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Showing posts from April, 2007

College days

While I'm reminiscing...these are my dear roommate and hallmates from freshman year-Lovely Laurel, Ponytail Katie, and Smooth Bangs Katie.

Good times. :)

A new era

I somewhat abandoned my journal during senior year of high school, but freshman year of college exploded with entries.

Here are a few:

Aug.26, 2000

"I feel pretty disconnected right now. No fellowship. I think I'll meet some people soon, but it's hard right now, especially since I need the support.

Wow. I just looked over and my roommate is reading her Bible. I wonder if she did that last night too or if she thought I wouldn't approve? I don't know...I'll do my reading now (Romans)."

October 18-19, 2000

"Oh Lord, there is something about the night that I like. I don't know why. But I am glad you are here with me to help me enjoy it.

Jesus, what do you do when someone hurts you? I am asking because I want to be like you. And because you, of all people, have been hurt, even (especially) by ones whom you love. You were so sad. Yet you called one of your enemies a friend! You never stopped loving those who hurt you. You just kept on being faithful to them. …

Retrospective-Age 17, The Era of the Sleepy Teenager

Don't you hate when your favorite tv show has a retrospective episode and you have to wait a whole week for the storyline to continue?

Well, that's what I'm currently doing on my blog. :) Except that although it's a look at my past, this material has never been published before, because I've taken it from an old prayer journal.

Age 17

This was the year when I was applying to colleges, taking tough classes, and generally not sleeping. And there was a significant lack of journaling.

Mon/Tues Dec.14, 1:30 a.m.

"I didn't want to stay up so late but I did. I've started dreading each new day because of having to get up early. But I'm realizing I should have a different attitude."

That's all. :) Apparently I was either too exhausted to write any more or couldn't decide what that "different attitude" was supposed to be.

Is it summer yet?

This was the scene that awaited me when I got to the orphanage the other day. We were supposed to have our lesson in this room...

Also, the kids (8-10 yrs) were being really clingy and wanted to sit in my lap.

Later, I sent the older kids on a scavenger hunt to let them get a little exercise...

Spring fever is going around!

Looking back

Have you ever written a letter to your future self? Maybe as part of a Bible study? I mean the kind of letter where you write about your current life and set some goals, hoping that there will be progress when you next read the letter. And maybe you envy your future self, wishing that you could know in advance what you will learn in the next few years.

Recently, the opposite has happened to me. In reading an old prayer journal, I actually envy my old self. It seems like I might have been even closer to God in my teenage years. I wonder what happened to that version of myself. It might be compared to the "first love" of Revelation that had grown cold, though hopefully not to the same extent. I constantly meditated on the Word, was earnest in prayer, was seeking to grow. What happened to those days?

So I am going to spend a few days looking back.

Here are the prayers of my 16-yr-old self.:


"Show me what I can do in my school. Where am I needed most? I will seek you in …

Company Potluck

These are the people I work with...


I guess it's a good thing I read the news yesterday. Otherwise I wouldn't even know that Yeltsin died!

Also, a U.S. school held their first integrated prom. I can't believe this kind of thing still goes on in America.

News and Filtering

“I will set before my eyes
no vile thing.
The deeds of faithless men I hate;
they will not cling to me. (Ps. 101:3)”

I’ve been thinking about how I “filter” what I feed my mind with. Most of the time it’s not too difficult to determine what should or should not be included. When we think of inappropriate entertainment, a list immediately comes to mind. But what about the things that are not necessarily “vile” but not edifying? Or the things that are shocking yet necessary to know about in order to avoid ignorance? Picking and choosing isn’t as simple as it seems.

The Dilemma

Living the Christian life means no compromise. However, the fact remains that we live in the world, and each live in a culture that we must relate to somehow. As Jesus prayed to his Father, “my prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one (John 17:15)." Yes, we not only live in the world, but have been sent into the world, and have a purpose here. And we need God’s …

Welcome to the world :)

My favorite picture of baby Angelica...

Longer post coming soon.

The niece

Introducing the first publicly released photo of celebrity baby Angelica Anne...

Held by her proud (albeit exhausted) grandmother.

The Golden Rule, Soviet-style

I was riding on the bus the other day and noticed a public service message from "Unified Russia," Putin's political party.

How can you recognize the Leningrad/Petersburg citizens among the passengers?

A REAL Petersburger...
-Always says thank you and smiles in response.
-Always helps the elderly out of the bus.
-Doesn't yell at everyone.

(The people who forget to smile must be the Americans)

It reminds me of a lesson we had in first grade, to the tune of "Being a courteous person." But I guess the whole "collective consciousness" thing works too. :)

Kids say funny things

Misha, touching my hands: "Where's your ring?"Me: "What ring?"Misha: "Your ring! The ring that everyone has!"Me: "Misha, I'm not married."Misha: "WHAT?! Lolita, Liz is NOT MARRIED!"Lolita: "WHAT?!"Misha: "How OLD are you?"Me: "24."Misha: "TWENTY FOUR?!"Lolita: "Liz, you MUST get married!"You heard it from the kids. :)

The root of joy in suffering

No, I’m not suffering at the moment. But it was one of the themes for a recent Sunday school lesson, and it made me meditate on how to respond in certain difficult situations. We were learning about how God was with Joseph in his time of slavery and imprisonment, and how we can behave when people treat us harshly or when we face a tragedy.

When giving their testimonies of how they came to Christ, many people name a “near-death experience” or another extreme episode that caused them to rethink their lifestyles. And from that point on their lives were changed. But I think the story starts before then. The story starts when God calls us, and when He has already started to lay the foundations in our lives. That part is often unseen.

At some point, the Word is preached in our lives, and creates an environment for us to respond. And our salvation is the fruit of that Word having been preached.

14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him …

Saturday afternoon

We paid a little visit to the bowling alley with some kids from one of the orphanages… the botanical garden girls, in fact. The counselor made sure we met the newest girls to join their group, two sisters named Nastia and Lena. They also have an older brother in the orphanage and a baby brother who lives with the mother. They have 4 different fathers.

As we began bowling, someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around and there was a pirate standing there. Well, a man in a pirate’s costume. He had said something to me, but when I turned around he turned serious and said “Hello, madam.” It turned out that he was supposed to be doing entertainment for the birthday party in the next lane. Shortly after that the guests arrived and would not even crack a smile as he did his routine. Poor guy!

Our girls did okay. I was looking at the 6 yr olds in the next lane and noticing that they were almost the same size as Nastia, our 9 yr old. Nastia is cross-eyed and hadn’t been going to school reg…

My mom and dad

These are my parents! They've been married for 34 years.

At Nastia's baby shower...

(the portrait in the background was done by my great-grandmother Emily)

My dad is here now visiting me in St.Petersburg. My mom is planning to come in the summer.

And so ends my family series. I'm not including the dog (sorry, Max) or any other random creatures.

Emotions and Duty

How do you keep your emotions under control when you face tragic situations daily? Of course every job holds its own emotional challenges, but some are more obvious than others.

I work with kids who are social orphans. 90% of them have a living parent, but they do not live with them for some reason. I also work with some kids who live with their parents but have behavioral or developmental problems. I see evidence of these issues everyday. I also live in Russia, where suffering is a common theme. Even if a person’s pain is exaggerated, he or she may be held slave to it. Even if a beggar fakes a limp, he is probably in need. At the very least, it is a dismal existence to be brought to your knees and beg for money. And you cannot fake a missing limb. And a crying baby is unhappy, whether or not his mother pinches him to earn more pity money. This is reality, but to sit and think on it much is neither healthy nor helpful. So what is to be done?

A non-believer once asked me, “How do you avo…


Introducing Nastia, the second Russian princess to join our family...

Things have been a little livelier in our house since Nastia arrived!

Nastia is 21 and a people person. She loves dancing...but that's on hold for a little while as she is expecting her first child to arrive in the next few weeks!

These photos were taken at her baby shower, held recently. Nastia is pictured with Emily below.

Thanks to Emily and others who took the photos.

On the third day

He is Risen!!!

(Easter banner from childhood; my mom sent it so I would feel at home :) )


Matthew 27:45-50

45From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. 46About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice,

"Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"
—which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

47When some of those standing there heard this, they said, "He's calling Elijah."
48Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49The rest said, "Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to save him."

50And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

Good Friday

Luke 23:1-43

1Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. 2And they began to accuse him, saying, "We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ, a king."

3So Pilate asked Jesus, "Are you the king of the Jews?"

"Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied.

4Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd,

"I find no basis for a charge against this man."
5But they insisted, "He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here."

6On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. 7When he learned that Jesus was under Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.

8When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform some miracle. 9He plied him with many questio…

Identity crisis

Today I was once again complimented on the way I speak my native language.

Russian lady who knows English: "I like the way you speak Russian ...and English."
Me: "Ummm ...thanks?"
Russian lady: "Yes, your English is very interesting to listen to. When I first listened to you speak, I did not know that you were American. I thought that you were from Great Britain."
Me: "Ummm ...okay."

Wait a minute ...what is she saying about the way Americans speak English??? Is that supposed to be a compliment that I sounded more British than American?

Where am I from, anyway?

Friday Eve

This year, Easter falls on the same date in both eastern and western churches. Around the world, Christians are currently in the middle of observing Holy Week. To read more about history and traditions, check out Wikipedia.

May nations around the world tremble as they remember this event! May God be glorified!

Today is Holy Thursday, which we recognize as the day when Jesus and his disciples prepared for the Passover feast. As they gathered after sundown at the Last Supper, Jesus instituted the sacrament of Communion and revealed that his betrayer was among them.

Then came the {first} day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover {lamb} had to be sacrificed. And Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and prepare the Passover for us, so that we may eat it."They said to Him, "Where do You want us to prepare it?"And He said to them, "When you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house that he enters. "And …

In case you were wondering...

Ever wonder where western calendars get the date for Easter? This website has an explanation...

An excerpt:

Computing the Date of Easter

The rule is that Easter is the first Sunday after the first ecclesiastical full moon that occurs on or after March 21. The lunar cycles used by the ecclesiastical system are simple to program. The following algorithm will compute the date of Easter in the Gregorian Calendar system.

The algorithm uses the year, y, to give the month, m, and day, d, of Easter. The symbol * means multiply.

Please note the following: This is an integer calculation. All variables are integers and all remainders from division are dropped. For example, 7 divided by 3 is equal to 2 in integer arithmetic.

c = y / 100
n = y - 19 * ( y / 19 )
k = ( c - 17 ) / 25
i = c - c / 4 - ( c - k ) / 3 + 19 * n + 15
i = i - 30 * ( i / 30 )
i = i - ( i / 28 ) * ( 1 - ( i / 28 ) * ( 29 / ( i + 1 ) )
* ( ( 21 - n ) / 11 ) )
j = y + y / 4 + i + 2 - c + c / 4
j = j - 7 * ( j / 7 )
l = i - j
m = 3 + ( l + 40 ) …

April Fool's

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.(1Co.1:18)

A letter from my father:

Hello Dear Children,

Today is, yes, April Fool's Day. I remember times when I and friends would seek ways to trick each other, saying things like "We are supposed to get 12 inches of snow today" when it was not true. I'm glad our family does not practice a lot of that. Using the word fool does remind me of our calling to be fools for Christ's sake. In this sense I always need to be called back to being a fool.

Here's a short list which comes to mind

Allowing someone to cut in front of you in line.
Allowing someone to take "advantage" of you.
Allowing someone to think you are stupid when you are not.
Allowing your kids to think they are fooling you.
Making decisions which help others instead of yourself.
Telling people you believe in Jesus.
Telling people you believe Jesus Christ is the only path to God.

Getting around St.Petersburg

Today I had to meet someone in the metro to hand over some documents. It’s a pretty standard procedure. We arranged to meet downstairs in the metro so as not to go outside and come back in again. I was standing in the vestibule in-between two escalators which headed off toward various exits or line changes.

Pretty soon, an old lady approached and asked me which way to go. I pointed to the right. After that a man came and asked where to go. I pointed in the other direction. After about five people asked me for directions, I was already starting to laugh. Why did they pick me? I was wearing glasses…maybe they made me look smarter?

In a 10-minute period, I think 10 people asked me for directions. I had a steady stream of customers.

Lady: “Which way is __________?”
Me: “This way.”

Man: “How do I get to ____________ station?”
Me: “That way.”

Man: “Where is ________________ street?”
Me: “That way.”
Man: “Is it far?”
Me: “No.”
Man: “Which way when I get out of the metro?”
Me: “Right.”

Lady: “Which way is…

My baby sister

When I was younger, I used to pray for a little sister.

We adopted Masha from Russia when I was 18 and she was 13. Imagine leaving behind everything you've known and starting a new life at the age of 13.

Masha recently took the GED and got her high school diploma. We are so proud of her!

Masha and "baby" don't go in the same sentence. :)