Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wherefore doth this painting so excessively amuse me?

She highly amuses and intrigues me. Perhaps it's the complete beauty, calm and coolness of her demeanor, with nothing other than her strained neck muscle tell-tailing the fact that something's the matter. The papers strewn all over the floor with no explanation as to why... leaving it to your imagination. Does the have rambunctious children? Did she lose her temper? Is she frustrated with a project? She's contemplating the next step, and trying very hard to maintain (or regain) composure.

At any rate, I laughed very hard when I saw this painting because somehow, as the nanny-aunt to 5 small children, I can relate. She needs a cup of hot chai and a friend to share this moment with.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pastor Appreciation Month

Pastor and Mrs. McCoy have been on my mind every day this month... it's Pastor Appreciation Month and I know that at our church they are being loved and thanked. I wish I could be home to personally hug and thank them for the huge investment they've made in my life and the lives of countless others!
Pastor and Mrs. McCoy have meant more to me in the past 12 years than I could ever say. They took me on my first short-term missions trip to South Dakota, and opened my eyes through that trip to the needs of others beyond my own little sphere. They've poured love into my life in so many ways and I have so many memories of special things they've done to make me feel almost like a daughter; not just an abstract member of their congregation. When my Grandma died the day before my 16th Birthday and the day felt so bleak and dark, Mrs. McCoy showed up on our doorstep with a dinner and gooey chocolate cake (candles lit, singing happy birthday to me)! They've initiated so many ministries and opportunities to serve through our church whether it be through a bus ministry, Christmas dramas, or neighborhood evangelism. I've seen them pour their hearts, their finances, countless hours, and in a very real way even Pastor's health into people with little thanks or recognition. I've watched in amazement as Pastor has preached the truth strongly, even when he knew he would be criticized for it. I've seen them love when they were hurt, work when they were weary, and smile when their hearts were crying.
I know you don't serve God for thanks, but nevertheless...
I do thank you SO MUCH for the investment you've made in my life and for the friends you have been to my family. It's been a tough year in many ways for you guys, but I want you to know that God will bless (and is blessing,) you for your faithfulness and your heart to serve Him and love His people. Great is your reward in heaven.

My prayer for you this year is that this year you will continue to grow in the wisdom and love of the Good Shepherd, Jesus, that He will strengthen you, and that you will be blessed.

Love you guys!

~The Sheikh ;)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Many miscilaneous happenings in the North

First order of business: the story of my great disturbance this morning. I was taking care of Caleb and was just about to lay him down for his nap, when he suddenly spewed upon me the greatest amount of spit-up that I have EVER seen in one place at one time. It flowed down both sides of my neck: trickling to my stomach in the front and to my shoulder blades in the back. I had to take a shower. And I was glad, at that moment, that I had purchased this deodorant a few months ago:It was, indeed, an "emotional moment". Perhaps you will call the label a pitiful marketing ploy. But I say, I just might not have made it through the Great Spit-up of 2009 without my Emotional Reinforcing Deodorant. Don't knock it 'till you've tried it.

On to more palatable topics of conversation.

The weather is starting to turn. The past week was extremely cold; 16 degrees Sat. morning. It finally snowed yesterday and it's nice, because the dust was getting pretty extreme. Most of the roads in Nome are dirt roads, so when it's dry the dust kicks up and whirls through town, coating everything with a fine layer. Shaina and Kate looking outside at the snow this morning-

Yesterday I drove around town and took a few pictures of things that struck my fancy:

A moose antler design

Velvet Eyes is a pet reindeer who belongs to a man in town. The guy drives a pickup truck and can be seen frequently with Velvet in the back, like a dog. This is Velvet Eyes' "kennel", I guess. :)

Souped up truck, all ready for winter :)

I took this picture outside of the Nome Senior Living center. "Seriously now: Are you really that handicapped?"
We've been seeing seal the past few weeks in the sea, but no belugas yet. :( A friend from church is a native so he's allowed to net the whales for food. We drove outside of town and saw his nets a few days ago, and there were quite a few seals watching us as we climbed on the rocks. We found bear tracks on the beach; a mother and her cub. They weren't particularly big tracks, but pretty cool nevertheless. :)

I've enjoyed working at the Nome Children's Home a few times a week. Sometimes for just an hour if they need a fill in; sometimes for an entire shift. There are 7 kids right now. Each has been removed from an unstable living environment and is living at the Home temporarily. They're from different villages outside of Nome, and they're all Eskimos (which is not, by the way, a politically incorrect term in this region.) They are soooo darling! I wish I could show you their beautiful faces. The chubbiest little cheeks and sparkling dark eyes. I love getting the chance to give them love and tickles and kisses.
Here's one little Eskimo dude I did get a picture of: Danny is buddies with Caleb, and we like to put them next to each other and laugh at the difference in their cheek size! Danny is the son of Dustin and Ariel, some friends from church. Like Caleb, he is intensely kissable.

We love having Uncle Nate here! He brings lots of smiles to our little apartment when he visits! :) We finished watching the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy yesterday, and I was completely captivated by the story. (Mom. Christmas. hint hint hint.)
Fascinating the kids by blowing into a glass bottle. (Notice Shaina's outfit: she is such a little FancyNancy!)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thought you guys might enjoy watching this video of Wes lovin' on his baby! Caleb looks like he doesn't know what hit him. :)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Of Princes and Princesses

I am standing in front of the mirror finishing a quick ponytail, and almost as an afterthought I grab the tiara Shaina had been playing with earlier and place it on my head. The children, who are playing in the next room, glance in at me, a bit puzzled. (Grown-ups don't often play dress-up.)
"Aunt Dani," Noah begins, "Do you ever wish you were Cinderella?"
I turn to him and smile, mysteriously. "Ah, Noah... there's something you don't know about me." The room grows quiet. Even Wesley eyes me solemnly over the
thumb he's shoved in his mouth.
I pause, for effect, and then: "I am Cinderella."
"What!?" Noah is cynical.
"But... but you're not Cinderella."
"Yes, I am."
Shaina joins in Noah's doubtful protestations. "But Aunt Dani, you can't be Cinderella."
"Why not?" I adjust my tiara, pretending to be a bit hurt.
"Because.... well... because Cinderella sings and dances."
"I sing and dance too... all the time."
Silence again. They can't argue with that one.
"But... Cinderella has a prince."
"I have a prince too... I just don't know who he is yet. But, someday, he'll come for me."
Shaina's eyes begin to shine. I can read her thoughts: Really...? For real!?
Noah follows me into the kitchen as I start to prepare lunch.
"Aunt Dani, is it against the law for me to marry you?"
"Yes, Noah it is. Besides; I don't want to marry you anyhow. You're not my prince. You are another girl's prince."
Inside, I laugh. He's an ambitious little knight in shining armor (-in training)... but he's going to have to wait a few years.
After lunch and before naps, I turn on some music and we all dance around the living room. At first, I pick a fun happy song that the kids and I wiggle and bounce to. But then, I choose a slow waltz. It is "So This Is Love", the song Cinderella and the prince dance to on the magical night they meet. As I hold Shaina and we twirl around the room, we smile at each other and she leans her head back, shuts her eyes, and spreads her arms wide. We feel beautiful.
And we both know that Cinderellas don't just live in fairy tales.

Monday, October 12, 2009


It's been a bit of a tough week.
But there have been many splices of joy intermingled with the yuckier elements of it. And for that, I am so grateful. My brother is HERE in NOME and it's almost hard to believe! How amazing it's felt to have him sitting around our table, lounging on the couch, teasing me, lovin' on the kids, and in general being the strange old fellow that he is. (Those of you who know him are do doubt smiling at that last one.) I love and admire him so much. Pictures are forethcoming, but I can't find the car reader to download them right now.
Carlee has felt pretty low all week, and it's been strange because normally she would have rebounded from her last treatment a week ago. I suppose it's draining more and more of her strength with each dose, and that's why recovery time is longer. Her last round of chemo is next week (WOW!!!) so they'll be leaving Tuesday morning for Anchorage.

I guess most of the "toughness" of this week has been inside of me. Battling with intense feelings: weariness (and not sure why), fiery anger, deep loneliness, dark guilt... all those nasty little darts the enemy throws when we're at our weakest. I've found myself saying, feeling, and doing things that really aren't like me, typically. Things I regret the second they're done.

Today a friend wrote me a note, and added this quote on the end: "grace is God working within us, without us." I like that.

I'd appreciate you're prayers that I'd be strong and joyful this next week, so I can shine like sunlight on Carlee and Nathan and the children instead of being a dark little cloud! Thank you to my friends who have promised that they would be praying for me at home. I don't want to divert any prayers from my sis...and I don't want to be complainish... but I do feel a need for them this week, and I'm grateful.

'Night, you all.

What an amazing little big family!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Matrix

I am definitely not a sci-fi type of person.
In fact, I'm probably the whimpiest movie watcher you have ever met. During intense scenes I
tightly clutch a pillow (or the arm of whoever was foolish enough to sit near me) and pull my blanket over my head, peering around them until the suspense has ended. And I'm not doing it to put on a dramatic show, either. I get genuinely terrified.
So it was highly unlike me, but I watched The Matrix a few nights ago. I knew it was about as Sci-fi as you can get. But I've also heard that there are some pretty amazing redemptive analogies in this story, and I
love plots that have an "eternal undertone". I delight in coming away from a movie with thoughts higher than the simple plot I watched on the screen...with a greater understanding of life and God and men. This is why I love the stories of Narnia so much.
(Note: Nathaniel owns an edited version of The Matrix, and I can't in good conscience reccommend the unedited version to you! I know there is a lot of language, etc. in the uncut version that was not in the version I watched.)
The Matrix is a gripping story about Neo, whose life story is best introduced to you through this clip:

The red pill is Neo's first step towards understanding that the world he thinks he's living in is all an illusion of his mind; a computer generated life. For the first time he really "wakes up" and when he does, he's a naked a hairless creature who is living a silent, still existence in a tub of goo, hooked up to cords and tubes that are generating electric power for the new owners of planet earth. Not only this, but every other human being is living the same life. Their real world is a human manufacturing power plant full of millions of co
matose bodies like themselves, being used and disposed of like lightbulbs. Their minds are alive, though, and they are completely unaware that the life they're living is all in their brain; a computer program to keep them satisfied. The house they live in does not exist. Their clothes do not exist. Their friends and family do not exists. The real "them" are simply naked creatures hooked up to tubes lying in a tub of goo where they were grown at a vast warehouse.
It's terrifying. Honest-to-goodness, I was freaked out.
But it's a deeply beautiful story too, because the handful of truly "alive" people left, (those unplugged from the computer system and free from the warehouse) have chosen to embrace the terror of the real world and plunge into the battle to save mankind. They'd rather live a hard life but know it's the real thi
ng, than live a happy illusion.

It's so hard to explain! Maybe I've bitten off more than I can chew with this post; I don't know.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, this movie makes you aware that just like Neo, there are millions of people living ordinary lives in this world, but painfully aware that there is more to life that what they're getting out of it. There's a dimension they aren't living in, and they don't know how to get there. Some have chosen to deaden themselves to the fact. They grab the blue pill and silence the inner Voice forever. Some choose to take
no remain empty and searching, but unwilling to embrace either extreme: Truth or Ignorance.
I wonder who you, reading this post, are. Do you
realize that there is a dimension so much higher, so much more real than the one we can see and feel and touch!? To live as if this world were all that matters would be like an infant in the womb assuming that the small, safe environment she floats in is all that exists. She doesn't realize that the womb is just preparation for a much greater, infinitely fuller life!

Guys, I don't know about you but I'm takin' the red pill. I want to be fully aware of the only dimention that matters: the Heavenly dimension. God. The Savior and Lover of my soul who created me to find fullness and purpose in HIM alone. The Matrix of this world so tenaciously pulls me back to the goo pit I once lived in, but by God's grace alone, I
will resist it. I purpose to live my life with an increasing awareness of the Invisible Realities all around me: all pointing back to the only Reality in life, Jesus Christ. When I enter eternity some day, I pray I won't find that I have entered a completely foreign place, but that instead I'll realize I've stepped over
the threshold into the life I always knew I was born for. The home I've always longed for. The glory I know I was made for. The Bible warns us so MANY times that this earth is a vapor; a mist. I think the reason The Matrix seems almost believable to me is because it IS true, in a sense. It whispers of what our souls are already telling us. We're living in the mirage and acting like it's all there is.

I don't know how many people will read this entire post. But my prayer for you, Christian OR non-believing friend, is that God will increasingly draw you out of the "Matrix", the repulsive mirage that seems
so real, and into the fullness of all that He is. If He is not everything to us, He might as well be nothing to us.

That's one Sci-fi movie I'm really glad I watched. :)

Friday, October 02, 2009

Some Kate-isms, and Carlee Stylin'

Mommy, can I get up from the table without asking?"
KATE: "Mommy, I went pee pee in my pants."
MOMMY: "Okay, then we need to go to the bathroom. And what do you say?"
Kate: "Um.... I'm sorry for disobeying."
MOMMY: "No, Kate; 'I'm sorry for wetting my pants'.
KATE: (Throwing her arms around Carlee) "I FORGIVE YOU, MOMMY!!!"
KATE: "Aunt Dani, can I have a snack?"
DANI: "No, not right now."
KATE: "But... But Aunt Dani, ... I'm so tired!"
DADDY: "Kate, were you being mean to your brother?"
KATE: "No."
DADDY: "What were you doing?"
Kate: "I was just trying to hit him a little bit."
"I got out of bed because my covers weren't working."

:) It's always funnier when you hear it right from her mouth. But it gives you a picture of the little girl who keeps us on our toes all day!

And, here are some pictures I promised Gran
dma and Grandpa a while ago of Carlee in some of her different head gear. She's got some really darling hats and a funky red-ish wig she wears, but I never think to get pictures of them. Cute sister, I've got, eh? :)

(It's vogue for cancer patients to wear gift bags on top of their bandannas, in case you were wondering. Everybody's doing it.)