Welcoming the New Year

Image by: fotoscool, vector-art-graphics.com
Image by: fotoscool,
vector-art-graphics.com

Tonight we will wave goodbye to one more year and welcome in a new one. All of the world, there will be great celebrations as we meet this transition.

It’s a hopeful time of year, an expectant season. We all hope that the next year will be grander, more exciting, more productive, MORE. We expect great things and dream dreams we don’t dare think of dreaming in the humdrum middle of the year. We make lists of the things we will do (or at least want to try for a couple of weeks before we forget).

It is like a blank journal with a story waiting to be written and we are all hoping that it will be a grand adventure where we come out on top. For some it will be and for others it will not. No one knows what the year ahead holds, and that is part of its allure.

For me this is a time of great transition. I don’t know how the rest of 2013 will play out but the beginning of it ushers in some huge changes in my life (which I will share more about soon). It’s exciting. It’s a little nerve wrecking. It has moments of being terrifying, but all great adventures do.

Whether you are welcoming in the New Year with friends and family in huge celebration or quietly greeting her with peaceful slumber, I pray that 2013 will hold many great things for you and yours. No matter what is to come, may you be drawn closer to the Creator and fall more deeply in love with Love Himself this year. May we all greet the transitions and changes that are to come with open arms and expect that God will use them, and us, for His glory this year.

Christmas Flutterings

Thanks to the chicken pox, I had a little time to put together a little Christmas greeting. Thankfully I was ahead of schedule and shot the video portion last week before I became spotted. Hope you enjoy a look at this past year.

Love you all and am praying that you have a great Christmas and Happy New Year. Thank you for being a part of what God is doing in Ukraine and thank you again for all of your prayers, encouragements and financial support throughout this year.

I’ve Got Spots… They’re Multiplying

In case you haven’t heard via Facebook or my mom, after 31 years it seems that the chicken pox finally caught me.

I don’t know how, but I do know that I haven’t felt this bad in a loooooong time.

I’m on medicine and monitoring the fever, which keeps coming and going. I’ve taken the first oatmeal bath I can remember since childhood. And I’ve cried more the last three days than I have at least since the fire. (Please don’t tell me anymore stories of friends that ended up in the hospital when they got this as an adult… it really does NOT help me.)

Most of me either hurts or itches (or both) and I’m very ready for 2012 to be over with.

Please pray for me. Being away from home during the holidays is difficult enough, being thousands of miles away, sick and in pain, and forced to take care of most things on your own is even worse. Thankfully I have had a few people willing to come over and bring some food and medicine, but most of the time I am quite lonely.

Pray for peace. Peace of body that this clears up quickly and without complication and peace of mind to quiet all the fears and anxieties of being so sick so far from home.

The Beginning of the End for Religious Freedom in Ukraine?

Photo by hickory hardscrabble. Licensed under Creative Commons.
Photo by hickory hardscrabble. Licensed under Creative Commons.

As you may remember from my recent MailChimp newsletter, I asked for prayers for Ukraine as a piece of legislation was coming to the President that would prove detrimental for religious freedom here.

Yanukovych did sign the law, which is not really surprising but certainly disheartening.

Most legal things I don’t understand, and I don’t pretend to, but I do know that this is not a step in a good direction and I expect that we will see religious freedom (and many other freedoms) continue to erode under the current administration.

In signing this piece of legislation, the President broke a promise made to the religious community that no changes to the freedom of worship laws would be made without the support of the various denominations.

It seems that the new law makes it almost impossible to complete registration because it introduces two registration procedures that don’t match up. Meaning more time, more hassle, more bribes and more likelihood of being denied all together.

“In addition, the bill allows the authorities to exercise control over observance of the laws on freedom of worship and confession like in the Soviet times.”

You can read the complete article here.

Please pray for Ukraine.

It seems the window that has been open that past couple of decades is swiftly shutting. We pray it doesn’t, but know that even if it does close that the work of God will not end.

Reflecting a bit before the end of the world ;)

I’m not sure if you have noticed, but 2012 is quickly coming to a close. A few people out there even believe that the world’s end is even sooner.

How do you feel about this past year that you’ve lived?

Just having a bit of fun.

As I stood in the middle of the room a few nights ago and led about 30 people in some wacky Christmas games to liven up the party, I realized a few things.

  1. Changing, changing, always changing.
    I still get butterflies in my stomach and have knees that knock together when I have to speak… sometimes. But not always. Sometimes, like Saturday night, it’s just fun. I get to be loud and crazy and fun, and I kind of like that. I never dreamed I would respond in a work meeting with the words, “Yeah, I got it. I don’t know what I’m doing yet, but no worries.” I’ve made that statement a LOT this past year.

    How have you changed this year?

    It can be both fun and encouraging to recognize the growth happening in your life. Sometimes we are too close to us to see it though. Maybe ask a few trusted friends how they see God growing you. You may be surprised.

  2. Learning to lead, like it or not.
    Do you ever look at someone you love and just wish they could see what you see? If there is one thing I have learned this past year (and continue to learn) is that I  am a leader. I may not be some eloquent speaker gifted with charisma and ideas overflowing, but I can peer around and see people that look to me for wisdom, encouragement and prayer support. It isn’t because I have all the answers, but simply because I love them.

    If loving leads to leading, then I guess I am a leader after all.

    Have you discovered something this year about yourself that others have said and you never believed?

  3. It’s probably worth it… no… it IS so worth it.
    This past year, for me, has been filled with ups and downs like a roller coaster ride that I had no intentions of riding and therefore didn’t take motion sickness medicine so I could make it through. Of course, I’ve made it through but certainly with a little nausea. And I’m certain that I’m not the only one that feels this way about 2012.

    In the midst of the chaos though I have seen God bring healing to the hurting, open hearts to truth, and draw sons and daughters closer to Him. I have cried with those that have discovered the consequences of sin, rejoiced with them when they found extravagant grace, and have witnessed those I love released from bondage. I say that makes all the other junk worth it.

    What has made it “worth it” for you this year?

No one knows what 2013 holds, provided the end of the world doesn’t happen before then.  😉 Let’s take a few moments and reflect on the gift of 2012, good and bad, ugly and beautiful, God has given us the breath to be present in this time and He uses all things to His glory.

From Gray to White

Monday morning. An irksome alarm sounded all too early calling me out of warm slumber and into the cold and sunless winter. I passed my roommate’s closed and silent door with envy as she continued dreaming as I put on my layers to face the windy, slushy, sleeting mess outside. All of this to sit in a meeting. A LONG meeting.

Days like this I find myself in great need. I note how easily I am influenced by weather patterns and business matters instead of the deep, abiding joy that I desire.

On these days I see how quickly my thankfulness and contentment are blown away as ice pelts my face and the wind blows my umbrella inside out and I misstep into a puddle.

I think to myself how I am an awful lot like those Israelites that I so often shake my head at as I read my Bible and say, “Come on guys, why do you keep traveling in circles and missing the point?!”

But during my meeting something wonderful happened as I sat unaware, with my back to the window, trying to forget the misery and focus on concerns of ministry.

The first snow of the winter.

Turning around hours later, my eyes took in a completely different scene. Huge, soft flakes bearing down on Kyiv and covering everything in brilliant white.

My day that started out miserably ugly ended in a canopy of white beauty that somehow makes the cold more bearable.

And I am reminded that everything can change in a matter of moments.

And however it changes, God is the one in charge and He knows what He is doing.

Though I’m glad that today that meant changing from gray misery to white beauty.