Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Refuse to Stress

“Thou wilt keep Him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” Isaiah 26:3

Walking alone on a quiet downtown street, I had a conversation with God. I was facing a mountain of responsibility and work over the next week. “What was my request?”, I wondered almost to myself as I tried to form a prayer. I realized as I prepared to enter into the fray of the next 7-day stretch, what I wanted most was to enjoy the feeling of being at rest. In other words, I didn’t want to stress out. 

It hit me that if was my biggest concern was “freaking out”, I was already experiencing that feeling. I was already living my fear and it was time to get rid of it. I stopped right then and there and told the Lord that in His power, I was not going to run around frantically. I was not going to stress out about my upcoming responsibilities. With His help I would take my tasks one and a time and do my best. No more. 

Frankly, there is no more to do.

The truth is that we are all given a limited amount of time. We each have 24 hours in the day to divide and use at our discretion. I can plan. I can organize my thoughts. I can complete one task at a time. I can make the best choice about what to do in the moment I hold in my hand. 

But I refuse to stress.

In the verse above, God connected peace with the ability to stay the mind. Being able to control what goes in and out of our minds is essential to our quality of life. If we cannot control the channel of our thoughts, we cannot keep our minds stayed on Him, or much else for that matter. Nor can we know the peace talked about in this verse.

Ann Voskamp said, “Stress is not a situation; stress is a state of mind.”

I think it is no coincidence that we have the opportunity to focus our minds on thanksgiving this week. You see, thankful thoughts are great distractors from negativity. They are like antidotes to the toxins of complaint and worry. By vocalizing gratefulness, we are doing the will of God (1 Thes. 5:18) and turning our minds toward Him.

Yesterday, the girls had put on a video recording of the Proverbs, and one verse in particular drifted back to the bedroom where I was sorting the laundry. It immediately caught my attention:

“Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than a house full of sacrifices, with strife.” Proverbs 17:1

This week, we can have a house full of sacrifices (or roast turkeys, in this case), and strife, as it were, in our spirits. How much better it would be to have dry toast on Thanksgiving Day with spirits that are quiet and ready to enjoy the things most important in life? 

Let’s keep our minds focused and full of thankfulness, and I think we’ll find ourselves enjoying the moments that are given to us. Have a blessed Thanksgiving Week!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Homeward Bound

The packing has begun in earnest for our trip back to Ukraine. We are sad to be leaving our family, but happy to return to our home, our place of work, and our Ukrainian friends!

This Sunday, the 4th, is when we fly. We would appreciate your prayers for safe travel and for us and our children as we adapt again to the culture and language. I think my kids aren't really quite sure where our home is these days, and this will be yet another change for them.

Some of our stuff waiting to be packed or shipped.

We are going back to a land where a spirit of fear reigns. We meet people who are afraid of new things, afraid of innovation, afraid to think for themselves, afraid of each other, afraid of financial collapse, afraid of the government, afraid of cult groups, and so on. It is no coincidence that this spirit of fear can be felt. When I am in the States, I notice the absence of it. We need prayers and the grace of God to daily battle against this spiritual enemy. The people of Ukraine need to see saints unhindered by fear, free to exercise righteousness, peace and joy. We know we have a Spirit living in us who is Greater than that of the world, but we also need your prayers for strength, wisdom and courage.

"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." 
2 Timothy 1:7

Friday, September 14, 2012

If You Worry...

"If you worry about what other people think of you, 

then you will have more confidence in their opinion than you have in your own. 

Poor is the man whose future depends on the opinions and permission of others. 

Remember this, if you are afraid of criticism, you will die doing nothing!"

~Andy Andrews, The Traveler's Gift

Friday, September 7, 2012

Where to turn?

"Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually." 
1 Chronicles 16:11

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Moving Week!

This week we are packing up and getting ready to move to Ft. Worth for the next 2 months.

The Essentials

We came here a few months ago with only 3 or 4 suitcases, but we will be filling those plus several more boxes and parcels for this trip. It is amazing to me how much stuff we can accumulate in such a short time!

More essentials
My little packing buddy

Our family is especially excited to have Daddy back this coming Monday! Whoohoo!

The paper chain represents the number of days until we see Daddy.
We remove a link each morning until he's home!

"Be strong and of a good courage...for the Lord thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest." Joshua 1:9

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Self-discipline's Pay-Off

"The mountain of commitment is a looming one, but the fruit at the top is delicious." ~ Sarah Mae

"There are no short cuts to any place worth going." ~Beverly Sills

"We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment." ~ Jim Rohn

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

It's About Time!

It's about time that I updated my blog again!

I am sorry for the long silence. I have been busy spending time with precious people for the past couple of months. We have enjoyed being with my parents, taking day trips to downtown Houston or to Galveston, and traveling to San Antonio and Ft. Worth to visit grandparents and cousins. We even got in a trip to Sea World with my brother and his family, which was a big hit!

Abby and I started first grade at the beginning of August, which so far has been a lot of fun. She is reading pretty well now and really loves math. (Pretty sure she got that from her daddy!)

We enrolled Abby and Rebekah in swim lessons this summer and they loved it!

We have also been busy missing Joshua. :( He is finishing up a rigorous and fruitful summer ministry in Ukraine and will be coming back here September 3rd. All of us girls are so ready to have Daddy back! This is the longest we have ever been apart and my hope is that we will never do this again! Ever.

I have all kinds of ideas for posts which I hope will be forthcoming. I'm grateful to each of you who stop by to read here, and that you keep coming back. Thank you for being a part of our lives!

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Ocean!!

These pictures are from a few weeks ago but I'm just now getting around to posting them. We wore the kids completely out with a trip to Galveston Island to play at the beach. It was a total blast!!

Both Abby and Rebekah have been talking for ages about going to the beach and getting to see the ocean, so this was like a dream come true for them. They played for hours!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Little Piece of Quiet

With my Mamma at the park
This week has been a time of rest and quiet with my family. Joshua took the 2 older girls to Ft. Worth for 5 days for a doctor appointment and some visiting time with his family. This significantly reduced my responsibility level and allowed me to rest and recover after the birth. I think maybe God planned the timing on that. ;) (But I did miss them a lot, and even all the noise too!)

I spent a lot of time reading, journaling, processing, visiting with my parents, and enjoying Hosanna. God is good.



Physically, I am feeling great. I bounced back almost immediately after the birth with growing energy. Thank you for continuing to pray for our family!



"Jesus I am resting, resting, in the joy of what thou art; I am finding out the greatness of thy loving heart!"

~ Hymn by Jean S. Pigott


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Little One

~Written by Joshua~

The journey that we began four months ago in Ukraine ended today in a quiet family birthing room in Houston. Our day started at 5am when we checked in to Hermann Memorial Hospital and Kelsie was given her initial dose of induction medication.

As anticipated, the first several hours were fairly uneventful, but as time passed the contractions increased their intensity. While labor is never easy, God gave much grace and Kelsie came through with flying colors. Kelsie's mom, Cindy, was with us along with our amazing medical staff - Dr. Berryhill and his nurse Ruth.

Our baby girl was born without incident at 3:37pm. She was 9 inches long and weighed 1 lbs. 8 oz. There were many tears mingled with words of comfort and relief. When everything was over, we all gathered around the bed, and I held Kelsie’s hand as we said a final prayer to the Lord, thanking Him for His gift of life and affirming our trust in His providence.

To all of you who have prayed for us, thank you. Words are inadequate to convey our gratefulness to the multitudes of God’s saints who have stood by us during this trial. We love you and we pray God’s richest blessings upon you for the kindness you have shown to us.

This has been a sad chapter in our lives, and yet we rejoice that the story does not end here. Jesus Christ has conquered death and because He lives, we will meet our daughter again.

Farewell, Little One. Be at peace in the glory of His presence and know that Mommy and Daddy love you. Wait a little while, and we’ll be home.

“But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Pray for Our Delivery

We are scheduled to deliver our baby this coming Tuesday. We'll be starting our day at the hospital at 5:00 am and would greatly appreciate your prayers.

Labor is intimidating under any circumstances, and this time around holds its own set of unique trials. It is not fun to anticipate going through this experience, but at the same time I feel it is a mercy to at last have a conclusion, allowing us to move on.

On Monday we will have the chance to check in with our doctor once more and ask any remaining questions. Oddly enough, since this is the first birth we've ever had in the States, procedures, medicines, and even what to pack is very new and different for us. The doctor and staff we have worked with have been so kind and accommodating though, and we know it is God's hand that has led us to them.

In addition, we found out yesterday that we have been approved for insurance! Our first application, submitted in early May, was denied on a technicality and we only found out about it 10 days ago. We immediately resubmitted an application with the same provider and also with a second that would give us much better benefits and coverage for all our children too. As it turns out, we ended up being approved for both of them. :) We'll obviously follow through with the better of the two. God's timing has been so perfect in arranging every detail for us.

Thank you so much for all the prayers; God is using them! I know His grace will be sufficient as long as we need it.

"Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice." Psalm 63:7

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Heaven's Nursery

After a week or more of no movement from our baby, we went in for an ultrasound on Monday. The doctor quietly reviewed the screen for several minutes before saying anything at all. Then he informed us gently that our baby's heart was still.

Our baby is with Jesus. His is the first face this little one will ever see! Our baby knows no pain, no sorrow, no sin--only health and joy and peace.

I am grateful for how much God loves little children--much more than I ever could. I imagine that He has a whole beautiful nursery garden full of innocent little ones like mine, all growing in the light of His countenance. I don't fully grasp His plan for our baby, but I take comfort in the fact that my baby is safely in Jesus' arms.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Sinner Has Come Home

This story (written by my husband) gave me goosebumps, shivers of joy, and left me without words. It happened this week, the day before he got on the plane to come Stateside. God's timing is perfect. You can read it below, or the link will take you over to his blog.

A Sinner Has Come Home 
There have been relatively few times during my missionary career when I have had the joyful opportunity to witness a person actually coming to Christ. Ultimately, only God can see the heart, but there are times when a person’s outward response to the Gospel leaves little doubt that they have been born again.
Today I witnessed just such a rebirth in my own living room.
Several months ago, a man named Vasyl began attending our English Club here in L’viv. It was evident from the beginning that God was working in his heart, and he asked lots of questions about the Lord. On two prior occasions we had extended conversations during which I explained the Gospel to him in detail. Although he seemed very open, it just didn’t quite penetrate.
Last night after English Club, Vasyl, who works as a taxi driver, drove Jessie home since Jessie’s van is currently in the shop. Jessie called me later that night and said that they had had a great conversation and that Vasyl seemed to really be searching for answers. Due to the language barrier, their ability to communicate was limited so Jessie suggested that Vasyl come and meet with me today. I later called Vasyl and we agreed that he would come to my house.
He arrived around 3:30 or so, and we talked for over three hours. During the course of our conversation we read many passages of Scripture including Romans 4:4-5, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 10:1-10, Philippians 3:9, 2 Corinthians 5:19-21, and others. He hung on every word, and after about an hour or so, the lights came on. As I went through the basics of imputed righteousness and the contrast between faith and works, his eyes lit up. He exclaimed over and over how he had never understood this before, how a weight had suddenly fallen from his shoulders, and how he could barely keep from weeping.
Finally, when I was convinced he had really understood, I gave him the test questions.
“Vasyl, if you were to stand before God today, and He asked you on what legal basis you should be admitted to heaven, what would you say?”
Without hesitation he replied, “Because Jesus died for me.”
I pressed further, “Yes, but you’re a sinner. What is to be done about your sin?”
“Jesus paid for my sins and has given me His righteousness.”
Now I was the one who could barely keep from weeping. With great joy in my heart I said to him, “Vasyl, if you have believed what you just told me sincerely from your heart, then on the authority of the Scriptures, all your sins are forgiven and God has granted you everlasting life.” We talked for a while longer and towards the end we prayed together, thanking God for His provision of salvation through Christ.
The Vasyl that walked out the front door of my house today is not the same one that came in. I started out to have a chat with a friend, and I ended by embracing a brother. Rejoice with me today: a sinner has come home!
“Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”
Luke 15:8-10

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Outdoor Fun

Abby learned to ride with no training wheels in roughly 15 minutes,
about 2 days after we arrived!

Rebekah is trying to keep up with Abby! "Baba" (a.k.a. my mom) is a good helper.

Two sticks are better than one. ;)

And away they go....

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Amazing Grace

I'm not exactly sure how to write this post, and until now, travel, weddings, and a family reunion have kept me from making the attempt. But today I found a little blogging window, so here goes.

This may be old news for most of you. About 2 and a half weeks ago, we found out that our baby (due in October) has severe chromosomal defects that will result in miscarriage. And soon. Joshua wrote in more detail about this on our ministry website, here. A follow-up ultrasound last week showed that our baby was still living, but the problems are very real. We are due to see a perinatologist in a few weeks, providing our insurance goes through in time.

The sheer volume of thoughts I could share here intimidates me, and rather than write anything extensive I would like to simply say this: HE giveth more grace.

God is upholding us. He has put peace in our hearts. And He is hearing and using the many hundreds of prayers that are going up on our behalf.

If you are praying for us, thank you! At this writing, our big request is for our insurance application to be approved and in effect by June 1st.

A poem came through my email inbox not long before we found out about the baby. God brought it back to my mind and has used it as a source of comfort and strength.
He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus He giveth, and giveth,
And giveth again.
Annie Johnson Flint

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Saturday Snippets: Changes

1. Pregnancy

As of today I am at 17 weeks! I have experienced a lot more fatigue with this pregnancy, although my energy is better now that I'm in the 2nd trimester. I was able to go for a doctor visit and ultrasound a few weeks ago. Praise the Lord, the baby is looking healthy and everything is normal! I also had good hemoglobin levels--something for which I am very grateful after the efforts we made to raise them following Hosanna's birth. Approximate due date is October 10th!

I'm not big on doing belly-shots, and since I don't have one for this post, here's Abby's perception of pregnancy instead. This made Josh and me laugh so much! :D

2. Going to America

After birthing three babies overseas, we finally decided to see what it is like to have one in the U.S. :) Actually, after much prayer and discussion, we felt God was leading us to make a trip back home. However, we kept tripping over the question of when to fly. Joshua will be busy all summer with our annual Carpathian Mountain Outreach project here in Ukraine, and waiting until September to fly our whole family together seemed a little late in the pregnancy for safety.

As it turns out, one of my very best friends is getting married in May and I was invited to be part of the ceremony. She lives in Houston, where my parents are also located. So, we decided that the 3 girls and I will fly to Houston on May 15th in time for the wedding, and then spend the rest of the summer hanging out with my folks in Houston, while Joshua stays in Ukraine.

We are SO excited about getting to spend some time with family!! The downside is, of course, that Joshua and I will have to be apart for over 3 months, so you can pray for us! (Thank goodness for Skype!) We know it will be difficult, but we also know that Joshua will be super busy and often absent throughout the summer. It makes more sense for me to be where I can have help, family, and a bit of R&R, besides the fact that I'll be arriving in the U.S. in plenty of time for the birth.

Joshua will join us as soon as he can, right around early September. We plan on having the baby in Ft. Worth, which is where his parents are located and also our amazing sending church.

The girls are talking non-stop about our trip; they cannot wait until take-off! One of the things we are looking forward to the most (beside the obvious of being with loved ones) is simply getting to be outside. Having a backyard to play in. We are nearly giddy just talking about my parents' yard, kiddy pool, sand box, chickens and puppies, zip line, and trampoline. :)

3. A Surprise Guest

Over the years of being in Ukraine, many friends and family have come over to visit us. But because it is a long, expensive trip over here, not everyone who would like to come is always able. A few weeks ago, we were occasioned great surprise by news of a coming visitor...(drumroll please)...

Joshua's Mom!!!

After 11 years of praying for her son overseas, hearing of all the people he meets and ministers to, sending box after box of needed items, and in general helping him and us in just about every way possible, she is finally able to come and see for herself the place he has been all this time.

Countless times she has fielded the question, "When will you go visit Ukraine?" "When God shows me the right timing, I'll go!" has been her answer. A few weeks ago, when she heard of our plan for me to fly home solo with 3 children, she said, "I think this is God showing me His timing." ;) Her travel dates allow her to spend a few weeks with our family, and correspond exactly to fly her home on the very same planes with me and the girls. God is so good!

"...For your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him." Matthew 6:8

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My 30th Birthday and Easter

April and blogging have just not gone together very well! Yes, I am still alive, and I'm hoping my poor blog still is too.

In case you're wondering what I've been up to, sleeping and eating take up most of my spare (and not so spare) time these days. And in between those activities, the laundry must go through, right? And someone has to make all that food for me... I mean, for our family to eat. :)

So, blogging has sort of taken a back burner...and that's ok. Growing a baby is way more important. :)

At long last, however, here are a few pictures.

30th Birthday!

I celebrated a very blessed birthday on April 13th! I love being thirty, but I am genuinely shocked as to where the 20's went to!?

Denise made me this cute cake! It's the first time someone's baked a cake for me in 8 years!

A cute cake eater...

...and her cute sister too!

Abby could hardly wait for me to open her gift, a card she had
written for me all by herself!


Ukraine celebrated Easter one week after the U.S., and it is a HUGE holiday here! Traditionally, Ukrainians bake Paskha bread to eat on Easter morning. If you walk outside on the Saturday before Easter, you will see lines of people walking toward the nearest church, with their bread in a little basket covered with an embroidered cloth or towel. They are taking the bread to be blessed by the priest.

Our "Paskha" was blessed by God. :) A friend of mine from church baked it for us.

Our church had a wonderful Easter service, after which we enjoyed a nice meal as a family.

He is RISEN!!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Picture Update

As of this week, my energy has really taken a big dip and I. Am. Slow. Feeling extremely lethargic equals not much blogging inspiration.

At all.

But I figured I can't go too wrong with a picture post. :) These are random shots from life recently. Some of them were taken with my iPod, so they don't show up as clearly or as large, but you still get the...picture. *ahem* ;)

Tulips are my favorite flower, and these--some of the first signs of spring--really made me happy!

One of our first warmer days

Hosanna needed "wheels" too!

So happy to be outside!

Can you tell why the sun makes a huge difference in how we feel around here?

Riding "Mr. Trike", as she dubbed him.

On a Saturday family outing, waiting for lunch.

Baby + sucker = happiness

Daddy bought us hot chocolate!

Our budding artist

Dinner time!

Our little "happy girl" is always asking us to put hats on her.

This is the wonderful reason I don't get a lot done anymore: I'm always stopping to laugh at this girl!

...Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:14)  

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