Archive for 2019

Pebble in My Shoe

When I was in junior/senior high, I was part of a Christian singing group that traveled around the east coast performing evangelistic folk musicals. We also included a small medley from the popular Godspell that had “By My Side” as one of the songs.

I never really understood the words “I’ll put a pebble in my shoe and walk” when I was a child. Who would make themselves uncomfortable when they walk? As an adult those words took on more meaning when facing struggles in my life from miscarriages to persecutions from other believers. I always knew that Yeshua was ‘by my side,’ and I would sing praises to him to encourage myself through the struggles. Eventually with time the pebble would wear down or it would be shaken out of my shoe.

When reading about the encounter between Jacob and the ‘angel of the LORD,’ in Genesis 32 that pebble took on a more intense purpose. During their wrestling match, the ‘man’ touched Jacob’s hip which caused him to limp.

The ‘pebble in his shoe’ was never removed nor did it wear down, it caused him to limp for the rest of his life! It was this ‘pebble’ that changed him from being a carnal man to a spiritual man. It was this pebble that revealed his ‘walk with Elohim’ to the world in which he lived. He could never hide his faith nor the the personal encounter with the man of ‘salvation’. It was obvious to everyone he encountered from that moment on – he limped.

He limped when he met Esau the next day. He limped when he met with Shechem to discuss the rape of his daughter, Dinah. He limped to Beth-el with his family where he received the blessing of faith from Elohim. He limped when he grieved the loss of his beloved Rachel. He limped when his sons brought him the bloodied garment of his son, Joseph. He limped all his days in Canaan. He limped to Egypt. With that limp, he met his ‘resurrected’ son Jospeh and his grandsons. With that limp he entered the presence of the Pharaoh of Egypt as the patriarch of a nation called Isra’el. With that limp no one who met him would forget the God of Abraham and Isaac was ‘by Jacob’s side.’

“Therefore, to keep me from becoming overly proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from the Adversary to pound away at me, so that I wouldn’t grow conceited. Three times I begged the Lord to take this thing away from me; but he told me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is brought to perfection in weakness.” Therefore, I am very happy to boast about my weaknesses, in order that the Messiah’s power will rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).

Sha’ul too had a ‘pebble in his shoe.’ He called it a ‘thorn in his flesh.’ It was given to him by the Adversary to keep him from becoming arrogant. Though there are many speculations about what that thorn was, it was a thorn, a pebble that challenged him every day of his life. As would be common for any man or woman, he prayed for its removal and the Elohim told him that ‘His power is brought to perfection in weakness.”

The Scriptures do not suggest that the limp that Jacob received was from the Adversary, but Jacob, whose name means ‘Deceiver,’ struggled like the Adversary against the plans of Elohim for his life. It was only through his years of deceptions that the truth of the Messiah became a real and vibrant prophetic vision in his life.

Through Sha’ul, the message of Messiah Yeshua came to the nations. Through Jacob, Isra’el became the nation of God’s chosen people from whom salvation comes. The next time Elohim would put a ‘pebble in my shoe,’ I’m not going to pray for the day it is removed or wears down, but stop and give thanks for the blessing that He sees me as a vessel for His purpose and a powerful reminder that Yeshua is ‘by my side.’

©2019 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.

Kristalized Kenai

“He sends his word out over the earth, his command runs swiftly.  Thus he gives snow like wool, scatters hoarfrost like ashes, sends crystals of ice like crumbs of bread — who can withstand such cold? Then he sends his word out and melts them; he makes the winds blow, and the water flows” (Psalm 147:15-18).

It is strange to be in Cooper Landing in winter and seeing everything as a frozen white wonderland. Where’s Elsa? From the Kenai Lake to the river to the roads we drive all the time to the campground, I have to stop, pull off my gloves and with sub-freezing temps take pictures of the crisp wintery scenes all around me. Not only are trees and bushes and roads white-washed, wisps of chiffon clouds float below the mountain peaks while steam rises above the Kenai because the air is colder than the year-round 40 degree temperature of the river. Seasonal folks left long ago and apart from small winter jobs, the few locals left come to the post office and eat ice cream at Wildman’s. Some actually put on waders and continue to fish!

As cliche as it is, a picture is worth 1000 words. Try to feel the chill in the air, the waxing and waning of the daylight hours and the peacefulness of this hamlet on the Kenai Peninsula. I thank God every moment of every day to have the blessing of this experience.

Cooper Landing and the Princess

Kenai Lake and River

Bean Creek Road

What is a Ptarmigan?

Our Suite Home

Winterized Campground

©2019 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. 

Helper: Hebrew Shammes

The Hebrew words shamash שמש or the Yiddish shammes שמש (spelled identically but with a different vowels) mean ‘helper’ and is used to describe the person who looks after the synagogue.

Hebrew Word Pictures

ש  shin is a picture of a ‘tooth’ and means to ‘destroy’ or also corresponds to the Shekinah or glory of Elohim

 מ Mem is a picture of ‘water’ and means ‘chaos’

ש  shin is a picture of a ‘tooth’ and means to ‘destroy’ or also corresponds to the Shekinah or glory of Elohim

The word pictures can mean ‘destroying the chaos with the glory of Elohim’

The shamash or shammes is the ‘set apart’ candle on a Hanukkiah that is used to light the rest of the candles.

Some suggest that because the word shamash has ties to the Babylonian/Assyrian god known for truth and justice, that Hanukkah is rooted in a pagan festival and should not be celebrated. It is interesting when looking at the god Shamash: he was responsible for maintaining the order of the universe, nothing could be hidden from his bright light which banished darkness and revealed lies. It was said that his ‘eye’ could see everything.

The Jewish people had by the time of the Feast of Dedication been sent to live in foreign cultures. They had been dispersed to Babylon and Assyria and could very easily have incorporated ‘foreign’ words into their vocabulary just as we have with the days of the week. Thursday for Thor, Wednesday for Odin, even Saturday for Saturn. Perhaps even to worship the God of Israel, they used the term ‘shamash’ in order to just stay alive. I don’t know; I wasn’t there. What I do understand is the struggle to find ways to express dearly held beliefs in order to fit into an intolerant culture.

From a different perspective, perhaps the multi-god cultures of Babylon and Assyria saw the power of the God of Israel in the Jewish people around them. Perhaps they saw how He helped His chosen people, remained a light in their midst, and lived lives based on Truth. Perhaps they chose the Hebrew word shamash for their god. Remember that Sha’ul saw in Athens idols with names for all manner of gods, but there was one unnamed that they worshipped in ignorance. Of course, he revealed the name of that God, the yod hey vav hey.

In either scenario, one word that means ‘helper’ in Hebrew does not a pagan practice make. With its Hebrew word pictures possibly depicting the ‘destruction of chaos by the glory of Elohim’ presents an extraordinary view of Hanukkah that fits the description found in Maccabees. There was great chaos caused by the Syrians (Assyrians) who murdered the Jewish people for their faith and destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem. The Temple and its altar had to be rededicated back to Elohim and according to the commands in Torah, that dedication must last eight days. For these reasons alone should Hanukkah be commemorated in support of the people and nation of Israel.

©2019 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. 

Land of No Midnight Sun

Cooper Creek Campground Winterized

We’re back in Alaska! Yes, we are. And no, we did not drive our trailer, we flew on Alaska Airlines from Las Vegas to Anchorage on Thanksgiving Day.

Goodbye to the Crusader

Taking the Crusader to Storage until Trade-in Day

Oh, the woes of owning a Forest River Crusader. Though they did the best they could to make all of the structural issues right last April, they failed yet again because their standards are just ‘okay.’ As a floor plan, the Crusader was perfect for our lifestyle and we are going to miss what has become ‘home.’ Unfortunately, the quality of the frame was just not up to par for our nomad lifestyle. So, yes, we are buying a new trailer. It is on order and will be ready for pick up early in February when we return to Las Vegas.

It is a 2020 Grand Design Solitude and will include some upgrades that we are excited to have: built-in solar so we don’t have to haul our own, a back-up camera so my husband doesn’t need me any more (his words not mine), and a small toy-hauler type drawer in the rear for our bikes and maybe even a kayak. The living area will be bigger and we will have a residential-sized refrigerator, but inside storage cabinets will disappear and we wonder where everything we use will go. We’re just happy at the moment that our Crusader is in storage and we are in the land of the midnight sun even though the sun really isn’t seen very much.

A Different Thanksgiving

We left Vegas in the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning and said ‘goodbye’ to our son. Though the airport was rather empty, going through security was rough. First, we somehow lost our TSApre√. I believe it was because quite a few years ago, I became a ‘prototype’ and as long as we flew several times a year, we continued to have it. We had forgotten how much we HATE going through security! Second, my son got us there with no real time to spare. As we entered the line and put our stuff in the bins (I had not taken off my shoes or coat in years), something held up the line and the conveyor belt stopped. I do not go through the scanners. I never have and as long as I have a choice, I will not. It’s the principle. As people began lining up due to the stuck conveyor belt, they started pushing people through the metal detector. I thought ‘yay’ I won’t have to opt out this time. WRONG. They stopped at me. I opted out. And, as always, they take their good ol’ time to get to me. I knew the clock was ticking and our plane was boarding.

Eventually a very nice woman began my pat down. She also told me that my backpack had been chosen to be inspected. Can this process get any longer? While I’m putting on my shoes, my husband, feeling the pressure of the ticking clock, decides to go through the scanner. Because he had put the little papers from our checked baggage in his pocket, he was pulled out to be patted down. Apparently these high-tech scanners can’t differentiate between paper and metal?

I pass the personal inspection, but the woman finds my iPad in my back pack. My bad, I took out my computer, but forgot the iPad. The whole thing has to be sent back through the conveyor belt. I hear over the intercom that it’s last call for boarding our plane to Seattle.

My husband is fuming at the TSA official who is taking his good ol’ time too. Eventually my husband’s second inspection is done and he goes to grab his belongings from the bins. There is only ONE shoe in his bin; the other had disappeared!

I decided to run to the gate and tell them he would be on his way. Of course, it’s the last one on the concourse and I get there with no time left. I explain the lost shoe and they said they would wait 5 minutes. My husband finds his shoe only to be told his backpack and shoes had to go back through the conveyor belt. What is it with being a US citizen and being treated like some sort of criminal? How many terrorists have they actually caught doing all this nonsense? How many illegals come by the borders every stinkin’ day?

With one minute left before closing the doors to the plane, my husband is running down the concourse out of breath to the gate. I can’t even remember if he was wearing his shoes! We hustle down the gateway, enter the plane, find a place to hoist our carry-ons in the overhead, sit in our seats, buckle our seatbelts and the plane backs out. Breathing heavily, we’re heading toward Seattle with an empty seat between us. Thank God for small blessings.

We arrive in Seattle and that airport is nuts. And, I hate that airport. I just absolutely hate its chaos. We grab a bite to eat while waiting for our plane to board for our flight to Anchorage. This plane is full and again, we are last to board because we couldn’t hear the intercom with 10 planes boarding from the same gate area and probably 500 people! We sit down and again, the plane begins to back out from the gate. Oh my gosh, this was the most hectic experience flying I have ever had.

In the third seat was a very nice gentleman who we find out knows our son-in-law in Cooper Landing. He also knows the man from whom he is buying the fly-fishing company. He was also on the Cabela’s photo op fishing trip 5 years ago and wondered if my husband had any photos! Alaskans know that Alaska is a large state, but a small town.

We arrived in Anchorage on Thanksgiving Day about 1 p.m. We decided to take our time getting our luggage. We left the plane last. We bought some coffee and just wandered down the empty walkway as few places were open. By the time we arrived at the luggage area, ours were the only bags going round and round. We called the valet service where our daughter left her car and loaded our six bags on a cart which took another 15 minutes to locate. Six bags. Yes. One for nothing but winter outerwear: down coats, ski pants, winter boots, rubber boots, hats, scarves, gloves. One for clothing and one for everything else solid, liquid and gas! When we finally got on the shuttle to the car, we were the only people in the entire airport.

As always the drive down the Seward Highway along the Turnagain Arm is windy; however we were also receiving warnings of rain, rocks that had fallen on the road, and slush on the mountain passes. Yep. Pretty much that describes the conditions. Still the two-hour trek to Cooper Landing was quick, easy and passing familiar sights felt like going home, but home was never in winter. We greeted our daughter and son-in-law in their cozy log home and spent the end of Thanksgiving with them and our not-so-little grandson.

Can Thanksgiving dessert be any better?

Frontier Circle

View of Kenai River and Mount Cecil

Our ‘home’ for the next two months is at Kahtnu Lodging. In summer the suite is rented out nightly. We received an amazing deal and couldn’t resist the proximity to our daughter’s house. It has two bedrooms (and a futon couch) with a small furnished kitchen, dining table and huge beautifully designed bathroom. French doors lead outside to a small porch. As we sit on a hill, we can look down on the Kenai River and up to Mount Cecil.

Our ‘landlord’ is Lorraine Temple. She raises huskies and trains sled dogs for glacier touring and the Iditerod. In the winter, she travels to the Lower 48 to teach about her dogs and sleds. Anyone in Colorado want her to give a talk at a school? Let me know. At one time she had 80 huskies, but now only has three older, sweet dogs named Buddy, Willow and Cabo who greet us every time we get out of the car or stand at our door in the morning and cry to come in. They are not allowed. The first morning when Lorraine and Mike left for a short time, they stood at the door to the upstairs (where Lorraine and Mike live) and howled. It sounded so … Alaskan!

The once-Nebraskan Suburban

My daughter lives less than ¾ of a mile from our little abode so I can walk to her house whenever I want or need to. We do have a vehicle … our old Suburban that we sold to my son-in-law for transporting his company’s fishing clients. It is strange driving it around again, but it is good to have a familiar vehicle especially when driving in ice and snow.

Alyeska Resort Ski Runs

My husband has become an official ski bum this winter and will be working at Alyeska Ski Resort as a ski instructor. He’s a beginner instructor, but will be teaching children nonetheless. He spent the first few days here getting all new equipment for this new venture – something he set out to do 40 years ago in Breckenridge, Colorado. He’s also excited to be able to ski whenever he wants even though Girdwood is an hour and a half away.

My ‘day’ job for two months

Apart from being my daughter’s help when our second grandchild arrives sometime mid-December, I will be taking over her little job of cleaning the Cooper Landing Post Office. She ‘trained’ me once and I know for a fact that I won’t be cleaning as fast as she does because I can’t move that fast any more. I also hope I remember to accomplish all that I need to accomplish and then some.

Kenai Lake from Bean Creek Road

According to Lorraine, we have become official Cooper Landiers! And, you know that’s true when you’re in Anchorage shopping at the grocery store and meet someone you know from Cooper Landing.

The Days are Short

The sun rose this morning, December 2, about 9:40 a.m. and set about 3.56 p.m. though there is light earlier than 9:40 a.m. and later than 3:56 p.m. Today, however, it snowed about 4-6 inches and there was minimal light. There are only 20 days until the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, when winter actually begins. After the solstice, the time between sunrise and sunset lengthens while before, each day becomes shorter. The first few days we were here, it was light outside in the morning through the afternoon. Yes, I am taking lots of Vitamin D and trying to be outside as much as possible. It’s a good thing that I love winter and snow because in the winter Alaska is quintessential winter.

My hope is still to see the Aurora Borealis. With all the darkness, there needs to be one clear night when those northern lights fill the sky. When it’s clear, however, the temperatures drop. It has been hovering between 25 and 35 the past few days, but tomorrow brings clear skies, sunshine and 7 degrees. Apart from the length of days, it still reminds me of Colorado – without the snow melt after every storm.

The snow by the road, on the trees and blanketing the mountain sides makes everything seem brighter or lighter. Today we left Cooper Landing in a snowstorm to shop two hours north in Anchorage. Around the Turnagain Arm, there was low fog and not much sight distance. It reminded me a little of the smoke this past summer though it was possible to breathe.

Seward Highway Anchorage 9:00 a.m.

What is the Turnagain Arm? The Turnagain Arm is the ocean where rivers coming from the mountains drain. According to wikipedia, Turnagain Arm is a waterway into the northwestern part of the Gulf of Alaska. It is one of two narrow branches at the north end of Cook Inlet, the other being Knik Arm. Turnagain is subject to climate extremes and large tide ranges. It received its name from Captain Cook who kept trying to take his ship into the Arm only to continue to get stuck and having to ‘turn around’ repeatedly.

The large tide ranges include the Bore Tide which is a rush of seawater that returns to a shallow and narrowing inlet from a broad bay. A bore tides happens after extreme minus low tides created by the full or new moon.  There are unique individuals who dress in cold water gear and wait for the bore tide to ‘ride the wave.’

There are also Beluga whales in the Turnagain Arm. Last fall we saw quite a few breaking in the waves. Apparently, they stay in the Arm area all winter so we will keep our eyes open for them whenever we head north to Girdwood or Anchorage.

Anchorage is like a real city as is Soldotna and Seward which are both one hour south of Cooper Landing. We’re just stuck in the middle with a small grocery store that charges $6.00 for a package of Oreos and $3.50 for a gallon of drinking water. They also don’t allow charges of less than $10. There’s also Wildman’s that has just about everything from ice cream to showers to a liquor store. Their prices are more reasonable, but it was time to stock up with essentials for two months.

We did other errands in Anchorage including a doctor’s visit where my grandson listens to his sibling’s heartbeat. When asked what the baby says, he responds, “Wha wha wha wha wha.” Anyone who has ever heard a baby’s heartbeat on a doppler knows that’s what babies say in their mommy’s womb.

It is different here in the winter, but it’s a good different. There are fewer tourists and only about 200 locals who remain for the winter. The traffic is non-existent and it’s so quiet it’s possible to hear the snowflakes gently falling and collecting on the ground making this land without a midnight sun fluffy white.

Kenai River from our summer ‘home’

Well, with the bluer skies today and the inches of powdery snow, I’m off to use my daughter’s snow machine. Never did that before so, here goes ….

©2019 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.

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