Canada/Alaska Adventure | Entry #7

When Jenny and I headed out on the fourwheeler at 9pm last night, we had kind of expected a more leisurely spin. I’d never done any fourwheeling, so anything would have been fun for me! The trails we intended to ride on were reported to be in good condition and to have been recently repaired, to some extent. A fifteen minute drive got us to the old Glen Highway, and another ten minutes got us out into the real off-roading.IMG_9544The area was beautiful. The landscape, a boggy tangle of spongy moss and lichen and slender spruce, sprawled to the mountains, the tops of which were buried in clouds. The trail became more mountainous as we climbed towards the pass, crossing a few streams, taking alternate routes around the largest puddles, some of which were deceptively deep – we found out the hard way. On a number of occasions, we almost ended up stuck, which at a minimum would have been very embarrassing. A couple of the bad spots almost made us turn around, but then the road would get better so we’d keep on trucking! It was a gorgeous evening. Why turn around?

IMG_9546 We were never quite deterred until we got to a particularly steep spot requiring some tricky maneuvering. I hopped off to make the maneuvering easier for Jenny, and as I did, I got a whiff of that unmistakable smell of something big definitely dead. I mean, it wasn’t just a dead rabbit close by. “Jenny, do you smell that?” I asked uneasily, as the stench got stronger, at the time that she was processing the same thing. We both had the “Let’s turn around now” feeling, and did so as quickly as she could get the fourwheeler turned around on the muddy slope. We had a tense couple of minutes there on the slick, steep, rutted slope, with pretty thick brush and uneven terrain on either side of us, and poor visibility as a result. The turn around was challenging enough, but if we’d gone on any further, Jenny said we wouldn’t have been able to turn around until we reached the top of the trail. With a persistent creepy feeling, we headed back down the trail. That stench sticks with you, particularly when there’s a good chance the stench was from a grizzly cache. We would have felt at least a little better if we had brought a bigger gun.

I wasn’t quite able to shake the creepy feeling until we got back home at 11pm and warmed up with some hot tea. Nothing like that to get your heart pumping!

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Canada/Alaska Adventure | Entry #6

Happy first day of summer! Here in Glacierview, AK, we are enjoying the last bit of daylight at midnight – We’ll have 19 hours and 21 minutes of daylight today! Honestly, it is the light that is the biggest adjustment for me up here. Sleeping really isn’t an issue, since I can hang a blanket over the window, but energy is the issue! At home, I’d be tired by 11:00pm, particularly if I had just gone on a hike and had a busy day (both of which I did today!), but when it is daylight outside, the energy just doesn’t turn off. The daylight really has wreaked havoc on my sleep, since I’ve been staying up a lot later, and then a few mornings ago I was wide awake at 4:30am! I love it.IMG_9421eIMG_9476eIMG_9452eIMG_9444eAfter dinner this evening, probably around 8:00 or a little later, Jenny and I climbed up to Big Rock, which overlooks the whole valley, with the Matanuska River snaking its way along way below, and the houses and Victory Bible Camp scattered like little models here and there in the trees. We left home in a slight rain, and enjoyed a rainbow on the way to the top, but once we were at Big Rock, it cleared up a bit, and the sun even came out briefly. The clouds were wisping over the mountaintops, and the Matanuska Glacier could be seen further east. IMG_9493eWhat a day. So much to marvel at.

 

The Copybook | On Love

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

Now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. – 1 Cor. 13:13.

“Charity (love) is rightly called ‘the Queen of Christian graces.’ …. It is a grace which all people profess to admire. It seems a plain practical thing which everybody can understand. It is none of ‘those troublesome doctrinal points’ about which Christians are disagreed….If men possess nothing else in religion, they always flatter themselves that they possess ‘charity.’….But I am bold to say that in many minds the whole subject seems completely misunderstood.

“He that would take down ‘charity’ from the high and holy place which is occupies int he Bible, and treat it as a matter of secondary moment, must settle his account with God’s Word….[T]hose who despise the subject are only exposing their own ignorance of Scripture.

“The charity of the Bible will show itself in a believer’s readiness to bear evil as well as to do good. It will make him patient under provocation, forgiving when injured, meek when unjustly attacked, quiet when slandered. It will make him bear much and forbear much, put up with much and look over much, submit often and deny himself often, all for the sake of piece. It will make him put a strong bit on his temper, and a strong bridle on his tongue.

“True charity is not always asking – ‘What are my rights? Am I treated as I deserve?’ but, ‘How can I best promote peace? How can I do that which is most edifying to others?’

“The charity of the Bible will show itself in the general spirit and demeanor of a believer. It will make him kind, unselfish, good-natured, good-tempered, and considerate for others. It will make him gentle, affable, and courteous, in all the daily relations of private life, thoughtful for others’ comfort, tender for others’ feelings, and more anxious to give pleasure than to receive. True charity never envies others when they prosper, nor rejoices in the calamities of others when they are in trouble.

“And yet, be it remembered, our blessed Master never flattered sinners, or winked at sin. He never shrunk from exposing wickedness in its true colors, or from rebuking those who would cleave to it….He called things by their right names. He spoke as freely of hell and the fire that is not quenched, as of heaven and the kingdom of glory. He has left on record an everlasting proof that perfect charity does not require us to approve everybody’s life or opinions, and that it is quite possible to condemn false doctrine and wicked practice, and yet to be full of love at the same time.

“Charity, such as I have described, is certainly not natural to man. Naturally, we are all more or less selfish, envious, ill-tempered, spiteful, ill-natured, and unkind….The heart in which charity grows is a heart changed, renewed, and transformed by the Holy Ghost.”

Yet another beautiful and thought-provoking (convicting) chapter in J.C. Ryle’s book. I really appreciate his brotherly manner of addressing his readers, and the sense of his true heartfelt concern for the spiritual wellbeing of his audience.

Canada/Alaska Adventure | Entry #5

It doesn’t get much better than sitting on the deck in the evening eating a quiet dinner, with Amulet Peak and the Chugach Range towering – and I mean towering – into the sky across the river, clouds tangling in the valleys, watching the play of sunlight. What a sight. The first two days this week were rainy and cloudy, and only occasionally could I see the tip top of Amulet peaking through a tear in the clouds. But the past couple of days, the view has been a wonderful sight. While out in the garden, the mountains are visible across the river, and Victory Peak up behind us, and even when walking along the road, Amulet can be glimpsed through breaks in the trees. The mountains are so…big.
IMG_9335eIMG_9299eThere is so much sunlight. Almost too much. The wildflowers thrive in the almost-24-hour daylight and the moist climate. The foliage is thick and lush. The creeks are muddy and swift. Aunt Sandy and I have spent a lot of time out in her gardens, and one of my particular projects was cleaning up her large raised garden bed. How fun to get it looking neat and tidy, clearing out the old, dead foliage, getting the weeds and moss pulled and scraped off the soil, applying lime to keep the moss at bay, and spreading a new layer of rich, black compost on top! I have to say, gardening is a lot more pleasant in temperatures of 60-70 degrees, rather than in temperatures of 80-100 degrees. IMG_9274eIMG_9198eGolden retriever Kaiah has been a delightful, albeit rather ditzy, buddy to have around, and she is a good company-keeper. She tags along when I run down the road to take something to the guest cabins, or get the mail, or when I’m in the garden. Everything is a game to her. Basically she’s an 8-year-old puppy. And somehow she thinks she can challenge a moose and not get put in her place! I was at the house by myself two nights ago and heard her barking ferociously, so I ran to the front window, and there she was, practically underneath an unhappy moose! So I ran to the front door and shouted at her, and she came, trembling and scared, but somehow it doesn’t keep her from doing it the next time.
IMG_9217eA few nights ago after dinner, Uncle Dan and I went to a job site of his, which overlooks the Matanuska Glacier. Another almost overwhelming sight. So much ice, sprawling through the valley and out of sight between mountains. And yet it looks minuscule, unimportant next to the mountains. Mountains are perspective-givers. IMG_9384eWhat a wonderful Creator God, to have spoken this world into existence! From the beauty of landscape, to the delicate intricacies of flowers, to the special bonds He lets us enjoy with His animal creatures, to the purpose and meaning of honest work, He has blessed us so richly, to be able to enjoy all of this, and to try to process all of it. God, help us not to take it for granted, but to give glory to You!

 

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?