Does anyone want to come over and watch a 6-hour slideshow? No?

Well darn! That’s about how long it would take to show all of the pictures from my family’s recent trip to Hawaii. In short, it was everything I hoped for and more and fascinatingly different.

When I pictured Hawaii, I always imagined an aqua blue ocean, cloudless blue sky and billowy palm trees swaying in the breeze. And that’s true!

But Hawaii is so much more than perfect beaches. In fact, we stayed on the Big Island, where part of the terrain is volcanic rock. You’re driving through this landscape and thinking, Am I on another planet?  We even got to visit Mauna Loa, the largest active volcano in the world. (The Sinclairs are living on the edge, people!)

One of my favorite places was the Pololū Valley. We hiked down a steep trail of mud and finally reached the black sand beach at the bottom. It was gorgeous! The waves were incredibly powerful, crashing against the rocks like they wanted to knock down the island. On the other side of the shore was the ever-calm Pololū River, which wandered into a valley, surrounded by lush fields and grazing cattle. The two contrasting environments in such close proximity was fascinating to me.

Another impressive aspect of Hawaii’s natural beauty is its plants and animals. On the rainy side of the island, you can find wild avocado trees, mango trees, palm trees, coffee bean trees, and more. The flowers come in all shapes, gargantuan sizes, and colors so bright that look like they came out of a Sharpie highlighter. I felt like I was a character in a Dr. Seuss book or Carmen Cortez in Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams.

As for the animals, forget watching out for deer! Hawaii has wild horses, donkeys, and cutest of all… goats. (Sidenote: check out the picture of my brother, Andrew, with the 17 cats of A Bay. Yes, he’s talking to the cat lady who takes them to the vet and feeds them. They have an official FB page here.)

In an effort to keep your attention, I’ve decided to list the events of rest of the trip in six words or less.

  • Macadamia nuts good. SPAM flavor bad.
  • “Rachel falls at the falls.”
  • America’s steepest road. Sketchy van, oneway.
  • View from above was worth it.
  • Hawaiian royalty: Queen Anela, King Kona.
  • Helicopter ride was incredible beyond words.
  • We hula’ed at a luau.
  • (Most) local Hawaiian food was delicious.
  • Surfing was fun and surprisingly easy.
  • Diamondhead hike was tough but rewarding.

Click through the slideshow below to view corresponding pictures. If you STILL want to hear more, let me know so I can pull out the projector and the popcorn machine. Also, look out for the next blog, “What God Taught Me In Hawaii,” coming soon to a social media site near you!

 

 

Like A Child

This summer I had the WONDERFUL blessing of living with my aunt, uncle and precious, rock-star cousins, Parker (8) and Caroline (6). I can’t tell you what a joy it was to come home from work to squeals of excitement, giant hugs and a million shouts of, “look what I did!”

I loved the everyday adventures of living with Parker and Caroline. Through laughter, tears and everything in between, they reminded me of what it means to be a child. God used this experience to give me a living picture of what it looks like be a child–His child!

Ask Questions

My favorite question of the summer was when Parker asked me what college was like. I begin to explain that I’m in 16th grade, I live without my parents [WHAT?!] and I sort of get to choose my own classes. Caroline looked at me with a squinty-eyed faced, like she was thinking hard. “Why don’t you play games instead?”

Good question, Caroline. If I get to choose my classes, why wouldn’t I play games instead? I said that the classes were for my “major,” which would hopefully lead to a job. I told her that I was majoring in writing.

Again, she makes the squinty face. “Why not crafts?”

Hmm. Why not crafts? I’ll have to run that by Aunt Angie and Uncle Don.

Be Messy

Sometimes I felt like a juggler, subconsciously waiting for something to fall, break, spill or who knows what else! But as time went on, I realized that making mistakes is part of the process of growing. If I never let Caroline hold her own milkshake, she wouldn’t learn how to keep it from spilling. If I always insisted that I hold onto the dog’s leash, Parker wouldn’t have the chance to practice being a leader and taking responsibility.

While I was always there to support and guide them, I couldn’t do everything for them. I’d be there before, during and after, but they had to learn some skills on their own!

Sweet Moments

So many sweet moments. This is a picture of a letter Caroline wrote me on a weekend when they were out of town. It’s just one of the many precious memories that I treasure from my time this summer!img_7818

Limited Understanding

This insight was probably my most impactful lesson from the whole summer. Sometimes children ask questions that are simply too big, too complicated and too above-their-heads to answer. I knew that they either could not understand, or they didn’t need to understand.

Friends, please stop and think about this in light of our relationship with God the Father. How many times do we ask, beg, yearn to understand things that don’t make sense to our small, earthly brains. God wants us to ask Him questions (James 1:5), but sometimes we’re not supposed to know the answer (Deuteronomy 29:29).

It’s hard, but it’s also comforting that we don’t always have to know. We can trust Him to be good, greater, wiser and better than our earthly perspective. Take a deep breath and let that sink it. That’s encouraging!

Limitless Love

There’s something unique about the pure, limitless love and adoration of a child. They aren’t afraid to wrap you in a hug, sit to by you during a movie or tell you that they wish you could stay forever.

As adults, we often think long and hard before expressing our feelings, especially to those we really care about. What if we weren’t afraid to say, “I love you” or “I need you”? What if we worshipped God with a pure joy that springs from the heart?

 

These are only a handful of the many lessons that God taught me this summer. Hopefully my experience will encourage you to examine your relationship with the Lord, the perfect Father!

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14, NIV).