Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Over the rainbow

Hawaii is known as the "Rainbow State." The precurser to rainbows is, of course, rain. Someone once had a clothes line on the side of our house. They went to a lot of trouble to erect it with sturdy poles (now used for climbing) and cemented it into the hard volcanic ground. Only trouble; it rains everyday. No one uses that clothes line anymore. In fact, clothes lines are rarely out in the open. Clothes are typically hung under protection from the rain. Now why didn't some nice neighbor stop them before they did that?
This beautiful place is full of beautiful people, too. They are gentle and kind; road rage seems to be foreign to the island. But they are hurting, too. Pain, sin, trouble and sorrow are part of everyone's story, regardless of the geographical backdrop. It rains. But after rain, comes sun...and rainbows. The Gospel is the only answer for hurting families. The Gospel, not our own efforts to improve. The rainbow is Trinity Christian School, helping families to encounter the Gospel through the Trivium. May the rainbow last for a thousand generations.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Comin' Round the Mountain

Our living a few boxes...
We were at the house for about 10 minutes when we heard a loud engine and wondered where we'd heard that before. Then we saw it...our shipping container! We emptied it in a few hours. It's amazing how much easier it is to move into a house with no stairs! Opening each box is like Christmas in July. We are having such fun making our Kaneohe Kottage our home sweet home. We're very blessed, very blessed indeed. We have two bedrooms and one "Quiet Room" which will also be a guest room. In a family of six, there needs to be a refuge from the chaos. We are also blessed with a large car port that will be used as a lanai (outdoor room) and the view of the mountains and valleys and trees from there is my favorite. Our neighborhood is quite safe we're told. Yesterday, as we were getting hungry and tired, our next-door neighbors came to meet us and they brought home made banana bread and fresh cut pineapple. Everyone assumes that newbies at this time of year are military folks. (We are...just with a different army.) It's nice to work for a place like Trinity Christian School because everyone knows who you are and what you're about when you tell them what you do. Upon hearing that we work for TCS, our neighbor said, "Oh, that means you must love the Lord." They've been praying for a Christian family to move in; someone who could play with their 4 kids, ages 17 to 9...sound familiar? They homeschool using a...get this...classical and Christian curriculum. God scares me sometimes. The details that He has been so careful to work out are a testament to His love and care. We forget that so easily. Someone commented today this must be hard on the kids. By God's grace, they all disagree. It was hard to say good-bye, but this blog and Facebook and other internet goodies make that easier. It was hard to trust God for all the details and trust that we were following Him and not some middle-age crisis. But it hasn't been hard on them. They, like us, feel like we're walking through a movie without a script. The Director's presence and direction is very clear. The supporting cast is always right on cue. The props, the scenery keep changing, but the plot is thickening. And we can't wait to see how it unfolds.
The kids lugged these volcanic rocks out from under the house and lined them up along the edge of the garden. Much nicer than the previous plastic landscaping edge.

Friday, July 17, 2009

First things first

My kids have their priorities straight alright. First thing they did after swimming in the warm water of Kailua Bay was build a castle. Ever wonder why kids do that? Give them blocks, cups, sand or rocks and they'll build. I believe that's because they were meant to build. As creatures made in His likeness, we share God's desire to build a Kingdom. Usually, we confuse that desire with an attachment for things, a hoarding of resources, a huddling of comforts. We think these building projects will make us content. We make mini-kingdoms in our homes, our hearts, our comfort zones. But we're never satisfied. We always want more. Not until we build something that lasts do we feel fulfilled. No money that we make, save, trade or invest will bring us the satisfaction of building God's Kingdom. Sure, there are really happy rich young people out there building their kingdoms, investing in themselves...but like my kids castle, those kingdoms will be washed away by the tides of life. If we build the Kingdom of God through relationships and sacrifice, and giving, we find that we are satisfied beyond our wildest imaginations. And we come to learn that He will provide those needs that we were grasping to fill on our own. "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you."

Kaneohe Kottage
Today we saw our Kaneohe Kottage. To me, this Kottage is a miracle. Affordable housing just doesn't happen in Hawaii, and when it does, it doesn't come with panoramic views of mountains and three bedrooms (not that it isn't a great place to live). Pictures are to come. The yard is in need of a good gardener... I was wondering how I would afford getting new plants and herbs. Nancy, my new boss and current hostess, has asked me to take all the cuttings and herbs I can use from her overflowing gardens. She said that she has a gardener who is very territorial (how appropriate for a gardener) so she has asked me to let the gardener do all the digging up, just tell her what I problem! God amazes me. He has provided so much and in addition to that He arranged for Nancy and her husband to visit her father-in-law at just the same time that we arrived and are getting moved in. We are staying in a lovely home overlooking the Kailua Bay and mountains all around. Explain to me...why do I doubt? Oh me of little faith.
"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Leaving On A Jet Plane

With 13 bags, 4 neck pillows, and 3 laptops, we are ready to board. I mentioned to Mary last night that it feels a little scarey to be leaving the safety of home and church, school, friends and family to start a new life in a new place. She gently reminded me that regardless of our income, location or employment status, we are dependant on the Lord for all our needs. Good words. We think that we are providing for ourselves in all of our self sufficiency but it is God who puts us where we are and holds us in His hand. It is He who will somehow stretch our dollars to afford the most expensive place to live in America. It is He who will give us new friends and He who will use us. I confess I have been a little anxious as this day has drawn nearer. His Word reminds me to "be anxious for nothing but with thanksgiving make my requests known to God." So, I'll start with being thankful for His very clear direction in getting us this far, His provision for our needs, including mechanics, His hospitality through friends along the way...when I start with thanksgiving, it drives away the anxiety...funny how that works.

Monday, July 13, 2009

We Made It To The West Coast!

Living it up in a hotel in California...

...what a nice surprise.

The USS Midway...a city in the water.

Tonight's sunset on La Jolla's Coast

Another view of California from the car...

So far Daniel and Lydia have both endured a stomach bug while in California. Daniel celebrated his birthday by throwing up all night and Lydia is celebrating with him tonight. Please pray that we will not make our hosts sick.

The Loveliness of Christ We are staying with the parents of my friend, Erika. I confess that as I first sat with them tonight, I was distracted by how much of them I had already encountered in Erika. Her laugh, her smile, her mannerisms, her thoughtfulness and even her style all started here with these two people. They are a lovely couple, deeply in love with each other and with the Lord. Reflecting on this, I wonder, how much of my Heavenly Father do others see in me? When my friends meet Him in His Home, will they see something of Him that they first saw in me? I hope so.
Swanky husband joins swanky sailor at The Midway.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Daniel is 14 Today.

We took Daniel to San Diego for his birthday. First we went through the desert... and boy was it hot! But our car made it and so did we! We listened to "Aloha Oy" from Focus on the Family's Adventures in Odyssey. Daniel acted out the parts with costumes. It was quite the show. Here are two shots.

"Captain Quid"

"Donna Barkley"

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Arizona Awe

"When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, the Son of Man that You care for him?" Psalm 8:3

I am humbled at the magnitude of God's power in these mountains, His brilliance in these colors, His patience with mankind. He who formed these rocks, caused these mountains to cascade and painted this desert with such strength and resolve...gave Himself for mankind. Humbled Himself. Became a man. Felt thirst in the desert. Felt loneliness in the garden. Felt sin on the cross. "O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!" vs. 9

Friday, July 10, 2009

Cross My Heart and Hope To Die

Part One
Last year Dave and I visited Trinity Christian School in Hawaii for a stint of teacher training that they asked me to do. What an honor it was to teach this sweet family of teachers. Their school is large, but they are still a family. What impressed us most about Trinity was their heart for the Kingdom of God. Their school is a ministry of the church. When families are in need, they try to care for those needs. And there are a lot of needs in Hawaii. The folks at Trinity recognize how strategic their location is; it is paradise after all. They have a vision to help other schools as the Lord allows. We have been involved in classical and Christian education for 15 years and have been so encouraged by what God is starting to do in Asia and in other parts of the world. Can you imagine how many schools in Asia would be blessed to have a training facility as close as Hawaii? Right now, if they want training, they have to travel a great distance, which might arouse suspiscion. But who would question a vacation in paradise? This was our immediate thought when we began to see the potential at Trinity. We mentioned it to them and they told us that a guest house was one of their long term goals. Our thought? can we make that happen sooner? Dave was smitten and wanted to move...but I was hesitant. How could I leave?

Part Two
I noticed that my heart was acting funny several months before going to Hawaii. I had several trips to the hospital, some in an ambulance because of high blood pressure. I struggled significantly with my asthma and my heart was beating so loudly I thought everyone could hear it. I made an appointment to see a cardiologist. He doubted the validity of my concerns, but he scheduled some tests to be done upon returning from Hawaii. I struggled to keep up with Dave's mountain hikes in Hawaii. That was frustrating because I have worked out for years. None of these things made any sense to me. When the tests were all completed and the results were in, the cardiologist told me that a virus had attacked my heart and its function was reduced by a third. This explained the palpitations, the high blood pressure and asthma symptoms. He told me he wanted to implant a defibrilator and that I'd need a heart transplant later. Not exactly good news. He put me on medication that put me on the couch. It was scarey for all of us. And it was one of the best things that ever happened to us. I began to ask myself if I was ready to die. Was I happy with all that I had accomplished? Was there more that I wanted to do? My answer? No. I wasn't happy. I wanted to do more. To say more. To give more and to be more involved with actively building God's Kingdom. I began to wonder if God was nudging me to change my mind about moving to Hawaii.

Part Three
I became frustrated with my cardiologist. It seemed like he was more interested in doing procedures (which earn big bucks for him) than he was in working with me to understand and manage my heart disease. I found a new doctor who was far less interested in freaking me out and more interested in helping me to manage my new meds and get back into the game of life. Since starting the meds, I have found that my asthma has improved to the point that I don't even need an inhaler when I work out. And my heart is fine. My blood pressure is great. But as I got better, Laura got sicker. She became so sick last fall, she could not get out of bed for days and days. Her symptoms kept changing so we kept thinking it was one virus after another. Eventually, we began to worry about Lyme Disease. Her doctor agreed and treated her. We thought it was over. Then it all happened again...but her doctor wouldn't treat her with an antibiotic again. He wanted us to see a Lyme Specialist. We weren't sure...Then one Sunday, Laura woke up unable to move her legs. She said they were heavy and she couldn't will them to walk. We went to the hospital. They ran lots of tests and had no answers, so we went to the specialist after all. He ran lots of tests, too, but he had answers. Laura has Lyme Disease. She's had it for years. It is probably the reason that she has struggled with nerve pain (seems to run in my family). It found her weakness and worsened it. Her circulation was also affected. She struggles to stay warm and she is likely going to continue to struggle for a long time. Lyme Disease is extremely resistant, especially if untreated for years. The antibiotic is helping but she needs a milder climate to help her overcome this disease. It occurred to us that she wouldn't struggle to stay warm in Hawaii. Now I was sure that God was nudging us. How could we not listen?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Grand Canyon and Slide Rock Park

A Grand Time Indeed!

Gertrude Priscilla Stinkpot (a.k.a. GPS)
Travelling with a GPS is a sanity saver. Not only am I vertically challenged, I’m also directionally challenged; I can’t find East unless we’re having a sunrise service. Dave’s mother is the human version of OnStar, so he is not clueless like me. But he is concerned with finding the most efficient routes possible. Relying on Gertie allows us to get where we need to go without the stress that our humanity adds. She tells you when you’ll arrive and in how many miles you’ll make your next turn. Today, she told us that our next turn would be in 300 miles! There’s a lot you can learn from a GPS. The most notable is what to say when the driver makes a mistake. Instead of, “What are you doing?!” or “Are you crazy?!” Gertie says “recalculating.” When humans detect error we bring accusations, a GPS acknowledges the mistake and carefully explains the next step to take. When others are practicing their “driving skills” in their walk with God, they, too, want to find their own way and they also make mistakes. I confess that I often bring accusations and insults instead of a patient “recalculating”. Interesting that Satan is known as the Accuser, while God is the Defender. It’s funny that no matter how many times we make the wrong turn, Gertie keeps redirecting with positive steps to take, rather than accusations about our driving skills. We humans have a limit to our patience. Thankfully, God's Perfect Substitute, gives unlimited grace and even better redirection. Admittedly, the Collins Clan sometimes intentionally makes wrong turns just to hear Gertie “recalculate.” Lord, give me Your patience and make me a Defender like you that others may find their way.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Painted Desert Arizona & New Mexico Desert

So how did the two of you meet?

This seems like a benign church supper kind of question, right? But the poor folks who ask this are often in for a shocker. When I was a baby Christian at 16, I was in a relationship with a volatile and angry young man. I became pregnant and was suddenly faced with life and death decisions, for myself and for my child. I needed to get out of my abusive relationship and I needed to find a way to keep my baby. I left home and lived with a dear Christian family who loved me as if I was their own daughter. I grew in so many ways. I went to a school for unwed mothers in the inner city; the only girl to ever openly plan to place her child for adoption. I was just as openly hated. In that culture, being an unwed mother who lives on government assistance and never finishes high school is more acceptable than choosing for that child to be adopted. I learned to care less about what others thought of me and more of what God thought about me. I resigned myself to being single for the rest of my life. But God brought Dave to me. He was my support system and my best friend. When my son was adopted, I moved back home and agreed to my mom’s request that I not return to my church or youth group. The only person she trusted was…Dave. After three weeks of daily visits from Dave, (he was concerned that I have constant encouragement after my pregnancy). I was smitten beyond recovery. If you’ve ever read Jane Eyre, my heart was as torn as Jane’s when she thought she was being sent to Ireland. Dave was just as quiet as Rochester so I wasn’t sure if he felt the same way. He’s also 5 years older than me; at the time that difference was significant. One night Dave’s mom told him that if he was interested in me, it was fine with her. That was all it took. The next day was July 3, 1984. In Jane Eyre, Rochester described their relationship as hearts that were attached. That is exactly how we felt. For us, once the leap was made, there was no going back.
Whatever happened to my son? His name is Wade. He grew up in a loving Christian home in Oklahoma. I met him when he was 18 and we have enjoyed a special relationship ever since. One of our stops on this Aloha journey was Oklahoma. We stayed with Wade and his parents for two days. Here are a few pictures from our time with them. For those Baltimore Colts fans out there, Wade’s father was the center for the Colts and he played with Burt Jones. Wade is the bearded one in the middle. He is a teacher with Outward Bound and he thinks the beard makes him look older…no comment.

Monday, July 6, 2009

No Longer Doubting Thomas

We started to have trouble with the van on the way to Tennessee, the first leg of our trip. The A/C started to wane in our last two hours of our first day's journey. The high pitched wail under the hood was another indicator. Of course, the next day was the 4th of July. We took the van to Sears; they thought it was the A/C so we decided to get to Oklahoma sans air-conditioning. Only one problem, the driver's side window no longer works. It was hot. Thankfully, this made everyone sleepy. AND thankfully, the sky was cloudy, making it much cooler. We stopped in Arkansas for lunch on Sunday, then a quick trip to Best Buy to get an adaptor for the computer. Turn the keys, click. Oh no. Lift up the hood and three guys come to help. They stayed with us for hours. Thomas and Brett and Jason are all car-port mechanics . Thomas keeps a professional car jack in his truck. We made reservations at a hotel and prepared to stay the night and take care of junking the car and getting a rental on Monday. But the tow truck driver had other plans. He diagnosed the problem and there was NO DOUBT that Thomas would take care of it. He replaced the air compressor and freon right there in the Best Buy parking lot. Thomas' girlfriend has done several missions trips in Thailand. Six hours later he got us on the road WITH air conditioning. Doubt not. He who has led us this far will not desert us now! Thank you Lord for sending us your angels. And thank you Thomas for all you did to help us. What a blessing!

Friday, July 3, 2009


Twenty five years ago on this day, Dave and I took
the frightening leap from best friends to uh.....whatever you call it... It was a scarey day. I could tell his feelings for me were changing and
mine had long since changed for him. I was so scared that we would take the leap and risk losing our friendship. I'll never forget that first kiss. It was magic. And now, years later, we are taking another leap, risking everything, and I believe it will be just as magical.

We decided to take the kids to D.C. for one last tour yesterday. Just a quick visit...long enough to get completely drenched by the summer rain....liquid sunshine as they call it in Hawaii. The name on the wall is our neighbor's son's name.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


"Aloha"... means hello and good-bye in Hawiian. The good-byes are becoming more and more difficult, so I'm finding myself saying "Aloha" more and more. What an incredible community the Lord has given us. What a blessing to have had our families so close. We never dreamed that we would actually be leaving, but here we go. We are amazed and blessed by all that God is doing and all that He will do and we are completely amazed that He has allowed us to be a part of it. We love you all. Here is a picture of our Kaneohe Kottage. No, that's not our car. Yes, I'll move the trash can. Those are the Koolau Mountains behind our house. "How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news..."