27 March 2009

@}-- Happy Birthday Raisha! --{@

Five years ago today... My baby girl was born!

Raisha, the baby kangaroo...

Hey! This tastes pretty good...!

Raisha, the pirate

Raisha, the food critic...

Raisha, the butterfly fairy

Raisha contemplating the inconsistencies of her reality and reflecting on the question re: eternal existence of matter...

Raisha & Eva @ Disney World

Raisha holding "Simba."

I love you!

24 March 2009


You know, all too often, the world judges Christians by the squeaky wheels who make us look so bad... you know the type: hyper-judgmental and anything BUT full of love, the extremists who do everything EXCEPT what Jesus really called us to do: To Love and to SERVE.
Why is that?
Because that is all they choose to see.

-->>They don't see us feeding the homeless at 6 am... or us giving shelter to the runaway who is fleeing abuse.
-->>They don't see us at midnight, taking roses to the strip clubs to tell the girls there that they are VALUABLE and worthy to be loved.
-->>They don't see our volunteers spending countless hours tutoring at-risk youth in the inner city, giving them the time and attention they desperately need, several times a week.
-->>They don't see our college kids and high schoolers using their summer vacation to go and feed starving orphans in Africa and Brazil and Honduras and India...

They don't see it because it doesn't fit into their tidy, politically-correct view of who we are.
But that doesn't change reality.
The "nut jobs" might get the most media attention, but we are the ones building a legacy... for those who are not yet here.

You see, there ARE Christians out there who really are trying to walk out their faith and be the "hands and feet" of Jesus to EVERYONE they meet.
If you don't believe me, just check this out:

At last check, there are more than 200 churches, worldwide, that are participating in SERVOLUTION!

That is simply phenomenal!

What is a "Servolution" you ask?
"Sharing God's love and changing lives through simple acts of kindness."

Our very own pastor, Dino Rizzo, wrote the book, SERVOLUTION which will be debuting very soon...
Here are just a FEW of the things we will be doing during Servolution Week (April 3-9):

  • *FREE (no donations!) CAR WASHES
    *CLEANING the BATTERED WOMEN'S SHELTER (and pampering the ladies, too!)
    *PICKING UP TRASH & MOWING LAWNS ("Adopt-a-Block")
---->>> And this list is, by no means, complete. This is a mere sampling of the activities we will carry out (and, in fact, DO carry out on a regular basis!).

But, the really cool thing is, you don't have to be a member of Healing Place Church to help out! In fact, you don't even have to live in Louisiana!

"Servolution is about churches partnering together and reaching out to their communities through simple acts of kindness for the soul purpose of expressing the love of God to people in our community."

YOUR very own church can sign up to get involved and be a part of one amazing week showing the world what it really means to be followers of Christ. And there are tons of ideas with practical tips and information for you to get started. Just click here:

17 March 2009

Day 6 -- Magic Kingdom Goodbye...

The saddest day in the "happiest place on earth" is always the last day...
But we still managed to have fun & the weather was (once again) PERFECT!

Getting ready to go into the park... I think Clay's had a *little* too much fun here!

Mickey's house in "Mickey's Toon Town Fair"

Inside Mickey's house!

Mickey's kitchen is a MESS!

On to Minnie's house!...

Making ourselves at home... =)

Does Minnie have anything good to eat?
Let's see... hmmm, just CHEESE.

Cinderella's Castle (up close!)

Inside the castle!

Nadia on "Tomorrowland's Transit Authority"

Raisha & Natasha with BUZZ LIGHTYEAR!

Natasha on the Mad Hatter's Tea Party (Tea Cups)

Waiting in line for "Mickey's Philharmonic!"

Someone's looking a *little* sleeeeeeeepppyy....

Cinderella's castle is most beautiful in the early evening!

The castle lit up at night with the light parade going by...

That's just what I was thinking!
A perfect ending to a perfect day.
Sweet dreams, Raisha...

15 March 2009

Day 5 -- Around The World (EPCOT)

Day 5 (Wednesday) was another GORGEOUS day! Sunny and about 70 degrees, so we decided to take a trip around the world -- World Showcase
aka: the "back half" of EPCOT.

Beautiful landscaping of Mickey from Fantasia

First, though, we popped in to "Club Cool" -- a neat little shop sponsored by Coca-Cola -- which features FREE tastes of soft drinks from all over the world!
My favorites were from Mozambique & Germany.
The ones from Italy and Mexico tasted like medicine! Blech.
Performance in front of the America Pavilion

Natasha with a camel I would LOVE to own in the Morocco Pavilion :)

Nadia and I in front of the fountain in "Morocco"

The beautiful architecture of "Italy"

We had lunch in the Germany Pavilion at "Biergarten"

Clay & Raisha in Biergarten waiting for the "Oktoberfest" show to begin!
Raisha was not a fan of the food here & she thought the sauerkraut made the place smell "stinky."

Nadia wasn't really interested in the show; she just wanted to finish her book!

Natasha being "snacked on" (yet, again) by a hungry lion in the China Pavilion. ;)

Overall, it was a great day... especially since Raisha got to meet one of her very favorite characters: Donald Duck in the Mexico Pavilion

Some thoughts about EPCOT:
We made a point of starting in Canada and working our way counter-clockwise around the "world" which hosts representations of 11 different countries.
Previously, we have always begun in Mexico and we usually peter out about the time we get to France, so I was curious what we had been missing...
Not much, actually.

No offense at all to the people or their countries, but this half of the "world" was far less interesting (for us) than the other side. For one, there were mostly only films and shows geared toward older guests. The educational value would have been OK for Nadia & Natasha, but a 4-year-old is only going to sit through so much of that. Plus, in the Canada Pavilion, you have to STAND for the whole show! Not something our tired, aching feet were inclined to do!

The United Kingdom Pavilion had an interesting toy shop and I bought some wonderful hand cream from the "Scottish" shop, but that was about it.

In the France Pavilion, we decided to have a snack of various pastries since that is one of the things they are famous for. They were good -- especially the profiteroles (cream puffs) -- but I think the Kringla Og Bakeri in the Norway Pavilion has them beat with their fruit tarts (shortcake crust!) and (my personal favorite) Schoolbread -- A bready pastry filled with vanilla creme and covered in toasted coconut... Mmmmm

It's probably a good thing the Norway Pavilion is nowhere near here... I could definitely hurt myself with that Schoolbread!

Here, a man feeds a rather tame (wild) squirrel pieces of his schoolbread.
See? Even the squirrels agree it's delicious!

14 March 2009

BEST Quotes From MC'09

This weekend, Healing Place Church hosted their annual Men's Conference (MC'09) at the Highland Campus. Clay was not able to go because he is studying to take his boards, and (obviously) I wasn't there, but HPC provided a free, live webcast of the event & I kept up with everything through the Twitter reports from friends.

From everything I've read, it has been an amazing event and it's not over yet!

Here, I've provided just a FEW of the amazing quotes I've heard coming out of MC'09.
Check 'em out:

Pastor Mike Haman: "The most dangerous thing in your house is not a gun, knives or power tools. it is your lazy boy easy chair. Comfort has a way of limiting us to the opportunities around us."

Paul Louis Cole: "What you believe WILL determine your destiny. Do you live by conviction or convenience?"
(In other words: don't let your morality determine your theology -- my translation)

Paul Louis Cole: "When a man acts like a child it forces his wife to act like his mother."

Paul Louis Cole: "Men: Your wife should have ALL your login/password info for all your internet accounts. There is NO good reason not to."

(NFL running back & MVP) Shaun Alexander: "Are you doing your assignment or are you just looking for the perks of the job? Don't forget your duty and relationship (with God)."

Shaun Alexander: "
Never let your desires shift from God to desiring the gifts of God. Don't chase the gifts, chase God."

Shaun Alexander: "When you get out of order and good things still happen, you're in trouble. You've been deceived into thinking you didn't need to obey.

Paul Louis Cole: "Your kids may not always listen to you but they WILL imitate you. What are you giving them to imitate?"

Bro. Wayne Austin: "As a dad, you're only as happy as your saddest child."

Paul Louis Cole: "Nothing just happens for you as a husband and a dad; You have to work at it. Live on purpose."

Pastor Dino Rizzo: "Marriage isn't about me seeing MY dream fulfilled. Work to see God's purpose fulfilled in your spouse's life."

Bro. Wayne Austin: "When you love your family, you are putting Christ first. His bride -- the Church -- was here before you and it will be here after you."

Bro. Wayne Austin: "God didn't call me to die for His bride - He called me to die for mine. Lay down your life for her - as Christ did for His bride."

Paul Louis Cole: "What you are focused on will determine where you go. Focus on where you want to go, not on what you're going through."

Pastor Mark Stermer: "
In a tough economy, God wants to BE first, not CUT first. If you aren't tithing, start NOW. Give your way through the tough times."

Julio Melara: "It isn't what comes in that determines our lifeline, but what we give out. The righteous will continue to be generous."

Dave Ohlerking: "The kids we help in Africa don't know a thing about the Dow Jones. Make sure to remember them."

Many thanks to:
Dan Ohlerking, Matt Bourgeois, Dino Rizzo, Mike Haman, and Brandon Bourgeois for Twittering these great quotes over the past 24 hours! For more information, check out:
HPC Men's Conference '09


I'll post more about Disney tomorrow... today has been a long, but good, day.

Bought 100 roses at 8:30 AM, met with moms' lifegroup to dethorn & ribbon the roses, ran errands, came home and cooked an early dinner & then met for Midnight Outreach at 9:00.
Got home around 11:30 -- really, kind of an early night for Midnight, but that's ok.

I am off to bed!

12 March 2009


Day 4 was sunny & beautiful -- not too cool & not too warm. It was a perfect day to visit
Above is the amazing "Tree of Life" that you see when you first enter the park.

If you've never seen it or looked closely, it is truly incredible. Completely man-made (every leaf, every branch!), the trunk is made up of carvings & sculptures of every animal imaginable. Seriously, click on the picture and take a closer look... And this is just one, small section of the tree!

Natasha & Raisha with "Flick" from A Bug's Life

First up was the safari tour where we saw lots of real, live animals living on Disney's very own nature preserve!

I think this guy was checking us out as much as we were him!

Last time we were here, the wait for Expedition Everest was almost 2 hours long, so Natasha and I got a couple of fast passes and waited for our time.
Literally 20 minutes before our fastpass return time, it started raining.
And it wouldn't stop.
And Disney shuts down outdoor rollercoasters
when it rains.

(I don't blame them)
This time, however, we finally got to ride it: TWICE!
And it was definitely worth the wait. =)

The Dinosaur inside the queuing area of the ride, DINOSAUR

All in all, it was a great day... and when the park closed at 5:00, we were headed back to our hotel for a well-deserved evening of rest & relaxation.
Boy, would we need it!...