Sunday, July 26, 2009

Documentary from Flat Top Mountain

Nate, mom and I trekked up Flat Top mountain yesterday. The mountain defeated us. (Hopefully soon I'll come back and do the entire thing.) But the view from the hight we reached was absolutely spectacular. It's nearly impossible to stand at that vista and not spread your arms, take a deep breath, and shout!
On the way down we found a tundra valley filled with blueberries. We stopped and filled a water bottle with them, and had a crazy-good wild blueberry cobbler for dessert. Mom and I are going back to pick some more in a day or two.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I've been working through a lifechanging Bible Study lately, ("Created For His Glory" by Jim Berg) and God is using it to remind me to not read my Bible like a person reads their highschool yearbook; flipping through the pages with the goal of looking for "me" in there.
I admit that for most of my Christian life, I've gotten a lot more excited when I read something that has to do with me (guidance, promises, encouragement, etc.) in God's Word then when I read His attributes or some great, powerful Work He has done or promises to do. Even the Creation story: how quickly I skip over the first few verses of Genesis, where it describes the Power of the Universe flinging stars into space, creating the intricate details of flowers and grasses, and designing each magnificent animal! Instead I quickly moved on to where MAN was created and my involuntary inward attitude said " we're on to the important stuff: now we're going to start talking about 'ME'."
I've asked Him to forgive me for not being passionate about His glory. He deserves and demands to be glorified!
A quote from the book:
When Adam fell, man's nature was corrupted. His darkened nature put himself first. He saw himself as the most significant part of reality. ...His focus became instinctively "me-first" instead of instinctively "God-first". He fell short of his purpose of reflecting and enjoying God's unique excellence---His glory.

When I fail to worship God as the most significant Reality in my life and all around me, then, my fallen nature is ruling who I am. When I look at nature, when I taste food or enjoy a child or gaze at the stars, He deserves to be worshiped with every fiber of my being as the Creator of every good and perfect thing. Oh, may I learn to stop and praise Him more often in my thoughts and with my words.
I read Psalm 18 and 145 the other day, and was struck with so many attributes and actions describing who my God is! (Listed below.) I forced myself not to slow down: to roll them around on my mind and pondered them, and as I did my awe of God and my delight in being HIS blossomed!! I believe that a worshipful spirit is something that MUST be cultivated. It does not come naturally to humans to adore their Master and delight just in belonging to Him and obeying Him (we could learn a lesson from our dogs). All I know to do is to ask God to place in me a passion for His glory, and to make a concerted effort to worship Him at every possible chance. As I've practiced this, it seems to come more naturally. It wells up inside of you like a bubbling spring of water and fills you with so much joy.
The Living Water is meant to be drunk of deeply.

  • The King of the everlasting kingdom
  • Unfathimably great and worthy to be praised
  • Majestic, glorious, full of splendor
  • Abundantly good
  • Righteous in all His ways
  • Gracious
  • Compassionate and loving to ALL He has made
  • Slow to anger
  • Rich in love
  • Good to ALL
  • Mighty
  • Faithful to all His promises
  • Upholding those who fall; lifting up those who are bowed down
  • Providing for all
  • He fufills and satisfies the desires of every living thing
  • Near to those who genuinely call on Him
  • Hearing the cries of the helpless, and saving them
  • He watches over those who love Him
  • Holy!
  • My Strength
  • My Rock, in whom I take refuge
  • My Fortress and Stronghold
  • My Shield
  • The horn ("strength") of my salvation
  • He hears the voice of those who cry to Him
  • Angry with those who do wrong
  • He is a consuming Fire
  • He is surrounded by darkness, clouds, bolts of lightening, hailstones, and thunder
  • He shoots arrows to scatter the enemy and routes them with lightening
  • With one breath, He can expose the valleys of the sea
  • He reaches down to hold me, to draw me from deep waters, and rescue me
  • My Supporter
  • He delights in me!
  • The Just Judge
  • He acts with faithfulness, blamessness, and purity towards righteous men
  • Shrewed in His dealings with the crooked
  • He turns my darkness into light
  • he enables me to singlehandedly fight against an army
  • Perfect
  • He is the Shield to those who need refuge
  • He arms me with strength
  • Guiding me, He makes my way perfect
  • He makes my feet like the feet of a deer so I can climb on tretcherous mountains
  • He trains me for battles and gives me the victory
  • He stoops down to make me great!
  • He makes my path wider so my feet won't slip
  • Stalks and destroyes His enemies
  • Does not answer the cry of the wicked
  • He is the LIVING GOD
  • He avenges His children
  • Full of unfailing kindness

Monday, July 20, 2009

Yikes. Long post.

I once heard a preacher say "Good and bad run on parallel tracks, and they usually arrive about the same time." I'm not sure why that's the case (maybe I forgot the rest of his message...)
...But I think he's right.
There have been lot of ups and downs the past few days. Actually, the past few MONTHS. (I never would have dreamed I'd have the amazing privilege of living with my sister and her 5 kids in Alaska!!! ...But I never would have imagined that she would have breast cancer, either.) Carlee has been feeling a little more of the effects of her chemo treatments this week. A lot of exhaustion, dizziness, etc. Her hair is definitely starting to come out. Please pray that her white blood cell count will rise. It's extremely low right now, so she's really receptive to any type of sickness. Her body would be unable to fight a virus off if she were exposed to it. She's staying out of crowded public places and we're trying to screen visitors. Also, the catheter tube entering her chest for chemo and blood draw purposes is having a problem. Carlee's body has built a protective sheath around it inside her chest which is normal; except this sheath is in the wrong place and it's making blood draws extremely difficult. There's the possibility that it could also cause the chemo drugs to back up and spill into the surrounding tissue, burning her. Please pray that God will protect her from this happening and fix this problem. Carlee needs prayer, too, that her heart will remain at peace during chemotherapy. It's scary and stressful to think that a complication could result. Carlee is amazing; she's such a trooper and so beautiful in so many ways. It's not just the beauty of a pretty face or a sunny disposition; it's the beauty of Christ. His peace, His love, His joy. I feel so honored to be her little sister. I always have, but now more than ever.

On a lighter note, here are a bunch of pictures showing the happenings around here while Dad was with us. I know it's a lot, but I so wish I could have shared all the wonderful parts of the past few weeks with family and friends... and it's hard to know what pictures to add or leave out. We were so busy that I didn't post about everything that was happening, so now I'm catching up a bit. It was a very special time and we all miss Dad. He added so much to the daily happenings. Noah cried when I was driving him home from saying goodbye to Poppi and said "it just isn't any fun here without him!"

Poppi took the kids for a lot of 4wheeler rides.
Here you see a classic pic of Wesley a few seconds after being removed from the 4wheeler. He's terribly indignant and offended when you lift him off!

Franklyn stopped by to visit us a second time. This time he laid in the lawn and chewed his cud. (After getting a few strategic pictures of our moosely friend, I think he might be a she. But I've decided that "Franklyn" it shall remain, regardless!)

Bath time for the wee fellow! This was a family affair and we all gathered around and adored him while he enjoyed every minute of the warm bath water. Carlee gave him a swaddle bath, (something she had heard about from NICU,) so he felt warm and safe the whole time.
Have you ever seen such a hairy little back!? Soooo downy soft.

Dad and mom took the kids to Lake Hood one afternoon to watch the float planes taking off and landing. We all wished "Uncle Nate the Pilot" could have been there with us. :)

Mom, Dad and I enjoyed an outdoor concert and walking around downtown Anchorage for an afternoon. Dad and I posed in front of the new Sobie Summer Cottage! (Haha.)

Wahoo! An afternoon cruise! Dad and Mom took Noah, Shaina and I.
(Our little ship is in the background)
The beautiful Seward Harbor

The wildlife sightings completely exceeded our expectations: a pod of orcas (my wildest dreams came true there!), sea lions, bald eagles, humpback wales, a pod of Dall's porpoises, sea otters, and countless puffins! There is something almost magical about wildlife encounters. I feel as if I've been given a special gift when they choose to allow me to approach them or when they come close, because I know they are wild and free; they could choose to be anywhere they want. How could you not glorify the Maker of such intricate design!? It makes me feel close to God when I get a chance to be close to His creation. Oh, and this is funny: the captain of our boat, on returning to Seward harbor, announced: "Folks, if anyone is at all dissatisfied with the amount of wildlife we've seen this afternoon, you and I need to have a serious talk about expectations." I laughed.

(Shaina and I were tuckered out after a long day on the water.)

Dad and I had a great time Salmon fishing the past two days.
We took Noah with us the first evening.
The Salmon are running now, and there were a lot of fishermen taking advantage of it. I know you're probably dying of curiosity so I shall tell you: I caught some!!
This is the first decent sized fish I've ever caught. I loved it. Dad didn't catch anything, but he took mine off the hook for me. (Such a gallant gentleman!) Unfortunately, I lost my drivers license somewhere while I was fishing! I'm honestly not sure how I'll get back to Ohio or Nome without it... I guess it's time to start looking into Anchorage residency options. ;-)

I've been reflecting, while Dad has been here, about how good it has been of God to give us such a special time together in the midst of the horrible nightmare of Carlee's cancer. The earth is full of such beauty, and getting out in it the past ten days has been refreshing and restful. Getting the chance to observe God's wild creatures and the glory He's created to reflect who HE is... there's nothing like it! Oh, how blessed we are to live in this masterpiece of God's; one that is breathtakingly beautiful even after sin has marred it.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Buon Compleanno, Grandpa!

Today is a huge milestone for my Grandpa Oriti:
His 80th birthday!
Nathaniel helped me make this video for Grandpa and I thought I'd post it here.
(Epecially for you, Scott, Oksy, and Nate. :)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

"Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who
sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round and pick blackberries.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

When the dog bites, when the bee stings...

I notice that I've been made extraordinarily happy by many random, small things lately. I've been keeping a mental list. I'm following a hedonistic whim by blogging about it. :)
  1. Hummus and pita chips (mass amounts)
  2. Mountains
  3. Dory's line from Finding Nemo: "I shall name him squishy, and he shall be mine, and he shall be my squishy."
  4. Isaiah 61:10
  5. Franklin the Moose
  6. Capturing a satisfying photograph
  7. Float planes
  8. Wearing gray socks (I know, that sounds strange. But it was on my mental list so I have to add it in order to be completely honest.)
  9. Kissing Caleb's sweet-smelling, soft, warm newborn cheek
  10. Rescuing Caleb from his bassinet when he's frantically crying as if his heart will break
  11. Rootbeer floats
  12. Swinging like a kid :)
  13. People! I've been completely amazed by the kindness of people (some of whome I hardly even know) lately: Sue Nolan and her daughter, Josh Sundstrom, Diana Skaggs, Steve and Heather Holsenback, the Berrys, Walters, and Everhards, friends from Alaska, churches we've never even visited. These people's good works and kindness cause me to ponder about who I am and who I could be. They amaze be by their selfless eagerness to show love to others. I see their good works, and glorify God.
  14. Smelling lupine (a flower that grows along the road here)
  15. Chris Rice's "When Did You Fall"
  16. Re-discovering "Little Black, A Pony" by Walter Farley. (I loved this book as a child and now my nieces and nephew love it too!)
  17. E-mails
  18. 4 Wheeling
  19. Curling up alone with my Bible study and chai latte`
  20. Making my nieces and nephews think I'm a fun auntie :) (Bear hunts, gummies, dancing, sword fights, and "Horsey Broodie" stories)
  21. Delighting in God. Truly. He can and should be delighted in and the more I think about Him and talk to Him, the more I delight in His friendship. In asking God questions or casually conversing throughout the day, and realizing that He finds ways to answer me.
  22. Dreaming (night, not day.)

"Every generous act of giving and every perfect gift is from above
and comes down from the Father who made the heavenly lights,
in whom there is no inconsistency or shifting shadow."
~James 1:17

Thursday, July 09, 2009

A visit from Dad (and Franklyn)

Poppi meets Caleb

Carlee walked to the front door on Tuesday to answer the doorbell as Nathan, Mom and I followed her, trying not to look obvious. :) When she opened it, a man stood with his back to her. "Helloo...?" She began, and then Dad turned around. Her response left us all with wet eyes. He's here for 10 days, and it's so good to have him. He taught the kids how to play baseball today. Went fairly well, other than Wes sitting and sucking his thumb on the bases. :)  

Exploring the woods and river near the house with Poppi

Franklyn (above) is an adolescent moose. He lives somewhere in the woods near Rocky Road in Anchorage, and yesterday he decided to hang out around our property. (Maybe he took pity on the forlorn Ohio girl who is constantly scoping the forest for any sign of Alaskan wildlife.) He came into the back yard several times, enjoying the tall green grass on the fringe of the lawn. In the evening he came back. Nathan grabbed his camera and ran around the back of the yard, sneaking up behind the moose and hoping to get some good pictures. Really, it was an insane and very unsafe thing to do. ...But then again I've always really admired people who do insane things with wildlife so I'm proud of my brother. :) We (meaning the adults of the house) sat quietly on the back porch observing while the moose began to grow increasingly aware of Nate's presence. Nate crept closer and closer, safely near the chain link fence of an old horse corral. Finally Franklyn had had enough, and decided to show Nate who was boss. Nate jumped on top and then retreated over the fence while the moose bluffed a charge again and again. He pranced around and bristled defiantly, but never ran away. In fact, after each charge he got closer and closer; almost as if an unseen rope was corralling him nearer to Nathan against his will. Eventually he got within inches of Nate's hand. I guess he's just young enough to be curious and a little foolish, so his curiosity overcame his fear of Nate. Nathan was able to get some incredible footage and we were breathless as we watched from the porch. When he grew tired of posturing, he trotted through the yard, pausing in front of the porch to give us a bit of a "who you lookin' at?" look, then rounded the corner of the house and disappeared. It was definitely a once in a lifetime experience; one we'll never forget.
Nate took some videos but I can't get them to upload. Maybe later. 

Our moosely friend

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Today a squeaking, fuzzy, slightly scrawny little boy came to live with us. And we've decided to keep him. :) (Did I mention that he's extraordinarily beautiful, too??) We can't believe that Caleb is actually home, and so much sooner than we thought. He's our little miracle boy! His 6 lb. body feels so delicate and tiny; fragile as an egg shell. After seeing him struggle to draw each breath in an incubator, it feels terribly precarious to hold him in my arms like I would any other baby. Mom and I both got to feed him bottles today. He did so well. :) You've got to hold him a certain way and be patient because it takes a while; he needs to stop and rest... but I loved every minute of kissing his silky, perfectly shaped little head and feeling his warm, limp body in my arms while he drank from his teeny bottle. I praise God that Caleb is safely home. I don't praise God simply because things went the way I wanted them to, because that's not praise at all. (I know that, even though it would be a worship laced with pain, we'd be praising Him even if He had chosen to take Caleb to heaven while his life hung in the balance.) I thank Him because He does everything well; whether we can understand it at the time or not. He is no less kind when He brings sorrow into our lives than when he lets us walk a path of easy joy. (Job 2:10 "...Shall we recieve good from the hand of the Lord and shall we not recieve adversity?")Anyhow, enjoy the pics of our oblivious celebrity and his adoring fan club. :)

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Life and times in A-town

Carlee's chemo went great today. Glory to God! The doctors knew what precautions to take after her reaction to the Herceptin yesterday, and everything went well. In fact, she felt wonderful today even after her horrible ordeal yesterday, and her and Nathan spent the afternoon and evening here with us. Thank you all for strengthening Carlee through your prayers and your love. 

A few pics from the past week: 

Happy 3rd Birthday, Katie-bug! 

Our little wood pixie, Shaina. 

Precious Mr. Caleb is getting stronger every day! Praise God: no more tubes, needles,  IV's, ventilator, oxygen, or morphine drips! I've had a cold so I haven't gotten to see him this week--- but he's being held daily by Mommy, Daddy, and Grandma, and fed with a bottle as well as the feeding tube right now. We hope he'll hurry up and learn how to drink from a bottle sufficiently so he can come home to us soon!

"Aunt Sue" and Wesley are buds. We are so blessed that this dear woman has let us invade her home. We'll miss her while she's gone the next few weeks visiting her family. 

A few evenings ago, Sue pulled out the 4 wheeler and we had fun driving around a bit. 
I convinced mom to hop on. 
She was nervous.  

Check it out, Dad. :)

My friend told me to kick a moose while I was in Alaska. 

Er... was it kiss a moose?

It was great to get together with Andrea Darling (Yikes, I forget her new name) and her awesome new hubby while they were in town! Mom and I escaped for a few hours last week and we had a wonderful walk with them along the coastal trail and then enjoyed chatting in a restaurant afterwards. I grew up with Andrea but we practically haven't seen each other since we were 10 so what a special afternoon that was.  Much needed. :)

While mom and I were hangin' with Andrea and John, Carlee and Nate were alone with their kiddos for the first time in... weeks, maybe!? I think they had fun too. :)

Nate and Carlee still aren't living with us right now (they're staying close to the hospital) but they come over almost every evening. We normally eat on Sue's back porch. Nate enjoyed the "cool grill" a few days ago. (Why is grilling such a man thing??) I thought he looked like a surgeon with all the tools of the trade laid out nearby.