"We are going to focus on LIFE for Katya. I believe, one day, she will amaze the world."

Dr. Ben Carson on Katya Dueck

Saturday, March 21, 2015

First Place

When the Lego competition was announced by our local library this winter, Kristina looked at the announced theme--"Every Hero Has a Story"--and quickly decided that she would love to illustrate Doctor Carson's life in Legos.

She presented the idea to her friends and they decided to go with it.

After weeks of planning, discussion, research and hard work, they met together at the library for the competition.

The library provides the boxes ahead of time, and you have to bring in your own Legos, broken down into individual pieces and they must all fit into the box.

They had 45 minutes by the clock to build their set. The weeks of hard work they put into the project paid off! The girls not only completed the set on time, but actually got it done with 10 minutes to spare!

The competition was stiff. There were so many good sets! How would the Judges choose? They went around the room and interviewed the teams, asking questions about how they came up with the ideas, and other questions. Kristina and her friends were well prepared, having spent extensive time making sure they understood well what they were portraying. The girls were full of enthusiasm about their chosen subject. In addition, they had provided copies of the cover of the kid's version and the adult version of the book, "Gifted Hands" which is Doctor Carson's story about his life, AND they had typed up information about Doctor Carson and the events of his life they were portraying.
Personally, I'm guessing that their dedication to details and the fact that they were plugging his books were what helped tip the tide in their favor!
YES! Those are FIRST PLACE RIBBONS! And gift cards!!
Needless to say, we were THRILLED and so, so proud of the girls! They worked hard, put in lots of effort, and really deserved the reward of earning 1st place!
Their set is currently on display at our library for the next two weeks. Then the girls will get together to break it down and sort out their own pieces as they combined Legos from each girl's collection in order to make this project work. It's provided them a lot of fantastic fun, good memories and good life experiences. I am sure Doctor Carson would be quite pleased with their "can do" spirit!

Friday, March 20, 2015

A Story From Ukraine

Day after day, while Paul and I were in Ukraine for Katya's adoption, we walked from our apartment up the street, past a McDonald's and went down the steps into the Metro. As we would go down the steps, we would walk past various people selling their wares. A few potatoes still coated lightly with black Ukraine soil, a handful of carrots, with the tops starting to slightly whither in the heat, a sprig of flowers plucked from the road side and tucked into a canning jar.

One lady always caught our attention. Dressed each day in the same impeccably clean clothing with a snowy white apron, her wares were home made breads and pastries spread out on an absolutely snow-white cloth, and a few flowers plucked from her garden. I always smiled because it was obvious she took a healthy pride in herself and her products, and I could imagine her bustling around early in her kitchen in order to get things ready and be to the Metro in time to catch the early morning commuters! After all, we were there around 8:00 AM most days and she had the appearance of someone who had already settled in for the day for awhile!

After observing her for the first two weeks, I told Paul, "I want to try some of her breads!" And so we did. They were every bit as tasty as they looked, and we only regretted we had not started purchasing them sooner during our stay there. After our first purchase, the lady was definitely happy to see us coming along! She was happy when I let her know through gestures and my limited Russian that we really liked her baked goods! Her round face would beam and her eyes twinkle!

The memory of  sitting at the tiny table in our apartment, eating her bread with butter and cheese, and then the chocolate filled pastry, while looking out the window at the linden trees,  lingers in my heart.

I still think about that lady, and wonder how the war and the stresses of life in Ukraine right now have affected her. I would give a lot if I could walk down that street, head down the steps into the Metro and see if I could find her again.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Between 2 Gods

For some time now, I have been awaiting the release of "Between 2 Gods--A Memoir of Abuse in the Mennonite Community" by Trudy Harder Metzger.

Yesterday, I was finally able to download it to my Kindle App and read the book.  Having heard bits and pieces of Trudy's story before, I still found it helpful to follow the story in chronological order, and there were parts of her story that were new to me.

I found much I could relate to, since not only did I move in some of the same circles that Trudy had, but I also knew some of the specific people she mentions. There was much food for thought, but I think one of the things that stuck out the most to me was when Trudy wrote about how after moving to the "conservative" Mennonite church that there was an effort to change and mold her personality. I could certainly relate to that from my own experience as a child whose parents changed churches too! It was a painful, soul-draining experience to have gone through, and the nasty after-math lingered with me well into adulthood until I was able to sort out that I was who I was because GOD made me to be that way, and I did not need to be remade "in their image" into some "ideal Mennonite woman" that I was not created by God to be.

Trudy writes honestly about the abuses she experienced or witnessed but she remains sensitive and discreet throughout the book. She speaks truth, but does not try to be sensational.

I felt that the conclusion of the book was a bit abrupt. It would have been good I think to have more of her story of healing shared, but am hopeful that this signals a possible sequel in the works!

Recommending this book to anyone who wants to read truth, or anyone who wants to see the loving pursuit of a faithful God who cares!

This post is my own opinion entirely, and I did not, nor will I receive anything at all for writing this--not even a free book! However, the link given is my affiliate link, and I will receive a small percentage of the cost of almost anything ordered from Amazon though that link.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Home and Garden Show

Thanks to being gifted with free tickets, we were able to attend a Home and Garden Show this month, much to our delight! We had not been for years, so it was a real treat!

 Chad found the rockers at this display to be quite comfortable.

We were treated to colors, sounds, tastes and smells!

(Photo credit for candles to Kristina)

Our sense of humor was tickled when we happened upon this be-draggled looking chicken in one of the displays!

 What could be more perfect for those of us who are needing hope of spring than a scene like this?!

Wouldn't you just have loved to be allowed to curl up in that amazing looking chair for a few hours? I'd have opted for a good book and a light blanket, not the binoculars in the chair, but they could have stayed tucked in there too just in case I wanted to use them! This display had not won the "People's Choice" award but in my opinion, it sure should have!

 The photo does not really show it, but water trickled down the chain to the garden.

The display also contained visual treats in the form of these wood displays.

I kept going back to this display to study it some more.

The next photo was from a display that showed whimsy by incorporating children's toys, colanders and other items as planters.

 When Katya's school was done, we picked her up and brought her to the Home and Garden Show to enjoy it with us for awhile too. She was a trifle overwhelmed but over all liked it! Having her own goody bag to stash "loot" in was something she enjoyed! She loved the flowers too.

Just lovely, lovely! Spring is coming!

Are you anticipating spring? Is there anything you like to do to help keep hope of spring alive?? Leave me a comment to talk about it!

(Special thanks to Charity and Kristina for the use of their photos.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Birthday

Kristina turned 15. Things were very busy so we went for very simple.

It was easy to choose her color theme as the Valentine themed things were on sale.

Her Dad brought home a rose and some baby's breath to go along with the color scheme.

Katya was interested in the preparations.

She enjoys beautiful things!

Kristina had a happy birthday. She was quite pleased with her presents. She wanted to wear one of them--a new skirt--when she went to interview a retired public health nurse for a biographical sketch she was to write for school.

Interestingly enough, when Katya saw I had the camera, she jumped in beside Kristina and posed for me! You would never know she used to SCREAM and try to hide her face any time a camera would appear, would you?!

Love and care make such a difference!

Happy, Happy Birthday to our Kristina, and many more to come!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Ukraine, We Weep and Pray With You Today

Ukraine is in mourning today.

We weep and pray with them. Our hearts are broken. For those mourning in Ukraine. And yes, for those mourning in Russia who are losing loved ones in this completely and utterly senseless war that the leaders of Russia have instigated against Ukraine.

We have children from both countries who love and respect each other in this family. Would that the world as a whole would understand how to do that too!

We wait for Jesus who has promised true and lasting peace on the earth. Until then, we will continue to pray and weep and do all that we can to help the refugees from the war in Ukraine.

You too can assist them through organizations such as Jeremiah's Hope, Life To Orphans and MCC. The needs are huge, and urgent. It is estimated that there are over  600,000 displaced persons at this point in the tough, winter weather. Some estimate that there are as many as 900,000. These are all families who have fled their homes and businesses--often with nothing but a suitcase, hastily grabbed which may or may not contain enough necessities to get them through just a few days.

We weep with Ukraine. We pray for them. We donate whatever we can. Every single dollar helps, and because the economy in Ukraine is so tough right now, every single USD goes farther than you would see it go here in the USA. I do not know about currency from other countries, but I would assume the situation could be similar.

Will you stand with Ukraine? Will you put yourself in the shoes of these people who want nothing more than peace, and help pray for them, donate relief supplies, and spread the word about the needs? If so, thank you from the bottom of our family's heart.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

My Brother's Afghan

Katya finds great joy in rocking and relaxing, wrapped in the afghan crocheted so long ago for my brother by my Grandma. My brother died at 13 from complications from a brain tumor at the base of his brain. The afghan is treasured by me because I remember him being wrapped in it in his wheelchair.  I found it interesting that Katya quickly zeroed in on it and enjoys using it on a regular basis.

This special afghan makes a great way to hide from the photographer too!