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Showing posts from March, 2011

A matter of life and death

He is not the God of the dead but of the living. -Matthew 22:32

I'm not sure why, but this verse has come up again and again in the past several months, starting in the fall at a church retreat.

One of the church's leaders had just lost his mother that day, and the pastor implored us to meditate on this verse. Among Russian Orthodox believers there is a practice of praying for the Lord's mercy on the spirit of the dead, as it passes through the journey to its final destination. But the Lord wants to meet with us in this life. It is here where we make our decision, and if we choose life, He will still be our God...not the Lord over our dead bodies, but the Lord of our new, eternal flesh.

Then I was talking to a friend who was favoring a "catch-all" sort of spiritual mindset. She was okay with most religions, and astrology and divination were just fine, too. As I explained that my views were a little narrower, she asked "Do you believe in ghosts?" I said…

Another (more serious) book on marriage

When I mentioned "heavy" books on marriage that I was reading, this was one of them. But I think the heaviness that I felt reading John Piper's "This Momentary Marriage" is more about the weight of His glory than about something sad. It's all quite positive, because it is God's plan, and all that He created is good. But it is also a great responsibility.

(You can download "This Momentary Marriage" for free from John Piper's website.*)

Something old, something new

Many of the marriage-related topics addressed in this book (forgiveness, gender roles, etc.) can be found in the sermons posted on I had listened to several of them recently, so I recognized the material.

Yes, he offers commentary on the "same old" passages, such as Ephesians 5. But he expands on them in such a way that I received many new nuggets of insight that I hope to apply in my own life.

Grounds for marriage

Early on in the book, Piper quotes Colos…

The place where I live

Not too much longer in my current apartment! Well, I've got about 3 months left until I move, but I'm sure it will go by fast! Pretty soon we'll have to look for married housing...eeek.

A year ago, there were a few specific things I was dreaming of. A piece of paper that would let me stay in one place for awhile, and an apartment to rent were two of the things that would help me feel a little settled. We all long for stability in this life, and it's not guaranteed, but the Lord knew about my longings.

I handed in my residency application in April, but it wasn't until a few months later until the time came for me to move. I am sure that His timing was right. My then-roommate was getting ready to leave the country, and it was time to part ways.

At the same time, a girl from my church was also seeking to change her living situation, and we found a 2-room apartment to share.

This apartment has fit my needs in so many ways! It's a fixer-upper, but even its disrepair

Hope for Christian wives

I didn't really want to read another book about keeping a perfect Christian household, and the title wasn't the most convincing either: Feminine Appeal: Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and Mother. Yuck!

But this book by Carolyn Mahaney got very good reviews on Amazon at least (by both men AND women), so I decided to give it a try.

I would like to start by mentioning that one of the most compelling features of "Feminine Appeal" is its positive tone. This is no minor factor in a book about marriage relationships. Some books about marriage can be so heavy, or even downright cynical, that it's refreshing to read something uplifting. Mrs. Mahaney manages to cover fairly intense topics without taking all the joy out of the institution of marriage.

Thinking Positively

The chapter titles in this book ( "The Delight of Loving My Husband," "The Blessing of Loving My Children", etc.) are an example of the positive terminology employed by the author. But l…

Here comes the bride

Another triumph: my fiance and I were able to reserve the church we like for our wedding ceremony. Most churches here don't have their own property, so the few that do (mostly Lutheran) are fairly popular venues for weddings.

We called before heading over to the church to make sure there was someone in the office. However, it took quite a bit of maneuvering via snowbanks and locked gates to actually get inside the offices, which were in a different building (just in case we thought it was going to be easy). This is not so much for security purposes as it is a way of life...lots of courtyards to navigate.

The church is Finnish-Lutheran, though I don't know how often the Finns are involved; it seemed like there were mainly Russians around. We were supposed to have a recommendation from our pastor, but since several couples from our church have tied the knot there in the past few years, we were able to get away without calling in our pastor. Also, Andrey had performed one of the …

Teaching Sunday school

Sunday school. It always seems like despite our "best" efforts to come up with an organized curriculum and rotating teaching schedule, Saturday nights (and Sunday mornings!) often consist of last-minute phone calls, cutting out flannel-graph figures, and typing up memory verses. Even with a good plan, the lesson can feel pretty disorganized.

You never know if they're actually learning something.  You just hope and pray. Recently, one of the mothers (herself a Sunday school teacher) came up to me inquiring what the previous lesson had been about. It turned out that her 2 yr old (who usually colors and runs around in the back of the room) had started retelling the contents of the lessons, particularly since we'd been using the flannel-graph.

Whenever it seems like the kids aren't paying attention, I think to myself...they must be hearing, if passively. Oh Lord, please let these words fall on fertile soil! Help them to be active listeners!

When it comes to curriculu…

Dog-eared, part 2

As part of YLCF's March of Books, I had posted a photo of a book from my fiance's childhood collection. Now my mom has sent photos of the Japanese one that I was talking about.

I wanted to be an author/illustrator at one point when I was little, and I loved the detailed pictures. The mouse family goes on adventures and it's fun keeping track of all the family members and looking for them on each page. First they play outside, then they bake rolls together and sit down to play parcheesi with the hot rolls as a snack.

another photo/-

Hard-knock life

There have been many new arrivals to the orphanage this year. Sometimes if we have tea together the counselors tell me about them, but I was still missing information on several of them. Not that it's my business, but it helps to know.

For example, why would a 17 yr old end up in the orphanage? She's at the age where she could already be in a dormitory.

I started noticing Dasha in my favorite counselor's group about a month ago. She kept to herself and sat quietly doing homework, or something. There was something I couldn't quite put my finger on. She was quiet and serious in a way that reminded me of a child who had brought up in a very conservative household, perhaps religious. Actually, she reminded me of an adult. When she brought me her English homework to check, I saw what had kept her so busy...lines and lines of painstakingly neat penmanship. There are other kids with neat handwriting, but this was done so lovingly.

Dasha seemed eager to learn and even more ex…


The Young Ladies Christian Fellowship is hosting a March of Books this month. The assignment today is to post a snapshot of a well-loved book. (part 2 is here)

Unfortunately, most of my classic favorites are either in the U.S., or in electronic form on my Kindle.

So I will have to post on behalf of my fiance! He brought over some of his treasured books from childhood for me to explore.

There is something utterly fascinating about reading or even looking at a book from another culture. I remember a Japanese book I had with little mice doing different things. The illustrations were so beautiful, and even the text was a work of art because the characters seemed so exotic.

Andrey's book that I photographed is called "Petey the Microbe." :) It's about a little microorganism that goes around town and has adventures. There are a variety of Russian fairytales that exist, although some are reminiscent of the Brothers Grimm. Children also read many Scandinavian tales that hav…

More progress

In which we apply for a civil wedding...

One of the hard things about getting paperwork done in St. Petersburg is that most offices (including banks) have a lunch break from 1-2 or 2-3 pm. So if you get there too close to the lunch hour, you will have wasted time waiting in line and then waste another hour waiting for the place to reopen.

Andrey was free at 1 pm, the lunch break was at 2 pm, and I needed to leave for the orphanage around 3 or a bit later. So we basically had an hour before lunch in which to get everything done.

I arrived a little earlier to reserve a place in line. I was already mentally rearranging my schedule and calling the orphanage to tell them I couldn't make it. Then I walked up the steps and turned the corner, expecting to see a full waiting room. It was empty-HA! continue reading/-

I poked my head into the office and asked if they were still open and if I could have an application. The woman started asking me about our citizenship and what date we wanted,…

No more Moscow

Not this time, Moscow.

I want to like Moscow, but associations so far have been stressful, or adventurous at best.

A two-day jaunt as a college student: drunk train passengers, an aching back, the sun beating down...walking and walking for hours, not knowing how to ride the metro, terrified of getting lost.

Arriving on the overnight train for a training session: classes all day, homework in the evening. A brief stroll or two around the Kremlin; otherwise it could have been any city.

In the past few years, there have been other necessities: a visa to Africa;fingerprints for the FBI...only in Moscow.

My fiance and I dropped a document off to be apostilled 2 weeks ago. We really didn't want to make the trip to Moscow again to pick it up. I had gotten sick a few days after the trip, and he teaches almost every day. I want to give Moscow another chance, when the weather is nicer and we can relax and plan our own agenda.

This time, we decided to use a courier service, and should be get…