Monday, January 31, 2011

One Thousand Gifts - #92-102

They have all known each other... for quite some time now.  I am older than them too.  The gap that lies between us seems overwhelming.  I fail miserably to make friends.

Those were my thoughts two weeks ago.  And yesterday... I could almost feel tears coming to my eyes as I had to say good-bye to them.  Is it not absolutely amazing to you how a few mere days can link hearts together so strongly?  I almost wish I had more time to get to know them...

I am grateful today for:
- the wonderful girls in Group 417 of Minsk State Linguistic Univeristy
- and all the help you've given me
- and all the laughter we shared
- and all the homework we shared (literally)
- and for our inbox
- and for our incredible four always ending up in the cafeteria together
- and for making me feel part of your group
- and for Nastya having sushi with me
- and also helping me with methods of teaching
- and for the favor I had during my exams
- and for the great professors

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Pursuit - Locating Your Destination

"Nothing quite as heartbreaking 
as realizing you've wasted your time"

Before you can get anywhere in life, you must find out where it is that you're going. At any given moment in your life you have thousands of invisible ropes tugging at you, pulling you in all different directions:  your parents want you to have a career in business, your grandparents think you should pursue your artsy gifts, your best friend wishes you had more time and more money, your significant other has expectations in the relationship that you may not even be aware of... you're reading statuses and looking at the pictures... and watching TV, and reading self-improvement books, and trying to lose weight, and trying to be happy, and trying to find time, and trying to get a raise, and trying to be happy while making everyone else around happy as well... and trying not to kill yourself in the process... and somewhere... in the midst of it all... in this massive chaos of everything... your dreams lay.

You have to find them.  Sifting carefully through your preconceived ideas and expectations.  Digging through the learned behaviors.  Examining every page of your heart, every little corner.  To find the real you.

It is so easy for us to try to become what others expect us to be.  We want people around us to be happy.  

But be careful, my friend.

Do not pick up the shattered pieces of your parents' desires.  Do not cut your hands on the hurts of your friends.  Do not attempt thinking that you could piece those together.  You can't live everyone's life.

But you can live yours.  Fully.  

See, pursuing the unprofitable will never yield you a good reward.  You need to be certain of your destination.  You need to know that whatever you're doing right now is the best thing that you could be doing with this time.  Don't settle for anything less.

What if you could indeed make one wish for your future and see it come to pass?  What would your one wish be?  I dare say your one wish is probably something you should pursue.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Pursuit - You Are Here.

It is nearing midnight and I am willing to do anything else... but studying.  I have studied for months now - on my days off, on rare evenings when I was home alone.  I haven't done anything but studying in the past few weeks.  I am willing to put up with sleepless nights and excessive amounts of coffee that make my stomach turn and absolute lack of any social life and even my state of complete exhaustion because I am PURSUING my education.

We all have things in life that we want to accomplish or see happen.  We all have at least one area in our lives where we look at it and realize that we're not quite where we want to be.   We want to be over there (with a degree, married, with a better job, in a different town, with a bigger ministry, with more children, with respect from others, on a vacation, playing a guitar, sewing... what not?)... but we are here - in our life the way it is.  Here is where our dreams have not happened yet.  Here is where we are frustrated with the way things are.  Here is where we are discontent.

But here is also where we have a choice to make.  A friend of mine shared this quote with me the other day Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”  Here does not have to be a place of perpetual desperation.  Here can become a place where you can look ahead, mark your trail - and set off towards a new adventure and PURSUE your dream!!!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Bitter Truth

I am faced with the truth...
... and I don't like how it sounds.
The sound of unwelcomed truth in unprepared mind is bitter.
Can sound be bitter?  I feel it can.
Do you want to know how it sounds?
"You have no one but yourself to blame!"
The past, the hurt, the family, the expectations...
... the pressure, the stress, the ministry...
... the loss...
...the unexpected, the unannounced...
left bitter scarring in my soul.
I have stories to swap and reasons to share.
But swapping stories and pity parties never help.
They just hide the truth... the bitter truth.
And the truth is...
He is the Healer - so if I am hurting still - I have not followed His directions
if my wounds are still bleeding - I must quit scratching the old wounds
He has all I need - so if I feel empty - I've tried the wrong cisterns
I know it's not easy
I know it hurts
I know it keeps coming back at you
I live it too
I still do
I am hurting too
But the truth is...
"It'll never change - unless you change it!"
So will you walk with me?
out of the darkness?
out of the hopelessness?
out of the despair?
out of the past?
out of what others did to you?
and out of what you have done to others?
Will you run with me?
Run to our Healer?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

One Thousand Gifts - #78-91

... being back here always feels strange.  Things are changing here and every time I come some things are different.  New routes for buses, new stores, new buildings, new "fashion".  And yet some things never change.

I miss my dear husband... greatly.  And I also miss insignificant things like Starbucks and... Charmin ;)  I both laughed and cried the first time I went to the public restroom in Minsk and there was no toilet paper provided.  I didn't remember that here you have to carry your own everywhere you go.  And did I mention that the one they do use is super hard (think 'gentle sandpaper')?  So I had to go and get an imported kind from Poland.

Yet there're so many things I missed and I am grateful to have them back even if for a season.

- my mom's cooking
- kitchen talks with my wonderful childhood friend
- great hot tea made with pre-brewed tea starter
- subway trains that you never have to wait for any longer than 3-4 minutes
- windows that open easily and face the outside (not another apartment)
- well-dressed and well-groomed men and women everywhere
- school life (as tiring as it is)
- late night chats with grandma
- cheap cell phone rates
- a school record that only has 9s and 10s so far (10 being the highest mark in Belarus)
- rich dark bread
- salted herring
- great-tasting pickles
- spotless squeaky clean streets

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Home For Lisette

"The central struggle of parenthood is to let our hopes for our children outweigh our fears."
(Ellen Goodman)

I remember there was a time in my life when one of my biggest fears was to give birth to a child with special needs.  A fear known to many mothers who might have been told that their pregnancies have complications.  And as I have given my fears to God, He started surrounding me with beautiful people who give all their love to children with special needs and through those people He helped me see how beautiful life is to Him... even life that we consider unfortunate.
It is one thing to give birth to your own and take care of them no matter what their complications are.  But there are thousands children all around the world who are abandoned by their families because they are not quite what those parents hoped for.  Most of these children will never find a forever family because of fears in our hearts.  As a result many are institutionalized for their whole life and often die very early.

Today my guest is Faith Jobes, a beautiful woman who together with her husband Evan are seeking to give hope to one such girl - named Lisette.

Here's their story:
Faith writes, "Evan & I met and married after only knowing each other about 4 months. I was only 18. We got pregnant right away but had a miscarriage. It took us a long time to get pregnant again but we now have a 7 year old son named Morgan. In 2006, we were blessed with a beautiful daughter named Nora.

She was born with a variety of genetic abnormalities including 5P-, also known as Cri Du Chat (Cat’s Cry Syndrome). Her care was very intense but we now talk about how she showed us the value of all human life, no matter their disability. She was in and out of the hospital her whole like and passed away when she was 3 years old from Chronic Lung Disease. We believe she is with God now where she can dance and sing and waits for us.

We always wanted more kids but we were hesitant because we were in the hospital so much with Nora.

After much thought and prayer about how to fill the void left in our hearts and lives, we decided they simply have too much love as a family and would love to share that with another child who has special needs.

We have poured everything we have into this adoption and are only $3500 away from being fully funded. We just found out that our leave from work to travel will be unpaid so now we have to start praying for money to cover bills when we return.

This whole process is so trying for me. We have done so many fundraisers and accepted straight donations from even total strangers! I just HATE asking people for money, relying on others, being so exposed and transparent after being so hurt by losing our daughter is definitely the hardest thing I can imagine but I want to save that little girl so I keep on going! I guess Lisette has had other families “commit” to her and not be able to continue. BOY do I know that feeling. We originally committed to adoption Robyn from Russia but we couldn’t come up with all the money in a decent amount of time. It was heart breaking to “release” her. It felt like a second loss. But we had to focus the importance of saving a child, any child. There could have been another family who had the money or could come up with the money for Robyn’s adoption sooner than us. And we could come up with the money for Lisette’s adoption much sooner than the amount for Robyn’s soo…the difficult choice had to be made. Now we are so excited to bring Lisette home.  Our son cannot wait. He says every day, it’s taking so long! But we tell him it will be worth it!"

Lisette is currently living in an orphanage in Eastern Europe. She is almost 4 years old and weighs only 20 lbs. She needs a home and a loving family so badly, and Evan & Faith very much want to be that family for her. Going into this they knew that they would have to work VERY hard to fund an adoption. God has provided in ways that they could never have imagined, but they still need your help to bring Lisette home. Please consider a generous gift for this beautiful little girl! If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation towards Lisette's adoption - please visit

Faith has also started a blog that is full of give-aways and gift ideas to help fund Lisette's adoption.  You will also be able to get updated on what's going on with their family - feel free to check it out.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Moving Past The Broken Resolutions

The loud noise is quieting down.  All Christmas decorations have been taken down and once so beautiful Christmas tree is now waiting outside to be picked up.  Today is January 3rd which means the New Year 2011 has officially begun... and most of us have already messed up on their New Year's resolutions.

Let's face it. Many will probably not lose as much weight as they have resolved, even the most determined will probably cave in once in a while and go over their calorie norm for the day.  Even those most disciplined will probably struggle with their quiet time at some point during this year and spend meaningless time on the Internet or TV instead.  We are human and the momentum of the new start in the new year often wears out in the face of temptation.

If I have one resolution to make this year - it would have to be this one.  I will move forward no matter how many times I fall.  No matter how many times I mess up on my resolutions... I will keep moving.

This year if you find yourself breaking those New Year's resolutions - will you resolve to keep moving?
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