Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The next big thing

I know, theoretically, that the older my kids get the tougher the decisions will be. But right now we are dealing with a big one. If last fall's question to preschool or not to preschool seemed obvious. This year's question is a lot bigger, and I find myself wrestling with the thought, "what if I mess up his whole life". School begins here with first grade. Back in the day, when Ukraine's flag was red, everyone started first grade at 7 years of age. Homeschool didn't exisit, you got 10 years in Siberia for things like that. And school lasted through the 9th grade. After the 9th grade a kid (or likely his parents) decided what his future profession would be, and the student was enrolled into a college specializing in his chosen major, ( future lawyers started law school in 10th grade).
Today, things are a little more westernized. The average public school now has 12 grades, and parents now have the option of enrolling their kids at age six or seven. You get to take all those factors into account like, birthday, maturity level etc.. In addition we get to choose which public school we want our child to attend. Each public elementary school has a special emphasis, economics, mathmatics, languges, fine arts. So the last few weeks the parents of preschool #12, ( post soviet preschool's have held on to their creative soviet names), have been very seriously courted by the eight public schools in our city. Each meeting leaves me more uncertain. The issue isn't so much the school, it's trying to decide whether or not William is ready. He has the unfortunate summer birthday that makes him either the youngest or the oldest in his class. And he is slight for his age, which is a concern to his Ukrainian grandfather (he doesn't want him to be picked on for his height). At the moment Andrey and I have no definate direction, one day we decide to go ahead and enroll him, the next day, we decide to wait a year.
There is another issue at hand.William would have been a great spy in the cold war, fluent in three languages and yet  he never leaks a bit of information about anything. It is almost impossible to get him to share what he does at preschool all day. Only in rare moments does he open up this little world to me. The most I can usually get from him in what they had for lunch, at best it's something funny that a kid said in class. Today was pretty much the same, I asked William what they learned at school today,
"what did you talk about?"
"what was something cool or funny that happend today?"
At bedtine he began reciting one of his favorite things, "2+2 is 4, 3+3 is 6, 4+4, is 8.." (Is this really my kid?) So in an effort to bond I start reciting this stuff with him, counting off two fingers on one hand, three on the other to make five, thinking I would stump him after 10. But William jumps right into this game. He says, "let's do 11" I decide to take off my sock and use my big toe for 11, (I've always been the artsy type). William sighs, "no, Mom, I'll show 6 fingers, you show five" and up we move all the way to 13, he already has 8 fingers up, I on the other hand am stumped, "Mom," in his patronizing little voice, " it's five fingers, show five fingers, 8 plus 5 is 13"
And that's why we're not homeschooling.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Vesna, is the Russian and Urkainian word for Spring. It means green tulip leaves pushing their through hard black soil to be greeted by snow flurries. It means one day we wear light jackets, the next day snow boots. Spring is beautiful and unpredictible. Spring is full of plans, like actually turning that sunny spont in the backyard into a mini garden corner for tomaotoes, cucumbers, parsley and dill. And Spring is always brightened by hope. The ladies in my prayer group are full of this Spring like hope. The last few weeks we have been pondering over the wonderful verse in Isaiah 43:18-19, which encourages us to forget about the past and see that God is already doing something new, right now in our lives. Theses words have special meaning for many of our ladies. Some husbands are finally attending church services, other  husbands are celebrating five months of freedom from drug addiction. And for one family, after years of estrangment, they have finally found forgiveness, and the freeing joy that freedom can bring.
My own husband is on his personal spring journey right now. He is gone for six day of prayer and fasting. And in his absence I have been doing my own pondering, soul-searching if you will. The Lord is unchanging, always steady and faithful, and yet, He is always changing us, our perceptions, expectations and even capabilities. So where is the Lord leading me this Spring? What new adventures await? Stay tuned...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Get Refreshed Go Minister

About two years ago, I started dreaming about hosting a ladies retreat, for Ukrainian women involved in ministry. I have always been blessed and inspired by their creativity, organization, and sacrifice. I have learned so much from them and count it a true priviliege to work with them. For almost two years I kept this desire pretty much a secret sharing it with very few, and mostly just praying about it. In January of this year I finally felt direction from the Lord to act. I titled the retreat Get Refreshed Go Minister (it sounds a little snappier in Russian) and we set the date for the first weekend in April.
When you have planned and dreamed of something for a very long time and that thing actually becomes a reality, it is always accompianed by a bit of anxiety. After all there is a great probablity that the thing in reality won't be quiet so glorious as it was in your mind. In the three months I spent preparing this retreat, I fought with those doubts alot. It meant continuously giving my dream over to the Lord, and believing that He would bless.
I find it neccessary to explain that the ladies for whom I was preparing this get away, are a bit of a tough crowd. They're the cream of crop as far as ministry goes, they produce fanatastic ladies meeting throughout the year, they are well trained and well educated. In addition, there were a lot of conflicts lately between these ladies. We work together toward a common goal, but don't  really know each other outside of our planning meetings. Sometimes, insecruties and misconceptions brew into conflict and hurt feeling. So the plan for thise retreat was two-fold, I wanted to give theses ladies a thank you and much deserved break for the sacrifical ministry work they do all year, and provide an atmosphere that would encouarge some bonding between theses ladies. I asked a well respected speaker, who has served for several years as a missionary first in the Phillipines  and more recently in  Ukraine, to share with us some wisdom, experience and encouragment.
I've know the Lord for a while now, but He never ceases to amaze me. He gave me the desire of my heart (can someone please explain to me, why that keeps surprising me?) I know that I have never felt so blessed or so satisfied through ministry as I did this past weekend. When you get 30 women in an isolated location for a few days, with nothing to do but fellowship and relax, there is bound to be lots of laughter, almost as many tears, and so much love! We finally opened up, took off our masks, and began to understand each other. We left as sisters, feeling so blessed and encouraged and loved by each other.
We've been refreshed, we're ready to minister.