Archive | November 2017

lessons from birth: it’s not just a body giving birth

I want to snatch these 5 minutes to type this out, otherwise it will speed by, and I won’t record this.

I was at a birth 2 nights back, and I was having so many thoughts as she was laboring, and I was with her. We were in the darkened kitchen/livingroom with the half-sized Christmas tree with it’s lovely lights winking in the wee hours of the night.

Her husband and little baby were sleeping in the other room. She was hands and knees going through the intensity, quietly moaning, rocking. I was quiet, rubbing down her back.

It was a rich time in the mostly-dark night when I have to stand in one place and think about one thing. First I began by asking myself, Why am I even here? Her body can do this. She doesn’t need me here. It’s a beautifully-designed hormonal, physical process that her body and her baby will just do together.

And my mind wandered to those ancient midwives, Hebrews, Shiphrah and Puah, and how they saved boy babies lives by not murdering them at birth as Pharoah had commanded. They had been there. They had stood in the nights by quietly laboring women.

And it dawned on me, gradually, after I left that birth …. More than a body is giving birth. More than a hormonal process is happening. A woman’s soul is passing through an amazing experience. She’s having a trial, too, a hardship, even one that brings great joy. And it’s wonderful to have someone near you in the birthing, the working out that only your body can do and experience.

I can’t experience her pain, but I have expereinced the same event and it’s pain that was for me. And I can stand near and comfort her soul and body as she passes through what is happening to her.

… Those were some of my lessons from this beautiful night. Understanding that birth IS a hormonal process (involuntary) is essential. But it’s spiritual, too, in many ways. It’s more than a woman’s body giving birth. .

two things I really like about American Christianity

Two things I want to touch on that I like about American Christianity, that I’ve noticed might be somewhat “American,” but I really appreciate what they’ve added to my life. (And it might be the same in other western cutures, I just don’t have a deep experience with other western cultures as I’ve had with non-western cultures. So I don’t know if these two things are characteristic of “Western Christianity” or if they’re “American,” so I may be mis-labeling).

One is the focus on having a personal relationship with God. Perhaps we miss some things because we don’t so much emphasize our collective relationship with God, but I really appreciate the emphasis on the personal.

Second, I appreaciate the American wealth of information and books for intellectual growth. While information doesn’t equal a growing relationship with God, when one is in a relationship with God, fellowshipping with all these other Christians through their books and knowledge adds a lot to my life.

I may enjoy these two things because I’m American and I don’t know differently, but I’ve seen alternatives to this— lack of personal emphasis and lack of knowledge– and it’s made me appreciate these things.


trying to figure out Jesus, Social Justice, Suffering, Serving

I’m sure reams and reams have been written about this already, but I’m going through this process of exploration and discovery myself right now, and I’m not really ready to “read all the answers” in some book. I want God to give me answers through the process. I discover so many things in these processes, I almost dislike the end, when resolution comes. (Though that’s good, too.)

Word to the wise: I like questions. I like open, exploratory, many-answers questions, and leaving some things indefinite. Some people hate this, and if you are like that, I appreciate you, and you might just want to step away now. 😀

I’m trying to work into this topic, but as you can see, I keep circling and circling without really starting. Let me try to start.


Social Justice Jesus vs. Suffering Jesus

I’m not writing criticism; I’m trying simply to write my observations and experiences and then try to make sense of it to incorporate it into my life.

I grew up with what I kind of understand now to be a Social Justice Jesus. Jesus sees wrong, He rights the wrong. He may suffer doing it, but at the end, He’s the hero, and right wins.

I’m shocked now at how much this sounds like Superman, or any number of American films.

I was with a Georgian (the country) woman last night, talking about hard it is for Vitaliy and I to watch any movies together. Ukrainian (Soviet) movies are so depressing—war, the hero dies, the lovers are parted—it’s just … so pitiful. He says they are written this way because this is what really happened.

Whereas, I love American films—Harrison Ford, Denzel Washington, you know …. Action, good/bad, justice, ethics-loving heroics. Resolution for the heart and head.

And she said, yes, Georgians joke about that, too, how American films have “perfect” endings. And she talked about the Georgian expression—something like, when something good happens, something bad is not far behind. And how they live with an expectation of bad things happening and good things are only momentary and easily dissolved.

Which brings me to suffering Jesus. As an American I don’t think I would have listened to or accepted anyone teaching me about suffering Jesus. I mean, a Jesus who sees people suffering and doesn’t try to Save! them from that social/physical suffering. How can one see social injustice and NOT take (political? physical?) action to correct it? It didn’t fit into my picture of Christ.

The suffering Jesus who was killed at the hands of the Pharisees & co. and the Romans. All His life, He saw many social/religious injustices that they were doing, and He didn’t try to fight or change them really. He suffered them.

Living in a post-Soviet country for 15 years has messed with my brain, messed with my Social Justice Jesus image. I was the Social Justice Jesus follower when I came to Ukraine, and I eventually realized why Ukrainians weren’t fighters—because if you fight for justice, you get killed and justice doesn’t end up happening; things could just get worse. I was just in a conversation with a Russian pastor, and he was also talking about this—that revolutions don’t work; they just bring so much suffering, and then politically, things get even worse.

That’s their experience, and it becomes their expression of Jesus. Just like Americans’ experience becomes their experession.

Now, I’m going to switch tracts and try to outline some problems I’ve seen and personally experienced with the Fight-for-Justice Jesus paradigm:

First: I experienced anger. Ungodly anger, directed towards A. those directly doing harmful things B. those in the higher “systems” that created the system where this injustice was perpetrated C. towards the victims because they continue to walk into it when they really had other, however-non-socially-acceptable options. D. Those who weren’t as upset about it as I was.

This anger began to deform me. And I finally realized that my anger was simply harming me, limiting interaction with those on all sides that I hoped to help, and that my anger would change basically nothing about the situation. Plus, I realized my own anger was the same type of anger that was in the hearts of those perpetrating injustice! I was no better than they were!

Second: I realized that God had not put me in a position to influence the whole system of injustice. Well, not in a leadership position. I could pray. I could put a bandaid on things here or there. But I wasn’t the one God would use to enact systemic change.

I think many of us flounder with this. Because we want to do something. But our “arms,” so to speak, don’t really reach into the realm of actually changing the systems. Nor into the hearts of those perpetrating all this.

I also realized that “victim” is a relative terms. The victim might be a perpetrator when occupying a different place in the system.

Some answers to all this I’ve found so far:: We … maybe have to become content with the smallness of our lives. That we can “only” reach the individuals God puts in our paths. Or we can “only” send money. Or we can “only” write a letter or make a phone call here or there. We will not be Superman changing the entire fabric and direction of a place.

Second:: I had to forgive. And I had to start acting out towards all sides with love. And is this not the cornerstone of justice and reconciliation in Christianity? I had to forgive and open my heart for God’s love to come for all the people in these situations. And to humble myself, to not use my rightness to injure everyone, in all my big desire to “help.” For rightness without love stops being right. It’s not Jesus’ rightness. It’s rightness in the service of our flesh and satan; a rightness that destroys very people rather than destroying the dark spiritual forces around those people.

And sometimes I have to counsel victims, and … I can’t counsel them to fight for social justice for themselves. I have to counsel them with that God has counseled me– to be the suffering Jesus, to know Jesus experientially in injustice.

I guess I’m trying to find how to express in my own life Serving Jesus. Because Jesus set Himself against the systems of the scribes and Pharisees. But Jesus also suffered it; He suffered great injustice and disrespect without demanding that it be righted. He did both in service to us.

So I’m searching for the expression of the Serving Jesus, pondering, thinking about this.

odin obichni den i kak zhit eyo radi chevo to bolshe

один обычный день … и как жизнь ее ради чего-то больше

Виталий рано ушла, чтобы преподавать курс Кайрос (о сердце Бога для народов, миссионерстве, и как церковь выполняет Великое Поручение).

Мы с детьми остались дома, занимались школой, уборкой, и т.д. Мы ходили в Магелан (наш ТЦ) вместе, обедали.

Потом мы шли домой и смотрели “Властелин колец”. Мне очень нравится эту историю. Она явно показывает добро против зло. И она тоже показывает, что жизнь состоит из чего-то больше чем своей cобственной жизни. Есть что-то больше, для чего стоить жертвовать, и не просто жить ради собственных удоволствий.

Надеюсь, что так и живем 🙂

vibiriya bole trudnuyu molitvy

Выбирая более трудную молитву

Молитвенная жизнь Иисуса полная, совершенная, и в ней столько уроков!

Вот, краткий пример урока, который очень тронул меня. Иисус в Гефсиманский Саду перед Его страдания.

Душа Моя теперь возмутилась; и что Мне сказать? Отче! избавь Меня от часа сего! Но на сей час Я и пришел. Отче! прославь имя Твое. Иоанна 12:27-28а

Такой момент! Иисус позволяет нам близко видеть то, что происходить в Его молитвенную жизнь, в Его разуме, когда Он молится.

Он осмотривает то, что был бы Ему легко просить: “Отец, спаси меня с этого часа”.

И да, сколько раз я так молилась?! “Просто дай мне обойтись эту болью, пожалуйста, Боже. Ведь, такая боль не может быть Твоей волей для меня”! …. Не так ли?

Мне даже не приходит в голову, что есть другой путь? другая просьба? Иисус это знал.

“На сей час Я и пришел”.

Он выбирал правильную молитву. …. Он знает волю Отца, Их план, придуман прежде сотворения мира. И Он молился о том, чтобы Божья воля была совершена на земле, как и на небе.

“Отче! прослав Имя Твое”.

Такой пример для меня: В молитве Он выбрал более трудную молитву.

Он выбрал правильную молитву. Он выбрал молитву, в которой состоял Божей план, Божей слави, и Боже воли.

И это Человек, за которым я следую…. Иисус, уча меня как молиться.

Vitaliy priyehal domoy i moi zhizneni uroki

Виталий приехал вчера– он неделю был далеко от нас, в Монголии.

Вечер был веселым– встретили, разобрались подарками, пили монголский чай (он же находиться на границу Китая).

Когда я вышла замуж за Виталия, я конечно не поняла все “последствия” нашего союза. И Виталий тоже не знал 🙂 Никто не знает! Кроме Бог.

И это хорошо.

Иногда, мне кажется, что я должна жертвовать слишком много из своих мечтов ради детей, и ради того, что я имею муж-евангелист. Он часто в разъездах, жизнь бывает очень спонтанно– трудно планировать.И еще и еще…..

Раньше, мои жертвы ради брака оказались для меня большие, тяжелие.

Но с годами, некоторые мыслил, факты, и истина мне утешают и направляют:

  1. Виталий очень много и для нас жертвует тоже. Это не только я. Он во многих тоже ограничивает себя.
  2. Вообще, я выбрала жизнь, которую я хотела. Мы миссионеры; я рада, что у нас 4 детей; я рада их обучать дома. И конечно, в этих решеньи есть то, что приносить мне неудобство. Это и везде.И с этими решениями, я должна отказывать от других вещей.
  3. У меня есть друзьи, которые работают, развывают себя не в рамке семьи. Им конечно легче, ни так ли? …. Кажется, что им тоже сложно– переживают о детях, имеют неудобство и жалоби с работой, чувствую что спешят слишком, что жизнь не такая, какая они представляли. Итог: Когда есть дети, получается по-любому, что надо много жертвовать.
  4. Служение и работа Виталия мне наполняет. Он часто мне говорит, что все его плода–это и мои плода тоже. Я очень рада для того, что он делает.
  5. Я учусь сосредоточивать на благословении и радости в этом моменте, на этот день, и не думать о том, что не имею и не делаю.
  6. Я очень рада, что я развиваю в сферах, которых я некогда раньше не думала. Это мне очень ценно


this mid-November day

My to-do list for this day is done. It’s not all I have to do, but it was the main things.

Vitaliy’s returning today after a week in Mongolia, so! We deep cleaned the girls’ room, and Skyla organized her tsuniamic-proportions craft supplies. Phew. That feels good.

Then, soup with meatballs (a Ukrainian dish). I fried the meatballs first, which might not be traditional, but we like it better that way. Meatballs frying, soup boiling.

Andre and I had a project we wanted to do together– cookies with frosting! On the way to the store we stopped for cocoa with marshmallows (A) and latte (me). Then we bought the butter, eggs, stuff like that.

Una plays at the sink, like she’s washing dishes.She also likes to sit on a stool and listen to our CD of children’s Bible songs.

Andre put on Skyla’s coat that zips up the entire way! He says it makes him like spiderman. 

Andre and Una at the sink togetherVika and Andre devouring the orange we bought

it’s  been a good day so far!




shto ya ponyala ot (duhovnoy) ditsipline grudnovo vskarmlivaniya

Моя квалификация, чтобы писать этот пост о грудном вскарливанием заключается в том, что я кормила и кормлю грудью уже больше двенадцать лет. Конечно, есть и другие мамы, у которых есть больше опыта по грудного вскармливания, поэтому они, вероятно, знают больше. Я также кормила грудью длительные периоды времени. Больше года, четыре года, больше три года, и теперь и три года с плюсом. (У нас четверо детей.)

В Ветхом Завете Бог часто показывал Себя через типы и символы. Для меня грудное вскармливание стало живым типом или символическим актом того, как Бог хочет, чтобы мы понимали Его и Его сердце к нам.

Чем дольше я живу, тем больше я вижу, как Бог общается с нами в повседневных вещах. Раньше я ожидала определенные, особые, редкие опыты с Богом (кроме того, что получала в чтении Библии или в молитве). Теперь я могу видеть, как Он открывает Себя нам в обычном и во всем, что вокруг нас.

Вот несколько способов, которыми я пришла, чтобы «увидеть» Бога в грудном вскармливании.

Подумайте о Божьем дизайне: Мама открывает руки, обнимает ребенке, открывает одно из ее самых закрытых, чувствительных мест, кладет младенца рядом с ее сердцем, удерживает его там и дает ему жизнь— физическое и эмоциональное питание.

Она дает и физическое и эмоциональное наполнение желудка и сердца этого ребенка.

Тепло излучает от нее. Удовлетворительные гормоны в ней, и в ее ребенке, течет внутри их в крови и в мозге.

Эта картинка Божего дизайна приносит слезы на глаза, понимая, как Бог духовно это все делает для нас. Он открывает руки, тянет нас к сердцу, согревает и дает нам жизнь от Самого Себя.

Я только что нарисовал потрясающую картину грудного вскармливания, чтобы обдумать. Но, честно говоря, грудное вскармливание показало мне свой эгоизм, и именно там он стал для меня духовной дисциплиной.

Бог питает нас великодушно. Щедро! Бесплатно. Он втягивает нас в Себя. Он отдаёт себя, свою любовь, заботу, время, внимание.

А я? Мне пришлось бороться и тренироваться, чтобы таким образом дать себя своим детям. Грудное вскармливание настолько личное, настолько “инвазивное”, настолько неудобное в определенных отношениях (позиции, время, которое требуется, отсутствие сна–когда мои дети становятся старше. Когда они моложе, я могу спать, пока они кормят грудью, но когда они старше ,я не могу.) …

Это дело так требовательно!

И не легче ли Богу? Он бесконечен. Он может обратить на меня внимание и в то же время «продолжать» со всей вселенной. Но для меня ГВ— это довольно эксклюзивная деятельность. (Хотя когда я думаю об этом, на самом деле я могу читать, пить, спать, иногда есть, быть на телефоне. НО ВСЕ РАВНО, может он просто “не удобно” потому, что я не хочу быть ограничано именно с этим делом.)

Вот я. Вот мое сердце.

Но вы знаете, Богу тоже не нужно уделять мне такое пристальное внимание. Ему не нужно было становиться неудобным, чтобы жить внутри меня своим Духом. Ему не надо было отдавать Себя до такого степеня, не так ли?

Но он это сделал, и он это делает до сих пор . Это его природа! Итак, могу ли я практиковать Его природу, пока она не станет моей природой? Могу ли я также выбрать, как выбрал Бог, держать своего ребенка рядом со мной и выдавать себя ему в личную степень?

…. Вот некоторые из тех вещей, над которыми я размышляла, так как более десяти лет занялась и подчинялась дисциплине грудного вскармливания. <3

what I’ve learned from the (spiritual) discipline of breastfeeding

My qualification for writing this post is that I’ve been breastfeeding for twelve years now, and am still going. Other moms have breastfed longer, though, so they probably know more. I’ve also breastfed tor long periods of time. Over a year, four years, three years, and now three years plus. (We have four children.)

In the Old Testament, God showed Himself often through types and symbols. For me, breastfeeding has become a living type or symbolic act of one way God wants us to understand Him and His heart towards us.

The longer I live, the more I see how God communicates Himself to us in daily, routine things. Before, I used to look for certain, special, rare experiences. Now, I’m able to see Him opening Himself to us in the ordinary and all-around.

Here are a few ways I’ve come to “see” God in breastfeeding.

Think about God’s design: A mother opens her arms, opens one of her most private, sensitive places, lays a baby next to her heart, holds him there, and gives him life sustenance–physical and emotional sustenance.

Physical and emotional filling of that baby’s stomach and heart.

Warmth radiates from her. Pleasurable hormones in her, and in her baby fire away.

It brings tears to my eyes, realizing how God does this for us. He opens his arms, pulls us to his heart, warms us, and gives us life.

I just painted an overwhelmingly amazing picture of breastfeeding to ponder. But to tell you the truth, breastfeeding showed me my own selfishness and this is where it became a discipline.

God nurtures us generously. Generously! Freely. He pulls us into Himself. He gives of himself, his love, care, time, attention.

But me? I had to struggle and train myself to give myself to my babies that way. Breastfeeding is so personal, so invasive, so uncomfortable in certain ways (the positions, time it takes, the lack of sleep as my babies get older. When they’re younger, I can sleep while they breastfeed, but when they’re older, I can’t.)

It’s so demanding!

And isn’t it easier for God? He’s infinite– He can give attention to me while at the same time “carrying on” with the entire universe. Breastfeeidng is a fairly all-exclusive activity for me. (Well, I can read, drink, sleep, sometimes eat, have screen time, now that I think about it.)

But you know, God doesn’t have to take such detailed attention with me either. He didn’t have to make himself uncomfortable to live inside me by his Spirit. He didn’t have to put himself out to that extent now, did he?

But he did, and he does. It’s His nature to do so! So, can I practice His nature until it becomes my nature? Can I also choose, like God has chosen, to draw my baby near to me and give out to that personal extent?

…. Those are a few of the things I’ve pondered as I’ve submitted myself to the discipline of breastfeeding for over a decade now. <3

my personal health habits

So, around 40, it dawned upon me fairly quickly that, wow, this body’s going to go downhill pretty fast if I don’t become more humble and self-controlled in my habits. And that in order to take care of my family long-term, I need to take care of myself. The realities of my aging body taught me that taking time and money to take care of myself is not selfish, it’s necessary. I’ll pay out one end or the other, so why not pay out of the prophylactic end?

So, over the last 2-4 years, I’ve been regularly incorporating new habits into my lifestyle. Most of these habits I try to do in the morning (except exercise and Bible reading). I have the most energy, drive, and self-control in the AMs, so that’s when I try to get them done, bam,bam,bam. That’s what works for me anyways.

About healthy habits: there are slews of them. I’ve had to experiment and choose ones that fit to my life and my style 🙂 Yours may differ. Important thing is that we’re doing things to maintain our health.

Habit one: Oil pulling with coconut oil for 20 minutes. I do this very first thing. Why? Oil pulling keeps my teeth healthy, removes toxins, and a bunch of other stuff. You can google it.

Habit two: Drinking half to a whole liter of warm, lemon water. Why: To generally clean and alkalize my body.

Habit three: Body brushing. Why: to move my lymph system, which is important to health and immunity.

Habit four: I try to drink half a liter to a liter of green or pink smoothie a day. Why: easily digestible, real nutition.

Habit five: Exercise. I workout at Curves three days a week. Other days, and even on those days, I also try to do one or two Ballet Beautiful workouts (on youtube). I like Curves because it’s just a feminine atmostphere, it’s weightlifting, it’s all women, and it’s community. I like Ballet Beautiful because it’s short time periods, small space friendly, and extremely effective at shaping slender muscles. Why: Maintaining muscle mass, hormone health, overall health.

Habit six: Looking nice. The world wants us to be ever-panting after beauty yet never feeling satisfied with ourselves. On the other side, God created us with a sense of beauty, and He can give us a satisfaction with how He’s made us. I’ve found it important to learn about style and dress in a nice way, (not saying classy even) just generally nice.  I don’t wear makeup every day, but I have starte wearing jewelry a lot more. I love my perm, too. Dressing Your Truth helped me a lot with this.

Habit seven: Being alone. I am at an age with my kids where they can take care of themselves for a while, and we live close to a mall for this reason, so I can be alone and read my Bible, pray, journal, and maintain my personal relationship with God. Why: This is just as much a part of my health as my physical practices. A close relationship wth God is essential to life, especially abundant life. Also, as a heavily-introverted, home schooling SAHM, this is how I maintain myself in the marathon.

So! Those are my health practices as I “embrace” (to use an overused word) aging.