Mission agencies have all  different names for furlough now: Home Service, etc.

For all our information, the word furlough is a military term meaning a vacation or leave of absence. It’s also a prison term meaning a temporary leave of absence.

So maybe “home service” or some such term might be more accurate ;)

Anyway, maybe I’m sounding like a broken record here, but I just keep being struck by how wonderful, restoring, healing, healthy, yada yada, this time back in the States has been for me personally. All our visits back to the U.S. haven’t been this refreshing.

There was just a lot of negativity going on this last time in ministry, and personal frustration with home schooling and stuff.

Geesh, how many people get to just up, go away from the stress, and replant for a while? Then go back? I don’t know. Maybe more than I know. But it’s been a really good thing, is what I’m trying to say.

Things I’ve noticed: I’ve been enjoying a good homeschooling rhythm, happier, more positive relationships with my kids, being able to grow in a stable church that has lots of great leadership, be encouraged by older moms, sympathizing with those in the same phase of life, friendships with mature Christians, good friendships for my kids …

I’m just really thankful. I’m ready to go back, I think, maybe God knows better, but I miss our people and life in Ukraine. But how I am praying that all these good things will roll over with us when we go back. <3

formative friends

Parenting is formative and transformative. In my own journey, I providentially “stumbled” across a lady who became a friend and who introduced me to what is termed gentle discipline. It basically means something like approaching childrearing in a helpful, understanding (albeit firm, etc) way, rather than punitive (punishment-oriented) way.

I will be honest: this was a huge paradigm shift for me to make and took years to make. I think punishment or threatening was pretty much my only approach up til then, and it never occurred to me, nor was told to me, that there was a different way.

I happened to express to this lady how I was unhappy with the negativity in my relationship to my child. And she sent me a huge box of books (all the way to Ukraine, no less) and introduced me to a forum of “gracious” parenting style women.

Needless to say, this has been huge in my life. (Along with all the huge things God showed me about His grace in sanctification, too, at that same period in my life. I mean, wow, I can now read the minor prophets in the Old Testament and see the long-suffering, gracious patience of God and His constant desire to reconcile.)

About gentle discipline, I want to say that I don’t think it’s salvific, I don’t believe it’s the way we’ll usher in peace on earth, etc. But for me, it’s been the clearest way I can grow in seeing people (my kids) and treating them as God sees and treats us. It’s been an aid in disciplining myself in patience, gentleness, humility, and love, for starters.

Anyway, all that to say, I had a lovely afternoon with some ladies from that mommy forum :D


And here is a picture of me and that original friend the Lord used to start me in this path:


Very, very thankful  <3

We were reading the story of Christ’s death in SS today and discussing various participants. And it became a new level of history for me, because of what’s happened(ing) in Ukraine.

I thought about the soldiers, how they are taught to be cruel and unmerciful. And I felt that in a new way, with all the Ukrainian berkut and others who’ve been systematically trained, not just in war, but in cruelty and torture.

And we talked about Pontius Pilate, and I saw in a new way how clouded politicians see and then make decisions. So many “factors” fuzz their judgment. And how we’ve watched that in Ukraine—politicians confused by their own thinking, by thousands of sinful factors they have to “consider.” And they confer all together in meetings, multiplying this murky input. And seem to go no where.

And myself. A follower of Christ. Will I be tossed about by fear, confusion, grief, shock? Part of these feelings are natural, and actually good to feel. I would worry more about myself if I felt nothing in the face of these enormous happenings in Ukraine. But there is a reassuring, overarching truth that encompasses my reality, that keeps my feet sure in the earthquake of events:  The full assurance that God is working all things according to His plan. None of it is surprising to Him. He knows all the news of all the tomorrows. Changing passports doesn’t change our real citizenship or our homeland. In fact, it’s all working together to bring about the glory of Christ on earth. There is a plan. A good plan.

God has recently arrested me with some verses in Romans 4 about Abraham’s faith. The Bible says he believed—though he even “contemplated” how his and Sarah’s bodies were unable to give life, yet he grew strong in his faith, fully assured that what God had promised (to give him an heir), He was able to do. It was this faith that God accounted as his righteousness.

And now, this righteousness is accounted to me also, because I believe in God, who raised Jesus from the dead.

This passage about Abraham has a lot about death in it. Death, belief, and resurrection are a few of the repeated themes.

… My application for this time: From the “deaths” (figurative) occurring in this situation in Ukraine, God can resurrect something more wonderful. Maybe not easier, but better for His purposes.


I was wondering yesterday about the passage in Revelation that says God will wipe away all our tears. It comes at the end of everything, so I think for a while, there will be tears in heaven.

I pondered this yesterday as I was listening to a song and thinking about Jesus’ righteousness. It becomes more and more precious to me, the more I grasp that His lived-on-earth righteousness is applied to me, as well as His righteous death is applied to save me. The more I grasp my utter inability to reach God’s standards except through faith in Jesus Christ.

And when I think about these things, I cry. I think it’s because we’re finite and human, and our bodies can only handle so much of spiritual reality before we start to explode, so to speak, in tears or some other emotional outlet.

So I wondered if I would still cry in heaven about how beautiful Jesus is, or if my body there will be able to bear these deep spiritual truths.

So, Vitaliy gave me a present for being 4 months pregnant: a pressure cooker! He calls it our 21st century servant.

He certainly cooks a lot more now. Pressure cookers are his kind of thing, and it’s a big help–whole grain oatmeal, sweet potatoes, soup, plov … we’ve done a lot in 48 hours.

IMG_1502 IMG_1504

I was at a pro-life conference in Mukachevo, Ukraine, a few years back, and the speaker, a leader in this pro-life organization, made a comment about our words also being life-giving.

He, and his organization, broaden the “pro-life” phrase to mean being pro life in all of life, in our words, our actions, our passions, etc.

I love pondering this. I have been mulling it over for years.

It’s so amazing the power of life and death God has put into our care and stewardship. (And I say this, acknowledging that God is all-sovereign over us all and all that happens.)

The idea of being a giver of life is much broader than just carrying a baby.

Proverbs talks about our words having the ability to be life or death. We can also kill physically or even with our anger.

It’s a life-long challenge. Will my attitudes be life-giving? My words? My actions and decisions? Having the power of life and death coming forth from us constantly is a deep well of truth and power to pore over, to drink from and live by.


I sometimes joke about how I feel like I’m a war refugee, poring over the news, emotional ups and downs, being displaced from returning …

But today, I’m really glad for this time. Since the initial flurry of deciding to stay, changing all these plans, everything is now becoming calmer. There are not months of obligations stacked over our heads here now, so we’re just able to … relax. It feels different. Nice.

My parents are leaving shortly for 2 years of missionary service in Bangladesh, and it’s so lovely having these last days with them and being able to send them off. It’s nice having extra time with my sister and her family, of whom we’ve seen much too little somehow.

It’s lovely enjoying the spring weather in Tennessee, having more time to order books ;)

I mailed off our taxes, took care of urgent needs, and well, I do have about 7 packages that must be mailed off tomorrow. And we are still thinking how we’re going to pack or ship some things back …

But overall, I’m benefiting from the calmness, the empty calendar, the time to enjoy my kids and simple stuff like that …


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