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

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mulligan Stew

“A Common Stew For an Uncommonly Good Cause”

I have been following this fundraiser pretty closely.  It is a very ambitious fundraiser, sponsored by a family that rescued their son from one of the worst institutions, the first little boy ever to be adopted from where he was!  What a precious family and what amazing trust they have in Him.  They have seen the pit of hell that the least of these are sent to, and everyday they shout and they blog and they share their hearts, all in the hopes that through them people will know the truth, and that hearts will be stirred and moved for the fatherless.

Mulligan Stew started with one 17 year old girl’s desire for a family. Her name is Masha.  Most would consider her unadoptable.  Miraculously, God has not only provided a family for her, but her three younger siblings as well!  But of course, adoption is expensive, especially adopting FOUR children, and their family needs help raising $35,000. WOW.Maria Alina, Vika, Sasha

And because the Nalle family has trust in the ONE who can do more that we could ever ask or imagine, this fundraiser has also been extended to over 20 other children!  Once you have donated to sweet Masha’s adoption fund, you can donate to anyone of the other listed children for additional chances to win some very cool prizes.

You know how sometimes you get a song stuck in your head and it becomes so closely associated with an event that whenever you think of one, you hear the other or when you hear one, you think of the other?  As I have been following Mulligan Stew for the past several weeks, the song “All Is Grace” by Shaun Groves keeping playing in my head.

“You have given
You have given all
You have given all so
We give all”

It’s a beautiful song.  Such a reminder of the sacrifices that have been made on our behalf, and the sacrifices that we are called to make on behalf of others.

I know that I am not very good at this advocating thing, and that this may or may not have been a garbled mess, but my heart is so full for these children, especially sweet Masha, who is so ready to lay down the burdens of being a parent to her younger siblings and simply rest, and to have a chance at life.  Without this adoption her future is very dim.

So, please, please, please consider stopping over at Micah Six Eight to learn more about this amazing Giveaway/Fundraiser! You will have a chance to win almost $5000 worth of prizes. (You can find a list of them all HERE.) And best of all, you will have a chance to bless the least of these.

Thank you.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tuesday Tidbits

Another week here in beautiful, mysterious Russia!

  • Our IKEA run on Friday was completely unsuccessful… I really need to start being more disciplined when I go.  Its too far away to just come back if you forget something.  I completed one out of three purchasing goals and still somehow spent $200 on things that I didn’t really need, but they looked so handy.  Good job me.
  • Isla is still ever the fashionista… even if I don’t always understand her tastes!A Isla outfit 2A Islas outfitA Isla toothbrush
  • Isla is in love with Matthew!  He is my friend Jen’s son and they live a few floors above us.  He came over to play last Thursday and they had the best time!  Here they are dancing… Miss Isla’s idea, but he was happy to play along.  Isla has fun no matter what she is doing!A Isla Matthew DancingA Isla Matthew
  • Isla’s latest favorite thing to do is give her baby a bath in a little tub that I set up in the bathroom!  A Isla Baby PeepeeA Isla seriousA Isla Funny FaceA Isla Baby Bath Morning
  • I went a little bit crazy and ordered a ton of books for Isla’s birthday and Easter.  They all came in yesterday, it was like Christmas time!  I also went a little bit crazy and ordered myself the complete set of Little House on the Prairie in hardback.  I love that Nick’s company allows us to ship books, DVDs and CDs here at no extra charge!
  • Also, in case you were wondering, Isla’s birthday falls on Russian Easter, not U.S. Easter as we follow the Russian Orthodox calendar and Easter here is the 15th, not the 8th.
  • I am putting together Isla’s Easter Basket… I am on the fence about doing the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus with Isla.  Nick and I will have to discuss it.  I think that if it were 50 years ago and the celebrations were still mostly about Jesus, I would have no problem doing the EB and SC, but now it seems like for most Americans, they have become almost 100% secular holidays and are not at all about Jesus.  I feel like it might be better for us to take a strong stance because everywhere else she will be getting such a strong message that it is only about chocolates, toys and magical creatures.
  • But for now, I am putting together an Easter basket, and I love doing it!  Its just going to be from mom and dad and not the Easter Bunny.  And please understand, that I do not care or think anything of other families doing those things, like I said, we are still deciding ourselves.
  • I love this picture!  Isla actually came towards the camera and held her hand in front of it in the classic Movie-Star-Clashes-With-Paparazzi move… I think she sometimes gets tired of having the camera in her face…A Isla no more pics
  • … Although she is getting really good at smiling on cue and saying “Cookie Boo!” whenever I whip it out.A Isla Say Cookie Boo
  • Saturday was so busy!  We had dinner with one of Nick’s coworker’s families.  Her name is Ludmila and we like her so much!  And then right after we put Isla to bed and headed upstairs to have fondue with our friends Tim and Li, it was so fun.  We have rigged up our cell phones to work as monitors and they work really well.  I was able to quickly run downstairs a couple of times when Isla needed me.
  • Fondue is so awesome, I am going to make it our family Saturday night tradition.  We use dark chocolate and lots of fruits (strawberries, bananas, apples and oranges), so its probably one of the healthier desserts… right?
  • Speaking of diets I am confident that I have lost weight doing Eat to Live, and I am going to keep it up!  I am so happy to be eating for my health and I want to do a post on it, but I don’t want to sound all preachy or talk about it and then give it up… but I don’t think that I will give it up!  Also, I have cheated plenty… I am doing my best, but there are still situations that I have not figured out how to handle and then there’s my sweet tooth… (sigh).
  • Sunday was church and then a bar-b-que with a lot of the rotational workers that Nick works with on the construction site.  It was a lot of fun to meet some of the people that Nick works with everyday.
  • Anya, Vanya and Liosha are coming over this afternoon to play! YAY!
  • Friday we leave for Malaysia and then Thailand, OO-RAH!  I am flipping out I am so excited!
  • I have so many blog post to catch up on, that and getting ready for our trip are my goals for the week!  Hopefully they will make it up… we will see.

That’s it for now, paka paka!

Monday, March 26, 2012

1 Year Later

So I know that I wasn’t going to do a post on our 1 Year Anniversary in Russia, but yesterday Nick and I were watching Isla run around, and he remarked that when we first moved in, Isla couldn’t even walk yet, and now we have this busy little toddler!  It reminded me about how much our lives have changed so much in just a short year.  We left the US on March 15th, so I am about 11 days late but here goes…

Blogging is such a Catch-22.  When I have nothing going on, I have tons of time to blog, and I blog about the most mundane things.  When I have lots going on, I have little time to blog, and not much gets shared.  When we first moved here, I was blogging about hot dogs that we picked up at the supermarket or any random thing that happened that day.  And the thing is, I blog because I want to remember our lives, and I love chronicling our comings and goings!  I wish that I was more diligent so that I won’t forget this time in our lives.

Moving to Russia has been one of the hardest things that Nick and I have ever done.  Even with all of the blessings it was HARD to pull up all of our tender roots that we had planted in Louisiana, hard to move somewhere where we didn’t speak the language and where there were little to no expats.  Honestly, sometimes I look at expats living in other communities overseas and I get absolutely green over all of the amenities that they have!  Here we have our apartment and the promenade and a Mega Mall that is three hours away for entertainment.

But oh my goodness, how much we have stretched and grown here!  In a way, I am so thankful for the lack of expat culture here.  Without the ready-made community and entertainment venues that are available in most expat towns, we have had to step out of comfort zone!

Today my social calendar is full-to-busting!  I don’t even have time to see or meet up with everyone I want to.  Its hard to believe that there was time when I felt like we didn’t have friends here or wondered if people really liked us.  I am so glad that we have taken the time to invest in relationships here.  Yes there have been times where it was very discouraging to invite people over and over and over and never have them return any interest; it was humbling to say the least.  But we know that people matter and that they last forever!  So we kept trying.  Our greatest blessings here have been in the friends we have made, and hopefully we will see all of them in eternity.

And Nick and Isla and I… I love my little family.  We are not perfect, but we are happy, and we love each other!  Isla has grown and changed so much.  She is funny, outgoing, and so energetic!  I do miss my little cuddly baby from a year ago, but she is our best source of entertainment here.  Nick is my heart, and I will never understand why chose to bless me with this man.  Nick is our hero.

We have also loved finding our church and becoming as involved as we can!  It has been especially sweet watching Nick give up what little extra time he has to serve there with all of his heart.  It has been such a joy to watch him develop into such a servant leader!  And our friends, we love them so.  That has been the greatest joy of our time here.  I am so thankful for Katya, Anya, Ira and everyone else that we have met at our church.

And then there’s all the fun travel.  All I can say is “WOW”. God is good.  We never traveled in the states because we didn’t want to spent money on something that felt so frivolous and then just because God is like that, He has provided a way for us to travel and not feel guilty at all about the money spent!  Why He chooses to be so generous to us, I will never know, but like I said before, its just because He’s like that.

So wow, what a year! To summarize, I am so thankful for -

  • the friendships we have made
  • God stretching us, but always being so faithful and constant!
  • my family and the changes that we have experienced
  • our church, we love serving there!
  • exciting adventures Smile

I am so looking forward to another year here!  I cannot wait, I cannot wait, I cannot wait to see what will happen.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tuesday Tidbits

Another Tuesday!  I will spare you my ramblings on how quickly time is flying.

  • I made a recipe with spinach and Brussels sprouts (yes, Brussels sprouts!) for dinner that Isla gobbled down.  Look for this recipe on Little Tummy Yummies in the next couple of days!  My momma’s heart was sooo happy.
  • I mentioned that I was reading Eat to Live last week in my Tuesday Tidbits post, and I really am trying hard to implement major changes in my diet.  I wish our scale was working so that I could see if I had lost any weight, but even if I don’t (I will), I am really excited to be eating for my health!
  • Isla has been falling so much lately and getting covered in bruises that I have taken to calling her my little Black-Eyed Sweet Pea!  I was worried that people would start to think that I wasn’t taking good care of her, but then she has had major spills while both Nick and Agnessa were watching her!  My friend Rose comforted me and told that it was common when kids are growing for them to lose coordination… phew!  I feel much better, but she still needs to be watched constantly.056Blog 1
  • Tomorrow my friend Katya is inviting us over for a traditional Russian lunch!  Yummm… I am so excited Smile.  She is an excellent cook.
  • Our trip to Krasnodar was cancelled last week because everyone got sick, but we are rescheduling for this Friday.
  • I am thinking about starting an herb garden in my apartment.  No, I am going to start an herb garden… I need to start praying that I find seeds for all of the herbs I want.
  • I am also thinking about smuggling kale seeds into the country… shhh, don’t tell anyone!
  • Lordy, but this child is cute!  I am so thankful she is mine.Isla cute 2Isla cute
  • Agnessa and Isla are becoming quite the pair!  Agnessa is Isla’s best friend.Agnessa Isla
  • I have fallen in love with chocolate fondue… it’s the stuff of heaven.
  • Beside Krasnodar and my Russian lunch tomorrow, we don’t have much on the agenda, other than our regular Russian lessons and Isla’s little school.  Its a good thing because I am needing time to prepare for our Malaysia/Thailand trip next week! Wha-hoo!
  • Cloud 9 news for this week – Nick’s company does matching donations when you donate to charities, and guess what??? This year they are doubling the amount that they will match!!! Yay.  More money for my orphans.
  • Ok, I think that’s it y’all.  I am sorry my life and blog are so lame.  I seriously have a million and one things that I want to blog about, but I just can’t seem to find the time or motivation.  Maybe I will feel more up to it when we get back from our R&R!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tuesday Tidbits

I may or may not be writing this post on Wednesday morning and back dating thanks to Windows LiveWriter… its ok though? Right? I mean its still Tuesday in some parts of the Pacific…

  • Guess who turned 3 today?  BABY BEAR!  Happy Birthday little man.  We love you!
  • Isla birthday presents have been ordered!  An absolute angel who works with Nick told us to order whatever we wanted from the states and he would bring it in a suitcase on April 5th Smile.  I am a happy, happy mama!
  • Isla’s second biggest birthday present is the Melissa and Doug shopping cart.  Her Boo bought her a smaller one for Christmas that has pretty much been loved to death by Isla and every other child who comes over here.  This one is super sturdy and should be able to survive even my little bruiser.
  • My friend Lacey recommended that I read a book called “Eat to Live”, and since I usually enjoy her book recommendations, I bought it.  Oh my, oh my, is it ever rocking my nutrition world!  I laid awake last night and I could actually feel plaque forming on my arteries and in my heart…
  • I am so behind on answering/reading emails, its pitiful.
  • Isla Frances is so darn adorable.  She finally figured out that she could hop out of bed, go get toys and bring them back to her bed during naptime.  Yesterday I went in and firmly removed them one by one.  We went over several times why that was a “no-no”.  Today she called me over to the door and handed me her play microphone.  I guess she didn’t want the temptation in her room!
  • For some reason lately Isla has felt the need to announce her toots to the world.  She did not learn this world from me.  Thank goodness we live in Russia so no one knows what she is saying.
  • Isla has also started trying to throw fits recently.  Mostly I ignore them.  They are quite amusing, except sometimes they are not.
  • We had church at our house this past Sunday.  I loved it!  I wish that we could host church here every week.
  • Saturday, the ladies of our church were treated to a day at the sauna.  I had a blast!  I really like saunas, I wish I could go to one more often.  My friend Katya brought all kinds of amazing facial products and my skin looked so good afterwards!  Now its back to normal.
  • This week I intentionally left open because I didn’t want a lot of time commitments, but its amazing how things fill up!  In addition to regular “school” twice a week, Russian lessons twice a week, and bible study on Wednesday nights, we are going to Krasnodar with friends Friday, I am having lunch with my friend Rosa and her beautiful new baby Thursday, and Saturday we are having my Russian instructor (and friend) and her family over!  Oh man… we also have English Club this Sunday evening.  Wow.  It’s a good feeling though, to have things to do and friends who want to spend time with you Smile.
  • Thursday will be the one year anniversary of when we left the US for Russia.  I kind of want to come up with something moving and profound for the blog to commemorate it. Ha, moving and profound… on this blog!
  • Finally, there have been several orphans that have been on my heart in addition to an amazing fundraiser going on over at Micah Six Eight.  I want to do a separate post on those so look out for them.
  • I also want to finish my posts on the Netherlands/Germany/Belgium and do a post on church at our house last Sunday… maybe don’t look out for those.  There is a good chance they won’t happen.

That’s it for this week folks!  Til next Tuesday… probably…

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday

So this post was originally Tuesday Tidbits, but I only got halfway through… so half of this is from Tuesday and the other half from Thursday!

Tuesday Thursday again, already?

Actually I should say… March, already?  I say this a lot, but this time I mean it with ever fiber of my being (love that expression, it’s a little over dramatic, but so fun to use!).  I was chatting with my friend Kim and she mentioned she was going back for a few weeks for her daughters Spring Break, and my jaw dropped open!  Already time for Spring Break???  Amazing.

  • I should really be studying my Russian right now.  I have been so lazy with it… but instead I am blogging.
  • Isla is doing much better with her naps and bedtime, praise God!  Peace has been restored to the Wann Household, mostly thanks to God and this little gem that I picked up when I was in the states.
  • Please go to A Perfect Lily and read Patti’s posts on the new test that is said to detect Down Syndrome in the first trimester.  Its very scary and could lead to the eradication of people with Down Syndrome in our society, by means of abortion.  Down Syndrome occurs at conception, Downs babies are not the product of a fallen world, they are created by God for His Glory, exactly as He intended!
  • I don’t know where my brain is, normally I leave Tuesdays and Fridays closed for activities with only Russian lessons, but for some reason I scheduled a play date right before lessons and to have friends over for dinner right after lessons this Tuesday! 
  • But its ok, we loved having Anya and her boys over before Russian lessons…106and then Katya, Igor and Izlata over after Russian lessons.  S118Seriously loved it!
  • Speaking of Katya, she and her family were at our house until 9:30 PM and then she went home and was up all night and made these for International Women’s Day:IMG_20120307_122230  IMG_20120307_122145WOWZERS! Such talent.
  • Nick has Thursday and Friday off for Women’s Day here in Russia!!! Oorah, as they say here in Russia.  However, he is still planning on working Friday plus Saturday, plus most definitely Sunday.  BOOrah, as I say.
  • Isla her first days of “school” this week.  Technically it is more of a mommy and me class, but we are calling it school because I have no idea how to say “mommy and me class” in Russian.
  • I think Isla had a good time.  She was really good and didn’t cry; she just didn’t want to sit on my lap.  She mostly watched, and I think she will enjoy it.  However, I didn’t realize that marching, jumping, and toe walking were learned skills!  And so it begins… she is so behind the other kids in coordination and rhythm and she’s one of the oldest!  So I simultaneously think “What have I been doing with my time with her? She is so behind! and Relax Stori, she isn’t even 2 yet! This doesn’t make you a bad mother.”
  • I am really proud of my husband and the leadership he has showed since we moved Russia!  He has been so giving of his time and energy to the church and our Wednesday Night Bible Studies are going so well.  Here are some of the beautiful ladies that have been coming (we have had men too.)125
  • Speaking of Nick, he enjoyed his first time snowboarding and I hope we can arrange it so that it’s a skill he can continue to develop! 
  • It was funny to see him moving like an old man when he came home from Sochi (location of the 2014 Olympics!) though.  Who knew snow boarding could make you feel so sore?
  • The other day Isla sneezed, paused and waited for me to say “Bless you.” But when I kept quiet for a few seconds she said “Bless you Isla!” Haha.  Mom dropped the ball. Smile
  • I have not been in the mood to blog and I still have at least 3 or 4 posts to do on the Netherlands… sigh.  I wish that I had a microchip in my brain that transmitted all of my thoughts and experiences to blog form.
  • I really need to do a post on just Isla.  She has been so neglected on this blog!  Also, she is going to be TWO on Easter Sunday.  Her first year went by so fast, but this time two actually feels about right to.  For once, I don’t think that I will be saying “I cannot believe my baby is TWO!” Haha.  She definitely feels like she is an almost two year old.
  • While Nick was in Sochi, Alesia and her family came over!  I love that we have made lasting friendships with so many people here.  Its taken a little while, but we feel so comfortable here.  I am so thankful for God and His provision!015016024
  • I think that I want to start a "Father/Daughter” photo of the week segment on this blog!  Nick and Isla are always doing something cute together, like right now Isla is making Nick dance with her bear… but first to come up with a fun title!048
  • Before I had Isla, I used to hate baby-eating-messy photos, now I am starting to get the appeal!  She is soooo cute.057
  • We had a guest speaker from Nick’s office come and speak at English Club!  I am very thankful for that.  Paul was so good, and he also apparently captured one of the most recent photos of the Loch Ness monster… ha!075

That’s it for this week!  Hopefully I will get my act together and put up the rest of our trip to the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium… Besides, I gotta go, Nick and I have been brushing up on our country and western dancing and he wants to practice our “pretzel!”

Ps. I love my family.  I do not deserve them! Praise God for His blessings.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Slight Change of Plans

Ladies and gents, we are no longer going to Jordan.  Nick has business training in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia the first week in April.  He is flipping out over being able to see the Petronas Towers!  He. Is. So. Cute.


And since we don’t make it to that part of the world very often, after a week in KL we decided to tack on 8 days in…


Boy, I have really been thinking that I could use a vacation…


…you know, cuz my life is so rough!

<kidding. I promise>

I am really excited, but a little bit freaked out since every movie that I’ve seen about Thailand seems be either about people ending up in a Bangkok Hilton for unwittingly smuggling illegal drugs or finding their way to a dystopic island community where everyone ends up sacrificing their humanity for their own selfish pleasures…

…but I’m sure we’ll have a good time.

<actually the only frightening thing will be me. in a bathing suit… eeeks!>

Pure and Undefiled Religion

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