Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving Prayer

This Thanksgiving I had the honor of hosting the Chernichenko family meal and I was very excited about it. As I prepared the table, the food, the desserts, and a few hundred other details. I found myself grateful.

Perhaps it was because my kids and I have been making a list of "100 things we were grateful for" and watching my children write down letters to God can make any parent more appreciative.

Of course I had also looked numerous times at the list. I looked at Derek's countless entries on being able to serve and help others. I thought about Jenny's love for life, creation, and purpose. And then smiled upon Drakes joy in letters, language, and laughter. At the end of it, I was surprised that not one of them said anything about material things. No entries on toys, dresses, Barbies. Nothing on bikes, scooters, or cars. That even without me saying anything at all, they must have some how decided between each other that the most valuable things can not be bought.

I smiled at the thought of my children and the blessings they were to me. I thought about the amount of time I have left with them and the kind of example that I need to be. A person who goes above and beyond for family, because that's what I would want from them. That as I set the table and arranged the flowers, as I baked the cake and tidied the house. That is wasn't only for the people I would be serving, but more so, the way my children will one day delight in inviting to serve me.

Perhaps it was a bit of a daydream, but I enjoyed it. And I enjoyed the evening around the turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy.

At the end of the evening. Genius and I went on our usual black Friday date. We went and saw a movie and walked around town like we did when we first met. But after the magic of the evening wore off and the almost 30 year old body got tired, I must have also gotten a little cranky.

In the moment between bliss and reality, it suddenly occurred to me that he had still not ordered the plane tickets to Canada. So in the most polite way, I shared my concern and asked him to buy them the minute we got in.

By the time we got in and opened up the computer, it was 5:00am. Our tickets had also doubled in price and I had no other outlet then to blame my husbands procrastination. I was angry and he knew it. And honestly, I was struggling not to do anything that I would regret.

I watched the screen of numbers,I watched the air lines change, the depature dates, and the tabs open up with different search engines on cheap tickets. All of which did not help me with the state I was in. Things like, "I told you so!", "Why did you wait so long?" and "How was he planning to fix this?". Replayed in my mind.

As my circle of blame enlarged. A small voice reminded me of my earlier comment. I had seemed so grateful to God, I had so passionately expressed my gratitude for his grace on all of my problems and mentioned to Him how it easy it was just to give God all of them in exchange for peace.

Right in that very moment I knew that I shouldn't say anything at all to my husband but instead, use my words to pray. And I did. Right there beside the man I was so angry at. I prayed for God to fix the situation and take us back to the previous day when we were so excited to take a trip with the kids and see snow.

As it may, the minute I said "Amen". The screen in front of me changed and instead of being double or triple the amount we needed to spend. It was less! God is Good. And I am so grateful that I can come to Him ALL of the time. When I am angry or happy. He will always be there waiting for the moment I choose Him over my problems and my sometimes enlarged circle of blame.

Thankful for grace, Hope.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Recently I received a compliment that I couldn't stop thinking about. I had heard it said only once before, its just that this time it took on a whole different meaning.

My close friend Maria was kind enough to say that when I enter the room, I don't just walk in, I seem to magically float in. If you are wondering what that even means, like I did, let me explain.

About 6 years ago my uncle married a wonderful girl named Irene. She was simple, kind, and had a wonderful heart for people. Just by talking to her I often felt that I was in the presence of greatness, and I couldn't even pinpoint why. All I knew, was that everything about her was beautiful to a point that it was even hard to take my eyes off of her.

The thing is, that Irene was pretty, but it wasn't her features that made her stand out, it was something else. Watching her, I knew that there was something deeper and more powerful than her outward appearance.

I soon began to want this kind of beauty for myself. I looked for it in the bible, in the people I met, and in the prayers that I prayed. I searched for it daily and stretched myself thinly.

I think the importance was significant to me because I felt that I wasn't the most beautiful girl out there. Coming out of a long line of pristine genetics, I was aware that I had some how fallen short on the scale, and weather it was because of the world and its fictitious models, or my own interpretation of perfection. I found myself often living a life of comparison because some how Gods "perfect" did not help in making me feel like I was.

Saying that, I find it amazing that when the time came and I searched for security in my youth, God knowingly sent me a boy. Meeting Eugene, it was his compliments and flattery that became a starting ground to believing that I was created, perfectly, by God.

Even to this day I feel that Genius plays a large part in how I view myself. It was freeing to think that I no longer needed to compare myself to others.
And being the God that He is, I think He used that small bit of acceptance into strengthening me spiritually. In the years that followed, as my marriage grew, love deepened, and a faith matured, beauty looked different to me. More and more of it became less of what I looked like and more of who I was.

I realized this a couple months ago when we took family photos. As they exploded over my face book page and instagram, the feed back I received was mostly good. All but one girl, said that my updo made me look older in the photos and my reaction to her opinion, shocked me. Because instead of feeling threatened by her youth and beauty, I took hold of my age and replied that my intention was not to look younger or prettier. If I looked older, it's because I am well aware that I am aging. And that if I look like a mom, it's because I am.

For the first time in my life, I felt totally okay with that.

I now understand that on my own I am not a very good reflection. That beauty was never meant to be given, or earned, but rather beauty was intended to take the shape of the work that God is doing in my life. As for compliments, they are not supposed to help my self esteem, instead they are conformations of what god is working out in my life.

So, it's that kind of beauty that floats. It surrounds us, follows us, and takes on a different appearance. First by believing we were created perfect and then letting God complete His perfect work in us. That is nothing short of beautiful.

Floating, Hope.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Our new place

Six years ago we built our perfect dream home. We built it with the vision to entertain and fill it constantly with people. Indeed, many people walked through those doors and we were blessed with many relationships. But, although we tried to live a life that would bless others we seldom wondered if were living out Gods plan for our life.

As the economy crashed and the harsh reality hit our home, it forced the question on us, had we lived a life for God or for people? And had we lived out His plan for our lives? It didn't take long for us to see that although we lived in a great house, it was built on our own vision and our own dreams.

When the house finally went into foreclosure and the banks asked us to move we began to ask God the questions we needed to. Our prayer was that we wanted to live out this next season of our lives, purposely seeking out His plan for our life. Saying the words then, felt exciting, it seemed honorable and brave. So that's exactly what He challenged us to do, except being called to bravery suddenly meant letting go of everything we were holding onto. This included the lifestyle we were used to and the expectations that we placed on God.

I believe that letting go, allowed God to use that room in our hearts as growth for our faith. And as we drove around our little town, we explained to our kids that we were searching for the home that God had chosen for our us. That He told us to go look for a place and that it would be perfect for our family.

I am not sure if my kids will fully understand the whole miracle but I do know that the minute we walked on the property of the house we are in now, that there was something different about it. That as our feet touched the ground, we knew we found the place we've been searching for.

Of course, our hearts finally felt a sense of relief but it wasn't for very long. Two days later we found out that there was a sale pending on it and that the process with the banks would take us past our move out date. We were nervous, scared, and unsure but we knew what we heard and we felt that what we heard was Gods promise to us. So we looked at the worst case scenario and then chose to wait for this home to become available. We felt that even in our uncertainty we needed to believe that Gods hand was on this.

And we did, but when the news came in that there was also a grace period, and an issue with the banks. The pressure settled in. We asked God if this was even the home for us. We questioned God because we began to doubt His voice in us. We looked at our eviction papers and wondered if the possibility of having no home to go to, was a foolish step? Or a step of faith?

As we battled between rational thinking and faith we wondered what stepping out in faith even meant? Did it mean throwing away all rational thought? Did it mean fighting for a voice that we thought we heard? Did it mean focusing less on our understanding an more on His? The questions followed us until we were certain that it wouldnt be called "stepping out" if it didn't require us to completely leave all rational thinking and just take a leap.

After that, we still continued to receive news that was not in our favor for the following weeks. By then, we were living out of our boxes because we were living after our deadline. We did not know if we would come home to locked doors or belongings on the street. The only thing that sustained us as a family was that God knew the day we would actually be moving out on.

To make matters worse, after the sale didn't go through the house that we had been believing for was taken into foreclosure. Confused, we knew that we needed answers that were real and tangible. But when we went to the owners of the home, we received a very unique answer. One reply was that" it was highly unlikely and that the circumstances did not look in our favor". The other said that "everything looked well and we could move in".

So the question that we had to ask ourselves was, Would we move into a home that we might have to move out of?

Wondering about this and trying to make our next decision the right one, it dawned me that I had thought a lot about our family and not very much about the family we would be renting from. I began to wonder what kind of things they going through and what kind of uncertainty were they under that they couldn't even agree on an answer to give us?

That day, I felt that our family finally had the perspective we needed. I felt that this process was not to make it difficult for us but instead break us out of selfishness. That although it was easy to focus on our families needs, it didn't excuse us from being considerate about some one else's. God revealed to me, that this family was in a need of a miracle themselves and that my prayer had been answered months ago, it was just hidden in people. Praying for them simultaneously opened the door to an answered prayer for us.

The prayers I prayed are as follows.

God, thank you for having a plan in times when we didn't. Thank you for having a compassion and mercy that is insurmountable. Thank you for giving us time and being patient with us. For helping us grow and giving us room to grow. Thank you for doing all of this without disturbing the peace of our home and for filling our lives with faithful people.

Thank you for every day that we have had in our home. Thank you for hearing our prayers. Thank you for for giving us another chance with the house on 30th street. We know that we have been blessed, but today I want to pray for them. That you would bring peace in their life. That you would help them figure out their finances as quickly and as painlessly as possible. That you would help them because they chose to help us and in the process would they see the hand of God. I don't know what miracle they need, or the details of their life, but since it's been aligned in such a way where our lives are so determined by theres, I ask for your hand to be upon them also. I am uncertain if it is their house that we want or this prayer that that they need, but I know that somehow the two will work together. So just bless their socks off with your love. Be so real and so powerful that they will bring glory to your name. In the midst of that, while we wait for your work to be completed, I ask that you continue to bring us peace and certainty in our faith!


After a three month journey I find it so amazing is it that I serve a God who stands on his word and full fills his promises to us. He really showed our family what it meant to fight for Him, what it looked like to step out in our faith, and what it took to keep holding on to it.

Lots and lots of Hope.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Who does that?

I have a friend named Jen. A couple years ago she called me to ask if she could bring anything over.

No one had ever asked me that question before. I didn't know how to even answer it. So I said the first thing that came to mind.

"Thank you. I think I have everything I need." I said.

That day, Jen and her family brought me a bag filled with some of my favorite treats from Trader Joes and a gift card for 100 dollars.

That day defined to me what going above and beyond for the people in our lives looked like. And when I asked Why? She simply said this.

That when she is blessed she takes on the responsibility to bless some else. That day, that some one else was me.

Blessed by her generosity, I have tried to keep that perspective in mind. And I thought I was doing a pretty good job of it too.

But that was before Maria called me.

Maria has one of the biggest hearts for people and for Jesus. We see each other at least once a week. So, when we didn't have our usual date it felt odd and we missed each other.

Pretty soon, I received a message.

I want to take you out. It said. When would be the best time to meet?

I replied with a date and drove over to her house, thinking that we would have lunch and chat like we usually do.

But she had a whole different kind of day planned.

Maria took me out to a new place, just because she knew that I enjoyed small adventures like that.

Maria read the reviews, to make sure that I wouldn't be disappointed.

Maria told me to pick anything off of the menu, ordered meals for each of my kids and paid for all of it.

Seeing her pay. I honestly felt uncomfortable. I just wasn't used to this act of kindness from people that i knew didn't have extra to give away. I knew that this was something she might have had to save up for and I felt like I didn't deserve such a grand gesture.

So, when she offered to take me out for yogurt. I declined. I made an excuse that it was too cold for yogurt, that the kids also needed naps, and that we could enjoy a scoop of ice cream at her place. So we did just that.

But that wasn't the end of the story. As we sat and caught up on our lives, we made plans to see a movie that evening with a few girl friends.

That evening, she came to the movie theater first. And paid for Jen and I.

Later, as I drove home, I thought to myself. Who does that? What kind of person takes me and my kids out for lunch on a regular day. Who offers more then she has. Who willingly pays for my friends. And who does it without expecting anything back. Who does that?

The next time I saw her, that's exactly what I asked. And you know what she said.

That she had been blessed and in turn wanted to bless some one else.

I don't know about you. But if there happens to be a day when some one asks that question and says "Who does that?" I want the answer to be, Nadia does. Maria does. Jen does. And so on.

I want it to spread in the same way that I have seen it be spread. Touching the lives of people close to our hearts and impacting the people surrounding our lives. I want to learn how to think about you and practice it in my life . I want to be the one that "does".

That day. I was convicted. I so foolishly thought that I was doing enough instead of going above and beyond.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Louder than words

This week was picked out of the whole year to be the week of little miracles.

All of face book seemed flooded with photos of little feet, tiny hands, and chubby cheeks. Proud papas paraded their new born in the halls of the maternity ward. Mamas melted in the arms of yet another new found love. And in the land of parenthood, all was precious.

Between the hospital visits, flowers, and sanitizer, the memories of labor came flooding back. As I remembered it, it wasn't the labor that was hard, it was the week that followed.

The sleepless nights, the constant feedings, the colic, the aches and pains, and probably the worst of it were the breasts! Just the thought of it, makes me cringe. But I must say, the sights of a child breathing in my arms is nothing short of a miracle, and I rejoiced with the new moms.

One of the things that I do, to extend my congratulation and to really help in the recovery is to coordinate a meal plan for the mom.

I usually send out a message to her friends and family, asking to help in the meal planning for the week or so. Each person that volunteers are asked to pick a day out of the week that would work best with their schedule. By bringing dinner over allows the family to focus more on the baby and all the changes that this may hold on the household. Personally, I like the sense of community and idea that our actions speak louder than our words.

Do you sometimes feel as though you say empty words?  I do, but I also don't want to. I never want my words to be empty, I want to stand behind them with my deeds. I never want to expect some one to do the things that should, I want to be the first to do them. And I never want to be the girl that holds bitterness in others successes, I want to be the one to help them succeed. Because what I want, is to be so consistent in my 'wants' that my life would show it. And I feel as though you do to.  So, be the next one to bless some ones socks off.

Here is the recipe I used this week.

Lasagna recipe:

1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1 onion,diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup heavy cream
28 ounces crushed tomatoes
salt and pepper
fresh basil
Olive oil

In a dutch oven, on medium heat the oil and add the onion, cook until softened.  Add the garlic and cook about a minute.  Add the ground meats and cook until it looses its pick color.  Add the heavy cream and cook until it is absorbed into the meat.  This might take up to 10 minutes.  Add the can of tomatoes last and return to a simmer.  Adjust the flavors with salt, pepper, and basil.  Sometimes I add more herbs like Marjoram,  parsley, rosemary.

After the meat mixture is ready.  Make the ricotta mixture.

1 15oz container of fresh ricotta
basil leaves, chopped
1 egg
salt and pepper

You will also need:

Modzerella, grated
Parmeson, grated
Uncooked, ready to bake lasagna noodles

Then in a casserole dish spread the meat mixture on the bottom.  Try to have more liquid then meat in this step.  I like to use the uncooked, ready to bake lasagna sheets, just because its one less step to worry about and it takes the flavor of the sauce.  Place those on top.  Smear with the ricotta, sprinkle with Parmesan first and then mozzarella, top it off with more of the meat mixture and repeat.  I usually end up with 3to 4 layers.  

 Cover the casserole dish with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated oven at 375 F for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for 15 more minutes.  After removing it from the oven let the lasagna rest for 10 minutes before cutting.

Of course, enjoy :)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Vintage pretty

I found myself truly blessed today. Disguised by small moments throughout my day, I saw my life as I should be seeing it daily.

It started like any other. I showered, made breakfast, prepared lunches, kissed the older ones good-bye, waved to the bus driver, and then finished getting myself ready while the two younger ones played.

I felt lucky to still be living inside of our home. I felt that God had given me today, and that the time we had left in our house would be determined by Him and not anything else. So, I did the most natural thing I could. I untaped a few boxes, found my sewing machine and watched that needle bop up and down. The way I saw it, was that if time was the gift He gave me, I was going to use that time to give back.

The bonnet was made from a soft linen type fabric, by leaving the edge raw, I felt that it gave the hat a modern twist to a very vintage concept and I was pleased with the finished product. Especially because it brought back memories of my little Mikka and the bonnet I made for her. I smiled, she was rummaging in the pile of loose scraps on the floor, I couldn't believe that she was one already!

The pacifier clip was more of my friends talent then mine. To be honest I saw her post a picture of a necklace she made and thought it would make the perfect clip for Pearl, she loved vintage things along with urban touches and I felt that this would be right up her alley. Luckily, my friend Olga had all the parts that I needed and was also a sweetheart in helping me out with this project. Please, check out her things at

Lastly, I took a moose ornament and made a little bow tie. I felt that it presented the bow well and that it was a unconventional way to display it. I also knew that Pearl loved pretty little gifts and that the more thought I put into it the more it would be a true representation of time.

Do you ever feel so blessed that you can't help but spread the joy? I hope that everyday I can live that out. What I want is to be able to notice the very things God gives to me and then be moved enough to share it!


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My little sister

Today is my little sisters birthday. Her name is Alina and she turned 19 today. Being that she is younger than me and lives far from me, I have been wondering what would be the appropriate gift for her. So I went shopping. If I know anything, it's that she loves being glamed up, with curls in her hair and high heels, she can pull off the look like a supermodel. Confident, stunning, and graceful. She has a humble heart, a thankful attitude, and kind spirit that is always willing to give or to help. In my eyes she would win any beauty pageant out there and I love her to pieces.

But as much as she loves show stopping beauty, at the end of the day, she loves to unwind with sweaters and sweatshirts. So I found a gift that was well suited for the down to earth, side of her. I wrapped it. Addressed it. And then looked at it.

As much as I enjoy gift giving, it just wasn't enough. What I wanted was for her to see how important she is to me, how valuable she is to our family, and how honored I am to have her as my little sister. All of a sudden, the box seemed empty.

So I thought about us. I thought about all the times she just wanted time with me. The way her innocent, young eyes looked up to me and as an older sister and I just never had enough time to give her. How fast time flew by since then, how much had changed since childhood, and how much I wanted to just sit and finally give her all the time I had.

So I did. I packed the kids in the car, and decided that I was going to take my sister out. Even if she couldn't really be here with me. Even if it looked crazy while doing it, I was going to pretend she was right beside me.

At first we went to a yogurt place. It was chaotic, crazy, and the candles didn't light up. Sorry Alina, somehow in my mind it seemed easier. But don't worry, the kids enjoyed the cheesecake, red velvet yogurt to the last drop. Derek picked cheesecake, because some how some where he remembers you making it. Jenny chose cake, because it's a birthday. Then they loaded the bowl up with berries, brownies, cherries, gummy bears, caramel, and sprinkles.... Of course! We stuck 19 candles in, and sang until we turned blue.

I hope you enjoyed it as much as they did. I also hope that all those toppings are your favorite! The video on the other hand was a mess, so we took you out for dinner where you enjoyed macaroni and cheese with meatballs, french fries, and Pepsi. After a fantastic meal, happy tummies, and hopefully happy hearts, we lite up another candle, sang another song and wished more wishes.

Happy birthday, little sis. I hope you feel loved today, I hope I made you feel special, and I hope you feel like your the most important girl in the world!

My wish to you is that you begin this next season of your life with wisdom and triumph. You have seen the mistakes that I have made, witnessed them almost first hand. You have lived through the tears that were shed for our brother and then waited on the miracles of prayer. You have had to see more, experience more, and hear more than any of us. For being 19, you hold more years on you. You have also had to be there for each one of us, kindly accepting our ways but cautiously walking on your own. I love how much you enjoy your privacy, it's never loud, it's never gloating, it's simply escaping from the chaos we put on your shoulders. Not every one can bear the burdens you have had to and I know that you were meant to be the youngest for a reason. The reason that we need peace and you bring that, we need kindness and you show that, we need loyalty and you are always there. So thank you, from he bottom of my grateful heart. You will walk the path of triumph, I can feel it:)


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Pieces of me

One of the challenges that I am often facing is consistent thoughtfulness. I know that I want my children to witness kindness outside the walls of our home and I feel that it is easily practiced if I make it a priority. The problem is that it takes more than a desire to be thoughtful, it also requires the delegation to do it. And that to put others before me and my schedules, I would need to stop making excuses.

I usually find that more often than not, I would suddenly get tired, or I would find myself frustrated, or be so overwhelmed with my chores that it wouldn't be possible to make room for any thing else. Wanting to change this pattern, I started asking myself if the sudden idea (which was most often last minute) was possible or not. I would then seek for a window of time, and ask God, to show it to me.

Some times it has been as simple as putting an item on hold for a friend and sometimes its putting something of mine back so that I could bless some one else.  And some times, its bringing a coffee by, or lunch, or dessert, or maybe just a drop by. Regardless, I have been working on being thoughtful.

Today I was reminded of my parents.  I was reminded of  my mother and how she instilled in me the importance of bringing something to the host of the home that I was entering. It was a simple thought usually, I box of chocolates, some fruit, or jam.  But even simple actions require time and  I wondered at what point in my life, I got so busy that I lost the gratitude of being a guest.  And honestly, I wasn't okay with that.  I wasn't okay with ignoring this thought, especially because Tamar is one of the most influential women in my life.

Tamar is one of those ladies, who never complains, and I admire that about her. Besides raising her 5 children, being a pastor to the young adults in our church, carrying her sixth child, and finding time to develop her passion for renewing furniture, she happens to also be my friend on top of that. I am so grateful for our time, especially because she has blessed me with a few knowledgeable tools that I use with my children to this day.

Number one.
If you have something to say, place your hand on my shoulder and wait patiently for me to finish talking. I can not forget, because you are touching me and I know it is of value to you because you have waited. Besides practicing the diligence of patience, it is also a good example of respect.

Number two.
If you misbehave before your friends arrive, you will not be allowed to play. You have disobeyed me and the rules of our home so you will need to be in your room, by yourself. I need to know that I can trust you independently before you are allowed to play with your peers.  This promotes obedience as well as teaches consequence.  

Number three.
There are two types of snacks. When the adults are eating and talking it is called "adult time". You can not have or ask about the snacks on the table, they are put out for our guest. I have separate snacks for you and the other children, which I can give you once we finish having "adult time".  I think this just promotes sanity for the moms and a reason to have special treats.

Those are my favorite three. Of course there are probably a dozen more because Tamar is very wise and I look forward to learning new parenting techniques in our meetings together. While having her on my mind, I decided that running a few minutes late was not going to hold me back from making a treat for our "adult time" today. While I was prepping, I also began to wonder about your day and if it was any different than mine?

Don't you ever wonder what other people are doing? I do. Sometimes it's for the sanity of not being the only one. Sometimes it's for ideas to new approaches. And sometimes it simply to feed my craving for curiosity. In any case, I hope that you enjoyed having a small moment with me.

Find time, Hope.

I made a Russian salad called, Vinegrette.

1 boiled potato, peeled and diced
3 small boiled beets, peeled and diced
3 boiled carrots, peeled and diced
1 can of pickles
1 can of peas
Olive oil, salt and paper to taste
Sour kraut is also an option.

I also had time to make the sandwiches.

Crusty bread, sliced
Basil pesto
Ricotta cheese
Spinach tossed in a little oil, lemon juice and salt
Pickled onions
*I just do sliced onions marinated in red wine vinegar while preparing the sandwiches.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A day in thought

As I was sewing the hood for the stroller, I found myself alone with my thoughts and ambitions. This happens often when I craft and I usually enjoy it. Yesterday, I was remembering a few good friends of mine and the fingerprint that they had made in my life. I had a feeling that I was going in the right direction but I also questioned weather I was living up to what they imparted?

This became a personal goal after I had met a wonderful couple by the names of Mr. and Mrs. Horn. Although the conversation was brief, I couldn't help but notice that not just the exchange of words occurred that day. That even in regular conversation, their passion for God and people had the power to impart Gods love into people. They were liked by many, because they had touched many, and not just by the people they knew, they could walk up to a stranger and make them feel like a life long friend.

What I wanted was to reach certain character goals. To be a women of strength, of kindness, and of compassion. I want to be a person that far exceeds being liked, and instead become a person of influence.

Recently, I received this message. "I just wanted to thank you for being so kind and welcoming at the baby shower, it was a pleasure to meet you! You are full of life and inspiration, it's not often that I get to meet females my age that are willing to reach out to a stranger and make them feel like an old friend.

My heart to make an impression on people happened, even if it was only to this one person, it was a compliment that I was holding onto.

I also thought of Laura Truit. She used Tuesdays as a means to encourage people on Face book, calling it Enouragment Tuesdays. Well, Laura is friends with Beth, and Beth shared that her family draws out a name from a hat,and then, thinks about them. Each person would then write their thoughts on one postcard and she would send it. Both her and her husband believe that this exercise helps teach their children about the voice of God.

Both ladies were the reason that I had began using Face Book to encouage others. I usually use Birthdays as a reason to post messages on people's wall. I was hoping that it would help me break out of a very selfish mentality. And after a couple of weeks, the response I recieved was unexpected.

Almost every post had a similar reply. "Nadia, I am literally sitting at my desk right now and crying, good crying:)"

I couldn't believe how people were being touched just because someone really thought about them. I couldn't have expected my messages to have the power to be experiences with God, but I was grateful that they could.

By then, I had wasted a whole morning on the project, Mikka was awake from her nap, Drake was patiently waiting for his lunch, even I was hungry. Luckily, my hood was coming along nicely. I was making sure to measure a lot, and cut only after fittings. All in all, it seemed promising so I took a break and went to tame the three growling tummies.

In the meantime, between making my lunch, I recieved a call. It was a close friend of mine that I had been praying a lot for. She had some coincidences happen to her that day and she wanted my help in making some sense of them.

It all started when she was getting ready to throw away some garbage. She was looking for a big enough bag to fit all of her recyclable bottles. Upon finding one, she opened it up. It was black, deep and dark, like most of the garbage bage we use, but somehow the silver words on the journal shone. When she picked it up, she realized that it was the Life journal that I had given to her years ago. When she opened up the book, she read the message that I written to her. "Sometimes when it feels like your world is coming to an end, it it acually when it begins. God knew that you wouldn't have a plan, that you wouldn't know what to do. It is for that reason that He has one ready".Tears, Streaming. Heart, Aching. She realized that although she was in a different dilema, she was in the exact same emotional state. The state of hopelessness, guilt, and fear, hadnt left her. She flipped the page to find her entry. She had only made one, titled, "Help me". It was written back in October of 2008. She wrote in the next available page. "Save me". It was as if she already knew that her answer lied in the reading plan, and She flipped to it, scrolling her finger down to yesterdays date. May 29th 2012. Proverbs 10:1-13. With a small empty box beside it, she knew it was waiting for her to read it.

That was when my phone rang. It rang because she didn't have a bible and I did. It rang because she wanted to hear the voice of God. It rang because she wanted someone to tell her that she will be okay. It rang because she wanted to believe that He had a greater plan for her life, than she does.

Yesterday, she was the one that helped me confirm that He does. That each of my desires started by being His desires for me first, and that as I am trying to speak less and listen more He is able to use it. The Facebook posts have become a training ground for me, to teach me to listen to Him first and trust it to impart His love to people. And some how, believing for her helps me believe for me too.

Don't you ever want to be better than the person you are? I do, and i believe that you do too. So...not even for a minute think that you are different than me. Each of us have the same questions, we hold the same fears, and swallow the same disappointment. Each of us, is trying to make the most of what we have, hold our head above water, and swim to an unknown shore. Each of us also need each other. We need to be encouraged, loved, and cared for by the people surrounding our lives.

Don't you ever want to be better than the person you are? I do:)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Third times a charm

It's the end of the day and I sit here alone. The stillness soothes my tierd body and i embrace the small moment of rest. By the hand on the clock, I know that I should close my eyes. But yet here I lie in the softness of my sheets, thinking about the events of my day and the impact that James had on me.

I opened the bible to the verse that was trying to speak to me. The words seemed to make more sense, and i enjoyed the conversation with my God. Be patient. He said. See here, how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. Today, you were the farmer. Your dedication and patience, pleased me. And I had favor over your day. Just as I had favor on the farmer, so that when he prayed,the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced crops. (James 5:7, 18 NIV)

I felt loved by him. I felt like he had appreciated my hard work and really understood me. To him it didn't matter that they were cookies, what mattered was that I kept making them no matter how many times they had failed me. These moments challenged me to regain my strength in starting over, regain my patience in being precise, and regain the hope I had lost in myself.

From the goodness of a heart, good outcomes follow. But with the grace of God it can become a great success.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Let loose...foot loose

Sometimes in life, their is more room for feelings then their is for words. Their is more times of trial then their is for triumph, and sometimes their is more doubt then faith.

Loosing our home happens to be the story of my life right now. Going through the emotions feels like a rollar coaster at times, probably because I am not so great at letting go and letting God. I want answers and he asks me to wait. I want results and he tells me "it's not time". I want a plan and he tells me to trust.

Although I appreciate the encouragement from the many wonderful people in my life, it hurts me to say that, no words can make our situation better. Many days I worry if my motives are even pure and if my desires are Devine. Have I lived a life for God? Or have I lived more for my own pleasure?The battle between right and wrong, replay in my mind, until that one day, last week. When He asked me to "Let go".

I believe he told me that for me, Letting go, is eye opening and heart transforming. It is a moment of choice between worry or peace, between controling the situation or rolling with it. It's about seeing life differently and living differently. The difference between trusting yourself and trusting God. It's the choice between staying or leaving, holding or releasing, the tight grasp of my identity.

I tried to let go, desperately seeking for the peace that I had hoped for. Desperatly, wanting the moment to feel differently than It did. But instead I got something else.I got a phone call from my friend to tell me that she got healed from arthritis. I got a praise report from a family that had been searching for a home "nothing short of a miracle" they stated. It continued. One testimony after another. But it wasn't until I saw the rainbow that it began to make sense to me.

A rainbow that day, declared Gods promise to me. A promise that as actively as he is working in the lives if my friends He is actively working out the details in mine. And letting go, is decision that I needed to make instead of waiting around for the right feeling.

I believe he has a plan, yet their are days when it just doesn't feel like it.Hope.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Polentina soup

For all of you ladies that love to make baby food for your children, here is a great soup that I have been making. It has a great consistency and I usually mix in a veggie like carrots or squash.

I like making it for the whole family and letting the kids add their own veggies in it, like corn or spinach. Eugene and I would usually add jalapeño to ours, but it tastes great plain as well.

Soup recipe:

1 tbsp butter
1/2 white onion
1 quart chicken stock
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 fresh thyme sprigs, chopped
2 fresh parsley, chopped
2 fresh sage leaves, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 - 1/2 cup coarse cornmeal
(depending on if you want a thinner or thicker soup)
Half a bunch of spinach, washed and trimmed
Parmesan cheese shavings(optional)

*if making it as baby food, I make the herbs and spinach optional, just depending if I have those on hand or not.


In a large saucepan, melt butter. Add the onion and sauté until soft. Add the stock, garlic, and herbs. Bring to a boil. Add the cornmeal and season with salt. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the cornmeal is tender but the mixture is soupy. Stir frequently, about 15 minutes.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the spinach and stir until wilted. Remove from heat.

Remove the bay leaf from the soup. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with spinach and Parmesan.

Friday, March 23, 2012

My friend Olga

I made this necklace yesterday, for my friend Olga.

She is a person that I have known for 10 great years. So I thought it would be fun make a list of 10 things that both she and you should know about her.

1. I have watched her bathe her infant 3 times a day because she enjoyed making them comfortable and happy. She defines nurture to me.

2. I have watched her get licenses and certificates because she believes in her husbands goals and wants to help her husband achieve them. She defines what a partner is.

3. I have watched her help her friends, out of kindness, only to be hurt in the end. Never once she she gossip or bad mouth about them. She defines honor for me.

4. I have watched her go against what she was raised because religion was not going to be a rule, is was going to be a relationship. She showed me what it took to believe for something.

5. I have watched her call me out on my parenting faults because I was too busy prioritizing the wrong things. She brings clarity to me.

6. I have watched her care for her mother in her last years with love and respect. She always talked about her greatness and not her shortcomings. She defines what a daughter should see in her mother.

7. I have watched her plant a garden every year. She enjoys life in a manner that I often miss. She sees the little things, the details that surround us. She inspires me to be more aware of creation.

8. I have watched her bake and cook in a way that makes even the most plain thing extraordinary. She shows me that simple things have potential to be great.

9. I have watched her learn knitting and sewing through practice, videos and many mistakes. She showed me the rewards that dedication and persistence can have. I love everything she makes.

10. I have watched her pull off a jeans and t-shirt look so well that it becomes desirable. She inspires me to add a few more t-shirts in my closet and come back to the basics.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Coconut pecan cake with caramel mousse

I was asked to make a cake last week and I automatically thought of this one. It is moist cake with a light mousse, and a rich coconut topping that throws this one over the top!

Pecan cake

Butter for greasing
1 cup toasted pecans
1 cup powdered sugar
6 eggs
1/4 cup all purpose flour
6 egg whites
1/4 cup unsealed butter, melted

Caramel mousse

1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp plus 1/4 cup water
1 cup heavy cream
1 sheet gelatin or 1 tsp powdered
1 tbsp brandy
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Coconut pecan topping

1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans

To make the cake:

Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter an 11 by 17 inch cake pan. Line with parchment paper. Combine the pecans and powdered sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process until finely ground. Transfer the nut mixture to the bowl of a mixer. Add the eggs and beat for 6-8 minutes until doubled in volume. Fold in the flour and set aside.

In a clean mixing bowl, whip the egg whites to soft peaks using an electric mixer with clean dry beaters. Gradually add the granulated sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. fold the whites into the batter. Fold in the melted butter. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake until the center springs back when lightly touched about 10 to 12 minutes. cool.

To make the caramel mousse:

In a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, lemon juice, and one tablespoon of water and cook until the sugar becomes dark amber in color. About 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and slowly add the 1/4 cup of the cream. Whisk until smooth.

Combine the gelatin and remaining 1/4 cup of water in teh medium bowl. Let stand 3-5 minutes until the gelatin dissolves. Stir in the hot caramel, brandy, and vanilla. Using an electric mixer, beat the remaining 3/4 cup of cream in a medium bowl until soft peaks form. Fold into the mousse.

Invert the cooled cake on a cookie sheet turned upside down. Remove the pan and the parchment. Cut the cake in half crosswise so that you have two pieces of cake measuring 8 by 12 inches. Spread one layer with the caramel mousse and stack the other layer on top. Place in the refrigerator while you make the topping.

* The mousse is very runny. I have found that by making a more dense cream (half the portion) it makes for an nice edge for the mousse to stabilize in.

To make the topping:

Combine the milk, sugar, yolks, butter, and vanilla in a small saucepan over med. heat. Sitr until thickened about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the coconut and pecans.

Pour the topping over the cake. Use a metal spatula to spread the topping evenly over the top and sides of the cake. Return the cake to the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

Recipe by. The secrets of success cookbook. Small variations made by Hope.

Sugar high, hope.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Spring craft

I had been stuck indoors all week long because Mikka had not done well with her teething discomforts. Both of us had little to no sleep the entire time, so when her tooth finally broke through, we had a boat load of energy. Anxious to get out, we went shopping for new ideas and inspirations.

Today I made lace leggings, matching bow clips, as well as adhered the adorable bird to an existing shirt. The project cost approximately $4.50.
Not including the skirt. The lace was an antique, the bird was cut out from a bolt of fabric, and the skirt was a five dollar find on a recent trip to Canada. Total of the outfit is $7.50.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Doubting God

My eyes had been doing great, but I couldn't shake off the feeling that something was about to happen. The irritation around my eyes didn't make the situation any better, either. And while I waited for an opportunity to pray for my aunt, my doubt wouldn't allow me. I felt itchy, embarrassed, and nervous. In fact, I was so busy focusing on my fear instead of my faith, that it was hard for me to even stop. It wasn't until the evening, that I actually slowed down and listened to my heart, patiently beaconing me to pray.

After that it was easy to see how and when the enemy slipped in. But it disgusted me to think that I was a part in his game and it infuriated me to see how quickly I became a part of his lie. How fast I had fallen and how little it took.

But I also believed that He couldn't take away the experience I had with my God. So I began to build up my faith again. Confirming in my spirit that what happened to me that day was real and that the miracle did occur. And just because I let one lie settle in, did not take away what God did for me!

It was then this verse became alive in my spirit and I gave thanks for his word in my life. "But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind....That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. (James 1:6,14 NIV)

I fell back on it, clutching His promise in my hand. Engrave this truth in my life, I asked, so that I may help engrave it in some one else's.

This is for you, Oksana.

Dear God. Your healing hands are the same for me as they are for her, your grace runs just as deep, and your promise just as true. So, I know that you wouldn't bring her in this close to you, if you did not care. You would not have fought for her, if she did not matter. Because I know, she does. She has a presence about her that draws people in. She has an honesty about her that resonates around her and in her life. And when people see that, they see a transparency that is uncommon. She is a girl with a kind heart that loves to love, loves to laugh, and loves to live. Her life, is worth the very time of Satan as he tries to burden her with a list of allergies. But while he can try to destruct, I am believing on her behalf that you can heal. So, I ask that you heal her body, as fast, as quick, and as urgent as the morning her eyes swelled up and she ran to the emergency room.

Believing, Hope.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dress for less

Today, I helped Jenny get dressed. We started off by picking out the pants first. I know that she likes them a lot because her favorite color is turquoise, so it seemed like a good foundation to build off of. The button up shirt was new, and I could tell from the sour expression she had on her face that she was skeptical. Are you sure that this isn't a boys shirt? She questioned, referring to her brothers white dress shirt. I smiled, I liked how she paid attention to even the finest details, and then I reassured her that she would like the completed look. I reminded her to hold onto her sleeve, and she quickly adjusted herself to do it as I helped her with the cardigan. Seeing that we still had plenty of time before school, I carefully reminded her that cardigans and sweaters are not one time use articles. They can be worn a few times before going into the laundry pile. She nodded, but I knew that this rule would escape her many more times and I would find it once again buried in the dirty pile of clothes. I finally tied the bow,fixed her hair, and straightened her shirt before she ran off to the mirror.

Jenny's look today cost $10.50. That includes the pants, cardigan, long sleeve button down, and the polka-dot bow.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Eyes to See

One Sunday, a few months ago, I was sitting in the very back of the church. I had come late, as i usually do, and sat in one of the last rows of the sanctuary. I remember that the sermon was harder to hear. I remember that I kept being distracted by a couple of kids in my row. I also remember looking far too many times at the door that was being open and closed. But although I was very distracted, I remember the worship. I remember my hands outstretched, my heart open, and the closeness I felt to my Lord.

In that small moment, I also remember feeling embarrassed. Foolishly I thought that I had reached a place of transparency with him, while I knew that a part of me was still holding onto a battle that I thought was too big for him.

Humbled I came to him, searching him out in the Sunday crowd. I need you, I said. What is it? He asked. Well, God. I said. I know that there are many people in far deeper hurts then I am. And I often feel that if any body should be helped, it should be them. But I also know that you see me battle with Eczema every day. And if there is any room for me to be healed from this minor discomfort then I would truly be grateful.

That was when I felt him touch me, so close, so near, that my eyes began to tingle. And I knew that he heard me.

Since then, I have experienced a healing that is considered to be prolonged instead of instant. At first it was just the simple notion of knowing, but before long it became an experience where He met me every day until every thing cleared up. And every day, I poured out a renewed gratitude because of it. Today when I woke up, I knew that he was finished. I knew, that I was healed.

I battled with a skin disorder that has no cure. It is considered a form of allergy and is genetic. It affected the area around my eyes, its only treatment is through prescription creams and ointments, which I had to apply daily for relief.

Praising God, Hope.