Surviving Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Bears, and Birthdays (& "Wonder Years" Giveaways!)

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Oh my, It was a busy week, complete with yes, all of this in one form or another. Every one of these can kill you (yes, birthday’s included!) First, the earthquake. It was 9:30 am. I was sitting on my bed writing. Somewhere between sentences——a jolt! Then a rattle and shake. In the first half second my body is all nerves and senses. Washing machine or earthquake? The second second—-Earthquake!! How long? I count . . . “three, four . . .” and then it’s over.

It was a 5.7. The epicenter was very close to Kodiak but it was felt all the way to Eagle River, 300 miles away.

Kodiak (and Alaska in general) knows all about earthquakes, since we sit on the Ring of Fire. We had a 7.9 last February in the Gulf of Alaska, prompting everyone in low-lying areas in Kodiak to evacuate to higher ground—at 1:30 am. Earthquakes are just a part of life here. In 1964 downtown Kodiak was wiped out by a Tsunami, generated by the second largest earthquake ever recorded—-a 9.2.

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(UPDATE: 3 days later: Another earthquake, 7.0 then 5.3 near Anchorage. Tsunami alert—-sirens going all over town to evacuate. We evacuated to the high school—-wandered the high school and admired everyone’s dogs . .. then home 45 minutes later. But tons of damage in Anchorage.)

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Volcano! This last week, while we were thawing our turkeys, one of Alaska’s eight active volcano’s erupted. Mount Veniaminof is down the Aleutian Chain. It spewed ash 15,000 feet into the air, sending a plume of ash 250 miles—-not a big eruption, but enough to say “Hey, don’t forget about me.” Alaskans roll their eyes when volcanoes erupt—-that means not only harmful ash fall, but grounded planes. Most of us have been stuck for multiple days because of eruptions.

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We lock our doors at night for 2-legged and 4-legged thieves. I talked to a police officer this week who said last year he went out on just a handful of calls the whole year for nuisance bears. This year they respond to multiple reports every night. The bears are refusing to hibernate it seems, especially when there’s a fresh supply of garbage offered right out on the street for them every week. (WHY and whose fault is this? I talked about this here ).

The bears are everywhere around town—-near schools, stores, in people’s garages and hen houses. An elementary school went on lockdown when a wounded bear was on the loose nearby. No one walks in the dark anymore. It seems nearly everyone has had an encounter. Rubber bullets no longer work.

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And birthdays!! We had two this week, the day after Thanksgiving. My youngest son was born on my 45th birthday. This year Micah turned 16 and I turned 61. (Every 11 years we have an inverse birthday!) And THANK YOU to all who sent me good wishes and non-caloric photos of yummy cakes, which I was happy not to eat!

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I am happy to be 61. I’m excited and grateful to be 61. I am still a child. My life is just beginning, whether I live for 5 or 35 more years. I have SO much still to learn!

The death I fear is not by earthquake, volcano or bear attack. The death I fear is by birthday. I don’t mean catching fire from the blaze of 90 candles aflame on the cake. I mean the slow sad sink into despond, into isolation, Into cynicism and bitterness for all the world did not deliver to my door. THIS is death: when I separate myself from the love of God and the love of others. When I forget who my Creator is and all He has done in my life. When no one is my neighbor but me.

This death can pounce with razor claws at any moment. It can rattle our beds, shake down our walls, erupt in an explosion of choking ash. Or it can creep silently, one candle at a time until the house burns down.


Oh Lord, save me!

Let us remember, as long as the Lord gives breath and heart, that

The JOY of the Lord is our strength. The MISERY of our reclusive heart is our death.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Ps. 73:26)

(Tonight, as I write these words, the skies echo their truths.)

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Maybe some of you need this book, The Wonder Years: 40 Women Over 40 on Aging, Faith, Beauty and Strength? It tells the truth about aging AND cheers and guides all of us onward into a richer fuller life, no matter how aflame our cake!

If you’d like a copy, tell me why—-and leave your email address in the comments below. I’ll draw 3 names on next Tuesday! Happy birthday? Love to you all!

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