Today, Ella speaks to us about motherhood, celebrating Passover, slowing down and her community ministry.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: I was born in Ukraine, as the second daughter of a God-fearing coal miner and seamstress, during the Communist Era. We immigrated to the America in 1991, so I was 6 years of age. My early childhood memories are filled with playing in our family garden, pulling carrots out of the ground to snack on, collecting raspberries, and climbing fruit trees. Outdoors was my home, and the red tulips that lined our white picket fence carried on into adulthood, being the first flowers I planted when we purchased our first home. My childhood in America was spent moving every year, from apartment to apartment, and school to school.
As my parents learned the ways of a new culture and language, I spent my days reading books, writing poems and letters, and practicing piano and flute. I have three siblings, and I never remember a dull moment of growing up together. We learned to enjoy with the little that we had, and our home was always full of God and love.
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: For the past year or two, I have been really meditating on two similar verses: “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things.” Romans 10:15, and
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” Isaiah 52:7.
I love these verses because I’m always reminding myself and my children that those that bring good news, not only the news of Christ, but also uplifting and encouraging words to others, how beautiful are those feet! How wonderful is it to come to one who needs the love, the support, the joy. So many times we can be tempted to discuss the wrong, the disappointing, but will we make time to discuss what will bring Him glory?
“So many times we can be tempted to discuss the wrong, the disappointing, but will we make time to discuss what will bring Him glory?”
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: At the moment, my focus is on how can I become a better child of God, a wife, a mother. Can I turn into the woman that God has destined me to be? Can I put aside my laziness, my selfishness, and give it all to Him? To the one that made me a wife and a mother. Can I answer my call to be a daughter of God? I thank the Lord for blessing me with a loving husband and five wonderful, yet at times rambunctious children, but now, can I answer the call to fulfill their needs? Can I instill my love of Christ in them? And not through lectures, but through actions. Does my countenance shine with His light and love? It is so easy for me to lose focus when disappointments come through and lose patience, raise my voice, and lash out. But can I answer the call to be loving, patient, and forgiving? I love the verse from Provers 31:26, “She opens her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.”
Profession: I am a wife to my husband and a mother and teacher to my children first. There can be no greater calling than to answer the call of motherhood. I am also blessed to give back to the world by visiting Babyland for just a couple hours a week. I have been a Labor and Delivery Nurse for 10 years now, and I couldn’t imagine a more gratifying profession. I love helping mamas bring new life into this world, and to encourage and support them at the beginning of their motherhood journey.
“There can be no greater calling than to answer the call of motherhood.”
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? Living by God’s Grace Alone
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? I was born into a God-fearing family from the start. With both grandfathers as pastors, the name of Jesus was heard daily in my home. My first vivid experience with God was when we moved to New York from Ukraine, and all of my relatives had gathered in our home. All of the cousins, and there were many, decided to gather in a room and pray together. That experience, being filled with God’s love and the Holy Spirit, set me on fire to serve Him and know more of Him.
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? Right now, my season of life, is motherhood and homeschooling. My homeschooling community has helped me grow tremendously. I have found my tribe and feel so blessed to have them in my life. Growing spiritually on your own is hard and challenging. There isn’t much accountability. That is why I feel so strongly about community. There was a reason that Paul urged Christians to gather together, even despite persecutions and being discovered. It’s a hard journey alone. But when you come alongside those that fear God and can take time to listen to you, give you Godly advice, and encourage you to press on, you grow! You bloom! And you flourish! I couldn’t be more thankful to the women that God has sent into my life. And above all, He deserves all the glory, because I know He has orchestrated it all.
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): This summer, I just finished reading Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv. That book was a fantastic read. Entering my 30s with a trip to British Colombia, my world really turned to nature, and it was if my eyes were opened to a world that never existed. All of the sudden, my soul ached for more of the outside world, and it took me a couple years to learn how to embrace all seasons.
I’m a Southern Girl at heart, and I live in Minnesota! Brrrr! But back to this book, it really solidified and open new ideas of the importance of nature, not only to children, but for every soul. I currently started reading Ourselves by Charlotte Mason, and with only two chapters in, I am blown away by the beautiful allegories she writes about the human soul. How often do we stop and ponder on the abilities of our soul, the nourishment it needs, and the struggles it faces? I am really loving this book, and I cannot wait to dig deeper.
Top three essentials: Phone, planner, pencil!
How did God speak to you recently? The Lord has really been gently reminding me to slow down and that I can’t have several things going on at once. I need to be more intentional with my time, my friendships, and commitments. I am one that can so easily overbook my life, only to feel drained and exhausted. And I believe that so many struggle with the same. But God is gracious to remind me that we can only do a couple things well or a lot of things poorly.
“God is gracious to remind me that we can only do a couple things well or a lot of things poorly.”
Hobby: This past year the two hobbies that have filled my soul are growing cut flowers and learning to watercolor. Could there be a better pair?
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong: Read His Word! Devotionals are helpful at times, but it cannot replace the Bible. You must read it for yourself, and not just rely on someone’s interpretation. He wants to talk with you, and that is through His Word. Find time to pray! In solitude. He wants to have a relationship with you friend. Surround yourself with Godly sisters, and brothers. Find those that will let you share your joy and embrace you when you cry.
Favorite person in scripture? David. I just cannot get enough of his raw life displayed in his poetry. He was a man after God’s own heart. He loved God. He struggled. He sinned. He repented and sought forgiveness. And he journaled it all.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? That He is Love. I want people to see acceptance in my eyes, that they are His children. His image. That He loves them more than all the love in the world combined. And that He wants them in His kingdom.
How do you leave your mark on your community? This year, I am opening a homeschool co-op, and we have eight families that will journey alongside us. I am praying for these 15 children that they are inspired and grow their interests. I pray for the mothers that will gather together weekly, that they maybe be encouraged and uplifted to know that they are answering God’s greatest calling, to educate their children. I also believe that I leave my mark on my community through the few hours I spend at the hospital. I pray for the families I care for, and the newborns that enter this world.
Favorite holiday? My favorite holiday has always been Christmas hands down, no doubt about it. But this past year we celebrated Passover, and we did Passover devotionals the 40 days leading up to Resurrection Sunday. That really left an impact on my children and I. Celebrating the greatest miracle of all time, the resurrection of our Lord, has brought new excitement into our family, and we cannot wait to celebrate it again in 2020!
A goal you have? While I have many goals, as I’m sure most mothers do, my greatest goal is to see my children walk with the Lord. There cannot be anything more gratifying than seeing your children serve their Creator.
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: My special tradition with the children, might not seem special at all, because we practice it daily. But we truly enjoy reading out loud at bedtime. The children know that if they get ready for bed at a reasonable time, we will sit together and read fairy tales, adventures, or journeys by great authors, and I love hearing their thoughts and dreams that they gather from these writers.
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? Lord, just how did you orchestrate it all? I am a science brain and am daily amazed at how intricate every living thing is in this world. I want to sit at His feet and listen to how He designed it all.
Thing you want to raise awareness about: I would love to raise awareness about how precious the years are with your children, especially the first few years. Children need the mother’s love so much, and so many of us have bought the mindset that we need to focus on our careers and our needs first, and letting the children be raised by others. I feel into that trap too with my older children. But, mothers, they need you.
They need you to be the one to snuggle them, listen their first discoveries, talk to them about their disappointments, and help them through their challenges. This world is moving at such an incredible speed, and we are constantly being pressured into putting our children into everything we hear about for the fear of them missing out. But I encourage you to slow down. Enjoy life in the backyard, or on a nature hike. You don’t have to, and shouldn’t do it all. But who defines doing it all? Maybe doing it all is simply watching a butterfly, reading a book, or learning to cook alongside mama in the kitchen?
“You don’t have to, and shouldn’t do it all.”
What does your morning routine consist of? Bible reading and meditation on His Word, writing in my commonplace journal, black tea, and soaking in a couple of minutes on the deck before the children awake.
Define Christianity in a sentence: Christianity is loving those who you know will never love you back.
For more Ella:
Until next time, keep witnessing!