Thursday, February 27, 2014

Life lessons

Today we had an awesome discussion at the "Family" where we get together every week and just share things about our life in a safe environment in hopes to heal, grow and get some answers about where we come from and where we are going. It is very interesting to know that as we go through life and take time to reflect, we are able to shed some light on the past experiences allowing God to illuminate the eyes of our heart with understanding.

Each of our lives is filled with so many experiences! It takes a lifetime to unfold and even longer to try and understand all the "Why's" and the "How's". Some experiences are so traumatic and painful, deeply rooting themselves into our psyche that it's like pulling on stings looking for where it all began. So many times those strings run all the way back to our childhood. The ramifications of harsh words that were said to us when we were 10 years old, or the bullying from a kid older than us in High School, or even worse - a parent who instead of creating safety, balance and protection in our lives, abandoned us and was the source of fear, pain and abuse...

Many of us live with scars that are so deep that we carry them with us, spilling them over into our relationships and friendships. Same scars and hurts that cause us to doubt ourselves and have a hard time trusting and believing that better is possible for us. Those harsh words and actions we experienced in our past, if not dealt with, can define who we are. As a result, we end up passing those hurts on to the ones we love the most, hurting them without knowing. The cycle continues because hurting people hurt people.

But the cycle can stop here, and it can begin with us making a choice to do different from what the dysfunctional and deceiving voices in our head urge us to do. We must take those voices apart and examine them. If the intent of those voices is to defeat us, to destroy us and to bring u down, then they are a lie from the enemy. The truth is - we are more than conquerors and through Christ we can overcome, learning the lessons even in the worst of situations.

Acknowledge that every experience, even the worst kind, can teach you a valuable lesson about yourself and about life. I am so thankful that I can look at all that happened in my life and take each part of it, no matter how painful it was, and learn a lesson from each of those experiences. That is how we break the vicious cycle - by learning the lesson that it was meant to teach us so that we know not to attract or even avoid a similar situation again. With the lessons learned we become more powerful and equipped to move confidently into the direction of our dreams without fear because each time we overcome we are better able to recognise how to deal with it should it arise again. The lessons are hard and we get tested..but if we are committed to growing and have a desire to learn, we will, no doubt, get better! I have learned to appreciate every situation, even the worst ones because I know they carry a lesson for me to learn...

...and for that I am thankful...

"And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters."

~ Romans 8:27-29

Monday, February 24, 2014

The gifts and the Giver

In the past two days I have been asking my usual question, "What am I thankful for today?". Although I came up with so many things that I am thankful for, such as the roof over my head, the food on my table, my job, my friends and so on, I was not compelled to write about those things. This is not because I do not appreciate those wonderful gifts that I feel I am so very blessed with, it's just that I was challenging myself to look for something that would stand out so that I would focus on that one thing that I was particularly thankful for.

In the midst of daily storm and challenges, sometimes it is hard to be truly thankful for the gifts that God constantly provides. It is a daily reminder when I get an e-mail or a phone call that I am reminded of how much I am blessed to have these daily gifts when so many others are struggling to meet those. Isn't it strange that no matter where we are financially we always seem to find things that we need. The cost of living alone is a daily challenge for most of us, putting food on our tables and for so many even finding a decent place to stay for the family is a real struggle. Everyone wants to better their lives and the conditions for their families. The need never stops. Some needs are not always material. We pray for healing, for clarity in situations that are burdening our lives, for breakthrough, emotional healing and so on.

We pray for God to meet our needs, we cry out for miracles and blessings. It is in the moments of real pain and struggle that we reach out to God so He can extend His hand in mercy and grace. We know that He is faithful and just, that His love is unfailing...or do we? Are we in love with the gifts and the blessings...or the Giver?

The ultimate test of faith comes in those same moments of trial and pain. These are the toughest moments when we ask ourselves "Why?" and those are the same moments when I would check and examine my heart, "Do I really trust God? Do I truly believe that His love will never fail me? Is He Just and Trustworthy for me to give over to Him ALL my calamity, struggles, uncertainty and pain?"

The fact of the matter is, those were the questions that I used to often ask in my most difficult times. I was so concerned with the outcome and having control over knowing what will happen next. But today God spoke to me again revealing that when I worry about these things I am after what He can DO for me, rather than HIM. I was more in love with the gifts than the Giver. Today as I came to Him in prayer about the issues of life He showed me the reality of what I was really after, and at the same time He comforted me in the fact that He is already in control of the situations in my life and only He is worthy of my focus and full attention. "Let go...", He said.

Are you able to let go of whatever circumstance you have going on and redirect your focus from the gifts onto the Giver? Many times even the gifts that He has in store for us do not come in the package that we had expected, so we miss them or reject them, because they did not come in the exact way that we had expected. Do you really trust Him to give you His best? 

Trusting God is not always one said it was going to be easy, if it was easy every body would do it ;) In fact, Jesus said, "Count the cost of following Me". Therein lyes the ultimate test of our faith and love for the Giver of all good things, the author and finisher of our Faith...Can you trust Him by letting go and simply seeking Him? As for me, this is where He has called me to be...

...and for that I am thankful...

"Seek ye first His Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all those things shall be added onto you." ~ Matthew 6:33

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Road Map of Life

"Read your Bible
Pray every day
and you'll grow, grow, grow..."

Sometimes we get so tired of the cliches, we get sick of people, especially the religious folk, telling us what to 'READ YOUR BIBLE!!!' *waving the Bible in hand or beating someones head with it* wonder we have such a push back when we hear it. It's like we know we should but because it has been shoved down our throats we regurgitate the whole idea...It's like so many of us have not even had a chance to CHOOSE that for ourselves.

Oh how we have misused and corrupted the significance and immeasurable power of the Word of God...God does not operate in the way that people do. In fact, He says "My ways are not your ways, My thoughts are not your thoughts"...the way that the religion presents God and how people who are operating under that religious spirit represent Him is so far from the truth of Who He really is...

I am not here today to TELL you to "READ YOUR BIBLE!". 

Not at all...I just wanted to share with you what the written Word of God is to me...God gave us a life, He breathed life into you and me and He has the most perfect design for everything, because He created it.

I remember when I went to Europe and visited Rome and France...I was traveling by myself and wanted to visit all the interesting places. In order to do that I had to use a map, without it I would have been lost, I would have probably wandered around and saw some cool things, but missed all the best attractions. But instead, with the help of the map I got to see the Vatican City in Rome and the Eiffel Tower in Paris - some of the wonders of the world!) 
It was incredible!

Our lives are like that...the Bible is like a map, and we need it if we want to hit all the most incredible sights and have the best experiences that this life has to offer. God, the author of our life, gave us that map so that we would not miss out on life but live it ABUNDANTLY!

Are you wandering without direction? Are you living your life settling for somewhat-interesting-experiences but mostly are bored with life and wonder when is the fun part going to happen? When will there be compete fulfilment and enjoyment?

Maybe this is a good enough reason for you to CHOOSE to open the road map of your life and let the Holy Spirit direct your steps to the Eiffel Tower of your life! God wants you to enjoy Him and the life HE has for you, so go to Him and ask Him to take you there. Christ made this possible, take the opportunity, before it is too late. He gave us the blue print for life, a map and the Holy Spirit that would never lead us astray...

...and for that I am thankful...

 "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." 

~ Hebrews 4:12-13

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


I am forgiven. This is a concept that I have struggled to fully understand before in my journey. Like anything that is not tangible, it is a concept that one has to experience and discover through life. It's like the invisible idea of love - you can only relate to it and understand it according to the standards that have been set for you through your immediate relationships and the way that it was experienced in one's life. It is the same way with forgiveness, especially when it comes to our ability to forgive ourselves.

If you are anything like me, you are your own worst critic and sometimes when we fail we tend to either block it out and justify why we had to be a certain way, or we blame someone else instead of taking responsibility, or we take the blame and beat ourselves up for it. All these reactions, I believe, come from the way our minds and our hearts have been formed and programmed based on the information and experiences we have received in our past.

What has shaped your understanding of reality and the worldview around you? What are the influential people, relationships and events that occurred that may have made you so unforgiving towards yourself and others? What constitutes your truth on these subjects?

I had as myself these questions and to take each layer of what I believed to be true in aim to pinpoint where each concept, worldview and philosophy came from. I began to examine those ideas and as I pealed each layer I realised that some of the experiences dictated how I viewed something or someone, setting the standard for perception in the way I looked at people and situations. As the layers were stripped away, I realised how much of it was false and I learned that they were not true realities of how God views me and others. 

I used to believe that I was a product of my collective experiences and that each experience was a building block to make me who I am. Then I realised that this was a dangerous pattern of thinking because it was giving me the identity which summed up all the past experiences I had, some of which were so painful and filled with guilt and regret that it was not surprising that the way I viewed myself was inadequate. This worldview is responsible for low self esteem, insecurities, guilt and condemnation...this is a set up for settling for something other than the very best. You are not the mistakes you made. That is a lie, a worldly standard of the culture and the cliches our society tries to make you believe.

According to God's Ultimate Truth I have been set apart! In Christ I am a NEW CREATION, because He made everything new by taking my place, putting on my sin and giving me His perfect righteousness, forgiving me for all my sins. It is only by looking through this lens are we able to forgive ourselves and let go of our past mistakes and is only by discovering God's standard for love and forgiveness will we be able to see others past their sins and mistakes. It is only then will we be able to truly forgive others. This is a concept that becomes real and alive when we see ourselves and others through God's eyes and experience His grace and mercy! Forgive yourself today so you can also forgive others! I am FORGIVEN...

...and for that I am thankful...

"Forgiveness is our ability to see another through the eyes of God that are filled with His grace"

- Iliana Gerasimenko

Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 
Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation,namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

~ 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Stress Less

GRRR!!! That feeling of when people are trying to pin their stress on you...all I can say is that it really does not work on me ;) You can keep that. I really believe that there is always room for sensitivity towards what someone may be going through, but sometimes it really does not matter how you approach a person, they are already in a place where they are radioactive...and it has nothing to do with you. Should you just take it? Hmmm.

There are many times that people are having a bad day and are trying to pass it on to you, do not take it on. Kindly leave it right there. I am so thankful that I learned to recognise when the stress and the problems do not belong to me, so, I quickly return them to the sender. So often people forget that the world does not revolve around them and that they are not the only ones that have things going on in life. Every once in awhile I would come across individuals who really believe that they are entitled to treat others as they wish, without any regard or awareness of what that looks like on the other side of them. Although we all have done it, it does not make it ok. Let's think about this for a second.

How would you feel if I came to you when I had a bad day, already carrying baggage, that is MY baggage, having a certain predisposition towards you simply because I am out of sorts and then dumping it on you...automatically expecting you to cater to me emotionally as if that is owed to me...I would say there is one word for that - selfish, wouldn't you say? I know that in many cases life happens, but how is it ok to dump it on someone else and expect them to constantly tolerate it as if that is ok? Hmmm, nope...that is not only not ok, especially when it's someone who have been trying to be there for you and reaching out to you. Although we all have fallen short in this area it's important to call thing what they are and that is irresponsible, selfish and ungrateful.

If this happened to you, remember that nothings and no one is worth taking away your peace. That is from the enemy who comes to kill, steal and destroy! We are control of our emotions and we choose every time whether to give someone the ability to trigger it in us. Do you really believe that someone can either make you happy, sad, angry or loving? The reason you are angry is because that anger is already in you...and the reason you are loving is because it is already in you. The question is, are you that easily manipulated that you give the key to someone to wind you up or down based on how THEY feel or what THEY say or the kind of day THEY had? The power lies with those who can take responsibility for their own emotions without blaming everyone else around them for making them feel one way or another.

One of the things that I am so thankful for is increased AWARENESS. Awareness of who I am and Whose I am. Awareness of where my emotions come from and the fact that on the bigger scale of eternal reality the tunnel vision of life just does not work. I am thankful that God opens our eyes and allows the scales to fall away so that we can see through the emotions and the baggage that people carry, recognising that it has nothing to do with us and knowing how not to take it on. All we can do sometimes is allow the people to come to that understanding at their own pace. We can pray for them and continue to love them. With time, they will realise that nothing is as it seems.

Do not sweat the small stuff, really. Fill your heart with LOVE that comes from God! When you are constantly angry and snappy you are only missing out on great opportunities of life and awesome relationships. You are the one who suffers. There is so much more to life than to hold grudges and pick on the little things. Embrace who you are and allow people to be who they are. Love more, forgive more...because you have been loved much and forgiven much! <3
I have tasted the goodness and the grace of God which allows me to see beyond, at least most of the time...

...and for that I am sooooo thankful...

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

~Colossians 3:12-14

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Right Ingredients

Have you heard someone say "Something good is going to happen to me TODAY!"..?

In fact, I am pretty sure many inspirational and stand-up mega preachers say that all the time. I think this is a powerful statement and I wholeheartedly believe in speaking positive prophesy into one's life and having the kind of mindset from the beginning of your day that will attract that 'something good'.

However, I so often see that some people say that, and really want to believe it, but do not get into the mental gear to fully walk in that kind of faith-confidence that God has made available to them, that He will do something good for them. Once something does not go according to their expectations or does not go as they plan, that negative thought which feeds negative emotions sets off the mind into spiralling down and away from expecting and attracting 'something good', resulting in a day that is out of control.

So often this happened to me. I must say, I am a recovering control-freak. I remember the tense desire I have experienced in my life (and on occasion still do) to have things go just the way I plan. But, Oh the FREEDOM of LETTING GO! I totally recommend it to anyone :) It's like being in the right place at the right time. When you don't plan it is when you really know you cannot take credit for it...It's like having just the right ingredients come together to make the life recipe come alive!

Today God showed me that when I let go and let Him take charge of my day, my feelings and my emotions, surrendering all of it to Him, He will give me just what I need that day to comfort me and provide just the right ingredients to soothe my heart and help me rest my mind. The thing about God is, you really gotta release the control and slow down just enough to notice Him moving.

It was in the small things, like having the right timing when one of my students texted me and wanted me to come to watch her game and I was 5 minutes away. I was in that place because it so happened that a friend needed a ride. It was my friend who convinced me that I should get my shopping done rather than waiting until tomorrow as I was brainstorming what to do after work, making it all perfect timing to be there. Then, watching a great movie (love movies!) while having one of my favourite meals - the Greek Salad that I happened to have all the ingredients for. To top it off, it was an awesome thing to enjoy the blooming Earl Grey tea (love tea, especially with someone who appreciates and loves tea just as much!) and with some awesome chocolate! These are just a few things that I will mention for the sake of space and sensitivity to reader's time...but the bottom line is that they were all things that I really enjoy and they lined up in just the right way and just the right timing without any planning on my part.

I know this seems like a bunch of coincidental, small, no big deal things. But there were just too many good things that came together in an effortless and non-threatening way without me even planning it, at a time when I probably needed it most...which means a lot to just dismiss them for coincidences. They happened because I slowed down to allow them to happen, and only God knew what would resonate and uplift my mood and spirit.

In so many small ways He ministered to me today and comforted me, in ways that only He can, because only He can make so many small but just the right ingredients to come together to make it meaningful... and it was due to my complete surrender and trust to Him, allowing Him to guide me, that these moments happen so effortlessly and spontaneously. I actually said this morning that something good is going to happen to me today, and it did!

...and for that I am thankful... 

O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to understand!
I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
~ Psalm 139:1-7

Monday, February 10, 2014

Bed time

Where are you sleeping tonight?

If you are anything like me, you are sleeping in a comfy bed with your best friend pillow and comforter. One of my favourite things to do is sleep. There are not that many things that can compare with a good night sleep in a clean bed! I love to slip into a freshly changed bed, with clean sheets and pillowcases. As I prepped one of my favourite places at home it made me feel really grateful...

Do you have a bed time routine? This evening my routine included a nice warm shower, a cup of mint tea and, of course, clean bedding. For a second I imagined what it would be like if I did not have this privilege...I did not have to think hard of the one thing I am thankful for today. I know that we often say that we have a lot to be thankful for, such is food, clean water, the roof over our head...but we say that in passing and don't really THINK about it. So often these are the issues that do not hit us until they are either are in front of our eyes or they are happening to us or someone we love. That principle "out of mind, out of sight" is really true and things do not affect us as much if they are not affecting our lives directly. I know this may sound like a cliche, but just visualise this for a brief moment - imagine not having this basic need met and your bed time looked something like this...

Tonight, as you let your skin touch those soft clean sheets, as you recline against the soft pillow on your bed, as your eyes begin to get heavy and you feel the comforting feeling of sleep coming upon you, really thank God for the blessing! All good things come from Him and it is so worth acknowledging the little things that we take for granted. May your bed time be a time of peace and your bed be a place where you can find comfort in knowing that you are blessed beyond measure. Tonight is truly and GOOD NIGHT...

...and for that I am thankful...

"Keep me safe, O God
for i have come to You for refuge. 
I said to the Lord, "You are my Master!
All the good things I have are from You!"

~Psalm 16:1-2

Sunday, February 9, 2014


First of all, I must apologise to all of you who are actually following my blog for not posting in a little while. My sincere apologies, at least I know that some of you are actually interested in reading what I have to say, which is very encouraging! This also made me think of ACCOUNTABILITY to which I am thankful and decided to dedicate this blog entry!

In everything that we set out to do, especially things that have to do with self-discipline, are not always easy to follow through. I am sure you can think of at least one hobby that you picked up and dropped, right? Like, many of you reading this probably would have been able to play an instrument, speak another language or imagined yourself at a more advanced fitness level by now. However, life has a funny way of catching up with us and mess with our schedule and we simply 'do not have time'.

One of my friends who was reading my blog actually called me out on this saying "Weren't you supposed to be writing something you're thankful for EACH DAY?" My response, "Umm, yeah, that's true, I really did not have a chance", to which he replied, "How much time does it take to say that you are thankful for having electricity to be able to get ready in the morning?"...Selah...

My friend is absolutely right. In our society and the world we live in to day we tend to dislike commitment and often do not follow through. I really appreciate having people in my life that care enough to keep me accountable and who take notice and are willing to call me out when i am dropping the ball by speaking truth into my life. When we do that for one another in love and with a genuine best interest at heart, we are helping each other to grow. Commitment to what we set out to do, no matter how small a task, and our ability to follow through, producing good fruit is a clear indication of our character. This is even more powerful when these are the commitments that we keep ourselves accountable for, even when no one else is watching.

What are some of those commitments that you need to revisit? Have you conformed to the patterns of this world and loosened your grip on some of the things that you thought you would never compromise? Are there areas where you want to see results that need your attention? Share them with a good friend so they can keep you accountable! I know I have at least one friend who did this for me...

...and for that I am thankful...

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? 
So run that you may obtain it. 
Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. 
They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 
So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 
But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified."

~ 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

P. S. Share your thoughts and opinions! I would love to know what you guys think about any of the blogs so far. You can simply click by selecting the 'Reactions', or leave an actual COMMENT ;) TNX! <3

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


I have this awesome little friend who makes me smile and my heart overflows with love and joy by the coolest unexpected things he does! KJ is 8 years old and I so appreciate having him in my life :) The love and how much he appreciates me is so genuine and so honest that it is manifested through these cute and touching things that he would do. They literally make my day every time!

Like, when I would come to the door, he would shout my name with this excited voice - "Iliana!" - and he would welcome me by the door :) and then a hug would follow...and so we stand there and we will not let if we did not see each other In that moment it does not matter what happened that day, because I feel like the weight of the day just drops off me. That is the kind of love and energy he gives through these awesome hugs!

Today, I came by and he was so exited to tell me that he had something for me. He pulls out this ring that he got earlier and he thought of me because the kitty reminded him of the my cat Dori. I know it is so simple, but to see how exited he was to give it to me and how much he thought of me, putting it together in his mind knowing things about me, like the fact that I like cats, and specifically because it resembles Dori :) JUST LOOK AT MY BLING!!!

Rarely do we get that kind of thoughtfulness, even from the people who are so close to us, people who actually 'supposed' to know you for a long time....people who you would expect to know you well. To me it's not that important that I get a gift, or the kind of gift it is...but it was priceless when KJ gave me a simple gift that reflects that he paid attention, that he cares to observe and notice and thought about me when I was not even around, saving it so he can give it to me when he sees me again, a 'just because' gift, just because he carries me in his heart. That is a true demonstration of child-like, genuine, pure love...

...and for that I am thankful...