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Archive for January, 2015

photos of western Ukraine

The drive back through western Ukraine was beautiful. Such a unique culture–mountainous, religious traditions, etc.

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my personal favorite:

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And, random fact, this is my 700th blog post!

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On our drive back, the gps took us through the city, so I clicked up a storm:

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And we found McDonalds:

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On our way out of Czech, we stopped at an electronics/appliances store. We bought two big things at gifts for ourselves. Each cost about $60.

First: finally, after years and years of half-wanting-but-not-enough-to-pay-for-it, and with the dollar so strong now, we bought this  coffee maker that does some fancy things like cappuccino and all. One bonus: now the kids just drink/eat steamed milk instead of consuming the coffee along with it. And I’ve always thought this would be an awesome thing to use while hosting small groups here 🙂

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Skyla hung a sweet sign over it, taped to the wall.

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And we got this small, easy to clean chopper, dicer, grater thing. I’m liking it. It’s a lot less space than my big (I forget the word) one that I had with a blender on the side of it.

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Glad we did that. We did NOT buy the coffee maker that perks into a carafe, which I really want for groups and myself, because I don’t like how regular coffee percolators either burn the coffee (if you leave it on) or get cold fast (if you turn it off). Oh well. It will be something to look forward to, still.

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the world can’t see this fruit

Going out of Ukraine was pretty easy. Getting back in was slightly harder.

I’ll skip some long details and start the story when our van is parked at the Ukrainian customs border entrance back into Ukraine. Vitaliy is outside with the guards who are asking some things about our trip and what we brought back.

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I’m sitting in the car praying for him. And I prayed that he would bear the eternal fruit of the Holy Spirit at this time, in front of these people …

even if they couldn’t recognize it and even if they punished it somehow. But that he would bear fruit by being the presence of Christ in this place.

And I’d never thought those things before. I’d always assumed that if someone is bearing the fruit of the Spirit, well, it’s obvious. In the sense that everyone sees it and recognizes it.

But … now that I pray about it, I realize that, of course they don’t. Did the world watch Jesus and say, “Oh Jesus, how you are so loving and joyful and gentle and peace-full, and kind. So self-controlled, so patient.”

Ha. Not by a long shot. They just accused Him of the sins in their own hearts.

This insight is helpful to me. That I (or another child of God) can be showing the fruit of the Spirit but those who see or hear me won’t necessarily see it or honor it as such.

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a pantry

We had a neat trip into Europe.

It was fascinating to visit other Eastern European countries after living so deeply in probably the farthest eastern most “European” country– and isn’t that what this war is all about? Will Ukraine really be the eastern end of Europe … or western end of Russia … ?

It was good because I realized how hard it is, comparatively, to live in this country: Police constantly on the roadside stopping cars, the ins and outs of a bribery state, the poor quality mass-building techniques, and the list goes on. I’m also glad I can say that Ukraine is probably easier to live in than Togo, West Africa, or Bangladesh, where my relatives have been and are missionaries.

It was also nice that we stayed with other missionaries, one night in Budapest and then for five days in Czech. It was nice to compare myself, in a good way, to these other families, to see what my own strengths, weaknesses and struggles are compared with other missionary families.

I realized some things I have that I haven’t ever really valued, like that I’m fairly fluent in Russian and that I have, for years, always wanted to be a missionary and always wanted to live here, where I live now. I never really valued that I’d had those things behind my back, helping support me, in a sense.

Things I struggle with: I don’t have an American missionary standard of living, nor do I have a Ukrainian standard of living. It’s a … well, it is what it is. Just my life, and it’s OK. I don’t want to say it’s “stressful” because finances are stressful for everyone breathing.

Now, the fun part! I peeked around my friends’ kitchen and looked at how they organized, decorated, the stuff they bought. … I am still growing a lot in this area.

My friend Julie has an awesome pantry. Nice shelves, a cooler place to store fruits and vegetables, and just really organized. I took pictures. They buy on sale and save money and stock up. (There’s more storage in the garage, they tell me.)

I’ve read about a pantry, but it’s something that really changes me when I look at it in real life. It was so beautifully clean and filled and organized. I’m impressed, and I want to start slowly incorporating some of what I saw.

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I’ve been wanting a laundry basket for years. it’s a pain trying not to drop small articles of clothing while carrying the load of laundry from the dryer to a folding place. … I never imagined green, nor this shape, but, about 3.50 at Ikea, and now I’m set!

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I’m not really addicted to 4-cup measuring cups, but I use it a lot, so it’s nice to have a quality one. And the colorful things are for holding loose tea leaves–Ukraine is a major tea drinking nation, and Vitaliy really likes loose teas. Me, too, if I have a thing like this to contain the leaves in.

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A woman’s life in the Ukrainian kitchen is full of grating. My current standing grater is slowly breaking, so I thought I’d try this clever circular one that keeps the grated stuff inside–big on one side, small on the other.

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I fiercely defended my frig timer from childish hands for years. Proud of that. Why did I change? It’s been gone now for some time. So, new timer, and stackable, see-through-able containers.

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Muffin tins always inspire me, for some reason. I find the idea of muffins very comforting. And a circular, large pie plate with a bottom that pops out for easy serving.

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And it was all so cheap. … I may need to return to Ikea in the very near future.

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God says His Word is alive.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Heb 4:12)

Living. Active. Sharper than a sword. Able to pierce into our inner beings. Able to discern our thoughts and intentions.

When I seem to go on and on about my struggles on here, I do it with a purpose. From years and years of journaling, I’ve learned how that writing out specific words about what I’m thinking and feeling is powerful. God made us in His image in this ability to use words.

I’ve found if I actually write things out very specifically, I move. I write the error, I see the error. I can apply Scripture words then, and exchange the error for truth.

It’s all words.

But it’s not just words. It’s much more than words.

It’s truth vs. lies and what am I going to think, what am I going to build my life upon and make years upon years of daily choices based upon.

These words. Truth. Or lies.

So. At certain moments of struggle, I’ve forced myself to actually write down, honestly, the things in my heart. Sometimes this is really terrifying because I end up writing down my sins against God and I can see with stark clarity my …

What is it? Blasphemy? Sin? That in my heart I’ve been accusing God of sinning against me.

And when I start to write out honestly what was in the shadows of my mind, I can really see the horrifying extent of my thoughts.

So Wednesday night, when I was driving home and I began to perceive that I have cynicism in my heart towards my life, I figured that God, being merciful to me, a sinner, was piercing open my soul and spirit, my joints and marrow, and telling me to discern with Him the thoughts and intentions of my heart.

In other words, there was something disgusting down there.

So I started blogging about it.

And providentially, perfectly I should say, God had me reading Sally Clarkson’s new book Own Your Life. Her first chapter, which I read yesterday, knowing that God was wanting to sort out my internal state of affairs, records an experience she had as a mom of young, financial struggles, ministry struggles, yada yada. And she had a “come to Jesus” moment. (Please, read the book!)

At the end of this chapter, she quoted two Scriptures and asked us to write some answers based upon those two verses. One was this:

Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. (Psalm 37:3)

She asked questions about that particular phrase of cultivating faithfulness. Remember, I was straining to be honest with what was really in my heart. And God pierced and divided and exposed, as is the role of His Word.

I somehow feel betrayed by God….

See, there it is in black and white. Accusing God of sin, Anne? Now do you see what black, fuzzy thing is swirling around in your heart and you didn’t even discern it was there?

I need to accept that God is being loyal and true to me. He has not done anything near betraying me. I have surrendered myself to him so many times, and it is worth it. It is worth what he is doing in my life, even if to me it just looks like… having a family.

God is asking me to accept that he knows what he’s doing. That he has not betrayed my trust when I committed my entire being to him. Rather, he is working out, to the fullest part, his good, acceptable, and perfect will for me.

God, I anew accept this life, as it looks now, as personally from your hand. It hasn’t “just happened.” I could’ve never married Vitaliy–I almost didn’t! I could’ve been barren. We could be living in the U.S. a life of making money or whatever. I could have my kids in school. We could’ve asked and prayed for support until we got all we feel we could use to live more normally.

So many things could so easily be different. But they are not. God, you have arranged all these exact things for me. You make no mistakes. You have not betrayed me. Rather, you have been most faithful. Utterly and perfectly faithful to me, when I have been suspicious and doubting  towards you.

I need to wrap this up and go be with kids. Here you go:

I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice … so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

It is this process of continually accepting/”proving” that God’s will for me is good, acceptable, and perfect. Humbling and aligning myself to accept that, with thanks. And taking it up with whole heart, to live and do.

Outta here. Ciao!

Thank you, God.

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