Oct 30, 2010

Just peace


We had a big Halloween party at work last night. If anyone knows my company, they know that we get extra crazy for Halloween, costumes are elaborate and alcohol flows without end.

I was doing the face painting for the kids, and actually had a fantastic time - the kids are fun, simple to talk to and they don't look at me like I'm crazy when I make funny sounds while drawing on them.
I had a couple of very light drinks and then headed upstars back to my office to browse some sites. I don't know what it is about parties, but they bore me for some reason. I really don't like the feeling of being drunk, and since I quite smoking, having conversations outside became a bit...well..forced. So, me and my husband decided to head home early.

And that is when the fun began. Dad put a blow-up giant pumping outside, with a witch stuck inside of it and it's legs kicking. Very cute. We just sat and watched Little House on the Prarie, while Gio quietly played with his cars on his "fluffy blanket" in the living room, dad did his Sudoku puzzles, and we watched the adventures of Laura Ingalls. It was peace, it was home, and far better "party" that I could imagine. I enjoyed that precious time so much, and thank the good Lord for giving us that time together.

Bthw, Little House is like one my most favorite shows of all times. It's not all happy-rainbows-unicorns, in fact it has a lot of very serious and emotionally charged storylines, and I recall there was this one episode that made me bawl like a small child. But it seeps of light and kindness and goodness. Something that is almost completely gone from public programming in our days.

Oct 29, 2010

NanoWrimo is almost here.




Each year I do (or, I should say "try to do") is the Yearly novel Writing month or NaNoWriMo. Its a contest where you need to write a novel of 50k words or more in 30 days exactly.
It can be the worst novel ever written, but it must fit within those parameters.
I have started doing NaNoWriMo several years ago. My first novel was and is terrible, but it's one of the coolest and funnest things that I have done in my life. I have learned a lot, and gained a whole new appreciation for books and even movies.

Another awesome thing about NaNo, besides a way to challenge yourself into something completely different, is that as a non-Profit organization, they have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to build schools in impoverished countries.

It's a great way to meet people, learn things, have FUN, and help bring education to remote corners of the world. I would definitely suggest grabbing a laptop, pen, pencil, chisel, whatever you got, and writing the worst novel the world had seen - but the one that YOU WROTE.

Oct 27, 2010

Fear's eyes are big - Halloween preparedness



That's an expression in Russian. It doesn't translate well, and even in Russian I never really got what exactly its supposed to mean. Ideologically, it means that when we are afraid we are seeing things magnified. I think.

I remember reading this story about a Florida elderly lady who sat trapped in her house, because there was a panther on her front porch. The animal loitered there for a long time, until the lady could take it no more and called the police. The animal services came out, ready to rescue her from this beast, only to find that she was harassed by an empty black garbage bag, blowing in the wind and stuck on her porch.

If you know me well, then you would know that I am a highly paranoid person. I often think that people are after me. I really don't like pot lucks or home-cooked treats because I think that people will try to poison me. Maybe not me personally (I'm not ALWAYS that vain), maybe they are doing it just for kicks. But it would still be pretty unpleasant.

Once, I could swear that I saw a ghost of a girl with long white hair standing outside my neighbor's back door. She just stood there for hours, only to stare at me with her featureless face. For over an hour, every now and then, I would peek outside - but she was there. And no wonder - in the morning I found out that the mop, that my neighbor left drying against her back porch - indeed had not moved.

Today, sitting in my car and waiting for the boys to come out of the daycare I saw this man in a striped shirt standing by parked card behind me. It was raining hard, but he just stood there and stared at my car. Why is he standing there, I thought?! That's so creepy! Then the rain cleared a bit, and I realized that the poor tree behind me had no choice but to stand creepily behind.

Have you ever been frightened by something only to find out that it was something completely benign or even silly? Medical scares don't really count. Share your stories, I'd love to hear them.

10 grains of rice on the side




When I was little, I remember reading this book - it was about these families in Ukraine, during WWII. There was a scene, where a mother and her children were sitting down to dinner. Food was scarce for months, they were practically starving. Yes, the mother pulled out a freshly-made rice pudding.
The children were amazed and asked the mother - where did you find rice?! We ate the last of it just last week!

And the mother admitted, that every-time they had rice for dinner (which was pretty much ALL they had for weeks on end), out of every pile she would take 10 grains of rice and put them aside. Just 10 grains - it did not made a difference for the meal at the time. 10 grains won't really fill anyone up.

But over time, those 10 grains, plus 10 more, then 10 more, started adding up, until she had enough to treat her children to some rice pudding.

I've always remembered that story, and try to do the same with various things in my household. If I have a box of something, I sometime will take just a couple of it out and put aside. A new box of tampons? Put a couple aside. A full box of Q-tips? 2 - aside. And so on, and so on. After a while, you end up with a stack of emergency things - when you are low on cash, its a nice little boon. I know that must sound insane, but I grew up watching my grandmother do the same. My grandmother was just a kid when WW2 began, but the hunger and the need that she had experienced have stuck with her for the rest of her life. She sure knows how to be frugal!

I try to do the same with money - if I have it, just put away a couple dollars on the side. Something I won't really miss. It's kind of like saving the pennies, I suppose, only I actually end up doing something with the dollars. Pennies are still sitting in the jar in my kitchen.

Anyway, this method of "found items" works for me, hopefully it will work for you!

    Blogging Hints Catch a Wave Wednesday 

Lions and Tigers and Boys Oh My!

Oct 24, 2010

Memorial Box Monday: Stone Mountain

Once or twice a week I try to head out to the Stone Mountain, which is literally right behind my office's parking lot. It's a great place to exercise - just climbing (walking) to the top takes a lot out of you, if you are not used to it.

When I first moved to GA,I went to the mountain a couple of times, but not really wowed by it. In fact, I was quite underwhelmed. In my mind - this was not much of a mountain - more like a big rock, you can't climb it, and it has a sordid history. The park was good-looking, but it did not touch my heart either, because I was still bitter and angry to be in this state in the first place. I won't go into the reason why we moved, because it's not really the point of my post.

I'm sure there has been a time in all our lives where we are placed in an alien environment, far away from home, from people you love, and no hope of ever getting back to where you are safe and comfortable. I know I was. I was praying to God not forget and abandon me here and bring me back home. There were days when I felt like I could not stand my new life, my new city, it's people, and it's nature.

I think God spoke to my heart and reminded me of the pearls story, but I was too angry to pay attention, and like a hurt child would simply turn my heart away from the possibility of this being a wonderful beginning to my new life. Not so long ago my sister in Christ, best friend, my soul-mate and Godmother of my child came to visit me. She said that the nature, the mountain, everything about this city was beautiful. She took tons of pictures or every slope and hill and flower that we could find. We went to the mountain and took pictures there, and she could not stop talking about how amazing this place is.

I think seeing the mountain and my city from another person's eyes helped start seeing it's beauty as well. also to see my circumstance as a blessing and really a beginning, rather than the banishment from home. I know that sounds like someone of very little faith, as God would never give us more than we can handle. He also cares deeply about the little things and what makes his children happy.

At the same time, did I not pray once - God, let me do your work no matter what it takes? Let me be your instrument?

Now, as I go to the Mountain, I see God saturating that place in the colors of the trees, the sparkling of the granite floor, the scent of pines in the wind, the sound of a train in the distance, and most of all in the people who comes to visit it. It's a moving tapestry, and He lets me be part of it every time. Even if I am not having the best day, He will walk beside me quietly like a friend and a father. But most of the time we just talk, about everything and nothing at the same time. Without words - just glimpses of grace, truth, and love. There are spots on your way up that look like you are on the moon, and there are spots that make you feel like you are walking on top of the river of frozen silver. There is a spot where you can stop and rest and see the WHOLE city in front of you.

I believe that God brought me here for a reason. I don't know yet what this reason is yet or what plans he has in store for me, but I know it will be awesome. He has given me a beautiful place to live, full of amazing, kind, and joyful people. It may not be my old home, but it is my new one, and He is making it amazing.
These are my new pearls. I shall start wearing them now.

Oct 22, 2010

Have you started looking for ways to celebrate Christmas?

I know it's only Halloween, not even, and I find myself to once again - be obsessed with planning Halloween, my costume, what parties I would be going to. To be honest I don't spend that much time planning any other holiday. Why is that?
What about Christmas? Is that not one of the most important holidays, especially for a Christian (yes, I know about the traditions of Christmas and how they supposedly come from pagan traditions, blah, blah, don't matter to me.)

Anyway, reading this post on Drawn from Water made me think. Through the most of my adult life, Christmas has been nothing but a stressful time of looking for gifts. Gifts to give to people because you kinda HAVE to, spending money you don't have. On things they probably neither like nor want. Why is that? Well, Why not spent it on someone who will appreciate it, and possibly remember your gift for the rest of their life?

Drawn from Water is starting a gathering of funds for their own and other 2 Ethiopian orphanages. They want to make treasure boxes and fill them with some sturdy toys. Would I rather spent 30$ on a crap toy from Walmart that my son will break in 2 days, or 25$ on a gift for someone's son or daughter that has nothing at all? Seems like a simple choice to me.

If you were thinking of doing something different this Christmas time, please visit Drawn from Water. Please give if you can, or at least pass the word out. These are good people who want to bring joy to the children who have very little in possessions.

There are millions of charity organizations out there. 100, 20, 10, or even 5$ makes a difference.
Another really neat place is Samaritan's Purse. We actually did that in school once, and it was a lot of fun.


If anyone has information for donations towards orphanages in Russia, please let me know.

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal."
-Matthew 6: 19-20

P.S. One thing that is easy to find - is people, causes, charities that need our help. I have found several blogs and sites that promote, facilitate or are actively adopting from Russia.

Oct 21, 2010

Sara is...awesome.


So, I read this young woman's blog, who's name is Sarah. I think she is awesome. I don't know her personally, but she seems like she would be a really cool friend to have. She is kind and gentle, and she does really awesome projects. She is also charitable and sees the positive in everything, it seems.

In her last post, she told a story of how they made really cool crafts for the kid's hospital for Halloween. If you want to read something to put a smile on your face, please visit Sarah, and drop her a line.

I don't know what made me choose her blog our of many others that I've come across by accident, but she makes me smile every time I visit her little corner of the universe.

Sara, you are a sunshine. :)

Oct 15, 2010

Today: Blog action day - Clean water


Please don't forget to register your blogs on http://blogactionday.change.org/ to support the clean water causes and charities around the world.

I'm not gonna go on about how important water and especially clean water is - we all know that. I do want to share a story. When I was little, I used to visit my gramma in Ukraine in the summer. To conserve water, the city would shut off water daily for a few hours. Now this is in the summer, and it got pretty hot. No one had air-conditioners. My grandma would fill up whatever containers she could before the shut off, just so she had water to cook with.
She would also fill up the bathtub with water, for toilet flushing, and stuff.

Growing up in the states, I've gotten so used to having water at all times. I cannot imagine, for example, having a baby, and not having water to clean him or her with - because there is simply no water.

Oct 14, 2010

Bullying


A friend posted a link today on FB - a call to stop bullying. That got me thinking about bullying. That unpleasant aspect of childhood is actually something that we will be dealing with all our lives. Bullying is not just a part of the growing up but something that we will continue to experience (or dish out) for the rest of our lives.
It maybe not as pronounced or violent as childhood bullying (hopefully), but it will be there.

We will be bullied by our employers, by people in the position of authority (real or imagined), even by our family and friends. I think the way we learn to deal with bullies in school, or deal with actually BEING the bully is going to equip us to deal with it as grown ups.

Have you ever been bullied? Have you bullied someone when you were a child or as the adult?

I have actually done both. I now have a 3 year old son growing up, and the thought of him being the victim of bullies terrifies me. As a mother, I cannot fathom someone being not nice to my boy. But then I look back at the time when I was little, and I was the bully - would I prefer my son to be the victim, or the bully himself? I regret being the bully far more than being "victimized". But as a mother, I gotta be honest - if there were only two choices, Id rather him be on the "giving side". Of course, my hope and prayers are to have enough wisdom and obedience to the Lord to teach him that he doesn't have to be either.

I recall a bunch of times when I was bullied, and I must say I am not proud of how I handled it as a child. I'm not counting the daily life while growing up in an abusive household (that is a whole new level of bully). I won't speak about the times I was a bully, because, well - it's between me and the Lord. I've made my peace with that. But I will share this one time.

I was about 8 or 9 when I got a call to our house late in the evening. I was home alone. The call was from an unknown person,and they sounded like kid or a teenager, but I did not recognize them. This was before the time when you could see who is calling you, by the way. The voice said:"Tomorrow after school, we are going to kill you." What a horrible thing to say, right?
I was frightened, very frightened. I was never threatened like this before, and frankly could not fathom what I did to deserve that. I spent the next few hours sharpening and fashioning a...shiv out of a piece of metal I found in our tool closet. I carried that thing in the pocket of my coat for a week straight. No one approached me the next day or ever - it was just a cruel joke.

I don't know how to stop bullying, as there are so many reasons for it. Violence at home, environment and the culture the kids grow up in. Also - the way the adults either close their eyes to it or stand up against.
But I think it also depends on the person. Some (most?) people need to feel more powerful, better, smarter, faster, richer, more successful than others. The kids and the adults alike. Competitiveness is in our nature, so I don't think that we will ever get rid of this painful yet such an important part of ourselves. Establishing who we are - the alpha-wolf or not? Can we stand up to the stronger animal? Can we learn to resolve a difficult situation on our own?

I, personally, admire people that have never bullied, or even felt the need to bully another human being in any way. It's so rare, and so precious.

Here are some links for more information:

Stop Bullying now!
Dealing with Bullying
Families & Bullying
Recognizing Bullying behavior

I'd love to hear some of the experiences with bullies or being the bully if you would like to share some.

Oct 12, 2010

October 15th: Blog Action day - Clean Water


http://blogactionday.change.org/ Is running a Blog Action Day, where one could register their blog, donate or even run a fundraiser to bring clean water to various corners of the planet.
Make a difference with your blog, spread on the Facebook.

Some informative fund-raising and charity sites:
Charity: water
Clean Water action
Water Aid
H2O Africa

And there are thousand more out there, because water is a commodity that we, here in US take for granted. But even if we cannot give money, we can use our social networking skills and get more people to join in and make a difference. Even for just one person somewhere. And that's just by blogging.

Oct 11, 2010

SCL brings : The guy who tries to fix your problems when you make a prayer request.

Stuff Christians Like bring us "The guy who tries to fix your problems when you make a prayer request."

I love that post, because as I am realizing - I AM that guy! Instead of listening to people, I tend to make suggestions on fixing their problems (and yes, suggesting obvious "solutions".)

I had that happen to me as well, but I recall that once it was kind of helpful. While in group prayer, I have prayed for a resolution with a difficult job (or no job, I don't recall now), and one of the co-prayers (is that even a word?).Although the job was...well, should we say - a valuable learning experience in life. Never take the first job that you see open, always consider why it's so easy to get and why it pays so crappy.

Anyway. Regarding "being that guy", I just gotta make sure to stop doing that. I think "that guy" always means well. I also think that those kind of people are the ones that get infuriated with the victims of terrible tragedies:"Why didn't he do this?! Why don't they just ....!" I don't think that the anger stems from actually being angry at the misfortune, pain or suffering of the "stupid victim that was at fault", but from the feeling of helplessness and desire to right a wrong they did not cause. Getting angry at the victim is their way or "fixing" the picture in their mind, dealing with something that is outside of their control.
So, maybe people who tend to try and help when are not asked, are simply reacting to their feeling of empathy towards the other person, and feeling helpless, they try to project that feeling unto the "victim" of the situation. After all, if the victim would have tried "this" and "that", they wouldn't be in that situation, would they?

It always reminds me of this one thread on one of the gaming forums. I think it started with someone saying something about the movie Schindler's list, and some people didn't see it (being quite young), so after reading the thread they watched it. The reactions were quite extreme, but this one kid (he watched the movie for the first time) was just LIVID at the Jewish people. I recall him making statements like :"I can't believe they were just STANDING there like damn cattle, allowing to be slaughtered, and did nothing? Why didn't they just fight back? Why didn't they just grab a gun from one of the Nazis and killed them all! Stupid, cowards!!" And so on, and so on.
Well, the rest of the people on the thread were responding angrily to the kid, pointing his ignorance of the history, of the suffering, and generally being unsympathetic. The thread was getting VERY heated, but then my husband (I'm so proud of him, he's got such a Heart), just replied to the kid in the thread and said:
"I think I know why you are saying such things. You just watched terrible things happening to people for no reason, and its hard and painful to watch, especially when you realize that there is nothing that we can do about it now. And you are angry that they couldn't protect themselves, and that you can't do anything about it. It shows that you have a beating heart and it aches for these people. "

And the rest of the posters on the board understood that the kid was not angry at the Jewish people. He was in pain, and did not know how to "fix it".And my husband's understanding of this actually calmed everyone else down, and I think also helped the kid deal with this pain. That its OK to hurt when you see someone hurting. Its human.

I dunno, just psychobabble musings. Faith, brain, emotions, and perceptions are a wonderfully tangled mess of "Huh?" in our lives.

Memorial Box Monday: Car on the string

My friend been asking me to share this story, as it's one of her favorites, and mine as well. This happened a few years ago.
I was still a baby-Christian back then, everything was new to me: the faith, the walk, the lifestyle. So much to learn, so much to test.

My best friend moved into this house, which was about 30-40 minutes away from me. It was somewhere deep in the woods of Florida's jungles, and the road to the house lay between vast fields of nothing. There were no street lights most of the way, and the drive from there at night was unnerving. I only recently started driving back then, and was getting frequent anxiety attacks if I was on the road at night. Other drivers terrified me as well. But I had to make the drive to her house each week because we had out Bible studies there. I really enjoyed coming to the Bible study, but I dreaded the drive each time, and had to force myself to go there. I missed it a couple of times, simply because I was terrified of driving back from the study.

So one day at work,on the day of the Bible study, I was already stressing over the drive. Feeling a little silly, I simply ask God "I'm really scared to go there, but I don't want to miss it. Could you give me a sign or something so that I am not scared and that everything is going to be OK?"

With that, I went on with my day and on my way back home, just a block from my own house, the Lord gave me a sign.
You see, there is this guy in my neighborhood who had a 2-3yo boy. I've seen them out walking by their house every other day, but never really paid much attention. I probably wouldn't that day either, but as I drove past them, something almost took my head gently and turned it towards them.
The little boy was riding one of those Little Tykes cars - the one where you have to peddle with your feet. He looks so content and happy and totally oblivious to his dad "towing" him by a rope or a twine or something. To the boy it looked like he was driving, but it was the father who actually made it move and watched the street for any cars driving by to make sure that his son was safe.

At that moment, I don't think I have the capacity to describe the feeling, a sort of an explosion went off in my brain. It was such unspeakable love that poured out of everything around me, and went through me and around me, that I knew at an instant - God Himself was there in the car with me. He arranged those strangers to be there to show me that He was the one who "drove my car", He was the one that protected me from danger, I was merely His child and he wanted me to enjoy the ride and trust him completely.

I started crying and shaking, but those were the happiest tears of my life. It was also a bit frightening, because something inside of me knew that what I have felt was a mere glimpse of His presence, and it was so powerful, that I don't think I would be able to remain standing or living, had He presented himself to me in all His glory.
But the Love, oh the love..if only I could bottle this feeling and savor it forever. Our weak bodies and minds forget so quickly the feeling so awesome, and we hold on to the bad and the painful. But if I could feel that love always as sharply as in that moment..surely my life and my walk would be so different.

After that, driving got easier. Whenever I would get frightened, or stuck in a difficult situation (getting stuck in a torrential downpour with nowhere to turn off) I would simply remind myself - He is the one driving this car, I'm just coming along for the ride.

I try to apply this to other parts of my life as well. Its not easy, but that such simple, yet such personal gesture of love that He showed me - makes it easier to trust Him. He knows exactly what speaks to our hearts, and how to tell us what He wants us to hear. I just pray that I am always willing to hear Him.

Oct 8, 2010

Yay, they're here!

So, Kim and Bryan are finally here. So far so good, very minimal reaction to the cat, for which I am very thankful. Gio is basking in all the attention and its a lovely and sunny day outside.
After a yummy breakfast, we are getting ready to tour my office, then probably head out to the stone mountain, or the Ethiopian restaurant in town. Then to the farmer's market!
Then we will make some yummy food and maybe watch a funny movie.

Yay! Im having too much fun, although I now have a full-blown cold, it doesn't bother me all that much.

Oct 6, 2010

"Want" vs "Have to"

Throughout my life I've always had a problem with doing things that other people told me I "had" to do. Even when I was little, if I had to wash the dishes, had to put away my clothes, or had to do my homework - it was a sure bet that I will not do them.

Even now, now and then I tend to fall into the same pattern. And the more urgency that "have to" is, the more time I will take not doing it. I have to get a password, and I've been procrastinating it for the past 2 months.
I have to work on my some graphics for the game that my husband is working on for a contest, and I've been avoiding my computer like the plague for some reason. Forget the cast that I actually enjoyed working on it last time.

At some point over the years I started analyzing myself in that regard. Well, what exactly makes me want to procrastinate when completing an important task or a chore? I am definitely not lazy - I enjoy work. I enjoy doing chores, actually. Then I think I'm started to realize that if I remove the "Have to" and replace it with "I want", things are not only done, but I actually enjoy doing them.
Of course, some things for me are still a project and a half. Like going to a bank, for example. It's simple, the bank is really close, driving there is easy and safe, and the people inside are nice and give you lollyppops. But I dread it.I don't know why.
But the "I want" helped a lot with other things. Most days, I can't wait to get home and do some house work. Maybe because its been a while we had a nice house, and playing house is fun.
I am, however, grooming my son to be my unpaid laborer. He find cleaning fun for now, and I try to keep it up. The other day he "helped me" washing dishes.

Do you have things in your life that you have trouble with accomplishing for reasons you can't explain?

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