A thankful Grammy’s heart

So many things to be ever-so-thankful for…and among these, the safe arrival of baby Elza last week. Jeanne and Kolya spent Monday day and night at Johns Hopkins where Elza joined the family on the OUTSIDE early Tuesday afternoon. THANKFUL that Jeanne and Kolya were both able to snuggle their little gift before she was attached to too many monitors. Knowing her heart condition could have preempted these early moments made them even more special.

Jim and I arrived in Baltimore on Tuesday morning — chauffeured by sweet friend Jill Fears and accompanied by two of her daughters. They helped us clear out the fridge at the Kotiash abode and pack bags with food for our stay. Jill introduced us to the Believe in Tomorrow children’s home that is situated directly across the street from the hospital. We learned that Elza qualified to have her family stay at the home, and we learned that there was indeed space for our arrival. SO THANKFUL for this place. Each patient qualifies for one room and each room can hold 6 people: two beds plus cots if needed. Jim, the boys and I learned our way around during the first day or two, and then when Jeanne was discharged, Kolya was able to join our room.  The boys were THRILLED to see Tato and Mama…Milan exclaimed, “My beautiful mama is here!” Though the farewells can be sad, the boys DO know that their parents are nearby and are trying to spend much time with them. AND they have met Elza via skype. THANKFUL for technology!!

Pre ElzaJim and I did get a few minutes with Jeanne while Kolya, Jill, Tori and Katie Jo entertained the boys at the hospital on Tuesday. It turns out that the little ones cannot even be in the family waiting area on Jeanne’s floor — no one under 18 is permitted during the flu season. Jim clicked this photo just ten minutes before Elza was born! THANKFUL that we could switch places with Kolya in time!

That evening we were blessed by a home-cooked meal at the children’s home. Volunteers from all over Baltimore and environs volunteer to provide dinner MOST nights. In fact, we’ve been here a week and have only fixed our own dinner on Sunday night. The boys sometimes need a supplement — not too excited about a new place and new food — but the adults are eating way more than I ever expected!

And the staff here has gone overboard in helping us with the little ones — even providing chocolate milk! (Turns out that the boys aren’t nearly so enamored with chocolate milk as I thought they might be…what does grammy know?!).Chocolate milk I took some pictures to assure Jeanne and Kolya that the boys were actually eating. The staff made sure the boys had a doughnut (HUGE) for dessert, and the boys spent their time worrying that the volunteers in the kitchen needed a doughnut, too! So sweet.


After cleaning up our table to Milan’s rendition learned in Sunday school: “Clean up! Clean up! Everybody do your part. Clean up! Clean up! Everybody do your part.” I think the volunteers are going to teach this song to all of their friends.

After baths and putting on warm pajamas, we all crowded onto the boys’ bed to watch a movie and fade out.


All in all, a good first day for everyone.

Thankful for all the prayers!



DSCN5494Our hearts are breaking. We have lived in Ukraine since 2001 and therefore experienced their celebration of 10 years of independence, the Orange Revolution, the disappointment and discouragement after no change in Ukraine after the revolution, and now we are literally standing with our friends on Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square). Well, I’m not currently there. But I have stood with the opposition during their protests. And what an honor and privilege that is.

I received an e-mail from Jim earlier today with the writings of a dear personal friend:

I do not know where to even begin (or continue?) my updates on the situation in Ukraine. From recent events: (1) we kept seeing more violent actions from our government, (2) courts are not doing their jobs any more (as if they did it before, but now judges blatantly disregard the law and serve the interests of the “family”, i.e. our president and his immediate circle of friends and relatives)… as one instance, a judge who in 2011 acquitted a worker of a court for driving over and killing a woman (mother of three kids), recently sentenced a person for 6 years in prison for alleged planning to demolish a monument to Lenin, (3) the budget that opposition has been fighting was voted for without following proper parliamentary protocol, and this budget (as just one example) increases funding of all law enforcement agencies up to $2.162 billion, which is $764 million increase since four years ago, when Yanukovich first came to power (welcome to the police state!), (4) number of legislations are enforced that prohibit (and punish) Ukrainians to collect and distribute materials that government deems “extremists”, Ukrainians cannot speak against current government as it may be perceived as defamation and punishable by law (therefore, no speaking against judges, police, etc.)…

Just came across another post on FB, which speaks loudly to these issues:

Kolisnichenko-Oliynyk Draft Law #3879 voted in by the Verkhovna Rada by MPs raising hands (!) includes (but is not limited to) the following amendments to the Criminal Code of Ukraine:

– participants of peaceful protests and demonstrations that took place without the permission of police can be arrested for up to 15 days;
– blocking of state buildings is punished by up to 5 years of imprisonment;
– cars which move in a convoy of more than 5 vehicles can be confiscated; (with driving licenses confiscated as well – AK)
– collecting personal information about policemen, judges and other state agents – such as them lying under oath, accepting bribes, etc. can lead to arrest for up to 6 months;
– NGOs that receive grants from any foreign state/fund/organization/individual and that take part in ANY kind of political activity in Ukraine are now considered “foreign agents”, must register as such; they are stripped of their non-profit status and taxed by new, complicated procedure. [translation by Iryna Lysenko]

What can I say? Welcome to dictatorship?

Please please pray fervently for the people of Ukraine — for the leadership, for the military/police, for the opposition.

Psalm 121

“I lift my eyes to the hills —     where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD,     the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip —     he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel     will neither slumber […]

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How to S.O.A.P. your quiet time

Over the years, I have been involved in many MANY Bible studies. I’ve always appreciated the accountability that studying together brings with it. Whether the facilitator or participant, I enjoyed the fellowship and the insights/questions from others in the group. For the past couple of years I have been blessed to be part of an […]

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Lessons from Mark

“…rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” So many important lessons learned from just the first chapter of Mark. But probably none so crucial as the fact that Jesus was a man of prayer. Or should I better […]

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Let’s change the statistics

I have been noticing quite a few articles and news reports about children in the States. And adults as well. It seems that the reports show that a high percentage of American children do not even engage in moderate exercise for an hour a day. Really? Oh my goodness. I’m living with two children who […]

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Why read the Bible?

I was just reading an article about why to have babies…and the reasons that people give for delaying starting their families (Why Have Babies?). I am always a bit sad when I realize that I was listening to people/culture when we stopped having children after only three in just under two years. Yes, twins were […]

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Grammy on a mission

January 9, 2014. And this is my first post? Oh my. Life is happening…fast and furious! Grammy on a mission? Haven’t I been on a mission since before grandchildren? Well, yes. I’ve been a most satisfied missionary in Ukraine for over 12 years. We began said mission with our children in tow…well, not exactly in […]

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Whooo wants cookies?

It seemed so simple when watching the tutorial. Start with your favorite sugar cookie recipe and a tulip-shaped cookie cutter. Bake and let cool. Carefully pipe the outline before filling in the color. After the color has set, pipe wings and fill them. Candy eyes, eyebrows and a beak complete the look. Well, kind of […]

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Kyiv, Ukraine

What’s going on in Ukraine…and who cares? It actually surprises me to hear from friends in the U.S. that they are seeing nothing on the news. Really? This article from Forbes might help you understand WHY it’s important to keep an eye on Ukraine. The Kyiv Post is posting timely updates here, just so you’re […]

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