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Archive for November, 2012

As I’ve grown, some passages of Scripture bring me to tears. Here is one I read again today:

There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him.  He was despised and rejected– a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.  

Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.  All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all.

He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. Unjustly condemned, he was led away. No one cared that he died without descendants, that his life was cut short in midstream. But he was struck down for the rebellion of my people. He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave.  

But it was the LORD’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the LORD’s good plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins.  I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.

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I’m a slow learner ;)

I’ve had this disconnect in my life between my desires for the type of family I’d like to have and the amount of heart & effort I was willing to put into my family. Lately, God’s been working in my life regarding my kids and really learning to enjoy them, to enjoy & value these days.

For example, I really want to home school. But part of me wants to give it a lick and a promise, and keep doing all the stuff Anne is interested in. But the larger part of me wants to enjoy it and invest in it. But that means I need to be willing to put aside other passions and interests, put  my heart into it, read about it, develop myself in this area, inspire my own emotional involvement, etc. Because that’s what I’m imagining and wanting it to be.

It’s the same with the type of relationships I want to have with my kids. Am I willing to circle my heart, time, desires around this area, to the exclusion of some other stuff,  in order to pursue the types of relationships I really want to have with them?

So I’m finally grasping that if these areas are of such value to me, then I need to be putting aside my other stuff in order to do it the way I sense God is leading me to do all this, and not resent the greatness of investment it’s requiring of me.

At our recent women’s conference, we had a time when we talked about forgiving. And at the end of the lesson, we were encouraged to take rocks into a little pouch symbolizing the people we were struggling to forgive. I didn’t really have any people, but I did have some resentment in life, and I finally realized what was going on: That I was upset that, in order to fulfill the roles and responsibilties in my life in the way that I want and I sense God wants from me, it’s taking much more of me than I want to give. So can I come to a place of peace with God that He’ll help me accept all that I need to invest in these areas and give up in other areas order to do this.

(I feel like i’m talking with cotten in my mouth, like, “AM I MAKING ANY SENSE AT ALL????)

Also, it’s so neat how God brings things together … my midwifery studies have led me into facilitating an online course about oxytocin. I read and am continually reading about this wonderful hormone of love, connection, bonding. It’s helping me feel happy, loving feelings for my family, something I have been kind of lacking in. So how neat is that?

OK, back to math worksheets, doing mosaic puzzles, breastfeeding, laundry, heating the soup, etc. …

😉

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romance

Vitaliy gave me this photo while we were engaged. It’s my favorite photo of him.

Look what he wrote on the back:

 

“Anyechka, I am not able, without you, to live, breathe, eat, sing, read, relax, teach, pray, work, serve, rejoice, cry, … I am always with you. God created us for each other, and I love you very much.”

I feel like it’s a 1000 times more real today.

Do you know the movie “Anna and the King,” and the concubine who is in love with the guy who became a priest … before the judges at their death sentencing, she described how trying to live without her love was like being lungs with no air.

I’ve felt that beautiful pain …

 

 

 

 

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he caught his boy

Vitaliy and I birthed Andre ourselves, and it was a подвиг (a great, heroic feat). Well, for some people, it’s just the usual, but I am so glad we made this special experience together.

Sometimes Vitaliy still yells out the window, “We got a boy!”

 

cutting the cord the next day

awwww 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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sniffle

My sweetie guy told me last week that I was the Prov 31 woman. … Ditch all the theological arguments about the reality of her existence, it was so sweet of him to say 😀

 

 

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the time of my humbling

I’ve had no success finding journals from these years—–I’ve found before and after, but I’ll keep looking. Maybe one will turn up 🙂

That hellish time of my life to which I was referring was the years from about 2006 to about 2009. My first two kids were very little.

Now we can say, oh, you had 2 little kids, of course it was hellish.

But that’s not it. For example, I don’t remember being that fatigued actually. We all slept together on our big mattress on the floor, so I wasn’t waking up in the nights, etc.

I’ll tell you why it was horrible.

I pretty much was sinning every waking hour of my kids’ lives. My motherhood and all its inherent responsibilities constantly provoked me, irritated, chafed my spiritual skin. Rubbed me sore and bleeding.

  • I hated the constant lack of privacy.
  • The constant irritation of two little children who were ever-immature, from whom I could not, should not, expect maturity.
  • The dreadful incessancy of fixing food.
  • Of cleaning and re-cleaning.
  • Of constantly failing in my interactions with my kids. I was often angry. That’s the outstanding emotion I have from those days. That was the worst. (And I want to insert here how thankful to God I am that I had special births, breastfed generously, and slept with my kids—these things were helping me hold our relationships together when I kept failing at patience and gentleness in correcting and teaching and just living with them. )

These were dark days. I actually sometimes wondered if I could even be a Christian if I kept sinning like this.

And it went on for years. Years! I almost ceased to pray. I didn’t know what to say anymore. I felt empty. I printed out some old prayers so I could have words to put before God.  Because I just felt empty.

We lived near the big mall we live near now. Vitaliy was very generous letting me go out for an hour or two to sit, drink cappuchino, and read my Bible and journal.

I wrote a lot. It’s sad to read. Endless frustration with myself. Lists of how and what I desperately needed to change. Asking forgiveness for my anger, etc. I would have some wonderful times reading the Bible and praying—God gave me those oases.

But I always felt like I was failing, because I was failing, in many ways. And I would go home, no matter the nice, “spiritual” time I’d just had, and start it all. over. again.

I read, then stopped reading, the Christian books for women. They told me what to do, but I had no power to do it. I was only condemned by them then, in myself.

At some point, in all this, I realized that the reason I was so unhappy with myself was because I couldn’t live up to my own expectations of myself. I wanted to see myself as a godly mom. But it was too hard for me to actually BE that. I couldn’t be be the mom of my *good* aspirations.

The 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith has a paragraph in it that I love. It brings me to tears even now.

“The most wise, righteous, and gracious God doth oftentimes leave for a season his own children to manifold temptations and the corruptions of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins, or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption and deceitfulness of their hearts, that they may be humbled; and to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon himself; and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin, and for other just and holy ends. So that whatsoever befalls any of his elect is by his appointment, for his glory, and their good.”

God lets His children be captives of their own sinfulness for a time to humble them.

Humbling. One golden lesson God showed me: That failing to live up to my own good opinion of myself was what was bothering me so much, not my un-godliness. It wasn’t that I really wanted to be like Christ. … Think about that. I mean, ew. The Man rarely had a moment to Himself, and He would actually stay up nights to pray. … He was always serving mostly ungrateful people who didn’t even notice or understand the significance of His whole existence. … Did I really want that?

I was willing to settle for just being a relatively calm Christian-type person rather than . . . well, who knows what would be asked of me if I really sought to be like Christ.

So when God showed me this, I confessed my fake desire for Christlikeness and asked Him to help me really want to be like Christ. And He does create in us the will and the doing of His good pleasure.

And the scary thing about that is how much it opened up the range of possibilities of what my life and my self would then look like. Maybe me really being like Christ wouldn’t look like the image that I read about in Christian books for women? Who knows?

Around 2009, I think, Vitaliy took a decided-at-the-last-minute-trip to a week-long evangelism training. I didn’t know it when I told him, “yes, of course you need to go! It’s you!” that our whole lives were about to change.

Vitaliy didn’t learn anything “revolutionary” at the conference; he just memorized a one-page explanation of the Gospel.

(Insert starting to cry.)

And as he repeated that Gospel over and over to people, he began to spend hours by himself, overwhelmed, crying, realizing all that God did for us in Christ. That salvation and righteousness really is a free gift. …. Deep things that I can’t put it into words. The Holy Spirit has to open it in a person’s heart.

That’s when he started reading Martin Luther’s “Concerning Christian Liberty” [liberty from the Law for salvation and sanctification], and he gave it to me to read. And he talked to me for hours and hours about grace, about Christ having already lived perfectness for us.

And I started reading Luther. Actually, I sucked it up like starved vacuum, is more like it. And one day, the key to the door of God’s way of freedom for Anne Sokol came:

Christ already was the perfect mom for me.

Christ already was the perfect mom for me!

Christ already was the perfect mom FOR ME!!!!!

JESUS CHRIST was THE.PERFECT. mom. FOR ME!!!!!

The ground of my prison began to shake.  A light began to glimmer.

The walls of the dark, hopeless prison of my own good opinion of myself, my own standards, my expectations of somehow achieving real goodness one day ……. the walls fell down.

I walked out of prison. The prison of trying to achieve my own sanctification. There was a moment when God gave me this thought:

I will not share the glory of your sanctification with you.

Christ lived every day fulfilling the 10 commandments. And He was always patient, kind, gentle, joyful, full of love, self-controlled. All things I longed to be. He lived out every minute everything that Anne Sokol can’t live out no matter how hard she tries. He did it.

And now … now. The glory of my sanctification is all His. I follow Him. Isn’t that a hopeful word? A child’s word? To follow? I’m behind Him, so I LOOK AT HIM. LOOK AT HOW PERFECT HE IS. WATCH what He does!

This is when I began to eat up the Gospels, enjoying them for the first time in my life. I wasn’t weirded out by seeing Jesus actually alive and interacting anymore. Not that I consciously thought that before. But … His mysterious answers to our questions, his nomad life, His non-accumulation of wealth, His sinlessness that went unnoticed and unapplauded, His temptations, His followers, His friends, His enemies. It was all OK now. I just want to see Him, to see how He lived out God’s expectations, God’s will, every single day.

Now I didn’t have to lower God’s standards of perfection to make them keep-able. They were kept for me already. They were already reached for me.

And I just need to look—and I mean a working type of looking, a God-powered looking, gazing, pondering, a FOLLOWING and IMITATING type of looking.

A stumbling, starting, peaceful, prayerful, God-waiting  Looking,-For-The-Purpose-Of-Imitating looking. A longing looking. An imitative looking.

Today, well, sure, I’m far from perfect. But I’m less consumed by myself and my failures. And I’m honestly not failing like I was. … How did God do it? I’m still scratching my head.

Really.

Scratching my head, and smiling at what’s to come.

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tonight I was thankful

that during the most hellish period of my life, I still read the Bible regularly. I mean, even though it didn’t seem to help me at that time. It really did help me, but not in the way I expected. I’m glad I didn’t slip out of that habit or give up on seeking God’s help even when it seemed far away.

His help was so near, that the hellish time itself was a part of the help! Thank You, Lord. You led me all the way.

I want to dig out my journals from that painful period and write what golden lessons I can remember receiving from God.

It’s true that God refines our faith in the fire; it’s not just a poetic-sounding metaphor. That was a “fire” time for me, and God did His spiritual work and purposes in my life through it.

More to come. Right now, I have important business. I need to snuggle, sleep next to, and let a sweet little boy produce and receive the hormone of love in both of us.

Yes, that’s the hormone of luuuuuuvvv. Wowzers for me 😀

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