Northern Exposure (Homeward and Alaska Bound)

Blogger totally fritzed out on me last night and is always rather a nuisance to me, so I decided to give this blogging site a try and I like it. Here is a link to the photo album that goes along with this blog update I was able to move my whole blog over from blogger so it’s all available here! YAY!

I just have not been able to muster up an interest in my blog at all this year. It’s crazy. I will start to write about something, and then soon realize I can’t make myself care about that topic at all. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I just couldn’t find a motivating thing to write about even though I have really come to love writing out my thoughts. I REALLY, REALLY wanted to get to it this week.

I was discussing my dilemma with my friend, Tanika, over lunch today, and she said, “Why don’t you write about your trip to Alaska?” Well, that was it. I do have a few thoughts about my trip I would like for my kids to remember, and so, in an instant, I had my motivation.

Late last fall my friend Cheryl Wolfinger who runs a missions organization began asking me to go to the artic tundra city of Nome, Alaska to minister to a precious group of people there who have a great need for some hope in this world, that, of course, I believe is found only in Jesus Christ. The more I heard about these people, the more of a burden I carried for them. Because the people I hope to reach out to probably have internet, I want to be SUPER protective about what I say regarding their struggles, but of course since we are making this trip to establish relationships, there is work to be done up there. I guess I can say because it is commonly known that in Alaska,  alcoholism, suicide and child abuse are at the highest rates of anywhere in the world. Anyone who knows me knows the cold and I are not friends. Definitely NOT friends. Yet, I truly love these native Alaskans for a reason I can’t explain, and I don’t even know them.

The next thing  I know, Stephen and I are sitting across from Cheryl early last spring to discuss the possibility of a missions trip to both Nome and Savoonga, Alaska in August. Nome is on the west coast of Alaska on the Bering Sea and Savoonga is on St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Strait closer to Russia. It involves long flights on very small planes to extremely remote locations with no medical facilities to speak of, even potentially a bush flight, and completely different challenges and opportunities than I have ever experienced, but it seemed like a good possibility that we were going. I was so excited I could hardly stand it.

Then in an instant our world got flipped turned upside down when Stephen had a major, major blowout of his knee during a church softball game in April, followed by a major knee surgery with loads of physical therapy and very restricted mobility for 3 straight months. Plus, the work project he is on is very demanding right now and he had already lost a lot of time do to his knee issues. It is also a very expensive trip and will cost our family in more ways than just financial. As much as I wanted to go and see these people I carry such a burden for with my whole heart, I decided it was best to surrender the trip to the Lord and let Him work out the details.

I knew I didn’t want it on my conscience that I had manipulated this trip into being. I wanted this to be something Stephen and I agreed on and did together, and I wanted to see God’s hand in working out the financial, health, and work related issues to release us to go. I was tempted to stress the details when Stephen was struggling so hard with his leg, or when work seemed to be putting pressure on him, but I surrendered that stress to the Lord again and again and chose instead to trust.

6 or 7 weeks after Stephen’s surgery he began to get back on his feet again and with the help of his newest high tech leg brace, life is beginning to return to something that resembles normal again. Then work released Stephen  at the end of last week to take “vacation time”. We discussed it, and Stephen was a bit nervous, but still on board with taking the trip even though I repeatedly told him we didn’t have to if he didn’t feel ready. Even though I had really given the trip completely up just a few days before, Sunday night we ordered our airline tickets to leave just 7 days later. Now my head is swirling and whirling with all of the things that need to get done before we head out less than 4 days from now, the morning of Sunday, August 5th. We will spend 10 days away from home and return on the 15th of August.

All along I have tried to keep my children involved in this process. For starters they have saved some hard earned money from their chores to donate toward things we may need to purchase for the Alaskans while we are there. I also had them praying with us for the details to be worked out, and I now I have asked them to pray for us as we prepare to leave.

The kids all understand that someone needs to go up there and they understand that Jesus tells Christians to go and serve and love others so they can understand His love for them, but they are struggling with letting me go for so long. On one hand, that makes it very hard on me. I already struggle constantly against feeling guilty about everything, and now to leave them for what people in this area consider a potentially dangerous or at least very “unnecessarily” uncomfortable and costly trip. . . I can get sucked up into thinking I am doing the wrong thing by my children.

However, I have to remind them (and also myself at times) that God has made it clear to me that this is a trip He wants Stephen and I to take. I ask them how I can expect them to grow up and serve the Lord if I am not willing to do so myself. I read and teach and dwell on the lessons that focus on serving the Lord with all of our hearts, souls, and minds, regardless of what that means, and I’ve got to live that out in front of them if it is to have any meaning at all.

For me personally, it is extremely important that my life look different because of my faith. My husband has a very successful career and can provide for all of my wants and needs with relative ease. My life could be very easy and safe if I wanted it to be. I could look just like my non-Christian “neighbors” who are able to go through life thinking of nothing but fashion, travel, materialism, safety, and sensible decision making. I can’t tell you how much I don’t want it said at my funeral, “She had such neat shoes.” or, “She was so healthy and fit.” or “She had such a successful career”.  Even if no one in the world remembers me when I’m gone, if my life was used to show others Christ’s love and inspired other Christians to act on faith in love, then I will have considered my life to have been a great success, and chief among those I want God to use me to inspire are those in my own family. I can’t do that without truly acting on faith in love. The best thing I can do for my children is to set the example for them, even if God calls me to do something that costs me my life. I have to trust that He can care for my children and knows what they need in order to become godly individuals better than I do.

So, here I go. Off to Alaska and despite everything I couldn’t be more excited than I am. I can’t wait to take pictures and share with others about my trip. I can’t wait to do something I could not do without my faith. I love to be in situations where I could let myself fear or chose to trust and then get to chose to trust. I wanted to mention that I do not believe this trip to Alaska to be any more dangerous than anything else in life is. I am merely writing this based on some of the fears I have heard others express when I tell them about my trip.  Maybe the real person to pray for is my MIL, Lynn Tynes. She’ll have the kids the whole time  we are gone ;>)

Random Family Memories:

Things I hear myself saying during a typical school morning.
“EW!! What are you drinking? Take that dirty paper towel out of your cup!”
“<Sigh> I guess Hulk’s boobs are green.”
“Quit. Licking. Your math book.”
“It’s lunch time. Why are you naked?”
“Alright, who completely missed the potty?”
“OOOOOOH, precious! I love you too, my love”.
Wouldn’t trade this interesting/rewarding life of mine for anything, to-be-sure

We had our bi-annual trip to the dentist a couple of weeks ago and discovered yet again that despite having 88 teeth to care for besides my own, there is not a single cavity among us. Whew!

HERE is the link to the captioned photos of our year so far. You can see any other of our albums at this link as well including the full amount of pictures from our trips to MN and others. I no longer add the photos to the blog itself. It just takes too much time.


-has grown up so much this year, not only just going from size 8 to size 10 in clothes or from size one in shoes to a size 5, but also in maturity. He has suddenly become so much more self aware. He walks around with his hands in his pockets, trying to play things cool, taking in his surroundings, seeing where he fits in. In fact, soon I’ll have to stop the blog or make it very private on his account. He is started to get self conscious about the things I write, so I try to be sensitive to his feelings of privacy.

-is going into 3rd grade this year. He is 71.4 pounds and 55″ tall.

Evan:  Mom, why did that guy get pulled over?
Me: That is not something I could possibly know. Maybe he was  speeding or ran a stop sign?
Evan: No way! Running a stop sign is not illegal!
Me: Uuuuh, yes. It sure is.
Evan: No it’s not.
Me: Yes it is.

Evan: No, it’s not.

Me: Dazzling argumentation here. I guess you MUST be right.

Evan: Hmmmmmmm. Weird law. When did THAT happen?

Me: Like 100 years ago. WHEN did YOU become just like ME? Where’s my phone. I  need to call Grandma and Grandpa and apologize.

What I want to know, is why he thought I would know what was going on with a traffic stop we are driving by, but argues with me about basic traffic laws. I wonder that while at the same time seeing the same tendencies in myself.


Evan: Mom,can I have dessert?

Me: I thought you just told me you were super full.

Evan: I did. Buuut, I have 2 stomachs; a sugar stomach and a regular food stomach.



Me: Whoa! No. That would indeed not be OK.

Son: What about on the deck. I could make a trap door down to the yard.

Me: I, um. . . <sigh> How about if you ask your dad about this.

Son: What if I just build a cabin about the size our kitchen in the back yard for my friends and I to hang out in away from the other kids. I could build it by myself.

Me: Ooooh. . . wow. Um, I guess the first thing you’ll need to do is draw up the plans and take it to the next neighborhood association meeting for their approval.

Son: What? What do they care? It’s our yard!

Me: Then you’ll need to ask dad about using the tools and saving up the money for the wood and tools.

Son: I could just use the wood from his scrap pile. I know everything about building a cabin. I’m gonna put in a doorbell and a revolving door like at the hotels we stay in.

Me: Oh, I can’t wait for your dad to get home. This should be good.


Once a week we pray for a people group somewhere in the world who does not have a bible in their own language. Evan always volunteers to pray and my favorite line in his prayer each week is this. “Lord, these people need someone to come and learn their language so they can translate the bible into their language, and if you want it to be us, then let it be us”. It chokes me up every time.

I just can’t get over what a great team player he is on his basketball and soccer teams. He has such a great attitude about everything, even being asked to play for the opposing team, it just makes me beam with pride.

He loves, loves, loves fishing and has figured out how to be a very successful fisherboy even in the creek in our back yard. I posted some pictures.

Has SEVERAL wild and out-of-this-world ideas of things he can accomplish every day.

Has been learning to ride the unicycle, an important Ringsmuth tradition.He tries for a bit and then burns out. I thought if I showed him how I could ride it would encourage him, but it just frustrated him that his ol’ mom was better than him.  He’ll get there.


-got her ears pierced at the same place I did as a child while we were home last December for Christmas. Everything went so smoothly with it all. She didn’t cry and was very brave. The bummer was about 6 months later her ear grew around the backing on her earing  after a couple of weeks of not spinning it. It didn’t hurt her, but it scared her enough she wanted her earings straight out and has had no desire to wear them since. We can pierce them again when she’s ready.

For Julia’s birthday we got her box filled with girly colored legos. She loves to play with the boys, but our lego collection is very “manly”. We have been building a collection of pink and purple legos, flowers, girl people, lego puppies with pink leashes. . . You name it. At first we got her a couple of kits and she put them together, following the instructions carefully. Then for her birthday we just got her a large tub of them. There were several ideas of things to build on instructions inside the tub and she immediately set out to build them all. A couple of hours later I heard her sobbing, completely broken hearted, in a far corner of the house. She explained that pieces were missing from her box and she couldn’t finish building. I explained to her that her tub was full of random pieces, not a kit and she could be as creative as she wanted to be in building whatever she wanted to build. The tub wasn’t missing pieces, the instructions were just meant to give her ideas on several different things she could build, but not all at once. In fact, she didn’t need to build those things at all. She was stunned. She had no idea she could do whatever she wanted to do with the legos. She sprinted across the house and ripped every one of her completed lego projects apart, piece by piece and begin building ideas she had in her own head. She kept repeating, “I just can’t believe I can build whatever I want. Thank you, thank you for telling me I could build whatever I want”. She was so pumped to have a creative outlet with her legos. It’s so interesting the way kids’ minds work.

-is very self-sufficient in the kitchen when it comes to baking. She’s become very helpful when I’m prepare desserts for events.

-Julia is 47.6 pounds and 49 inches tall at 7 years old.

We may have figured out she has a little bit of dyslexia after speaking with an expert about some of her symptoms. The expert gave me several ideas to help her and it nearly over night changed several issues I had been having with her. I think she will learn to function very normally once I teach her how to manage it effectively.

She has been in piano lessons this summer and is loving learning to play and her teacher. It’s fun to watch her learn so much about music, something for which I was passionate about as a kid and am getting back into more as an adult.

-loves caring for babies. She can’t wait to get old enough start babysitting and says she wants to run a daycare when she grows up.

-is speaking in less and less baby talk all of the time after an intensely strong-willed baby talk phase I wrote about in my last entry. Whew!

-begged for a LONG time to baptized and after several discussions with us and our children’s pastor we have a date set for August 19th. She believes she asked Jesus into her heart with her daddy this spring.

-Is going into 2nd grade this year.


-has hit a major growth spurt this summer. He now weighs 44 pounds and is 46″ tall, which is 2 inches and almost 2 pounds this summer.

-learned to ride his bike this spring. Julia taught him how in the driveway in just a few minutes and off he went. I didn’t even know he could ride until I walked outside and caught him. He amazes me.

-even though both of his brothers are playing soccer this fall and Julia is taking piano, he is totally insistent that he does not do any extra-curricular activities. I am a bit conflicted about this, but I’m still going with it for now.

-loves to hug and kiss his mamma, and I love it right back. He is, however, affectionate with no one else that I know of.

-he is a bit of a loner outside of playing with his siblings and his friend Clay, who is going into 5th grade.

-loves to color and draw. LOVES it, but doesn’t want to take an art class.

-He lost his first tooth this spring before he turned 6 while pulling two Legos apart with his teeth. He just walked up to me nonchalantly with it in his hand and said, “Here, Mom. I lost my tooth”. I really didn’t even know it was very wiggly.

-was SUCH a trooper with all of our travels this year back and forth to MN. He loves to be at home, but he went with the flow beautifully.

-favorite things on earth are Legos, x-box, computer games, and anything Lego Ninjago, Batman, or Star Wars.

-loves to work to earn money.

-is going into first grade this year.


-This kid LOVES being the baby of the family and milks it for whatever he can.

-still has an adorable lisp on his “s” sounds.

-He is 41 pounds and 41.5 inches tall at 4 years and 2 months old.

-is going to play his first season of soccer starting next month and is very excited about it.

-I’m gonna start him out in school with me this year. We’ll go at his pace, but he’s going to have to participate in many of the classes now instead of being able to wander more freely like he did last year.

-We never know what he’s going to do next.

-after exclaiming that he doesn’t like bacon, Stephen joking says, “Eli, are you out of your mind!” Eli’s answer? “Yup!”

-“Mom, bees come from tornados. They just swirl the bees up into the bee hive.”

-After reading a part in a story where a missionary accidentally lit himself on fire, Eli pipes in, “Mom, if he stayed on fire, he would be a fireman. Then if a bad guy touched him, he would be like, ‘OOOH, OUCH!!!'”

-his favorite things to do are play with Legos and make enormous messes.

-can not be motivated by anything to clean up after himself. Money does not speak to him yet and he doesn’t care about TV, computer or x-box games very much at all.

Here again is the link to the online photo album with the captioned photos to go alone with this blog update.


2 thoughts on “Northern Exposure (Homeward and Alaska Bound)

  1. Loved this entry and it was great to read about the progression of how God worked the details out for the Alaska trip. It also brought up some good memories for me of how God worked things out for me to go to Ethiopia. It was a good reminder of His amazing faithfulness, and reading about why you wanted to go to Alaska was very encouraging for me here. One of the things I brought with me here and is posted in my room is a card you wrote me in 2010, after I watched the kids the weekend you guys went to KY I think for a concert for your anniversary, and basically what you wrote in that card is what you wrote in the blog about how even though it’s so hard to leave or have to let go for a time of the people you love, you do it because you love the Lord and He’s called us to life a different kind of life. It’s the only reason I would come here and be away from people like you and your family. And the only reason you would leave your kids for 10 days. How special, but difficult it will be when they come and ask you for permission to go on a trip like that, but so cool. I count it a blessing to support and pray for you guys. If anything comes up and you need prayer or ANYTHING else I can feasibly do from Ethiopia please let me know.


    • Your comment absolutely made my day. Thanks so much for taking the time to write it. You are such an encouragment to me! You are in my thoughts and prayers fo’ shizzle.


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