Thursday, December 19, 2013

To Walk Worthy

 Abigail with Gala

Thank you all so much for your sweet, encouraging emails.  Each of them were such a blessing to me.  I have tried to reply to each of you.  If you have not received an email back, it is because I sent it, but my email said it did not send a couple.  I will retry again once I get a chance. 

Things around here have been busy as usual, with people coming in and out constantly.  This is something I've had to get use to as I greatly enjoy "my" privacy and "my" quiet time. 

For those of you who don't know, our dining room/living room is also our bedroom.  So even through the night, kids are coming through to go to the bathroom, and this past week, others were to.  But there is one time of the day when it is quiet (at least in the winter when it is dark) and that is early in the morning between 5- sometimes 7.  That is when Eric and I get up, light a candle on the table and read our Bibles.  Sitting next to each other in sweet quietness, sharing what God is showing us.  During the week that Slavic, Olea and Vasily were here, it was sometimes a little interrupted, but for the most part, we still had our quiet time...except for one morning...

Abigail has been pretty restless at nights, so one particular morning I propped up some pillows and stayed by her while starting my devotions.  In comes Vasily, pulls up a stool and sits at the table in MY SPOT!!!  "I'm not disturbing anything am I?" he asks Eric.  The first thought that comes into my head is, "Oh, no.  You're not disturbing anyone.  This is just the ONLY time Eric and I have together, but no.  You're not disturbing anyone."  Afterwards, I almost starting laughing about it.

So, God has been teaching me patience and love this past year.  It is quite funny.  I thought I had it down.  I've even been complimented multiple times on how patient I am.  So, even if I was failing in every other area, I was good in the patient area. hehe...Pride goeth before a fall.  Thankfully, God hasn't just been giving me testing, but has also been encouraging me and convicting through Scriptures almost daily about it.  I thought I would share one of my devotion journal entries from this past week. 

12/14    Ephesians 4

4:1  "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,"

~ To walk worthy of our calling...
        We are not worthy of the privilege to be missionaries, yet the Lord has allowed us to be here.  It is not the lowest calling someone could have on their lives, but it is a privilege.

4:2 "With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love."

~ We aren't supposed to puff ourselves up and say, "Look what I am."  No. We are to serve realizing just how unworthy we are of this position.  It is not because we are super Christians that we have been called to the field.  God says He likes to use the weak things so that He can be seen and glorified rather than for us to be seen and glorified.

~ He also says we are to forbear one another in love.
         Sometimes on the mission field, we will just have to forbear in love because, for the most part, we are surrounded by baby Christians who will do things wrong.  It would be very easy and natural to get angry and say, "You don't want to do right?  Well, forget you!"
        No.  We must forbear in love, tenderly and gently guiding them into the right path.

4:3 "Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

~ Endeavor is a good word here as sometimes it is an endeavor to keep people in the Spirit in peace with each other.  It is an endeavor just to keep ourselves in the Spirit and at peace with other Christians!  We all have the fleshly tendency to gossip and get irritated with each other.
       I believe some people are better at this than others...Eric is so good at it and I can learn a lot from him.  Thank you Lord for giving me a peacemaking husband and pastor for our little, sometimes contentious, church here.  YOU knew what we needed.

4:7 "But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ."

~He has given each of us a gift.  Some of us He has called to be missionaries, some teachers, etc.  Each of us that are saved have been called Christians and we ought to walk worthy of that calling - to be Christ-like.
         He says He has called us to be Christ-like and He will give us the grace to do it.

Why has He given us our different gifts or callings?

4:12 "For the perfecting of the saints, 
          for the work of the ministry,
         for the edifying of the body of Christ."

 I know it could probably be written out more beautifully, but I left it just as I wrote it.  Sometimes when we are going through some trials, especially with the people in our church, I have a tendency to say (like Moses), "Lord, why did you give us these people!"  But He reminds me over and over that I am not "above" my calling.  I am not worthy to be here.  I am weak and sinful.  I am not even above them, yet HE has called me and put me here.  Thank You, Lord, for choosing me and using me!  Thank you also for Your grace and strength as I am such a weak vessel!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

To Brighten Your Day

video

Her giggles never fail to brighten my days and bring a smile to my face. :)

Monday, December 9, 2013

To Surrender a Light Bulb


This past year since furlough has been a trying and exhausting year.
Over and over again, I found myself telling God that I needed a break.  I needed fellowship.
Over and over I found myself brought to a place where I was physically so weak that all I could do was lay down on the bathroom floor and cry, begging God for just some relief from my exhaustion.

At the moment, my mind is drawing a blank as to why it was so physically and spiritually draining for me.
It just felt like we had one thing after another happen.

I knew and know that this is where God wants us, but still I struggled with wanting to buy a ticket and fly back to America...even if it was just for a visit.

Would it have helped?
Probably not, but there is always this fantasy that "everything is better when OFF the mission field".

It's funny.
I thought I was surrendered.
Fully surrendered.
Yet I've come to realize, especially over the course of this past year, how truly selfish I am.

As our church has grown, I have been selfish of my husband's time and attention.
As our family has grown, I have been selfish of my own time.

On the outside, oh yeah.  I was surrendered.
I live in a small home.
Away from my family.

You know the list...

But I wasn't even willing to surrender a light bulb.

Oh, it wasn't your ordinary light bulb.
No.  This one is 'cool'.
You just pull the plug and there's light.
I liked this little light for doing my devotions and it is great when we lose electricity.

Well, a couple in our church lost electricity a few weeks ago and asked to borrow it.
My first reaction was, "NOOOO!!!"  They don't NEED it.  They just want it because it's neat.
They have matches and flashlights.  This isn't practical anyways because the batteries run out so quickly.
The Lord convicted me of my selfishness and I knew it wasn't just for them, but I wasn't willing to surrender it to HIM.  He has blessed me with SO much, and yet I wasn't willing to give a little light bulb.  So we gave it to them...happily.

Again, a few weeks ago I was feeling completely exhausted.
I just begged God for a break...maybe even for Thanksgiving. 
Just a few days to visit with another missionary.
God answered my prayer and another missionary couple invited us to stay with them for Thanksgiving!
You can imagine my excitement!

It wasn't going to be easy since it was the week we were doing all of our registration work, but we booked our tickets.

The day before we were to leave, we 'happened' to call a couple in our church to see if they could take care of our dog.
They were drunk.
Eric said he was going to go get them.
Right then I KNEW what was going to happen and what God would ask of me.
How I hardened to the idea!
The Lord KNEW how much I NEEDED this break!

Well, by the time Eric got home hours later, the Lord softened my heart so that I was willing to surrender.
We still had a GREAT Thanksgiving and I had the energy to go on.

Eric helped this couple a few times the past two weeks, yet they continued to get drunk.
We kept talking about how needed a mission was here, where people like that could stay...
we just needed a bigger house.
Yep, you guessed it!
Yesterday, they begged for help as they just couldn't stop.  So, we moved them into one of our rooms.
Another young man in our church is staying here too to help us.  (He is sleeping in the mudroom.)
And you guess what?
As I laid on the ground begging God for strength, I found out...
It was not a vacation I needed,
It was HIM.
Getting up from prayer, HE renewed my strength and my joy.

I have found out this past year,
surrender is not a one time thing...
it must be done daily.

And sometimes it's not the big things.

Sometimes it's just a light bulb.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving!
We didn't have a big thanksgiving dinner this year 
because we were planning on visiting other missionaries, 
but plans changed at the last minute.  
We still had a great day.
Vasily has been eating with us lately, so he came over and visited.
We also had a lot of Indians and Pilgrims. :)
 
Eric eluded the camera all day, so sorry, there's no pictures of him...unless you count the Indian mask.
Daniel ripped his Indian hat before we got started.
(Thank you, Anna and Lydia for making all the hats and decorations!  You did a GREAT job!)

 
Anna didn't think Abigail should be left out so kept adding feathers to her headband.

 
Everyone got to take turns being the photographer, so we have lots of pictures of Mama.

 
Then we played games...Sammy photobombed the first picture. hehe
I noticed afterwards that I didn't get as many as him.  Poor guy!

And lastly, EVERYONE wanted pumpkin pie.  BUT I didn't have time to buy a pumpkin (or squash) ahead of time.  Thankfully, I had enough pumpkin in the freezer to make mini pumpkin pies.  Eric was especially excited that they were gluten-refined sugar free.  We were planning on breaking it, but since we had to be home, he asked that I try to stay by the diet.  It has been fun to come up with different ways to make the things he likes.  He was even more excited about the cream and ate all the left over.  It was a cashew cream.  It's not Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie and what's pumpkin pie without cream?

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Bible Lessons





I know I have been the most sporadic blogger lately and I have wanted to share this with you for a while, but we have had people in our home almost constant, so blogging time has been at a minimum.  I am giving 3 Bible lessons now and one of those is to Katiya, Bogdan's mom.  We were so excited when she said that she wanted to start her lessons!

She is on her 4th or 5th lesson now.  My heart was stirred each time I talked with her as it seemed like she was searching.  After the 2nd lesson, she really wanted to know HOW she could be saved and Lina and I spent about 1-2 hours with her talking about how she could be saved.  How exciting it was when she bowed her head to ask Jesus as her Savior!  She has been coming to every single service since then and been doing devotions with her boys every night.  We're praying that God will continue to work in this family and that Ruselan (her husband) and her son, Nikita, will be saved too.  Her lessons are on Fridays.

I am giving two other lessons on Sundays.  One lady, Luda, has also recently made a profession so the lessons are just for clarity.  The other lesson is with Gala.  I don't think she is saved, but she seems to know a lot of the information.  Please be in prayers especially for her lessons.  Pray for me also that God will give me clarity of speech and especially of mind as sometimes it is difficult to give lessons with little ones running around.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Strange Americans


"NO!!!  What are you doing?!"  
I exclaimed in complete disbelief 
as Lydia's dirty little hand started going down into the pickle jar.  
By this time, Eric was rolling over laughing.  
I ignored him and continued, 
"Not at MY table!"

I still remember the first time someone stuck their hand in, 
grabbed out a pickle and offered it to me.
I wondered if they had washed their hands.
 
Is this typical Ukrainian?  
No.  I don't think I could say that, but it is very common in the village where we live.  
Something that I have not really gotten use to.  
I still rush for a fork before someone sticks their hand in the pickle jar or other canned goods, 
making everyone smile.  
I think I will forever be amusing to them because I am a...
strange American.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Monday, November 11, 2013

Gluten-Free Oven Fried Chicken


One of the things we've missed the most since we started doing a gluten-free diet was oven fried chicken.  So last week I surprised my family with it...just a modified version of it.  I substituted ground oatmeal (oat flour) for the flour and skipped dipping it in the milk and egg whites.  It came out SO good!  When it was all gone, the kids were still asking for more!

It is easy too - my favorite kind of recipe.

Put about 1/4 cup of butter in a baking dish and melt in the oven.

Grind in the blender about a cup of oatmeal, then mix the oatmeal with your favorite seasonings. 
Roll your chicken strips in the oatmeal until thickly coated.
Place the chicken in your pan - coating both sides of the chicken with butter.

Bake on 425 for about 20 minutes - or until tender and white.

It's been exciting to be able to find recipes for my family that we enjoy, are healthy and that actually taste great.  I've just had to be a little more creative. ;)  I'm thinking about Thanksgiving over here and excited to try a green bean casserole with this type of topping on onions.  Now, if only to find a substitute for stuffing...

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Strange Americans

What do you think of when you think of whistling?  The first thing that comes to my mind is happiness.  I think of someone happily walking along, cleaning the house, etc. whistling a happy tune.

Eric, without even thinking about it, goes around whistling hymns.  One Sunday as he was whistling a hymn throughout the church, filling the building with the joyful sound, a few people came up to him and firmly said, "You can't do that!" or "That is rude!"

It took us a minute to figure out that they were talking about him whistling!  To them, whistling is rude - ESPECIALLY inside a building.

We were told this comes from the superstition that, if you whistle you will lose your money...so it is even more rude to whistle at someone else's house. ;)

Even if Eric tried, he can't refrain from whistling.  Everyone still says something, but they all just laugh and understand...
 Americans are Strange!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Vladamir Vonavich

He sat there, slouched over in the chair, just listening to the conversations around him, when Anna came up to him.  
Her little hand slipped into his large wrinkled hands.  
His first thought was that she was trying to greet him.  
Then she sweetly and quietly asked, "Will you please go outside with me?"  
"Why?" he asked with a puzzled look.  
I quickly replied, "Her papa said that she could not go out unless an adult was out there..."  
Before I could finish, he was out of his seat and walking with her towards the door. 

By the time I made it out to the yard, they had already started a game of soccer.  I could not believe he was playing with them!  I rushed back inside to get my camera (everyone probably wondering what I was doing), turned it on, then Oh!  No SD card!  Then I remembered the old one still in my camera bag.  Just maybe, maybe...yes!  It still had enough memory on it!  

I quickly snapped a few pictures then sat down to watch them play.  I watched him, hunched over almost running around.  I watched him as he held his leg the entire time he played and thought, "He really shouldn't be doing that."  Then I looked up at his smile.  And I remembered the hard life he has had.

I remembered the years he spent caring for his bedridden wife with alzheimer's so bad that she would beat on him and scream "what did you do to my husband?"
He still brought her flowers. 

I remembered how disheveled he looked after she passed away. 

I remembered all of the other troubles he's had this past year.

I remembered all of this and looked at his happy face and wanted to cry for the sweet moments of happiness he was having.  And there was no way I was going to make him stop playing.

How thankful I am that God saved this dear, sweet man!


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Monday, November 4, 2013

Lydia is 5!



How can it even be possible?!  Only yesterday you were a little bundle in my arms with hair that looked like I styled it...my perfect little baby doll.  How I have enjoyed the years with you!

For the most part, you are

Though  you definitely have your silly, noisy moments ~ ESPECIALLY if you have one on one time. :)

We started the day with birthday spanks/kisses.

Then the hunt was on.

The wrapping is becoming part of our tradition. ;)

 It's always interesting to buy English toys in a foreign country.

All of the kids were busy playing house while Daniel and I prepared the birthday meal...well, I prepared.  He was too busy digging into the cake to help cook.






You requested a green, chocolate cake.  It's hard to see, but it is a light green.  And one of the candles was one of those ever-flame candles.  That always makes it more exciting.

Poor baby Abigail was sick all day, but she got lots of love still.




We finished of the day with a tea party.  With three girls, we have plenty of those.

Happy Birthday my Lyda-bug!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Getting Back



I took so many pictures of the Kuenzi's visit that I had a hard time narrowing it down!  They took even more than I did, of EVERYTHING.  The bread truck, our little store...they are much bolder with the camera than I am.  We get looked at enough without me flashing a camera around everywhere. ;)

They were a huge blessing - both physically and spiritually.  Not only did they help with evangelism, but they also helped paint my kitchen, got my laundry caught up for me (I NEED her to come back since it seemed like everyone had accidents the day after she left. :( )...but the thing I enjoyed the most was the fellowship.  I have felt lonely this term, which is one of the reasons I have avoided the internet.  Once I started getting back on, I only had time for things that took a couple of minutes and that definitely did not include the blog.  We have been rushing from one thing to the next ever since Abigail was born -VBS, the Kuenzi's visit, going to Kiev to get Abigail's birth abroad, etc.  We are finally starting to get back into somewhat of a routine - though I still crash as soon as the kids go to bed.  I fell asleep at 8:30 last night!  The time change is helping me get up earlier, which blesses me with a few minutes of quiet.  Many times I have thought about getting an apron to put over my head like Susannah Wesley did.

Even amidst my discouragement, God has been blessing us so much.  The church has been growing not just in number, but it has been exciting to see the growth in the new Christians and others coming to know the Lord.  Eric has a full schedule of Salvation Bible lessons and discipleship lessons and I have had the opportunity to give some lessons too.  As I shared before, I am really enjoying it.

I have felt really discouraged by my language skills lately - or lack of.  How I want to be able to fluently speak the language!  Eric says my biggest problem is that I don't like to talk unless I can do it perfectly.  I was encouraged the other day though.  Someone asked if I was speaking Ukrainian, since I had an accent.  The more we talked, I'm sure they understood it was just bad Russian. haha!

Also part of our weekly schedule now is mommy time out - either with Eric or Lina, and sometimes a few kids.  This has helped me get some things done that we have needed and also some time away from the house.  It has opened up many witnessing opportunities and special time with my girls.  They are growing into such good little helpers!

Well, baby Abigail is crying so my mind is having trouble writing. ;) 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday Lessons

Another Sunday has past.  They go by so quickly!  This Sunday was the third Bible lesson that I have given.  It has been so exciting to give these lessons and God gave me a good "pupil".  Gala gets so into her lessons and everything is so new to her.  It makes it even more fun for me.  But at the same time it has been humbling and I almost cry at the end of every lesson.  Why?  I can't exactly put that into words.  I'm just so excited and nervous.  Please continue to pray for me that God will give me the words to say and that the Holy Spirit will give her the understanding and conviction to be saved.  She already readily admits she is a sinner, so that's a step.  Also pray that the kids behave during this time.  Our second lesson was a little harder for me because I had one sick kid and the rest kept needing something too.

Following services and Bible studies, Eric brought all the kids with him except Anna and Abigail to bring everyone home.  Anna and I enjoyed this girls' time alone and took advantage of it to play a game of Go Fish. 
As you can see, I am quite awful at it...or I have a little card shark on my hands.
Then we had some fun with the camera.  

 She took some silly pictures of me too, but don't think I'll be posting those. ;)

When Lydia got back she decided to try her hand at GoFish too.
I think I just may be their favorite person to play against.

I'm still planning on sharing with you pictures from when our visitors came in September.  We had such a great time with them and they were a HUGE blessing.  Tonight though, I am too tired.  Hopefully I can get to it this week.  Even though Abigail is 3 months today, we are still haven't seemed to find a routine for our family and because of that my computer time is limited to a few minutes here and there.  I think we're getting there.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

VBS

Since we are so behind in updates, we have created a new facebook page which will hopefully help us to better keep you posted with pictures and updates.
In July we had our VBS.  We had about 17 kids coming almost regularly and one young lady professed Christ as her Savior.  It was a fun, yet exhausting week.  If you would like to see pictures I have posted them here at this link...VBS pictures .

Also, we had a safe trip to and from Kiev.  The trains are MUCH nicer then they use to be and they are quicker.  It only took us 4-5 hours instead of the 8-10 it use to take!  The toilets still were dirty so Lydia still refused to use them, but a lot better than before.  There are also a few Dominoes Pizza restaurants in Kiev now!  We are still not eating breads, sugars or processed foods, but we were willing to break it for that...boy was I disappointed when I found out it would take 45 minutes to get there and cost about $35 - one way. :(  I know my husband would have gladly done it for me, but I guess it will have to wait for another time.  We did find a KFC there, which made Eric and Lydia VERY happy.  I must admit it didn't cut it for me, but I had been planning for months to break my diet for a nice big piece of Dominoes Pizza.  I think I need to go make me some cauliflower pizza - in the end, I'd probably decide that I liked it better anyways.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Abigail Grace

Abigail Grace was born on August 20th and weighed about 6 1/2 pounds.  As you can see, we are all in love with her.  But who wouldn't be?  Daniel especially seems to adore his baby sister.  She was so tiny!  At her 2 month visit she was double that!
 
She is now almost 3 months and lights up our days.  She seems like our smiliest and giggliest...but it could just be my memory (or lack of).  
(Almost 3 months)

So many exciting things have been happening and I am looking forward to getting you caught up...just a little at a time.  We already have Abigail's Ukrainian papers, now we will be working on her birth abroad,passport, and SS.  We leave on the train for Kiev tomorrow morning at 6:45 AM.

Where is the Red Glare?


Intently he peered into the night, hoping for glimpses of the stars of freedom.  His persistence was rewarded as the thunderous noise of bombs burst into a red glare, illuminating our flag stating, "Freedom is still here!"  Anxiously he searched the shoreline as the early light of dawn cracked the horizon.  Our flag?  Our freedom?  Our America?  Was it still there?

Sitting on the banks of another shore, I peer into the approaching night to see if our flag is still there, searching for some evidence that we truly are still the home of the free and brave, but America is silent.  There is no light to the night sky.  The darkness of night quickly closes in, the colors of those broad stripes and bright stars start to fade, my heart cries out, "What happened?  Where are our brave?"  But there is no reason to question, I already know the answer why.  Not too long after our fathers fought and died, losing houses, lands and families for the freedom of our land, we started concentrating on ourselves building bigger homes and surrounding ourselves with comfortable things.  As we busily built up our homes, we ignored the little red flags as we really were busy and "I'm sure someone else will take care of that."  Our comfort zones became bigger and we could not stand up for truth, not for fear of losing our lives, but for fear of a raised eye brow.  And though I will still cry each time I hear our Spangled Banner sung as I fear I will not see the flag flying as the dawning approaches, I cannot spend my time searching for that beautiful flag of freedom.  No.  I must press forward while there is yet time, impressing the Bible upon my children's hearts and minds and compelling the lost, occasionally glancing to see if our flag is still there.

Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Open House

Wow!  It has been a LONG time since I have been on here!  In fact, I was told 2 months!  It has been a full, busy, exciting two months with welcoming a new baby, VBS, preparing for school and preparing a room for our visitors from America (who just arrived TODAY!!! YAY!!!)...it will take me a while to update you on all of that.  I will, but I thought since I have been promising a home tour for a year to my family and we are welcoming visitors into our home now, I would let you come for a visit too.

As we open the door you'll be greeted by this sight with a bench inviting you to sit down and take your shoes off...plus about 4 excited kids hopping about with books for you to read, favorite toys for you to see, new lost teeth....we like visitors.

Once you are able to get past them and take your shoes off, we will make our way into the kitchen.
Where we would probably stop to grab a cup of tea or coffee, if you prefer
.
While the water gets hot, we will take a peek into the boys' room then pick up our cups of tea (or coffee) and head to the living room.

If they were sleeping this peacefully when you came in, then it was pretty easy to get your shoes off.



In the living room you can see our precious Abigail who never lacks in arms wanting to hold her and is always surrounded by adoring brothers and sisters.  She is one spoiled little girl...or maybe it is loved.



Make a quick stop at the bathroom.




Then make our way to the girls' room,

It still needs some order, but if I waited until every room was perfect to have visitors I'd never have visitors.  Before you leave I'm sure the kids will convince you to cuddle and read a book or two.

God has blessed me greatly with a beautiful, little home and a sweet family to enjoy it with.  I hope you had a pleasant visit and will come again.  The door is always open - even when there is some laundry on the couch, which is usually the time when company pops in. :)

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