Saturday, October 7, 2017

I Can Promise You I Do Not









This is Ellianna.
She is my sister. 
I know. 
I know people look at her and don't see the potential I do. They see her smile. And hear her infectious laughter. But others also see her disabilities -  her Cerebral Palsy, that makes it hard for her to walk  Her learning disabilities, her dyslexia, and dysgraphia that make it difficult for her to read and write, even when she painstakingly practices over and over. They see her cochlear and discover her profound deafness. Very few people take the time to learn her language and communicate.

With so many special-needs, the world looks at her and doesn't expect her to become anything or achieve anything of worth in life. 

A few weeks ago, I re-watched the movie, The Imitation Game. It is the story of Alan Turing, the creator of "Turing machines" - also known as computers. In the film adaption of Turing's story, we see him hunched over his desk, drawing sketch upon sketch, countless diagrams and ideas pouring out of his head onto paper - and the utter disbelief from his colleagues that what Turing was doing was actually accomplishing anything. How those diagrams reminded me of Ellianna's talent with spatial directions, her quick nimble fingers building lego structures without diagrams to help her, and her natural understanding of technology. Her mind is always turning, always questioning, always discovering.

"Sometimes, it's the people no one imagines anything of, who do the things no one can imagine.' ~Alan Turing, "The Imitation Game"

Turing's machine cracked the German Enigma code and together, the team's work shortened WWII by several years and save thousands of lives. 

Though I had already seen the movie several times, that night tears welled up in my eyes at the end of the movie when Joan Clarke, Turing's teammate during the war, visits him in his home. She finds him depleted of strength and his brilliant mind draining away. Joan has everything Alan does not - a job, a spouse, a normal life. Kindly and with a firm, steadfast gaze, Joan tells him:

"No one normal could have done that. Do you know, this morning... I was on a train that went through a city that wouldn't exist if it wasn't for you. I bought a ticket from a man who would likely be dead if it wasn't for you. I read up on my work... a whole field of scientific inquiry that only exists because of you. Now, if you wish you could have been normal... I can promise you I do not. The world is an infinitely better place precisely because you weren't." Joan Clarke, "The Imitation Game"

In that moment as I cried, Joan's words resonated with me in a new way. I realized her words are precisely what I tell Ellianna, whenever she becomes discouraged...when she asks why she doesn't have friends that come to visit...when she cries in frustration at not being able to communicate with others as she so longs to...and when others, looking at all she isn't, miss everything that she is and all she can do. 

No one normal could have done that...

Ellianna's Art for Orphans
Can you see the man on the bench amidst fall leaves?



Dear Ellianna. 
If you wish you could have been normal, I can promise you I do not. 



The world is an infinitely better place precisely because you weren't. 

Follow and write to Ellianna at: I Am Ellianna on blogger and Facebook!
Learn about her Art for Orphans and order her prints by contacting Ting Ministries.








Saturday, August 12, 2017

Silver Petticoat Review - The Kindness Beneath the Joseon Gunman


Read the complete, original article here. 

Those who know Korean drama, may be familiar with Lee Joon-Ki. He played the orphaned Wang So in Scarlet Heart: Ryeo and does an excellent job in historical shows. So I was excited to find his show from 2014, Gunman in Joseon. Check out an excerpt of my Romantic Moment of the Week, when Hae-Won tells Hanjo she was once a slave, and be sure to follow the link to the whole article on The Silver Petticoat Review.

Excerpt from the Silver Petticoat Review: 

[Hanjo] looks at [Hye-Won] with a small smile and she returns his gaze. It is clear the admiration for each other has not changed – in fact, perhaps it has only grown. Hanjo’s own situation, and knowledge of what he is hiding behind the name Hasegawa Hanjo – the son of a “traitor” and a sister who suffered for three years in his absence – gives him a genuine understanding and compassion."

What he goes on to tell Hye-Won is one of the best lines of gentle affirmation I have heard in a K-drama...and made me love Lee Joon-Ki's acting even more!


Friday, August 4, 2017

Guest Post: Caring for Orphans and Animals



This is a story I have to share, for it has settled in my heart. 

Update from Ting Ministries: See the original post here.

From our animal rescue partners at Shelter Friend - Ukraine.: "Often people who drink a lot or homeless are more kind to animals then so called normal pet owner... On the photo is an elderly man who died alone, who lived alone, who drunk a lot... But he saved two dogs and three cats from streets. He was [sharing] food with them and they cuddle at night to warm each other. Man died and relatives will take what ever is left from house except animals.. so we offered them shelter..."
Some people ask us at Ting Ministries why we care about both orphans and animal rescue. If you have ever seen the healing a hurt, abandoned animal can bring to a hurt and abandoned child - that is why. This man knew how it felt to be alone. So, when he saw the lonely animals, he offered what no one else did to him - a home and love. Likewise, our dogs, adopted from Shelter Friend - Ukraine. are an integral part of not only our personal family, but of our TM family and vision. They were abused on the streets, and it is incredible to see the love and understanding they have for our girls, who came out of years of orphanage neglect and trauma. God truly "sets the lonely in families..."(Psalm 68:6) with beautiful results. Learn more about TM's work with Animal Rescue on our website and please check out our partner's Facebook page and website at: http://dryg.org.ua/eng/about/

Update from Shelter Friend - Ukraine




"Often I feel sad about such a stories more then about just strays... Often people who drink a lot or home less are more kind to animals then so called normal pet owner... On the photo is an elderly man who died alone, who lived alone, who drunk a lot... But he saved two dogs and three cats from streets. He was [sharing] food with them and they cuddle at night to warm each other. Man died and relatives will take what ever is left from house except animals.. so we offered them shelter...
Please share our page so more people will hear the plea of our animals
https://www.facebook.com/shelterFriendDnepr/
If you can adopt - adopt
PayPal - shelter.friend.ukraine@gmail.com or martina.ravak@gmail.com International adoptions are welcomed!!! Thank you!!"




















Saturday, July 29, 2017

All Blood Looks Red to Me


"All blood looks red to me, so I can't tell. So I don't look at the blood, but at the person."                                                                                                                              ~The King Loves. 

The Question...

A common question that often comes up in adoption conversation and a question I've been asked as an adopted child  Don't you want your own children? What about having biological kids?


Even as an adopted child, studying my native language at university, there are times I literally forget I am adopted. It might sound silly, but people often tell my mother and I we look alike, and assume I am her biological daughter.

Now, maybe it's just because I'm Caucasian, like my parents, that I forget. Surely, someone like my sister Ellianna, with her long black hair and Asian features wouldn't be mistaken for a biological child. 




 You should see the surprised expressions on people's faces when they turn around.

The Heart of the Matter...

So many adopted children struggle with the issue of identity and blood relationships - questions of what if, why, what about my birth family. It can lead to doubt, resentment, and fear. These feelings surround the  context of the quote at the beginning of this post. There are two friends, one a prince, the other a member of a noble family. The prince, whose father is Korean and whose mother is Chinese has grown up surrounded by people saying he's unfit to rule because of his "half-blood" lineage. The prince, taking these comments to heart, thinks his friend would be a much better ruler - after all, his lineage is pure. As an adopted young woman, I was struck with the truth of his friend's simple reply: 

All blood looks red to me, so I can't tell. So I don't look at the blood, but at the person.

You see, blood is blood. Just a substance. Yes, it is the basis of physical life. However, it is the person that makes the difference and teaches us to live life. This is why I call my adoptive parents Mom and Dad. They were the ones who have taken care of me, given me a home, and taught me with love from the time I was 17 months old. 

The same holds true when I look at my sisters. I don't see a difference in country of birth, language, race, or disability. They are simply my sisters. I don't love them because of their blood. Indeed how shallow that would sound. I love them because I have been taught to "care for the orphans and widows in their distress..." (James 1:27). I love them because they were chosen by my family and because I have experienced how love and care can change a life. 

I've written before about biological/adopted child dynamics, in my review of Cheese in the Trap. Yet the answer to the same feelings of doubt and resentment is the same. We (adopted children, biological children, and parents) must choose to be secure in our identity in Christ. There is only One whose blood matters. (John 3:16). And it is through His death we were adopted into God's family (Ephesians 1:5). It is not our blood that makes us brothers and sisters in Christ. How could there be any hope in that? It is through the Person who laid down His life for us. (1 John 3:16). This is how we know what love is...

This is why, even remembering a conversation I had in high school, to now, I see no distinction between biological or adopted. What I know is this. There are 156 million orphans and Christ sacrificed His life for my adoption. Why should I then, in following His example, not do the same? Because of the Cross, the Lord does not look at us in our weak flesh and blood. Rather, He looks at us through Christ, the One who makes the difference in our lives. 

Final Thought... 

I will always be grateful to my birth parents for giving me life. But if it weren't for my parents, I would never have had the opportunity to live it. Thank you. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts! Comment below or write to me at natalya.aleksandra@gmail.com. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

A Haunting Film about Unspoken Love



Read the complete, original article here. 

My newest article about the film, A Good Rain Knows is published over at The Silver Petticoat Review. I didn't know what to expect when I started to watch, but never did I expect to love it as much as I did. There is gentle, mysterious mood to this film that washes over you as you watch Dong-Ha and May's story unfold. Read an excerpt of my review below and head over to the original article to find out why you should watch this lovely film. 

Excerpt from The Silver Petticoat Review: 

"I realized how little conversation of “real” importance occurred [...] What is left unsaid is far more important and this is part of what gives A Good Rain Knows its allure. Step too hard on the story and its fragility cracks and dissipates into thin air."


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

She Was Pretty: New Article and an Unexpected Adoption


Read the complete, original article here. 

My newest review is available on The Silver Petticoat Review. This is my second article about this fun, romantic comedy. Besides being overall enjoyable, another (unexpected) part of the show was that one of the characters is adopted. It was interesting to see an international adoptee's storyline woven into the plot in a new way. If you've seen the show, I'd love to hear your thoughts! Check out an excerpt from my review below and follow the link to the original article.

Excerpt from The Silver Petticoat Review: 
"This romantic comedy is the perfect escape after a long day [...] at the heart of this lovable drama are some great lessons about kindness and beauty in a world that is so often quick to judge."






Monday, July 24, 2017

Guest Post: Situations Like This


Dear friends, today I am sharing this urgent need from Ting Ministries' partners in Ukraine. There are so many needs in our ministry, let alone the world, but I hope you will read this story and pray for this young family. I don't know if it is because I was adopted from Russia or have a heart for Ukraine, but their plight has been on my mind since I heard about it. Situations like this are how children end up in orphanages - and this family is trying to do all they can to stay together! If you have always wanted to help orphans, but don't know how, this is an emergency and great opportunity to show the love of Jesus.

Guest Post from TM:

Sergey, Oksana and their one-month-old son, Yulian
Please read this about this urgent need from our Ukrainian partners at Bible Orphan Ministry. Please keep this young family in your prayers and share their story, so we can find help:

Guest Post from BOM:

Hello everybody! We hope everyone has a wonderful day! We have a problem and we need your help and mercy of the Lord Jesus...
Please, meet young couple Sergey and Oksana. They have on their hands the newborn baby Yulian,who is only one month old. He is so precious and so sweet baby! Sergey just has found a job. No money for food and everything else. They often are hungry, as there is nothing to cook.BOM provided a little help with clothes for baby boy. Thank you so much for your donations! The biggest problem is that they have nowhere to live! Thus sweet young family with their newborn is homeless!!! Our hearts are absolutely broken. Can you imagine how scared they are??? How many worries, thoughts and fears in the heart? Where to go? What to do? Both orphans, without the support of relatives and friends, both are alone. We know the young father and mother for many years. Sergey and Oksana are very young and do not know what to do. They just graduated from the trade school this year. They still have much to do... Our goal is to help them temporarily with housing. This need $135 per month. Please, would anyone be interested in giving a roof over their heads for little Yulian so that he would be with his beloved parents and be safe? Would someone be interested in helping get rid of the stress and worries of this young family, please? How we can leave precious baby Yulian homeless and unsafe? Would you pray for this sweet family, please? They can find peace, love and grace in Jesus Christ. We would be so thankful for sharing the info! 

Send gift of love through PayPal tingministries@comcast.net Send a check Stephanie and Brian Carpenter
Ting Ministries
904 State Drive
Lebanon, PA 17042
USA
Please leave a note for "housing for newborn Yulian". Thank you very much! May God bless you!