Monday, September 28, 2009

Hebrews 12:29
"For our God is a consuming fire."

How is one consumed by God?
I wonder this, and in my mind's eye
I see a flame eagerly devour the wood
Until every last vestige of usableness is gone.
Ashes remain, but a wind blows
And even they mist into the wind in a moment.
I see the shore disappear beneath
The relentless, gentle licking waves...
It will reappear in the morning, but
As a different shore than it ever was.
The pattern I drew on it this evening will melt
In the ocean's methodical feed.
I see the green earth consumed by cold
Until the laced fingers of frost have painted
A once-colorful landscape with dull browns and grays.
Nothing remains but the sentry-like branches,
Nakedly trembling before the icy breath that stripped them bare.
How will I change, Lord, when you have consumed me?
How can I be consumed by You?
To say it; to pray it; to wish for it is one thing.
But the acting out of it in my daily life...
Is a mystery to me.
The earthly thought of consumption is frightening:
The loss of identity; life; beauty.
The log turned ash-
The shore's pattern eternally erased-
The Summer's verdancy forever past.
But this consumption of soul and spirit is initiated and performed
By the beautiful, kind, holy One whom my soul loves.
Through my melding into Him,
I will lose the ugly wretchedness of death.
So like the log, the sand, the landscape,
I quietly submit to this consumption.
I seek it, even.
I know life will follow.

If you can look past the 'fro and suspenders,
I think you will be amazed by this heart cry!
You can click here to read the life story of Keith Green, if you've never heard of him.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bath Time, etc.

"I told Kate, she can't be a baby bear in the
bathtub. It's sort of distracting. And
girls don't be's
baby bears in the bathtub.
They be's
ballerinas and princesses and
girls that
dance and wear dresses."
-Princess Shaina

Carlee, Nathaniel, and baby left for Anchorage
last night. She just finished her 5th round of
chemo, and said it went great!
I know she'd
appreciate your prayers. Carlee
has been feeling
a little apprehensive about this week...I think
the dread of pokes,
prods, needles and
complications is weighing on her. Thank you and
God bless you who so
consistently lend her your
prayer support!! She truly counts on it.

So: It's just me and the kids for a few days.
I am the sole authority in a houseful of
rambunctious Little People. Quite the
feeling of authority for someone, like me, who
has been at the bottom of the
sibling totem
pole all my life. (wink!)

It's Beluga Whale season around here, and I
think after the kids wake up from naps
take the six-wheeler out of town a bit and
scan the sea. I'd LOVE to see a Beluga! The
kids never tire of walking
along the shore
and collecting glass rocks. There are
few shells here, but people
place colored
glass bottles on the ice during winter, and
by the time they reach the
shore months later
they've turned into brown, blue, green,
and clear pieces of smooth,
gem-like stones.
A child's treasure.
But I still haven't
figured out a good use for them. Any ideas?

Another note: my computer's generally making
it hard for me to leave comments on most blogs,
including my own. But if you've left a
comment, thank you and consider yourself
hugged. :)

Now, off I go a'whale watching.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The End of Ramadan

This is a video taken exactly one year ago at about 5:30 in the morning from my hotel room window in Melaca, Malaysia. It is the Muslim call to prayer.
I feel horrible, this evening, because I realize that I missed the month of Ramadan by one day. I realized it was during September, but I'm ashamed to say that recently I've been a little self-absorbed. I've lost sight of my goal of being a "world Christian" (meaning a Christian with a passion and compassion for the entire world, not just my own sphere) recently. My eyes have been on the people and places that directly affect me, and I've been forgetting the burden Jesus blessed me with, when I was in Asia, for the Muslims of the world.
And so, the month of Ramadan has passed. Millions of people in thousands of cities awakened every day with calls to prayer something like this, and fasted during the daylight hours out of fear; fear that if they failed to fast as commanded, their good works would be overshadowed by the bad and they would miss paradise forever.
Friends, please pray for Muslims when you read this. Take time to learn about them and what they believe. Realize that Islam is one of the fastest growing religions (if not THE fastest growing religion) and we need to be aware of how to engage these precious people and declare with wisdom and love the truth of Jesus, their Messiah. Pray that God will send laborers into His harvest.
And I will pray that God will not let me so easily forget.

This is a video of Grace and I singing a song God gave me while we were in Malaysia. It is a song calling believers to pray for followers of Islam. It was written while overlooking Melaca, hearing the call to prayer.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Bloody Good Time!

Joe Fiskeaux shot this moose cow a few days ago, and the butchering is a family affair. We went over to their house and had a grand old time cutting the meat. (And our fingers.) Below, Joe is holding up his bullet, which he found while butchering.

Nate and Harvey lugging a hunk of moose inside

Prime rib anyone?? :) It looks pretty disgusting, and it was... but, somehow, it was a lot of fun too. Somehow.

Mary: a pretty cute meat packager! :)

Nancy posing with some of her fresh moose roasts

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Lesson From Uluru

Well, the dastardly deed is done.
I've sold my darling birdies over the internet and phone to Pat, who is a nice person with a lot of bird experience. I communicated with Pat over the internet a few times, and found out that she was a young nursing student who's really friendly and seems excited about owning birds again. I was a bit shocked yesterday when I called her only to find that "Pat" is short for "Patrick" and she's a he! :) He seems like he'll take good care of them.
So ahyhow I've been thinking of a lesson I learned from Uluru, and thought, in honor of the little fellow, that I'd tell you the story.
When I first bought Uluru, he was a young handfed baby. He was terrified of being taken out of his familiar cage, and when I brought him home all he would do was huddle in the corner of his cage. He didn't want to eat, drink, or do anything other than get away from me. He wouldn't make a sound other than an occasional miserable chirp. It was so sad! I had been looking for a long time for the bird I would buy, and when I heard that he was "hand fed" and supposedly "tame" I had pictures in my mind of this darling little juvenile cockatiel who would snuggle on my shoulder and whistle me love songs. I kept on expecting him to come around once he was used to his new home, and in time he didn't fear me anymore. But he still didn't like me. He'd crouch in the furthest corner of his cage when I came near. He started to chirp and whistle in time, but he didn't want ANYTHING to do with me. He simply tolerated me when I tried to hold him. He was quite happy to live life in his cage without human companionship.
But what he didn't know is that I had bought him for just that reason! The whole reason I had searched for the perfect bird, purchased him, and traveled a long ways to get him was so that he could be my little buddy.
One day I was sitting in my Bible study class, and my mind wasn't on the lecture. It wandered to Uluru at home in his cage and I thought absently "goodness, I just wish he enjoyed me as his owner. I wish he WANTED to be with me. What good is it to have a pet who doesn't enjoy you?" Suddenly a thought hit me so hard. God said to me "Dani, that's exactly how I feel about you. I don't just want to 'own' you. I don't just want you to be My possession. I want you to enjoy Me so that I can enjoy you to the fullest! I created you to delight in Me and bring Me joy in your delight." Something clicked in my relationship with God when I finally understood that. I was upset over a little bird who didn't enjoy me? Here was the God of the Universe, the High King of Heaven who had purchased me with his very blood, and so often my attitude towards him was one of duty and obligation rather than adoration and delight.
Uluru finally came around, with time. Now my family and I laugh at the little "Dani Dance" he does when I walk in the room. He wants me to hold him so badly that he prances around on his perch, crouching and quivering with hope that I'll just look at him. When I place a treat in his cage, he doesn't even look twice at it. All he wants is to hop on my hand and have me scratch his head or give me kisses. He's rather have me than what I can give him. He's perfectly content to sit on my shoulder or my head for hours while I go throughout my day. Sometimes I'll be reading or working, and hear a plaintive little chirp. I'll look up and find that Uluru has been staring at me for who-knows-how-long, waiting for me to notice him and pick him up. (Awww!) :)
I cannot tell you how often that little bird has put me to shame. He delights in being my bird the way Christians should delight in being God's children. He wants to be with me at all times and his plaintive little chirp for attention reminds me of the constant cry in my heart, "my soul thirsts for the living God as the deer pants for water!" I want to be the kind of Christian who is constantly seeking God's eye... His presence... His blessing.
How sad it must make God when our pets show more affection and desire for us than we do for Him!
So... I'm grateful for the Lesson Uluru taught me about being a "Cockatiel Christian". :)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hobbit Happenings

I finally watched Lord of the Rings (Return of the King. And Nate you were right; I was too whimpy to watch certain parts!) I'm glad I watched it though. Among other things, it gave me a whole new appreciation for Hobbits. :) They are merry, brave, noble little people and so I think "Hobbit" is a very fitting description for my nieces and nephews. :)

We think Caleb is getting scandalously chubby. :)

Last week was miserable. Really.
Four of the young'uns were sick (plus their mommy) and we big people felt dreadfully outnumbered.
Monday though, things started to look up and the kids began to feel better, one by one. Carlee's feeling a lot better too. Since then we've been able to go out a few times and enjoy the brief beauty that Fall in Northern Alaska offers; it's been unseasonably warm. Soon winter will set in, and we're enjoying every opportunity to get outside before that happens.

Yesterday we drove to the beach and let the kids play in the water. It was FREEEEZING but they acted like it was bathwater! The little Sourdoughs. :)

The land of extremes: bathing suits and winter coats.

On Labor Day we drove out to Council, a tiny settlement about 2.5 hours away from Nome. There's no electricity or running water, and you can only access it by driving or boating though a river. People use it as a getaway place or to stay while they're hunting and fishing. It was a beautiful drive, because that far inland there are trees and grass! The fall colors on the tundra were breathtaking and we saw reindeer, beaver, fox, and musk ox.

Crossing the river to Council was a wee bit frightening at times. But Nathan got us safely across.
(Especially since we were traveling in a borrowed van.)

On the way home we built a fire overlooking a river and had dinner.
It was fun to be among trees again. :)

Kuspukin' it :)

These two pictures are unedited... taken within seconds of each other but in different parts of the sky. Isn't it amazing!?

HAHA! The great river rescue! On the way home from Counsel about 30 miles outside of town we saw two stranded boaters waving at us from an island area across the river. It was getting dark and colder, and pretty soon they wouldn't be visible from the road. Nathan and I found a kayak at an empty fishing shack nearby. Unfortunately, it lacked a rudder. Also, it was only a single kayak which meant that we'd have to make several trips to get the men and one person would have to balance on the back of it. Since I was lighter than Nathan, I paddled across the river to rescue the damsels (er...dudes) in the distress. I thought it was wildly fun and on the way over I was contemplating all sorts of heroic pick-up lines to use such as (with a John Wayne swagger to my voice) "Howdy, fellahs; looks like someone could use a lift..." or the maddening rhetorical question, "Having a bit of trouble?" or the standard hero greeting, "I have come to save the DAY!" But it dawned on me that it was probably a bit humiliating for the two crusty hunters to be rescued by a young female, so I settled for an uninteresting but modest "Hey, guys". I also thought it would be best for be to let the men paddle on each return trip so as not to make them think I was completely doing all the rescuing.
Unfortunately for both of us, neither man had been in a kayak before (let alone paddled one in a current with a person sitting on the back of the boat, upsetting our center of gravity). my feet dangling precariously in the water, I tried to keep as still as possible on each trip while the men grunted and groaned, saying things like "Heh... never been in one of these things..." and "yikes... this is hard..." each time the craft wobbled, the guys would panic a little and over-correct, sending us into a quick back-and-forth wiggle that threatened to spill us into the drink. I admit that I didn't relish the thought of swimming in that water, but I was having the time of my life. :) In all, I made three trips across and back. One for each man, and one for their guns and backpacks. (In that trip, I rowed back across with two shutgun barrels poking imposingly into each of my ribs. They were unarmed, but they did add some speed to my flight nevertheless.)
My only disappointment in the whole process is that neither men were secretly multi-millionaires who, in deep gratitude to us for saving their lives, offered us half of their entire fortunes.
Okay, and I did have one other secret disappointment. Why couldn't one of them have been young, handsome, strong, noble...?

Still, it was worth the adventure. It's not every day you get to rescue someone.

(No nasty comments about how I'm zig-zagging across the river! I didn't have a rudder and the current was playing with me. )

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Psalm 61, verse 2: "From the end of the earth I will cry to You when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I."

by Carolyn Hamlin
(Click to hear a 90 sec. sample)

Lord, as I seek your guidance for the day,
I find my thoughts unyielding: confusion clouds my way,
But, then when I bow to you, the challenges you guide me through,
Your promises are ever new: I claim them for today.

Your will cannot lead me where your grace cannot keep me.
Your hand will protect me: I rest in your care.
Your eyes will watch over me: Your love will forgive me.
And when I am faltering, I still will find you there.

Each new day’s design is guided by your hand,
And graciously revealed as I seek your Master plan.
Keep my footsteps faithful when from you I go.
Return me to the joy that your blessings can bestow.

Your will cannot lead me where your grace cannot keep me.
Your hand will protect me: I rest in your care.
Your eyes will watch over me: Your love will forgive me.
And when I am faltering, I still will find you there.

Your eyes will watch over me,
Your love will forgive me,
And when I am faltering,
Lord, I will find you there.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Praise God, Carlee got some awesome news while she was in Anchorage! The doctor's scans showed that her tumor has drastically reduced; almost to the point of being completely gone. the small areas of cancer around it have disappeared also!! Sooo exciting to get that good news. :) Thanks to those of you have continued to pray for Carlee, and who are rejoicing with us at this awesome report. You can click here to read Carlee's wonderful blog post with more thorough details. :)

Today's shaping up to be a bit of a low-key day; most of the kids are sick with fevers and upset tummies, and Carlee is feeling very weak and unwell after her last chemo round. Looks like it will be a movie/blanket/Jell-O sort of day.

Friday, September 04, 2009

3 Years Ago Today

“He was fun. He taught me it’s okay to play in the rain. And splash in mud puddles. And let the kids get dirty. And spill ice cream on your pants. He didn’t sweat the little stuff. He followed the big picture.” -Terri Irwin

People often laugh and shake their heads when I tell them how much I think of Steve Irwin. And it's true; He could be a pretty over-the-top kinda guy. I did not agree with every thing he said or did. But I think the things that most impressed me about him, (what casual observers failed to see in him,) were his compassion, his almost unbelievable fearlessness, and the wholehearted passion with which he lived. (Gal. 4:18) He was SO PASSIONATE about what he did! The world is a better place for having had Steve in it.
Sometimes I think that the message of conservation is so twisted by radicals (i.e.- "we should all stop having babies because humans are the problem on this earth") that some Christians' reaction is to completely reject the importance of being good stewards of the earth. It's true that people's minds are completely twisted when they cry over a beached whale but fight for a woman's right to murder her baby. Humans, being created in the image of God, take an indisputable prescience over the rest of creation. But I think that if anything, Christians should be leading the charge in a balanced effort to conserve and protect the earth's species of plants and animals. Why? Not because the earth is our "Mother" or we owe it to the earth because of the carbon footprints we'll leave behind. It's because God delights in what He has made, so we should too. His fingerprints are all over His creation, and I think it brings joy to His heart when we get excited about nature; when we fill the earth and subdue it, understanding that creation declares His glory in the most vivid way.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Some pictures

Carlee and Nathan left last night for Anchorage, and she's getting her chemo and Herceptin treatments today. (As I write this, in fact.)

Rabbit Trail: I want to mention, by the way, an AMAZING movie about the man who discovered Herceptin. It's called Living Proof, and I just watched it before I left to come here. It is absolutely riveting and I definitely recommend it for everyone to see! You will cry, but you will also be amazed by this powerful story. To us it means the world because without Herceptin, there would be no treatment for Carlee's cancer. I would write more about it, but I think my sister is planning on writing about it on her blog eventually. Please... watch this movie and tell me what you think.

Anyhow, the kids and I are having fun. (I mean Rice Crispies with chocolate syrup for breakfast... how much cooler does it GET for a kid!?) I thought I'd post some pictures from my first two days at Home in Nome. Enjoy! :)

The view from our window. (Yep... gray!) We're so blessed to have the beautiful sea to look at! I thank God for it every day.

Carlee loved looking at all the fun little gifts friends and family sent. :) Thank you to everyone!

The Hobbits had scattered my bed with adorable notes and pictures! they were so excited that they pretty much dragged me to my room as soon as I walked into the apartment. So fun. :)

Mmmmmm! Nate knows the way to my heart. :) He is a world-class frappucino maker. This was my welcome home present from him and it was a peanut butter frappe. I was pretty much incapacitated in a delirious state of glory after my first taste.

Yesterday was our first day of school for Noah! Shaina and Kate had some pre- school things to work on so it was a family affair. :) I'm so proud of Carlee, homeschooling the kiddos! And I'm glad to be a part of it. Maybe I'll be an old pro at it by the time I have my own. :)

Even Wesley got in it.
Sort of.

Alas! Quite a heavy work load for the Drama Queen.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Back in Hobbitland

Nome welcomes me with mud, gray drizzle, and stormy waves. BUT there is a lot of sunshine indoors! Sunshine from Wesley's golden curls, from the smiles of little Caleb, from the sparkle in the kids' eyes, and Car and Nate's Welcome Home hugs! And, there is sunlight above the clouds. I was reminded of that when the plane lifted off from Kotzebue, our last stop before Nome. it was disgustingly gray there, too, and I was feeling a little depressed at the sight of it. But as we lifted into the sky and broke through a surprisingly thin layer of clouds, the sky instantly cleared and I could see the rosy morning sunrise over mountainous white clouds, and the vast blue sky beyond. It was breathtakingly beautiful. And somehow, I thought, it was comforting to know that even though Nome has a majority of dark days, just through the cloud cover is always, always, a beautiful sky. Once again I was reminded of the Invisible Reality of life. When it feels like the darkness of earth is our reality, it's important to remember that there is a much vaster, fuller beauty above us and THAT is where we must fix our minds. Not just because it's a good "feel happy" exercise; but because it is a vital part of our Christian lives. If we are going to survive the battle against world, flesh, devil (and might I add "emotions!") our mind HAS to be fixed in the heavenlies.

Col. 3:1-2 (ESV)
"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth."