My Blog: Reoccurring Themes

My hope is built on Nothing less

As I have gotten older, I have slowly seen how much of my personality and overall self have changed through the years. It’s rather interesting looking back and seeing how I once was. It is even more fascinating when I can pinpoint a time in my life and remember specifically making a conscious effort to improve.

I can tell you right now, I have had many of those moments in the last two years. I always tell people I wasn’t a nice person three years ago. It took Jesus coming into my heart for me to even begin to want to change; let alone put in an effort and try.

I know I say the above-mentioned paragraphs a lot in some way or another in nearly every blog post. I do because they are extremely important in my life. This blog is not only for you, it is for me. It is my life journal for others to read and take part in.

As I have continued to diligently write each week, it becomes progressively more difficult to come up with a new topic or idea. But, it is funny how even a new topic can stem back to the old with ease. My writing has proven to me I am a strong-willed person with firmly rooted beliefs and ideas.

Those reoccurring topics or ideas matter to me because they remind me I still stand for what I believe in. I believe people can change. I believe Jesus can call and turn people away from Him. I believe time can tell us more than we think it can.

Those reoccurring topics are not only my beliefs but building blocks of my foundation. Every time I bring up a topic again, it creates a deeper root. These reoccurring topics also help me see what I believe and why. They help me reexamine myself when necessary.

Ultimately, if my beliefs are not founded in Jesus Christ and His teachings for my life, I am concerned. I have been a believer for nearly three years now. I don’t regret the decision to place my life in His hands. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t easy.

Therefore, if a topic reoccurs, it must matter to me, whether I realize it or not. No matter how long it takes me to realize it, I have to ask myself, “Why does this concern me? Why does this touch my heart?”

It’s difficult to ask myself that. Sometimes, I run away from it. But, eventually, I face it. And when I do, it comes down to what does my relationship with Jesus Christ teach me?

I am a walking-talking pottery piece. I need a lot of work, a lot of grace, and a lot of daily repentance. I need Jesus daily more than I need my waking breath.

I am writing you all this to simply say: Reexamine yourself as often as you need. If you notice a habit or phrase constantly coming of our mouth or actions, examine it. If you notice a thought constantly trailing in your mind trying to take root in your soul, examine it.

I plead with you, listen to yourself. Watch yourself. If you don’t like what you’ve seen lately, change it. Slowly. Don’t bulldoze your heart and mind with unreachable expectations. If you do, it’ll probably make the degrading thoughts you tell yourself even louder once you realize what a fool you’ve been.

Most importantly, give yourself grace. Jesus already has and always will. Don’t think you can’t do the same for yourself. Everyone needs grace. Including me and you.

Blessings,

Renata

From Russia to America: Thoughts About My Homeland

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I’ve previously discussed what it’s like being an orphan from Russia. But, I have never discussed my thoughts and feelings about being from Russia in general. To say the least, it’s a rather interesting tidbit of my life to tell others I am from Russia and be serious. It can take people by surprise.

It takes me by surprise some days, too. However, I see it as a blessing. I think knowing I am not a true-born American helps me see the United States in ways others can’t. I see how privileged people are in this nation. I see how skewed this nation can be. I see how advanced this nation can be.

I am not saying the United States isn’t a wonderful country. It truly is. But, as I have gotten older, I have noticed a greater form of entitlement natural-born Americans tend to have about themselves.

I’ve lived here long enough that I get it. I’ve experienced some of those notions I specifically express. But, I believe I have something others don’t. I don’t live life through rose-colored glasses in America. I see it realistically for the nation it is and for the nation that it can be. I live without ignorance.

With all that said, one of the hardest aspects of telling others I am from Russia is people tend to believe I don’t have a heart. People tend to lump me with the cold, heartless nation that the world portrays Russia to be. I am not saying I agree with everything my homeland does. In fact, I don’t agree with much of what it does.

Despite that, I say don’t judge a people by its nation. I know I can say the same thing to myself about the United States. Yes, some United States citizens act extremely entitled and completely degrade all the wonderful freedoms that come with living in the nation. Yes, some Russia citizens are complete and utter jerks.

But, that’s not all of us.

Both nations have wonderful people who love the Lord deeply and care about others immensely. Both nations have individuals who strive to make this world a better place.

Both nations are home for me in some way or another.

Just because I feel much pain about being a disgraced orphan from Russia, does not mean I will completely let go of my roots. I will always be proud and never hesitate to tell people I am from Russia. I may feel constant pain about being an orphan. But, I don’t feel pain knowing God began my life story elsewhere.

There is a sweet reassurance in all the brokenness that stems from my birthplace. God placed me there for a reason. I may never know why. I don’t need to know why. It will always be a part of me and my story. It will always shape who I am, how I view this world, and my place in society as a Christian.

I can tell you right now, I never once thought a Russian like me could ever love Jesus Christ as deeply as I do. I never once thought a Russian like me could ever love others so much until it hurts.

I tell you this: I am not ashamed of being from Russia. I have never been and I never will be no matter ugly the world portrays the country to be.

As I write this with tears streaming down my face, I tell you, my writing doesn’t lie because it is an outpouring of my heart. It is in my writing that I truly understand what I believe and who I am as an individual in this chaotic world.

Blessings,

Renata

 

 

Peaks and Valleys: Learning to Move On

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The more I live in this world, the more I realize some parts of life are a never-ending hourglass. Every small occurrence we go through is a grain of sand. Though they are all small and seem to be separate from each other, they all form the foundation of our lives.

And just when we think we have lived and dealt with each portion of those grains, they turn over and begin again in another cycle and season. Yet, this season is not new. It is only slightly different. It is still the same foundation. Only with a slight variation.

Right now, I am in the middle of the hourglass. I am in the pinched section hoping for something different. Trying to experience something new. Only to be dropped into the chaos again. I am continuously trying to make sense of the recent valley I was so deeply in. I am still trying to understand why it all happened.

With each tearful and hurtful moment, I furiously hope it is the last time the valley will ever affect me. I hope for constant peace. To no avail, the valley comes back again. Slowly. It creeps. Just like the grains of sand.

The hardest part of this recent valley of my life is not letting it consume me. It is not letting it steal my joy and peace in basic tasks and pleasures. It is not letting it be more than it was.

As much I would love to compartmentalize that part of my life, it’s extremely difficult. I can’t tuck it away and act like it like it never happened. I can’t over define it either. It will always be part of my life story. Therefore, I must accurately and carefully acknowledge it for what it was. Otherwise, I will never be able to properly move on.

But, that’s hard. Moving on is hard. It means learning what parts of my life can and cannot be touched by it. Basically, taking control of my life outside of that situation can be extremely difficult. My heart hurts thinking about the pain I will have to go through in order to reach a place of peace.

People seem to think it’s hardest to live in the heat of the hurt and pain. I disagree. Learning to move on while all you want to do is stand still and be numb is the hardest part.

I write to you in a time of life filled with a lot of hurts, pain, and exhaustion. I write to you in the pinch of my hourglass trying to make sense of the foundation that lies before and after this moment.

I long to get past all of this. I long to move on and be changed. I long to heal. I long to deeply love the hurt and the lost. For now, I wait and challenge myself to draw the lines between my past experiences, present moments, and future aspirations. I slowly construct my broad concept of this valley in life.

Quite frankly, I don’t know how or when this valley of my life will become fruitful for His glory. I may or may not see it in my lifetime. It may be a cross I soon let go of or it may be a cross I carry until I go to my heavenly home.

No matter the outcome, I know Jesus will get me through. Only He will. I trust that He will in His timing. I trust that He has a greater plan for me and everyone else hurt in this valley.

Blessings,

Renata

Capture Life: Take Photos and Videos

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Growing up, my family didn’t take many photographs together. We mainly snapped a photograph for birthdays and the occasional vacation shot. Videoing occurred even less. Growing up, I thought that was okay.

But, now as an adult, I am adamant about remembering more moments through photographs and videos. I’ve realized photographs are wonderful, yes. But it is easy for all the events leading up to the snapshot to become blurry and a mere pigment of our memory.

Videos put pieces together. They showcase raw, authentic emotion. Videos allow people to be in the moment, to watch things happen as they unfold, not just through verbal communication years down the road from someone who was there. They provide a real-life screenplay. As a natural storyteller, it only makes sense to me.

This desire of my heart began to take root within this past year as I’ve watched many stories unfold each week on YouTube. You see, YouTube is filled with many wonderful learning tools and stories.

I mainly use the platform for storytelling purposes. I love getting to know others’ anyway I can. I am a people-watcher who desires to understand human behavior more beautifully each day. YouTube allows me to do just that.

Someone who began as a stranger to me is now someone whose life I like to keep up with, even if they don’t keep up with mine in return. It may sound a little crazy and a little weird, but I enjoy it in this current part of my life.

Outside of YouTube and on a more personal level, I seek to capture as many moments with my husband as I can That’s why, this past weekend, my husband and I photographed and videotaped any portion of our weekend long “stay -cation” that we could. When I say, that we could, I mean moments we felt were worth capturing.

Sometimes, I want to simply live in the moment. It reminds me of a scene in the movie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty when the infamous photographer, Sean, chose to not photograph a beautiful white tiger. He simply wanted to be in the moment, out from behind a camera lens.

I am still trying to create my line of which moments I should and should not capture. I will get there with time. All I do know is life is worth remembering in photographs and videos. Life is worth laughing over again and again. And sometimes, it is even worth crying over just so you can once again for a short time be with someone you love.

My call to you is simple: Take photos. Take videos. Capture life. Yet, know when it’s simply time to live it, too.

Blessings,

Renata