Psalm 63

Posted: December 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;

my soul thirsts for you;

my flesh faints for you,

as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,

beholding your power and glory.

Because your steadfast love is better than life,

my lips will praise you.

So I will bless you as long as I live;

in you name I will lift up my hands.


My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,

and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,

when I remember you upon my bed,

and meditate on you in the watches of the night;

for you have been my help,

and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.

My soul clings to you;

your right hand upholds me.


But those who seek to destroy my life

shall go down into the depths of the earth;

they shall be given over to the power of the sword;

they shall be a portion for jackals.

But the king shall rejoice in God;

all who swear by him shall exult,

for the mouths of liars will be stopped.





The Night Train

Posted: December 23, 2010 in Uncategorized

There are some things in life you just need to experience. In Ukraine, a popular form of transportation between towns is railroad. When we went to visit “D” we took what people here lovingly refer to as the “night train”. It sounds kind of ominous, doesn’t it? Like something out of a children’s horror novel, the night train moves silently through the black darkness of darkest blackness!

It’s not that bad. I’m offering up a few pics of our experience on the train. Full disclosure: this is a mash-up of two separate rides. One was a morning ride in a booth and one was…THE NIGHT TRAIN!!!

The night train sat dangerously on it’s steel fingers, pointing over the horizon to doom itself, and hissed at everyone who dared to walk by.

“Once the door is shut behind you,” said the conductor in his thin icy voice, “you’ll never know for sure why you ever stepped a foot on board.”

“I was on the night train once,” said Lucy, her eyes darting back and forth like fish in a bowl, “and I’ve seen children subjected to hours of…homework!”

It was eerie indeed. All of the adults on board had a sort of cardboard silliness on their faces. It was as if they were enjoying themselves, but only because they knew they had to. It was like something was watching.

Lucy’s eyes fell under a heaviness that cannot be explained, only felt. “Some children never get off the train,” she said. “And when they’ve been there too long…they…they lose their minds completely.”

Lucy stepped off the train, sunlight warming her face for the first time in what seemed like ages. Looking up she saw the bronze figure of McGillacuddy. In his hand was the largest microphone she had ever seen. “It looks like we’ve found him after all,” she giggled.

It was over. The night train had borne them through the darkest night. At last, they had found what they were looking for – the man who invented hammer pants. Lucy smiled and said, “Well, do we dare go back the way we came?”

Knock, Knock, Knock

Posted: December 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

Luke 11:9-13

9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

When life closes the door to the obvious, and our control of circumstances ebbs and fades, then we are driven to look for help. Our heart searches for that which can bring us certainty. Our mind lingers on the events of the possible – what could be, what might be. There is, however, only one option for anyone – that is what will be.

C.S. Lewis beautifully teaches this lesson in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Upon arriving back in Narnia, the Penvensie children are making their way to meet Prince Caspian and the remnant of Narnian fighters. Their path gives them two choices, one which looks difficult and unlikely and one which offers an easier trail. Lucy sees a fleeting glimpse of Aslan and feels he is beckoning them to follow the harder path. She insists that this is the direction to take, but she is overruled by the others. They doubt she has even seen Aslan. In the night, as they sleep, Lucy is awakened by song and has a meeting with Aslan in the forrest. He questions her disobedience as she tries in vain to defend her choice. In resignation, she asks the lion what would have happened if they had followed him the first time. His answer is a revelation.

“To know what would have happened, child?” said Aslan. “No, nobody is ever told that.”

When Lucy questions him, Aslan reveals that you can only know what will happen. “And there is only one way to find out.”

Walking in obedience is the only way to find out what God has in store for us. We can only know what is, it is left for God to know what would have been. The only way to accept this reality is by being obedient to the Lord moment by moment. To know the loss we experience through disobedience would be too much grief for us to bear. To know the glories missed by our errant choices would overwhelm us completely. God shows us grace in this.

What is left is to walk always in obedience. The only way to do this is to trust the Lord completely.

Our last SDA appointment is in 45 minutes. In this appointment lies all our work. It is in this hour that all the prayer, paperwork, tears, and hope will come to fruition. We ask for you to pray. Please pray heartily. Our need is great. The Lord is great!

The Silence of God

Posted: December 21, 2010 in Uncategorized

I’m working right now on a couple of important posts. One will speak of our trip to visit “D”, a little girl with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in Western Ukraine. The second is an update on how you can pray for us. This second post is extremely important and I would like for everyone to read it and commit to praying for us.

In the meantime, I offer for your enjoyment a song by Andrew Peterson. This song has long been a friend to me in uncertain times. Marie, Connor and I are encouraged today by the Lord’s goodness and care for us. We are still uncertain.

When we are struggling with uncertainty, or pain, or fear, or tragedy, or disappointment, or any broken thing, it is a comfort to know that God is there. He doesn’t always answer us the way we would like, but He is always the answer. That is the essence of this song.

It’s enough to drive a man crazy; it’ll break a man’s faith
It’s enough to make him wonder if he’s ever been sane
When he’s bleating for comfort from Thy staff and Thy rod
And the heaven’s only answer is the silence of God

It’ll shake a man’s timbers when he loses his heart
When he has to remember what broke him apart
This yoke may be easy, but this burden is not
When the crying fields are frozen by the silence of God

And if a man has got to listen to the voices of the mob
Who are reeling in the throes of all the happiness they’ve got
When they tell you all their troubles have been nailed up to that cross
Then what about the times when even followers get lost?
‘Cause we all get lost sometimes…

There’s a statue of Jesus on a monastery knoll
In the hills of Kentucky, all quiet and cold
And He’s kneeling in the garden, as silent as a Stone
All His friends are sleeping and He’s weeping all alone

And the man of all sorrows, he never forgot
What sorrow is carried by the hearts that he bought
So when the questions dissolve into the silence of God
The aching may remain, but the breaking does not
The aching may remain, but the breaking does not
In the holy, lonesome echo of the silence of God

I’m no William Faulkner. It takes a skill honed over time and the precision of many words on many different pages coupled with an intrinsic artistic flare to be a good writer. As a pastor, writing is an important part of communication; one that I should really take more seriously. But here in Ukraine, I’m beginning to think I could supplement my taxi income as a copy writer. Here are some of Ukraine’s finest pieces of translation copy.

We invite you to take a walk along the streets of our city, take a look at the history of the oldest ones, enjoy their calm corners, breathe in the intrinsic to them scent, do favor to yourself by talking to cordial people.

I like that one, it makes me think the beautiful thoughts of grand city to my senses.

With the purpose of putting in order the building works and complex building up the micro-districts of the city the works on the development of the general plan have been conducted.

Now that one is a mouthful, but what they’re saying is this: of the plans the city is in the working, the make hard labor for until the working stops will be fortuitous in the watching of many in their hopeful eye sockets.

Though often difficult to read due to the syntax problems, Ukrainian translations to English can sometimes make reading aloud a bit more comfortable for everyone if there is an awkward detail revealed. Take this apartment description for example:

Exclusive apartment is meant for the comfortable and beautiful rest. It is made according to the author’s project using the materials of the high quality. The stylish design of the apartment is complemented with the elegant furniture and expensive accessories. The special thrill of the apartment is the separate spa-zone with the two-seater hydro massage bath («Jacuzzi») and the pylon for dancing.

The pylon for dancing? We have a different term for that.

See? Sometimes the confusion can be a good thing.

I used to correct people for saying that we were going to “The” Ukraine. After seeing their gratuitous love for the definite article when writing English, I’m inclined to say we can exact a little translation revenge. Go ahead and say it. It offers to the world of the ears a mighty pronunciation for the showing of love to the Ukraine.

Our friends, Chuck and Abby Robinson, spent time with their children in Ethiopia yesterday. They played and cuddled and made the first connection of a lifetime together. We are so glad for our friends and praise God that he has brought them so close to the desires of their heart. Enjoy your children! I know it will be hard to leave them now. But we are praying for you and your precious little ones.

We received news from the SDA that we have an appointment tomorrow at 2PM (7AM Eastern, 6AM Central). Pray that this appointment yields a referral to our daughter.

We plan on visiting a monastery today and then a chocolate factory.

Truth in Spending

Posted: December 13, 2010 in Uncategorized

For all of you who so generously gave toward our adoption, I think it is only fair to tell you what your money is being spent on. Marie will explain when we get back to the states.