I feel when I am working hard, helping my family!"  I could not agree more!
Krissy caught me being silly!
Work is more fun when there is laughter involved, right?!?
Finally Daddy succeeded in sawing through the monster tree. 
Joshua was very excited to ride in Daddy's new Bobcat skidsteer.
Jamison told me that by the end of the day Joshua knew how to turn the skidder on and off, how to steer, and where to plug in a phone or IPod for charging.  Joshua's love for equipment and attention for details never ceases to amaze us!
The trailer was loaded to the top three times today in order to clean up all the dead trees!

It was a good day!

Operation Fox Meadow House has officially begun!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

My Boys

I interrupt the crazed house planning tonight to catch you up on my boys!

I actually scavenged these photos off of text messages and facebook, which makes me laugh.  Somehow they seem "safer" here since I make this blog into a scrapbook every so often.

Last weekend, Chad tagged along on the church youth groups ski trip.  It is amazing how popular as 12 passenger van becomes on trips like this!  It is not usually a particularly cool vehicle!

I was excited for Chad to try skiing.  We are planning a family ski trip over Christmas next year, and I thought he might enjoy a little practice.

I was wrong!

He is smiling in this picture, but in all reality he thought skiing was the most terrifying thing he had ever done!  He says we will eat really well during our family trip because he will spend all his time in the condo cooking!

I do not know if I will like skiing or not, but I am SURE I will like eating during that trip!

 Now THIS was more up Chad's alley!

He totally enjoyed the arcade.
He is proud to report that he beat the game, and it only cost $1.50!

He still has the pro shooter stance.
His dad may not have enjoyed the snow, but Jamison LOVED it!

Look at that air!

I have heard reports that Jay has become a very good snowboarder.
I am looking forward to seeing it with my own eyes!

In addition to video games and ski slopes, many pranks were pulled on this trip.  Jamison loves a joke, so the pranking spirit followed him home.  He has flipped my shower head so I get a shower just by turning on the shower, saran wrapped the girls' toilet, and saran wrapped Sierra's door.  He think it is hilarious. 

My van still bears the mark of one of the kids' pranks.  Written in the dirt on the passenger door are the words, "Get in the van, I have puppies!"  So I have driven my mega momma mobile around all week looking like a creeper.  Good thing I have a decent sense of humor! (But I guess you have to have a bit of a sense of humor to drive a 12 passenger van on a daily basis, right?!?)

We have been working through some day care changes.  I am so thankful for the wonderful time Joshua had at Nicole's house these last two weeks!  Being a working mom is the hardest thing I have ever done, but having friends willing to love my son while I am away makes it so much easier!  Thank you Nicole for giving Joshua a home away from home during this transition.  I am beyond thankful!

***Thank you for praying for us as we plan the house.  By the end of tomorrow we should have every bid in!  We hope to start dirt week within 2 weeks.  We have been in contact with some subcontractors that promise they can work crazy fast.  I am both excited and a bit overwhelmed!  Chad and I work so well together.  I love that.  Thinking through products, budgets, and the many, many details that go with home construction quickly has gone so very smoothly.  Please continue to pray for us!  We may go from holding our completed plan to starting the build in less than a month!  Pray we make wise choices and that the process goes as smooth as the subs are selling!  I am scared to even get my hopes up, but there is a very real chance we will be in our new home before school starts!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Housing Plans

We are in a whirl wind of planning at the Dietrich home.

The sale of our home is currently set to close May 31.

We have purchased a lot on which to build, and we are working hard at finalizing the details of our new house plan.  Chad normally builds commercial properties, however he will act as the general contractor for our home.  So we are submitting the plan to all the subcontractors we hope to use to try and put together a budget.  Chad will do all the site work (any dirt work necessary to prepare the lot for a house) and septic system work himself.  We will subcontract the majority of the concrete.  We will also subcontract the plumbing, heating, framing, sheetrock, taping and texturing, electrical, roofing, carpet laying and siding.  Chad and the kids and I will do the insulating, the concrete driveway, all the staining and lacquering, all the painting, all the trim work, tiling, stone work, and all of the hard flooring.  It will be a busy summer filled with a lot of labor and even more learning!  I am excited for the kids to learn more about construction - which is the industry that feeds them!  I am also thankful for all of Chad's knowledge as it will save us much money!

So... the first thing we need to do is come up with what we want/need/can afford. 

Then the plan gets submitted to the covenant committee for their acceptance of our plan.

Then we get a building permit.

Then we can start working on the house.

(Sometime during that process we also need to get our taxes completed and financing figured out.)

We are really hoping to have all the above items done by the time the ground is thawed and ready for construction.  Which is usually about April 15, but might be earlier this year with our mild winter.

Once the build is started, I need to pack up our current home.  We plan to move all of our belongings into a portable storage unit of one sort or another.  That way we only have to load and unload our stuff once.

We will move our family into 2 campers for the summer.  If everything goes perfectly perfect, we could be in the new home before school starts.  (That would be so miraculously dreamy!)  Most likely we will be in campers from June 1 until Sept 1 - 15 though.

We have one camper currently.  It sleeps 8, but it would be totally miserable to have 8 people in that small of a space for 3 - 4 months.  There is not the possibility of renting short term in Bismarck right now.  So, we will buy a second camper to use for the summer.  We will sell it this fall or next spring.

The good news is we will live expense free for the summer!  The bad news is obvious - 7 people and one dog sharing very little space and a tiny hot water heater!

We will keep Brenna and Joshua in our camper.  Krissy, Jamison, and Sierra will live in the second camper which will be parked right next door.

I am starting to think through the kids' summer activities.  I will be able to work a bit more from "home," but I will continue to have all the responsibilities I currently have at both of my jobs.  I have a few thoughts about how to keep the kids safe, active, and out of trouble through it all, but it is a very incomplete plan at this date.

What do the kids think of all this?  About the same as their momma. . . it will be a big adventurous stretch, but it is really the only option, so we will do our best to have good attitudes!  It is going to be interesting!  NO ONE will forget the summer of 2012, that is for sure!

Luckily, we do not have to move out of our house until the week after school is out.  I am very thankful for the timing!

Needless to say, my brain is going in a million different directions.  (I am not even sure the above summary made sense!) I have to really choose to focus on the decisions that must be made this week and let go of the rest!

So this week, we need to make some 20 year budget decisions.  (No stress there, right?!?)

Deciding what we want/need/can afford will be the task of the week.  It is not an easy task.  I do not want to choose shoddy materials to save a buck today and spend two bucks in a couple years.  I also do not want to overspend to "keep up with the neighbors."

I do not want a big, fancy house.  I do want a home with enough space for our current family plus whoever and whatever God has in store for our future.  I want a home that will be cozy and comfortable for teens, yet safe for toddlers.  I want to be able to fill it with people and not be worried about spills and stains.  I want it to be a place you can sink into, grab your own cup of coffee, and stay a long while.

Chad says we will retire in this house, so I want to build it to last.  I want to love my cabinets, fireplace, and layout for the next 50 years. 

I also do not want to increase our mortgage.

Yeah!  I do not ask for much do I?!?

It is such a unique thing for me to plan a home at this moment in my life.  Stuff has lost a lot of its appeal.  Yet, I recognize that we must build in a way that bows to culture enough that it will be resellable so as not to squander the finances with which we have be entrusted.  It is a complicated puzzle that we are trying to piece together quickly.

I would be so grateful if you would pray for us during this process.  Please pray that we would be wise and unified in our choices.  Pray that we would plan this home in a way that would honor God and the plan and purpose He has for it.  Pray that we would be attracted to what He has for us and repulsed by what the world tells us we deserve or must have.  Lastly, pray for energy and JOY in the moment!  Building is FUN and exciting!  I do not want the pressure to get it started to steal the joy of the moment.

Thanks, my friends!

Anything I could pray about for you?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Sweetness in the Midst of Chaos!

What a week!

The downside of going on vacation is coming home from vacation and trying to catch up.  I always struggle from going to a relaxed state to the pace I need to run in my regular life.

Although I hope to forget much of this week, there were a few moments I hope to hide away!
  • We closed on our lot!
  • We have a completed drawings for our next home!  (Thanks Tasha!  I know the timing was TERRIBLE!)
  • My friend Nicole loved Joshua while I worked, and he had a wonderful time.  He even asked if he could please go back today!
  • And my kids never cease to make me smile!
  • Joshua is totally, completely fascinated by the (miracle) baby in his Auntie Teresa's tummy.  One day this week he asked me how the baby eats.  I explained that when Auntie Teresa eats she shares her food with the baby.  He thought for a while and then replied, "Mom that is G-Ross!  Yucky!  Auntie Teresa chews up the food for the baby?!  That is 'gusting! Him not want chewed up food!"  I tried to interrupt to explain, but he was on a rampage!  He continued, "And then the baby get her germs!  What if she sick? Him gonna get her sick germs!  That not OK get sick germs.  Right mom?!?"  I proceeded to do my very best to explain an umbilical cord.
  • While eating lunch that same day he stopped chewing and asked, "Mommy?  How Auntie Teresa gonna get her baby our of her tummy?"  We had met Chad for lunch, and Chad does not always appreciate my honest answers to our kids' questions. . . I felt Chad take a deep breath and hold it.  I answered Joshua, "The doctor will help get the baby out."  Only when he replied, "Oh, OK!"  did Chad release his breath.  We got off easy that time!
  • Jamison starts track in a couple weeks.  He had been asking me to take him to buy practice shoes and racing spikes all week.  Finally Wednesday night we went to the store on our way to church.  He happily chose his shoes.  (Shoes are most definitely Jay's love language.)  As we pulled up to church we saw Grandpa walking in.  Jay casually mentions, "Oh yeah.  Grandpa said he would buy my track shoes."  I elbowed him and asked why I just burned a hole in my wallet then?  He grinned and said, "I don't know.  I just like it when you buy my stuff."
  • Chad and Jamison (along with the youth group at our church) are on a ski trip in Terry Peak.  Chad has never skied.  We have promised to take the kids on a ski trip in lue of gifts next Christmas.  Krissy loves to ski, and that trip is something we have promised her for years.  Chad thought the youth group ski trip would be a good way to spend some time with Jamison and start practicing for next Christmas.  He called me this afternoon and had me in stitches.  He said that skiing is "the scariest thing he has ever done! You go flying down a steep mountain just hoping not to hit anything.  I get going so fast I have to choose to fall so I do not hit anyone.  It is nuts!"  Krissy and I are really wishing for some video!  (Jay, however, is having a blast!)
  •  As I was getting Joshua to bed last night, he started giggling.  It was a super-secret, super-excited kind of a giggle.  When I asked him what was up he replied, "Daddy is gone!"  I asked what was so exciting about that?  He erupted into giggles again.  When he finally settled down enough to answer he said, "When Daddy is gone, I get to sleep with you!"  He has insisted on sleeping in Daddy's spot, because "it is the boy side!"  And I do not mind my little cuddle partner one bit!  (since Daddy will be home soon that is)
I have to tell you I have a hard time believing that just one week ago I was on a sailboat watching whales swim with my sweetheart.  It was a really, really, really overstuffed week.  But those moments on the beach were worth every minute of overtime this week.  And chaos or not, I would not trade my life for anything!  However, I am trying to take a good look at it because a little less chaos would sure be good. 

Philippians 4:13 (which is Jamison's signature verse) says "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  The question is what am I doing for me and of my strength?  And which things am I doing in and for Christ?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Mahalo (thank you) Hawaii!

Even though we have only been home for a day, it is already hard to believe we were actually in Hawaii.  I would highly recommend it.  It is warm, friendly, relaxing, and beautiful.  Just check out that rainbow! 

I love palm trees.

Have mentioned that the ocean is my very favorite place in the universe?
Wednesday morning we got up early to fly to Honolulu.  It was really important to both of us to visit Pearl Harbor.  My grandfather was a World War II veteran, and Chad's grandfather was stationed in Honolulu during the Korean War.  Seeing where Grandpa Hoff was so many years ago, and coming face to face with a place so important in both our family and US history was really incredible.
This is a view of both the USS Missouri Battleship and the USS Arizona Memorial.  One ship was lost forever, the other served our country in many, many wars from World War II through the Persian Gulf War.
In order to enter the USS Arizona Memorial, you board a ferry.

It is a somber journey approaching the sunken ship.
This memorial sits directly above the USS Arizona.

It breaks my heart to see parts of the ship above the water.  I can not imagine how sad and frustrating it was for the men who tried so hard to rescue their fellow servicemen.  They were so close, yet too far away.

Seeing the oil still dripping from the ship makes the loss real and alive today

This quote cut into my heart.

We often live so selfishly, with no appreciation for all that we have, or the lives that have been lost for our gain.  Standing over a watery grave, it is not so easy to forget.

Being at the memorial was hard.


But hard.
After we left the Memorial, we went to board the USS Missouri Battleship.

That was really cool!
She is a huge and most impressive ship.

The Mighty MO was an important part of all wars from World War II through the Persian Gulf War.  And if needed, she could still be used today!  Can you imagine any other piece of military equipment this adaptable or long lasting?  It blows my mind!
This is the walk way that leads to the USS Missouri.
 It was on the deck of this boat that World War II ended and Japan surrendered.
 Those are some HUGE guns!

We were able to explore all over the ship, inside and out.
It was absolutely fascinating!

 Below deck they had many displays about the wars the Mighty MO served in.  I photographed the display about the Korean War because Chad's Grandpa served in the same fleet as the USS Missouri during that conflict.  He was on a destroyer called the USS Hanson.  He also served on the USS Wiseman.
 Sleeping quarters.

They called them coffins.

I can see why!
 Officer's quarters.

There was a former officer giving his daughter a tour of the ship.  I wish we could have tagged along!  The stories he was telling her about ship life should be recorded.  I so wish we could have a similar tour with Chad's Grandpa.

 When Chad told his Grandpa we were going to Hawaii, he was thrilled to hear we were planning on touring Pearl Harbor.  He also advised us to check out the "Black Cat" on Waikiki Beach.  He confided that he had spent a lot of time in that bar while stationed in Hawaii.

We asked the tour guide about it and were told it was no longer a part of the beach.  We were not surprised but still a bit disappointed.

Imagine our surprise when we saw references to the Black Cat in two different locations near the Battleship!  I guess Grandpa Hoff was not the only one with memories of his time there!

 Those words made me think.

What do I think patriotism is?  Does it have a place in our country today?  Or has it been lost along the way?
 We could not have a beer in honor of Grandpa Great Hoff at the Black Cat, but we did have one on Waikiki Beach!  At a new hot spot called:

Thank you service men, for all you have done to make our life easy.

Thank you to our grandfather's for serving both your county and your family with dignity, honor, courage, and respect.  May we live lives that honor and protect all you sacrificed and warred to protect.

 Our final Hawaiian experience was rather trivial in comparison! 
 We went whale watching!

I am not much of an animal lover, but the whales in Hawaii totally intrigued me.
At this time of the year female whales enter these waters to give birth and mate.
Around 12,000 whales travel through these waters this time of year.

They are everywhere!

You could see them in the horizon splashing or blowing all the time.
I loved it!

I was napping on the beach one day when I heard a big splash.
Really big.
I sat up, and to my utter joy, I watched a whale playing just off shore.
He jumped and splashed putting on the most magnificent show.
It was amazing!

So, I was really, really, really excited to get out on the water and see the whales closer!

 This is a view of the resort we stayed at from the water.

It was a great place.  Chief (our building supplier) always puts us up at wonderful resorts, and this was one of our favorites!  The view from our room was amazing.  The food was delicious.  The staff was both friendly, efficient, and relaxed.  There was a great selection of things to do close by.  It was truly terrific.  (We stayed at the Sheraton on Kanapali Beach in Maui.)
 There they are!  A momma and her baby coming up for air!

 And the famous whale tail!

I took a lot of pictures of the whales, but I will not bore you!  I think they are something you have to see and hear in person to truly appreciate!
 See the white/lighter area in the water?  That is a whale swimming right under our boat.

He parked under the boat and sang his whale song.  We could hear it loud and clear.

I know, you had to be there, but trust me it was marvelous!
 There we are - sitting side by side on a sail boat in Hawaii.

I am so glad I have the evidence to prove it!

I still can not believe that God granted us a "free" trip (OK so we will get 1099ed and have to pay the taxes on it) to Hawaii on the exact day February 29 that we started going together 20 years ago.

For the record, it is not because we deserve it.
No one "deserves" a trip to Hawaii.
We were most certainly not entitled to it any more than anyone else.

It was a gift.
A much appreciated, unbelievably beautiful gift from God.

And guess what?  Our kids did great!  We have been home for 24 hours and they seem terrific.  Not tired, or clingy, or detached, or anything other that our perfectly delightful, completely imperfect children!  What a blessing!  A HUGE thank you to my parents, Chad's mom, Kristen, Sharlene, and Josh for the TLC you provided last week. 

And guess what else?  My Grandma is home!  I am so thankful!

Thank you for praying for my family!