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

Monday, February 7, 2011

How do you measure time?

Time. It's an interesting thing if you think about how you measure it. Yes, I know there are 24 hours in a day. Seven days in a week. Yea, yea, I know all that. But, I've caught myself considering a different measurement for time lately. Knowing that we'll be moving back to the states in late April, I've started to view time a little different. None of my new measuring has been intentional - that's what so interesting. I've just found myself repeating the same phrase "before we leave" over and over in reference to time. Here's some of the things I've measured differently.

Lotion - We just opened our last bottle of Cetafil from the states. I found myself wondering if it would last until late April or if we needed to request our next team to bring a bottle. How many bottles of Cetafil do you use in 77 days?

Soap - I used to buy multiple bars of Dove soap at the Metro Store, but considering the time we have left here, I thought it best to only buy what I would need. How many bars of soap do I use a month?

Chocolate Chips - The pantry is almost bare of chocolate chips! How should I spread out my batches of cookies between now and the return to the states?

Orchids - Both of my orchids are in full bloom right now. Everyone talks about how "hard" they think they are - but they are wrong. I want to give them to someone who will really enjoy them, but I want to enjoy them myself as long as I can. So when would be best for me to give them away and still enjoy them for a bit longer?

Bounce Dryer Sheets - I realized I had more of these than I would need. I've been cutting them in half, but I was thrilled to find out I can throw a full sheet in even if I wash and dry clothes every day - no counting needed for this one. One time revealed an abundance!

K-Cups - no more counting days here - they are all gone! Now, it's how many days since I've had one.

Starbucks - I've almost threatened Tim not to fix one more cup of coffee daily than he intends to drink. That Starbucks has to last!!!!!!

Friends - when will be the last visit and how many visits can I have before then?

Worship with English singers - How many more Sundays do I have to wait to sing worship songs with a church full of English singers? I'm counting them down!

Well, you get the idea. Time can be measured in many ways. How do you measure it these days?

Friday, February 4, 2011


This week has been a bit of a surprise. A good one. But, a surprise nevertheless.

We've been casually working on photos and a list of things we need to sell in preparation for moving back to the states. In order not to give this more attention than we should, we've worked for about a month giving it about an hour a day. Finally, Wednesday, I had the blog ready for the public. Only a couple of people knew about it earlier than that. Within about an hour of making it public, we had lots of requests for items! We were both really thankful - but honestly, surprised. We thought it would take a while! But, almost everything is gone or purchased (and will be gone just before we leave). We're thanking the Lord for this detail that could have been a pain and hindered the work we have to do before we leave.

I want to share two personal things about "Selling it all - again"! (Don't write me with a spiritual lesson - this is simply a personal perspective. Not right or wrong).

1) Is it like a freeing-up emotionally?
People have asked "Isn't it somehow freeing to sell everything?". I wondered about this as we sold everything to move here. Tim thought it was. I tried to agree. Maybe it freed us up from the responsibility of keeping things cared for. But, we didn't let things dominate us in the states or here. We were grateful for what we had and we tried to make it available for whatever use God wanted of it. For me, selling everything in Greensboro meant walking away from a home where we were able to reach out to our community and our church family. We had more guests in that home for meals than I can count. I stood at the stove with a dozen young women teaching them how to make gravy. We had my staff over once each year and enjoyed fellowship on the deck in the swing, glider and chairs. I had a corner in the yard where I had laid concrete blocks myself where I would sit and meditate and spend time with my precious Lord. Was I willing to leave those things? Absolutely! Do I regret it? Absolutely not!

But, was is freeing for me? No it wasn't. The memories of that life are precious beyond measure. The last 3 years have been precious and praise God I haven't gotten attached to too many things here. (The Bernina will go back to the states with me - and Tim, of course! The order doesn't indicate importance.)

Honestly, things are just things. If getting rid of them "frees" us up, there was a problem! Could have been abundance, over-indulgence, debt .... any number of things. I don't think it freed me up because I wasn't connected to them. I miss some of them mainly because of the memories I made using them. So the things, were good things, good gifts from God for a season in our lives. Not attachments so no freeing feelings!

2. Is is easier to get rid of things the second time?
NO! It isn't easier. We have less to get rid of this time and honestly, our things aren't as valuable as much of what we gave away the first time. I have to work not to begrudge the expense of taking things back to the states that we would have to buy again. It's not easier because in the simplest of terms what we're doing is "starting over". And starting over at 57 isn't easy. Especially in a bad economy! Ok Marsha ..... you're getting off subject!

What has been so interesting to me is that the things I have the most difficulty giving up are not the things you might expect. I still haven't gone through all my fabric - yes, fabric! I can't afford to take it back to the states. I have a plan to give it to a ministry here that will use it. But, as I attempt to go through it, it evokes so many memories. One piece from a trip Tammy and I made to MaryJo's. Another that Darla and I bought in Black Mountain (I think that's where it was). And, the greens from Peggy - oh, how Peggy and I love green! I have the things that Tara sent (thankful that she listened to me and held onto some of them). And even have the left-over blocks someone started in the states and sent here. They have been added to 2 projects done here, and I still have some to share. Then there are the things from Grandmother Lowder (thank you Selma and Mary Ann). And, what to do with the drapery fabrics that Angela and I have used for so many things here. The scraps with jeeps on it Dalese used for Jonathan's quilt. (And all that binding we made before she changed her mind). Some fabric will go back with me - like the scraps from Sarah & Michael's double wedding ring quilt. Every piece of fabric has a memory. They are hard to give up, hard to leave behind.

Is selling it all freeing? For me, it hasn't been because I don't think I am tied to them. I'm tied to the memories they evoke, the people they bring to mind. I don't connect with the things as much as I connect with the thoughts they stir up. I'm grateful for the things no one can take away.

I don't mind selling it all because I don't have to give up the memories. It may not be easy, it's just necessary. We'll start again somewhere. And once again we'll have things to care for. And, we'll make new memories.

Some of you are no doubt wondering about the quilts. No, I'm not selling them. They are things, but they are made of memories that I treasure. Every time I touch the sandwiched fabric of any quilt, it reminds me of the way God has taken the scraps of my life and woven them together - hopefully for His glory. I'm in the final step of the last quilt to be done in Ukraine. It's for Tim. I'm calling it our "Last Trip Around the World". I'll post photos when it's done.

Freeing? No, because I wasn't tied to things.
Easier? No, change like this is just a challenge.
Again? Yep, again! We're on the move!