Category Archives: Christianity

Love is in the Air

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It is all about love! We should remember it not only on February 14, but every day. We were created for love, but somehow we still get lonely, resentful, frustrated, and pessimistic. What is wrong with our perception? How can we refocus on what our ultimate calling is? How can we remind ourselves that loving others as ourselves is  the first and foremost task for every single person? I think the answer is in capturing our negative and distractive thoughts and in renewing our minds daily. Even though it takes a lot of concentration and work it can be achieved. Practice daily purification of the mind, begin each day with focusing on what you choose to think about, ask yourself how you can please your Creator with your thoughts, words and actions and spread love around you. Be blessed!

Greatness

image“Though your beginning was small, your latter days will be very great.”

Job 8:7 (ESV)

Have you ever thought that you were created for greatness? Not the pompous kind, but the one that reflects God’s one-of-a-kind design for you, your Destiny. Greatness and perfectionism are quite different when you look at achieving from the angle of pleasing your Creator, not yourself or others.

If  what stops you from achieving something for the glory of God? Are you afraid that you’re not enough? Are you concerned what others  might think? Do you question what that greatness might me comparing to seemingly small everyday tasks you need to complete?

Striving for greatness can be tricky. What does it mean to you- to be great? Focusing on achieving to bring glory to God is the way to go- even in things that seems small and mandane at first glance. Pray, ask God to give you a vision, decide to move in that direction and go forward. He got you, baby!

True friends

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“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother”.

Proverbs 18:24 (NIV)

 

Embracing Imperfection

“Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭64:8‬ ‭NIV‬‬
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Embracing imperfection is a center of Japanese art form/technique of kintsugi.
Kintsugi stands for “golden repair”. A few hundred years ago when a valuable bowl or a vessel was broken it was sent to be repaired. An artist mixed resin or lacquer with gold and used it as glue. The result of such restoration? A “new” piece of art with unexpected and intricate veins of gold running through it.
God can use our imperfections and brokenness just the same. He has the power to restore our lives and make them beautiful again, even if in a different way. When our lives are repaired and sins are forgiven our stories become examples of God’s handiwork, when something broken is masterfully restored. Now not only we can be used again but we become true masterpieces according to His perfect will.

Laundry Room as a Spiritual Retreat

“Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…” Philippians 2:14-15 ESV

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Two days after I posted my previous blog entry Spiritual Desert of a Laundry Room I had a breakfast with a couple of girlfriends. As we were having a great time catching up one of the ladies mentioned a beautiful red lamp she recently purchased for her laundry room. Laundry room? Did I hear her correctly? I was not the only one surprised. We were curious why she decided to decorate such a place in a special way. The answer was unexpected as well as eye opening. For this woman her laundry room has become her spiritual retreat. She loves coming there at night not only to wash clothes for her family of five but also to enjoy some solitude and prayer time. She decorated it with splashes of color and items she likes to make it cozy and inviting.

Listening to her I thought how a change of perspective could completely switch one’s attitude. Decorating a place you spend a lot of time at and leaving negativity at the door can be revolutionary in a sense how you perceive any task you complete in that space and possibly affect your overall satisfaction with life.

I remember praying for my loved ones on numerous occasions as I did household chores: cooking, cleaning, laundry. My least favorite was ironing. I disliked it since childhood. We did not have a dryer when I was growing up, clothes came out wrinkled after being line dried and it was my responsibility to iron piles of clothes week after week. I became an expert at ironing, but I hated it. Later on even with a dryer there were still things that needed to be pressed. I used to set my ironing board in front of a TV and watch spiritual shows because not even sitcoms worked to sweeten a pill of this task… I also learned to pray more for my husband as I was pressing creases out of his dress shirts. Can you imagine my huge sigh of relief when I was able to send stuff to the cleaners where someone was doing laundry for me? Halleluiah!

Most people I know can easily identify their most and least favorite house chores. For me ironing tops the list of least favorite and it took a lot of prayer not to spiral down into resentment and self-pity when I was doing it.

What I do like is washing dishes by hand. There is something soothing about warm soapy water running through my fingers. It brings me to an almost meditative state of mind and it feels like a mini-retreat. I think that is what my friend experiences when she does laundry in a quiet room at night. Nobody interrupts her thoughts there and she can just be. Often this is as much “me” time as she allows herself.

Having downtime to unwind is necessary for everyone and there are many ways to do it. Often we think it is necessary to allot special time and find a place. But it can be as unorthodox as one’s laundry room or a quiet time by a kitchen sink.

It is funny how house chores can become uplifting spiritual experiences regardless if you like them or not. It’s all in a mindset.

 

Meditative Cross Stitching

Cross Stitching

“So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God.” Ecclesiastes 2:24

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved crafts. Knitting, crocheting, painting, drawing, cross stitching – you name it – I love them all! Over the years I’ve learned it’s okay to have various unfinished projects around the house. I can just pick them up as I feel like without feeling guilty of not having completed it within a deadline. I now view the crafts as instruments to flow my creativity, not necessarily as a present for someone. If my project has a deadline, it adds to stress, and that is the very thing I want to avoid.

There’s something very special about complicated cross stitching patterns. I love to work with blank canvas, looking at my pattern, watching the whole picture slowly appear as I work through it, adding colors and shapes. Still sometimes my OCD lifts it’s head… Many people I know will get frustrated after the first to second stage but most likely the will never start such a task. For me it’s a relaxation and meditation.

It is a creative process even if I don’t create a pattern. When I work on something beautiful, I don’t stress out or overthink the problems of a day. Somehow it prompts me to dream.
We often think about the meaning of our life and the importance of what we do. We program ourselves to succeed, to achieve, to conquer. We ultimately want to be remembered.

My works, even the most elaborate once, are very meaningful to me. They are beautiful, but it was I who did the work. Sometimes in a corner or a thrift store I come across a beautiful cross stitched picture covered in dust. I would never know who made it, what their life was like nor what that person was thinking about as they spent numerous hours completing their craft.

Couple days ago I decided to read the book of Ecclesiastes from the Bible. It was the first book I ever read when I started reading the Bible 20 years ago. The phrase that goes as a refrain for the whole 12 chapters is: enjoy your life and fruit of your labor, and that all our worries, problems, struggles and achievements- everything is meaningless. What did the author exactly mean by meaningless? I’m not a biblical scholar and I would like to urge you to read these passages for yourself, meditate on them and pray for understanding. People could go to seminaries and spend their lives trying to understand what is the message from God for them and for others. Or you can daily fall on your knees and humbly proclaim: Lord I know nothing, please teach me today…

“All is meaningless under the sun…”How meaningless is it? Should we just give up on searching for life’s purpose? Shall we never worry our heads with a legacy we are to leave behind?
As I asked these questions I was reminded of one of the major differences between the Old and the New Testaments. We need not meaninglessly wonder through life because God Almighty sent us his Holy Spirit to guide us. What we need to do is to ask listen.

Meditative Cross Stitching

 

Here we go again

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Often when I am stepping in obedience to complete a task Lord assigns to me strange things begin to happen. Often I am forced to be still and reflect- like a dormant tree, only to bloom again in due season.

Yesterday I was supposed to speak in front of a group of women in Malibu. When I got up I found a text message on my phone saying that a friend who was supposed to join me had to cancel. What a pity, I would miss her…
A few minutes later I realized that it was one of THOSE mornings:
the document I was working on wouldn’t show up on the computer screen;
All of a sudden I had a bout of allergies with non-stop sneezing and watery eyes for about an hour- I had not have it in years!
When I finally got a printer to work there was a paper jam, next it promptly ran out of blue and yellow ink- I only need black but nevertheless the machine refused to print…
It took me about five attempts to finally open the document on my iPad so I could refer to it if needed during the presentation. 
A sweater I was going to wear was not there- quite frustrating but a reminder to prepare my clothes the night before…
After the second mishap I thought there was something very strange going on and started to pray feverishly. Please believe me- I am computer literate! It was beginning to look suspiciously like a spiritual warfare when you are doing something to glorify God and there is a strong force opposing your every step. So I prayed every step of the way. 
Thank God my allergy miraculously cleared out without medication and was completely gone, I found something nice to wear in no time-accessories and all, my car started and I got to the place on time. Yeah!
As my girlfriend wasn’t there to film I was trying to get to work a camera I haven’t used in a while. I did not remember where was the record button on this high-tech thing, so it took me a few minutes to figure it out. After a quick prayer thankfully it worked and another friend kindly agreed to do the job. Thank you, Lord!

The presentation went well. Actually after I prayed and asked God to speak through me- I didn’t need my notes after all!
Often after even a shortest speaking engagements Lord sends me Divine Appointments to encourage to go on and to witness what He can do when I rely on Him. English is my third language, I am a former math teacher- I can’t speak publicly unless He takes care of it!
A woman came up with tears in her eyes and told me that a part of my testimony was an answer to her prayers from years back. We talked for quite some time and were amazed how many things we had in common – another god-incident. Glory be to God!

As I am writing this I am lying in bed sick with a food poisoning or a flu. I was ill a week before as well. I am also have been very sad about the news I get from my native Ukraine… There is a spiritual battle going on, seems like a big one. I truly feel like a kitten it in a dumpster right now… 

Ok, Lena, let’s try to be grateful under any circumstances:
I am at home, not sick on a trip;
I have freedom to cancel or postpone all engagements and appointments;
I can focus on praying for my family, friends and everything that comes to mind that needs to be covered in prayer, including governments and political situations;
I am blessed to have above said family and friends.
Is my body feeling much better after this exercise? Nope. But my spirit is soaring a little higher now. Thank you.
Like so many times in the past I rely on Him for healing and guidance. I will complete my studies and become a Certified Christian Life Coach in a matter of weeks. I am asking for divine healing, clear head and abundant strength . Amen.

Take Care of the Temple

” Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?”    1 Corinthians 3:16

” For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”    Ephesians 2:10

Nowadays whenever I take poor care of my body I think of verses like these. I was created in our God’s image and am a temple of God’s Spirit. It makes me responsible of taking good care of this temple, right? Poor diet, luck of exercise, working or running errands to the point of exhaustion, bad habits that affect my health are completely unacceptable.Part of God’s plan for my life is a perfect health. It is a given. What I do with this gift is another story.

When I keep this idea about my body being a temple in perspective I think twice about eating processed, fattening or sweet foods, especially ones loaded with preservatives and chemicals. I am aware of staying in a chair or on a couch too much.

I am trying my best to eat more natural non-processed food, to work out more. I move for exercise, but I am actually learning to slow down when I am getting stressed or overwhelmed. I am changing my lifestyle habits and can see a difference and overall positive effect. I’ve lost weight and have more energy.

Lord, please help me continue to take good care of this temple of your Spirit, so I can have energy and perfect health you gave me to fulfill my life’s purpose. Amen.

Praying Parent

“Listen, my son, and be wise, and keep your heart on the right path.” Proverbs 23:19

 

When our children grow up it seems that we cannot change them, we can only pray for them. We need to teach them when they are young, by word and by example. There are beautiful scriptures in the Bible about teaching children wisdom: Proverbs 22:6, 2:1-6, 3:1-12, 4:1-17, 6:20-23, Ephesians 6:1-4.When they get older sometimes the interaction between parents and children change. Quite often our strong-spirited children take our well-intended advice as not having enough confidence in them and not trusting their judgment. It is very challenging to watch your child fall and learn from his mistakes. I think this is how our Heavenly Father is watching over us, allowing us to grow, mostly through pain.

 

We can pray for divine appointments in our children’s lives and good godly influence from their friends and people they meet. Most likely it is not God’s plan to use only you to influence your child and shape his character, can you agree with that? Even though we are surrounded by negativity of the world God will provide in due time and he does answer prayers.

 

Many of you have wonderful, loving and caring children, you can be proud of them. But in reality it is only by the grace of God that they are who they are. It is only God who gives us our talents, abilities, and character, to become who he wants us to be. Remember, even the hair on your head is numbered. It is not right to be prideful and say it is only because of your dedication and guidance your children turned out the way they are.  The Lord blessed you so you can raise them right and you can do this job for him. We should not boast about our great parenting abilities because it is God who gives us wisdom as well as children who listen and respond well. Do not look down on those whose children are not as well-behaved or successful as yours. Does it mean that God loves other people less than you if their children bring grief and shame to their parents? Do you think those parents did a lousy job raising them? How do you know? Actually, it does not matter what you know. We have no right to judge others; we can only encourage them and pray. No gossip-prayers, please.

 

There are numerous stories about pastor’s kids. Some keep walking with Christ and are great examples of lives lived for God. Others may rebel against their upbringing at some point and decide to test their boundaries. They will try to see what the world has to offer and drift away from God. You know pretty well that good Christian kids, regardless pastor’s kids or not, can do bad things. For some kids, especially teenagers, having an “overly religious parents” may be not “cool”. Maybe they think that their parents are out of touch with the “real world” and are clueless. Would you struggle with that if it were going on in your family? You are praying for your child, and you are nice and sweet and yet your kid is a rebellious teenager who thinks that it is embarrassing if you talk about God all the time. It’s ok, just keep on praying. Never cease to pray for a child and be a good example. Sometimes you may not want to talk too much, and bore your kid to death.  Don’t worry; your child will catch on later. What you need to do is listen, and if you show your love to God through your actions rather than words, your child might very well listen more. And if you ask them questions without judging their choices outright perhaps you might open a door to a deeper level of communication. At times you may wonder what happened to this sweet little child of yours. They are still there, but they are changing, going through their own growing pains and at times causing pain to you. Let it be, God is always in control, even when it does not feel like it.

 

We need to learn to forgive ourselves for mistakes we made in raising children. Children do not come with an instructional booklet at birth- not a single one. And if you have a few children you know how different they are, even the twins! You may raise them the same way, but God gave them different personalities.

Parents often wonder if they did or are doing everything right. Many feel guilty for what they did not do, classes they did not signed their children for, fieldtrips they did not chaperone, and conversations they did not have with their children. Even the “super-moms” have guilt relapses! You did your job to the best you could with resources, abilities and level of maturity and wisdom you had at that time. We do not know what is the reason for all the hurt, pain or mistakes. The Lord is the one who can see the whole picture. God knew what He was doing giving you this child. Have no regrets.

 

Trust God and rely on Him completely. Hannah’s story from the Book of Samuel comes to mind. The story is about a barren woman who desperately wanted to have a child. Year after year she prayed and even vowed her child to be a servant of God if she ever become pregnant. The Lord finally heard her prayer and she gave birth to a son. She only had him to herself for a short while and later took him to the temple to serve God. Can you imagine how difficult that was- to give up your child, even if you know he will serve God? You can read this story in 1 Samuel 1:1-28.

Another story about intrusting your child to God is that of Moses. His mother Jochebed put an infant in a basket and placed it in the reeds by the bank of the Nile. She asked her daughter to watch and see what would happen. Most of you are familiar with this story and know that it was a move dictated by desperation- all Hebrew boys were to be killed. I can imagine there were plenty crocodiles in the reeds and not too many princesses walking around saving babies, so placing Moses there was a total trust in God.

 

We all are different and everyone has a unique story. But we all have to remember that kids will be alright- they are in caring and loving hands of their creator.

 

Heavenly Father, please keep our children save. You give them desires of their heart, please help them to fulfill their lives purpose. Please give them wisdom and guide them along the way. Fill their heart with joy and bodies with health. We pray in Your Son’s Precious Name. Amen.

 

 

Overthinking

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
 “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
 so my ways are higher than your ways
 and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

Many of us have a tendency to over think, especially women. We go back to the same problem again, and again, and again. We try to predict every possible scenario to find the solution. If a disaster strikes we may ask the same question “Why?” a hundreds times.

How much easier our lives would be if we relay on our Lord in everything and from the very beginning. We cannot comprehend the whole picture anyway. He can allow us to catch a glimpse on very rare occasions, but we can not predict the sequence of events in our lives. Why worry? Give it to the Lord and ask Him to help you live happily ever after. Or at least to stop over thinking.

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