Thursday, May 29, 2008

Surredering My Will

A few weeks ago I was having a difficult time regarding certain things/people in my life. I struggled to figure out what to do to fix the situation. The more I tried to remedy the problem, the worse the problem got. I was completely frustrated and I tried really hard to pray for an answer of resolution. Nothing came to mind, and then one day I felt inspired to open up a magazine that was sitting on my desk. The pages fell to an article titled “Sweet Surrender” written by Cheryl Richardson, one of the columnists of the magazine. As I read, the words struck a chord with me. At one time or another, we all find ourselves caught in a situation we desperately want to controlWhatever the situation, times like these challenge us to go beyond life skills like critical thinking or organization. In these cases, when you truly have no sway in the outcome, only a higher, more spiritual skill will get you through: the ability to surrender.” I have always felt a deep need to control the events that occur around me. When things don’t go right in my life or the lives of those closest to me, I worry my pretty little head off trying to find the perfect upshot. So to read the word “surrender” automatically made me think “give up.” But I read on. Knowing how to surrender reflects spiritual maturity—and it requires patience and practice. But it’s worth it. When I think about my own life, I can see that when I’m able to relinquish my will to a higher power, things are no longer a struggle; life gets easier…by releasing my grip, a power greater than myself seems to take hold to steer me where I need to go.” I came to a huge realization. There have been considerable times that I’ve prayed about this particular problem concerning a loved one in my life. I pleaded, “What should I do? Give me an answer. Tell me how to fix this.” Everything I tried seemed to backfire or make things worse. After reading this article I realized my mistake. I tried to do it by myself. I made myself believe it was all in my hands. I felt it was my sole duty to help this person. “Our source of suffering is always related to our resistance to what is. The soul doesn’t try to control life; the ego does. When your ego is wrapped firmly around a desire, your peace of mind and happiness are held hostage by an obsessive need to control the outcome. After enough pain and suffering, you’ll eventually get the message: If you don’t learn to surrender your will, you will surrender your peace.” This makes absolute sense to me, yet, I didn’t “get it” until reading this article. There are some things I just can’t control, and I have to recognize that. There is only so much I can do, and when I can’t do any more, I have to give my burden to God. I have to surrender my will to His. And as much as I’d love to just snap my fingers and make the situation okay, sometimes I can’t. I have to allow things to happen as they are intended to, rather than desperately direct the crisis on the course I believe needs to be taken. Trying to control only creates more stress in my life. ….the reality is that we will be disappointed at times. When we surrender, it doesn’t mean that we throw our hands in the air and do nothing; it means we pay close attention to our intuition so we can act on this wisdom. Then, once we’ve done what we can, we let go and allow grace to shine a light on a better path---one that brings about the result that ultimately serves our highest good.” All this time I had prayed for an answer. After several weeks of feeling rather unsuccessful in my ability to receive a reply, there was a little voice that told me to open up this magazine. My answer was here all along. I do what I can, and the rest I give to Heavenly Father. I surrender my will and allow the forces that be to take the wheel. When I can’t control what happens, I just have to live my life and hope that things work out in the best possible way. A very hard thing to do, if you ask me. But since trying this new approach, the burden I was feeling earlier has lightened. I haven’t worried to an excessive and/or obsessive degree about it. When it comes to that loved one of mine, I just have to be there for them and realize I can’t control what they do. I can only control what I do, and at this point I just need to show love and support to this person and try not to “fix” them or the situation that revolves around them. I must loosen the reigns a bit and trust the Lord and “let things unfold as they may….When we learn to surrender, we then make space for true miracles to happen.”

Monday, May 26, 2008


About 2 weeks ago my grandma sent me an article from my hometown newspaper about a 10 year old girl who was raped and then later gave birth. Is that crazy or what? That is messed up. But it doesn't beat the the 5 year old Peruvian girl who gave birth. Still, it's amazing to me that this can even happen. I'm shocked that nobody had a clue until she had the baby. How sad that so much child abuse goes on in our society unnoticed. Makes me scared to raise my kid in this world.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Our Vacation

Well, most of you know by now that the big trip Mike had planned for us was a cruise to the Caribbean. I really was surprised! We had talked about going to India and even Africa at one point, so I didn't expect a cruise. It was incredibly fun though, and I've always wanted to visit the Caribbean! We had a nice time on the cruise ship and we were able to see about 5 different islands and lots of beaches. This trip just confirmed to me even more that I MUST live by the ocean (minus hurricanes and typhoons that come with it.) I could totally live in a tropical place. The hard part was just flying there and back. I hate traveling long distances. But the hardest part was being away from Vessel. We missed him so much! But luckily we had some great family members to take care of him while we were away. Thanks guys! Anyway, below I've posted some of the pictures we took during our trip. Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Day 1 & 2 At Sea

The first day we boarded the ship in Puerto Rico and sailed down to Barbados. Since we were at sea all day, we had to find a lot of fun stuff to do on the ship.

Jamie on one of the decks

There was a chair by the entrance of the dining room that reminded us of that Seinfeld episode when George modeled in his boxers. So here is Mike trying to replicate that pose.

Mike and Jamie in one of the lounges

There was an ice-skating rink on the ship. It was my first time ice-skating, and it just happened to be in the middle of the ocean!

There was also a rock climbing wall on the very top deck of the ship which made it feel like we were pretty high up. Here is Mike showing me how it's done.

Before dinner that evening, I caught this picture of the sun setting. Beautiful!

Day 3 Barbados

We took a taxi to "blue monkey" beach in the morning. The water was beautiful blue and the sand was soft and white. This was a fun place because we got to jet ski, swim with sea turtles and fish, and look for seashells. We were also able to just relax on our beach chairs and soak up the sun, which was a bad idea for me since I'd been cooped up in the house all winter and my white skin hadn't seen the light of day for months! But luckily I healed quickly and my sunburn turned into a tan.

I was a bit disappointed that the pictures of the sea turtles and fish didn't turn out so well with the underwater camera. :(

This was taken from the jetski.
Looking for shells and other treasures on the bottom of the sea.After the beach we took a taxi to downtown. We saw lots of shops and street vendors selling fresh fruit and vegetables.

One thing I loved about the islands was that all the buildings and houses were brightly colored.

Mike next to a palm tree.

Day 4 St. Lucia

View of St. Lucia from the ship.
St. Lucia reminded me a lot of Japan with the green covered hills, the humidiy, bamboo, the narrow streets, and the ditches off to the side of them.

Another brightly colored building with a Japanese style shingled roof.

We went on a tour to Lushan forest and medicinal garden in the morning.
This is what most people on the island used to live in. Basically a grass hut with dirt floors and walls made from woven tree branches.

The kitchen displaying bowls homemade out of coconut shells or clay.

Our tour guide Janelle spoke creole and taught us many words for the different huts and plants we saw. This is what a typical "restaurant" looked like back in the day.

The people here seemed very open about sexual things and Janelle wasn't a bit uncomfortable telling us about the various plants in the garden. I bet you didn't know that bay leaf could act as an herbal viagra, or alleviate mentrual cramps did you? Or that ginger can actually slow sexual libido? I bet you also didn't know that they named a tree "Bwa Koko Kawet," when roughly translated means "turtle testicals." And Janelle definitely wasn't afraid to explain why they call the flower below the "sex flower." I was quite taken back by her forwardness, but had to laugh about it.

Ooohhh....deep in the rainforest.....

Coconut shells decorating the garden.

A pile of coconuts. Janelle asked Mike to break one open over a rock and then we got to drink the coconut water inside and then eat the flesh of the coconut. Janelle also let us sample various fruits from the garden including grapefruit, mango, wax apple, and golden apple.

Our taxi took us to this local beach before heading back to the ship for the day. Unfortunately I don't remember the name of it.

This island was beautiful but it was also quite an eye opener for us. There were so many people living in poverty in little shacks with tin roofs. We were bombarded by people everywhere we went begging for us to buy something from them. They thrive on the tourism. It kind of made me feel like a douchebag because I just got the impression that some of the people looked at us like rich snobby "whiteys" from America, especially when we couldn't buy stuff from them. This was the one part of our vacation I had a hard time with. A feeling of not truly being welcomed by the locals in Barbados and St. Lucia was something Mike and I both experienced. And seeing some of the living conditions there made us very sad.

Day 5 Antigua

Antigua was one of our favorite islands. It seemed like the more north we got, the less poor the islands were and the better the living conditions seemed to be for the people. That was nice.

Here is Mike looking at Antigua from of the deck of our ship.

This lady danced while balancing a pineapple on her head.

We saw a cool looking church from our balcony so we decided to walk to it. It was called St. Johns Cathedral.

We saw several lizards roaming about the headstones within the gates.

Inside the church was beautiful stained glass depictions of Christ. I love old churches and this one had a really awesome rounded ceiling and hundreds of wooden pews.

Here is Mike coming out the back door.

To the side of the church was an all girls high school so I got a picture of a few of the girls in their uniforms.

Later that morning we took a taxi to Runaway Beach. It was the best beach so far!

The waves were much bigger here and Mike and I had a lot of fun swimming out and then bodysurfing to the shore.

Here were some people riding horses along the beach.

This picture makes me laugh whenever I see it. Nothing like an enema from the ocean to make you feel refreshed. :)

Mike just wading.

Gotta love the backwards "J," babe!

On our way back to the ship we saw this man playing a type of bongo drum. Everywhere you see people playing these or steel drums, which is where you get the beautiful Caribbean music. We were able to get Vessel a small steel drum from Antigua.