Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A dream is a wish your heart makes...

Dear Readers,   I cannot even begin to write the joy I am feeling right now. Or the joy that surrounded me yesterday afternoon at United Cerebral Palsy. Or the joy and giggles of little children trying on their costumes two weeks ago. There is a LOT of joy involved as special needs kids, who have never before been given the chance to dance, swing their arms and point their toes as their dreams come true. 
    About a month ago, Benjamin, Mason, and I were at a mentor meeting for the Ballet Academy of Arizona's fall production of Cinderella, when Benjamin announced that I had always dreamed of being Cinderella. So, my dream came true!! But I have to say-- I was a bit nervous. I mean, how could I help all these precious kids with special needs if  I was dancing as Cinderella?  This week, I got the answer. And oh my goodness, I don't know if God has ever answered one of my prayers as beautifully.
   Yesterday, there were two twin girls  practicing at UCP. There were 23 years old, and have been wanting to dance since they were six years old. But no one had given them the chance. So, as I went up to tell them how beautifully they had danced, their mom said "Did you hear that? Cinderella is telling you how good you did!"  And later, they kept telling my mom that Cinderella's coach broke down. (We had had a flat tire on the way!) 
   On practice Saturday, there is one sweet little girl in a power wheelchair who I was helping. Mid-way through our bibbity bobbity boo dance, she looked up at me and said "You are going to look beautiful in your blue dress."  And, if you aren't already crying, yesterday one boy with Down Syndrome cupped my face in his hands and said "Good luck, Cinderella."
   Can you see how, by my dream coming true, I'm able to even better help theirs come true? It's beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. I never imagined being Cinderella would come with so many blessings.
    I hate that it's taken so long for those twins to find a place where they can dance, it breaks my heart that these little girls have watched their friends perform for years,  and I hate how ignorant people are. But while we dance, it's not about that.
   It's about the fact that these girls are giddy with excitement to put on makeup, to wear sparkly tutus, and, even if they never leave their wheelchair,  to dance their hearts out. 
   God is working miracles. I can feel Him in there with us.  It's just so amazing; I feel like this blog post is entirely inadequate and lame. 
     A man at ballet practice said "I love it when dreams come true".  And that statement really does capture what's going on- everyone involved dreams are coming true, and I am so blessed to be there when they do.
  So come watch! Cinderella will be at the Herberger Theatre, October 8. There will be a performance at 2:00 and one at 5:00.  It will be unlike anything you've ever seen, I promise. And you will likely leave with joyful tears running down your face. In fact, you will feel like you've just been the one blessed!!
    Your Blogger,
 Cinderella  :)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

We are soiled, yet saved

My dear Readers,
  My mom recently allowed me to read "Redeeming Love" by Francine Rivers. It is a fictionalized version of the book of Hosea, told in the story of Michael Hosea, who was told by God to marry Angel, a soiled dove. Wow- what an amazing book! I studied Hosea while I read, and it really made the words come alive.
   For any of you who have read neither, the book of Hosea (found in the Old Testament)  starts out with God commanding a prophet, Hosea, to marry a prostitute- Gomer. Imagine hearing that from the Lord! Hosea must have been shocked and in doubt. And yet, God had a beautiful plan. He used this to show how the people of Israel had prostituted their love out to man-made 'gods'. And through this story, we can look at ourselves as Israel- God is constantly calling out to us, and yet we don't answer. He sent His son down for us- we had Him crucified. We sell ourselves to lust, bitterness, hatred, and depression. We are so busy with our own messed up lives, we can't let God in. And yet, He says "I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them. I will be like a dew to Israel; he will blossom like a lily." (Hosea 14:4-5)
  If we would just turn to God, He could get our lives straightened out!  And God feels that way toward Israel after this all has happened-"...They practice deceit, thieves break into houses, bandits rob in the streets, but they do not realize that I remember all their evil deeds. Their sins engulf them, they are always before me." (Hosea 7:1-2)   
 "I trained them and strengthened them, but they plot evil against me. They do not return the the Most High; they are like a faulty blow. Their leaders will fall by the sword because of their insolent words. For this they will be ridiculed in the land of Egypt." (Hosea 7:15-16)

   And He still loves them. He still loves US. He says "How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I treat you like Admah? How can I make you like Zeboliim? My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused. I will not carry out my fierce anger, nor will I turn and devastate Ephraim.  For I am God, and not man- the Holy One among you. I will not come in wrath." (Hosea 11:8-9)

  That is beautiful. Every time we do something wrong, God still loves us. He will always love us, no matter how many times we return to the bed of the adulteress. And He does not love as humans love. His love is an unfailing, eternal love.
   In the book "Redeeming Love", there is another message. Every where Angel goes, she is persecuted. Everyone assumes she is still soiled, even though Michael's love, God's love, has made her clean. She feels she has to be a prostitute forever because no one is letting her change- she doesn't deserve to change.  And that has a whole blog post right there, but I'm going to go ahead and address it.  If every time someone makes a decision to change- whether it's leaving prostitution or choosing to obey your elders-, we continue to see the ugly, black marks of sin on their foreheads, then, chances are- they won't stay changed very long! Our sins are just as bad as their sins, and we should support and love them, as Jesus would. He gave us the task to love one another- so let's start living it.
   No matter how strongly opposed you are to divorce, abortion, homosexuality, etc, you can't hate every single person you know who's done that.  My mom phrases it this way- "Love the sinner, hate the sin".
 We are all sinners saved by Grace, and one of us is no better or worse than the other. So let's start striving to be more Christ-like. Let's show the world how much God loves them, and that He will come back for each little lost lamb- no matter how many times they stray. Your Blogger,

  P.S.- Many children today are sold into the sex trade because their parents are too poor to feed them.  After reading this book, I realize the horrors of prostitution. Little girls are scarred and abused, left hurting forever.  No one should have to endure this.  Here is a link talking about children forced into prostitution around the world and ways you can help. link   Pray for these dear ones whose lives are a nightmare! And next time you want to judge someone- don't. You never know what kind of things put them in the circumstances they are today in. Instead, show them the Bright Morning Star and the love He has for them!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Some much needed Ohana time

Dear Readers,
  I have been a little delayed in making this post because our computer is on it's last leg, and could not hold all 700 something pictures I took in Hawaii. So, I apologize. But here is a picture post (well, I'm going to TRY to make a picture post- I always end up talking a lot!) about our trip to Hawaii.
  We had a wonderful time. It was lovely to relax, just be together as a family before school starts up again. Island time will cure whatever ails you!
Of course we had to get some ukuleles...

Dad loves this tree--I believe it is called the monkey paw

I painted my nails sparkly pink just for this picture!!

Cate was the perfect little surfer girl

Everyone always comes back with hang loose pictures from Hawaii...no, not us! We came home with 'yellow' pictures!! (hang loose is yellow in American Sign Language)

We actually got to swim with a sea turtle! Someone had spotted one, so I went under to look for him--and he was right next to us! A minute later he popped his head up to say hello. Absolutely precious.

Cate got this  American Girl book about Kanani, a girl living in Hawaii for the airplane-it was so sweet!

  When we arrived at the airport, we found waiting for us one of Miss Trish's friends, arms full of leis and goodies for us. It was such a sweet welcome to the island, and made us all feel like Miss.Trish was there with us.

We all were thrilled with the leis, but for Cate it was a dream come true! (ok, and for her sister,too!)

Our view...ahh...

We went on an accessible hike to Waimea falls. It was breath taking!  There were peacocks along the trail, beautiful flora, and a lovely creek we get to stick our feet in!  (pictured above)  The waterfall was gorgeous, and had a 'water hole' at the bottom. It was thirty feet deep and freezing cold!! Cate and I went in with some friends for a swim. The current was so strong you really couldn't touch the waterfall. It was exhilarating! I'm referring to the experience as my tropical little house experience, because in one of the Little House books there is a water hole much like this one. Of course, that one was minus the peacocks!

 We ate at a Japanese restaurant called "Beni Hana", where they cook your meal right in front of you- in fact, the table is the grill!

It was absolutely delicious and amazing to watch the chef flip and turn our shrimp! He even formed the rice into a heart.
Pearl Harbor. A must for sightseeing, but emotionally exhausting. It made all the books I've read come to life. Especially the one I was in the middle of  at the time, "Unbroken". (A must read for everyone! Absolutely incredible true story.) In the picture above, there are faces of people who were there. One is of an African- American man, Doris Miller, who worked the mess hall. On December 7, he took a gun and shot at several of the Japanese planes, having no training whatsoever in this. He was later awarded the Navy Cross, although many wanted him to have the medal of honor. He was not allowed, however, to have to medal of honor, because he was African-American. Wow, that made me mad. I often wish I lived 'back in the day', because I love old fashioned things. But I have to tell you-- if I were living back then, I would not have done too well. Because those prejudiced, racist incidents outrage me! And now, even though it still exists, at least the government doesn't do those kind of things any more. So, maybe God knew what He was doing when He put me in the 2000s. :) 
One thing I was very disappointed in was the fact that there wasn't any kind of memorial on site for the code talkers. They saved the war for us, and yet there was nothing there commemorating them! Pearl Harbor was their training base. They could have done something very cool with that. Oh, well.
Hawaiian quilting is an art of its own- and beautiful!

We had a delicious time at the Dole (whip) plantation!
God's promise..the symbol of this beautiful state!

We had one day where the girls took lei making and hula dancing classes. It was so much fun to have girl time, and to learn two new skills! We have decided to start welcoming people to our home with home-made leis..hehe...     And then of course, there was the beach. Cate was born to surf, and had the best time. And my favorite part of the beach was swimming with the sea turtle, although just laying out and reading was fun,too. We paddle boarded at the lagoon, and that was a lot harder than it looks! It was a lot of fun, and Mom, Cate, and I both got to where we could do it standing up!  And Benjamin braved the board, as well.  

She really IS a mermaid!

Waiting for hula class--signing the popular misconception for hang loose.:)

The amazing sand castle! Made without buckets, aren't Mommy and Cate so very talented?

And she stands!

There was a mirror in the ceiling-so this is my camera looking up at it and down at me! haha

I wonder who got a hold of my camera???
Trying out some Hawaiian instruments at the Luau!

oh we're going to the huki,huki,huki,huki huki lau!
When we took a second hula class after the luau, Mason joined in. But the CD player broke. So...I volunteered him to sing for the group! He and Mom were amazing, and the dance instructor was forever in debt. (umm...actually, that would be me! haha he'll never forgive me for that) 
Swinging on the giant Banyan tree was one of the funnest things. We walked away with blistered hands, but it was completely worth it for those few seconds of careless abandon in the wind. The best part, though, to me, was that I was on a beautiful, awe inspiring swing set- made for me by my Father.

My all time favorite king!

Our family, at our last breakfast. I love these people so much my heart could burst! Thank y'all for an amazing time.
Aloha, Hawaii. Thank you for the beautiful memories. Promise me that you'll stay yellow.
Your Blogger,