God and us.

A tiny, unidentifiable bug was making its way on my laptop surface. Before I had to think much about it, my pointer finger crushed it, clearing the invader off! I would not hurry to tell my Buddhist friend about it, who delights in all insects, as well wild rodents, she reassured me. But, in contrast to that bug, I was empowered. It felt quite pleasant. I was in charge. Sometimes in life, we desire to have control, if not over politicians or celebrities, but at least, the bugs, for mercy sake. That invaluable, ignorant creature could not possibly accomplish anything whatever for me. It was quite worthless. What is a conclusion!

Several days later, as I went with my reflection on the matter, realizing how unimportant we, as humans are, compared to God. (For those who do not acknowledge there is God, there is yet a chance you don’t know, because no one possessing all knowledge.  God could be outside of your knowledge circle – don’t ask me who the clever person who said first, it was surely not me). I felt challenged to pray in a fresh, grandeur way, by addressing God as the creator of this World, the universes, the stars without number. I became so stunned by the questions that those statements raised in my mind (He always existed? Never created? Knows everything, in control of all things small or big? Wants to hear from me,  a fallen sinner?) that  I had to abort the questions by moving on to my petitions. I do not even know how powerful and knowing God really is, but I’m certain of one fact. God listens to and answers every prayer precisely correct after forgiveness through Christ is possible for me. So, we are pitiful and unimportant. But not at as the insect’s worth to Jesus. Phew!

Recently, a friend of mine and  I, went to the local coffee shop for a Christian concert. We had such a wonderful time: multiple guitars, and the piano were raising the roof! A freshly ground Italian coffee was being poured into our cups. The warmth of the atmosphere was engulfing, the delight of great music seeping  into the soul.  Enjoying myself so much, while walking passed the homeless lady, I even forgot to feel sorry for her for the first time! (There is a homeless lady who sits day and night just outside the coffee shop. She has a severe psychological disorder and not wishing anyone’s help. I battled with the thought ‘why no one helps her’ meaning authorities, for a while, but had to leave it alone. A few times she took food from me and it is as far as I could help her.)

Now, what bugs, coffee, and a homeless lady have to do with us? Even though we were as insignificant as bugs, God laid aside his great splendor and comfort of heaven, to come down to our sin infected place, communicating His love effectively. Gratitude for that touches many hearts. But some are yet untouched by what God of this World has done!  If you are one of them, think of the homeless lady who is a graphic illustration of homeless eternity. Why stay lonely, in the bitterness of cold, with no comfort or music, when you CAN sit  the King of Kings, sipping on the finest coffee paradise can offer? Jesus said: “In my Father’s house are many rooms… I go to prepare a place for you.” It doesn’t  get better than that!

Enjoy! ‘A maggot of a blue bottle fly’ 🙂

19 Maggot of a Bluebottle Fly_tn

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Exodus: how to exit this world with least emotional damage.

There is so much information thrown at you the minute you wake up. My husband at times dreams about living in a hippy commune, far removed from technology and crowded places. At this season of life, there is more chance for us ending up on the Moon, to be frank! Therefore,we have to continue with our extraordinaire, phenomenal, modern living.

And if Britons thought they were busy as it is, behold, the government threw a Referendum in! Can be a good thing, still… I don’t watch TV. Shocking, I know. My son feels blue at times that he can’t watch a football match, but then he picks up a football and goes out to the park. We are doing him a favor, won’t you agree?!

The first time I’ve heard about coming up Referendum was on the radio while driving. The conversation was heated,radio listeners are expressing their anger, intending to ‘put the government’s leaflet straight to the shredder’ as soon as it reached them. Suddenly it got interesting and held it’s interest for me ever since. What a emotional hysteria though (I haven’t even debated anyone publicly, not sure how they do it on a regular bases,well, some do end up with a mental break down) So, many citizens, such as myself, who were in the billabong of politics, got sacked into the main stream of it: multiple debates on national TV, if you do not have TV, you can catch up on the Internet or even while in a queue at the bank. You get the point – there is no escape! I can’t even begin to imagine how much time, energy and money had been spent on presenting the views, arguing about them and trying to persuade people one way or the other. It should be a simple thing to work out in our modern, information laden lives, should it? Except a small ‘if the politicians were …. feel free to express whatever seems right to you about them.

Here is my take on the referendum,from someone who is based in the kitchen, mostly cooking and cleaning, ‘a Proper and Proud’ housewife. I have to admit an easy access to the net of news had changed this role dramatically. You can also converse with someone as far as Australia or Indonesia between cooking a dinner and washing up. Some people you talk to are like-minded and it is so joyful,like finding 20 or 50 pounds on the ground( all depends how much they agree with you). Others, make you feel suddenly very small,insignificant and less intelligent. Sadly, I’m sure I have done it, if often not intentionally, nonetheless, at times I’m also guilty of that. Then I have to pause and pray. Repent. Such conversations are heated, achieving absolutely nothing for participants in those debates except leaving them hurt and angry and above all frustrated. Why did I just spent 2 days or so trying to present my point of view?! People of the net (especially friend’s of the friends you have no right talking in the first place) more often than not, are not open minded or willing to learn a thing or two. One, a rather ‘intelligent lady’, she said so herself,(I must agree with her there, if you don’t praise yourself, who will?!) pointed out that Christians are ‘brain washed’. All right, I ADMIT it. Yes, I have been brain washed…. by the TRUTH.  Can’t imagine better deal, if you know of anything better going than Christianity, please get back to me, I’m willing to listen.

Let’s rewind to the very beginning. I’ve married a Briton. Prior to that I grew up in a Soviet republic of Georgia, Christian Orthodox since the 4th century; then spent six years in Christian Orthodox Russia. However, both places, politically were diverted towards utopian communism for seventy years after the 1917 revolution (you have to keep in mind someone from Morocco or Japan, for a example, doesn’t have similar historical background – I had many conversation with students from such places and at first I simply could not imagine that someone didn’t know who Moses was or what is 10 commandments?) three years in California in Bible college (a Christian bubble as it was called). So, in spite of socialism taking over and religious teaching, labeled ‘as opium for the masses’ by famous -you- know- who, I knew about the church and when the time was right God saved me right there in front of the crucifix, icons and candles. Truth that seventy years of socialism has done a lot of harm, and above all a thorough brainwashing. The conclusion is this – we are all brainwashed, but through different channels and means. But when you are brainwashed by lies, it can be undone. The truth-brain-washing always stays with you. Today I know that true and living God is at work, even in the darkest places such as communistic China or almost 100% Muslim country of Bangladesh!

But back to the politics! Before landing on British soil, naively, I knew absolutely nothing about it’s political parties or society at large (still don’t and the more I learn, the most I know what I do not know). Often Christians feel that the government is ungodly, so they tend to stay away from politics. It seems as a waste of time when you can be praying for the missionaries or being a missionary yourself. Rightly so, but it comes a point when you need to make a choice, for myself, I hate making ‘blind, being in the pitch black’ kind of decisions. So, at the last minute I try to squeeze tone of information and process it. Seriously, why did I laugh at my son when he said: ‘Mum, we have races tomorrow in school. Shall we go for a run today?’ I do exactly the same thing and I’m a grown up!

Recently, I had a few chats with a lovely Spanish girl, who became attracted to Buddhism. She is a theist, but to her divine power is just ‘a power’. She ‘feels it.’ I can’t imagine if God was just a power or a force. That’s why I think Christianity offers the best deal ever, it speaks of personal, approachable, friendly, all powerful, omnipresent being who longs for relationships with those He created. You can even dump all your frustration over politics onto Him in prayer. Hardly can do that to the ‘Power’ rather than a ‘Person’.

When I was growing up, I was a huge fan of Conan Doyle’s  writings. During my teenage years I’ve watched all televised series of the Sherlock Holmes on Russian TV. Both of my parents had to go to work and built a ‘better future’, so I  had a lot of spare time watching TV.  It is still a fiction though, but gave me some idea of Victorian Britain: fog and men in top hats – ignorantly that was all I knew about Britain prior to my arrival there. God does display a sense of humor like that at times…I had a chance to fill a gap in my education for 16 years now! But when we finally arrived to UK,in my late 20’s, to this very small island (compare to Russia and America where I spend a few years living) in 2001, Sherlock looking men in hats weren’t walking around at the airport, not even his distant relatives who remotely looked alike! I might have been sitting in Indian airport with Hindu men and Sikhs walking about in pagri (turbans)!Thankfully, neither did the fog prevented the landing of the plane, for that we had to take a drive all the way down to the Sussex downs, our final destination. At the airport, while my husband was sorting out the language, I sat next to a Hindu lady with the red dot (meaning she had been recently to a Hindu temple). I was a more fired up believer back then, thinking ‘what a chance to wish her a happy Eater’, in her turn, she explained to me,that Easter is a celebration of Spring and new life, when bunnies hop around, so we get to eat a lot of chocolate. Little did I know that this was only a faint prelude to what yet was to come!

Every Sunday we took a fast train up to London for church.  That’s where my eyes began to really open up. One Sunday,after a church service,my husband and I decided to visit Hyde Park. I was rather pregnant at that point, so getting away from the crowds sounded tempting. Except the crowd we fell in there was anything but peaceful. If you never been to Hyde Park before I will briefly explain what is happening there. In the park, there is a chunk of land intended for expressing opinions, where anybody and everybody can deliver, shout, proclaim – whatever your feel like on the day their views/political ideologies/religious ideas as long as you standing on some sort of stand, not bare ground! What a bizarre place if you ask, but, hey, that’s  part of exercising ‘demos’, right?! The Muslim brotherhood was well represented there. (You have to bare in mind that this was 2001 and we didn’t have new computer with the connection to the Internet). I haven’t heard about individuals, such as  Archbishop  Carey and Melanie Phillips, who spoke about horrors of  Islamism and pointing out that Britain being the hub of  terrorism ( if this is of interest, read further Melanie Phillips, ‘Londonistan: how Britain is creating a terror state within’ where facts, numbers and events speak loud for themselves). We came alone with faith in Triune God. Standing there and listening to Muslim clergy boldly proclaiming about Allah and Mohamed, the only true  prophet, being locked in that moment alone, you could hardly imagine Britain ever being Victorian with Christianity as a state religion. I guess time change things just as Russia was completely shaken up and thousand years of Christian Orthodoxy was wiped out in a matter of days…

However I was not prepared to just stand and listen. I was straight from the boat from Americas, if you ever came across American evangelicals, there is no one else like it under the sun. They will love you to ‘your death’ with the love of the Lord, they will tell you from the Bible as it is, they will smile the whole time and you have nothing left to do, but to surrender and receive all that they offer. True experience that is. So, I could not let them down, or more importantly the Lord who saw fit to bring us to this lovely, full or rain island.I’ve made a comment about my Christian beliefs to Muslim brothers. They weren’t prepared to listen or show respect, with a lot of noise and rude remarks,they shouted out insults and made me look like an idiot for even bringing up the name of Jesus. Of course, the fact that a woman was challenging them, only fueled their disgust. And the fact that I was heavily pregnant didn’t move them to be polite either!

Then, after I had my first child, I enrolled to Open University, an academic journey that lasted eight every long years. The ideology of ‘change and diversity’ penetrated through their textbooks every students mind. I could not understand then what I understand now it means, but it has made me suspicious I know that much. Sounded terribly familiar, I’ve heard it in my childhood, brainwashed by my teachers, ‘there is no God’. Really, for someone who doesn’t exist, you should do Him too much credit and energy disproving His existence!

What really was happening is clearly explained by Melanie Phillips in her bestseller ‘Londonistan’:

At a deeper level still, the underlying message in the classroom was that there was no historical truth at all,and whatever had happened in the past was merely a matter of opinion. Objectivity was bunk and so truth went out of the window – and with it went the ability to weed out lies. The educational system had been turned from the repository of disinterested knowledge to a vehicle for ‘anti racist’ and other propaganda. Instead of being taught how to think, children were now told what to think. The result was that, over a generation,Britain became less and less able to think at all.

At the heart of this unpicking of national identity lies a repudiation of Christianity, the founding faith of the nation and the fundamental source of its values, including its sturdy individualism and profound love of liberty. The majority of Britons still profess to be Christian…Yet Britain’s Christian identity is fast becoming notional. Few go to church;even fewer send their children to Sunday school. For the secular elite, Britain is now a ‘post-Christian’ society. It is so far not the case, but this elite is determined to make it so.’ Isn’t this prophetic, written in 2005, and now we have a ‘conservative’ Prime Minister who declared that ‘redefining marriage became the pinnacle of his career.’ Or no career in our government very soon, I do hope and pray.

Melanie Phillips words echo with truth for me when I look back to my time while with OU. My first year tutor denied any good that Christianity ever did for society;  my second year tutor of English language that Tyndale’s  Biblical language enriched every day speech, but he wasn’t too keen to discuss any further on the matter; for all of the rest of my tutors who criticized as ‘irrelevant’ when I’ve spiced up my  assignments with quotes from the Bible or simply my opinion from the Christian point of view (perhaps I was a bit too zealous at times, not every time surely). It became very diverse and politically correct to the point that you can speak about anything at all, hmmm, as long as you do not bring Christianity in the view.

I’ve previewed what I wrote so far, it turned out to be mainly ‘a snippets of the personal opinion’ and I haven’t even scratched the surface of what I really wished to say… But the bottom line is this, as believers are passing through this world, we are on our earthly exodus, it is like going camping, you can’t wait to get home in spite of beauty of the scenery and nice weather (definitely has to be in Corfu for that). While ‘ignorance is a bliss’,some knowledge of politics and our leaders is good, as long as it doesn’t drag us into insanity…. We must guard our heart. That what I find so very attractive about Jesus. Imagine, the one who created everything, turns up in a human body and His own subjects turn around and call Him ‘demon possessed’. What does He do? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Doesn’t even answer them back. Wow! What a being, what self control! Plenty to learn from that….You will ever see that on the TV if you have one.
I will never forget how one homeless man changed my view about them. My husband asked the church what is the capital on Tanzania? He was about to travel there before his trip there. The answer was shout out: ‘Dar es Salaam.’ Did you know that?! Imagine, this came from a rough sleeper, who happened to be there that morning! I was proper ashamed cause I didn’t have a clue. After that incident, my interest and curiosity grew immensely towards the homeless. Turned out, that particular man was involved in politics, but had a mental break down. He cancelled his social security number, any benefits, perhaps didn’t even have an identification any more?! You also hear about doctors in the news who are, in vast numbers, committing suicides. Just yesterday heard a speaker who explained why people drink. He pointed that we are so depressed without knowledge ‘why am I here on this earth’ that we drink ourselves silly to forget this constantly present thought, trying to have a good time while it lasts. This sadly happens to a non believer who does not lean on the everlasting wisdom of our Creator and His victorious power in us for effectively productive life while in our exodus on earth…
In conclusion, back to the point on the referendum. We all can’t be right with our strong opinions and it is expected from everyone to have convictions. We just can’t be not always sure who is wrong and who is right and demand that our way is the only way.
I know in my heart, as a believer in Christ, that the saddest day in Britain ALREADY took place, the day Prime Minister, David Cameron made a decision (without any referendum or vote of the British population) to redefine marriage. I can hardly be shocked more… hold that thought, perhaps if a committed Muslim becomes our next Prime Minister, nah, you just can’t beat that wicked act by absolutely NOTHING. We know how God feels about that – marriage is for love and procreation just as much (let’s not omit that vital part only because men soon will be able to get pregnant).
Where are we? Ah ha, still at the referendum – isn’t your favorite word now… and my husband says I don’t understand sarcasm. I do, I just don’t like it
A good run, jumping on the trampoline or a cycle gets your bowls going.
Stagnation,in both a human and in an organization, both physical and moral, always leads to ‘cancer and death’. Any corrupt organization, such as EU need a good shake from time to time. If it was a mistake to leave EU, corrupted stagnation has been shaken when the whole nation went to exercise the right to vote. I just can’t call this NOTHING.
Some women wear very peculiar clothes. If you paid me, I would not wear it. But I absolutely love seeing them in it. I’m not sure why I wrote all this and in this style, but I KNOW I had to do it!

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A poncho.

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             ‘He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found.’ I. Watts

             for all my dear single friends – REJOICE – you do not have ‘ this itchy problem’!

My mum came to visit us this year.  She had brought knitting wool that  I thought would make into a lovely poncho. The minute my mum feels it is an inspirational idea, she is on it. Next thing I know she is already knitting away.  A couple of days later, voilà, a sheer piece of art, my new poncho, was ready!

It looked simply stunning. I could not wait to try it, but the minute I did, it felt so itchy. Unbearable to wear! The weather was still sunny and hot. I had a T- shirt on and the wool was rubbing on my bare skin. All I wanted  to do is to get rid of it.  A Russian wool.  It looked the best quality ever…. but at the same time you could not enjoy it.  I can’t wear synthetic ‘wool’.  Instantly I feel like a Sweaty Betty.  All I could do is to laugh through this disappointment. Russia, as a country, is an amazing place, but …… if you have  ‘an itchy problem’, you will be tested to the core and  you can’t  express your ‘weaknesses’ about it. I remember, before I left for California, the missionaries in Moscow were about to lose their place  to stay. It was a time of trials in the heart of  the winter, the weather outside was -30 C at least, not the best time for moving. … if you have somewhere to move! The doors were slammed  in our faces anywhere we tried. I could never forget that feeling when you desperately need help, you wait for it, pray for it, but it doesn’t come soon enough.  My prayer partner and I had to go on two-week fast because we weren’t ready to show our ‘weakness’ about it. At times like that people’s character and faith in God are on a  ‘wool’s core test’ !

So,  this time I wasn’t willing to give in to some insignificant ‘itchy’ problem that this wool caused. Even though often little ‘itchy’ problems in relationships cause great damage. Like those little foxes ruining massive vineyards. I kept taking to friends about this ‘little itchy problem’. A friend suggested I rinse it off with ‘Comfort’. Strangely enough I had a bottle of ‘Comfort’ just sitting in the kitchen. My mother in law kindly gave  it to me ( unlike many Californians, in Britain everyone dries their clothes in the fresh air. It saves a fortune on the electricity bill, but it makes your clothes, especially the towels as a ‘sandpaper’).  The sheer smell of ‘Comfort’ knocks me off my feet though. No wonder I’ve  used it.  The deceptive label on the front of ‘clear blue skies and flowers’ only adds fuel to fire my anger. But out of  desperation I considered it. I don’t know how I survived this synthetic smell (the whole country does)  that seemed to penetrate my entire house! But I love the name, it is 10 out of 10  for the marketing department. This makes me think of the Holy Spirit who alone is effective in eliminating the ‘itchy problem’ in relationships, no wonder he is called  a Paraclete (Gr. παράκλητος, Latparacletus) meaning an Advocate or a Helper or…. a Comforter!

While I dealt with the ‘itchy problem’, I got thinking about family life. That’s what my every day looks like – time with the family.  Thinking while cleaning (that’s one positive point to such a frequent activity) is so useful. I remember having the most profound thought while cleaning the bottom of my wedding dress right after my marriage. It seemed to become a good habit. Having 13 years of marriage behind me now, I had first hand experience of what it feels like for two sinners to be married.

Not so long ago, I’ve noticed that I’m ‘a true daughter of Eve’. It only took  me many years of prayer  to realize. May be because I was busy having babies. But when I do get enlightened on something specific at long last, it is a BIG BOOM  effect. I find it so incredibly hard to admit my faults to others, especially my immediate family. Human sinful nature desires adoration at all cost, so why ruin it with those you see  daily?  My first reaction, even before I think about it properly, usually was: ‘ No, that was not me. NO, it is not like that. I haven’t said that. No, I haven’t done it.’ When I think about it not being emotionally involved, I’m rather astonished myself. But as two sinners rub on to each other as a wool does on bare skin, it will create a ‘itchy problem’.

On the other hand, my husband doesn’t have this particular ‘pride problem’ in a large dose as I do. He says almost straight away: ‘Yes. it was my fault.’ It spoils everything: you can’t further blame him, you can’t argue to find him guilty, you can’t do any further emotional accusations’ that much  with the person who plainly admits his fault except praise him and appreciate him in your heart. Such person isn’t ‘itchy’ to be around.

I’m convinced that most couples that I’ve met, both Christians and not, were matched perfectly. They balanced and complimented each other in so many ways. The first couple that comes to mind were my parents. My dad was an extreme introvert and a very private person. My mum knew every neighbor and beyond. She is the one who was on parent’s school committee and everywhere else. Their characters, joined together, were complete. But the ‘itchy problem’ of sin that Satan had created in the garden of Eden (remember Adam and Eve sewing clothing out of fig leaves to cover themselves) never goes away…. until God Himself interfere. It doesn’t matter how well matched and suited couples are. They will suffer with the ‘itchy problem of sin’ cause the enemy will make sure of it. Perhaps He starts his attacks with Christian couples, gets nowhere with some, defeats the others and goes in circles again and again. He is a powerful spiritual being, in fact more powerful than any human. That’s why a perfect character match, physical attraction and even higher intellect is simply not enough to keep the family safe from his attacks.  God Himself had to sacrifice an animal and use their skin to cover the first disobedient couple. Universally, in spite of an incredible, unfathomable technological progress, this problem of marriage between two sinners  remains just as unsolved outside of Jesus and His sacrifice for the sin.

One gifted counselor noticed something. He had a couple in this office that needed some help in their marriage. The problem seemed serious, but no one was claiming responsibility for it.  He said: ‘This is rather fascinating: a big problem and two innocent people. Even I can’t solve it.’

What I believe is helpful is to learn from each other and copy each other good qualities. Ask for forgiveness often. ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ This is the best spiritual daily exercise I know of . So, the first thing you want to know about a person you are about to marry, how is their prayer life? I would.  Over time it is only going to get more difficult and complicated with children coming along. It will make a wife stationary for a while in life, will strip her figure for a time or for good, will limit the time a couple has to themselves and the list can go on and on and on….

A very good illustration about copying each other qualities is this.  When I was first married I could not stand French brie or Camembert cheese. I didn’t even know if I liked ‘curry’ either. My husband loved Indian food & French cheese.  Over the years I fell in love with those two myself. Likewise, what is more important, some of the godly qualities  rubbed off on me as well. My husband was  so quick to forgive. I loved to sulk. He hated arguments. I loved to prove my point. So, over the years I had a good, opposite example to copy and pray about it. In his turn, my husband became a bit more expressive in his emotions. Early on in marriage, he told me that he could not understand how his mum would cry while watching a film: ‘this is not real at all ?’ I thought to myself:’ Oops. I would do the same if the story was moving!’  He became more compassionate, patient and generous among other things. And that is  one of the purposes of marriage I’m sure – to become more like Jesus ‘who is sweeter than a honeycomb‘. There is no better way than rub against someone who will speak ‘truth in love’ to you day in and day out. When we got married we both thought that we loved the Lord and were spiritual people. Only after a short while together, we doubted whether we are Christians at all ?!!  I’m sure this doesn’t have to be so intense and dramatic for all couples, but refining fire is not a joke at times.  Just have to keep your perspective fresh on what is going to come out of this.

We are both far from perfect yet. But we understand the Lord is still chipping away extra pieces from His masterpiece. He wants to make sure it won’t have a ‘itchy affect’ at all.  In fact, no fashion would be necessary. Imagine how much money can be saved?! Hey, who will think about money then. Hard to imagine yet. We love out assets now.  Don’t you love the definition of ‘an asset’ = ‘ is a resource controlled by the entity as a result of past events and from which future economic benefits are expected to flow to the entity.’  

The reason why I even mention business here is because I’m still such a novice at it. I haven’t done much business in life. Buying and selling is just not my passion which must drive you to be successful.  But when your family grows as dough with the yeast you need to have some assets. After much prayer, I got myself involved in a small business. Naturally, I was worried at first. What was fascinating is that if you stay honest, apply what you know from the Bible through much prayer, you will have the best shot at it.  I knew about Christian business people who are doing well, but haven’t expected it to be that easy and straightforward. It is. The rest is just details and having a desire to learn will take you when you need to be.  The Bible does give the best advise to do any business successfully. Jesus, Logos, the Word was before any business ever was.itchy

The spiritual definition that I’ve worked out is this: Jesus secured His victory on the cross in the past to bring redemption of mankind in the future for their eternal benefit! Wow!!!

Let’s keep our family fire burning. It spreads warmth, love, hope for the completely victorious future, patience, fitfulness, perseverance, no matter what life and the enemy throws at us towards all. God has overcome the power of sin. So will we  by the power of the Holy Spirit. And if the Lord has you single, you life brings glory to Him just as much. At times it feels lonely, but it is ‘not unbearably itchy’ at least!  I’ve quoted above a line from Isaac Watts famous hymn ‘Joy to the world!’ He had to remain single all his life, (he felt in love with a poetess, she was naturally very fascinated by his writings, but when she met him, she decided that he wasn’t handsome enough to tempt her as Mr. Darcy puts it), but he had written sweet praise during his whole life to our Eternal, full of love and mercy, God! What a life that counted for Christ that was. Whichever your status in life is, with Christ – it matters even when time ceases!!!

Only fun & games?

The boys were already bored at the skate park. Doing  tricks on a skateboard takes a lot of energy. Pumping your skate board around makes you sweat. You gotta take a break. The sun is finally out, but you better have a drink with you. Charlie’s mind  normally spinning, but he has to sit still and listen at school. His thoughts don’t have to though!

‘Phew! The sun is out! Let’s go.’ Barely dressed, throwing his school uniform, as a tornado, he jumps on one foot to the front door. Mum, we are off! His dad starts the car. He drives him to the local skate park. Strong, athletic looking, unemployed by choice, he doesn’t mind hanging around skate park for hours. What else to do? Hoping one day his son will rise to a Pro- skater. ‘We will be laughing then, mate!’ At the moment, as his inheritance sleeping through his fingers, he is putting his trust in to a lottery.’Euro lotto winner! That would be a day!’ We will be straight on the plane to California, son.  

‘Dad, can we decorate on a Christmas tree?’ A tradition to decorate the closest tree with old skate shoes was instantly born. Never mind it is June. ‘ Go on, then.’ Lifting his tall body lazily off the concrete, where he was catching his free tan, his dad starts to tie the shoe string on to a branch.

I will go home and bring my pair, – excitedly joins with the idea, Tom. Just a sec, I will be right back.

Tom rushes through the door as a fresh wind. Mum, can I have my old skate shoes please?

What for?- she inquires

We are making a Christmas tree at the park, pleeeese, begging with those deep dark eyes. 

Let’s just check with you dad, if he says ‘yes’, I don’t mind.

Tom’s dad is nothing like Charlie’s dad.  He is the man with a vision. He is well aware that  there are poor around the world. He says: ‘No’. Tom sadly walks out, his head hanging low.

  

It took me a while to agree with my husband. Yes, I understand he wants to send those old shoes to Africa or Eastern Europe – wherever the need is, but shall we deprive our own children from fun? It was a good question. The problem was I or my children haven’t seen real poverty that much. Since my husband started traveling around the world, he comes home and tells us stories that are hard to imagine. Picture children running bare  feet, drinking dirty water right from the pool in Jakarta; a widow, kissing him hands for giving her a fiver in Tanzania. And these stories keep coming.

While considering the others, who have much less, ‘fun & games’ are somehow not that funny. I do get moved to give these days reluctantly, since when ‘single and not fussy about food’ makes it so much easier to give. My husband keeps telling me that we can cut here and there to give more. He wants to give till it hurts us. I find it hard to swallow, but the Lord slowly opens my eyes to the needs of others. Once, I was in the shop and run into a man who takes goods to help with a Romanian ministry. He was leaving that day on his trip. I had 20 pounds on me, but I needed that money for shopping. ‘What shall I do?’ I had to think fast. Somehow this seemed strange & too much of a mere coincidence. I gave him the money, not knowing how I was going to buy shopping & feed my own children. The Lord had provided for us. The priced for the  food dropped, lots of bargains and we eat like kings. Compare to some people around the world.

On another occasion, I felt I should give  money to certain people. Weeks went by and did nothing about it. Until someone directly shared with me that these people have a great need. Why do we wait to bless someone when we can? Why out love for the Lord and His people often so lukewarm? The answer is plainly simple. We are obsessed with ourselves. It really makes me wonder when some therapist say that first thing you need to learn how to love yourself. Yes, really?!! For most of us – it is not a problem, easy!

An Encouraging thought

When we are willing to recognize that everything we have comes straight from the hand of God. He loves a cheerful/hilarious giver & will repay a hundredfold when we are willing to share with poor or those who bring Good News to the lost, we never can out give God, but we can robe ourselves from great joy. Just do it! Simple as that. As the Lord prompts. Don’t wait for triple conformations.

Top Tip

As mother’s we do get carried away, wishing the best & the more for our own children. I met a lot of families when children have everything … yet they are still ‘not happy’. They become unhappy consumers who are never satisfied no matter what you do for them – for the rest of their lives, perhaps. They scream to their mothers, driving in Chrysler with the movie on: ‘I hate you!’

This doesn’t have to be your case. Take control of your kid’s minds & hearts. Teach them how to appreciate little things in life & you will give them something that no one can take away. Teach them how to consider others because it is hard. But the reward of their gratitude & appreciation of life itself later on is worth it. And the Lord is on your side because:

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. The Lord will keep you from all evil;he will keep your life.’

Life, Love, Laughter & the Lord.

As I was walking along the road, pushing the buggy & watching my two- year- old stroll along , my brain was spinning with ideas. Wishing/praying that today will be the day when both kids are napping at the same time, so that I can do a bit of writing. As Sam obviously was going to tire himself out from so much walking , I thought  this is possibly a GWD,  ‘good writing day’. Before my husband returned from Indonesia, I took advantage of computer’s availability  to explore, on what other people have to say. I came across a few blogs, where different people didn’t mind sharing their personal life with the rest of the world. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed that, even though some of the tales were rather depressing.

Recently, arguing with about 15 young lads at the skate park, who with torrents of vigor shouted  that they are innocent, truthful & fair! I had little chance of disputing that: while talking all at once, my intelligence just could not measure up to it. I thought: ‘ If I have to be in the middle of this emotional volcano, might as well throw a spiritual challenge at them.’ All of them laughed it off… except one boy, Billy. ‘Shush everyone. I’m interested in this stuff. About after life.’  That statement  took me almost twenty years ago, when I was just in the last year of High school, lying in bed at night, thinking: ‘Is this it? What if I die tomorrow, the world will exist without me?’  That is a profound thought to realize that you only have this one life & it could be cut very short…there is nothing else. I lived, I died. It is over.

The problem was, possessing such knowledge, was of little satisfaction. I could not get those spiky thoughts out of my head. I had no faith in God. I was a self-made, fully in charge of my  full of pride human being (of course that what I wished to think). Getting no answers, I’ve got myself busy with all kinds of things… for a while. Until a mighty big STOP. I came up against such power that I could not fight with. I was crashed in my spirit, experienced loss of ambition & was devastated emotionally. Someone said that people can live without water& food for a while, but not without any hope at all. I kept thinking : ‘It gotta be Someone who can help. Understand how I feel.’  I turned around to my mum and said: ‘You’ve mentioned about God. I want to hear more about Him.’ Simple, yet most powerful desire in my heart now, turned my life 180 degrees. Nothing would be the same again.

At that time, in early 90’s, I lived in a communistic country of USSR. In a small resort town by the Black Sea. My life became as someone who landed from another planet. Suddenly, I began to enjoy my fellowship with my Maker. I saw Jesus on the cross in the Orthodox church. I prayed to Him every day. Almost over night, years and years of convincing that there is no God were as a butterfly’s wings,  already far away in a blurry past.  I  had no idea what the future holds, but  one thing was certain: God will direct me every step of the way. No plans, no ambitions anymore which was shocking even to me. I just had to wake up with God and let Him catch the waves of my activities.

What God had already prepared for me, (as look back now), I would not be able to dream about it. Back then, I didn’t speak a word of English. I could read a bit with a dictionary. I  haven’t travel much outside of my home town. My world and my opportunities were very caged. If someone had told me, right there and then, that  I will be sharing my faith in God on the beaches of California, with the high officials in the capital of Russia, or marry an Englishman I would of laughed without breaks!

While many people say about their course of life, ‘c’est la vie’, I’ve  realize one thing – He  is  in control from now on. That was an incredible & freeing feeling. I was not a random accident in this Universe! God had His special plans for me. Not that His guidance always makes sense to us or could not be hysterically funny. God specifically told about properly  learning an  English language. I pretended I didn’t hear right, I went back and forth in my prayers, arguing with Him. I absolutely could not stand my English teacher in school, she was a rather eccentric , Second world war generation Estonian lady with to full extreme  principles. She lectured us all on life more than he taught us language. She complained to my parents that I was singing during her classes, after that being at war with her, meant I had to come prepared every lesson. Just in case she feels like fighting her point of view with me  that day! I was more than thrilled when my schooling with her was over. Little did I know about God’s providence then.

After God becomes in charge, anyone’s life is going to be heaven & earth different. Over the years, I’ve heard too many testimonies how a life of a true believer  completely transforms. So, when people come along and say ‘how can you believe in God’, I say ‘easy’. But they have no problem believing that ‘Nothing created EVERYTHING out of Nothing.’     

Unlike humans, God is able & willing to change the lives of the most desperate one’s just as much. Last week, I’ve heard about Susanna Harrison, who was born in 1752 in Ipswich, England. At the age of 20 she became very ill. She had to retire from her service for a wealthy family and come home. Everyone knew she is about to die. While a servant she attended a church, heard the gospel, but did nothing about it.  A pastor from the church she had briefly attended, came to see her. This visit was the last straw that God used to break her pride. She placed her soul in God’s hands. After 5 days of fighting with dead she began to recover. Susanna also started to sing  beautiful songs to God. While bedridden for 14 more years, uneducated, she composed poems &  verses which were recorded by others and were published in a book. ‘The servant girl from Ipswich had her name in the Dictionary of national Biography.  Countless people  got encouraged & uplifted from her experience. Money from the publications went to needy families including her own. She was the oldest child in a large family with a deceased father.

Out of every suffering & every success, a child of God can be assured, that the Lord will give him His  best. What a huge encouraging is that: we can boldly laugh in our eternal souls at pain, suffering, death itself. The best is yet to come…because ‘ if in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most pitiable.’

A gay Christian.

How do we define a  Middle English word ‘Gay‘ today?  The word ‘gai/gay’ was first used in 14 century, meaning ‘happily excited’. In 21 century  it took a shift in meaning towards ‘a person who is sexually attracted to  the persons of the same sex’. Most of us know that. What  I didn’t happen to know was that, there are Christians out there, who are gay in both meanings of the word. Recently,I came across a book by Bev Hislop ‘Shepherding Women in pain’, where she goes to a great length, explaining emotional  experiences of the  Modern women today. One of them is a homosexuality: ‘ The truth is same-sex attraction does not stop at the thresh-old of the church door. People do not choose to have same-sex attraction and it can affect just as many people in the church as outside… There are women and girls in our churches, including our youth groups, who are grappling with these confusing feelings. Unfortunately, some leave the church because they don’t  find it a safe place to be transparent – especially after hearing our careless comments.’  I  won’t argue such interpretation here, since this is a relatively new concept to me, a conservative Christian, who believes that homosexuality is a choice.  But I  also do not wish to call those people, who claim otherwise liars. God’s ways are not like our ways, and His thoughts are not like ours – may be we all just missing something here. Regardless, the truth will always finds it’s way on behalf of those who seeks it. God makes sure of it.

I found this particular testimony extremely encouraging &  fascinating. I salute to this same-sex oriented believer. I only wish I knew about her testimony when I had an opportunity to speak with another blogger, who also happened to be a Christian & lesbian. I was speechless. I had no idea what to say to her. She seemed so sweet and gentle, unlike others you converse with at times. I meant to share this testimony for a while, but the cares of life took over. But this story beautifully &  so genuinely shared became unforgettable to me. Just perhaps there is someone out there, who can benefit from this powerful testimony. It surely moves me.

‘The night I asked God to kill me, I was weeping on the cold linoleum floor in my sterile apartment bathroom. My whole body shuddered with grief. I was a colossal failure, a disappointment to God… I was gay. I never wanted to be gay. Year after year, I prayed, I went to support groups, I even put a ring on my wedding finger to remember my covenant with God. But I always ended up the adulteress. The way I felt when  I was in the arms of another woman, so loved and secure, was too much to resist. My very self was torn in two. I could not live without God; I loved Him. Yet I was gay. Not by choice but by an unexpected and undesired fate. On the bathroom floor that night, death seemed to the the only solution.

My sexual attraction to other girls stole my dreams. I went to Bible college filled with aspirations of a life on the mission field. From a young age my dream was to grow up to serve God full-time. In my teens, I devoured books about missionaries and imagined walking in the footsteps of Amy Carmichael,a single woman who left everything to care for orphans in India. But when I was eighteen, I could no longer deny what I was feeling and that revelation haunted me. How could this happen? Weren’t gay people non-Christians who hated God? Gay people were weird. They were promiscuous, drug abusers, child molesters, and dangerous activists trying to force their immorality on the rest of us…I was just a teenager who fell in love with my best friend while at the Christian camp. That realization shattered my world. And I spent the next decade trying to bind the pieces back together. At the advise of a school counselor at my Christian college, I ended my relationship with Laura. During my senior year I was buried in deep depression, mourning the loss. Life did not seem worth living. God was not who I thought He was. He was a stranger – a deity who played cruel, cosmic games. Over the next several years, I became involved in three other lesbian relationships, eventually ending them out of guilt… I could not fathom how I would find strength to live a single, celibate life – longing to be loved & share my life with another person was so strong & natural. That’s why I asked Him to kill me. I couldn’t stand my failure and I couldn’t stand His harsh gaze.

But God didn’t kill me that night, or the next. What I slowly came to understand was that God didn’t want to kill me. He loved me, not because I was a ‘good girl’ who had hoped to be a missionary, but because I was His.        

 He loved me in the midst of my deepest turmoil and my greatest failure. For the first time, I began to grasp God’s grace. This realization that God loved me whether I was gay or straight, whether I was messing up or succeeding, changed everything for me. He kept holding on to me,and over time, I began to find my way out of that painful place.

Ultimately, I came to a deep spiritual place in choosing not to be in same-sex relationships. Not because of my fundamentalist upbringing. Not because of family or peer pressure. Not because I was afraid God would hit me over the head or send me to hell, but because the Spirit testifies in me that homosexuality is not what God wants for human relationships. I still have same-sex attractions. Navigating the challenges of a single,celibate life is not easy. But the world looks a lot different that it did during those ten hard years. I feel joyful instead of hopeless. I learned that Christian walk doesn’t magically appear overnight, but that with perseverance – and sometimes years-God can give us a peace in the midst of our circumstances that we didn’t think possible.

Although I once considered it a curse, I now regard my same-sex attractions as one of the best things that ever happened to me. It took me out of my comfortable ‘Sunday school life’ and forced me to ask hard questions about God and Christianity – it made my faith real. And most of all, it allowed me a glimpse into the magnitude of God’s kindness and patience.’

 ‘Happy is the one who endures testing, because when he has proven to be genuine, he will receive the crown of life that God promised to those who love him….’

I’m not from Hollywood.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing.’

Everything had run too smooothly with my husband being away. Yesterday he started teaching at the Arrabona Bible college, Indonesia for three days. As I was praying for him, I thought to myself: ‘I better watch out now!’  A little intro will help you understand why I felt that way.

A few years ago, some of the teachers thought that they want to prepare just pastors & missionaries, and not what the seminary was geared at the time,  to produce skilled young people with a trade & theological knowledge. Indonesia is heavily oppressed by Muslim believers who without mercy persecute Christians. It is not as easy to send a missionary out, without any knowledge or skill, to share the gospel.  As a rule, an intense persecution often produces spiritual growth and even national revival, there are many native Christians there who are willing to serve the Lord in spite of the great  danger for them. One of teacher had a vision to start just a theological college. That’s where my husband is teaching at the moment.

The pressure started to build up on Monday which I haven’t realized  at the time. A gentleman, whom I had invited to the church a few months ago, greeted me at the supermarket. We had a friendly chat & after that he went for a cigarette.  I carried on  with my shopping. Half an hour later we met at the check out again. I inquired why he has not come to the church yet. I don’t know what exactly happened, but ‘a friendly man’ was gone. He could of out-shined any actor, being hardly the same man. This transformation was rather intense: the tone of his voice became deeper & his face twisted as he shouted back to me: ‘I would talk about mathematics or philosophy. Who wants to talk about Jesus? How come so many intelligent people don’t believe in God? Of course you don’t know about my credentials. How dare you to invite me to your church. Again. Yes, I can come & give a talk there myself. ect…’  Steadily his language became very offensive, rude & full of swearing. I had to turn away,almost giggling at such ‘ full of intelligence behavior’  after first saying ‘sorry’ for bringing that topic up,which he was pleased about. ‘So you should be.’

On Tuesday someone offered to look after the children, so I could be at the prayer meeting. I thought it was a great idea even though at such hour, lulled by the prayers, I could settled down for the night. The prayer meeting turned out to be amazing. The emphasis was on Acts 2: ‘ And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.’  

The very same thoughts were on my mind, so I meant to be there.

On Thursday, the pressure that was building up in the spiritual realm, reached its crescendo. I was laughing so much while putting my laundry out, I thought it deserves an entry in my blog. This is what had happened.

I asked my oldest son to remind me about putting out the rubbish. He said he would. After all the commotion of going to bed (it was a gorgeous sunny day at last, so all our bedding & mattresses were airing outside) having drinks, snacks, prayers, stories, the ‘the very last’ piece of fruit, trying out homemade toothpaste, no wonder we forgot about the rubbish bins.

First thing in the morning, (we sleep with thick curtains) I hear a familiar noise. ‘Oh, no! We haven’t put the rubbish out!’ I imagine how full to the brim my two rubbish bins are, and I jump out straight away.  I look and I see rubbish collectors moving faster than any other professionals you ever asked help from. I run downstairs in my pajamas ( in my son’s tracksuits bottoms  that he wished to give away to be exact that were a bit too short) with my hair styled not ‘one direction’, but  ‘every direction’.   ‘Quick, what do I do?’ – I’m thinking fast which of course slows me down considerably. I’m determined to do something though. No matter  the cost of my popularity/sanity on our street! I hop on my jacket, that doesn’t hide my ‘new pj’, just gives a bit more decent appearance. I’m on the street just in time  to wave rubbish track good-bye.

I can’t give up.  ‘ Russians don’t give up – cause Stalingrad is behind.’ slogan kept playing in my head. Not really.  I could not even think straight. My mind stays in a blank mode. I needed my brain more than ever & it doesn’t even function properly: do I run after the rubbish track in my pj & every direction hair or do I stay put? I envision maggots crawling all over my rubbish in this gloriously sunny weather. I  stop myself. I wake up at last : ‘ I’m not from Hollywood. Why would I act like one?!’

Go back inside of the house. Turn my  ESV Bible on & I pray. Soon the children are up. We have  breakfast. While they are making their pack lunch I better take the laundry out. I open the door & it seemed as Noah’s flood  gushing out. Someone  had played with the buttons!!! Aahhh …

After the emergency is over, we proceed  towards the ‘exit- school-direction’ at last. Daniel was looking for his  new school shoes that his dad bought him, right before he left high & low, but they could not be found. Since I cleared the house from junk so well, everything is displayed well.  Still nothing surfaced. He had to wear his brother’s spare one’s.

After all the pressure of the morning is gone, a deep fresh breath of oxygen in the garden would be nice. The lake looks peaceful in spite of the breeze. I glance down & see a pair of shoes floating by. Who said Christians don’t  have problems? As a man from the supermarket quizzed me ‘where was God when this & that happened’, I say ‘right there  in the midst as it it explained in the Scriptures. The shoes could be in the middle of the Pacific, floating during the night, as much as I know, but they were still floating, as almost waiting to be picked up.

‘ Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.”  He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”

As long as the maggots don’t invade our souls, I think we will be all right.

     Don’t forget to Enjoy your day!