Archive | April 2016

hospitality: a dream comes true…in morphed form

This village house we have … I used to lay awake an imagine making it into a paradise of luxury so that people couple rent it and come stay and enjoy village life for a while.

I used to think about this a lot. …. Luxury. We’re talking, jacuzzi bathtub, a veil hanging from the ceiling over the bed….. Luxury stuff.

Let’s calmly put those thoughts away in a box…. and burn them….

Well no! They are the seeds! Let’s plant them and let them die and then come to life!

The having guests part of the dream is coming true…. The first 2 weekends of May, we have 2 church groups coming to stay for a few days each, to host their activities. The singles’ group (Harmony) is the first weekend, and the church training (whoever signs up) is the second weekend.

Vitaliy and I went ourselves to work and clean. I about died … for about 5 seconds, then I started CLEANING. Sorting, storing, wiping, washing, rearranging …

Here’s the room from our house that we fitted up for moms with babies/kids:

20160426_112138_PanoAnd the bathroom. Hero Vitaliy put on gloves, moved out the washing machine and cleaned all around the toilet. Good man.

I did a little “staging” by making beds for the photos, putting in this little children’s toilet (potty training going on).

20160426_133019 20160426_132921

Then the rehab center, we cleaned out the two sleeping rooms– oh the spider webs and dirt under the beds. Oh the piles of used clothing. Oh, the bedding and towels to wash. Moved some furniture so it looks more orderly, and with some staging, it looks more inviting.

20160426_164026 20160426_164038All around, what a neat way to practice hospitality! I’m also thinking to help by running the kitchen during the training and by being the maid, seeing as I know where all the trash bags and cleaning stuff is.


Ukrainian culture: Palm Sunday pussy willows

Today, the week before Easter Sunday, features Palm Sunday.

Ukraine abounds with Ukrainian Orthodox traditions, of course. A few days before and on Palm Sunday, vendors sell small clusters of pussy willow branches.


See them lying on the table near the red tulips?


On Palm Sunday, you take your bundle of pussy willows to the Orthodox temple and the priest makes them holy by sprinkling them with holy water. Here is our neighborhood’s Orthodox temple:


Here is a couple carrying their made-holy pussy willows home.


At home, they are scattered about, or placed beside the icons, or kept in a vase somewhere. They are also scattered about other places, like the entryways of our apartment buildings. For example, In the entry of the House of Culture where our church rents the hall for services:


Culturally, it’s fascinating. But you know, Jesus makes His people holy, not a human priest, not their water, not the pussy willows. Really, it’s only Jesus– God, who became a man and lived without sin. His blood, applied to us by our faith in Him alone, makes us holy.

Thank you, God, for making us holy. For blessing us with holiness every day. For making our bodies into your holy temple by the Holy Spirit living in us.

2 Tim 1:9 “ He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.”

2 Тим. 1:9 “Спасшего нас и призвавшего званием святым, не по делам нашим, но по Своему изволению и благодати, данной нам во Христе Иисусе прежде вековых времем…”

hospitality journal 5 & Ukrainian culture: Kissel

My note for my hospitality journal today was that I put in effort to make 3 salads to take to the house of some friends today. Vitaliy marinated the shashlik, too. It was a nice afternoon and a great feast. They have always fed me well the years I’ve known them, and I spent a lot of time in their house during my early years in Ukraine when I knew so little about food prep here. I was thinking how much I’ve grown in my knowledge and practice the 12 years I’ve been married here!

I didn’t photograph any of the salads. But here are the tulips and green onions we brought back from their beautiful garden:


This friend also cut three stalks of her rhubarb plant, and quickly told me how to make kissel. It’s a thick drink here. Here’s the wiki article about kissel— apparently it’s pretty popular in this region of the world.

Cut off the leaf top, peel the stalk, I used 600 ml of water for the 3 stalks; She said to boil them ( did them in the pressure cooker), added sugar (almost 2/3 cup). When done in the pressure cooker, I strained out the rhubarb and put it in pot to boil again. Mixed up corn starch (maybe 1/4 – 1/2 cup) with boiled water from the chainik–stirred it up so it wasn’t lumpy, then added it to the kissel and stirred with a whisk.


My kissel wasn’t very thick or too sweet– Vitaliy was my taster and said he liked it like that.

Wow. I never imagined making kissel. I don’t really like it or drink it. But hey! there we go.

My next Ukrainian project is making the traditional Easter sweet bread thingys.

Кен Робинсон и домашнее образование

Кен Робинсон говорит (и пишет) о важных, глобальных изменениями в системе образования. Очень полезно слушать его идеи и мысли, и примерить их в домашних условиях. Не ждите пока “они” что-то меняют. Изменении начинают с человеком … первым, вторим, третем …

Подумайте, анализируйте– что здесь важно? Как это понять? Что мы можем сделать дома? Как применять к нашу школу?






I feel exactly like I’ve molted.


1. to cast or shed the feathers, skin, or the like, that will be replaced by a new growth.
2. to cast or shed (feathers, skin, etc.) in the process of renewal.

Today, in all this long process of analyzing my life, I feel like a new person is starting to come out.

First, a few days ago, I started thinking that I’m probably dealing with disappointment rather than depression. So I read a bunch of stuff about the difference between those two things and how to resolve disappointment.

Second, I am willing at this point to resolve disappointment, rather than live in bitterness or disillusionment. This is important. I’m not sure I always would have been ready for this. It’s been a years’ long process of getting ready for this.

Third, working through to humility and acceptance is giving me a renewed sense of hope and excitement about life.

I’m able to take with me (further into life) the good things I’ve learned and experienced in these “disappointment years,” like becoming a doula, having home and unattended births, and learning about gentle parenting. And now I can leave behind the things that are causing me disappointment, frustration, and feelings of unfulfillment– not becoming a midwife, why did I attend BJ? and XX?  … And I can see and appreciate the connection between the frustrating things having led me into the good things I have now. My desire to be a midwife led me to great births and better parenting. Attending BJ and XX is exactly what led me to Vitaliy. 

Accepting my life as I am now (rather than living in frustration of who I am not and what I am not doing) gives me joy. I prayed today, just excited that I am adult, that I have four kids, live in Ukraine, we home school.

I’m able to feel emotional value of those things in my heart! It’s so joyful!

I’m very thankful for all this, and I’m trying to hold on to these moments and not rush out of this. Next steps begin to crystallize.

Home schooling: I need to become my well-researched, non-conformist, confident self. So I’m in the process of becoming this. I’m reading, researching, being open to God’s leading.

This might sound stupid, but it’s important to me. I want to get my weight to a good place. I’ve regained 14 lbs, and it irritates me to death. So, this is one of the priorities of this next half of my life. Get those 14 lbs back off and keep them off…. Doing that.

Enjoying the moments. With little kids. Not all of them, but more of them. And to be an enjoyable person, not one weighted down by the past.

Another thing I realized was that the dreams I feel frustrated about– like not doing birth work and not doing certain ministries that I love– God gave me a sense of hope. That hey, my life is not lived yet. Anything can happen! But living this period well is essential to moving into a good future.


For me, fundraising is definitely a journey. I’ve come into this with a lot of baggage. However, I also am thankful for this journey. It has given me rich experiences, especially as a missionary, which have taught me a lot.

Fundraising has been a matter of prayer for years, and I’ve gone through periods of intense questioning and learning. I don’t remember now what brought up this current period. … Oh, yes. Now I remember some of it … and I’m not going to tell you about it.


Let me just share the current progress.

Vitaliy and I are reading and re-reading Scott Morton’s book, Funding Your Ministry. He answers every question of conscience I’ve ever had, and even some I haven’t had–imagine that.  He has a whole chapter on the subject of conscience, so hey, I am not alone.

Insert thankfulness here: Thankful for Vitaliy and I going through this together. For our shared concerns about fundraising and our shared answers.

We worked through the budget in the back of the book and made up a budget that’s been approved by our mission agency. Our mission agency is also going through a phase of growth about this topic, so we are all growing together, and that’s another good thing. God is matching us up.

Thankfulness insert: We are currently at approximately 32% support…. That’s a good thing ,too!  We’re not starting this cycle from zero.

Vitaliy’s swamped with ministry stuff right now–let me just write that out– you can pray for him! 2 upcoming days of Easter evangelism (May 1-2), a week of counseling classes (May 3-5), homework for that course (ongoing), and getting ready for the church training in May 6-8. But we’re slowly going through Morton’s book and working through incorporating his suggestions.

Thankfulness insert: Our faithful supporters and supporting churches. They are generous and good to us, and we are just amazed by the Lord living in them.

We recently firmed up dates for our next trip to the States, August 2017. And our mission agency wants us to be at full support before we return, so we will be busy planning our time there even now.

This is all terribly exciting.

some pretty photos

I was dinking around with the “magic focus” feature on my phone camera, and these photos were interesting:

A spring bud:


Our tea (I think it’s thyme): 20160410_155553


Our mulberry jellly:


My salad (named “Armenia”)


Another spring bud:


2-language kid


I want to remember a couple of words that Andre makes up that mix English and Russian.

Two examples: “Я хочу сидеть на lap-е.” He is saying, “I want to sit on [your] lap. So he says, “I want to sit on” in Russian, then says “lap” in English, and adds the Russian prepositional ending -e (said like yeh).

Yesterday, we were eating blinchiki with babushka’s yummy strawberry varenya/jelly, and he poured on too much, then asked, “Можно от-lick-ать?” He’s asking, “Can I lick it off?” (He likes eating like a dog sometimes.)


от is a Russian verb prefix which has kind of the meaning of taking something away.

lick– English, to lick

ать– the Russian infinitive ending of most verbs.

He does a lot of funny things like this. It’s fun to watch. I don’t remember it so much with Skyla and Vika, but with Andre it’s very noticeable. He’s very verbal and exact generally.


I was texting my SIL in Togo last night (amazing, right?), and we got to chatting about our next trip to the U..S. (2017-ish), and I’ve been having strange apprehensions this time around about what is usually a welcome time. So I wrote out my specific apprehensions, and  I want to list them here and figure out ways to work through them.

beautiful image I caught yesterday-- worthy of a calendar!

beautiful image I caught yesterday– worthy of a calendar!

  1. I feel more and more of an outsider when I go back to America. Fourteen to fifteen years of history have been lived without me, and I feel less and less American in my cultural experiences and expectations. … This political season in the U.S. has a certain darkness to it that is …. weird to me. Instead of solidarity or patriotism, it’s feels, from afar, like a long, slow earthquake is creating new fracture lines…. And at the same time, it becomes harder and harder for me to sympathize with certain issues, because … I am just in tears thinking about how glad so many people on earth would be for the chance to live in America. From the outside, from the 2nd- and 3rd-world outside specifically, it’s an amazing place of wealth, freedom, and opportunity … comparatively speaking.
    1. My answer for this, so far, is our home church. They are an amazing place of healing and diverse unity. The oaks of righteousness. The shining stars of my life. They are not perfect, but I think of them, and I am comforted knowing that I am going there. They are so good at loving and making people feel loved.
  2. We are considering putting Skyla and Vika into school.This raises of huge level of stress for me.
    1. So I talked to Vitaliy, and we are both OK with not putting them in school. We’ll delay this decision, and home schooling is a fine option, too.
  3. Fundraising. Period.
    1. We are reading Scott Morton’s book Funding Your Ministry, and … we may start this process while we’re still here, in our comfort zone. Fundraising takes us out of our comfort zone, so maybe it’s better to ease into it while we’re still here in our comfortable place. …. We’ll see.