And I’ve moved down into the next “decade” of weight– 149 lbs! (The ticker should read”14 lbs to go.”}

I had to speak to a group yesterday evening, so before that, I thought, oh, I’ll get a manicure to reward myself for losing weight (all these diet books say to reward oneself). So I asked at the manicure place in the mall, but they were busy just then.

But, funny thing, as much as I’ve written “manicure” on my ideas for losing-weight rewards, I really … don’t want one. It’s one of those things I feel like I should want. …. But I don’t.

(It’s like taking a hot bath to relax. Every single book for women, when talking about doing something refreshing for oneself, using taking a hot bath as an example. So of course I tried it, several times. Then I realized how much I really hate them. After one minute, I’m terribly hot, uncomfortable, and want to get out. But I did force myself, in the beginning, to stay in and “enjoy” it. Now I realize that it’s not my thing…)

So I started analyzing why I don’t really want a manicure.

  1. I don’t want to use my free time getting my nails done.
  2. I find nail polish and my own nails painted extremely distracting (and that’s a lot of distraction because I use my hands a lot).
  3. I wash dishes and my hands so much, it just starts to peel after a day or two anyway, and that bugs me a lot.

I’m so glad I’ve freed myself from this.

So, I stopped at the booths of handmade things that individuals sell in our mall on the weekends, and bought myself a gorgeous winter set–hat, snood, gloves. I love them.




I’m grappling with an idea here. You know, in marriage counseling, we talk about expectations. And how you have them even if you don’t know it, and they can be the source of conflicts when they are thwarted.

So I think from that context, I’ve kind of thought that expectations were kind of negative.

So transition that into home schooling. I had a lot of expectations or assumptions about what this should be like. And I’ve felt a lot of dissatisfaction and guilt that my expectations are not being met.

Now, what I’m seeing is that some expectations I should let go of or modify. But other expectations I should keep working towards.

The other night, I sat down with Vitaliy because I’m at a point where I think God is leading me toward modifying this area that has left me less-than-satisfied for a long time.

So, together we made a list of my expecations (what I thought it would be like and imagined doing together), then I stated the reality, and then later I worked back through the list to state why it was that way (the disconnect between my desires and my reality) and analyzing if I just needed to change my expectations or … gasp, work toward fulfilling them.

For example, I have this expectation that we need to have a literature-based approach to education. Well, right now, it’s all textbooks (with our year of video school). And you know, textbooks are not as terrible as I’d like to think.

So, I think I will modify this expectation. Some subjects (like Math and English (grammar), I will probably stick with textbooks. But I want to explore how to make other areas (like history and reading) more literature based. The deal is, what I make literature-based usually requires more of my personal involvement, and I need to be ready for that. (Though as the girls get older, they’ll be able to do more of their own reading.)

One expectation that I had also, was that we should be doing a lot of music and art (and generally creative things). This has not been happening. HOWEVER, I think it’s something that should be happening.


Now, one reason I think God is bringing this around now, is that we’re experimenting with hiring someone to help me at home with the little kids so I can stay freed up to keep up with Skyla and Vika’s school work.

This week, we’ve hired Vitaliy’s mom. The grandma. She’s pretty perfect. It’s affordable for us, a good salary for her, and she stays with us the whole time (she travels in from the village and lives with us for 3-4 days, then goes home).

And she’s good with kids, good with fixing food, and good with just seeing what needs to be done and doing it. I’ve been able to do more than run between rooms, washing dishes perpetually, and try to figure out what we’re going to eat periodically. I’ve been able to sit, be available, watch what they’re learning, let go of some things, be close. …. It’s been awesome.


So, I’d like to work on those expectations that should be realized. We did art and music today. It was awesome. We made paint like they used to in older times using egg yolk as a base. Then we added it with music and listened to / watched Peter & the Wolf (awesome orchestral rendition with the conductor telling the story as they go along), and we painted pictures of the characters that I’d printed out for us. I painted too. With our egg yolk-ground chalk paints. It was pretty cool!


Another example: I’ve been bugged that I’m not reading aloud to the kids. This is important. So the last few days, I’ve been reading aloud, even if it’s just a page. But it’s getting to be longer portions. (Yesterday I read them Jan Karon’s little book about the snowman contest in Mitford.) And today we started a novel attached to their school work.

So. Lesson of the Time: Not all expectations are bad. Some should be kept and worked on fulfilling.


My Body Mass Index (BMI):

Last October, 2014, I moved from “obese” category into “overweight.” I blogged about that here.

Now, a little over a year later, I’ve moved from “overweight” into “normal”!

Let’s dance a little jig in celebration :)

my weight loss ticker

YAY! We’re in the downhill slide :)

A year ago, I started thinking about how I’m turning 40 this December. So, I started preparing. I like smooth transitions. I’m OK if they’re not smooth, but I like planning, details, making a dream. Even if they don’t happen, I still like thinking about it.

So, I started doing things to get my body in better shape. And I’ve been praying about spiritual preparations, too. And of late, things have been clarifying a bit. Not there all the way, but I have some things I’m mulling over.

One thing that’s helping me see how to frame this: I heard a sermon a few days back about how the first part of one’s life is building yourself and your life— your education, identity, family, career, etc. The next part of life (if healthy), transitions into giving away those things (in use to others).


Now, I did not make that transition smoothly. But it happened in my last decade (my thirties) when I had kids. I have shifted the focus from building my life to giving my life away. To my husband, my kids, my church, those the Lord wants me to serve.


I don’t do it perfectly. And I still invest in myself (hopefully in order to have more to give out, or to strengthen my giving-out ability, or just for the joy of it :) ).


But that’s one way that has clarified my thinking and seeing of my present circumstance. That I’m living in the giving away phase. … (I have often heard God nudging me these last years with— Now I want you to ACTUALLY LIVE OUT all the things you’ve read in my Word for so long. Reading isn’t the main thing now; living it out is.)


My thirties were marked by pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and starting homeschooling. Wow. Talk about transitions. I’m about kilt from it all.

And now I’m facing the next decade, from 40 to 50. And I want to taught by God how to number my days so I gain His heart of wisdom to live it out. <—- That’s another way of saying what I’m contemplating.

I love having been God’s child for so long because there are so many experiences I have to draw from. And I’m finding that I am repeating the lessons of my teen years, just now when I’m older. Lessons in trusting God. As a teen it was trusting God with money, learning to drive, taking a trip, tests, babysitting…. Now it’s learning to trust God anew with money, my kids’ sicknesses, my emotional emptiness and refilling, insights to share when I need to teach a Bible lesson, patience and guidance for shaping the childhoods of my own children, being my husband’s closest friend.


The circumstances are so similar, but it’s easy to crowd God out. But that crowds out the whole meaning of it all. … Having a family is in itself intensely life-filling. So I have to remind myself more and more intentionally that only God really fills. And the struggle is to keep myself emotionally connected to him. As a teen, I had such energy to stay emotionally connected. I hated the fact that we had to sleep! I wanted to be awake and live all the time! Now, I don’t have that level of emotional energy. And couple that with having now five close relationships that require my emotional energy. And I have to be so much more careful to portion off my self, so that I stay emotionally engaged with God as my main relationship, my source and resource.

I’m reading Own Your Life by Sally Clarkson, at this juncture, and she has insights that are helping me, too. Because the seasons of giving out also change. And I want to have a long perspective on all this. And I feel myself at risk of losing something during this season. There are so many things to choose from.

During our lifetimes, each of us has incredible potential to be a powerful influence for righteousness, love, goodness, compassion, mercy, and redemption– and to find joy and contentment in each day. Yet how willing we are to work toward pleasing our Master determines the destiny of our lives. Sally Clarkson, Own Your Life, p.45

overcoming cynicism

I few days back, I posted some thoughts about cynicism.

I was telling an In Real Life (IRL) friend about these things in more detail–some of the situations going on in our church. And she thoughtfully wrote me some things after she had time to process it. I really like the direction her thoughts point me, and I want to share them here and meditate on it.

She wrote:

As missionaries we are placed here by God to overcome the evil through God’s righteousness. I think we are often shocked about where we find the evil, and how strong it is, and we become discouraged…. Just be sure to let the good overcome the evil through God’s power, and don’t allow the evil to weary you.

Here’s what struck me:

It’s evil. Thank you for saying it out loud.

It’s in a shocking, unexpected place.

Evil is overcome by God’s power– I will weary quickly if I don’t realize that I need to underfold my own strength into God’s and learn to draw on His power. It’s that serious. Don’t just minimize it by saying oh, all churches/ministries have struggles. It’s just normal… Well, they do all have struggles, but they need to be faced and overcome in God’s supernatural power.

But thinking how to make that shift into supernatural power. Prayer must be a big part of it. So I am opening myself to how God wants to move me or teach me about prayer in regards to these questions.


It’s amazing seeing little sparks of ambition and calling in my kids’ lives.

Holly Pierlot, in her book A Mother’s Rule of Life, talks  about how parenting is forming persons. A striking thought. It’s neat watching and participating in the formation of these four persons.

Victoria is thinking of becoming an artist. She now has notebooks filled with drawings.

Here, we did a lesson about how to draw and paint a hot air balloon.


Mostly she finds something and draws it. Here she redrew (left) this photograph that I took years ago (right).



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