I hate parenthood.... A really dear friend recently began a live video with these words. Her teenage son started college this week. He also began his first row alone on bigger water (the Erie Canal!) this week. She was so sad that even though her video faced the canal, her words were choked and full of emotion. Her boy was venturing into bigger waters, and not just the bigger waters of the Erie Canal, but the bigger waters of adulthood. I sat in my apartment here in Kiev, thousands of miles from my friend, and began to weep with her.
I sensed not just sadness, but a certain amount of regret, maybe a little wistfulness for the time when he was young. And as with almost all my friends who are moms: the inevitable pang of overwhelming self-doubt seemed present, too. Have I done enough? Have I totally messed him up with the mistakes I know I made? How will he fair in bigger waters?
She has been an excellent and dedicated mother. She has home schooled her kids (not that I see this as the only good way to educate children. It's certainly not). But it is certainly very labor intensive for the parents who choose this option. Often the labor falls more to mom than to Dad. My friend has poured herself into her children in every possible way. She cooks, she cleans, she educates, she nurses, she loves them. Now they are preparing to leave her.
And they are ready to go. My friend is an amazing woman. She has chosen to stay home with her children but she has also been busy in her own pursuits: a business related to cooking healthy food, involvement in ToastMasters (even was president of her local chapter for a number of years), and church involvement. Add to this her personality: She is incredibly creative: She writes poems. She loves dancing. She is an accomplished conductor. She is intelligent. Her sense of humor! Oh my!!! Her sense of humor!!! I remember visiting one time and being entirely thrilled to discover that she had passed on her zany, sarcastic, hilarious one liners on to her daughter. Her daughter told me when I teased about not wanting to read something she wrote that, "My mother won't feed you if you don't read it." I have laughed so hard! The joy was not just in the joke, but in hearing my friend's sense of humor come out of her daughter's mouth..
And now my friend is hurting, uncertain of the future both for herself and for her children. She has placed an unshakeable foundation of God and His Word as well as her love into the hearts and minds of her kids. She has also put a solid foundation under their feet as they begin to take steps into all that God has for them.
And as her son rowed away from her into bigger waters, I wanted to shout: "Well done, good and faithful servant!" And I did jot off a quick note to her. But she is like so many mothers I know. Having heavily invested into their children's lives and watching their kids row away from home into the bigger flow of life, they wonder what's ahead for both their children and themselves. Change, to be sure. But also new vistas and views that could not have been explored while their kids were with them at home. Perspective on familiar things that could only come from their adult kids.
A wiser man than me wrote in Ecclesiastes, "Cast your bread upon the waters and you'll find it after many days." Moms: you have cast your bread into the waters. As your kids row out into the bigger waters of the world, they are going to find the harvest you sowed. And as you row into the bigger waters of life without your kids at home, the One who controls the winds and the waves will see both you and your children safely to His desired destination. We have only trust His ability and to navigate our vessels in accordance with the true north that only He can provide.
And aside from all that, moms, for whatever it's worth, you are and were a loving and amazing mom!
ONE LIFE AT A TIME..... I have been in Ukraine this summer and was recently delighted when an old friend from Vinnitsa posted a picture of a book I'd given her on Facebook.
SYLVIA.... Meet the extremely gifted and talented Sylvia! (Her picture is below!) Sylvia was my interpreter when I lived in Vinnitsa. She was in college at the time learning English and German, very fluent in English and available to help me when I needed her.
Rhema: I work as a teacher/ administrator with Rhema Bible Training Center Ukraine, training leaders. At one time, with the help of my generous partners, I was able to purchase the book Seven Laws of the Learner for every student in class. This book is a wonderful resource for teachers to help them cause students to learn. Sylvia was not a Rhema student. But since we had a couple extra copies, I gave a copy to Sylvia. She thanked me but never said anything about it at the time.
Fast Forward: Sylvia recently posted a picture of the book on Facebook, saying she finally had time to read "this wonderful book!" Sylvia graduated from college recently and just accepted a teaching position. While she didn't read the book right away, the books we give to others have a life of their own. She just now started reading the book, right as she is beginning her teaching career. As she begins her vocational life as a teacher, it is exciting to realize we have had a part in inspiring her to excellence!!!
Thank God we have a part in impacting Sylvia's life as well as all the kids she will teach!!!
It was a modest start. Rhema Ukraine hosted Pastor Robert Tomascheck from Germany to teach a seminar on church planting. Robert is the European director of Dynamic Church Planting International: an organization that specializes in helping pastors start new churches.
Gathered in the classroom were about 30 people which came to learn about how to begin a church. Many of them already pioneered a church already and had established works. Some were in the process of beginning a new church and looking for answers to tough questions. Others were simply there because they believed the Lord asked them to come.
This is one of those faith moments. It didn't look like many people had come. But we knew the Lord had led us to offer this seminar here in Ukraine where there are precious few Bible believing, Bible teaching churches. As it turned out, the precise right people were there.
Jesus continues to build His church! We held the training in April. In the intervening months, some of the pastors above who were also certified to be trainers of the church planting essentials course have already held their own trainings in their regions of Ukraine. Additionally, at the recent Dynamic Church Planters International training held in Munich, Germany, Ukrainian pastors from above were in attendance.
Ukrainian leaders are passionate about building the church and seeing churches planted not just in Ukraine but all over Europe. Jesus continues to build His church!
Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 10:16 of his desire to preach in the regions beyond Corinth.
The US: When I was in the US, I knew there was more in me than I was currently looking at. But I focused on what I could do. Sick co-worker? Made their family a meal in the name of Christ. Dying friend: shared the gospel with her and prayed for her healing. I took advantage of opportunities as they came my way to be a light, to be kind, to help people in my sphere.
Beyond: When I came to Ukraine, I felt I had done my part in fulfilling the words in 2 Corinthians 10:16. I left my home culture and embraced a new country, home, food, language, etc. Less than a month after I arrived, I was called upon to leave for Italy. To date, I have been to 8 different countries as well as traveled a good bit in the US for the purpose of sharing the good news with others. I recently traveled to Moldova (see picture) to pray for the people attending a women's conference and support my supervisor. Sometimes I shared the gospel in these nations and other times I have taught others how to share their faith. Always, I was sent by the Holy Spirit to help get this gospel published to all nations.
What about you? Have you shared Jesus with anyone? I didn't ask if you preached. Can you love a child in the name of Jesus? Maybe make a meal for someone you know who is sick or hospitalized? Visit an adult home to listen to people in their twilight years? Sharing the gospel really takes many forms. Before we go to the regions beyond we need to go to those in our world today.
I challenge you to pray and ask God to put someone in your path to share Jesus with. When they show up, be bold! Do what God asks you to do and say what He leads you to say! Reach for those closest to you, then begin looking beyond them to the world you walk into every day. Before you fly across the world to share Jesus, you have to be willing to go across the street to share Jesus.
We can do it! We must do it! Let's reach out!
Just a note to say thank you to my supporters who have joined with me in fulfilling the call of God to reach the people of the former Soviet Union! I am so grateful to you!!! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!
TRUST IN THE TRANSITION: Autumn has always been my favorite season of the year. I love the colors, the crisp, cool air, and the anticipation of snow in the near future. Each fall, the colors change gradually from green leaves to partially green with various reds, yellows, oranges, rusts, etc. Eventually the leaves change entirely to the "color" of fall, filling the landscape with brilliant hues that only God Himself could splash on the canvas of the earth as the Master Artist.
I recently made a transition from Vinnitsa, Ukraine to Kiev, Ukraine. Similar to the change of seasons from summer to fall, there are bits of the old season that have shown up in this season. I still have the same supervisors. (Thank God! I love them!) But in looking for a new church, I was delighted to run into an old friend from Vinnitsa at a church here in Kiev. (See the picture above!!!) We went out for lunch and in the midst of everything being "new," my old friend Lena was a welcome sight.
Things are changing here. Even the way we have conducted Rhema Bible Training Center in the past may change because of the new environment. In this time of transition, I am grateful that my trust is located, not in old routines, or even old friends (however welcome they might be), but in the God who led me to Ukraine in the first place. While finding my way around a bigger city and trying to find a new church can be challenging, there are some really wonderful, new opportunities here to make new friends, learn new things, and see the work of the kingdom expanded.
Trust in the Transition: The seasons change but God does not. He can be trusted when everything around us is changing! More to come soon about some of the new things!!!
The elevator in my apartment building. What a way to start a blog, right? Recently I went out a little before 9 PM to enjoy the warm weather. I intentionally left my phone at home because I wanted to "unplug." I came back in and stepped into the elevator to return to the ninth floor where I live. I got part way up and suddenly: BOOM! The elevator stopped and the lights went out.
I was in a rather undesirable situation. I didn't have my phone. Even if I had my phone, there was nobody to call. I have a friend in the city who could help me, but she lives a good 30-45 minutes away. My American supervisors left the country a couple days ago.
It was so dark I couldn't see my hand in front of my face. I had just drunk a big glass of milk before I went out. I needed to use the bathroom. As I began to think through my options and assess my resources, I realized, "Hmmm.... I don't have a lot, just my keys, 200 gryvna, my clothes, my sandals. My keys could maybe pry open the door, but only if I could see." I reached to the center and attempted to pull the doors apart with my hands. No dice.
At this point, I said, "Okay, God, its just You and me and I need help. I am asking You in the name of Jesus to send someone who knows how to get this thing open so I can get out." Then I started praying (unashamedly) in the Holy Ghost and banging on the elevator doors.
Eventually a I heard a lady's voice responding to my knocking. But because of both he language issue and the reality that she was speaking through thick doors, I didn't understand her. I stopped banging and gave her a few minutes to find help.
After a while, I banged again and there was no response. I knew the electricity would probably not be out for long, but thought the worst case scenario for where I live might be 24-48 hours. Unpleasant, but I thought through: Okay, if I need to relieve myself, I can do so in a corner and be sure to stay away from the corner. I wasn't afraid of no food or water because I know the human body can go without these for a time without too much incident.
I continued to pray in the Spirit and again began banging on the door. I didn't bang loudly, but methodically, loudly enough, and insistently. Eventually, I heard a man's voice responding to my knocking. This time I told him (in English) that I didn't understand him. He responded and I again stopped banging thinking he'd find help. About two minutes later, I saw light flashing through the cracks in the door, heard the sound of metal on metal, and heard his voice again. I realized he was working to get me out. After a short time, the first door opened. I was between floors and started to get out, but he asked me to wait until he opened the second door, which he quickly did. Then he held out his hand to help me to jump down to the floor where he was working. I was safe, sound, and I gave some strange man I never met before a hug and a big thank you!
When it was so dark, I began thinking: Is this what hell is like? So dark you can't see anything, not even your own body? After getting out, I continued to reflect. When I come in contact with lost people, how am I responding? Am I like the first woman who saw and heard the problem but did nothing to help? Or am I like the second man, bringing light, the tools to help people out, the reassurance of a voice that is working on getting them out, and a helping hand to get people out of darkness?
I honestly was very convicted that I am often more like the first woman. But I can improve. What about you? When you come into contact with a lost person, do you notice their problems and walk away? Or do you come with the light, the tools to help, a reassuring voice, and a helping hand to pull them out darkness into the light?
Do you ever feel like what you’re doing is futile? I am talking about your faith. Sometimes we do everything we know to do and it just seems as if there is no fruit. Sometimes we even pray, “Lord, I am doing everything I know to do but I am not getting the results You promised. Why? What’s going on here?” What do we do in those moments? Do we give up? Do we keep doing the same thing over and over, going through the motions, but without results? Just keep on going?
1 Corinth 10:11 tells us that everything in the Old Testament was written for our examples. Let’s look at a woman that went through this same struggle of “Lord, I feel like I am doing everything right but: no results.” You can read the whole story for yourself in 1 Samuel 1-2, but for time’s sake I am going to give you the Kim Linza Condensed Translation.
Israel was in a mess. The priesthood, Eli and sons (Hophni and Phineas) were stealing from the offerings, even committing sexual immorality with women in the temple.
But we have the story of Elkanah, Peninnah, and Hannah. Elkanah was married to both Peninnah and Hannah. They went up to the temple every year to worship in obedience to what the law said. They gave offerings. Elkanah loved Hannah and gave her double portions as if she had a son, because he loved her. But Peninnah was the wife with children. Every year when they went up to worship, Peninnah provoked Hannah and made her miserable. Peninnah means “adversary.” Hannah is a picture of a woman who was God honoring, God worshipping, and God fearing and yet year after year, the enemy was making her miserable. Elkanah wasn’t much help. “Hannah why do you weep? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than 10 sons?” He may have been a God-fearing man and even a good husband, but he couldn’t meet the desire of Hannah’s heart to be a mother.
1 Samuel 1:10 says Hannah prayed. It seems that at this point, with everything against her and nothing going her way, Hannah realized she needed to take hold of the Lord through prayer. She makes an audacious promise that she did not have to make, telling God if He gives her a child, she’ll give the child to the Lord all the days of his life.
1 Samuel 1:12 says Hannah continued to pray before the Lord. This was not just a haphazard prayer, but genuine supplication. Supplication is a humble, earnest, heartfelt request made in a fervent manner. She makes her petition. A petition literally means a written request. In other words, we pray based on the word. I don’t know what Hannah based her petition on exactly. Maybe she reminded God that of Exodus 23:26 which says: None will miscarry or be barren in the land. Maybe she reminded God of Deut. 7:14 which says: there shall not be male or female barren among you.
In 1 Samuel 1:17-18, 2:1-11, Hannah praised and worshipped. Eli saw Hannah and thought she was drunk. Hannah respectfully said that she was not drunk but had “poured out my soul before the Lord.” Ps. 62:8b says “Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.” She poured everything out before the Lord. The unworthiness, the desire for a child, the years of rejection, all of it. We needn’t think that God doesn’t care about or is surprised by our feelings. He cares, but He is looking for the word to give Him an invitation to act. After all this, the reminding God of His word, of pouring out her soul before Him, Eli told her “Go in peace and the God of Israel grant you your petition. The Young’s Literal Translation says: And Eli answereth and saith, 'Go in peace, and the God of Israel doth give thy petition which thou hast asked of Him. In other words: this was God speaking through the high priest to Hannah in answer to her fervent and continued prayers to say: It is done. Go in peace. Suddenly, Hannah was happy! 1 Samuel 1:19 says they (not just Elkanah but Hannah too) worshipped the Lord.
Hannah prayed, Hannah continued to pray, and once she had assurance of peace in her heart and that she had the answer, she praised.
Obviously, a baby can’t come in the snap of your fingers. In the process of time, Hannah conceived and bore a son, Samuel, which means “heard by God.” After he was weaned, she took him to the temple and lent him to the Lord as promised. She took her precious son and dropped him in the middle of a corrupt priesthood. How many of you know that she wasn’t about to stop praying for Samuel! She went up every year and made him a little robe which is a symbol of her continuing to cover Samuel in prayer. Hannah's continued, fervent prayers produced the result of a praying man. 1 Samuel 12:23 talks about Samuel as an adult: Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good & right way.
Take aways: When you feel as though you’re not receiving from God all that He has promised: that is not the time to give up. That is the time to pray. That is the time to petition God based on the word. That is the time to even pour out your soul before the Lord. You need to pray until you have a note of victory and then you can do as Hannah did and praise and rejoice. But one you’ve received the promise, remember that is not the end. Hannah continued to pray for Samuel and her other children. And even Samuel had to carry on the work his mother gave birth to by praying for the nation of Israel.
I encourage you to act now and pray!
(To hear this message in its' entirety, go to the gallery and click on the link there to listen!!! This was recently preached at a local church.)
Happy Thanksgiving! I am in the US for Thanksgiving and the holidays this year! What a blessing it is to be able to be "home for the holidays."
Many of the people who will read this have helped me in so many ways. I just want to take time out to say thank you for your prayers, support, and friendship. When I remember the goodness of God, so many of my friends and partners have been so helpful to me in fulfilling the plan of God.
I pray the Lord blesses you and your family during this holiday season! THANK YOU!
Kimberly Linza passionately pursues God and His plan, loves people, and lives life on purpose.