Sunday, June 21, 2015

I'm still alive, and here are some photos to prove it.

Okay, y'all, so I'm literally sitting down and forcing myself to write something on this blog today. It's been about 3 weeks since I've posted anything, and if I want to stick with my goal of "blogging regularly" (that's obviously loosely interpreted), I need to post something today while I have the time.

The only problem is, I don't really have anything brilliant to say today. So instead, I'm going to give you a few pictures of life lately. Here we go.

This is what a bunch of baby campers in the rain looks like. Aren't they adorable, in their colorful little rain jackets?!?! I just love them.

 This is a panorama I took at the Mendenhall Glacier. You can see Mendenhall Lake, a glimpse of the glacier in the right corner, and Nugget Falls to the right. Sorry, I can't remember the name of that mountain. 








And this is just a cute picture of me and my sweet hubby. Love that guy.


This is what a 4am airport run in Alaska in the summer looks like. Yes, sunrise was about 3:45 that day. We took a group of people to the airport, came back to the dorm, closed our thick curtains, and went back to bed.

This is me eating a halibut burger. DE-LI-CIOUS.

And that's my photographic summary of life lately! :-)

Monday, June 1, 2015

Things I Learned in May

Things I Learned in May

I'm joining Emily at Chatting at the Sky today for her "What I Learned in May" link-up.  Check out Emily's post and the other ladies' links, too!
Here are a few things, in no particular order, that I've learned in these past 31 days...


  • Weed-eating isn't as fun as I used to think it was. 
I used to love running a weedeater back when I worked at Camp Ba Yo Ca, so the other day I enthusiastically volunteered to help my husband out by doing so. Turns out it's not so enjoyable -- getting pelted in the face and arms with flying pebbles and grass? No thanks.


  • After a month of sun, I'm ready for rain.

Let's be honest, us Alaskans don't know what to do with this much sunshine. It's fantastic, don't get me wrong! I love the sunshine more than the rain, for sure. But a whole month with only 2 days of rain? Seriously, are we even in Southeast Alaska? The dust and the flies are getting ridiculous. Never thought I'd say this, but... time for a few rainy days.

  • Condensing your life story into 5 minutes is hard.
During Summer Staff Orientation here at camp, we each shared our testimonies and were limited to about five minutes each, since there were so many of us. Yeah. That's challenging. I feel like I left out lots and lots of important stuff.

  • When you live at work, time off isn't really a real thing.
Even when we're "off," we're thinking about work, talking about work, and often, actually working instead of being off. It's a tricky boundary. 

  • Hubby and I can eat a whole bag of these in one sitting.
                                      
Seriously, if anyone wanted to send us a bunch of these in the mail, we wouldn't be very mad ;-) 

  • Marriage really is challenging.
People always told me the first two years of marriage are the hardest, and I never believed them. I always thought, "Nah, the first years would be the best, right? Honeymoon phase!" But you know, there's a lot of adjustment, learning, growing, compromising, and stretching involved in these first months. All of that is amplified when you live in a Christian community bubble and work in full-time ministry. It's all good, it truly is! Definitely not easy. But good. 

  • The valley is still my favorite place at camp. 
                                  

What have you learned this past month? 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Glorify HIM, not me!

"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they will see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven."  (Matthew 5:16, my emphasis)

"Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be seen by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven."  (Matthew 6:1) 

This is a good reminder for me. Really, this is something I need to be slapped in the face with, just about every day. Especially here at camp. Why is it so easy to get into a mindset of performance? To think that I deserve recognition or thanks for anything I do?

The good works that my Father has given me to do (Ephesians 2:10) are meant to point people to Him and give glory to Him...not myself. Never myself! If I never get recognized for my service, it's okay. As long as my heart is pleasing to the Lord and people can see Him reflected in my good works, I must be satisfied and joyful in that.

Father, remind me daily that I deserve nothing. I am not my own, but You have bought me with the price of Your blood; therefore my life's purpose is to bring You glory! May my heart be joyful, willing, and humble as I serve, and may people around me see Your light reflecting in me-- for YOUR glory, not mine. Amen. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Good Weather, Healthy Choices, and Such

Y'all, it's been so warm and beautiful here in Southeast Alaska lately!  We had a week of sunshine, followed by one or two days of rain and clouds -- which is the norm for this area! -- and then right back to sunshine again!  This is such an unusual blessing for us.  This afternoon, we've moved the camp office outdoors -- two of the other staff girls and I are sitting on blankets in front of the office, getting a bit of work done but mostly soaking up the sunshine!  Living in a rainforest like we do, you never know when it's going to start pouring again for a week straight.

I started making green smoothies this week.  We were able to go into town to the grocery store a few days ago, and I bought some spinach and a bunch of fruit for smoothies.  I just drank my second one, while sitting out here in the sunshine today, and I'll just say today's tasted better than yesterday's!  If any of you have any delicious smoothie suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

I guess I'm on a bit of a "health kick" lately -- smoothies and other healthier food choices, natural homemade detergents and such.  Really, it's a combination of wanting to be healthy, save money, and live simply.  I've always been aware of those things, but I think being married puts it all in a new light.  I'm not just taking care of myself anymore.  There's a husband and, someday, children to think about (don't worry, that's not happening anytime soon!).  That's giving me a new perspective of the lifestyle I want for myself and my family -- and the best time to start is now, right?!

The other news around here is that camp is in full swing!  Today our 4th retreat group of the spring season is here.  We have a couple more retreats before Counselor Orientation begins, and then it's full speed ahead into summer camp season!  Soon our summer staff (counselors, wranglers, maintenance help, etc) will be arriving from all over the United States.  I'm excited to meet everyone!

And on the topic of summer staff.... we're still in need of a nurse for the month of June, a couple of girl counselors, a videographer, and a girl wilderness camp counselor.  Please contact me ASAP if you know anyone interested in serving in one of these roles at a Christian summer camp in Alaska!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

DIY Laundry!

Okay, y'all, I think I'm getting addicted to the DIY Natural Homemade Things.  One day a while back, in the midst of perusing Pinterest boards, I found a recipe for homemade laundry detergent, and it didn't sound too terribly difficult.  I decided to give it a shot, and before I knew it, I was sitting on my living room floor making homemade dryer sheets, too!  Just the other day I bought supplies for reusable makeup remover wipes, and I think DIY liquid hand soap may be in my near future.

I'm telling you guys, this stuff is addicting!  It's exciting to make something myself, with simple, natural ingredients, so that I'M in control of what I'm putting on my (and my dear husband's) skin, and actually SAVE MONEY in the process.  And it's not hard!  I'm so stoked about this.  Can you tell?  ;-)

Alright, so on to the recipes.  Since the laundry detergent and dryer sheets are the ones I've actually made so far, those are the ones I'll share this time around.

Homemade Laundry Detergent
from diynatural.com

1 cup Borax
1 cup washing soda
1 bar of soap, grated*

Grate your soap into a bowl and mix with the other two ingredients. Store in an airtight container and use 2-3 tablespoons for a large load of laundry.  That's it! 

*The soap you use is totally up to you -- go super organic and natural, or go scented and colorful.  It all depends on what you want to put on your skin.  I used a bar of Dove Unscented, because my husband has very sensitive skin and this is the kind of soap he uses daily, so I knew it wouldn't cause him any trouble.  

Homemade Reusable Dryer Sheets
from ViewFromtheFridge.com

Several squares of fabric (I cut mine about 6"x6" from an old t-shirt, but you can use any fabric scrap)
1/2 cup vinegar
8-10 drops essential oil*

Mix vinegar and essential oil in an airtight container.  Fold up your fabric squares, place in the vinegar mixture, and replace the lid, letting them soak.  When you are ready to dry a load of clothes, take out a few of your dryer sheets (I use about 3-4 per load), squeeze out the extra liquid, and toss them in the dryer.  When it's done, just fold your little squares back up and put them right back into the vinegar mixture.  So easy!  My clothes were soft and static-free - and no, they don't smell like vinegar!

*Your choice of scent. I used lavender and tea tree, because that's what I had on hand!  You don't need the expensive essential oils for this project; something cheap will suffice because it's only for scent. 




Thursday, April 9, 2015

Becoming God's plan for me.


A few nights ago, I stood on the front beach at camp with my husband, my XtraTuf boots in the edge of the lapping water, watching the sun set over the Chilkat mountain range, casting a fishing line out into the bay in hopes of catching our dinner. 

And in that peaceful moment, I realized something about where life has taken me:

This is unfamiliar, but familiar.
It's not the home I've known, but it's home.
This is not who I've been, but this is who I'm becoming.  
I never imagined this life...but I can't imagine life any other way. 

How amusing it is -- that God saw me as that shy little ballerina girl who hated getting dirty, was scared of the dark, and would much prefer to stay inside reading and playing dolls, and He planned to someday capture that girl's heart with camping ministry, marry her off to an outdoorsman, and set her in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness.  He saw and He knew and He planned.  He loved me as I was, but had better things in mind.  

So now here I am, becoming an Alaskan, becoming a wife, becoming what I hope is a better and stronger person.  Still growing, still overcoming fear.  And thankful every day for this life.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Blog Lovin!

Hey friends!  I just joined Bloglovin to find more blog friends to follow!  You can follow my blog through them and get updated when I post something new...and find more great blogs to follow, as well.  Here's the link:  Follow my blog with Bloglovin
 

Monday, March 9, 2015

our friend the hitchhiker.

My friend Courtney and I were driving around town the other day in a minivan plastered with Echo Ranch Bible Camp decals, visiting local churches and schools to hang up posters for summer camp.  As we drove through one particular neighborhood, we came up on a lady walking, who desperately waved at us to stop.  We were a little apprehensive, but Courtney pulled the van to a stop and rolled down her window.  The woman was dressed in baggy clothes and looked like a wreck.  Her face was blotchy and tears were streaming down her cheeks.  Her demeanor said she was probably on drugs.  In a raspy voice, she pleaded, "I'm really sick and I can't walk far. Can I use your phone?"

Courtney dialed in the number for her and handed over her iPhone. After a brief conversation, the lady returned the phone and, still crying, asked if we could give her a ride.

And there's where faith becomes real, y'all.  There's where the love of Jesus means something... something besides crosses and Sunday school and Bible verses and camp posters.

So we let this hurting stranger climb into the back seat of our minivan, with her sniffling and coughing, her tears, and her cigarette smell.  She told us where she needed to go, which turned out to be just on the other side of the highway.  The short ride there was silent, other than quiet introductions.  We asked her name and told her ours.  Then we were there, in a dump of a trailer park that reminded me more of a third-world country than rich America.  I jumped out of the passenger seat to open the sliding van door for her from the outside.  As she got out, mumbling a thank you, I blurted, "Can I give you a hug?"

Probably not the wisest choice.  She was dirty, she was sick, and she smelled bad.  Who knows where she'd been?  But I felt like I had to do something, say something, before she disappeared.  Somehow I wanted to infuse life and love and Jesus into her life.  So I opened my arms and asked to give her a hug.

She gave me a self-conscious half smile, then said, "I don't want to get you sick" and walked away.  And that was it.

I hope and pray that somehow she saw Jesus, that in some way she felt loved, and that one day she might look  back and see, not two women picking up a hitchhiker, but Jesus meeting her needs through those two uncertain girls in a minivan.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Sunshine at the Right Time

I live in Juneau, Alaska, where the average annual rainfall is 62 inches (but can be up to 92), and it rains, on average, 230 days of the year.  This is pretty common:


Well, I'm here to tell you that out of the 135 days of sunshine we can expect here this year, we've seen 5 or 6 of them, consecutively, in the past week!  And oh, has it been glorious.  Here's a panorama I took from our front porch the other day:


Sunshine and blue skies 5 days in a row, stars out every night, and even a beautiful display of the Northern Lights on Sunday night.... you don't take this kind of stuff for granted when you live in Southeast Alaska.  Rain and clouds are the norm; sun and stars are exceptional blessings.  

And my Heavenly Father knew exactly the right time to give me a week of beautiful weather.  Because, I'll admit, this past week didn't find me in the greatest place emotionally.  A few days ago, if I'd sat here in my living room, looking out the window at gray skies and dreary rain falling, it would have matched my mood and dragged me down further.  My Abba knew the sunshine would help lift my spirits during those days, and it did.  He is SO very gracious!  

So today, I'm sitting here in my living room, looking at gray skies and dreary rain falling.  Juneau is back to its more normal look.  Today, my heart is at peace, and while sunshine is still my favorite, today I find the rain familiar and cozy.  And I'm thankful.  

   
(PS: For ladies...you know about those days of emotional fragility.  This is something I've been learning about recently -- how our femininity affects our emotional patterns all month long, not just that one week :-)  It's really eye-opening, and I think I'm finding it to be true.  Maybe we aren't as crazy as we sometimes feel!  Check out this web page for more info.)