Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Season of Singing

 In Ukraine, the people adamantly declare that the season of spring begins on March 1st.  Accordingly, summer on June 1st, fall on September 1st and guessed it, December 1st!

Now, with my western mind-set this has always been hard for me to embrace. When I see snow on the ground on March 5th and hear Ukrainians declaring that spring has arrived, I kindly like to remind my Ukrainian counterparts that we in the west don't welcome spring till 21st of the month- when the calendar tells us and the weather and the flowers generally look a bit more promising than their snow covered state on the 1st of March.

After all, how can it be spring when it doesn't look like it? 

No sun. No flowers. spring.

I don't know about you, but the months of January, February and March have always been hard for me.  Christmas has passed, the cold has set in, the sidewalks are miserable, the days are short and the summer dresses that are stuffed in the back of my closet seem a distant memory!

I have never enjoyed being stuck in the winter.  Who really does?

While I was studying in England this past fall, I had a very meaningful prayer time with two older women who prayed for me and ministered to me one day in late October. I had felt rather 'stuck' in some areas of my life and in my relationship with the Lord, and God used this time of prayer to speak truth and life to me and bring restoration to my spirit.  At the close of our prayer time one of the women shared with me a verse that she felt the Lord brought to her mind for me as we prayed.

"My lover spoke and said to me, Arise my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me. See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of signing has come!  Song of Songs 2:10-12

I'd never heard this verse before, or if I had, I'd forgotten it.  But as she read the sweet words, they each spoke to me in an instant.  There was something strange, and yet oddly refreshing to hear a verse about the winter being past, just as winter was on the verge of dawning around me in the beauty of the English autumn.  In that moment, it seemed both a promise from the Lord and a reminder about what it means to have eyes of faith when you can't see past what is in front of you. And prior to that prayer time all I had seen was the looming of winter.

As I lay awake the other night, staring at the ceiling above me, I started reflecting on all the things that God has been doing in my life and the amazing way he has been taking care of me.  From the provisions of this new apartment, to the friendships I have here in Kiev, to growing ministry opportunities, to just the fact alone that I am loved by the creator of the universe and he takes care of me!!  Tears began to fill my eyes as I started to reflect on all of this and I lay there just in awe of who God is.

 The verse from Song of Songs that was given to me this fall was yet again brought to mind as I suddenly realized that those words had indeed become my reality.  

 These past few months I have been living in 'winter' and yet- in spite of the cold and snow, God has put a new song in my heart and given me the eyes to see the spring.  

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Window to Hope

I am excited to announce that this summer I am partnering with a team from my home church (Northshore Baptist) to bring a group of Ukrainian orphans to Washington for 3 weeks July and August!!

We will be bringing 9 children from the Khemelnetsky region.  I had the opportunity to travel and meet these precious kiddos this past week--- and let me just say that now that I've seen their faces, and heard pieces of their stories I am even more motivated and excited to bring these kids to the US for hosting this summer.

Each year our ministry partners with Ukraine Orphan Outreach in Colorado to bring kids to the US for a summer hosting camp (which we will continue to do this summer as well).  But this is the first time I will be brining kids 'home' with me, and for that opportunity I am extremely grateful. It is a privilege to be given this possibility to expose my home church to the needs of orphans and give them a window into my world in Ukraine.

But we need help to make our plans a reality!  By June we need to raise close to $18,000 to pay for the airfare, visas, documents and needed supplies in the US.  When looking at that sum it can seem like a lot of money and a bit daunting, however when I start to think of how many people I know, and how many people have a heart for these kids, and I take into consideration that God is able to do immeasurably more than I could ask or imagine- I know that this sum is really not big at all!

So I am asking you to pray for this project and also pray about how God may lead you to give.  We have a blog set up here: (Window to Hope) that you can visit to find out more about the project, and learn how to make a donation online.

Checks can also be sent and designated through CoLink:

To Donate...

You may make a donation to CoLink at any time by mailing a check to us at:
PO Box 82188
Kenmore, WA 98028-0188
Be sure to include the account #828 in the notes section of your check 
(this is the account set up for the 'window to hope' hosting project).

I won't be able to post pictures of the kids online at this time, just for their protection and for ours- but I will just say that there are 9 adorable children anticipating a fun filled 3 weeks in the US this summer, and I am praying we will be able to see it happen!

"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.   Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!  Amen."  
~Ephesians 3:17-21

I will keep you updated as things move along...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

2 years later in Germany...

Last week, over the women's day holiday weekend (a beloved Ukrainian holiday) I was able to spend a few days in Germany with some dear friends of mine, the Cardens.

I have known Kristina since we went to college together at SPU- but we weren't really friends back in the Seattle days.  Looking at our stories now, it is amazing to see how God orchestrated everything to bring us to the friendship we have today!

 Kristina and her husband decided to pursue an adoption from Ukraine nearly 3 years ago, and heard through our mutual friend that I lived in Ukraine and was working in the realms of adoption and orphan ministry.  Kristina and her husband Chris were at the time living in Italy, where Chris was serving with the military- and they brought me out to Italy to get to know them better and share with them about all things Ukraine and adoption.  A beautiful beginning to a beautiful friendship!

Cardens in 2009
I got to walk alongside the Cardens during their journey in Ukraine while adopting sweet Nataliya and Matthew in May of 2009 -and we've remained dear friends ever since!  So it was a real treat to get to reunite with them in their newest home (Germany) and get some extended time with their family.  I joked with Kristina that we weren't really friends while were in Seattle, but God has seen it fit to grow our friendship in Italy, Ukraine and Germany! Gotta love international friendships! :)

sweet Charlotte
It was so much fun to see Nataliya and Matthew- now nearly two years in their home. They are both doing so well and are the most delightful and well-behaved 4 and 5 year-old I've met in a long time! It was fun to tell them that I met them when they still lived in Ukraine--already a distant memory for them.   The Cardens have since added the adorable miss Charlotte to the family since I last saw them, so the baby time was an added bonus! Such a precious baby she is!

Highlights of the weekend included a trip to a castle for dinner, playing in the park, reading bedtime stories and saying bedtime prayers and sweet conversations with Kristina  (oh and not to mention a much needed trip to IKEA to stalk up for my new apartment! Gotta love Germany for that!)

I am so blessed by the people that God has brought into my life through the means of adoption. What an added joy when we get to continue to walk out life together in the years that follow-- like I have with the Cardens.  There is a special bond that seems to form when you go through the craziness of Ukrainian adoption (as many of you know!)

Weekends like this are just another sweet reminder that God has me exactly where I'm supposed to be.

beauty of the their quaint German village