being transformed

by love.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

of late.

I've been busy of late, working on a separate blog I'm jointly writing for with my husband. We're chronicling home ownership and everything related. So check us out at:

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


I read a wonderful story of a church halfway across the world meeting needs of people in their community…. And then I read the following challenge to think of ways of how we can impact those around us, right here, where each of us lives. I began to dream and recall past dreams of things I wanted to do, people I wanted to impact, ways of service that excite me… here are some of the results of the brainstorm.

1. Community Gardening – I love gardening and while I have much to learn about this, and have even little opportunity at this stage of my life to garden, I want to grow food and herbs and share them with others. This could mean inviting others over for dinner made with produce from my garden, teaching others how to garden by inviting them into my backyard with me, giving away the fruit of my labors to friends, neighbors, and the needy, or finding a communal space to garden with others and develop relationships through the love and toil of gardening.

2. Purposeful Hospitality – I enjoy opening my doors to others. This began in college when I maintained for the most part an open door policy. My close friends knew they could stop in my room, even if I wasn’t there, to use my computer, printer, space for peace and quiet, read books, borrow books, or find a listening ear. Nothing could brighten my day like the discovery upon returning from a class that a friend was sitting on my bed, enjoying my space. There was joy in having “my” space be a shared “our” space. In a similar manner, I love it when people pass through Kentucky and stop in to see me. Not only stop in, but stay over for dinner or the night. I love love love hosting people (and sharing with them the wonderful city I live in)! Or inviting a friend over for a homemade dinner and coffee and conversation... nothing is quite like it. Yet when I also open my doors, I want it to be purposeful. I want to go out of my way to find opportunities to invite others into my home and my life, rather than just wait for those times to come to me. I want to share the love of Christ with others. I want to help meet the needs of others. I want them to be better for having stopped by to stay or accepting the invitation for a meal.

3. Encouraging Notes – I love to write letters, even more than emails. The act of writing versus typing has an aesthetic and pleasing quality to it, almost a relaxing quality, that is lost in the mechanical noises of a keyboard and artificial glare of a computer screen. Furthermore, I know the receiving of a letter brings a surprise to one’s face. When I lived overseas, I was always overjoyed to receive any little letter or package sent my way. I regained my love of letter writing when I was dating Trevor for over 8 months in a absurdly long distance overseas relationship that relied on skype, email, and snail mail to keep us connected. Yet it was the letters that have stayed with me the most. I would like to resurrect the practice in my own life and send notes of love and encouragement, even if just a small hello, to those dear in my life. Whether they live next door or across an ocean, I want them to have the joy of getting mail and to know with more than just a feeling that they truly are extraordinary and specially loved.

4. Artistic Blessing – I love things that are handmade. Last Christmas, my husband and I decided to celebrate not 1, but the full 12 days of Christmas. The practice is one I would love to keep. There is no better way to celebrate the month-long buildup to Christmas known as Advent with a celebration that lasts for days rather than hours - a season of Christmas just as there is a season of Advent. Yet part of our 12 day celebration was a decision to exchange gifts every day – just 1 a day. While some people might get several gifts ON Christmas day, we decided to spread them out. And yet, as an engaged couple planning a wedding, we certainly did not have the money that some families have to splurge on each other with costly gifts. Hence, we necessarily decided that many of the gifts be homemade. I can tell you that I can easily recall all the gifts given to me last year that were homemade... the bought gifts are harder to remember. Being homemade conferred upon them a significance both unique and endearing. The love in homemade gifts is tangible. This differs from bought gifts, when one is often left wondering if the bought gift was something truly picked out for you in love, rather than an afterthought selection grown out of the necessity to give. As an artist (or: aspiring artist) who hopes to launch a store on etsy in the near future, I have a wonderful excuse to make things – not only to sell, but to give away, and to bless others with the giving of my time and energies to create something artistic, something both beautiful and unique like each recipient.

5. Sponsoring a Child - Before my husband and I met, he was already sponsoring a child through World Vision. I have enjoyed starting to get to know our sponsor child who lives in Nicaragua. I still have a desire to sponsor a child now as a couple, and am drawn to Compassion. My sister was able to meet one of her Compassion children in Ethiopia this past April. Knowing their experience and the wonderful things I have heard about how Compassion operates draws me to help and support a child through their organization.

Please feel free to share any of your own ideas of service for your community.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

intentional homelessness.

My friend, J, is experiencing his first few days of a 6-month long stint of living on the streets. He is going homeless, carrying only a backpack with him and $15 cash in his wallet and some trail mix for food to start. His heart is to grow in compassion and serve the Lord. We had the privilege of being there for his last meal and a send off at the greyhound station. Keep him in your prayers and follow his story of homelessness on

wednesday: trees play tug o' war.

I played tug of war with a tree today. (I prevailed.) Later the tree amused itself by attempting to steal my hat, but aha! I caught him red-handed. Such were the highlights of this gloomy Wednesday. Yet as I was tugging with this tree, removing the parasitic vines that engulfed what used to be a perfectly healthy holly, I was struck by how this one living plant could be so cruel to steal the life force of another. If I hadn’t been there to rescue that holly, this vine would continue to grapple around the tree, blocking its sunlight and squeezing the very life out of it. Yet, isn’t this the picture of the fallen creation? We have a beautiful earth formed by one who is unparalleled in creativity, yet this earth is at times working against itself. Furthermore, this is what sin does to us – it blocks the sunlight of what is good, the necessary light of life-giving truth, and seeks to choke us with its darkness and clingy nature. While we can hack at its roots and remove it from us, there comes a time when it will, without a doubt, grow back to try and choke us again. With the profundity of this moment still striking me strongly, the thought process descended a little deeper. In the course of my tug of war with the vines on the said holly, suddenly a perfectly formed and delicate bird’s nest tumbled out of the mass of vines to the ground. Discarded leaves, brown pine needles, and even small pieces of plastic had been infused with new purpose as woven elements in this perfect hemisphere that was to be a safe haven and home for baby birds. The mother bird had chosen to build her nest in an area deemed safe, high above the ground, nestled among the intricately woven vines covering the tree below. Unbeknownst to the bird, these vines were a parasite to be extracted by a gardener to save the tree. Again, another picture of sin – not only does sin seek to choke the life out of ourselves, like the vine on the holly, but sin also embroils others into its consequences, consequences meted out and inflicting suffering on, perhaps, innocent others. We can never be so confident that our wrong doings or sin, hidden or exposed, won’t hurt someone or something else around us.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

biltmore ave

Wednesday WRIT!

With pen in hand, or fingers poised over the keyboard, what exactly compels one to begin speaking silently in written text? While one person may need to write a thesis, another seeks the lyric, a third is yet reporting on factual events. The business of writing is varied in nature and purpose just as the people who choose to write are thus varied. Yet when I become that person, poised over the keyboard, or now, typing at keys sometimes quickly, sometimes drawn out through pauses and careful picking, I have only one agenda - to put my inner world on paper. To give voice to my thoughts and opinions, my questions and doubts, my longings and joys. Writing as revealing inner thoughts becomes instantaneously more personal and intimate than many other genres. Writing is an invitation to others, an open extension of the hand and mind to ponder something I deigned important enough or provoking enough to share... for the mutual understanding with another mind, or discussion, and even scrutiny. Writing, when practiced often, forces me to remain open, specific, personal, and transparent. The desire for expression compels me... a longing to no longer be a lone reed, but to find friends on the journey, to share in my thoughts, and perhaps, be inspired to share their own.

So let’s seek that common ground together. I would be flattered indeed if my words inspire you to write your own thoughts, and to reveal them with the world. For now, I simply accept being a lone reed, typing away, sharing even if there’s no ear to listen or eyes to read. The invitation is always open... for questioning, discussing, and yes, scrutinizing. If I will ever become a writer, the unearthed dream of a once timid ten year old (young enough to be without recourse to know what it would entail), I must practice, often, even when it is nothing but jibberish or something close to dreadful.

I crown the tedious of all work days, that laborious middle day when the week is still getting into full swing but one is already dreaming for the weekend, yes, the tedious Wednesday will now be my blog’s crown for the Wednesday WRIT! My writing, revealing inner thoughts.

Come back and let me share with you...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

birds chirping.

Birds chirping just outside in a small courtyard. Just far enough away, beyond the blinds that shield out the sun's rays, to tantalize with their melody. Spring lures me to herself, away from this electrical box of plastic and metal and glass that I must face in silence. A screen stares back at me, and it might as well be blank. My energy is focused on the interior of my heart and mind. Changes have come and will continue to come. I have a roommate now who is the most gentle, funny, loving and perfectly created and formed being for me. I may soon find out about another living being, a little girl, half a world away in the heat of Africa that may soon become part of my extended family. What joy has come, and yet what more joy awaits. With the birds chirping just outside in a small courtyard, I cannot tear myself from their song and enchantment. Spring, life, newness; song and dancing. The sense of sitting at a desk befuddles me when so much awaits on the other side of this blinded windowed wall. Walls cornering me into a building sunk halfway in the ground, windows beaming across asphalt lots, leaving me yearning for release.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


I was shocked this past winter when I was contacted via by a gentleman in Singapore who wanted to publish one of my photos in their January 2009 edition of Silver Kris magazine - an inflight magazine of Singapore Airlines. I was delighted and agreed!

The main focus of this edition was a segment on Vilnius, Lithuania. Since I've been there several times, I have many photos on flickr from there. While he chose one that I couldn't say is an example of my best work, I'm just pleased to be a real paid and published photographer! If only I could get sweet publication deals like this every month...!

Check it out below. Cover of magazine, then the page with my photo. My photo is the middle shot on the left of a chocolate and tea store. My Belarusian friend Yulia is standing with her back to the camera on the left. Lastly, the photo credit! YAY!




Tuesday, January 13, 2009

mission conference.

My home church in Lexington, KY is holding a mission conference this weekend. I somehow ended up on one of the planning committees. As it turns out, I got to handle our publicity and media... which meant I got to have some fun taking pictures. Thanks to brother Chad and friends the Kelleys for their foot and shoe modeling. My friend Laura also ended up being a foot model without realizing it - the photo featuring her feet (and mine) was taken more than a year ago. Big uber thanks to Trevor to make all the pictures come together for our posters in the way I imagined it. swoot!


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

on my way to being an aunt!

2009 is barely here and already I'm much closer to my hope & expectation of becoming a full-fledged, official aunt this year! Yesterday, January 5th, my sister got THE CALL for their Ethiopian adoption referral! There was much rejoicing all around! Go here for more details.

(For legal reasons, we won't be able to post this adorable little girl's photo or any of her biographical info on the internet until my sister and brother-in-law pass court.)

Thanks for prayers - please continue them, that this little girl would be healthy, that they would pass court on their first try, and get a court date scheduled sooner than later! Thanks!

Thursday, January 01, 2009


I can't say my new year's celebration was the most eventful or crazy. It was rather subdued, but I enjoyed it. Seeing a few friends, and then ringing in the new year at midnight with 3 others whilst playing some board games.

As I look into 2009, I have many expectations, things I am *already* looking forward to!

My list of hopes & expectations for 2009 include:

+To get married!

+To become an aunt!

+To travel! (specifically, I hope to travel to Annapolis in April for croquet and to pick up a beautiful wooden rowing oar I am purchasing!)

+To have some more career changes, and pursue other avenues for income! (freelance photography and writing being foremost in my mind.)

+To grow in my knowledge and love of the Lord and other fascinating people He's put on earth!

+To read a few more books! (Some I'm eagerly looking forward to reading include: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, Rainbows for the Fallen World by Calvin Seerveld, Demons by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Simply Christian by N.T. Wright, Works of Love by Soren Kierkegaard, and Between Noon and Three by Robert Farar Capon.
These are all after I finish a few currently in, like Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw. I'll also welcome reading companions for face-to-face or email conversations about any of these picks, so let me know if you are interested!)

2009, I'm glad you finally made it here. I sense you are going to be a *most* excellent year! May we savor every moment.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 thanksgivings

+I am thankful for 5 wonderful months of concluding my ministry in another country

+I am especially thankful for my relationships with Anya and Dasha, and sharing my heart and knowledge of God and the Bible with them

+I am thankful for nearly 16 months of a wonderful adventure with Trevor

+I am thankful I had the opportunity to travel to Hungary

+I am thankful I had the opportunity to return to Belarus in November and also spend time in Lithuania and Germany

+I am thankful that I have been able to donate blood again State-side

+I am thankful that I was able to celebrate Christmas this year with my family and many new wonderful people who will soon be called my family as well

+I am thankful for my Labor Day vacation in Washington, DC and Annapolis, MD with 3 wonderful people

+I am thankful I got to take Anya and Trevor to my favorite beach

+I am thankful for having had the chance to reconnect with many family members and friends far away, after long stretches of time apart - the Johnnies in Cincinnati, DC and Durham; Rachel; Jennifer; Joseph; Molly & Nate; Vita; Lauren & Eian; Robert; Andrei; the Belarusians; family in Alabama...

+I am thankful for friends who were married this year - 4 weddings which I was able to attend, and 6 weddings (2 Belarusian weddings) which I could not attend

+I am thankful for friends who welcomed little children into their lives this year, or who will soon! And of course, that their little ones are healthy and bringing joy to their parents.

+I am thankful for the excitement over engagements - my own and those of at least 2 of my dear friends

+I am especially thankful that the Lord has been faithful to sustain my family through much change, and fills us with joy and hope over the future

+I am very thankful for being healthy, and for my family and friends also being healthy

+I am thankful for a whole summer that I was given to serve Anya while she sojourned here in America

+I am thankful for my grandmother who is about to turn 98!

+I am thankful for my few, new friends in Kentucky

+I am thankful for old friends who are intentional to keep in touch with me

+I am thankful for friends who celebrated Advent with us, and for the Lord making our time sweet and meaningful

+I am thankful for work to pay my bills

+I am thankful for opportunities I have for photography, and sharing this hobby with others

+I am thankful for people who read and comment on my blog, people who care about me, who call me up and ask me how I'm doing. I especially am thankful for those who sent me mail and called me while I was still in Belarus. I am thankful for having felt loved.

+I am thankful for joy-filled surprises this past year

+I am thankful for my dog, Alyosha!

+I am thankful for the Lord's help and protection for my friends in other countries

+I am thankful for the generosity of others showered upon me this past year

+I am thankful for the roof over my head, the warm bed I have to sleep in (yay IKEA!), and food for the table

+I am thankful for all the travel I experienced, and that I was kept safe and secure through it all

+I am thankful for the wonderful music I've been able to enjoy live this year, mainly, Over the Rhine

+I am thankful for those who share my joy and excitement for my upcoming marriage, those who support me in this venture, for those who love Trevor just as they love me, and those who see God's goodness and plan in bringing us together

+I am thankful for every prayer that was prayed on my behalf and the people who prayed

+I am thankful for new experiences

+I am thankful for the churches I have enjoyed being a part of in Belarus and Kentucky. I am also thankful for the individuals who I can gather with every week for fellowship and Bible study.

+I am thankful for God giving me the blessing of being a part of the Kingdom come in Belarus and at home in the States

+I am thankful for Jesus and His love and mercy showered over me and granted to me day by day!

new year 09 already!?

I am sitting in an office working a fairly new job (this is still my first month), wondering how it is that December 31st is already here and 2009 upon us?!

Many years ago, I would make huge lists of resolutions. Later the list narrowed, then list categories were made, and eventually, the resolutions disappeared altogether, the practice abandoned.

I like to set goals, I think it's a good thing.
I like to reflect, too.
But resolutions just sort of became the be-all, end-all list of everything practical and impractical. And the result is usually just discouragement, or it just gets forgotten and never tackled.

When I was in Belarus in 2006, we rang in 2007 with prayer. I'd like to continue in that vein of thought and heart as well as practice.

I will end 2008 with a list of thanksgivings for this year. Will you join me?

I will then embark into 2009 with a list of things I anticipate, with perhaps a few more realistic goals that I invite accountability on to tackle!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

amazing show, amazing venue.

Trevor + I caught Over the Rhine at a special performance after getting free tickets just for buying and waiting patiently for the delayed release of their Live from Nowhere album Volume Three. It was a small holiday gathering at the former St. Elizabeth's church in Norwood, Ohio. The inside of this church had the exposed brick, peeling walls, and breathtaking stained glass windows. It was funky and fun. They had belgian waffles and coffee brewing for the taking, were raising money for World Vision, and gave an awesome fun show. The place was so packed that Trevor and I ended up sitting in the center aisle of the church, about 15 feet from Karin Bergquist. This was the 5th time we've seen Over the Rhine which has become the semi official band of our relationship. We jump at the chance to take in their music. You feel a part of this wonderful music family... and it's lovely.

They are playing at Ram's Head in Annapolis on February 5th... if you're there, you must go. You won't be disappointed...

this woman is amazing.

I love Karin Bergquist's voice... and their lyrics are killer.