Saturday, January 24, 2009

"That was then - This is now..."

So, I love sunsets. :) But even something as basic as a sunset can seem completely different depending on the context. Hmmm...I guess a lot like words, or people, or faith, or..?? Maybe everything? It's not that it IS different, just it "looks" different depending on the background it is set against.

Recently when I was in the states I visited dear friends in one of my favorite places...California's Central Coast. There was a bit of an unusual heat wave for early January (80F the day these pictures were taken) and I had an few hours by myself (also unusual!) .

I went to Avila Beach and and walked along the sand. As cliche as it may sound; I watched children playing, dogs running in the surf (missed my old Jake!), just simply listened to the waves, watched the gulls, and even had enough beach to myself that I was able to sing a bit to God. I hadn't done any of that in so long it was really sweet.

It reminded me of a conversation years ago that I will never forget. A friend about my same age, we were both single (and still are) and we had a couple of friends that had the means (work, family connections, etc.) to travel to Hawaii rather cheaply. I suggested we all go and rent a house on the beach! It seemed like a great idea to me, since I had never been to Hawaii and I love to swim!

My friend's response was that "I will go to Hawaii when I go on my honeymoon". Now don't get me wrong. That is totally her right to feel that way. And maybe she would answer something different now.

But I remember thinking... "I don't want to wait to live!"

I would love to go to Hawaii for my honeymoon (well, no, actually I think somewhere in Europe like Prague or Vienna would be better..but I digress) :) ...but until (or if?!?) I do not want to wait to "sieze the day"! (I'm not saying my friend did either. She is an amazing person who lives a very full life...maybe just Hawaii was something she wanted to save.)

Nonetheless, for me it was one of those "crossroads" moments where I felt like God was asking me to stop, look around at the "context" of my life at the moment and recognize the beauty of what I had, despite maybe some less than desirable (by my agenda) circumstances.

And so...what does all this rambling have to do with sunsets? Well, here is the sunset I see from my the balcony window outside my bedroom in Kyiv. :)

Amazing, huh? :) Some sort of scary big ugly, very Auschwitz looking factory smoke stack in the distance...the bane of my commuter existence - a grimy yellow "taxi van" or "marshrutka" is at the bus stop below...but to me it is beautiful! I love that in this city of millions God has given me a view devoid of skycrapers! I love the "dacha's" out my window.

God's Word says "from the rising of the sun, til the going down of the same, may the name of the LORD be praised!" Why? Because things are as I would like them to be? Rarely. But let Him be praised because He is worthy to be praised. :)

And when I choose to praise Him I see that so often the view around me, or rather my ability to truly see the beauty surrounding me is simply an indication from out of which window of perspective I am looking...through the eyes of God's perspective, or with my limited and limiting agenda of how things should or could be.

So, this is kind of funny, because I didn't start out to write all this. Just wanted to show you my sunset pictures. :) But ya never know how things will turn out, huh? :)

An announcement :)

I have a good friend who used to call me her "all or nothing" friend. "I ask you what time it is and you give me the workings of a clock", she said, in her typically British style. And it's true. So...I tortured you with wordy long blogs, then got the new camera and now it is photo mania. But I am just so happy! :) LOVE the new camera..(thanks, mom and dad!)

Anyway...soon I will start again with regular blog posting...and actually I am going to make a new commitment for .....change...ha! Seems like a good time for that. No seriously, I have a few blog readers that are actually strangers! Folks who actually are encouraged by what I write and read it with no "friend or family" obligation! Imagine that?!?! Ha! So, I am going to try and post more regularly with what I am regularly learning and what God is teaching me...there certainly are daily lessons. But until then, I still have some more photos to post...:)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Some good blogs about Ukraine: Holiday Celebrations and the Gas Crisis with Russia

Lots of my friends are great bloggers (I was going to say "better bloggers than I" then realized how completely arrogant that is to put myself as the standard...ha!) ...anyway!!!!

I always enjoy the Silva's blog because along with having GREAT photos, there is usually a lot of great information about Ukraine. I don't know whether they do a lot of research or they just really catch things (living out in the village as they do! ha! Just had to tease you guys!) So check out this latest post to learn about Ukraine's interesting and extended (compared to the West) Christmas Holiday Season and Celebrations (my title, not Greg's).

Then a light look at a serious subject: Ukraine's Gas Crisis with Russia (see, very serious, capital letters). A very serious subject but Jake Knotts was able to add some levity by posting some jokes that have shown up on the internet. Check it out here. The last one is my favorite. :)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

More "on the road with" Caitlin :)

Ok....more pictures of Caitlin. Just ever since our road trip with her dad to England she has been one of my favorite photo subjects...she's just so photogenic...but then I'm seriously biased. :)

So here we are mugging it by the Sacramento River.

This was on our way to catch her flight...that was delayed. :( So much so that they re-booked her.

I tried to convince her that train was the way to travel, but since this one in Old Sacramento probably hasn't run for years, she wasn't buying it.

Finally she boarded a plane out of Sacramento. This "art" from lost and found luggage was something to be seen in the airport terminal. Not sure when or where Caitlin and I will meet next, but I'm sure glad for the time that I had. She is a treasure. Thanks Janice and Brent (aka mom and dad) for the loan. :) Love you all.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Road Trip with Caitlin! :)

I keep having these wonderful experiences while I am here in the states that make me think..."WOW! Ok, THIS is my best Christmas present". :) And then something else happens that tops the last basically...I'm blessed. :)

The latest was a road trip with my niece. :) We started out from my folks' place (the BAADLANDS) in Grants Pass, Or.

(Pretty cute standing by my dad's old tractor.)

And what good road trip can start in GP without Dutch Brothers Coffee?

The "Dutch Mafia", to those in the know.. :)

Thankfully the record snow storms had let up in Oregon so we had clear roads and smooth sailing on our drive to California to visit my brother and his family.

Unfortunately, we got a late start (stopping for coffee, ya know) so it was dark through some of the prettiest places. Didn't stop us photo hounds from taking pictures anyway! More soon. :)