Saturday, May 16, 2015

Glorify HIM, not me!

"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they will see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven."  (Matthew 5:16, my emphasis)

"Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be seen by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven."  (Matthew 6:1) 

This is a good reminder for me. Really, this is something I need to be slapped in the face with, just about every day. Especially here at camp. Why is it so easy to get into a mindset of performance? To think that I deserve recognition or thanks for anything I do?

The good works that my Father has given me to do (Ephesians 2:10) are meant to point people to Him and give glory to Him...not myself. Never myself! If I never get recognized for my service, it's okay. As long as my heart is pleasing to the Lord and people can see Him reflected in my good works, I must be satisfied and joyful in that.

Father, remind me daily that I deserve nothing. I am not my own, but You have bought me with the price of Your blood; therefore my life's purpose is to bring You glory! May my heart be joyful, willing, and humble as I serve, and may people around me see Your light reflecting in me-- for YOUR glory, not mine. Amen. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Good Weather, Healthy Choices, and Such

Y'all, it's been so warm and beautiful here in Southeast Alaska lately!  We had a week of sunshine, followed by one or two days of rain and clouds -- which is the norm for this area! -- and then right back to sunshine again!  This is such an unusual blessing for us.  This afternoon, we've moved the camp office outdoors -- two of the other staff girls and I are sitting on blankets in front of the office, getting a bit of work done but mostly soaking up the sunshine!  Living in a rainforest like we do, you never know when it's going to start pouring again for a week straight.

I started making green smoothies this week.  We were able to go into town to the grocery store a few days ago, and I bought some spinach and a bunch of fruit for smoothies.  I just drank my second one, while sitting out here in the sunshine today, and I'll just say today's tasted better than yesterday's!  If any of you have any delicious smoothie suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

I guess I'm on a bit of a "health kick" lately -- smoothies and other healthier food choices, natural homemade detergents and such.  Really, it's a combination of wanting to be healthy, save money, and live simply.  I've always been aware of those things, but I think being married puts it all in a new light.  I'm not just taking care of myself anymore.  There's a husband and, someday, children to think about (don't worry, that's not happening anytime soon!).  That's giving me a new perspective of the lifestyle I want for myself and my family -- and the best time to start is now, right?!

The other news around here is that camp is in full swing!  Today our 4th retreat group of the spring season is here.  We have a couple more retreats before Counselor Orientation begins, and then it's full speed ahead into summer camp season!  Soon our summer staff (counselors, wranglers, maintenance help, etc) will be arriving from all over the United States.  I'm excited to meet everyone!

And on the topic of summer staff.... we're still in need of a nurse for the month of June, a couple of girl counselors, a videographer, and a girl wilderness camp counselor.  Please contact me ASAP if you know anyone interested in serving in one of these roles at a Christian summer camp in Alaska!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

DIY Laundry!

Okay, y'all, I think I'm getting addicted to the DIY Natural Homemade Things.  One day a while back, in the midst of perusing Pinterest boards, I found a recipe for homemade laundry detergent, and it didn't sound too terribly difficult.  I decided to give it a shot, and before I knew it, I was sitting on my living room floor making homemade dryer sheets, too!  Just the other day I bought supplies for reusable makeup remover wipes, and I think DIY liquid hand soap may be in my near future.

I'm telling you guys, this stuff is addicting!  It's exciting to make something myself, with simple, natural ingredients, so that I'M in control of what I'm putting on my (and my dear husband's) skin, and actually SAVE MONEY in the process.  And it's not hard!  I'm so stoked about this.  Can you tell?  ;-)

Alright, so on to the recipes.  Since the laundry detergent and dryer sheets are the ones I've actually made so far, those are the ones I'll share this time around.

Homemade Laundry Detergent
from diynatural.com

1 cup Borax
1 cup washing soda
1 bar of soap, grated*

Grate your soap into a bowl and mix with the other two ingredients. Store in an airtight container and use 2-3 tablespoons for a large load of laundry.  That's it! 

*The soap you use is totally up to you -- go super organic and natural, or go scented and colorful.  It all depends on what you want to put on your skin.  I used a bar of Dove Unscented, because my husband has very sensitive skin and this is the kind of soap he uses daily, so I knew it wouldn't cause him any trouble.  

Homemade Reusable Dryer Sheets
from ViewFromtheFridge.com

Several squares of fabric (I cut mine about 6"x6" from an old t-shirt, but you can use any fabric scrap)
1/2 cup vinegar
8-10 drops essential oil*

Mix vinegar and essential oil in an airtight container.  Fold up your fabric squares, place in the vinegar mixture, and replace the lid, letting them soak.  When you are ready to dry a load of clothes, take out a few of your dryer sheets (I use about 3-4 per load), squeeze out the extra liquid, and toss them in the dryer.  When it's done, just fold your little squares back up and put them right back into the vinegar mixture.  So easy!  My clothes were soft and static-free - and no, they don't smell like vinegar!

*Your choice of scent. I used lavender and tea tree, because that's what I had on hand!  You don't need the expensive essential oils for this project; something cheap will suffice because it's only for scent. 




Thursday, April 9, 2015

Becoming God's plan for me.


A few nights ago, I stood on the front beach at camp with my husband, my XtraTuf boots in the edge of the lapping water, watching the sun set over the Chilkat mountain range, casting a fishing line out into the bay in hopes of catching our dinner. 

And in that peaceful moment, I realized something about where life has taken me:

This is unfamiliar, but familiar.
It's not the home I've known, but it's home.
This is not who I've been, but this is who I'm becoming.  
I never imagined this life...but I can't imagine life any other way. 

How amusing it is -- that God saw me as that shy little ballerina girl who hated getting dirty, was scared of the dark, and would much prefer to stay inside reading and playing dolls, and He planned to someday capture that girl's heart with camping ministry, marry her off to an outdoorsman, and set her in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness.  He saw and He knew and He planned.  He loved me as I was, but had better things in mind.  

So now here I am, becoming an Alaskan, becoming a wife, becoming what I hope is a better and stronger person.  Still growing, still overcoming fear.  And thankful every day for this life.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Blog Lovin!

Hey friends!  I just joined Bloglovin to find more blog friends to follow!  You can follow my blog through them and get updated when I post something new...and find more great blogs to follow, as well.  Here's the link:  Follow my blog with Bloglovin
 

Monday, March 9, 2015

our friend the hitchhiker.

My friend Courtney and I were driving around town the other day in a minivan plastered with Echo Ranch Bible Camp decals, visiting local churches and schools to hang up posters for summer camp.  As we drove through one particular neighborhood, we came up on a lady walking, who desperately waved at us to stop.  We were a little apprehensive, but Courtney pulled the van to a stop and rolled down her window.  The woman was dressed in baggy clothes and looked like a wreck.  Her face was blotchy and tears were streaming down her cheeks.  Her demeanor said she was probably on drugs.  In a raspy voice, she pleaded, "I'm really sick and I can't walk far. Can I use your phone?"

Courtney dialed in the number for her and handed over her iPhone. After a brief conversation, the lady returned the phone and, still crying, asked if we could give her a ride.

And there's where faith becomes real, y'all.  There's where the love of Jesus means something... something besides crosses and Sunday school and Bible verses and camp posters.

So we let this hurting stranger climb into the back seat of our minivan, with her sniffling and coughing, her tears, and her cigarette smell.  She told us where she needed to go, which turned out to be just on the other side of the highway.  The short ride there was silent, other than quiet introductions.  We asked her name and told her ours.  Then we were there, in a dump of a trailer park that reminded me more of a third-world country than rich America.  I jumped out of the passenger seat to open the sliding van door for her from the outside.  As she got out, mumbling a thank you, I blurted, "Can I give you a hug?"

Probably not the wisest choice.  She was dirty, she was sick, and she smelled bad.  Who knows where she'd been?  But I felt like I had to do something, say something, before she disappeared.  Somehow I wanted to infuse life and love and Jesus into her life.  So I opened my arms and asked to give her a hug.

She gave me a self-conscious half smile, then said, "I don't want to get you sick" and walked away.  And that was it.

I hope and pray that somehow she saw Jesus, that in some way she felt loved, and that one day she might look  back and see, not two women picking up a hitchhiker, but Jesus meeting her needs through those two uncertain girls in a minivan.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Sunshine at the Right Time

I live in Juneau, Alaska, where the average annual rainfall is 62 inches (but can be up to 92), and it rains, on average, 230 days of the year.  This is pretty common:


Well, I'm here to tell you that out of the 135 days of sunshine we can expect here this year, we've seen 5 or 6 of them, consecutively, in the past week!  And oh, has it been glorious.  Here's a panorama I took from our front porch the other day:


Sunshine and blue skies 5 days in a row, stars out every night, and even a beautiful display of the Northern Lights on Sunday night.... you don't take this kind of stuff for granted when you live in Southeast Alaska.  Rain and clouds are the norm; sun and stars are exceptional blessings.  

And my Heavenly Father knew exactly the right time to give me a week of beautiful weather.  Because, I'll admit, this past week didn't find me in the greatest place emotionally.  A few days ago, if I'd sat here in my living room, looking out the window at gray skies and dreary rain falling, it would have matched my mood and dragged me down further.  My Abba knew the sunshine would help lift my spirits during those days, and it did.  He is SO very gracious!  

So today, I'm sitting here in my living room, looking at gray skies and dreary rain falling.  Juneau is back to its more normal look.  Today, my heart is at peace, and while sunshine is still my favorite, today I find the rain familiar and cozy.  And I'm thankful.  

   
(PS: For ladies...you know about those days of emotional fragility.  This is something I've been learning about recently -- how our femininity affects our emotional patterns all month long, not just that one week :-)  It's really eye-opening, and I think I'm finding it to be true.  Maybe we aren't as crazy as we sometimes feel!  Check out this web page for more info.)
  
  

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Little Girl Baby Shower

Pink and purple. 
Ballerinas.
Teacups. 

What do these things have in common?  A very girly shower for a sweet mommy and baby girl!

Last spring, I gave a shower for my sister when she was expecting her first child and my first niece.  After many hours perusing Pinterest boards, I compiled many lovely ideas into one little party.  Here are a few photos:

The buffet table with a lace tablecloth.
The Menu:
Bite-size tortilla chips and homemade cheese dip
Pink wafer cookies
Cinnamon-sugar chips
Crackers and cheese
Bakery cake from local grocery store  

We found these paper lanterns and fluffies at Party City and hung them from the chandelier above the buffet table. 


This was a free printable I found online.  It says "She leaves a little sparkle wherever she goes."  I placed it in a white frame from Walmart, and gave it to my sister to use in the nursery after the shower.  We paired this with a vase of pink roses for the table centerpiece.


We made this banner to hang in the living room where everyone sat and my sister opened her gifts.

To make the banner:
1) Decide how big you want your letters to be.
2) Create a new document in Microsoft Word, click the Insert tab, and insert Word Art.
3) Type the words you want to use, separating each letter with a space or two.
4) When you've got your words typed, right-click on the Word Art box and select Format Shape.
5) Select 3-D Rotation, and put 180 in the box labeled X.  This should flip your words around so they are mirror-image.
5) Change the font color to a light gray.
6) Print your letters, then use scissors to cut out each one. 
7) Cut circles out of sheets of various colored or patterned scrapbook paper.
8) Use a hole-punch to make a hole at "10 and 2" on each circle for threading your ribbon.
9) Flip your letters over so they are white and facing the correct direction, and attach them to the circles using glue or scrapbooking stickers (warning - glue tends to wrinkle up your paper).
10) Measure how much ribbon you need to thread through the banner and hang.
11) Cut ribbon and thread your banner pieces on.


We also made little paper ballerinas, using paper snowflake patterns and a ballerina template we found online.


My sister and her husband had not yet decided on a name for their daughter, so I decided to include a name suggestion jar.  I cut 4" squares of pink and purple paper and hole-punched them with a flower-shaped punch that I already had.  This was an activity everyone enjoyed, and my sister got a good laugh from some of the suggestions afterward!


This was another free printable I found online, and we used it for a shower game.


For the punch table, I collected a bunch of pretty teacups.  Some of these were contributed by our moms and grandmas, and I bought several others fairly cheaply from thrift stores around town.  It was a very unique and pretty way to serve punch.


The other activity we offered at the shower was "Wishes for Baby."  I created a Word document with a pretty pink border and title, then added a list something like this:
I hope you learn ___________
I hope you love ____________
I hope you become _________
I hope you never forget ______
I hope you grow ____________
I hope you aren’t afraid ______
I hope you receive __________
I hope you know ___________
I hope you laugh ___________
I hope you always __________
Each guest filled out one of these sheets for the new baby and signed her name at the bottom, and mommy took them home as a keepsake.  Then when Baby Girl is older, she can read all the loving wishes that were written for her.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Hospitality and Guest Rooms

On our recent road-trip across the U.S., we stayed almost every night with people in their homes.  Out of three week on the road, I think we were only in a hotel 5 times.  The hosts we stayed with were a mix of people -- relatives, old college friends, people who have come to Echo Ranch on mission trips, etc.  Some of these people we knew well, others we barely knew at all, but each of them were welcoming and hospitable, inviting us to make ourselves at home in their home.  

One of the things that struck me as we sojourned with each of these people was how they willingly and generously offered to us whatever they had to give.  I wanted to share these photos below with you because I want to encourage you -- no matter what kind of housing or amenities you have, YOU CAN offer rest and shelter to someone who needs it.  From the perspective of newlywed traveling missionaries, Brett and I can tell you that we are incredibly grateful to each of our hosts, for each bed we slept in on this journey.  

We slept in really nice guest rooms.  We slept on an air mattress on the floor.  We slept in an 8-year-old boy's tractor-themed bedroom.  We slept on futons.  We were "the least of these," a way for people to love on Jesus by loving on us and giving us a place to stay for a night or two, whatever they had to offer.  We were blessed.


 
 













So I challenge you to consider -- whether you have a big house or a nice guest room or not -- how can you offer love and hospitality to someone in need or transition?  Something to think about!