February 28, 2010

Church

Yahweh, Yahweh
Faithful God,
You're here to stay!

Yahweh, Yahweh,
Forever and always the same!

Oh Lord how this song speaks to me this morning. You bless us abundantly and you meet our every need with overwhelming Victory.

Have all my praises this morning!

February 27, 2010

PLEASE Pray for our Family Members Affected by the Tsunami

My uncle, who lives in Hawaii across the street from the beach, is making preparations because his house WILL be hit by the tsunami (resulting from the earthquake in Chili).

He wrote the following:
"Cells are jammed too many people making calls. We are in so called "inundation area" and firetrucks are going up and down the streets announcing evacuation for our area.We are prepped and hiking to the pill box up and behind the house. We have water, food, and "other" essentials in the event bad things happen to include looters and/or other forms of civil unrest. The house is prepped also. We have generator, water, food, etc.... We are not risking getting on the roads as they will be closed 90 minutes before estimated tsunami hit time for Big island.... and llkely jammed. Not a good day to be caught in your car next to the ocean when tsunami hits. We will return to the house after appropriate time. We will be able to see the house from the pill boxThe ER at Tripler is staffed appropriately and I am monitoring the EOC (emergency operations center) - which is the ER in the initial phases of a potential disaster.
Aloha brother, Ken"

We also have family in Costa Rica and in California, but as far as we can tell, they will be safe.

Thank you for your prayer. I'll update more as I know it.

Blessings,

Focus On Marriage Friends

These are our new friends from the Focus On Marriage Conference today! We met them at lunch and shared life storied. :)

Thanks you guys! Nice to meet you!


February 26, 2010

I cannot wait for summer.

Because it's a balmy 45 degrees outside and THIS is...

Way.

Too.

Cute.

the MckGathering

Today I packed up my little Smiley Boy and all our gear and headed down to Focus on the Family to meet MckMama and Prince Charming... and what a pleasure it was!

I was so impressed by a number of things... first of all, by how very down to earth and easy-going they both are, and how easy it was to just hang out and get to know them. I can't tell you how excited I am for Saturday and the Focus on Marriage Simulcast and the opportunity for my husband to meet them both and finally understand (maybe?! hopefully?!) my borderline fanatacism with this whole blogging thing.

Anywhooooo... Today was wonderful. One of my favorite moments was praying for the McKinneys as a group. I've prayed so often and so many times for their family from a distance... It was such a treat to pray for them in person.


After the event, we all just kinda' sat around and chatted as our children all ran around us in droves. Ok, my little one didn't run around us in droves.
But everyone else's did. And I loved it.



See? Told you they were all around us in droves.



Old friends were there...





And new friends... This is Karina



This is Soapy and Christy with Prince Charming and MckMama.



This is Melissa and MckMama.



What a blast! And what a blessing!
Thanks you guys!

Sheer Genius

I just discovered that I've had a gold mine sitting under my kitchen counter now for over six years. Now I realize that I may be a tad bit SLOW to realize the genius of the slow cooker, but have grace with me because I have seen the error of my ways and corrected it.

Today, I made Chicken Spinach Soup, which I found through Michelle's Menu Plan Monday, and let's just say it was a BIG HIT.

Thursday is my night to make dinner but since I was hangin' out with MckMama and a whole host of other cool gals and guys, I wasn't gonna make it home before my Mary Kay guest event. So I needed a way to cook dinner early. Hence, the crock-pot solution.

Alejandro texted me this: "No words to describe dinner! It's amazing, thanks a lot." And anything that evokes that kind of response is bound to be repeated.

So thank you Michelle and...

...I have a happy household tonight!

February 25, 2010

Guess Who?!

It's MckMama!

Yes I'm Still Alive

I realized today that it's been five days since I have posted anything and this blog is seriously overdue for some pictures of Danny.

Ok, actually, this blog is chock full of pictures of Danny. But I've got some really stinkin' cute ones I can't wait to share!

But I've been a teensy bit swamped lately, and I'm not likely to make it back here until after tomorrow afternoon's little MckGathering with MckMama and MckDaddy from mckmama.com - if you've never made it over to her blog, well, you SHOULD.

So I'll say goodnight for now, but I'll surely be back soon with lots of new photos!

-Renee
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

February 19, 2010

The other day, Danny was playing and looking entirely too cute to ignore...

...so I grabbed the camera and started snapping some pictures just for you.

You're welcome!







February 18, 2010

Gender Roles in Our Society

The other night while watching the Olympics, I made a comment on my facebook page about the U.S. mens figure skaters. The comment was somewhat poorly thought-out and hastily sent.

I wrote: "At the risk of criticism: Why are American men in Olympic couples figure skating manly, while men in singles skating are all effeminate? Hmm."

And of course, criticism did come.

Now before you block my blog forever and call me all kinds of ugly names, let me explain.

The original intent of my comment was to make somewhat of a sarcastic crack about how without women present in... well, anything... things go awry. It was meant to be funny and sarcastic and I don't even truly believe that without women present, things go awry. It was a poorly thought-out joke and I probably should have just texted it to a friend of mine who would get it, rather than posting it on facebook.

But the resulting debate (which remained for the most part uplifting, respectful, and healthy - I have the greatest friends!) was fascinating to me and it led me to REALLY think through some things like labeling and stereotyping and gender roles in our society.

Let me start by clear up a few facts, though. I made an observation which is that several U.S. mens figure skaters appeared to me to be effeminate. Out of curiosity, I looked up the word to make sure I used it correctly.

Effeminate
1 : having feminine qualities untypical of a man : not manly in appearance or manner
2 : marked by an unbecoming delicacy or overrefinement

I also was referring to the U.S. skaters. At the time I made the comment, I found the other nation's male figure skaters to be enjoyably expressive, artistic, and talented. I did later correct my comment and narrow my observation down to one U.S. mens figure skater. To me, the effeminate qualities of Johnny Weir are distasteful.

I did not say Johnny Weir was gay (at first). I didn't even mean to insinuate anything about his sexual preference in my statement. But of course then he WAS called gay (by me and someone else) and well... Do I know that for a fact? No. Has most of the news confirmed the fact and has Weir himself proven to be very comfortable with open talk of his sexuality? Yes.

Even so, my statement was probably hasty. I started off by commenting on my observation of his effeminate qualities. No, a man does not have to be gay just because he has an effeminate appearance. But I went along with the labeling in calling him gay - not in calling him effeminate. Calling someone effeminate is no more a label than calling someone beautiful, ugly, thin, large, great or small. It's an adjective and therefore largely subject to opinion.

Going back to the topic of labels and stereotyping, while I do not agree with labeling or stereotyping, I DO believe in calling something (rightly) feminine or masculine. Note the distinction between feminine and effeminate. Very different. I might be delving into semantics now... but while I'm neck-deep into this, I might as well go on.

Our society has largely purported the idea that calling someone or claiming to be feminine or masculine is limiting, and is the root of all kinds of gender confusion, stereotyping and discrimination.

I couldn't I disagree more with this view of gender in our society. It is my opinion that gender has been so widely confused and muddled and THAT is the problem. We ARE either feminine or masculine (with the very small exception of birth defects) and that is how God created us. Audrey Hepburn's timeless femininity displayed through her talent was what endeared her to America. Old movie actors like Fred Astaire, Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart remind me of the classic American gentleman that we used to love. I think our society has tried so hard to equate the two sexes that we emasculate men (deprive of strength, vigor, or spirit) and downplay our God-given feminine qualities and strengths.

In fact, when I just Googled the word "emasculate," just to make sure I was using the word correctly, there were even step-by-step articles on HOW to emasculate your man in order to get him to comply with you! How twisted and sick.

...but I digress.

I personally believe that our strength comes from finding a right identity (through Christ) in our God-given persons, be them tall, short, elegant, gumpy, dark-skinned, light-skinned, extroverted, introverted, blue-eyes, green-eyes, athletic or not, feminine or masculine. I believe our society, our marriages, our careers, our social groups, our friendships and our emotional well-being are all strengthened when we do this.

But what do you think? Join the conversation in the comments section and let your opinion be heard!

February 16, 2010

A Little Leftover Christmas

Yes. I know it's February.

February 16th.

I know this.

But I JUST had to share!

A few days after we returned home from our Christmas and New Year's trip to Costa Rica, I kind of had an urge for more Christmas. I mean we hadn't had a White Christmas. We hadn't had Christmas music on Christmas morning. We hadn't gone to the Christmas Eve church service and well... I guess I kind of missed it. So on January 10th or so

...at hour house...

...we had Christmas!
Alejandro came down the stairs to this sight.

And then he noticed this:

And he gave me kind of a funny look. So he started opening his stocking.

He was excited about this:
And a few others with similar type non-tangible gifts.

And when he saw this in Danilo's stocking...
...he really smiled big.

We all got gifts (or reminders of gifts) like that in our stockings. Here's mine:

See....

But the best gift of all...

Well, you know.

Nope, I'm not just sayin'.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

...even if it is February 16th.

Costa Rica Story #14: Family Portraits

Costa Rica Post #14 of 14
Family Portraits

They're definitely not the most professional ones in the world, but they're the best we've got for now. We made sure and set the digital cameras on their timers and squeeze together and smile so we'd have some pics of the complete family. Enjoy getting to know Alejandro's family!

Danilo - aka Smiley Boy!
I still haven't figured out how to translate that!
"Sonrisas" is the most accurate, but that sounds too girly.


The family... Renee, Danilo, Alejandro, Fanny and Freddy (Alejandro's parents), Gustavo (Alejandro's brother), and Angie with her cute tummy


Da Boys...
Alejandro, Freddy, Danilo and Gustavo


Da Ladies...
Renee, Fanny and Angie with her cute baby-girl tummy


This picture was fun! Cousins, aunts and uncles! Yay!


Tía Angie, Danilo and Tío Gustavo


Oh and there's Smiley Boy again.
I couldn't resist.

Costa Rica Post #13: Adios

As I wrote in this post, leaving Costa Rica is always difficult. It's always somewhat of a downer. Because we never know how long it will be until we can go back. Last time it was three years.

Three years.

This goodbye was, I think, the hardest. We loaded the family in the car and drove down to the post office where Gustavo works to give him goodbye-hugs.


I've never seen him have such a hard time letting go of someone. I think he held onto Danilo and kissed his cheeks for 20 minutes. It was so very bitter-sweet.


Photobucket

And as we drove down the street, Alejandro turned and looked the other way. When I glanced over at him, silent tears streamed down his face. I think my heart broke in half.

Photobucket


Saying goodbye to his mom at the airport wasn't much easier, although I think she did her best to put a smile on her face and make it a little easier on us. This time it was my turn to cry buckets.

These are moments that remind me just how much Alejandro sacrificed to move to the U.S. and marry me. Lord, what a humbling honor.

Photobucket

...and then we got on our plane.

Ok, actually, there was somewhat of an adventurous story here. In truth, we walked through the gate to get into a big long line. Then we stripped took off every removable piece of clothing on us without exposing ourselves to go through the metal detectors. Imagine me holding Danny at arms' length so they can make sure I'm not hiding a rifle inside my baby-carrier. Then we re-dressed and re-packed. Then we walked down the hall, fed Danny lunch in the terminal and paid a fortune for pizza. Then we stood in another long line. Then we stripped and un-packed again. Then we got on a bus which drove us from the terminal across the airfield to our plane. Then we got out and stood in a windstorm in another long line. Then we stripped again and got frisked before finally climbing the stairs up into our plane. Sheesh!

And then... we came home.

February 15, 2010

Costa Rica Story #12: New Life

Costa Rica Post #12 of 14

Hands down, the most enjoyable thing I got to observe while in Costa Rica for the Christmas holiday was a little trip into downtown we took with the family. This is my brother-in-law, Gustavo, and his new wife, Angie.
Aren't they just the cutest young whipper-snappers you ever did see?!

Ok, I just said whipper-snappers, which officially makes me ancient.

Ahem.

Anyway, if you are wondering about a little bulge on the front of her absolutely gorgeous petite frame, you would be suspecting correctly! Angie's pregnant and expecting near the end of June (we think).

This particular day, we are all heading downtown to the hospital for an ultrasound! --Which is a BIG deal in Costa Rica. It's not like here, where everyone gets an ultrasound 2 or 3 times throughout their pregnancy. You have to pay extra for it. And so we were really excited!!

Here is my mother-in-law, a teensy bit pumped about seeing her second grand-baby!
And her is the dad-to-be. Yep. Had just a little nervous energy to expend before we all headed out the door. So, um, he hoola-hooped. Ha!
Watching Angie and Gustavo as they rapidly find themselves in a very grown-up place in life, was such a joy. The wonder and amazement that unfolds before them puts the most beautiful glow on their faces and twinkles in their eyes. Um, when I'm pregnant next time, can I wear heels like that?! SO jealous.

Ok, well I do have a good decade of age working a little against me.

Anywhoooo... we all waited patiently and quietly for our turn to go in.

I wish the camera would've worked better... but this was all I got with the lights out and 8 people crammed into a 12x12 foot space.

Actually, I spent the entire ten minutes watching Angie and Gustavo. The look on their faces was indescribable!

Congratulations, you two!

Oh, and guess what!?

It's a girl!