Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas Day 2008


Another incredible day!!! I love celebrating the birth of Jesus with our friends, Okinawa style!! Living out of the United States affords us the opportunity to spend Christmas doing stuff we may not usually do in the states. We started our day chatting with some family and friends in the states. I listened in on the conversation Bill had with our God-child, Jake, and it brought me to tears, as usual. Jake was explaining, I learned later, that the families’ new van had a gaming system in it. He seemed to be more excited about that than the presents he received for Christmas.


Then we joined the Sutton family for Christmas brunch at the Butler O’ Club. Where else can you enjoy brunch on Christmas day? Since I nor Jennifer are known for our kitchen skills this was great for us!! We all got to enjoy whatever foods we wanted, visited in between bites and we didn’t have to do a single dish!!! We love that!!! After our Christmas tree photo ops we were off to visit with the Hanson family. I wish I would have taken pictures of the twins in their Christmas jammies – the polka dot number was way too cute!!!!


Then we made our way home so I could make Old Fashion Wassail, do the dishes, catch up on Facebook and feed Socks!!! Doing the dishes on Christmas day was not my highlight but a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do!!! Once our festive drink was ready for consumption we headed to the Bales home for dinner. I was so caught up in the moment that I didn’t take pictures here, either – ugh!!! The good news is that I have the wonderful memories of fabulous food, fun and fellowship. We were blessed by friends of the Bales who sang several Christmas songs for us after dinner – they were just four of the 28 guests that enjoyed a sit-down meal organized by Melanie. She sure is the hostess with the mostess!! I seem to be very blessed by having friends who love to cook and host gatherings that I get invited to!!! Praise God for those who are not kitchen-challenged or I’d starve to death!


Merry Christmas!!!!

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Great Christmas Eve - Wednesday, December 24th, 2008




I have to say this is one of my favorite Christmas Eves that I can remember! I have had an AWESOME day and I feel blessed by the friends God has given me here while I’m in Okinawa. Great relationships can make any duty station bearable and I have met some gems on this island who made today a special day for me!!! My day started out snuggly warm after my hubs figured out that we really do have heat in our off-base home. This might not seem like a big deal since we live on a tropical island but it gets down right cold in the Courtney area, especially since we live close to the water. Since I didn’t have to thaw myself out this morning I hit the ground running.

I spent a small portion of my morning with Kristen and her two, adorable kids. You have just gotta meet Owen (AKA the big “O”) and Allison. Owen loves baseball and Allison has the best wardrobe staff in town. Check out my blog soon for Christmas updates to see these two cutie pies. We were able to visit with a few ladies about PWOC who are new on-island at the newcomer’s brief. Yeah – new friends to invite to lunch and grow in the Lord together!!! Then I headed back home to my least favorite place on-island: the commissary. Can you believe I stepped foot in that place on Christmas Eve – what was I thinking??? What I wasn’t thinking was that the ingredients for Old Fashion Wassail do not grow in my fridge or cupboards and the items needed to be purchased before said store closed. So off I went and I was able to find everything I needed. Hear my heart: I don’t hate the Courtney commissary due to any fault of it’s own. I hate grocery shopping in general which adds to my distaste in cooking. Another blog brewing out of that comment!!!!




After I survived the commissary I returned home to hang out with my faithful companion, Socks, and listen to more Christmas music. Can you ever tire of hearing Reba sing “Mary, Did You Know?” or Amy Grant sing “Breath of Heaven”? I was so inspired that I finally dragged myself out of the blogging rut I was in and updated my blog – check it out and enjoy the cool Christmas tunes I have waiting there for your listening enjoyment!!! Thanks, Kristen, for making me look so smart by teaching me how to add music to my blog – great to have smart friends in my circle!!!

The real fun began at Torii Chapel tonight as we joined many military families celebrating the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ. We spent most of the Christmas eve service singing Christmas hymns in the Army’s beautiful chapel. I love to praise and worship amongst friends and this night was perfect for celebrating the best Christmas gift ever given!!!


We continued our fun night celebrating with the Hanson family over dinner. Our original plan was to meet John , Mindy and friends at a local Japanese place for dinner. The problem was when we got there they were no longer serving food, just desserts. This is one of those quirky things that happens on Okinawa that you never get use to!!! I have nothing against desserts, as most of you know, but we were all hungry for food and not sweets. So we moved to plan “B”: Jack’s Place on Kadena. We closed out our evening over plates of food, smothered in garlic and endless conversation and a ton of Christmas pictures by the Christmas tree!!! I almost cried tonight as I was hugging Toni goodbye – I was thinking how blessed I am for God to continue to bring the most incredible people into my life. Though it’s hard to spend special occasions away from “home” God softened the blow with great new memories I can blog about!!! Merry Christmas!!!!


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy 233rd Birthday Marines!

I'm really late in posting this occasion but I figured better late than never. These are the photos taken at both Marine Corps Balls we attended this year - November 2008!!! This is my favorite picture of us. It's rare that the two of us are smiling in the same photo so this one will go down in history as one of my favorites!!!

Bill and Buster, his faithful golf partner!!!! These two must go to the same tailor and barber!!!
Brad and Shannon Hawkins are a couple we hang out with almost every Saturday. We drag a few other people along and try new restaurants in the area. The Hawkins celebrated their first year of marriage December 22nd - Congratulations!!!
Ginger is a friend I met through the Protestant Women of the Chapel (PWOC) and both our husbands work in the Courtney area!!! Ginger is also the mastermind behind Memory Women - that's another blog for another time!!!!!
I've decided since Bill gets to wear a uniform that I would start a new tradition of "wearing" my Marine Corps ball uniform. I had this jacket made in Okinawa the last time we were stationed here!!! With different pieces of jewelry it almost looks like a whole new outfit, right?

The Marine Corps Ball is never complete without the traditional ceremony that includes the cutting of the cake. Bill had the honor of being the oldest Marine at our Company Ball this year. The tradition is for the oldest Marine to pass down the hard-fought traditions of the Marine Corps to the youngest Marine in attendance. This is done by cutting and passing down a piece of the cake. Though Bill was not technically the oldest Marine in attendance he was the oldest one that wasn't a guest or the guest of honor. If Bill is the oldest Marine than what does that make his wife - the oldest Marine Corps wife? UGH!!!! Regardless, I love the many traditions the Marine Corps fights hard to foster and I always get teary eyed during every ceremony!!!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

OIWC Culture Group October Gathering

I have the great honor of being part of a fabulous organization called the Okinawa International Women's Club or OIWC. I was a member of this same organization during our first tour in Okinawa back in 1998 and was so excited to get plugged in again once we returned. I am so excited to share this organization with you and my fun, new, Japanese friends! OIWC has been around for 55 years. Our club is made up of women from all over the world who gather at monthly events to promote friendship and cultural exchange while at the same time raising funds and awareness for different charities all over the Pacific realm.

My favorite part of OIWC is the smaller extensions of the main membership that we call Culture Groups. This small group provides a personal setting for learning about and sharing the many cultures that are on Okinawa. We hosted our first Culture Group gathering at my home in October and we wanted to share our culture's tradition of Halloween. We started with carving pumpkins and had a blast.


Candice is a Navy wife who is one of the members of our culture group on the American side. She lives near me in the Courtney area and we actually met on-line through a great blog for people who live on Okinawa. Her pride and joy comes in the package of a 2 year old bundle of pink energy named Jordan.



Candice jumped right in to help our guests start the carving process. We thought it would be best to carve our works of pumpkin art out on one of our balconies for easier clean-up and for the great breeze that cooled us down during our activity.








Mikako really got into the artsy part of our activity. She was very precise in her drawing and carving and the end result was great!! The pictures do not do her pumpkin justice. She is a mom to teenagers and is a member on the Japanese side.


Before we got started we thought enough in advance to wardrobe
each of our guests with one of many aprons. We knew they would dress nicely for our gathering and they thought we were very thougthful to take in account the mess we would create. I love how the pictures show how cute they each look in our various aprons. And yes, for you skeptics who know me well, I actually donated 4 aprons. You don't have to use them to own them!!! I also thought it would be a good idea to have some pumpkin seeds already baked so they could sample them. They loved the idea and each lady went home with a baggie of their own seeds to bake!!!


I was busy cleaning up seeds, pumpkin guts and keeping an eye on the lunch we were preparing but I did make time to get a little slimy and carve some of the insides out!!!!


Kyoko seemed to really enjoy the carving process and did a great job of copying the example we had for them to see. Bill had carved a sample pumpkin and I forgot to take a picture of it. We also learned the lesson of how important timing is when carving a pumpkin on a tropical island. He carved said pumpkin on Wednesday night and it started to rot on Friday morning. My happy pumpkin turned angry and put off a yucky smell. We won't forget that little piece of info for next year!!!


Our Japanese guests really got into their projects and insisted we take pictures together. Candice actually helped two of our ladies since I was running around like a pumpkin without a lid!!! She is pictured with Setsuko who is a very proud grandmother and speaks great English. We are so blessed that they speak far better English than we speak Japanese!



Jennifer is a friend of mine that I met in 29 Palms a few years ago through our husbands who worked together!! Her family, Steve and their two sons, moved to Okinawa a couple of months after us. Jenn assisted Eriko with her pumpkin. Eriko is the youngest Japanese member and has only been married 4 years. She spent 7 years in Ohio so now we affectionately refer to her as Miss Ohio. She is very humble in regards to her ability to speak English and is very excited to be speaking more English now that she is a member of OIWC.


This group photo only has 6 of the 8 members on the Japanese side and I love how great they look in our aprons. Their pumpkins turned out great and they seemed to have had a good time.

From Left to right: Mustuko, Mikako, Kimie, Setsuko, Kyoko and Eriko.

We worked up a huge appetite so we moved our festivities inside to eat lunch. I got my hands on a yummy recipe that is easy to prepare and feeds a lot of people. Lara White shared her Chicken & Sausage Chili recipe with me a few years ago and it has been a hit!!!! Of course, no American lunch is complete without the perfect dessert. Jenn brought the Scary Dessert for us all to share. You create this graveyard ensemble with chocolate or vanilla pudding and crumbled cookies. Then you decorate the cookie tombs with your favorite names and add the gummy worms for effect. Needless to say, it was a hit!!! We also had a wonderful strawberry cake that Candice made but I forgot to take a picture of that, too!!! What was I busy doing??





In addition to sending our guests home with their carved pumpkins and seeds, we wanted them to have a little candy goodie, too!!! They seemed to like the homemade
tag more than what was inside!!!! It's fun to watch their faces as we presented each one with a gift!!!!



It is very traditional for the Japanese to bring a gift for the hostess. I received this beautiful pottery set from their group. It was explained to me that you can use it for sake or as a vase for a small flower. There is a small ball inside that makes it sound somewhat like a bell but the explanation for that got lost in translation. I think the tiny cups are perfect and I'm excited to have another great item that will always remind me of Okinawa!!!


I think it's safe to say "fun was had by all"!!!!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

God bless America

As I read a friend’s blog today I was listening to her playlist. A familiar song came on by one of my favorite Christian singers, Nichole Nordeman. The song is titled “I am” and she is singing to God at different stages in her life. The chorus is “When I was weak, unable to speak, still I could call you by name.” As a child, she called Him Elbow-healer, Superhero. As a teenager she called Him Heartache- healer and Secret-keeper. As a newlywed she called him Shepherd, Savior, Pasture-maker. And at the end of the song she calls Him Creator, Maker, Life-sustainer; Comforter and my Redeemer!!!! It’s a great song– please check it out and listen closely.

My point is that I have always found comfort in this song and today it especially holds great truth for me as our new President-elect was announced. I did not vote for Obama and yet I’m reminded, by Nichole’s words, that God is our Superhero, Savior, Comforter and Redeemer and no matter who sits in the "office" we stand on the knowledge that only God sits on the throne!!! I've been quoting my friend, Kristen, all day, to many of my friends because they are devastated!!! I don’t want to be devastated, I want to move from "What happened?" to "What do we do now?" I believe now we pray for our new leaders, trust God, focus on the TRUTH and not our circumstances and praise His name!!!! I want to “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)

Reading blogs has been filling a lot of my time these past few months and I have several friends who have great and encouraging blogs. My friend, Kathryn, has a very inspiring blog and I copied some of what she had to say this morning, before all the votes were tallied. I pray you will find comfort in her words. To see her entire post check out http://purewells.blogspot.com

Beloved, I am unwavering in my belief of God's Truth. I firmly believe that "Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD ..." (Psalm 33:12). I also am sure of Isaiah 60:12: " ... the nation that will not serve You will perish; it will be utterly ruined.

"Much rhetoric is flying, as always during an election year. Much is being said. Much is being promised. Much change is forecast. Words fly according to the way the political winds blow. Foundations sway. Sands shift beneath the surface of well-polished and carefully crafted appearances.

There is only one thing that is sure. There is only One person in whom Truth, Light, and Life are absolute (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8). There is only one way that I can vote today, and that is according to the principles and commands of God's Holy Word. I resolve to honor the sanctity of His created life. I resolve to uphold marriage as He designed it. I resolve to support His people, Israel.No human leader will perfectly fulfill all the duties and responsibilities, but, to effectively govern with Divine justice and righteousness, one must have the Lord Jesus Christ as the cornerstone of the administration. I resolve to cast my vote for the person who best represents God's heart and best meets His criteria. As a Christian, I must be so resolved, for one day, I will stand before my Judge, Who will hold me accountable for choices made within my knowledge of Him.

I cannot presume to assume what will transpire in the days, weeks, and months ahead, but I do know this:God is sovereign.God is just.God is righteous.And, one day soon, Jesus Christ will return to visibly rule His kingdom.Come, Lord Jesus, come!

Precious Father, thank You for the gift of this day! Thank You for the blessing and privilege of serving as salt and light in a bland and blind world. Thank You for Your promise in Isaiah 11; how I long for its fulfillment! May Your will be done today, oh Holy God, on earth as it is in heaven (see Matthew 6:9-13). I pray in the name of Jesus Christ--Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Amen.


I want to be unwavering and not devastated. Another truth that gives me hope is that I was born in a free country where I am able to freely say what I want, vote the way I want and praise God’s Holy Name because of that freedom. That has not changed! Praise God for the men and women who sacrifice so much for those freedoms!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

J is for Joy

I have had the privilege of praying for a long-time friend. She asked me, recently, to pray for her for the next 20 days. Her desire was to draw near to God, spend some serious time in prayer and reading His Word. We are in day 11 or 12, depending on what side of the world you are on, and God has used her to work in me. I made a commitment to pray for her daily and I wanted to send her some encouragement via e-mail. The greatest challenge is that I have no other info other than what you have read. So without specifics I really have to rely on God to use me. Imagine that! I pray everyday for her and God has revealed some fun and some not-so-fun stuff to me - today was one of those days.

I had e-mailed her one day to say this journey was like riding in a car with her without knowing our destination and I have no idea where we have been. I wouldn't say that I usually travel this way so it really has been a journey of faith and it's been a blast. God has connected us through her 20 day journey and grown me through it!!!

Today's encouraging e-mail was a little different and I feel led to share it with you. Below is the e-mail I sent her with the devotion, at the bottom, that I received today. The devotion really touched me and God used it to remind me of several things. Please note that the specific scenerio in the devotion doesn't apply to my friend - it's the message that touched me the most. I think we could all use this reminder as we live life out here on earth.

E-mail I sent:

Dear Friend - I am having an interesting week. I say interesting because it's hard to describe. Nothing really major or life-changing has happened, just what I call the dippy-dailies. The normal stuff that happens on a daily basis that can drive a girl in sane. I could narrow it down to dealing with difficult people and living on Okinawa. I normally love to hang out with people, and I still do, but some people can really irritate me. And living on Okinawa magnifies my emotions, thoughts and frustrations. I love it here, it just presents some challenges. This is the kind of week that I am exhausted by the end of. Then I had a thought and prayed to God that I would love His people as He does and I would be content where He has placed me. Then I read this scripture and it changed my focus.

'Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.' Psalm 139:23 & 24 (NIV)

I attended a Beth Moore conference back in April and she spoke on Psalm 139 so this was a great refresher. This ties into the chapter in Blackaby's study 'Hearing God's Voice' that I just read. The chapter covers how God speaks to us through our circumstances and then I read the devotion below and I was convicted.

My two favorite verses from this devotion remind me where my strength and help comes from. Then I ask myself, Am I relying on Him and giving thanks despite my circumstances? My answer today is NO!!!! I'm allowing Satan to steal my joy. The good news is 'my joy is not defined by my circumstances but based on my relationship to God.'

'The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song' (Ps 28:7).

Nehemiah 8:10b, 'Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength' (NIV)

I am praying for you as you draw near to your Heavenly Father, that you too are reminded who is your strength and your shield. I pray your heart leaps for joy and that you will give thanks to him in song today!!! I love you tons, Sis!!!! Larissa

October 29, 2008

Keeping Our Joy

Micca Monda Campbell

'The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.' John 10:10 (NIV)

Devotion:

She waited until I had spoken to every woman in line. Once the room was empty, the woman timidly made her way toward me. Before she spoke a word, I could see and sense her grief. Her face was marked with depression and her shoulders hung low from the burden that she carried. With quivering lips and tear-filled eyes, she spoke words no mother wants to hear coming from her own lips.

'Please pray for my fifteen-year-old daughter. She's pregnant.'

This godly woman has loved and served God in her home, church, and community for years. Now, she does nothing. Ashamed, she blames herself for her child's choices, and because of them, considers herself unworthy to serve. Not only has this woman allowed her situation to steal her peace and joy, but her service too.

Many Christians fall into this same trap. They allow the enemy to rob them of their peace, steal their joy, and kill their witness over situations beyond their control.

It's true. Satan has always been a tempter, but where he catches us off guard is by thinking he tempts us to do bad things. Our flesh mostly takes care of that job. The fact is Satan tempts us in order to lose what God has given us.

If Satan can rob our joy and steal our witness, then he makes us useless in the kingdom of God. Just like this mother, we become unproductive when our faith is stripped by unexpected heartbreak. Nevertheless, you and I must not let Satan use our circumstances to steal our joy.
That sounds good, but how do we find true joy in midst of heartache?

We find it by depending on the Lord. David reminds us, 'The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song' (Ps 28:7).

First, David believed God heard his cries. Second, he relied on God's provision and strength. Third, David trusted in God's help with all of his heart. This kept him from growing weak, losing heart, and giving up. Finally, because David believed God was for him, in him, with him, and behind him one hundred percent, David was able to give thanks with a joyful heart.

Like David and this mother I spoke with, we will experience situations that can steal our joy and leave us feeling unworthy to serve. To think this way is to see ourselves outside of God's grace. You and I don't serve God because we are good enough. We serve God because He's good enough. It's His perfection working through our imperfections.

By the same token, our joy is not defined by our circumstances. It's based on our relationship with God who, in due time, will bring us out of our present situation.

Exercising faith in God - not circumstances - aids the discouraged heart so that Satan cannot steal our joy or our purpose.

Dear Lord, Today I refuse to let Satan steal my joy. I long for the fullness of life that You have given me. As I trust You in my present situation, I also trust You to restore my peace and joy. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?
Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner by Wendy Blight, pre-order yours today!
Hope in the Midst of Depression by Mary Southerland
Visit Micca Campbell's blog

Application Steps:
Using David as an example, follow his steps found in Psalm 28:7 ...
1. Cry out to God.
2. Rely on His provision and strength.
3. Believe in and wait on His help.
4. Praise Him with a joyful heart.

Reflections:
Has Satan stolen your joy?
How has this affected your witness; your life; and your service to the kingdom?
Power Verses:
Nehemiah 8:10b, 'Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength' (NIV)
Ps 27:6, 'Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord' (NIV)

© 2008 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G, Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.proverbs31.org

Monday, October 27, 2008

Lessons From God: Don't Panic

Today I was reminded how much God loves me and the precious people in my life. He also reminded me how much the same precious people love me. I had a meltdown this morning after reading a prayer request that came in via e-mail. My sweet friend, Jill, had fallen down her stairs and was taken to the local ER. No other info in the e-mail so I started filling in the blanks. I also wasn’t able to reach anyone in the know so I continued to fill in the blanks on my own and started to panic. After about 30 minutes I was able to reach her mom and found out that she had sprained her shoulder and was already on her way home. As I sat praising God for her minimal injury, that won’t feel so minimal tomorrow, the phone rings. It’s Jill’s husband, Mike and three of their four children, calling me from their car. It’s amazing how quickly my attitude changed when I heard from the little people in my life who mean the world to me. Anna, their only daughter, wanted to know when I was coming to see her. I asked when would be a good time and she responded “tomorrow”. I asked what was so significant about tomorrow and she said “nothing, just going to school and coming home”. I try to divert the conversation because it breaks my heart to reveal the truth – I can’t come over tomorrow or the next day or even the next day. We share other fragmented conversations and she is off into her own world and I’m off the hook. Mike goes on to tell me that their 3rd child, Josh, was just asking why we don’t come around anymore. I’m ready to lose it again. This is after I think his wife has fallen down an entire set of stairs and is lying unconscious in the hospital. Mike tried to explain to Josh that we live really far away and the explanation seems to be lost on my #1 fan. This is what makes these little guys so special. They just love me and want to see me and they can’t comprehend why a little thing called the ocean keeps me from showing up periodically for breakfast, lunch or dinner. This is why I love God – He is faithful to me even while I’m “freaking out” and He even blesses me with a sweet phone call. Jill even called while I was typing this. Now it's 16 hrs. later and she is running on the morning adrenaline and some good drugs - she seems normal right now.

I do ask that you pray for her as she will have her shoulder in a sling for a while and won’t be able to carry that stupid Kirby up or down the stairs for a few weeks. I have always hated that vacuum cleaner and now, since it is a suspect in her accident, I really have contempt for it!!! I also have to thank my friend, Laura, who got to experience my “freaking out”. She was the first person to answer the phone and she was so calm and a great influence on me during those stressful moments!!! Note to self: Don’t panic, God is in control. Don’t carry a Kirby up or down the stairs – it could cause injury!!! God loves me and so do my “faraway” friends.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Because Everyone Deserves A Lifetime!

Today’s blog hits close to home and requires something of my readers!!!!


This is a picture of two of my friends in Virginia and a lady I have never met. What I know about Julie (pictured far right) is that she is a survivor and the reason my two friends, Deb and Lacey, are walking 60 miles this weekend in D.C.


Deb, Lacey and another friend of mine, Liza, along with thousands of other women, will be walking in D.C., over 3 days and 60+miles to show their support of a cure for breast cancer. My three friends, along with their teammates, have each raised a minimum of $2,200. for breast cancer research and have spent months training – in the rain, the heat, in the wee hours of the morning, on vacation and even when they didn’t want to. This is the same goal I accomplished in 2006 with a lot of you as supporters. With your help I raised way beyond my $2,200. goal and made an impact as I walked, along with Liza, in San Diego. It was a great experience and though I have not done it again, I still support the cause, both financially and through prayer.

Most of you know that my mother, Judy, is a 2x breast cancer survivor and she was my inspiration - the reason I walked. It was the biggest goal I had ever set for myself as I’m sure it’s the biggest goal most of the walkers will have ever set in their lives. I ask that you pray for my three friends, Lacey, Deb and Liza and all the walkers who will start their journey early this Friday morning, October 3rd and complete their 60 mile trek on Sunday afternoon, October 5th. Pray for strength, energy, great fellowship, rest at night and motivation to get back on “the road again” the next morning. Pray for their safety, along with all the walkers and staff who make this event possible. And pray for those they walk for – many are still alive, surviving and thriving due to funds raised by these committed women!!!



I had to include this fun picture as it was taken after Julie picked a name from a raffle that Lacey held to raise some of her $2,200. Lacey had made a beautiful quilt, sold raffle tickets and raised over $700., of her total, for the cause!!! I love how this picture shows the celebration of life and how much fun it can be to give of yourself beyond anything you can imagine!!!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Eating at Mister Donut

I have to began by giving this disclaimer. Our favorite camera is "sick" right now as it awaits a new lens so these photos were taken with what I affectionately call our "cheap" camera or our Tiger Woods camera. We call it the TW camera because we bought it for Bill to carry in his pocket for the opportunity to snap a picture of one of his favorite golfers when he was doing security one year for Tiger in Palm Springs. Most of you have heard that story so I will move on to why we look so yellow in this picture and where we are!!

One of our favorite places to eat is Mister Donut. It is actually a chain that was started in the United States, though I had never seen one. This is not your typical donut shop. To start, they don't even open until 9 or 10a.m. and they stay open until midnight. They serve somewhat normal donuts and then they serve more lunch or dinner type items like the famous Curry Donut you will see displayed below. A lot of local Okinawans come in for their meal sets that have a soup-type item and dumplings that we know as Chinese Dimsum. If you're not sure what that is, I'm sure I'll blog about it someday down the line!!!! We look yellow due to the camera we were using and the entire restaurant is painted in a very happy yellow color. The service is great, the music is all in English and the food is fabulous. Our friends, Jennifer and Steve Sutton, shown above, have now been infected by our obsession with this eatery and crave it almost once a week like we do!!
This is what Bill and I had ordered on this particular visit. The donut with the chocolate drisle has been dipped in strawberry with a wonderful strawberry filling. This is my new favorite sweet donut. The pizza looking item, next to the famous Curry Donut, is basically a spicy, mini-pizza with cheese, chicken and some unidentifiable ingredients. We don't usually ask what's in our food, over here, or you may never eat it. Not to say they use questionable ingredients just that they are famous for calling something a Taco and it really is a fritter-type item with octopus in it. Or, you will find corn on your pizza or an oozing egg in or on top of many entrees. Why you ask? We are not sure. All I can say is that dinning in Okinawa is always an adventure but when you find something you like, you will always come back for more!

The quality of this picture isn't great but this is a picture of the famous Curry Donut I have spoken so fondly of. When we first arrived on island Mister Donut was no longer carrying this item but I was pleasantly surprised today to discover they have brought this treat back. I'm not sure if it's a seasonal thing or not but if you like curry and enjoy a crunchy texture than you will like this yummy treat!!! Just so you know, this is not your typical donut. It's not as if they took a Krispy Kream donut and filled it with curry - it's a donut type texture on the outside but it's not sweet like a Krispy Kream. You just have to try it to see for yourself!!!




One of the things I love about Mister Donut is their mocha coffee. With two syrup sugars it's a perfect iced coffee!!! It is rare in Okinawa to enjoy an all you can drink option but Mister Donut was having a special during the month so I could go for seconds if I chose. If I went past two iced mochas I would be a maniac for two days!!! I have a two-a-day limit!!!! Yummy!

All good meals must come to an end!!! And no good ending is complete without a posed, cool picture!!! The happy tank is full and we are ready for the next adventure!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pondering My Priorities!


I was pondering my priorities today and wondering if it was at all possible to socialize to much. I have been out of the house everyday this week, attending some sort of event and/or going to lunch with friends. Bill has recently teased me that I am perfecting the art of socializing. Seriously,though, I was wondering if I was spending my time wisely and I took inventory of my week.


My week started as I attended the Marine Officers' Spouses' Club (MOSC) and Navy Officers' Spouses' Club (NOSC) Welcome event on Monday. Not only did I get to eat a yummy breakfast, touch base with some familiar faces, schedule more social outings and watch 130 of my closest friends win prizes, but I met several new friends. One of which has been wanting to get together with me to get to know me better - gotta love that!!!


Tuesday I made my way to an all to familiar stomping ground we call PWOC. This is the Protestant Women of the Chapel - an international, non-denominational organization that gathers every Tuesday at Kadena Chapel One to fellowship, worship and "do" biblestudy together. I brought a new friend, Candice, along with my faithful, not-so-new friend, Jennifer - we carpooled and chatted all the way there. I enjoyed some donut holes, worshiped with some of my newest peeps and shared praises of what God taught us through our study this week. I helped put away a few tables and chairs, downed another donut, of course, and headed to lunch. After eating, a group of us headed to a park to enjoy the adventure of a lifetime - taking a ride down a roller-slide. Not a shining moment for me, to say the least , and, unfortunately we do have pictures though they are not in my possesion. I am a big, fat chicken as I hung on for dear life all the way down and managed to catch Jenn in my fearful web!! More on that later.


Wednesday I carpooled with my friend, Julie, to the Newcomer's Brief and joined another friend to "man" our PWOC table. We had the pleasure of meeting several women who are very new to Okinawa as we shared what PWOC is and how we could help them with their transition here. As in good girl fashion, always traveling in herds, the three of us ran errands together and headed off to, yes, you guessed it, lunch.


And as if this isn't enough socializing to make your head spin I am off to lunch, again, tomorrow, with a new friend who I am looking forward to getting to know better. Then I have a nail appointment with one of my favorite Okinawan women that I'm getting to know. She speaks excellent english and I am practicing my Japanese on her. She spends most of her time laughing at me!!!


Friday is booked, too, but I won't bore you with the details!!! I'll blog about that later!!!


My point is that I spend most of my time socializing. Some would call this fellowshipping, spending time building relationships or even ministry. I call it having a whole lot of fun. But, I was starting to wonder if I was socializing to much and not getting enough of the "other" stuff done. Then I came across the devotion that I have included in this blog and received confirmation that I was building lasting relationships. All the while I was "socializing" and having fun I was praying with my friends, sharing their burdens as we discussed life here on our little island and getting to know them better. I'm not saying that eating out everyday is exactly what God's Word is suggesting but I certainly believe I am "leaving a legacy of love" through my relationships. Have you nurtured a relationship today? If not, grab a few friends and have lunch together. Even if you don't get anything else done today you'll have accomplished God's will and fulfilled a basic need!!!


One cool thing: God removed my guilt, relieved my stress and helped me still get some housework done in between all the relationship building activities!!


How to Determine What Matters Most

by Rick Warren


There are three things that will endure – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NLT)
*** *** *** ***


The most important lesson God wants you to learn on earth is how to love. Here are three simple truths about love:


1. Life without love is really worthless. We often act as if relationships are something to be squeezed into our schedule. We talk about finding time for our children or making time for people in our lives. That gives the impression that relationships are just a part of our lives along with many other tasks. But God says relationships are what life is all about.
Jesus summarized what matters most to God in two statements: love God and love people. He said, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart. . . . This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40 NLT).


The point of life is learning to love God and people. Life minus love equals zero.


2. Love will last forever. Another reason God tells us to make love our top priority is that it is eternal: “These three things continue forever: faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13 NCV).


Love leaves a legacy. Mother Teresa said, “It’s not what you do, but how much love you put into it that matters.” Love is the secret of a lasting heritage. In our final moments, we all realize that relationships are what life is all about. Wisdom is learning that truth sooner rather than later.


3. We will be evaluated on our love. One way God measures spiritual maturity is by the quality of your relationships. In heaven God won’t say, “Tell me about your career, your bank account, and your hobbies.” Instead he will review how you treated other people, particularly those in need.


Jesus said the way to love him is to love his family and care for their practical needs: “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40 NRSV).


People need to understand that when you transfer into eternity, you will leave everything else behind. All you’re taking with you is your character. That’s why the Bible says, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Galatians 5:6 NIV).


Knowing this, I encourage you to pray this simple prayer every morning: “God, whether I get anything else done today, I want to make sure that I spend time loving you and loving other people – because that’s what life is all about. I don’t want to waste this day.”


© 2008 Purpose Driven Life. All rights reserved. Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and best-known churches. In addition, Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life and The Purpose Driven Church, which was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th Century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for ministers.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

OIWC Luncheon


Monday, September 8th, two of my friends, Jenn and Shannon, joined me on an adventure driving to Naha. We attended the first OKinawa International Wives' Club (OIWC) luncheon of the year. Our Okinawan members hosted us at the Grand Hotel and though it wasn't easy for us to find it was well worth the challenge.






Once we arrived at the hotel we were dressed in Yukatas, the summer kimono, and joined many other foreigners (that's us) experiencing this type of apparel for the first time. The yukata isn't easy to sit in. I had an obi tied in the back so leaning comfortably against my chair is not an option.





We enjoyed a 5 course lunch: an appetizer, soup, salad, main course and dessert.





The appetizer was raw fish accompanied by an interesting green and white custard type sauce. I was brave enough to take two bites but that's all I could handle - my friends ate their entire appetizer and enjoyed it. We moved onto the typical Okinawan salad and soup. We opted not to take pictures as these dishes were not as exciting as the other courses. They were tasty though.


Our main course was rolled chicken and catfish

divided by a thin line of mashed potatoes.

The Okinawan people have an eye for making food look beautiful and taste great!!!

I avoided the vegetables, as usual,

and waited in anticipation for our dessert.







Dessert is a local specialty and as you can


see in the picture it was beautiful.


Mousse of "Beni Imo".

After getting the business of eating out of the way we moved on to the entertainment. We were blessed to watch a group of Taiko drummers perform for us from DARC - Drug Addiction Rehabilitation Center. Two of the performers shared their journey from drugs to living a clean life in their best english. It's amazing how stories of over coming life's greatest challenges crosses all language barriers. We enjoyed several performances of local Okinawan music. I call it "Happy Music" as it has this incredibly uplifting beat that you can't help but smile when you hear it. We then joined in with local Okinawan dancers trying to teach us a traditional harvest dance. Most of us never did "get" the moves but we had a blast trying.





One cool thing: Today was a great reminder of why I love Okinawa. Her people are so generous and kind. They love to include foreigners in all they do and since laughter is a universal language we can laugh at ourselves and each other as we try things we have never experienced before. So I didn't eat all the raw fish - they didn't care. They had more fun watching me try to dance in an outfit with a very wide and tight belt (aka Obi) keeping my entire upperbody stiff.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A work in progress!!!

I had great intentions of updating my blog today and even went as far as creating a new post. The problem is I can't figure out why I can't add the pictures I was trying to upload!! It's frustrating when you have a great idea and you can't share it with anyone. Just know that someday soon I will know what I'm doing and my updates will be more frequent and will have pictures, too!!!

I had a great day, though!! I was very productive and it was nice to stay home. I think Socks enjoyed having me around for the entire day. I chatted on the phone with Laura, missed a call from Kim (sorry!), did laundry (it doesn't get more productive than that), finished my bible study, updated my Facebook, had lunch at home with my husband, chatted with Dian, took a nap, and made some progress on the house. The most astonishing thing about my day was that we actually ate at home - this is amazing as it's only the 5th time we've eaten a meal made from our kitchen in over 3 1/2 months. I thought of the Food Network as we were preparing our "Semi-homemade" meal. Bill picked up fried rice at the golf course as he was setting up a tee time and came home and grilled steak. Amazing accomplishment at the House of Traquair!! My motto: "It almost seems criminal to eat at home when there are so many great eating establishments that we still have not discovered!!!!"

One cool thing: I have great friends who love to talk on the phone and a very patient husband who loves to eat out almost as much as I do!!!

Friday, September 12, 2008

A typical day in Okinawa!

I have been doing a lot of driving around this week even with a typhoon looming out there! We all hit the commissary on Wednesday. Actually I didn't, my husband did, since I'm not a big fan of grocery shopping. We are mostly ready to be "locked" down and now I'm not so sure we are going to get hit!!! Nothing wrong with having extra snacks on hand though!!! I spent the morning at the RNCO club on Kadena trying to make changes to my blog and drinking iced coffee. Then it was off to a Stampin' Up open house to hang out with some of my favorite, creative peeps!!! My friend, Myrna, knows how to host a party!!!! Then it was back home for a nippy nap and then back in the car to head back to Kadena for an appointment. My husband waited patiently in the car, after sneeking off to buy me an anniversary present. We will celebrate 15 years on October 2nd. Then we tried to have dinner at Somchai, on BC street, and they were closed. So we headed home and ate at our local fav, Khrua Thai!!! Now we are settling in for the night!!!!

One cool thing - my husband took our dog to work with him this afternoon. He said she looked pathetic and she could sleep in his office as easy as she could sleep at home!!! She seemed to love this outing!!!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

To blog or not to blog?

I have been debating whether to blog or not for a while and I have been encouraged by many people to jump in with both feet. With us living out of the country I thought this would be the best way to stay in touch and it seems like it would be more fun than just sending an e-mail. Either way, I have taken the plunge and I look forward to sharing our lives with you.