Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Halfway there


Yesterday we were halfway through Advent! And we're nearing the shortest day of the year, which is always a bit of a relief once we're past it.

I've been encouraged by how we've been able to observe Advent this year. David (almost 5 1/2) is able to participate more and take initiative, and his enthusiasm somehow soothes the usual loneliness and dreariness this time of year.

Part of why I didn't write this post earlier is that I wanted to include a few visuals. You may recognize some of our same old decorations from other years, but there are always some changes.

I enjoyed Callie's post about enjoying Christmas as an adult, and I have to say that many of the same principles apply for me, so here is our version.

-Starting early:

Going to all that work to get out/sort decorations (if they're mingled like ours) and arrange them, only to enjoy it for a few weeks? Nope, we have to be able to enjoy them for at least a month, in my mind! I also realized that Christmas decorations and "hygge" go hand in hand, and the lights and candles help bring some comfort in the winter darkness. So...the earlier, the better! This year I got everything out right away heading into the first weekend of Advent. It's not a strict tradition or organizational thing, but rather a way to survive and thrive.


Not Christmas morning yet, but tea parties are underway.

Friday, November 10, 2017

A tale of two fathers


Andrei and I both grew up with great dads! There's a reason I'm focusing on them in this post, but of course the moms are pretty awesome, too.

Back when Andrei and I were "just friends" and left comments on each other's blogs...back when we were in a small group together and prayed for each other's prayer needs...it was almost 10 years ago, and at that time, each of our fathers got diagnosed with prostate cancer.

So there we were, with our fathers going through identical health crises!

But we got through that time. A few years later we got married, and then had kids, and have been going back and forth between the grandparents and making lots of memories.

However, the grandfathers aren't able to visit each other's countries due to their health restrictions. And lately, they've been in sync again with some more serious complications. Over the past few weeks we've been imagining scenarios where we lose Andrei's dad or mine. We could have lost Vladimir when he had a heart attack recently, and we could lose my dad if he doesn't improve soon.

Just yesterday Vladimir was transferred to a "sanatorium" (look up Russian sanatoriums if you're interested!), and tomorrow my dad will be transferred home to receive visiting nurse care.

So it's been a roller-coaster, to say the least! And our family was hit with an INTENSE cold virus a week ago so we haven't been able to offer much support.

Anyway, I don't have anything very profound to say and don't know how to edit this to make it less blunt. Just a little update and of course some things to pray about.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

October Survey/Selfie


Been doing a lot of survey-like posts lately, but had to get this monthly one up!



In the blue room.



What I've been...


Reading: Elisabeth Elliott books and biography, "No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers"

Watching: Still no time for TV! David has been watching "Martha Speaks."

Cooking/Eating: Pumpkin bread (onceuponachef recipe), stir-fry, pizza, apple cake (bhg recipe)

Listening to: "Holy Spirit" (Kari Jobe?), "Try" (Pink), "Waters of Babylon" (remake of Don McLean)

Striving towards: Getting the house a little cleaner. Also getting more sleep.

Looking forward to: Baking once the house is cleaner (it's lunchtime so I've got an agenda).

What David is up to: Inventing his own form of multiplication...or algebra? He was sitting there saying "what's 2 fives plus 1 five?" and counted it all out on his fingers.

What Sophia is up to: Dropping her second nap (aka not sleeping at night), clapping, stomping, waving, climbing, sweeping the floor, being generally adorable and feisty.




Your Turn!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Halloween Senses


I'm not a huge fan of Halloween in general, but it helps take me back to my childhood. I realized that I still have very strong associations, even having lived outside of the U.S. for 13 years (and being away at college before that).


These are some of my sharpest memories. Play along if you'd like! You could even think of yours before reading mine: What do you SEE, HEAR, TASTE, TOUCH, SMELL on Halloween night?




See: The orange glow of the jack o' lantern with the candle flickering inside.


Hear: The crunch of the leaves underfoot and the thud of the candy bar falling into the bag and joining the others. When staying home, the footsteps on the porch and the doorbell ringing....


Taste: The pepperoni pizza we used to order each Halloween so we could be free to "man the door." And of course, the candy.


Touch: The icky gooey pumpkin guts! And the smooth plastic wrappers of all the little candy bars we would sort as soon as we got home. :)


Smell: Leaves. Pumpkin spice is YUM but not Halloween-related for me.


Your turn!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Things open in my browser


Not lacking in blog post ideas, just thought this was a fun game to play if you're the type to have multiple projects going at once.

Apparently I've been filing away ideas for future shopping trips or even places to live/vacation.

-Zappos
-Gmail inbox
-Real Estate in Bulgaria (don't ask)
-Article about expat life in Bulgaria
-Kids' play kitchen on Avito (like Craig's List)
-Life in Bulgaria article in Russian
-Blogger
-Blog post I wanted to comment on, "She Builds Her Home"
-Blog post I wanted to comment on, "Bethany Vitaro"
-Carter's outfits for Sophia for 2018
-H&M

I guess that shows my more materialistic side or something, but really it's just projects I'm working on that I give attention to for a few minutes at a time.

What about you? If you don't keep lots of browser tabs open, what's in your recent history?

My recently closed ones are:

-Christian radio station Теос (Andrei was on yesterday)
-Our church forum on VK
-Facebook (obviously)
-CNN article about #metoo
-Bulgaria vs. Russia
-Additional FB/VK tabs

Your turn!



Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Splitting up


Have you ever been in a church split? How did it make you feel? How did you deal with it? Were you a leaver or one left behind? One going out or sending?

We have "lost" maybe 2/3 of our congregation in the last 6 months. Doesn't matter why, but I feel like I have to grieve a little bit.

Reactions may vary and range from gossip to prayer to the hope of a turning over a new leaf. The problem with the optimistic approach, I've found, is that it doesn't allow for processing what's happened. And what has happened? It's quite typical/normal for followers of Christ to move on and worship in a new group of like-minded believers. There can be many reasons for this and they don't even have to be super "spiritual."

But when people leave because of some sort of conflict or unfulfilled dream, it feels to me like giving up on relationships. It feels like divorce. I know some might argue with me and say that sounds harsh. And I know divorce isn't the ultimate sin, either, but I feel that premature separation removes the chance for reconciliation. Harboring discontentment and then leaving without problem-solving takes away the chance for repentance and forgiveness. As each family/individual leaves, I want to believe that they are in God's will, on the path of righteousness. I sincerely desire all whom I love to be walking with Christ. But how could a broken relationship be His will? And how could it be right for one person's decision to uproot others, regardless of whether or not they would have eventually moved on? Is it a paradox?

We walked together and became cleaved to each other, in a way. I sort of alluded to this in a birthday post. When you are in a close relationship, what happens when your common link is severed? If a couple has broken up, is it possible to remain friends? Many have said that we will remain friends, but in what context? And what's the difference between being casual friends with people in other churches and remaining friends with those who used to be in the same church?

I think partly staying behind is also hard because it is less of a choice. It IS a choice, but it is not something planned, as opposed to those who made the decision to leave together. We chose to stay, not knowing who else would stay. And now we look around and see who is left. And they might not be the ones that I would have chosen to be friends with. When you first join a church, you may be starting from scratch with friendship, but then everyone gets into their little groups. And now it's like we were all thrown together from different social groups. These are the people who should be my closest friends, but I don't feel automatically close to all of them.

I suppose it is obvious that I am in favor of staying put. But it may also be a personality thing? There have been times when I have stayed in a church situation that wasn't ideal, NOT because of complacency, but because I felt God was teaching me through it. I believe that whenever there is the tiniest kernel of hope, that it is worth it to keep trying. Even when not all seems biblically sound (and no church is ever perfect or completely free from "scandal"), I sometimes see those imperfections as challenges to seek Truth and practice discernment...even though there are times when we must separate ourselves from a church that seems to be doing the work of the Evil One.

Since it is so personal, that is why I have to keep committing everyone's future to the Lord, instead of questioning the decision itself.

Rushing to post this before my laptop battery runs out! But probably more in the future.




Tuesday, October 3, 2017

September Survey/Selfie



Seasonal greetings...


What I've been...


Reading: Liar's Winter (Appalachian) by Cindy Sproles, Tanglewood trilogy by Rachael Anderson, Chamomile trilogy by Susan F. Craft

Watching: Zero time for TV!

Cooking/Eating: Homemade salsa (canning recipe), chebureki, mushroom soup

Listening to: Still the same! Super Simple Songs on YouTube-perfect for toddlers.

Striving towards: Being fit (see previous post).

Looking forward to: Decorating for the holidays.

What David is up to: Starting some craft/preschool type classes.

What Sophia is up to: Copying, climbing, getting into everything.




Your turn!