A Left-Handed Apology

I don’t know how other right-handed people feel about their left hand. I guess I’ve just always considered it a nice balancing mechanism, not good for much, but it helps even things out. My left had is uncoordinated and shaky, and I have little patience for its lack of efficiency.

A couple of years ago I was play fighting with my friend (because who likes to really act their age). I fake punched and she for real blocked and I sprained my right thumb. I thought I would go crazy before it healed because my left hand just couldn’t seem to rise to the occasion and handle all the expectations suddenly forced upon it.

So last week when I fell on my left hand (because Los Angeles sidewalks hate me), I wasn’t too concerned that the injury was going to effect me terribly. However, it’s a week later and I’m discovering that I owe my left hand an apology. It has been seriously under appreciated.

Dear Left Hand,

I apologize for the indifference I have shown you all these years. I have seen the error of my ways. I will no longer look upon you the shame of not having the same capabilities of a right hand, but promise to appreciate your differences. Please forgive me?

Sincerely,
Me

It makes me wonder what other things in life I so quickly dismiss and take for granted like…

Those pesky, unpleasant emotions that I try to ignore.
The entire winter season (There is some good to it, right?)
People that are part of my life and nice to be acquainted with, but not my “go to” group.

Am I guilty of flippantly regarding the people in my life that don’t meet some invisible standard of performance in the same way that I have always regarded my left hand?

Everyone can’t be a right-hand man, that would be strange and wouldn’t function. Those acquaintances and not-so-close friendships have their value, too.

Sometimes they add much needed insight into our situation because they are further removed, helping give stability and balance.

Sometimes they bring along some lightheartedness and fun, and they remind us to enjoy life and not be so serious all the time.

Sometimes they help catch you when you fall, and you realize you’ve been taking them for granted for far too long.

If you’ve ever felt that I didn’t appreciate you as much as I should, I sincerely apologize. I really do need and want you in my life. I realize that I can be terrible at communicating these things, which is just no excuse. Can you forgive me and help me work on that weakness so our relationship doesn’t end up like my actual physical left hand at the moment?
Left hand sprain

Blessings in the City of Lions

Have you ever met people and from the moment you meet them they just seem like family? Or visit a place and half-jokingly but half-not-joking-at-all declare that one day you will live there?

This happens to be the case with the Blessing family in L’viv, Ukraine.

L'viv Old TownThe city is just about as far west as you can go and still be in Ukraine. It is one of the cultural centers of the country with an extensive list of noted writers, poets, musicians and artists. The first time I visited in the summer of 2010 it tugged at the fairytale lover in me with High Castle Hill (despite the missing castle component) and the “City of Lions'” stunning architecture that includes hundreds of lions. It doesn’t hurt that it is also known for its chocolate and coffee. (There’s even a coffee festival in the fall.)

The Blessing family, which is Mark and Rhonda and their daughters Bria, Lindsay, and Kirsta, have lived in Ukraine since the early ’90s. They are the kind of people that overflow with God’s love, have a huge heart for Ukraine and for the Jewish community, and are just a lot of fun to be around. It’s a long, slightly complicated story, but over the course of a year or so I became friends with the entire family, after meeting Krista through a friend of a friend on my first visit to L’viv.

They have built there home, Bethel House, as a place of ministry, first to the Jewish community, but I have personally been blessed to find a bit of refuge for a few days on my visits, too. Mark and Rhonda also planted and are pastoring Living Word Church, a non-denominational congregation in L’viv.

Blessing FamilyA couple of months ago, they asked me to pray and consider coming to L’viv to help with their young adult ministry. Serving with CCX in Kyiv for several years helped show me just how much I love working with university and young adult age because there is so much curiosity, creativity and hope for the future. Also, it’s just a crazy age range with so much happening and so many decisions to be made, and I’m so deeply grateful for people that listened and cared and helped speak truth in my own life at that age.

So a few days ago I said yes to moving back to Ukraine and working alongside the Blessings. There are other ministry opportunities we discussed, and I’m sure I’ll get to share some of that in the future, too.

For now, I am hoping to sit down face-to-face in L’viv with the Blessings next month to solidify some ministry details and ideas and start the process of returning to Ukraine.

Stephanie, do you mean this March? Like just a few weeks away March?
Yes, yes, I do, and here is why that is so soon:

I have been blessed to maintain so many close relationships from my time as an CCX worker. One of those, Inna, started out as one of the university students and became one of my closest Ukrainian friends, to the point that we call each other sister. She is getting married March 5th. She has asked me if there’s any way possible for me to come to Kyiv for this special and important day in her life, and I cannot put into words how deeply I want to be there. 964955_549211958641_663966180_o
The hope and tentative plan is to make a trip to Ukraine from March 1 – April 5. This would mean I could make Inna’s wedding, have some vision casting time with the Blessings, and have a few weeks to meet up with other friends and former students. Currently, roundtrip tickets are at a ridiculously low price of about $750. That means, including food and travel, I only need about $1,100 total to make the trip a reality.

There are a few people that have been part of this process that are praying about all that has been mentioned in this blog, and I’d be honored if you would also join in praying for what God is doing in Ukraine and the great things He has in store.

If you feel led to help financially toward this trip, tax deductible giving can be made through Re-Generation (that’s the non-profit I help with in Los Angeles)

online through PayPal, and send to email address info@re-generationnow.com

or by check with a separate note attached indicating it’s towards Ukraine to:
Re-Generation
1905 N. Wilcox Avenue, Suite 219
Hollywood, CA 90068

You can also keep up to date through my Facebook page, here, since I tend to post articles, videos and short updates that don’t turn into long blogs there.

It’s an exciting time, and I cannot wait to see where this is all going and to share it with you!

 

Wait For It…

New passportThe last decade of life I’ve done a lot of travel, and with that travel came a lot of waiting.

Waiting in TSA security lines, waiting to board planes, waiting to take off, and waiting to land.

Sometimes when you’re waiting to land, your plane is put in a holding pattern, which always drives me nuts. You’re looking at the in-flight screen and can see the red line going in circles. You  know the airport is within miles, but because of traffic or weather or whatever issue your plane has been requested to hold off on arriving at its destination.

Once the plane lands, there’s the waiting to get off the plane. Then there’s the rush to get out of the plane for more waiting in more security lines, if traveling internationally,  and waiting for stamps of approval, and then on to waiting for luggage that, fingers-crossed, hopefully made it to the same airport.

We all have our things in life that cause us a lot of time waiting. Maybe it’s waiting in line for the DMV or waiting for the kids to go to sleep to have a few minutes of calm or waiting to have all the laundry finished, which let’s just be honest is never actually finished.

You would think that we would all have waiting down to a tee, and maybe you do, but truthfully waiting puts me on edge, and the last couple of years I’ve been waiting.

Waiting for some direction and vision.
Waiting for a job.
Waiting to return to Ukraine.
Waiting for a knight in shining armor.
Waiting….

Much of that waiting has felt like walking through a desert with all of the paths erased by wind.

I’ve been blessed with family and friends that understand (or have at least tolerated) the waiting and have loved me through so many unlovable moments in the past couple of years. They’ve helped remind me of who God is and who I am when all I could see was the parched, dusty, cracked desert that seemed to stretch to eternity.

“The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him. ”
Lamentations 3:25 NKJV

Sometimes in the waiting, it’s easy to forget that God is really, really, really good and that He is really, really, really for us. Then something happens, a conversation or something you read or you somehow get some sense knocked into you, and suddenly you remember. You know the waiting isn’t over, but you also know that He’s taking care of it.

I’ve known since before I left Ukraine that there was going to be a waiting before I would return, and that God would make it clear when and if it was His timing for that return to happen.

A few months ago, the holding pattern seemed to lift, and suddenly I was in conversations about possibilities for the future.

It was both thrilling and terrifying to consider and to hope. Today, a brand new passport arrived at my residence ready for the next step.

The waiting isn’t over quite yet, but some questions have been answered in the last few days, and I’m looking forward to sharing with you some of the details.

But for that you’ll have to wait for tomorrow and part two.