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a time to honor

There’s a beautiful poem in Ecclesiastes, the third chapter. I’ll quote a bit here:

There is a time for everything,

and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing…

When I heard about my pastor’s upcoming retirement service and all the people from my youthful days who would be returning to celebrate the life of this man and his wife, the Lord impressed this passage on me. That this was my time to honor all these people.

my pastor and his wife, 37 years of such fruitful service

my pastor and his wife, 37 years of such fruitful service

My church–headed by this pastor– was the primary factor in so many blessings in my life. Dr. Euler had lots and lot of missionaries in to speak, for example.

After hearing one of them, when I was about 15, I became very interested in becoming a missionary.

Then, this man, Dr. Loftis, was a loved and frequent visitor– a man and his wife who’d left this church to serve in the former Soviet Union as it opened up in the early 90s.

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The Lord used him to turn my heart towards Russia, then Ukraine. He helped plan my first short-term missions trip when I was 16 (and my parents let me go!!) Mrs. Loftis used to patiently write me hand-written reply letters all the way from Hungary. Those letters meant a lot to me.

And did any of us imagine the intimate way my life would later be connected to Ukraine?!? No. But God knew. He was making my paths straight, even then.

And where would I be without my mom and dad?

my dad's first selfie--I took it for him :)

my dad’s first selfie–I took it for him :)

Now, as I was growing up in this church, there were sweet people who touched my life a lot.

And as I pondered them, and the wonderful impact they had on my life, I learned something —

You know, sometimes I struggle with the ordinariness of life. And I look at these lives, and they lived “ordinary” lives in the Lord. They all had struggles and made mistakes, but mostly, they were faithful, pursued God, served us, loved us.

And the collective weight of all those faithful years lived around me formed me. They were a huge, shaping force in my life.

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The couple in this photo above– My youth pastor and his wife. I think about this man very often now that I am an adult. He did yearly programs with us teaching us the discipline of reading our Bibles every day, praying regularly, taking sermon notes, serving others.

And only now do I begin to fathom the enormous foundation of Scripture  that fills my life, my thoughts, my decisions. And how easy it is for me to read the Bible because I’m so familiar with it. Because I now see people who don’t have that gift in their past.

I am very thankful.

This  beautiful lady below opened up her heart to me, a teenager, and mentored me, encouraged me, met with me, wrote me letters, always pointing me to Christ, to God’s words. When we parted yesterday, she said she still prays for me and  reminded me that “we never get above needing God’s Word.”

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These are friends of my parents who loved me, too—gave money for my mission trips, let me go out with them and listen to adult talk, taught me Sunday school, taught me in school–

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And my principal & his wife, who always took a personal interest in what was going on in my life;

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The list goes on, but my photos don’t, so I’ll stop here. But it’s been good to remember, to be thankful, and to speak these words to people who gave me so much.

Thank you, Dr. Euler.

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I’m so thrilled.

My first hoary hair!

Hoary means grey / white because of age.

“The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.”

Or:

“Grey hair is a glorious crown; it is found in the way of righteousness.”

Proverbs 16:31

Mark it down. My crown is starting.

Some of my favorite. people. ever. are crowned with hoary heads.

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So, I needed a bit of comfort last night. I am coming out of 2 weeks of feverish babies, a dr visit, antibiotics, and Una had just thrown up a gallon of breastmilk (and you lose all sense of what is normal when a kid is sick). And, too, Vitaliy is gone to the rehab center, so I was feeling lonely for presence of someone equal.

And I thought, you know, Anne, you need to be looking to God for that presence. Vitaliy won’t always be. You don’t always have to share your heaviness with him, though it’s nice to have that friendship.

And I thought of my phrase I’m meditating on, that “They go from strength to strength.” And I asked God to show me where that next strength was.

And I took the Bible to my next Psalm, and asked God to comfort me– to show me His truth and to give strength to my faith to believe.

And I was reading Psalm 93 /Psalm 92 (in the Russian Bible).

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And I started thinking about that last line in verse 1:

Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.

And I thought about all of God’s responsibilities–things he could worry about, if he worried– keeping the stars in place, the rotation of the planets, caring for all the sick on earth, knowing every single instance of suffering of each person … it is an endless list!

Every sadness, every joy, every detail … of all people, nations, of all time, ever to be or to come.

And he does it with his infinite power, gentleness, love, grace, anger, righteousness….

And my little worries and responsibilities took on a better perspective and I went on to the next strength by the comfort of the Holy Spirit.

playing doctor

Usually Andre is messing everything up…. MO-THER!!!!

But today, he did pretty good at being the doctor for Vika:

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I pay the girls for reading– they need ways to earn money, and I need ways for them to earn money, and I think reading is worth money.

So they’re hoping daddy will take them to the huge indoor waterpark after they’ve each earned 140 greeven (or 95 greeven for Tuesdays).

These two books are in their early American history course.

Nice to have quiet and know they are reading!

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I was noticing today that I like having my kids home with me. Today there was this moment when Andre was working on his computer, and the girls were listening to Herb Fairy stories in their room.

Perhaps it was all quiet and I enjoyed that–all of us doing things quietly.

It lasted all of one minute, and it was a nice reminder that I like having them here.

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the girls declined to be photographed

the girls declined to be photographed

Today is Vika’s 8th birthday! Imagine, that she was born around 5am in an apartment just a few steps from here! (She was born in building #35 and we live in #51 now.) Hers was my fastest, smoothest birth :) My sister was with us via Skype, and afterwards I wrote the Skype company and told them how we’d had our baby in an apartment in Kiyv, Ukraine, and my sister had attended via Skype from Tennessee and all for free.  The man wrote back saying the office personnel got great pleasure from the story.

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I bought her this little rectangular tea candle holder.

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The girls’ new pink watches:

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OK, new Bibles.

I’ve been wanting a nice Russian Bible that’s easy to read and easy to carry around for over a year now. So today, Vitaliy and I took Vika (and Una) to the Christian book bazaar.

And there they were:

!!!

This is the one I chose.

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I read the next Psalm in Russian for my Bible reading today, I think Psalm 84 (85 in English). I marked in blue the phrases I’d like to memorize and circled in pencil the words I want to check in the English.

I need  start being able to speak and repeat Bible phrases in my Russian conversations.

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Vika chose the pink and white one for herself, and we got the white dove one for Skyla.

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OK, so you know how I sometimes fantasize of having a Bed and Breakfast in my old age. So, we had this American guest coming here, and he’s here with us now, and so a few weeks back, with the good exchange rate, I finally let myself buy a bedding set and a duvet.

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I base my B&B ideas on my childhood memories of when we visited Europe when I was 12 and lived in inexpensive B&B’s. (I have egg cups coming soon, too!)

And I made delicious zharkoye today, too. … I can’t stop cooking now for some odd reason…

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