Magnets

IMG_6504Last month, after I went to Soldotna to see my sister, I was praying on my way home for God to open doors. I wasn’t specific I meant doors of opportunity. Anyway, I was tasked to go pray at the Alaska Native Medical Center. I walked through the halls of the hospital on a Sunday and there was a mini church service in a meeting room by the Quyana Care wing, lovely singing. I paused for a moment to listen and my heart was happy. I brought with me my Bible, my sewing tin and a stuffed ducky from my sister that was meant for Duke, but she also gave him a lion and he would be happy with that. Duke was at the cabin with his dad. I knew I had to go up to the second floor “meditation” room I called it the prayer room. I walked up and tried to open the door. My heart sank, it was locked. I was infuriated because who would lock his special place? Where mother’s pleaded to God for their children, father’s prayed for their mother’s and where I begged God to save my brother Axel the first time he tried to commit suicide. His brain stem was decaying after he hung himself in Unalakleet. My cousin Ginger brought us the news, when she did I asked her “Doesn’t God make miracles happen?” And she looked me in the eyes and told me yes and I believed her. I went to this same prayer room that was now locked and pleaded to God for my brothers life. He pulled through miraculously. He commited suicide three months later. My world shattered and Jesus is still piecing it together. So you see, even to me, this prayer room meant a lot to me. So I walked up to the desk on the second floor, I asked the lady nicely to have security come and open the door to the meditation room. Then, THEN I asked her in a stern voice of authority “who locked this room and why?” She didn’t have the answers to my questions, but she said she would ask her supervisor. I went back to the common area where there was a display case with hand made grass baskets. I love to look at all the intricate handiwork at the Native Hospital. I am in awe every time and the two that I was drawn to were made by women from Hooper Bay. I have been there before and will return one day. The security guard came and I heard him talking with the lady at the desk. He opened the door and I politely thanked him. I told him that this door shouldn’t be locked, because most people won’t bother to ask for it to be opened. I went in and read my Bible and sang songs on my heart. Then I prayed to God at the alter and Thanked Him and loved Him. I let go of the hurt and the pain from my brothers death. And I sang for Him to create in me a clean heart and I pray that every day. Doors were opened.

I took my grocery bag of my sewing tin and the stuffed ducky and held my Bible close to my chest and proceeded to the main lobby of the hospital on the first floor. This lobby is circle with seating in the area in the shape of a circle where our people can drum and dance our native way. I had to go sit and listen. There was a elder couple sitting on one bench and that is where I sat. I started sewing my sealskin mitten ornament. Wow how I enjoyed each song and dance. There were two boys to the left of me, one playing on the floor by himself and a younger son with his dad who was drumming sitting on one of the inner benches. The women dancing made me smile, they were beautiful and dancing their heart out. My foot tapped along with the drum and I’m sure my head was bobbing while I was sewing. This group was from Kotlik area and they made my heart overflow with joy. I have relatives all over Alaska and no matter how distant, I will love them just the same. A man tapped me on my shoulder and asked what I was working on. He asked where I was from and I told him Unalakleet. He knew one of my Aunts who passed away from cancer. He had lost his wife six years prior. I listened to his story of hurt and he said “sometimes around the holidays it’s hard because we miss those who are gone, sometimes it’s hard to let go” and I told him “no, it is easy. You just have to remember that they are in a better place and they no longer live in pain and suffering.” He smiled at me and I smiled back. He wanted to say goodbye to my aunt but her daughter didn’t allow it. He loved her and just wanted to say goodbye. I told him to stay strong.

After we were done talking I had to go sit by the boy playing by himself on the floor. I asked him what he was doing. He had an awesome set of magnetic toys in the shape of squares and triangles. I was so fascinated and he wanted to show me something cool. He laid out a pattern and slowly and ever so gently the magnets linked together to form a sphere. I was in awe and thought it was an awesome toy. I loved magnets as a kid, but we didn’t have anything this cool. The younger boy by his dad was watching us. He didn’t have a toy and I asked him what his name was. Quinton. I was heading back to the cabin soon I told them both. The older boy looked sad I was going but I told him not to be sad and that it would soon be Christmas and he smiled. I explained that I had a son waiting for me at home. I gathered my sewing tin and Bible and gave the yellow stuffed Ducky to Quinton and wished them both an early Merry Christmas. My heart was overfilled with joy. Simple acts of kindness, making our future leaders smile.

Be a magnet by following your heart. It is made beautiful fully when you accept Jesus into your heart. Without Him in your heart there is pain and suffering, or if you have Him in your heart and are running in shame turn around and embrace Him. There is no need to run in shame, He washes the shame away. Your story has a purpose. You can change the world. Jesus wants YOU! Love and be beloved.

Tranquility

The gun control issue can be solved through a book idea I have had for a long time. Man will always need a weapon to feel safe, to feel that they are capable of protecting themselves. It’s not the weapon that needs to change, it’s a revolutionary idea of changing the ammunition from lethal to tranquil. Giving the option to subdue rather than destroy. As far as our way of life goes, hunting our own animals for our sustenance, that could be done like the days of old if you feel that is your lot in life. I will be an amazing archer one day when I have a daughter. We will have an amazing world together only because God is my world, Jesus is my everything and I don’t ever feel I need protection because He is my protector and there is nothing on this world more powerful than Jesus. IMG_6917

Unalakleet, Alaska and the great Awakening

IMG_1636Way up in the Northern regions of Alaska is a small Inupiaq and Yu’pik community of Unalakleet. Growing up I was told the meaning of our town is “where the east wind blows.” Our community has been a hub for surrounding villages for a long time. A major trading village in the days of old. The old town site is historical and my mom took me there once, fascinating to imagine old sod houses where the ditches in the earth are now covered with tundra. We did not disturb the old home sites just carefully picking cranberries around the area. The village can be a good thing or a bad thing and I’m hoping to shed light on some of the dangers of living in such a small, isolated community. Most of all to portray the goodness.

The village of Unalakleet is nestled in a valley at the drainage of the Unalakleet River where it meets the Bering Sea. Growing up the road to the hillside was along the airport road which aligns with the beach. This was after the old bridge was gone and before the new bridge was built on the Gwethluq slough. The dike separating the slough from the two lakes in the village was man made but built to help with flooding. This is a sand spit and eventually the village will have to relocate, something those who are capable are already doing by building homes up on the hillside. There used to be the old army hill where there were run down buildings from an old army base. A road travels 11 miles parallel on the left side of the river and ends at the old White Alice site. There used to be three towers there and the view from our cabin growing up allowed us to watch first hand the explosions that tore the towers down. The land used to be riddled and may still be today with PCBs. Our land will heal as our people are continually healing as we strive for a better future for our children.

Our Native Corporation store was once a larger scale operation than what it is today. The Post Office is now located in the old store building. The post office used to be near the Alaska Commercial Company store that is located “downtown” or at the point of town where the mouth of the river is located. Along with the fish plant and Brown’s lodge. Once in it’s hay day of civilizing our culture there was a boarding school for students called Covenant High. In the middle area of town there is “the Igloo” a snack shop and hangout for locals.

Growing up we had Bill’s video, that was a VHS rental in Bill’s home then was moved to the back of the Igloo. There used to be Maggie’s shop next door to the old house, she also rented out VHS tapes and had snacks and soft serve ice cream. Before there was peace on earth pizza there was a man who made pizzas out of his home, if I recall correctly his name was Dan Masters.

Near the airport side of town there is Happy Valley, a subsection of homes that are similar to hud housing. I liked to think of it as the suburbs but that was far from the truth. A lot of my cousins and friends grew up in that part of town. The Tiqasuk library used to be close to the Unalakleet Schools. There was a headstart program in the building that is now a coffee shop. My first teachers were Millie, Margie and Kermit. I would ask my mom for “potato soup” because that’s what I loved to eat at headstart. It took my mom awhile to figure out that I was actually referring to tomato soup. I had to go to school with a pair of dark blue Velcro shoes and I was not happy with that. Some of the activities I loved were building with brick looking cardboard blocks, the reading nook not to read but to look at pictures in the children’s books and going outside to do the dome game where we worked together to fill a dome parachute looking contraption with air and going under to create a dome. My teacher Millie always had beautiful marks on her face like my mom, beauty marks. My teacher Margie was a delightful soul always so happy. My teacher Kermit had one finger missing but I was never scared of him because he wore the same white tee shirts my Grandpa Johnson wore. There were substitutes here and there but I remember these three teachers very well. I thought of Headstart as a play program where I got to do cool projects, learn how to brush my teeth properly and actually not get my way.

The classmates you grow up with are almost an every day part of your life. We had a pretty chill class. In Kindergarten I would pluck out one of my classmates hair to tease him and say “I’ve got your hair.” I did not like nap time but I loved anything having to do with “it’s time to line up” I remember Mrs. Brown and Ms. Haugen and mainly being interested in arts and crafts or play time. I do remember a puppet in a tool box that I loved when Ms. Haugen would teach us lessons through him. The bilingual teachers would stroll a cart to our classroom for our heritage learning. Mrs. Mary Ann Haugen and Mrs. Charles. They both wore glasses so I tried to always be in the front so they could see me better, silly for thinking they couldn’t because that is what glasses are for. There was a day our class invited our siblings for part of our day and I was taken back at one of the girls making rough movements on the corner of her chair. I asked the teacher to help her thinking she had an itch or something. She was more than likely one of so many little girls who were molested. Something prevalent today in the rural villages. This will no longer be swept under the rug. Part of my testimony is that I am a survivor of sexual assault, sexual molestation and later in life rape. It’s a harsh reality to come to terms with, let alone to heal from. It literally has lifelong effects but there is always hope for a better future. To create change we must identify or expose the problem, then it no longer becomes acceptable or hushed behavior.

In such small communities I do not know how our women can sit idle. It happened to them and they don’t care if it happens to their daughters? That is the worst mentality to be occurring. We can create change and hope. Most adult problems and depression stem from early childhood trauma. This trauma can be overcome.

School was mandatory and so was summers spent at our cabin but that was the best part of my childhood. There is such a deep love for nature in my heart because my summers were spent in nature. We were poor, so we had to work very hard to gather enough food to last us through the winter. Five children is no easy task when it comes to keeping our bellies full for the majority of the year. One of our main staples was fish, every sort, caught during it’s run and cut and hanged to dry on our fish rack. Berries in the order of salmon or cloud berries first, then blueberries, raspberries, crow berries, cranberries and currants. With each coming in to season after the other. We put away masu in the spring and that is a root from the tundra, reminiscent to me of carrots but sweeter and of white flesh. Our greens gathered included Elephant ears we dipped in milk and vinegar sauce was always a special treat around the time we would gather sourdock leaves, something sour that my mom magically turned into something sweet called achathluk. Sura was a willow leaf collected right after bloomage and it was sour but nutritious. We stored the picked leaves in seal oil. Beach greens were so easy to gather and fun because we could look for sea shells at the same time. My mom would have us pick rosehip petals sometimes for jellies or to mix in with our ayuu tea. Our meats consisted of Moose, Caribou, Beaver, Porcupine, Seal, Ducks, Geese, Swan, Crane and Muktuk (whale). All these riches gathered by our hands from the land to help sustain us through the winter months. It was the good life.

There is an awakening occurring in the rural villages of Alaska where the sin of man will no longer be swept under the rug, and that is hurting little children and those who cannot fend for themselves. It is going to stop. We are the generation of healing and forgiveness, both go hand in hand. But the wounds must be ripped open as to no longer fester but to be cleaned through Jesus and to heal through Him. I am on a mission of Love and it is so very simple, all I am required to do is smile each day and all else will follow. We work with what we have and what all of us have that are saved is love and a smile. Please pray for the Rural Villages of Alaska. There is such goodness in the people but we are healing from the loss of our cultural identity and that identity will be restored. A learned behavior is hard to break, a lot of hurt and suffering comes hand in hand with colonization and our blood is not used to the effects of alcohol. Our bodies are allergic to it in a sense that we are basically infants trying to consume alcohol. All this is relatively new. Retaining our knowledge of the land and the subsistence lifestyle will go hand in hand with healing of not only the people but the land as well.

 

Hope for the Poor

IMG_5093When I hear that growing up in poverty means you do not have hope, that is a bold faced lie of the enemy. I grew up below the poverty line and accepted my lot in life but I also grew up in love beyond measure. I found my hope in Jesus. When I fell in love with Him and accepted Him I had nothing but hope and viewed the world through a new heart. It is only when I strayed in shame is when hope became less obvious but it was always there, never lost. Jesus knows I am willing to give up my lot in heaven for that one person because that one person means the world to Him. He died for all of us and loves all of us. It is putting His teachings into practice. I did imagine what would Jesus do growing up and that practice became a way of life. Simply put to love all. I am no better than the person to the right or the person to the left I am who I am and Jesus loves me for that in all my imperfections. Be willing, be hopeful be all consuming love so that when you walk down the street the darkness runs to hide but we know that darkness cannot hide in the light. Amen.

Shattered plates

IMG_6526As a young girl, I remember hearing about children starving around the world. I could not imagine how? Were there no berries to pick? No fish to catch? My little mind did not understand, I would sit at the table to finish my food because we were blessed to be fed. I had to finish my plate, to the point if I was too full, I would finish in tears. My heart could not take it. The land provides food and why were children dying from starvation? It’s a heartache we all face today. When a race, which is mankind, no longer cares to teach children how to gather their own food and how to survive, one of the foundations that helped our species thrive is lost. I pass down what my mother taught me to my children. That is what directly is available as a food source and good for us and utilizing that in our diet. We are capable to create change. How the desire to do so is not there is unfounded. It is so very simple, hold on to your cultural identity, learn the ways of your people, who for milenia thrived without the inherent need to buy meaningless possessions, when what we posses  in our heart is made beautiful through Jesus Christ, my Lord and personal Savior. So when you pray today pray for learning for the starving children, they hunger in more ways than we can imagine. Imagine them smiling and that smile gives them hope. Hope is not lost in this world. We battle every single day and your vote is where you spend your money and what you spend it on. Big corporations who starve these children’s bellies? Or the small local farmer continuing that what was passed down? Simple choices, every day acts of impact that most cease to care about. Why then? Did your mother love you so? A Mother’s love will change the world. It starts with an Army of One. The One is Jesus when you accept him in your heart. That is the battle won for today. You are loved. Be beloved.

Long Forgotten

I wrote this in memory of those I grew up with and still think about.

IMG_1025I lay in this box, not a smile on my face, nor a tear in my eye. My heart no longer beats, but I have taken you with me to a special place. The memories you have, I pray brings a smile to your face. Though I am gone and in the years to come I will fade, as a dream long forgotten, remember me as I was. No one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes, but when surrounded by laughter my imperfections had reason. The wind will still blow and the sun still shine. When life is in overdrive and you feel a crash is near, hold the ones closest and embrace what is next with no fear. Fear brings a pain, it may be silent or loud, no soul can fix. If you know who I am and your heart skips a beat, memories may flash, the river start to stream or the light seem dim, all I ask is this, when the sun is aglow and no clouds in sight, take my hand in the wind and walk with your feet in bare and dream of a better tomorrow. For the past is the past as heartache is heartache, but a new day is in sight for new memories to be made.

Beloved you are!

IMG_0002The first time I felt true panic was up the Unalakleet River by my Uncle Doug’s camp site, one of my mom’s favorite salmonberry patches. My baby brother Chad was two and all bundled up in warm gear for the boat ride. The boat we used was an aluminum 16 footer my dad built in his brother’s shop, Gert and Gals was our boats name. The siding was raised enough to where you would think we were safe looking over the edge at the water. We were watching gugeelees or what you call minnows. As fast as Chad fell over the swiftness of my mom could not be matched by the swiftness of the current that was sweeping him away. She was our hero. We call it guqamuk when someone falls into the water. The instant it happened my heart missed a couple beats in sheer fright of loosing him but that was quickly relieved by our mom. Her love for her children will endure as long as the earth endures.

My Mother’s Shield. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of me shielding my mother’s face with my body. All the while she was taking blows to her body, begging me to call the cops. 911. I knew their number. I was three or four and I ran for the telephone mounted to the wall that seperated the living room to the kitchen. Before I could reach it my dad threw it on the floor in front of me. When the phone shattered my little heart shattered right along with it. I was a daddy’s girl who loved both my mom and dad the same. I hated alcohol. I Prayed to a God I did not know and begged for delivernace which was a word I didn’t even know. That same year my dad got sick. He was told by the doctors that if he drank again he would die. His liver could no longer handle alcohol. That was a miracle. My mom continued down her path of alcoholism and still is an alcoholic today. That is ok because I will love her still.

I’m not the first or the last to come from a broken home. I’d later on in life hear the harsh realities my mom faced and endured. She’s a most beautiful soul masked by alcoholism and depression. Something I’ve struggled with as you will come to find.

There is one thing that I have noticed, the more each generation strives for a better life than they had growing up, the more we see generational healing and spiritual redirection.

A part of who I am stems from being a daddy’s girl growing up. My love for my dad will never fade and no one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. I do not give up on my family and I never have. I threw fits so bad I had to hear about them as an adult. I suppose I was two or so and tired of walking. I threw myself on the ground whaling like the baby I was kicking my feet, hands and head on the dirt road. My dad tried to just keep walking but he didn’t get very far. He had to lay down on the dirt and position himself just so. I didn’t want to use not a single ounce of effort to pat-pat (backpack). He didn’t think anyone was looking, no one appeared to be around because he did the complete three sixty look around. Little did he know that a group of ladies were on coffee break at the district office and whitnessed the whole ordeal.

Growing up, if one of my siblings or I wanted something, I was designated to go ask dad. Later, if that failed, we sent our baby brother Chad to go ask mom. We all grew up in the same boat, literally and metaphorically, I mean this is Alaska. All were dedicated at the insistance of my mom, to the Unalakleet Covenant Church, Evangelical of course. We all accepted Jesus into our hearts. Pivitol times in our lives, no struggle aside, we were all each other had at times. OH, by all means don’t get me wrong. It’s a rough and tumble love, especially growing up. The best competition, biggest arguments, I had to win at all costs. My tongue was sharp before my heart was filled with love. It could cut grown men down to their knees.

For anyone, it will take a lifetime to learn to tame your tongue, it is then we can no longer speak. To shed light onto darkness it must be exposed. Something I’ve been praying for since October, for God to shed light on the darkness. Sweeping issues that are close to Our Father’s Heart under the rug will no longer happen. Jesus said Himself, “Harm not one Child.” The things my Savior put on my heart were only revealed to me after I was baptized.

That is to protect our children, in order to do that we need to protect our land and continue to pass down our traditional knowledge of the land. How to survive when big brother is no longer there. The way the world views love today is far from what Love is. Love is Jesus and God, and you will never know this love unless you accept Him into your heart.

Unalakleet is a small village, and I say village because it is only accessible by plane or boat, and I like to throw dog-team in there as well. As long as I can remember we always had a flush toilet and running water in town. Our family spent the school year in town and as soon as school was done for the year we were all ready to go to our cabin 11 miles up the Unalakleet River. Our childhood playground. Where we made up our own games hard enough to showcase our competitive nature. Obstacle courses were constrewed of sticks linned up that you had to jump over, crawl under and run as fast as you can. We were all fast but Axel and I would usually win. We did our best to win that day, but did not give up hope if we didn’t win because we could race again tomorrow. We would all have a chance at doing better. Sometimes your worst competition is yourself. It’s what holds most people back from interacting with strangers, sharing a simple smile, the every day simple acts of kindess that show love.

Don’t give up your smile, don’t give up your story. Let your story shine and give all the Glory to God! His strength is not fully revealed in this world because we all are not saved. The warfare that is going on in this day and age is like that of no other. One smile can make a difference, one smile can change the world. A mother’s love will change the world. Bless and be blessed. Love and be loved for you are beloved. We are all highly favored people it simply starts with accepting your new destiny that awaits you by accepting Jesus as your Lord and personal Savior.