Monthly Archives: April 2011

Not “THE” Ukraine

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I am so excited to be called on another international mission trip! A team of 16  are preparing to travel to Ukraine in August. We will be teaching English, working with orphans, and most importantly, sharing God’s love and word. It is exciting to me to return to a part of Europe where I have previously traveled. I have been on a mission trip to Moldova as well as visited Hungary and am looking forward to visiting its neighboring land, Ukraine.

Notice I didn’t say “THE” Ukraine. Don’t beat yourself up if that is how you refer to it. (Did you just stop to wonder the last time you said “the” Ukraine?) Eh, no big deal. It happens to be best of us and more than likely, the most of us. I’ve been doing some research on that very topic. I found a great article written by Andrew Gregorovich. He writes:

“Does English grammar require the definite article the before Ukraine? Ukraine is the name of an independent country. There are only two groups of countries which require the article in English: Those with plural names such as the United States or the Netherlands. The others have names with adjectival or compound forms which require the article, such as the United Kingdom, the Dominion of Canada, or the Ukrainian SSR. English grammar does not require a definite article before the names of singular countries such as England, Canada or Ukraine.”

Actually, in December of 1991 a referendum confirmed the independence of Ukraine. At this time  the White House in Washington, D.C. officially announced that it would discontinue use of the definite article before the name Ukraine.

I am pretty sure you can add this information in your “You learn something new everyday” file. But, please know if you are praying for this trip, the people of Ukraine, this mission team and you accidentally say “THE” Ukraine  in your prayers…its all good. God knows exactly what you are praying for. Oh, and if you are making a financial support donation for this team it is just fine if you write “THE” Ukraine in the subject line of the check. Really, it is just fine.

Stay tuned for more very informative Ukraine blog posts by me. There might be a quiz later.

And…I think Kramer and George should have read my blog:    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzLtF_PxbYw

Jacob O’Malley

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Jacob O’Malley was a peculiar yet precious cat. He had his own agenda and lived life on his own terms. He liked to play outside and rest on the pillow in the window seat. He wouldn’t come to you for loving. You had to scoop Jacob up in your arms and force him to give you affection (all the while giving you this look like “will you please let me down?”) But, he offered company and “life” in Suzanne’s home for almost 13 years.

Life was clearly getting harder for good ol’ Jacob O’Malley over the past few months as he lost weight and didn’t look “quite right”. There wasn’t a major medical event that triggered his decline. Probably just old cat age.

Two trips to the vet last week ended with the Saturday morning meeting with the vet. The bad days were getting worse and the good days weren’t as good as the last one.  As hard as it was, it was very clear that Suzanne had to make that dreaded decision. Yes, Jacob could be sent to an internist where he could diagnose which body organs were shutting down and treat them specifically or Jacob could be taken home and he could just decline as nature would have it. Suzanne, the vet, and myself were in total agreement that it was time.

Something the vet said has really ‘stuck’ with me. He was telling us that animals really don’t have the ability to look forward or into the future. I thought about that for a minute (tuning out whatever he was continuing to say) and I immediately thought to argue. I thought about my Beau and how excited he got when I got home from work. In my opinion he sat around all day and looked forward to me being home (therefore looking into the future). So, after much thought it occurred to me that Beau probably got excited at the moment I got home but really spent his day basking in the sun, barking at squirrels, and trying to escape the fence. Animals don’t look forward to birthdays or vacations or getting a new collar. They probably don’t look forward to getting a treat, going for a ride in the car, or getting a belly rub. All of those things bring our furry friends great enjoyment! But, I guess that don’t look into the future in anticipation. They just enjoy them when they happen.

Humans get great joy out of looking “forward”. We get excited about planning that next vacation or watching the calendar for our next day off of work!  But, have we stopped to get excited about heaven lately? If you have professed Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior you have the promise of heaven in your future! We have more to look forward to than our earthly brains can handle!!

Randy Alcorn relates in his book Heaven that a pastor once confessed to him, ”Whenever I think about Heaven, it makes me depressed. I’d rather just cease to exist when I die. I can’t stand the thought of that endless tedium. To float around in the clouds with nothing to do but strum a harp … it’s all so terribly boring. Heaven doesn’t sound much better than Hell. I’d rather be annihilated than spend eternity in a place like that.” It is sad to me that this pastor is missing one of  our biggest joys!

Paul said in Philippians 1:23 “to depart and be with Christ was far better than staying on a sin-cursed Earth.”

“How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! For my soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God” Psalm 84:1-2

 However, as it is written:  “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” the things God has prepared for those who love him— 1 Corinthians 2:9

“When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” John 14:3

Christians have more to look forward to than vacation the birth of a child, getting a degree, or the tax refund! I am so thankful that God made humans able to look into the future and to look forward to things in life…and death. I can now get on board with the fact that animals can’t look forward to things. I don’t guess it matters really. But, it sure matters to me that I can look forward to eternity worshipping Jesus in a place that He has prepared!

Saying goodbye to Jacob O’Malley was one of those dreaded moments in life when you know it is right but, your heart hurts. I got a little teary because I knew it was breaking Suzanne’s heart. The vet took him from Suzanne’s arms and said “Come on Jacob, let’s go find a bluebird to chase”. Well, so much for teary. I went into full crying mode at that point. He will be missed. However, once again, God helped me see another little glimpse of Jesus in a life lesson.

Enjoy chasing the bluebirds Jacob O’Malley!

Sixteen Thirty Three

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This week has been unbelievable. This was one of those weeks when I am very thankful that I cannot see what is coming in the next minute, the next hour, and the next days.  Aren’t you glad you don’t know?

There are temporary stressors in life. You know, like the fact that we are way overdue for Spring Break, deadlines of statewide testing are looming around the corner, the back deck needs to be pressure washed, and the mailman keeps driving in my grass.

But, then there are what I would call the “doozies”. Big things. Things that change people’s lives. Forever.

A dear friend who is spending her time helping to nurse her sister back to health after a major medical event last week.

A lovely lady who still mourns the death of her husband over ten years ago.

A special sister who is looking for a job, looking to move, and make a fresh start because of some of those big “doozies” in life.

A little brother who just needs encouragement, love, and hope.

A dad who is in physical pain from a virus that is looming.

A soul mate who is watching her precious mother slowly slip into the tight grips of the unknown and scary world of Alzheimers.

A coworker who lost her job due to budget cuts.

An amazing friend who is caught in the middle of suffering the consequences because of someone else’s decisions.

A student who is confused and sad and angry because her parent’s don’t love each other anymore.

A loving friend who is dealing with her unborn child being in heaven this week.

A teacher who had to rush her mother to the hospital…again.

My heart is breaking for the people around me. These are the ones I know about. I am sure that the list could continue with the “unspokens” and the “secrets” of each of us.

The Lord used John 16:33 to speak to me this week.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you may have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!”

The Lord never promised us rose gardens and smooth sailing. The world is a hard place. I frequently wonder what it would be like to deal with problems (like those mentioned above) without the hope and promise Christ gives us. It must be terrifying. If you are reading this and you don’t have that hope please message me. I would love nothing more than to share it with you.

I continue to say that I am glad that I don’t know what is coming in the immediate or distant future. But, do you know what I do know? I know that God sent his son, Jesus, to overcome the world! He overcomes the disease, the legal trouble, the emotional heartache, the financial strains, the relationship issues, the fear, the loneliness, the joblessness, and the crying. This is temporary. This is the reason we find to get up every morning, face the day with confidence, and place our heads on our pillows every night. There is hope, there is promise, and there is peace.

And to all my loved ones above….hold on….just hold on.