Just a few things people say while on vacation with us
“Its soooo quiet out here!!!”
How did you sleep? “Oh my gosh, I slept like the dead!”
“Yeah, we were going to go check out another adventure today, but nobody wants to leave – everybody just wants to stay here and hang out by the lake. Can we take the canoes out?”
"I have never felt such peace in my life!"
We want to make a difference
True story. Mom comes with her two boys. Both boys are adults. Both are just meeting each other for the first time. The Dad of both the “boys” has passed, several years ago – which is when the story started to come out. So here is this family of adults, the 3 of them, hanging out together for the first time. Brother meeting brother. Son meeting their Dad’s other son. And Mom is paying for everything. They are doing everything they possibly can. At first, we just received a lot of questions, what was on the menu, what time was it going to be, do we have to leave during the day, things like that. After a few days, people realize they’re safe here, there’s a certain peace, a calm, a rest that they don’t know much about. Defensive walls dissolve, life stories begin to pour out. This Mom was on her last trip. Oh no, she wasn’t elderly – gosh her sons were my son’s and daughter’s age. Hmmm… I’d say she was in her mid 50’s. So why the last trip? Why was it so important for this Mom, who didn’t have a lot of resources and using every single dime she could come up with, make it a point at this time for these two boys to meet? You see, Mom was going home to hospice. She was making the final arrangements for her final care over the phone while she was here. She was expending every single ounce of strength that she had. She ate because she knew she had to, to have the strength for the day. You see, this Mom knew she had nothing to look forward to, her bucket list was only a memory of some faint dreams now. She knew that these estranged brothers were the only family they had left once her life was snuffed out by the cancer. She knew this was her last chance, her last strength, to show her son and his brother something of life that they’ve never seen or experienced before. Toward the end of her visit, she told me she didn’t expect to make it to thanksgiving. God met them.
True story. “Honey, I got a call today from somebody who is part of the film crew coming with the corporate group next month. They can’t bring as many batteries as they need on the plane, so they are going to ship them here and they needed our shipping address. What film crew? What’s going on??” Living in Alaska, we actually do get quite a few calls of people wanting to come and stay for free to put our place in their documentary, especially with the Iditarod running across our back yard. Most of these never make it to the actual film, and from the people we’ve talked to, their documentaries are very scripted. No thank you! I mean, I didn’t give anybody permission to come and film this place!! Time to make a phone call and find out what is really going on. What kind of corporate event brings a film crew? We found out. The kind of corporate event that is a healing ministry for people that have gotten themselves caught up in the destructive addiction of pornography. They bring a film crew because these events are best when kept to a group of 15-25 people and the need is so great they are filming the teaching. This way they can monitor what is actually being taught from the biblical perspective they believe is so vital to breaking free, being healed, and becoming whole. Their corporate event that was being hosted here was attended by professional baseball and football players, CEOs of extremely large corporations from other countries, people who most people would look at and say, “wow they are really successful!” This was a place for them to come, to be truly who they were, hurting people looking to get healed and be made whole. God met them.
One more? OK. True Story. Mom, adult brothers and sister, their spouses and their kids. The whole group, I think was 22 people. Like families do so much these days, grow up and move. The world is a much smaller place than it was for our parents. When I was a kid growing up in Washington state, if we drove for 2 hours – WOW!! That was going someplace! We planned, we packed food, we made sure we had oil in the car!! Nobody moved from our hometown. In fact, I was the first to move out of state – not for college – but moved out of state. Like so many families do, this family had scattered all over the lower 48 from the north (well north for the lower 48) to the south, from east to west. It had been well over four years since they had been together. Cousins had gone from little kids to teenagers! Why did they come to Alaska and why here, and why so long to see each other? Dad had a dream. He dreamed all his life of coming to Alaska some day with all of his family. Well, you know how it goes, time goes by, money is needed to be diverted to more urgent matters, travel gets more expensive, time gets shorter, kids get older, kids get married and they’re off to their own life. Parents get older. Time goes on. You see, Dad died four years ago. He never got to take that trip that he talked about, his lifelong dream to come to Alaska with all his kids. Most of them were able to make it to Dad’s funeral, but not all. Now that everyone was able to pull together their own funds, they decided it was time to honor their Dad’s wish. They all came to Alaska, everyone of them! Even Mom, Grandma as most called her. Yes, she had a walker. She certainly wasn’t as spry as she had been when she and her husband dreamed of what Alaska would be like… someday. But she made it here! The cousins from the south (as in its cold when its 70*) went swimming in our lake. Heck, I thought it was warm! They played in the yard, ran races, took the canoe out, we even took them out on the floating dock for a late night swim -sssshhhh don’t tell anybody! They grilled, they sat by the fire, even when it rained. They talked, and they laughed, and they cried, and they healed. Leaving for them was tear filled. Lifelong dream fulfilled, Dad was honored, and memories to last them for a lifetime were made. I can hear those young cousins when they have kids telling them about “that time my whole family came up to Alaska. We stayed in that place by the lake. It was so quiet! We ate sooo much food! I remember jumping in the lake and going swimming! Remember that Cousin? You got so cold! That was so funny! We need to do that again!” God met them.
People ask me, isn’t that a lot of work – oh my gosh how long does it take you to make all those beds? Its true, it is a lot of work. And yes, we generally do the amount of laundry in one year equal to what an average American household does in ten years. OH! but the lives of the people, the ministry of peace, rest and restoration. God never told me I wouldn’t need to work, he just told me to host His Spirit, He would do the rest.
When our kids grew up and grew out (yes, I miss them dearly every single day and so proud of them!) Kevin and I decided we could change our lives. But how did we want to change them? I mean what did we want our lives to look like in the next 10-20 years. We had a B&B that only worked for us in the summer, in our home in Wasilla but wanted to take it to the next level. We prayerfully began to explore some options. The decision was made that we wanted to pursue having a lodging/hospitality/ministry that would lend itself to summer AND winter. A year round opportunity for people to come and be ministered to. Sitting, quieting myself before the Lord, listening to that voice that doesn’t demand attention, I began to hear His idea of our next 10-20 years. Before we even knew about this location, He began to speak to my heart about this place being a place of restoration. A place of rest. A place where the outside world stayed out. A place that families would come, and people would experience the peace and the rest of the Holy Spirit. A place people would come to from all nations and call blessed. In fact, He called it His Outpost. And He has been true to His Word. People have been here from every nation that allows travel to other nations, well just about! People express their experience they have here using words like, restful, peaceful, I can think again, I had no idea I was that tired, great place to come and write, I just want to hang out here. Sure, it’s a lot of work. But our part is easy, its just doing laundry, making beds. God does the other part. He meets us all in whatever state of mind and life circumstance, He meets us. He meets us as we sleep, as we talk, as we encounter the fresh air, as the ducks waddle up for their free hand out of cracked corn, as the sand hill cranes cautiously walk by, as the loons do their calling, as the moose trot through, as the fish jumps in the lake and as the sun lingers and time almost stands still. He meets us. Oh, it’s not always all alter callish – in fact – it rarely is! He meets us when we laugh, when we sit out by the fire and share stories, when we appreciate the amazing rugged beauty He has created. He meets us and He changes us and gives us lifelong memories to keep! This is what this place is all about. Come as you are, encounter the One who is waiting to encounter you. He is faithful to meet you if you make yourself available.
Alaska's Heritage Lodge