Aloha! ~ Jen

The first time I went to Hawaii, I was 17 years old and it was a volleyball trip for my high school team. We spent a week in Honolulu before school started, playing in a tournament with teams from around the islands and the nation. I was hooked.

Five years later, after my first year of teaching, I went back. This time to Maui, where I felt an immediate soul connection. Maui was magic. I made the trip about every two years after that, with some of my best girlfriends. I couldn’t get enough of Maui.

Ten years later that all made sense when I met Shea. He grew up on Maui, in an honest-to-goodness sugar shack in the middle of a plantation. Our first trip together, he showed me kama’aina Maui, places tourists rarely go. And I showed him haole Maui on the Ka’anapali side.

Hawaii is important to us. The lifestyle and culture are an intrinsic part of who Shea is, and he wants to share it with our kids, who are natural water babies and fish eaters. They revel in the feeling of warm sun on their shoulders, so they take to Hawaii like they were born to it. Which, in a way, they were.

Gabriel body boarding at Hanalei Bay
Gabriel body boarding at Hanalei Bay

We just got back from a week in Kauai with my parents, where we snorkeled, body boarded, jumped waves, zip lined and ate fresh mango, coconut and fish. The Hawaiian people are enormously generous and kind, but even more so once they find out Shea is kama’aina. For Hawaiians, this makes us ohana.

Speaking of ohana (which means “family”), look at this sign we saw while shopping one day:

This was hanging outside a local souvenir shop in Koloa
This was hanging outside a local souvenir shop in Koloa

Wow, right? I just wrote about keeping the Sabbath and here was this sign, like a…well…sign. See how it doesn’t say CLOSED? CLOSED is a brusque, unfriendly word that conveys a feeling of nothing.

OHANA DAY is a whole other feeling. It says “We’re with our families. You go be with your families. It’s all good and love. We’ll see you here tomorrow.” Most of the non-super touristy places were closed on Sunday. And the parks and beaches were packed. How’s that for some Sabbath?

We had two highlight adventures. The first was suggested by a local guide on a snorkeling trip. “Salt Pond Beach is the best place to watch the sun go down” she said. “Build a fire, cook dinner, sit back and enjoy the view.”

So we did. We gathered driftwood, which the Eagle Scout (my dad) turned into a perfect beach fire. We swam in the dusk, roasted hot dogs and watched the sun set. Amazing.

Salt Pond Park, Bonfire dinner at sunset
Salt Pond Beach, bonfire dinner at sunset

Then on our last night, we went to Po’ipu Beach to watch the sunset. There’s this cool little cove that’s a natural kiddie pool—protected by rocks, only 18 inches deep. After dinner, Gabriel was out hunting crabs in the rocks with a bunch of boys when they started screaming.

You know I thought “Shark!” before my brain processed that they weren’t running away, but towards whatever it was. Then I heard TURTLE!

And sure enough, three huge honu had risen off the rocks right where the boys were playing. Scared the bejeezus out of them, since the smallest turtle was at least 4 feet long.

Hawaiian Honu, green sea turtle.This one was at least five feet long and two feet away from me!
Hawaiian Honu, green sea turtle.This one was at least five feet long and two feet away from me!

Hawaiian honu are special. For native Hawaiians, they represent longevity, peace, humility and the spirit within us all. I feel that when I see them. They seem divine in some way, like they know God. There’s also a legend that the first honu, Kauila, could change herself into a little girl, and that she watched over small children playing on the beach.

I love the honu.  I have three tattooed on my ankle to represent my babies. It was a special gift to see them that close on our last night.

The view from our balcony
The view from our balcony
My mom and dad, still loving life and each other after 45 years!
My mom and dad, still loving life and each other after 45 years!
Waimea Canyon, smack in the middle of Kauai.
Waimea Canyon, smack in the middle of Kauai.

I really can’t say enough about Hawaii. I know that it seems a world away and very expensive, but for us, it is no different than traveling to Mexico or Portugal or Croatia to take the kids back to the motherland. And it might not be as expensive as you think. Check it out!


God Blessed the Seventh Day ~ Jen

We put this in the living room, along with the S, which is our family initial. We are proud to be children of God.

The Catholic Church is celebrating the Year of Faith. So I signed up for a daily dose of catechism. This one popped up a few weeks ago.

If Sunday is disregarded or abolished, only workdays are left in the week. Man, who was created for joy, degenerates into a workhorse and a mindless consumer. We must learn on earth how to celebrate properly, or else we will not know what to do in heaven. Heaven is an endless Sunday.

It’s referring to the Third (or Fourth, if you are a Protestant) Commandment. The biblical text is as follows:

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Six days you shall labor, and do all your work;
but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God;
in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son,
or your daughter, your manservant,
or your maidservant or your cattle,
or the sojourner who is within your gates;
for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
and rested the seventh day;
therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.

The verse from Exodus references Genesis and the creation story:

And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.

Oh man, I have so many thoughts on how this is (not) working in my life. The last two weeks since this posted I have been chewing on it, with a side of my mom’s recent comment that we’re a pretty busy family, and my months long obsession with finding the exact right trailer for my family, which ate up a fair amount of weekends.

On Sundays, we go to church. We’re home by 10:30. And then it’s play time. Or shop time. Or clean the house because folks are coming for dinner time. It is rarely ever rest time.

And am I joy-full on Sundays? As I’m playing or shopping or cleaning and cooking, am I mindful of God and His day?

Sometimes, like when we head straight down to the beach after Mass, and have a lovely day playing in God’s ocean. On those days there is always a time when I utter a prayer of thanksgiving for the weather and the sun and the salty sea water.

Sometimes, like last Sunday, when I sit next to my dad and watch my kids play with their grandma in the pool. On those days I am filled with the joy of loving family and memory-making.

And sometimes, when I have managed to get every single chore done by Saturday so that Shea can lay on the couch and watch his Bills in peace and quiet while I write or read or watch a movie with the kids, I am joyfully grateful for the rest.

But those Sabbaths happen far too infrequently. Too many Sundays are spent at the mall, where I can score $100 worth of clothes for $60. I feel victory and satisfaction, but not joy. And I am certainly not mindful of God while I am bargain hunting.

Then I realized this: every car we have bought as a couple has been purchased on a Sunday, which means we have haggled and hassled and played good cop-bad cop on the Sabbath.  I’m trying to screw you before you can screw me mode is neither joyful nor restful, and it’s impossible at those times to be mindful of anyone but your own self.

So the truth is, too many of our Sabbaths have been rushed and crammed and cranky and mindless.

My spirit is itchy, which  means we are out of Alignment and need a change.

I want to be better at honoring this Commandment. What can we do in our family to both honor the Commandment and instill in our kids the wonderful knowledge that God, in His wisdom and love, has commanded us to rest and be joyful.

I want Heaven to be an endless day on the beach at Coronado. Not endless hours of haggling with a used car salesman.

So if you’ve got thoughts, I’ve got ears. How do you keep and bless this day in your homes?