in which I have work to do so I ask if you live in Alaska

For the past month, my life has taken a turn for the simple. I stay home, make food, give my girl her pink medicine. I wipe off the kitchen table with a hot cloth, make chicken soup on the stove, re-heat my morning coffee. Again. If you knock on my door, I’ll answer it but that’s about as intentionally social as I am able to be.

Once the kids are in bed, The Man and I watch Alaska: The Last Frontier and I fall asleep on the sofa.

After nine days of sick, the kids are all back in school and I turn my full attention back to the manuscript that is due in a little over a week.

I put down the quiet words, treasure them up, wait to see if they’re worth keeping. They simmer and I do, too. I come back the next day, read them back, shake my head, start again.

The words come slow on my commitment work, and I feel a pull to come over here to write in a place where the words are open and immediately received. I can’t take them back that way. Sometimes that’s good for me.

It’s the last day of November and I had every intention of sending out another newsletter this month. But then I realized that all I would have to offer is something like hey y’all. Whatchya doin?  and I didn’t think it was worth it.

And so I come here with not much in my hands today. But I wanted to come anyway just to change my writing pace a bit and also ask if you’ve seen Alaska: The Last Frontier? And also, do you live in Alaska? On a frontier? Because if you do I want to hear all about it. Or even if you just plain live in Alaska. The whole sun-not-coming-up-until-ten-and-setting-at-two completely fascinates me. And also gives me nightmares.


  1. says

    Mmm, that cream-filled donut is making my mouth water. Quiet and a donut sounds just perfect to me : ) I hope your weekend is filled with lots of happy.

  2. says

    Hi! I live in the Yukon, which is the Canadian territory next door to Alaska. The weather conditions are similar except maybe colder here as we don’t have ocean breezes. I write a blog that often chronicles our experiences living here for our friends and family down South. Feel free to check it out! Right now, for instance, it is -40 all week, the sun is only up a few hours, and it is so cold we don’t have fog in the morning, we have floating ice crystals that cover every surface with a layer of icy powder. Its pretty.

    • says

      “floating ice crystals that cover every surface with a layer of icy powder” — You just made my day with that description, Sarah. Floating ice crystals?! That is so awesome.

  3. cheri says

    we do not live in alaska….because we watch alaska: the last frontier. 😉 i love their lifestyle. but i would survive 1.5 days of winter. and the sun thing gives me nightmares, too! :)

  4. says

    I’m so happy you came over to share your words, your thoughts, your heart today. They bless me.
    Praying the words come as you work on your manuscript.
    Now I’m going to venture over to find out about Alaska – my man will enjoy that too.

  5. says

    My husband and son love that show, so I watch it by default and I like it. Living off the land takes on a whole new meaning in that rugged country.

    P.S. Yes, to that doughnut.

  6. says

    I don’t live in Alaska but, my Mom grew up there and I’m completely fascinated with that state. If I was to ever move, that’s where we’d go. So, yes…I’m right there with you watching those shows! I love them!
    I hope your family is completely healthy very soon. 9 days of sickness is a long time and enough to wear any Momma down.

  7. says

    Again I ask God’s blessing on your writing -maybe it be a beautiful gift to the world, despite the detour to take care of sick kids. And please do not ever post a picture of a Krispy Kreme donut again, as we don’t have that store here. It’s a cruel tease. :)

  8. Lisa C says

    I lived in the great state of Alaska back in 1986, about a year after graduating from college. I worked during the summer months at Denali National Park. It is a wonderful, wonderful place! When you visit Alaska, it’s essence will creep into your soul and never leave you. Alaska becomes a part of you. When I boarded the return flight home from Anchorage to Chicago to LaGuardia, I remember hesitating before crossing the threshold from the jetway to the plane. I remember thinking — do I really want to leave this great place and head back to New York State? As a Mom now of 3 fantastic boys, my wish is that they will have the opportunity to see the wolves, grizzly bears, caribou, Dall sheep and Mount McKinley during their lifetime.

    • Debbie says

      Lisa, it does creep into your soul. Denali is a wonderful place to visit. I cannot imagine working there. What an awesome experience.

  9. says

    Emily, been enjoying your blog over this past month since we left Colorado. Thinking of you and praying for your book writing as the Spirit brings you to mind. My oldest daughter (16) and I are looking forward to reading Graceful over the Christmas break! With love, Staci

  10. Debbie says

    I live in Anchorage, Alaska.
    I came to Alaska for the summer in 1983 and have forever called it my home. I grew up in Oregon where the mountains and wilderness were my home for 18 years, but after two weeks in Alaska, I found a summer job, blew off my scholarship to UNLV and attended UAA. Married (divorced), 4 kids and 2-1/2 grandkids later, I love love love it here. In my heart of hearts I believe Alaska is the most beautiful place and I cannot imagine living anywhere else.
    Our current temps (in Anchorage) are not near as cold as our friend Sarah in the Yukon, although I heard this morning it is -50 in Chicken, AK); we are hovering in the single digits with a slight wind that blows through just to wake us up here and there. From where I sit at my desk I have a clear view of the Chugach Mountains that are all covered in snow. We have only a dusting of snow on the ground here in the Anchorage Bowl, but I am hopeful that we will receive the white fluffy stuff soon. With the single digit temperatures we have hoar frost on all the trees, shrubs, fences, etc. It’s almost like an irridescent white that glistens in the light. (Yes, floating ice crystals)
    The sun rises around 9:30-10:00 with beautiful colors glowing from behind the mountains and sets in the early afternoon. In the summer the sun sets only long enough to come back up again within a couple of hours. 20 hours of darkness in the winter and 20 hours of light in the summer.
    Wildlife is often in your front (or back) yard and it fascinates me to see how visitors or tourists jaws drop at the sight of a moose snacking on a neighborhood tree or a family of moose find rest in someones front yard. These, often, daily occurrances still make me pause and sit in awe of God’s creation. What a blessing.
    Winters are long and cold, but the beauty never fades. We stay busy to keep from getting Cabin Fever by participating in youth sports (like hockey, karate) and spending peaceful weekends at the cabin, sometimes playing on snow machines or snow shoeing up the mountain; other times curled up by the fire with a book and enjoying the blessings of the children playing (or fighting) in the next room.
    Honestly, I cannot imagine living anywhere else. The beauty of Alaska in winter (or summer) is breathtaking even for me, a nearly 30 year resident. People either love it or hate it. I wish I could share photos in this post. Ya’ll will just have to come visit.


    • says

      Debbie – I’m a neighbor in the Valley! I was in Anchorage yesterday & feel so alive today because it looks like winter there. My kids & I drove in 10pm on Wednesday night & it was so refreshingly gorgeous! Downtown was white, the Christmas lights were gorgeous, and the street lights looked glowy — and I so very much love the hoar frost! We are just dead, dead, and more dead & thoroughly wind-blown! It is sooooo dark without any snow/city lights. Last night I drove back to the Valley & the winds were so strong I could hardly stand – I gave up on trying to get gas. Even though I was born in Anchorage & love, love, love living here – I’m actually struggling this winter with lack of light & dreading the length of winter ahead. If we don’t get snow soon, I think we’ll be hanging in Atown more frequently – I didn’t realize how much I was missing our winter look of snow & lights reflecting :-)! Thank you for your beautiful descriptions – you reminded me again why I love it here :-D!

    • Karen says

      Wowww…. That sounds so beautiful.
      Ps – I live in Brisbane, Australia, & the forecast for tomorrow is for 38’C which I have just learned is a touch over 100′ Fahrenheit.

  11. says

    I’m all about re-heating the morning coffee, dude. (Doesn’t everyone do that?)

    I’m a New Yorker living in Ireland right now, so I get freaked out when it’s 6 pm and pitch black outside. No way I’d be able to manage in Alaska…but now that you’ve brought it up, I’m thinking about how many opportunities Alaskans have to play with pretty indoor lighting. Example: if *I* lived in Alaska, there’s a pretty good chance my bedroom would be completely strung out (pun completely intended) with white Christmas lights…

  12. says

    I lived in Alaska for four years – but just the regular part: Anchorage. :) The darkness takes a little getting used, but the cold isn’t so different from growing up in Minnesota. Just a lot more snow!!! I love, love, loved it there though. Loved the smallness of the community. I live in Southern California now – go figure. But the beach and sun has its perks too.. hehe.

  13. says

    I live in boring Virginia. I have recently been looking at large chunks of land near Cheyenne, Wyoming. It’s incredibly cheap and quite barren and so completely different from the thriving metropolis I live in. So tempting.

  14. Astakpasta says

    When I was a kid, I wanted to grow up and move to Alaska, because I had the notion that they didn’t have bugs there (too cold).

  15. Ali Shepherd says

    Praying the Lord covers you with the shadow of His hand and puts His words in your mouth-and transfers it all to paper! God bless you.

  16. says

    Emily – First of all, I want to say I am praying your words will come soon, the Lord knows your deadline. You have proven you are a willing vessel (I have really been enjoying Grace for the Good Girl). Thank you for the words you put here for us. for being real. for being vulnerable.

    I live in Alaska! It is a beautiful place to live – I love, love, love living here. This winter has started odd for us – fall was done back in Sept/mid-October and we still don’t have snow. It’s been cold, dark, and way too much wind. I didn’t realize, until a trip to town in the last 48 hours, how much the dark is dark without snow to reflect lights. I knew I was struggling with dark more this year than normal – I would go out and just feel consumed with the dark. Usually our dead season (the one between fall and winter) is really short – this year we’re at almost 2 months, way too long. I’m sort of addicted to color, so there are times of year I’m desperate – but it isn’t enough for me to move out of state. This is home. I was born here.

    Just one day of seeing light reflected on snow & hoar frost on trees — oh, yes my eyes and heart are happy, happy, full – I’m feeling loved by my Creator to have been given a glimpse. The dark encourages us to slow down and rest after going strong all summer (with no darkness, you don’t often slow down). I enjoy the dark, cozy feel of the winter – but I have learned I do want {need} to have some light reflection.

    Because there are no clouds bringing snow – we have had the most gorgeous sunrise/sunsets each day, day after day. At reasonable times of day – I love seeing a beautiful sunrise at 10 am :-D! And if I’m out of the house a bit later in the day it’s to do errands – so then I get to see the sunset…an amazing, glowing ball of light in the sky and making the sky brilliant pinks, purples, oranges, and reds. Often it isn’t even high enough in the sky to completely see – you see the colors above the tree tops. I just got my camera back & am praying it works like it is meant to, I am hoping to get pictures soon and I’ll be posting them. I don’t think we’ve ever had such a long stretch of beautiful sunrise/sunsets.

    I’ll shut up now – thanks for letting me gush about living here. I really needed it this morning. 😀

  17. says

    I’m in central Alaska (Fairbanks), and we’ve been living at ~ 25-below zero this week. We’re still losing daylight, and I have to remember to work at my desk several hours each day (it’s under my loft-bed, and my husband installed ‘daylight’ bulbs in a florescent light fixture just a few inches above my head– the intense light close to my eyes helps).

    It’s my first year with goats, so having to go out twice daily to milk and make sure the bucks’ water isn’t solid (they have a heated bucket, but it has trouble fighting off colder-than -20) is new to me. And gets me outside more than I used to do this temp of year.

    I have a “home” blog ( but I’m not sure you’d get much interesting “Alaska” stuff out of that– I grew up here, so even with the SAD (Seasonal depression) and Raynaud’s syndrome (hyper-sensitivity to cold in my hands and feet) it feels pretty normal to me, and I’m not “explaining” much (about Alaska) on the blog.

    Alaska isn’t a good (biological) match for me, but it is home, and I expect it to be the rest of my life. The community here, the personality both of independence and eagerness to teach, fits who I am.

    I just have to plan ahead– not my strong place, but necessity has strengthened it.

  18. says

    i didn’t actually live “on the frontier.” but i did live in anchorage for 12 years (and, by the way, i said i’d only go for two). i’m not at all the outdoorsy type, but i LOVED living in alaska! the scenery was spectacular and the people were genuine and warm. the sun came up late in the winter and set early, but the glistening white snow (which literally didn’t melt for 7 straight months) brightened everything up. and the summers were glorious – i felt as if i had endless energy with all of the light (sports teams would play at midnight, and my husband was known to mow the lawn at that hour as well). our youngest son was born there and is a true alaskan – he has greatly missed it these past 5 years. truly a magical place.

  19. says

    I live in an Inupiaq Eskimo village in Alaska near the Arctic Circle! There are no roads to our village, and all our supplies are flown in or shipped on barges that come during the summer. It’s been a fascinating eight years full of adventure.

  20. says

    Okay so I am totally a girl who has terrible chronic pain flare ups in the cold and feel S.A.D. without LONG SUNNY days…but after reading all these comments…I want to move to Alaska tomorrow! (My husband would be thrilled! He loves the cold!)

    • says

      P.S. You must come for a visit. But please come in June or July unless you are wanting to see snow covered mountaintops, frost laden trees, brilliant blue skies, stunning sunrises and sunsets, or just feel like sledding. Okay, nevermind, come anytime of year. You won’t be disappointed. 😉

  21. Amanda W-W says

    You made my heart swell! Born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, it is where I find God feeds my heart the most. Plus all of my mother’s side of the family lives up there, been there since 1966.

    I left in 2004 for college in Winston-Salem and now live in Asheville with my husband, and I know it’s a cool place to be but my heart breaks too often for home. I am a self-professed mountain snob, and as others have said, Alaska’s essence can fill your heart and never leave.

    I did go home for the year after college graduation, and I do have to admit I was a bit terrified of entering into a full Alaskan winter of dark and snow again. But the dry cold is far better than wet cold you get in much of the lower 48, and when there is hoar frost all over the trees it is especially beautiful. Then when you go out for the first time at 6 pm in complete dark to shovel your driveway, it’s exhilarating and refreshing. Makes the cup of hot chocolate better than ever.

    My Texas-bred husband learned that Alaskans call newbies cheechakos, and weathered residents are sourdoughs. He kept telling our friends to be a sourdough, you had to make it through a full winter. I have no idea where he got that idea from. My impression of one of the requirements for such an auspicious title is that you have to make it through a winter and be willing to go through another!

    Sure there are lots of crummy days and lots of dark and gray days , but it just makes you feel all the heartier for getting through them and all the more in love with the lovely ones. I developed depression the year I didn’t go home to Alaska for the summer, never had it in all the years I lived through the winters.

    It always smells good there, the right mixes of spruce trees, birch trees, ocean, clean mountain air, and rugged majestic-ness.

  22. says

    Funny, totally thought you were gonna ask someone from Alaska if you could go finish up some of your writing at their place (to get away from all the illness …etc )!! Cuz, I gotta say, I’m about ready to escape somewhere – right about five days ago! HahaHa, sob sob sob – I feel like we’ll never be healthy again in my home.

    Makes me feel so much better to read others’ ‘good intentions’ posts, ya know!?!

  23. Sissy says

    Emily, I lived in Alaska when I was a kid. We lived in Anchorage. And while these ladies have given you a pretty good idea of what it is like to live there, I’ll tell you all about it and show you some old photos.

  24. says

    My husband is from Alaska but I like flip flops year round so we compromised in Colorado. Crazy beautiful country up there. Traveling there in the summer with children and convincing them it is bedtime at 10 PM when it looks like high noon has been one of my greatest motherhood challenges yet. There are a few Alaskans down here in our area of the lower 48 and the wives of these boys, we call ourselves The Alaskan Wives because it’s just like no other place. If you grew up there, Alaskan at your very core, you are just different.. In the most awesome, think-outside-the-box, survivalist, rules are guidelines kind of way. And you can take the boy out of Alaska, but he’ll bleed nature and run to the hills often… and if he marries and lives near other Alaksans, their wives will need each other – especially through hunting season. I’ve actually started a list of things I find to be purely Alaskan traits, like Alaskans are never snowed in, sunglasses are never a priority but waterproof matches are, there’s a little MacGyver in every Alaskan, and the dawn of winter means packing up survival kits for the car – even after 17 years in the lower 48. Anyhoodle… not sure if that’s what you’re looking for – I’ve never seen the show. Praying for your manuscript deadline. Can’t imagine… I can barely peck out a blog post. :)

    • says

      Love your list. I’d quibble on the no sunglasses, though– in spring we need them more than in summer, almost: the light + the snow reflection/intensity makes me fish out the sunglasses each year.

      Rules-as-guidelines, a bit of MacGyver, and never snowed-in: Amen. Made me smile so big.

      Love that you were able to pick those things out, even in the transplanted setting.

  25. says

    Here’s another one from the land of the Frozen Chosen!! I was raised on an island in the Gulf of Alaska where the Grizzly bears outnumber the humans, worked in western coastal villages where you really can see Russia from your porch, adopted three lively boys from the Aleutian chain of islands that stretch so far west they are closer to Russia and Japan than they are mainland, and now I live in the big “city-slicker” city of Anchorage where our house on the mountainside is regular circled by moose, bear and lynx. I love it.

    There is something extraordinary about climbing a mountain ridge beyond the line where trees fear to cross, up into the chilly clouds as your breath no longer is instinct but an conscious act of survival. Just when you feel completely overwhelmed by the windy silence, you break through the haze standing tall looking down on the clouds and world below. Here I fly with the eagles. Here I truly grasp mountaintop experiences. Here I understand the Psalms. Here I see God’s majesty.

    Then, as I hike below in the valley lush with green and pulsing with wild, I see the struggle and strain where growth is born. Among the shadows of the peaks, along the rivers and ocean beaches I find the meat of life, and I further see the scriptures and God who penned them.

    This is a beautiful land of extreme environment and diverse people. Those who are here choose to be, as the land mirrors something inside of us; wild, adventurous, strong, and while we may not wish to admit it, there is even a bit of the Kilcher clan crazy in us as well.

    I met you briefly at She Speaks in 2011 after you spoke. So tell your husband you know a little bit of Alaska, yourself. You’ve even shaken hands, chatted and laughed with it.

  26. Mandy says

    Hello Emily! I’m new to your blog, and was thrilled to see the Alaska theme on this newest post! I’ve never seen the Alaska TV show, but “The Last Frontier” has been my home for many years. Most of our married life has been lived here, 3 of our 4 children were born here, and we absolutely love raising them here. It’s hard to put Alaska into words. It’s more than just a place. It’s a way of life…it’s a state of mind…and it’s our home. We first lived in Fairbanks for 6 years…that’s where there’s only a few hours of sunlight this time of year and you have to have your car plugged in all winter! As much as we loved it there, for several reasons, we decided to move back down to the Lower 48. But Alaska had gotten into our blood…it was at the core of our being, and we felt like “fish out of water.” After just 2 years, we headed back…this time settling on the beautiful Kenai Peninsula…and have been here for almost 6 years now. It’s home. :-)

    I could go on and on about what a special place Alaska is, how great the people are here, how BEAUTIFUL it is…but I’ll refrain and just share some photos. I recently set up a facebook page for my new little business, “Pieh’s Preserves.” Pieh (pronounced like “pie”) is our last name. One of our favorite summer and fall family activities is hiking and berry picking. And my hobby is transforming all those wild berries into yummy jams, jellies, ciders, and sauces. I recently started selling them. Here’s the link: Take a look at all the photos in the album, “Pieh’s Preserves…a family affair,” and you’ll see why we love living here. The magnificence of God’s creation is all around us.

    Take care, God bless, and thanks for making my day! :-)

    • Mandy says

      P.S. My van has been “plugged in” just about every morning this past week…today is was 20 below…but that’s not near as cold as Fairbanks! :-)

  27. Brynn says

    Hi Emily,
    I live in Anchorage, Alaska and grew up (28 years) between here and Palmer (about an hour north of Anchorage). I’m currently enjoying the remnants of a gorgeous sunset on the Chugach mountains a 3:30pm, lots of pink on our lightly snow covered mountains. I love this place and always will, there is so many adventures to be had and places to explore and the beauty screams the glory of God. That said I enjoy traveling especially to get some warmth in the middle of winter and occasional break from the cold. It is nice to go to a place where my husband and I can run on dirt or pavement for a week or two rather than wear face masks and mittens and navigate the ice and snow.
    I found your site after listening to Simple Mom’s podcast that you were on the week before Thanksgiving. We’re expecting our first child anytime now and it is nice to come across women whose lives encourage and inspire others especially with a new season of motherhood ahead. So thank you!
    I hope you and your family will one day have the opportunity to enjoy Alaska.

  28. PJ says

    We live in Alaska. A couple hours from Anchorage. 32 below last week, and now we are getting buried in snow!
    Contrary to popular opinion, we live in a modern house, keep chickens in a regular coop, and shop at places like Costco and WalMart, and, if its suits our fancy, Sacs 5th Avenue too.
    We fill our freezers (that we keep outside and unplugged all winter) with black bear, moose and wild salmon, all of which we hunt and fish for ourselves.
    We are almost to the 22nd of Dec, the shortest day of the year and in in our location, it is plenty light at 9:30 am, and not dark till 5 something.
    We will start gaining light soon, and there will come a point where we will gain a good 5 minutes a day.
    The cold and dark will not kill you if you have common sense, and dress properly. This may include bunny boots with your Sunday dress if need be ;o)

  29. says

    We live in Alaska…I was born here and we are mostly normal. :) We don’t wear our shoes in the house and we think that 40 degrees in the spring justifies a t-shirt and shorts, but 40 degrees in September justifies a trendy new scarf and sweater. Oh, perspective…

    When I was young, I totally took the trees and mountains for granted (never knowing life without them), but then I married a city boy from LA who opened my eyes to the magic of the state I grew up in. I hope you get to visit someday soon. <3

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