"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."

Sunday, July 31, 2011

I like Texas

Howdy Y'all!!!

We have made it here safe and sound!!! Let me give you a quick recap of our trip here and what we've up to since we got back...

Ok, so I consider myself to be a mostly glass half full type girl. Its taken a lot of work, but remembering to be joyful always and trust in the Lord, is really a discipline! It doesn't come naturally to anyone. That being said, I was dreading the trip over here with Isla, dreading it. Its two full days of travel, in Russia time, we left at 9 AM on Tuesday and arrived in Texas at approximately 10 PM on Wednesday (1 PM Houston time), and I was by myself, and I knew that she wouldn't have a seat, and I was worried about her jet lag once we got here.

Not only was it not bad at all, I didn't realize just how enjoyable it would be to spend so much one on one time with my girl... I have to say it... she is the most delightful little person that I know! We got to Moscow Tuesday evening and stopped off at our favorite USA diner, the Starlight Diner, and shared a burger, fries, and a milk shake. Ok, maybe Isla wasn't particularly generous with the milkshake, but it was so fun. Then we had so much fun at the hotel that we stayed at... at one point she snuck up behind me an started spanking my booty! Where did she pick that up?

The plane also was not that bad for 12 hours. Even if Isla had her own seat, she would have been in my arms most of the time because that was the only way to get her sleep. I made up my mind that it was Isla's time to do what she wanted, and as long as she wasn't disturbing the other passengers, I would go along with it. I really enjoyed the time with her, although I will say that as we got to the 3 hours-to-go mark... I was really getting ancy.

Also, I have had a harder time with jet lag than Isla. The first day we were in I put her down to bed at 6 PM. She woke up once at 10 PM, went right back to sleep and slept until 7 PM. The next night I put her down at 7 PM, she woke up once, went rigth back to sleep until 7 AM. And then the last two nights she has slept all the way though. Amazing... once again, THANK YOU BABY WISE!!!! I will definitely do sleep training with my next one, to really teach them to fall into deep, deep sleep. Amazing.

Since then, I have been busy spending time with Shawna and Fin... oh my gosh, he is such a good baby! And he's past the two week mark that is the big determiner for how good babies are; he's an easy, happy little guy as long as you feed him. And Bethenny Frankel has got nothing on my sister. 3 weeks post pardum, I saw her in a bikini yesterday and she looked amazing. I tried to take her picture, and she wouldn't let me! But trust me, she is miss skinny arms, legs, flat tummy from the front and only a tiny, tiny (like maybe she just ate a big burrito) pouch if you look at her from the side. Why couldn't I get those genes?

Isla also got to play in the Splash Pad in Shawna's neighborhood yesterday. It was great. Every neighborhood should have one. Isla was so cute, and a little too adventurous! She tried to climb over the wall to get into the big kids pool.


We also met Isla's Boo one day and that was great! We were so excited to see her!!! I have been calling so many people and family members, and I am slowly getting around to everyone. I am going up to Temple to visit with her and Grandpa and Mema and Papaw on Monday. We also spent one day at the Woodlands Mall (drool). I love that mall, and I am so glad that its the closest one to my parents house.


I also finally got to see Cowboys and Aliens finally :). It was so good. I loves me some cowboys. Seriously, if I want to think and philosophize, I'll read a book, but when it comes to movies, I just want to be entertained! And this movie was perfect for that. Next up... HARRY POTTER, the final one. Nick got to see it in Dubai, and I cannot wait.


Speaking of Nick. We miss him so much! Definitely, I don't know if we can do 3 1/2 weeks without him again. Isla has been taking it hard. We cannot say "bye bye" in front of her because her face crumples and she says "Dada" because Dada went bye bye and hasn't come back!

That's all for now folks! If you haven't heard from me yet... I am slowly making my rounds.







Saturday, July 23, 2011

Spa Night

This may seem a little random, but for the first time in my life, I had a super, duper hot bath WITH a glass of wine AND listening to some easy listening music…

And I have never been more relaxed in my life!  Better and cheaper than a massage.  I should have combined the three things long ago!

… If only I had been able to find bubble bath!

Where are you Wannderers?

I thought that I would do a little location update!

  • I leave for Texas on Tuesday, overnight in Moscow and arrive on Wednesday.  Please indulge my selfish prayer request as I will be traveling soooo far with my very active 15 month old and NO HUSBAND (my usual go-to Isla-Entertainer).  Please pray that she sleeps a lot and that I can keep her happy and entertained for the 12 hour flight!

***This reminds me of our flight back from St Pete with my mom, where we dubbed Isla “Cookie’s Monster” because all she wanted was for my mom to hold her! (Please come and save me Cookie!!!!)  This was fine by me since we had 12+ hours of travel!***

Here is Isla, reaching for her Cookie! She wanted nothing to do with me!

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  • Nick left for Dubai today.  I am really bummed that he is gone.  We originally planned my trip intentionally so that it would straddle his Dubai trip.  Well the class that he was taking in Dubai called and said that they were rescheduling for Ramadan so Nick left BEFORE us, which I really did not want.  That means we’ll be apart for 3 1/2 weeks!!! That’s too much.  I have always felt like anything over 2 weeks away from Nick was too much, and I only agreed to 2 weeks because we are in Russia… in the states it would have been one week TOPS.  We miss him, he misses us, and the next couple of weeks will be painful.  Isla cried at the airport leaving him.  Almost 1 month is a lot when you are only 15 months!
  • In case anyone has been on the lookout for a post on Turkey… you can stop.  The Turkey trip was cancelled while we were in Ireland.  I was so disappointed because I have always, always, always wanted to visit Istanbul.  We’ll have plenty of other opportunities later though!
  • During my time in Houston, I am being very selfish and asking anyone that wants to see me must come to me… I cannot drive all over creation for 2 1/2 weeks after having flown in from so far.  Its not good for Isla, and I want to make sure that I get time with Shawna and Fin.  My only exceptions are a quick visit to my inlaws (of course!) and a quick trip to Louisiana to take Isla to her pediatrician, get her shots,  and also to see some dear girls and their babies and one very dear NEW little baby girl, who should arrive this week!  And one super duper quick trip to my Emily’s NEW house Smile.  See how quickly 2 1/2 weeks gets filled up?  Yikes.
  • I return to Novo on August 16th!  My birthday. I can’t wait… but I’ll be 28.  That feels so old.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Rush of Angels’ Wings

I wanted to give everyone an update on Alesia.  I went to see her today, and she and her family are doing much better.

I am so thankful for our Father, the LORD.  She told me that the night before I called her, she woke up and for the first time in her life she had a moment where she doubted if there truly was a God and whether or not He loved her, and she felt terrible because she knows what a sin that is.

But, the next day she received my call offering help and two brothers came by and brought her family food and money and best of all… she heard from her mother! 

God is so faithful, always… but He does love a little bit of drama! (I kid, I kid.)

Not only is her mother safe and well in Moscow, but she has managed to get all of her paperwork to become a Russian citizen in and it is being processed as we speak.  With her ill health, age and being alone, Alesia told me that it is nothing short of a MIRACLE!

Right now Alesia is feeling more comforted and at peace, and she will not be homeless or going hungry anytime soon!

Here she is holding her daughter Eva!  Her family is precious, and so is she.  I am thankful that God has put her in my life.

Alesia

But she still needs your covering in prayer because what her family really needs is a JOB so that she and her husband can support their family and get their kids in school.  It is a very uncomfortable thing to live off of the charity of others.  There is some prejudice against hiring a Kyrgystani even with papers partly because the employer would have to pay an additional 30% of the person’s salary to the government!  She and her husband are in the process of becoming Russian citizens, but that will still take several months.

Please continue to pray for Alesia, that hearts will be softened towards hiring her and her husband.

But wait… There’s more!

Alesia told me that there are four or five other Kyrgystani families coming from her old church in Bishek! 

I about fainted.

More families that need help??? Please be praying for help for them.  I have some ideas, but all the glory must go to God.  Only He can change hearts and open doors.  So please pray that He does just that!

You know, I received some very bad news on Sunday that has had me down all week.  Yana spoke with the orphanage director and because I am a “foreigner”; I will not be able to go and help with the children.  I was so sad.  I teared up.  I can still go the shelter, so that’s something, but I don’t know why… I had my heart set on ministering to those children.  It has become apparent God has other plans for me here, and I am fine with that now. 

His will be done.

He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing. ~Deuteronomy 10:18

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Heart That’s Overcome

I am very concerned for my friend Alesia, who I have spoken about twice now.  She, her husband, and four children have fled Kyrgystan and the civil unrest there to try to build a better life in Russia and they are currently living off of the charity of strangers.  They are homesick, missing their friends, they have found an apartment, but still have no job.

Last night she sent me a message on Facebook.  Here is part of it, but I don’t feel right publishing the whole thing on a public forum.

Yura says that there was no God’s will for our move. For me it is so hard to think about it because I do not hear from God at all. We keep praying, Yura fasted 3 days in a row for this need and I do want to know what He wants from us, what is His plan and which way we should go.

The gilt is mine. I was not supposed to insist. But it was so hard to live in Kg. I was hoping that this move came from the Lord. But in a result we lost what we had there.

Nick and I both prayed for her and her family and I wept for them.

I called her this morning to find out what their needs are and what I could help with and I am going to go see them on Wednesday… do you know what she asked me to bring?  Sheets for her crib.  She has a little girl who is only one month older than Isla and she has been sleeping straight on the mattress!  I think of all of the love that went into making Isla’s room beautiful, and how much my heart would break if I couldn’t even give my child a soft sheet to sleep on at night.

There is much more going on with them, but there is one thing that I cannot do anything about.  Alesia does not know where her Mother is right now, she is very ill and Alesia has not heard from her in almost two weeks. 

My mother left Kg. on July 6th for Russia (she decided to go to another place till we settle down) and we still did not hear from her a word. She was very sick and I do not know what to think.

This is something only the Lord can solve.

Nick and I will do what we can to help, but they need so much more.  They need God, nearer, stronger, closer. They need to FEEL Him and His Peace because right now they are very lost.  They also need a job desperately.

I told Alesia that I don’t know God’s Will for them, but I do know that he has promised that “NEVER will I leave you, NEVER will I forsake you.”  They can rest in the comfort of that; even if it is hard right now to feel joy and peace in the Lord.

Please lift this family up to the Father!  Please pray for Alesia’s mother, pray the she and/or her husband are able to find a job, and pray that they can slowly begin to build a community here in Russia.  Pray that she finds comfort in God’s promise of a hope and a future for them.

You can read more about what is going on in Kyrgystan and why they left here.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Abrau Dyurso

We are fortunate enough to live less than 30 minutes from Russia’s main wine and champagne making region, Abrau Dyurso, but I had never been able to visit it until this week, when I made two trips out there.  It is so beautiful, and I can’t wait to go and explore more!

The first trip was on Monday for a good-bye luncheon for Rena.  She has lived in Novo for 8 out of the last 9 years, and her husband Dave is retiring from Nick’s company so they are headed back to the US. 

These are just a few of the wives who moved out here when Nick and I did!  Many of the wives were traveling right now since its summer time.

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Our church also planned a camping trip for Friday, which we opted out of.  It did not sound like a good idea with a 15 month old, so we decided to just come for the day on Saturday!  I am so glad we did because after only 5 hours, Isla was just about the dirtiest baby I have ever seen and I can’t imagine how dirty she would have been after 24 hours of camping.

I didn’t realize that we would be visiting right along the lake, or else I would have brought swimsuits!  Oh well, me in a swimsuit is not anything that anybody wants to see and Isla was happy enough in her diaper!  Nick also had no problem jumping in in his shorts.  It was really beautiful out there, and the only thing that would have made it perfect would be to have a little more sunshine since the day was a little overcast.

Of course Nick brought his football!

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Someone also brought a boat that the kids had a lot of fun playing in… well, all the kids except for Liosha… he was so scared!  He’s awful cute when he’s scared.

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Isla playing with the football.

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The beautiful view.

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Kissy coo!

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What a scrumptious little baby!

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We decided to take a little family trip out on the boat!  Isla liked it well enough until Nick decided to jump in, and then she decided that she had had it with the boat.

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Isla was also not happy when we got to shore and Nick decided to leave me in the boat.

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Thankfully that prompted him to come back and get me!

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It was a fun day for everyone!

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Pouty Potpurri and Praises

So many things, so many things…

Did you notice my blog makeover? I have always wanted a pretty blog and  I really like it!  Thanks to Jen over at Munchkin Land Designs. She was great and sooo patient with my frequent absences!

Ok, so our internet still is not fixed and even if it were fixed, it would clock in somewhere between .02 Mbs and .2 Mbs, barely fast enough to load Gmail.  Y’all, I am getting very frustrated.  Especially because it does not have to be this way. 

We are the only family experiencing the trouble of internet outages, and most of the other families have managed to arrange a semi-functional internet feed.  Some have even been able to use their Slingboxes, which is a handy little device that allows you to watch American TV that Nick and I spent a small fortune on back in March, and that we have barely been able to use. Which we would really love to use because our lovely landlord only ordered cable/satellite with 1 TV channel in English… out of Japan!  There are only so many episodes of Japanophiles that I can take.  The other families here have over a dozen English channels, including TLC!  I could seriously cry just thinking about it. 

Wait, I did actually cry this morning. I am just so frustrated with not being able to communicate with friends and family, the stress it adds on Nick, the stress of not being able to work from home, not being able to unwind with some TV, not being able to pay our bills, communicate easily with our Realtor in the states, the list goes on...  Even blogging! Thank goodness for Windows Live Writer, or else I wouldn’t even be able to blog, which for me is a great way to unwind!  And usually I have to publish and republish because it times out before I can get the post uploaded to Blogger…  it also does the same when I try to send my work documents through Gmail!  No kidding, I try and try to upload them to Gmail, and it times out at least 3 times before I can send anything.

But there has definitely been a silver lining!  Yes, there are some frustrations, but at no point lately and very little in the beginning have I thought “I want to go HOME (other than maybe for a visit)!”  Nick and I feel so happy and blessed to be here in Russia.  We have made Russian friends and they have loved us so well, and been so good to us, and God has been so good!  There have been very few times in my life where I have thought “ok, I am exactly where God wants me to be!” But I feel that way now.  Nick and I LOVE Russia, and KNOW that this is where we belong right now.  Last night we went to our friends Anya and Alexsei’s house for dinner, and walking on the way home, life just felt so RIGHT.

Also… PRAISE THE LORD! I was able to go and help out in the Children’s Shelter on Sunday.  I will now have a standing date every Sunday to go.  The Children’s Shelter is NOT the orphanage.  These are children who have been removed from their home for various reasons, some being neglect or abuse, or extreme poverty, but most of them have at least family or relatives.  It is a very sad place though.  There is only one woman who watches the children, and I say that loosely because she just watches TV most of the day.  Our church goes there to teach the children about Jesus and about how much He loves them, and then we do a craft with them.

Here is sweet Anya sharing an Evangelism Cube with them!

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The children were all ages, and they were so sweet.  I loved helping, even though I didn’t help that much, mostly just watched.  I loved being there so much.  Afterwards my friend Yana said that she would talk to the Director of the Orphanage so that I could go to the Orphanage on Wednesdays too! Hopefully the Director will agree. There are very few things that I want to leave Nick and Isla for, but going to the Children’s Shelter and Orphanage are two of them!

Lord, thank you for your Word and your guidance and Peace that surpasses all understanding!  Lord I thank you for the body of Christ, for friends in Christ who are willing to share you and your love with others.  I thank you for the opportunity to serve these tiny children, so fearfully and wonderfully made, but born into a fallen world.  Please continue to allow me to go and serve and help teach these children about YOU, the best Father, who loves at all times, the Father who will never leave them or forsake them. Amen.

Irish Vacation Recap

Traveling

Hotels

Day 1 – Rock of Cashel

Day 2 – Gougane Barra

Day 3 – The Ring of Kerry

Day 4 – The Dingle Peninsula and The Dingle Aquarium

Day 5 – The Cliffs of Moher

Day 6 – Inishmore

Day 7 – Trim Castle and Bru Na Boinne

Planes, Trains, Automobiles… and Ferries

So, I saved this Ireland post for last!  This one is about getting to Ireland and leaving Ireland.

At the beginning of our Irish Vacation, I was convinced that it was going to be the worst vacation EVER.  We thought we would save some money (like $500+) by taking the train from London to Holyhead and then take the ferry from Holyhead to Dublin!  We also thought that it would be kind of romantic and relaxing to take a train… HA!  I may never take a train again; it was so crowded and cramped and we didn’t know where to put all our luggage.  What a HUGE mistake we made…

On the day we went from Moscow to Dublin we took:

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  • 2 taxies
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as opposed to just

  • 2 planes
  • 2 taxies

As you can imagine, it took all day, as opposed to arriving in Dublin comfortably around noon.  The worst part was arriving in Dublin at the Ferry Terminal and waiting for over 30 minutes in the freezing rain for a Taxi.

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No wait, did I say that was the worst part??? Oh me oh my… the worst part was having Isla VOMIT all over the taxi that we took from the Ferry Terminal to our Dublin Hotel!  We accidentally missed our hotel the first time around the block, and on the second time around, Isla started making the “eat” sign.  I tried to give her food, but she would shake her head “no”… finally 20 yards from our hotel she threw up EVERYWHERE, including right into my cupped hands!  My poor kiddo, she had had it after traveling all day!  The thing is, right up until that point she was smiling and happy… sometimes having an easygoing kid can be a bad thing when they don’t tell you what is wrong!

The next day, Isla took a tumble down some stone steps (while Daddy was in charge) and totally banged up her head!  I was afraid they were going to call the Irish CPS on us…, and then there was an unfortunately incident with the rental car… a tale for another day, after all that Nick and I left thinking that maybe we weren’t a family cut out for vacations???

After we got the rental car cleared up and modified our itinerary, we managed to get a good perspective and have a blast!

That is, right up until we were set to leave Ireland, and I someone accidentally left Nick’s backpack with his work laptop and our very fancy camera at a gas station, which we did not discover until we were already at the rental car place!  I sent out quick prayer requests and thankfully Nick was able to recover it.  Incredible husband that he is, he did not say one angry or ugly word to me, even though it was obvious that he was ticked off! I would not have been so gracious.

After our first official family vacation, we have learned some valuable vacation lessons!  Next time, I think that we are going to do things a little bit differently, like just suck it up and pay more money to make things easier on Isla and always do a baggage count before we leave anywhere. Smile

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bru Na Boinne

Bru Na Boinne is an ancient burial chamber that predates the pyramids by 500 years!  We got to go and see it on our last day in Ireland.  I am glad that we were able to go; it was cool to get to walk inside something that is so ancient.  Unfortunately they wouldn’t let us take pictures inside Sad smile.

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Here it is… Bru Na Boinne!  The mound itself was not that impressive, but it was neat to hear about the construction of it.  It contains tons of rocks, many of them quite large, that are not local to the area and had to be brought from many miles away… not that interesting, until you consider that Bru Na Boinne predates the invention of THE WHEEL!  Amazing.

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The inside was just a small room, but it was neat because the inside was actually on an incline 2 meters above the entrance and aligned perfectly with the “window” above the entrance.  The sun only shines through and lights up the room a few days a year, around the Winter Solstice!  Its so cool that they were able to get it to line up so perfectly, now that’s some amazing prehistoric engineering!

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After that we headed to the airport to go home… I have one more post coming.  We were sad to be done with our vacation, but the Irish summers (brrrrrrr) made us long for the lovely weather back in our home on the Russian Riviera!

Braveheart

Our last day in Ireland, on our way to Bru Na Boinne, we made a stop off at Trim Castle, made famous as the castle of King Edward in Braveheart!  Obviously it was chosen for its well preserved condition and not historical accuracy since Braveheart took place in Scotland, not Ireland, but it was still very cool.

We decided against taking the guided tour of the castle since it would have added an extra hour and a half to our trip and I didn’t think Isla would do very well.

We had a blast checking out the castle grounds though, and Nick took some really great pictures of Isla.  I think he has knack!  Please excuse my hair, this was the start of Isla obsession with pulling it out of my ponytail and running her fingers through it, but by the end of the day it looked even wilder than usual.

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Pure and Undefiled Religion

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