Saturday, December 28, 2013

Victor or Victim?

My husband and I had a conversation today.  The essence of what we were discussing could boil down to the question of how much in someone's behavior can be or should be excused due to their past (abuse, neglect, addiction, etc.).

A few years ago I was helping mentor a young lady who was dealing with some dark things in her life.  I remember telling her that some of the thoughts she's struggling with may never go away.  I kept pressing her to tell me what she was going to do when those thoughts came again.  She felt that as long as those thoughts were still coming - she could not have complete victory.

You and I are daily dealing with hurt people.  Some of them have been through things neither you nor I can even imagine.  But they don't all act the same, do they?  Some have moved on, using their experience to bring healing to others (sure enough, they still got their monsters poking on them from time to time, but they don't use this as an excuse to be a jerk).  Such people are a joy to be around.  Others are holding on to their hurt so tightly that it penetrates their entire being, makes them focus on gaining acceptance rather than giving it.  

The VICTIM mentality is weeping on the inside, "This is what had been done to me.  This is why I am the way I am.  This is why I react the way I react.  This is why I can't trust.  This is why I can't be vulnerable."  Victims have a very hard time extending grace to anyone who (in their eyes) struggles less than they do.

And then there are VICTORS.  Those who rise above their pain.  Those who shout from the rooftops, "This is what had been done to me.  But I am the way I am because I have received healing from the hand of the Almighty.  And there is no pain He can't redeem."

I think where we had got it wrong is in telling people that when God redeems our pain - all will be well and all will go away.  I am not so sure this is true.  There is no way to undo what had been done.  Only to redeem it.  Only to flood those memories of the past with grace and forgiveness.  And it is through grace and forgiveness when true freedom is found. 

I am not here to bash those who are still struggling with victim mentality for I had also been one of those (and still feel tempted to be at times).  I am writing this post to encourage you to become a victor rather than a victim - for it is truly possible.

So before the year runs out - ask yourself, "Am I a victor or a victim?"
Be willing to be honest with yourself.

And if there is a single New Year's resolution that you should make - it should be to overcome your painful past :)

I believe you can.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Staring at Oasis in the Desert

It has been a while and it is time to catch you all up on what's been happening to us.

Our family relocated from Brooklyn, NY to Chandler, AZ.  We believed then and still believe now that it was the right decision for our family.  We have spent time resting, settling into our new jobs, figuring out this different way of life, asking God for direction for our life and ministry.

We have also found out that we brought a little unexpected souvenir from NYC - a little baby boy who will be born some time in October.  That turned some of our plans around a bit - but we are truly grateful for this little gift.

We are now settling into a local church and finally finding time to dream of ministry. There is a big project coming up in December - and I am thrilled to tell you about it.  For years we have been hoping to put more meaning into our Christmas, to do things that would really reflect what this season is all about.  And this year we found exactly what we wanted to do.  This Christmas we will be traveling to Mexico to spend time with our dear friend who is taking care of 8 orphans there.  The cost for the entire trip is $5,000 (that would cover everything - from our airfare to all the Christmas presents for the kids at the orphanage and the fun Christmas-y things we want to do with the kids while we are there).  It is quite a bit of money that we don't have but I trust God to provide for us.  If you would like more info - feel free to comment here or contact me through facebook.

I'll write more soon :)

Friday, March 15, 2013

My Heart on Youtube (video #2)

If I am truly honest with myself I am realizing that one of my fears has always been having a child with special needs.  This video has relieved every single one of my unfounded fears.  Here's another gem on the heart of adoption.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

My Heart on Youtube

My wonderful friend shared this video with me on facebook and I couldn't resist sharing it with you.

Please watch this with me.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

It Is Never What It Might Have Been

It has been a while, hasn't it?  I have so many ideas for some cool blog posts but I simply cannot find time to sit down and write them all down... and then I forget (terrible, I know).  But I hope this one blesses your heart because this post comes from the other side of the bridge (I wrote about that here and most recently here).  

So I've done it.  I've crossed to the other side.  I closed my eyes to the fear of the unknown, held my breath and ran over before I could change my mind (for the 400th time). My family has relocated to Arizona leaving behind everything we had known as a family for the sake of a dream.  It has been over a month now since our plane touched ground in Phoenix.

And as we are transitioning to a different lifestyle, taking time to rest from organized ministry for the sake of regaining our focus - some things are becoming very clear to me.

1)  It is never as tough on the other side as you are afraid of.
2) It is never as easy on the other side as you may hope.

That's it.  Maybe you were already aware of those two things (as have I) but somehow shaping them together in 2 sentences side by side helped me make sense out of everything that was happening to me.  See, it is always so scary to jump into the unknown because of all of our fears: fear of failure, fear of loneliness, fear of making a mistake, fear of disillusionment.  That is exactly why so often people settle - for a mediocre job, for a socially acceptable existence, for the safe, for the known. Those are also the people who often look back at their life with regret, wishing they could have accomplished more and seen more of their dreams come to pass.  Dreamers afraid to take a risk to make their dream happen. I refuse to be that person.  My biggest fear (ok, one of them) is that I look back at my life and wish I had lived it differently.  I raise my proverbial glass to those who are not afraid to live life.  Yet, even among the risk takers one may often find foolish people - those who having not counted the cost are willing to jump into anything that comes their way, anything that sounds exciting.  Those people often hurt their loved ones and may become disillusioned when seeing their dream happen comes at a great cost.  I am realizing that nothing about what we want to do in ministry is going to be handed to us on a silver plate.  Starting over, pursuing dreams requires hard work, planning, commitment, stick-to-it-ness.

Don't sit at the bank of the river afraid to cross the bridge - but don't expect that by crossing you'll avoid having to work for your dream.  

If you have any further thoughts - feel free to chat in comments :)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Back to the Bridge

I feel like I am revisiting a familiar place.  The same emotions are flooding my soul.  The same excitement mixed with fear mixed with sorrow and sprinkled with ecstatic joy.  I am a mess.

I am sure, my friend, you have been here before as well.  You stood at the edge of the known trying to see ahead into the fog of the future.  You know as well as I do that no matter how hard you look you can never be certain of what exactly awaits you on the other side.

Luckily, I have learned - just as you have, I am sure, - that no matter how intimidating that fog may be - crossing over is always better than sitting at the bridge full of fear in your heart.

This blog post is an announcement that we have decided to cross yet another bridge in our lives and in our ministry.

I remember my first day in NYC as if it were yesterday.  I was coming from Belarus for 4 months to do internship with Metro Ministries.  I knew no one, I was not sure what to expect.  As our van drove through the streets of Queens and Brooklyn I was surprised by how dirty the city was.  I wondered what I was getting myself into.  I felt like I would never be able to live in such a dirty city.

I remember making a choice to stay on staff with Metro Ministries.  I remember falling in love with this city and her people more and more with each passing month.  This city - in all her craziness - has become my home.  I have lived here my whole adult life, I have made friends here, I got married here, I had my child here, I grew in my understanding of ministry here.  I felt like I would never be able to give it up.

But the time has come when once again I am staring into the fog of the unknown.  There are so many things that we want to do as a family - adoption and foster care advocacy, becoming foster parents and expanding our family through adoption in the future, getting more involved in global orphan care.  In order to accommodate that - we must cross another bridge.

This week our family will get on the plane and we will not be holding return tickets in our hands.  This week we will be moving from NY and making our new home in Arizona.

We will miss the wonderful children and their families that we have met and got to know over these years.    We will miss pulling the side of that yellow truck down and seeing kids run up to it bombarding us with hugs and questions.  We will miss our friends and sharing our lives and passion with them.  We will miss knowing our neighbors and living on the same block as our church.  We will miss the many faces of New York City - the culture, the food, the art, the markets, the subway, the uniqueness, the hustle and bustle of the big city.  But that does not change the fact that we must go.

Please pray for us in this time of transition.  Pray for us to have favor with our job transitions, with making new friends.  Pray for God's guidance and provision.

Some people believe holding on and hanging in there 
are signs of great strength.
However, there are times when it takes much more strength 
to know when to let go and then do it.” 
(Ann Landers)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Different Resolution

Are we well enough into the new year for me to ask if any of you have broken your new year's resolutions yet?  I sure have broken some of them by now... 2 out of 3 to be exact.

I wonder how that happens.  How is it that so many of us are so hopeful on the 31st of December and so shattered by the end of January?  Is it simply that we don't have enough self-control?  Or are we making our goals too vague or too unattainable?  Are we setting a goal without thinking through the action steps that will get us there?

I don't know... and this is NOT what this post is about.

This post is about a DIFFERENT kind of a resolution.

See, one thing I noticed about the new year's resolutions - they are all about ourselves.  This year I will lose weight, I will exercise more, I will eat healthier, I will read my Bible every day, I will get out of debt, I will be a better parent - and even though all those are honorable goals - they are all "I... I... I... I..."

So this year I am choosing something different.  This year I resolve not to seek my own gain, not to focus on how I can better myself.  This year I want my resolutions to be about others.

So here's my UPDATED new year's resolution:

In 2013 I resolve:

*to make my birthday more meaningful by raising funds for the orphans in need instead of hoping for presents*

*to do one random act of kindness each month to a person who is not family or friend (a small and manageable and therefore realistic goal)*

*to stick with my resolution #3 (was not about me but about obeying God in a certain area of my life so it made the list)*

What can you resolve to do this year to make this world just a tiny bit better?
(You may chat in comments if you'd like)
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