A little over a week ago we had a stormy weekend here on Oahu. I was home stamping when the power went out. It was daytime and I knew that in the evening we were supposed to have a family get together for my birthday. I wondered if we should cancel the celebration because the weather was so bad. I would have suggested it but I really had no idea of what we were doing and if the weather would be an issue. All I knew was that my family had something “secret” planned for me.
In the early afternoon, I got word that the family gathering was on! My son, Kalani and his wife, Joyce, showed up at the house gave me Mickey ears to wear.
As soon as I put the ears on I guessed that we must be doing something at the Disney Aulani hotel which is less than ten minutes from my home. We headed straight for the Aulani. As we drove, the wind and rain were pretty bad but that didn’t dampen our mood. I love being with my family and was excited that we were going to be together. We arrived at the hotel, went in and took a few photos in the lobby.
I love the Aulani and figured we must be going to dinner or some type of show there. So. imagine my surprise when less than 20 minutes later we were back in the parking lot and Kalani began wrapping his sweatshirt around my face as a blindfold.
After a really long drive, the car door opened and I heard my husband Derek’s voice. He led me step by step out of the car and I was absolutely convinced that we were in town. For some reason, I thought we were at a miniature golf place or maybe at Brett and Jessica’s house. I still didn’t understand why this family gathering was so secretive?. So, imagine my shock when Derek told me to take off the blindfold and when I did, I saw that I was in Kapolei, back at my house!
My home was filled with 20 of my closest friends and family. They had transformed the living room There was a beautiful table set all Hawaiian Style with ti leaves, a tapa tablecloth and there was even a woven lauhala mat spread out on the ground. There were pineapples on the table that were glowing from all the twinkling candles. Remember, there was a power outage earlier that day and my power was STILL out…. so this party had been set up without power and somehow that made it even better!
To the left of the dining area, there was a stone and board set up, where my family and friends had been pounding pai’a’i (pounded taro) for our dinner.
I stood there absolutely stunned as everyone yelled, SURPRISE!!!!!
After greeting everyone with a hug, they had me sit down and gave me the opportunity to pound taro. It was a wonderful experience.
We sat on the floor around this beautiful table and Brett led us in a time of communion. Then came the most beautiful meal that had been prepared with so much love and aloha.
I found out that during the week my kids had been making preparations for this traditional Hawaiian meal. They spend countless hours making sure every part of this celebration was special.
Just look at these beautiful trays of Pa’i’ai. I recognized right away that this was a huge labor of LOVE.
I found out from my friend Cindy that while I was being driven around in circles, all of my family and friends got to work preparing for the party. Cindy took photos to show me how everyone was involved in setting things up, parents and children working together side by side.
I was so blessed to hear that much of this surprise was orchestrated by my beautiful daughter who wanted to bless me on my birthday!
After dinner, my son in law Brett had each guest go around the table and look at me in the eyes and tell me something they loved and appreciated about me. It was a beautiful moment filled with heartfelt words of love, appreciation and encouragement. My eyes welled up with tears as I heard the words spoken from all in attendance, even the youngest child had something kind to say.
The evening ended with the most special surprise of all. Kahu Kiha, who was instrumental in orchestrating this celebration from start to finish, blessed me with a Hawaiian Name. Being someone who doesn’t have a middle name, I was humbled by this beautiful gesture and gift of aloha. Kahu Kiha shared one of my favorite bible verses, Philippians 4:7 where it says: And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. He then gave me the name Kaleimaluikai’u. He spoke such beautiful words as he explained each part of the name he had chosen for me. One of the meanings of this name is, “The lei of peace from the highest heaven”.
Just as God gives me peace in the midst of the storms I face, I hope that I can bring peace and encouragement to others who are facing challenges in not only my words but in the example I set.
I am so grateful for all the love and aloha shared during this special celebration. I was amazed not only by all the hours it took to prepare every special part of this gathering, but also by the fact that people had to deal with downed power lines, flooded roads and power outages, just to be there!
I am so grateful for the blessing of family and friends who I am honored to “do life” with. They are a treasured gift to me.
To show my appreciation for this special celebration, I created a Thank You Card with the Tropical Chic stamp set.
I cut out the center of the card with the Layering Square Framelits and added one of my favorite die cuts from the Tropical Thinlits. I kept the colors simple, using Crumb Cake and Early Espresso Card Stock. The only bright color I used was a pop of Flirty Flamingo Ink for the Hibiscus flower.
Some people go through life and never have the opportunity to hear why they are loved and appreciated. It’s strange how sometimes those type of words are only spoken at funerals or memorial services. This experience caused me to want to be more intentional about looking for opportunities to share kind words with others face to face. I am grateful I can do that in the cards I send and hope that I will also do more of that in person with each opportunity I am blessed to do so.
For today, I will take a moment to write notes of appreciation and love to all who were a part of this special gift of aloha. It is one that I will forever cherish and never forget.
With Love and Aloha,