We knocked on the door last time, and rang the bell, and no one answered. That time, we left the bread in a bag on the doorstep and hoped for the best.

This time, the door opened and we were ushered in. Molasses bread in a bag, pear/applesauce in a jar with a red ribbon. I walked through to the back of the room, where Nataliya beckoned me and John Ronan shouted out his greetings like he always does, excited to find new friends.

So thin, so changed from her summer self, Nataliya and I talked about her journey from life and health, to the doorstep of death, and how she’s making her way back again. I didn’t want to stay long. John Ronan is not a soft spoken little fellow, and though he was being good, playing with little Nikolai in the next room, I knew that our presence would be fun only for a little while.

So we stayed for that little while.

John Ronan didn’t want to leave, but I have experience enough in that department. But somehow he had convinced Nikolai that he was hungry and needed a snack. “We’re heading straight home, and we have food there,” I told him. But Nataliya and her mom jumped on this opportunity to give to the givers.

“Please, let us give him a little something.”

“Please, mama, I’m hungry.”

“We’re heading straight home, you really don’t need a snack…” That’s what I said. You know the routine… I wanted to be the giver, not the getter.

(I still have so much to learn!)

Eventually, two tangerines were handed over, and a stack of crackers for my little guy. Several of which fell onto the kitchen floor and broke into a thousand pieces just as we were leaving. Thank goodness for good humor.

Well, we made quite an impression, I’m sure.

And it’s good to remember, to let others give when they have the chance.

It’s not always about us…


Ekaterina–and the Turning of the Tides

One loaf of Struan.

The family closest to¬†Nataliya also has a new little baby girl. One of the many little girls I was telling you about that has come into our community as of late. This sweet little daughter has twin big brothers, and parents who are so full of love. She’s blessed, to be sure.

Anyway, last week, before the festivities of Thanksgiving arrived, on the feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos, I baked. I baked and I cried. It was a whole day of tears. You need to know something about me–this dive into weakness and despair is very odd. I am Basque, which translates to my being stubborn and strong, despite the winds and storms around me. But God has been working desperately hard to tenderize this heart of mine. And I believe I’ve finally surrendered, and hopefully some good, fruitful work has happened within me.

Which is why I just let myself cry the whole of last Monday–sun up to sun down. During liturgy, I have to admit, I was tiring of the tears. I finally toted myself into the Cry Room to be with the babies. Funny–no babies were crying that night, just me.

Anyway, I brought the warm loaf of bread, hoping a baby would be present at liturgy–and there was Ekaterina, snuggled into her mama’s arms, wearing a pink knit cap.

So, I think we’re awfully near the end of depressing posts! The tides have turned and the baking for babies has begun, and I’m all cried out!

And Christ is coming…

And more good news:

Nataliya has been released from the hospital. So far her body has accepted the new liver, and she is weak but eating. Please continue to pray for her. Her kidneys have not recovered from all the trauma, so she’s enduring dialysis three times each week. Join me in offering up enormous prayers of thanks that she’s come this far–and let’s root her on to full health–I’m wondering if she’s tired of crying, too…

Sending you all love and blessings. Advent is here!

A Little Lemon

It had been three days of a bad cold. My daughter and I were curled on opposite ends of the green couch, complaining and commiserating.

You know, lemon cake might help, I said.

Her eyes brightened. She stopped talking about her  biology class where everything went wrong. She even half-way sat up.

Really lemony lemon cake. Super sour.

That did it. She turned on the music, I hefted my way into the kitchen, she pulled out the ingredients, and I set to mixing.

Once I started to smell the lemon filling the kitchen I knew this was a treat to share–with someone else who needed a lemony cure. I tried to think of others who were suffering with the same nasty, horrible, no-good cold, but everyone I could think of was (thankfully!) healthy. Then, I remembered… My heart sunk. I knew the lemon cake would only be a token gift, but my heart told me not to worry that the giving would be small.

A young mom in our church is strangely, seriously ill. The doctors are at a loss. Natalyia’s liver shut down, and in just one week she went from living a normal life to the very doorstep of leaving. People have rallied, her mom has returned from the Ukraine, and friends are caring for her young son. On Saturday I took the family who is caring for the young boy the lemon cake, and yesterday another young boy had a tragic car accident and the family donated his liver to Nataliya. We are waiting to see how her body reacts to the transplant. Please think of them all, pray for them all, and if you happen to be healthy at the moment, maybe you, too, can give a little something to someone who is on the other side of well.

Meanwhile, I’m on the mend, and seeing the bright, sweet lemony side of things before me. Especially hopeful for Nataliya.

Especially hopeful for Nataliya.