our Heavenly Father is not a Grandpa

Our Heavenly Father is not a grandpa and there is no Jr. Holy Spirit. Our children have the same access to God’s heart as we do.” The words rolled off her tongue and the truth sank deep into my heart during a recent discussion with an Instagram-turned-real-life-friend. I’d been sharing a crossroads decision our family was facing and her wise question, honed from real-life experience was, “Have you prayed about this as a family?” Although we had brought the decision to the Lord as the family in a general sense, as she asked the question I knew she was simultaneously giving me the answer—God was waiting to reveal His heart for our future through our children.

AT A CROSSROADS

Our crossroads decision dates back over a year ago when our family served at Gleanings for the Hungry in Dinuba, California. If you’ve not yet read my post or seen Trent’s video about this location, I encourage you to click over and do that now (or watch the video below).

Serving at Gleanings has continued to be a highlight for our family, so much so that we are making plans to return in the next month to serve again. This Youth With A Mission (YWAM) base serves a dual purpose.

  1. It’s a hub for California’s fruitful central valley creating a streamlined opportunity for what would be unused produce allowing it instead become usable dried fruit and soup mixes to be distributed to those in need through local, on-the-ground missionaries around the world.
  2. It’s a Discipleship Training School (DTS) with students of all ages participating in three months of specific, focused training in areas of Biblical Discipleship followed by two months of overseas outreach.

During our initial stay in 2017, we talked with several students attending the DTS program. Over and over the story was the same: God was transforming the hearts of the students and doing amazing things in their lives.

After Trent and I talked with a family attending the DTS and learned that there are specific Discipleship Training Schools geared toward families and that these families followed up their training with a two-month international outreach, God lit a fire in our hearts to explore this option more. Continue reading “our Heavenly Father is not a Grandpa”

10 tips for RVing to Alaska (part 2)

Yesterday I began sharing my 10 tips for RVing to Alaska. We covered bug & mosquito populations, road conditions, and route decisions. Today we will discuss weather conditions, internet access, wildlife encounters, RV/truck breakdowns, flat tires/cracked windshields, food prices, and mail retrieval.

FEAR #4: WEATHER CONDITIONS

We were shocked by the amount of cloudy, overcast days we experienced in Alaska. I can count on one hand the number of times I wore a short sleeve t-shirt while my shorts were only worn 3 times! A quick scroll through the photos in this post will reveal the cloudy days and long sleeves we grew accustomed to. Rain was common, particularly along the coastal towns of Skagway, Seward, Homer, and Valdez (where we stayed from the end of July until the end of August) and the majority of our cloud-free days were in Fairbanks (we were there at the end of June).

Photo: Even this beautifully sunny day began with a thick layer of fog that didn’t lift until afternoon. Note our rain jacket attire!

Our ability to use solar as our main source of power was limited greatly by the grey days. We used our generator for power and our propane heater way more than we ever expected. In retrospect, our solar additions were an unnecessary modification for this particular trip.

RVING ALASKA TIP #4: I would consider rain boots and raincoats to be a staple summer item. On average the weather we experienced was in the low 60’s. When you primarily boondock you don’t need to adhere to a strict travel itinerary. If your schedule is flexible, I’d suggest watching the weather forecast and following the sun. One older couple that we met said this is how they traveled Alaska and I thought it was brilliant.

FEAR #5: INTERNET ACCESS

Similar to the lower 48, if we were near a town or city, we had internet. Because we need the internet for work, we opted to have both ATT and Verizon service. Overall Verizon worked well throughout the state but we did find that the town of Homer worked best with our ATT connection. While driving to Alaska we faced larger limitations. Our particular service allows us a daily amount of data before throttling (reducing) our speed. We needed to carefully ration our usage. We also experienced periods of a few days or even up to a week without service at all while moving through the Yukon.

RVING ALASKA TIP #5: You can often find free internet at visitor centers and businesses such as McDonald’s, Starbucks and Tim Hortons (in Canada). However, don’t count on the speeds being very good. If you are visiting a port town that welcomes cruise ships you may find the internet speed decreases when the ships are in town. Whenever possible, embrace the struggle that being without good internet offers. Continue reading “10 tips for RVing to Alaska (part 2)”

10 tips for RVing to Alaska (part 1)

RVing in Alaska last summer taught us many things. We gained not only a useful perspective but some much-needed confidence. Alaska is a lot of things but being wholly predictable is not one of them. Prior to beginning our trek from Northern Idaho through Canada toward our family’s 50th state, we had a growing list of Alaska fear factors that others had helped us build.

I’d like to take that list and work through the fears one by one separating out fact from fiction and offering up my top tips.

When I first set out to share my top 10 tips, the content quickly became too detailed for one post. Therefore, I have broken the list into two parts. Today I will cover bug & mosquito populations, road conditions, and route decisions. Next, I will follow up with weather conditions, internet access, wildlife encounters, RV and truck breakdowns, flat tires/cracked windshields, food prices, and mail retrieval. Let’s get started!

FEAR #1: BUG AND MOSQUITO POPULATIONS

We’d heard horror stories about the HUGE Alaskan mosquito population. Yes, we’ve been to the Florida Everglades. Yes, my husband grew up in the humid, lake filled, mosquito-ridden state of Minnesota. But Alaska was worse, way worse (at least that is the story we kept being fed).

Driven by my desire to survive, I purchased garlic capsules. I added “take garlic” to our morning routine hoping it would help make us less tempting to bite. In the end, the area of bugs and mosquitos was perhaps one of our top surprises. While we did find isolated pockets with a healthy mosquito population, on the whole, they were so frequently not present that we would often forget to be thankful for their absence.

Given the size of the state, this isn’t necessarily surprising. In the lower 48, Minnesota has a lot of mosquitoes but Northern Idaho does not. Roughly 1,000 miles separate these two states. However, in Alaska, you can travel 2,700 miles and still find yourself in the same state. It makes sense then that there will be areas within Alaska that are very bug-heavy (those who opted to drive to the Arctic Circle told us they practically battled bugs in hand-to-hand combat) and many areas that are not. Ironically, our most prominent mosquito memory occurred in the Yukon, NOT in Alaska.

RVING ALASKA TIP #1: Our traveling friends own an electronic, hand-held bug zapper. Not only is this useful in eradicating bugs from your area, but the kids find it to be intensely exciting to use. We also found mosquito head nets to be useful while fishing in a few locations where the bugs were thicker and our hands were busy (clicking through will take you to Amazon via my affiliate link). Our worst mosquito encounter occurred when we boondocked next to a placid lake. It’s probably best to be leery of a location that is so ideal for mosquito reproduction.

FEAR #2: ROAD CONDITIONS

Overall, roads in Alaska fall somewhere between fair and good. Few roads were actually bad. Those that were did not surprise us and were typically not a required route—we simply opted to drive them anyway due to the lure of fantastic views.

Photo: The Denali Hwy. This was one road that we regretted traveling on due to the exorbitant amount of dirt it brought into our RV.

Again, the drive to Alaska through the Yukon offered the largest stretch of roads that were in repair. I also think it’s fair to say that our scale of what makes a good road “good” was diluted slightly as our time in Alaska lengthened.

Photo: After driving the Denali Hwy. we spent several hours cleaning the entire RV from this thick layer of dust.

By the end of the summer, we certainly hadn’t driven freeway speeds in many months. However, who would want to miss all the beauty? Going slower sure aids in taking in the breathtaking vistas and animal sightings!

Photo: After taking the Top of the World Hwy, the truck and RV get a MUCH needed wash!

RVING ALASKA TIP #2: Meeting oncoming traffic while driving on poor roads was rare. We often took advantage of both lanes to weave around or between frost heaves. We traveled with another family and took turns taking the “lead driving position”. Communicating with walkie talkies, we were also able to give each other some warning if there were road conditions to be aware of. If you are following another RVer, take cues from their speed and driving. Continue reading “10 tips for RVing to Alaska (part 1)”

self-sufficiency < deeper dependence

This week a friend encouraged me that in a time of prayer for our family she felt like God gave her the word “digital journaling”. She believed God wanted to encourage us to be willing to be raw and open about what He is doing in and through us.

I received that word and am here to say that God is working, helping me to identify areas that need to be more closely focused on His face and asking me to set aside some good things for His best things. Conceptually it sounds amazing and holy and pure and right. In reality, it’s not so easy.

OBEDIENCE OVER UNDERSTANDING

Recently our family attended The Send in Orlando, Florida. Perhaps I will write in more detail about the event itself in the future, but for the purpose of today’s topic, I’ll hone in on a specific aspect that was encouraged by one of the speakers—an invitation to enter into a 40 day fast.

As I prayerfully reflected on what might be the best thing for me to fast from, the answer that rose up in my heart was a little unexpected: fast from social media and step back from building my health coaching business. Immediately, I recognized the time that this could free up for focused prayer and study in God’s word as well as pouring more into those closest to me. However, the subsequent wave of thoughts has required more soul searching.

If I step away from my business for 40 days:
-I’ll lose traction and my consistent investment of time will crumble.
-The women I work with may feel abandoned.
-What will be left when I return? Continue reading “self-sufficiency < deeper dependence"

just how bad are the mosquitoes in the Yukon?

Hi! It’s been a while. Remember me? We are currently in Florida working in the panhandle with Samaritan’s Purse for the Hurricane Michael recovery efforts. You are welcome to hop over to my Instagram Page and view my daily stories to see more about what that is like (be sure to say hi while you are there).

Where are you at? I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to since my last post! Today I am going to do a time hop back to a post that I wrote in route to Alaska this last summer. I’d waited to post it until Trent had time to edit the accompanying video. I hope you enjoy!

When we started telling others about our plans to spend the summer in Alaska, one subject inevitably surfaced again and again: mosquitoes. People really felt it was important to let us know how bad they were.

However, I’ve learned to use caution when fear is involved. After all, it almost kept me from visiting Florida the first year we wintered in the RV. Plus there are these two strong factors that we believed set us squarely in a category devoid of any mosquito naivety:

Trent grew up in Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes and millions of mosquitoes.

We’ve been to the Everglades!

However, we haven’t even crossed the border into Alaska and we’ve already learned some major mosquito lessons. Just how bad are the mosquitoes in the Yukon? You be the judge. Continue reading “just how bad are the mosquitoes in the Yukon?”