Sunday, May 27, 2007

In Memory and Thanks

Twice a year, our country as a whole stays home from work to honor those who served for, fought for, and for some, died for, our country: Memorial Day and Veteran's Day . There is no mail, no garbage collection, no summer school. Few businesses are open. We BBQ and go to the beach, relax with family and friends, thankful for an extra day off where we don't have to use vacation time. This is all fine and dandy; I love participating in these events and plan to do so this year, but over the last couple of years, I have endeavored to pause for a moment on these days and remember why I have the day off.

War is controversial topic in our society today and perhaps, it has always been and will be. Should we or shouldn't we? Too much money or not enough money? Expand or decrease the size of our military? Heated debates fill the headlines and our ears during the evening news. And we get tired of it...tired of the same arguments, tired of the constant politcking, just tired of the same old same old...and we stop listening. We stop thinking about the men and women who are overseas fighting for a reason we may not completely understand, we stop thinking about those who are still here in the states, training and preparing, we stop thinking about the young men who turn eighteen and have their name added to the draft list, and we stop thinking about those who have already been through this.

I am 26 years old and have seen two wars, the Gulf War and what is currently going on now, which, in my own ignorance, am not sure if it has been called anything but "what is going on in Iraq". I remember arguments for and against both of these wars and one thing that sticks out in my mind is my dad telling me that no matter what you believe about the war, you HAVE to support the people who are over there fighting. You have to. My dad is a die-hard Patriot. We have several American flags flying in our yard and several others inside our home. My dad hoisted a Britsh flag as well when Tony Blair and the British troops joined our fight against terrorism. I, like most of you, have relatives that fought in past wars: WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. I have friends now who are serving in the Navy, Air Force, and Air Force National Guard.

I had the chance to visit Washington DC about 3 years ago and was able to finally visit all the memorials I had read about in Social Studies and US History. I remember standing in front of the Iwo Jima Memorial reading the names of the soldiers depicted in that sculpture. I recognized one name that I had become familiar with as I helped my friend Lynn write out wedding invitations just a few weeks before. Right then, I called her and asked if she had a relative who had died on Iwo Jima and was in the raising of the flag picture. "Yeah, an uncle, or I guess he was really a great uncle". Rene Gagnon to be exact. Amazing how a personal connection, however, remote, can change your perspective about war.

So this Memorial Day, I challenge you to take a moment to make it personal. Send that friend of yours who is stationed in Iraq an email thanking him or her for serving our country, call up a relative who is a veteran and thank them. Be on the look out for older men wearing baseball caps telling of what war, what service they served in and go up to them and shake their hand. I recently had the opportunity to talk with some Blackhawk pilots who were stationed in Honolulu as my friends and I waited to be seated at a restaurant. When our buzzer went off, we got up and I turned around and thanked them for their service to our country. Well, maybe they thought I was just weird, but I was sadden to see the surprise on their faces when I spoke those words. Maybe, we just don't thank them enough.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Humphrey and Friends

Remember the television show, Reading Rainbow? I distinctly remember this book being read and feeling so sorry for the lost whale.

Now there are two more whales that are stuck, Delta and Dawn. A mom and baby. You can read the article here. The junior high I went to specialized (sorta) in Marine Biology, kind of odd for an Arizonan school, but then maybe that is why all the students were so interested in it. Each year, there was a special trip to California, focusing on marine biology- whale watching, snorkeling at Catalina Island, dissecting fish at Scripps Institute in Long Beach. It was an awesome program. Oh and by the way, there is an amazing IMAX film out there, probably one of the best I've seen.

Makes you want to be a diver and preserve the reefs. Watching things like this are a kinda of like smack on the back of the head, saying "wake up- take the time to appreciate His creation!"- (betcha ya didn't know slaps on the back of the head could talk, huh?). What an awesome, omnipotent, omniscient God we have that can keep track of all of those little organisms and still love, care for, and discipline us. "Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them. Full of splendor and majesty is His work, and His righteousness endures forever." ESV, Psalm 111:2-3

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Hammer Time

So I added 4 Hawaii photos to The Wall. The Wall is my black and white photo collage I am creating with b&w pics from all the places I travel to...

Unfortunately, I couldn't seem to find one of the gazillion hammers I own (well, okay, I own two), so I nailed the little hook things in with a can opener (after trying the screwdriver and the case of CD-RWs...I don't recommend trying the latter).

So, the three people I am appreciating most today: 1) Grady, my pastor, for continually striving to fulfill his role biblically as a pastor and also for opening his heart so that God can speak through him. This past year we have been in the book of Exodus. Grady is preaching through it verse by verse and what I have learned would fill books. Thanks Grady! 2) TimaSue- for her wisdom and when we were in the Polynesian Cultural Center and she tried to say "Fijians" but the dancers from Tahiti were still quite on her mind and it came out "Fahitis" which she then tried to cover by saying "Fajitas". Maybe not funny to y'all, but coming from the perspective of someone who is constantly channeling Yoda, I did appreciate her attempt :). 3) Desiree and David- for being so hospitable and opening up your home for fellowship, fun, and good food. Thanks guys!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Thanks to Josh, who told me about Picasa, you can click the picture below and it will take you to my Hawaii 2007 album. *WARNING*- there are 57 bagillion pictures, and a lot of them are of my friends and me, which most of you probably aren't interested in but I promise there are a lot of scenery pics too, so take a deep breath, get comfy, and enjoy the show...

Oh wait, before you do...if you are interested in a trip to Hawaii, my friend, Anne, owns two condos on the the island of Molokai (between Oahu and Maui). Tima has stayed there before and said it was awesome. You can check it out for yourself here. Okay, now you can enjoy the show!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Just another day in paradise...

Aloha! I am back from my Hawaiian vacation extravaganza. TimaSue, Katrina, and I had so much fun together. I went through 1500 photos and picked out 40...but then realized that was still probably too many for a blog, so I will only post a few and then create an album this weekend, so consider this just a taste of the beauty of Oahu.

TimaSue, me, and Katrina outside of the luau (I ate poi and kaluha pig!) at the Polynesian Cultural CenterWe woke up at 4:30am to drive to Diamondhead Crater in attempt to hike up it to watch the sunrise. Well, we got to the entrance and it didn't open until 6am and sunrise was at 5:54 am. So we hiked it after the sunrise, but the view was still incredible. That's Honolulu and Waikiki Beach at the top.

We went to Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial. I don't think that requires any more description. This is Hanauma Bay. Yes, we went snorkeling in it and we did take underwater photos. They aren't developed yet.

We hiked Manoa Falls. This is one case where even Katrina's ubericiously cool camera (Canon SD800 IS) couldn't capture the awesomeness of this place. Only He could create such intricate beauty.

Once again up at 4:30am to drive up the east side of the island to capture a sunrise over water on our last day.

And we ended our last day with a spectacular sunset. That's Waikiki Beach and Waikiki Marina, respectively.
Remember folks, I have a lot more where this came from, including me climbing a palm tree, the mountains where Jurassic Park was filmed, a Whalfin (half false Orca, half bottlenose dolphin...scientists are mind-boggled), jellyfish, etc. I'll post a link this weekend. Mahalo and Enjoy!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Jana is ENGAGED!!!!

My traveling buddy and super good friend, Jana, is engaged. Yay!!! Scott proposed this afternoon (and she said yes, of course). Jana, I am so very happy for you. :)

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Crawfish Alive!!!!

Well, actually they were alive before I got there. Thank goodness they were already boiled when I arrived otherwise, I would have had some issues. I was already a little first. I eventually managed to twist the body of a boiled crawfish in half and then pull the meat out of the back half of the body with my teeth. How's that for a nasty visual? Tasty, but it works better if you don't look at the crawfish throughout the process. I'm afraid it will blink at me, or wave it's claws.
My friends Paul and Christina hosted this in their celebration of birthdays (Christina and Kristin's 25th, and Ed's) and Kristin's graduation with her Masters in Civil Engineering. Celebrate'n Texas style (well, with some Lousiana influence :) ).


69 pounds of crawfish...this is the first half

Ahhh, don't eat me!

Get in my belly! Oh wait, you don't eat it like this?

Kristin and Debbie, shelling the leftovers for etouffee.

Singing happy birthday to the birthday people

I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house down. Kristin, Ed, Paul, and Christina.

Baby Shower

So there must be something in the water at church (or abundant blessings, whatever you want to call it :) ), but we have had a run of new babies lately. Today was Melissa L.'s shower, she's due at the end of the month. Heather put together a really special shower and Arzella graciously donated her house for all of us to invade.

Mama to be, Melissa, and new mama (last month) Daina

Third time mama (this past March), Collette, and second time mama (in July), Heather, chatting away. Look at the spread the ladies put together. The cake was awesome! Like, quadruple chocolate chocolate.

Invitations I made for the shower

Baby Kai (born March) and Baby Fiona (born April)

The two girls on the left, Corrine and Allyson, are in my Girls Group. Desiree is so awesome (her blog is linked- see Van Essen).

Amy and her daughters Emma and Ellenie. They are moving back to Midland in three weeks :(. We will miss them so much. Hmmm, can you say road trip?

Heather and Mikaela chowing down

This is my buddy, Katherine. I took her and her big sister Sarah to Build a Bear awhile ago and they helped me build a bear (Morris Alexander). They also got to pick out an outfit for their bears, since it was near their birthdays. I take Morris over there to play with Lily the Flamingo (Katherine is a die-hard flamingo fan...she can even do a flamingo walk!)

Becky, Brenda, Mrs. Mudd, and Irma, trading stories

I just love this group of ladies (and the rest that couldn't make it too, of course!). I am so blessed to attend a church where I can honestly call these people my family.

Friday, May 4, 2007

The Importance of Being...

Freedom!!!! In the words of Mel Gibson (representing my namesake of course), I am no longer confined to my cubby hole of a kitchen, wedged between my miniscule pantry and my refridgerator, dishonestly "borrowing" internet service from some kind soul know only to me as "linksys". I am now a bonefied patron of Time Warner Cable (just the internet...I still refuse to buy cable).

So this evening I had the pleasure of attending a production of "The Importance of Being Earnest" featuring two of my friends' siblings, Scott and Shelley.

I had read the play back in high school but forgot how completely hilarious it is! So clever, so insulting. The witty reparte is Gilmore-esqe...strangely so...anyways, I enjoyed it enormously and am always constantly amazed at the stellar job God did at creating our brains. Storing huge amounts of data (scripts to a play, attitude determination info, etc), it never ceases to astound me what it can store (although I think mine would be much better off without the lyrics to "Ice Ice Baby" and the oodles of Greek letters that one learns when math DOESN'T use numbers anymore). I am still diligently working on my scripture memory to replace (or at least rewire) some of my wasted brain space. 2 Cor 5:21 " For our sake, he made him to be sin, who knew no sin, that through him we might become t he righteousness of God". My next one is 1 Cor 15:3-4...I'm not going to type it...go look it up....that's all folks!