I’ve had more than a few emails asking “Where in the world are you NOW?!” So – I thought I’d share a few of my favorite pictures and see if you can figure out where I am (hint: read the previous blog to help you!!)
All this to say, that this entire trip was SO much bigger than me, it had to be God! From starting with an amazing inaugural Strides for Breast Cancer event in Anchorage, to helping kidnap middle school youth group kids by the high school/college leaders (Bill’s boss/wife are leaders, and they were ‘car-sitting’ for us while I was gone….the plan was I was to REST before my red-eye but…..) I’d forgotten how much fun Chinese fire-drills were!!
No one on the red-eye out of Anchorage slept as the Northern Lights were putting on a spectacular show. Then, I had a seat mate who needed a listening ear from Seattle to Minneapolis/Sioux Falls, so by time I hit the sack my first night in the Midwest/aka “NormanRockwellsville” Rock Valley, IA, I’d been up forty hours!! But what a joy to reconnect with dear friends who I had worked with over 20 years ago when Joni and Friends Wheels for the World was in its infancy. And yes, Vicky, Kaydrian IS cute, OK?!!
And how do you describe Fargo? Around 100 moms with kids with disabilities were showered with love, pampering, food, networking and hearing some Loose Screw share some Alaskan nuggets. Dinner and fun with my buddy Judy Siegle, (paralympic wheelchair racer and author of Living Without Limits: 10 Keys to Unlocking the Champion in You – check out www.judysiegle.com ) Getting to visit with Judy’s folks, my Pelican Rapids “mom and dad” over Mexican food was such a treat! Judy’s church of 10,000 is a bit foreign to me, but what amazing opportunities they have to share. A treat was to see a prayer partner I’d not seen in 20 years who was in town (Carole lives in Raleigh, NC) to share in a homeless missions project with her 13 yr old niece.
Onto Minnesota where a whirlwind of continued fun….isn’t the arboretum awesome? Allie was one of my teachers in high school (she’s my sister’s age, so we aren’t that far apart in age!) with whom I’ve kept in contact with . She hosted a fun book/speaking event at her warm home – all when chaos was swirling around them. They were so gracious….Please keep them in your prayers, as they tend for elderly parents and have tough choices to make.
Meeting up with Joni and Friends cyber-buddies Kent and Mary Beth Carlson was too much for words. Remember – we’d NEVER met face to face until about 1/2 hour before our co-event. We’d NEVER shared about what we would share (she is an AMAZING pianist: check out www.marybethcarlsonmusic.com you will be SO blessed!!) So, go figure, God had us BOTH have the EXACT 3 SAME Scripture verses to share…..and neither of us knowing that we would share stories of our two kids who each have autistic tendencies and cerebral palsy issues (not common to have together) who had each gone through times triggered by similar instances, and they are about 6 months apart in age….when Mary Beth said “this last song is for Care” it was all about eagles…….she hadn’t really looked at the Native Alaskan kuspik I was wearing (blue eagle feather pattern); she hadn’t gotten to the part in my book about “The Big One” , nor had she known about the 3 eagle pictures I was to share that had been drawn by 2 different 13-year-old boys, one who is autistic and one who passed away several years ago due to his medical disability. The pictures were drawn 20 years apart – and were eagles. One was mouth drawn in pencil, the other 2 were one pre-breaking my arm this last April, then post surgery/becoming bionic with the plate and 10 screws: “with a new wing to soar on, Care!” Needless to say, dinner with them was non-stop story-telling! But we HAD to prove to Mike Y. and Joni and crew that we really HAD met, so what are two women to do? CHOCOLATE (OH! FUDGE!!) of course!!
Yes, there was even enough umph left for Alaska’s Relay For Life State 2 day Summit. My incredible hubby met me at the airport (I was dreading the thought of taking the shuttle to the hotel where Bill’s boss had dropped my car off!) and took me out to a special dinner. It was such a relief to see him…..he’s SO my HERO!!
What an incredble time Alaska’s American Cancer Society Summit 2011 was – from the researcher, (hmmmm….she’s working on colon cancer!!) to the council from across the country who came to share their expertise and see Alaska at its best: then we found out Mat-Su Relay (ours!) was one of the top fundraisers ($145,000) and one of the top online fundraisers (43%) – pretty cool!! We had snow-covered mountains to show off, crisp early winter air, and wild and wacky magical moments and memories made, so that we can step it up and work to save more lives and celebrate more birthdays at Relay this year! And Mat-Su’s event chair is a go-getter, so you better get ready! Relay is a YEAR ROUND EVENT – so start saving that latte or pizza night money to share as you have so generously before – I can honestly say it is the work of the American Cancer Society – it’s staff, the bazillion of volunteers, researchers and YOU that I’m still here today. (Well, OK, God holds my days, not the drs. or researchers!!)
Grand-dog Wrigley and Bill were waiting at home for me late last Saturday night for me……a welcome site. That was a week ago….and I’m still not unpacked! I THINK there’s a desk somewhere underneath all this ‘stuff’!!
So WHERE am I? Me thinks I’m not in Kansas anymore, Toto!! And certainly not in the land of the Munchkins!! Me hopes I’ll be home……digging out!!
Blessings and s’mores!!
Fall is here, the ‘termination dust’ has fallen (and is staying more than coming and going!) For those who don’t know, ‘termination dust’ is like ‘powdered sugar’ that sprinkles over the tops of the mountains come Fall in Alaska (we call ourselves the Upper One vs. Lower 48’rs!) Natives say that once ‘regular’ terminiation dust falls, we have about 6 weeks to get ready for ‘real’ winter. If the morning temperatures are any indication, winter is not far off!!
We had an unusually warm/dry winter, not alot of high bush berries (like our favorite mossberry) but we DID find a patch on Govt. Peak – the mountain that you see in the photo in late August.
The river is the lowest we’ve seen in the 1o years since we have lived here on the Little Susitna River. We are delighted to report, although low water, the silver salmon have been busy spawning (an incredible site to watch them prepare their spot and then ‘mate’!) And, much to MY dismay, the busy beaver(s) are back, new girdling and gnawing to rebuild the dam that spring high water broke apart. We’ll see what happens in the days ahead as to how many 100 year old cottonwoods we lose.
We are excited to be sending me out (unfortunately solo as it’s busy end of season work for Bill, but faithful and dear friends meet me on each leg). It is a HUGE and yes, ambitious schedule the next two weeks. Strides Against Breast Cancer is tomorrow – the first one for Alaska. It coiicides with my 25th and 27th anniversary of my digagnoses of breast cancer, so I am excited to tout early detection and SURVIVAL!!
Then off to later than night on a red-eye to the Midwest for our first “officially paid” assignment. We have many events, in 5 different cities, 4 different states. I will be speaking to small comunity events, churches, an one special event, the 5th Annual Rest/Rejuv and pamper time for moms with kids with a disability. I will also connect and meet various American Cancer Society staff and other writing/speaking professionals along the way. While it may see like I am pushing the envelope, we KNOW that the torch has been passed.
With the announcement of ‘remission’ for now, and being given the persmission to ‘be on the road again’ our charge became clear. We vow, that as long as we have life and breath, we will speak and write about encouragement and hope in the face of obastacles and adversity. How can we NOT? Books sales/money is not the object, but the by-product. Yes, we pray for favor, but we ask and pray even more for courage to speak into lives that are broken, weary, worn, but yet maybe through our words, will find the willingess to keep up the fight.
As seasons come and go, much like termination dust, we must be prepared, and go forth. So: Here We Go Again!! Hand onto your hat – it’s gonna be a wild ride me thinks!!
Blessings and S’mores!!
Care Tuk is a nationally known speaker, educator, and retreat/workshop leader. She has been a school, hospital, and home health occupational therapist for more than 30 years. She has been named as a Top Business Woman in America and recognized for her work with youth, disability outreach and awareness, and the American Cancer Society.