Lessons From Ukraine

Hello to you if you are reading this.

Every blog entry starts with: Hello, I haven’t written in a long time..

Could I be anymore predictable?

Life gets busy and things get crazy. It’s been about a month since I’ve come back from my Europe trip. We visited Ukraine, Latvia, and France. It was an amazing experience and I am so happy that I went.

Being able to go to Ukraine was amazing because I got to experience first hand the culture that has influenced my entire life. I grew up going to a Ukrainian church, speaking Ukrainian, eating Ukrainian food, being told I should marry an Ukrainian boy, and upholding Ukrainian traditions. Ukraine was such a huge part of my life and identity but I had never visited or stepped foot into the country that had been so important to my being!

I struggled so much my whole life of having pride in being Ukrainian and then having pride in being American and sometimes it was hard for me to understand where I fit in in both sides.

After visiting Ukraine, I learned so much about who I am and why I am. I understand things about my childhood much better and I have a deeper appreciation of where my heritage comes from and how blessed I am to live in the US.

I miss Ukraine every single day since returning home.

I miss the slow pace time. No one is in a rush to get anywhere like they are here in Seattle. Although I didn’t always have internet connection or cell service, I was never bored. I really enjoyed every moment being PRESENT. Getting in a car for a couple of hours on bumpy roads in the middle of nowhere didn’t give me anxiety, I just enjoyed the moment I was in an I was at peace (although on highways and main roads I definitely had anxiety because traffic rules are not enforced and everyone drives how they want to and its very crazy!). I loved the city life which was full of fun things for young people like me. Shopping, yummy food, public break dancing, skits performed, music, lots and lots and lots of pda from couples, and endless activities and beautiful features. The village was full of yummy food, lots of animals, and time to really enjoy nature.

I miss the organic, natural, delicious food and coffee. Coffee there was so bomb. It does not compare here. Any café I went to served coffee in a cute tall clear glass with sprinkles or chocolate design on top. Mochachinos were my favorite. I ate potatoes and cucumbers homegrown every day. I value organic food so much more now. Lots of delicious soups and meats. The ice cream was to die for. We ate it almost every day. I ate dessert after every meal. My cousins would not stop feeding me. I never felt hungry. And yet my digestion never felt better! Because of that, I decided to incorporate the way that I ate in Ukraine now at home so that I feel just as good.

I miss the endless fields of wildflowers. I love flowers so much. I got this love from my mom. I think she got it from being raised in Ukraine where flower fields are not too hard to find. She would always tell me that loving flowers is important. In Ukraine we would pull over on the side of the road and pick flowers many times and bring them to my aunt’s house and my cousins. They were so beautiful, so free. I feel overjoyed just thinking about it.

Most of all, I miss my family. I met them for the first time in Ukraine. I wasn’t sure how I would get along with them. But now I see how we all are so similar. I bonded with cousins and saying good bye was extremely tough. I hope its not a good bye but more of a see you later. I will be back. I miss those late night chats and the gatherings at the dinner table. My eyes are flooded with tears as I think about this. My family is so far away. I wish that we could all be together. Don’t ever take for granted the family members who are near you. Appreciate them and love on them.

Ukraine taught me to enjoy the moment and not to rush always. Ukraine taught me to appreciate my family. It taught me to be thankful for the life my parents gave me by moving to the US because life in Ukraine is tough. Ukraine taught me to eat better for my health and happiness. Ukraine taught me that the person I am today would not be who I am without the motherland’s beautiful influence. And it taught me so much more that I will keep engraved in my heart forever. I can’t wait to take my kids to Ukraine one day too.

I miss you Ukraine.

Love,

Angie

Advertisements

The Goal is Connection, Not Distance

“The goal is connection, not distance” Well doesn’t that sound nice…oh wait.

I’m going to be talking about relationships and I don’t even know why.

Two days ago, my professor Dr. Bourdeaux was finishing up her lecture on the Jesus way of talking in our love and relationships communication class. She ended the lecture by having us all stand in a circle, holding hands, and read off a list of statements about love together in a prayer.

I’m thinking to myself like this is kind of a cute exercise. I’m holding one girls hand, the other girl prefers not to hold hands which is fine. I love praying so I don’t mind doing this somewhat cheesy exercise (it’s a class on love and relationships at a Christian University, you have to expect it to be a little bit gushy). So I’m reading off the list of statements with my classmates and one statement felt like a weight of bricks fell on top of me, the statement said:

“The goal is connection, not distance.”

Why is that such a big deal for me? Why have I not been able to stop thinking about it when I have forgotten all the other statements on the list. When I can’t stop thinking about something, I feel like that is my sign to write about it. I knew that God was perhaps challenging that statement to me because it is something I struggle with. That is, focusing on the connection with people, rather than creating distance.

At work and at school we always talk about how community and relationships are so important and sometimes I truthfully find it annoying. Hearing statements like “we are meant to be relational beings, we aren’t meant to do life alone, we are supposed to share our burdens together, yadda yadda…” initially it sounds great! Like yes! I want to have a ton of friends and talk about our deepest struggles and laugh together in joy and be involved with other people all the time. But then the other part of me goes, well it’s actually scary sharing your life with someone else because at any moment they can betray your trust, and does anyone really stay in your life forever anyway?

This is not to say I am anti social. I’m not. In fact, I love hanging out with people and meeting new people. The problem is not that I don’t like people or making friends. Because I really truly do. The problem is maintaining that connection when things get tough, rather than creating that distance. I distance myself for different reasons. Sometimes I get scared that this relationship is becoming too close and the feeling of being vulnerable scares me sometimes. Sometimes its because of the hurt I’m feeling that I just don’t want to face. Sometimes its for other reasons that are hard to explain. But as we talked about in class, the goal is not distance! It’s connection. Being connected with another human being is so valuable, precious, and is worth more than any silver or gold. We ARE meant to be relational beings. Sometimes it is hard because we are human and none of us are perfect. We hurt those we love, we make mistakes, we have bad days and seasons, we can be selfish, and we go through a lot of emotions. All of these things can sometimes cause harm in our relationships. But when things get tough, you shouldn’t distance yourself. Now, some distance is necessary in certain situations, don’t get me wrong. But distancing yourself away from healthy loving relationships when you need them the most is not healthy. You need to fight for that connection and work to make it stronger. It takes work but it is worth it. That I am learning.

Now I have to share another important lesson I learned about relationships. I met this wonderful man at Starbucks named Vincent a few weeks ago. I have secretly adopted him as my new grandpa.

I was working on hw at starbucks before church, and Vincent and I were sharing a table. He is a professional chess instructor and he was waiting for his student to come in. We somehow got to talking and he was asking me about my work. I told him that I was writing for a church and he asked me, “Oh, you are a Christian?” And I said, “yes sir!”

He too was a Christian and we started talking about faith. Another girl sat at our table and joined in the conversation. She too was a believer. It was a really cool experience to talk about my faith with two people I just met at a coffee shop. Vincent then gave us a specific talk about romantic relationships. I whipped out my phone and began taking notes.

Some things Vincent touched on:

-You girls are worth more than rubies, you are beautiful because you were made in the image of God.

-Some guys go to church to find a Christian girl because she can be easy to manipulate. She wants to serve her husband, they know that, and they can take advantage. Beware of wolves.

-Not all men who go to church are worth your time.

-Watch out for wandering eyes.

-Pray for the man you will want to marry.

-Women have a special intuition. If you feel something isn’t right, pray to God to reveal what is wrong.

Now when I see Vincent, he always reminds me to be careful about what men I am hanging around. He truly is like the grandpa I never had. Everything Vincent told me is what I already know. But the difference is, that it is easy to forget it in the moment. But it really is important to value yourself and know your worth. Don’t let anyone take advantage of you or make you feel less than. And please, stay away from wandering eyes. We all know what that’s like and its not going to change because you get into a relationship.

Remember that you can’t change anyone else but you can pray for them and work on yourself so that you grow stronger in character, wisdom, and love. So don’t focus on trying to change everyone around you, start with yourself!

So this is me talking about relationships, but only because I have gained so much knowledge this semester from my classes, and the people God has put in my life. If I were to give you relationship advice on my own experience, well I might have some what not to do’s and very limited experience to share which is not very helpful. But these people that have shared with me their experience, expertise, and knowledge have helped me learn so much and have shaped the way that I think. I love sharing with other people what I learn.

Only one week left of classes this semester, then a week of finals, and then SUMMER BREAK! It’s crazy. I have enjoyed going to college so much and I can’t believe I’m a senior with only one semester left. The two years are flying bye. I can’t wait to see what’s next in this season of life. It’s bittersweet. But I know that when I graduate, I won’t stop learning ever. My goal when I finish college is to learn piano, finally.

Never stop learning folks! And build those connections!

Love,

Angie

Rainy Days But That’s Okay

Rain rain go away! Come back another day.

Hello beautiful people!

Last night I woke up in the middle of the night from a really terrifying dream. 😦 It was hard to fall back asleep so this morning I woke up feeling like I woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

But hey! I had a fun day ahead so there was no sleeping in. I went downstairs and was greeted by all my nephews here this morning. I gave them all a hug and kiss and we ate breakfast together at the table. Lucky for us, my sister made waffles! I had been craving some waffles or pancakes all week. I teased my nephew X about wanting to put ketchup on his waffles instead of syrup. He didn’t find my joke funny.

I then ventured off to school. On Fridays I start the school day with chapel at 10:00 am. Today we had a women speak about relationships and forgiveness. I always get excited when women are speaking at chapel. I like when guys speak too, don’t get me wrong but I grew up not seeing women preaching and was often told it was not alright for a women to preach. So it always inspires me when a women is up on the pulpit speaking. I loved her message and it really made me realize some things. I took detailed notes. She reminded us that holding onto unforgiveness is damaging. She offered to pray for anyone that needed it when her message was done so I went over to her and she prayed over me. I wish I hadn’t forgotten her name, one of my worst qualities is remembering names ugh. But that’s okay, I’ll find out.

Then I had some time to study for my midterm in forty minutes. I sat with some classmates to study but then a puppy came through the door! A  little pug with a flower on her collar. So we played with that little ball of sweetness. Then I  took the exam it was actually so easy1

I had three more classes after that. Then I went to my work to do some admin stuff.

Then I met with my good friend for a little exploration of a local city, photo session, and some thai food. I loved spending time with her and catching up.

Now I’m at home and about to read more of my book. I’m reading Judah Smith’s How’s Your Soul. It is a great book! Highly recommend. I also need to read my Bible. Then I’m going to eat some waffles for dessert, make some tea, and watch the real housewives.

I’m not sure why I decided to write about my day today. Today was just a good day Although some things didn’t go as planned. The rain was pouring which it has been for weeks now, but all is okay. I am writing this to remind myself to appreciate the small things in life that are worth being thankful for.

I have some exciting plans, projects, meetings, and changes in store! I can’t wait to share them with you all. This is an exciting time in my life and I must remind myself to enjoy every season that I’m in.

Also, I am excited to be a leader of one of the worship groups at church again after taking a break for a while. I realized the importance of building those strong connections and relationships with people. Understanding who they are at their core. I will never let miscommunication or lack of communication go on for so long. When something is important and of value its worth talking about now. No problem is worth more than a loss of relationship, passion, or dream. Do everything you can to make it work.

I encourage you to pursue your passions in life and always make the most of everything even when its raining. Soon the sun will come out.

God bless.

Love,

Angie

 

The Season of Grieving

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die,..” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Currently in the state of grieving and learning how to deal with everything. You know its funny because in life you try to prepare for anything coming your way. But you don’t always get to prepare for death. Sometimes you know that death is coming over soon and you try to prepare yourself for it’s cold visit into your home. Other times it comes unexpectedly and there is no time to prepare. But whether or not you know it’s coming, doesn’t make it any easier when the time finally comes. It’s a new reality. One day they are here and the next day they are not. They have descended to a different place but you are still here going through life. Death doesn’t wait for the most convenient time, when work is less busy, when you’re financially stable, or “old enough” to handle it. It comes at it’s own time, a time predestined at the very beginning. When it’s God’s will, it’s God’s will. Though I am fortunate to know where my loved ones have gone, I am still a human incapable of fully understanding eternity and how to not take this in a hurtful way. But we live and we go through the good and the bad and we get through it by the help of God, for those who are blessed to know Him.

As my mom kept saying in disbelief during that crazy week in mid January, “This is just unheard of for two grandmothers to pass away within a day of each other!”, it really was unexpected. I knew that both my grandmothers were getting sick but I didn’t know when the time was coming for them to leave us, and I sure as heck didn’t think they would pass away within one day of each other.

I don’t want to get too into detail since I am writing an article about this for my school newspaper and don’t want to copy content, but this is the season I am in right now. Grieving. You know it happens so fast and you’re preparing for the funeral, spending time with family, and going through the motions but you don’t really truly process it until the initial shock and busyness of the funeral wears off. The first week you have a lot of people stopping by to comfort you. But then the weeks pass and it’s time to go back into the real world. Back to work and school and your other responsibilities. Then suddenly the loneliness hits you like an unexpected train. Suddenly the house is empty because the two beautiful souls who prayed for you and always blessed you goodbye as you walked out the door each morning are gone.

Grieving isn’t always death. You can grieve the loss of your dreams, you can grieve from a divorce or a breakup, a lost friendship, a lost opportunity. But as Ecclesiastes writes, there is a time and season for everything under the sun. This is the season I’m in but this too shall pass. I know that good days will be coming my way. That is how life works. You go through the ugly and that can sometimes help you appreciate the sunshine when it finally comes.

It feels like I’m grieving a few different things. Grieving the loss of my worship team, some goals and aspirations I had, and some lost friendships. But I have hope that something brighter will come around soon. You have to be patient and trust in God.

I’m thankful for everyone who has been praying for my family. Thankful for my parent’s friends who brought us food when my mom was too weak to cook and I was too busy with school and work to always have a meal prepared for all the unexpected and expected guests we had coming over each day. I’m thankful for my professors who allowed me to take some time off from classes and give me make up assignments so that I wouldn’t fall behind but also prayed for my family. I’m thankful for the people who reached out to me to wish me well. I’m thankful for music that has kept my mind busy. I’m thankful for people who have attempted to make me laugh or smile. Most importantly I’m thankful for God who continues to comfort me even though it’s hard for me to pick up a Bible or even pray.

If you’re reading this, may you have a blessed day that is full of laughter.

Blessings,

Angie

 

 

 

 

Rough Start

Hasn’t been even a full two weeks into the new year and I have already deleted or blocked 4 people on social media, jeez.

Hello beautiful people!

Happy new year! I am so late in writing this article. I had hoped to write this at the true beginning of the year but getting readjusted to school and work has been tough and overwhelming. I write myself a bunch of to-do lists but I still manage to forget to do two things a day and only remember when I’m finally laying in bed. I write notes on my phone and in my school journals but I definitely need to get more organized.I have also had this ongoing headache which I do not know why so I’m trying to drink more water. Jeez, could I complain anymore? I apologize. I hope your new year is going well!

Obviously, we know that just because its a new year doesn’t mean that all of a sudden you need to completely change as a person or whatever. You can start making positive changes whenever! But there is still something great about a fresh new year where you can reflect on the past year and then analyze what you want to work on and set some goals!

You might be wondering why I had to delete people from social media and you may think its petty. But why have someone there looking at your life and what you’re doing if they don’t support you? You should have people that support your life and your work. Social media is an extension of you as a person whether you want it to be or not. If someone is disrespectful to you in real life and cannot be trusted then you don’t need that negativity in “real life” or online. Also, I don’t need to see posts of people that will bring me down. Why would I keep them on my feed. I don’t care what they are up to. I wish them the best in whatever they do in their life because we’re all trying to get through the madness. But simply put I do not need extra negativity in my life. Sometimes you just have to cut people off. It’s not my preference because I’d love to think that I can be friends with everyone and just because they have done something to hurt me in the past doesn’t mean they will do it again. But after a few downfalls, you realize the best thing to do is just LET IT GO (excuse me as I braid my hair so I can look like Elsa). Sometimes what you post is subconsciously to make certain people jealous or get a certain reaction or be in competition. Don’t do that. I’m going to focus on the things that I like and want to share with the world and I want to feel inspired by what other people share and be open to constructive criticism when it is needed. At the end of the day social media is a creative platform and it is not as important as we make it out to be. If it starts bringing you down or you spend too much time on it, take a break and chillll because it is really not a big deal or at least it shouldn’t be.

So in some ways its been a rough start to the new year. I have been almost in constant teary eyes and deep thought. I have had to say good bye to some things that I really did not want to. But you need to let go of the past, sometimes the good and the bad. For me, I wanted to hang on so badly but it wasn’t the wise thing to do. Thankful for the people who have reached out to me, encouraged me, listened to me, sent me Bible verses, and even cried with me. Still trying to figure out this season of my life and the encouragement has been much needed. But I don’t want a rough start to mean the rest of the year will be rough!

Sorry for all the sadness! I realized I am much more inspired when I am sad, is that weird? I can almost write easier when I have been impacted by something negative. But there have been positives in the new year too! I have gone on a beautiful hike, hung out with some friends, eaten bomb food, and enjoyed a spontaneous detour stop to watch the sunset at the downtown waterfront by my school with a friend. I also love my classes at school and the work that I get to do! And I am happy to stay busy because it helps me grow and be productive.

Here are the things that I look forward to for the new year:

  • Getting back into photography and creative projects. I used to really love taking pictures. My friends and I would plan so many different photo shoots. I still like taking pictures but I really want to get back into it. I want to turn madness in my life into beautiful art. I’m hoping to combine my love for words and writing with pictures. I’m not a professional and never will be by any means. I just like how taking pictures allows you to be creative and share a story. I love being surrounded by creative motivated people that inspire me.
  • Focus on healthy relationships. I struggle with the fact that I love being alone but sometimes feel lonely. Although I want to believe that I don’t need anyone else, I know that community is important. We weren’t meant to go through life alone. Hoping to stay away from destructive people but rather pursue healthy encouraging relationships. I’m also taking a communication class and love and relationships so I hope I’ll learn very useful things from that!
  • Travel! I’m planning a trip to different countries in Europe this summer and I am so hopeful that all will go well. My soul longs to travel. I’m hoping to go on a few more different local trips as well. I need to save that money though lol.
  • Be less sarcastic and more affectionate. Yeah I can braid my hair and look like Elsa but I really don’t need to have a cold heart.
  • Pursue God above all else. Above all else, I am happiest when I am walking with God and pursuing Him.
  • Be healthier. Yeah…I need to respect my own body and health and take better care of it because I love myself and you should love yourself too.
  • Don’t be a push over. I have been one in the past so now there is nothing else to do but be honest and stand up for injustice!

I can’t wait to look back in a year and see where my mind is and see how things change. Glad I started writing this blog honestly.

Thank you to everyone who has supported my writing. You don’t know how much it means to me! When people tell me they read my blog, it always surprises me! I can’t believe anyone would actually read it to be honest. I really enjoy writing and updating on my life and the lessons I have been learning. Each encouraging word pushes me to keep going. You don’t know how much anxiety rushes through me every time I’m about to post an article. I don’t know if I shared too much or was too vague or if it was written badly. I have 20 drafts of work I have never released so I am careful and indecisive sometimes. But when people connect with what I write, it fills my heart with happiness. So thank you if you are reading this.

When it comes down to it, this is what I want 2017 to be like: “No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” Philippians 3:14. I read this on my Bible app because I suddenly got a random craving to read the Bible as I was waiting in the car (and lets be honest, how often do cravings to read the Bible happen, for me not often and I have to be intentional in reading). When I read it, I knew it was God providing me to some comfort and direction.

Blessings,

Angie

So This is 20?

So this is what it means to grow up I guess.

Currently it is hell week and I’m trying to study for my finals and get all my assignments done so that I can finally enjoy my birthday and the Christmas season to it’s full potential. I am sitting here in disbelief. How did I get to be 20 years of age?! It feels like just yesterday I was 16 years old and feeling “so grown up” but now I have really grown up. I’m not even a teen. Wow wow wow. I have changed so much through the years (obviously) because growing up means not only going through puberty and hoping you get hotter. But it means your personality is shaped and your character. Hopefully all the negative and positive experiences, hurts, joys, uncomfortable situations, and decisions mold you into the adult you are supposed to be today. I’ve been trying to reflect on all the important moments that I have gone through as a child and teenager and what has impacted me the most.

If you’d like, lets go through just some of the most impactful moments together.

Shy and Quiet

Growing up, I was extremely shy and quiet. I was known for being shy and quiet which sucked. I would stick to a few friends that allowed me to come out of my shell. But in school, I was painfully shy. I remember going to youth services when I was probably around 12 years old. I loved going to these youth services, but it was TORTURE after. I had such bad social anxiety. What was I supposed to do when service was over? Everyone is going around saying hi and just the thought makes me so nervous. How do I muster up the courage to speak up when we gather in a service? In my school year books, people would often write something like, “Ur nice and kewl but quiet lol. HAGS!”. When someone would ask me why I’m so shy and quiet, I would shut down even more. That question felt like someone was stabbing me in the stomach with a knife. It hurt to be asked for some reason even though I was fully aware how shy I was. Well luckily things have gotten better. Sophomore year of High School, not ONE person wrote that I was shy or quiet. That was the last year of High School before I went to do college at running start. I don’t have abnormal social anxiety anymore. I love talking to people and being social. I’m studying communication in college. I think going through the struggle of being so shy and quiet helped me gain some valuable skills such as being a good listener. Now I have a voice and I’m definitely not afraid to use it.

Friendships

“Bad company corrupts good character.” How freaking true. I had to learn the hard way that not everyone has your back or the best intentions for you. You can’t place trust in people so easily because people will always unfortunately fail you at some point. You have to except that but also not let it keep you from building wonderful friendships. Luckily, a lot of the close friends that I have today are the ones that I had as a young child and I think that is awesome because we have been able to grow up together. The friendship only gets better and stronger. I personally don’t really agree with the concept of one best friend. I’m sure some people have one best friend and that works for them. But I have a few different friends that I consider to be my best friends. I really wanted to take a picture with all of them at my 20th birthday party but unfortunately they weren’t all there at the same time. Sometimes you are really close to someone because you are going through similar life situations and you can connect easier. Sometimes you drift away from someone because you are not really going through the same things in life as them anymore. But sometimes you will reconnect. I feel like friendships sometimes go in waves and that’s alright with me. The love and friendship is still always there regardless of how close you are. I have learned that you do not need to be friends with everyone. Sometimes its not meant to be. That’s fine. I’ve learned that friendship break ups are extremely hurtful and hard. I’ve learned that I really like to be alone and sometimes that doesn’t work out when you hide yourself in your room but your friends want to hang out. I’ve also learned the importance of who you keep in your close circle. There will be friends who will tell you to take up self destructive behavior when you’re upset about something and other friends who will tell you to pick up a Bible and pray. Which one will you listen to?

Heartbreak

What is worse, breaking someone’s heart or having your own heart broken? I’m still deciding. When I open up the wound of past heartbreak, I try not to focus so much on the boys involved but rather the man who helped me get through it. I realized from analyzing these two situations is how great of a man and father I have. The first time he saved the day was when he talked the boy out of harming himself because he was in love with me but I wasn’t in love with him. I’m so happy he stepped in because that could have ended a lot worse. Or the time that I came home just absolutely torn up, not expecting to tell my father anything but mom warned him when I got off the phone with her what had happened. I’ll never forget the look on his face when I walked past the living room and he called my name and wrapped me in his arms. He told me that eventually it would be all be alright. I remember how devastated I felt that day, that kind of pain you can never forget.  I can’t recall this memory without tearing up every time, its overwhelming. I’m not one to cry easily. But remembering my dad with the love and hurt in his eyes tears me up. It doesn’t matter to me anymore that I didn’t get the validation from some silly boy that I so desperately wanted in that moment. What hurts the most is seeing how hurt my father was because his daughter was no longer as happy as she was before. When you’re in pain, it doesn’t just effect you but it effects the people around you that actually genuinely love and care for you every time that you’re hurting. It effected my grandma when she noticed that her giggly and smiley Angie had no longer been smiling or giggling for a while. It effected my friends who were sick and tired of me moping around instead of enjoying the moment. But how can you enjoy the moment when you’re living on the memories of the past that will no longer be there. You feel like you will never be as happy again although deep down you know it’s really not a big deal and the sun will come out soon. I never wanted to feel this way again. Not so much so because I couldn’t handle the pain. Sure, pain creeps up like a thief and slowly steals the joy and happiness of every day life. But I was still living, waking up, going to school, and work (and still am). But oddly enough I feel like if I get heartbroken again it will hurt my family and friends more than me. So now I have to proceed with caution. My father models the love that Jesus Christ has for all his children which is one that is joyful with you in times of happiness and one that mourns with you in time of pain. I’m so glad that at 20 years of age the greatest lesson I could take from the heartbreak I have experienced is not that all boys are stupid and evil. Because I too have hurt people and caused pain for them. We make mistakes and we sometimes hurt but we grow stronger from that in time and learn to not do that again. Never lose faith in relationships because there are people who will love you and treat you in the way that you should be unconditionally, just like my father cares for me (both heavenly and earthly).

Faith

My faith has been challenged a lot as of recently. I grew up in a Christian family as a preacher’s kid so I was always the goody two shoes by default. But when I turned 18, that was when I had to decide on my own whether I truly believed in God and wanted to commit my life to Him by undergoing baptism. I never gave up on my faith but it was when I questioned it the most. I decided that I need to figure out on my own what I believe is right and wrong. I don’t want to believe something because I grew up believing it. I have to know truly in my heart. A lot of hard lessons came from this mindset. But I have always been the kind of person who learns by doing rather than just listening to someone else’s opinion. Through the hard trials, luckily my faith has grown so much. I know that I can’t do anything without God. My talents, my creativity, my thoughts, the love that I have inside is all from Him. It boggles my mind when I think of people who have absolutely no faith in God. Where does your hope and your trust come from? Because I have put my hope in people before and they stabbed me in the back. I’ve put hope into myself only to be the one who disappointed myself the most out of anyone else I have disappointed. I am learning to be more open with my faith in God. Not to “shove it down” people’s throats but I truly do want everyone to experience the hope that I have. Because even I had a time where I had no hope. My faith is not just a part of me but it transcends through everything I do and who I am as a person. I can have those conversations openly with God when I’m driving in the car alone. I can feel His presence. He is so good at answering my prayers. Prayer is so so so important to me and I encourage everyone to always pray and ask people to pray for you because it is the most powerful thing you can do. Do I still make mistakes and sin? Yes. Do I still have a lot of growing to do and changing? Yes. As my relationship with Christ grows stronger, so will I change as a person. I’m so blessed to serve in youth ministry as a leader, to sing in worship, work for not one but TWO Christian organizations now, and attend a Christian University. I’m spoiled. People say that Christians are messed up people. We are! ha. But also it is a joy to spend time with like-minded people because there is no one I’d rather be around than someone who GENUINELY has Jesus living inside of them.

Music

My parents made me start singing on stage at church when I was probably about 4 or 5 years old. My grandma would always teach me songs as a child and encourage me to sing. She was the only one besides me in the family that really cared for music. Music has been a life long passion of mine. I grew up in so many different choirs, worship groups, and singing ensembles. I would sing at almost every holiday church service and get the solos at school recitals. It really helped me get out of my shell as I got more comfortable with being on stage. I joined band in middle school and played the clarinet and alto saxophone. Music truly does fill the sentences of where you have no words to speak. It feels euphoric when I harmonize perfectly with someone else. I’m so thankful for music and that I can continue with my passion for music by leading worship at church. I also work for a radio station now doing promotions and it’s awesome getting to know behind the scenes of the music industry a little bit. I will always be involved with music in some way because I don’t think I would be able to breathe without it.

Family

I love my family so much. I have four older siblings (and two are married) who have always acted as extra sets of parents in my life. They have helped me in making major life decisions and they sometimes give good advice. Sometimes they make fun of me or annoy me but I still love them. My sister encouraged me to start this blog and I’m so thankful because its teaching me to open up and be real with how I feel. I love my four nephews that are all currently under five and give the best hugs and kisses and make my heart soar with love and joy when they are around with their antics. I have so much respect for my parents. Honestly, they are pretty much right about everything. They will analyze a social situation and they can tell me which friends are not genuine, which guys are into me, and so on. I used to not believe them but so far they have always been right! How is that possible. They pray for me and tell me I’m beautiful and uplift me constantly. My two grandma’s have also had a huge role in raising me. I’m so thankful for my family even though I have been an annoying teen who didn’t put a lot of time to spend with them and am never home. I’m glad they still are there for me. They push me a lot. But because they have encouraged me to be the best possible version of myself and work hard, I am grateful. They never held me down for being young or being a woman. I’m a pretty independent person because of them and I like it.

Culture

My parents are immigrants from Ukraine. Because of that, I feel like I grew up with a different perspective on life than some of my classmates whose parents grew up in the US.  I remember having to help my parents with their English and trying to help them understand some of the American culture. My world was a lot different than theirs growing up. Our Ukrainian traditional values were a lot different than the American culture and values. It’s always been interesting to try to mix the two together. But I’m really happy that I could build friendships in the Ukrainian community and also build friendships with people with different cultural backgrounds at school. I noticed that it’s sometimes easier to connect with someone who is a first generation child, regardless of their cultural/ethnic background. We understand some of the struggles and values that are similar. There is just something different in the way that we grew up and somehow we can understand one another. One big difference was that I was never allowed to celebrate Halloween growing up and in church we would have to wear head coverings. In Ukraine, being a Christian was harder and stricter because they faced religious persecution and you really had to stick to your beliefs and be separated from the world. I didn’t grow up believing in Santa Claus or the tooth fairy but my nephews will. In my culture, getting married young is very common and encouraged. Whereas in America it’s encouraged to finish school and focus on getting a career before pursuing marriage. I didn’t get allowance for doing my chores as a child, it was expected to clean and respect the home I live in without getting any money for it.  It’s really just a difference in perspective and what each culture values. Hopefully this summer I will be able to finally visit Ukraine and have a better perspective of the country and it’s values that shaped my childhood and who I am as a person. I love America and I love Ukraine. I love that I get to meet so many different people and all the different cultures that I get to experience here in America!

Changing

I have been working on myself to be better. Trying to forgive not only others but myself for the mistakes I made. I remember sitting in a tea bar with my friends over the summer, opening up about my feelings. And they pointed out that although I forgave everyone, I was still unable to forgive myself. God gives us grace and we need to give ourselves grace as well.  Be happy with what life gives and to be patient in waiting for the things that I want. I’m becoming more strong and confident in myself so that when conflict arises, I can face it and not run away. There is so much life to live and so much more lessons to learn. Being twenty does feel different because I’m not a teenager anymore. But at the same time I am still young. I have some mistakes, trials, highlights, and adventures to come my way. I’m trying to figure out how much is oversharing and how much I need to share to help other people. I look forward to the new year.

So who is Angela today? A girl who loves to laugh and spend time with people and really get to know them on a personal level. Someone who is obsessed with cats and coffee. A huge fan of poetry and taking aesthetically appealing photos. Someone who needs naps during the day to survive and who likes to spend time alone a lot more than going out sometimes. Someone who is working on being less sarcastic because it often comes off rude, trying to be more affectionate, and to be honest with how I’m feeling in the moment. A girl who loves to go hiking and go on walks out in nature. A girl who will harmonize to every song that plays in the car. Someone who is always full of ideas and trying to do a million things at once. Someone that is a lot different than the girl she used to be.

One of my friends, Anna, wrote in my card that she believes twenty will be a big year for me. I hope so.

Blessings,

Angie ❤

If you read to the end I’m proud! haha.

 

 

Answers In the Woods

There is something phenomenal about youth camp with the fact that it leaves you feeling refreshed and on fire for God, like gaining answers in the woods.

Youth camp this Summer was the last thing I would do before going back to school for Fall semester. We arrived for check in on Thursday night and left Sunday afternoon. Monday after, I would start school. I had a desire for camp to not only be fun but to really help us draw closer to God. I really wanted there to be good worship and prayer more than anything else.

The drive to youth camp was about two hours and I had the responsibility of bringing dinner and snacks for that night. I ended up driving alone because my other carpool rides didn’t work out. But I like to think of myself as an independent person so I was like eh, its fine. I’ll drive alone and have some time to reflect on life by myself. Well, I ended up losing service and getting lost when I arrived on the camp site. I had to leave the campsite and drive off to find service until I eventually found some. And I got a hold of our youth leader who helped me get to camp safely. Almost cried and went back home. And that was the start of a very interesting youth camp. Luckily things got way better after that rocky start!

Camp was indeed very fun. The nightly highlights were going to the dock in the middle of the night and stargazing. Those deep talks though! We played volleyball for majority of the day and night (well not me as much because I suck), we went zip lining, canoeing and swimming, we played group games, had good talks, explored, and watched a movie. I personally did not have a bored moment.

But the most amazing part of camp was getting closer to new and old friends but also seeing how God worked in all of us. It was amazing being in God’s presence and looking out with tear stained eyes for a split moment to see everyone in awe of the Lord and worshipping at his feet together.

I really prayed for God to work in this camp. I felt we all could use a little extra prayer and Jesus to shake up our life a little bit. I’m so glad that God worked in us. The beginning of camp was great because everyone was getting along. But somewhere in the middle of camp problems arose amongst some of us. And I look back at that moment and it makes my stomach drop. Because in the end we didn’t even know why we were upset in the first place and the problems that happened were stupid and pointless. It was as if the devil came in and tried to shake things up and keep us from getting close to God.

But luckily we worked things out. In the end we all wanted God to touch this camp and for us to leave feeling refreshed and renewed. On Saturday night we had our last church service with our pastors. At this point we had all made up and talked things out but things may have been a little bit rocky still. With each song that our worship group sang, I began to forget about yesterday and it’s problems but focus on God in this very moment. We ended our worship list with “How He Loves” where Dima asked us to repeat the lines before ending in prayer. After this, the Holy Spirit really amplified in the room. I don’t think I was the only one who could feel His thick presence.

Our youth leader asked if anyone wanted to go to the front to receive the Holy Spirit or be prayed over. Everyone was praying but no one went up to the front. He asked again, but still no one went up. I felt a tugging on my heart to go to the front. But then immediately the negative thoughts came up that said, “After the way you were acting yesterday, you don’t deserve it. And you might be the only one going up.” So I stayed in my place up in the front with the worship team frozen in fear. But then I heard the Holy Spirit say to me, “Go to the front and the others will follow. It doesn’t matter what happened yesterday.” And I responded back with, “But what if I’m the only one who goes up” and God answered me with, “I wouldn’t call you to do something and leave you all alone to fight for yourself.” Well with that I went to the front on my knees and started weeping, overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit. Sure enough, others followed and we were there on our knees praying together.

I have never wept so hard in my life or prayed so hard since probably the day I was first baptized with the Holy Spirit. And here I was at camp feeling ashamed and regretful for some of my actions and conflicts from the other day but God was still working on my heart and filling me with His Spirit. Our youth leader asked us to pray for one another and my best friend and I wrapped each other in one another’s arms and bawled together. At one point I was bawling so hard that I was actually choking for air. Truth is, I was so hungry for God.

Camp really was great and I’ll never forget that service. I know that you don’t need camp to have a close encounter with God. And you cant go into camp expecting that you’ll be a completely changed and renewed person after that. But camp does have some mysterious way of helping you get answers and draw closer to God while tucked away in the woods.

This verse Psalms 12:01 will always remind of camp which says “I took my troubles to the Lord; I cried out to Him and He answered my prayer.”

I think the fact that nothing over the top or really out of the ordinary happened at camp is good because it will help us stay focused on him and hunger for him as camp is over. The most important part of camp was the fact that we humbled ourselves before God and that the Holy Spirit touched us and left us with a stronger hunger for God.

At camp I learned that it doesn’t matter the mistakes I made the day before, because God can still work in me and use me for His glory. God can redeem any broken relationships and cleanse their broken hearts and hurt and restore them to be healed.

Camp was a success not because of the activities or because of radical revivals but because God was in our presence and we could encounter Him. I believe that we will not let this experience be a one time thing but that we will continue to pursue him after and have the desire to grow in our relationship with Him.

It’s funny how He can grow beautiful flowers out of the inner most darkest places of my heart as He showers me with His grace.

God restores all things, even in the midst of brokenness.

I found the answers I was seeking in the woods.

Blessings,

Angie