One of my favorite things to do as a kid and as an adult is to build forts. My older sister and I spent a summer secretly working on a fort in the woods behind our cabin 11 miles up the Unalakleet river. We did our chores each day and when we got play time we continued building our secret fort. It was tall enough to stand up in. We used willows for the frame and intertwined smaller branches for the walls, then filled those in with moss and grass. It was our masterpiece that summer. Then my dad found it. He said we did such a good job that it had to be torn down. Otherwise animals would use it for their very own home and it was too close to our cabin where we spent our summers gathering food for winter. After that we didn’t build such good structures near where we dwelled. On the beach in Unalakleet I taught my older sons when they were young to build awesome forts. Sturdy and beautiful, something so cool the kids in town did not want to destroy it but enjoy it rather. Duke and I build winter forts with snow and soon we will build our forts in summer as well. This is a good skill to have, maybe when you get stuck out in the woods, at least you are capable of building a temporary shelter to stay warm. Even during play life long lessons are learned. A lesson does not need to be a strict lesson looked on in dread, a lesson of love can be a lesson durning play.
I was leading a sinful life, drinking to subside a inner pain of not having my sons with me. My sister and her boyfriend and my cousin and her boyfriend and myself went up the Unalakleet river. We were drinking and I jumped into the cold river. My cousin jumped in as well and we both warmed up and got ready to go back to Unalakleet. We were all drunk but I was very inebriated. We made it back to the slough and I tasked myself to carry my cousins boyfriends gun, he was also my classmate growing up. Everyone started walking back to the old house that my mom grew up in. We lived there after my cousin kicked us out of his mother’s house after my mom drunkenly balled out my Gram about her son who hurt children. Anyway I turned around back to the river and saw my cousin Jack who we call bumpy and Eddie Man who is my good friends dad. They were going bird hunting so I said I would go with them. I didn’t tell anyone I just hopped in their boat and followed them, we call that maliq- to follow. We were half way in between Unalakleet and the village south of us of St. Michael when I started to sober up. I snapped out of my drunkenness and then they told me we were going to canal. I had never been there so I was happy and excited. It was only going to be a day trip so I wasn’t worried about having no diguaq or what we call snacks for hunting or gathering. The boat ride was beautiful and it was years since I had traveled in the ocean. We traveled the ocean a lot growing up to gather eggs of birds and fish, herring eggs laid on kelp. We were approaching the village of St. Micheal and the closer we got to the shore the closer an armed State Trooper with an AK-47 came to us. We landed at the beach and he said we were in the line of sight of a shooter who was holding himself hostage in a home. We went to buy some smoke for our trip. It had been years and years since I was in St. Micheal. My fathers family had lived there but moved to Unalakleet after my Grandpa got kicked out of the village for misconduct. A disease and sickness passed on from father to son and the only way to heal is through Jesus. So we took off for the bird hunting grounds and Eddie man was driving his ocean boat and being sure to stay in the channel. Then when we almost made it passed all the dangers of the big rocks in the ocean it happened, we hit a rock. The lower unit on his engine went out. Only reverse worked so we had to go in reverse to the nearest land which was on the St. Micheal side of the canal. We were stuck, no way could we drive in reverse in the ocean. So we got ready to go hunt some birds. My brother Axel took me bird hunting once when we were very young and I caught three ducks. The gun I “borrowed” from my classmate was a bear gun so I couldn’t use it. They had an extra shot gun I was able to use. The first bird caught was a crane Eddie Man dropped, I watched it fall and knew the area where it was hiding. I showed him where to go find it. The crane was still alive and had some fight in it. It was amazing the stance and fierceness of the crane. The mighty hunter Eddie Man was not afraid, I was. He drop kicked the crane missed the first kick then the crane extended its wings and tried to beak him. He was wearing bunny boots which are heavy winter boots and the second kick was a drop kick to the head of the crane. It was out cold and would make a good meal for his mom. Then they were going to go sneak some birds and my cousin Bumpy, who was the first and only wrestler out of Unalakleet to win a State Wrestling Championship, he caught a goose. I caught nothing and I was hunting wrong. The 12-gauge rifle I was using wouldn’t work for the long shots I was shooting for. I didn’t want to sneak any birds so I picked some berries and ate them. We came back to the boat and the twin volcanoes were amazing to me, beautiful country I was so thankful to be a tag along. The first night we were stranded and hungry, we ate the goose my cousin caught. There was only one Monster energy drink and one vitamin water that they took along and the water all around us was salty so we picked berries to quench our thirst and shared the drinks equally. That night by the fire we slept on burlap and had just enough burlap to cover us. I got to stay in the middle and we were all near the fire. There were two white owls spooking me out and Eddie Man said to not be afraid they were just hunting mice. So I wasn’t afraid. The next day we waved down a small river boat. They were on their way hunting and we wished them luck and said we would get help eventually. The villages located on this small island have a reindeer herd, which are domesticated caribou, and we got to watch them run, I was impressed. We didn’t catch anything that day but we were in the wrong hunting area. We had to spend another night by the fire. We were getting dehydrated and I knew we had to go home somehow. I prayed for God to let us go home and that third day we were able to get a tow to St. Michael and catch a ride home from a group of hunters from our village. Now, I make a diguaq for even the shortest of trips. I made it home just before my mom was going to file a missing persons report. I was missing for two days and no one had a clue where I was. I was on the hunting trip of a lifetime with two awesome hunters. My mom said I looked like a wild woods woman and I believed her. I drank water which is something I haven’t ever liked drinking until that day, I was so thankful for water. I still am. The man holding himself hostage turned himself in and that ended peacefully, something I prayed about while we were bird hunting. You just can’t beat some hunting stories and we would have survived another week if we had to because we have the know how. That know how needs to be passed down and that is what I pass down to my children. God is good.
Recently my aunt Jean prayed for the spirit of poverty and the spirit of authority to leave me. I love to pray with my aunt. She is a warrior. She had made tacos and it was the first time Duke and I were around people besides on Thanksgiving for three long months. I got the cabin fever really bad. She asked me to pray and I stood up straight and I was going to pray really good in my mind so I took a deep breath in and exhaled and started “Dear heavenly Fadder” the words slipped up at father and we both started laughing and giggling I had only been around my two year old and was fumbling my words for a serious prayer and of course my Aunt finished the prayer and we ate the most delicious tacos. Her daughter was one of the classmates our class lost and I know she is in a far better place. Her very own daughter led her to Jesus and my Aunt was my first youth pastor who’s ministry led me to fully accept Jesus. Jesus is awesome!
I had to beg my mom not to sue the Covenant Church. The summer of my junior year I met the woodcutters son while at Vision Camp. This was when I was a babysitter and I was smitten. His dad took his son to keep him out of trouble but trouble will follow the troubled. He said it wouldn’t count and I told him I was saving my virginity for marriage. He said I could still save it and that he wouldn’t go in. I believed him. That happened twice at Bible Camp and I knew I failed in my vows so it happened a third time at the old house I grew up in and we used a condom. I gave him my virginity and I became pregnant.
This woodcutters son had already knocked up a girl in Minnesota where he was from and she had an abortion. He asked me to do the same. That is against what I believe in so I would never be able to do that. I fell in love with my son a couple years back up at our cabin when I picked out his name with my brothers and sisters. I started praying for my future children and future husband in the ninth grade.
After I found out I was pregnant I left the village to go babysit for my cousin who was going to nursing school. I didn’t want to be the topic of gossip in the town. I went to a retreat that fall in Talkeetna and my old basketball coach and his wife took me for a walk. They wanted to know if it was true, did I get knocked up at Bible camp? Yes, and without hearing anything other than that my youth pastor and teacher gave me a look of disgust that shattered my spirit. I felt that I was no longer good enough to serve my God. He walked away in anger and his wife followed him. This same pastor told me this past November that I cannot rely on faith alone. I replied that it is only by faith that has got me this far in life. Because although I wasn’t good enough for man in man’s eyes, I’ve been serving the Lord my whole life, through every day acts of kindness and love. I’ve been a Children’s Minister my whole life and I didn’t know it, by spreading hope to those who felt hopeless and showing love where no one was shown love. I may have led a sinful life because I was following my way but I was making differences in the lives of the people I partied with and got to know. The lows of the lows who in my eyes have the heart and have the faith. Maybe they were just made to beleive that in the eyes of man they were not good enough. We are all good enough and the devil will use to weak to destroy the spirit of a child. Jesus is the one who heals and forgives. He laid out my life before the time of creation, He chose me to be His child of God and no man will ever tell me otherwise, for by faith and faith alone I have been carried by Jesus through my struggles and hardships and to cast judgment on others is a sin. But how dare anyone make me doubt my faith because my faith is what keeps me alive and it’s what keeps me breathing. Without Jesus in my life I would drop dead and cease to exist. Jesus doesn’t need me I need Jesus and it has always been that way. But there is so much darkness in the world that He is calling his warriors to stand up and rise and to spread hope and love. Consuming light. Be a candle, then be a lamppost, then be a lighthouse and soon darkness will cease to exist. Walk in faith and remain steadfast. Love and be Love. only look to Jesus for the way of man is weakness and when your weakness isn’t given to God or you do not use Jesus for strength than that is not Jesus for Mans way is not Jesus way. The rules to be followed in life are the rules of Jesus and He wants us to Love Him and God above all. Do that and all else will follow. Amen.
Last month I had a dream of my Grandma Pat and her sister Mae. They were so young and playing and laughing and it was pure love the way they giggled with each other.
When my Gram found out her husband cheated on her she told him “you can have anyone you want just leave my sister Mae alone or I will kill you” as soon as my Gram said that he went marching over to Mae’s. My Grandma followed him with a shot gun. He was going to rape his wife’s little sister and she shot him. It was thought to have been out of jealousy but it was protecting her little sister she did love.
Last month my great auntie Mae was on her death bed. I had to go share with her the dream I had. She was at the Native hospital and I was able to go say my goodbyes. I sang to her not caring that my voice wasn’t the best I sang from the heart. I told her my dream and I prayed for reconciliation between two sisters who I know loved each other still. The family was having a hard time finding people to stay at her bedside. I volunteered but her granddaughter had ill feelings toward me and said not to let me be with her. That is her decision she made for her dying grandmother and she will have to answer to God. Just like we all will have to answer to God when we die.
I left and made it back to isolation in the form of our cabin. My Aunt who was there and my mom who was with my Grandma in Unalakleet were texting each other through their daughters. My Gram asked for forgiveness from her sister for what happened years and years, a lifetime ago. She forgave her. They never spoke to each other their whole lives based on an act that was misunderstood. My Gram payed for her actions and did 10 years, all the while her children were abused by her own mother. To the point of the use of a bullwhip slashed and scarred the backs of my mom and her younger brothers. My great uncle Duke found out what was happening at Egavik and he built the biggest bonfire my mom had ever seen. He told his mom if she ever abused her grandchildren again that he would kill her and he made her burn the bullwhip she used to beat her grandkids in the bonfire. She was to stay at the bonfire till it went out. My Great grandmother had a hard life of her own and the further you go back the harder life was. She found Jesus and lived a good elderly life. My sister led my Grandma Pat to Jesus and she has Him in her heart. You see the love for my family extends to their family and so on and so on. Because that is what we are asked to do, above all Love God and all else will follow. It is never too late to accept Jesus as the Lord and personal Savior of your life. He loves you! Of course He wants you and He wants to forgive you. A hard life is made beautiful through Jesus and the more people who find Jesus the more beautiful the world becomes. Love and be love.
Today would have been my brother Axel’s earth Birthday. I recently found a letter he wrote to me from jail. He sent five letters out and recieved only one back from me. He wanted to be one with nature and I often dream of being a wild bush woman. I had to giggle, I cannot leave my children like that. When I was in the ninth grade I would imagine leaving everything behind and retreating to the woods and flourishing how our ancestors did. My brother took his own life after retreating to the woods. He lasted two days at our old cabin and returned home just to put a bullet through his head. I vividly remember where the entry wound and exit wound were located. I couldn’t imagine why. So I no longer imagine. I don’t ask God why, because some answers are unanswerable. He was saved through Jesus Christ and I put my faith in God lest my mind plays tricks on itself. There is such a spiritual warfare and it is made easy for influence while under the influence of alcohol or any drug. I struggle every day to quit smoking cigarettes, but everyday I pray for God to help me. It’s a hard addiction for me to break. I gave up alcohol and weed to live a better life, I just wish that also extended to cigarettes. Quit giving in to your own selfish ways, and when you do give in, keep trying to do better. I am very hopeful I will be able to bag a horrible habit. I have already cut down from last year of 15 a day to 5 a day and soon it will be zero a day. If my grandmother, who used to smoke, can do it so can anyone. I love my grandma and hold her so very dear to my heart. Don’t give up hope when you stumble, for hope in Jesus is eternal hope. Encourage each other to do well today. Love and be beloved.
Last November I recieved my first order for slippers. A daughter wanted me to make her mother a pair of seal skin slippers. I told her I would do my best. I do the prayer stitch, literally emitting good prayers and love into the things I make. Good thoughts, good vibes and always made out of love. She worked at the Native hospital and I was going to meet her there. The price was set at 120.00 and when I got to the hospital I had some gas money about 15 dollars. I was waiting in the main lobby and I seen the look I was all to familiar with. A mom followed by her son, pauses near the lobby, she looked at her palm and counted her change and her son looked like he wanted something. I felt my heart sink when she put the change back in her pocket, she didn’t have enough to get her boy something. They started to the stairwell and I just had to give the son some money. I knew a dollar wouldn’t be enough because the vending machines were at least 1.50. I know this hospital well because Duke spent his first 40 days of life in the NICU. I pulled some ones out it was three dollars and I ran after them with the slippers in my hands that I was going to sell. They were almost too far gone up the stairwell when I yelled “hey!” They both turned around and I said to the mom “this is for your son.” She took the small amount of money and smiled and he smiled and I smiled. They were from the YK Delta area. Then I turned around and saw the daughter who was going to buy the slippers I made for her mom. I gave her a hug because I was very proud of her for getting her mother something special. She told me I was very different in person than what she had seen on my posts when I was involved with Facebook, which I gave up for this year. I told her about the slippers and made sure to tell her they were made out of love. Simple acts of kindness, spreading smiles, every day acts of impact that change the hearts of our future leaders. When you follow your heart, and that heart has Jesus, you can make a difference in this world. If it is one smile, you made a difference. Bless and be blessed.
When I was a very little girl I remember my first kite. It was purple with a unicorn on it and it had a string of bows attached to it. I was very proud to have my very own kite so I took it down below the old house near the lake. This was when my Grandma Johnsons house was yellow. I was flying it and I wanted it to go the highest so I kept letting string out. Soon there was no string to give and I panicked. Then it happened, a gust of wind took my new kite away. The first time I flew it, it was gone. I wanted to cry and throw a fit but instead I watched it for as long as I could see it. I imagined it would travel the world and I no longer felt sad. Since that day I always hope for the best in each situation. While a lot of people have taught me goodness, I taught a lot of lessons to myself so young just by using my imagination. Now it’s hard not to let my imagination get the best of me. That same year I cut myself on the wrist on accident. I was bouncing on a stack of plywood. There were nails sticking up on the top area of the boards. I hopped and slipped and yelled and screamed and cried. My left wrist caught the nail and dragged down being stuck deeper and deeper on the nail. My mom heard my screams and she picked me up and ran carrying me to the old house and called the healthaide. This was when the clinic was stationed where the NVU is now. I passed out probably due to loss of blood. They stopped the bleeding and stitched up my wrist. I was a very young girl. I had to stay inside for awhile after that happened and I missed the outdoors, so one morning I decided to make a run for it just so I could play out. I had my favorite deer nightgown on and a pair of tights and I ran to go play out. My mom yelled at me and stopped me in my tracks. I walked back very sad because I knew I had to listen to my mom. There were times if I didn’t listen she would dicipline us. If we cursed, our mouth would get a bar of soap in it, so we did not curse. If my older sister and I were not getting along, we had to spend that day in a big shirt together. I always wanted to be my older sisters friend. I would try my hardest to follow her wherever she went. She was playing with my older cousins when they put a house that was going to be my cousins Bev’s new house in front of the old house. I watched them pound rocks in front of me. I was not understanding why. Then she took some dust and blew it in my eyes. They ran as fast as they could trying to ditch the tag along little sister. Dust in my eye did not stop me from chasing my sister. I just wanted to be a part of the fun. They ran and hid under a staircase at the district office. I found them and then they were mean to me so I went home and tried to crush up my own rocks. The ones I chose to crush up were white and they did not make the dust I needed to get back at my sister and cousins. So I ditched my efforts of revenge and from then on decided not to seek revenge on people just to tell on people who hurt me. My sister got in trouble because I told my mom what she did. See, when I was so young I was becoming the Gertie who is the same Gertie today, but the world devoured me and chewed me and spit me up. That did not change the inner me, but walls were erected as a means to protect myself. When I accepted Jesus those walls were torn down. My foundations of me are foundations of love before and while I invited Jesus into my heart. My brain became more understanding and I saw the world through a forgiving heart. The president of NVU is stepping down from his position willingly. He is forgiven by Jesus because Jesus forgives everyone if they have Him in their heart and to me that is a beautiful thing. You cannot judge people for their mistakes, because everyone makes mistakes. When you accept Jesus into your heart, He forgives you. Without this, when you die your soul will go to hades down below. It is a serious eternal decision and your soul depends on that one factor. Do you have Jesus in your heart?