Inspiration My "Refugee" Journal

I’ve Been Really Busy

A gathering of good friends in our apartment the night before early morning explosions rocked cities all across Ukraine, announcing the start of the Russian invasion.

Someone recently asked me why I’d stopped writing. In light of what has been happening in Ukraine, the country that I’ve called home for almost two decades, I had trouble comprehending why an explanation was even necessary. But since I didn’t want to embarrass my friend by stating what felt painfully obvious to me (“…my life turned completely upside down on February 24, 2022, and I’m still trying to figure out which way is up…”), I just said (truthfully) that I’d been really busy.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Finding a New Rhythm

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

I just returned home from my morning walk. Though born purely out of necessity, it is now one of my favorite parts of the day, a peaceful interlude for a mother of four living in a bustling metropolis.



My husband and me studying on the 6-hour bus ride to Kyiv, one of a number of trips to Kyiv that we have made in the last month.

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

A month ago, our lives turned upside down. In the ensuing chaos, my husband and I missed the anniversary of the day we met and let Father’s Day come and go without celebration. I am even routinely forgetting the day of the week and losing track of which city and sometimes which country I’m in. What caused this insanity?