Funny Quotes Laughter

Wacky Things My Kids Have Said: #9

We live in downtown Kyiv, Ukraine. Right downtown. As in, our living room balcony overlooks a sidewalk cafe on one side, the entrance to a hostel on the other, and a 24-hour coffee shop across the street. (Why we need 24/7 access to coffee is beyond me, but they get business all day and all night long. I once even saw a couple park below our balcony around 3 am, stroll hand-in-hand across the street to the coffee shop, and emerge a few minutes later with take-out cups in their hands. I was a little dumbfounded. But, to be fair, I witnessed all this while standing on our balcony hanging up wet laundry at 3 am, so perhaps there were three people out that night whose actions could have raised eyebrows.) There are plenty of interesting things to watch from our balcony, from cars passing on the street, to people walking their dogs, parents with children, old ladies sweeping the sidewalks with short brooms, and once even a crew of men using a cherry-picker and a chain saw to trim limbs off trees. Our dog and two youngest kids love to hang out on the balcony and watch everything.

There’s just one problem. Our two youngest children are still in various stages of potty training, and as a result, somehow between the toilet and the balcony they manage to misplace their pants and underwear. Multiple times per day. People are constantly passing by on the sidewalk just one story below our balcony, not to mention the people seated at the sidewalk cafe, enjoying their meals and puffing away on their waterpipes. If any of these passersby or diners happened to look up at just the right moment, they might see a cute little 2-year-old boy or 4-year-old boy with an impish grin, a T-shirt, AND NOTHING ELSE! 

Granted, this situation is far less scandalous here in Ukraine than it would be in the U.S. or even other parts of Europe, but it still never ceases to mortify me. I feel like every time I turn around, I’m darting out onto the balcony to haul in one of these exhibitionist children of mine and find him some underwear, at the very least.

A few nights ago, most of the family was still seated at the dinner table when my husband noticed that the dog and our 4-year-old had gone out onto the balcony. My husband quickly called out to the 4-year-old, “Andrew, do you have underwear on?”

Completely unperturbed, Andrew called back, “Al-most?”

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Other wacky things my kids have said.
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.


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.


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!


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.

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.


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.