Monday, November 28, 2011

November 28th, 2011

Today was a very depressing day at the ice rink... =((
A drizzling ending for the festive week of Thanksgiving, which was very wonderful! My brother's girlfriend, Nina Andreevetz, came up from Odessa to celebrate the holiday with our family. We had SO much fun =) I'm not known for my excessive social skills... but nevertheless it somehow turned out to be such a lovely time. We spent hours with my mom cooking and baking in the kitchen, and after the turkey and pies had been eaten, went out ice skating with my brother Dima.
Holiday over, I went back to my lessons today.... and was sorely disappointed in my feet. What happened to them?!?! I picked up my skates one by one and examined them in confusion. It was like they had forgotten to obey commands. GLIDE, you silly little boot. GLIDE!!! TWIRL!!!! MOOOOOoooove in one smooth, graceful direction..... please....
Nope. =(
Wobbed, bobbled, ground and dug into the ice in miserable little circles. =( I tripped on my own blades almost six times, and would have gone flying if not for my trainer's quick hands. Horrifying! And embarrassing!! Who does that?? Even novice skaters don't run thier skates right into each other. *annoyed* My arms aches from being held out into the air for so long, and my spine refused to stay poised and tense. Maybe the pumpkin pie went to my muscles because they were all mushy....
To make it worse, the recreational skaters on the ice were being WILD. One girl came whizzing around the bend and slammed, fullspeed, right smack into me (trying to complete a left-footed backwards crossover). I, in turn, slammed into my trainer, and the three of us were screeching in surprise and pain. Someone yanked my hair, and I felt an elbow in my side. When we got free of the tangle, my trainer lit into the twenty-something Barbie, who whined she didn't know how to stop.
"Then why are you going so FAST if you can't even STOP to avoid hitting someone?!?!" Svetlana, my trainer, exploded, exasperated. Commendably, however, she took a few seconds away from *my paid lesson* to teach the girl a few tips on how to control her speed. I took the minute to get my breath back and fume. Haha.
The rest of the lesson was haunted by similiar near-misses. Two teenagers were playing chase and kept cutting into our practice space, which I wouldn't have minded if they were careful about it. But they came throttling through, feet flashing widly and arms swinging like off-track windmills. Of course, they came through when I was trying to go backwards, which is panicky enough, because I'm using peripheral vision and concentrating on getting my feet to not trip on each other... Once they came so close I felt the cold air caressing the back of my neck and the lingering sting. ={ Grr. So scary!!
Well.... that's about all of my sad story. To console myself, I went Christmas shopping!!! =D =D
Just looking today, bopping in and out of stores at the mall, checking out design and prices and seeing what's in. YEAH!!! =)) I can't wait till the holiday!! And I love buying gifts. =D =D I already have two down.... 7 more to go, now that we have "almost-extended-family" to add to the list.
I hope everyone had a WONDERFUL weekend and a very happy Thanksgiving!!!!
Only 28 days left!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

November 25th, 2011

Glamour. Catwalks. Style. Jeans. Name brands. Europe. Lace. Magazines. Shoes. Vogue. FASHION!!!
Yes, what you can see in this picture is a girl with a PLATE on her head. A plate, in fact, exhibiting a plump cluster of succulent, wine-colored GRAPES. Perhaps she took to heart the proud words of Coco Chanel: "I don't do fashion; I am fashion." Hopefully she was not expressing herself to be a fruitloop.... =)
I thought I'd seen everything in the fashion world, or quite close to it. Russian women are fanatical about dress, Europe provides the testing waters for all new trends, and Americans invented the fine line between style and comfort. Design and fashion, style and statements and beauty, have always captivated my interest. Travel helped expand my horizons of how trends flow from culture to culture. It has been truly said, "Women dress the same all over the world: to annoy other women." Haha.
Yesterday, I was in downtown Kharkov at an upscale coffee bar waiting to go skating later on. I caught a glimpse of priceless fashion - silk sheath skirt, crisp Oxford blouse, heavy metalic jewelry, skyrise heels. I was startled, and I do mean startled, when upon her braided head I saw a delicate ceramic plate of grapes.
When girls dress up for the attention, it is obvious; because first of all, they are obvious about themselves. But this woman? Completely absorbed in her coffee date. I, at the very least, may have been slightly concerned that the plate would teeter on its precarious, diagnal perch. How embarrasing THAT would be! I couldn't help stare... and even take a picture, because I wasn't sure anyone would believe me! =)
Wasn't it a few hundred years ago, that wearing fruit in the hair was a striking fashion statement?? I didn't realize it was coming back around... Wow! And if it made the runways of New York and Milan, and from there trickled into the random magazines and TV shows about vogue, I wouldn't have thought so much about it. But to see it in PERSON? In a perfectly normal restaurant? It was too much to resist. =)
How comforting is the eternal truth of the Scriptures! "The fashion of this world passeth away," Paul noted over two thousand years ago, and he was right! Even today, designers admit, "Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months."
I would so rather cultivate a beautiful character than a beautiful style in dress. And yes, as a woman I am highly entertained by shopping and new clothes (especially SHOES!), but there is a deep resevoir of reason that governs how much of my pursuit in life I would spend on temperal, ever-changing vanity. If only every girl had some measure of common sense!
But then again, if that were the case, I wouldn't have had such a laugh last night... or been able to write this blog post! God bless the fashion-addicted girls out there, and their poor, unfortunate men!!! =)

Monday, November 21, 2011

November 21, 2011

My brother Steven will be home in 29 days!!!!
I am soooooo excited. The worst part about college-age O'Briens is the inevitable months-long absences away to study. =/ Oh, well. Soon the semester will be over! And Steven will be back home in Kharkov, just in time for Christmas. =)
Accordingly, I am waist-deep in preparations! =D Ice skating is a family pasttime, and Steven has always been the smooth and skilled skater on the rink! Really, there's no comparing with him when I put on my skates and stomp out onto the ice. I can glide away to the left... to the right... a little fancy footwork on the corners, maybe... and Steve has managed to whizz in intricate patterns around the loop 7 times already, chasing speedy Gonzalos, Kendon. Haha. Even Katrina is a faster, more confidant skater than me, laughing while I trail woefully behind the crowd.
Well. Inspiration struck! What a lovely surprise, to invite Steven to skate upon his return and dazzle him with skills!!!??? A lil' healthy competition. =D =D
So, my parents gamely supporting my ambition, I signed up for figure skating lessons with a 40-year professional skate trainer... and I've been on the ice nonstop the past 2 weeks!
Technique! Technique! Posture! Choreography!
Figure skating is really quite complicated... and a bit painful, after lesson number #1 - learning to "fall" correctly!! No kidding, I was pushed and bumped and shoved off my feet (well, skates) a dozen times and crawled back up bruised and shamefaced until I had mastered the reflex to fall safely, in particular positioning.... "falling with style." Haha. Buzz Lightyear would be proud! =D
Since then, it's been "Christmas trees," "waves," learning to skate backwards, and now - "crossovers"!!! Correctly executed, the legs intertwine and weight is shifted from one to the other in a graceful spiral, arms outstretched and torso twisted sideways. Trying it backwards??
Terrifying!! Although I understood what my feet and legs were SUPPOSED to be doing, I found myself struggling like I'd been suddenly struck with ataxia - movements jerky, uncoordinated, and saturated with thought. Haha. I bet I looked ridiculous. I felt like the Tin Man on ice.
Found out I'm left foot dominant today, even though I'm right-handed! That was interesting. =)
So, on goes the theatrical attempt to surprise Steven upon his return! =) Only 29 days left, and though my trainer Svetlana assures me I will be ready in time, I remain dubious. WE SHALL SEE!
If not, at least I've learned a LOT, including how to get up after a dozen falls and how to laugh at myself!
Merry Christmas <3

Thursday, November 17, 2011

November 17, 2011

Vengeance~ a rather scary word, isn't it? According to Marriam-Webester, it is defined, "punishment inflicted in retaliation for an injury or offense." Prime synonyms include revenge, retribution, requital, payback. The first verse that comes to my mind is God's absolute monopoly on the subject: "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith The Lord." (Rom 12:19) Clearly, revenge is not supposed to play any role in the life of Christians. But does it?
Recently, I have been preparing a few lessons for the ladies class at church, which I will be giving come December. As I thought over everything I've learned at Bible college - and beyond- the past year, this was a subject that crossed my mind, and I wanted to share.
Romeo and Juliet. Yupp, that's pretty much my ultimate idea of revenge personified in history. Suicide, the most extreme retribution in response to a lost love. I suppose next up would be Joseph's brothers throwing him in a pit, plotting his murder, and then up and selling him into eternal slavery - all in turn for jealous sibling rivalry. The examples are plethoric and infinite. Much blood has been shed, lives forever altered, and history written, in the service of revenge.
Vengeance isn't such a far progression away from the old, familiar experience of anger. According to the study "Anger and the Christian," by Dr. V. Jett, it is merely the third step in a natural, downard progression of unresolved anger - a quick successor to bitterness and resentment. Any injurous assault (whether actual or perceived), gives birth to anger. Left unresolved, bitterness takes root, followed by resentment, and the natural response is to act upon these feelings: to retaliate.
Cain may have lured his brother in the fields to a viscious, violent death - but just because revenge is a consequence of sin seen from the very beginning of the world, does not mean it has any play in MY story, right? Well, we would all assume so.... but I found otherwise.
Just what is revenge, anyways?
Not necessarily the extreme, violent act of hatred that is so often portrayed. When Satan works vengeance into our life, like so many other traps of sin, he applies it in small, seemingly-harmless doses. It was quite a shock, much like a dose of cold water, when I came to terms with how widely Satan had infiltrated my thoughts and life with vengeance.
And I realized, that in all honesty, revenge is merely any action I take without prayer. When someone has hurt me, made me mad, annoyed me, insulted or disappointed or upset or wronged me? I instantly make some kind of decision on how I will respond. And I have come to realize, that unless that FIRST RESPONSE is to pray, and ask God to help me make a right decision, than I have strolled heedlessly into the natural, ancient path of revenge. My problem, taken care of my way.
Have you ever seen how deeply our life is permeated with miniscule, destructive acts of vengeance? When someone gets upset, they --- fill in the blank, and there's the revenge.
I won't talk to them for a while. I won't answer the next time they call. I'm not going to smile at them. I'm going to ignore them. I'm going to yell back. I'm going to delete them off Facebook! I'm going to frown and cross my arms. I'm going to....
Hey, why aren't you going to church anymore?
Oh, the preacher upset me...
Hey, why aren't you talking with him anymore?
I'm mad at him right now...
Hey, what's with the attitude today?
Someone pushed my buttons...
I'm not sure that my examples will relate to the temptations that face my friends and readers, but, I wanted to share, and I hope that the thought comes through. =)
The next time a situation presents us with anger, be sure not to jump to revenge. Before we make a decision, take a minute to pray!
"Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and PRAY for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Matt. 5:44

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Novemeber 13, 2011

Airlines, booking fees, inteneraries, layovers, seating options. The most straightforward step in going from life here to studies at Heartland Baptist Bible College, is probably the plane ticket. It is probably also the most interesting. =) Where in western Europe should I drop in for my flight change? I travel with enough luggage to sink Titanic, but how much is that going to cost? Most importantly, perhaps, is if the airport terminal has wifi, so I can keep tabs on my FB world! =P
Last New Years, I flew through Madrid, Spain, with my adventurous sister Kat, on our way to Heartland for the first time. Coming back, Helsinki, Finland, was the Norwegian stopover. Travel and sightseeing is a package-deal luxury that I love about being an MK.... There is still so much of the world I would love to see!! This time, I will be flying by myself (cool) from Ukraine to the USA.
Days of looking, looking, looking... and my ticket is booked! I still have to arrange travel to the capitol city, Kiev, but from there - it's Paris, France and then Dallas Fort Worth, Texas, over 21 hours of flight before I end up in good ole Oklahoma City! Where hopefully, all of my luggage will be waiting cheerfully on the carousel. =)
I am especially thrilled about Paris. I haven't been since I was sixteen (for my sweet sixteen birthday! it was unforgettable!), and I'm looking forward to having another French stamp in my passport. Bienvenue à Paris! Profitez de votre séjour! Merci...
Hopefully, jetlag won't be a big deal on the way there. I will gain eight hours in the air, flying backwards against time zones. So I will land only a few hours after I leave Europe, according to local time when I land, even though it's been a day. Kind of like taking a 9-hour nap and fitting it into three real-time hours. YEAH!! =) It is lame on the way back, though, losing eight hours. Oh, well.
So, one major step down! And several more to go. Mail in my reenrollment papers, secure a bus ticket to the capitol, celebrate a few holidays in between there. =)
I can't wait!!! The excitement of change in the air is so delicious! A little scary, but definitely good. I plan to keep everyone updated as the details roll in. Shouldn't let the travel hound loose... ;)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

November 12, 2011

In the highly-interesting, millenia-old book of Ecclesiastes, an ancient king pondered the course of time in all its active beauty. Inspired by the Creator Himself, the words were recorded, "To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven... He hath made everything beautiful in his time." Among the list of shifting eras, three were noted: "A time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace."
Many months have passed since my last blog post. Chance as it seemed, when blogger (again!) refused to publish my whimsical ramblings, I know that it was God's purpose for this time of quiet.
Ironically enough, I moved my blog from the pages of Memories of an MK to this chronicle, A Story Unpublished, almost this exact time last year. I was preparing to embark on a new journey, to fly to an unknown college in an unfamiliar state, miles away from all things dear and familiar.
How clearly I remember the challenge, the fear, the anticipation.
Now, a year later, it is curious to look back and see how God has worked. Oklahoma City no longer feels so alien and vast to me, even if it is still very unknown. Maybe someday it will feel more a part of me, but for now, it definitely is a chapter in my life's story. In the place of great void, I now have bright warmth that represent the friends made, experience won, history written.
I am looking forward to going back to OKC, but my time home in Kharkov has been an unspeakable blessing.
Once again, I find my life shifting gears, shifting "seasons," and God opened up the opportunity for me to renew this blog. Just in time for the holiday nostalgia!
I hope that my readers are still out there somewhere =)
It is a prayer that my blog will be a blessing, and my story, unpublished and unperfected as it may be, will reflect the glory of God. He has grown impossibly dear to me in these months of quiet, and for that, I am most thankful of all.