We spent Christmas with my parents, brother and sister in Fairfax, Virginia. We went and saw "A Christmas Carol" musical at Ford's Theater (the theater where President Lincoln was shot) in Washington DC and Michael and I went to a reunion of my club soccer team, the Vista Firestars, who I played soccer for from 8-19 years old. Some of you may also remember that during this stay we had planned to recreate Hogwarts Castle in gingerbread form and participate in a couples Wii MarioKart tournament. Well, the MarioKart tournament never took place so I am deeming Michael and myself winners by default as it was our idea...better luck next year guys! However everyone really got into the gingerbread house building, which took a total of 7 hours to complete (though most people dropped out 3-4 hours into the project, my Dad and I saw it all the way to completion). The house was actually a complex of buildings architected by my sister Emily, including the Great Hall (on top of which Harry and Voldemort are engaged in their final battle), Dumbledore's tower, Hagrid's hut, dormitory towers, the Astronomy Tower, the Greenhouses, and the Owelry(with sprinkles on top for owl droppings. There is also a Black Lake, Forbidden Forest, Quidditch Pitch, various magical creatures scattered about, and many of the book's characters in action. It takes up our entire 6 foot x 3 foot table if that is any indication of the magnitude of the project. Below are some pictures of what I can only describe as organized chaos.
For New Years, we were in Birmingham...and went to bed...at 9pm.
Just after New Years (Happy 2012 everyone!), Michael and I traveled to the Big Island of Hawaii to spend some time with his Aunt Katherine, Uncle Steve and cousin Daniel before the start of the season. Michael practiced some and we learned to surf. More accurately, Michael stood up once on the board and promptly fell off (but we put him on the foam board so he wouldn't get injured so no harm done), and I had a hard time even staying sitting on the board, often falling off for no reason at all. However I did have to fight off a large shark that struck me from below sending me flying into the ocean at one point. I used my board to beat it into submission and flip it over (a trick I learned to immobilize sharks from a 10 year old Hawaiian kid) so the only injury was a very large bruise on the back of my calf...well the bruise is real enough (and I am very proud of it too as it is reminiscent of my soccer days!) but I honestly have no idea where it came from...probably one of the many times I got flipped by a wave that I couldn't get ahead of because I was turned in the wrong direction. In truth, we encountered no dangerous marine life, as my brother who lives in Miami likes to call it, of which I was very grateful...Hey I watch Shark Week.
After the visit to the Big Island, Michael and I were in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii for Michael's first tournament of the 2012 season, the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club. We stayed with a wonderful couple, Bruce and Linda Soll who live about a mile from the golf course, which is a big deal since everyone else stayed in Waikiki about 30 minutes away. Before the tournament started, the PGA Tour Wives traveled to a local charter school (where the teachers and children are only allowed to speak in Hawaiian as it is becoming a dying language and the state is trying to bring it back by teaching it to children). We received a beautiful welcome of singing and chanting in Hawaiian and were given leis made from flowers and tea leaves, and hand written thank you notes from the children. The children taught us how to hula dance and shared some of their games with us, including throwing a pointed wooden spear at a shaved palm tree trunk, a form of checkers where the winner is the last person who is able to make a move, and a game that is a mix of soccer and bowling where you throw a round stone through two sticks in the ground 50 feet away. After the games, we filled the kids backpacks with food to take home. At the end of the day, the school's principal thanked us for "preventing hunger for one more day." She said that these children and their families don't look to the future and worry. They only strive to prevent hunger each and every day. Be thankful for what you have and give to those in need.
On to the golf! We had very low expectations going into this tournament as Michael was hampered with illness, injury (he hurt his ribs right after Thailand but is all better now thanks to his personal physical therapist, your's truly), poor practice weather, and a number of other obligations so he didn't get much practice in between Thailand and Hawaii. Overall, you could definitely tell Michael was a bit rusty, but again his putting is what saved him and he made some spectacular long putts all 4 days. Michael finished T-6, moving him up to 111th in the World Golf Rankings, 16th on the Money List, and 16th on the FedEX points list. Overall it was a surprising but good start to the season!
On Sunday night after the tournament, we took a red-eye flight from Honolulu to Palm Springs and so here we are in Palm Springs gearing up for the Humana Challenge at PGA West. We are staying in a beautiful house this week with two other players, Travis Watkins and Lee Janzen, and the guy who is going to lead the tour Bible study this week, Brad Payne. The format for this tournament is very different from all others. This week the players will play 4 rounds, on 3 different golf courses (La Quinta Country Club, PGA West Nicklaus Course and PGA West Palmer Course). There will be a cut after the first 3 rounds and then the final round is on Sunday. This tournament is a pro-am, meaning that the groups are made up of 2 professionals and 2 amateurs. Michael is playing with Briny Baird this week, a very nice guy and veteran who he also played with during the Frys.com tournament last year. We are very excited about this week since Michael has never played these courses before. He should be able to learn a lot which is the most important thing every week...to learn and grow!
Since this blog is already longer than intended (as usual), I will close with two quotes that I found on Pinterest (I just joined this week and am already addicted). The first is "Faith in God includes Faith in His timing." You must have faith that God will bring all things around for your own good. They may not be when or how you want them to be, but He knows WHAT YOU NEED and WHEN YOU NEED IT. So don't worry. Worrying is a loss of faith and adds nothing to your life. We often ask: Why can't I hear God? Doesn't He hear my cries for help? Why doesn't He intervene when I ask? The second quote I found is a very powerful one..."The Teacher is always silent during the test" Sometimes God decides NOT to intervene on our behalf and remains silent. This isn't because He is punishing us for some wrong we did. God never punishes; He only teaches. When He doesn't intervene when we want Him to, it is either because we are not asking at all, we are not asking for the right things, or He is testing our faith in Him. It may be that His silence IS the answer to the problem because He has something even better planned for the future. God will never give you more than you can bear, but He will always give you the strength to get through it no matter how painful it is. I know from personal experience it is very hard to praise God in times of pain, adversity, financial hardship, work issues, whatever...But that is when He deserves the MOST praise. If He brings you to them, He will bring you through them and you will be a stronger person because of them. Never lose faith and give praise for ALL things good and bad. And know that even though He doesn't always answer, He is still watching you and will never cease to love you. Have a great week everyone and God Bless!!!