Archive of ‘Uncategorized’ category

about controversial things

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My mom is probably cringing.

Honestly, I am cringing, a bit.

Have you ever analyzed your own progression as a person with opinions? I think about this, I guess as I get older and make more defining life/parenting/schooling/health choices, how I hold those opinions begins to define me, maybe more than the opinions themselves. Weirdly. Or maybe it’s the other way around– that how I express my opinions is basically the result of who I am.

But I like to think I’m growing in the first way, that I am growing in maturity, hopefully, in how I express my opinions, and in understanding those who have very deep-seated opposite opinions. I think about who I’m becoming, and so the lines I would allow myself to cross (ex. rudeness) or the barriers of communication that I place around me (ex. not allowing myself to be rude) are a big part of who I am becoming.

I also struggle a lot with just being silent. It’s a really big temptation to become sort of a non-person and just never express an opinion. Silence can be a good thing, like as a pastor’s wife I try very carefully not to state emotionally charged opinions. It’s a weird line– the non-person thing and choosing to subsume things for the gospel’s sake.

Ramble, ramble.

When I was in birth work, this was really, really hard, and it’s been a relief to quit that work because of this. Because I had so many opinions. And opinions are a mix of judgment and conviction, so we have to learn to hold them lightly, yet hold them for ourselves because I think it’s a way God communicates individually with us, if we let Him, and not just follow the crowd for the sake of comfort. It’s one thing to do what “everyone’s” doing because everyone’s doing it. Another thing to do it because you searched out God in that thing. This is why, bizarrely, I think people can come to opposite conclusions and have godly motives.

Also, there are complex ways we receive, filter, and “believe” information which make it impossible for us to agree with one another. So in a big way, there really is just no point in trying to explain. Two people read the same book and have opposite reactions. Two people watch the same movie and have opposite reactions. Two people read the same “facts” or information and have opposite reactions.

So I’m going to talk about health care choices– birth choices, vaccine choices, administering medicines choices. For example [this assumes first-, second- and some third-world countries’ choices] , two people meet a friend whose child was irreversibly brain damaged by a vaccination (true example, I can give you name and number, though they don’t speak English). One friend says, Wow, how rare and unfortunate, but it’s such a small risk, I don’t mind vaccinating my child and all other children. The benefits of vaccines are greater than the risks. The other says, How tragic, I would never put my child or another child in that risk; I would rather risk the small possibility of contracting some usually-not-fatal disease …. Another example, a non-vaccinated family of children contracts whooping cough and has to live through all the stress and fears of that coughing. Some parents look on and say, No way I want that stress. Other parents look on and say, That’s not such a bad experience. (And there are rare children who die of vaccines and rare children who die of a common disease, and we could argue about that on and on, which one is the risk all people should take.)

It’s hard to let people chose their risks. It’s hard to be honest about what the risks really are.

There are times I try to step back and say, God, if I’m wrong about this, please show me…. It’s tricky. For example, the information could be right and applicable in one situation then incorrect and inapplicable in another situation. We don’t know how individual children will react to one thing or another.

Same with birth. So.many.choices.

And the use of medications. So.many.choices.

Even in reading and researching, I try to read all sides. But I also know that I am leaning towards believing my bias–that my tendency is to find an authority who will appealingly and convincingly state my bias.

But in the end, I’m still choosing between risks.

I have found a few things helpful, because when it’s your kids, these things can take on terrifying levels:

  1. My relationship with God makes a difference. But it makes a difference to people in different ways. Here is my way:
  2. God made bodily processes to work. I don’t think they evolved. They were specifically designed and made complex and beautiful. Better left undisturbed. For example, the fever is there for a reason. It has a purpose, though it makes me nervous. My nervousness and concern for the fevered one is there for a purpose. Do I use a fever-reducer so I will feel relieved? Do I see a good reason in the child to use it?
  3. God leads me in patterns in these questions. I have distinct patterns in my life how God leads me in these decisions.I have sat next to a burning child with something to give in hand, asking God what to do. I have gotten distinct answers. I also pay attention for moments when God might break the pattern.
  4. I understand that I am comparatively wealthy, eat a varied diet, have access to reasonable levels of healthcare, clean water, understand microbes and disease transmission, have access to abundant information, etc. These are wonderful blessings God has provided for me throughout life. These factors influence my personal analysis of various risks.
  5. I try to discern types of fear. There is a fear that is God-given and natural. It’s a good thing because of sin. There is fear that is debilitating and driving, that wants to destroy me and others by its demands. It drives me to sacrifice to idols, to bargaining with and trusting in things or people that, in truth, cannot save me. And determining what course of action is needed in any given situation is a sorting out fears, or choosing from the spectrum of risks/fears.
  6. For example, my daughter (6yo) had stomach pain. It didn’t stop. We took her to a pediatrician who said she was constipated. The pain didn’t stop. That night, I just knew, somehow knew instinctively, that I needed to set my alarm to wake up in the night to check that she hadn’t died in her sleep. I never said it aloud, it was just such a deep knowing/assuming. But before we slept, we decided to call the ambulance. As I watched her drive away, I was absolutely sure she would die. (Ended up being a very serious appendectomy, huge infection, etc; she didn’t die).
  7. Consider: A doctor and medical intervention didn’t help us the first time. Where is the line of trusting doctors and trusting God? Are we asking/expecting of doctors/medical care what they are not able to give us? Life and health? Diagnoses? Absence of disease? Relief from pain? Though legally they are considered able and competent to do these things … can they really, if God does not reveal it to them and allow its efficacy in our lives? The fact that there were antibiotics for her peritonitis was wonderful–and that they worked.
  8. We often gain from medical and scientific advances. Yay for antibiotics. Yay for c-sections. Yay for x-rays. Yet they are limited and even harmful in other ways in this sinful world. The things invented to save us also injure us to some extent. I guess that goes back to the personal choices …

I could go on and on. I’m only warming to my topic…. But anyway, those are my current-level-of-maturity ramblings about controversial topics…..

Numbering our days when our kids are little

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Yesterday I gave a talk at a baby shower. It was an event where there were several unbelievers and also ladies who, years back, made a salvation-but-not-disciple commitment to the Lord.

When I was walking home one night, I started praying about what to speak about at this event, and I started crying when the Lord impressed it on me also on that walk home. I’ve been reading the major prophets and those books are very emotional, and it all connected in my mind.

Historically, I try to make baby shower talks pretty upbeat and positive. But this was not so positive, so I’ve been processing it, how to speak it in an appropriate and encouraging way.

This baby is so adorably little and cute– collective swoon!

I downloaded a metronome app on my phone, and as I started the talk, without telling anyone, I turned it on with a really slow beat. And I started talking about the passage of time.

Gist of the talk:

Psalm 90, a psalm of Moses: “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away….. A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night…. Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

About five years ago, I started going through a life shift where I realized that the day of my death is closer to me than the day of my birth. The see saw tipped.

I remember being in school–how slowly the days passed by! I thought they would never end. Then college– time got a little faster. Then marriage. And little kids.

[metronome ticking gets a little faster]

When my first kids were little, time seemed so slow! Like it would never end. [metronome ticking gets faster, faster] But now, the time has started to get faster and faster– my first child is more than half-way done with school. She’s getting ready (in multiple ways) to fly away. [metronome ticks faster]

People have tried to explain why time seems to pass faster as we age. It’s still the exact same time but our perception of it changes. One reason is because, when we’re 10, ten years is the entirety of life. But when we’re 40, ten years is now only a fourth of life. At 50, it’s only a fifth of life, and so on.

Our feeling of time changes, and this is part of gaining a heart of wisdom.

There are people who’s spiritual growth doesn’t match their years of salvation. Somewhere, they didn’t trust God enough to obey Him in life decisions. And when we’re young, we tend to be pretty suspicious of God and the goodness of his plans. We haven’t lived enough years with God to grow into trusting him. And if we don’t get through those doubtful moments by faith, we can derail our growth by making disobedient choices.

Like the fear that God doesn’t want me to marry, and I’ll be single forever if I am faithful to Him.

It’s always time to start obeying God. It gets harder, in certain ways, as we get older, if it’s not been the habit. And time is passing faster, so the moments God offers us obedience tend to speed by faster.

But in these years when your kids are small, years that seem like they will never end, these are years you can choose to obey God. Like rest on Saturday so you can go to church on Sunday– so you can take your child to a place where people teach him/her about God and His love.

These years are the years your child/ren clings to you. It’s annoying and tiring, but it’s the years God gave you to lead your child to Him–what you sow now is what you’ll be reaping in a few years!

We think we have so little time to do what we want, but in reality, we can obey. Do we want to spend time scrolling through facebook while breastfeeding? … Why don’t we choose to read the Bible during that time first? … We do have a choice to obey.

And during these slow years, it’s essential to obey. Start obeying God. Because soon the years will be speeding by, the children will be saying good-bye.

Let’s gain a heart of wisdom.

worship: God, you’re worth it!

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I love illustrating abstract words, making it into something concrete we can see and feel and do. It’s something I remember wrestling with in my teenage brain. What exactly IS righteousness? What IS justice? Now, in an adult brain and with so much more life experience to draw from, it’s easier to illustrate abstract words.

Like “worship.”

One way of explaining worship I like is this: Worship is attributing worth-ship to God. Like God, you’re worthy– worthy of all I can give and give up for you, worthy of all the praise and adulation in the world, worthy of getting all the credit, worthy of holding the highest place. I give you worth-ship.

Last night, I was walking home and listening to Matt Redman’s “10,000 Reasons”

And I realized another way I can make worship a concrete part of my life. It’s by looking at my life, in the exact paths God has led me in His will, and I can say, “God, you’re worth it.”

With all my logic, all my emotions, I can say, God, you’re worth it. You’re worth the struggles, the losses, the hardships, the uncertainties, the dreams not come true– YOU ARE SO WORTH IT.

So, can I worship God by letting go of confusion, doubts, disappointments, and embrace the life He’s lead me to–so kindly, generously let me to–and know by faith that becomes alive in me, by worshiping Him with GOD, YOU ARE SO WORTH IT.

Really, He’s more than worth it! A joy, confidence, and fullness infuses all of life when I worship (“Worth-It”) God.

I don’t like the human perspective of this view, but we are limited by that sometimes. By that I mean, I’m not worth having the Worth-It God. By choosing His ways, I’m not “sacrificing” anything that even rivals Him. In fact, He’s saving me from self-destruction. He’s graciously giving me the best– Himself. Saying it’s “worth it” sounds like there is even some comparison of something good when … there is no comparison at all.

abortion: let’s disempower moms

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I’m stepping in a pile of dukey here, but I’m not apologizing about it. I hate talking about controversial subjects, and if someone comments on this, I’ll probably just leave it alone, for or against. It’s not my point here, to hash out all the ins and outs of this complex topic. This topic came up again in my life last week, which is what has me writing this. Maybe it’s just catharsis.

Abortion is supposed to be all about empowering women, right? Sheesh, she needs to finish her education, she needs opportunity to get the best job she can, she needs her reputation  … Insert “they/their” for when the guy is in the picture.

Dish it out.

Let me dish you out the other side. The side you will probably NEVER. EVER. hear in the news. The statement I heard last week, which is prompting these mullings-over in my brain.

“My friend had an abortion when she was [insert young age] years old. She wanted to keep the baby but her [guardians] made her have an abortion.”

Please, someone give me a quarter for every time I’ve heard that routine. Sadly, I’d be a millionaire. She “decides” she wants the baby. She should have the power to make that decision, right?. She should have the power to make her life complicated and “limited” by a baby, right?. Every feminist and abortion clinic in this women’s-empowerment nation should be asking each woman what she really wants to do with this baby, right???

RIGHT?????

That’s the lie right there, isn’t it. WE imagine that  more education, reputation, whatever is worth snuffing out that growing threat to all that, the  doom that her life will be if this comes to fruition….

Abortion disempowers women by empowering others in her life, empowering those who decide that abortion is the “only logical” choice in the face of this disaster. Let’s just sweep this coming doom under the rug and out of our lives, just like that.

What santanic, cruel joke was it, that we had to take a hard situation (aka, a “crisis” of a pregnancy) and make a worse answer in response to it? Who are we kidding? Who are we deceiving? Ourselves? No one?

Let’s get a little more creative, please. The human race is brilliant in many ways. But when it comes to abortion, it’s satanic. We can do better.

Abortion disempowers women because it begs a “logical” seemingly close-ended  solution to a decision that should be made as whole persons– as emotional, logical, will-ful, creative, eternal beings.  Which we truly are.

I will say it again: What amazing inventions and social goodwill have we buried by not envisioning cultures that embrace every life, all the way along? By coming at this issue with a politicized, polarized, poverty mentality?

I repeat: Abortion: It’s also disempowering women by giving power to others in her life who want to control her choices.

Was it really about empowering women? It hasn’t worked that way, in many, many lives.

Is that even the right goal?

shto ya ponyala ot (duhovnoy) ditsipline grudnovo vskarmlivaniya

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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

my life as a garden, the next big step

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Things are happening in my heart that I need to analyze and record.

(Just pass over this if your not into introspection.)

There are moments of spiritual growth when God just brings together lots of influences to open certain things to me. And it usually starts after years of preparation– years of being bothered by certain things.

So I’ve been bothered the last few years by lack of satisfaction in home schooling, and bothered by my struggle to forgive certain people in our church, well, particularly one person.

Years go by, I live my days, things happen, good things, but still, these two things have, as a pattern, troubled me. And I pray about them, do what I can, as God shows me.

Like the unforgiveness: months back, God showed me to just stop the thoughts, just stop thinking so much about this person/situation and giving it so much “air time” in my brain. Just. Stop. That helped a lot to clear out my mind and be able to not be focused on negativity.

With home schooling, I have been reading, studying, understanding more and more. But I’m still not satisfied by it or enjoying it.

Years ago, I went through this Big Deal with learning about child discipline–the years of preparatory dissatisfaction, then all the influences coming together to bring it all together and teach me something very transformative. And God brought me to this place of joy, where there is a lot of healthy, emotional satisfaction and joy in my relationships with my kids now, as a pattern.

So now, in church relationships and home schooling, I feel like God has done the years of preparatory work, and now He’s going to move into the transformation phase, and I need to write about it. So I can figure things out better, and analyze and enjoy the process.

Phillip Keller, in his book A Gardener Looks at the Fruit of the Spirit,” starts out by talking about types of soil in our hearts. Not just for salvation, but as Christians, the soil of our hearts for bearing the fruit of the Spirit.

And I start to see parts of my heart in the “road” soil he describes, the soil that has been tramped, tramped, tramped down and will not bear.

For example, I started to envision my relationship with this person in my church, and you know, my critical thoughts just tramp, tramp, tramp down the “path” between us. It is impossible for joy to grow in this relationship. It’s impossible for kindness to grow in the path of this connection. It’s impossible for meekness, self-control, goodness, faithfulness, and peace to grow where my critical, suspicious thoughts are tramping, tramping, tramping down the soil.

He talks about our amitions as things that also tramp down the soil. And I’ve been analyzing for a long while now why I am home schooling.  I’m fairly sure it is the will of God for me to be doing this, though we are open to other options. But for these years, this year, right now, it’s pretty clear that home schooling my kids is God’s will for me.

But just doing His will doens’t mean I’m doing it for the right reason–or maybe I could say I could do His will but for wrong or selfish reasons. I have my own little ambitions about home schooling, it seems. Like I have this fuzzy ideal in my head about what our home school should be, and I think that this is my ambition, to achieve this … feeling, or ideal. Where I am the center.

So my ambition is tramping, tramping, and the section of my life’s garden is not bearing peace nor joy.

So that is where I am right now. There are other threads of influence in these realizations:

Love is a major theme because of 1 Corinthains. 13– I spoke about this at a baby shower and from Keller’s book we’re going through how the qualities of Love in 1 Cor 13 match with the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. And how Love is the life of God, and the fruit of the Spirit come only as the actual presence of God (not like in a package separate from God).

Blessed

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I’m blessed

These last months and years, I am feeling that I’m blessed. I don’t just logically accept that it must be true– my emotions have united to the truth, and I FEEL that this is true. (Meaning, I don’t just accept it by faith, even though I feel the opposite.)

These last few days, I ‘ve been thinking about how wonderful it is to be led in the paths of righteousness with this man.
Yes, my cup overflows.

Our 13th anniversary

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The first half of the day was Vitaliy getting our van towed to a repair station and me going to the dentist. But a church gal brought to the door a package of chocolates and a card from the church. They are so sweet that way ❤

 

After the dentist, the 2 kids and I went to a cafe, and we ended up buying new mugs–several of ours had been broken so we’re getting low.

At home again, the kids sang us Happy Anniversary to the tune of Happy Birthday.

And the gave us chocolates and some little cross stitch things–the girls are into cross stitch right now.

And a card

In the evenig, we went on a walk together.

looking back at 2016

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I love looking back and looking forward. Can I just be anti-popular-slogan for a moment and say that living in the present feels like the pits sometimes, if I’m honest. Even though everyone says to live in the moment. I try to do that, but some moments are better as memories — ha ha.

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So I love looking back at what great things happened in 2016– not in chronological order!

  1. We finished 4th grade video school!
  2. Vitaliy took a trip to the taiga in Russia!
  3. I hosted two breastfeeding meetings for pregnant and breastfeeding gals.
  4. We had MomHeart group meetings (gals in our church)
  5. I studied and grew in my ability to express hospitality!
  6. I read through the Bible chronologically.
  7. I went through counseling about some unhealthy church past things that I couldn’t let go of. As a result, I confessed some sins, and I generally feel safer and happier in our church (I’m not the only one changing).
  8. I started baking a lot more for church things– I was asking God how to express love to our church more in a way that involves my emotions, and baking it is! I love group baking.
  9. Introvert Anne offered “intentional friendships” to moms in our church who want that relationship– we mostly do this by writing. A few personal meetings.
  10. We started 5th grade! I’m doing tons of reading aloud, which I’ve always imagined doing!
  11. I started working out at Curves 3 days/week.
  12. I lost the remainder of the weight I want to lose, and I’m maintaining.
  13. I moved forward in our fundraising (more to come in 2017 goals)
  14. I made a lot of videos for moms in our church, sharing some things God’s taught me, encouraging them to love their children and look to God for love and wisdom.
  15. Vitaliy and I wend skiing together and had a great time (I did something he loves 🙂 )
  16. One of my goals was to support Vitaliy in all the ministry he’s doing, and I think I did a great job of that overall.
  17. We as church moms starting fasting and praying for our children once a month.
  18. I semi-discipled a girl through a Bible study book for kids.

So, thouse are some things I remember about 2016. It was a good year 🙂 Looking back, I would chose the work “self-discipline” for that year. After years of prayer, God seems to be bringing fruit in that quality of life in the Spirit. I’m looking forward to developing even more in that.

on the other side of struggling with the value of my life

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One thing I recently realized is that, with my focus on what life dreams I’m not fulfilling, I’m missing the wonder of the life dreams that are fulfilled, and that are being fulfilled.

Really, it’s quite amazing. I’m a missionary in Ukraine.

This was a huge, life-guiding dream.

And it’s now my real life.

And I love it.

It’s actually a dream come true in ways I could never have even imagined. I never dreamed I’d marry a Ukrainian–that was just out of my comort zone. But the fact that I have has extremely altered my experience as a missionary in Ukraine.

I had a dream to have 12 children…… Um, wow. Why am I not upset that this one hasn’t come true?

*Big grin.*

Maybe four is my twelve? 4 = 12 … ???

Maybe we’re NOT DONE? 4 + ? = 12 … ???

I could go on about the things I love, and I do to myself–I’ll spare you– but anyway, I have an amazing life (by my own standards), and I love living it.

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