[rejoice, pray, be thankful: 2012]

It has been a wild year, 2012 was.

We have survived the “end of the world” twice… in May and in December.

I don’t think I’ve had as many changes ever before.

But while it was a tough year, there were so many blessings as well.

Even though dear friends have had to move away, I’ve got new friends.

Even though I gave up a couple of ministries at Church, I got a new one, more global.

Even though sometimes it was hard to go on, there was always strength for one more step – and one more… and one more.

This fall I’ve heard various people share about what rejoicing means and I am thankful for those thoughts.

So I rejoice because I am still here and even if the world will end within the next hour, I do have hope for where I am going.

Selfishly, I am tempted to pray for this year to have less big changes… and at the same time, I want to pray God will continue to shape my life into what He wants it.

And I am thankful…

Oh, there are so many people and things I am thankful for.

My friends, my family, my church, my co-workers…

2013, welcome. 

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[a weekend in Kyiv]

Continuing the series of Glimpses of Ukraine, I decided to share a few more photos of my city.

I like to take pictures of odd (or simply random) stuff. I find it more fun (especially since I don’t usually have my normal camera with me and use iPhone one).

This advertising was hilarious for my RedShift University friends: it talks about quantum hair removal. I am still trying to figure out how quantum mechanics can have anything in common with body hair, but obviously according to this ad, it has everything to do with it.

The little driver. Spring has finally come to Ukraine and the snow is gone. It’s time for cars!

This is someone’s chimney. The cat is not real. Yet it looks so cute!

There is a Church (I can’t remember whether it’s Orthodox or Catholic – I think it is Orthodox, taking into account the murals on the walls) with iron-wrought ornaments.

One of the older buildings in the city. I remember the time when there were more homes like this.

Half-destroyed facade of another house in a forlorn area. I love the open window and the fact that you can see trees behind the windows.

And finally, this picture was taken yesterday morning at the bus stop next to my Church.

Yes, the lady is wearing a bathrobe and slippers. Yes, her hair is up in curlers. Yep, she has a laundry basin in her arms (and she even had clothes in that basin). I have no idea whether she lost a bet / gone mad / or it was some kind of a reality show “Smile, you’re on camera.” Either way, I was surprised to see this.

[hugs experiment]

In a monthly digest of best commercials done by adme.ru, this one attracted my attention.

Pro Infirmis conducted an experiment…

Wouldn’t you hug that good looking bear?

Would your answer change if you knew who’s “inside” of that bear?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFWr-CKMWGY]

There are only a few people who don`t have empathy with disabled people. Nevertheless, the passenger seat in the public bus next to Fabian often stays empty. Handicapped people are a regular part of our society.

So, get closer.

Pro Infirmis

Do we really need to mask ourselves to be loved?

Do we really need to pretend we’re someone else for people to like us?

[hobbies]

My pathological distaste for “right answers” sometimes leaves me wondering whether I am being judgmental or I simply prefer honesty.

I realized the other day that I simply don’t trust people when they give me one of the “right answers”… The thing is, they might actually mean what they say… but still.

The reason why I have thought of it right now is because I have just read a few biographies of Christian band members. The band is Belorussian. I’ve never heard them, but heard of them. So it seemed logical to go to their website and read what they are all about.

Every band member had to answer a set of questions.

Two of those questions were about the authority figure in one’s life and one’s hobbies.

Majority of the band answered that their authority figure is God and their hobby is to read the Bible.

And this was the moment when I had to double-check myself because I found myself thinking “Oh really? Sounds too good to be true.”

My main beef wasn’t even about authority figure, but about reading Bible as a hobby.

A hobby.

Really.

A hobby is knitting or collecting Coca-Cola cans or riding a bike. The dictionary defines it as “an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation.”

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t have anything against reading the Bible. But it’s not a hobby. It is not always pleasant. It is not always relaxing. There are a lot of passages we can read to make us feel good – and our God is a God who cares about His children and makes His love known to us. However, there are a lot of passages that speak of so-called God’s “tough love.” The love that says that we cannot go on living like we do; the love that says that we should change something in us… And that ain’t always an easy process!

Do you think reading the Bible can be a hobby?

[justice?]

Thoughts inspired by C.S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces.

“We must go to your true judges now. I am to bring you there.”

“My judges?”

“Why, yes, child. The gods have been accused by you. Now’s their turn.”

“I cannot hope for mercy.”

“Infinite hopes — and fears — may both be yours. Be sure that, whatever else you get, you will not get justice.”

“Are the gods not just?”

“Oh no, child. What would become of us if they were?”

Till We Have Faces, C.S. Lewis

“You are not fair!” That’s a phrase God hears often.

We feel wronged by Him when something goes not the way we expected.

Fox’ wise quote from Till We Have Faces brings it into perspective.

It’s a good thing God is not completely just toward us.

It’s an amazing news that He also has grace and mercy.

waiting-down

[daniel 12:12]

Blessed is the one who waits.

Daniel 12:12, NIV

Sometimes even the most willing person, who eagely desires to serve the Lord, does not know what direction to take. Simply wait – but wait in prayer. He will come at the right time to fulfill His vision for you. (That was the little devotion part on the calendar.)

Blessed is the one who waits. I know. I want to be blessed because I waited. But it’s so hard. It’s hard because you never know when this period of waiting will end, what will happen afterwards, and what you are supposed to do while waiting.

That was my daily Bible verse for yesterday – sort of rubbed the truth in, because all that ‘waiting’ and ‘right time’ themes were on my mind all day (even though I forgot to turn the page on my calendar).

*Sigh*

[after-event]

I have been scarce these week. I think I commented more on others’ blogs than I wrote in my own. Not that it’s a bad thing, just sayin’.

I am glad that it’s already September 23rd which means that the event on 22nd has passed.

I just helped out so I didn’t really feel the weight of the event on myself, but I could see the strain my friends were under… and often, I couldn’t really do anything to help.

I guess I am just spent, emotionally – which is not an entirely new thing for me. It happens after almost all events. This shall pass in a few hours.

For now, I am just glad that we’re all alive and functioning.

Life is good.

Morning-sun_45v

[monday morning moments]

The office is so quiet. Yes, I have Air1 music playing, but there’s no usual conversations’ hum or soft sounds of the keyboards as the countless e-mails are sent out. The reason for quietness: I came to work at 7:40AM this morning – usually I come around 9:30AM.

Sunday was amazing. But it’s Monday now and therefore…

God, I thank You for this amazing, warm and sunshiny day. 

Here’s this week. You are timeless and therefore you are in every day of the week. Help me be who You want me to be… and not rush things that are not meant to be rushed. 

Here are my friends. Bless them.

Here’s me. Use me. 

Amen.

Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.

Colossians 4:2, NLT

[caption please]

I took this photo yesterday with my cell phone. It is definitely good to have a camera on the cell phone – life in Kyiv is interesting at times because you cannot even imagine what you are going to see the next minute.

The man and the horse just stood there, not moving… I was there for a few minutes, they haven’t changed their position…

caption please?