Thursday, July 28, 2011


LONG TIME NO SEE! I know we’ve been pretty hit & miss with correspondence, Facebook and blogging recently. Sorry! We’ve just celebrated 3 months back in the states and our lives have been packed full every day!

In the middle of all this, I developed corneal ulcers on my left eye. For 3 weeks, I had to put drops in my eyes every hour (24 hours a day). I didn’t sleep for more than 2 hours for 3 weeks. Praise God, after 5 weeks and quite a scare the doctor released me last week. I’m still not back in contacts … but contacts are only a couple of weeks away. (I’ll try to write more later about how God showed Himself over and over through the “eye thing”.)

We are attending the Church at Viera with Pastor Mark Ragsdale. It’s a congregation of about 1,500 with a daughter church in Cocoa. We love it! We’re still members of Cornerstone in Greensboro – don’t know how long it will take to move our membership – our hearts will always be there! Check our new church out at

I’m finding it difficult to work a full time job for the first time in over 20 years and manage things the way I like. Those who know me well know I’m a compartment-alizer! I like everything to fit in it’s own space in my day and my life. That would include just about everything. Even though I’m not too upset with the unexpected, (and I like change) I do like to plan those things that are necessary (eating, sleeping, washing & ironing clothes, etc.). Working 8 hours and adding almost another hour of travel time if you include both ways to and from work, there aren’t a lot of extra hours for things that don’t already have clearly defined compartments. So, the blogging and internet has suffered. I’m writing this during my lunch hour and will upload it when I get home.

This is my attempt to catch you up. (Please don’t be offended that you didn’t hear from me individually. There just isn’t enough time – and I know everyone has the same questions so I’ll just answer them here – once!)

Tim attended training in Utah for the new business in July. He returned excited and ready to get to work. Tim has just completed the licensing and requirements to start the new business, “Wood Like New”. He is starting to give quotes and hopefully will be doing jobs really soon. The business is a franchise of “Nhance” which is a green method of refurbishing wood cabinets and floors without sanding down to the original wood (and about 25% less cost). It’s a really beautiful alternative to replacing old cabinets.

We started looking for a house soon after moving here. We considered renting but felt it was not the best stewardship when you compared renting and buying in this depressed housing market. Unfortunately for sellers, but fortunately for us, it was the time to buy. We found a great realtor – GREAT! I would highly recommend Lori Natartez for anyone in the Viera/Rocklege/Melbourne, Florida area who needs a house. (I digress). Lori found us a house about to go into short sale that fit our “dream” list completely. God willing, we will be homeowners on August 4. And everything appears to be on “go”. With the inspection already done, we don’t expect any surprises.

I have been blessed with a job with Christian Care Ministry. I was so “not” excited about looking for a job. I know many people are out of work and a lot of them have been out of work a year or more. It was hard to even ask people to pray for me to find a job. I didn’t want to talk about it too much on FB or online because I was sensitive to those out of work. I applied for about 8 positions – all the while asking God to only offer me the one particular job He wanted me to have. And, He provided far more than I expected. I started work on June 20 for Christian Care Ministry. It is the umbrella for Medi-Share Medical Bill Sharing. It is one of only four medical bill sharing plans that were exempted from the Obama Insurance Mandate (or whatever you call it). Please take time to look at to learn more about Christians committed to medical bill sharing and bearing the burdens of others in the body of Christ.

I work in member services with seven other absolutely precious individuals. We begin each day with prayer and sharing each other’s concerns. We talk to members all day long and we are expected to pray with each one we talk to (imagine that?). Each Wednesday the entire ministry in the Florida office comes together for a 30-minute chapel. We have 4 pastors on staff and when they share it’s like being in Bible Study. Last week our Appllication Department was in charge of chapel, and they led us in 30 minutes of Scripture reading and worship in music. It’s a great mid-week worship!

I’ll talk more about Christian Care ministry later – it’s a really good thing!

We are still staying with Angie & Stewart. They have been amazing and beyond generous with whatever we might need. If anyone has been uncomfortable it’s been Tim and I. We’ve never before experienced the kind of welcome and generosity they’ve shown us. My nephew, Alex, has been patient and an absolute joy to be with. And if you’ve seen where they live, well, let’s just say it hasn’t been a struggle!

I think that should answer most questions you have for now. I’ll definitely try to get back on a better schedule once we get in the house.

Don’t think we’ve forgotten anyone out that who stays in touch! Please forgive us for not being better at staying in touch and answering your emails.

Bottom line, our precious God has been way more generous than we could ever deserve.

Well …. Lunch is over and now Marsha (is again) on the move!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Blooming where it doesn't feel natural

I took this photo yesterday in downtown Kiev outside a very expensive restaurant. (No I didn't eat there). The pansies look beautiful planted between the rocks. But, we all know this wouldn't happen naturally in our gardens. We would have to fill those places between the rocks with good soil and plant pansies that we didn't expect to "volunteer" and return next spring. Life between those rocks would be too difficult to expect more than one season of blooms!

I feel a little like those flowers. My life isn't happening "naturally" right now. Living out of a suitcase in my apartment in Kiev - no longer feels like home. Not going back to my last home in NC. Not even going to my sister's last home in the USA. Going to a new state, will look for a new home, find a new church and will start a new business - planting ourselves and hoping we'll not find too many rocks in our way.

Almost every decision we make right now is huge! I've been feeling almost pinned it with little flexibility at times. This week the Lord reminded me of my truth. In Psalm 18:19, 36 and 118:5, I read the words "wide-open place", a "spacious place". I sat here yesterday just saying those words over and over. "Wide-open". "Spacious". If I'm right with the Lord, I'm hearing His voice and I need never feel pinned in. The Psalmist says He "widens a place beneath our steps".

We may not be able to move all the "rocks" around us. We may not be able to control the events of our lives to feel "natural" or "like it should be". But, we can be sure that there is a "spacious place" with our name on it. We may have to close our eyes and repeat it to both our heart and our mind over and over. While we do that, we can wiggle our "spiritual" toes and feel those rocks give way to new, solid ground. Yep, if He planted us - blooming is our future!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Last shipment to America

Last shipment to America! Tim and Sasha just left with the last containers to ship back to the states. With this shipment it means we have about 10 boxes of things in America (these are things we didn't bring here), six boxes somewhere on a ship between Ukraine and America and seven boxes preparing for the journey ahead. We'll have 3 suitcases and a sewing machine when we leave here in 25 days. Leaves me with a lot of thoughts.

First .... things. I'm not overly attached to "things" in general. I've had to leave things behind that I love. I am giving away or selling necessities or things that I'll miss. I don't think things have a hold on me, but I get frustrated getting rid of things I'll have to replace (most likely at a higher price). There are days I wish I could just pack a quick bag and walk out the door. But, life isn't like that for most of us. Most of us create homes and we use things to make our home feel like a welcoming place. We need things to do basic necessities like cooking and cleaning. (Not taking any of these things back). God doesn't call all of us to live a nomadic life so we all have to deal with things. Question should be .... Is there anything we can't give up? If so, that thing has a hold on us that it shouldn't!

Second ... dust! I can finally clean the apartment and dust where boxes and containers have been. Living with the windows open all the time (even in winter), we have a lot of dust from the road outside. Now with the boxes gone, I can really clean. Same with my heart. When I hold on to things (box feelings in), my heart collects "dust". Layers and layers of dust that keep me from seeing my heart exactly as it is. We need to give our hearts a proper "dusting" daily!

Third ... differences! Tim and I have very different feelings about this packing and moving process. I really could have packed about 3 bags, 1 sewing machine and headed back to the states. Tim, however, was more logical or practical. He figured how much it costs for us to ship things back (by the pound/kilogram) and then estimated how much it would cost to replace the things. So, we shipped what would cost too much to replace. No doubt, Tim and I have different ideas about this whole move. It's been a real struggle to maintain some sense of peace in our lives during this time of transition (or could I say turmoil). We've found that leaving the apartment and heading to McDonald's for breakfast creates a time for us to talk without the distraction all around us. We don't have a lot of breakfast out choices, so we're grateful for McD's (especially the latte). Difference are real. We all have to deal with differences. I read this morning in Daniel 11 words that reminded me God has given us "a book of truth". That book and the wisdom contained in it are the only things that can keep peace among two people with so many differences during a time of transition like this.

Lastly, 25 days. 25 DAYS! I'll travel out west for 2 more ladies' meetings next week. I'll say one good-bye after another to our Ukrainian friends. And, I'll try to look ahead with more resolve, more excitement and less frustration. I've already started the "mental shift" from life in the former USSR to life in America. But, I'm praying I don't miss one minute the Lord has planned for me here.

Life on the move ....... so many thoughts!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Summing My Life Up

Summing up my life at the moment could be interesting. Without getting too deep here, some of the phrases that would describe my life right now could be:
  • Finishing up
  • Packing up
  • Moving on
  • Boxed up (except for my bare essentials to last the next 45 days)
And yet, at the same time, as we prepare for a volunteer team and 3 women's meetings, you could describe it as:
  • preparing for guests
  • finalizing a schedule
  • planning a menu
  • covering details for a conference
  • getting notes together for a teaching
  • Planning for a trip to western Ukraine
Perhaps those two lists seem in contradiction to each other when you read them. They certainly do to me! But, it is my life at the moment. I've thought several times this week about how I would change it. Would I have changed the schedule if I could have? Am I concerned about the rush of the last month we'll be in Ukraine? Are we overdoing it? After much thought and prayer, I'm sure I wouldn't change one thing!

It's so easy to get focused on the "next thing" if we don't have something to keep us focused on the "moment before us". When I made my leaving the church and the school public, I was faced with the same thing. I would have to literally ask the Lord everyday to keep me focused on Him alone so I could stay focused on what He wanted from me and for me that day! The move and the necessities of our future demand some time and attention. I think the Lord honors that and He includes it in His plans for us. Understanding that everything He puts in our schedule is part of a bigger plan ... Doing what He puts before us, whether it relates to today or to the future, brings glory to God.

So what does today hold for me. Well here it is:
  • Life among the "boxes"
  • Giving away more of what I possess
  • House cleaning in an apartment that no longer has the little touches that made it seem like home (those things are in the boxes or given away)
  • A root canal (grateful that I can have it done)
  • A look at information relating to the next phase of our journey
I hope at the end of it all if you ask someone what summed up Marsha's life, you'll say HIM! I hope that others see Christ in all I am and all I do. My prayer is that people won't focus on specific times in my life, specific places or specific events because I don't want those things to be talked about more than the one I've done them for. And my deepest prayer is that I've been genuine and relevant enough to impact people who don't know Him or only see Him in Biblical language and terms.

So, how would I sum my life up today or any day? In Him, that's how! Even though it's currently "On the Move"!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Disconnection -A Reality!

With another move in our future, we're starting to feel the "disconnect" to daily life here. This part of the transition is a great temptation to disconnect from the necessary things and take a few others along with the process.

The fact that it's 8 degrees F this morning makes the decision to do online church with First Baptist Woodstock a little easier! But, in reality, we're beginning to disconnect with our church here. Only a few more weeks before it's a physical disconnect! And, the heart just isn't in the same place as it once was!

Disconnecting doesn't mean "ending something". It's a necessary part of moving or changing. Relationships don't diminish in value, but the upcoming move necessitates adjustments in relationships. When we moved here, this was one of the lessons I learned about my friends in the states. Their lives moved on because they should have. It was hard to realize that my move changed the relationships I had back home. But, it was necessary to experience both change and some disconnect for all of us to live in the moment, where God had placed us for that time. Life does go on, children do grow up, friends make new friends - it's a reality!

When we get too focused on the next thing - we disconnect too early.
When we get too focused on the current thing - we don't disconnect at all.
When we only focus on our "loved ones" and not the reality of the transition - we disconnect from the reality before us.

Honestly, it's a balancing act. And it isn't easy. Disconnecting happens naturally because of all that's involved with moving (especially from one continent to another). There's a lot to do in a little time. And, ministry continues (PTL). Can't forget why we're in any moment at any time!

I also learned that the people whose lives aren't in a similar transition have to accept the reality of disconnecting as well, and it can be hard for them to understand. It is what it is!

As a wife, I have the added responsibility of following Tim's lead, helping him stay balanced. And, with all the added stress we have to make sure we're on the same boat!

We were recently invited to a church that we've never been too. Honestly, my heart just sank. I expressed appreciation for the invitation, but explained we only have a few Sundays left. The person then said, but that is still time for you to visit. And they are right. But, we won't visit. The disconnects are just too hard to add new ones to the mix at this point.

Relationships are gifts from God. They don't have to end thanks to the age of computers, VOIP phones, email, etc. God brings people in and out of our lives for a season. Some seasons are longer than others. Every relationship serves an eternal purpose - and we shouldn't miss that. While it's just plain fun to be with friends - we can't overlook the fact that relationships are important and we have something to learn from every relationship.

Disconnecting is a necessary reality during transitions in life. Life changes and relationships change! We need to value them at every stage!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Relationships Change and some even End!

Relationship! Relationships are extremely important. In the simplest description of the gospel, Jesus died so that we can have a relationship with God. For Him to do that, relationships must be important!

Living in Ukraine has brought many challenges. The greatest has been developing relationships that are genuine - with no personal motive. First you have the language barrier. HELLO or PRIVYET! Yes, we have to be able to talk to each other.

Second, you have the gender barrier. It's really not a good thing to develop relationships with other genders for the clear possibility of being mistaken. Don't take me wrong - I have men who I consider good friends. But, all those friendships come through a relationship with me and Tim (the couple).

Third, you deal with the church culture. (This one bugs me no matter where I live.) Americans rushed to the former USSR after the union fell. With a sincere passion for "these poor" people to know Christ, we saw record numbers of American believers come here to "save" Ukraine. We poured money into the churches and trained them to depend on Americans! But, few did anything about developing relationships with Ukrainians and mentoring pastors, training business people and women's leaders with one goal of pointing them to Christ. Too many people gain their personal satisfaction or fulfillment through their own form of missions. Don't be fooled - the Ukrainians aren't! One very wise Ukrainian asked me a poignant question. "Are many of the Americans who come here to teach us people who aren't teaching in their local churches?" Our relationship building has been hindered because of so many Americans who come here with motives they don't even recognize! Christ was here long before the first American volunteer came. And, he is still here today! Church culture can hinder relationships between believers if we focus more on the "church" than the "person".

Lastly, the hardest thing has been that relationships take time and they take work. I know I can't develop deep relationships with just over 2 months left here. I also know I need to nurture the relationships I have and in a sense "set these friends free" to move on to a long-distance relationship. It's hard - especially because I have so few really close friends. But, it's a good thing too. We've shared relationships - we've invested in each other - it's time to move on and begin again. There will be new relationships, and even new challenges. Praise God that some of my Ukrainian relationships will not end when we leave, they just change due to proximity! Relationships are important, but they change and some even end. Not a bad thing. It's a God thing!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Hard to let go of some things - My Top Ten favorite books!

No matter if we get attached to "things" or not, there are just some things that are hard to let go of. I dearly love my books. When you live in a culture where you have a hard time communicating, books become even more valuable. You can get lost in a good book. It can change your mood, your attitude, even your heart. It can inform you, educate you, entertain you, infuriate you, challenge you, anger you, motivate you, move you .... and honestly, it can change you. Yes, a good book is an amazing thing!

Once again, I need to "trim" down my personal library for travel. So, once again, I consider which books are a must! Which books am I willing to pay to keep with me.

A friend asked for a recommendation from a particular author that I love. I had a hard time recommending only one! So, I didn't. I recommended more than one. But, it made me think about my favorites. I did come up with my top ten favorites (actually more than 10) Thought I would share them.

Before you read the list, obviously the Bible is my favorite book. But, honestly, it's more than that. It's a treasure, a love letter really. So, don't write and tell me it should have been on my top ten! Here's my list from #10 down to my favorite and a few honorable mentions as well.

#10 - "Pride & Prejudice" by Jane Austen - This is not just a girl's book! And, if you men fail to read it because you think so, you will have missed a great book written beautifully. I love this so much, I brought a new copy with me to Ukraine!

#9 - "Thou Givest, They Gather" by Amy Carmichael - A MUST! Mine is marked up and falling apart - but dearly, dearly loved. Devotional thoughts spurred on by Amy's personal time with the Lord.

#8 - "Crazy Love" by Frances Chan - I wanted to put this higher (closer to the top) on the list. The only reason I didn't was because I just read it a couple of months ago for the very first time. I was concerned that it was still too fresh for me to give it a true rating. If you haven't read it - do so immediately! This man is genuine and he is living this kind of love! True testimony. (His 2nd book "Forgotten God" is very good as well - it's about the Holy Spirit).

#7 - "The Lost Secret of the New Covenant" by Malcom Smith - Reprinted under the title "Power of the Blood Covenant" - Smith was an Episcopalian priest who personally experienced the grace of God when he began to understand exactly what the New Covenant in Christ really means to us. A must read although it is written a bit "scholarly". (He's just a whole lot smarter than I am.)

#6 - "The Journey Home - Finishing with Joy" by Bill Bright - Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade, wrote this book during the final days of his life. He knew he was dying and he shared his reflections looking back in a way that challenges us to live each day with joy and purpose. This is one I've given many times as a gift.

#5 - "Shattering the Gods Within" by Dr. David Allen - Dr. Allen gives a simple and convicting definition of what constitutes a god in our hearts and our lives. It's an easy read with many real-life examples of false gods in the lives of believers. I've used it over and over personally and for teaching.

#4 - Till We Have Faces" by C.S. Lewis - In this book, Lewis writes a unique view of the classical Cupid and Psyche. He veils the story with spiritual undertones that literally "rain" over your mind and your heart as you discover them. I've read this over and over! (Hhmm...think I'll read it again!)

#3- "The Hiding Place" by Corrie Ten Boon - Corrie records the horrific events of her family's arrest in WWII. She wrote to give testimony to her sister, Betsy's, faith. I've read it almost every year at Easter since I was about 18 or 20 years old. All young ladies need a copy of their own!

#2 - "Mimosa" by Amy Carmichael - This little book was never written to be a book at all. It is a compilation of journal entries Amy wrote about a young Hindu girl who gave her heart to Jesus. She grew up without a Bible, a church, or a Christian friend. But, her faith was genuine and her life is a model of faith. I've probably given 50 of these as gifts.

DRUMROLL PLEASE .............

#1 - "Object of His Affection" by Scotty Smith - I read this book the year before I turned 50! Caused me to enter a Jubilee year of my own with the Lord. It changed my understanding of God's love for me. Truly changed me!

In closing .........
It was very hard to cut my list to 10. There are so many books I love. There are a few I feel like deserve an "honorable mention" even though they didn't make the list.

Honorable mentions - fiction (Not in order of how much they are liked/loved)
"Redeeming Love" by Francine Rivers
"Circle of Grace" by Penelope Jones
The Mitford Series by Jan Karon (I love them all)
"Piercing the Darkness" by Frank Perritti

Honorable mentions - non-fiction (Again, not in order of how much they are liked/loved)
"Ploughed Under" by Amy Carmichael (Sounds like "plowed")
"Amma - The Life and Words of Amy Carmichael" by Elizabeth Skoglund
"A Chance to Die - The Life & Legacy of Amy Carmichael" by Elizabeth Elliott
"The Tabernacle - Shadows of the Messiah" by David M. Levy
"Desiring God" by John Piper
"A Marriage Without Regrets" by Kay Arthur
"Let the Nations Be Glad" by John Piper
"Dangerous Surrender" by Kay Warren