Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I have been reading this book on heaven.

You want to go to Bulgaria, you find out about Bulgaria.

Likewise with Uganda. J

Yet what do I really know about heaven??


My biggest question through this entire thing has been: Where do I go from HERE?

Honestly, between you, me, and God- I'm not Job.

It's been hard thing for this girl to figure out.

But somehow dissecting the word about how incredible God's plan in for our future is blows the lid right off my box.


It seems that lately all around me there have been so many struggles, change, heartbreak, loss, and pain.

Where do we go from HERE?

HERE: where things are jacked, we see glimpses of Him but His glory and worship hampered by sin.

Where do we go from HERE?


THERE into His promises where all things are made right, where He has redeemed, renewed, restored, recovered, and reconciled.

And that excites me. And I can't wait to see how it all goes down. And I can't wait to taste chocolate on the new earth.


And somehow that puts it back into perspective. This pain is real, but temporary. Really temporary. And it's not my life.

So the question changes: I know where I go from HERE.

But a new question arises: what am I going to do while I'm HERE.



Monday, October 27, 2008

Craig’s List Update

The past month has pretty much been insane. Can't really capture to you in words my inner heart and where I am. Trying to sort through me, Him, us as a couple, us as a family, the kid's emotions, and the sadness in the fact that it's going to be awhile until Craig slugs my arm again.

But I doooo have for you in the words of Nacho, an update.

Here it is:

My Craig's List

1. Learn to play the guitar well. (You knew that one already..)

Shh- don't tell that I haven't been practicing as much as I should. But I have my fourth lesson tomorrow and I can ALMOST play the song Blessed be Your Name…well, if I leave out all the Fs. Does that count?

2. Run a marathon.

I can not believe that I just wrote that.

Ok- so here is the deal. Craig was obsessed with fitness. He drank all these weird concoctions, like whey protein and nasty stuff that smells really funny. And he loved to work out. He believed that you should be doing something all the time. Ok, so he was a little compulsive. He started his own gym in his little town- which actually isn't even considered a town, about all it has is a bar that has cheese balls- but he had a shop with air and heat and it was chuck full of work out equipment and it was the town gym. Not quite up to The W standard, but in my opinion much more prestigious.

Getting to my point. When the organ donor network questioned us about his life styles and checked to see if he was a good candidate, they were amazed. Only one person a year comes in where they can donate to the extent that he did and it was very rare that they were in the health that he was. Realize- the whole donor thing doesn't make it better.. just good coming from bad. But it occurred to me that I am to really live like my body isn't my own.

Josh and I and Craig raced once. The dispute is still on as to who the winner was. (Somehow the boys changed the rules..)

I just hate running. So to commit to this KILLS me. Yet I know I've known it's #2. Cause if I can do this: I can do anything.

Then I was at his house the other night and found this:

Yah so I pretty much don't have a choice. Note: The orange circle. Yikes.

3. Go Here and ride dirt bikes.

Come on, you want to come with??

Craig told Josh and I that God make Moab, Utah just for him. What better place to be close to him and Him?

4. Adopt as son from Africa and name him after Craig.

Craig was a dooer. Don't talk about it- do it.. he was the only person I knew I could tell about our thoughts of living in an RV and would support us. He told me he would follow us around… we should have done it! When we told him about Africa a couple weeks before he died, he was pumped. Just think of the hunting there..

We talk about fruit in our lives as Christians.

Craig chose his daughter.

His ex wife had many decisions to make about her babie's future. He became her real daddy. They only got to spend 14 short years together, but I pray she always knows how he adored her and that she was always his.

That is love. In pain choosing a connection to a person that would last forever.

He grafted her into him. He made her his.

In some ways, he gave her life. He gave her a father. And in return, she truly gave him life. Fl!p.

She is amazing. And so much like him..

My prayer is to live that kind of love.

5. Tickle my kids everyday.

Profound. I know. Craig invented the 6th love language: acts of violence. See, it's all his fault that I am the way that I am, really.

From chucking wrapping paper at me, to throwing me back and forth as a baby to my sister, to just chucking me on my bed or bending my fingers backwards. It was the best. I knew that I mattered so much to him.

Does anyone know what a snake bite is or how an eagle lands on an icy limb?

Strange, yes.

So aside from the times we are in Africa J and aren't with them, I want to carry on the monster tickle. It all begins with this sound that he made- it was something like-WHOAHAHAHAWAGOBA-
Anyway and then he would come after the kids and they would all go psycho.

Is that normal?

He loved them to pieces and it reminds me of the way that he loved his daughter and before that me as a little girl. I just want to bottle it up.

But I think it's really all about letting go and finding what matter and chucking all my other expectations away.

Ok so officially that's all I've got so far. I'm still working on the other two and choking everytime I think of #2…

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


We all have a story. How easily I forget mine. How faithful that God has been in my life. I really have NOTHING to fear- for He has already proven to me how REAL that He is and how nothing can separate me from HIM. How this roller coaster only pulls me closer.

So today I was reminded about a piece of my testimony. Billy Graham is celebrating his 90th birthday. You can wish him a happy birthday here. A few months after my dad died, my sister FORCED me into going to one of his crusades. I hit the floor weeping when it was all over: a pivotal moment in my life. I knew there was so much more than being good- but somewhere there was a God who wanted to speak to me. Me.

Recently a friend and sister that I had the privilege of meeting in Bulgaria sent me her story. It amazes me. Mainly because I have only seen her as an incredible leader. Someone who is transforming her generation. I never saw the "before"- the person that God chose to use. The girl he believed in. The daughter He placed His hands on and in His power and strength changed. This makes me remember why I so loved the Lord when I first felt Him at the Billy Graham crusade. I believed in the unseen. I believed in the power to transform our lives here on earth. I believed that even in the midst of pain, He knew.

I'm 31 years old. Even though it is very hard for me to write about myself, I think you will be blessed be my testimony.

I was born in Burgas by a young mother who was not able to take care of her baby and because of that she left me at an orphanage. So since then until graduating from high school I have grown up in different orphanages- 3 years in Burgas, 3- 6 years in Grudovo, 6- 15 –in Nevestino, and since I was 15- in my favorite city- Stara Zagora.

As a child I was very rowdy and wild. At the orphanage in Nevestino I lived during communism. Life then was very different then now. At that village the law of the jungle ruled. As soon as I got there the kid that bossed all the other kids around saw a potential leader in me and decided to take me under her wing to train me as such. So I had to start smoking at the age of 6 and a half. By 5th grade I was ready to take over her "job".

So in 5th grade I became the new "alpha- kid". I used to beat everyone there- the young and the older ones. The people from the whole village had given up on me. Of course, I enjoyed that very much. I was fearless. I had learned to control my emotions. I was a very cruel and evil kid. I liked to talk back to my teachers and even to hit them. Very often I had dealings with the police. In seventh grade I was even in prison for minors for a month.

I'm not going to get into too much detail about all the troubles I've gotten into. I just want to share a story so you can get the idea of what I was like before I met Jesus.

I was not more then 12 at the time. One evening, because of a serious beating I got from a teacher, I decided to get back at one of the kids who had told on me. During the night, after the teacher was done beating me, I went and got the poker, put it in the fireplace for a few minutes, and when it got really hot, I took it to the girl, who was already asleep, and hit her on the face with it. When she woke up crying, I hit her on the other cheek. The kid started crying uncontrollably. I warned her that if she tells on me, something even more painful will happen to her, so she did not tell on me. I really was very aggressive and mean. I was filled with hatred towards people. I used to beat and torture the kids a lot. I also was a lot of trouble for the people in the village.

Until I turned fifteen, I had never heard about God. When I came to Stara Zagora I saw a very different world. First of all, there were kids at the orphanage who had parents. The teachers were nice and did not beat us. The orphanage was like a hotel. There I heard about Jesus for the first time. Some of the girls there attended Zion Christian Church. One of them was Diana. She can testify of how nuts and spiteful I was then.

I did not accept the things they told me about Jesus, because I thought: "If there was God and He really loved me, how then could He let me live such a horrible life, full of pain? If there was God, I would live a lot better, I thought. I would not be a mistake of nature."

Before I accepted Christ I really thought I was some kind of a mistake, a very big mistake. I drank heavily, gambled, etc. When I was 9th grade, my teacher from the orphanage even took me to a church (an Orthodox church) to be baptized, so the Devil would come out of me. Well, she had some problems the first time she tried, but the second she got me baptized. Even though I did not believe I went to get the presents they had promised me. I don't know how many of you are Orthodox Christians, but there actually was some change in me after the baptism. Maybe my teacher, who became my godmother, believed and prayed for me so much, that it actually made a difference. Well, not as much as me becoming a Christian, though. Then I graduated and left the orphanage.

I went to live in an apartment, given to me by the municipality. I was paying a very cheep rent. I was surprised to find out that some of my neighbors were Christians. I can't get away from those people I thought. For about a year and a half they had talked to me about God so much, that I was sick of it. I was drawn by the world. I went parting almost every night. I thought this would make up for my past.

One evening I went as I often did, to visit my neighbors. They were praying. I was very impressed by the love I saw in them. They invited me again to visit their church and this time I said yes.

After the first service I went to, my neighbor asked me to never come to church with her again. If anyone dares to act in our church the way I acted that time, I would be the first one to kick him out. I was arrogant, rude and made fun of the people in the church. The next day at work I spread out the "great" news about me going to church. I told spicy stories like "they turn the lights off and…" (you know what I'm talking about). The next evening though, I noticed a strange desire to go to church again.

The next Sunday I left for church with my neighbor's son. I was planning to have some fun again, but the guy I went with warned me very seriously as we entered the church to shut up because God was there. At that service I prayed for the first time- if there is a God that He would change something in my life…

Ten days later, my colleges told me that I have changed- I don't cuss and don't use bad words. I tried to prove to them that I can still cuss, but not even one vulgar word could come out of my mouth. I was shocked.

I got my stuff and almost running from work to home, I was thinking what I'm going to do to my neighbor for having me brainwashed at her church. As I arrived at her house, I grabbed her by the throat, pushed her against the wall as I blamed her that her church has brainwashed me and that hurt my image before my colleges and friends. She just kept exclaiming joyfully: "Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!" Then I remembered what I had asked Jesus to do for me.

I think that was the moment when my heart broke before God. I started to go to church since then and the Lord began to work in my life. Almost right away I stopped smoking and drinking. A little later God delivered me from gambling as well. It took longer for me to forgive my parents who had abandoned me and the teachers I hated. But now I can say that God is very merciful and patient with me. God's love makes me whole and happy.

Five years ago I was challenged by the Lord to work with kids from the orphanages I had been at as well as two more. Some believers from a church in Montana, USA who we have a relationship with, decided to come to Bulgaria to donate some money and volunteer at an orphanage.

My pastors knew I grew up in an orphanage and asked me what I think about that. I told them this would be great, but we also need to follow up on it and be consistent. Just to bring gifts is not as effective as having an going relationship with the kids if we want to win them for Christ. People think about those kids during the holidays, but the rest of the time they are nowhere to be found.

This is how the social ministry was started. Two other ladies and I are the core team. There are many other people who are involved. For some events even the whole church gets involved.

Little by little we build strong friendships with the kids from those orphanages. I won't go into detail how exactly we work with God's help on that field. I just would like to encourage you that during the time we had the Alpha course, 25 kids got saved, 12 got baptized in the Spirit and 15 in water. For some this is not much, but for me, knowing the life and worldview of those kids, I know that it is not little at all. For me it is important that they understand that God is the One who can help them in every situation. He is the only one, who can make them happy.

There is the right time for every soul. During those 5 years about 500 kids have heard the Good News. Just because not everyone has gotten saved does not mean that we were not good workers. God wants us to sow and He is the One who makes it grow. This is what I think. While I was in the orphanages no one has ever celebrated the birthdays of the kids. Now we do it and every kid knows that there is a special day when he or she is paid attention to. This really is a great joy for the kids.

Usually after they graduate, the kids have to leave the orphanage with no one to be there for them. Many of them make bad choices. Since we have been working with them though, many of them are able to become good citizens of our country. I think they will never forget what they have heard about God. I know that in time each one of them will be drawn to Jesus. I believe that and I know that God hears our prayers for all those kids.

Monday, October 13, 2008


It seems that I don't realize how little I remember from 4th grade until each time we start a new subject in school. If I could start to retain everything, I have might have some serious potential in a game show in another decade or so.

An Example: I have lived in the United States my entire life. But as the kids labeled their state maps today, especially in all the Eastern little states, I was taken back at how ignorant I am. But it gets worse… Did you know that the capital of Pennsylvania is Harrisburg? Ok, so you probably knew that. And if not, you're shrugging it off as useless information. Yet indeed is not, because you might be on a game show someday.

I was amazed at the actual perspective that my mind had mapped of our country. I am a visual person. I remember photos and maps and written words and numbers. I wasn't that far off: I knew that New York in this corner and the Rockies right in there. Yet my generic map was blurred in so many spots. I had forgotten how it was all woven together, lost the details somehow.

My world seems so big and each day lately a trial that can consume me. Yet I am not even a dot on this map.

As I gazed in the mirror, in between lessons and diapers, I actually took a moment to look. To really wonder, what have I forgotten? What things in my life and heart have become a blur? Who did God create this girl to be?

I don't know if you have tasted the pain of this world so deep within you that in wants to force itself out. You want to throw yourself to the ground in heartache. You don't know where to go, from HERE. But I assuming that in this really tough world, you have.

It amazes me that Jesus came, not as the author of a salvation prayer. But to redeem me from this MESS that I am. To mapquest me the very next step on my map, bringing clarity to my blurred and warped perspective. And to remove me from HERE- have I mentioned that THERE is worth the promise in waiting?

What is my perspective on who Jesus is? Perhaps it means going back to that place where I am vulnerable again- please NOT 4th grade!!- But to my first love. Real love.



Wednesday, October 8, 2008

indepth conversation:

Bel: i don't get it. why didn't God just make us smart? is it because of sin that we have to do school?

Me: i don't know Bel. God just wants us to do the best we can at school and everything He asks us to do.

(dodging question, still folding socks..)

Bel: hum... but why do we really need to know this? why would God care about rhyming words? when am i going to need to know rhyming words for God?

(looking up from laundry at my new teenager..)

Me: you need to just do it Bel.

Me: i don't get it ... God- why didn't they just come potty trained...?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Craig's List

So I am all snuggled up with the sweetest little thumb sucking girl in the world- who I borrowed for the evening. She is rubbing her other hand on my arm, it is so priceless, she is so priceless. I could just bottle her up. Which makes this post bearable.

It has been two weeks ago tonight that my brother was traveling a mile and a half from his house, a beautiful evening with a beautiful girl. He grinned in embarrassment when we teased him about her. His wore his feelings on his sleeve like a school boy.

Not a moment sooner, not a second later, a young deer jumped out from the ditch, landing on his fender, changing our world forever.

Apparently, his front tire locked up. The next moments I don't even want to begin to envision.

Craig was the oldest of my three brothers. My big brother who made it all better and rigged me up my own moped just weeks after I could ride a bike. I can't even try to explain to you, to wrap up in words who he was. And who he was to me.

He loved life. He love the mountains. It is where he truly found God. Not confined in a pew or lost in politically correctness. He was transparent and lived free. Free of expectations, religion, and much of the junk that I choose to carry.

(( Wait my baby fell asleep!- Well not my baby, my borrowed baby!! - She is such a doll, but anyway..))

So here is the deal folks:

I have to be changed.
I have to be.

I can not walk through this life and not be changed by him. By this. God has given me the ability to live my life fully, at least for today.

So, I have begun my Craig's list.
No, although I have been temped to sell everything I own, it's not the typical Craig's list.

It's something like this:

7 things I want to change/become/do
in honor of who Craig was and in knowing my home is not HERE. This life is infact temporary. And this pain is momentary.
Cause soon :) I am going home.

One moment in Bulgaria, we were traveling on a bus and were inches from hitting a semi head on. In the words of Harold: "we were almost promoted- either you believe it or not."

So it has begun, the beginning stages of my list. My Craig's list.
In the words of Lava girl and Shark boy, "Dream a better dream, and work to make it real."

So all I got for you tonight is #1:

1. Learn to play the guitar well. :)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Happy Birthday Bel!

Lately I haven't been in the blogging world, mainly because I have been having a difficult time in the real world. It's just been really hard to figure out where to go from here.

The first visitor when she was born was her uncle Craigy. She stole his heart, maybe cause she is so very much like him.

SIX years ago Belly was born. Craig's little "Tinker".

Happy Birthday my Lovely little girl!