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Neighbors

We saw him coming from about 10 yards away, uncontrolled lunges throwing him across the sidewalk, then small steps sending him stumbling into fence and icy overgrowth as we approached, breathing heavy, just having joked about the early winter and its influence on our running speed. “Careful,” I whispered, probably just as much to myself as my two companions. I’d forgotten it was a holiday weekend, or as most Russians joke, just another excuse to drink. The streets' stillness and relative emptiness seemed even more unusual than what we experience most early Saturday mornings and this guy’s drunken gait immediately pushed into my mind the Embassy’s weekend emergency message: “In the past, some rallies celebrating National Unity Day have been marred by violence, including targeting of non-ethnic Russians. In the last week, the U.S. Embassy has received two reports of American citizens being assaulted in what appear to be acts of anti-western/American sentiment.” Probably harmless, I …
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World Youth Day

It was a remarkable experience.

Nuns in habits sharing tents in fields.


"Papa Francesco!" chanted at full volume while stampedes of young people followed the Pope-mobile.


Endless bushels of tomatoes and paté donated for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for volunteers.


Small gatherings of mini-masses constantly taking place all over the city.


Sleeping on a gym floor with a hundred of my closest friends.


People and flags stretching beyond what the the eye can see.


It was an incredible two weeks: meeting young people from all over the world, learning about faith from a different viewpoint, and dialoguing openly and earnestly with believers, seekers, and agnostics alike. Our group of volunteers primarily ran charging stations where people could recharge their phones and other devices. While they waited, we explained that we were official evangelists and our job was to talk to pilgrims about the gospel and to ask them if they had made a decision to follow Jesus.



I got to talk about …

Great-Pa

At the time, it tasted like the perfect combination of spicy salsa over scrambled eggs,just the way I liked it.
But now, I can see, it's not only enduring 8 ruckus cousins piled on the floor for the summer, but making their favorite breakfasts for them each day.
At the time, it was glimmer of the holiday decorations around the house; the lantern and lights were always bright, inviting, always welcoming to me.
But now, it's a man who fought for the right to celebrate holidays in this country whatever way we please, and embraces that right.
At the time, it was the delight of finding the extra few treats on Halloween that appeared in my pumpkin and seeing the hand which slipped them in.
But now, it's a man who is generous and kind to his children's children.
At the time, it was the joy of walking from Holly Hillsto have candy with Grandpa after school instead of going home to carrots and apples.
But now, it's a man who enjoys life and enjoys making life more enjoyable.
At the…

More than Margin

Since arriving back in Moscow with 3 little ones in tow, I've been struggling to find a good rhythm for our family.  I often feel as though I have somehow, between child 2 and 3, lost any sense of margin.  It's difficult to explain, but this one new child, despite the fact that she's the easiest baby we've had, feels as though any kind of space or time to catch up, to cover up, or clean up has suddenly vanished. 
Walking home late the other night from a women's day party with our Russian friends and coworkers, I glanced at the time and cringed. I estimated about four hours of sleep that night between feedings for Evie and Peter's joyous, but early, wake up call. The 3rd night in a row. That sleep is gone for good. There is no space to sleep in for another two weeks or so, going to bed early depends mostly on Evie and her evening routine. For perhaps the first time in my mothering life, I have lost control over the basics I didn't realize I had until now. I c…

Evangelina Hope

She's here!
She's beautiful!
And we couldn't be more overjoyed.
Evangelina Hope made her way speedily into the world at 3pm on December 4th. She weighed 7lb 12oz and measured 20".

Evangelina comes from the Greek εὐαγγέλιον (euaggelion) which literally translates to "good news," where we get our word "gospel." Evangelina means "bearer of good news." During this season of Advent, we're daily reminded of the hope we have in Christ's first appearance as a child. Jessica Snell said it well: "In the first coming, when He became human and walked among us and redeemed us, He made us right. And when He comes again, He will make everything right." This is good news indeed! Evangelina Hope, in her Advent birth, reminds us of Christ's beginning and also of His end purpose.
As Evangelina Hope is a rather large name for such a small person, she also goes by Evie or Eva for Russian speakers.
Welcome to our world, little Evie.

You …

Whipper Snappers...

Did you know that young people planning to begin their first year of college this year were born in 1994?
1994?
I was a freshman in high school in 1994.  I actually wore the styles that students throw "decades parties" these days to mock.  I listened to music defined as "early rap."  I watched TV shows currently on syndication on Nick at Night.
I was young in 1994.  So what does that make me now?
Working with students these past 5 years, Dan and I have both recently begun to feel our age fairly acutely. Never before has the age gap seemed more apparent than when our adventurous young group of American summer project students invited us to midnight cycling around the city and all we could think about was Anna and Peter’s early morning wake-up music. How did we so quickly become those people? You know the type… those old, boring people, who get up everyday at 6:30 and go to bed around 9, who read books for fun, who don’t know what’s playing at the movie theater, who ask …

I think I can... I think I can... I think I can...

Anna loves books.
It's one of the most common requests in our home, "should we read a book?"
And it's a request that can't often be denied.
She, like most 2 year olds, loves repetition as well.  
She could read the same book over, and over, and over, and over, and over again.
And sadly for Mom and Dad, we don't find "The Little Engine That Could" quite as stimulating as she does.
However, I recently read that repetition for 2 year olds significantly aids development and provides essential stepping stones for learning to read independently.
It's interesting, since reading that, I have renewed motivation to read and re-read like never before.  Simply knowing that repetition is accomplishing a specific and beneficial purpose has made it tolerable:  "Yes, Anna, I think I can read it again."
Reminding myself of the purpose helps to do the hard things, the boring things, the small, seemingly inconsequential things.  
Now if only those thing…