Meanwhile, in Alaska…

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Lyle (my wild child pilot) and I, taking off for Port Alsworth.

I rode my boss’ fat tire bike down the airplane runway Wednesday and laughed to myself as my new neighbors passed me in their planes. Every one who sees me in the village glances at me with their heads cocked to the side while clearly thinking, She’s not from around here…

It makes sense.

The way they look at me, that is… I mean, my blue hair and the flowy hippie skirts covering my wool tights aren’t exactly the normal fare around here; but I guess I’ve never been great at “normal” anyway.

This week has reminded me that “normal” is all relative. Normal is dictated by culture, and lucky for me, I have half of a semi-useless Master’s Degree in studying culture and language.

My first week here in Alaska has been full of observation and laughter. I’ve loved keeping a running log of the hilarious and foreign things that the locals here say. But I think I love watching them re-experience their culture through my fresh eyes even more. We become so used to our “normal” that we forget to laugh at how incredulous our lives are sometimes. We all do it… it’s not just those living in rain forests or remote villages.

A few of my favorite quotes from the week?

  • “Well, I keep a 45 under our mattress and we took the screen out of the window just in case I see a moose or a bear in the backyard.” –Megan, a fellow TLC employee
  • “The smaller the grizzly, the better it’s gonna taste. Also, make sure you get a berry fed bear; the fish fed ones smell kinda funny…” –Steve, a new friend and local pilot
  • “So, in about a week you’ll want to stop by the veterinarian’s house, if she’s in town. She can take your stitches out.” –Wayne, the random Minnesotan ear, nose, and throat doctor that we roped into stitching my finger back together after I sliced it open working in my kitchen. (Nope, I couldn’t even do anything cool to necessitate stitches on my third day here.) But poor Wayne… He doesn’t even live here; he was just visiting for the week and was the closest sucker with a medical degree when I sliced my finger. (Mind you, the veterinarian quote was said about 5 minutes after he made an Uhhhh…uh oh noise before nervously laughing and saying, “Do over!” while re-threading a suture through my finger and asking me to assist him.) It’s always an adventure around here, I suppose…

This new normal is an adjustment, but it is far more of a gift than a burden. Yes, getting used to my severely rationed internet and sketchy phone service going out during rain/sleet storms has taken some getting used to. And yes, carrying bear mace in the pocket of my Mountain Smith makes me a little uneasy at times… Oh, and trying to find recipes for the tongue and leg of the moose that I butchered yesterday is an odd challenge. But I couldn’t feel more blessed to live in this beautiful place, and I know 100% that this is exactly where I’m supposed to be right now.

I am meant to be here, “off the road system”, figuring out what to do with bear meat—just in case the guys bring one home from their hunting trip. (How often do you get to write that sentence?)

But in all seriousness, I am just here, in the wilderness, preparing for the group of girls I will disciple and live with. This time feels like the calm before the storm (because it is) but it’s been nice to take some time and learn my way around the village by bicycle.

This week has has been full of simple pleasures like bike rides, learning to order everyday items like lotion and Qtips off of Amazon Prime (thank you Jesus for free shipping!), eating dinner with the sweet families of Port Alsworth, and stealing away for quiet mornings with Jesus in my hidden attic loft.

As I sit in my loft on the chilly days or in my hammock on Lake Clark when the sun is out, I can’t help but feel a little bit like I’ve moved to paradise. I mean, the scenery on my flight into the village on Tuesday brought me to tears at the Goodness of God. (That could have also been a reaction based in extreme sleep deprivation too… But I’m gonna go with the fact that it was a Jesus thing.) But no matter how many times I look at the snow capped mountains around me, I am constantly reminded that this is not paradise. No, it’s beautiful, but it’s not paradise because it is not completely saturated with Jesus.

Not yet, at least.

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Lake Clark and Mount Tanalian looking absolutely stunning

The breathtaking beauty around me (that I could easily mistake as the “main event” here) is meant to stir a longing in my heart for the one who created it all. I should long for His coming; I should long for His presence in the same way that I long to run down every dirt path in town. I should long for people to know Him and experience how truly lovely He is.

And so today, that is where I am trying to reside—in longing and anticipation of His great story.

I’m in excited anticipation for the day when these mountains resound with the sound of the Native Alaskan people (and the rest of the world) singing His praises. I look forward to the day when my Denver Street School and Park Church and biological and Scum of the Earth and Port Alsworth families will sing of the goodness of God for what He did on the cross. And by-George, we will be together and not separated by 2,500+ miles.

Until then, I’ll be singing worship songs, canning moose, and preparing to love the beautiful kiddos He has brought me here to do life with.

(P.S. My students will be arriving in Port Alsworth on October 5th! I would really appreciate prayers for them and our team as we all prepare to come together for the school year! In the words of United Pursuit band, “It’s gonna be wild; it’s gonna be good; it’s gonna be full of Him!”)

“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, and not by sight. 

For if we are out of our minds, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for You. For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that One has died for all, therefore all have died; and He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised.”

(2 Corinthians 5:1-7, 13-15)

(P.S.S. If you’re interested in learning more about my work here at the Tanalian Leadership Center or about how you can join my team through prayer or finances, click here.)

All of my Alaskan love,

Kacy Lou

Oh Lord, when I wander…

Bindmywanderingheart

The trouble with being a wanderer is that you weren’t created to sit still. You were created for climbing mountains, trying new foods, and hurtling through meadows on horseback.

When you’re a wanderer, you always know somewhere in the back of your mind that every moment of happiness where you are, with the ones you love, is fleeting because you were created to GO.

In one regard, this knowledge makes each of these moments more precious; in another, each of these moments becomes a heartbreak. A heartbreak that this–whatever “this” is– is but a mere season of life.

For the last year and a half as I prepared for my now non-move to Texas, I was reminded of this– the specialness of every Friday night campfire with friends, every roommate breakfast on the porch, and every family dinner.

Somehow these special moments are easier to recognize and appreciate when you are the one leading the change of seasons and going to the “New”.

But what about when you are the one sending the people you love into the New while you stay in the old?

How do you deal with the goodbyes and final in-person chats when you so desperately want to Go too, yet know in the pit of your stomach that now is a season of staying and sending…not a season of new cultures, new foods, or new mountains? How do you send your fellow wanderers well?

~

I’m an emotional human being; always have been, probably always will be.

I cry out of joy when I’m happy. I cry out of frustration when I’m stressed. I cry out of panic when I’m overwhelmed. I cry out of sorrow when I’m sad. (Being such a sap isn’t exactly my favorite quality of myself, but it’s how God designed me and I’m learning to embrace it as I age.)

Monday was one of those crying days. I fell asleep crying Sunday night and woke up crying again Monday morning.

Monday was the day that Amy– my roommate and fellow wanderer, one of my best friends, my sister-in-Christ who has become like a real sister to me over the last two years– moved away in preparation for her journey to live life overseas.

This is the woman who God originally used to dupe me into somehow leaving my heart in countries that I have never visited; the one who I so lovingly say “ruined my life” by dragging me to Perspectives where God broke my heart for the Nations.

And now, after what seems like a long wait (but what has really only been about a year) God is moving her overseas to do His work for the next eight months.

I’m overjoyed for her, really I am. Yet I am so incredibly heartbroken for myself and my community as we essentially mourn the temporary loss of a sister, a roommate, a gospel community leader, and a dear friend.

I admit, the wanderer in me is jealous. Jealous of her leaving. Jealous that she is the one moving into the New. Jealous that this season of her life is becoming what the two of us have prayed about for so long.

I am overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by our empty white bedroom. Overwhelmed by the barrage of emotions that we so intentionally put off until the moment it was time for her to pack her truck and move away. (Literally, the last moment. We suck at goodbyes.) I am overwhelmed by my selfishness in that I want to keep her forever and not share her with the Nations, even though I say that “I would give up everything” if they only could come to know Christ. Hmmph.

I am sad. Sad that I don’t have my sister-girl to giggle with at night before we go to sleep. Sad that I perfectly quoted a line from Bad NFL lip reading last night and no one seemed to get the hilarity of the situation. I am simply sad that this season of life is over.

As we laid in bed Sunday night before she left, I jokingly told her that when she woke up in the morning, that I would be the one who would be gone, and that she would have to deal with me leaving her. It was my faint wanderer attempt at being the one in control here. The one leaving and going into the New, not the one being left here in the old.

I long for the New. And just like my desire to control this silly situation by being the one to leave, I know that this longing and the way I continuously idolize Going and place it over God is the sickening, sinful junk in my heart coming out yet again.

I long to long for God, and God alone. But oh man, is it hard when I am one who is prone to wander, both physically and within my own heart.

So while the Yarrow Homestead and our group of friends learns how mourn and adjust to this new season of life, while I redecorate our my room, while I find other people to quote stupid Youtube videos back and forth with, I am left with these questions:

Do I trust that God has given me this urge to Go for a reason?

Do I trust God with the life of my wonderful sister-girl, even when we can’t talk about the highlights and struggles of our days each evening?

Do I trust that there is purpose in this season of staying? In the weird conflicted pain of sending my loved ones away when all I want to do is Go myself?

Do I believe that God is Good, even when I don’t get what I want, when I want it?

~

“Jesus, sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood

Ode to grace, how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be
And let Thy goodness like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above”

(Come Thou Fount)