The “One Another” Verses – Romans 15:7

In the New Testament God tells us how to treat “one another” many, many times. In anticipation of, and preparation for, living through the next months in very close quarters (as well as because it’s simply how we should always treat each other) the kids and I are going to be looking at one “one another” verse each day.

Today’s verse is:

Romans 15:7New International Reader’s Version (NIRV)

Christ has accepted you. So accept one another in order to bring praise to God.


Where the Wind Goes Sweeping Down the Plains

The tiniest frayed edges of the story begin long before August of 2015. And maybe I’ll write about those pieces that tickled and tugged at our minds for months and even years earlier…sometime. But for now, let’s start with an email Eric sent me sometime during that month. The email was a forward. A job posting, for a higher level position within his company. The next logical stepping stone in his career. An opportunity that would probably not be available anytime in the near future in the Minnesota district. BUT, as I read the email I realized…the job was in…OKLAHOMA??!!!! Oklahoma City to be specific.

We’ve dreamed for years of living in the mountains. Ever since before we got married actually. But never, ever, have we mentioned the state of Oklahoma. Did I say never? Yeah. Never. Can I tell you the image that came to my mind when I thought of Oklahoma? (A state to which admittedly I’d never been.) Hell. Yes. That’s right. If you consider saying the word “hell” to be swearing, then I swore inside my head when I thought about Oklahoma. Red dirt. Flat. Hot. Windy. Probably super humid. Basically, yucky.

I emailed Eric back one word.  “No.”

And I thought that would be the end of that.

But Eric didn’t agree that it was the end. And he kept working on me. It was a great job opportunity for him. One he really wanted. His current boss and his boss if he took the new job were both behind him and really pushing for him to take it. And his company would pay for our whole family to visit for a long weekend, so we could see if Oklahoma was really like…hell.

I finally said “okay”. We could visit. What danger could there be, really? I would hate it, but it would be a road trip and Eric would get the question of “would it be better?” out of his head.



At first Grayson couldn’t remember what Oklahoma was called. He’d say, “You know that place we’re going to visit? You know…Yahoomba?” It made us laugh and now we call Oklahoma, Yahoomba, sometimes.

We visited in November. The whole family. While it was already bitter cold and gray in Minnesota, Oklahoma City was sunny and truly delightful. Fall, yes, and the leaves were gone from the trees. But it was sunny with temps in the 70s. Also, Oklahoma City was so unexpectedly beautiful: rolling hills, oak and cedar trees, lakes. A spread out city that felt clean and friendly. Very different from home. But…gulp…nice.



“Everyone Should Have a Blog”

“Everyone should have a blog. It doesn’t matter if anyone reads it; what matters is that you write it.” ~Seth Godin

Here it is. I’m writing it down. I’m starting here.


Maybe no one will read it. Maybe I won’t even read it. But I want an opportunity to think through the things that God is doing in our lives; writing them down, even just a little bit at a time, may help me do that.

Vote for One! (Or Two)

I’m working on a new card design for The Card Project. I have an idea started that I really like, but I’ve come up with two variations on that idea and I can’t decide which direction to go. So, if you would take a look and let me know what YOU think, that would help me out. Some notes:

  • As with my other designs, there will be six different cards–I’m just showing two here. I’m thinking the colors will be the turquoise and red shown plus mustard, gray, black, and…not sure on the last one so I’m open to suggestions on that also. Maybe orange, maybe mint green?
  • Another option would be to offer both designs, and just make the sets two different color families–one set could be more traditional colors such as navy, deep red, dark green, etc.Shapes Idea

Thanks for letting me know which way you think I should go!


Question One: Would God use ME?

I went into this trip with three big questions. I thought it was a lot more than that, but really, looking back on it, they could really all be grouped into three main ones. I talked about my second question a few posts ago, but now we’ll go back to my first question.

My first question was: would God use ME?

I had a lot of fear going into this trip. It wasn’t the travel to a foreign country that scared me–I love to travel. My fear was in what we were going to be doing–teaching English, leading discussions, talking in front of large groups of people, camp games, and all with teenagers–that scared me to death. I couldn’t figure out why God would want me to go on this kind of trip or how in the world He could use an introvert like me. And I desperately wanted to be used. I didn’t want the trip to be a waste. But Eric was so confident that this is where God wanted us to go, that I felt it was my obedience to God to follow Eric’s leading, and go.

And you know what? God didn’t take away my introverted personality, but He was with me there, in it, getting me past that fear, (because there were, for me, really scary, hard things we had to do) and He gave me boldness I didn’t know I had.

Teaching English in an open air classroom.

Teaching English in an open air classroom.

I don’t think I’ve ever in my life felt so much I was right where God wanted me to be, right when he wanted me to be there. And it wasn’t just me. He used US. Our family. Our team. There was a specific purpose for each of us to be there, and God blessed us by giving us opportunities to use our individual strengths and weaknesses to serve Him.

Arli and Kat working on craft projects.

Arli and Kat working on craft projects.

There were things I was able to say to several of the girls because of how He made me. Because of experiences I’ve had or the personality He gave me.

Me with my sweet friend, Sima.

Me with my sweet friend, Sima.

So, despite my weaknesses, God used me. And I saw the same thing happen for each person on our team. Several days after we got home I wrote this in my journal…

A few days back now and Eric and I are still really struggling with jet lag. More and more, however, we are rejoicing in the wonderful trip God gave us, and the perfect spots he created for ministry, just for us, on the trip. I need to remember that He can do that here as well–but I need to trust Him and put myself out there in sometimes scary situations to see it happen.

Our family in Odessa, Ukraine.

Our family in Odessa, Ukraine.

Leighton’s Perspective

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Leighton with Alina, Ivan and Alyona.

I was surprised by the friendliness and forthrightness of the people. I had thought that they would be shy around a strange foreigner, but most of them came right up and introduced themselves.

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Bogden, Leighton and Max (a.k.a. Sugar).

One of the boys that I really connected with was a fifteen year old boy named Bogdon. He and I were probably the two goofiest kids at the camp; though I did learn that sometimes not being goofy is the better choice.


An injury that happened during camp, to our friend Kat. She was amazingly brave.

In many ways the cultures of Ukraine and the U.S. are similar. But in some ways they are nothing alike. Like with cuts and bruises, here we have a battalion of creams, salves, and liquids that kill infection. I learned this when I got a small scrape from an iron grate that I brushed past on the first day there. I thought nothing of it until about halfway through the camp; I was absently picking at it the scab that had formed over the wound and it started to bleed. I was startled then a few seconds later when one of the guys exclaimed, “Oh, Leighton you are bleeding!” It took a few minutes to calm them down and explain that it was just a scrape. Later I learned that cuts are a big deal in Ukraine because of the danger of infection.

I found it was a great and successful trip and ten people accepted Christ!

Answered Prayers

This morning we had the privilege of sharing at our church, during the Sunday School hour, about our trip to Ukraine. Each of us had a chance to tell a little about what we did, what we learned, and how God worked. It was so much fun (am I really saying that about something that involved speaking in front of a big group of people?) to tell just a few of our stories and introduce just a few of the new friends we made, to the dear friends we already have.

For my part (Anita) I talked about the three big questions I had going into the trip:

  1. Would God use me?
  2. How would God answer our prayers?
  3. Would it be worth it to take our whole family on the trip?

I’ll post later about the answers to the first and third question, but since I didn’t have time at church to talk specifically about the prayers we prayed and saw answered, I thought I would post them here right away.

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I have struggled often over the last year with migraine headaches and a lack of energy. Often I can hardly make it through the day. So we prayed that I would be healthy and have energy during the trip.
We were all pretty exhausted by the end of the trip. However, despite very long days and doing lots of things that really sap the energy of an introvert, we were all (including me) very healthy during the entire trip. Grayson struggled several times with motion sickness, but he handled it so well, and really enjoyed the extra attention being sick got him.

Safety in travel and at the camp.
We had only one delayed flight, that didn’t cause us any connection issues, and only a few very minor injuries (not to us, but to a few others) at camp.

Open hearts in the campers and in us.
Yes. We couldn’t believe how ready the camp kids were to love us, hear our stories, share their stories, and hear about God’s love. And we love them!

That God would bring just the right kids to camp.
He sure did. He brought kids that each of us could really connect with. And he brought kids who were ready to accept Him into their lives.

That we would be able to recognize those who we could reach out to.
We probably missed some opportunities, but each of us were determined not to “take anything home”. We prayed for direction, and worked very hard to seek out kids who needed us. We came home tired, but without regrets.

Financial provision.
We had enough to provide for the entire trip. We even had just enough to pay luggage fees we didn’t expect, and give some gas money to the friends who took us to and picked us up from the airport. This was almost to the dollar.

People would come to trust Christ.
Nine kids prayed for the first time to receive Christ and one rededicated her life to Him. Wow!!!! That’s an experience we wouldn’t have missed for anything. We’re so excited that even if WE never see those kids again (the missionaries and church in Odessa who put on the camp are dedicated about following up and discipling them, so they won’t be forgotten), but if WE don’t see them on earth, we will get to see their sweet faces in heaven some day.

That our team relationships would reflect the love of Christ.
Our team (as a whole team of short-termers from America and local staff), and our little team from Mt. Lake, got along and worked very well together. Even our kids got along really well! 🙂

Our kids would handle the trip well and be changed by the experience.
The first was definitely true. The latter, of course, is a more long term prayer, but we have seen growth already.

Some privacy and personal space for us to be a family, for our kids to get good rest, and for the introverts in our clan to be able to recharge by being alone for short periods of time.
At camp we were given our own room–just our family. This was perfect. Leighton actually opted to stay with a room-full guys, and he had an awesome time, but the rest of us really enjoyed having a quiet, private place we could call our own. In Odessa the Price-Williams family (a family who just moved to Odessa in June as full-time missionaries) gave up their apartment to us for the days we were there. We were so humbled by their generosity and kindness. It was much appreciated and it was an answer to our prayers.

Family Photo

If we are giving our requests to God, He does answer. It’s not always how we expect, but He knows what’s best for us, and , and if we are watching for answers, He uses those answers to work in our hearts.

Two Versions

I know we haven’t written much to keep you updated during our trip. Our days have been so full and we have wanted to be really focused, right where we are. Plus, there’s just so much to process inside our own hearts and minds before we are really prepared to share it with others who have not been blessed with the same experiences. But today, on the last day of our time here in Ukraine, I thought I would share something that this wise young man (Caleb Torres) told us a few days ago:


He said, “You’re going to go home and you’re going to want to tell everyone your story. But you need to remember that there will be two kinds of people who ask you about your trip: those who want to know the whole story, details and all, and those who want to know, but only really have time for the short version. So make sure you have two versions of your story ready to share.”

So, here is our short version: The trip was amazing. More than we could have imagined. God moved, both in our hearts and in the hearts of others. Thank you so much for supporting God’s work by supporting our trip.

If you want the longer story, I’m sure I’ll be sharing some here over the next few weeks as God works through things in our hearts, or you can ask us. We’ll be home August 6th. Make sure when you ask to tell us how much you have time for, because we’re excited and I’m sure all six of us (Rachel, Eric, Anita, Leighton, Arli and Grayson) will be willing to tell you WAY more than you wanted to know. 🙂






How We’re Spending our Vacation This Summer

It’s our third day at English Camp, the fifth day of our trip. I think. It’s Friday, right? 8:05 a.m. at home. 4:05 p.m. here. It’s very strange to think that we’ve lived through time that you haven’t yet. Boggles the mind.

Since I had a terrible time picturing what our days would be like here, I thought I would share with you, for my first post since our arrival in Ukraine, what we do during our days at Evangelistic English Camp. Here is our daily schedule. I’ll insert pictures of things I have pictures of at this point. I’ll take more throughout the week.

7:30 a.m. – Team prayer and praise meeting

8:00 a.m. – Team planning Meeting

9:00 a.m. – Breakfast

9:45 a.m. – English Reading (Bible Study)

11:45 a.m. – Break

12:00 p.m. – English Class (This is my favorite hour of the day.)

Katrina, Ben and Vira.

Katrina, Ben and Vira.


1:00 p.m. – Lunch


1:30 p.m. – Free Time

2:30 p.m. – Crafts

3:30 p.m. – Games

4:45 p.m. – Break

5:00 p.m. – English Conversation time




5:45 p.m. – Break

6:00 p.m. – Dinner

7:00 p.m. – Evening Program


9:00 p.m. – Special Activity (Things like movie night, dance night, capture the flag, and smores)

11 p.m. – Lights Out

Keep in mind that at some point during this day (it’s usually been happening after lights out) we have to plan for three different English Classes each day, help set up and organize events, care for our kids, and try to build relationships. Whew. I guess there’s a reason the staff keeps telling us to “leave it all at the camp. Don’t take anything home with you.”


Ready. Set. Go!

1:45 a.m. – Depart Schlabach homestead
2:00 a.m. – Pick up driver (Jason Penner) at Butterfield Casey’s.
2:20 a.m. – Pick up Rachel Knutson in St. James. First potty stop.
3:15 a.m. – Second potty stop.
4:30 a.m. – Third potty stop. (Someone read you should drink extra water when flying, and perhaps started drinking a bit too early…won’t mention any names)
5:30 – Problem free drop off and check in at MSP Terminal 2!

We’re off!