1 11 11 1 10

1 11 11 1 10

No it isn’t binary code. It is THE date.

January 11, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Two months from now, approximately 5,200 miles away from home, I will step off yet another plane and my feet will once more be in Kyiv, Ukraine.

I can hardly believe it. Am I ready for this?

Truthfully I will NEVER be ready, yet I long to be back with the university students that I love.

We chat on Facebook and leave messages but I am ready to hear laughter and give hugs again. I am even looking forward to being tortured with Russian lessons, and I’m sure friends here are ready for me to stop torturing them with the five phrases I have already mastered.

The past few weeks have been a gamut of emotions as my departure date creeps closer. Finances loom in my head but the assurity of God’s leading, His call, and His love for Ukraine stands taller. Fears of my own inadequacy whisper in my ear, but then I chat with one of my students and it erases all doubt. I wake up with a chill in the air and try to motivate myself to get out from under the warmth of my covers and wonder how in the world I will survive winter… ok so I haven’t found anything that counters this one yet.

Within the past week I was given the money needed to acquire my visa.  It still seems a bit like a dream.

With a visa in the works and a ticket to my new home that just leaves monthly support for actually living. My goal is to raise $1,150 a month to cover expenses. If you would like to support me either with a one time gift or monthly, click here for more info.

And if you come across any great deals on Under Armour please let me know, I think I’m going to make sure they stay in business at least one more year.

Passionately Extreme

For over a year now I have been trying to pinpoint what it is that I love about Ukraine. People frequently ask “Why Ukraine?” when I speak of my love. Usually my answer is “I have no idea.”

However, recently while perusing various blogs and articles, I came across “For the love of Slavic culture” written by Sarah Wade, a missionary in Ukraine. She describes the Slavic world as “neither a warm nor a cold culture, but it is passionately extreme.”

Passionately extreme… I like that.  Why?

Probably because I’m that way. Maybe part of my love for Ukraine is that I don’t have a problem with there simultaneously being two polar extremes. In fact my life tends to operate in that manner.

Please don’t read this the wrong way… I am a huge advocate for bringing balance into your life. However, it is also true that for every situation there are two opposing sides. I usually see both sides too clearly, understand both sides of arguments to well and sometimes  I admit I get lost trying to reconcile the extremes.

They don’t always have to be reconciled though. The fact of life is that there is death and life, beauty and suffering, rejoicing and mourning, knowledge and mystery.

I still don’t think I have found a good way to explain it the way I see it and understand it, but for now I would say “passionately extreme” is a good description of both Ukraine and myself.

Are You a Dragon Trainer?

Snuggled up under a blanket, armed with lime and salt popcorn and a plate of hot from the oven brownies, Kim Hillebrand and I settled in to watch How to Tame Your Dragon last night, which I have been wanting to see ever since it released in movie theaters during my stint in Haiti.

It did not disappoint and, honestly, I almost put it in again today to watch one more time and I am certain it will become a part of my all-favorite animated movies list right under Beauty and the Beast and Up. So if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend (Mom… wait until I am home!)How to Train Your Dragon

One bit of dialogue that has been rolling around in my brain for the past 24 hours is this:

Hiccup: If only I had’ve killed that dragon when I found him in the woods! It would’ve been better… for everyone
Astrid: You’re right. Everyone else would’ve done it. So why didn’t you?
Astrid: Why *didn’t* you?
Hiccup: I don’t know… I couldn’t. Look why does it matter?
Astrid: Because I want to remember what you say, RIGHT NOW
Hiccup: Oh for the love of – I was a coward. I was weak! I wouldn’t kill a dragon
Astrid: You said wouldn’t that time
Hiccup: Well whatever! I wouldn’t! The first viking in 300 years who wouldn’t kill a dragon.
Astrid: [pause] First to ride one though. So…
Hiccup: [sighs] I wouldn’t kill him, because he looked as frightened as I was. I looked at him, and I saw myself.

Poor Hiccup, even his name suggests that he’s a misfit and rightly so. What I love though is that he doesn’t do what everyone else would have done. He can’t and won’t. And because of that he comes to discover what 300 years of vikings missed out on, to see the dragons from a different perspective and to change the lives of countless vikings and dragons thereafter.

Do you have the gift of a dangerous dragon in your life? Can you look past your fear and see it from a new perspective, one that might not just change your life but the lives of others as well?

Reckless Wasteful God?

God is into extravagance. I cannot shake the amazingness of it, nor its implications.

Extravagant love.
Extravagant grace.
Extravagant forgivness.
Extravagant mercy.
Extravagant beauty.

You get the point.

Or do you? Do I?

Indulgence.  Absurdity. Excess. Folly. Lavishness. Outrageousness. Preposterousness. Recklessness. Squander. Unreasonableness. Unrestraint. Wastefulness. Wildness.

That is extravagance and God is extravagant.

He orchestrates moments in time, paths crossing, people meeting briefly on the other side of the world to speak what He is saying, to allow heaven and earth collide for a moment, and to usher His life into their situations. From a practical standpoint it is wasteful, outrageous, and absurd, but God isn’t limited to our practicality.

God colors the flower in the remotest part of the world that no eye will ever see with as much beauty as the one that I will stop and breathe in deeply of the fragrance it pours forth in praise. He brilliantly paints the sky multiple times a day in a grand masterpiece that most of us barely even notice. It seems a lot like folly.

He pours out His love on the one convicted of murder, lavishes His grace on the one caught in the midst of adultery, and dines with sinners and tax collectors. It seems preposterous, reckless and completely outside of our comfort.

Maybe the most extravagant of all:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NIV)

The absurdity of God coming to earth in the form of a helpless, tiny baby. The outrageous idea of Jesus, the Son of God, having to grow up, work, and live for years in obscurity. The unreasonableness of God made flesh and dying a criminal’s death, bloodied, beaten, bruised.

It is too extravagant for most of us so we try to tame the One who is wild and untameable.  The extravagance God shows frightens most of us away. It is too messy and it doesn’t fit in our box.

But what happens if we begin to live and believe in a God of extravagance?



Over commit to one thing (via Leadership Freak)

I am one of those people that tend to over commit. That’s why the blog below by Dan Rockwell caught my attention and I think he makes some good points.

I agree that over commitment brings about mediocre results, at best. As for failing less, I agree that if you are failing it shouldn’t be because of not being able to juggle all the commitments you have… but I do think it is entirely different if the failure is the result of stepping out and trying something new.

On the flip side knowing that I tend to over commit I seem to swing to the opposite extreme and make no commitments to anything. Neither option is healthy.

As with all things in life, a balance needs to be found. I’m still trying to find it.

What are your thoughts on committing? Over? Under? Why? How? Etc?

Over commit to one thing “Successful people have a glaring tendency to over commit,” Marshal Goldsmith. Leaders live for opportunities. Opportunities ignite passions. As a result they may chase too many chickens at once and end up empty handed. In other words, opportunities may create over commitment. Over commitment yields mediocre results. ***** Get further by doing less not … Read More

via Leadership Freak


Knowing I had to make it to Gainesville for the Stirred Conference Thursday, I knew I had to tackle at least one of my problems head on. Since driving home from Training Camp a week ago and discovering a couple of foreign objects in one of my front tires, I had been desperately avoiding dealing with the situation. Living here I don’t have my trusted mechanic to call and when it comes to my vehicle I am a big baby.

In other words, it messes up and I fall apart.

So after lots of crying and anxiousness the time came to get it fixed. Around halfway through my shower I suddenly came to a, “What the heck? I am a daughter of the King. I will not be anxious about this. You are my Good Father and You know my need. You are my provider and You are going to take care of this” moment. And done.

I left the house with renewed confidence (along with donning a skirt, fixed hair and makeup – more than willing to pull the helpless girl card!). Pulling out of the house I simply said, “Ok God where am I going?” To which I heard, “Go to Buford.” Ok, simple (and logical) enough. Approaching one of the stoplights I sensed I should turn right. Ok, no problem. Driving along I find none other than Discount Tire. That will work!

After having to wait (a bit nervously) for about 15 minutes one of the workers, Mike, asked how he could help. I briefly explained the chunk of metal in my tire, my need to get to NC where my dad has new tires waiting and my desire for them to either patch it or put on my spare so I can accomplish #2.

He responded with, “Now you don’t want to put on your spare tire.”

To which I responded, “Well you don’t understand. I have the money to get home and that’s about it so I don’t really have options here.”

“Well if you were my girl I would not want you driving that far on a spare so I tell you what I’m going to do better than that. I’m going to get you a loaner tire,” Mike replied.

In my head I thought, “Oh boy… how much is this going to cost me?!” So I asked.

As we walked inside and he handed me a cold bottle of water and I asked the important question shouting in my head.

“So… ummm… can you tell me how much this will cost? Just an estimate?” I tentatively tossed out.

“Nothing but your time,” he said.

I’m sorry… what was that?!

He grinned, “Just have a seat in the corner and relax and we will fix you up.”

Returning several minutes later he took down my information, cleared out the fees and sent me on my way wishing me a safe journey home.

But first I gave him a really big hug.

Then I heard God whisper, “See baby girl, I know your needs and I have you in the palm of my hand.”