Surprises in the Woods

My husband and I moved our family an hour out of town to a remote mountain area about 3 years ago, after owning the land for several years prior to that. We decided there would never be a "perfect" time to move out and start homesteading, so we jumped in with both feet. There have been many challenges, even for two people who absolutely love and have worked towards this lifestyle their entire lives. There have even been a couple of moments that those challenges became so great I remember us sitting looking at each other in despair and contemplating failure and the option of returning to town. That only lasted for a moment, as neither one of us are willing to accept throwing in the towel on something we have put so much blood, sweat, and tears into. We have learned many lessons out here. We have also learned how to make do with much less than what we had previously had. Before we moved out, we had a brand new 4 bedroom, 3 car garage home in the most beautiful subdivision in Palmer, Alaska. But it didn't mean much to us because we were not thriving and happy, rather, we were suffocating in the rat race and trying to exist somewhere where everyone lives on top of each other. Probably one of the most disturbing things to me was the unfamiliar and upsetting feeling starting to rear its ugly head from deep in my heart of "keeping up with the Jones". Not because we felt we wanted to, but because children grow up watching other people's kids and wonder and ask about why they don't have everything "their" kids have. You feel like you are failing them as a parent when the next door neighbors are buying their kids something new and amazing every week, while your kids look on in wonder. I could tell a few stories about all this, but I digress. Needless to say, it was a pivotal moment for us in deciding to sell it all and get the heck out of "Stepford". I will eventually share the details and all the stories involved from that moment forward, but for today, my post is about something I realized yesterday.

When we first moved out, we didn't know anyone in this area. I knew up the road there is a place called Victory Bible Camp. I knew that they hosted various church camp meetings, youth events, etc. But other than that, we simply moved because we had a beautiful 45 acre parcel of land with a one-bedroom, unfinished cabin that had a well and a septic system. (however rough or old it was, it was functioning... for now). We also felt strongly we just wanted to wrap the mountains around us and shut the world out at the time. We were so tired of having neighbors and being around people. My husband worked in EMS and I worked in social work and we were mentally and socially exhausted and burned out. We just wanted to plant gardens, keep chickens and farm animals, and raise our children in the beauty and solitude of God's beautiful nature. Many times, however, I asked God during prayer, "Lord, I really still feel like you have a mission for me, but now how will I be able to do much out here in the woods so far from anyone or anything? Was I being selfish and not being willing to do the work you have still in town? But what about protecting our children from this crazy world and raising them in a better environment?" The arguments and worries were always tumbling around in my head like a sumo wrestling match. I continued to pray God would fulfill the mission that I felt He had for me and my family.

Over the last three years, there have been many wonderful unexpected surprises. I think the word they use for it is serendipity. We discovered that this stretch of highway, which spans roughly 300 miles from Palmer to Valdez, has THE most amazing group of neighbors and friends living up and down it. They have families and jobs similar to ours. They all have the same independent, feisty respect for privacy that we have, but they also share the same passion for getting involved in our community. We also discovered two very beautiful little churches in our "neighborhood". They are each about 25 miles in opposite directions from us. Just precious pastors and their wives and all of the great folks from around here come out of the woods for church, Sunday school, youth group, etc. In addition to this, much to our surprise, we also discovered that there are two small plane Christian missions non-profit organizations that are out here. One is Kingdom Air Corps. The other is Eaglecrest Alaska Missions. Kingdom Air Corps. trains missionaries to become small plane pilots so that they may fly to every corner of the world for the work they are called to do! They also fly up supplies and missionaries to rural villages and host an annual youth camp meeting in the Brooks Range here in Alaska. They literally FLY ALL the youth and staff in from villages that have no roads. This is one of the most important events in the lives of the youth who live in those areas!! Eaglecrest Alaska Missions hosts large groups of youth from the lower 48 states all summer (one group of an average of 25 kids per week). The youth raise funds for their tickets to come up to Alaska, and then they participate in community service for the needy and elderly. Many times this is labor demanding work such as cutting, splitting, and stacking firewood for folks who can't physically do the work anymore but can't afford to buy the wood directly to heat their homes all winter. They get to experience Alaska in a really unique and special way.

So, long story short. The reason I am writing this post today, is because I was standing in my bathroom last night, getting ready to go play music at Eaglecrest Alaska Missions for one of their weekly youth barbecues. I was invited by the music leader at Sutton Bible Church to join him and a few other musicians in playing there. He is one of the most humble and amazing people I have ever met. Excellent musician. I stood there in my bathroom contemplating in awe how much God knew when I didn't see any of this. He knew that moving out here wasn't just moving our family out to no man's land. He was planting us exactly and perfectly where we should be for this time in our life. Because of our strategic location (which only God could have planned so perfectly), we are smack in the middle of all of this amazing Christian work going on. We are pretty shy and it has taken us a few years to come out of the woods and get to meet people and get involved at all, but I am so excited about what God has planned. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to roll up my sleeves spiritually and offer our help to them all in whatever ways they need extra assistance to further the truth and love of God. It makes me so excited to be reminded once again about the perfect timing and plans of God. Don't ever doubt if He is strategically planning your future. He is. It may seem like you are going in the total opposite direction of where you think you should be. It may look NOTHING like what you THINK it should look like. You may even question if you failed in following the voice of God. But be encouraged, God knows EXACTLY each step of the way and where you should be at this moment in your life. Cling to Him and trust Him. He will lead you where you need to go and fulfill every calling in your life.

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