Saturday, February 28, 2015

5 Thing I Thought I Would Never Do

I was asked to write five interesting/unique facts about myself in a blog hop with other missionary wives. I thought a blog hop sounded fun so I joined in. So here are some facts about myself, 5 things I thought I would never do that have shaped who I am today.

Five Things I Thought I Would Never Do:

1) Be in full time ministry. 

  I never wanted to be in full time ministry because I thought it was tough work. I saw the heartache and trials many people in full time ministry went through. And simply, I didn't want that for my life. I wanted to have a secular career and be involved with the youth ministry and other ministries of the church---just not in full time ministry. I mean me a missionary's wife? Ha!  But then the Lord began working on my heart and I let go of my dreams and gave the Lord full control. And then shortly after, I met my husband. :) Hello handsome!

2) A long distance runner. 

  Or any runner for that matter. I started running consistently when I was expecting our son. I had tried running before and failed. I would start and then quit. The problem for me, I was doing too much to start and would give up because it was hard. When I was pregnant, I started off just running what I could then taking break, then running again. After a month or two I was almost running the entire mile! A huge accomplishment. Then after Jacob was born, I kept adding miles and did something crazy and signed up for my first marathon. And now I'm hooked! I love running long distance and pushing myself to levels. And now I use my running here in Russia to be a witness and invite others to church! Who knew God could use something I love as a tool to witness!

3) Live somewhere cold! 

As a former Floridian, sad to say "former"...give me a moment... Okay I'm better. 
As a former Floridian, I loathed cold weather. I never had to look at my weather app to get dressed. Sunny with a slight chance of rain - was about the sum of the weather year round. Cold for me was in the 50's! And then my mom made us put tennis shoes on and not flip flops to go outside.
I never knew what a "winter coat" was until I went to college.
"You've never seen snow?" they said.
"You've never been to the beach?!" I would reply.
But the Lord had other plans... And I truly couldn't be happier! There is no better place to be then in the center of God's will!

4)  Be used of the Lord.

For a season in my teen years, I had a very low self view of myself. I thought there was no way the Lord could use me. I'm worthless and have made too much of a mess of my life. I suffered with depression for a season and even struggled with bulimia. The Lord never gave up on me and neither did some strong prayer warriors. The Lord opened my eyes to my self pity party and I gave my heart and life back to the Lord. It's not enough to give the Lord your soul and not trust Him with your life. You then get stuck in a rut going nowhere which is where I was at. It took awhile, but slowly I allowed the Lord to chip away at my mess and He made something beautiful. To God be the glory!

5) Be a missionary in Siberia!

I never thought the Lord could use me as I just mentioned. Then to think of being in full time ministry, no way! I tried telling the Lord that someone else would be better to be used in Siberia. I reminded him that I don't sew, or play piano--but God reminded me all He needed was a willing vessel. So again, as a newlywed-new in the ministry youth pastors wife, I surrendered my will to the Lord. And the Lord has blessed in ways beyond my comprehension. God is so good!

So trust the Lord in all areas of your life! If you're like me, you'll have to be reminded of that from time to time and re-surrender your will to His. There is no greater life than that lived for the Lord! Hope you enjoyed learning 5 new things about me that maybe you didn't know!

And here is the link to another missionary in Australia who is sharing 5 things about her that you may not have known! Jen Bauer and her family have been serving in Australia since 2011, and although I have not met her personally she is a blessing to me and an encouragement! Keep up the great work you are doing for the Lord all around the globe, Jen!

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, 
saith the Lord.
 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8,9

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The End of the Road & A Second Chance

First run in Russia 2013! 
In Russia, there are over 70,000 people who are hit by a car each year. Every fourth one is fatal. These statistics are crazy to me. 70,000 people! Thankfully my odds of not dying were pretty good. And here I am to write about it!
**This is not a plug to promote playing in traffic. :) **

With that on my mind, I was writing a letter to a man who has cancer spread throughout his body and chances are he won't live long. I don't know this man personally, but thought I could be an encouragement and write him a letter. As I was writing, I kept praying the Lord would help me to say what He wanted to be said. The Lord laid on my heart to share about the car accident I was involved in.

As I was writing, I thought about how I could have died had I started running just a few seconds earlier. If the man would have hit me head on rather then me hitting the side of his car. So many intricate details played out that day, and had just a few things been different, the accident wouldn't have even happened. But in my heart, I truly believe the Lord had a purpose for it. Maybe it's to befriend Sergey (the man who hit me), to witness to him and show him the love of God. I don't know for sure, but if that is the only thing that happens- what an amazing thing. And it would be totally worth it.

I thought about the man I was writing to, and shared what peace I have in my heart about death. Joy just floods my heart when I think about dying and meeting my Savior. I thought about dancing on streets of gold or running -because Baptists don't dance :). When my faith shall be made sight- what an incredible thought! And although my heart hurts to think about leaving my family, I know God would be glorified through it. I know God would comfort them and take care of them even better then I could imagine. In heaven, no one is sad to be there, they are healed and made whole. And our amazing Heavenly Father promises that we (those who have placed their trust in Him) will all be together again.

But how amazing to fall before the Lord in humble admiration and worship at His feet. I mean this is why we are here on earth, this is our purpose. To bring God glory and to tell the world of His amazing love.

If you had one thing to say to someone who was dying, would you not share the greatest news of God's love with them? Then what are we waiting for? Let's not waste another selfish minute, but boldly proclaim the name of Christ in all that we say and do. We as children of God are called to go tell the world.  We never know when it will be the last time we will see a friend or loved one. Our life is but a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanisheth away (James 4:14). Let's go tell the world, before it's eternally too late.

 May it be an encouragement to you to either keep doing what you are for the Lord or to step it up just a little! We all can do a little more for the Lord, myself included! Isn't the Lord good? I'm so thankful for my salvation!

***I found out on Wednesday that the man I had written the letter to passed away. Praise the Lord he had accepted Christ as His Savior and is now healed and with our Lord and Savior! His faith is now sight. Can you imagine????!! I can only imagine....hmm sounds like a good song... :) To God be the glory! ***
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:8,9

 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
 John 3:16,17

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Recovering- An update on my accident & how the Lord is working!

It's crazy to think a week and a half ago, I was hit by a car. I'm amazed at God's goodness through it all and the bodies ability to heal itself.

Many have asked about my recovery, so I will give a quick update.

Monday, we went back to the ER to take another x-ray of my foot because the swelling hadn't gone down. It showed my fourth toe was broken, so they put on a soft cast on my foot for 11 days. (Soft cast- plaster mold on the bottom and gauze on top.) James took off the cast yesterday, and I've been able to take a few steps on it. I must admit it was pretty exciting to be able to walk without crutches! It was really sweet to have Jacob holding my hand and James holding the other. Jacob is teaching me to walk now! Other than my swollen leg/foot- everything else is healing well.

We were able to have Sergey over for dinner on Thursday night, the man who hit me with his car. It was such a humbling experience to be able to host him. He talked a mile a minute to James and even brought me flowers. He was truly sorry for the accident, and said he was open to church. We gave him the book "Done" by Carrie Schmidt, and he said he would read it. He was suppose to stop by today, but ironically he fell and broke his arm. Kinda crazy! But he said he doesn't want to lose contact with us and will try to stop in around lunch time Monday or Tuesday. We have been fervently praying that next time he comes over for tea, James will have a chance to talk about Christ with him. We would covet your prayers for the Holy Spirit to be working on his heart and give wisdom for James.

I was just telling James today, that I'm amazed at how my spirits haven't been down since the accident. It truly has been the Lord. I don't allow my mind to think of what could have happened or not running. I remind myself that as much as I love running, it's just running. I will recover and resume running in time and get down to that 9 minute mile for long distance! Although it kills me to not be out in the nice weather and not be able to run in the upcoming races, I know God has a purpose in it all.

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
 Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength: Isaiah 26:3,4

May I encourage those of you who are going through a difficult time or a season of change, to keep your eyes on the Lord. The Lord gives us seasons in life, and some seasons may not be the most enjoyable, but there's a purpose. To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: Ecclesiastes 3:1
And if the only purpose is to glorify God, then it's worth it. May we look for ways to glorify God in all that we say and do. A merry heart doth good like a medicine!

And if you can run in traffic and get hit by a car and witness to the guy, do it!

I think I just came up with our next youth activity!... just kidding. :)

Here are some of my favorite things people have said to me since the accident:

-texting my friend while sitting on the x-ray table right after the accident, I told her I was thankful to be alive and she said "Yes, gotta watch those cross-walks..." Thanks for that reminder! 

-showed that same friend a photo "Ewww....pretty! Your face will be black and blue for awhile!"
     this is when I stopped texting that friend haha 

-from my friend Carl 
"Awesome nose!" 
he was disappointed when it started to go back to normal size.

-In regards to being able to witness to the man who hit me, Bro. Gary W. said 
"Well Mrs. Amber, you've found your ministry! Get back out there and play in traffic some more! This was just a bump- just think what would happen with a bus!!!!"
thank you for that great idea!

-the few hours after I was hit and telling everyone about it, I heard everyone's broken bone story or any story they wanted to share...
"My cat was hit by a car too..." 
okay so no one told me that, but I'm trying to protect the innocent. 

-one of my favorites under my first post of the news from Bro. Bill K.
"There are easier ways to witness to people!!!!"

-from my awesome niece Gracie-
"Why wasn't that guy watching out for her?! She's a runner!!"

In all seriousness, thank you all for the many many encouraging emails, and posts. The Lord is working in great ways both in my recovery and in the heart of this man. I am blessed to have such an amazing husband who has been my hands and feet and not complained once. I am grateful to the ladies here who provided meals for us. And I'm humbled at the kindness of so many. Words can't express our gratitude. To God be the glory!  

Happy Valentines Day! 


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Every Runner's Nightmare--The Day I was Hit by a Car

 The day started out like any normal day. The weather was nice outside 28F and I was hoping to make good time out on my 10 mile run. Lately, I had been running to the island rather then driving to add more miles and difficulty to my runs.  I wanted to run to a specific store downtown when it opened at 10am so I waited to leave until 9 am. After 5.5 miles of running, I arrived at the store, picked up my little items, shoved them in my vest and left.
This is the view from downtown, right before I run
on the pedestrian bridge to get to the island on my way back home.

As I was getting to the bridge, I saw my friend Baba Leda (Grandma Lydia) she set her bags down to give me a hug and we had our usual small talk and I went on my way. She's always so sweet, and I hope one day to have her over for tea and invite her to church! I was excited because I was making really good time and didn't want to lose it at the end.

I saw one more man that I also see often walking and said hello to him as I ran by. I finally reached the end of the island, only two more miles to go. (These last two miles are in the city.) I knew I was about to go uphill for a mile and was ready to push it. I arrived at the last of two crosswalks until I was around the corner from our apartment about half a mile.
The man who hit me and the crosswalk.

In Russia, it's the law that all vehicles must stop at a pedestrian crosswalk when they see a pedestrian. I usually, wait until I make eye contact with a driver and he comes to a stop. I always walk across rather then run because a driver has more time to react to a pedestrian walking then someone running across and vice versa. 
The man who hit, who ironically
is a physical therapist.

This particular crosswalk was next to a busy bus stop and many pedestrians crossed here. I saw the lady in the middle lane had stopped. And the lane next to me there was a bus pulled off, so I stepped out. I was almost to the other side and was going to resume running and hop on the curb. I didn't see the car until it was too late, and he didn't see me.

 I laid on the ground thinking, "I just got hit by a car! I just got hit by a car!" The man quickly stopped and picked me up of the ground, and I kept telling him to put me down, (in English). He set me down on the median, and he kept talking to me. I told him (in Russian) that I only understood a little bit of Russian, and didn't understand what he was saying.  I said my husband speaks Russian fluently, and pulled out my phone to call him. The man was trying to pick me up again and put me in his car, but I didn't understand thats what he was doing. I felt a bit vulnerable and just went into survival mode. I didn't want him to take me anywhere in his car, and kept refusing to let him pick me up. I just wanted to lay down on the ground in the fetal position, and stay there. (I later was told that was the worse thing to do because my body was going into shock.)

Me discovering my giant nose!

James answered right away, and he heard the most unexpected news coming from the other end of the phone. I told him I had I had been hit by a car and was close to home. It took me a minute to try to explain to him where I was. He quickly called our friend Kevin. Our car was in the shop so James called me back to tell me, Kevin was on his way and would be there soon. I handed the phone to the Russian man to talk to him. There was another man that had witnessed the accident and stayed with us (an off duty policeman). He called the ambulance and the police as the the man who hit me started to wipe me off and give me some water. I took some photos of the scene, the man and myself just for documentation. I wasn't sure if this man would try to blame the accident on me or what would happen.

James and Kevin arrived within ten minutes. James jumped out of Kevin's car and ran over.
Kevin's daughters stayed at our apartment with the kids. My first thought was Macy. She was needing to eat soon and I had frozen milk in the freezer. I could rest a little easy knowing she was taken care of. I was shaking and getting colder by the minute. James checked on me and I told him I was okay just cold and my leg was hurting. I was given a coat and soon Kevin and James took me to Kevin's van to warm up as we waited for the ambulance and the police.

My awesome splint.

First time in an ambulance. It
hurt to smile. I loved
James' hand on my face, it
made me feel secure and safe.
When the ambulance came, Kevin and James helped me inside it and onto the gurney. They checked my ever growing nose and said it didn't appear to be broken but my ankle might be. I received a shot of medicine to help with the pain and a home made splint that went from my ankle to my backside. As we arrived at the hospital, I also had to get off the gurney myself and out the little side door. I found out later, the ER wasn't allowing anyone in because they were cleaning. The people who were in the ambulance insisted they opened the doors because they had Americans that needed in. After that, there was no resistance. They let us in and we went straight to the doctor and then to the X-Ray table. There they asked what hurt and I told them only my leg. They took an X-Ray of my leg and I sat there alone and waited. They came back and the doctor said "All was okay" in Russian and then asked me my name. I told him and he told me his name was Volodia. I told him I had a friend who was also named Volodia. He then pointed to the door asking if the men waiting on me were named Volodia. I smiled and said no that was my husband, James and our friend Kevin. He then randomly spoke English and asked me if I had a boyfriend. I laughed and said yes, my husband.

I was thankful to have just
 painted my toes!

James carried me to the next room where the doctor told us that nothing was broken. He gave us a few slips that recommended a physical therapist. And we went home. (It was more of a do-it-yourself ER, but it was all free. So we got what we paid for!)

Dr. Volodia
My awesome elbow after
getting back from the second
 trip to the ER
Later, I took off my compression shirt and my arm had a huge bubble the size of a baseball. I felt it growing and spreading. I yelled for James to come in the room. He and Kevin looked it over called our nurse friend Dee, and we rushed back to the ER. They allowed us to go to the front of the small crowd of people there and took another X-Ray. They said it wasn't broken and it was just swollen from the impact. I was relieved, but still a little uneasy. I kept thinking, they aren't checking me over, what if we go home again and something else happens. Will they miss something that's really serious? But I just silently prayed and trusted the Lord.

Arriving at the hospital
My poor foot!
We gathered that as I was starting to run, my right leg went forward along with my left arm and those took the brunt of the impact, along with my face. I hit the side of his car, and broke his side mirror, put a small crack in his windshield along with a small dent. If it had been a second later, I probably would have been hit by the front of his car and been in much worse shape. I still can't believe that I had no broken bones and no concussions. God truly protected me.

I can't imagine what went through James mind as he heard me say "I was just hit by a car." We were just talking last week about being careful at the crosswalks. James had also told me that his only fear when I'm gone running is that I'll be hit by a car. In the Krasnoyarsk region there were 13 pedestrians killed in one week by vehicles.

My favorite part was coming home and getting hugs from my boy and holding my little girl. Jacob kept saying "Mommy- hurt-owie" and he pointed to my nose and kissed it. As he's been noticing all my "boo-boo's" he's been saying hurt and kisses them gently. Between he and James, I have been in good hands. I have been overwhelmed by all the prayers and well wishes. I have yet to cry from the accident but tear up at everyone's love for us. I don't take for granted being able to hold my babies and watch them grow!

One of the firsts thoughts after I was hit, was how I could bring God glory through this. I wondered what the Lord wanted me to learn from this experience. I have been really working on getting my priorities in order this last month, and trying to spend meaningful time each day with the Lord. I even analyzed my running, and wanted to make sure it didn't become an idol. My first priority is my relationship with the Lord and my family. I'm a mother/wife/missionary first then a runner. So I thought, why would this happen. I may not know the why, but I simply just trust the Lord. I know this isn't a punishment from the Lord, but rather a reminder of God's protection and mercy.

The man who hit me, was truly sorrowful. He told the police he didn't care what happened to him, he just wanted to make sure I was okay. He has called 7-8 times these past two days to check on me. And he is going to visit me on Saturday. I pray that we can show him God's love and build a relationship with him. And maybe he'll come to church for me. One of my friends, jokingly said, there is easier ways to invite people to church! But if he does come to church and develops a relationship with the Lord, it truly would be worth it all. I'll recover from my injuries and sprained ankle, but there is no recovery from an eternity separated from God.

May we look for ways to glorify the Lord in all areas of our lives, the good, the bad, and the ugly (insert my swollen face!). May we also not put hobbies above what's truly most important, and that is our relationship with the Lord. To God be the glory!

Thank you all for the many prayers on my behalf and my family. I feel a little stronger each day. And for whatever reason, the Lord spared my life I am thankful. I can't help but think He has plans for my life and desires to use me. I'm just so humbled that God would use someone like me with all my imperfections. I truly am unworthy.

Romans 8:28
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.
Our awesome babysitters and friends. :)
They even baked me a cake! 

James 4:14
Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

1 John 2:15-17
15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.