Ukraine On My Mind

Like many others, I woke up this morning with Ukraine on my mind. As I listened to my snoring husband next to me, I searched my phone for any new updates. Stomach in knots as I read about the 13 soldiers on Snake Island who took a defiant last stand, the woman who confronted a Russian soldier and the plight of two sisters separated from their parents while holding out in a bomb shelter.

From the warmth and safety of my home, I sat there trying to wrap my mind around the trauma and fear Ukrainians are dealing with. They’ve been down this path before. I can’t imagine.

Several years ago, I had the pleasure of listening to two Ukrainians who started a ministry to provide loving, safe families for abused, neglected and abandoned children in their home country. Their hearts and passion for children flowed through each word they spoke. During a call with them, they soaked up all they could about trauma-informed care and yearned for knowledge to help restore the lives of broken children.

I also listened to a coworker who traveled to Ukraine and worked directly with the families and children at a summer camp. He held back tears as he talked about the humility and warmth of the Ukrainian people. He also broke a little when speaking about one particular boy whose trauma absolutely split his heart into pieces.

As I sat in my bed this morning with Ukraine on my mind, my thoughts immediately turned to them. It’s devastating to consider the work they’ve done, and still want to do, is now at risk. It angers me that trauma-upon-trauma is spilling out onto the people there.

It seems selfish to worry about what to fix for dinner or to run to Starbucks or any of those things we do on a typical day in my country. My kids are safe. They are warm, sleeping in their beds. Our family isn’t separated. We’re all here. Oh, the things we take for granted; the twisting of our version of freedom into concerns of trivial things.

Friends, let’s keep Ukraine in our hearts. Lift up the parents sheltering their children and the elderly who’ve already fought this war time and again.

Pray for Ukraine and its people.

Pray for courage, strength, protection and peace.

The Day After

I remember the day of September 11th when time seemed to freeze on the image of those two proud, tall, and shining buildings crumbling to the ground.  I remember the image of people running with anguish on their faces and their bodies covered in ash.  I remember people begging for their loved ones to be found.  I remember wondering how humans could have so much hatred in their hearts that they would choose death over life.  I remember the day of September 11th.

But…it is the day after September 11th that I remember as well.  I remember waking up, running to the television, and desperately hoping for a little good news.  I remember praying and pleading that more survivors were found over night.  I remember laying on the couch in a fetal position sobbing over the strangers whose lives were gone, feeling the heart-break for the families, and knowing that life would never be the same.

I remember getting ready for work, hopping in my car, and driving as if in a quiet trance.  Going to work after such a tragedy did not even seem right.  I was in graduate school full-time while working part-time at a pizza cafe, so asking people if they wanted cheese on their salad, pepperoni on their pizza, or a refill of their drinks seemed so trivial compared to the visions blasted on every television screen around.

I remember being annoyed by a group of ladies who seemed to be completely oblivious to what had just occurred.  They were laughing, telling stories…you know….just having a “girls’ lunch” while the rest of the folks in the restaurant spoke in hush, softened voices.  I wondered if they were purposefully ignoring the news or if they did not see how that fateful day affected everyone.

I’ll admit that growing up in the middle of America caused me to get a little used to things happening far off in the big cities or on the coast-lines.  This time though was different.  I remember calling my mom and telling her, I think life in America will never be the same again.”

Out of my own ignorance or false sense of security, or whatever it is one might call it, I never really thought an attack would happen to us.  But, it did.  I also knew that it was now just a matter of time before we would be headed off to war.  To be honest, this broke my heart and scared me a little as well.

Yes, I remember the day after September 11th.