Monday, August 14, 2017

This is Denali

Going to Denali has been on my bucket list ever since I thought about coming to Alaska.
To be honest though, like many tourists and travelers, I didn't know much about Denali before I started to do some research. And even after researching it still seemed confusing. Denali is really big and I had no idea where exactly I should go, what I wanted to hike, all I knew was I wanted a great adventure.

So here's what I first want to explain to people who aren't familiar with Alaska and Denali. There's 3 things that are Denali: first of all is the National park of Denali where 90% of visitors take the train into and then get on a bus and ride in to see animals and maybe even hike around. The second part of Denali is Denali state park to which the national park is in but Denali state park is much much bigger and there are less rules and regulations. The third part of Denali is the mountain Denali or Mount Mckinley. 

So our group originally was going to do Denali national park for a whole week but instead we opted to sail for half of the week and do Denali in 3 days plus travel time. And what we found cheaper and more practical for our group is doing the bus drive to Eilson and seeing the animals at Denali national park and then coming down and the next day doing a 2 day backpacking trip up Kesugi Ridge in Denali state park.

 Denali national park is awesome and it is huge but it is definitely a tourist trap. Getting up there seems to be the most difficult part for many people as a one way train ticket from Anchorage costs about $!40. Our group was able to save tons of money by finding friends and driving four hours from Anchorage to Denali. Once you get to Denali national park there is an enormous guest center and many things you can do at the base just to learn about Denali. The coolest thing we could have done that we didn't get to do is see a Denali dog sled show. Since we were limited at time at base camp Denali we watched a quick movie on the history of Denali and looked at some Mt. Mckinley exhibits.

Their are national park busses that depart from the base or guest center at Denali at various times each day and take you up to the higher places of Denali park where no vehicles are allowed to drive. We chose (and I recommend) taking the bus as far as it will take you which is up to Eilson. Eilson is a 4 hour ride up and 4 hours down but you increase elevation quickly and have the opportunity to see lots of wildlife.

Overall we loved Denali national park but would say it is pretty expensive and might not be worth it if you only have a short time in Alaska. If you are dead set on seeing bears and caribou though it is a definite must. Here's a picture of Lauren and I in Denali as well as a bear cub we saw from the side of the bus. We saw 9 bears and 11 caribou- quite the wilderness experience!!






Thursday, August 10, 2017

Salmon and fish hooks

This is my second post about Camp Lorraine in Wrangell Alaska. From the last time I posted, the weather has improved dramatically and it has actually been sunny and warm which is nothing short of a miracle. I have gotten the opportunity of joining in with the third period fishing class and I have been learning about how to fish for halibut and salmon. We have been doing alot of fishing from the dock but some of the days we get to take the kids out in the boats.

So I have been wanting some wild Alaskan salmon all summer and dreams (especially in Alaska) really do come true! Yesterday the pastor caught not just one but 4 wild salmon and a 62 inch halibut!! We had fish, fish, and more fish. Then this morning at 6am I got the opportunity to go early morning fishing and try out the halibut hooks. We didn't have much live bait until I caught about an 11 inch cod fish. And we started using my cod for bait and were able to catch some halibut. So this has made for some very fun fishing and I am SO excited! (Pic below is not of the cod of course but of a flounder my first fish caught Wednesday morning in the Alaskan ocean)



Bad news is one of our lovely campers decided to catch a fish hook in her right foot. Thankfully I was kayaking closeby and I heard the yell and was able to rush in. The pastor was trying to keep her calm and we looked for plyers on the dock but could not find any. The hook was pretty deep in and there was no way to simply pull it out so we decided we would have to cut and pull through. Together we carried her back to shore and performed a little operation in my nursing room. We just pulled off those sleeping bags where I slept covered it with some trash bags and sterile gauze and were good to go. The hook was tough to get out but with the help of James the boat driver we got it out successfully and were able to clean her up. As sad as it was to see the girl in pain, it definitely made me eager to get into an ER and start getting some legit nursing experience. So I have been applying for jobs and really just praying that God would lead where he pleases.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Camp Lorraine

They say that if I look North I'm looking straight up to Canada. Sometimes the cruise boats steer on through and occasionally we'll see a beluga from the shore or canoe. I do love the ocean as it waves familiarity from my home town near the Gulf of Mexico. Yet in contrast to the warmth and humidity, Wrangell Alaska is a cold, dreary, rainy world- beautiful but chilly.

It's my third day here at Camp Lorraine and it's been far and oddly too quiet. It's camp meeting and we have a whopping 25 guests including 5 children who we are entertaining with a kids program. I've already spent over ten hours up in the arts and crafts room mostly working on dream catchers but I did paint a picture or two. I love art without limits and that's what I find at the art club house on the third story of our lodge. With big windows overlooking great ocean views there are buckets of unlimited craft supplies, beads, glitters, and feathers. I love the no expectations, and no rules therapeutic art it creates. Painting and art has always  been the thing that I can do whatever I want with. I love being able to make messes and go crazy. To put my emotions and colors out on paper. With art, you can be out there and it's ok. It's never too much, or overdone, the more different it is the better. Sometimes my creations turn out descent or good but 90% of the time they are just meaningless expressions and that is totally ok with me. It's more about the process, more about the feelings, then it is about the masterpiece. I find myself in the messy art where I let myself go free.

Now that we are here we have only a week of camp left and most of our motivation is severely lacking. It's hard because the quiet and slow reality that camp is near over and we are tired has definitely invaded the camp. People are starting to think about normal jobs and what life after camp will mean.

Transitioning from Palmer camp meeting where I was constantly kayaking, hiking mountains, and even flying- living up the adventurous life is slightly sad and a bit mundane. This will probably be my last summer in Alaska- not because I don't love the wild up here but because I'm getting too old for summer camp and I'm not sure if I could survive the winter down here.Although it's beautiful at Alaska camps, I have way too much time to think. Lack of cellphone service and wifi will do that to you I guess. (I kayaked to cellphone point today so I could blog and call home for a little bit).


At this camp I will be teaching circus class and waterfront as well as of course camp nurse. Camp nurse hasn't been too exciting lately but I've given out a lot of Dayquil, Ibeprofin, and cough drops. I saw a spider bite, some seizures, and a broken finger, some hypothermic kids- and that's about it. Sometimes I feel like I'm just playing camp nurse instead of an actual nurse. I'm excited to practice and develop more nursing skills in the future.

Monday, July 24, 2017

WILD ALASKA

I have literally had the most amazing week adventuring in Alaska. This week I have received my first flying lesson over glaciers and mountains, kayaked in between glacier ice bergs, gotten very close to a momma and baby moose, learned to shoot a gun for the first time, and hiked the Beaut.

If you have never been to Alaska let me just tell you this.. GO. If you like adventure, GO. If you like outdoorsy people, GO. If you want to see wildlife, GO. You will find mountains just waiting for you, bears hiding out from you, moose that you don't want to close to you, you will find the last frontier and it is beautiful!

I have spent three weeks here so far this summer traveling mostly in Anchorage, Palmer- Wasilla area, and spending two weeks in the small fishing town of Dillingham. Here are some pictures I want to share with you from some of my favorite times.

This is my amazing friend Krissy. I have had the privilege of staying with her this week in Palmer and she has been showing me Alaska and her fun. Her dad is a pilot with his own plane and these first pictures show our trip up to a glacier only accessible by plane- Knik Glacier. Flying in a small plane was such a cool experience.


 And here are some pictures of Knik Glacier: the most beautiful glacier I have ever seen. We were fortunate enough to discover some kayaks just waiting for us on the edge and were able to actually kayak in between the icebergs. It was literally one of the most amazing experiences ever trying to follow the mazes in between the ice bergs.



I also saw this other glacier called Matanuska Glacier. The entrance fee is normally $30 and this glacier has alot more tourist activity. It is pretty beautiful but a little less clean and white looking. It is massive though. Most of the people visiting were wearing snow gear and had ice picks or fancy year but our summer camp group came in chacos and smiles. We conquered that glacier and had a few minor falls too. Here are some pictures.


The people down here are trying to convince me to move down here and work as an RN and honestly they are doing a pretty amazing job. It is so BEAUTIFUL and WILD. Internet service is mostly non existent so there is much more I can't wait to post but I will have to tell more stories when I get back.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Why I Can't Wait To Quit Media

I have always prided myself in my non-attatchment to media whether that be cellphones, dvds, Netflix, facebook, snapchat, or insta. Yet I must confess that the past three weeks have been saturated with Facebook and Insta, Netflix, and my cellphone- and that they have been some of the most distracted, unproductive, and un-Christlike weeks I have spent in a while.

There are countless reasons why social media is dangerous to our culture, relationships, and productivity but even more so I believe when we claim to be Christians. I want to share with you some of my top reasons why I have decided to take a break from social media and I hope you will honestly evaluate these reasons and see if you may need to take a break as well.

For me, going to Alaska camps- a place where there is hardly any cell phone reception- makes it totally easy to give up media for a summer. But even if you are not going off somewhere far away, you can still go on a camping trip, or even spiritual retreat and spend some time investing in God and self discovery.

Ok here goes... and please understand I enjoy some time on Facebook or insta once in a while. So I'm not judging you if you love it...But I have done some studying and even personally realized that it's dangerous to my walk with God..

1. Social media breeds comparison and comparison is the thief of all joy. Galations 6:4-5 says we must examine our own actions so that we we can be proud of our own accomplishments without comparing ourselves to others. Even when we don't think we are comparing.. as we scroll through framed and editted pictures of our friends and see all the fun things that are going on in their lives- it becomes so easy to think oh I"m not pretty like that or oh my life isn't as fun as theirs.. or maybe even wow I am way better than that- I can't believe she writes that. In fact statistics show that people who use the media are way more likely to become depressed or suffer from anxiety- things our society has way too much of!

2. Social media is a distraction from a productive, life of service. How can we be focused serving God if we are constantly glimpsing at our cellphone as we get notifications during the day? I was reading research that giving in to distractions during the day can actually decrease our mental ability to focus. Even if we say we only spend 30 minutes on social media per day (insta, snap chat, and FB combined) which let me congratulate you this would be a great accomplishment... let me ask you how much time you are spending with Jesus per day?? Ouch- even if you are spending 30 minutes with Jesus per day- filling yourself with His word, if you are spending 30 minutes a day on social media you have just spent 30 minutes a day digesting trash, lies, and advertisements. What if you spent that hour with Jesus every day?

3. Social media justifies bragging. Since when did it become normal to list our accomplishments and literally just rub it in other's faces? Or what about selfie pics with Bible verses haha those are some of my favorites ;) Even instagram, which in the beginning I thought was so much better, because at least it's just pictures right? But instagram is all about your image, all about your wall. and I know so many people that will spend the hours getting and editting the perfect picture for their wall. It just seems like the more you are on their, the more you start caring about the wrong things- not to mention creating an image of yourself that is NOT real.

I know quitting social media is hard. But for me social media tempts me to lust after guys, compare my body to other girls, and waste time on the internet, ignoring the family members I have right in front of me. When I go on media more often, I began to feel less valued, more depressed, and eventually- if I am not posting something cool- more lonely. For me as an individual who struggles finding time for personal worship, I know that God is asking me to take breaks from social media in order to have more time to spend with Him and in the immediate environment around me. Social media is a hard topic and if you have any thoughts/ input feel free to let me know.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Authenticity

Tonight I went to a Christian concert on the Riverwalk starring Jason Gray and Jayson Reed. I loved the concert and it was a beautiful evening. One thing that really touched me though was both of these song writers' honesty. Jayson and Reed were singing about their marriage and personal struggles as Jason Gray shared about his painful divorce and his struggle with family illness.

If I think about it though, most song writers get a little personal. The way to a top hit- at least in the Christian music world- is a vulnerable song, something that people actually struggle with. It's not just a song that says "it's so easy, I just want to smile, going to church, and sitting for a while..." LOL
No it's more like a song that says Everyone thinks I live this way but behind the door my family is broken and everything is going wrong... People just latch onto those emotional, honest, and authentic songs. Because that is life- it's real- it's good and it's bad, painful, emotional, and everything in between. And being a Christian doesn't change that. It's still a roller coaster, still a ride, and I think that's what the church doesn't always emphasize enough.

I value authenticity so much in people- yet at times it doesn't come easily packaged. Like for me in the past three years I have become so much more authentic but sometimes the real Brooke isn't graceful, or isn't put together, or easy to preach about. Authenticity is so hard! And when you get rejected when you are being so real- it hurts so deeply.

Yet I got to say there are some people that are a little too authentic. People who don't think positive thoughts and who just can't seem to shut their mouths at the right time. They say something from their head and everybody just looks down in shame.

There has to be some kind of balance right. I don't believe we should just start telling our problems and confessing our sins to everyone we meet.

For me I'm searching for that balance- looking to the life of Jesus- to find a man that is not just brave, not just honest, but also compassionate- a guy that has grace when he speaks- and speaks the right words at the right time. It's authenticity- Jesus was authentic- but it's authentic love and it's authentically good. That's the kind of authentic Jesus we all could use a little more of ;)

rantings

Have you ever felt like you were doing so good in moving on from a certain challenge or temptation, just to be exposed to one person or thing that immediately brings back all feelings from the past- and let's be real the whole enchilada of emotions.

For me, I feel like I have changed SO much as an individual since I came to know Jesus. And the cool thing about God is if we ask Him to change us- He is constantly showing us things we don't even know about ourselves and ways we can grow.

My walk with God has definitely gone through different stages but I would say that the a large portion of my time as a believer was spent in the "nice zone". This "nice zone" is a very obligatory time full of expectations, accomplishments, and rule following. For me I found comfort in this label of "nice Christian" and it began to take over my identity. If you asked most of the people around me to describe me in one word most of them would probably say NICE.

I have to imagine that Jesus too often got this nice label after all I believe Jesus is probably one of the nicest people you will ever meet. And I really believe that the majority of us Christians striving to be like God have gotten this nice factor at some time or another and felt a little constrained by it.

For me personally, I genuinely strive to be a nice person but beyond that I strive to be loving. And God says that when we are following Him we should have the fruits of the Spirit and one of those fruits kindness I believe is a synonym of niceness. It's definitely a trait Christians should have. Through kindness and niceness I believe we can represent Christ's kindness and love for us.

Yet at times it seems people easily take advantage of niceness. And yes you may say people took advantage of Jesus too. And I totally agree. But Jesus wasn't a push over, he didn't please everyone all the time... As a nice person, I have noticed that I will easily attract not as nice people who enjoy my niceness to them.

The principle makes sense because if you have someone that is selfish and constantly needs someone to meet their needs, that individual (person 1) will look for someone who is giving or kind to be their friend. This makes sense because person number 1 is broken and is looking for someone to fix them, give to them, help them, encourage them. They may attract brokenness but will not be able to stand someone just like them who is also selfish because they can not form a relationship. Thus person 2 the kind person is constantly getting offers from persons from category number 1. And this person 2 genuinely wants to help person 1.

For me though as a nice child, and even teenager, I spent alot of time reaching out to person 1's- specifically one individual. I catered to her needs, played third wheel when she had a boyfriend, and bent over backwards to be her best friend. But in return, I wasn't emotionally receiving as much as I was giving. The more time I spent with this individual, the more I came to believe myself as a passive, weak, kind, servant type of person- who wasn't as capable as her as making friends or looking nice or speaking for myself. As a young girl, this individual wounded me deeply by constantly comparing herself to me and unconsciously teaching me that my identity was found in being nice, being quiet, and that I had to perform in order to get attention. This person 1 did not mean to hurt me, but she took away my self-esteem and sense of identity and freedom. When I hung out with her, I felt unworthy, uncapable, and silenced. It was a deep wound. And I know we all have wounds from people or relationships in the past that hurt us.

I praise God though- the Lord of healing- because He is constantly offering us to heal our wounds and for me when I spent a year in Peru He changed so much about me including the way I viewed myself and even my job as a Christian God follower. I learned that while God wants us to be kind to one another, God does not desire us to be a leech in negative relationships, or to be taken advantage of to the point where we are broken. I have spent the last three years rediscovering so much of who I am in God's eyes and developing a truly authentic relationship that isn't based on what I do or do not, or what I say, or even how kind I am to others but is based on a King in Heaven and a daughter in love with her God.

The interesting though as I mentioned in the beginning is as God is healing our wounds there will be things or people that bring them up again and threaten to throw back in our faces where we came from. I recently spent some time with the individual number one I described to you and it was REALLY DIFFICULT. It is hard not to become bitter especially when we realize the full effects of how a person changed our lives forever. And then they have those old expectations of you.. back when you were a different person. Man I don't have all the answers, it is hard following God and being transformed by His love and into a person like Him- while at the same time staying emotionally and spiritually healthy as an individual.