Wednesday, September 28, 2011


More than ten years ago, Pastor Dennis McCoy began a beautiful ministry at our church; a bus ministry for inner city kids in Barberton. Among the children who faithfully hopped on the bus each Sunday morning was Michael--a skinny, quiet, earnest little fellow whose reverence in church never seemed to match his family situation. We didn't know much about that situation, other than that his father was an alcoholic, not frequently in the home... his mother was an alcoholic too, and--we later learned--a drug addict. Time passed, and a lot of changes occured in our church, including a new pastor. Michael grew, vertically in particular. Taller and skinnier, he still faithfully traipsed to church each Sunday and, on the verge of teenage years now, his interest in God began to grow. It began to change him from a child to a young man. Already prematurely "adult" because of the man he had to be in the home (his father in-and-out of prison, sometimes abusive, now living with another woman), his mature leadership in his home began to draw his mother to church more frequently. Oh, she used to appear for Christmas pageants or special events, but now she began attending regularly.

And one day, Jesus found her, huddling miserably at the bottom of the pit she had dug herself into. He reached down, grabbed her outstretched hands, and pulled her out of the drug addiction, out of the alcoholism, out of the hopelessness. Jan's entire countenance changed! Her face was radiant. Her spirit was ALIVE. Her heart was set free and she wanted to tell the world about it...and she did! Co-workers, family members, random strangers.... and Michael's dad.

But Michael's dad, Mike, was still in prison; literally and figuratively. He had told Jan that he wasn't going to make a choice to follow God unless he was willing to give himself completely to that decision. As it was, the chains still bound him in a vicious cycle of homelessness, abusive habits, alcoholism, and prison. One day, back in prison, he asked for a Bible. And he began to read it. Longing filled his heart and he realized that he, too, had had enough. He surrendered. And suddenly, still in prison, his heart was set free! When he was released, we were amazed by the change in him. His face was radiant; his manner was kind and humble. Mike's desire was to repair the relationship with Jan and become the father he'd never been to Michael. He, too, began to tell the world about what had happened to him. Parol officers, family, and old friends. He can sometimes be found quietly weeding the church grounds or manicuring the flower beds without telling a soul what he's doing. He's been given so much by God, and he's looking for ways to give back.

Soon his nephew, Bobby, saw the change in his uncle. He couldn't believe that the angry, fighting, drunken man he had once known was this gentle, kind, joyful stranger. Bobby realized that something was missing from his own life. He realized that the drugs and alcohol had stripped him from everything that was once important to him, and he couldn't save himself from it no matter how hard he tried. He began to attend church with his uncle. And a few months ago, he too prayed for salvation from his chains. He's begun bringing his family members to church, and his daughter in particular-aware of the change in her dad- is eager to know more about God.

A couple weeks ago, we held a baptism in a public park. Curious onlookers watched and a few unconcerned ducks and geese floated past as a family (finally a family!)-- mother, father, and son-- entered the water. In this public setting for all the world to see, they symbolically left their old life at the murky bottom of the lake, and rose with shouts of victory and hands upraised in glorious praise to the Savior Who had delivered them from the depths of sin!

A quiet, skinny kid had led them to this place... and the faithfulness of numerous believers had facilitated it. Pastor McCoy had planted, countless faithful believers had watered, and here we were seeing the fruit. And already, that fruit is bearing more fruit. Those of you who had a part in this beautiful day, rejoice to see the pictures below!!!

Last Sunday in church, Jan stood up front and sang with tears in her eyes,

"My chains are gone... I've been set free...My God, my Savior, has ransomed me! And like a flood His mercy reigns... unending love; amazing grace."

I wish you could have seen her.
She was radiant.

These are the things our Great God offers to us!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Lover of All, I hold me fast by Thee,
Ruler of time, King of Eternity
There is no great with Thee, there is no small,
For Thou art all, and fillest all in all.

The newborn world swings forth at Thy command,
The falling dewdrop falls into Thy hand.
God of the firmament's mysterious powers
I see Thee thread the minutes of my hours.
-Amy Carmichael

Monday, September 19, 2011

Gold, Moose, and Sad Farewells :(

(So actually we left Alaska over a week ago. But I haven't posted since so this is the "official" au revoir!)

A beautiful shot of Nome from the beach

Nathaniel hasn't gotten a moose yet, but God provided in other ways. Some good friends offered a hindquarter of their moose. So we drove out to their house and began butchering. It took an entire evening to get the hidquarter (roughly 70-80 lbs. of meat) butchered and packed--some into mooseburger and some in roasts. But we had fun doing it and are so thankful for God's provision to get the Hobbs through another winter!

This hindquarter is HUGE. It's hard to tell in the picture.
It was a beautiful evening so we were grateful for the chance to cut the meat outside.

It's a family affair! Even the kids pitch in as busy little butcherers :)

Leg, anyone?
(Okay so I'm being oober dramatic here, but it really was very heavy.)

The family who gave us the moose enjoys recreational gold prospecting. After we cut up the meat they showed us how they do it. So fascinating! And SO much work for such a tiny amount of gold...
The gold flakes in the larger bottle are what they collected from the year of prospecting.
The nugget was mined by a professional miner.
Pretty cool!

Here's a picture of the "real" miners out on their gold dredges on the Bering Sea. They pepper the sea every day that it's calm until winter sets in. It's intense work, too... one man is underneath in the frigid water, sucking up the sea floor through a huge hose, while another man on the dredge monitors the flow and makes sure that the guy below isn't having any trouble. They still find a huge amount of gold on the sea floor. All this work for riches that will one day melt away. How much harder should I work to secure the riches that are eternal--more precious than gold--laid up in heaven!?

It was so tough to say goodbye to my dear friends James and Amy and their little boys Justice and Archer. They're leaving Nome and settling in a part of Alaska on the road system where James can more easily pursue his art career.
He's an INCREDIBLE artist.
(Click here to see a slideshow on their blog of a mural he just completed in a village school)
...And I pray God will bless them on this new adventure. I'm super excited to see how He's going to lead them! but it sure won't seem like Nome without them there!! I'll miss popping over and chatting with Amy over some random craft or project she's working on. *sigh!*

A final early morning picture right before mom and I left --all of us (even Nathaniel) in our kuspuks.
Oops the boys are in jammies, but Mimi is making them kuspuks so maybe next year they'll be dressed up too. :)

But wait... why on earth is THIS GIRL sporting a kuspuk!!??
Alas, she is abandoning me tomorrow and flying to...of all places...Nome Alaska.
Look out, Nome, she's takin' you by storm! :)

RuthAnn, RuthAnn..... how could you leave me!?

Okay. In all truth I am SO, so so happy for RuthAnn. She's going to be working with native children and families through the Nome Community Center (where I used to work but a diff. job). This is a dream come true and an answer to a boatload of prayers. God bless you my sweet friend, and may your wildest dreams come true in Alaska! :) I would never in a million years keep you here, but I will miss you terribly.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Auntie Time

Mom and Carlee have been trying to get some sewing done while we're in town, and I took the kiddos to the beach for lunch yesterday so we'd be out of the way. Now, I know you don't usually associate a picnic on the beach with winter coats and hats, but hey in Nome you strike while the sun's shining so we bundled up and headed out! The kids seem to be strangely immune to the frigid water and plowed through the shallows finding all sorts of treasures... little harmless jellyfish, tiny krill, a hermit crab, and countless starfish; yellow, purple and orange.
A starfish nursery :)
Shaina's baby starfish

On the Nome beach there are almost no shells, but there are colorful pieces of glass or pottery that the sea has sanded to smooth, small pieces; mostly brown, green, white or blue.
Katie LOVES searching for beach glass!
So this is actually not from our picnic, but I love this picture of Caleb with his hands in his pockets. He loves to walk like this. :)

Unfortunately, our happy beach romp didn't end so blissfully. By the time we left, Caleb was screaming and cold, Wesley was bleeding and crying, sand, wind, cold water and snot were mingling into a gooey mess all over little faces and clothing, and Auntie Dani was about to curl up right then and there on the beach in a fetal position, muttering maniacally to herself, "Overachiever! Overachiever!"

Aunt Dani should not bite off more than she can chew.

But hey the first 3/4 of our time was awesome and I recovered sufficiently from the trauma to play a rousing game of Twister with the kids before bed.

(This pic is a CLASSIC Wesley picture! The little drama king gets so intense when he's telling you stories...those big blue eyes get wide, his arms flail, and his little lips purse...)

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Have I ever mentioned that I love Nome?

Yep, Nome sweet Nome! So good to be back.
Here are some shots:

What a joy to have Grandpa in Nome! He and dad left yesterday (Saturday) and mom and I are staying for another week. Gramps enjoyed riding the 6-wheeler on Nome beach. :)

Carlee and Grandpa on Anvil Mountain, with the city of Nome in the background.

The kids loved roughhousing with Grandpa. Here, Wesley's dinosaur and Grandpa prepare for battle! Whodaya think won...?
Welsey demonstrates his stellar climbing skills! (I love the look of proud accomplishment on his face here. What a kid! :)

We had fun spending Thursday at a cabin on the beach. Shaina discovered a bunch of late season blueberries growing on the tundra and we picked a bunch! Moose hunting season has just opened up, so Nathaniel and dad were off while we stayed at the cabin, and we kept a gun close by because there are a lot of bear in the area. (Notice, by the way, the beautiful kuspuks Mom and Carlee are wearing!)

Caleb stood on the deck of the cabin and scanned the sea for signs of whales, like we were. He wasn't sure exactly what the purpose of the binoculars were, but he glibly pressed them to his forehead like he thought we were doing...and felt very grown-up, indeed.

Grandpa loved seeing the musk ox. There's a herd that hangs out on Anvil Mountain (right outside of Nome) and these guys passed right in front of us on the road giving quite a show. :) They're cool animals.

Mr. and Mrs. Hobbs. :) Carlee's hair is growing back beautifully and although there are many MANY leftover effects from her cancer battle, she's been able to do so much with us! It's been fun to get out into the wild and not leave her behind this time. Thanks be to God. Please keep praying for her continued health and the complete eradication of cancer. And while you're praying, say a prayer that Nathaniel will get a moose this year! They really count on the meat from his hunts and it would be a huge blessing if he could get one. And quickly. :)

Something about drops of water in nature flip my switch. I love taking shots like this.

An absolutely gorgeous fox was kind enough to pose at this picturesque log while we snapped some photos. He was as curious about us as we were about him!

My little man-cub is growing up. :( Noah is 8 yrs. old!!

Sadly, there are quite a few dead walrus on the beach... and even a dead beluga. Most of the walrus show signs of having been poached. What a horrible practice. (Can you see massive size of this walrus? Wow!)

Shaina and Kate. Putting flowers on top of the head is all the rage with Kate right now. What a trendsetter...go girl!

Me and my 'Lub!

A Hobb betwixt two Sobies. :)