Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Word for 2011

I originally had no plans of doing this.  It just came about as I looked at other blogs, prayed and read God's Word.  I started thinking, what area of my life would I like God to help me strengthen the most this year?  In years past, I've studied the tongue and the heart.  Even though I could probably still profit from doing that study again, I felt like there was something more I needed to learn this year. 

My first thought was: organization ("Let all things be done decently and in order." I Corinthians 14:40).  But no, I don't want to get so caught up in doing things that I forget people.

Prayerfulness...I definitely want to spend more time in prayer this year, but that still didn't seem to be the right word.

I almost settled on the word Priorities...putting God first, my husband, my family then other ministries and household duties.  The word almost fit...but not quite.

What one word contained all of those things and more?  Is there a single word that would describe how I'd like to grow this upcoming year?  What do I want my year to be about?
I don't want to just pray to God or read about Him, but I want to develop a deeper and closer relationship with Him.

I don't want to just serve my husband, taking care of his every physical need, making sure his house is clean and he has a good meal...I want to take time to listen to his dreams, heartaches and be his best friend.

I don't want to just make sure my kids are clean, behaving, eating good meals and getting some type of education...I want to spend time with them, hold them when they cry, paint some masterpieces, have a few tea parties - win their hearts.

I don't want to just live in Ukraine, cook meals for church, pass out some tracts, learn Russian...I want to show them that I care about them personally, that my doors are always open for a cup of tea and that I love them. may be thinking "Well, that's not a very hard goal."  But for me, it is.  As I've mentioned before, I'm a Martha type.  I get so busy doing that I forget relationships.  And since I tend to be a quiet type as well, it's much easier for me to just stay busy serving, especially if I might have to try talking to someone new in my poor Russian.

So I ask that you will pray for me, that God will help me keep my eyes focused on what is truly important this year.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


This is what our house sounds like first thing in the morning...
thought I'd give my sister a warning. ;) 
She said she was singing thank you to God. 
I think it had something to do with her heart being dirty and Jesus cleaning it.

In her defense, she can sing quite a few songs fully through. 
She just likes to make up her own songs too...
with her own made up words.

Her attitude seems to have changed a lot since she prayed.  She is no longer concerned about herself needing Jesus, but has started asking me whether or not I have prayed for Jesus to clean my sins or if Lina has.  She also asked Grampy if he knew about Jesus.  She has started asking to pray for Nikita and Alosha to be saved.  I pray that she continues to have a desire to see others come to know the Lord as their Saviour too.

New Office for Eric!

It's finished
Eric finished it today and as soon as the kids were in bed, he started moving all of his office stuff out of the entryway and up into the attic where Mom Curtis says we'll be storing him. hehe.

I am so excited for him! 
He's been waiting for this to be finished all year. 

What Has God Been Teaching You?

Brother Winstead never ends a conversation without asking you that question (or telling you that he's praying for you to have twins, hehe).  Well, this week I'd definitely have to say that God is teaching me the following...

Though that one wasn't my fault, I've had my share of accidents this week as well.  So much has broken this week that when I was cleaning the mirror today Anna said, 'Don't broke the mirror, Mama.'  And when I accidentally dropped the glass pepper grinder she came running out and asked, 'It break, Mama?'  And no, neither of those fact, I don't think I've broken anything today yet!  Better get to bed quick! 

Monday, December 27, 2010

Finally...A SNOW MAN!

As I write, our snowman is now only a little, muddy lump on the ground.  But the girls were SO excited to be able to finally make one!  The snow here is very dry and usually doesn't stick together very well, but before it all melted away, it was moist enough to stick of him kept falling off, but the girls had fun 'patting him back together'. 

Soon after coming inside, I put them to work emptying the washer.  They decided to make a snowman with the wet laundry.  My camera batteries were dying, but I managed a couple of pictures. 

Everything here has been so gray and dreary out, but one morning I woke up to this...
It was even more beautiful in person with so much color!  It might have come out even better if the window and screen weren't between us, but I wasn't about to venture out in the cold first thing in the morning!  With sunrises like this, I can't help but wonder how anyone could not believe in God!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

34 Days Until...

My Sister Comes! 

She called us two days ago and said "I'll be there on January 26th." 
Anna cried every time it was time to go to bed because
she thought Auntie Bree was coming 'today'. 
So, we did this so we can be counting the days.
None of us can wait for her to get here!
God has really blessed me with lots of surprises this Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Importance of the Family Altar

Ever since Anna was a baby, we have gone through the Bible chronologically a number of times.  As we read through, we talked not only about the Bible account we were reading that day, but also how everything in the Bible points to our sin, our need of a Saviour and how Jesus died for our sins and only he can take away our sins.  When she disobeyed, we told her that the Bible says that Anna needs to obey mama and papa.  That it is sin to disobey and that she needs Jesus to help her obey.

Many times my heart would break as she would say "Anna doesn't have Jesus."  I would weep when I heard her asking Jesus to come into her heart and clean her, then say "Jesus, where are you?"  She'd begin looking under the bed saying, "I don't see Jesus, Mama."  Then she raised her voice louder and said "Jesus, please come.  Please, Please!" 

Today, we read about Jesus dying on the cross for us and while we were doing devotions, Anna said, "Papa, Anna wants to pray."  We continued with devotions...Anna a little more urgently, "Papa, Anna needs to pray."  A little while later, with her head bowed, hands covering her eyes and with even more urgency, "Please, Papa.  Anna needs to pray."  Eric, "Okay, Anna.  You can pray."  

"Dear Jesus, Thank you for my sins.  Thank you for Jesus dying for my sins.  Please clean my sins.  Help me to obey Mama and Papa.  Amen."  She then went to the picture we had of Jesus on the cross, kissed it and said, "Thank you, Jesus, for dying for my sins."

We never taught her a 'prayer' to say, just the Bible.  We were shocked and didn't know what to think.  We wondered, "Was she truly accepting Christ as her Saviour?  Did she really know what she was doing?"  Our first thought was, "She didn't have repentance."  Then we remembered that as soon as she had asked Jesus to cleanse her heart and acknowledged her sin of disobedience, she asked Jesus to help her to obey her Mama and Papa. 

Later, when we asked her what she prayed, she said she prayed for Jesus to come into her heart.  When we asked what Jesus did, she just smiled and rubbed her hands over her heart in a cleaning motion.

In our eyes she seemed too young, but Anna was very sincere and Jesus says to come unto Him as a child with child-like faith.  She recognized her need and of her own will, came and asked Jesus to save her from her sins.  Our prayer for our children has always been that they will accept Jesus as soon as they come to understand the Gospel.  We will continue to train our children up in the Bible, chronologically each morning and Psalms or Proverbs in the evenings, and ask that you pray that each of our children come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour.     

Me Singing in Russian

I thought about not posting this, but here it is anyways
with all of it's musical and probably gramatical errors.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Who Will Go To America?

This post has been heavy on my heart for many months now.  Each time I receive a note patting me on the back for how awesome I am for 'giving my life' to be a missionary or when I read about what is happening in the lives of our families, friends or news....I wonder, while I am serving God here, who is going to my family, friends and country? 

First, I do not believe that I am any more special for obeying God and coming to Ukraine than a Pastor or Church Bus driver who is following God's will in America.

Being a missionary in a different country does not make me any more special or valuable in Christ's service than a Pastor or Sunday School teacher who God has called to America.  If God calls you to go to America, you better not go to the mission field...if God calls you to go to Africa, you better not stay in America.

Many people feel like they have to go somewhere different in order to do something worthwhile for God with their lives.  You don't need to come to Ukraine to make a difference.  All around you are people dying and going to hell.  Little children, older people, teenagers, rich business men...Are American Christians so involved in their daily activities and entertainment that they cannot see? 

It seems like many are waiting to be used greatly by God, but not doing anything.  Do you truly want to be used of God?  Than serve where you are first.

What is your first priority?  Jesus Christ?  Your job?  Money?  Fun?  It is not wrong to have a job, money or even fun.  It is wrong if they are first and most important to you - your goal...with Jesus as a side. 

  How do you know if something is God's will or not?  Well, here are a few beginning questions.  1)Does it go against God's Word?   2)Does it interfere with my spending time in God's Word on a daily basis?  3) Does it interfere with my attending church services? (plural, not singular)  3) Does it interfere with my serving more in my local church? ...If you've answered yes to any of those questions, that's a pretty good indication that it's not God's will. 

You are more likely to find God's will if you are preparing to be a missionary than if you are pursuing a career.  You can not live your life, including Jesus when it is convenient.  But instead you must serve Him first and view your 'career' as a means that He has allowed you to have to further the Gospel.  

Many have told us that America needs missionaries too, so we should come 'home'. 
I agree.  America does need missionaries,
but I cannot go to America because God has not called me there. 
But what about you?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Snow and Snowmen

Saturday the kids and I got out to enjoy the fresh new snow.  They absolutely loved it. 

They especially loved Eric running them around the yard a few times...

And sliding down the small hill.

 Since the snow was a little too powdery to make a snowman
we made these... 

They didn't seem too disappointed with the substitute snowmen
and the little stars.

Sammy these days has been rolling all over the place. 
He says Mama when he's hungry and tired;
Anna sometimes;
And roars at people at church.
He cried the first time Eric said 'ra-ra-ra'...
Now he just 'ra's back.
He's just too cute!
He even puts his pacifier in his mouth by himself!

I know some are anxious to see the new addition on our house...
so will post pictures soon.
For now,
here's what the outside looks like now.
Major improvement.
Not only does it look better,
but already seems to be keeping us warmer.
Looking like everything will stay warm enough
so we'll have running water this winter!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hot Cocoa Mix

So many memories come with a warm cup of hot cocoa...
or for some of us hot carob,
poor deprived children.

In we'd come,
cold and wet from our hours of play in the snow,
to the delicious aroma flowing from the big pot of hot carob sitting on the stove.
We never understood why our friends never wanted a cup.

Even though I cherish the memories of the pots of carob,
it's the taste of Swiss Miss that we dream of when it starts getting cold...
You know, the one with the little marshmallows in it.

This year, at my husband's urging, I searched for
the perfect recipe...
and after some tweeking, I think I might have found it.
(Though it has been a while since we've had Swiss Miss.)

So, if you are away from your homeland and missing the Swiss too...
or if you just like to make up some gifts...
Here is a recipe for you to try.

Hot Cocoa

6 c.  Instant Dry Milk
1 1/2 c.  Granulated Sugar
1 1/4 c. Baking Cocoa
1/2 ts. salt
2 ts. (10 gr.) vanilla sugar
(Do Americans have vanilla sugar or powder?
We missionaries talk a lot about American cruisine...
but that's just so you don't get too jealous
about all the great food we get to eat!)

Mix well.

Add  1/2 c. mix to every 1 c. of hot water.
(or for a little cup like mine above, 1/4 c. mix to every 1/2 c. water.)

My husband even found a store here that carries American style marshmallows!  YUM!

Even though my husband thinks this is the best hot chocolate ever, and my girlies start singing every time I start to make it, I'm still having fun tweaking it.  I'm still really tempted by those recipes calling for powdered sugar and flavored creamers or instant pudding, but alas, not the easiest things to get or cheapest things on the mission field. 

Hope it makes your day a little warmer!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Back to Normal

Thank you all for your prayers, emails and contact information.  The contact information will be especially helpful to have. 

Our family is doing much better.  We still have the parasite, but pretty much all of the symptoms are gone.  We just need to stay faithful in our 'treatment' instead of stopping two days into it. 

Life has pretty much returned to normal this week, which is nice since I love it when we have somewhat of a schedule.  I even started Russian lessons again!  They have been planned for weeks now, but kept getting cancelled.  I seriously considered cancelling this time because we didn't get home from Wednesday night services until after 10 pm!  Because of Wednesday night services Thursday mornings are always slow and not really the best time for a Russian lesson, but don't know where else to put it.  We've had so many cancellations this week that I just couldn't cancel.  Thankfully I was able to distract her.  I love anything crafty...but I can't sew.  Oh I can throw a few things together, but I don't know how to do it right.  My Russian teacher also happens to be an excellent seamstress.  SO now in addition to my Russian lessons she will be teaching me to sew!  I will probably never cancel another Russian lesson, even if my brain feels like it's going to explode by the end.  The first things she is going to help me sew are nightgowns for the girls.  We've really been wanting those long, old fashion type gowns for them but I've been too nervous to try to make it on my own...besides the fact that I only have Russian patterns.  I started buying a few patterns that I saw in Russian, but have been too nervous to try any of them yet because besides not knowing how to sew...they are in Russian.  

Well, it is getting late here and I really need to be getting to bed.  I want to be well rested so I'll be able to enjoy the pretty, fresh, wet snow with my girlies in the morning.  Hopefully, it will not only still be there, but also still wet and not dry or icy.  It made pretty good snow balls today and the girls have been talking about making a snowman for a while now.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Missionary's Health

Well, our family has giardia again.  I actually had it around Thanksgiving, but was in denial thinking I was either pregnant or nervous about having everyone over.  I had other symptoms besides the gagging at every smell, sight or sound and Lydia had some symptoms, but still not wanting to admit it, just assumed it was something she ate.  Then the stomach pain started getting worse and I found out that I was definitely not pregnant...that left only one thing (which was pretty obvious the entire time) - giardia.  As soon as I started feeling better from that, the kids and I picked up a flu bug going around.  Even though we were sick, on Tuesday the kids and I decided to take a quick walk around.  Every babooshka on the street was out that day and in a mood to talk.  They asked lots of questions, but didn't give me many opportunities to talk.  So I came back with my mind overflowing with plans for a ladies' neighborhood tea.  As we headed back to our house, we saw Baba Nora outside.  She cannot let us pass without giving the girls something - candy, cookies, fruit.  She stopped us, ran inside and came out carrying two bright, round oranges.  Needless to say, by the time we made it back inside, we were all sneezing and coughing with noses running.  Wednesday, we had gotten worse so Eric made us stay home from church.  By Thursday, I was feeling so bad and the kids were cranky, I thought about begging Eric to stay home and help me that day.  Thankfully, he was able to get home a little early that night, 4 PM.  The girls might have been sick, but since he had had so many late nights that week the girls (and Sammy) were ready for playtime with Papa.  That night everything seemed okay and everyone went to bed fine.  Shortly after I climbed into bed Sammy woke up not feeling well. He was up crying until about one.  Then Anna woke up crying.  We rushed in to check on her and she was burning up.  Eric took her temperature and it was 104!  Thankfully, by the time she went back to sleep a half hour later, her temperature was down to 100.  On Friday Anna was doing much better with no or little fever, I was feeling worse though.  I had chills, fever and severe asthma problems.  Eric lovingly forced me back into bed, canceled all of his plans for the day and took over.  He even washed the dishes!  My temperature continued to rise throughout the day until it reached about 104 in the afternoon.  Soon after that it seemed like everything started to get better.  My temperature continued to drop and my asthma was getting better.  On Saturday, Eric was either in bed or in the bathroom all day sick with the giardia.  Needless to say, it was a rough week...a rough year as we have been hit with one sickness after another.

I say all of this not to be negative but with the desire that it will encourage you to pray more for the health of your missionaries.  It is not uncommon for a missionary to have to leave the field because of health reasons and we have heard of even a few missionaries to Ukraine who have died on the field.  It is not just the sickness itself which is the problem.  Most of your missionaries are living in places where not only is the medical care not as advanced as American, but also some of the customs of the people cause sicknesses.  (Like sticking their hand in the pickle jar and serving you with visibly dirty hands.  You really have to take no thought sometimes when you are eating.)

Even with all of the sicknesses, the girls have still had some pretty sweet moments.  Here's a video I took on Saturday.  The girls were rocking their babies and singing to them.  By the time I pulled out the camera they were almost done, but it is still cute.


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