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Archive for August, 2013

The tears are close to the surface. Why am I crying about an old Ukrainian man I’ve seen one time? He’s been in our center a few months, and Vitaliy and Ruslan took him to the hospital-for-homeless about 2 months ago because he is so very yellow. His skin. The whites of his eyes.

They’ve done treatments.

I only saw him 2 Sundays ago when he came to church from the hospital because he wants to be baptized. He’s repented, trusted in Christ to be his Savior, and he’s been a good testimony these days in the hospital.

But he lost consciousness before the service started, so we called an ambulance and he was taken back to the hospital.

I’ve been thinking of death a lot lately. I’ve been thinking of it this way: that I look on my life being 1,000 years long, or 10,000 years long, or 100,000 years long (all eternity long) … and right now, I’m just living the tiniest first portion of my life.

Then  my body will die, and I will continue living the years/days– however we will mark time–in heaven, in the new earth, in the New Jerusalem.

It’s so interesting to see, in this way, how brief life on this earth is. And I want to live in an intense, focused way as a member of God’s kingdom, because that’s what it really all is for a believer.

I think about the moment of death. What will it be like. Am I really living as though it’s true that I’ll see Jesus. My beloved Jesus. That I will see His scarred hands, side and brow. That not only will He judge me, but He loves me, loves me, loves me. And I will see Him and be with Him. I will see His righteousness. I will live in God’s light.

Vitaliy told me tonight that this old man who’s been in our center will probably die. And it brings tears to my eyes. His body will lie in the earth. And he will step on into living his years in the literal presence of our God.

May I live in that moment. In His presence with me even now.

** This elderly man died Sept 2, 2013. We didn’t find any family all the time he was in the center, so the homeless hospital buried him. But we are thankful he is with his heavenly family now. He was a strong witness at the end of his life.

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Ruslan came to our center over a year ago now. He’s our live-in leader now. Such a heart burning for ministry to the lost, He’s wonderful. His favorite place to evangelize and get guys to come the center is the Kiev Central Train Station.

He and Vitaliy, praying, leaving the apt this morning

He and Vitaliy, praying, leaving the apt this morning

He used to live there. So he knows it like the back of his hand.

DSCN5680He walks through and points out the pickpockets, the homeless, the ones looking for no-documents-necessary work, the Americans passing through, etc. He knows where you can get a shower, free food, etc.

DSCN5675DSCN5681He’s wonderful at talking to these men about the Lord.

DSCN5684Jesus went on a lot of roads and well-trafficked places, looking for His own.

Lord, may we be like You.

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Hospitality, in the Greek, literally means “loving strangers.” Hospitality to strangers is not it’s entire application, as Christians are told to “be hospitable to one another without complaint” (I Pe 4:9), too.

Listening to Carolyn McCulley on youtube got me thinking about hospitality again, and she said something insightful that I’m mulling over.

We went from a place to where the home was a mission field and a discipleship training center and a place of productivity, to a place where you showcase your stuff, and it’s a monument to your taste. … And it’s not. … Keep that mission field in front of you. And cultivate whatever skills you need to make your home a wonderful and warm and welcoming place however it’s structured, however you do it.  It’s not the stuff, it’s your heart.

We’re moving out to our village house, where the rehab center is. The rehab guys, who’ve all been living in our house,  are now roughing it in the still-under-construction building, and we’ll be in the house. For these last 2 months before we move to the States.

I have some tentative ideas about reaching out to people in our village. I’m not sure what will work out, but I’m … thinking.

Anyway, so back to what Carolyn M said. I’ve kind of struggled for years with “hospitality.” I don’t like, in an aesthetic sense, the places we rent. So the beautiful magazine look is not happening. I’m not a cook. And I have little kids who necessarily distract me from house-keeping-type things and who turn the house upside down, and I’m not Born Organized (as FlyLady says). So put all that together, and I have a complex about me and hospitality.

Now, we do have our youth meetings here, because there aren’t many other meeting-place options. And they have mentioned how ‘at home’ they feel, I guess because I’m not terribly particular about the messes. (Well, sure, we try to have the living room picked up, and I have become a bit maniacal about sweeping, with the constant inflow of dirt.)

I do, however, view our rehab center as a hospitality ministry. Men there are fed, housed, clothed, taught how and encouraged to grow spiritually, given a place to build life anew, given a faith family if they accept Christ.

So we’re moving to the village, and I’m realizing, God’s putting me in a perfect place now for me and hospitality. I just have to laugh and laugh and laugh. Because our village house rehab center is a ministry to often-homeless people.

Think about that. It’s a pushover crowd as far as my hospitality skills are concerned :D.  They are happy for a bed. There doesn’t have to be turned down, ironed sheets with a flower and doily on the night stand. (What night stand?) So the pillows are used. The blankets are used, the sheets are used. The pots and pans are used. Everything is used, donated. Imperfect. And they are more than fine with this. In fact, it’s better for the ministry that it be this way, than that it look like a hotel. The wall paper’s peeling. The cabinets are stained.

About cooking, I’m not a great cook, and I won’t be doing much cooking for the guys (I’m not as economical as the center budget needs, I guess). But I like cooking for a crowd, and I like cooking “on occasion.” (The three times a day thing wears me out. Even once a day is hard, honestly.)

The last few days we’ve been there, we’d all sit downt to eat, and I say, “Let’s talk about something!” And we do. And thus I’ve learned that this conversation starter goes over much better when there are several adults at the table and not just 6-8 year olds. Imagine that.

So anyway, I think I’m going to start enjoying hospitality more and looking at it from different angles, now that I’m moving into a home that I actually possess and can make changes to. It’s all rather inspiring. (I love what the rehab men have done with the grounds outside, too.)

DSCN4495 DSCN4400 2012-04-14 13.41.51

And I want to remember what Carolyn M pointed out:

We went from a place to where the home was a mission field and a discipleship training center and a place of productivity, to a place where you showcase your stuff, and it’s a monument to your taste. … And it’s not. … Keep that mission field in front of you. And cultivate whatever skills you need to make your home a wonderful and warm and welcoming place however it’s structured, however you do it.  It’s not the stuff, it’s your heart.

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Sorry, this is a very self-analytical, “I” post.

“I will lift up my eyes unto the hills. From where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”

Something more is dawning a bit into clarity.

I’ve been asking God to please give me a sense of joy and pleasure in home schooling, in mothering. Not a fleeting moment of pleasure here and there, but a fairly constant joy. God Himself seems to be wanting me to pray about this and desire it, so I am seeing what He has here, praying, waiting.

I think I fail terribly in these areas–home school, mothering. And they’re fairly constant, demanding, all-encompassing areas of life. And I am pretty ungracious with myself, my expectations of who I should be, what I ought to be doing. It’s hard to sort through real responsibilities and just-from-somewhere expectations I have.  To grow through phases into God’s will in all these small details.

This is cheesy, but if I’m going to keep failing, I would like, at least, to come to some kind of peaceful, gracious, gentle, Christ way of thinking about it. And I mean that in a godly sense. I don’t think I’m really experiencing godly, wholesome disappointment with myself, just endless, vague frustration.

I also think I will actually fail less if I can come to see God more in these areas than I see myself (either good or bad), and find my joy in Him being here.

I was listening to an interview with John Piper on youtube, “On Regrets and Retirement,” and he says something that is giving me insight into this whole thing.

The interviewer asks if he has any regrets, and Piper answers:

“Yes. Endless regrets. I regret everything I’ve ever done … meaning, it could’ve always been done better.

I just quoted Spurgeon upstairs in my hotel room, who said, “A man is not a good man if he does not think he can be better.” That’s true. … I could’ve been a better dad, … a better husband, preached better, done more personal evangelism. …

… I don’t look back with a sense of triumphal success on anything. … Don Carson said this to me, made me feel good: “Every time I preach and come out of the pulpit, I feel like I could’ve done so much better.”

… The statement “no regrets” … if I were to use that, would mean I’m glad I did it … I would not not do it over. … My regrets are all internal, sin issues, or ‘falling short of ideal’ issues. Not that I was where I was or did the sorts of things I did.

So, to say this aloud, I don’t regret being a mom. I don’t regret having children. I don’t regret home schooling them. …. I have regrets over my sins, my falling short. And how thankful I am that the blood of Christ was shed for me, the perfection of Christ lived for me.

… Sigh. I will keep pondering all this.

one of my bazillion self-photos of me slinging Andre

one of my bazillion self-photos of me slinging Andre

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Vitaliy’s never struck me as the guy to write a life purpose, but he has one.

DSCN5636Here is the translation:

Purpose of Life
I strive to see the world through the eyes of God and strive to make the main thing for myself only that which is important for God,
namely to reach the unreached.

I am blessed in order to bless.

For me there is nothing better than to win back the captured enemy’s territory, taking it back under the authority of Christ. I passionately desire, act and work so the name of Jesus reaches the ends of the earth, so it becomes known and available to every nation, ethnic and social group, so that Christ, in this way, receives worthy glory for His suffering.

To achieve this, I do not see any obstacles, but trusting all entirely to God, confidently know that every apparent obstacle is a unique opportunity for the name of Christ to be magnified more.

May Your name be glorified in all the earth, God!!!

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Two wonderful things happened that were just God-straight-to-me kind of things.

So, August 18 rolls around, and I don’t know how we’re going to get through the month without running every little pot of savings into the ground. Still half the month left.

So I mull about this. I have some clients who haven’t paid me yet but will when I get to them … So I think, well, God, maybe that’s it, this is how You’ll provide for us. So when should I plan to go see them?

And God, well, you know how God can just let you know things. And I knew I was not to push that plan and wait and pray and just not worry about it. But I certainly saw no other options for provision in sight.

DSCN5616 DSCN5612My friend pictured here is on deputation to be a missionary here and she came for a month’s visit, and she so wondrously made time to stay with us for a few days. She literally was my arms and legs, while I was holding a teething, sick, fussy baby. She washed tons of dishes and fruits, cut apples, cleaned grapes, cleaned the house, home schooled the girls, babysat, drank coffee with me, you name it.

I saw her off on the train tonight. She slips a card in my hand at the last second. So I open it later, and she has stashed 200 dollars there!

DSCN5634oh my word. Thank You, God. He is so wonderfully personal.

Then, talk about being personal and specific, I’ve been wanting a world map. We have a placemat-sized one somewhere that I can’t find. And I wanted something a little bigger. Priced them upstairs in the mall at the bookstore, but 25 dollars is an awful lot for a map.

So …. so so so. I’m at my friend Tulipgirl’s house today. Not only does she load me up with great books, is buying more that I need for home school, gave me things for the center and boxes for packing,  … she is giving me an ENORMOUS world map!

oh my word.

what more can I say? I need to end this post somehow.

Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain.  It is vain for you to rise up early, To retire late, To eat the bread of painful labors; For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.
(Psa 127:1-2 NAS)

I feel as though God has given to me “in my sleep.”

P.S. Josie’s comment reminded me of another incident I wanted to share. My missionary friends provided several loaner dresses for Skyla and Vika to be flower girls in the wedding a few weekends ago:

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Years ago, I visited Ukraine to teach some writing classes, and I stayed a sweet friend’s house in Belaya Tserkov. She was making a meal for us, and so she just walked out into the garden that surrounded her house and cut some dill to use.

Ever since that little romantic moment of eating fresh foods immediately from your own yard, I wanted to experience that.

Now, confession, I go out to the garden of our rehab center that the guys planted, and I have NO CLUE which plant is the potato plant that I need to dig up in order to get out the potatoes. It all looks rather like a jungle to me, so someone still helps with that. …

But I’ve done fresh green onion salad, fresh cucumber salad, fresh mint for the tea, fresh apples and plums … It’s just my romantic dream come true.

😀

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