Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I don't have much to write. I have phases, sometimes, where my thoughts almost spill over themselves in an effort to be expressed. Then, sometimes, they fly a mile a minute through my mind, but elude my grasp and refuse to escape and be concretely written or typed.
So why force it? Here are some pictures instead. (Supposedly these are worth a thousand words, anyways.)

The ocean is finally completely frozen over. It was a fascinating process to watch and now it's beautiful and desolate, like a snowy desert.

The best part of heavy snowfall is that we can finally use the snow machines!

This is James, Amy, and their little guy Justice. One of the best parts of being in Nome has been getting to know them better! I work with James at the Children's Home. He is also an artist (the Anchorage Museum of Art just bought one of his paintings!) and Amy is one of those people who is so incredibly artsy and creative, that just being near her inspires you to try and create something. :) Even beyond that, though, they're a blast to be with!

Our jolly baby!

A not-so-jolly (but very cute) Kate :(
(I love this picture.)

We had fun sled riding and fort digging with piles of snow near our house.

Cute little Pilgrims :)

We had a wonderful time with the Fiskeaux's for Thanksgiving dinner!

Thanksgiving would NOT be Thanksgiving without Grandma's red cabbage and delicious lentils! I woke up Thursday morning and it occured to me that I'd have to be the one to make these dishes this year because mom's not here. :) So I rushed to the store and gritted while I paid $15.00 for two tiny cabbages... but it was worth it. Nate, Carlee and I felt like we were at Grandma's house when we tasted the traditional Thanksgiving food.

After the kids were in bed Nate came over and we played Rumikub, ate some leftovers and watched a movie. And of course, laughed and goofed off as only siblings can. We got quite a kick out of this picture... Carlee appears very phantomlike... HOW did she manage that?? When will the fashion police track down and interrogate me about my pajamas? And WHY is Nate acting normal when we all agreed to act crazy for this one??
(Questions that will, undoubtedly, remain a mystery.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

On a mountain I saw a tree one day,
Just a small sapling where a nut once lay.
And I paused to wonder as I saw that tree
What the years would do; what the tree would be.
The years will pass and the tree will grow, but
Every trial it's seen will eventually show.
For a tree can't hide what it's feelings are,
And for each new hardship it will bear a scar.
On the mountainside it will bear the brunt
Of the elements; it will tremble; grunt.
And tree stands firm, when the fierce winds blow,
But the barren trunk and the branches show
That time and wind have had their say
For they'll gnarl and twist in a painful way.
The leaves will fade and curl and drop
When the last warm rays of Summer stop,
For the tree can't show any beauty there
When the breeze it feels isn't warm calm air.
I hike the trail oft' to see that tree
For when I see it's progress I think of me.
My life is gusted by winds over time,
And the choosing of the winds that I feel isn't mine.
I can not choose if they'll warm or chill me,
Can't know if the world will love or kill me
But by the grace of God I will blossom still
When the warmth of friends turns to icy-chill;
When the winds of time try to shake and twist me-
When rain and tears erode the ground about me-
And though wounds may come, may the scars be few
For the keeper of my tree is a lonely Jew.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Still sick.
Looking for clues revealing what sort of illness I might have.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


And so, in the name of frugality, I bravely let Carlee cut my hair. I couldn't pay the outrageous price for a trim in Nome, so Carlee agreed to do it and she did a very admirable job I must say! (Layering and EVERYTHING... not just a trim!) It took a long time, and it was punctuated with "Oops!", "Whoa...!", "Uh-Oh", and "Oh, no!". And there are a few jagged cuts. But, overall it's a credit to her ammeter skills. And it made for a fun evening laughing as sisters together.

(If I look pale and sickly in the above picture... it's because I AM pale and sick! No fun.)

Okay, this is Carlee here... I just sabotaged her keyboard. I was walking through and she's complaining about how pale she looks. SHE looks pale? I don't even have eyebrows! I am humbly letting her post such a nasty picture of me, and SHE is complaining about her looks. A little sympathy here, please! Okay, I'm giving the keyboard back... HI to everyone on Dani's blog... thanks for praying for us! ~Carlee

Wow. *cough!* Point taken.

In other news, the Big Blizzard has arrived! It's been snowing for 4 days, and we've got 3-4 ft. of snow! This morning the truck below was blowing a plume of snow at least 30 ft. into the air to get it out of the road. Of course he would stop right as I snapped the picture. But it was pretty amazing.

Time to start warming up the reindeer for their cross cultural flight?

Warm wishes from snowy Nome! I miss you all very much.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The sick little house in the North

Or rather, "the sick little inhabitants of the little house in the North." It seems that nearly every family in town is being hit with a bug. Ours is no exception! We're all feeling sick other than Caleb and Carlee, and praise God we hope it stays that way. (The "other than Caleb and Carlee" part. They're the most vulnerable members of the family and I am SO grateful it hasn't hit them.) We've been feeling yucky for nearly two weeks now, though, and I think we're ready for it to be over.

Please pray that Carlee won't get it. She is starting to feel much stronger now that the chemo is out of her system. It would be tough for her to be knocked out again. There's also a large amount of H1N1 going around that could potentially be tough for her to deal with. She's still tired a lot of the time and still struggling with "chemo brain", which is a condition caused by the chemicals which blocks certain brain functions: specifically multi-tasking, remembering lists, things like that. We've made a few jokes about it, but recently Carlee found out that "chemo brain" is actually, possibly an irreversible condition. It was one thing to try to laugh it off when we thought it would end with the chemo treatments. A humerus, though sometimes frustrating season of life. It's quite another when you realize this could continue for the rest of her life. It's scary and overwhelming. I know she'd appreciate you joining in prayers with us that God would help her brain to resume normalcy and would wipe out the effects of her treatments to both her heart function and her brain.

Thanks for any and all prayers for my precious sis. She is such a trooper... so tough and sweet even when she's exhausted almost beyond endurance! The love of Christ and His beauty rests on her life and radiates BRIGHTLY to all who encounter her. I feel so blessed to live with her and see it in action on a daily basis. I often pray for God to help me to develop the resilient, beautiful spirit He's given my sister!

Monday, November 09, 2009

My Story

I wrote this quite a while ago, I suppose, but I thought I'd post it. It is the story of all of us who have been rescued. 'Does anyone who rejects Jesus' offer of forgiveness and salvation truly deserve Hell', I used to wonder?
And this is why:
"...When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son." ~Romans 5:10
Suddenly, from somewhere beyond the misty shoreline of the lake, I heard a bloodcurdling scream. The sound, echoing off the canyon walls, fell almost silent before another, similarly chilling scream pierced the air and this time propelled me to my feet in search of its source. I strained my eyes and ears to catch the faintest hint of where the scream had come from, and as I did so, the mist began to dissipate. There…! There, about 30 ft. from the shoreline, small ripples frantically drifted from a center agitation in the water. I could see that just below the surface was something, or someone, struggling to reach the air above. My heart pounded; my throat constricted with the agony of helplessness. I couldn’t swim. The water was deep and dark. I could do nothing but watch.
As if in slow motion, I saw a woman’s head break through the surface of the water. Her neck strained, her body taunt, her arms flailing wildly, she screamed again. This time the sound was choked by the icy water pouring into her throat. The desperate cry turned guttural and was cut short as her head sank back below the surface; “Help m….”! I, too, opened my mouth, but nothing would come out. I knew there was nobody within ear shot. There wasn’t a soul within miles. I was left alone on this desolate shore, watching every horrible detail in this drama of death. I could not help. I could not scream. I could not move. I could only watch.
Distractedly, I wondered how she had come to be in the middle of this forsaken lake. I glanced around for something, anything, to throw to her rescue… and she surfaced again. This time it was only her hands. They reached desperately for air as if willing to pull the sky into the water with her. Sinking to my knees, I found my voice. I screamed in a fever of despair… my voice broke as I shouted for someone to do something; to intervene, some how. Seeing her fingers sink below the waterline, I scrambled on all fours to the edge of the lake; determined to at least try to swim. I thrust myself into the water screaming, as if she could hear me, for the woman to hold on. The water quickly grew deeper as the bottom sharply dropped off into oblivion. This lake was rumored to be bottomless. I did not doubt that it was. The water which had seemed so friendly and peaceful only moments ago was trying to grasp me, too, in its death grip. I realized this, and as my feet searched for a foothold on the murky bottom, I felt my own dead weight pulling me down. I quickly thrust myself back towards the shore; back towards safety. As I turned my back in defeat, the woman somehow surfaced again. I did not see her this time; but I could hear her. She gasped hoarsely and tried to scream again. “Pleeease!”
I was back in safe territory now. The water was only knee deep as I stumbled and fell, landing on all fours, gasping and sobbing a prayer. “Oh, God….” I whispered. “No.” I heard another splash and whirled around. What I saw propelled me once again to my feet. She was on the surface. She was swimming with strong, smooth strokes…. But no. It wasn’t her. This was a man. He swam towards the place she had last disappeared and dove quickly below the surface. In disbelief I gazed around the lake, wondering where in the world He had come from. Before I could process it, though, He had resurfaced. And He held her in one arm. Her face was small and white against the tanned muscle of his taunt arm. Her eyes were closed and, even from this distance, I could see that her lips were blue. I stared, willing them to shore and the safety of shallow water. Though the thought was a strange one considering the circumstance, I could not help but vaguely feel as if I knew this woman. Intimately. But… how? Why did I feel so closely connected with the mortal struggle taking place before me? I was an onlooker… wasn’t I?
As if in a dream, as I saw the pair struggle towards shore, I saw her open her eyes and, sputtering, look into the strong, kind, straining face above her. Somehow I felt like I was right beside them now. In crystal-clear detail I saw the look in her eyes turn from beautiful relief and surrender to heinous hatred. They were not yet near shallow water, but she began to struggle again. This wasn’t a struggle for her life though… it was a struggle against His. “NO!” She spat venom into the face so close to hers. Without a word, He continued to swim…or try to…towards the shore. “NO!!!” She repeated, and this time she wrenched herself from His hold and, beneath the water, thrust her knee forcefully into His groin. He jerked in the water, involuntarily swallowing a mouthful, coughed, and grunted in pain. Then He turned his eyes with beseeching clarity on hers. He was treading water with one arm, trying to keep her dead, struggling weight above the surface in the other. “Let…let me help you,” He gasped. “Never!” She hissed, and with a jerk she ripped herself from His grasp and immediately began to sink again.
Stroking frantically with one hand, doubled over in pain, He reached out the other hand to her. As her head began to sink again beneath the surface, she grabbed the outstretched hand and clamped her teeth onto it. His low moan of pain pierced my heart and I began to cry afresh, not understanding what was happening. And yet, somehow knowing what was going to happen. How did I know this, though?
A small ring of blood began to appear around the Man’s now struggling form, and I realized in horror that even as the woman sunk to her fate she was pummeling and tearing at Him with her fingernails below the surface. I did not understand how I knew this, but I did. And I began to weep even more as I saw Him sink haltingly below the water once more and reappear with her in His arms. This time her eyes weren’t shut. They were wide and staring. They were pools of dark hatred, and as soon as the Man had succeeded in lifting her above the water, she violently head butted Him full in the face, sending blood spurting from both His mouth and His nose. Again and again she beat Him until, even with His amazing strength, He could no longer hold her up. Even as she sank once again her only driving, intense, burning desire was to destroy her compassionate Rescuer. Again I knew this… and again I did not know how I knew. As if in slow motion I saw the Man’s head sink beneath the water. Beneath the surface, the woman was not thinking about air or life. She was only longing to attack her hero; to make Him die if she, too must die.
The last time she surfaced, her face, contorted in rage, was turned towards me. It was only for a moment, but in that moment I knew who she was. And I cried out in shock and disbelief. She was me. It was my face I was looking at; it was my hands that were even then seeking to tear the Rescuer’s face apart; it was my feet that were kicking and pummeling and bruising the One who was trying to save me. I watched myself with horror to deep to tell. My heart felt as if it had been torn from my chest, so great was the pain of that realization.
When it was all over, the horrible drama of death, I mourned with an agony too great for tears or words. Beneath the now calm waters of the lake two had perished… not just the woman, (me,) who had been so filled with despicable hate and wickedness, but her Rescuer. The strong, compassionate Man who had reached out to her knowing that she would kill Him. For He did know; I felt sure of that. His face floated before my eyes as I shut them to ease the rivulet of tears flowing beneath my trembling eyelids. I loved Him. Oh, how I loved this Man. I Loved Him so dearly that my throat ached and my chest heaved with sobs. But I had killed Him. I had beaten Him. I had despised Him. I was His willful murderer.
I don’t know how long I stayed there, half in the water and half out. It must have been a while, but my numbed mind did not process time or comprehend what I did or what I thought. I only knew that the ache of remorse would never dissipate. I would carry the guilt of His death forever, and even into eternity.
For that woman full of ugly hatred I felt no sadness. I knew that I deserved my fate. I deserved to perish and decay there beneath the icy waters. But for the Man…. For the Man I would never cease to grieve.
Finally I moved as if to get up. My knees had sunken deeply into the mire of the shoreline. My hair had dried into a stringy mass of tangles before my face, which had been bowed in an agony of despair. What had I seen? How could I have seen myself die and pull another to His death when here I knelt, alive and filled with sorrow and pain? I did not know… but my heart told me that I WAS that woman and that the death of that pure Man was something that would never be erased from my mind or my guilt. Slowly I crawled to shore, only to collapse on the grass in weariness. Again the sobs rose to my throat, but the tears were gone. I wanted to cry… but there were no more.
Suddenly, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I recoiled, in shame, as a cockroach flees from light. I wanted to escape this place. I wanted to leave; to wake up and realize that it was a dream that I had only to forget. But I knew it was no dream. And I knew that the blood of that Man would be on my hands for as long as I lived. The hand still pressed onto my shoulder, gently but firmly, and I relinquished. Slowly, painfully, I rolled onto my side, into a fetal position, and opened my eyes, squinting pitifully into the sunlight. The first thing I saw was that hand… that arm… that strong arm that I remembered from the lake. The Rescuer’s arm. In disbelief I scrambled to my knees and looked up at the tall form bent above me. It was Him. It was the Man from the Lake; only He was alive and… and real. He wasn’t lifeless any longer; His body wasn’t bloody or bruised from the blows I had inflicted on it, though the scars remained and forever would. His eyes shone with forgiveness and hopeful love. His arms opened to invite me into an everlasting embrace. His heart,… His beautiful, Rescuing heart…. Reached out again. And this time I understood the beckoning with a greater clarity than I ever had before. I fell into His embrace, as a child sinks into her daddy’s tender, strong embrace, and the tears came again.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

A Trip to Civilization

Okay, I exaggerate. Nome is civilized.
But still, I've missed things like Wal Mart a lot, and it was exciting to be Carlee's escort for her Herceptin treatment yesterday. It was only a one-nighter in Anchorage, but it was a fun flurry of shopping and bumming around the big city! Nathan was sweet to fill my usual shoes and watch the kids, and Carlee, Caleb and I had a wonderful, if busy, time. I loved seeing the mountains again in Anchorage. They are indescribable.

I've been enjoying some "for fun" reading at night before I turn off the light for bed. I haven't read a book just for fun in a very long time and it's kind of refreshing! It's "Anna and the King of Siam". I did now know that the romanticized story "The King and I" is actually based on a very true story... and it's a very moving one, too. I love the Rogers and Hammerstein version; have nearly all the songs memorized, absolutely adore Yule Brenner's kingly skills, and am reduced to sobs at the end of the movie EVERY TIME even though I know he's going to die! (I inherited my Grandma Oriti's love of theater!) The true story, though, is one of amazing courage and inspiration. Of a woman whose influence on the next generation of royalty led to the abolition of slavery in Siam. Not very romantic, perhaps, but unbelievably inspiring. An ordinary woman who suffered incredible hardships during her life, quietly changing the course of a nation through her influence. Wow.
Honestly, I feel almost envious that Anna had the chance to do what she did. There are very few people who get the opportunity to influence the royalty of a barbaric nation. I'm sure I'll never be called on to do something that the world would label "great". But I think of Mother Theresa's words, and am inspired and somehow comforted: "We can do no great things. Only small things with great love." I don't agree completely: we can do great things. (Anna did.) But I don't think we can do anything "great" unless it is done with love. And any tiny deed, done with love, becomes great in God's eyes. That includes diaper duty.

I guess, after knowing the true story, I should be indignant at Rogers and Hammerstein's dramatization of it. But this will probably always be one of my favorite musicals!