I got this note from a dear friend this morning. Yesterday I was thinking about Alivia quite a bit and remembering what life was like with her. How I miss her. It blesses me beyond words when I continue to hear that others are praying...and remember.

"Still praying for you and I definitely talk to Ky about Alivia, he remembers her and so do we."

Thanks, Michelle, for your continued care, prayers and thoughtfulness.


Psalm 66

While in Hawaii, I found myself reading this Psalm over and over again. It was a feast for my soul and, I think, adequately summed up the previous number of months up till that point:

1 Shout for joy to God, all the earth;
2 sing the glory of his name;
give to him glorious praise!
3 Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you.
4 All the earth worships you
and sings praises to you;
they sing praises to your name.”

5 Come and see what God has done:
he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.
6 He turned the sea into dry land;
they passed through the river on foot.
There did we rejoice in him,
7 who rules by his might forever,
whose eyes keep watch on the nations—
let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah

8 Bless our God, O peoples;
let the sound of his praise be heard,
9 who has kept our soul among the living
and has not let our feet slip.
10 For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
11 You brought us into the net;
you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
12 you let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.

13 I will come into your house with burnt offerings;
I will perform my vows to you,
14 that which my lips uttered
and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.
15 I will offer to you burnt offerings of fattened animals,
with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams;
I will make an offering of bulls and goats. Selah

16 Come and hear, all you who fear God,
and I will tell what he has done for my soul.
17 I cried to him with my mouth,
and high praise was on my tongue.
18 If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.
19 But truly God has listened;
he has attended to the voice of my prayer.

20 Blessed be God,
because he has not rejected my prayer
or removed his steadfast love from me!

Verses 9-12 stuck out to me as I considered the season we have been walking through. Yes, we have been tried and it seems the Lord has laid a crushing burden on our backs. BUT, he has sustained us, is sustaining us and has not let our feet slip.

I love what verse 12 says, "you have brought us out to a place of abundance." There I was surrounded by the the beauty of God's a land of rich abundance. The past 6 months have been the hardest of my life, yet in God's mercy, He had prepared this trip for me, to refresh me, to encourage me and to show and remind me of all that He has and is doing in my heart. In terms of drawing my heart closer to Him, revealing deeper realities of the gospel, dissipating fears, and loosening my grip on this world and giving me a longing for heaven - I am in a place of abundance. How much I have to be grateful for.

Verse 16, "Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul." It seems that since our trip, the Lord has been opening my eyes afresh to lives around me. We have neighbors, friends, family, coworkers, the person behind me at the grocery store, even doctors, who desperately need the truths of the gospel. May I live my life to tell them, at every opportunity I am given, "what he has done (and is doing) for my soul."


April 26

Alivia Sandra Castro would have been 7 months old today. I've experienced much grace today and much joy. Here are some random thoughts...

I wanted to look at some pictures today, but seem to have lost my disk of all her memory still is not good (hence, why I can't seem to find that disk), but I have found it's getting better! Good thing my sister has all of the pictures!

Even in the midst of missing my baby girl, God has been continuing to sustain me and help me make lots of steps forward in day to day duties. I have, once again, come to enjoy cooking. Something as simple as thinking ahead a day in advance about food and preparation was impossible for me a few months ago. However, I find myself doing it again. I'm grateful.

It seems that the girls seem to remember Alivia more and more as the days fly by. Mckenna talks about her, and even Selah loves to point out her pictures. Every night at dinner and when Mckenna goes to bed at night she prays, "God please take good care of Alivia." I love the fact that she remembers her and loved her so much. I think both girls have a greater love for babies than ever before as well. They point them out everywhere and show so such affection for the little gifts of God all around.

And Dave and I, as well, have a greater and increased love for babies and children than we have ever experienced before. They are indeed precious gifts from God.


Hawaii, Part V

On top of Mauna Kea we saw, what was probably the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen...

With my back to the sun, the moon was crystal clear in the sky

Here is the sun, getting ready to make it's descent. You will notice in the bottom right corner, a piece of equipment for the telescopes.

In this picture, you can vaguely see more of the equipment and telescopes that sit atop the mountain.

The sun is...





A few last pictures as we descended down the mountain.

After watching the sunset on top of the mountain, we headed down to the visitor center to look through their telescopes. With the naked eye alone, the sky was amazing. This was the moon!


Hawaii, Part IV

One of our favorite events of the trip was driving up Mauna Kea (which means, White Mountain) and watching the sunset. On the Big Island, there are no bright lights at night. In fact, the island is quite dark after the sun goes down. This is because the 13,803 feet high summit of Mauna Kea houses the world's largest observatory for optical, infrared, and submillimeter astronomy. The telescopes on top of this mountain are massive. We took the scary ride up (it's steep and a bit treacherous) to the very top of the mountain to watch the sun set. After that, we quickly drove back down to the visitor center. You don't want to stay up there too long because it's extremely dark after the sun goes down and the road is partly unpaved and steep. After dark, there are portable telescopes at the visitor center (at the 9,000 foot level). We were able to look through these and see incredible shots of the moon and even Saturn.

I have so many pictures of Mauna Kea. I'll first share some of our drive up to the top of the mountain.

We first had to take the long trek on Saddle Rd. It's a very remote road, with no gas stations and not much sign of life. So, often car rental companies forbid you taking cars on this road because if you get stuck, run out of gas, or break down....they don't want to make the long haul to bail you out. BUT it was beautiful!!

Before long, we started our climb up the mountain. Our ears started to pop, and you could feel the temperature drop.

The sky was so clear and you could see the moon in broad daylight.

We quickly were above the clouds and the views were breathtaking!

Once on top, we got out and could feel the dramatic elevation and temperature difference. Some of us were lightheaded and had a headache. I went running up the road to take a picture and quickly was out of breath after a few yards. It was in the 70's when we left our hotel. By the time we arrived at the top of the mountain, it was in the 20's and there was snow. CRAZY! Here is Dave holding a handful of snow!

The very top of the mountain.

More to come of Mauna Kea...


Hawaii, Part III

On our third day, we took a road trip to the other side of the island, about a 2 hour drive. We saw Waipio Valley and Acaca Falls, two very famous places on the island. First stop was Waipio Valley, which was absolutely gorgeous. The overlook was breathtaking and below was a black sand beach...

To get down to the valley, we had to hike about a mile down. Only 4 wheel drive cars were allowed down, and we quickly discovered why. It was something like a 21 degree grade incline. I really don't know what that means (and hope I am saying it right), but Daniel Norwood had his handy iphone with him and was doing all the measurements. Let me just say it was about the steepest mile I have ever hiked. We initially thought we were going to have to hike back up, but were able to hitch a ride. This picture was once we were down on level ground, walking toward the beach - the Wethjes and Suttons.

Hanging out on the beach. The waves were pretty rough and it wasn't very warm. So, none of us went in.

A beautiful bird that flew up...enjoying a little coconut for an afternoon snack.

After Waipio, we headed to Acaca falls. We had to make a short hike into the rainforest to see the main falls. Along the way, there were some beautiful sights.

drops of water

The leaves on these ferns were probably 2 or 3 times my size!


moss on bamboo

mini falls

Acaca Falls
My camera lens was not wide enough to capture the entire thing, so I had to take a few shots.

A random tree and tractor that was in front of where we parked...I just thought this tree was cool looking!

Dave and I in front of the falls.


The present and the future

Once again, I was ministered to by the words of Spurgeon this morning. Fears of "what if..." seem to be many in my mind these days. I was encouraged to fix my eyes on the help that the Lord has always provided to me in the past and to allow His promises to be my hope....not my circumstances, how good or bad they may be now or in the future.

I will help you.
Isaiah 41:10

"Yesterday's promise secured strength for what we have to do today, but this promise guarantees help when we cannot act alone. The Lord says, 'I will help you.' Strength within is supplemented by help from without. God can raise up allies in our warfare if it seem good in His sight. Even if He doesn't send human assistance, He Himself will be at our side, and this is even better. 'Our august Ally' is superior to thousands of human helpers.

His help is timely, for He is the very present help in time of trouble (Ps. 46:1). His help is wise, for He knows how to give what is good for us. His help is effective, though futile is the help of friends. His help is more than help, for He carries all the burdens and supplies all the needs. 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?' (Heb. 13:6). Because He has already been our help, we feel confidence in Him for the present and the future.

Our prayer is, 'Lord, be my helper' (Ps. 30:10).
Our experience is, 'The Spirit also helps in our weaknesses' (Rom. 8:26).
Our expectation is, 'I will lift up my eyes to the hills--from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth' (Ps. 121:1).
Our song will be, 'You, Lord, have helped me and comforted me' (Ps. 86:17).


Hawaii, Part II

While in Hawaii, we had the opportunity to see some animals that are not so common around here. In the afternoon, you could walk right out to the beach...

and sitting up on the shore...

were these adorable sea turtles. They would venture right up among the lava rock to take an afternoon nap.

The same day we saw the sea turtles we also went on a whale watching boat trip. This was the view, leaving.

Hanging out, waiting to see some whales!

We were able to see a baby with it's mother.

Tail splash!

Beautiful rays as we headed back toward shore. Views like this made me want to stop and worship!


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