50+ Ways You Know You’re Russian When…

If you don’t yet, I come from a Russian culture which I am very happy and proud to be a part of. I look up to my ancestors who went through so many persecutions because they were Christians. I thank them for taking that hard road, so that today, I can be inspired by their faith in Jesus.
On a less serious note, however, Russians and Ukrainians also have some funny traditions and what not. For some entertainment, with the help of my husband and friends, we created this fun list:

You know you’re Russian when…

Your church parking lot looks like a European and Japanese car show

Your dad owns a track suit or 10

Your mom makes borsht every weekend

Every other salad is served with mayo

You have a huge collection of all the various teas out there

Your grandmother wears a kasinka to all public places

You speak two languages in the same sentence (maybe even 3 if you know Ukrainian from your grandmother)

You get invited to someone’s banya on the weekend

You hear about all the sales and discounts in all the stores

And you go to all the good sales too because it’s ridiculous to miss a good deal

You eat fish in 100 different ways on a weekly basis

Your wedding consists of 500+ guests

And your wedding has 74738826383 different dishes served

You dress up your Sunday best to go grocery shopping and to check the mailbox

You attend every possible youth conference and camp

You sing hymns and worship songs at every get together 

You plant a garden every year with all fruits and vegetables possible

Your mom makes green borscht (when there is shavel) and okroshka every summer

You have your own chickens and possibly beehives

You make kvass and fruit compote in the summer

Your house just might be 3,000+ square feet

Your typical snack consists of sunflower seeds and every get-together absolutely has to have them

You have heard at least one song by Alla Pugacheva

And you have seen all the episodes of “Ny Pogodi” and “Kot Leopold”

You know a brown Winnie-the-Pooh without a red shirt

You eat mom’s homemade bread with every meal

You know how to make every possible recipe using sausage

Your medicine cabinet is filled with herbs (some of which are mixed with vodka to bring out all the nutrients)

And you know all the home remedies out there for all illnesses

You bring pelmeni for lunch

You have 50 letters in your first and last name

You dress your baby in long sleeves and cap in the middle of summer because parents warn you of the AC blowing on them

Your mother packs you katleti for a road trip

Your curtains are lacy

You have a filled with many fancy dishes that never get used but are there for the sole purpose of decoration

Your dad has at least one cassette or CD of shanson music

Your mom saves all plastic and glass containers to use for other purposes (Russians are basically professional recyclers)

You have an uncle fisherman (or grandpa or dad or cousin)

You have at least 30 cousins

Your mom owns a collection of matreshki

You can always find sushki or ruziki to munch on in the kitchen

You know a handful of truck drivers

Your house was built by Russians

You went to Russian school on Saturdays to learn some proper grammar

Your first car was a Toyota or Honda

You remember the first time you tried caviar (and probably liked it)

Your mom made kasha every morning for breakfast

And soup was also served daily

Your mom makes you wear tapochki…even in the summer

You had a Cheburashka stuffed toy instead of a regular teddy bear

You played soccer with all your cousins at family get togethers

You played at least one instrument in the church band

And sang in the youth choir

Your mom always told you after the 6th candy “u tebya popa slipnitsa”

Your grandma’s house has a red & yellow oriental rug in the living room

Your mom cans tomatoes and cucumbers every summer

You call over friends just to have some hot tea

You know at least 20 guys named Alex and can name them from the top of your head

You eat onions and garlic, raw, and not necessarily in a salad

Have more to add? Share in comments!

You Know You're Russian When

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Satan’s #1 Goal

Flipping leisurely through a Parents magazine, I noticed a paragraph that really got me upset. I’m that kind of person who doesn’t like to follow the news because I would just be depressed all the time from all the negativity. So I stick to happy things, like Parents magazine for example. But this “happy” magazine got me quite upset at the situation of our world. Not that I didn’t know this fact already, but reading it in black on white was very upsetting to say at the least.

This is the quote I read, and even though the magazine did not make this sound as a bad thing, I thought it was quite upsetting:

 Ironically, heterosexual couples are increasingly wary of getting wed while same-sex couples are fighting for the right to marry.

As soon as I read that, my heart just started aching. The devil is scheming every day to prevent marriages from happening and from staying together.

Since day 1 of humans on this planet, Satan has been scheming away to break apart humans with God; and husbands and wives from each other. God gave Adam a wonderful gift. Man was given a female counterpart to complete his life. Yet, Satan was not happy when he saw the happy couple, living in God’s bliss in the Garden of Eden. His jealousy did not allow him to let Adam and Eve live peacefully.

First, he lies to them.

Then, Adam starts blaming God for giving him a faulty wife when God asks Adam what they have done.

Then, God expels them from the Garden for their disobedience to God’s   Word.

And since then, Satan still doesn’t rest. He wants to break apart any marriage or prevent it from happening in the first place.

I don’t want to get into numbers, but rates for all these are quite high: cohabitation, divorce, same-sex couples, prostitution, unfaithfulness, pornography, and so on.

It breaks my heart that Satan seems to be winning. Family, the building block of society, is being ripped apart. What was once considered taboo, is now the norm.

But there is hope. JESUS is our hope. Our choice is to use His power to strengthen our marriages or we can let Satan keep breaking us apart, one family at a time.

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20+ Ideas to Stay Connected With Your Spouse

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

I absolutely LOVE weddings! Pretty sure I’m not the only one. Yes, I know, it has been FIVE years since my own wedding, but weddings still excite me! Everything about them. All the little AND big details!

The dress. The rings. The flowers. The first look. The first kiss. It’s all so enchanting!

When someone books us to do the photography for their wedding I get extremely enthusiastic.

When we drop off the kids, it’s then just the two of us. It’s almost like a date in a way except we have to “work” on this date. But we get to work together on the same team. I help him. He helps me. And for me, it’s quite enjoyable.

Do you and your spouse have something special you can collaborate on? Hobbies, charities, sports, etc that both interest you? The possibilities are endless! But the point is to do them TOGETHER! Have fun and enjoy being married.

I decided to generate a list, because I just love making lists. List is my middle name. If not, then it really should be.

Hobbies

  • Fishing
  • Gardening/landscaping
  • Photography – people, wildlife, landscape/nature
  • Videography
  • Collecting – whatever it is you want to collect (seashells, coins, art, etc)
  • DIY projects
  • Board/card/strategy games
  • Cooking/baking
  • Collaborating on writing a book/blog
  • Singing in a choir/band
  • Music lessons
  • Road tripping
  • Exploring new places
  • Puzzles

Charities/Good Deeds

  • Church events
  • Small group ministry
  • Soup kitchen
  • Trash collecting
  • Visiting the elderly/nursing home
  • Fundraising

Sports

  • Tennis
  • Roller skating/blading
  • Ice skating
  • Biking
  • Hiking
  • Racquetball
  • Kayaking/canoeing
  • Jetskiing
  • Boating/sailing
  • Fishing
  • Bowling
  • Running marathon(s)

 

 

Ideas to Connect

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What God REALLY Wants From Us

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27

I’ve been a bit off the grid, at least with the blog these past two weeks, but for good reason I assure you. I was taking a Teaching Writing class, and I learned SO much! It was an amazing experience to write with 10 other teachers side by side.

The most important fact I learned was actually not how to teach writing (which I definitely did learn as too, don’t get me wrong) but how important relationships are. In two weeks, we learned so much about each other through our writing pieces and conversations. As the summer class came to a close, we were sad for it to end. Yes, some of us even got teary eyed as we shared our final reflections about what we have gained in this class as teachers (and not only as teachers).

It made me think one very important lesson. What does God really want from us?

Does He want us to be sinless? Does He want us to go to church? Does He want us to be helping charities?

There are a lot of things people think God wants from us, and ones I mentioned above are important, BUT the most crucial thing He wants is a one-on-one relationship with Him. That is the reason He created humans in the first place! He wanted someone to have a relationship with. Don’t ignore God’s great desire to have a personal relationship with you. Jesus calls everyone to His loving arms:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

“For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” John 6:40

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Revelation 3:20

What do YOU think God wants from us?

What God Really Wants From Us?

 

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3 Big Lessons Motherhood Taught Me

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

I’m pretty sure no one told me how hard it can be to raise children. Oh wait, maybe my parents have mentioned it once…or twice, or maybe a few hundred times, “You’ll understand me when you become a parent.”

They couldn’t be more right! When you become a parent then all the lessons come flooding back. When you try instilling concepts into your children, you realize how tough it can be sometimes.

Parenting is a great patience teacher.

Seriously, kids can really pull on your   strings sometimes and keeping your cool can be extra tough. Patience, patience, and more patience. From teaching to buttoning to teaching how to dress modestly, patience is probably the #1 key to parenthood. At any stage in life of a child, patience is needed.

Parenting is a great prayer teacher.

I don’t think I’ve prayed more in my life than when I was pregnant, giving birth, and when my children were sick. Children teach you to pray A LOT.  And I’m sure once my children get older, I’ll be praying not only for their physical health but even more for their spiritual and emotional health as well.

Parenting is a great selflessness teacher.

I remember my dad telling us all the time that he lives for us, his children. I couldn’t understand why he would do such a thing, but becoming a parent I know exactly what he means now. A big chunk of life now revolves around our kids. Granted, we try to carve some “couples” time and “me” time, but mostly it’s “family ” time. And that’s OK, because soon they’ll have families of their own. They’ll be telling their children how great their childhood was! At least, that’s my big hope.

Life is truly all about learning and getting closer to God! I’m so glad He gave me children to keep me growing in Him…

Enjoy some of our family shots celebrating our little girl’s 1st birthday! 

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Photo Credits: http://www.YevStudios.com


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3 Holidays to Celebrate as a Couple

Also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man. Ecclesiastes 3:13

I love celebrating various occasions! It doesn’t have to be something crazy important or grandiose. Life is all about the little things anyway, right?

Yes, the wedding anniversary is important and birthdays…and Christmas and Easter.

But why not celebrate other holidays together, especially as a couple? Celebrating doesn’t have to be anything expensive either!

It can be a small gift or card. It can be a fun date to spend time together. It can even just be a dinner just the two of you at your favorite restaurant. It can even be a dinner right at home set up fancy (you know, your best dishes, music, candles, and your favorite fancy meal). I mean, be creative! It’s YOUR celebration!

‘The Day We Met Anniversary ‘

Ok, I know not everyone remembers the exact day you met. Some of you might have even known each each since diapers days! But that’s not a problem. Think back to when you first noticed each other in that special way. Summer of 2000? Pick a day in June. The 15th maybe? And make it your holiday! Why not, right? Replay the fun memories of when you just met/noticed each other.

‘I Love You Anniversary’

Now this day I hope you remember! After all, you said the important words that anyone longs to hear. Well, and if you don’t remember then just follow directions from celebration #1.

‘Engagement Anniversary’

Maybe you’re already celebrating this one? But if not, why not add it to your list of holidays? You got engaged after all. Quite a big deal I think! Celebrate it. Maybe even replay the scenario if possible!

Have any holidays that you and your spouse celebrate as a couple? Share with us!

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The Most Important Key to a Happy Marriage

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13

No human being is perfect. No relationship is perfect. No one’s life is perfect.

That said, when we live in such an imperfect world in our imperfect human bodies, we’re all going to make mistakes. ALL of us. But what comes next is what can make  it or break it. We can either hold grudges and hate our spouse (or someone else) for a mistake they made. Or we can forgive them.

Ha! Easier said than done! Right?! That is where God’s grace comes in! Without God’s great love and mercy we won’t be able to do anything! I absolutely love the parable in Matthew 18:21-35 about the unmerciful servant:

21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”

22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.

24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.

25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.

26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’

27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.

28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’

29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’

30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt.

31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.

33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’

34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt.

35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

If God, an absolute PERFECT being forgives us for all our evil sins, then how much more should we lowly humans forgive people for their sins. If we can’t forgive, God doesn’t forgive us our sins. It’s as simple as that. Hey, no one said being righteous is easy. Yet, if you think about it, harboring anger is MUCH harder. It destroys you, bit by bit.

So don’t let your relationship suffer because you want to keep holding anger and unforgiveness bottled up inside you. Ask God to help you let it go once and for all. And never bring it up ever again. You’re not perfect either, so why should you be angry when you make mistakes too? Forgive and move on, and your marriage will be much better off!

P.S. This song by Natalie Grant really touched my heart when I first heard. Also, it contributes to the inspiration for this post:

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Should you skip reading any parts of the Bible?

If you have ever read Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, you might notice that there are A LOT of laws written in those books. As I’m reading through these chapters, I notice myself glazing over the words. And the #1 thought that keeps coming up in my mind is, “THANK YOU, Jesus!”

If not for Jesus dying on the cross. And now, living because He is the one true God, then we’d be doing these sacrifices year after year…after year. Can you even imagine? Yet God’s plan is perfect and He made Himself easily available! We can come to Jesus and ask for forgiveness at any time, any day, any where! Isn’t that simply awesome?! I sure think it is!

And as I skim over the sacrifice laws in Leviticus, I don’t feel guilty because I know the IMPORTANT sacrifice has been made already 2,000ish years ago on the cross by Jesus Christ. And the kinds of lambs and rams they used back in the day… Well, let’s just say, it does not matter anymore all thanks to Jesus.

Yes, maybe I’m wrong in doing so and thinking this way. Maybe I should read all those laws, but I’m too busy and happy thanking Jesus. What do you think? Is it OK to skim over the sacrificial laws when reading Scripture? Tell us your opinion in the comments.

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Love Song

Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth. Psalm 96:1

I don’t know about you, but I looove music! Can you just imagine this world WITHOUT music?! That said, music can bring about memories associated with a certain song (or musical piece).

Do you and your loved one have a special song you share? Maybe a song you both liked when you were dating/engaged? A song played at your wedding?

If yes, great! If not, find a song you both like and share it during special moments of your life to bring back good memories! Or maybe even play it when you’re going through a tough time together! There’s a reason God gave us music, right? Music is a wonderful way to lift our spirits!

Share with us in the comments YOUR special song!

And here are a few of our special songs:

 

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What Does Your Heart Worship?

He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” Exodus 32:4

I like cows. They really are useful animals on this planet. They give us milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream, meat, etc, etc. But I’m not exactly sure why Israel made a god for themselves in the form of a cow. Seriously, I think it is so weird that they did that. Out of all animals, a cow?! Why not a pretty animal at least? Like a horse at least. Nevertheless, doesn’t matter what kind of animals it was, the fact still remains that they chose to bow down to another god.

No, not the living God who rescued them out of slavery in Egypt. Not the God who showed His great power in the Ten Plagues. Not the God who moved the waters of the sea so they could escape Pharoah’s chase. Not the God who is feeding them in the desert. Oh no…they choose to idolize a cow!

Then again, I think about it, and realize that we are not much different than the Israelites. We don’t always worship God in our hearts and with out lives.

Sometimes we choose to worship money, famous people, materialistic items. Probably the most common choice of worship is worshipping your own self. It’s all about ME ME ME!

We are probably all guilty of worshipping ourselves.

But God wants our  hearts. Scriptures tell us that God is a jealous God and He wants you to serve only Him! That is the first commandment He gave the Israelites and a commandment we are to live out as well. 

So look deeply within your heart. What or who are you truly worshipping?  

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