Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Catching up...

Did you ever just have 'one of those weeks'?? The past two weeks for us have brought a burned up computer - thankfully the hard-drive was salvaged!! My wisdom tooth decided to appear knocking my last molar at a 90 degree angle and causing not just a little bit of discomfort.. I was supposed to get the wisdom tooth pulled yesterday but the Dr. was sick so I'm on hold. Please pray as going to the Dentist here tops my list of 'things I never want to do in this lifetime.' A messed up transmission on the van, Johanna finally cutting her two front teeth (can we all say HALLELUIAH!) and quite a few visitors rounded out my schedule. So know you know why I haven't updated the blog :)

But we did get to celebrate our precious Johanna Joy's FIRST birthday!! We had such a wonderful celebration! Of course Johanna could have cared less; but the siblings were very excited and made cards, had a fancy meal to which we invited Andrei & Inna, Summer, Chris & Camilla. Johanna is such a sweetie and I wanted to take the time to write a little story about how we came up with her name.. I actually wanted to write this when we sent out her birth announcement but forgot (sleep deprivation hit early!:)

When I was in my third month of the pregnancy I went to the Doctor to get my thyroid checked. She kept saying that because my thyroid was low I should have an abortion and went on and on about 'you have 3 healthy children, why would you want another?' Later that day I walked over to where we were in the process of building our house; our next door neighbor is an abortion Doctor and his wife in his assistant. The wife saw me walking outside and came out to talk.. she had just found out I was pregnant and went on & on about 'why in the world would you want another child, they are SO much work!!' At the end of our conversation she even offered me a discount at their clinic. I went home that night and felt discouraged and overwhelmed - I wondered did we really have the emotional strength to love and teach FOUR children?!? I couldn't sleep so I got up and opened my Bible to the Psalms - I started to read Psalm 30 which says 'His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, but JOY comes in the morning.' As I sat there reading I heard a little whisper that said to me 'Don't you worry Susan, this one is going to be your Joy-giver.' I was so encouraged that when I told James about it the next morning we decided that if it was a girl her middle name would be Joy.

Her birth was such a miracle and she has truly brought our family abundant Joy! Just last night Rachel had Johanna in bed with her 'cuddling'. I told Rachel it was time for bed, and Rachel smothered Johanna with kisses and hugs and said 'But I just love her so much I want to keep cuddling forever!' God knew exactly what our family needed and sent us precious Johanna Joy as a priceless treasure. We love you little Joy-giver!
With all our love,
Your Adoring Family

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Babushka Nadeshda

Last week the children and I were walking in the woods and kept finding mushrooms that I didn't know the names of (and if they were edible). We found a Grandmother with her knife and basket also gathering mushrooms and decided to ask her... she was friendly and asked the usual 'are ALL these children yours' etc. etc. questions. She talked on and on and told us she had just moved to Nara-Faminsk 10 months ago from way up in Siberia and was very lonely. She then invited us to come to her apartment later in the week for tea. I told her we'd love to but only if she promised just to have *tea* and not fix a meal or anything fancy. She promised over and over to just have 'an apple cake & tea.' So a few days later we all arrived at her apartment.. there in her tiny kitchen she had prepared potatoes and mushrooms, two different salads, hot dogs, pickles and up on the windowsill because there was no room on the table... an apple cake. She just loved having children around; ooohed and ahhed over Johanna while she shoveled three pieces of cake into Caleb. As we visited she began to cry as she talked about her 25 year old son that was killed in a car accident 4 years ago.. he was so strong and handsome and had tried out for the Russian downhill ski team. She said after his death she became so angry and bitter that she drove her husband of 30 years away; she now was alone and terribly sad and lonely. As we left she hugged and kissed the children and thanked us over and over for coming and to please come back soon... 'very soon, I haven't been so happy for a long time.' Later that night I was reading a book by Brennan Manning in which he made the statement 'When we bring a smile to someone in pain, we have brought Christ to them.' Hmmm, his comment really made me reflect on the truth that sure James goes out and leads a Bible study but our entire family right down to Caleb and Johanna can share Christ by being focused on giving Christ-like love to the lonely, discouraged and hopeless people around us. There was a dozen other things James could have been doing that afternoon besides eating hotdogs in a Grandmother's apartment... and yet 'Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their afflection.' James 1:27 tell us. So pray for Nadeshda and the countless other Grandmothers God brings into our lives. Pray for James as he hauls their potatoes for them - that in all things that people will know that we are HIS disciples because we do have love for others.

Here's Rachel in the woods that day feeding sunflower seeds to a squirrel. She was beyond thrilled and now has plans for a pet squirrel.

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