Categories
Encouragement Inspiration

The Stunning Power of Kindness

Not long ago I witnessed this heart-warming scene:

My almost-2-year-old was standing in the kitchen holding his almost-4-year-old brother’s water bottle. Big brother went up to little brother and roughly snatched his water bottle away. Little brother responded by hitting big brother.

Categories
Encouragement

Oh, How I Love Boundaries!

This post first appeared as a guest post on a blog for missionary women in 2011. (That blog no longer exists, or I would link to it here.)


I’ve started to drive again. Until recently, I could have counted on one hand the number of times I had gotten behind the wheel of a car in Ukraine since moving to this country eight and a half years ago.

Categories
Inspiration

Humility, Compassion, and Understanding

This post first appeared on this blog in November 2014, but I had to delete the original because, during my five-and-a-half-year blogging hiatus, it became the target of literally tens of thousands of spam comments! I now have six kids, from 13 years down to 23 months, but everything I wrote here about my attitude and approach to parenting still holds true!


daddyhand

Parenting is a humbling process. I say “process,” not “job,” because while the end goal of this adventure is a constant, the day-to-day details change over time. My biggest dream for my children is that they would grow up to love and follow Jesus. Period. But how to encourage them in that direction looks very different as they age from 7 days, to 7 months, to 7 years. And the frequent changes and mistakes I make as I adapt to my maturing children remind me how much I still have to learn about this parenting gig.

Categories
Baby Joys Inspiration

God’s Providence: A Furlough Story

Baby Andrew’s birth was the first major event of our time in the United States.

This post first appeared on Assist News Service in September 2017.

I used to write a column here about my experiences as an American missionary raising children in Ukraine, but it’s been over a year since my last piece. During that time, we went on furlough, had another baby, returned to Ukraine, and moved to a different house. A string of unexpected circumstances made this an often overwhelming season, and I needed to take a break from writing this column.

The first surprise was my husband injuring his knee shortly before our trip to the States. It was still giving him so much trouble when we flew that he had to use crutches. We must have looked like a hopeless menagerie after we checked in and headed towards security: a man on a beat-up pair of borrowed crutches that were missing their rubber feet and had a tendency to slip on the smooth airport floors, a woman who was eight-months pregnant, and four children ranging in age from 3 to 9! Plus a carseat, backpacks, and several rolling carryons. It really seemed like the wrong timing for this injury, but it turned out that the timing was just right.

Categories
Inspiration

Home is Where You Put Your Heart

This post first appeared on Assist News Service in May 2016.

When I moved overseas as a missionary, people would often ask me if I missed home. For various reasons, it was always hard for me to know how to answer.

Categories
Inspiration

Raising Third-Culture Kids, Part 2

This post first appeared on Assist News Service in April 2016.

Last month I wrote about the unique experience of third-culture kids, children who are raised in a culture other than the culture of their parents and who subsequently develop a third culture that is a blend of the two cultures. (You can read part 1 here for more details and specific examples drawn from our lives on the mission field.) This month I’d like to revisit this topic.

I ended last month’s column with the admission that we are expecting our fifth child, and sometimes I wonder if my husband and I are being wise or responsible to have so many children when the missionary lifestyle is so uncertain. Besides the fact that we are almost completely dependent on the generosity of others for our monthly income, we also currently live in a country that is in a de facto state of war.

Categories
Inspiration

Raising Third-Culture Kids, Part 1

Our family in our traditional embroidered Ukrainian blouses

This post first appeared on Assist News Service in March 2016.

Ukrainian borsch and pampushky

My husband, four sons, and I live in Ukraine. We are all American citizens, but three of our children were born here in Ukraine, and this country is the only home any of them has ever known. Their favorite foods include local dishes like borsch with pampushky (beet stew with garlic rolls), varenyky (boiled dumplings with a variety of sweet or savory fillings), and holubtsi (stuffed cabbage rolls). Each of us has a hand-embroidered traditional Ukrainian blouse that we wear for special occasions, and the last time I gave him a haircut, my eldest asked me to cut his hair in the style of a kozak, the historical defenders of the Ukrainian homeland. Although we do own a vehicle in a country where many people do not, our kids are equally comfortable taking public transport, and our 9-year-old even rides the bus and subway by himself.

Categories
Inspiration

Incarnational Missions

An impressive 70-foot Christmas tree on Kyiv’s St. Michael’s Square, dwarfed by the beautiful monastery in the background.

This post first appeared on Assist News Service in February 2016.

As I write this, it’s two days after Valentine’s Day, and I still haven’t taken our Christmas tree down.

Categories
Inspiration

Only for You, Jesus

Rush hour outside an entrance to the Kyiv subway.

This post first appeared on Assist News Service in December 2015.

Have you ever had an Only-for-You-Jesus moment? It’s a moment when you’re facing an excruciating decision. You know what Jesus wants you to do, but you really don’t want to do it. In fact, if anyone else asked you to do it, you would say no. Flat-out, no hesitation. You wouldn’t do it for your husband, your children, your parents, or your best friend. But then you look at your beautiful Savior, and you find yourself saying softly and tearfully, “Yes—but only for You, Jesus.”

As melodramatic as it might sound, making the decision to move back to Kyiv was such a moment for me.

Categories
Inspiration

My Thanksgiving List

This post first appeared on Assist News Service in November 2015.

My husband, four young sons, and I live in Ukraine. Just over five months ago, we decided to move from the small city that our kids had always called home to Kyiv, the capital of the country with a population of roughly 4 million. When we made the announcement, our kids didn’t seem to mind, but several days later, my eldest son confided in me that he wished we didn’t have to move, because he was sad about leaving his friends.

I had my own reservations about living in Kyiv. I was familiar with the city, having lived there for four years before our children were born, and my memories were overwhelmingly negative. But I didn’t voice any of this to the children. On the contrary, my husband and I did everything we could to play up the move for the kids. We talked about all the new friends they would make in the church we were going to pastor. We told them about the fun things we could do in Kyiv that weren’t possible in our little city. We described the mighty Dnipro River running through the middle of Kyiv and the bridges spanning it. We reminded them of how much they loved to ride the Kyiv subway.

As we continued to highlight the positive aspects of life in Kyiv, my husband and I found ourselves actually becoming excited! Neither of us had ever wanted to live in Kyiv again, but now that God was clearly calling us back, and we were embracing His will, our outlook on life in the capital was changing.

It’s now been almost four months since we moved, and we are continually discovering additional benefits to life here. As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, I thought it appropriate to share a list of things I am thankful for about Kyiv. I hope it will be a window for you into another place and culture and perhaps inspire your own Thanksgiving reflections.