Staring Down 12 Work Weeks

This starts week 12 (12 work weeks left) in our workweek countdown to moving. And emotional swings surprise me. For instance, last week we had a staff meeting for the third floor at the hospital. It started with a ceremony led by the chaplain. He was introducing the new Providence mission statement and leading a discussion around it. And I kept tearing up, feeling so thankful for the opportunity to work with people dedicated to this mission.

Then came the recognition of anniversaries, for an RN finishing 5 years here and a CNA finishing 10 years. And I got teary, because we are leaving at year 7, I won’t get reach 10 years. Such mixed feelings, excitement for more free time and hopefully not working full time. Sadness at leaving this unit with these people and these patients, a really special job with a really special team. Someone once said that here in Kodiak we are friends and family caring for friends and family. It’s true. Sometimes it drives me crazy, but I do love it.

So here’s to being one week closer to moving, closer to vacation, closer to precious family time. And here’s to one more week that we get to spend in Kodiak. Thank you Lord for both!


So Much Planning…

These days my brain has multiple wheels spinning like crazy, always going in the background. Because we are turning our lives upside down and it is coming soon! As mentioned previously, we are moving in February. By that time we’ll have been in Kodiak for seven years and honestly the thought of leaving is slightly terrifying. We love Kodiak, love our coworkers, love the community, the beauty of this place. The family that we’ve found here. But we miss proximity to family, being available when things come up. It’s time to be close for awhile.

So February 2 is our last day of work. February 11 the movers pack up our stuff. We have ferry tickets to Homer for February 13, then we’re driving the AlCan again. Hotels are reserved for the drive down. We have started packing and mailing books for my dad’s, have been sorting and getting rid of a lot of stuff, are organizing our digital lives. Trying to reduce the craziness at the end by preparing well.

The plan is for the cats to drive down with us, in our Ford Escape, with whatever stuff we decide to take in the car. Then we’re hoping for a few days to a week with my family in Washington, before we fly (possibly with the cats) to San Diego to visit Fred’s family. It’s been way too long since we’ve seen most of our family and we are really excited!

From San Diego we leave on the first leg of our round-the-world trip. Yes, all the way around! We will fly to South Carolina to visit Fred’s friend, Caleb, and his family. Then drive to Philadelphia, maybe via D. C., to visit a Coastie friend who is currently stationed there. Then drive again to Rochester, NY to visit my uncle’s family. And maybe see Niagara Falls. Then fly to London, meeting my sister and brother there. They will be with us for the Europe portion of the trip. Two days in London, then to Vienna for a few days, with day trips to neighboring countries. Our friend Mandy will join us the last day in Vienna and stay through Salzburg and Prague. Then we will head south to Athens for a few day, before splitting up.

Fred and I will fly to Egypt for most of a week with Mandy there. His first visit to Africa! Then we both get to check Asia off our list, with a few days in Chiang Mai, Thailand visiting our friend Titus and his dad. Then a few days in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam (also called Saigon) with Titus. Then a week in Tokyo visiting Devin and Ai. Then back to San Diego for some more family time before we start jobs, somewhere.

We have most of our housing figured out, are working on city pass and train plans, still need to reserve rental cars for the east coast, apply for visas (but not until within 90 days of the trip), figure out many of the pieces of this trip (like credit cards vs a preloaded ATM, health insurance while we’re gone, where the cats will be, what needs to come in the car, how much of our furniture to move,…). We check things off the list, but it keeps growing!

I see all the things left to do and feel the stress rise, but I also look at the things we will get to do and feel the excitement bubbling up within me. We get a road trip, through gorgeous country! And time with family, lots of it, in the next year! And get to visit lots of our favorite people (on this trip or smaller trips after we move)! And see places I’ve dreamed about visiting for years! And I’ll be on the same sleep schedule as Fred the whole time, maybe even converting back to being a morning person!

And we will be visiting:

Two or three provinces,

Ten ish states and a district,

Thirteen ish countries,

And four continents!

We’ll keep you posted as we get closer!

Coming Adventures!

The last week has been a turning point for us. We’ve talked about moving for several years, wanting to be closer to family. But the timing wasn’t right. We had opportunities for training here, we couldn’t afford to move, then we were making good progress paying off our student loans. Now we’re debt free, have some experience, and feel that it’s time. We’ve been planning to move, looking at February, but still half expecting something to come up.

Then last week happened. Last week we bought our ferry tickets. And gave notice to our landlord. And both of our employers. And this week we bought our plane tickets for an extended vacation that starts when we leave the island.

So the countdown is happening – 16 work weeks left. 18 weeks until we leave Kodiak and start a three month adventure that will include much needed time with loved ones in the lower 48 and a trip around the world. And will hopefully end with us settles somewhere near family and Fred gainfully employed!

So if you know of IT job openings next summer near our family, let us know! Also if you have the perfect place for rent or sale. Also if you have a great spot for our cats while we’re globe trotting. Because the logistics of this trip/move make my head spin. Don’t worry though, we’re doing our research and preparing as much as we can and striving to continue, as we always have, to make our plans with an open hand.

An Absence of Moose

If you know Fred, you know he loves moose. And if you haven’t been to Kodiak, you may think that one reason he loves it here is our Alaska moose. But alas, you would be mistaken. Because Kodiak. Has. No moose. None.

There are lots of moose on the mainland, we see them on most of our visits. Several on our trip up, several when I’d go to Anchorage for OB training, and some on subsequent visits. It makes trips to rest of the state a novelty!

Kodiak has Sitka Blacktail Deer, super cute little things compared to the graceful deer I grew up with. They weigh around 60 pounds full grown, standing about waist high on Fred.

See, they’re so little! Further out on the island we have reindeer, now wild but originally brought for an attempt at a domesticated herd. Afognak, an island just off Kodiak in the same archipelago, has elk. There’s a ranch out the road with a bison herd that free roams and there are wild horses, also remnants of domestic herds. There are Dall sheep and mountain goats, ermine and foxes (Russian transplants for fur trapping). Lots of cool wildlife, so come anyway!

Of Ash and Humpies

Much of Kodiak’s soil and beaches are kept fertile and beautiful by a layer of volcanic ash. The 1912 Katmai eruption buried Kodiak under a layer of ash, which is still a problem for car’s paint jobs, but it adds to the overall loveliness of the island. Similar to the eruption of Mount Saint Helens, the initial destruction paved the way for new life to follow.

We see that pattern in large and small ways throughout the world. Bacteria and funghi feed on dead plants, adding nutrients to the soil, which feeds other plants, and the cycle continues. Or take the salmon spawning cycle (because it is happening right now). Salmon eggs hatch, the babies swim downstream to the ocean and spend most of their lives eating and growing in open water, then return to their spawning grounds to lay their eggs and die. The streams fill with fish that are rotting, yet alive. And the stream beds and beaches are lined with their corpses.

Living to die, dying to give new life. Feeding the bears, eagles, seagulls, and many other animals in their last journey. It’s a good picture of our lives as Christians, isn’t it? Or at least of what we are called to be. To be like a volcano, spewing forth the fertile soil that will bear fruit in later years (or is that too much of a stretch as an example?). To be like a salmon, recognizing that to live is to die, letting your life sustain those around you.

Actually, don’t look at those examples too closely, because there are many holes if you try to make it fit too closely, but the gist works. Live to die, die to live, don’t be afraid to take a final journey. Isn’t that what it means to take up your cross? It means that we are acknowledging our status as walking dead men. It frees us to give our all, to live generous, daring lives in righteousness and truth because we know the end is coming. And we know Who writes the end.


We love having company! This summer we’ve had a few friends and family come through and have greatly enjoyed the time catching up, exploring, taking pictures. Here are a few pictures from the last few weeks. Or a lot. Brace yourselves!

We found theses bees sleeping while we were out on a walk. And we like bees!

Rex and Penny spent a few days of their grand Alaskan adventure with us, what a treat!

We went on a wheeled flight over the eastern end of the island. It was a perfectly calm evening, no turbulence at all!

Kodiak is beautiful! (This may be repeated in this post). And we appreciated Titus taking us up! (See picture below)

After a few days with Bernekings, we met Fred’s parents in Anchorage for a few days on the mainland. This is the Anchorage Rail Depot.

We rode the Alaska Railroad! To the Spencer Glacier whistle stop. It was a great day!

Outside Anchorage along the Turnagain Arm.

One of many glaciers we saw that day. This is a hanging glacier, named for the way it hangs from the top of the mountain.

The train took a side trip to Whittier on its way to the whistle stop, through the tunnel (which we now know is cool in a car and a train).

Spencer Glacier! And ice floes that have broken off of it.

Seward Sea Life Center is well worth the visit. And Seward is a pretty cute little town!

Surrounded by gorgeous mountains.

Quick stop in Homer, then back to Kodiak for the rest of their visit. Animals seen (not in the Sea Life Center) included: trumpeter swans, moose, bald eagles, belugas (!!!), sand hill cranes.

This time the mail run worked, so we got a float plane ride! On a beautiful day!

Can you see the bears?

More bears

Salmon spawning

And the some random shots that I enjoyed. Some days it rains. Some days the sun shines on everything the rain has touched and makes it glorious! Did I mention that Kodiak is beautiful?

Glorious Hope

“As it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or death.” Philippians 1:20

Shame’s shadows loom closer
threatening disaster.
It appears inescapable,
the only surety left
in my fading vision.

Traction lost for a moment,
onlookers know that I am
falling in darkness.

But the moment passes
purchase obtained
hope proved
as expected
no question

For now

as always
is glorified
will be glorified

in me

in life
in death

broken vessels
become beautiful
in His hands
Who dwells in light I can’t approach
eliminating all trace
of shadow
of shame

Glory in the midst of me.
Glory holding my hand,
keeping me from falling,
presenting me to Himself,

Copyright Jonelle Liddell 2018