Happy New Year! Yeah, I know I’m late to the New Years party, but time to write is scarce these days. Better late than never, am I right?
2016 was a DOOZY. Surgeries and goodbyes and re-immigration and last-minute-border-runs and house buying and destroying and rebuilding and a new school and new friends and new boys and wow. Good job, 2016, you definitely gave us a run for our money.
Upward and onward! Welcome, 2017!
I’m one of those people who loves the fresh start of a new year. I’m not super disciplined. I’m not terribly organized. BUT, I love the chance to start again. I like making New Years Resolutions. I know that I’ll fail at some (or most) of them, but why not give them a go? At least I’ll do well for part of the year…and that’s better than not doing well at all…right? And sometimes the resolutions stick, and then our whole family is better for it.
For me it’s not so much about making a set list of resolutions, as much as it is reprioritizing and rebalancing the craziness that is our overseas life. It feels like there is so much of our lives that is out of our control in every way: residency documents, government officials, new laws, cultural differences, blah blah blah. I think it’s good to find a balance and try to do better with the things in our life that we DO have control over: how we spend our time, how we spend our money, how we raise our children….and on and on. I love the new year for a fresh look at those things.
This year I have two personal goals that I really want to focus on: Improving my Ukrainian language (spoken and written) and faithfully spending time in God’s Word.
I have other goals involving mothering and being a wife, but I won’t go into those at the moment.
Oh Ukrainian language, why do you haunt me so? Why you gotta be so dang hard? Why you gotta have so many endings and conjugations? Oh Zhytomyr, why you gotta be so linguistically confused? Why can’t everyone in this city speak the same language? WHY????
Those are the questions I ask myself approximately 473 times per day. You have no idea how often I yell out in anger: “Why can’t we live in some place like France where all the people SPEAK FRENCH?????” Ha! This post makes me sound like I have anger issues…and when it comes to language learning, maybe I do. Don’t judge.
You see, we live in a region of the country that is linguistically “in-between”. You can travel to Eastern Ukraine or Southern Ukraine and find many people speaking Russian. You can travel to Western Ukraine and find many people speaking Ukrainian. You travel to our region (the middle’ish’) and get a mix of it all (I can’t vouch for that website, I just linked to the map as a visual). Well, no matter where you go in Ukraine you will find a mix, honestly, it’s just not very cut and dry anywhere. On any given day I will hear conversations in full-on Russian, then full-on Ukrainian, then, most of the time, in full-on Surzhyk. Surzhyk is the name of the mix of Russian and Ukrainian together. It would be extremely rare to hear someone speaking clean Ukrainian in our city. Most people who speak Ukrainian around these parts actually speak a form of Surzhyk. So, in all actuality, we need to learn two languages, and then learn to mix them. Shoot me now.
We study Ukrainian instead of Russian because our kids go to school and school is taught in Ukrainian. Our team mostly all speak Russian to each other, so that stinks, but as a family we all have to be learning the same language. We just have to. After some hit and miss lessons over the past couple of years I have decided to really dig in to language studies with my whole self. I have found the most amazing teacher that I love love love. I love her as a person and as a teacher. She ‘gets’ me and my learning style. She thinks outside the box and really challenges me. I ADORE our lessons together. Thank you Jesus for the gift of my teacher! A good language teacher is the best thing ever. My language has exploded since we started our lessons and I’m just so happy. I go to lessons twice a week and then am committed to study for at least one hour 5 days per week. It should be more than that, but I also go to Romaniv and have five kids and we’re building a house and yeah, let’s not shoot too high. I so desperately want to be able to share my heart with people. I want to be known, and language hinders that so much. Language is everything and when you don’t have it…well your quality of life really suffers. Wish me luck!
Let’s be honest: I have always stunk at reading my Bible. I know the Bible. I know so much about it. I was raised in a Christian home and went to Christian school. I know all the stories, I know tons of verses, I know who wrote which book and all that jazz. I’m well versed in the Bible. (did you catch that one? hehe) BUT, as an adult I have never gone for more than a month or two at a time of faithfully reading my Bible. It has been hit and miss for years. I never know what to read. The Bible is so big! There are lots of boring parts and lots of parts that I’ve read lots of times so my eyes just kind of glaze over. I’m always unsure so I usually end up in James because I like him the best. He’s a straight shooter. 🙂
Enter, The Daily Audio Bible! Yeehaw!
I saw the Daily Audio Bible a couple years ago when searching for a Bible reading plan (’cause I never know what to read!), and I gave it a try. It was okay, but I thought the guy who read it was a bit cheesy, and I just never stuck to it. Surprise, surprise. But, this year I knew something HAD to change, so I decided to give it another try. I’m always listening to something as I wash the mountains of dishes that come with a family of 7 and no dishwasher, so why not let that something be the Bible?
I’m in love.
Okay, at first I was feeling again like the guy was cheesy, but I was determined to give him a fair shot. It only took about a week, and I grew to really like him! Brian is endearing and I really can tell that he loves God’s Word. He reads with feeling and I like that. When I’m listening I’m more prone to actually take in every word because I can’t just start skimming when things get boring. (guilty) I like that Brian introduces each book before he starts to read it, to give it a bit of context, and then at the end he does a little devotional. It’s great! They also have people call in at the end and pray and stuff, but honestly, I skip that part. 🙂
We started listening to the Old Testament portion in the morning during breakfast, and then we listen to the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs portions in the evening before we do our family read-aloud. It has been awesome! Our whole family is getting God’s Word every day and I am just so blessed by it. I usually listen to the whole reading another time during the day so I can hear the devotional as well. It’s really been beautiful for our family so far. Brian is our family friend now, even though he doesn’t know it- cheesiness and all. The kids will remind me “We haven’t listened to Brian today!” We’ll see if the enthusiasm continues when we get into some of the more intense books…but hopefully we’ll have our routine down by that point and we can just charge on through.
What about you? Do you like New Year Resolutions? Have you made any this year? Do tell!
The pics are of the kids’ school during the holidays. Sweet, right?