Encouragement Uncategorized

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.

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. 

Inspiration Uncategorized

My Only Hope

My kids are growing up! My husband and I have actually reached the stage of starting to help our older children develop marketable skills and try to figure out what they want to do in life. These days, I find myself contemplating the nature and goals of parenting more than ever before.


Writing Again

After a year and a half of finding my stride as a mother of four littles, I'm finally writing again! It feels wonderful to have this creative outlet back in my life. I haven't yet finished anything new for this blog, but I'm working on something. Today I just wanted to let you know that I became a featured columnist for the Assist News Service website, and my first piece is up. You can read it here. It gives some insight into what it's like to live in Ukraine in the midst of the current uncertainties and difficulties. Please check it out, and pray for Ukraine!


Wacky Things My Kids Have Said: #7

“Tinkerbell’s kinda like a bug. 

Bugs have wings.”

                        ~Samuel, age 5

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Other wacky things my kids have said.

Image courtesy of James Barker /


Guest Post about Victory Through Defeat

Today I'm guest posting at CC Missionary Women, a blog devoted to encouraging Calvary Chapel missionary women by putting them in community with other Christian ladies around the world. I'm sharing a devotional thought that occurred to me while reading one of the most disturbing stories in the entire Bible. Every time I come back to this story, I always shake my head in sadness and furrow my eyebrows in confusion. But this time, I think God gave me a special insight. You can read it here.

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Okay, So It’s an Excuse . . .

I've been scarce in these parts for some time, so I wanted to show my virtual face and offer an explanation. One and a half weeks ago, we moved. It was just from an apartment on one side of the street to an apartment on the opposite side of the same street, but still, we moved. And in my opinion (and I've moved 9 times in the last 8 years and 8 months, so I should know) any move is a huge hassle, regardless of the distance involved. And when you move from the 4th floor of a building with no elevator to the 5th floor of another walk-up, it's potentially more of a hassle than moving across the country, even if those two buildings are on the same street. So our life is presently chaotic, and our living space is in a shambles, but we're t-h-r-i-l-l-e-d with our new place. And as soon as I locate the USB cable for the digital camera, I'll post some pictures . . .

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“You Can’t!” — Culture Shock, Ukrainian Style

It seems to me that "culture shock" is an expression that many people use far too casually without understanding what it actually means. I used to be one of them.
Earlier this evening I was a dramatic and alarming picture of culture shock. When my husband found me, I was sitting cross-legged on the kitchen floor beside a voltage transformer (our big one that I never bother to lift onto the counter when I need to use it because it weighs about forty pounds). I had my American-made electric beater plugged into it; the cord is too short to reach up onto the counter without coming unplugged from the transformer on the floor, which was why I was sitting on the floor. My left hand held the electric beater, on high, in the middle of a pot of fudge that I had just finished cooking that was sitting on the floor in front of me. My right my hand covered my eyes, supporting the full weight of my head as my elbow rested on my knee. The steady whir of the electric beater nearly drowned out the sobs that shook my body. I say "nearly drowned out" because George must have heard something to make him come to the kitchen at just that moment.
I was aware of his presence but was too distraught to respond. He knelt awkwardly on the other side of the pot of fudge and took the beater from me. I just cried harder. I needed to scream, but as a rational adult, I kept telling myself that was out of the question. But my mind felt as if it was about to shatter if I didn't do something quickly, so I shrieked. George jumped, but he managed to hold the beater, still on high, steady in the pot of fudge. I continued to cry, now with the pathetic, gasping breaths that afflict small children when they can't get control of themselves. I felt the need to vomit from the force of my sobs, and the rational part of my mind interrupted again to suggest that if I didn't get a hold of myself quickly, I would start to hyperventilate. That did the trick, and I gradually forced myself to regain control. Within a few minutes, I was frosting a tray of freshly baked brownies with the fudge frosting I had just made.
An outburst of this nature could only have been provoked by something earth shattering like the sudden death of a young child, a rape, or a murdered husband. Right? Not if you're a woman suffering from chronic culture shock and something jarring happens to you at the wrong time of the month.
What happened to me? Not much.
Earlier today I went grocery shopping. I started to enter the store, but then I realized that I needed a shopping cart, which I could only get outside of the store. So I turned on my heel to walk out and grab a cart from the row sitting conveniently about three feet from the entrance. Before I could get out, however, a security guard, who had been standing there watching me, blocked my path and said, "Nilzya!" a Russian obscenity that literally means you can't. (It's not actually an obscenity, but I've come to perceive it as such, because 85% of the time, the tone and spirit in which it is used makes you feel as if you're being cussed out.)
Baffled by his incomprehension, I pointed at the row of shopping carts and stuttered in Ukrainian, "But I need … I need …" Since shopping cart doesn't frequently come up in conversational speech, I didn't actually know the Ukrainian word for it, so I stumbled to a halt, frustrated and helpless.
"Go around through the cash register line," he told me, still in Russian.
I know what going through the cash register line is like, because once I had the misfortune to enter this same store looking for one item only. When I failed to find it, I had to choose between waiting ten minutes in line behind customers who were checking out or forcing my way past them. I chose the latter. The cash register aisles are very narrow, and if I carried a few more inches on my hips, it would have been physically impossible for me to squeeze past a loaded shopping cart. Other customers were paranoid that I might be trying to cut in front of them, because cutting in line is as natural as breathing for about 25% of the population. On top of all this, the cashier was suspicious that I might be trying to sneak out with stolen goods. All this flashed through my mind as I faced off with the surly security guard. But what could I do? I briefly contemplated either speaking a mixture of Ukrainian and French, trying to reason with him in English, or shoving him as hard as I could so I could get to one of the carts that were within arm's reach.
In the end, I simply growled at him, an inarticulate, animal noise, and spun around to find the closest cash register line . . . and then I came home and shrieked while making fudge frosting.
This sort of drama is not an everyday part of life in Ukraine for me. In fact, in nearly three years of living here, this is only the fourth such incident. The other three were prompted by minor slights like the one that set me off today. But culture shock is like a succession of time bombs. The steady ticking that colors all the seconds and minutes of your days sounds innocuous enough, but it's propelled forward by an unending series of small shocks until the inevitable, but unexpected, explosion occurs. And then the process begins all over again.
Today was the worst explosion yet. Hours later, my mind still feels brittle. I shan't go mad, at least not tonight. I'm sure of that. In fact, I'm reasonably sure that I will survive the interminable culture shock stage with my sanity intact. But at what cost? In order to survive, must I become an insensitive, unfeeling brute like the people who keep pushing me over the edge? I refuse.
As George gently pointed out after my second explosion after moving here, the reason we've chosen to live in this country is to make a positive difference. We want to see the love of Jesus transform lives and change the society. And one of the ways to pursue our goal is to display this love in all our actions. How should I have responded to the security guard today? I honestly don't know, but I'm sure that growling at him was not the best thing I could have done. So I take a deep breath, say a prayer of repentance, and ask God to help me do better next time.

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A Beginning

This is my first blog. I decided to start one because I’m entering a phase of my life where I would like to write more. This seems like a logical place to start, especially since I haven’t done a very good job of keeping in touch with many of my friends in the States since my move to Ukraine two years and eight months ago. So this is for all of you who are dear to me and for anyone else who cares to read, but mostly, it’s for me. There’ll be more soon, I promise, but for now, this is just a beginning, as the title says.