Wednesday, July 22, 2009

And He's Off Again... And So Am I!

Yes folks, after being gone almost the entire month, Jim is preparing to leave again... but this time I get to go with him!

We are on our way to Haiti in two days! Jim and I are taking one other adult and seven youth on our first mission trip overseas together. Previously, I've spent time in Brazil and Jim has been to Asia and Mexico, but we've never been out of the country together (minus our honeymoon to Canada... that's a great story!). We have also never led seven youth out of the country either. This should be an interesting trip!

Why are we going to Haiti? We are going to be ministering along side the people at Heartline Ministries. Their goal is "endeavoring to be the hands of Christ to the people of Haiti", and they strive to achieve this through an orphanage, English camps, and women's programs. Please visit their website here to learn more about their work and how we will be helping.

Our team is leaving July 24 and will return August 4. I'm excited to see how God uses us in Haiti, and pray that we will be able to minister to both the Haitians and the team working tirelessly there!

On a side note, I managed to catch a bug that's been going around at work. Yesterday I was unable to get out of bed in the morning and have spent most of the past two days sleeping. I am hoping to regain my health before we leave, otherwise, the trip might be very interesting!

I appreciate your prayers and support for this trip. We will not have cell phone or email access while down in Haiti, but I will be sure to post about the trip when we return!

Friday, July 17, 2009

And He's Finally Coming Home!

It is very late, and I have to get up in only four short hours for work, but I can not sleep. Jim is coming home tomorrow after a very LONG couple of weeks away and I am ecstatic! I have missed him so much this past month. He is my best friend and better half, and without him here I have felt very incomplete. And lonely, especially as I have not been able to communicate with him for the majority of the time he's been away. In fact, over the course of this past year we have spent over a month apart from each other. I'm pretty certain one of the reasons the idea of marriage was so appealing to me because I thought I wouldn't have to be alone, but here I am.

I've been thinking a lot over the past several weeks about where Jim and I have come in our time together. We met four years ago, in May of 2005. I had just wrapped up my first year at WSU Pullman, and Jim was living and working here. Looking back, it's amazing to us to remember where God had taken us in the six months prior to that first meeting. His plan in working in each of our hearts to prepare us for each other is so evident now. At the beginning of that summer we were both in love with our Savior, growing closer to Him every day, and completely content to be single.

Jim and I met at a Bible study for young adults. He and his friend Jason had been attending previously, but I showed up that night having just moved back from school. Jim and I did not speak much that night. Jason, however, talked my ear off as Jim sat awkwardly beside him. One week later, I arrived home from a trip to Portland to find a strange car parked across the street from my house. It turned out to be Jim and Jason, who were returning a book I had lent a mutual friend. What a lame excuse to sit outside my house for who knows how long! Once again, Jason monopolized the conversation and Jim said almost nothing. I remember thinking both encounters were odd, but thought nothing more about it.

A week later, I found myself alone at church as my family had been out of town for a soccer tournament. Jim came up to me after service and asked me to have lunch with his family. I had grown up with his sister, and knew his parents, so I agreed to go (although I have to admit the motivating factor was a free meal). He forgot to mention to me that it was his mother's 50th birthday until we were walking into Tony Roma's and he asked me to hide his mother's present in my purse. Oops! Thankfully his parents are very gracious people, and I had a great time at lunch.

After lunch, Jim and I went back to church. We ended up spending that afternoon talking about God... what He had been doing in our lives, where we were spiritually. I remember thinking that I had never met a man who loved God as earnestly and knew Him as intimately as this man did. At the end of our conversation, Jim asked for my phone number to use for "carpooling to Bible study". I was gullible enough to believe that line, and I gave him my number.

Not even 12 hours later, Jim called me. And kept calling me. And texting me. I did not have unlimited text messaging that first month, and I remember getting a $250 phone bill for all the text messages he sent! Five days later, he ended up inviting me to a BBQ with his parents, and we had the great "Defining the Relationship" talk afterwards, which began with my very blunt question: "Why do you keep calling me?" And the rest is history.

For me, our relationship did not begin with the big, romantic, falling-head-over-heels-in-love, emotional whirlwind that so many other relationships in the past had. More than anything, I loved sharing my relationship with God with Jim. He not only understood, but shared my passion and zeal for our Savior. I had very precious few people in my life at that point I could share with, especially at home, and I appreciated that I could share openly with Jim about what God was doing in my heart. Over time, I began to understand and appreciate why God had shaped and molded this man's heart and brought it into my life at that exact moment.

So here I am, four years later, having grown to love, appreciate, and respect this wonderful man. During the first month of our relationship, God gave me Colossians 2:2-3 "...that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" I believe with all my heart this is God's purpose for our relationship, and it is amazing to me to look back over the past four years and see clear examples of how this has been achieved in our life together so far. What amazing grace God has shown me, to raise me up of the many messes I made for myself and give me such a beautiful gift!

I love sharing our story with the young women in my life as a testimony to how amazing and wonderful our God is, and my hope for each of them is that they would allow God to refine their hearts and lives so He can prepare the perfect grounding on which to build a solid relationship born of a mutual desire to know Him more fully with the one He has prepared for them.

Jim, I am so privileged to be your wife! I am amazed and awed at what God has accomplished in our hearts and lives so far, and I look forward to where He is taking us. You are an amazing, selfless man who desires everyday to know and serve your Savior more fully. Thank you for listening and responding to the call of God in your life - you make it easy to follow your leadership! God has been far better than I deserve to prepare you for me, and I grow to love and respect you more with each day.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

"Hawaii - Part 2"

As I mentioned in my previous post about our fabulous trip to Hawaii, July is a rough month for us. Jim is gone all but 5 days of the month between mission trips and youth camp, and I am working a lot of extra days in between there. You might ask, how has it been going so far? Somebody told me the other day that "absence makes the heart grow fonder"... but it's making me skinny and exhausted! Yes, my husband is the one who is responsible for making sure I eat and sleep, thus why I've lost five pounds since he left and I'm up blogging at 2:00 AM. I am so thankful for my Jim!

OK, enough with the "downer" part of this blog entry... here's what you really wanted: the rest of our Hawaii pictures. Enjoy!
We visited Waimea Valley, which is a nature preserve you can hike in. I was able to capture a shot of a fascinating creature in his "natural habitat"! Isn't he cute?

We hiked Diamond Head Crater on perhaps the most humid day in Hawaii. Between that, the hot sun, and the billion other sweaty people on the narrow steep trail, it wasn't the most fun time I ever had. The view was spectacular though!

I found another house for Jim and I to live in... we wish! The next pictures are from our trip to Lanakai, rated one of the top 10 beaches in the world. I wish we could have stayed there forever! The water was perfect, the sand felt like powdered sugar beneath our feet, and it was surprisingly not crowded (unlike Waikiki).
I was trying to capture how magnificent the sand was at Lanakai. Instead, I got a great shot of how torn up my feet were from wearing $4.00 sandals from Target the whole trip. Ouch!

I just had to get a picture of these two on the water. Hilarious!

One of the last things we did was head out to Kualoa Ranch for a day of adventure. This ranch is 250-acres of beautiful scenery used as the backdrop for many movies and television shows.

There was a fake horse on the property... which was funny because it was located 50 feet from the real horses you could ride. The Japanese tourists LOVED the fake horse! Jim must have snapped a dozen pictures for people in front of the fake horse. I figured I need a picture in front of the fake horse as well!

Here's us on a catamaran ride around the beach that "Lost" is filmed on. We loved the catamaran ride! The ocean was very choppy that morning, and Jim and I held on to the front of the boat and let the ocean waves spray in our face.

This is a shot of that famous beach! We also couldn't resist getting a picture in front of the catamaran.

We also took an ATV ride around the property. It was beautiful and we had so much fun!

Here's a list of the movies and television shows filmed at the ranch. We thought it was neat to see this setting in person!

We loved our trip to Hawaii, but most of all, we loved the time spent together. Each year we've been together seems to be busier than the last, and we have learned to treasure those uninterrupted times together because they have become fewer and father between. Our time in Hawaii allowed us to reconnect and refresh, and we've decided to continue this tradition in years to come.

Jim and I have experienced a lot in our first 2.5 years. We've been through nursing school, unemployment, financial difficulties, disappointments and heartache. Not only have we survived, we have grown closer and more in love. I could not imagine a better beginning to our marriage. Here's to the rest of our life together!