Saturday, July 28, 2012

My Apologies!

 I am SOOOO sorry everyone! I have tried time and time again not only several times this week, but also several time today, to upload/post pictures from Alaska. It's not been cooperating! I'm totally frustrated and beginning to wonder if I'm even supposed to put up pictures. So. I have compromised GREATLY and have narrowed it down to...what? FIVE?! Whoa... I originally had 16! I think part of my problem was that it was taking too long to load that many and blogspot was just not able to handle it. 
Me and Amelia!
( Otherwise known as 'Milia, Millie, Mia, or Mil....depending on who is calling her =D )

The Carlson Family!
Chris, Jennifer, Martha ( Mattie ), Nathan, Josie, & 'Milia
Note: Nathan does NOT usually have hair like that, lol. He was sweaty and Mia fluffed it up. =P
Not my pref. Hahaha

Ahhhhh, the astounding, beautiful mountains of AK!

New Friends! Sisters: Samantha & Tiffany. LOVE! =)
( Wish I had a better pic though...this ones kinds awkward, lol =D )

Alaska: Land of the Midnight Sun.
( This really was taken at close to midnight! Probably 11:30 or so. )

Monday, July 23, 2012

Idols and Challenges

 Going to Alaska and living the way I did for two weeks really changed my perspective in a lot of ways. Though there were a few things I don't personally agree with as far as what the people there do and how they believe, there were also many things that they do and believe that I'd never even thought of before in my Christian walk.
 There is an artist my friend really likes that I don't care for, except for one song. That song has turned my world. The original writer of the song is a man named Ross King, but the man who sings it that I heard is Jimmy Needham. The song is called Clear the Stage. For some reason I can't get it to download so that I can post it on here, so I would like to strongly encourage that you go listen to it on YouTube before you keep reading my post. Otherwise, it just won't mean as much to you.
 Idols. Anything I put before God, anything I want with all my heart, anything I can't stop thinking of, anything I give all my love IS AN IDOL. Wow. Why worship something that's not even worth it? Wow. The whole entire song wows me. The first time I heard it I wanted to run off somewhere private and cry out on my knees to God for forgiveness and mercy. It is a life changing song, a song that will continually challenge me all my life.
 Then I get home and I have this book waiting for me at the library. So I go pick it up and started reading it last night. Again, I say WOW. Goes right along with not only what I've learned about living while in AK, but what the song talks about. Titled ' Almost Amish ' by Nancy Sleeth, the  books talks about this woman ( and her family's ) journey to living a more simple, God-honoring life. I highly, highly recommend this book. Although I would not want or be able to do all that these people have done to de-standardize their way of living, it is yet another challenge to me. So much of what she brings to light in her book is from the Bible. I can see it plain as day, though I never did before. Or maybe I just never thought of it in the way she expounds. More homework: if you really want to get at what I'm saying so I don't have to write the whole book out for you, read it!
 Through all these things, I have been really convicted about my life. Do I have idols? Have I put anything before God? Do I think of Him first each day and last every night - and every moment in between - or what is gonna happen next in the book I'm reading? Do I want a future life as a wife and mother more than a future in Heaven with Him? Do I think of certain people or circumstances more than Him and how He wants me to handle things and what will bring Him honor and glory - not my own? Do I love the idea of God and His wonders and the beauty of His creation or anything else - people, things, etc... - more than Him? Do I live conscience of what I say and what I do and how it will affect others, myself and if it pleases the Lord? Is my heart cluttered with things I need to ask forgiveness for? Things I need to forgive? Is my room, my home, filled with too much that is being kept for no apparent purpose? What do I use? What do I really need? How much do I have laying around forgotten and unused taking up unnecessary space?
 These questions and more have been filling my mind. Take a tally of your lives, I challenge you now. What are you doing? Where will it take you? How much will a pleasure for today cost you tomorrow? I know these are not the things most teens and young adults think of. I don't care if I'm odd. I don't want to be consumed with the things of this world that will not matter in the next. Having fun and using the good things of this life are certainly okay, if you are careful they do not consume more time than you really have to give.
 It's okay to slow down and live simple. I want to try to not use my computer every day, and on the days I do, not for more than an hour or two at the most. I want to learn more skills. Give more time to my Lord and my family. Read more books that are about real things that really happened instead of ones that just mess with my emotions and don't make my life better in some way. I want to clear my head of all the constant buzzing of " gotta do this, gotta do that " and not be a slave to my thoughts of what " has to " be done. What about you?


  I had a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful time in AK. It felt like home in a totally different way. Is it possible to feel as though you have two homes? It's always nice to come home to a place where you have your family and can take off that " I'm company no matter how much I feel like family " aura, but yet when you go somewhere where you feel like it all fits like a glove - the people, atmosphere, scenery... Ahh, how do you pick? =) 
 Now, to begin with, life in Alaska in general is largely different than in the lower 48. There are the " big cities ", to be sure, and there is always going to be that certain element of Americanization. But life is more down-home, simple, and rugged in most areas. Especially when you go to areas where there are church communities. That is how my friend and her family live that I went to visit.
 They live in a church community where those that have a like-minded faith live in like a mini neighborhood of sorts. There is a piece of property that was purchased some time ago and as more families came, more houses were build. So far there are 9 or 10 houses. The church and fellowship buildings are in the center. There is a community greenhouse.
 Everyone lives simply and happily. By choice there is no internet or TV. Cell phones, cameras, and the occasional laptop for watching the occasional movie are about all you'll find of  " must-have " 21st century technology. There is electricity and one well for the property, as well as a pond ( the pond water is routinely pumped into a truck with a tank on the back and brought up to the greenhouse to use for watering ). People have wood stoves for heat and for heating the water heater. In this, water conservation is strictly observed, especially for hot water. Dishes are rinsed and stacked, ready for a tub of hot water to wash the days load that night. Showers are: get wet, turn off water, soap up, rinse off, done.
 Most of the families have gardens and either chickens, rabbits, and/or goats. One family even has a turkey, of which I had the privilege of being given one of the eggs to try - taste like chicken ( egg )! =D I also got fresh goat milk ( yum! ) and curds from making goat cheese ( tasted like moz. cheese! ).
 Serving the Lord is like breathing for the families. It is always a conscience effort to do and be pleasing to God, yet in an effortless way. I loved and enjoyed all the other things about their lifestyle, but this even more so.
 We didn't go do a whole lot. We went to Hatcher's Pass two times and to Talkeetna once. Hatcher's Pass is this lovely drive out and up the hills and mountains of Alaska - stunning! Talkeetna is a touristy town with old, cute little shops etc... Other than that, it was just the pleasantness of everyday life. Water the garden, weeding, ironing, taking care of the rabbits, tidying up the house, visiting with friends...ogling the baby and all the new things she's learning...sharing stories of our lives. All that good stuff. =) The bottom line is: I WANT TO GO BACK ASAP!!! =) Except...I'd miss everyone here an awful lot! =(
 I'll put up pictures soon. I'm still getting them organized. Hopefully either tonight or tomorrow I'll get some up. =)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Alaska Bound!

 Hey there! For those of you who don't know, ( and even for those who do ) I am off on an Alaskan Adventure this morning! I am super excited! I'm visiting a family I know that used to live here in Oregon a few years ago that has a daughter I am close to. I'll be gone for two weeks and a day! I will be taking tons of pictures and videos, so there will be lots of that to share here on my blog. I promise not to overwhelm with long updates! How does one picture for each day I'm gone sound? :D Of course, I am not going to be updating while I am gone because I won't have an internet connection, but I will do it as soon as I can after I get home. :) Pray for my family! Mom and Dad are gonna miss me lots, but I think it'll be hardest for my little kitty girl. She misses me lots even when I'm just gone for the day or a few days. This is the longest I will have been away from her for awhile all in one stretch. She getting older and worries more. Pray for me too! I haven't gotten much sleep the past few days, getting ready for my trip along with Fourth of July stuff. I love you all! Happy summer!

Happy 4th!

 Hi everyone! It is Independence Day! The Fourth of July! A day to celebrate our freedom, remember the sacrifices that have been made and still are being made for our country, and get together with friends and family.
 I started my day by going and berry picking! We wanted fresh, local berries to use in our dishes for our get-together. Then, after some food prep and lunch, it was out to mow. After that, a shower and more prep. Finally, off to our relatives!
 We hung out, ate lots of yummy food, played games, had a bonfire, and watched fireworks going off all around. The weather was a perfect meld of blue skies, mid to high 80's, and a light breeze. Delicious! :)
Cathy ( a cousin ), Cristal, ( a friend), Girly ( a cousin ), me. 

Playing badmitten


 I personally didn't get all that many great pictures on my own camera, but others did, so I hope to add them to my personal collection at some point. Right now these measly few will have to suffice. :D