Archive for 2018

The Salty Tongue

“Conduct yourself with wisdom in your interactions with outsiders (non-believers), make the most of each opportunity [treating it as something precious]. Let your speech at all times be gracious and pleasant, seasoned with salt, so that you will know how to answer each one [who questions you]” ( Colossians 4:6 Amplified Bible).

If I could add to this verse, it would include “seasoned with salt and not colorful metaphors or expletives ….  I have read many conversations on social media about how the Bible doesn’t say, “don’t curse,” “don’t swear” and “never defines inappropriate words.”  But, do colorful metaphors and expletives flavor our conversations with salt or do they leave a bitter sound in the ears of someone seeking to know a set-apart person who claims to live a holy life?  Does it cheapen our testimony of the One who died to change our hearts and rose to give us new life and will return as our Husband and King of Kings? 

For those who say that the Bible doesn’t define swear or curse words also known as profanity, it doesn’t need to be specific. If the instructions of God are written on our hearts, we will know which words are ‘unclean’ for our lips and it includes more than just speaking the days of the week that are the names of ‘other gods.’   Profanity comes from the word ‘profane’ or chol in Hebrew and means ‘common’.  Do we speak as the common people around us or do we speak words that set us apart for the glory of God, bearing fruit for His Kingdom?  

“Anyone who thinks he is religiously observant but does not control his tongue is deceiving himself, and his observance counts for nothing” (James 1:26). 

“Let no harmful language come from your mouth, only good words that are helpful in meeting the need, words that will benefit those who hear them” (Ephesians 4:29).

My mother worked for a county judge and she hated his foul language.  She never cursed or swore with four-letter words  or even said, “Oh my God” for she believed that was “taking the Lord’s name in vain.”  His colorful language never benefitted her ears nor did it make her job a pleasant one.  It was a constant thorn in her heart  while she worked for him.

I can’t say that my mouth was always as pure as hers, however, I know  her influence was profound in my life.  I never, I repeat, NEVER, say “O my God” and it breaks my heart to hear it thrown about so freely by everyone today as a common phrase.   It may not be ‘taking the Lord’s name in vain’ specifically as ‘God’ isn’t the name of the Creator,  but it has cheapened the concept of God as does using “Jesus Christ” spoken as profanity or in anger.  The fact that I don’t believe ‘Jesus Christ’ is the actual name of the Savior doesn’t make the curse less offensive or wrong.  

When most people use a four-letter word or colorful speech around me or believe they have cussed in my presence, they apologize.  I find that comforting, but somewhat discouraging.   These people are convicted by my obvious lack of foul language and see that I’m different, but still feel the need to use four-letter words in my presence.  To those who apologize frequently,  I want to say, “Quit apologizing if you’re not willing to change what comes out of your mouth.  Either you’re sorry or you’re not.  If you’re sorry, change; if not, don’t apologize.” 

According to James, the tongue is a powerful part of the human body and where it produces salty water, it cannot also produce fresh water (James 3:12).   Salt in this comparison is not the salt of speaking the Word of Truth because the Word of Truth is always compared to living water, springs of life.  Salt in this instance is a destroyer of life that leaves a place desolate.   

“So too the tongue is a tiny part of the body, yet it boasts great things. See how a little fire sets a whole forest ablaze! Yes, the tongue is a fire, a world of wickedness. The tongue is so placed in our body that it defiles every part of it, setting ablaze the whole of our life; and it is set on fire by Gei-Hinnom itself. For people have tamed and continue to tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures; but the tongue no one can tame — it is an unstable and evil thing, full of death-dealing poison!” (James 3:5-8)

Others using colorful metaphors never apologize.  These people fall into two categories.  The ones who are not followers of Messiah and do not have the Spirit of God convicting them of sin; the others who are followers of Messiah.

The non-followers of Messiah, like the county judge, are nothing more than unredeemed sinners.  Nothing more can be expected of them.  They live in darkness.  They do not have a heart of flesh.  They have never received the Spirit of God into their lives.  The word of Truth to them is foolishness and they are spiritually dead.   They are of the world and live like the world that promises no hope.   We can never know anyone’s heart and God’s plan for their life, but our speech seasoned with salt is a testimony to Yeshua in our life and may challenge them to ask questions about our faith, our hope and our abundant life in Yeshua.   

The discouraging ones are those who claim to follow Messiah but do not seem convicted of what comes out of their mouth.    Their speech, seasoned with expletives and four-letter words holds the wrong kind of salt, does not encourage anyone, and ultimately destroys their walk because it’s without the talk.  It blends into the world and there is no difference between their speech and the unbeliever’s.   In fact, for me personally, I am shocked when ‘unclean’ words flow through their lips so easily; it jars my spirit.

I knew a woman many years ago whose speech was seasoned with several four-letter-words, some that most people would defend as okay speech.  Every time some of those words flowed out of her mouth, I cringed wondering if she actually knew what was her tongue was saying, whether she was remotely convicted, and if she knew how it affected my ears by the shocked look in my eyes.  Now I know her daughter and her speech is seasoned with exactly the same words.  

To be honest, I have used colorful metaphors because I was once part of the world and its ways – read this college and workplaces.  When I became a follower of Yeshua, I had to make a conscious decision to watch what came out of my mouth because they flowed so freely I was completely unaware until a godly friend brought it to my attention.   I didn’t want to sound like a sailor when I talked because I had become a member of the Kingdom of the Most High God, the Bride of Messiah.

In the beginning the struggle was real, but now those words rarely pop into my head and when they do, I am deeply convicted.   I also had children to raise.  I didn’t want them to learn to talk gutter language; I wanted them to speak intelligent English and have their speech seasoned with salt and the truth of the Word.  Unfortunately, each one of them went into the world and those seeds that I believe are firmly rooted, have been choked out by the ways of the college world and the workplace.   I am prayerful and hopeful as some have  come to the conclusion they want to be more professional in their jobs or hear others speak colorful metaphors and know how slum-dog it sounds.  I am prayerful for my grandchildren who should never have to hear colorful metaphors or expletives either.  

I am not without sin and when a colorful metaphor does slip out of my mouth, I am immediately convicted to consider what darkness I am harboring in my heart that needs to be brought into the light.   When being honest with myself, the word either grew from unjustified anger in the moment,  a lingering bitterness from a rooted disappointment, stress that I let over take my day, or not having the wherewithal to salt my speech rather than slur my tongue being carelessness about the ears of my Father. 

In the world today, the use of language has fallen into the gutter even amongst those who claim to be god-fearers, born again members of the Kingdom of God.  The pain and suffering among believers that comes out in their speech shows the message of repentance to restorative healing is lacking. Daily stress causes many to cuss and swear for relief not realizing that God desires to give us His shalom, His relief from the stress, pain and suffering through giving Yeshua the burdens we carry.  He wants us to forgive others and forgive ourselves for those things that cause anger and bitterness in our hearts.   He wants us to turn back to Him with our tongues, with our speech so  we are truly set-apart for Him in this world and those who see and hear us speak without colorful metaphors recognize that we are part of “a chosen people, the King’s priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God to possess!  Why? In order for [us] to declare the praises of the One who called [us] out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).

“May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be acceptable in your presence, Adonai, my Rock and Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

©2018 Tentstake Ministries

It’s July Already?

This is our second year campground hosting at Cooper Creek campground on the Kenai Peninsula.  I have been calling us ‘sophmores’ or ‘wise fools’.  Freshman year we learned the ropes of running our ‘own’ campground, sophmore year, we are learning there are always new things to learn and see with regard to campers and their shenanigans.  

Wild Roses

Last year our biggest problem was guests leaving salmon everywhere, filleting salmon on the old wooden picnic tables, leaving their coolers sitting out full of salmon or just plain salmon problems.  It also meant that people were catching a lot of fish and we were blessed by so many campers with salmon that I rarely ate anything else.  Wild-caught fresh salmon (20 minutes or so old) is to die for.  Several people this year have also blessed us with salmon and even fresh halibut.   

Why is salmon such a problem?  We are in BEAR country.  Though what makes you stronger may not kill you, a BEAR will kill you.  Just last weekend I had a guest who had been attacked by a grizzly three years ago.  She had been hiking along the Skilak Lake lower trail (we did this last year) and the grass was tall, the river high.  Though she and her two dogs wore bear bells, the sound of the river drowned them out.  They surprised a grizzly sleeping in the grass.  She is an Alaskan and was prepared, but fear took over.  She stepped backwards, tripped and fell.  The bear picked her up by the leg and threw her on the ground several times; she doesn’t remember too much as she passed out.  When she woke up, she was by the river and just rolled into the frigid Kenai river which saved her from any more blood loss.  One of her dogs was missing, the other one she attached his leash to her backpack and he pulled her 1 1/2 miles to the trailhead where she was able to get help.  Several days later her other dog was found seemingly fine until she got sick and they found she had internal injuries, probably from fighting the bear to save the woman’s life. 

Apart from reminding guests about bears, this year it seems our biggest problem is tree cutting.  Imagine being in a forest service campground and going into a campsite to greet guests and there’s a 15-foot tree lying either near or in the fire pit!  Really?  First, GREEN wood doesn’t burn and secondly, it is illegal in a US Forest to cut anything GREEN.  I had to tell that to a BLM employee who thought he could do whatever he wanted in our campground including stripping branches to make marshmallow sticks – also illegal.  He challenged me to show him the law which was hanging on the very board where he bought his permit to camp.  So, now I have to remind EVERY camper not to cut trees or strip green branches to make marshmallow sticks.  After talking with some forest service law enforcement, our best friends and backups, I learned an interesting ‘fact’.  The US Forest Service is committed to protecting the forests while the Bureau of Land Management is committed to abusing the forests.  Now I know and you do too.

Happy Birthday Ducks!

Lil Campground Host with is bike

July arrived hot, hot, hot.  When I say hot, it was about 80 degrees but feels like a humid 90. For the peninsula, this is HOT.  Trust me, it’s HOT!  Last year we never reached 70 and that felt HOT! Those few days last year were a blessing in the midst of a very rainy summer.  This year we have had mostly sunny days until now.  Hence why I can take some time to update our adventure.  It is supposed to rain the next 10 days and has been raining for the last 4.  July also brought my grandson’s first birthday which is why we host in Alaska.  He lives here with his mommy (our daughter) and his daddy (our son-in-law) in a log house with a dog named Max and now has a sandbox!  He loves to come to our campground and either rides or pushes the wagon I use to tidy up sites.  He loves being in our trailer as I made a zone for him with toys and books.  He loves to eat rocks, wave to guests, and meet other children.    

July is also exhaustion month.  We arrive May 3, but we begin working May 15.  Until Memorial Day weekend, we have few campers and prepare for our first big weekend.  Again, like last year with the rain, it was slow.  During the first few weeks, we hike and spend time with family.  Then, June 11 arrives.  Fishing season opens on the Russian River which is about 2 miles down from us on the Kenai River.  We are considered ‘overflow’ from the Russian River Campground which has a stay limit of three days.   From July 11 until about August 1, we are non-stop and I mean non-stop between fish runs and dip netting for natives.   From the moment our eyes open in the morning until we drop about 11 p.m. at night, we are working hard.  Remember, it stays light in Alaska until 1 p.m. at the solstice! We have to put “Office Hours” on our trailer or people would knock on our door 24-7.  

Comment Card

We work for Alaska Recreational Management running our own campground with a lot of freedom.  We dry camp all summer hauling water, hauling our waste, and running a generator while managing and hosting about 100 campers per night (a smaller campground).  I have really learned that hosting and managing are two different positions, both of which we perform.  Hosting is easy.  “Hi, how are you, where are you from, what are your plans while you are here?”  Managing is more complicated.  “You need two nights and there’s only one?  You need a bigger site and I’m booked solid?  Let’s see if we can trade you with this site for another site?  Your friends are coming in, do I have anything for them too?  Did you pay for last night? Where is your permit as it should be on your campsite post?  Why are you in this site when it has a reserved sign?”  And, we have paper work.  Everyday I have to submit a daily sheet that lists the permit numbers of every filled or reserved site, the license plate number, where the guests are from, number of days paid, number of days stayed, the amount paid.  My wonderful oldest son helped me this year with a spreadsheet as last year I had to hand input repetitive days on every sheet.  And, my other younger son bought me an iPad so I can welcome and check-in guests on the spreadsheet as I meet and greet them.

Kenai River*

The South side of the campground has 21 reservable sites.  This is the part of the campground I host and manage.  The North Side is by the Kenai River and has 7 walk-in non-reservable sites.  My husband manages that side as they are our ‘problem children’ most of the time.  This past weekend one of those campers decided they didn’t want to pay for wood so they ravaged all of our other sites ‘stealing’ wood left behind for those campers who would eventually have that spot!  For those of you who camp and see a checkout time, be kind to your hosts and checkout before or at least by that time.  What many people don’t realize is that we only have a few hours everyday when we can actually leave the campground and enjoy Alaska or just do laundry and grocery shop.   Some days I never see the river and it’s only 100 yards away!  Together, we have created a motto for our work: Done by 1, have some fun; Back by 5, keep campers alive!  

*The Kenai River is ALWAYS that color of turquoise.  When the glaciers melt they are full of silt.  As the water enters the Kenai Lake, the silt falls to the bottom leaving only the minerals suspended in the water.  It is the most beautiful river I have ever seen.

Along with managing and hosting, we are responsible for cleaning toilets, tidying up campsites by cleaning out the fire pit that is used for everything from cigarette butts to broken glass beer bottles, raking the site when needed,  and unfortunately, cleaning up dog poop whose owners neglect that part of their responsibility.  We check bear boxes for items campers left behind; some campers leave things with us like coolers, stoves, or food they can’t take with them on an airplane.  We also weed whack, hang signs reminding people of the rules, and keep our eyes open for squatters who steal campsites or refuse to pay.  

Joe and Beryl, Australia

 

 

 

One of the greatest rewards to this ‘job’ is the people we meet.  Without them (and family) this would truly be a thankless job.  Recently, we had guests from Australia who are traveling the world. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had a little problem with some guests’ payment (they paid too much) and when I went to talk with them, they were from Switzerland and gave me a Swiss chocolate bar. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a Baptist church group of men who fish together and are here nearly every weekend so we have been able to share our Messianic faith walk with each of them after they see our Shabbat Shalom sign. 

 

 

 

 

 

Nate and Crystal

 

 

 

We had a wedding ceremony by the Kenai and a reception in Site 10 celebrating Nate and Crystal. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marcia and Me on the Kenai

 

 

 

I had an Inner Court dancing friend visit from Colorado. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carol, Sam, Sarah, and Lisa

 

 

 

We have had Israelis along with many Europeans and even some crazy women who decided to jet ski out of Whittier to see the glaciers!  Their next stop was a fly-out to a glacier for dog sledding!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mike and Kim

 

 

At the moment,  we have guests in the campground from York, PA where most of my mom’s family still lives.  Hi Keith! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sandy, Gene, Carrie and Brian

 

 

Just now I received a text message from some guests who went to a creperie in Seward that we recommended!  We enjoyed these fabulous four and spent our Erev Shabbat with them.  Two of them will be back in the ‘hood’ next week.

 

 

 

 

 

Such is the life of a campground host in July.  Right now we’re slower because we’re between fish runs.  It has also been raining.  I’ve been reading a lot of books as I made a Cooper Creek Library book bin: Take One, Leave One.  Today we’ll be checking out a few of the other campgrounds in the area so we can give better information to our campers who are on vacation.

I started this blog post today with the intention of saying ‘thank you’ to all of the campers who stayed with us this past weekend.  Our dumpster was full to the top with trash and there was no pick up until yesterday.  We asked each camper/campsite to either haul out their trash or take it to the other side and put it in that dumpster.  Saturday night my husband I discussed where and how much trash we would find because people would be lazy, stupid or just not care about what we asked.  We expected bear boxes to be full, the bags in the toilets to be full or just bags set by the dumpster welcoming every bear on the peninsula.  We found NOTHING!  Absolutely NOTHING!  Every camper this past weekend took their trash with them out of the campground.  I was astounded and my faith in humanity was somewhat restored by these people who were here from all over the world.  Thank you!

Host Site View Day 57

As for today, this is what I see today from our host site.  I have been taking one of these everyday from the same spot and will create a slide show of how Cooper Mountain looked as I began each days chores.  Until August …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

©2018 Tentstake Ministries

Fishing, Floating and Fun

In the area of Cooper Landing are three campgrounds managed by Alaska Recreational Management.  Russian River is about 3 miles south and butts the Russian River where the infamous ‘combat fishing’ takes place at the confluence between the Kenai River and the Russian.  This is where the first-run of Red, Coho and Sockey Salmon begins on and around June 11.   For those ‘in the know,’ this time of fishing is anything but ‘relaxing’ and the fish are plentiful.  Generally there’s a three-fish limit per 24-hour period, but last year that was raised to six.  The second run of fish comes in mid-July and goes further up the Kenai.  There is always catch and release trout fishing and Dolly Varden (a type of trout).  The season actually begins further down river with King Salmon.  There is also the world-famous Halibut fishing 3 hours south of Cooper Landing at Homer.

The second campground is at the north end of Cooper Landing known as Quartz Creek.  This campground sits on the Kenai Lake and about 10 of the 45 sites open late April, early May depending on snow.  This is where we initially ‘land’ when we arrive at Cooper Landing.  ARM allows us to use electric and water from the host site which is extremely nice especially in colder weather when we are able to run our fireplace and keep the trailer a toasty 68 degrees.  Quartz Creek is where we wanted to host because of the amenities, but we have learned it has a multitude of duties that we don’t have where we host.  They have a public boat launch onto the lake along with public rest rooms, they have a pavilion to maintain, they collect trash from the bins to put into the dumpster, they have 45 sites (15 more than we do) and they are responsible for maintaining the dump station.  Boondocking looks good from that vantage point.  For those who believe campground hosting is ‘glamorous,’ I’ve come to tell you there are parts that are not!

We stayed at Quartz Creek until we got permission to enter ours, Cooper Creek.  This campground is more primitive than Quartz and is located south of Cooper Landing.  ‘Our’ campground as 29 sites, one is ours, on two sides of the Sterling Highway.  This highway is the major route to Soldotna (about 1 hour away) where we will be doing our shopping and to Homer (about 3 hours away).  We were quite happy to see that all the work we had done last fall when closing the campground down remained ‘perfect’ on the south or mountain side where we stay.  The north or river side also opens early if there is no snow and we definitely have some clean up to do.  It seems some trees were cut down by the forest service and they didn’t remove the debris; it also appears some beavers had fun this winter removing numerous trees, leaving not only the telltale signs of the stumps, but also the trees!  Don’t beavers use the trees for their lodges?  Or, do they just cut them down to sharpen their teeth?

On the mountain side, our ‘home’ side runs Cooper Creek.  Trout and Dolly Varden may be fished there, but because of some manmade issues, the fish left the creek.  The short story is many years ago the salmon returned to Cooper Creek to spawn.  A dam was built up top by Cooper Lake to divert water for a power plant.  This changed the temperature of the creek by four degrees, only four, but it was enough that the salmon couldn’t find their way.  A diversion pipe was put on Cooper Lake to siphon the top warmer water off back into the creek in order to raise the temperature.  Fish and Game now study the effects and are seeing that there is some restoration happening.

On the river side is the Kenai River and its aquamarine luster.  We have 7 non-reservable sites on the river that all have access to the river and fishing.  This is where we see most of the wildlife from eagles to moose and we’ve heard about bear sightings; thus far we haven’t been blessed with that wildlife!  Alaska River Adventures, our son-in-law’s fishing company offers not only guided fly-fishing trips down this river, but also morning, afternoon, and evening scenic float trips when wildlife can be seen along the banks.

As I mentioned, our campground, Cooper Creek, is primitive.  We have no electricity or running water though there is a well pump.  We have two pit toilets, one on the river side an the other on our mountain side.  We ‘boondock’ all summer or ‘dry camp’.  This means we haul our water from a spring or other source, use both a gas and solar generator to recharge our batteries, and haul our waste in a wagon-like hauler to the manhole of the pit toilet.  Fun? Not really, but it makes the job possible and all of the processes become routine until it becomes fun!  We know how to conserve water both in washing dishes and showering, we use the pit toilets so the black-water job isn’t often (about every 2 weeks) and we have puck battery lights everywhere in the trailer so we don’t live in the dark even with nearly 20 hours of light.  We have a propane stove, hot water heater and furnace though we use our Mr. Heater more often than not.  We spent Mother’s Day morning dumping our black water at Quartz, moving on down the road a bit, and setting up our little ‘home’ for the next four months.  Tomorrow we begin our second year of campground hosting on the Kenai Peninsula.

The gate is still closed and we are not open to the public so I’m saying that we live in a gated community where we’re the only ones living, for now anyway.  By Memorial Day weekend we will have reservations that don’t stop until Labor Day.  From June 11 to mid-August, we are booked and busy 24/7.  We will meet people from all over the world as well as nearby communities; people who love to ‘get away’ from Anchorage and fish.  We will eat pizza at Sacketts right next to the campground, enjoy scoops of ice cream at Wildmans, hike some difficult and easy trails, pick blueberries, bake Alaska sourdough bread, watch the salmon swim upstream, remind people of bears and best of all, spend the next four months with our every-growing grandson – the real reason to campground host in Alaska!

©2018 Tentstake Ministries

 

 

 

Cooper Landing

Sunrise 5:40 a.m.; Sunset 10:11 p.m.

Thompson Pass

From Valdez, we headed back north on the frost-heaved destructive road to Glennallen. I didn’t sleep much because I ‘worried’ about the weather over Thompson Pass.  I am not fond of whiteouts normally, but with a 42-foot trailer that is my home on wheels, I really am not fond of the idea of losing it on ice or snow.  All night it was as if the Lord spoke to me saying, “Trust me!”  I do trust Him; I just don’t trust ME ‘hearing’ Him clearly!  We woke to clear skies and great hopes for a safe passage.  511alaska.com said the pass was good and clear and so we headed out of Valdez.  The L-shaped poles on either side of the road mark the edges for snow plows – yes, the snow gets that high.  Near the top of the pass, we saw hundreds and hundreds of ptarmigan.

Winter Ptarmigan

Unfortunately, I didn’t get any photos, but they are interesting birds.  In the winter they have white plumage, in the summer camo.  I had no idea they were such small birds and quick fliers.  What’s even cooler is our daughter’s address is Ptarmigan and now I’ve seen winter ones.

From Glennallen, we took the Glen Highway.  We had clear skies with some low clouds which made for some beautiful photos of the glaciers.  We have now traveled this highway in late summer with fireweed in bloom, in fall with the autumn colors and now spring/winter with frigid temperatures and snow. 

Nelchina Glacier

 

When we finally arrived in Anchorage, it was time for a quick stop for lunch and … Cabela’s.  We didn’t really ‘need’ anything, but I’m looking for a rain parka (long) to replace the 30-year-old one that fell apart after last summer.  Soon, we were on the Seward Highway and heading around the Turnagain Arm, past Girdwood, the Animal Conservation site, and onto the Kenai Peninsula. Though this drive takes about two hours, it is a beautiful trip.  We met a woman at Toad River who commuted 45 minutes (1 ½ hours) for 29 years from Girdwood to Anchorage.  She said in spite of the weather, it was the most beautiful commute ever.  As always, it seems the wind blows and the rain falls, but then over Turnagain Pass, we enountered snow … again.  We passed all of the campgrounds that are managed by Alaska Resource Management and noted our memories of the hosts from last year.  

Turnagain Pass

And now … we made it to Cooper Landing.   For a short time we will be staying at Quartz Creek NFS campground until our campground is opened.  The break-up of the lake has already happened, but the winter melt hasn’t even begun to start and the lake is rather low.  A morning hike to and around the lake and then by Quartz Creek was brisk and refreshing on the Shabbat morning. 

Quartz Creek at Kenai Lake

 

 

 

Kenai Lake

 

Storytime!

Before we start our campground gig on May 15, we have some time to enjoy the REAL reason we campground host in Alaska: our daughter, son-in-law and grandson!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

©2018 Tentstake Ministries

 

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