Inspiration My "Refugee" Journal

We’re Going to Make It

Our impromptu family Christmas picture—using a selfie stick on the couch at our apartment in Budapest

I have always suspected that children are far more resilient than most adults give them credit for. My experience of navigating early tragedy supported this theory (my mom died when I was 5), and now I’ve had a chance to observe my own children coping with loss and grave difficulty. 

Inspiration My "Refugee" Journal

A Future and a Hope

Our life was a beautiful dream. Every time I walked the streets around the converted old mansion that housed our apartment in downtown Kyiv, I found myself thanking God that we got to live in this charming district, filled with historic buildings and dotted with trendy cafes, interesting restaurants, and all sorts of shops. We had a close-knit church family who all lived within walking distance and a wider community of friends who were in and out of our home on a regular basis. To top it all off, our new landlords had told us that we could stay in their apartment for at least 5 years, and we planned to do precisely that. We had moved 14 times since getting married 18 years earlier, and now, we were finally settled. I couldn’t have been more pleased or content. 

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.


Getting to Know You

Each of our kids has a different personality

Relationships give life meaning. The relationships we build with our children can enrich us in ways that no other relationships do. I am experiencing this on several different levels with my preschool-through-teenage children. And while I don’t have any grown children, I’ve witnessed first-hand just how rich the parent-child relationship can be after the child grows into adulthood. In my opinion, one of the most fulfilling aspects of parenting is getting to know your children. 

Back when our eldest was our only child, I didn’t realize just how early a child’s personality begins to manifest. Because I didn’t expect to be able to get to know my baby’s personality until he could at least speak, I don’t think I paid too much attention to behaviors that could have given me a clue that Samuel was a methodical, logical, and analytical person. I just accepted all his behaviors as normal for a child of his age—that is, until his little brother came along when Samuel was 22 months old. That’s when I realized that even babies have personality traits.


Ready or Not

I recently read an article about falling birth rates. The author cited many factors that keep modern people from wanting to have as many children as past generations, and one common reason is that prospective parents just don’t “feel ready.” In fact, the author went on to share a statistic that for a growing number of couples, the only reason they had a child was because of an unplanned pregnancy. 

While my husband and I are obviously not part of this modern trend towards having fewer children or having no children at all, we still wrestled with uncertainty and fears before starting to have children.

Funny Quotes Laughter

Wacky Things My Kids Have Said: #10

Years ago, when my 13-year-old was only 3, I was trying to get him to pick up his toys, and he was ignoring me. Or maybe he was just getting distracted. Or it could have been a little bit of both. I didn’t really know. Finally, exasperated, I said in the sternest voice I could muster, “Come here, young man!”

Baby Joys Inspiration

My Fifth Birth Story, Part 5

Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

Andrew, still in the NICU, but alert and responsive.

We had a very encouraging sign on Andrew’s second day in the NICU, which was his fourth day on intravenous antibiotics. On that day, he finally opened his eyes! Seeing his sweet brown eyes for the very first time moved me almost to tears. He was eight days old.

Baby Joys Encouragement

My Fifth Birth Story, Part 4

Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Andrew at his lowest point, in an incubator bed with a total of 9 tubes and wires coming off his vulnerable body, including the bulky tube of high-flow heated oxygen in the upper-right corner of the picture.

That first day at the new hospital was physically exhausting. The most walking I had done since giving birth six days earlier was to go from our car in the hospital parking lot to the NICU after Andrew was transferred, and even that had felt like a stretch. But that was only the beginning.

Baby Joys Encouragement

My Fifth Birth Story, Part 3

Read Part 1 and Part 2 first.

Andrew had a splint on one arm to stabilize the IV catheter, and he had all kinds of wires running to different monitors. Even though he was mostly unresponsive to stimuli, his infant reflexes caused him to grab a fistful of these wires.

Because Andrew was so weak and lethargic, the hospital set me up with an electric pump and had me express milk to feed him from a bottle. Sometime during that first day or night, one of the monitors in the room started beeping loudly, and within seconds, a nurse appeared in the doorway and said that the baby’s blood oxygen level had dropped too low and told me to rouse him.

Baby Joys Encouragement Uncategorized

My Fifth Birth Story, Part 2

You can read Part 1 here.

Cousins born on consecutive days in adjacent hospital rooms

At some point the next day I finally reached full dilation and started having the urge to push. While the hospital did allow water births, I decided to try using the birthing stool. It was a lot higher than I expected, and it was uncomfortable. But other than mentioning that I wasn’t comfortable, I made no effort to change locations. At that point in labor, a mother is simultaneously too focused and too overwhelmed by the birthing process to advocate for herself, and no one connected my calm, quiet comment that the birthing stool was uncomfortable with a real desire to move to the bed, which is what I wanted.