Long Days…

Summer is here! The island is green, the sun sets but sits below the horizon for awhile so that it stays light forever, the days alternate between sunny and cloudy, flip flop weather and rain boot weather. This is the time of year we’ll miss most! Beautiful wildflowers, vibrant undergrowth, surprise animal sightings and bird songs everywhere, special times.

Having the daylight for most of 24 hours makes for some definite time confusion. You have to pay extra attention to the clock, because the sun will deceive you by several hours. It makes evening bonfires and hikes easier and more fun.

Summer is also transfer season, when Coast Guard friends move on. So each year we lose some friends from our circles and add new friends. This year much of our circle is dispersing, coasties and townies, over just about a calendar year.

I hate goodbyes. Passionately. But I thank God for friends special enough to make the goodbyes hard. For people we love enough to miss. They make me long for Home, an eternity of days spent in the Sonshine. But in the meantime we are enjoying the long days and time with friends while we have them!

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Mother’s Day Thought

Empty arms for many reasons:
Children, loved, who’ve run away,
Babies held briefly then taken,
Longings never brought to day.

Arms that long to hold another,
hearts that ache that love to know,
All the Father holds and comforts,
Blesses, heals from all sorrow.

Copyright Jonelle Liddell 2018

Working up to a full post

(Original post 1/16/2015, just updated the category). I am psyching myself up for a full post, thinking about what to write.  In the meantime, I’ll tell you that we are healing and doing much better in general.  We are still in Kodiak, which continues to be an adventure in different ways (which I’ll elaborate on later).  Writing continues to happen in brief spurts, the last one being in November.  So here is the poem I wrote for my mom’s heavenly birthday.  And soon (hopefully!) there will more of a life update and As a happy note to the post though, I’ll include a recent family picture!

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Birthday Thoughts

Happy Birthday, dear beloved!
How I miss you, but I see
It’s your one year celebration,
One year of eternity!

What wonders will you see today?
What heroes will you meet?
Who are the boon companions
That your heart delights to meet?

Do you have a favorite corner,
A beach where you fine rest
With the Savior who you loved most,
Him whose heart you followed best?

Maybe fruit will replace cake there,
As morsels from Life’s Tree,
With sweet sips of flowing water
Drawn straight from the Crystal Sea.

Do you party for these birthdays
Or are you busy at the gate
Where you welcome each new entrant
Fresh from shedding earthly weight?

He’s the Sun, so do you sleep there,
Between singing, stories, praise?
Or does adventure follow love
With no need to rest from grace.

How you must enjoy the lib’ries
Such a plethora of books,
The golden script of faithful saints,
The fire tested works.

Books and beaches, heav’nly music,
All the things you loved here most,
There you soul can drink without end
With the rest of Jordan’s host.

Yes, your day will be most happy,
Jesus sings the songs with you,
But we still mark the day with sadness
Until our turn to pass through.

Copyright Jonelle Liddell 2014

We’re Debt Free!!!

One of our goals since before we got married was to get debt free and stay that way. We started out in 2012 basically broke, with $106,701.24 of school loans between us. And we had several financial setbacks over the first few years. But we read Dave Ramsey’s baby steps and started on them. The $1,000 starter emergency fund was the easy part.

Step two, snowballing your loans, took what felt like forever. The idea is, you pick your smallest loan and put all your extra money into that loan. Once it’s paid off, the extra money goes to the next smallest, and so on. We adapted this step because Fred wanted our private loans gone first. We worked hard and paid off our last loan in October, 2017! Talk about a weight lifted!

Next step, a three to six month emergency fund. We made it, last week! Here is where we are branching off from the baby steps, because we are hoping to move back to the lower 48 early next year, unless doors open sooner. And moving off island is very expensive. So our next step is saving $10-15,000 for moving. Hopefully it will be cheaper than we are anticipating, but having surplus money at the end would be fine with us.

Next steps are in God’s hands; we have thought that we were close to leaving before and have felt His leading to wait. But for now we are preparing as if we are leaving Kodiak fairly soon, excited to be closer to our families and our other homes, already missing much about being here. And loving being debt free!!!

Chiniak Weekend

There is a missionary family that owns a dry cabin in Chiniak, one of the two villages on the road system. They make the cabin available to people from the church to use; the usage fee is doing a maintenance project while you are there. This past weekend a group of young adults went out to cabin. And it was wonderful.

First, the rainy, cloudy weather of the last long time, broke Friday afternoon. So we arrived in the evening to the above scene, across the road from the cabin. And it got better!

We hung out on the beach, by the bonfire, for the evening. Slept in the cabin, some in beds, some on sleeping pads, one on the couch. Saturday morning Fred left early to go to work for the day and I didn’t fall back asleep. So Alanna and I went for a sunrise walk on the beach, while we waited for everyone else to wake up.

That walk alone was worth the whole trip (there were many of those moments, it was a great weekend).

We watched the colors around us shift with the rising sun, listened to the waves wash the shore, caught up on life. I felt refreshed and energized and so appreciative of the family that God has given us in Kodiak.

Both Fred and I have dear family by blood and dear family in the communities we grew up in. Our time at George Fox added more family, and in over six years here we have added more. So many dear ones, scattered around the globe, who hold our hearts, who have given us foretastes of heaven.

The day got better as more people woke up, as the fellowship extended. Work was good, conversation around work was good, lunch on the beach after work was good.

The sun was glorious, reading and visiting on the beach surrounded by people we love was wonderful. Most of the group left in the afternoon, leaving five of us (until Fred got back from work) who stayed until midday Sunday.

We went for drive, looking for a perfect spot to hang out in hammocks, then realized that the back of the cabin lot was probably the ideal place. So we got a fun ride in the sun and then had a restful session of reading/napping on the edge of the forest in the sunlight.

Fred brought pizza for dinner, followed by a rousing game of Bang, then a solid night of sleep. Sunday morning we had church together after breakfast and a last cabin cleanup. We sang, read Ephesians, prayed. Then drove back for needed showers and our regular Sunday afternoon potluck.

By Sunday evening we were exhausted, but what a good exhaustion! Soaking up sunshine, working hard, worshipping hard, loving each other, my heart is full. These times are my favorite, wherever they happen, with whichever part of my family, my spirit swells and sings, as we sang together, “Then sings my soul, My Savior God to Thee, How great Thou art! How great Thou art!”

Becoming a sweater

Yarn, especially if it has cool textures and pretty colors, is a happy thing! Friends taught me how to crochet as a kid and I still enjoy that craft, but since moving to Kodiak I have added knitting to my repertoire and have been slowly expanding my knowledge base. So starting with socks, blankets, hats, fingerless gloves, and most recently sweaters. This is my third sweater and the second time using this pattern, with minor adjustment.

The first step was picking out my yarn. I went to The Rookery, a locally owned fiber shop, and found the perfect colors.

Next I turned the hanks of yarn into balls. Here I was experimenting with winding the balls over a knitting needle. Usually I start it on my hand, which I have now decided is easier.

The pattern come from Ravelry, for a Pixelated Pullover. You can google the name and see the variations of the pattern that other people have tried. This sweater is worked from the neck down, with no seam. Here I’ve just started, this is the back of the neck.

Crystal is fascinated! Once the full neck is formed you work in the round until you reach the level of the underarm.

Here you can see the cap sleeve shaping and the shoulder seam (formed by working right and left leaning increases). The color work chart is behind it. Also, note the delicious mug of coffee, vitally important for any satisfying knitting sessions.

I forgot about taking pictures for a little while, and a week meant a lot of progress! Basically, I knit in the round to the level of the underarms and then threaded the stitches that would become the sleeve onto some waste yarn (that’s what the bright pink tails are for). Then I cast on a few stitches for make up the underarm part of the seam and continued knitting in the round. Eventually the body of the sweater was long enough, so I knit the ribbing and bound off. You can see the result further down.

Once the sweater body was done, I put the stitches being held on waste yarn back onto needles. But since the sleeves are smaller than the body, I used double pointed needles. They were easier to manipulate than the circular needles for that diameter project. Then I picked up the underarm stitches and knit in the round again, periodically decreasing until the sleeve was the right length. Last time that meant adding ribbing and binding off, but this time I wanted thumb holes. Which means a little more wrangling. I used my favorite fleece as a guide to when to start the holes. At that point I started working back and forth, instead of in the round, until the thumb hole was long enough. Then I worked in the round for the ribbing and bound off.

I think it turned out pretty well! So far it is odor resistant, washes well (I use cold water and hang dry it), dries quickly, and is soft. And the colors make me happy!

Of Blood and An Empty Tomb

Yesterday was my favorite holiday. I love Resurrection Day. Christmas may get more hype, and the incarnation of Christ is definitely worth celebrating, but the empty tomb is the climax of the Christian calendar, the basis of our hope. And we too often relegate it to the back burner.

“There is power in the blood,”

“Are you washed in the blood,”

“The blood will never lose its power,”

“There is a fountain filled with blood,”

All year we sing these and other songs celebrating Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary and the redemption it accomplished. The events of Good Friday are rejoiced in frequently. And they should be. “We preach Christ crucified,” Paul said. Calvary matters. But God’s drama was not finished at Calvary. Christ had finished the sacrifice, yes, but there were more wonders to come.

“If Christ has not been raised, we are of all men to be most pitied.” Christ died as a perfect sacrifice, so now we can boldly approach the throne of grace. But more than that, joy of joys, He was raised the third day, so we can be sure that we also will rise! “He arose a victor from the dark domain” and now “He lives within my heart!” This is worth celebrating all year! Why don’t we? Can we? Can we shift from the folly that says we can only sing of Christ’s coming in December and we can only sing of His conquering death on one day in spring, and instead proclaim the whole gospel always?

“Over and over like a trumpet underground did the earth seem to pound ‘He is risen’!” Amen!