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!

Friday, January 30, 2015

almost home!

"You observe my travels and my rest;
You are aware of all my ways. 

You have encircled me;
You have placed Your hand on me.

Where can I go to escape Your Spirit?
Where can I flee from Your presence?

If I live at the eastern horizon
or settle at the western limits,
even there Your hand will lead me;
Your right hand will hold onto me."

Psalm 139, excerpts - Holman Christian Standard Bible

It's hard to believe this journey is almost over -- the 3-week road trip across the country.  It's been a long month, but at the same time it seems to have flown by! Every day new places to see and new people to meet, and almost every night a new bed to sleep in.  So, 24 days, 15 states, and more than 4,000 miles later, here we are in Bellingham, Washington.  We and our packed little Honda have made it all the way to the west coast, and in a few minutes we will board a ferry for the last leg of the trip to Alaska.

Coast to coast in our first two months of marriage!
Top: South Carolina, November 2014. Bottom: Oregon, January 2015.

Moments from the trip....

Something that was hard: Extraordinary amounts of socializing, and very little alone time for us as newlyweds, still figuring out marriage while living on the road.

Something that was funny: The Indian hotel owner who started out trying to rip us off, but ended up giving us a discount rate on a suite with a Jacuzzi.

Something that was cool: Seeing parts of our country that I've never seen before, including 6 new states.

Something that was a blessing: Hanging out with several young married couples, which was a fairly new thing for us as a couple. Makes us look forward to doing that more in Juneau. 

Thank you all for following our crazy journey and liking all our pictures on Facebook :-) Please keep us in your prayers on this final leg of the trip, through the waterways of southeast Alaska. I'll try to keep sharing photos! 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Road Trip Update #2

Road Trip Update #2! 

So far we've driven from Tennessee through Virginia, West Virginia, and a corner of Maryland to Pennsylvania, and stayed in Pennsylvania for 6 nights at 3 different houses.  We then drove across Ohio, stopped for lunch with a camp friend there, then continued on to Indiana, where we stayed for 2 nights in 2 different houses.  Leaving Indiana, we drove up to Michigan, and -- thankfully! -- we will be here, in the same house, for 4 nights.  

We have been in a lot of places and talked with a lot of people in the past week and a half.  I'll admit, some days it's totally exhausting.  Being the introverts that Brett and I both are, some days we just want to hide and not socialize with anyone!  But at the same time, it has been really good and interesting to see different places and connect with so many people.  I've been blessed by how gracious and giving all of our hosts have been.  People we know well, and people we hardly know, have opened up their homes to us, cooked us food, let us do our laundry, sat up late talking with us, and prayed for us. God is so good to provide everything we need on this journey, including time outside of our comfort zones :-) 

One of the nights we spent in Pennsylvania was with some friends of ours who were counselors at Echo Ranch my first summer there.  They just got married this past spring and are settled in their adorable little first house.  It was so fun to reconnect with them -- us girls chatting about newlywed life and homemaking, while the guys exchanged hunting stories.  

Another really enjoyable evening was our second night in Indiana, when we had dinner with several of Brett's great-uncles and great-aunts.  What a fun group of people, with so many outrageous and hilarious stories!  We spent a lot of time laughing that night! 

A quick update on our support-raising -- we're currently at 22% of the monthly amount we need to raise.  We spoke at a church in Pennsylvania last Sunday, who took up a wonderful offering for us, and we will be speaking here at a church in Michigan this coming Sunday.  Most of the support, though, has come from individuals who love us and believe in the ministry -- what a huge blessing!!  

I just gave our support-raising website a makeover today, so check it out! www.kilmersinak.weebly.com

Enjoy the day, wherever you are, and stay warm! :-)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Day One.

The northward journey has begun.

I’ll be honest – the past 7 ½ weeks since we got married have been a total whirlwind!  We honeymooned, we attended camp staff conferences, and between those two things, we were on the road for a month.  We returned to Tennessee and settled into our first home, which we stayed in together for a total of about three weeks.  We began the process of learning how to live together as husband and wife.  We spent Christmas and New Year with my family.  I spent a couple of weeks sorting, prioritizing, and purging all of my worldly belongings, and yesterday we packed – or more like crammed – all of our things into our little Honda for the move across the country.  We officially moved out of our apartment last night, and this morning we hit the road. 

Tonight we’re at our first stop of many along the journey to Alaska – a relative’s home in Pennsylvania.  We’re taking nearly a month to get back to Juneau, visiting lots of people along the way.  It’s the journey that counts, right?

Yes, it’s been a whirlwind, and it will continue to be for the next few weeks…months…maybe years!  But the whirlwind is full of blessings and good times, too, as well as craziness and exhaustion.  It’s all good. 

Please be praying for us as we travel, and stay tuned here for road trip stories! 


Monday, December 22, 2014

November & December through Photos

Greetings, blog friends!  Here's a brief update on life (married life!!) mostly told through photos....



On November 15, I said "I do" to my husband Brett.  It was a gorgeous fall day, though much colder than we anticipated!  But even despite the shivering at the altar, it was beautiful and memorable.


We are so thankful for this group of people who were able to be part of our special day!  One of my bridesmaids road-tripped from Missouri to be there, and all of Brett's groomsmen traveled all the way from Alaska!  This is a special group of friends and loved ones.  Many other family members and friends traveled from Pennsylvania, Kansas, Mississippi, and other states, too.  What a great reunion. 


Brett and I are loving being married! We are learning what doing life together looks like and learning the communication, fun, challenges, and joys of marriage.  God has been so very good to us -- He has blessed me with a strong, godly leader as the husband I have been praying for, and I'm so thankful.


After our wedding, we stayed a few days in a cabin locally, then drove to Isle of Palms, South Carolina for the rest of our honeymoon.  


We had our first little Thanksgiving dinner together in our beach condo!



After the honeymoon, we were still traveling for another couple of weeks, but now it was in work mode!  Brett and I, along with most of the other Echo Ranch Bible Camp Staff, attended the Christian Camp and Conference Association's annual National Conference.  Following that week of seminars and networking with other camp professionals, our staff held our annual Winter Meetings -- another week of intense, strategic planning for the year of ministry ahead.  


As a bonus, these conferences and meetings happened to be held in Orlando, Florida this year!  A local church blessed the Echo Ranch staff with free tickets to Disney World, and we enjoyed a great day there in the parks.  It can't be all work and meetings -- camp people gotta have fun, too! :-) 


After nearly a month on the road living out of suitcases, Brett and I are finally back "home" to our little apartment in Tennessee.  We're enjoying the Christmas season here and visiting with my family and friends, while we also work on getting ready to return to Alaska soon -- things like selling my car and buying a four-wheel-drive, contacting the people we need to see on our way back, preparing for support-raising, etc.  We plan to leave Tennessee just after the New Year to embark on our cross-country road trip back to The Last Frontier.  

Life is constantly changing and the future is unknown, but I'm thankful for a life partner to share it with, and a God who holds our tomorrows.
Please keep in touch with us, through blog comments, email, Facebook, or whatever method you prefer :-)  We love hearing from you!