Sunday, February 15, 2009


Kinda forgot about my blog for the last couple of months but here I am again!

A few weeks ago, Torben and I went through an "Intro to Marietta Vineyard" course at our church, learning about what the church is about and seeing if we're on the same page with them. It was a good day and good to hear about the core values of the church. At the end of the course, we were writing about our weaknesses and strengths. The first question was "If you had to describe yourself in one word, what would that word be?" I didn't have to think long and quickly wrote down "Passionate". After a few more questions, I got curious and looked over at Torben's paper to see what he wrote. Imagine my surprise and pleasure when I saw that he had also written "Passionate". He assures me that he didn't cheat off of my answer.
We've had several conversations since then about what that means to us. I know in movies or through the conversations I hear at school that most people associate that word with sex. But I think it's much more than that. It's a way of living. Not being satisfied with mediocre anything - wanting to do things 100%. For me, that desire has often turned into an unhealthy perfectionism and God is working on that in me, but I think the desire to live a passionate life is not bad. I love people deeply, I hunger for God passionately, and I want life to be extraordinary.
Fear and self-preservation has often held me back from living passionately. But as I am growing in knowing who I truly am in Christ and knowing how He feels about me, I am learning to step out and live life passionately and to the fullest.

"The brave may not live long, but the cautious never really live." - Princess Diaries :)

Friday, December 19, 2008

He gets it (Immanuel)

Christmas is a funny holiday. It's about cookies and trees and stockings and eggnog and beautiful decorations all over the place. It's about traditions and songs and family fun/craziness. All this to celebrate Jesus' birth. I love all of it. Each year I enjoy the fun of putting up decorations and making cookies. At some point, I actually think about the deeper meaning of Christmas and it seems that each year there is a different emphasis in the Christmas story for me. Last year I thought a lot about Mary and her faith.
This year I'm thinking about the whole Immanuel thing. God with us. To me, the phrase "He gets it" sums it up really well. My life has been absolutely crazy this year. It's been exciting and tiring and fun and lonely all at the same time. I was sad to leave Ukraine and really excited to start school at Kennesaw. Seems like life has been a real roller coaster for me. In the midst of it, God has sent lots of reminders that He is with me. I'm not alone.
He gets it. He came to die for our sins, yes, but also he lived. Here on this earth where people hurt each other all the time, where people leave, get sick, or die. Here where he could stub his toe or get a cold or lose a friend. He gets it. Our pain is not a mystery to Him. I've often felt lonely or out of place in America. He gets that. He must have felt really out of place sometimes down here. I've had to watch friends make terrible, self-destructive decisions. That had to have happened to Him. He gets it. He became a human being with all of the problems that being human brings. That's how much He loves us. He can relate to our struggles and temptations because He lived it, not just because He's God and He knows everything. That is what has touched me the most this holiday season. He is Immanuel. He is with me. He gets it.
Merry Christmas everyone!


My poor fish died a few weeks ago and I thought he deserved honorable mention on my blog. My poor little fish named Fish

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My mother

I always get thoughtful this time of year. Not only is it Thanksgiving and therefore time to think about all I'm thankful for, but November 26th is the day my mom died. Today marks 13 years ago.
I was only 11 when she died, so many of my memories of her are foggy. I often wish that I remembered more. A few months ago, I was thinking about my parents (all three of them) and about what I have gotten from them. My dad's interest in learning and seeing how things work. My second mom's value of clarity and communication. But I was having a hard time figuring out what I'd gotten from my first mom. So I was praying about it and thinking for a while and I figured a few things out.
I randomly remembered a time when there was a bird's nest outside our living room window and my mom made a big deal out of us going to the window every morning to check on the eggs and then to see the babies. And we were all sad when we saw that the baby birds had left the nest. That sort of thing was classic for my mom. Enjoying the small things in life, whether it was baby birds or crafts or cooking. That is one of the things Torben says he loves about me, too. I enjoy the small things in life. Knitting tiny animals, savoring every bite of a chocolate chip cookie, having all sorts of little projects.
When we were visiting my sister Dana in Ohio, I mentioned to her that I don't like to wear much makeup because my eyes are constantly watering when I wear makeup. That's when Dana told me that our mom was allergic to makeup as well and that I ought to try the kind of makeup she used. I went and bought it and my eyes never water anymore. Simple yes, but it showed me a way that I'm like her...thanks a lot...
Those were a few things about her that I think she has passed on to me. There are probably more and I'm glad I'm still remembering things about her. She was very peaceful and loving and I always felt at ease around her. She was a beautiful person and I still miss her.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thanksgivings Past

I'm very excited to be in America for this coming Thanksgiving. It's always been my favorite holiday for many reasons - no stress of finding the right gift for people, good food, lots of games and downtime. I like the fall colors and the food is just wonderful. I was thinking about Thanksgiving and how cool it is that I'm back in America for this holiday and I realized that it's my first Thanksgiving in America since 2002! Six years of non-American Thanksgivings! So here's a review of my Thanksgiving experiences.

Thanksgiving 2003 - Holmsted Manor in England. It was 3 weeks after Torben and I became a couple and I had a lot of fun introducing him to Thanksgiving. It was the middle of our lecture phase of our DTS so we were learning a lot and getting ready to leave just a few weeks later for outreach. Torben wanted to find out the history of Thanksgiving so he took someone's video camera around the Manor and asked the Americans what Thanksgiving is about. He got a variety of answers, some of them Thanksgiving celebrates the genocide of

Thanksgiving 2004 - Back at Holmsted Manor, but leading this time. My friend Dorothy and I took charge of organizing the Thanksgiving festivities and we had lots of fun! It was a little stressful but still good. It was a few weeks before leading our first outreach. Destination: Ukraine!

Thanksgiving 2005 - Copenhagen, Denmark. We were living there for a few months after we got married. I was a bit depressed to be missing Thanksgiving that year. Without me knowing, Torben talked to his coworker and they organized a Thanksgiving dinner for us. So I had Thanksgiving that year with a whole group of Danes and I got to explain the history of my favorite holiday...and I didn't mention genocide

Thanksgiving 2006 - Zhytomir, Ukraine. We had led an outreach that involved a few weeks in Zhytomir, a smaller city west of Kiev, and we met and became friends with an American girl named Liz. So we arranged for a joint Thanksgiving celebration. Her mom came from America and brought sweet potatoes (they don't grow over there) so we had sweet potato casserole! We ended up with a large group of Americans, Ukrainians, and of course a Dane!

Thanksgiving 2007 - Kiev, Ukraine. I gathered many of the Americans on the YWAM Kiev base and hosted Thanksgiving in our little apartment. That Thanksgiving was the best of all of my foreign Thanksgivings because I really knew all of the people who were there. They were all good friends so it was cozy and a lot of fun. Plus, I made a pumpkin pie from scratch so I was very proud of myself :)

So now, Thanksgiving 2008, we'll be in a cabin in North Georgia with most of my immediate family (the Ohio sisters couldn't make it sadly). And that has been the big thing missing from the past 6 Thanksgivings - my family. That and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade :) It's going to be great to be with everyone again and get the true American Thanksgiving experience!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Never Again

I'm in the midst of a research paper for my Human Services class on the topic of Sex Trafficking. Not sure what made me pick that topic, but it has been very interesting to research. Perhaps I chose that topic because Ukraine is one of the top "exporters" of trafficked women and I have Ukraine on my mind a lot these days.
There have been times during the last few weeks that I have gotten sick to my stomach reading some of the articles and studies that have been done on these victims. Horrible stories about women who had been kidnapped or tricked into a life of abuse, rape, and torture. My focus has been on women victims, but I know the stories about trafficked children are even worse. In one article, the researchers had interviewed not only victims, but also traffickers and men who used these prostitutes. The traffickers interviewed had no regrets, but saw themselves as good businesspeople. The men "customers" told horrific stories of what they had done to these women.
After a morning of working on this paper, I got into the car the other day and stuck in a worship CD, needing to be lifted up. Torben and I got the Fourth Circle CD by 100 Portraits (A great CD by the way) and I got to the song "Never Again" and tears came to my eyes. Here are the lyrics

You feel the grieving of the broken and You hold them in Your Hands
And You listen to their prayers
You hear the crying of the orphan and You hold them in Your hands
And You listen to their prayers, their prayers

Wake up God! Move yourself!
Wicked men have crushed Your children
We pray, we wait
How long until You say
Never Again

You see the bruises on the victims and You hold them in Your hands
And You listen to their prayers, their prayers

Wake up God! Move Yourself!
Wicked men have crushed Your children
We pray, we wait,
How long until You say
Never Again

You are King forever and ever
Your kingdom come on down
Just as slow like waters
Wickedness will drown

I loved that song before that day, but after reading all of those stories I found myself crying and wishing God would go ahead and say "Never again!" I know that it is His patience that holds Him back for now, but I do look forward to when He will put an end to the suffering of this lost world.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Farm girl

You know it's been a while since your last blog update when your grandparents comment that they haven't read anything new in a while. With all the craziness of life these days, blogging has fallen to the bottom of my priorities, but here I go again!
We've been here in the States for just over two months now. Feels like forever though. We loved seeing the nephews and nieces and catching up with the rest of the family. Of course, catching up with things like Starbucks and Applebees has been great too. We got our car (Hallelujah!) and put it to the test right away driving it from NY to Ohio to Georgia. It passed beautifully. It's a lovely little Nissan Sentra.
After a while of being here and settling into our very nice basement apartment in Marietta, Georgia, reality began to hit that we are not going back to Ukraine and this is our life now. I guess you can say reality is still hitting. Culture shock has hit us like a truck and we are still lying in the road (nice metaphor, eh?). America is very different and our lives here are very different. There are many things I love and many things that drive me crazy. There are times when I miss Ukraine like crazy and other times when I wonder if anywhere will ever feel like home again.
All of this upheaval has gotten me thinking a lot. I find myself struggling with identity stuff again - I'm not a "missionary" anymore. I'm not one of the few Americans among millions of Ukrainians. I'm not a weird "English speaker". I find myself slipping into insecurities I thought were gone. Even at 24, I struggle with trying to see myself as an adult. Maybe that's because I haven't taken the "traditional" route to adulthood I grew up planning on - you know, college, career, marriage, babies, etc. So I've felt disoriented with the whole "adulthood" thing. And I really feel it now that I'm back in America
But then I think about the route that I have taken - a little college, missions work, marriage, international living, and now college again. I think of the lessons I have learned and the ways I have grown. I think of the things God has done in and through me. He's okay with who I am. He doesn't expect me to have it all figured out. My basic identity is being His. How I wish I could remember that day in and day out when my insecurities hit me in the face.
So in the end, it doesn't matter if I feel out of place at school, or if I feel like a small-town farm girl in this city, or if I haven't figured out a non-teenager fashion style, or if I don't feel confident or 100% myself around pastors, professors, parents, or other 45+ year olds. Those are valid emotions and stuff, but the most important is that I know that I know that I know that God is on my side. He is the constant. And I am not alone. Please God, help me remember that.
How's that for the longest blog ever? :)

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The end in sight...

We're moving out of our apartment today. Our landlord decided to kick us out a week early...good times....but we have somewhere to stay and our stuff is all packed (pretty much) so it's okay. I've loved our little place here. It's been our first little home and I've had a lot of fun making it a home for us. So I feel sad today. Not a big fan of change. I know God led us here and I know He is leading us in our next step. It's just sad to say goodbye to our little home and it'll be more sad to say goodbye to our friends here next weekend.
On a lighter note, I've been thinking about the things that I'm looking forward to in America and the things I'll miss here and I've decided to make a Top Ten list for each (These are things not people okay?) So...

1) Olenka chocolate bars
2) Fanta Lemon
3) Ukrainian McDonalds (it's 100 times better than American McD's)
4) The wonderful view from our apartment)
5) Our little apartment
6) Living above a supermarket
7) Living right across the street from where we work/study
8) Fireworks nearly every night
9) Having an international community around me - the YWAM community
10) The convenience and cheapness of public transport

1) Fluffy, machine dried bath towels
2) Papa John's pizza
3) Having a car
4) Signs and food labels in English
5) Wal-mart
6) Good milk
7) Diet Dr Pepper, Twizzlers, Wendy's Frosty, other yummy snacks
8) Church/worship in English
9) Basically, English
10) Being able to receive calls, not just being the one to call friends and family

Of course those are all really little things and I'm going to be most sad to say goodbye to our friends here and i'm most excited to see our family there. But it's funny to think about all these little things and look forward to something as trivial as fluffy towels :)