when we ‘naturally’ criticize someone


In my last post, I mentioned a life situation in which I ‘naturally’ habitually criticize someone (or two…). And I feel so right and justified in my opinions, that I don’t even realize I’m having a critical spirit. For me, it’s usually leadership figures that irk me somehow.

(** Pause to say that I’m not talking about constructive criticism, if you know what I mean.)

Someone asked me what to do with those critical thoughts when you realize they are a sinful pattern of thinking. We can’t just leave a vacuum in our minds.

This is a great question, and I don’t have all the answers. But I will write a few answers that I see working in my life.

First, I want to say that as I’ve aged, there is one element of Christianity that I appreciate more and more: being open to change. Christianity teaches us to be open to being changed. Rather than rooting deeper and deeper into sinful habits, we’re taught to be open to God’s transforming power, to becoming like Christ.

This dawned on me when I realized that some people think, say, and do wrong things, and they might never think to stop it, to change, to become more like the brilliant life-liver that Christ was. (Christ lived the most brilliant life EVER; He is a glorious pattern of life.)

Second, about criticism particularly. I ask myself how Christ thought about, spoke about, and treated people. He had every right, every speck of knowledge, in order to be correctly critical of every. single. person. ever alive. He could be standing before His Father criticizing us, and He could be RIGHT about it.

And maybe that’s one way to understand our critical spirits– it might be true, but it’s not lovingkindness. And when truth is not united with lovingkindness, it’s not Christ.

Second, I make a serious agreement with God: 1. I will stop running the tape of critical thoughts through my brain. I actually made a list of things that God would like me to think about to take the place of those critical thoughts– my husband, my kids, God’s Word, etc. I posted this in my kitchen. 2. I will stop the words, even (especially!) to those closest to me that I feel free to criticize to about those people that bug me (I’m most open to my my husband and a few close friends, so those are the people who hear my critical thoughts because I know they are sympathetic to my opinion). I told God that I would STOP. And really, why pollute my closest relationships with my negativity about others? In one way, I feel like I’m trapping myself off from my only ways of expressing myself, but you know, I don’t need to express those sinful things to anyone anyway! I had to Just Stop. Stop the thoughts, stop the channels in relationships with those who listen to me.

Third, like Christ, we begin interceding. This is what Christ did and does for us. In His long prayer in John, He intercedes for us about out unity– that we would be one.

Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.

Jesus is probably praying right now for our unity– that we be one even as He is with the Father. And He prays that His joy be fulfilled in us!

It helps me to remember this. And to remember that unity and joy go together. Those that I criticize–  well, in our shared faith in our Savior, I have more in common with them than I do with most people in the world.

Those are some thoughts that have helped me with the tendency to criticize.

friendship with God


We’ve been in the States a month now. I’ve read these three books:

  • Max Lucado’s God’s Story, Your Story
  • Henry Blackaby’s Created to Be God’s Friend
  • Eric Metaxas’ 7 Women

One theme God keeps bringing up in my life is how friendship with Him is connected to obedience– intimacy comes with a commitment to follow God’s ways. I’ve heard and known this for years, but it’s a truth God is bring up over and over in my life right now.

Part of friendship is constantly being ready to change myself–to change my thoughts, words, and actions when God shows me that they are not His ways. By being open and willing to change (rather than stubbornly rooting myself in the thoughts and reactions that came naturally and initially out of my heart) God is able to lead me into greater closeness to him when I let His thoughts take their place.

For example, there was a person in my life I’ve had a critcal spirit towards for several years, and it didn’t occur to me that this was sinful–it just was ‘naturally’ the reaction I had to this person. Vitaliy brought this up not long ago and recommended that I think about changing this, and I immediately knew that he was right; it was thoughts and words I needed to change.

This has come up in other areas of life, nothing earth shattering, but it’s very life-giving when I realize that I’m not following God’s thoughts in these areas. Along with this, a new truth dawned on me. The verses in James about wisdom being pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, etc. aren’t just talking about situational wisdom. It’s all the time wisdom. All my thoughts all the time about everything should be characterized by this heavenly wisdom. All my thoughts all the time about everything should be full of mercy, reasonable, pure, gentle….

All my thoughts about fundraising– and I am learning a lot about how God wants me to think about this– should be characterized by this, too. (More on that later.)

So, I’m being led deeper into obedience and friendship, which is why I like reading Blackaby and Lucado, because I think they’re down this way further than I am and know how to speak about it. I wish I were a lot further then I am now, but …. oh well.

when old questions resurface


I’m very thankful God doesn’t tire of my questions. I go through cyclical phases of questioning the value of my life, and God takes me cyclically deeper and deeper into His ways.

(I’ve had to become OK with my cyclical questioning, too. I think it’s an essential part of my personality.)

So a few days back, I started feeling all my familiar poopiness about my life–why am I here? why am I alive? what is the value of what I do and am?

This time, God led me to delve into Sally Clarkson’s teachings. She’s a great vision-caster for moms, and I need vision. And I listened to several of her podcasts and lectures, and one was about leadership.

And as I read through the verses she attached, I was very struck by Proverbs 4:18, “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.”

And I realized that my life, as a righteous person, is not dimming out because I’ve buried several dreams and stopped doing some ministries I love. I feel as though my life’s gotten dimmer the last few years, like my reasons for being excited about life have slowly been put out. And I’ve become an un-excited person. A person who doens’t really look forward to waking up another day, a person who’s enduring years not understanding their value.

In this new apartment we bought, we’re up very high– the 23rd and 24th floors! And one window looks out on the sunrise and other windows look out on the sunset.

And this verse that “the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn” has special meaning for me now that I’ve watched a few sunrises. They are gorgeous.

And God says my life is like that. It’s ilke that NOW. This is another answer to my cyclical questions about the value and meaning of my life.

And I will accept this by faith. And I ask God that I would experience this reality in the complete unity of my person—the reality of my life becoming brighter and brighter.

But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.


moy 42 rozhdeniya: net nachala, net kontsa


Итак, сегодня мой 42-й день рождения.

Я чувствую, что я в таком жизненом ситуации как описана Дональдом Миллером в его книге «Миллион миль за тысячу лет». Он описывает поездку на бардарке в темноте, и он рассказывает о том, как в каждом жизненом поездке, вы добираетесь до трудной середины – волнение и радость начала, когда с ожиданием отталкивали с берега– эти чувства рассеялись. И великое предназначение, к которому вы пливете еще не видно.

И вы находитесь в этом трудном среднем месте, где вам просто нужно грести веслами по вере.

И в последнее время я чувствую это место. Подобно тому, как Бог призывает меня к тому времени, когда дисциплины сложнее, потому, что нет особые волнения или радости от начала или конца. Это просто верный гребля.

Брак, воспитание детей, домашная школа, служение, отношение с Богом …

Это хорошее место. Место, где нужно идти глубже в другом, более сложном, более зрелом способом. Держать огонь живым и ярким, когда нет ни начала, ни конца.

Дорогой Бог, пожалуйста, встреть меня и благослови меня в этом месте. Хочу быть полностью верным до захватывающего конца!

My 42nd birthday: No beginning, no end


So today is my 42nd birthday.

I feel like the situation described by Donald Miller in his book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. He describes a boat trip in the dark, and he talks about how you get to the hard middle– the excitement of pushing off from shore has dissipated and the great destination to which you’re going is also not yet visible.

And you’re in this hard middle place where you just have to paddle by faith.

And lately I feel this place. Like God’s calling me to a time where disciplines are harder because there’s no excitement of the beginning or the end. It’s just faithful paddling.

Marriage, child rearing, home schooling, ministry.

It’s a good place. A place where one has to go deeper in a different, harder, more mature way. To keep the fires alive and bright when there’s no beginning or end in sight.

Dear God, please meet me and bless me in this place. May I be completely faithful to the exciting end!

kak mi zhenilis


Как мы женились

Я хочу записать что-то, который случилось много лет назад– летом 2003 года, я думаю– до того, как мы были женаты, и это было частью истории, ведущей к нашему браку.

Я об этом довольно редко говорю.

В первый раз, когда Виталий сделал мне предложение (выйти за него замуж), я сказала «нет». Потому, что я была слишком напугана, чтобы сказать «да». Хотя на самом деле я хотела сказать «да». Но да, значит, рисковать многими вещами, и я не люблю рисковать.

Итак, пошло второй круг с этим вопросом, и мне нужно было решить, буду ли я говорить «да», и вытий за него замуж? Я действительно хотела сказать «да».

Раньше, кто-то упомянул о том, как Бог обычно использует узоры в том, как Он ведет нас. И я видела узор в моей жизни – когда у меня было огромное решение– что-то который только я могла бы различить правильное или неправильное это для меня (т.е. о чем-то не явно написано в Библии), наступал момент абсолютной уверенности. Я имею в виду какой-то внутрений явление Святого Духа, и я знала без единого сомнения, что если бы я сделала или не сделала этого (как личную волю Бога для моей жизни), это было бы грехом для меня.

Обычно это сопровождалось длительным, интенсивным желанием сделать это– интенсивным желанием, которое Бог не выполнил довольно долго.

Я помню, как это происходило, когда я много раз пытался приехать в Украину как миссионерка. Бог всегда так или иначе сообщил (никогда через обстоятельствах, которые обычно сообщил мне  противоположным) – Он сообщал моей душе, что ТЫ НЕ МОЖЕШЬ воспользоваться этой возможностью, и если бы я это сделала, я грешила бы против Его воли для меня.

Но однажды я получила электронное письмо с нужде преподавателя английского языка в небольшом библейском институте в Украине, и в тот момент я знала от Святого Духа, что это мой призыв … Ну, это был очень отчетливый тип знания.

Итак, лето 2003 года– Виталий. Я должна это решить. И я сказала Богу, что это такой серьезный шаг (выйти замуж), что я не могла бы это сделать, если бы Он не дал мне этого уверенного, отличного знания, что это Его воля.

И я постилась. В течение примерно 3 недель пила только жидкости или что-то в этом роде – вода. Я часами гуляла в лесу, слушала музыку похваления, и молилась о разных вещах.

И вот, настал тот момент, когда Бог служил мне через Его Святую Духу, и я знала, что я должна сделать это (жениться на Виталию). Я тогда жила в типичным, старым, украинским доме (даже стиральной машины не было). Я сидела на кухне, читая книгу Франсин Риверс Сад Лиоты, и это было в течение всех этих дней поста, и внезапно я ЗНАЛА. Я знала с этим уникальным знанием, что должна выйти замуж за Виталием.

Я стала на колени у своего стула и помолилась … что-то, я не помню, что.

Я вспоминаю все это потому, что вчера вечером я была очень, очень благодарна за это знание, за это верное руководство от Бога. Зная, что эта жизнь и все последствия для меня, и для наших детей– что все это не какая-то случайность или ошибка, или результат случайного или плотского решения.

В таких случаях, Бог также работает. Но вчера вечером я утешилась и укрепила себя с этми прошлым опытом, когда Он с увереннным голосом дал мне знать Его воли. Спасибо Тебе, Отец.

Zakrivayu odny glavu zhizni: grudnoye vkarmlivaniye


Закрываю одну главу жизни: грудное вскармливаине

Двенадцать лет.  Да. То же самое время, что и от первого до двенадцатого классов (в нашей Американской системе школы). За исключением нескольких месяцев, я кормила грудью двенадцать лет подряд.

Я подумала, и решила эмоциональный тон, который я застрою в конце этой главы моей жизни– хочу быть благодарным и радоваться. (Могу и плакать и грустить, но почему не празновать, как Авраам праздновал отлучение Исаак в Бытие 21:8 “Дитя выросло и отнято от груди; и Авраам сделал большой пир в тот день, когда Исаак отнят был от груди”.)

Мне действительно понравилось этот период жизни. Ну, я не люблю все, что касается грудного вскармливания – это иногда скучно для моего тела (сидеть или лежать, когда я этого не хочу), и боролась иногда с неудобными телесными искажениями (ха ха), и с постоянными просьбами из грудного ребенка, и т. д.

НО, Большая Картинка Жизни: я благодарна, что я так много кормила грудью. Благословения перевешивают минусы. Это легкий и относительно восхитительный способ связаться с моими детьми, служить им эмоционально, успокаивать их, и т. Д. Мне нравится, как Бог разработал грудное вскармливание. Как и во всех Божьих замыслах, это У.ДИ.ВИ.ТЕЛЬ.НО!

Ни одно из моих слов не может передать то, что в моем сердце об этих 12 лет грудного вскармливания, и все это означало для нашей семьи, но я хотела что-то написать. На памать.

Я навероно больше об этом напишу на будущем, когда у меня есть что-то глубже сказать, но сейчас я просто иду через этот переход.

staying engaged, ie, keeping a soft heart


So, relationships. (And this post assumes basically healthy persons involved, not abusive situations.)

This is an important relationship principle that I’ve notice with the gathering of years in marriage:

Keep choosing the soft heart

One miracle God did/does at salvation is trade hearts– He gives us a heart of flesh where once we had a heart of stone. God talks of this in a prophecy He spoke in Ezekiel.

“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ez. 36:26

“”And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh.” Ez. 11:19


I know those are prophetic words, but the principle is a great one. In relationships, especially marriage, there are moments when we are tempted to harden our hearts towards the other person– to harden in a way that begins to permanently change the way we relate to the other person.

This is very dangerous. It’s a hardening, a closing of your positive, loving thoughts and emotions, a refusal to give your goodwill, limiting your connection, your friendship.

It’s so tempting because you feel so justified in doing it, so angry about something. But in reality, it’s walking into Satan’s plans for your destruction. It not how Jesus, the Relationship Master, walked.

One night the year we were first married, Vitaliy and I had argued about something, and we were laying in bed grumpy, back to back. And I was tempted to harden my heart. And I remember thinking something like, ok, so he makes me mad, but who else do I have to go to for comfort? So I made myself turn back over and hug him for comfort.

And it was one of the best precedents I could ever set. Because we’ve had to do that over and over. Choose to turn back, choose soft, choose to remain engaged and committed to friendship, to our vows to love.

In other words: Say No to Drugs Hardening Your Heart

And if you’ve hardened, God is the Master Softener. Really.

Closing a chapter of life: breastfeeding


Twelve years, ya’ll. The same time as going from First through Twelfth grades. With the exception of a few months, I’ve been breastfeeding for twelve years straight.

In deciding the emotional tone I’ll take at the ending of this chapter of my life, I’ve decided to be thankful and to rejoice.

I’ve actually really enjoyed it. Well, I don’t love everything about breastfeeding– it’s kind of boring for my body (to sit or lay when I don’t want to) and I struggle with the bodily contortions required, the persistent asking of various kids, etc.

BUT, Big Picture, I’m thankful I’ve breastfed so much. The blessings way outweigh the minuses. It’s an easy and relatively delightful way to connect with my kids, serve them emotionally, comfort them, etc. I love how God designed breastfeeding. As with all God’s designs, it’s AY.MAY.ZING.

None of my words can convey my heart about 12 years of breastfeeding and all it’s meant to our family, but I wanted to put something down. For the record.

I may come back to this when I have something profound to say, but for now, I’m just walking through the transition.

how we got married


I want to record something that happened years ago, in the summer of 2003, I think, before we were married, that was part of the story leading to our marriage.

I don’t talk about this a lot.

The first time Vitaliy asked me to marry him, I said no. Becuase I was too scared to say yes. Though I wanted to say yes, actually. But yes meant risking a lot of things and I’m not a risk lover.

So, we were into our second time around, me having to decide if I was going to say yes. I really wanted to say yes.

But, someone had mentioned before about how God usually uses patterns in how He leads us. And I had seen a pattern in my life– when it was a huge decision that only I could discern right or wrong, that if it was right, a moment of absolute surety would come. I mean, some gift from the Holy Spirit that I knew without a single doubt that if I did or didn’t do this thing (as God’s personal will for my life), it would be sin.

It was usually preceeded by a long, intense desire to do it, an intense desire that God would not fulfill for quite a while.

I remember this happening as I tried so many times to come to Ukraine as a missionary. God would always communicate somehow– never through circumstances, which usually communicated the opposite–He would communicate to my soul that I WAS. NOT. to pursue that opportunity and that if I did, I would be sinning against His will.

But then one time I got an email asking for an English teacher for a little Bible institute in Ukraine– and at that moment I knew, from the Holy Spirit, that this was my call– Well, it was a very distinct type of knowing.

So, summer of 2003, Vitaliy. I have to decide this. And I told God that this was such a serious step that I would not commmit to it unless He gave me that sure, distinct knowing that this was His will.

And I fasted. For about 3 weeks, it was only liquids or something like that–water. I spent hours walking, listening to praise music, and praying about any number of things.

And then, that moment came when God ministered to me, through His Holy Spiirt, that distinct knowing that I HAD to do this something (which was marry Vitaliy). I was living in a basic oh-so-Ukrainian house, (There was no washing machine even.) I was sitting in the kitchen reading Francine River’s book Leota’s Garden, and it was during all these days of fasting, and suddenly I KNEW. I knew I had to marry Vitaliy.

I got down on my knees by my chair and prayed … something, I don’t remember what.

I am relating all this because last night, I was very, very thankful for that knowing, for that sure direction from God. For knowing that this life and all it’s repercussions in my life, my childrens’ lives, that all of it is not some fluke or mistake or coming out of a casual or fleshly decision.

God works just was well in those cases, too. But last night I was comforting and strengthening myself with this past experience of experiencing the surety of His will. Thank you, God.

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