Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Jared Runs for Alaska State Senate

On January 22nd, Jared filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission to run for the State Senate for District L, Eagle River, Chugiak, Birchwood and Peter's Creek area. The seat is currently held by Sen. Kelly Merick, who has chosen to be part of the Democrat-dominated Senate majority caucus.  You can check out his platform and campaign at Jared for Alaska.   To follow the day to day adventure of the campaign, follow Jared Goecker for State Senate on Facebook. 

Jared & Noah file for office

Larissa, Jared and Noah 

Jared's Campaign Announcement. 

Jan 31st found us at a campaign fundraiser for Jared in Eagle River. 

Mike & I with Jared, Noah and Larissa

Jared, Noah, Larissa 

Jamin, Jared, Nolan and Alex

Watching Jared step into a statewide political campaign was a surreal moment. Josiah was missed.  We are all proud of Jared for his willingness to step onto a hard path with the hopes of having a positive impact in the state we love. 

Noah finds security in Uncle Jamin's arms

I've mentioned in other posts Jamin, Jared and Noah out knocking on doors every spare moment.  This is an incredibly busy time for JaRissa. 

We are cheering them on! 

Editors Note: Yes, we've worked hard to keep last names and locations off the blog. That was hard with Jamin's real estate business/YouTube channel, nearly impossible after Josiah's murder and is impossible now that Jared is running for office. 

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Thursdays with Jenni (or Introducing Jenni)

In 2020 Jenni and her sister Joelle (along with her family) came into our lives. They had moved to Alaska and settled in at the church where we attended and served as Associate Pastors.  Joelle and Jenni began attending our online ladies Bible studies - covid close down y'all.  Both girls are pure gold; but I'm going to focus on Jenni for a minute here.  Over time Jenni began serving with youth and was also the church's Children's Director. She joined our life group, and our lives began intersecting in numerous ways. The girls knew her as a youth leader. Stacia interned with her in Children's Ministry. We all interacted at life group. I found connections with her from us both being missionary kids...and hearing her experience 30 years after my experience began to bring healing to parts of my life.  We enjoyed tea, dinners, Sunday meals out, retreats, Costco short, we offered community to Jenni.   In those early days when she was new to life group and we knew we were inviting her out a lot, we made clear to her we would NEVER try to fix her up with one of our sons. Several of the Gherkins have been single in their 30's and we know how hard that can be at church. She became family rather quickly.  Those who know our ministry know we spent decades ministering to 20's and 30's and it is rather common for us to have a few singles join our family.  It was familiar. 

We became aware rather early Jenni and Jamin, our son, had met online and didn't hit it off. That's fine. Our love and commitment to both continued. 

Then came October 2023.  

Josiah was murdered and we stepped back from all ministry responsibilities, focused our ministry on family, and began to attend church in Eagle River with Carrie and many of our kids.  As we talked this over as a family an expressed fear was losing our local community of support.  The girls both voiced not wanting to lose Jenni. Michael and I predicted we would not lose Jenni. During this time one young friend mentioned we'd still have friendships, we'd just have to work harder to maintain them as routine meet ups were no longer built into our weeks. This has proven true. Those who have wished to maintain relationship have done so. 

ANYWAY, back to JENNI.  She knows the art of sitting with those in the ashes. She came over and brought favorite ice cream flavors from Big Dippers and hot drinks. She came just to sit.  She went to court with us and stayed close. She brought ingredients over and cooked dinner and stayed when invited to eat with us.  One night the house was full and loud, and it was wonderful...but I was suddenly overwhelmed. I retreated to my recliner in the nook and sat with my grief. Jenni came, sat at my feet, gave me a foot massage and simply cried with me.  Visitors here for the funeral began to ask me who Jenni was, and several commented she and Jamin would make a great couple. I told them Jenni was OUR person and that was quite enough. We were totally staying away from any matchmaking. There was one afternoon when the girls were out in the yard with Jenni and Jamin went out. They began throwing a squash (a decoration long past it's time) across the yard. And I thought and commented to Michael, "Hmm, there may be something there that wasn't there before." 

Over time Thursdays became our night with Jenni. This is the night we previously had life group. It fit our current schedules. It wasn't just kept happening...dinner, games, conversation.... sometimes she didn't work on Friday and could stay late or sleep over, other times it was an earlier night.  We invited her (and Jamin too) to a Christmas play and a few things like that. She became more and more a part of family...and we joked about her "other family" and needing to be sure we shared well.  Jenni is now on our calendar. Most Thursdays find us enjoying dinner together and then watching an episode of All Creatures... while the girls knit and such. 

I think it was late into December when we became aware Jamin and Jenni were spending time hiking, skiing, being friends. We offered no unsolicited advice. We did not discuss this with Jenni, didn't tell the girls, we were determined not to get into the middle of their friendship.

Mid-January Jenni flew back into state and went to a gala with Jamin that night.  THAT'S a real friend...or maybe...yeah...friends. 

January also found Jenni attending meet ups Jamin hosts for those whom he sells houses too.  They were climbing glaciers, hiking buttes and sledding to find the perfect spots for winter meet ups. 

One afternoon they stopped over and it seemed obvious to all four of us they were probably more than friends...but we were determined not to make assumptions.  They finally told us... Yep....they are officially dating. 

There seems to have been a bit of confusion so to be clear - they are not engaged, they are dating.  We asked only that Jamin remember she was OUR girl first and honor Thursdays with Jenni.  (Alright, y'all we'll flex as needed.) 

I had been thinking I should explain who Jenni is as she is often in our stories, and now that they are dating, I certainly needed to say something or y'all would begin asking. 

Note the ice on the beard and eye lashes. LOL 

Hiking a glacier in negative temps - yep they're both crazy that way. 

I could say much more - but this is enough to introduce Jenni to you. I've said it before - friends from different generations have the potential to enrich life. I'm so glad Jenni and I (and Jenni and the girls) are friends.  We're also pretty happy she's dating Jamin. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

How Am I Doing? - Michael


How are you doing? 

Such a simple question, but so very difficult to answer. How am I doing?

Some days, I am doing OK. My mind is dealing with life as it now is. My heart has a manageable level of pain. I am able to put one foot in front of the other and make a dent in the days responsibilities and tasks.

Some days, I am doing less than OK. My mind is reeling with life as it now is. My heart aches and hurts. Putting one foot in front of the other is a feat that defies every known law of physics and making a dent in the day's tasks and responsibilities is more akin to slogging my way up Mt Everest.

Some days, though, are worse...

I have never been one that cries. Oh sure, let Lassie save Timmy from the rabid grizzly bear, and I will find my eyes leaking a bit.  Let the underdog hero save a bus load of orphans and puppies from falling into a raging river, and I may find a tear streaming down my cheek, but we are talking orphans and puppies...

These days, I find myself in an odd place when I am doing less than OK. There are times I will stare into the middle-distance and want to scream like a banshee or whimper like a lost puppy dog. If I could do both at the same time, I would, but I can't so I end up doing neither. Instead, I stare into the middle-distance as a waterfall of pain and hurt pummels my soul.

How am I doing? Some days, I just do not know. I can't get a bearing on me. Lost in thoughts of the could-haves and if-onlies; I find myself wishing for I do not know what... Just something different from where I am, from the road I am on, from the heartache I feel, from the dizzying confusion of reality as it has become.

How am I doing? Some moments, I am blissfully engaged in doing and/or thinking on something else. These are mere moments because fairly quickly a red SUV will drive by or I will catch a glimpse of something that reminds me of the son I can no longer hold, and suddenly, I am wrestling again with this monster that has taken his place and has become a most unwelcome companion. I never wanted, never asked for this thing to be in my life, and yet there it is lurking, stealing, haunting, mocking in the shadows ready to snatch me away from moments of peace and thrust me again into the tumult and confusion.

How am I doing? Some days it is all of the above with a dark kaleidoscope of variations - just for fun.

How am I doing? I honestly am bewildered by the question. It seems so full of expectations on the part of the one presenting the query. I remember reading an anecdote some years ago. A man from Africa came to an American university to study. Walking across the campus, he passed a man who said, "How's it going?" Not realizing that this was a mere greeting on the part of the other, this newcomer to American life told the man all about his recent experiences because to not answer such a kind question concerning his welfare would be rude and impolite, but the other man was busy and just wanted to say something to acknowledge the African man's existence. The expectation was "fine;" "I am doing fine; how are you..?" That is all. Is this what people are asking? How are you doing? Fine, I am doing fine; how are you? Just a quick acknowledgement of my/our existence and no more.

I am concerned that there may be other expectations regarding this question. My fear is this inquiry is merely to find out if I am ready to let this grieving thing go and get on with life. Forty days was all they did in the Bible, right? That should be good enough for you, as well - this is the suspected motive. The Bible speaks of mourning for forty days, but grieving is different. (Future post coming from DeEtta.)

What I really want to know is this; is there earnestness in the question?

How are you doing? Are there burdens I can carry for you? May I quietly sit with you and let you ramble awhile about whatever it is you are wrestling with today? Do you need a shoulder to cry on? I am reminded of the scene from Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King. Frodo and Sam are trudging their way up Mt Doom. Sam, ever wanting to  help his friend, realizes he cannot take the burden of the ring from Frodo - it was not his to bear, but Sam could carry Frodo. This is the essence of bearing someone's grief. 

How am I doing? It depends. This is a lawyer's answer, but there is truth in it. Most days, it depends on when you ask during the day. Some days, it does not matter; it is just a bad day. Most days, though, the answer is "decent," but that depends on other things... 

Monday, January 15, 2024

Time Heals All Wounds - 12 Weeks

 12 weeks since our safe and secure lives were turned upside down.

They say, "time heals all wounds." Who is they? And how much time? Certainly, more than 12 weeks. Maybe 34 weeks one week for each year of his life? Maybe 41 weeks the time I carried Josiah in my womb? Maybe 13 years the time we homeschooled him? I don't know.
*And when a nightmare walks through your door
You live it over and over
You want the truth to be a lie
To say hello, no sad goodbyes
You're gone, I'm here, my world is dry
Without you
Twelve weeks and life still feels unsafe, painful, chaotic. At times I'm numb. At times I'm in excruciating pain. Sometimes I'm resigned and sometimes I'm angry. I have big questions with no real answers.
This I do know. God is here! I don't know how people walk through times like these without God. God weeps. God loves. God forgives. God is with us. God calls me to shelter in grace. God calls me to rest and remember. God welcomes the emotions and never, ever calls me to pretend it doesn't hurt or to "get back to normal." God calls me to forgive the unforgiveable, to receive and extend grace, to trust Him with justice and vengeance. I know I will see Josiah again.
Twelve Weeks.
* I miss everything about you
I just miss being around you
Outta sight, outta mind
Don't add up, not this time
It's the cold truth
I miss everything
*Everything About you by Toby Mac