Monday, August 30, 2010

friendship

Ever have a moment when a story from the Bible really hit home?  Most recently, this happened while reading 1 Samuel 18-20, where one finds a story of friendship.  The two friends are David and Jonathan. This friendship is not without its trials, however, unless you want to overlook the fact that Jonathan's father was trying to kill David.  Add to that (as if that weren't enough), David spent a lot of his time in hiding so the two friends weren't exactly going out and grabbing a burger together like friends usually would.
There were so many obstacles, one wonders how or why a great bond remained between the two.  Apparently, there is something to learn from these two men and their friendship...I cannot imagine that there would be 3 chapters devoted to sharing their story if there wasn't. 
If you Google "David and Jonathan" you will find a plethera of links and ideas and thoughts on their story.  Trust me, I did and you will.  Want to read the commentators, feel free.  Want to read how God used this story to encourage me, then keep reading.  This post is from my heart...what God impressed upon me as I read His active, living Word.
A shepherd and a king's son...friends?  And, not just acquaintences, real friends.  With God, all things are possible.  (Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27)  Thinking of some of my closest friends, I wonder how we managed to find enough in common to become friends, too.  The bottom line for me, it was always God bringing us together in the first place.  Sometimes, thousands of miles were crossed by one or both of us which led to us meeting and sharing experiences together.  Sometimes, it is just that we ended up doing the same thing at the same time and a friendship developed because of it.  Backgrounds, personalities, likes/dislikes...somehow, God uses all those factors in each of us to make the other person more complete.  Friendship requires giving and taking...and a whole lot of work inbetween.  If I am open to the idea that someone else can help me become a better person, then, yes, differences can be effective in a friendship. 
I do not know what began the friendship between Jonathan and David, but right off in chapter 18, it says "Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself."  Friendship requires sacrifice.  I give of myself for someone else.  It's not all about me anymore (not all the time anyway).   An exchange of words...thoughts...belongings...dreams...takes place and it happens because I want it to happen not because I am told it has to happen.  Sharing is required to develop a true friendship.
What else can we find in David and Jonathan's friendship?  Loyalty, dedication, devotion, love, protection, direction...you'll find these plus a few others if you pay close enough attention.  Patience and understanding had a part to play, here, too.  David's hiding out from Jonathan's father for who really knows how long.  Not exactly perfect conditions for friends to hang out together.  Getting to see his friend, the king's son, was going to take some doing.  When they did get to see each other, catching up was focused on the best way for David to stay alive.  How precious those moments must have been, though...and how fast they must have gone by for the friends.  Time together was worth the risks for the both of them. 
Jonathan and David were committed to each other.  They had to be or the friendship would not have endured.  Too many obstacles were in their way...separation, conspiracy, a jealous/angry father, death threats...for an ordinary acquaintance to become anything more.  However it was that their friendship began, it solidified early on and had what it takes to make it through even the worst of circumstances.  We all need a friendship like this in our lives.   
I am reminded through God's Word of how a friendship is meant to be.  I am challenged to make myself more dedicated to my friends and work harder at keeping it real.  Most of all I am encouraged that, no matter the obstacles...miles, oceans, or other people...a true friend will remain through (and in spite of) them all.     
I pray I am this kind of friend.    
      
 

counting down the days

Last Thursday, after schooling was complete, we jumped in the pool to take advantage of the still warm enough weather/water for a fun afternoon together.  As we floated, splashed, swam (and tried to avoid the shade that quickly wanted to invade my space), I counted down the days of school until we'd be "free" in the days of summer again.

We all had on our water fight "helmets".
We enjoy school, but we love summer!





Mommy and Me Monday at Really, Are You Serious?
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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wednesday's Walk - Something Fishy

As long as I can remember, I've loved to fish.  No matter the water source...pond, lake, river, ocean...each has their own joys when it comes to fishing.  I am not choosy when it comes to fishing, just put a pole in my hand and lead me to water.  I will enjoy my time there trying to catch the big one.
Grew up primarily fishing in Grandpa Miller's pond, but we would occasionally visit a neighborhood fishing spot or go to the river.  Have to have a license to fish on the river...still remember that fishing trip when Mom was just holding one of the poles (out of the water mind you) for one of us girls for a moment and that was the moment the Game Warden happened to show up.  He apparently never went fishing with kids and didn't know they need help from Mom sometimes...that doesn't mean she was fishing without a license.
I'm not for sure where we had gone fishing in my first picture.  This picture makes me smile to think of where it all started...and how far I've come.   By the way, the photo is of my sister and me...I'm the one on the left.


My favorite fishing trip in recent years is deep sea fishing off of Tybee Island on the GA coast for my birthday (May 2009).  Caught 3 sharks that day and lots of other fish, too.  So fun!
My next goal...salmon fishing in Alaska.  Hopefully, I'll catch one...never been salmon fishing before. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

home of the Braves

As a metro Atlanta resident, it seems almost a requirement to go to a Braves game to continue living here.  I grew up watching baseball and loving the game...and have been to a few games in St. Louis, Cincinnati, Detroit...and of course, Atlanta.  The problem for me going to a Braves game is purely mental...having been a Mets and Cardinals fan for years, I just haven't the love necessary for the Braves to call me a fan.
However, as with many things in life that I haven't particularly enjoyed over the years, my boys make it so worth my time and heart.  I go watch the Braves because I love my boys...and my boys and I love baseball.  Well, they love what they know of the game...still in training, but getting the hang of the lingo and SOP's of a baseball fan rather well.

There are a few things that remain the same from stadium to stadium..."the wave" (Braves' attendees do not always get into this, which is very disappointing), organ music to lead you to yell "Charge!" at the top of your lungs with a 1000+ strangers, overpriced but necessary snacks, sticky concrete under your feet, and someone in the middle of your row always needing to enter/exit for some reason or another.  It wouldn't be a live game without these treasures.  There is an additional tradition in the Braves stadium, and my boys love it!  The Tomahawk Chop is a crowd pleaser...for those rooting for the home team, anyway. :)  It is so cute to see Alex and Tim chopping their little hearts out when the music moves us to do so!
Thankfully, along the way, someone realized in order to make coming to a baseball game a family event, they needed to provide things for each family member to do.  There are two kids' zones in the stadium.  One provides an area for kids to play ball themselves (and other kid stuff, too).  The other, up on the upper level, has a baseline for the kids to run the distance from home plate to 1st base...that's it, just run from point A to point B...and they love it!
So, to say we went to the game is true...to say we saw the entire game would be a stretch.  Over half of the quick 8.5 innings of the game were spent in one kids' zone or the other with some walking time thrown in there, too.  Maybe that's why it's fun to go...I end up watching my favorite players do what they love and leave baseball to the pros. :)



Mommy and Me Monday at Really, Are You Serious?
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Friday, August 20, 2010

epic journey...finale!

"Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."  Matthew 18:19-20

Thursday, July 29th - Sunday August 1st
My final days in AK were filled with cooking, laughing, and visiting the parks with teams.  As I went to the park party on Thursday evening, my heart was moved once again for the people of Alaska.  Yes, it is a beautiful state...and there are great people to meet both from AK and on the teams who come the volunteer...but the reason I went to Alaska was the ministry.  Without the ministry, it's simply a vacation.  
God moved among His people in Alaska.  Lives were changed.  Hearts and eyes were opened up to His goodness and forgiveness.  Although I had a backseat view this year, it was evident that God was impacting communities because of the willingness of His children to go and make disciples.  
The vision behind GraceWorks begins with the thought that the great comission is not about people coming to church but about the church going to people.  This is why I traveled 7.5 hours by plane, from one coast to the other, to go to the people with a message of God's love and Jesus' saving power.  And, being a part of such a thing so much bigger than myself is simply indescribable.  I am grateful that God would allow me such a privilege to serve Him in Alaska.  To have had the opportunity to go back 3 summers in a row...the words of thanks to God never end!
Thursday afternoon as the team headed out, they gathered first in the parking lot for prayer.  God answered their prayers as only He can!  I do believe they said 7 people accepted Christ as their Savior before the end of the park party.  It went late into the evening because of the response they were getting as they passed out Bibles to people.  God is making His glory known!
One way God showed Himself very present to a few of us at the park, was during a prayer time.  Staff were gathered discussing some items of concern about the people and their need for continued follow up once the teams pulled out next week.  It's always a battleground...God needs to continue to be shared and declared even once the winter months arrive.  Let's just say there was great concern about said topic and tension was rising quickly.  Seeing the conversation going nowhere, I suggested that we gather right there where we were standing and give our concerns over to the One who had the answers.  It was an amazing God moment.  As we prayed, all of a sudden I became keenly aware of the song that was playing over the sound system...Chris Tomlin's "How Great is our God"!  It sent God bumps up and down me and tears to my eyes!  He indeed is great and will continue to lead His people when we aren't there.  See, it isn't about us as volunteers, it's about God.  When we start thinking on our level and focusing on what did or didn't happen, we lose sight of the bigger picture.  God is always present.  God drew people to Himself and His promise is that He will never leave or forsake them.  Joshua 1:5..."No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you."  and Hebrews 13:5..."Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.' "  He will never leave or forsake any of His children.  He is great and greatly to be praised!  After the prayer ended, Kim, Traci and I were all still standing there and I asked them if they noticed the song that was playing.  They both had and were as excited about it as I was.  Indeed, God was hearing our prayers and declaring for us to know with confidence He was with us.  May I ever declare His greatness!
Friday had teams going all over the place again...some sightseeing, some in ministry, some preparing to depart.  The week was coming to a close.  I brought my bags in with me so that I could go "home" to Traci's house.  Yay!  It had been a good week...a very challenging one...but a good one.  Before I could go to my royal bed, we stopped at the park party in Government Hill.  I had never been there, so I was looking forward to it.  It was so awesome being out and about with the people again.  These children were so sweet.  And I met some new mothers with their babies, too...one was from Moldova (country located in eastern Europe) and was facing immigration the coming week in hopes to get the paperwork completed for her daughter. I told her that I would pray for her...and I have been. :)  Being at the park parties, even though it was only occasionally, reminded me of why I was there...it's not about the food, but it's about the people.  Makes anything I've experienced these days in Alaska so worth it!
Saturday, I slept in until noon.  Yes, my body had had enough and gave in to such sweet, sweet rest.  I haven't done this feat in many years...probably 8 or more.  It was refreshing, but I found myself napping later in the day, too.  That nap may have had something to do with trying to make it up Mt. Baldy in Eagle River, though, too.  Awesome view, but not a hike for the weak or weary.  Maybe next year I will make it to the top...I'll have to try at the beginning of my journey, though, instead of at the end. :)  
On the way to the airport, Dodie drove down Northern Lights and sure enough there was a huge moose on the side of the road and a beautiful sunset for my send off.  My time in AK was coming to an end and it was a nice way to end it. 
Beautiful land, wonderful people, amazing God!
And, so ends my epic journey... 

(My plane took off at 12:05 am on August 1st from Anchorage. Layover in Denver for about 3 hours...and ran into Team Wiley (also from Texas) while there. Landed in Atlanta sometime around 4 pm.)  Glad to be home, but will always have a piece of my heart in Alaska!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wednesday's Walk...Tubing the Hooch

Usually every summer we find time to drive up to Helen and go tubing down the Chattahoochee River.  It is one of our favorite summer activities.  We haven't made it up yet this summer, but there's still time...maybe even for this weekend. :)  The boys keep asking if we are going, so maybe we'll just have to stop what we're doing and go.  Alex and Tim have both been tubing since in diapers.  The first trip with Alex when he was around 8 months old.  Tim was around 6 months.  They both slept during the last half of the trip.  They have grown to love tubing.  We've even introduced them to white water rafting and now they're hooked on that, too.  So thankful we've been blessed with such fun, adventurous boys!
These pics are from last year...such fun!  I can't wait to make more memories while tubing the Hooch!

yumminess!

Some have asked for the dessert recipes that I made in Alaska.  So, in case you didn't have a chance to copy them down in Alaska, or for those of you reading who don't know what I am talking about, here are some tasty treats to try one day. 

Cherry Delight
1 pkg. graham crackers
1 stick butter or margarine (melted)
1 pkg. cream cheese (8 oz.) (room temp. is best or heat in microwave for a few seconds to soften)
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Cool Whip (8 oz.)
1 can cherry pie filling (20 oz or the next size if you prefer)

Crush graham crackers to make crumbs.  Melt butter and pour on crumbs.  Mix.  Spread mixture into a 9 x 13 pan.  Combine softened cream cheese, sugar and vanilla.  Mix in Cool Whip.  Spread this mixture on top of crust.  Spread cherry pie filling on top of cream cheeese filling.  (Can add nuts to cream cheese mixture if you like).  Keep refrigerated.

Peach Cobbler
preheat oven to 350°
1 stick butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup milk
sliced peaches (fresh or canned)  (no set amount...just make it yummy!)

Melt butter in 9x13 pan in oven.  Meanwhile, mix flour, sugar, and baking powder together.  Add milk and stir.  Take pan out of oven when butter is melted and pour batter over melted butter - DO NOT STIR.  Place fruit and juice over batter.  Sprinkle a little extra sugar on top.  Bake around 30 minutes.  (Sometimes, I see that it's done but not browning on top, so I turn on the broiler on low and watch carefully until a nice light brown color appears.  Be careful, it only takes a couple of minutes.)

Coffee Cake
preheat oven to 375°
1/2 cup shortening  (or stick butter, softened)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour milk (1 cup milk + 1 Tblsp. vinegar: let set a few minutes)
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder

Topping
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tblsp. cinnamon
Combine all three ingredients and set aside.

Combine flour, salt, soda, and powder into a bowl and set aside.  Cream shortening (or butter) and sugar.  Add eggs and mix.  Alternately mix in milk and dry ingredients.  Pour half the batter into a greased 9x13 cake pan.  Sprinkle half the topping onto the batter.  Cover with remaining half of batter.  Top with remaining topping mixture.  Bake for approximately 25 minutes.
(The one I made in Eagle River was made with stick butter...I will probably always use butter from now on).

Puppy Chow Snack Mix
12 oz. box Crispix cereal (or Chex cereal of your choice)
1/2 cup butter
1 cup peanut butter
12 oz. chocolate chips (semisweet or milk chocolate)
2-3 cups powdered sugar

Pour cereal into large mixing bowl and set aside.  Combine butter, peanut butter and chocolate chips into saucepan and melt over low heat until mixture is melted and smooth.  Pour melted mixture over the cereal and stir until cereal is well coated.  If you have one, pour powdered sugar into a paper sack and pour the coated cereal into it and shake until the powdered sugar is well distributed on cereal.  Otherwise, pour powdered sugar onto coated cereal in the mixing bowl and toss until well coated.  Cool cereal snack on wax paper or large baking sheets.  Store in tightly covered containers at room temperature.  Can be frozen.

Apple Crunch  
preheat oven to 375°
1 cup sugar
3 Tblsp. flour
5 cups apples (peeled and chunked)
1 cup flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup quick oats
1 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter or margarine

Combine sugar, 3 T. flour and apples and pour into greased 9 x 13 baking pan.  Mix together 1 cup flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, oats, brown sugar and butter and spread on top of apple mixture.  Bake approximately 35 minutes.

Enjoy! 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

epic journey...day something or other

Wednesday, July 28
This morning was a beautiful morning.  As Kim and I were pulling out from our staff house, we saw the sun rising over the mountains.  Three different visits to AK and I had never seen the sunrise.  I was always awake, but it just was never clear enough to experience it....until today.  As we were driving we both just wanted to stop and capture the moment with our cameras, but everytime we tried there was something in our way.  We could see it, but it just wasn't a good photo.  We laughed together as Kim said she felt like we were like the "storm chasers".  Needless to say, our on time status became a late status to Calvary.  I think it was worth it, though.
It was our big "Alaska Day" in the kitchen...breakfast consists of pancakes and blueberry syrup...lunch, Alaskan salmon and halibut fixed in a variety of ways.  Mrs. Geri had told me that the staff come in and know how to get it done.  They were in full swing by the time Kim and I arrived.  Not even really for sure why we needed to be there...there wasn't anything for us to do.  Even if we had been on time, everyone else had their roles and we were just extras.  We set out some milk and juice and helped clean up the dishes and counters as we could.  It's nice to see how well everyone can work together to get a big job done.  Everyone enjoyed the breakfast, but they were really excited to hear about the fresh fish for lunch.
Preparations for lunch began pretty much right after breakfast clean-up was complete.  Jay was in charge of grilling the salmon...Scott came in and fried the halibut (Kim helped him with the battering process)...Tom made a baked halibut dish with lots of onions and lemons (I forget what they called it) and a fish chowder...and Melissa fixed the baked halibut.  Al and Linda made the boiled red potatoes.  I made the dessert which was Cherry Delight. (It was a big hit last week and it did not require the use of the stove or oven-perfect for an already busy day in the kitchen).  I also started getting the coleslaw ready, but let Linda finish that.  After so many weeks, it did run like a well oiled machine...I was just hoping that I didn't get in their way. :)  Lunch was a huge success...the teams loved it!  God is good to provide a team to get such a feast ready for his servants.
After lunch clean up, Kim and I went downtown to enjoy an afternoon off.  I had my free ticket to the Bear Square, and I was given another ticket by Gail and Mark (from Hyde Park team) since they were not going to be here long enough to use it.  So, we walk into Bear Square and get to watch a movie about the Iditarod first...it was so inspiring!  I loved what one gentleman said on the movie, "Dream big.  Dare to fail."  I think we could all do better at living life like that instead of being comfortable in our bubbles we call life.  It was a message for Kim's heart to hear, too...she's on a new adventure called retirement and looking to move up to AK for a year.  She wants to have a ministry to the women of Alaska.  Dream big, Kim...and dare to fail!  God is good...no matter what!
After the movie we were free to enjoy the cute little stages they have set up for tourists to pretend they are fishing, dog sledding, riding on a hot air balloon, etc.  All these things one could do in Alaska, if they chose to.  Would have I paid to experience Bear Square?Probably not.  However, it was free for both of us and we had a blast goofing off together.
After Bear Square, we entered this Norweigan store.  I found a t-shrit that read "Uff-da" across the front.  I loved it!  I knew the phrase from a Veggie Tales show, but a friend of mine also reminded me that John Peterson, my beloved music leader from BMC, used to say that in a song we sang..."Uff-da! Ya. Sure. Ya betcha!"  Such sweet memories.  I knew I should have picked up one for Christa.  Maybe if I go back next summer...
After shopping there, we stopped at a cafe for an expresso and hot chocolate.  My hot chocolate was awesome.  This week has given me a wonderful gift - a new friend.  For all of the other circumstances, a new friend is worth every one of them!  We talked about her calling to AK and how things are falling into place and what else needs to happen before she can move here...my experiences in the kitchen both this and last week...how I first became involved in GraceWorks...our churches back home...a number of things.  Kim is a wonderful woman of God and I pray that God uses her mightily in Alaska!
One thing we chatted briefly about was flying.  In passing, I had said that I would love to go up in a float plane or with Scott Kirby someday.  Seeing the mountains and lakes from above is just so beautiful!  Well, when we arrived back to Moravian House, I went downstairs for awhile.  We had planned that I would go with Kim to the Salvation Army service that evening after we stopped in at the park party.  Kim comes down a few minutes later and tells me that she dropped a little bug in Scott's ear that I would love to fly with him sometime.  She told him that I would never ask, so she's asking for me.  Her courage makes me want to be more courageous!  He had said there might be an opportunity for us to fly, but he would let me know.  Not 15 minutes later, probably closer to only 10, Scott called me and said that another pilot just called him asking for a flight down to Soldotna to pick up his plane he had to leave there last week and invited me to come and join them in the flight down there.  Are you kidding me????  Joan was going to go with us, too.  I was so excited...as was Kim.  God had arranged this flight to happen and used her to do it.  How awesome is that?!  We were overcome with joy and our excitedness cause Billy and Geri to come and see what was the matter.  How funny it was that we were just excitedly screaming like a couple of teenage girls.  They laughed with us.  Billy said to enjoy the ride...and that he guessed asking me to join them for dinner was out of the question now.  That was nice of them to think of me and I told them so before getting ready to go flying.  
I couldn't stop from smiling.  It was a misting kind of evening, but it wasn't going to stop the enjoyment of the flight for me.  Scott prepared the plane, went over the flight plan, and off we went.  Scott, Travis, Joan and myself.  Take off was so smooth...one could barely tell when we were off the ground.  The rain didn't last much past Anchorage, so the views of the countryside were as clear as they could be on a cloudy day.  Seeing the winding rivers from the air was so cool.  They really had alot of turns in them that one wouldn't necessarily see from ground level.  I had no clue that there were so many lakes out in the middle of nowhere either.  Scott said many of them would be a lot of work to get to...no roads and most were too small for a float plane landing.  Was hoping to see a bear or moose, but not on this trip. 
My favorite part of the flight was when we crossed the Inlet.  Although rather bumpy, it was a beautiful view of the mountains when we were over the water.  Once we landed in Soldotna, we got out and stretched and waited for Travis to get his plane ready.  I noticed that if I had thought it was chilly in Anchorage, it was really cold in Soldotna.  Joan and I were standing beside the plane letting it block some of the wind from us.  We were both glad when it was time to get back in the plane.  Flying back to Anchorage didn't seem to take long at all.  All in all we were gone for 1.5 hours...didn't seem that long at all.  I loved every moment of it. 
Scott dropped us off at our repective housing and I told Scott and Kim thank you over and over again.  Although I had wanted to go with Kim to the service tonight, flying was an extra blessing.  Praise God for Plan B!    

Monday, August 16, 2010

epic journey...day 11

Tuesday, July 27th
Last week during staff meeting I had been chosen to take over as head cook for today and tomorrow while Billy and Geri had two days off.  No pressure.  I had to learn all about the "system" in one day yesterday to be fully ready to feed 70+ people today...and know how do it just the way it had been done the past 5 weeks.  Ummm....yeah.  I had the "know where things are" part okay...even the "feeding lots o' people" part...as for the "doing it just like it had been done" part...not going to happen.  I am not someone else nor am I going to be in 24 hours time.  That just isn't who I am.  I don't expect it of others...we all do things differently in our homes, and the same is true when in the kitchen somewhere else.
My policy is more of an open door policy...come in, hang out, help some if you want or not...just feel free to come and go as you want.  As long as I get things done well and for the most part on time, we're all good.  If you are really lucky, you'll get to lick the beaters or snack on whatever it is I am making along the way...or eat cookie bars while they are still warm. :)  Those are the perks for keeping the cook company.  As for helping, here's the recipe and the stuff to make whatever...go and make it the way you know how or ask if you haven't a clue.  I had to ask my Texas team members how to make sweet tea the way they liked it.  I don't make it at home, so I was clueless.  I asked, they answered and they liked it.  We were all happy.  I'm not one to have to have my hand in everything once I've assigned it to someone else...at least I try not to be.
When feeding a group of people, I like simple.  Simple presentations, simple recipes, simple clean up.  Especially when the dishwasher is two hands and a rag in warm, soapy water, simple is better.  Simple doesn't always happen, but I do enjoy when it does.  
Also, when feeding a group of people I like familiarity...something I know how to cook, even if in alot larger quantity than normal.  One never knows how a group will eat...large or small amounts, preferences of one thing over another, demanding or easy going...all the variables that are not in your control affect how a group eats.  Another variable out of your control are the resources in the kitchen itself.  Storage, appliances, pots/pans...you make allowances as you go.  My potato salad ended up in three different serving dishes before I found just the home for it.  You just have to pray and do what you know how to do...and be flexible along the way.  As long as there is enough food and a variety of options within reason, call it good and stand firm in it.
Walking in Tuesday, especially after my Monday, I determined that I would make the most of my day and serve the people as best I could.  Did that mean it was the exact way every other Tuesday had gone previously?  No.  I wasn't here at Calvary every other Tuesday, so I had no reference point for such a feat.  Did I serve exactly what had been served every other Tuesday...no, but everyone was fed and they had something warm to get them full for the work outside in the chilly weather.  As best as the newest team member could, I walked in and owned it.  May the Lord get the glory for being my Rock and my source of courage this day!!!
After lunch, which some teams ate in and some ate out, it was beautiful outside.  Not a typical day in AK for me at all.  Warm and sunny?  Miracle.  Kim and I went for a walk and enjoyed it while it lasted.  There's a couple of parks just a short distance from Calvary.  Pretty much in people's back yards...or front yards, depending upon how you look at it...and overlooking the water.  If I had thought the flowers of AK were beautiful before, they were stunning today in the sunshine.  Most of them had droplets of water still clinging to them from the rain showers that so often have fallen the past days.  A reminder of just how special the sunshine really is!  It was so nice to be out of the kitchen for awhile...and today it was to enjoy the beautiful weather, not to walk off tears in the pouring rain.  Big improvement!  
Today when I saw the teams head off for their parks, I missed being involved in that part of GraceWorks' ministry.  However, my assignment this week didn't allow for me to go off and join a team and I accepted this.  Doesn't mean I didn't miss it, but I am still serving God by serving others and that's all that matters.  He has shown Himself merciful up to this point and He is faithful beyond my understanding...all I have to do is be obedient in the task He has called me to this week.  So, after a nice walk, I returned to the kitchen.
Kim and I have come to realize and laugh at the fact that we have the same phone, same ringer tone, same text message tone, and the same shoes.  Long lost twins.  It was hilarious to watch us when one of our phones would sound..."Was that mine or yours?" we'd ask.  Rather comical indeed.  We rode out to Mirror Lake tonight after the dinner clean up.  Not as calm tonight as last week...the lake was rippling so the mirror effect was missing.  Saw an interesting "boat" float across the lake.  It looked more like a deck floating across the water.  People were out and enjoying the weather tonight...and I enjoyed the scenery with a new friend.  A good evening.    
Later, I called Traci to touch base and see if maybe I could go over for awhile since it was still kind of early.  I ended up needing to get some medicine for my chest congestion at Fred Meyer's, so I went out and did that plus some shopping for my boys while there.  I didn't go over to Traci's, but went back to the house and rested instead.  Caught up on emails and fb...and a little journaling.  
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for a new day and new mercies in this day.  It wasn't an easy one, but a better one.  Thank you for loving me enough to stretch me and give me opportunities to grow...all the while drawing me closer to You. In Jesus' name, Amen.      

Sunday, August 15, 2010

epic journey...day 10

Monday, July 26th
Someday I will look back on this day and laugh.  Someday.  For now, I will choose to write about the highlight of my day, revisiting Native New Life Fellowship.  Let's just say, prior to Native New Life, my day was filled with a range of events and emotions.  I am so thankful God gave me a wonderful week last week to remember and the sermon yesterday to remind me that there's a greater good out there in having a bad day.  God can use my day to draw me closer to Him.  I will admit I cried out to Him time and time again throughout my day.  At other times, I just cried.  Thanks to Joan for just giving me a hug and not asking a whole lot of questions.  I needed that!
Having gone to Native New Life last Monday, I was so excited to go again this week.  There were alot more people in attendance this week, but mostly because all of the teams with GraceWorks this week came.  (As did, a group of 21 young men, serving in Anchorage with Campus Crusade for Christ.)  
Same sort of service, starting with songs called out by the congregation members, followed by the leader calling up people to share a testimony or sing a song.  A refreshing service again for my heart...especially on a day like today.  Tonight, the leader was a lady who played the accordian.  It was beautiful to hear.  She called up those on teams this week to sing a song...however she worded it freed us as staff to remain seated this week. :)  Sharing time ended with the leader's family singing a song together.     
So glad my day ended on a good note.  Really, most of me is just glad it ended.  Period.   

epic journey...day 9

Sunday, July 25th 
It was moving day...but first things first: church and lunch.  Dr. Bowman from the Hyde Park Baptist team preached at Grandview this morning.  He spoke on Jonah...how we are all runners at one time or another and that there's always a ship waiting to take us to a "Tarshish" in our own lives and away from where God wants us to be.  He brought out the message of God's love and grace that the book of Jonah reveals to us.  God doesn't use our circumstances to pay us back for our sins, He uses them to win us back to Himself.  Jonah's time spent in the belly of a big fish wasn't payback, it was God's way of getting Jonah back on track.  God can use whatever means He desires to win our hearts back...and I am so glad He does!  I am so thankful that in 2008 he used my homesick heart to speak His words of love and direction to me.
A wonderful surprise was getting to see some of my team again...especially those that I didn't get to say a real goodbye to yesterday.  For a few more moments my heart was with my team and not being anxious about the week ahead.  The Petter's even joined us for lunch.  Dodie and Traci took us to a wonderful Mexican place, Sorrano's Grill, for lunch afterwards.  It was so good!  And, for dessert, they served a cheesecake chimichunga - absolute goodness!
Nothing now between me and my new abode for the second week.  Onward to the next phase of my time in AK... Moravian House...somewhere in the Mountain View area.  Billy had given GraceWords the house to use for staff housing this summer.  I said goodbye to Dodie and Traci, put my bags in my downstairs bedroom, and off to the church we went.  Time to get myself acquainted with a new place and with new people. 
God is good...no matter what!               

Saturday, August 14, 2010

epic journey...day 8

Saturday, July 24th
Sightseeing day = weather not fit for man nor beast.  Sad, but true.  During the entire trip never saw a wild animal, but who could blame them for not wandering around in the wind and rain?  I think we were able to make our first two stops, Bird Point and the bakery, without it raining, but pretty much after that we were wet.  Third summer and the worst weather experienced yet on sightseeing day...I'll have to try again next year, right? :)
We went right to get on the Ptarmigan for our glacier boat tour after the bakery stop.  It was pouring rain at this time.  It was difficult to keep the lens of a camera free of raindrops.  Never mind that I had my umbrella actually along this year and even with me, but I had left it on the van.  I'm pretty sure it would have been turned inside out by the wind on top of the boat, so it's probably best I didn't even try.  Thankfully, by the grace of God, the glacier was still visible with hovering clouds just above it, so the teams could enjoy the beauty of the glacier.  I had come inside to dry off a bit when word went out that there was a considerable chunk that calved into the lake.  So glad that my team was able to see this happen...I saw such a sight last year on the tour and it was loud and pretty cool to watch.  There were more iceburgs in the lake this year than the two previous summers.  Wonder if the amount of rain this summer made glacier calving increase.
After the Portage Glacier cruise, we lost half the team.  They went back due to the weather and were dropped off at their respective hotels since their GraceWorks journey had ended, but they weren't leaving until a later date.  The remaining team members and I, along with Kim, went and hiked to Byron Glacier.  Those of us who went, made the hike in as fun as we could.  Surprisingly, I stayed relatively dry and warm...thanks to having my umbrella and actually using it this time.  It made taking pictures easier since I didn't have to stop and dry off the lens so often.  The glacier although visible was not shining radiantly blue this year.  It was a great time with the team, though.  We didn't do any glacier sliding this year but it was definately slick enough to slide just trying to walk.  The snow pack was alot different this year and really rough.  We were glad to have stayed and hiked it, but the remaining team members had no desire to stay any longer in the Portage area, so we skipped the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and headed back to Anchorage.
The beauty of the glaicers still held in all the rain and wind...and the inner beauty of the team I had come to serve held as well in spite of a not so grand weather day.  We dropped the team off at Calvary and from there they would be taken to their respective hotels for the night as well.  Lots of hugs and goodbyes were exchanged while I waited for Traci to come and pick me up as well.  It had been an amazing week.  I was sad to see them go.  I was tired.  I was thankful for God's goodness to us as a team.  
The most important thing of the week was that needs were met and hearts/lives were forever changed due to the work of God through us in Eagle River.   Everything else was icing on the cake.