“The reason one writes isn’t the fact he wants to say something. He writes because he has something to say.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald


"But how could you live and have no story to tell?" ~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky


"Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph" ~Matt Hardy


“A mother keeps a garden of the heart, planting the seeds of faith and character that give her children hope and purpose for the years ahead.” ~Anonymous


“If your story is never told, it becomes something else...forgotten.” ~Anonymous

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Windows of Latvia

Again, a post on windows.  There's something about windows in other nations that fascinates me. It isn't just the color or creativity, although that is a biggie with me.  But often as I walk down the streets of towns and villages, I wonder...

"Who is behind that window?"

"Is there a mother tending to her children?  Are they playing while she prepares their lunch of cabbage soup and black bread?"

"Perhaps there is a grandmother sitting at a worn old table, sipping her hot tea and reflecting on her years."

Often my heart wants to embrace the smells, the stories, the wonder behind the windows.  Windows that set right up against the sidewalk, seemingly inviting you to come in.  What lives are being lived out behind the framework and the pane?

And so...the windows of a town in the north of Latvia along the Baltic Sea.....

Perhaps a family awaiting a letter from a son or daughter in a faraway land...

I could just smell the "borscht" cooking for lunch...

I couldn't resist this guy....he was looking out his "window"...

A room with a view... in Riga...
Who wouldn't want to wake up to this ??

Anyone who has been in my home can attest to the fact that I don't like window coverings.  I like to see out.  I love light.  I want the outside in...

But it also allows others to see in (helps to live in the country where your neighbors aren't hugging the side of your house :)  Windows let us see out, but they also let others see in.  Hmmm...metaphorically speaking, do we allow others to see into our lives?  Are we vulnerable enough to want community and relationship with those around us to allow our windows to be open for them to see?  Or do we cover the windows of our life to keep people out?  I wonder if perhaps there isn't someone who wants to see beyond the window and sit down with you or me,  have a cup of tea and share our stories.  Lives are being lived out behind those windows.  Now that's a great line for a post....

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Unwanted, Abandoned, Deleted

From my heart to yours...

Walking the streets of old town Riga we came upon a sight I will never forget.   Entering the main square on Freedom Boulevard, you find yourself looking to the opposite side where a monument rises 138 feet upward.  The Freedom Monument was constructed to honor the soldiers killed during the Latvian War of Independence (1918 - 1920).  In more recent years, I have heard it called Lady Freedom.  She is holding her arms upward lifting three stars which center around the theme "Shine like a star".

Around the base of the monument there are pictures and sculpting depicting various aspects of Latvian life and history.  One of these is entitled "Family", a mother with two children.  I found it ironic when I saw what was in front of me. What I will never forget is what has been laid out in the square in the foreground of the monument.

Concrete sculptors of babies who have lost their lives out of fear, inconvenience, ignorance and modern day contraception.

Perhaps if your eyesight is better than mine...you can read some of the inscriptions...

Our hearts grieved over the sight, yet part of me was proud of those Latvians who are brave to face their society and put this out there....

One side of a plaza honoring those who gave their lives in a war for freedom (and rightly so) and opposite a display of those whose lives were taken from them.  Neither should be forgotten.

As I was editing, deleting and tweaking this post, I was reminded of how quick we are to "delete" what is unwanted.

There is a Father in Heaven.  There is a God who wants.  There is a God who does not delete.

Sorry if this posting is heavy and leaves our hearts deeply saddened.  It should.  It is very visual and should impact our lives.  It is meant to.  God give us hearts of love, deep love, patience and compassion, to reach out to those who too quickly and in anguish press the "delete" button in their lives.  Help us to be the arms, feet and heart of Jesus to bring love, forgiveness, redemption and freedom to those around us.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friends, Forgiveness & Finding the Way Home

I (we) are back home.....my husband after 5 weeks of travel and myself, being able to join him in the last two weeks.  We had a wonderful time, took lots of photos, spent time with many old and wonderful friends and made some incredible new ones!  Our faith and trust in God grows deeper during these adventures as we have the privilege of touching lives, connecting and experiencing Him come through for us (and them!).

Kazakhstan, Armenia and Latvia....different cultures, different people, but all the same need and heart cry that comes forth.  We want to be loved, we want to feel worthy of that love.  For those that never had the love and acceptance of a father (or a mother), that cry resounds all the more deeply.  Words of acceptance never spoken over a life.  A childhood of rejection and abuse.  Hearts struggling to let go and be vulnerable to love.  Minds wrestling with forgiveness towards those that have wounded us.  We are all the same, we all have the same need....wanting to love, be loved and connect with those around us.  When we share the love of a heavenly Father, it can be difficult to really embrace that love or understand it when an individual has not even experienced that in their own life with a physical father. The ministry my husband and I endeavor to impart is the love of a father (& mother) to those whose hearts yearn for connection and relationship, especially to their Father above.

We had the privilege to meet so many dear new friends who opened up their lives and hearts to the love of a heavenly Father who says to them "I love you....I am well pleased with you....you are my son....you are my daughter."   Lives which chose to be vulnerable enough to say "I forgive my earthly father for this.....I forgive my mother for abandonment.....I forgive....I forgive....I forgive."  And to let the love of a Father bring healing.  There is no greater key to freedom than forgiveness.

Ivo, a young man after God's heart !

A new friend who found freedom, joy and healing in the Father's love

Another highlight for us was being able to attend a conference of teams that came from around the nation of Latvia.  These teams belong to the missions group we were a part of for over 20 years.  Twenty-one years ago we led the first Discipleship Training School in Latvia.  What a joy and privilege to once again connect, share memories, renew vision and challenge to grow during the transitions and seasons we find ourselves in.  As we laughed and reminisced over shashlik (shish-kabob) and hot tea, we found ourselves deeply grateful to be a part of a family worldwide that is trusting God, seeing Him move in and through their lives, and nurturing hope and vision for the future.

A real joy for us to be with David, our Latvian/American friend whose family
we have known for over 20 years.

Being able to visit Riga, the capital city of Latvia, at the end of our time was another treat.  Staying with a close friend of many years, dinner in an Uzbek restaurant with old friends, seeing the old city of Riga once again and having an incredible lunch with a great lady who was in our first school we led in Russia.  Disneyland has it right when it says....its a small world after all....

Have to mention the trip home....venturing out for a meal in Amsterdam...hubby leading the way, my suggestion to "try this street" and finding ourselves in the red light district of Amsterdam....then quickly trying to find our way out. It was an "eye opening" or rather an eye-closing experience.  Thank God for the ministries working in this area.  Your heart breaks for the girls/women who have been trafficked and have lost all respect for themselves. We know of several ministries working in this district and we greatly respect them for their diligence.  They are heroes to us!

And more....eating out and on the run...enjoyed "Viennese schnitzel" in a Mexican restaurant on the canal - odd combination :)  Discovered we had the "status" to sit in the business lounge at Amsterdam airport early on the morning of our flight home.....incredible breakfast, coffees, drinks, and watching the sun rise over the jet way.  And all free of charge!   I was glad hubby traveled so much at that moment in time :)

We've now been home a week, finally recovering from jet-lag.....it takes longer at our age :)  An old friend (we seem to have a lot of these :)  staying in our home for several days and just getting back to normal.  I am not sure what "normal" is anymore, but it is nice to be home. Lots of photos to share when I get to it....but here's a few.

Hay fields in rural Latvia

Our "home away from home"

Our international family of students 

Great new friends with a heart to grow and learn!

View from the conference center

North Sea...we didn't go for a walk as it began to rain as soon as this photo was taken :(

"Lagman" - homemade Uzbek noodles/vegetables - my husband
grew up on this as his family came through Central Asia on their
way out of Russia.

View from our friend's apartment....I could live here :)

Our "last view" before flying home

I have so many photos to share, but some go with stories...so more to come!  We found our way home...as did dear friends on this trip who found their own "way home" into the arms of a loving Father.  We felt so privileged to be able to share and pray with them; and hold the dream and desire to one day be reunited.  For those of you who "sent" us, rejoice with us in that many seeds were planted, watered, and nourished in the Kingdom of God.  Thanks again for your prayers and support of us.  Now...I may go take a nap before sitting down and doing some more writing :)