Behind Enemy Lines

Two years ago, I shared extensively on my blog about our new friends from The Persecuted Church who were arrested, interrogated and eventually deported from Uzbekistan for telling others about Jesus and planting secret churches. Many of my long-time readers, donated money, clothes and household items to help them set up their lives in Texas.

Reluctantly, they have made a home in America, but their hearts beat daily for their homeland. Our dear friends bare the burden of the secret church that still meets behind enemy lines.

They are currently teaching leaders and pastors in Ukraine for the next several weeks. Just 200 miles from the town they were deported from and where their parents and siblings still live, a violent outbreak of ethnic cleansing is killing thousands.

From our friends, “As many as 2000 people have been killed in the last several days, up to 400,000 displaced from their homes with 100,000 who have fled to Uzbekistan out of fear for their lives. Many are sheltering in camps or hiding in their homes in fear with thousands trying to cross the border in hope of saving their lives and their families.

There is death everywhere, arson, looting, rapings, threats from police and other officials raising the level of distrust and fear.”

For this we ask you to join us in prayer and our heavy, sad hearts over this at this time. It has brought tears and deep heaviness in us.  These are our people for who we feel a very big part of in our lives and for which we ache at this time.

“We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against other powers that control…”

Would you join with me and pray for peace and protection of The Persecuted Church?

This is Love

*Updated List of Needs*
I asked my Russian friends from The Persecuted Church to give me an updated list of some items they need. They live entirely on the support of Christian families, while they lead and teach leaders still in Uzbekistan and other Russian countries via Skype.

If you’d like to donate money, that’s always needed. But here are some items you can send (They don’t have to be new). With the holidays approaching, this is a great way to teach children about giving.

1. Bath Towels
2. warm blankets for children
3. Big Plastic bowls(for mixing)
4. Salad bowls (or anythings for kitchen will make me happy)

5. Sizes of clothes:
XS or S
pants-4 medium

5 yr daughter

3 yr son
If you can donate any of these items, please email me (
Also, when my friend lived in Uzbekistan, she made their clothes and was very good at sewing. I’d love to buy her a sewing machine. If you want to help me, let me know!

Many of you have emailed and tweeted and left comments asking about my Russian friends from The Persecuted Church.
First, thank you for caring, secondly, if you are new to their story, please follow the link above. It might just change your life.
I know watching their story unfold has changed mine.
Our dear friends had an amazing three month trip to the Ukraine, the nearest place they were safely allowed to enter. Even twelve hours and hundreds of miles from their former home, caused their families left behind in Uzbekistan a visit and interrogation from the police.
While they were there, they traveled thousands of miles within the country teaching and encouraging pastors and Christian workers. They shared the gifts you sent.
Their story is still unfolding. But I will tell you of one miraculous event. They wished to see their parents, whom they hadn’t seen face-t0-face in the three years since they were forcefully deported from their county. It was a prayer whispered a thousand times, but it would take a miracle for these precious parents to travel across unsafe borders with papers and funds.
The day before they were to meet, our sweet brother called my hubby via Skype. He was very discouraged and said that everyone had received their travel documents to visit them in the Ukraine, except for his mother. She would have to stay behind.
Her heart was broken. I remembered ‘meeting’ her on Skype a few months before, this jovial woman whose children had been ripped from her life, thanking me, for caring for her children. 
My heart was broken for her. My hubby and I prayed for a miracle. Our friends prayed for a miracle.
Just hours before they were to depart to see their children, the documents arrived. We rejoiced with them. And I cried as if it was my own mother.
Our Russian friends returned to the United States a few weeks ago. They returned home. They do not have a physical home, and are believing for yet another miracle. A local pastor has been kind enough to let them stay in his unsold home in another city, over an hour from us. They remind me and teach me daily that home is not a place, it is people.
We traveled to the home that is not theirs on Labor Day to fellowship with them. Our families are starved for each other. We laughed and talked and ate. It felt like home.
I watched my dear heart-sister create a meal from nothing. She lovingly rolled dough thin and taught me as she worked. I marveled at her skill and asked so many questions. She told me of the special steaming pans her mother passed down to her from Uzbekistan. 
“When we were forced to leave, we filled our suitcases with our special pots and books in our language, not clothes and unimportant things,” she explained as she rolled the dough thinner and thinner.
I asked several questions about the unusual pans that allow you to stack the unique dumpling-type dish 4 or 5 deep and she explained that America did not have anything like it.
She turned and looked at me with so much love, I couldn’t bare it, “Would you like my steaming pots? I would like to give them to you.”
Just like that, she offered me one of her most valuable possessions, one of her only links to her home and her mother. 
“No. No, please, I do not want them or need them. I just think they are unique.”
She turned and carried on her act of love, rolling dough, as if it were nothing.
This is love.
I am a student. 
Oh, how they teach me.

Signup for my newsletter!

From Russia with Love

I never thought I’d meet a family from The Persecuted Church.
I never thought my life would become so intertwined with theirs that it would be impossible to untangle our heartstrings.
And I never thought a piece of me would go to Russia.
Our dear friends are in The Ukraine for the next three months.
When they asked us in January to pray and believe with them to raise $33,000 for their missions trip, I doubted. How could they possibly raise so much money in such a short time in this economy? 
God provided every dime through unbelievable means, just because they asked and believed.
They will be traveling to ten cities during this pilgrimage, training thousands of leaders in Sport’s ministry. They will face uncertainty and possible danger as they stay from house-to-house in this impoverished, hungry land.
They packed their belongings in two small carry-ons for their family of four. The other eight large suitcases are stuffed with items you sent, along with others. These bags will stay behind.
The lease on their rental home ended right before they left and so they moved all of their possessions into the garage of a friend. They didn’t want to waste money. When they return in July, they will be homeless. 
“Where will you live? What will you do?” I worried.
“God will provide. He is never late. He is always on time,” they said with confidence.
In their home country of Uzbekistan, African Violets grow wild. My sweet friend loves caring for these delicate plants and when she was forced to leave her home, she left behind her beloved flowers.
Before she left for Russia, she brought over four African Violet plants for me to watch over. I put the precious plants in my kitchen window sill and bookmarked “Caring for African Violets” for reference.
She left a piece of Uzbekistan with me, and she took a piece of my heart with her.
Would you please pray for them? 
  • Travel mercies
  • Safety from persecution
  • Provision
  • The children will adjust to their homeland and then again to America
  • Favor in seeing their mothers who will attempt to travel more than 20 hours out of Uzbekistan.
  • A home when they return
  • Beautiful African Violets
I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know who I will meet or what will happen and it how it will impact my life.  But I cannot thank God enough for stepping into my life that day.
I hope He does it again.
Because He is always on time.
If you haven’t read the whole story, you can catch up here:

Every Little Girl Needs a Pretty Dress

My life changed the day God stepped in. I knew the day The Persecuted Church entered my backdoor last summer, I would never be the same.
I cannot convey how deeply I love these people from Uzbekistan who have become my family.
And they cannot convey to me how much they love the people and family members they were brutally forced to leave behind the day they were expelled from their country less than two years ago. 
My friends will be returning to an area of Russia about 10 hours from their homeland. (They are not allowed to travel back to their country. They do not have travel documents and would face certain death). 
They will be conducting dozens of training seminars for the leaders of the underground church and Christian leaders from impoverished areas. Most of these pastors and leaders will travel days with little money and at great risk to attend the meetings.
The other day over coffee, my friend and I talked about their trip. She spoke of the workers, her friends, and of her deep longing to take them each something. The economy in these countries is very weak. Unemployment is high. It makes America’s situation look good. 
My friend looked into my eyes and said, “I want to take something for these workers. It would just be a token gift because their needs are so great. I would like every little girl (daughters of the workers) to have a pretty dress. Something so little, would mean so much.”
I grabbed her by the hand and said, “We will do this. I know some people who will help.”
And I was talking about you.
Will you help me? 
Most of the clothes worn in this area of the world have been passed down many times (6-7), so a new dress you find on sale or a lightly used Easter dress that your daughter wore a couple of times would be perfect. 
There are sixteen girls who would love a pretty dress. Here are the sizes:
2T-2 girls
3T -1 girl
4T-2 girls
5 –3 girls
6 –2 girls
7 -1 girl
8 -1 girl
9 –2 girls1 girl
10 -1 girl
12- 1 girl

If you don’t have a little girl or the ability to shop, but want to give, please consider donating a few dollars towards a dress ball caps, socks, Matchbox cars for the boys. (We will shop before they leave).
If you’re interested in sending a dress, please email me ( and I will send you my address. I will also mark out the sizes I receive. The style (sleeveless, color, isn’t important, just a really pretty dress!)
My friends are traveling in May.
Thank you. 

P.S. There are several boys too. Do you have any ideas for small, light-weight gifts that we can collect?
*UPDATE* I don’t have boy sizes and we’ve been working on girl sizes for a month! So, let’s do ball caps and socks (all little boy sizes) and a Matchbox car! I woke up to an amazing inbox this morning. I love y ‘all for starting off my day so well! Made me cry! 

Most of the girls dresses have been claimed, but you can still send something to a little boy in Russia!

s razhdеstvom (or Merry Christmas!)

Persecuted Church:

Christmas comes but once a year.
Unless your Russian, living in America.
And then it comes again on January 7 (Russian Orthodox Christmas).
Earlier this week, we joined our friends and celebrated Christmas, Russian-style. They put on a play for Russian children in the area (they are helping plant a Russian church in Texas).
It was a really cute program.
And it was entirely in Russian. At one point, my son leaned over and said, “This is so funny, Mom!  What are they talking about?”
Why, here’s my confused son now, mixed in with Russian children, playing a game he doesn’t understand.
Igor (our dear friend from The Persecuted Church) made a stellar dancing deer:
My toddler nearly fainted when Snegurochka, the Russian Santa helper-equivalent (meaning Snow Girl) walked thru the door with a bag of presents.  My girl loves gifts.
A girl after my own heart.
I loved seeing my sweet friend Katerina, dressed as a Snow Girl.
I’ve learned that our friends use our American word ‘interesting’ often in describing our ways, our food, our American lives.
My hubby must be listening to the Russian language CD’s I got him for his birthday.
Because I overheard him say in Russian that the Christmas play (which turned out to be about animals, including a rapping hedgehog and The Ten Commandments) was very interesting.
But his sounded more like this: интересный 

That got him several slaps on the back and hearty Russian laughter!
My friends don’t have many earthly possessions, but they have a beautiful life.  Their sweet spirits, gentle natures, and yearning for friendship have all contributed to our own family’s desire for a balanced life. 
They don’t care about society’s rules or fads. They simply live for God. And that inspires me.
I’m celebrating a desire for a more balanced life with The Inspired Room.

Food for the Soul:
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

{Please note that I will be removing the photos of my friends within 48 hours of this posting for their protection.}

An Update on The Persecuted Church

Persecuted Church:

Can I just say I am honored to be a part of these people’s lives?
I mean out of all the people in the world, why us?
I’m amazed God allowed our paths to cross.
And our lives to intertwine.
I am awestruck.
Last night, two dozen people I love, joined with me in blessing this family. We ate and laughed and offered gifts of love (bed sheets, a trash can, stockings for their mantle…just to name a few) to these refugees from The Persecuted Church. 

Our friends.

Igor shared about his recent trip to the Russian block of countries. The Sport’s Conferences he held were very successful. He traveled to Khazakstan which borders his home country and he met with people from the Underground Church. They were so thankful to receive the duffle bags we sent.
I wanted to weep when he told about their two brief days together. They all had to sneak across dangerous borders to meet him. He saw his parents for the first time in two years! He said they were all so eager to fellowship together and pray for one another, they didn’t  even take the time to sleep during the 48 hours.
Amazing, huh?
I thought my heart would explode when he told of the 100,000 orphans in The Ukraine alone that they held outreaches for and then introduced us to a Ukraine Pastor who traveled back with him. This Pastor has seven children, three who were orphans. 
His name is Serge and he handed me a picture of his beautiful family. He asked us to put the picture on our fridge and pray for them.

The holidays are coming and our economy is unstable.  These are difficult times for so many. And yet, I was reminded again today how much I have and how much I can still give.  
If you would like to help, please click below. (So, many have you already donated and sent gift cards and gifts. Thank you).

Please keep us in your thoughts on December 1st.  Our local Chick Fil A is hosting a Benefit Day and 20% of their proceeds will go towards this family and their ministry.  
I’m praying a lot of people will get The Chicken Craving that day.
I plan to consume a lot of sweet tea.
It’s the least I can d

One Day To Give Celebration

Persecuted Church:

Thank you for taking the time and energy to do something good.

In a world, where bad often gets the attention, I find it exhilarating to be a part of a community where good prevails.
Our family brainstormed ideas for our One Day to Give project. We wanted our kids to help us decide.  And we came up with so many great ideas, we decided to set aside a day every month to give. I can’t wait!
But for this first one, we unanimously decided that since our hearts and attention have been so stirred by The Persecuted Church, that would be our focus.
Our sweet Russian friends are doing amazing things for God.  Our families sat down a couple of weeks ago and they shared the dream God had given them. 
And it included us.
My hubby and I were honored and overwhelmed with their vision. There are many details and exciting things I hope to share in the future.  But during the conversation, we talked about Igor’s next trip to the The Ukraine, which coincidentally is happening right now.  
He is teaching to more than 400 Christians many of whom are Pastors, and many who are risking their lives to attend such a conference. Igor teaches how to use sports to witness about Christ. Using sports as an avenue to lead people to Christ and ultimately into the underground church, is highly effective in these Muslim countries. Many of these people are traveling great distances through dangerous borders with very little money, to learn. About God.
After the conference, Igor is traveling to one of the countries (which borders his home country of Uzbekistan)  to meet with disciples he left behind from the persecuted, underground church in Uzbekistan (the country he was deported from and threatened with death, if he should return). I decided to be vague about details for his protection.
They are meeting together to pray, fellowship, and receive training. It is very dangerous and complicated for these Christians.  And for Igor. He has been arrested for teaching the Book of James by the KGB and was followed the last time he was there.
Please pray for him and these amazing Christians today. There are new laws going into effect right now that make it even more dangerous for Christians in these two countries. You can read about it here and here.
As Katerina was explaining the details of this trip to me, she mentioned that they were collecting items to take to their 40+ disciples that Igor is meeting. Supplies that are hard to come by and personal items that are very costly are at the top of the list: prenatal vitamins, dry erase markers, instant coffee, gum, socks, deodorant and clothes.
And that’s where our One Day to Give comes in. Immediately, I knew what our family could do. We made a list and sent it to some friends and family and our Pastor, and asked them to join with us.  Our church offered to pay for the baggage costs among other things, and we started filling duffle bags. (Sunday, our church took up an offering for supplies for the underground church and to help some pastors travel to Igor’s conference. $5,000 came in!)

As we stuffed the boxes of crayons we purchased and toys from my kid’s room into the bags, we prayed.  We each took a turn and prayed that the simple hygiene items we we tucked into the corner of the bag, would be a blessing. We prayed for the believers who would sip the treasured cups of coffee. And for the children who’s future is uncertain, we prayed safety and peace and joy, as we packed up small toys.
And we asked God to bless them, to protect them and to let them  know that they are heroes to this little family in America.
And Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22: 37-40)
Please pray for them today. And for Igor who is somehow managing to carry six stuffed bags across many borders!

Tie a Ribbon ‘Round Your Typing Finger

One Day to Give is this Friday!  It’s just a few days away, but you still have time to make a difference in someone’s life!

It doesn’t have to be BIG to be important.
Link up your post and share your One Day to Give project.  It will encourage. It will inspire. It will make a difference.  (I will be putting Mr. Linky up late Thursday evening).
One of my readers, Shana, emailed me about something special going on TODAY (Oct. 15): Blog Action Day.  It is an invitation for bloggers to join together and blog about poverty. 
And since our families’ One Day to Give project (that I’ll be sharing on Friday), encompasses some very poor people, I thought I’d share this with you:
In Uzbekistan, where our friends from The Persecuted Church, escaped, poverty is rampant and it touches everyone.  Most families live on $50.00 per month. The rest of the people, survive on less.  Our sweet friends tried to explain just how poor the people are:
“In our country, when you visit neighbors and friends in their homes, you notice that there are switch plates and outlet covers missing. The faucet hardware and shower heads are gone too. Some people have no hardware in their homes at all. This is common. They sell everything ‘extra’. These people have sold bits and pieces of their house in the open market, for food.  To feed their children. They know poverty very well.”
I can’t turn on my lights or plug something in without this image invading my thoughts.
Let’s do something.  
Food for the Soul:Psalm 140:12 “I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy.”