Wednesday, December 31, 2014


I am realizing that I put out only 4 new posts this entire year.  Blogging was one of the things that I aspired to find more time for this year - but 4 posts (5 including this one) = epic fail in my book.

Have I not had anything to say?  Have I become too busy to pause and ponder and write down the things that make my heart sing, cry, hope?

Every December we're faced with many broken resolutions.  12 months is long enough to screw up pretty much any resolution you might have set before your eyes in the beginning of the year.  As I am looking back, I am realizing I have failed at every single one of them but one.  And that was stolen from the amazing Lindsay Nixon's mantra - "Progress - not perfection!"

If there was one lesson that stood out stronger to me than ever before... it would be "We all may fall short of the lofty goals we have set before ourselves. But halfway to the finish line is still way better than staying at the start point."

As you examine your year, as you prepare yourself for a new start in 2015, celebrate your victories no matter how small, and be encouraged - you're still better for trying.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

More Talking - Less Updating

When I first deactivated my Facebook account - I breathed a sigh of relief. I was excited about all the great things I was making room in my life for.  

Yet, if you are anything like me - you know how fast the initial excitement wears off.  Not even two days after pulling the plug I found myself wondering about something and feeling at a loss without my usual go-to "ask the Facebook world" function.

It's been maybe a week when I was driving down the road from work thinking of all the many fun things that happened that day.  My initial thought was I should just share it on Facebook.  When I realized that I had cut that option off I felt at a loss once again.  It felt weird calling or emailing someone just to tell them a funny story.  It felt strange not to get the likes and responses to something that I knew a Facebook world would appreciate.  

That short moment in my car made me realize how little genuine human interaction we're having these days.  We are programmed by the society to be "How are you doing? - Fine. What about yourself? - Doing ok." kind of a person.  We ask a question but are we really expecting to hear a genuine answer?  Do we really want to know what the other person is dealing with?  Would we be compelled to help?  Are we afraid that we might not know what to say?  And what about sharing your story?  What would the other person think of us if we tell them what's going on?  Will they judge us?  Will they look down on us?  Will the conversation make them feel awkward?

Posting things on Facebook about our lives is much easier and safer than speaking it out loud.  When Facebook got taken out of my life I could see just exactly who really cared to know what was going on in my life.  It was quite an adjustment going from almost a thousand "friends" to just a handful (what a popularity drop!) - yet the interactions I am experiencing right now are much more fulfilling.  There is so much power in asking the person how they are doing... and waiting for an answer :)

I am learning to talk.
I am learning to ask open questions.
I am learning to formulate intelligent answers.
I am learning to connect.
I am learning to laugh together.
I am learning to offer help.
I am learning to rejoice with others.
I am learning to be there for others.

And this has been so much more rewarding than getting hundreds of likes on Facebook.  And so my resolve has strengthened.

So guess what?  When I was in the car that day driving down the road and wishing I could share my day with someone... I prayed and thanked God for all the great things that happened that day... I sent a text message to my husband... I called my grandma... and it all was well.  

Sharing a status update is not the same as sharing life.  Just saying :)

* I am not suggesting everyone should deactivate Facebook.  I am simply sharing my personal experience of making room for things in my life that really matter to me.  I believe everyone should take a hard look at their life and clean it out of time wasters so there's more room for things that matter.  If you have done so - I would love to know about your journey.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

More Social - Less Network

“I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.

"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” 

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.  Isn't that the truth?  Lately, my life has become a non stop whirlwind of busy.  I have 2 kids, 2 jobs, a ministry and a home to run.  On top of all that I am trying to get into grad school so I've been doing a lot of studying for that.  I do not have much spare time - yet, I still have control over what I do with the time that I have.

Earlier in the year a sweet friend had mentioned that she is trying to not be on her phone unless the kids are sleeping and no one is around.  I have tried to follow her suit (some days I did better than others) and I realized how difficult it really is. 

Someone asked me a few days ago what my hobbies were. "Ain't nobody got time for that" was the first thing that popped in my head.  Yet this got me thinking what it is that I really enjoy doing, what it is that sets my heart ablaze... and whether there is ample time in my life for that.

See what I wanted to do is to identify my biggest time wasters and rid myself of those so I can make more room for the things I really enjoy.

Here's my list of the things that make me happy and the things that I enjoy doing or having:
*** spending time with God (when I do dedicate even a little focused time on a devotion or prayer, I feel significantly better)
*** spending time with my loved ones and friends (I am powered by human connection - my "love language" is quality time for sure)
*** eating healthy (yes, I do indeed enjoy it most of the time - and most of the times when I eat junk is because I have failed to prep a meal ahead)
*** blogging (I missed it but couldn't seem to find time for it)
*** keeping a simple home (I am naturally quite messy but a clean simple home brings peace to my soul so I want to purge my home of clutter and simplify our lifestyle)
*** enjoying nature and reading (oh how I miss both)

All of the above are the things that make me happy, content and willing to live life to the fullest.  I have not had time for those recently so I needed to identify where my time goes and find a solution.

As a result of my contemplation I have announced last week that I will be deactivating my Facebook account. 

Before I proceed - disclaimer - I know that Facebook helps many people stay connected and that it has been very helpful and encouraging to many people.  I get it.  The reasons why I will go off are my personal reasons and may not apply to everyone reading this so please don't you all get offended with me now.

I am choosing to deactivate because:

I believe Facebook is not what "keeping in touch" should be all about.  I want to remember your birthdays and not simply be reminded of it when I log in.  I want to ask you how your trip went and hear all about it with the excitement in your voice.  I want to learn how to ask questions and remember the details of your life.  I want to email you, text you, call you, write to you personally - so you know you're important to me.  On Facebook we throw things out there in hope that someone will notice.  Think about it - when your birthday comes around - which would you prefer: a Facebook message or a personal text?  or even better - a congratulation in person?  I want my children to learn to love other people and be good citizens of the world.  In order for them to learn that - I must set the example they can follow.  Do I want my children to remember me as constantly staring at the screen or as someone who was always present 100% in their lives?

But Facebook is not the only time waster in my life and there are definitely other things that need to happen so I can free up some time for the things I enjoy.  Here's my master plan to complete by Friday.
1. Try to get the contact info of some people to keep in touch while my social network life is down. 
2. Temporarily deactivate Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, VK, and possibly (I am still debating on this last one) Instagram.
3. Remove all those apps from my phone.
4. Remove all games (leaving a few kiddie ones just in case I need to create a diversion for my 3 year old). It all has to go - Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Frozen, Candy Crush, Mahjong - all has to go.

Here's what I will miss.
I will miss the updates of dear friends around the world who are surrendering their lives daily to better the lives of those around them.  I will miss their pictures and their posts. - Solution: I will subscribe to as many newsletters as I possibly can, I will follow their blogs if they write them, I will make an effort to keep in touch.

I am intending to stay network-free until the end of the year when I will come back and re-evaluate.  Simplifying life is a process of trial and error.  Some things will work.  Others won't.  But I am refuse to be weighed down by the expectations of the world around me and spend time on things that are not beneficial to myself or my family.  I want to enjoy life to the fullest.

So that's that... on Friday if you try to find me on Facebook I won't be there... but hopefully I'll blog more... hopefully I'll play with my kids more... hopefully I'll go out for coffee more... hopefully I'll pray more... hopefully I'll clean more...

I do want to hear from you.  What are your thoughts?

They say I'm old-fashioned, and live in the past, 
but sometimes I think progress progresses too fast!” 
― Dr. Seuss

Monday, May 5, 2014

If you are the salt of the earth - do not shake over open wounds...

As many of you know - I did not grow up in a church.  As a matter of fact I was raised in a very atheist household in a very atheist culture in a very atheist country.  When I had learned about God - I had no preconceived ideas or expectations of what following Him might mean.

Today, I have lived more years as a Christian than an atheist and I have become well-versed in church culture (both Western & Eastern European).  And I have noticed that most human interactions within the organized church structure are often quite superficial.  

In order to become followers of Christ, most people must first come to a place where all of themselves, everything they believe in, everything they hold true must become undone.  They must be confronted with their need of a Savior, confronted with the weight of their sin and the distance it has placed between them and God. When that happens, and people choose the way of Christ over the way of the world, they begin looking for a local church where they can learn more about God and experience the true fellowship.

And that's where we fail each other.

Right there - where we look at our brother and sister in Christ - and judge them.  Where we look at what they said, what they did (or didn't do) and feel the freedom to have an opinion about it.  Where we develop the idea that we always know better than the pastor, or the ministry leader.  Where we cultivate the spirit of entitlement because of how much we do or how much we give.

What happens then?

We begin to mask our true feelings because we're afraid that expressing them will cause judgement.  We're afraid that the truth will stain us forever, that we'll never be seen in a good light again.  It becomes even worse with servants in positions of leadership.  For instance, how can a children pastor admit to a parent that they're going through a dry season?  What would make them look like? That somehow God was not enough for us. 

And so it often becomes futile - the Christian fellowship that is.  We come and smile and feel good for a while.  But when the event is over, when the church closes the doors - we are left all alone with our thoughts and the real healing has not happened.

Have you ever wondered why pastors fall, why ministry leaders quit, and why there is often so much strife  and division among church members?  I am not saying this is the main reason but I strongly believe it is one of them.

So where does that leave us?

We need to remember that we are all human.  We all struggle.  We all make mistakes.  We all - ALL - fall short of the glory.

And we need to love. LOVE our neighbor.  Like He commanded.  Like He did.

A few weeks ago something bad escaped my mouth in a church parking lot and I believe there was a person who heard it.  It haunted me for weeks as to what this person might have thought of me.

We become skillful liars, you see.  We put on our Sunday's best appearances - even when we're dying on the inside.  But beware, my friends, when you keep something bottled in - it starts rotting.  Rotting on the inside of you.

Today I came to church empty - but instead of bottling it up and holding it in until it rots - I told someone.  When a sweet sister asked me how I was doing - I told her the truth - that I was tired, that I didn't feel like coming to church even though I knew I should, that I felt I could never make everyone in my life happy.  When the words poured out - and no judgement followed - healing poured in.

This is what church should be like - a safe place to be yourself.  A safe place where you'll be confronted when you're making the wrong choices - but confronted out of love and not out of judgement.  A safe place where nothing that you say or do will alienate you from others.  A safe place where correction happens when necessary but it always benefits us rather than punishes. 

This is a church I want to be part of.  How about you?

So I decide today:

1) to try and see the other person's perspective before I form an opinion
2) to do my best to not utter negative things about other people in my life (this includes work, church, and family members)
3) this is a hard one - but still - I choose to remember who I am and Whose I am and remember that my worth is based in His grace & forgiveness - not in what others may think of me.
4) to speak the truth (with discernment of course) - to rather say nothing at all than a superficial half-truth

Friday, January 3, 2014

My 2014 Maxim

The "manifesto" posts are popping up all over the web these days.


noun, plural man·i·fes·toes.
a public declaration of intentions, opinions, objectives, or motives, as one issued by a government, sovereign, or organization.

Now I am not government, sovereign, or organization.  I am just me - but I love the concept of sorting through things you know and setting up a plan that should govern your year.  Some principle that one intends to follow and re-evaluate at the end of the year - a maxim.


an expression of a general truth or principle, especially an aphoristic or sententious one: the maxims of La Rochefoucauld.
a principle or rule of conduct.

I've been thinking what I want my 2014 to look like.  So I have sought my heart.  I realized how hurt I had been by people who spoke of grace but refused to show it to me. So I decided this year I will focus on extending GRACE to those who may not necessarily always show it to me.  

Will I be 100% successful at this?  Most assuredly not.  I make mistakes and have feelings.  I need grace myself more often than I am willing to admit.  And yet... I want to give grace, extend forgiveness, lower my expectations - and as a result - enjoy life more!

So here is my manifesto / maxim (call yours whatever you want as long as you do it) for 2014.

Give Grace !

What's yours?
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