1 In Travel

Our Trip to Maui || February 2017

“The heavens declare the glory of God;  the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.  They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.  Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.  In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.  It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course.  It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other;  nothing is deprived of its warmth.”
-Psalm 19-

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—
his eternal power and divine nature—
have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made,
so that people are without excuse.”
-Romans 1:20-

My husband and I received the most incredible gift from my parents, and from God, in the form of an opportunity to visit Maui, Hawaii, for 10 days!  We embarked with open hearts, open minds, a spirit of adventure, and a readiness for whatever God had in store for us during this trip.  Our time in wonderful, magical Maui cannot be fully communicated, not through words, or pictures, or quotes, but I will share with you as much as I can!  Our hearts came alive… longings were awakened… love and kindness were freely given and warmly received… truths were revealed… and for me specifically, I followed the Hawaiian women’s lead, ditched my insecurities, and embraced my natural beauty and femininity.  Island life brought a lot of freedom for me!  My husband and I have had a year that has forged our faith with challenges and perseverance, which we are SO thankful for.  But our time together in Maui was truly an incredible gift of rest, rejuvenation, and inspiration!  We are home now and ready again to embrace a life here, in a place that we love equally as much.  Please join me on a journey to Maui, through my rememberings, some quotes I took from a book my husband and I read together (again) while being there, and of course, LOTS OF PICTURES!!!

Mark and I were completely awed by our initial views of Maui as we headed from the Kahului Airport to Ka’anapli Beach.  Even knowing that Hawaii is made up of volcanoes and their aftermath, we weren’t prepared for the deep love and fascination we felt for the mountains!!  They were a steady, immovable, mystical part of our experience there.
 The view from our condo’s lanai (balcony), is unlike any I’d ever seen, with an uninhabited island across from us.  The vast majority of land in Maui County is owned by the government or native families and is kept in its natural state.  We stayed at the Hyatt Residence, and found that they had thought of every little detail to make it an enchanting, relaxing, laid-back place to stay.  I was surprised and delighted by how many families were there.  The chain of pools were out of my own childhood dreams, and the open green space was occupied daily by games, kids, and staff members playing during their breaks.  The Hawaiians seem like such happy people who just love life.
“The spiritual life cannot be made suburban.  It is always frontier and we who live in it must accept
and even rejoice that it remains untamed.”
-Howard Macey-

These mountains greeted (and beckoned) us every time we walked out our back door, but the view was never quite the same!!  Cloud formations and the effects of different positions of the sun created a totally new masterpiece to behold, every changing moment.  Mark and I were filled daily with curiosity and a desire to become more intimately acquainted with the mountains in all their untamed majesty.

“You’ll be glad every night, that you treated her right.”
-George Thorogood-

On Tuesday, Mark and I had a shopping day in adorable downtown Lahaina!!  Gosh, do I love that beach town.  Mark bought some wild (literally, they were fuzzy tiger print) board shorts from one of the oldest surfing brands, Maui Built.  We had lunch at Cheeseburger in Paradise, and Mark chatted up Benny the Stone Dancer, asking him to share his story.  Benny is somewhat of a vagabond, a nomad, who gets invited to various beach towns around the states and islands to build rock sculptures on the spot.  He told us that God has given each of us a gift, and for whatever reason, this is his.  Ever since he was young, he figured out he could feel any rock and figure out how to make it balance on another rock, and another, and another, regardless of how impossible the shapes appeared.  And he did, right in front of us and a crowd, so that we would know it wasn’t a hoax!  I will try to post some videos later that I took of Benny at work.
Evenings were spent on our balcony watching the sunset and listening to some of the Hawaiian staff  members perform a traditional drum beat, blow a conch shell, and light the tiki torches.  We loved our Hawaiian Hyatt family, so warm, friendly, laid-back, and happy.  We got to know some of the bartenders’s stories at the tiki bar, who came from all over the states and were livin’ the dream.  They made the most delicious, creative cocktails with lots of freshly squeezed fruit.  Notice in the bottom right photo, what we think is Venus.  It was the first orb to shine its light after the sun’s glory faded.  One night walking on the beach, we noticed that it was bright enough to cast its own distinct glimmer on the water!
Mark and my dad had a lot of time to bond, laugh, and get to know each other better- the two most amazing men in the whole world!!  Mornings were spent waking up slowly, enjoying breakfast on the lanai, conversing with each other and/or God, and thinking about what we’d like to do that day.  I have always appreciated my parents’ relaxed, spontaneous attitude during family vacations.  That morning, Mark and I decided to walk the beach and boardwalk.

“When it comes to living and loving, what’s required is a willingness to jump in with both feet and be creative as you go.”
-Wild at Heart-

I just have to say, this guy is my everything.  He made our vacation SO wonderful, playful, fun, meaningful, memorable, and romantic, and he spoiled me silly!  On our way to the beach, I found my new friend Sherry lying in a cabana and asked her to snap a few photos.  She was so funny; apparently she “loves photography” (confirmed by the fact that she took about 20 pictures of us in a matter of seconds).  We were thankful for her enthusiasm and to have a few photos of us on my “nice camera.”
Ka’anapali Beach is the most amazing place ever, like something out of a fairy tale!  One can walk the path that goes in front of all the resorts, lined with restaurants, shops, activity rentals, woodcarvers & artists, beautiful plant life, and of course the sounds of Hawaiian music and ocean waves drifting around the island atmosphere.
Mom & I loved sunbathing and reading by the infinity pool.

“Every woman needs to know that she is exquisite and exotic and chosen.  This is core to her identity, the way she bears the image of God.  “Will you pursue me?  Do you delight in me?  Will you fight for me?”
-Wild at Heart-

Wednesday night we attended a luau at the Hyatt hotel.  It was SO fun and inspiring, and of course the food was incredible.  We literally did not eat one bad thing the entire trip.  One thing in particular that I appreciated about the luau show was how the women seemed to embrace their sensuality and unique femininity without being promiscuous, and how the men exuded masculinity and a passionate warrior heart, without being domineering.  It  seemed to me like the were getting something right, something natural, something intended for all of us as men and women created by the same God, despite our different histories and origins.  Again, it was an invitation to me to delight in being the woman that God made me to be.  After the show, Mark struck up a conversation with a native Hawaiian woman selling homemade, traditional Hawaiian jewelry.  She shared with us that ancestors had always been jewelry makers- it was still her family’s trade, and I truly have never seen jewelry more naturally stunning.  Mark had overheard Nola talking to another person about the history and legends portrayed in the luau performances.  Mark said, “Do you mind if I ask you a question?  And you can totally tell me to piss off, haha.”  She said she “Sure,” so he asked, “How do Hawaiians feel about the missionaries coming here?”  Her response was awesome and unexpected:  “For the Christianity, yes, we are so thankful.  Before that was our god (pointing to a wooden totem), but now we know Jesus Christ, and we love him.  But for everything else…. no comment.”  We understood- Hawaii has become commercialized, old ways pushed out, agriculture pushed out, etc., and not by their choosing.   “But we are thankful that you come here,” she added quickly, probably aware that her livelihood now depended on these foreign tourists!  We had a long conversation with Nola, and a few days later returned to buy a necklace that had really stood out to both Mark and I (actually, he picked it out!  He has a great eye for the rare & beautiful).  Plus, we agreed that supporting Nola’s business was a way that we could love her.
“Originality and Creativity are as essential to personhood, to masculinity and femininity.  The adventure begins and our real strength and beauty are released when we no longer rely on formulas. God is an immensely creative Person and he wants his sons and daughters to live that way too.”
-Wild at Heart-

Thursday, we headed to the marina for a wale watching and coral reef snorkeling tour on The Pride of Maui- SO MUCH FUN!!!!  We had already seen a ton of whale activity from our condo, but this was an opportunity to get out into the great big ocean and experience the freedom of the wind in our hair and sun on our skin.  Nothing could’ve prepared me for the absolute wonder, awe, and aliveness I felt of seeing the coral reefs and astoundingly colorful fish!!  God is truly is a generous and genius Creator!!  The best part was being hand-in-hand with Mark, seeing everything together.  After getting back in the boat, we had drinks and burgers and laughed with strangers.
Uh oh- when you give my dad a camera, he will get right in your face!!   And forget about the zoom feature, he got up out his seat for these!! <: )
Not pictured here, but a snapshot I made sure to take with my mind: whipping winds on the upper deck of a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, my dad’s hair standing straight up in the breeze, his arms thrust in the air, shouting as the sea spray hits him, with the biggest smile on his face… I could tell his man heart was fully alive, and I never want to forget it.

This was Thursday’s sunset, just to top off an already tantalizing experience…

“But the soul of a man isn’t made for controlling things; it’s made for adventure.  Something in us remembers, however faintly, that when God set man on the earth he gave us an incredible mission- a charter to explore, build, conquer, and care for all creation.  God never revoked that charter.”
-Wild at Heart-

On Friday, Mark & I had an adventure day date!  We began our excursion at a fruit stand in Lahaina with fresh fruit smoothies and cane juice.  Sugar cane used to be a huge export of Hawaii, and it still grows like crazy around Maui.“This is how it feels to come alive again… this is how it feels to let freedom in… and break the chains that enslave my soul.”
-Wild at Heart-
My husband knows what makes my heart come alive, and that is being able to capture the beauty and “feel” of the world around me, the things that catch my eye and capture my heart, through my lens.  He knew I had been enamored by this cburch, so he pulled over and let me jump out, camera in hand.  During the trip, we talked about being noticers… not letting life, people, beauty, moments, and opportunities slip by without loving, appreciating, and being thankful for them.
(Speaking of noticing… do you see the handsome rooster below, walking around like he owns the place??)
All my husband knew is that he wanted me to be his partner in adventure on our Friday day date.  So I had picked up a map earlier in the week, with some vague ideas of what “adventure” meant to both of us.  I selected two places that would satisfy: he had mentioned his desire to see Jaws, the location for the world’s largest surfing competition, and I had mentioned my desire to find a good hiking trail in Maui.  So with me as his navigator, we drove through the city of Kahului, along the north shore through a charming surf town called Pa’ia, until my phone’s GPS signaled for us to turn left onto Hahana Road.

“Safe?  Who said anything about safe?  ‘Course he isn’t safe… But he is good!”
-C.S. Lewis-

Now, this road was very scary, at least to me!!  Let’s just say, we later found out that only 4WD vehicles are suggested to make the long, arduous trip down this greatly eroded and compromised red dirt road, and here we are in a Nissan sedan rental!!!  Thank GOD for my husband’s amazing driving skills and cool, calm demeanor because I was freaking out.  Not only did the road seem to be threatening us to turn back with its ginormous potholes and deep, gouging rivulets, but there were also smashed up and burned cars scattered along the side… piles of people’s trash, as if it were an appliance-and-tire-and-everything-else dump… thick, grassy foliage to one side and a straight-down drop off into a jungle ravine to the other… and to top it off, it screamed the feeling of no man’s land when our cell reception decided to quit.  I had my doubts, and I’ll admit I had my fears, but we both felt called onward.  It didn’t feel safe, but it still felt right.  Suddenly the narrow dirt road opened into a wide open circular space on a cliffside.  We got out of the car and looked straight down.  We had made it!!  Granted, the waves weren’t huge this time of year, but the thought of people surfing here was just incredible… the power and wildness of that place took our breath away and made our blood pump.  And the best part was remembering that I am Mark’s warrior princess, and I know that I can trust my man.
Next stop: Twin Falls!!  Now this…. this is what I always imagined Hawaii to look like!!  Lush, exotic, wild, fascinating, colorful… a tropical paradise.  I will admit, we were ridiculous, shutter-happy tourists.  It took us about 45 minutes to walk a mile to the falls because we could not get over all of the sites along the way!!  At one point, I stuck my lens into the edge of the woods to capture a curly plant that caught my eye.  As I focused on it, something moved just beyond my depth of field- it was a three-horned chameleon!!!  Just the cutest, sweetest little lizard I ever did see!  We met another young couple who photographed the lizard too, and then photographed us when we got to the falls.  What a peaceful place with the most enchanting light…
As we got back in the car and began driving toward Kahului again, Mark suggested we follow bartender Vick’s suggestion and take “the long way” back to Ka’anapali Beach.  As Vick described it, a one-lane road entirely comprised of hair-pin turns through the mountains, with incredible views of the North Shore coast.  Only local inhabitants and tourists dare to make the drive because 1) it is very slow-going and dangerous at times, and 2) service vehicles like semi-trucks can easily get stuck in one of the sharp curves.  Mark said he will remember this vacation for all of my “yes’s.”  “Yes, let’s do it!” I said.  And WOW, did God completely bless that decision and draw us into a marvelous adventure with him & each other!!!!  I will try to let the photos speak for themselves and the breath-taking views and details our eyes beheld…  Thankfully, there were many places to pull off the road to take pictures.  Drivers sincerely need to be paying attention at all times because the road winds along a steep cliffside, then drops down into the ravines, then curves upward again, and this intimidating pattern continues the entire way.  Again, I will try later to include a video I took in the car of our wind-y ride.  At one of the first places we stopped, we noticed a sheet of rain coming across the ocean with a rainbow tucked in it- a storm to add to the excitement of it all!!

Mark and I swore that if we ever made it back to Maui, we would return to this place: a trail through the jungle to a sandy beach and amazing snorkeling spot!  The vines and hazy light completely intrigued me.
It is true what they say about Hawaii… you will have rains quickly give way to sun, and the result will be all of the colors on the earth and in the sky will be in full effect.  This was the cherry on top of Friday’s incredible adventure date.  Intimacy with the mountains, achieved!
That night we had dinner with my parents on the boardwalk.  I did not try this beer but had a different Waikiki craft brew… let’s see if I can remember… The Hana Hou Hefe!  YUM!  I think in my excitement I called it my spirit beer… Oh, and doesn’t Dad’s shell necklace compliment his Bucky hoodie?? Haha!  (I took this one for my brothers)
Saturday, our last full day in this place we have come to deeply love and adore.  Mark had gotten pretty hooked on snorkeling, so he bought us masks and we took our chances right off the hotel beach.  The coral may not have been as diverse, but the fish certainly were!!!  AND… WE SAW SEA TURTLES!!!!  Let me rephrase- we were 1 foot from sea turtles!  I will have to include the awesome video Mark was able to get with his GoPro.  They were gentle giants with beautifully patterned bodies and “fins,” and more interested in eating off the ocean floor (which was so freekin’ adorable) than the fact that you are in their bubble.  We fell in love with them and now understood why so many local artists depict the sea turtle.

“And all God’s wildness and all his fierceness are inseparable from his romantic heart.”
-Wild at Heart-

We were gifted with one more romantic sunset…
And finally, the tasty treat we had been waiting for all week: our Saturday dinner reservations at Kimo’s, complete with Hula Pie!!  I have never had such good, fresh fish in my LIFE!!  If nothing else, I’d move to Hawaii just for that.  And Hula Pie I am currently contemplating how to make at home ; )  I am wearing the necklace we purchased from Nola and also a new dress that Mark picked out for me in Whaler’s Village.
Forget my pets?  Couldn’t stop thinking about them!  Saying goodbye to Maui, indescribable Maui, brought such mixed emotions.  But Mark and I know that we are truly blessed for this reason alone: God is guiding our lives and inviting us into a great adventure with him wherever we go, be it Maui or Wisconsin or anywhere else He calls us to.  Being led hand-in-hand with Him, we are creating a life that we love and are deeply thankful for.  We will never forget how He used Maui to sweeten our love and awaken our hearts.  I will leave you with this, one of my all-time favorite sections of any book, ever:

“If you had permission to do what you really want to do, what would you do?  Don’t ask how; that will cut your desire off at the knees.  How is never the right question.  How is God’s department.  He is asking you what.  What is written in your heart?  What makes you come alive?  If you could do what you’ve always wanted to do, what would it be?  You see, a man’s calling is written on his true heart, and he discovers it when he enters the frontier of his deep desires.  Don’t ask yourself what the world needs… Ask yourself what makes you come alive, because what the world needs more are men and women who have come alive.”
-Wild at Heart-

Thank you for joining me on our journey!  If you are particularly grabbed by any of the photos above, Prints are available here : )

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  • Jasmine Ryan
    March 13, 2017 at 10:19 am

    Oh dear friend, what an incredible testimony to our God’s divinity with you as His witness! It’s precisely in the act of noticing, just as you say, that we glorify Him most. Your photography is superb, as always, but your words equally so! Your heart for adventure and the way you allow yourself to truly experience what makes you and your husband come alive with no fear is so rare and admirable. Yes you received the promised rest on this trip, but because your heart and hands were open, you and Mark both received so much more. Thank you for sharing your heart and your God-given talent. Just as Benny the Stone Dancer stacks rocks upon each other to the glory of the Creator of both himself and the rocks, your ability to stack photos and words points right back to the heart of the One who created you and the beauty you so eloquently notice and capture.