Fifty. For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (ESV)

Today is my last day of freedom (for a while anyway) and this one is hitting harder than all the ones before because I’m coming out of a fantastic summer. That’s why I was thinking about Ecclesiastes today.

I’m passing from one season to another (both literally and figuratively) and it’s scary.

But I want to take some time to praise God for the amazing experiences I had this summer.

First, anyone who knows me knows I love the summer because I’m out of school so I’m less stressed, I get to work and I love my job, and I get to travel and see my family. This summer delivered on all counts!

Mom, Dad, uncle Dima, aunt Julia, cousin Jessica and Elizabeth (in the front)

Mom, Dad, uncle Dima, aunt Julia, Jessica and Elizabeth (in the front)

In June, my parents and I went to Pennsylvania. We were staying around the Pocono Mountains and Shawnee Valley area. My aunt, uncle and two cousins from New Jersey came to see us (and we went on a hiking trail), and we took a few side trips too. We went to Philadelphia (we’ve been before, but it was still cool) and an awesome sculpture park.

Jessica, and Alex with Liza on his shoulders :)

Jessica, and Alex with Liza on his shoulders 🙂

At the end of our trip we went to see their new house in New Jersey and my brother even joined us 🙂

At the end of June and into the beginning of July, we had our annual cottage week with our family friends. This year we were at Charleston lake.  Two of my best friends joined us for a few days, and my brother came by too.

The couples: Khaviches, Urievs, Ghazals - all relaxing by the lake

The couples: Khaviches, Urievs, Ghazals – all relaxing by the lake

I actually stayed in Ottawa for pretty much all of July but I got to spend lots of time with the best people. Two of my best friends were in Ottawa, and one of my other best friends came to spend a weekend with us. We shared a lot of laughs and became inseparable!

In August we went to Las Vegas and I got to celebrate my 22nd birthday there. People are often shocked to hear about my family going to Vegas so often because it’s known as Sin City but there’s plenty you can do there without getting into any trouble too. Like meeting up with family friends, seeing fantastic shows, eating amazing food and marvelling at the gorgeous (and extravagant) hotels!

This is indoors!

This is indoors!

Also indoors

An indoor waterfall

An indoor waterfall


Seeing Terry Fator (AGT)!

Souvenir pictures from Pampas

Souvenir pictures from Pampas

I’m really grateful my parents value travelling. We’re able to see the world, experience culture and adventure, create memories and spend quality time together. Life won’t always be like this, so I’m happy for the time we have.

As soon as we got back from Las Vegas, Lindsey and I joined Justine at her family’s cottage on Belmont Lake, in Havelock, ON. The girls surprised me for my birthday with delicious cupcakes by the fire.

11866385_995967960455017_345829462079769578_nWe slept under the stars (literally took our sleeping bags and slept outside on the deck), went to Toronto to see a Blue Jay’s game (Lindsey’s and my first baseball game ever!) and laughed way too much. I always have such a good time with these women. 11850618_10155996787990714_37859395553056815_o

Our next trip was a combination trip, but my brother came with us for the whole thing! We drove to Washington, D.C. at night-time (easier for my dad, who’s used to working at night) but stopped in New Jersey to leave my dog with our family. My grandparents from Israel came to visit for a few weeks and were staying with my aunt and uncle. After a quick rest there, we drove on to the capital of the U.S.

My brother and I took a few tours together and went to Madame Tussaud’s wax museum (that has been on my bucket list for a very long time!) before joining my parents for the rest of our touring time. We went to an incredible spy museum, saw and heard so much, walked way too much and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!

With my brother and my mom in front of the White House

With my brother and my mom in front of the White House

After three and a half days in D.C. (we were actually staying in Alexandria, VA though) we joined the rest of our family for a reunion in Naples, NY. We had a great time relaxing at the cottage there, swimming in the pool, hiking along a river (and trying not to die as we jumped from slippery rock to slippery rock across fast-moving water!) and just generally enjoying some time to catch up with relatives from around the world.







I’m so thankful for the time I got to spend with family and friends, the new places I got to see, the experiences I was able to have, and all the laughs and fun memories that will last forever. I’m so thankful for such a full and wonderful summer, for health and joy and peace, for the beauty of life.

And I need to hold onto these happy times as I’m heading into a scary time.

I’ve been taking swimming lessons this summer and tonight is my last one – so I’ll be tested to see if I’ve learned enough. I guess that’s not particularly scary. It’s actually been fun, even if a little embarrassing. But any kind of test is stressful.

Tomorrow though, I have my first day of classes in my last year of school. I’m looking at my schedule and some of my classes fill me with fear and dread. I feel like I’m doing this alone because my best friends aren’t at school with me.

I have to focus on the blessings in my life though, and praise God through all the storms I’ll face over the next eight months. I’m going in as a different person than I was last time around and I know I’ll come out changed again.

Whatever is coming, I’m glad I have the Lord guiding me through and the support of family and friends around me (even if they’re not going through it with me right now).

I hope that whatever kind of summer you’ve had, whatever is about to come around for you, any new jobs, locations, or a new stage in life, or maybe you feel stuck, remember that there is a time for everything.

I’ve just come out of a season of fun and freedom, of friends and family and I’m heading into a season of hard work and stress but through it all, I will praise the Lord! I hope.

God Bless!

(PS, check back, album links will be coming… hopefully. And yes, Ireland is still in the works.)


Forty-Seven. Simplicity and Steadfastness.

Recently, life has been very busy. A lot of assignments have been due, a lot of events have been going on and I don’t feel like my life is simple anymore.

I’m always juggling things, I’m sacrificing one thing (like sleep) for other things (like writing essays), and all the different choices are tough too.

Life is complicated.

But I suppose that’s how it should be.

When life is complicated, we appreciate the simple things so much more.

Recently I’ve been having a few conversations with different people about writing. Not only do I write essays for school – I am studying journalism and literature after all – but I also love to write, as evidenced by this blog, and I appreciate language, I love sophisticated vocabulary and complex (but properly used!) grammar is exciting.

But not every sentence has to have 53 ideas crammed into and not every word needs to be the most obscure thesaurus entry for what you’re actually trying to say.

In fact, when you’re writing for others especially, your sentences should only have one idea in them and you need to use the best word to accurately describe what you’re trying to explain.

Make sure you understand your own thought.

Make sure you’re being clear and straightforward.

“Simple” is not a bad word.

There seems to be a stigma against using simple words and writing simple sentences. I don’t know why people think that as university students they have to prove how much better they are than high school students, for example. You should always be getting smarter, yes, and you should be growing your vocabulary and your techniques as you learn. But if you can’t fit all 87 words into a sentence that makes sense, don’t!

Just break it up.

If people can’t understand what you’re trying to say, they won’t be seeing your fancy words, they will think you’re trying to cover something up. Either you don’t really know what you’re talking about, and you’re just as confused as they are, or else you think you’re too good to explain things to the likes of them.

I had a teacher once who knew their subject. They REALLY knew it. But they forgot that the students they were teaching weren’t at the same level. They went too quickly, used unfamiliar words and concepts and seemed unsympathetic to people who couldn’t keep up. It’s hard to understand new things sometimes. Experts need to remember that they didn’t always know everything.

I had another teacher who also knew their subject better than anyone would ever need to know anything. But they were so good building up the students. they gave the basics first and made sure everyone got those concepts before moving on and building in the next part. They did what teachers are supposed to do, teach.

I think we need to do that same when we’re writing or speaking. The point of communication is to communicate, but that’s a two-way street. Someone puts out an idea and someone takes in that idea. If person A meant to say “apple” but person B understood “orange,” there was a breakdown in communication. It could be person B’s fault, but if you are person A, make sure you tried to convey your idea is the best way possible.

One of my journalism professors this semester has two rules for us in our writing.

1. NEVER use the word “very.” He wasn’t very tired, he was exhausted.

2. Don’t use the word “and” to make your sentence longer and more complex. (I’m kind of bad at this one.)

I wish we could all remember that.

I wish “simple” didn’t have the negative connotation is being “stupid.” Simple is not stupid. Simple is effective. Simple is kind. Simple is beautiful.

When I started writing this post, I had a clear idea of what I wanted to talk about, but something else came up too.

Going back to “when life is complicated, we appreciate simple things,” we also appreciate steadfast things. (In case “steadfast” is a new word for you, it means, “resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering” but I do touch on what I mean in the next sentence.)


We appreciate the things that don’t change, we appreciate the things we can trust, we appreciate the things that shine like bursts of light when we feel depressed, powerless, lost, alone, or in the dark.

When life is complicated, we can always lean on God, and while He’s not simple, He has taught us to accept a few simple truths.

1. He loves us. We don’t have to understand why, but we do have to understand that it’s unconditional.

2. He is always there for us. This one is hard for our minds to understand sometimes, but when we pray, we’re not talking to a wall or the ceiling, God is listening and He does answer. Believe that He hears you, don’t be afraid to cry out to Him.

3. He is unchanging. His love for us does not change, He does not abandon or forsake us, He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

All of those concepts can be complicated when you try to unpack and understand how and why they are, but the truths there are gifts to us, and we can simply believe. There’s no test for us that asks, “Why does God love you?” or “When does God change?”

I’ve been really stressed out recently because I’ve had a lot of schoolwork to do. On Wednesdays, when my classes are over, my work isn’t, but I enjoy going to “Church on Wednesday” to meet with friends, to worship God and to get into His Word.

A few weeks ago one friend asked how my week went, and I said I was stressed and tired. He asked me two things, “Did anyone die?”


“Is Jesus still on the throne?”


“Then everything’s fine.”

He was right. In the midst of my stress, I could still look to God for strength, for peace, for comfort. He is everything.

Whatever you’re going through, remember that He is King of all.

Remember that He loves you.

Remember that He is unchanging.

Go to Him, cry to Him, lean on Him.

Anyway, that’s what has been on my heart and I wanted to share that with you, to hopefully encourage you to look at your life.

Where are you trying to complicate things?

Have you been forgetting that God loves you?

Well He does, more than I do.

God Bless,


Twenty-Six. Tears.

This post is long overdue. It’s about something I noticed at work, but the event happened a few weeks ago.

Anyway, for anyone who has, works with, or had ever been around kids, you know they cry for a variety of reasons. Usually (at work anyway) they cry for silly reasons like, “Wait your turn, let your friend play with it for five minutes.” or “Is it nice to hit your friends?” Sometimes they cry because they miss mommy and daddy, which is perhaps more legitimate than those other two (not getting their way or getting in trouble) but since you know they’re safe and all their needs are met, it’s not a cry that truly registers. And sometimes they fall or bump into something and cry from pain or shock.

But a cry from terror – now THAT registers.

We had a fire alarm go off just after nap one day and seeing some of the kids cry because they were scared was one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve seen in a long time. I almost started crying.

It made me think about tears, fears, strength and compassion in ways I’d never really thought of them before.

Particularly tears.

Tears are such strange things. According to Wikipedia there are three categories of tears. There are also different triggers for tears. And there are different interpretations of tears too – like social acceptability dependant on gender/age/situation. I don’t want to get scientific about tears though. The triggers are what I find interesting, as well as the benefits (or consequences) of crying.

A lot of people can tell who is crying by the sound. I found that while I can’t necessarily place a child with a particular sounding cry, the sound and the visual together indicate why the child is crying and elicit different responses – ones I don’t consciously control.

It reminded me of the most common reasons I might start crying (and I happen to do that a lot). Often I laugh too hard. Sometimes it’s because I’m watching some emotional movie or something. And other times I’m remembering something particularly sad, like the death of my grandparents. Rarely, I cry from the pain of my headaches/migraines.

Another reason I cry sometimes is from stress/anxiety. I’ll over-think things sometimes and start freaking myself out with possibilities whether past (could have/would have/should have) or present (what-ifs).

Whatever the reason for crying (though less-so with the positive reasons), crying has always seemed healthy to me because it’s a physical release of something you might be feeling and it can really help you heal or overcome whatever is bothering you.

If I hadn’t cried over my grandparents’ deaths, I might still be shaking on the inside to this day.

There’s a beautiful song by Laura Story called Blessings and some of the lyrics talk about tears:
‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
The ‘You’ she is referring to is God.

In the most challenging times I’ve faced in my life I often try to be “strong” and just talk through the problem without crying but alone in my bedroom at night, I can’t sleep, so I pray. I just lay it all out for God – who already knows what I’m going through but listens anyway – and I start crying uncontrollably. Then I feel better.

It’s amazing how quickly letting negative emotion or negative thoughts flow out with my tears can help. Crying can bring peace and calmness in very trying situations.

So I encourage you to cry out to God. Maybe you’re a man and you feel like “real men” don’t cry… Well to God, you’re another child of His and He sees your pain even if you’re not willing to admit it or show it to anyone else.

Time and time again my closest friends remind me that crying is healthy and it can heal. I truly believe that’s true. I also believe tears are more powerful than we give them credit for.

Anyway, I just wanted to share some thoughts I had about tears with you all – I don’t know if that’s something people ever talk about.

This seems like a shorter post than usual. That’s probably not a bad thing.

Remember He loves you and He can deal with your tears so cast all your troubles, worries, fears, problems and emotions at His feet, come to Him as a small child would go to their parent and cry until you feel better.

You can also cry from laughing too hard because joy is beautiful!

Thank God for the emotions He gave us and for the ways in which we can express ourselves.

So, as usual, I hope God Blesses each and every one of you abundantly.

PS: I GOT MY BELGIAN VISA! It came last week, no questions, no problems! I was a little worried – but more about that in my next exchange prep update, which should be my last one because at this point, I only have one step left (finding somewhere to live).

Nineteen. Stress

I think I like to post blogs at the most stressful times. The times when I definitely should be focusing on getting other things done…

I just can’t focus when I’m too busy over-thinking and writing helps me process whatever I’m going through.

I also don’t like the sound of my own voice so I’m sure people get tired of hearing me talk, but this way they can read at their own leisure and imagine whatever voice they’d like.

So today’s thoughts are on stress. Specifically the crazy, messy situation I’m in now. I’m also feeling lonely tonight.

Sometimes, even surrounded by people you can feel lonely. And in those times, I start singing worship songs in my head. Eventually I get to a computer and play worship songs on YouTube. It’s really amazing how turning your focus to God can brighten your mood and/or bring comfort in difficult times.

Anyway, it is often in times of solitude you realize certain realities of your life, and sometimes they’re not so great, but there’s not always anything you can do. So sometimes you have to eliminate that particular stress in your life by accepting you can’t change or control everything. Right now, I really need to trust God and seek fulfillment in Him.

So why am I so stressed out right now? Well, as I mentioned in the previous post, I have three essays left to write. They’re due in four days. Granted, they are short, and yes, it’s my own fault I left them so long, but none of that helps me write them.

On top of that, exams are  coming up and while my schedule is really nice (one exam on Saturday the 13th and one each on Fridays the 19th and the 26th), my hardest exam is the very first one.

My schedule for the next week is kind of tough for studying. Today is Friday, it’s the Sabbath and typically I don’t do any homework on Fridays… this week I might have to because I have a mini assignment due for my discussion group by midnight tonight.

Tuesday I have class from 8:30 to 1 pm, I will get home between 2 and 2:30, then I tutor at 4:30. Kind of busy.

Wednesdays I don’t usually have class, but I do work in the nursery during W2W at the Met. This is my favorite day of the week… usually. For some reason Carleton screwed up everyone’s schedules and decided to make up Good Friday’s missed classes by giving us a Friday schedule this Wednesday. so instead of my usual relaxing day with one year olds, I have class.

Thursday, I have to come back to school for a mandatory exchange prep meeting. Then I have some time planned with my friends because with exams and travel plans and moving, we won’t spend much more time together after this… I’m leaving for a year and Esther is moving away forever, well at least for the foreseeable future. Ruth also doesn’t live in Ottawa, so we won’t have much of a chance to hang out.

So next Thursday evening, I will go to youth group, go to Esther’s house and come home sometimes on Friday, but I don’t know when or how. But then, just like this week, when I get home on Friday, I have to make the powerpoint for the evening’s service.

Then I have an exam on Saturday.

Basically, I have this weekend to write three essays and study for my hardest exam. I’m stressed out and worried. And I’m still very sick… I’ve been coughing for over six months now.

I also have a lot to think about with my exchange, but I think I’ll elaborate on that later.

For now, I think I need to take things one day at a time. Now, I’m working on the assignment I have due by the end of the day. Hopefully it’ll go more quickly than I expect, but in all likelihood I’ll fall asleep before it’s done and I’ll have to work quickly when I get home after class.

Then I’ll have to write my French essays and I just won’t stop until I finish. If all goes well, I can have those done on Saturday, realistically however, I’ll probably have to stop in between each page or something because I’ll get bored with writing… In those breaks I’ll try to read for my exam and soon enough I’ll give up on studying and make myself get back to writing.

Hopefully, by Sunday I’ll be done the essays so I can use Monday to do the bulk of my studying (I’ll have to write a blog about my “studying” at some point) and really, I’ll just take each day as it come next week, using chunks of time here and there to read a little more for Political Science.

Thankfully, I have gone to every class and every discussion group, so I will pray that I don’t get worked up and psyche myself out during the exam. That’s always my prayer during exams actually, not that God would give me good grades, but that He would help me to stay calm and focused and especially for Him to help me remember everything I know from being in class. Really, if I’ve been in every lecture, I should know everything I need to know for the exam so I just need to unlock it when it counts.

Then I will breathe a huge sigh of relief, watch a few movies and prepare for my next exam.

Or go to work.

For now, lovely readers, I will get to that mini assignment. I’ll get through this trying time. And you will get through any of your difficult times too.

I find God is especially loving during times of high-stress. Focusing on Him helps me put my life and problems into perspective and suddenly, grades don’t seem as important as bringing glory to the King. I would encourage you to keep your eyes on Him and I know He’ll bless you. He’s blessed me far more than I deserve.

If you’re stressed out, eat something. Drink some tea. Have a nap. Sing/listen to worship songs. Repeat any steps as necessary.

Thirteen. Life and Death.

What can I say, I have failed miserably in both my blog and my YouTube vlogging. I definitely meant to post things about myself more often but I get so busy sometimes. Those are the most interesting times, so that’s when people might want to hear about some of the crazy things that go on around me but those are the times I can’t seem to find time to actually write a blog post or make a video. I make plans to do them though.

Well, since the end of last October lots of things have been happening. Obviously. But I don’t know that listing them now would do any good whatsoever.

My dad and brother have their birthdays in November, that’s pretty nice. But December is always a more interesting month.

As a Messianic Jew, I attend a Messianic congregation which meets on Friday evenings. I’m the only member under 40 but it’s my home. I’ve literally grown up in front of those people’s eyes. I think I was about a year old when my parents started attending. There used to be more young people but due to life moving on, so too have they.

This has left me as the only person to take care of children. We’ve gone up and down with kids coming on  Friday nights but I’ve always been there at a moment’s notice to help out or teach or whatever was needed. We once had a family with 5 kids from 1-11 who didn’t speak much English that I had to try to teach. That was a challenge but it was nice to have consistent numbers and we managed to get some lessons planned and input some routines.

Then they left.

For some time there were no children or if any would come it would be very sporadic – usually for holidays. Why am I even talking about this? I’m clearly talking about something from way before December. But it prefaces what I’ve been doing recently.

We have a new family attending our congregation now, and they have two daughters. They’re from South Africa but they lived most recently in Australia. They’re very sweet.

I’ve been left completely alone to prepare lessons for them or teach them something off the cuff. I’m not saying that so anyone feels sorry for me though, I actually don’t mind teaching on my own… it’s the planning and stuff that can get pretty demanding.

I’m a full-time student in journalism at Carleton – and if you ask anyone, that’s an incredibly tough major. I’ll add to the assurances that it is a hard major to pursue. On top of that, I’m actually in a double major with a minor as well. But that would have been ok if I took on less responsibility outside of school… Unfortunately, I have a hard time saying no.

So, on top of being a full-time student and teaching kids on Friday nights, last semester I accepted a paid volunteering job on Wednesday mornings. I’ve also recently accepted becoming someone’s tutor on Tuesday evenings. I also have a job – though thankfully I’m on-call so it’s not a weekly task. I’m the tech-person at church. I’m involved in an Evangelical Christian group on campus and we have a meeting every Monday. And I belong to another youth group which meets on Thursday nights. I also come out to morning prayer at 7 in residence.

How can I make time for all of this? Where do I find it?

Rest assured I operate on the same 24-h cycle you all do and I’m 100% human meaning I need to eat and breathe and sleep just like you.

But I have something extra to be thankful for. I have a higher calling, a different purpose in life… Something to look forward to. My reward isn’t here on earth, it’s in Heaven, The things I do, I do to being glory to my Father. And He sustains me. He gives a supernatural rest and supernatural strength so I have only Him to thank.

I guess That wasn’t necessarily about December but it’s definitely something I’ve noticed a lot more recently and December just seemed to make a good place to talk about all of this. I definitely wish I did more for the girls though – but it’s really tough to get all my homework done on top of planning weekly things to talk about so mostly I just try to encourage them as we talk about our lives.

Other stuff happened in December but I’m not talking about Christmas as many people would. Not even Hanukkah.

Classes ended really early in December, officially Monday the 3rd, but my one Monday class didn’t meet anyway. On the 2nd, my parents went on a cruise, leaving me seemingly alone – which I hate. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this before, but I detest being alone. I get bored and lonely when there are no other humans around and my house is too big to be empty (even though it’s really small).

It just so happened that on that particular Sunday I was invited to a Christmas party which was very nice. Sunday night was awful because I came home and there was no one there but Monday, instead of going to class, our professor invited us to her house for dinner. After a fun night out, I met with a couple other friends and we went back to my house where they stayed for the week. Then on Thursday they left, I went to another Christmas party and when I came home in the evening, my parents were back! The timing just happened to work out pretty well.

Then came exam time. I dropped one class and one of my other classes doesn’t have any exams so thankfully, I only had three to worry about.

They were pretty spaced out with one on the 13th and two on the 18th (but one of those was an online test). Let’s fast forward to Monday the 17th, the day before I had TWO exams, the day I should have been studying the hardest (not that I do that too often). I woke up to one of the most awful sounds you can possibly imagine.

My mom was sobbing hysterically just down the hall from my bedroom.

That’s the sound I woke up to.

My grandmother in Belarus had had a stroke and when she fell, she hit her head.

Now, my grandpa had been sick for a long time so mentally everyone was preparing for his imminent passing. About a week before this happened he became paralyzed in his legs due to diabetes complications. My grandma was his primary caregiver.

He was fully aware of what happened; his wife of fifty years had fallen and she wasn’t responding to him. But there was nothing he could do to help. He had a cellphone with him so he called my aunt.

She came to the house but the door was locked, she didn’t have a key and neither of my grandparents could let her in so she had to break a window. If you know anything about Canada, you know our winters can be brutal. Well it’s worse in Belarus. Breaking the window was not ideal but at least my aunt made it inside and could figure out what to do.

So my grandma was in the hospital and they didn’t know if she would survive the night.

That’s why my mom was sobbing.

Obviously I got upset and all studying stopped before it began that day. My mom was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to write my exams but I told her I didn’t want to ask for a deferral. Come Tuesday I thought I could keep it together, and I managed to sit two hours to write my French literature exam but I started crying so I knew I had to leave. Thankfully, I’d written something, and all I could do was hope it was enough.

My online test went quite quickly so soon it was time to relax and enjoy my break.

I had intended to spend my day reading but when I woke up, my mom called home from work to ask if there’d been any news about grandma. I told her there was nothing. She called back again, but there was still nothing new to tell her.

Around 11 am, my aunt skype-called us and told me my grandma had died.

That was the first familial loss I ever experienced. At first I was so shocked, I didn’t know how to react but it soon hit me how heart-broken I was. As soon as I got my dad downstairs the tears started flowing and it was pretty hard for me to stop them.

You might remember the first post I wrote for this blog. My dog Benji died. As sad as I was then, this was something entirely worse. Growing up it had been my wish that my grandparents would be at my wedding, all of a sudden, I knew that could never happen. Worse than that even, the next time I went to visit my family, she wouldn’t be there. I would never see her again.

I didn’t know how to deal with that. My mom rushed home from work and we tried desperately to find a flight for her, but because it was right before Christmas, there was no way she could make it in time for the funeral. Life stopped for a while. I was thankful not to be called in to work. Except once, but I told them I was grieving. The atmosphere in my house was definitely not what you would expect for the holiday season.

It’s now been almost a month, but it seems like yesterday.

I’m incredibly sad but life has to go on and we had to get back into a routine, back into a mode of interaction with others. It was hard, it still is, but I’m thankful for comfort and peace from Above as well as my brothers and sisters in Christ who supported my family with incessant prayers. I’ve never known what to say to people when they tell me of a tragedy such as a death in their family, and to be honest, I still don’t know what I would say to anyone else. I just know that I couldn’t have recovered if I didn’t know people who loved us were praying for us.

My only encouragement to anyone else in this situation is that when someone offers to do anything to help you, ask for prayer. God can heal the hurt in your heart and though nothing will take away the loss, He can restore joy.

My grandpa has since been fighting to regain control of his legs, so we’re thankful he hasn’t given up. The situation is still difficult, but we’re getting through.

This was a really long post, sorry guys. That’s what happens when you’re away for so long.

Just to wrap up here, school has started again in full swing, but this semester is looking to be a pretty good one – though it will be busy and tough. I also finished my application for the exchange (way back in the beginning of December) and I finally decided that Lyon would be my first choice, Paris my second and Brussels my third, so keep coming back to read about my exciting new life living abroad.

I love you and I want to encourage you to seek God because He is the only source of power we can trust. He sustains and restores. He reveals Himself in the most amazing ways.