Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pray for the Persecuted Church

Just wanted to share this Voice of the Martyr's website where you can write letters to Christians imprisoned for their faith ~  The kids loved this and we spent all afternoon writing letters to Uzbekistan, Pakistan, China, Vietnam & North Korea.

We have a dear friend of ours Joseph in his early 30's who told us about growing up with his father in a prison work camp.  He said one year someone from Voice of the Martyr's somehow got their address and sent them a huge box of candy.  Their family (8 children) were on the brink of starvation and the Mother took the *black market* American candy and sold it.. enough to buy bread and oatmeal to feed their family for an entire year!   Joseph was a baby when his father was sent away to prison for refusing to stop teaching his children about God.  He returned home when Joseph was 16 years old.. in very poor health and died 10 month later.  Joseph told us he only knew him for 10 months but he said the one thing he would always remember about him was 'he had absolutely no fear of man, he only feared God and knew God personally in a way most everyone else didn't.'

I'm rambling..  :) but have been thinking lately about the importance of teaching our children that people suffer because of their faith;  it's not a rosy picnic, it's not health, wealth and happiness.  And we need to remember in our prayers the people around the world suffering for their faith.
Here's some random pictures of the kids playing in front of our house.  I started laughing while I was looking at them.. thinking back to the gorgeous beauty of the Texas hill country and the parks we would take the kids to and the fun water crossings ~ and yet the kids have had a total blast all week building boats and floating them in the ditch filled with vodka bottles and trash.. every bit as much fun as in Kerrville.
Caleb reminds me so much of his 'live life to the fullest' Uncle Matthew.  He even has all the pyromaniac qualities of Uncle Matt!! :)  Oh and in case anyone is wondering.. no we don't randomly let them play with fire.. but every spring everyone burns away the old dead grass... it's one of Caleb's most anticipated holidays.  

Friday, April 17, 2009

Good Friday

Russia follows the Orthodox calendar so we are celebrating Easter this Sunday.  It's been a special week of reading, crafts, cleaning the house & yard (another really good Russian tradition ~ you HAVE to clean your house right before Easter :).  In case anyone is interested for next year.. had some wonderful readings and ideas to do with children.   Also my friend Phyllis at

So yesterday we made the hill of Golgotha out of playdooh and planted some cactus.  I laughed so hard at David's comment while we were hard at work..
Me: So imagine Jesus walking up the hill, what kind of trees did he see.. birch, maple, apple?
Rachel: lots of cactus and short, scraggly trees
David: WAIT A MINUTE!!!  You mean Jesus died in TEXAS??!@!!!?!?!@  (the look on his face was priceless)  (note to concerned Grandparents we really DO teach him things.. he just gets confused easily..sometimes...)

Tonight after our reading from Matthew, Caleb carefully took our pipe cleaner Jesus down off the cross and laid him in the tomb and then we placed a stone over the tomb.  Johanna has loved playing with this ~ so much so the kids have already asked that we keep it for the centerpiece of the table even after Easter.
Our friend Olga came over to help us color eggs ~ special memories!
Thank you for all your prayers for James this past week.  He was very glad to be able to attend his Father's memorial service.  It literally was a miracle he was able to go ~ when we entered the country in February we were told we couldn't leave the country for the next 90 days, but somehow the paperwork got cleared and James received his passport back the very day before his father's death.  Anyway, it was neat to see how God worked so James could be with his family during this time.  It's been very special this week to prepare for Easter and think about dear Grandpa Jack in his new body in fullness of JOY with his Savior.  I've had the words to this song 'I will rise' in my head all week.. 'Jesus has overcome and the grave is overwhelmed.'  Here's the link if you want to listen ~   May you rejoice today that the victory is won!

Oh and just two more random funnies from Rachel.  Today I had the news on my homepage and there was a heading 'Obama appoints border Czar'.   Rachel gasped 'You mean there's going to be another Czar?!?  I thought when they killed Nicolas that was the last of the Czars!?  I guess Obama didn't get the memo about no more Czars ;)  

Also why practicing her piano tonight she was playing a minuet by Bach ~ I said 'honey that note right there is not right.'  'Oh yeah, I know, I changed it just a little bit because I thought it sounded better my way.'  Hmmm so my 10 year old thinks she can improve on Johann Bach, now that's funny!  

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Grandpa Jack is rejoicing with his Savior

Surrounded by his loving wife, sons and much loved Grandbabies;  Grandpa Jack went into his Lord and Savior's presence this afternoon.  He fought a good fight, he kept the faith ~ what an example his life has been to all.  His funeral will be Friday in Borger, Texas.  Thank you for your love and prayers for our family.  James will be leaving this Thursday morning to fly to the States. 

Saturday, April 04, 2009

It's all Grace!

I was going through some old pictures and came across this one from almost 3 years ago this July.  It was taken by a friend of ours who helped out with summer English camp and is right now getting ready to head to Ukraine to work with International Messengers (this is Anna Hunsucker's blog if anyone is interested ~

Anyway I love, love this picture so much ~ I want to frame it in black & white and put a verse below like 'Have mercy on me a sinner.'  To me it's a modern day word picture of Luke 18
 9He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10"Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee,  standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 13But the tax collector,  standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' 14I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted."
Oh what a dangerous thought it is to think that I am better, more committed, higher standards, know 'more truth', or have done something to make me more blessed by God.  No way.. it's GRACE ~ ALL GRACE ~ and nothing more.   That's why I want this picture framed in my house.. it's something I constantly need reminded of.. 

Thank you for praying for James, Ksenya and Rachel as they were leaders in the Youth Games.  It was an incredible ministry!   So many youth heard a clear presentation of the Gospel for the first time.  James is hoping to have the organization come and have a 3 day seminar next October during the big school holiday.  Praying this will work out ~ what a neat opportunity this would be in our city!  Oh and Rachel's team won second place!  and best of all won all three of their basketball games.  Rachel was the star of the team!!  (sometimes it's nice being a big fish in a small pond, because in the States she wasn't quite the star ;)  Oh and JoJo ~ when you want to take a picture of her she runs away.. when you DO NOT want her in the picture......

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Please pray for Grandpa Jack

Many of you know that James' wonderful Father has been very sick/bedridden for quite some time.. His condition worsened significantly this past week.  We would appreciate your prayers for LaNell and the rest of the family.   It is very hard to be so far away during this time.

I keep thinking about Psalm 73:

"Nevertheless I am continually with you;  You hold me by my right hand.

You will guide me with your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.

Whom have I in heaven but You?

And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.

My flesh and my heart fail;  But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

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