Canada/Alaska Adventure | Entry #4

“Hey, Aunt Sandy – what do I do if I see a moose?” I was getting ready to take the mail down the road past the sawmill to the mailbox in a light drizzle. “Give it its space,” she said. “And get behind a tree?” I asked. These are important questions when you come from a region without moose.
IMG_9051I headed out, raincoat-clad, camera in hand, into the cool moist of a rainy Alaskan day. Muddy road, dripping trees, everything drenched – perfection. I got down to the sawmill, and on the far side was the road and the mailboxes. Beyond the mailboxes I saw a large shape go running by. A moose. I stopped, waiting to see what the critter would do, and sure enough he crossed the road into the sawmill yard. He saw me, and looked at me as he browsed from the trees. I stayed over in the sawmill for a few minutes, watching him to see where he’d go, and finally I took a roundabout way to the road to get to the mailboxes. He was still there when I came back. For probably anyone who lives in this area, the encounter would have been nothing – but it was a pleasant adrenaline rush for me! IMG_9061eOn my way back to the house, I was thrilled to find a ladyslipper orchid, which I’ve never seen other than in books. The rain makes everything look so alive and rich. Bluebells were spangled with raindrops, some of them open and wide awake, others still taking their time to bloom. IMG_9097eIMG_9086eIt has rained all day today, and it rained more or less all day yesterday as well. Heavy clouds sit over the mountains around us, enveloping us, but every once in awhile, the fog and clouds will lift, enough that we can see the fresh snow on Victory Peak above us, or the etched slopes of Amulet Peak across the valley, though we can’t quite see the top of Amulet because of the cloud cover.

It is nice to have a few quiet days after the craziness of last week. But tomorrow the rain is supposed to let up, and the gardening will begin! Looking forward to a little sunshine!

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The Copybook | On Prayer

From the book Practical Religion, by J.C. Ryle, 1878:

“Prayer is the most important subject in practical religion. All other subjects are second to it. Reading the Bible, keeping the Sabbath, hearing sermons, attending public worship, going to the LORD’s table – all these are very weighty matters. But none of them are so important as private prayer….[T]here is no duty in religion so neglected as private prayer….I have come to the conclusion that the great majority of professing Christians do not pray at all….It is one of those private transactions between God and our souls which no eye sees, and therefore one which there is every temptation to pass over and leave undone.”

“Prayer is the surest remedy against the devil and besetting sins. That sin will never stand firm which is heartily prayed against: that devil will never long keep dominion over us which we beseech the LORD to cast forth. But, then, we must spread out all our case before our Heavenly Physician, if He is to give us daily relief: we must drag our indwelling devils to the feet of Christ, and cry to Him to send them back to the pit.”

“There is a friend ever waiting to help us, if we will only unbosom to Him our sorrow – a friend who pitied the poor, and sick, and sorrowful, when He was upon earth – a friend who knows the heart of a man, for He lived thirty-three years as a man amongst us – a friend who can weep with the weepers, for He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief – a friend who is able to help us, for there never was earthly pain He could not cure. That friend is Jesus Christ. The way to be happy is to be always opening our hearts to Him.”

“Once having begun the habit [of prayer], never give it up. Your heart will sometimes say, ‘We have had family prayers; what mighty harm if we leave private prayer undone?’ Your body will sometimes say, ‘You are unwell, or sleepy, or weary; you need not pray.’ Your mind will sometimes say, ‘You have important business to attend to today; cut short your prayers.’ Look on all suggestions as coming direct from the devil.”

“Faith is to prayer what the feather is to the arrow: without it prayer will not hit the mark.”

“The wheels of all machinery for extending the Gospel are oiled by prayer.”

“Oh, let us keep an eye continually upon our private devotions! Here is the pith, and marrow, and backbone of our practical Christianity. Sermons, and books, and tracts, and committee meetings, and the company of good men, are all good in their way; but they will never make up for the neglect of private prayer. Mark well the places, and society, and companions, that unhinge your hearts for communion with God, and make your prayers drive heavily. Then be on your guard. Observe narrowly what friends and what employments leave your soul in the most spiritual frame, and most ready to speak with God. To these cleave and stick fast….I offer these points for private consideration. I do it in all humility. I know no one who needs to be reminded of them more than I do myself….I want the times we live in to be praying times. i want the Christians of our day to be praying Christians. I want the Church of our age to be a praying Church.”

We are reading Practical Religion for our church book club, and so far it has been a really good read, albeit somewhat challenging. This chapter in particular had me wanting to put Band-Aids on my hurt pride, as I realized how guilty I am of neglecting my own prayer life! Prayer should be our first line of defense, our surest prevention, and our chief source of comfort – I have free access to the God and Creator of the Universe through prayer. Why in the world would I not exercise that privilege as often as I can?

The Copybook

We’ll see how this goes, but “The Copybook” will be a new blog category for excerpts from books or articles that were important, convicting, or inspiring. For certain books, I highlight as I read, so I’ll be sharing from that highlighted material.

Copybooks used to be used to teach penmanship, but in conjunction with teaching penmanship, good morals and Christian beliefs were also modeled, through the text that was being copied.

I hope it is encouraging!

Canada/Alaska Adventure | Entry #3

Okay, now I have a little time to go back and catch up on last week! After my first entry, we got busy in Whitehorse and there really wasn’t any good time for posting! Then when I first got to Alaska last Thursday and did have time for posting, I was frankly too tired.IMG_8063eIMG_8551eJust a summary of the events of last week: Monday through Wednesday, we shot the pilot episode of what is planned to be a web series. We filmed at three different locations – Maria’s cabin off Lake Laberge, a German bakery in Whitehorse, and a wooded trail behind a neighborhood overlooking a lake, also in Whitehorse. And yes, it was fun wandering around dressed up in Anne of Green Gables era clothing. A lot of fun. IMG_8498IMG_8523When we weren’t filming, we enjoyed Maria’s company in the evenings, lovely conversations over dinner and late into the evening, took walks along the shore of Jackfish Bay, and were also introduced to various sights and scenes of Whitehorse and the Yukon by the director, Bogna, and her husband. They took us on a “driving tour” on Wednesday evening, to a few scenic spots for pictures and walking. I couldn’t get enough of the lupines, or of the Jacob’s ladder!
IMG_8595eIMG_8332eIMG_8201eDelana had specifically requested that we stop by a Whitehorse sign for pictures, which we did, of course. Of all the pictures on the Whitehorse “welcome sign,” the one I zeroed in on was the bulldogger. And in case you were curious, there happens to be a Yukon rodeo association. We drove past it on the way to Maria’s cabin.
IMG_8651IMG_8295eThe Yukon was a brand-new adventure, and it is a place I hope to see again! Very different from the other places I have seen, with its own temperament and mood, and it was beautiful. So beautiful.

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Canada/Alaska Adventure | Entry #2

Settled in with my aunt and uncle near Sutton, Alaska – We got in after 2am, and I managed to catch up on my sleep this morning, at least a little bit. It has been 12 years since my first (and only) trip to Alaska, and it is wonderful to be back. This picture is from my trip  back in 2005, and it would be the view out the livingroom window right now, if Amulet Peak wasn’t shrouded in cloud. The elevation of this mountain is 8200 feet, but it is obvious looking at it that the elevation gain from the foot of the mountain to the summit would be significant – most of that elevation. Compare this to Harney Peak in the Black Hills, the highest summit east of the Rockies, which is elevation 7200 feet, with a relative elevation gain of only about 2000 feet when climbing it, since the whole Black Hills sits at probably an average of 3000 feet above sea level (my number, not sure what the actual average would be). Below the mountain can be seen, just barely, the Matanuska River, upstream of which is the Matanuska Glacier. The snow-capped peaks, mountaintops buried in cloud, the massive, soaring mountainsides, sweeping valleys, gleaming rivers, and glorious vistas – this is an amazing part of the country. And I’ve got nearly a month to enjoy it.

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Canada/Alaska Adventure | Entry #1

This is day 3 in the Yukon, and I am staying in a small log cabin north of Whitehorse with a lovely Polish woman named Maria. Her cabin is situated on the shore of Jackfish Bay, off of Lake Laberge on the Yukon River. I’ve never seen such blue water. On the far shores, the mountains are visible, vibrant and beckoning. I immediately saw why people come here and never leave again. This is true wilderness, untamed, untouched, and magical.
IMG_8126gIMG_8132gWe arrived in the evening at her house, Saturday night, and there was a large, baited bear trap out front, like some sort of strange yard ornament, since a black bear has been bothering the few houses in this remote community. Yesterday, a conservation officer came and took the trap away, since the bear hadn’t been seen in several days, and a baited trap could end up attracting other bears.IMG_8157gThe porch of the cabin is home to about a dozen swallows, with their beehive-shaped clay nests, and they make a joyful racket in the morning, chattering back and forth, swooping in and out. A few black foxes have come up around the cabin, and a small flock of swans is living out on Jackfish Bay, along with gulls and other waterfowl.IMG_8007gThe flowers are lovely – not so much because there is something different about them, but because they are different. They aren’t my flowers from home. As always, they catch my eye, like little sculptures of stained-glass, with the sunlight gleaming through their translucent petals. IMG_8100gIMG_8028gIMG_7973gThe sands are part of a flood plain, and I am told that in a few more weeks, with the continuing snowmelt upriver, the water will rise and the little spit of land jutting into the lake will become an island. Right now, though, we can walk all the way around it, and enjoy beautiful views of Lake Laberge. IMG_8119gThe endless hours of daylight are maddening and glorious – The sun dips towards the horizon around midnight, and disappears, and the vibrant colors fade to grey. But according to Maria it is light again by 3:00 am. Everything is lush and rich, but always with the edge of harshness, that hint of something at the heart that is not warm, or gentle, or peaceful. This is not land that embraces, but that beckons almost ominously. It is wild. IMG_8137gWhat an adventure. So much scope for the imagination. I’ve always found that God’s Creation in all its glory is my “artist’s muse,” and this area is inspiring. I truly will be sorry to leave!

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