threatened } much

 "my heart, is my keep; and you are threatening me...oh myyy you're the one, I've been holding out for; for so damn long..." (empires// jukebox the ghost)

oh Ukraine.
i don't understand. i don't know what to think about you. logic cannot explain how i feel, or even what i think. i'm not sure what i truly think --haven't made time to *really* sort it out. i'm scared.
why this crazy magnetic pull? even with your harsh abrasiveness, coldness, the vast depth of language/thought pattern barrier, the ways you make my strengths look disadvantageous & don't value some of the deepest things God created in me; i adore you. there are ways you hurt me. but it drives me to Jesus. oh you make me laugh! my lack of ability to cross those culture walls? at times frustrating as hell. but it drives me to honest self-assessment of what is truly good vs desired, what is biblical vs cultural. you're not easy to love, but i never have been either. and how freely you make me sing! i know that you can cause pain in ways i'm not even aware of. i know i barely understand you. i know you'll never get my cowboy boots. or why I need self-sufficient, capable hands. but still. despite every obstacle i think up, i can't help being drawn to you. can't help thinking you're especially beautiful. i see such richness, depth, resilience, color, simplicity... hope even, born from your suffering. 

do you know the only way to describe this is falling in love? the only thing that could get my mind so poetic & my heart so steady seems like it should be falling in love. its bizarre...yet. i know of nothing else to relate it too...i think maybe you could draw the music of my heart out like nothing has before, except Christ & the ocean.
my heart's love is akin to my ocean love...i fall in love like i swim. {slowly, then all at once} as soon as i let my skin touch the water we both know i'll end up way way out, deep, over my head. but i take my time. watchers might think me undecided. i go slow. content to let waves lap my feet, stopping to stand every so many steps. but then i reach a point where i decide--lets prove i'm all in, go-for-broke and boom!! i dive-run-swim fast as I can. & suddenly i'm all under. surprises me every time how far i go, even though i see it coming. 

so um explain this: how does one fall in love with a country, exactly? is it the culture? or the land or the people? in this case it's probably the work. & the orphans & HFO team. but. there are orphans & dedicated Jesus-lovers in other places. i have potentially open doors to missions in other countries. doors easier to walk through, less costly. even ministering to abused woman through dance--uniting 2 things I'm passionate about! but strangely i don't care. i just want to do whatever i can in Ukraine, for Ukrainian orphans & children. for the Ukrainian church--how i long to be grace to you! there's long-term potential here too. but is it God? i can't go there yet. i haven't made the mental dive. i'm afraid it will end; yet equally afraid it's long term. 

I don't do falling in love very well. just FYI.
of all the loves my heart has (there are many kinds)
that love scares me. 
cause it takes me far far longer to stop & climb back out. i love too fiercely, it's the slowest hell. oh Ukraine how you threaten me.
thank You Jesus for holding my future, and my heart. turn both wherever You will.


"long is the road that leads me home,
longer still when I walk alone..."

the flight from Kyiv all i think is how badly I want to be en route to Kharkiv. now that I'm in Amsterdam & there's no going back I suddenly have all the thoughts of home that I suppressed the last month flooding me at once. I'm a quarter of the way home...and all I want is to see hug tackle my family 20 minutes ago. 
this is when I fiercly miss...



mental download from Kiev

sometimes, I battle regret. fiercely. usually I'm pretty confident in my decisions once they've been made. I've grown in receiving grace & walking away from my mistakes once I own them. I don't second-guess my actions much anymore, I don't reply conversations wishing I'd said differently.
but today...aiy aiy. 

today has been good. so beautiful this morning. answered prayer in quiet time with Abi's Hebrews recommendation. but so...painful. the sharp healing cut of God's Word. revealing. good hurt, like ripping off a bandaid to find the wound is healing but still stings. 

this morning I had a revelation I wish I'd had the first week. so simple! so clear as I was praying. if I'd taken more time alone--truly alone, still--before God I would have seen it sooner. how could I be so blind?! how proud I have been. how grasping of good things that seemed pure. but I forgot in all my praying to submit. I forgot how to actually   release worry, fear, desire, weakness. how to let go and mean it. for whatever reason, God met me this morning. & I realized that's what has been past missing. not just in Ukraine, but my life the past few months. it's been bothering me the whole trip. something was not right, but I could never find it. I always felt a little off, a little not my full self. maybe it's partly why I felt I could never get to the end of myself? all my giving was not enough. it killed me. there was still so much of me that I hadn't given to God & therefore couldn't give away. I tried to figure it out. I read scripture. but. somehow I never reached that place of bittersweet surrender until this morning. I was so familiar with the peace of letting go last year. last summer my normal thought process was giving things to Jesus & walking away with such joy & peace. i used to identify the root of struggles and wrestle to be honest, til I could freely walk away. somehow I forgot how to do this...
how i wish i had! how much better this month could have been. I rest in God's forgiveness. I feel no condemnation, He didn't waste my time here. I know He works through broken vessels. But I also know there is missed opportunity. I could have been used more. Christ could have shone much brighter through me. my will & fears got in the way. I wish I could relive this month! even the 4 days I thought I wouldn't make it, the hard parts. but I can't. so I will just take this lesson to heart. 

my time in Ukraine has been so beautiful. so much brighter than expected. great camps. children with open hearts & love & goodness. such a generous team! I had precious evenings with dear Liliya & Kolya & Elizabeth. how funny that the 2 I especially felt connected to last year would be the ones I spent the most deep & real time with this year. so kind of God to work that way. I've come to know Dana, & she's not just a woman I respect but also now a friend i love. I could go on and on...
I made the wrong decision to not stay all summer. I know nobody from home can understand...its not because I don't love or miss people from home. it's not that Ukraine is more important--not at all! it's not that I don't care, dont want hugs & American food with my loved ones. but. i'm not finished. sending the team off to Kharkiv tonight aches in my throat. I should be going! there are so many plot twists within hearts & lives that I want to watch unfold. there are stories I need to hear from the HFO team, & a few words i need to say. there are kids from last year that need to see i came back. ah. but I made the decision I thought was right. can't change it. 

I do sooo love my family. cannot wait to see them. & I want all the time with Abi I can have before she embarks on her IJM adventure. so it will be good, once I am home.