Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"To Be Sober"

Sober.  What does that word mean to you?  Or, what do you think of when you think of a sober woman?  Sadly, to me it use to mean an uptight, serious, hair-pulled-back-in-a-slick-bun librarian.  The world has taken a quality of great beauty and value in the eyes of God and made it ugly and unattractive.

What is God's idea of a sober woman?

Concise King James Bible Dictionary
    Sober ~ to be in control of one's mind and life;  It refers to spiritual alertness and seriousness of purpose; prudence; temperance

    Sober ~ self-control; temperate (exercising moderation and self-restraint); devoid of frivolity or exaggeration

Just the definition of the word is enough to be convicting!  I'm overwhelmed even now as I read it and pray that I can keep focused and organized enough that this can be a blessing to you as well.

Sober refers to spiritual alertness and seriousness of purpose...  As I looked through verses on this word 1 Peter 5:8 stood out at me...  "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."  Satan is out looking for someone to devour...will it be your family?  your son?  your husband?  Are we alert to the spiritual condition of our family?  Do we take our job serious and carefully examine every action we take, every word we say and consider whether it works with our goal for our family or against it?  In order not to allow Satan the opportunity to devour our family, we must   be in control of our mind and life. 

We must have control over our emotions.
"He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty: and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city."  Proverbs 16:32
When we are at home with our family, are we easily riled; or do we act calmly even when we have a good excuse to go crazy?  Do we get exasperated with our children? our husbands?  Lack of control with our spirit and temper leads to lack of control with our tongue and... 

We must control our tongue:

"There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health."  Proverbs 12:18
Is our tongue giving health to those around us or wounding?  Sometimes it might be better for us to not say anything at all.

"Whoso keepth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles."  Proverbs 21:23

We women probably cause most of the troubles in our churches and in our homes because we cannot control our tongues.  We would save ourselves and our families a lot of trouble if we could learn to control our tongues...but it just seems like a hopeless battle for us.  That is because the "words" start before the tongue.  "...for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."  Matthew 12:34

So one of the first things we need to learn is....

We must control our thoughts.

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."  Philippians 4:8

God has used this verse mightily in helping me to keep my mind focused on what HE would have me to focus on.  When someone hurts me and my mind wants to linger on it, I "check" through this verse..."Is what I'm thinking true?" (I almost always mind check yes because it was "true" -maybe not in the context of this verse, but I'm upset and looking to excuse myself),  "Is it honest?"....By the time I get to "Is it worthy of praise?", I am willing to let go of my thought and think on the things Christ would have me think on.  No, I am not perfect (in fact, I didn't want to post this study this week because I have failed more than succeeded in this area this week) and I sometimes allow myself to dwell on things like "He could have taken out the trash.  He doesn't do anything else!"  "Everyone has fogotten me.  No one loves me."  "I do everything!" (remember our definition devoid of exaggeration?  The mind can sure exaggerate a problem!).  But it is then that I lose control of my tongue and start having troubles in my life and in my soul. 

We haven't even touched the surface of being sober, but just reading through a few verses in the Bible we see a different view of a sober woman.  What we see is a woman who is sweet, kind, in control of her words, not loud, not moody, is not affected with what is going on around her, who uses her words only to encourage and edify others - she has a purpose and that is to glorify God; to be beautiful to God.  She is careful over each action she makes and each word she says, knowing that it could either draw her family or others to God or push them away.  How beautiful this woman is!  And, oh, how I desire to be her!  I pray that the Lord will help me "to be sober...that the word of God be not blashphemed." 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Cleaning Ukrainian Style

When we lived in the city there were metal bars that we hung our rugs over when beating them and guys did pull ups on.  When we have snow on the ground, we lay it on the ground and beat it into the snow.  I can't really vouch for how it cleans because it never seems to really clean my rugs, just makes them look more wet...don't know why I continue and look forward to doing it each winter.  It does make them smell fresh.

And for those who want to watch it...

My Girlies Singing in Russian

This was taken in January, but grandparents are wanting some videos so I thought I'd post it anyways.  In January "This is the day" was their favorite song to sing in Russian.  They forgot the repeats.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Time to Plant

It's planting time here in the little village of Vedenka Ukraine.  Our village is famously known for their cucumbers, which can even be found in Moscow, Russia!  This is our second year helping Yuri and Christina with planting their cucumbers.  It only takes us an hour to 1 1/2 to do what would take them 7 -8!

The ladies planted, the guys watered
but it is God who will give the increase!

The adults aren't the only ones who have been looking forward to this day, the kids have been anxiously awaiting this get-as-dirty-as-you-want day too.  So, while the kids played...

...and Sammy slept...
(don't you just want to cuddle him in your arms and kiss him?)

we worked. least Yuri and Christina did.

I don't know how many seeds we planted (I think someone mentioned around 2,000), but it was a lot!

We all left a little dirtier and tired, but happy. 

At a time when everyone here is planting and watering,
God has entrusted us with a different seed we are to be planting...
The Gospel.
Even though our church can not be here in the village yet,
we have already started our planting
and are excited and waiting on God to give the incease.
Please be praying for our seeds to fall on good ground.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Titus 2 Study

"That they may teach the young women to be....
that the word of God be not blasphemed."
Titus 2:4,5

Even though I've read through this passage many times and heard it taught multiple different ways, these words seemed to hit me like never before.  Was I blaspheming the Word of God?  I decided if it was so important to God as to call it blasphemy to not follow these things, I needed to know what they were.  So I started studying Titus 2:4,5 word by word using only the dictionary, the concordance and my Bible.  Over and over again I was convicted by how many ways I have blasphemed the Word of God, and sometimes still continue to blaspheme.  It is a study that I will need to review very frequently and would like to share it with you.  We will take one word each week.  I urge you to study this word, examine your life and pray for God's help to change in the area(s) He convicts you in.

I look forward to reviewing this study again, sharing my heart with you and hearing from you.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I Have a Mansion

...and not just over the hilltop. 

Yesterday I had the opportunity to go and see the church.  I was so excited and took many pictures and another video.  The property is very large and I am dreaming of VBS's and other church activites.  While I was there, the former owner asked us to come in for coffee.  I do not like coffee, not even in the least bit (well, maybe the smell and maybe a "fake" flavored you-can't-tell-it's-coffee once in a great while) so Eric asked that I be "excused" from drinking it.  They ended up bringing me one anyways saying that surely I would love Armenian coffee.  So, here I was sipping on a cup of the strongest coffee known to mankind (at least 1/3 of the cup was just coffee grinds!), and even though that was enough to occupy my mind, my thoughts were on the place they had been calling "home".  It had an entryway, something they called a kitchen - both very tiny - then one room the couple and their son were living in.  It was clean, warm and as orderly as a small, crowded space can get and the room they were living in had a piece of carpet wall to wall, but was definitely in need of repair.  I was tempted to try to get a picture, but thought it might be impolite.  When the owner asked about coming over to our house for coffee, I was embarrassed thinking about my home in comparison.  God has definitely blessed me with a beautiful mansion.

Here are some of the pictures I took.

The big house we will be using for the church with the little house the owners lived in behind it.

The property behind the houses.

The big house and the little house from behind.

A walk through the big house.

He wanted his picture taken too. :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

10 Random Thoughts

1)The snow has been falling off and on all day, which was a bit of a disappointment since we just started to see the sun and feel warmer.  It's funny, only a few months ago the girls were jumping up and down with excitement over the snow, now they are sad and wanting it to go so they can go play in the sand.  It has given me something to look at as I wait for Eric.

Where's Eric?

2)He is meeting with the owner of the building/property we are planning on buying for the church.  Lord willing, they will be finishing up the paperwork today. 

3)Only 20 more days until we head to Poland!  Which means Pizza Hut, Subway, Burger King, and all kinds of good food (like fancy peppermint least they taste about the same, only more delicate).  Although food is a big, exciting part of Poland, another big blessing for me is the opportunity to get out.  I love walking around on the clean sidewalks, in the malls or in the parks.  Sometimes it's hard not having the freedom to go somewhere when I want to.  Now that we are in the village, sometimes I even go weeks without seeing a grocery store!  (As Anna would say, "Awww.  Poor Mama.")  I have started to get use to it and do love being home, but I do enjoy having the freedom to get around too.  Now that my sister is here and it's starting to warm up, it's not as much of a problem anymore.  I am also looking forward to looking for some stamping and scrapbooking stuff.  I heard that they had things like that in Poland, but I didn't know it last year when we were there.

4)  We have been getting out for some walks in the village.  The girls were very excited to see these...  Sammy didn't know what to think and just stared with big eyes.

5)Found this adorable little dress for Lydia at the second hand store last week.  I was SO excited!  I've always dreamed of having my little girls with puffy dresses and big bows but either hard to find, or too expensive here.

6)I still haven't learned how to sew, but I have finished a few mending projects that I've been wanting to do.  I still have a whole basket full, but I started to make a dent...until Eric bought some pants from the second hand store that I have to hem.  Oh, well.  Eventually the basket will be empty.  I have a few projects that I am super excited about, but maybe I will share them in a post later.  I also just added a few skirts of Anna's to my mending basket.  All of her skirts are too big around the waist and I have been meaning to add some elastic in the waist.  But I recently "accidentally" found this really cool idea in one of the skirts I bought from the second hand store and can't wait to try it out on her other skirts.  I was so excited about this idea that I was giddy and practically dancing around the room showing everyone. 
It is like this on both sides of her skirt on the back.  Isn't it neat?

7)  Anna was showing me shapes she was making out of her apples and when she found one that she said "looked kinda like an A", I couldn't help but cut the slits in it for her to make her shape a real A.  She was very anxious to eat it.  I'm surprised I managed to get a picture.  Now they will be asking for A's every time we eat apples!

8) The girls are loving just hanging out with their Auntie Bree.  They were so cute, I couldn't resist a photo.

9)I'm finally having more energy to get the house in order, which feels great.  I didn't realize how much energy the parasites suck out of me until we started treatment again.  I feel almost like a new woman!  Though I am going to have to start watching my eating after we get rid of them.

10)They just made a new law two days ago saying that home births cannot be registered.  It only makes me realize how much God has truly blessed all of my pregnacies and births.  As I hear the pregnancy and birth stories of other Ukrainian missionary wives, all I can say is, "Thank you, Lord!"  His mercy toward me has been great.  I know that I am not deserving of the mercy He has shown me.  No, it has not always been easy or pleasant, but I cannot begin to express how much God has blessed me.  Before Anna I said many times "I can't do this, Lord!"  Even though He has probably blessed me with the best births in all of Ukraine, after each pregnancy I would always say I couldn't do it again, but God always blessed me with the desires of my heart even with my lack of faith.  In fact, if you were to ask me now I would probably tell you I couldn't do it again (crying, if I was pregnant) especially now with the new rule; but I pray that I would obey if that is what He asks of me. 

Got to go get ready for the Bible study tonight.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sammy's Story

They are always doing neat things like

I think I could be a

But it does me no good.

Until they are busy.

And then...

They say
But it still doesn't make sense to me.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Tea with Baba Nora

Thursday evening I ran some medicine over to Baba Nora and again invited her for tea.  I don't know if it's just because I invited her instead of Eric or if she felt obligated because we were bringing her medicine, but she agreed and came over on Friday morning.  She only stayed long enough to look at the house, drink her tea and tell me a quick story.  She usually adds that I don't speak as good in Russian as Eric does, but that's okay.  At least we can talk.  Right now we are just trying to open up doors and build her trust.  She is not very open to listening to us when it comes to the Gospel right now, but we know that God can soften her heart.  For some reason she favors our children and has come over twice in the past week to bring them some candy or cookies.

The picture is an old one from this fall, but I didn't take any pictures while she was here.

I'd also like to ask you to pray for Christina.  She is going through a hard time right now spiritually.  Her neighbor continues to visit and you can definitely see a difference in Christina's attitude.  I am hoping to get over to visit with her today, but it is a long walk through mud and holes.  It's much easier when we can pull the kids in the sled.  We might try the strollers, but that still leaves Anna walking.  We'll see.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Everyday Adventures

Thought I'd make a post to let you all know that we haven't frozen yet.  I did pick up a pretty nasty virus which put me in bed with a fever and cough for 6 days.  I am so thankful that I had my sister here to help take care of the house and kids because there was no way I could get out of bed.  I also had a sweet little nurse named Anna who kept coming by to feel how hot I was, then she'd say "Mama, you need a wet wash cloth." or "You need some juice.  You need to drink it.  It will make you feel better."

Before the sickness we had some adventures too.  First our electricity broke (or the electric box?  I'm terrible with those kinds of terms), which meant no heat.  On the coldest week of winter, this was not a good thing.  Bree and I packed up the kids and we spent the day with Christina at her house while Eric and Yuri worked on getting the electricity going so we would have heat and our water pipes wouldn't freeze.  Eric picked up chicken for lunch but before we ate that, Christina served a chicken soup that she had prepared earlier.  Bree and I thought it tasted good, you remember this picture?  Yeah, well I didn't seriously think they actually ate it, until I saw Yuri picking up the head of a chicken out of his bowl and proceed to eat it.  How he ate it or how much, I don't know because I was unable to watch.  When we finished our soup, Christina started moving the bowls off of the table so that we could start the second course.  As she came over by Eric he quietly said,  "Christina, I don't want to offend you, but I really can not eat this."  In his bowl lay another chicken head!  "That's okay"  she said and brushed the head off into Yuri's bowl.  He then went on and on about what a delicacy this was and that it was his favorite part of the chicken.  "Taste just like lobster!"  Hmmmm.  No thanks, I say (but then, I don't like lobster either).  Soon after that we were able to go home.  The electricity had been fixed and our pipes didn't freeze!  YAY!

A few days later, I went to visit with Valentina.  She had just had her surgery for cancer and was needing some groceries and fellowship.  Eric's car was in the shop so the kids stayed home with Auntie Bree.  It had to of been the coldest day I have ever been out in!  My eyelashes and hair froze on the 15 minute walk to the train station!  Lina and I had a very good visit with her and I stopped shivering after a few days.  Valentina is doing very well and has even started coming back to church.

Baba Nora has said that she can't come over for tea because she has to keep a fire going in her wood stove.  I'm not sure if this is just another excuse or not, but planting season is coming up on us soon, then she will be too busy planting.  She is still super friendly and is always dropping off candy and fruit for the kids.

I should probably get going.  Valodia is coming over for Bible lessons tonight so I need to go make a soup...though all I feel like doing is taking a nap, but alas, I chose to blog instead!  Maybe I can still squeeze in 15 minutes.

I'll leave you with a few pictures that are sure to brighten your day.

Anna and her 'pile'

Pretty Lydia, who decided she had been photographed enough

And Sammy...isn't he ADORABLE?  Don't be too fooled though, he is a little rascal. 
But I guess he comes by it naturally...on both sides of the family.


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