A Story from Ukraine That Got to This Teacher

As a teacher, one of the stories I heard at the Ukrainian Appreciation Dinner that really got to me was when Tania Synia shared about her work as a photographer and one encounter she had. Tania had a photography studio in Ukraine before the war. She focused on weddings, families etc. After Russia invaded, she stayed in Ukraine to photograph the effects of the war on people.

She came to one town to a school that had been destroyed. Two boys were getting into the school to look for books. They were excited to share with Tania that they found books they could study biology with. Most kids try to get out of studying, but being deprived of school due to the war gave the boys a desire to have their education continue. Tania has a website where she shares her photos. It is tetianasynia.com.

More stories to come. I am still on the mend. I do nebulizer treatments at home four times a day. That is a first for me.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Refugee Father Blessed by His Son

Last night I was blessed to be at the birthday party for my friend Alex from Ukraine. Amazing to think of how quickly we have become friends. We met five days after he came to my city as a refugee with his family on Labor Day this year. He has only been here for two months.

After we had dinner, there was a moment that caused everyone to tear up. His oldest son had been doing odd jobs for cash and saving his money to buy a cell phone, but he had a change of heart. He asked one of the men from the Ukrainian church, who has lived here many years, to help him go buy something for his dad. He decided to buy an Apple Watch for his dad instead of a cell phone for himself.

As the man who helped him to go to the store to buy it shared the story, it was a poignant moment. When Alex’s son gave him the gift, it was obvious how much he loves his dad. It was a moment that I will never forget.

When I think about what they have been through, it gives that moment even more meaning. They fled the war in Ukraine having left in March. They lost so much when they had to flee and their home in Ukraine is destroyed. They left not knowing where they would end up and how things would work out for them. My friend Alex loves his children very much, His children look up to him. They have stayed together through it all and kept their faith in Jesus.

It was out of love and that experience as a family that his son gave him the gift.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Coffee Shop Appointment-International Youth Day

This afternoon I met with the teen boy I shared about in Another God Appointment in the Coffee Shop. This afternoon I met with him and his grandmother who has custody of him. We talked about school starting next week and our plans for me to tutor him. It seems fitting that we met today which is International Youth Day.

Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com

International Youth Day is a day to raise awareness about issues troubling youth around the world. One issue that concerns me greatly is human trafficking/sex trafficking of youth. That is why I support I’ve Got A Name an organization that works against trafficking in my home state. It is also why I support Love Justice and organization that works against trafficking in various countries.

I am glad Jesus connected me with my young friend. Today I had him repeat with me, “I have hope” after showing him Jeremiah 29:11:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 

Millions of children and youth need hope in this world, the hope that Jesus gives.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Chess and Jesus

In the days of my summer break winding down, God has blessed me by bringing a fifteen year old boy into my life, He is the one I shared about in Another God Appointment at the Coffee Shop. I saw him again yesterday,

We played chess with him using some of his Marvel figurines as pawns again. He comes from a background with a lot of brokenness. Both of his parents died by the time he was in Kindergarten, so his grandmother took him in. While we were playing chess, we talked about Jesus too.

We talked about Romans 8:28:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

I shared with him that God can take all of the things we experience in this life and work it for our good including the sad times, the bad things, our mistakes, and work them for our good. Then I gave him a homework assignment. His homework was to pray to Jesus and ask Jesus to show him Jesus is for real.

I spoke with his grandmother on the phone last night and set up a time to meet with her and my young friend Friday afternoon. My thought is to meet with him once or twice a week during the school year.

God is always at work even during a teacher’s summer break. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Sunday Smiles

Sunday is here and I am looking forward to my group this morning. We have two birthdays to celebrate, one for a woman from Venezuela and one for the now 79 year old American woman who likes to join us. Our Hispanic friends call her abuela americana-American grandmother.

I saw my young friend at the coffee shop again yesterday. I wrote about meeting him in my post Another God Appointment at the Coffee Shop. We played a few card games. On Friday when I told him that I am a teacher, he said in reference to the coffee shop, “this place is infested with teachers.” It is true that my favorite coffee shop is popular with teachers especially in the summer. I shared about that in Teachers In The Coffee Shop

Speaking of coffee, I saw this sticker and thought I need that. Adulting can be difficult but Jesus is with us each step of the way. 🙂

On Friday the my doctor gave me the results of my blood test. I passed even though I did not study for it. He printed it out for me. That is kind of like being given a report card to take home, but fortunately for me, there is no one I have to show it too, so I won’t get in trouble.

Off to church and our birthday celebrations. What are you doing today?

Thank you for reading. God Bless..

Another God Appointment at the Coffee Shop

Yesterday I spent some time at the coffee shop. In the morning, I had prayed to be able to have a God Appointment. God came through in a marvelous way.

A 14 year boy has been hanging out a lot at the coffee shop this summer. I have talked with him a little bit. When I saw him Thursday, I told I would play chess with him the next time he sees me in the coffee shop. Yesterday he came in and the first thing he did was get the chess set. He replaced the pawns for his pieces with little Marvel action figures.

While we were playing, I had a chance to get to know him a little,. He lives with his grandmother because both his parents are dead. He mom had a seizure and hit her head. His dad died of an overdose. While we were playing, I had a chance to share with him that Jesus loves him and wants a relationship with him. He told me that he and his grandmother are looking for a church. I shared with him about mine and the YouTube channel for our worship services.

I was especially grateful for the opportunity to share with him. At times, I wish someone had taken time to share with me when I was a 14 year old boy and confused about life.

Please pray for him. Jesus knows his name.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Am I Pro-Birth or Pro-Life?

Sunday afternoon I had a good conversation with a young woman about many things in the coffee shop. She is not a Christian, however, she is working on her Master’s in Social Work, so we have some common interests. One of the things we talked about is the political climate in the USA which included the recent Supreme Court decision regarding Roe V Wade.

Photo by Vanessa Garcia on Pexels.com

A week ago, I shared a post What If The Church Stepped Up? In that post I stated my intent is not to debate and the same is true of this post. In that post I mentioned a few things, providing childcare centers, adoption, and foster care that if the church as a whole had been doing all along, a much better job, perhaps the 65 millions abortions since 1972 would have been a smaller number.

On to my question. Am I Pro Birth or Pro Life? By Pro Birth I mean we protest, work against, etc abortion with no follow through in the years to help the mother. By Pro Life I mean that we step up and provide child care in low income areas for single moms or low income moms and other efforts to support disadvantaged women.

I read about a case of a woman who was raped but chose to keep the baby. Her rapist sued for custody and child support. How is that conducive to being Pro Life? How in the world does a rapist be given custody and the woman who was a victim forced to pay child support? The judge reversed his ruling, but still it should not have happened in the first place. A link- Article.

Laws need to be in place to protect women in such cases and we who claim to be Pro Life should be the loudest voices for such.

A blogger I know, Vanessa of braveblessedandbeautiful.com is a shining example to me of what Christians could have been doing all along. After having two of her own children, she opened her heart and home to adopt three children. She even has an arrangement for one of the birth moms to be involved in the child’s life.

A family at my church provided foster care the baby of a single mom who was put in jail for a short sentence. The family loves the baby and husband and wife were the first parents the baby knew. But they maintained friendship with the birth mother and the birth mother became a Christian. The birth mother was reunited with her baby after she was released, but it was emotional for the family who took the baby in. Now the single mom and her baby are part of the family and join for things like Christmas celebrations.

So what I am proposing is that we as Christians step up in a variety of ways that are Pro Life not merely Pro Birth with things like working for compassionate laws for women who are rape and incest victims, using money to fund child care centers not multimillion dollar buildings for church buildings with all the fancy things, work for better adoption laws, and much more.

One other issue is what about women who have an ectopic pregnancy, or the baby is not viable in the womb, or the mother’s sorely needs life saving medical treatment that could put the baby in danger. We should be advocating for women and laws to protect them in such cases.

These are the types of issues that cause me to carefully consider am I Pro Life or only Pro Birth?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

What If The Church Stepped Up?

With the recent Supreme Court decision and possible ramifications of it, my post is not about the decision itself or debating it. My post is about things the church could have been doing all along that will be sorely needed now. When I say church, I mean it in the overall nationwide sense not regarding any specific individual church. I also mean the members of the church as in Christians.

I have worked in Title I schools for thirteen years. Though my work is specifically with refugees/immigrants, my work has made me very aware of the plight of those living in low income neighborhoods. I have often wondered why Pro Life has not included adding being the hands of Jesus for people struggling in life.

Photo by lilartsy on Pexels.com

Foster care is a huge problem. There are far too many children living in foster care. I will never forget a little boy in Kindergarten Jump Start, which is one week for the little ones to experience school before all the kids start. The first morning he told me he was nervous. As I listened, he told me he does not live with his mom or dad. His expressions and body language showed me he felt shame. What could happen if more Christians stepped up as foster parents?

A huge need for single moms and moms with partners in low income areas is childcare for infants, toddlers and preschoolers. What could happen if churches put more emphasis on something like supporting both financially and with staff free childcare centers in low income areas?

Adoption is perhaps going to be needed now more than ever. What could happen if more Christians stepped up to adopt babies who for whatever reason the birth mother cannot or in some cases it would be harmful for her to keep the baby? The video I am sharing is a powerful message about what can happen when a loving family adopts a baby.

These are just a few thoughts/questions that come to mind as I think about not only what could happen if the church steps up in such ways, but also what could have happened all along. If the church had been doing such things all along, how many of the 65 million babies aborted over the past 70 years could have been born?

Thank you for reading. God Bless,