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Blog

Saying Good-bye to the 2016-2017 School Year

The kids keep growing up. See them, up in front  – light hair, light-colored clothes.

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New Milestone! At the JV Spring conference, Marissa was invited to be in the kids program with all the big kids because she is a first grader now.

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Dylan just finished another year of preschool, and looks forward to going back for one more year in order to get some more Polish under his belt! He is a November birthday, so not prematurely rushing into first grade is the best choice for him.

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This week we also said good-bye to first grade. One year is already under Marissa’s belt. This week was the “last bell” which means the last day of school. It is basically just an outdoor assembly.

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She was so precious in her school uniform, with her little bell to ring to say good-bye to first grade.

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We have had a series of performances and shows over the past two months for both Dylan and Marissa…

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There were so many that I need to make a video for them, so that they don’t forget the incredible school experience that they have had thus far. I rejoice in the teachers and schools that God has blessed us with.

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I am more than satisfied. The kids are more than satisfied. Marissa didn’t have a report card, per se, but the paragraphs of development that she has experienced since September make us very proud. And Dylan always gets good reviews from his teachers, too, especially from the music teacher!

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On their last day of school, in the evening, they had a spontaneous performance at the Lviv Music School #2. The piano was so big and they were so little. But they rocked it!

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What a big year of small transitions. I don’t know where I’d be without our dear Nadya who has sat with them hours upon hours while they are in swimming or dance, walking them from school to dance to swimming to park to home, so that the time that I spend with them at home is not choppy and spent waiting for them places, but that it is quality time. God always takes care of His children. It doesn’t always turn out the way we think it should, but He is so faithful.

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One more area I am thankful for is in the realm of being with kids’ parents this year. We have relationships, some deeper than others, with almost every single parent in the class. It is a friendly and open environment among the parents. And since there are only 14 kids (!!!!!!!! Another one of God’s blessings!), it is a nice, manageable group. More ice cream dates, that is for sure!

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Subject Matter Experts and Jacks of All Trades

Missionaries are people, which means they have good and bad days. On a bad day, you’ll find my mind far, far away, using my MBA to be a good FLDP (finance leadership development program) graduate and SME (subject matter expert) in FMS (financial management systems), like SAP and Hyperion. (I just recalled how much we used abbreviations in that job…it was kind of ridiculous.) Oh, how I can look back still and truly mourn those days. I loved that life I left. Everything was so clear. So, so clear. I loved my job. I got paid to think about one thing all day long ~ how to implement and then train LMCO (Lockheed Martin) finance employees on these software systems. I got to work with accounting and with people and with training. It was a dream job, and I was good at it. I know it is a little unrealistic to ponder, but where would I be today if I had kept going in this direction that I left in 2006? I sincerely don’t think that this is a “grass is always greener” issue that many missionaries often struggle with. That grass really was green there. Luscious. Life-giving. And that job was one of my primary mission fields; each day I worked on being a good Christian witness to the people I worked with. I know that God was pleased, and I am so grateful for the four years I had there.

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That ten-plus-years-ago life still affects me today. Recently I was talking to my friend Mark Krupa, a long-time missionary in Czech Republic, who we have known since 2002. I really respect his ministries, the way he loves teenagers, the way he loves God. He is also a formal spiritual mentor/coach for many, many men, and so I appreciated the questions that he asked and the advice that he gave.

I went to Mark because Mark is focused on a few things, to which he is 100% devoted. He mentors men and invests in junior high kids. For this season of Mark’s life, those two things take the lion’s share of his time. Mark is incredibly disciplined and arranges his time and puts up boundaries so as not to be distracted by other things. He works hard in order to always have healthy margin, which he claims is critical for being spiritual and physically healthy for the long haul as a leader. He does not feel guilty about not doing other things; he does not mourn the things he has given up to focus 100% on the things he does today.

Marks’s style is one style, which I like to call, from my Lockheed Martin days, the “subject matter expert”, simply meaning that he is very deeply invested in just a few things. On another side of the spectrum is the “jack of all trades” style, which means you wear many different hats and play multiple roles without going too deep in any one, unless you must. The jack of all trades can be a manager who oversees multiple departments, or a “fixer” as we call it in Ukraine, who is constantly solving problems. Or this role can be for people like me, who have no one defined role or place on the team. My “job description” is so wide that it encompasses many different areas, but does not give me the privilege of going too deep into any one area or developing myself fully; just when I start to dive in to something longer term, something else comes up in a different area where I have to fill in. I call myself a “filler”. But is this actually a good thing?

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I keep this note on my bulletin board, front and center, as a reminder that the Jack of All Trades role will mess with my mind and will mess me up if I’m not careful. You can only be in one place at one time. Multi-tasking has actually been proven to be a detriment to productivity. Being spread too thin will kill you. I need to narrow my scope. But how, when my passion and capacity constantly work against me? How can I narrow my scope when I know 100% that God does not want me to become a subject matter expert again, because that would be a natural detriment to my family and my organization? There is beauty in the ability to be a “filler” and having the flexibility to do so. I don’t appreciate my role enough.

At the same time, I still need to narrow my scope. I still need the Holy Spirit to help me focus on a few areas of life and ministry, and give me the freedom to let the other spheres go, at least for a season. The good news is that while talking with Mark, the Holy Spirit was kind to reveal to me that, for this season until August 1st (a Fuller Seminary deadline) I have three main priorities:

  • Care for my family. Make sure my kids have all that they need each day. Maintain the home life, but don’t feel like I need to get ahead in anything. It is summer, for pete’s sake.
  • Write the first 45 pages of my dissertation, which will be made up of a literature review on the existing context of Ukrainian/Eastern European partnership between public schools and Protestant volunteers for the sake of holistic teenage development and the spread of the Gospel.
  • Love the people around me, particularly my church, my youth team, my UA team, and the teenagers with whom I come in contact with from schools and camps.

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Honestly, in many ways I feel guilty even typing this up and putting it on proverbial paper. Where are my hobbies? Where are my girls? Where is my beloved language study? Where are those projects I promised “I’ll get to it this summer, when there is more time”? Where is my financial hat that I constantly wear for the organization? The list could go on.

Realistically, life does not afford us the luxury to turn off and turn on the tasks that we want, whenever we want. There is no magic formula. But I do know one thing. In order to understand what God is asking from us in the big things, we must live by listening to the Holy Spirit in the little things. Day by day; moment by moment.

At the end of my conversation that night with Mark Krupa, he reminded me that life is all about total surrender. We surrender all those areas to the Lord, and trust that the Holy Spirit will lead us into the things He has for us. The Spirit will tell me about the big things and the little things, but I must go to Him constantly and lay it ALL on the alter. Every single day. Do I trust Him enough to let even the things I am most passionate about go by the wayside, because God might be doing something different? Do I have the confidence in Christ that He is big enough to accomplish His work, and that I don’t have to be all things to all people, and that I don’t have to take the movement upon my own shoulders? So who knows, maybe my schedule will get turned upside down before August 1st. Maybe it won’t. But I do know that the most important thing is advising with the Spirit in all things, every single day, and letting Him set the agenda. Whether I am a Subject Matter Expert or a Jack of All Trades doesn’t really matter, as long as I let Him be in the driver’s seat in every moment. blogFusionCampAdvertisement

JV Conference on Psalm 23

I wrote this in reflection after attending our annual Josiah Venture family spring conference. Our president, Dave Patty, prepared all the teaching for the conference based on shepherding, our Great Shepherd, Jesus, and Psalm 23.
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He leads me beside still waters. 
He prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies. 
I will fear no evil in the valley of the shadow of death.
  •  Going into countless high schools over the past weeks to teach English in their class periods and advertise for camps
  • working with the department of education on some volunteer projects
  • doing EXIT Tour twice in 3 months with the same city
  • scheduling Fusion concerts as follow-ups after EXIT
  • launching a new Fusion in a new town with a new Department of Education…
 Honestly, often these activities are in direct stand against the enemy of hell, who wants to ruin our ministries. It can be hard to connect these activities with still waters because often the atmospheres feel far from still. Perhaps valleys of the shadow of death is the better Psalm 23 phraseology, because the level of skepticism, fear, and even hatred toward the Protestant church, and sometimes towards us as individuals.
 
For example, all in one day…
  • Parents were making Facebook comments that our EXIT tour band, Crossfya, is a sect.
  • One school denied partnership completely.
  • Another school in another town just threatened to cancel the Fusion launch concert.
  • Meeting parents of pupils on the street, hearing that their parents won’t let them come to camp or hand out with us.
 This is the spiritual atmosphere we work in. It is exhausting all the time in this spiritual persecution-prone region of Western Ukraine. I am thankful for the rod, the staff, the banquet table and the oiled head, which we also see as word pictures in Psalm 23. Great reminders that the Shepherd is neither startled nor stressed by my above-mentioned issues, and that I really lack nothing when entering into these daily conflicts.
On a lighter note, here is a picture of my incredible husband, playing JV Pictionary at the conference with some other fearless team leaders. I so appreciate Ben’s ability to enter into all of the chaos of the spiritual climate of this region and be a firm anchor. He is steadfast and has a firm foundation in our Lord in difficult times. I am so thankful to be in this with him.
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Reformation 500-Year Anniversary – Live from Wittenberg!

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Protestant churches all over the world are gearing up for the celebration of 500 years since Martin Luther hung his 95 theses on this church door to make a statement against the inconsistencies he saw between Scripture and the practices in the church in 1517. Can you imagine? That was FIVE HUNDRED YEARS AGO! And it was certainly a statement that transformed society.

The effect that the Reformation had on Christianity still reverberates to this day.

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Therefore it was a huge blessing to be in GERMANY in 2017, and to get to visit the sites where the Reformation began! Imagine our surprise as we trained in to see this GIANT Bible with every single chapter and verse represented! “The Whole Bible On One Page” states the caption.

We saw where Luther lived; we visited the churches where he preached. We got to see the door where he personally hung the 95 theses in order to condemn the selling of indulgences. (This was so problematic because people were falsely made to feel safe that they had their “ticket to heaven,” which gave them carte blanche to live and behave however they wished until confronted with death. This is one of the scenes from the 360-degree panorama room created for the occasion. You can see the Theses hanging!blogPanoramicSceneWithLuther

blogMarissaLutherPanoramaThis is our second year in a row visiting Germany after our Josiah Venture annual Spring Conference. After we get refreshed for a week with the second-culture (serving in a country that is not considered your home country) missionary team of Josiah Venture, we drive a few more hours to Germany in order to do “country coaching”.

Country coaching is one of Ben’s Josiah Venture-level roles. He is assigned Germany, Latvia, and Estonia. Thus far in 2017, Ben and I were both in Latvia for a leadership conference; then Ben went up with Jack Webster, one of the JV Board Members, to Estonia for a visit with the JV Estonia “Koma” team for a few days. Then it was time once again to visit Jim and Lina in Germany.

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We had a great time there last year, seeing the city of Leipzig and visiting their youth ministry and refugee ministry. The kids had a blast for the second year in a row and now want to learn German. (Marissa told her classmates this week that it is okay that she won’t get her education paid for in Poland because she does not hold Polish documentation – it’s okay because she will probably study in Germany!) The kids know the word “eis”, which means ice cream, and kinder, which sounds like the beloved Kinder eggs, and are planning on eating lots of eis and kinderegg, now that they have finished almost a month of healthy eating.

EXIT Tour Round 2 with New Life!

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blogCrossfyaflyerAfter two months “off EXIT Tour”, we were back on. Our local church, New Life, in Lviv, where we have served for 10 years(!), was up next in line for an EXIT Tour. They had booked a band out of England, Crossfya, which was the same group that came last year and did a similar project. However last year we were granted only 2 hours in each school, and the tour was not promoted by the Dept. of Education in Lviv. Now we have more officially developed our program – we have even hired a full-time Ukrainian staff person, Nadya Vorobyova! Congrats, Nadya! (See the redhead next to Ben in the photo.) You are rocking it! Plus, June 15th-ish, Lee and Katie Humerian are moving to Ukraine to help further develop this program.

EXIT Tour ended last Friday, and we are still thinking about it. It is a huge commitment, and it will wipe you out physically, but the fruit that it produces and the connection of teens to a local church is so well worth it. On this tour I got to teach another 12 rounds of Personality Testing and Conflict Management with Classmates. It was so fun. Yulia and Yara from church were my translators. I really enjoyed teaching with them.

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Praising God for the 14 new kids that came to EXIT Club #1, for the 67 new kids that came to EXIT Club #2, for the 325 people in attendance at the final Friday night concert, and 62 new kids for the afterparty follow-up on the day after the conference. At the first Fusion rock-pop choir rehearsal after EXIT, there were 15 new teenagers. At youth group on Friday, we had 5 new kids.

Our teenagers at New Life have done a great job of building new relationships and staying connected in new peoples’ lives. We trust that this will bring about many new kids who find hope and joy in Jesus and a new group of friends who will build them up and share life together according to the way that God has created us to live.

Here are some photo highlights of Exit Tour Lviv New Life:

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“IT IS NOT FOR SCHOOL BUT FOR LIFE THAT WE ARE BEING EDUCATED.”

One of the schools chosen for us by the Dept. of Education was Gymnasium 85, which was ranked in the top 10 secondary schools of Lviv! It also made the top 50 schools in Ukraine! That is a huge deal. Therefore, I wasn’t as surprised when the main sign out in front of that school was in Latin!

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86 schools eligible for our programs (this means that 7th-11th grade is taught in their school) never ceases to amaze me. On tour, Yulia reminded me of how many schools already have partnership with us and our programs. We are chipping away at this number, one school and one face at a time…

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I love this picture above because this was at our second Exit Club, when 67 new kids came. We played a lot of games and hung out, but we also did a sharing time. Tim, from the Crossfya band, had a chance to share his personal story of why and how he chose to follow Jesus Christ when he was 16 years old. We pray that many teens were inspired, transformed, and saved because of Tim’s willingness to boldly share Christ in front of many. Syava also helped in sharing the Gospel, and we would be no where without Olya’s amazing translation skills, which often bring the Christian message from English into to Ukrainian THROUGH HER. This is a joint effort. Like here, where Olya, Christy and Chris are all on stage, bringing their personalities into light in order to bless large bodies of students, not even caring if this is an event for their local church or someone else’s. It is all about the shared effort we in Josiah Venture Ukraine play in order to make Jesus known.

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We praise God that He was glorified during EXIT tour. I had key conversations with two Rostyks that I have known for many years from School 51. I love the fact that we didn’t even intentionally do Exit tour at 51 this year, yet the seeds planted from our work many years ago are budding and growing. One Rostyk finally accepted Christ after all these years! Another agreed to start playing floorball and reconnect with our church after a long (and he confessed, lonely) period away.

What kind of love is this??
God never stops drawing people to Himself. He died so that we might have life. Which life will you choose? It is up to each person individually. Choose Jesus! 

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Dual Language Bible Project

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For the past two years I have been team Ukraine’s representative for a dual-language Bible printing project with Josiah Venture. A very large donation was given so that any country where Josiah Venture serves could order 5,000 modern-translation Bibles in a dual language format. This means English plus the national language spoken, for example, Ukrainian.

We had to go through rounds of permissions, rounds of discussions with publishers, lots of editing and proof texting, etc.

This was a huge joint effort. The guy in the picture is my Czech contact who is incredible at coordinating large-scale projects like this. My teammates Yulia, Olya and Chris were key in design and edits. Yulia was in contact with the Ukrainian Bible Society in order to get us permission and access to the Bible translation that we wanted. God was kind and Yulia must have made an impression, because they gave the file to us, whereas with other countries in JV, their permissions are still hung up in bureaucracy.

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This Bible project has been an absolute joy. There are thousands of Ukrainians whose lives will be changed by reading the Word of God. There is only one nuance…we have five pallets of these, and they need to get into Ukraine! It’s far more poundage than we could ever imagine. Pray for creative solutions and God’s favor over His Word. It never goes out void.

All Staff In a School for Spring17

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Recently Ben and I have pushed “All Staff in a School” ministry philosophy. These are two of my schools that I pray for often.

“All Staff in a School” is a phrase we came up with, based on our JV President, Dave Patty’s saying of “All Staff on the [Disciple-making] Path”, meaning that every Josiah Venture staff person should be discipling younger believers at different points in their relationship with Jesus. Every staff member needs to be investing in non-Christians, in new Christians, in experienced disciple-makers, and in leaders of disciple-making ministries.

We feel that every staff person in Ukraine also needs to be committed to a local school or two in order to be building trust with the administration, teachers, and grades 7-11 in that school. The easiest way for this to happen is for a foreigner to take a Ukrainian staff member who speaks English, and head to English classrooms and teach 45-minute English lessons. Native speaker exposure is a need that almost every school has in Ukraine. So the doors are very open. Then, once we have built relationships in the schools, we invite all the kids to English, music, and sports camps. We invite them to EXIT Tour rap concerts. We invite them to English clubs and June picnics.

Imagine if every staff person in our organization had their own school where they were investing. That means 20 staff, so 20 different schools. It is harder for Ukrainians to find their own in, if it is not done through English, but music, photography, social justice/health/child development/teen psychology/emotional healing lectures are just as effective. We praise God for open doors!

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The Kids Surprise Me Every Day

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I have not written in so long about the kids. It is hard to believe that we recently experienced our first ever Spring Break with a school-aged child. It was not a super eventful week, but Marissa is thrilled to “sleep in” (meaning getting up at 6:30), not doing homework (although she still does her workbooks), and getting a few hours with her babysitter, Nadya, while Dylan still goes to preschool.

(We prefer to do our  family “spring” vacation later in June, when we know there will be no school. Unfortunately in Lviv they do not usually appoint breaks in a timely manner. Often the Dept. of Education decides weeks before the actual holiday/vacation…no year-long school calendar planned a decade in advance here…)

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These pictures are from the kids’ most recent performances. Marissa was an angel (clearly) and a old wife (Baba) sending her husband to the store for ingredients for soup. However, the old husband, Romek (see photo) was not listening (shocker) and heard he needed to buy tools, screws, etc. It was precious and all done by memory. Recently we were at a birthday party, and they were both there and did an impromptu performance for us. Bravo!

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(Dylan and Ruza – with the purple glasses – are in the same preschool class, but they are honorary members of Marissa’s class and get in on the treats when the opportunity allows.) Here Dylan and Ruza have their own performance to attend:

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Here are Marissa’s best friends: Olya, Zosia, and Dylan:

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Here, Marissa’s class went to the theater. Dylan came along, of course. It was The Emperor’s New Clothes, in Polish. The man was in a wacky wig and old-fashioned George Washington era underwear. The kids loved it.

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Right now, some of the family drama has been related to Luka, a naughty boy in Dylan’s class who bites and goes potty on other kids; Dylan has been kissing the girls; the temptation for Marissa to break the rules on our “healthy eating” regime is very strong (sin crouches at her door in the form of M&Ms). We are working on separate baths, separate changing rooms, and the need for privacy. It is not going very well.  Dealing with bickering and losing privileges was hard, particularly in the month of April, when we committed to no sugar/no treats. What else do we take away, when tv and iPad use are already at a low?

But really, they are doing great. They are growing in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man, or so I hope. That statement comes from Jesus’ life, and we pray that it is the same truth that will apply to our kids’ lives.

Easter and Salvation

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Happy Easter from Lviv, Ukraine!

We had a wonderful, true holiday weekend. No plans. We went to Thursday and Sunday church services, and we attended a small team dinner on Sunday night, but other than that we had 3 full days of rest.

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The kids were doing “healthy eating” through the month of April, so the 48 hours of Easter treats that we allowed were very carefully chosen. Have you had Mamba gummy fruits yet? Yum.
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We dyed eggs in record time. Each person got five eggs. By the time Dylan, Ben and I had dyed all of ours, Marissa was completing her first. They were so funny. But if anyone has an extra Paas clear wax crayon, we are in great need! Ours did NOT do the job!

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This Easter was more about songs for the kids program than poems. Marissa had a short poem; Dylan had just singing. They are far left on stage. Dylan is dapper in one of his many suits. (Last year my mom splurged on a bunch of discounted vest/dress shirt/tie/dress pants sets, so he almost has a fancy outfit for every day of the week. Luckily he doesn’t mind them, but we better start wearing them more often because otherwise, he’ll grow out of them.)

The best thing to report is that repentance has come to our home! On January 8th, Dylan responded to a Christian story and said that he wanted to join God’s family and be with God forever. Marissa declined and wanted to think about it. On April 1st, Marissa said that she was ready to become God’s child and be a follower of Jesus. These were truly special moments for our family. Pray for us and for wisdom as we continue to parent. Pray for the Holy Spirit to convict them in the way that they sometimes speak with disrespect and treat each other poorly.

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Easter Break Reading List

Reading has taken on a new meaning in our household. Besides having the two kids, who are reading more and more every day, including my text messages from my phone and other personal things they should not see…, my perspective on reading has recently changed.

After having from November 1-February 15 to read 19 books on youth, child development, church, and family, I realize that personal reading is now entirely achievable without stress or effort.

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So upon returning to Ukraine after turning in those 19 book reports to go along with those 19 books we read, I was curious if I was burned out on reading. It has been one month since we’ve been realistically back and able to pick up reading material again. Honestly, I didn’t expect myself to be craving books, but because anything seems feasible after doing such a marathon seminary list, I have conquered four totally different books over the past month.

One was for Fuller and for research. One was a requirement for my youth leadership team in Ukraine. One was recommended to me twice in 24 hours, which to me is always an indication from the Holy Spirit that I need to pay attention. And one was/is (because I am not quite done, but will be SOON!) a treat for reading three non-fiction.

Enjoy my March/April 2017 Reading List!

Growing-Young-6-Essential-Strategies-to-Help-Young-People-Discover-and-Love-Your-Church“Growing Young: 6 Essential Strategies to help young people discover and love your church” from Kara Powell,  Jake Mulder, and Brad Griffin at the Fuller Youth Institute: We’ll have to read this for seminary eventually, and it is a hot church topic right now. Plus, we sat in on a symposium of discussion around this book while we were at Fuller. You want a vibrant church filled with intergenerational ministry? Read this book!! There were so many practical things your church can do to utilize, partner with, embrace, and be blessed by younger generations in your church. My favorite two chapters were handing over the proverbial car keys of leadership to a younger generation. How do you entrust and equip young people so that they can freely take full ownership of their ministry area? I also loved the chapter on loving your community. The younger generation is attracted to causes and philanthropy. They want to make a real difference on society, not just spiritually, but also by meeting needs and fighting for social justice. This chapter was helpful to me for my research in figuring out how to better link churches with public school needs.

blogChurchDisciplineThe Handbook of Church Discipline by Jay Adams: Let me be honest – I liked this book far more than I expected to. It is a short read. It comes across as “scary” and worthy of skepticism because people in general do not understand what church discipline is in the first place. I was worried it was going to be uber-conservative and a complete turn-off. However, Adams explained all the Scriptural backing to the book and shared that it is a practice foreign to most Christians, even though there are many passages in the Bible, both from Jesus and from Paul, that talk about what to do when professing followers of Jesus Christ are choosing to live in sin and not repent and change their ways. What are our obligations to them as brothers and sisters in Christ? What does it mean to have to “hand him over to Satan”? These are strange Biblical topics that are addressed very well by this author. Of course God is the judge and law giver, but in the Body of Christ, we play our part in holding one another accountable to God’s Word, and sometimes we have to “expel the brother or sister”, but how do we do this with grace and compassion, allowing them to be sinners and accepting/loving them through their rebellion? Sticky situations! Good, quick read, particularly the parts about forgiveness and accepting the sinner back into the flock of Christ without going back to past sins.

blogtwoawesomehoursTwo Awesome Hours by Josh Davis, Ph.D.: Yes! I loved this book. Time management is my most relevant topic, both spiritual as well as practically, so I was eager to see what I needed to know about better work habits.
On our very last day at Fuller for our cohort, I looked around the room and made an educated guess at who the classmates are who will faithfully work each week on their first run at their dissertation, faithfully reading a book a week in order to reach that magic number of 100 books read, which is key for your literary review in defending your dissertation. I knew that I would not be one of those people because big projects like this make me anxious and always get crowded out by my family, my Josiah Venture tasks, and other priorities in life. How do we actually find time to work on “High Importance/Low Priority” (Covey’s 4 quadrants) projects in our life, when everything else seems to be so Highly Urgent? How do we dedicate the proverbial two awesome hours, our best hours of the day, to undistracted, dedicated focus on things that require our highest levels of brain power and focus?  I’m thankful that we have an organizational president like Dave Patty, who cares about these things, and who recommended this book. Pray for us, that we will dedicate more awesome hours to things that matter to God and in expanding His kingdom. I don’t want to waste my time on things that will not last.

blogRedeemingLoveRiversRedeeming Love by Francis Rivers: Last but not least, an oldie but a goody, and oh my word. Every woman Christian on the planet has recommended this book. Since 1991 it has become a classic in the library of female Christians, but I never got into the cover! I know the Bible book of Hosea, off of which the story is based, but the story line of marrying a woman who lives a promiscuous lifestyle and doesn’t want to marry him anyway just wasn’t all that interesting to me. However, I knew deep inside that I had to read it. So I threw it in my Amazon basket and finally picked it up. I was taking a long time in reading a few other books on my book list, so I honestly opened this one for a pick-me-up, knowing that reading fiction after so many other types of books would be encouraging to my pace. Since we are just today coming off a short Easter “break” – a nice long weekend, which allotted for personal reading time, I am happy to say that, yes, I love the book. Yes, it is totally captivating. Yes, I want to see how Michael Hosea melts Angel/Mara’s heart. Yes, I find myself filled with compassion for the women in this terrible, degrading lifestyle that seems to have absolutely no end or exit in sight. And, yes, it is encouraging to read a hundred pages in one brief sitting because the book is just that enthralling (not because I am speed reading and forcing myself because of some deadline).

That’s all I have for now, but I know that I have a Meest (courier service to UA) delivery coming with 8 Fuller Seminary must-reads for the summer. Plus two Christian biographies about people dying for their faith in the Middle East. I can’t wait! Even Marissa went to Miss Karilyn’s library (fellow missionary family in our city) and grabbed a handful of great girls’ books for 7-year-olds, so welcome to another reading marathon for the Williams family!