Hello and welcome to the blog of one crazy mom!

Here I want to share about my life, my struggles and successes, the brighter pieces of my life's mosaics and the darker ones, too. They all are a part of the masterpiece God is working on, it just takes time to see a bigger picture.

Monday, August 29, 2011

What has changed?

As a child, I used to invite people to church easily and readily. I felt no barriers, no insecurity, no self-consciousness. I was excited about God, about church, about faith, and I was eager to share my excitement with everybody I met.

With time I've lost that easiness and spontaneity. Now I worry if people would get offended with my invitation, whether it's "politically correct" (who came up with that anyway?!), whether my church is appealing enough. As I look at myself today, I wonder what has changed me so much.

I might analyze myself and actually write a post about those changes, but today it's just a heartbroken confession. I am sad to see myself like this. So many worries and concerns, so little action.

God deserves to be the center of our life, of my life
He is exciting enough to share about Him with everybody I meet! 
His love is highly appealing and not offending in any way!
"The blessing of the Lord makes rich, and He adds no sorrow with it" (Proverbs 10:22) 

It's my attitude that needs correction, not His methods nor His offering. And that's something I commit to start working on. I want to cross the boundaries and share the wonderful love of my God and Savior with people who haven't met Him yet. For this I may even start driving a Lincoln...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Our God-Given Is 6!

After many unsuccessful attempts and two lost pregnancies, we stopped trying to build a family in our own strength and in our own time and had fully trusted our future to God. Not that we hadn't trusted Him on the past - our love story actually proves the opposite - but until that point we still seemed to put too much control into our own hands: our timing, our ideas, failures we claimed to be ours, questions we asked. As soon as we had transferred the control to God, we felt a relief. Now it was up to God and His ways and His timing.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD." Isaiah 55:8
When I found out I was pregnant again, I trusted this pregnancy and this child to God, knowing perfectly well that although as parents we should do our best, God is ultimately in control of our lives and His will is "good and perfect" (Romans 12:2). 
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
I am with my husband Illya and my Mom the evening before Bogdan was born.

On August 25, 2001 we received God's amazing gift to us - our first-born, our precious baby boy! He was a gift from God, so we called him Bogdan, which is Ukrainian literally means "God-given".

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

Proud Daddy and Peaceful Child

Bogdan, our God-given, has changed our lives forever! We exchanged our self-absorbed life as a care-free couple for a restless life as parents! But all those sleepless nights and tiresome days were nothing compared to the love, and warmth, and gentleness, and sweetness our little one had brought us.

Bogdan with a sleep-deprived momma :)

We were very blessed to have my Mom with us for the first two months of Bogdan's life. He was the luckiest one of our kids - my Mom went to be with the Lord just a month after our second child was born, so our two younger ones have never seen her. But she is sure watching them from above, smiling at them and waiting to meet them in the unspeakable wonderful Heavenly Home.

My fabulous, amazing, sweet, loving Mom with her first Grandchild.

Yesterday we celebrated Bogdan's 6th birthday. How blessed are we to have such a miracle in our lives! 

Birthday mornings are always fun!

Bogdan was sleepy but super excited. Well, he's been waiting to turn six for a long time! :) Why? I don't know, but for some reason being a six-year-old was a huge milestone for him. When he entered a living room, he saw some mighty great gifts: a dream-come-true bunk bed, a super fun volcano experiment kit, Lego Star Wars Wii game and a World Map puzzle. Wouldn't YOU be excited? ;)

To celebrate our son's big day, Illya took a day off and even abandoned his OSNOVA work (wow, that doesn't happen often, and I was the one most excited:)) and we headed to LEGOLAND as a family. The best day of this summer ever!..

LEGOLAND was the best thing ever!..


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Use Kindle to Kindle Your Faith

Lately I've been involved in some article writing as a representative of my husband's small business/ministry. While I still await on this article to be approved and published, I've decided to share it on my blog.


"Why not lighten your load and use a Kindle for Bible studies? You can take notes, highlight passages, search for words and phrases and interact with scriptural text on a Kindle just as you would with a book or with your Bible. If you think the Kindle is a bit pricey, this list of 25 ways to use the Kindle for Bible study may change your mind about Kindle's sticker price" - Joy Shepherd, Biblical Learning Blog.

MODERN TECHNOLOGIES AND GADGETS are gaining popularity among Christians for enhanced methods of Bible Study. Amazon's Kindle e-reader is one of the best ones for that purpose. With the capacity to hold numerous Bible translations, commentaries, dictionaries, theological materials, the writings of prominent Christian authors and other resources all in one place, Kindle is often seen in churches, at Bible study groups and during personal devotions.

"to study the Bible, you've gotta have one"

There are hundreds of electronic Bibles offered on Amazon's Kindle Store - different translations, versions and editions, as well as dramaticaly different prices. The price varies from $0.00 to $199.00. Even if you know what translation you want, how do you pick the best one?

Well, since there are as many opinions and needs as there are people, there might not be THE best one for all. However, there are definitely some that have been tried and found more accurate and helpful than others. In the list below you will find the Bibles that stand out of the crowd due to their quality and functionality. We invite you to read the reviews, try these Bibles yourself, and see whether you agree with our choice.

Kindle Bible (KJV) (best navigation with Direct Verse Jump; paragraphed):

"This edition incorporates the strengths of other KJV Kindle versions, such as chapter and verse navigation from the Table of Contents, but in addition, allows for going straight to the desired verse by simply typing in the abbreviated book, chapter, and verse and double-clicking "Find". This is an incredible time saver! This is a really wonderful edition. I highly recommend it." by WT Sharpe (Chesapeake, VA, USA) 

"I did a bit of research before deciding on a bible for my kindle, and am not disappointed that I chose this one. It's very easy to navigate, as other reviewers have pointed out, due to direct verse jump and I've found NO errors. It's so easy to follow my pastor all over the Word during his sermon, and to make notes, etc. right along with him. This is the best one out there. I will say that (as the intro points out) it does take about 10 minutes to load up all the way for use of Direct Verse Jump, so don't panic!" by C. Lee (Ohio, USA)

KJV New Testament with Strong's markup, dictionary and more
"Wow! This is the kind of portable study tool I have been looking for. I have been using PC Bible 5 by Biblesoft for about 5 years and bought the Kindle in hopes of finding a more portable Bible study tool. I bought and tried several of the other Strong's works, but have not been totally satisfied with them. This one is different: the hot links to words, Strong No's, Thayer's as well as Strong's definitions, etc is great." by RAB "Richard Bost" (McMinnville, TN USA)
"I have the KJV Bible for my Kindle and I wanted a concordance. This device delivers better than the concordance on my PC. I would like to get the Old Testament concordance also." by TryConnect
"This New Testament is best used as a study reference, not for everyday reading. The words of the verses are spaced far apart to allow for the Strong's numbers after each word. The Strong's numbers are hot links to the definitions. [...] The original Strong's [regular] books are too large to carry anywhere making this version pretty handy to have anywhere." by J. Coker (GA, USA)

NET Bible First Edition (with notes)
"I've been using this Kindle version of the NET Bible for a month now and it has become one of my main resources when looking for help understanding particular passages. There are an incredible number of notes that help you understand the text - several for each verse. Yes, it's produced by a group of more evangelical Christians such as Dan Wallace of the Dallas Theological Seminary and the conclusions reached in the notes come from that perspective, but even as a much more liberal Christian that doesn't bother me. The reason is that the study notes are very scholarly and fair in presenting alternative views of a text even though they may tend to opt for a more conservative reading, that's not always the case either. In all, it's a major piece of biblical scholarship. Since the primary goal of the authors is accuracy, the style of the text isn't the most literary compared to other versions, but to me, a study Bible should put accuracy above literary quality since there are other versions you should also have to read the Bible as literature." by Indulgent Dad (Mpls., MN)

ESV Study Bible

"I was very pleasantly surprised by the Kindle edition of the ESV Study Bible. The folks at Crossway went out of their way to transfer the content over a new format. There are links to study notes on verses and sections, charts, maps, background and more. A special introduction to the Kindle edition helps you use the five-way button. Also, as some charts do not fit the Kindle screen, Crossway provides internet links for you to see them on your computer. Overall, this is a bargain at $9.99 and probably the largest file book you will download. It is loaded with great resources!" by K.Allen (Colorado Springs, CO USA)
"The ESV Study Bible for the Kindle makes Bible study a joy again. My eyes are not what they used to be when it comes to reading, So the ability to choose the size font I want and to be able to adjust the number of words on a line (features of the Kindle) just add perfectly to the value of the wonderful study Bible. Articles, footnotes, maps and so much more are all right there with a quick move of the Kindle 5-way controller. The ESV Bible translation is highly readable, beautifully done, and has has shown to be one of the very best word-for-word translations out there. I bought the the awesome leather-bound version of the wonderful study Bible also. I would give this item three thumbs up...if I ever grow an extra thumb." bMichael Witherington (Wilmington, NC)

OSNOVA Study Bible
"This Bible is great for one serious in their study of the Word. It has most all the scripture references you need on the same subject. As it is advertised, let the Word itself tell you what a passage means instead of reading or hearing someone else's opinion. It works great on my IPad. It takes you to each reference and with a tap of the back arrow returns you back to where you were to get the next reference. It has a daily Bible reading to take you through the Bible in a year. Most days have 4 different passages on the subject for the month. I will be starting this the first of January. It looks like it was designed for family readings. It has a vast amount of serious study suggestions and tools for study. This Bible may not be what one would want to use in following along with your pastor's sermon but it is definitely well worth the money for study. All you might need to go with it would be a Strong's concordance." by Tippy2
"All of the biblical resources produced by OSNOVA are fantastic. This bible with the active links and cross references is invaluable for bible study.Dont know how he produces such nice resources for such low prices when the "big" christian publishers charge over 3-4x's as much. Only one thought- calling this a KJV Study Bible might be more clear to some since many might not be familar with the name of "OSNOVA".Thanks again for another great product!" by sunmoon

In addition to Kindle Bibles, there are many different BIBLE STUDY MATERIALS, available for Kindle at Amazon's Kindle Store. These include Bible Commentaries, encyclopedias, Study Bibles, the writings of Christian authors on the subject matter.

Below are listed several publications that would prove very helpful during personal Bible study, sermon preparation and group discussions.


Unabridged Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible by Matthew Henry

Matthew Henry's six-volume 'Exposition of the Old and New Testament' or Complete Bible Commentary has long been celebrated as the best of English commentaries of the Bible for devotional purposes. It provides an exhaustive verse by verse study of the Bible, covering the whole of the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown's Commentary on the Whole Bible
(best navigation with Direct Verse Jump) by David Brown, A. R. Fausset, Robert Jamieson
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown's Commentary of the Bible has stood the test of time and remains the preeminent evangelical expository commentary of the Scriptures. It provides verse-by-verse exposition of most Bible passages in insightful, accurate, succinct, and easy to understand articles.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) by James Orr
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia is an exhaustive classic Biblical encyclopedia consisting of 5 paper volumes. This bastion of knowledge is now available in one beautifully formatted book for the Kindle. The Kindle edition works as any other Kindle dictionary and may be set as the Kindle default dictionary. The ISBE includes almost 10,000 thoroughly written authoritative articles representing the scholarship of nearly 200 evangelical scholars

NIV Archaeological Study Bible: An Illustrated Walk Through Biblical History and Culture
by Walter C. Kaiser Jr., Duane Garrett
Readers who desire a more intimate knowledge of the historical context of the Bible will appreciate the NIV Archaeological Study Bible. Full of informative articles and photographs of places and objects from biblical times, this Bible examines the archaeological record surrounding God's Word and brings the biblical world to life. Readers' personal studies will be enriched as they become more informed about the empires, places, and peoples of the ancient world.

How to Study the Bible by John MacArthur 
The Bible is the Word of life. As such, studying the Bible is crucial to the life and growth of every believer. In this revised work, John MacArthur examines various Scripture passages in the Old and New Testament to answer both the "why" and the "how" John F. MacArthur pastors Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, and serves as President of the Master's College and Seminary. A well-known Bible expositor and conference speaker, he has written more than six-dozen books, including the MacArthur New Testament Commentary Series and the MacArthur Study Bible. He is the Bible teacher on Grace to You, an international radio broadcast.

OSNOVA Kindle Bible publishers offer on their blog a great post by Joy Shepherd from Biblical Learning Blog, in which the author lists numerous ways one can utilize a Kindle for Bible Study. The article offers many helpful links to Bible Study resources for Kindle.

OSNOVA has been publishing Bibles and Bible Study materials for Kindle since October 2009. OSNOVA Kindle Bibles feature a revolutionary navigation method, called DVJ (Direct Verse Jump), which allows the reader to find any Bible verse in seconds. Other great features of their Kindle Bibles include the hyperlinked table of contents, a 5-way controller navigation between chapters and books, and in many cases a cross-reference system between the Bible text and build-in Bible study resources or translator's notes (as in case with Osnova Study Bible and The NET Bible). OSNOVA Kindle publications can be found at their web-store as well as on Amazon's Kindle Store.

Although already mentioned above, Crossway's ESV Study Bible deserves a few extra words. Here is what Chris from eReader Chat writes about ESV:
    "This is the nerd's version of the Bible, and I mean that in the most positive way possible. The ESV Study Bible goes beyond the text to give you all the history and context for fully understanding those same old passages. It's got 20,000 notes sprinkled within the text itself, easily accessible by links. It's also got scores of articles, charts, maps, and specially-formatted illustrations to really stimulate your imagination. Unfortunately, like the NIV, it uses the Table of Contents as its principal form of navigation. I still think it's the most useful version, all told, but it could make better use of the Kindle itself."

One more Bible that deserves special attention is the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) with The Comprehensive Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic Glossary, and The One Year Bible, New Living Translation by Miklal Software Solutions, Inc. From a product description:
    "Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) is a complete Hebrew Bible in an aesthetically pleasing Hebrew script. It contains all of the consonants, vowels, cantillation marks (accents), and other symbols. It follows the text of the Leningrad Codex as digitized by the J. Alan Groves Center for Advanced Biblical Research. This is the same manuscript underlying Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS) and Biblia Hebraica Quinta (BHQ). In addition, the Kindle version has The Comprehensive Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic Glossary, by Humphrey H. Hardy, appended to it." A detailed review of the Hebrew Bible appears on the blog This Lamp.

And last, but not the least, - a great FREE resource for every Bible scholar: the SBL Greek New Testament, from Logos Bible Software and the Society of Biblical Literature.
    "The SBLGNT is edited by Michael W. Holmes, who utilized a wide range of printed editions, all the major critical apparatuses, and the latest technical resources and manuscript discoveries as he established the text. The result is a critically edited text that differs from the Nestle-Aland/United Bible Societies text in more than 540 variation units... Students, teachers, pastors, and interested laypersons can use the SBLGNT right now for research, writing, and study-at no cost." (from the product description).

If you are not quite sure why serious students of the Bible must read the Greek original, read Biblical Greek as a Way to Better Scripture Knowledge.


25 Ways to Use the Kindle for Bible Study
Why not lighten your load and use a Kindle for Bible studies? You can take notes, highlight passages, search for words and phrases and interact with scriptural text on a Kindle just as you would with a book or with your Bible. If you think the Kindle is a bit pricey, this list of 25 ways to use the Kindle for Bible study may change your mind about Kindle's sticker price.

Bible Reading on the Kindle Revisited
A look at some of the most popular Kindle Bible versions on Amazon.

E-books are a perfect solution for expat bookworms!
Ruth Stutler shares his experience with e-books (mostly, Bible materials). Being an expat, Ruth finds e-books to be the perfect way to have plenty of reading material without the inconvenience of expensive shipping of paperbacks from his homeland to where he lives and serves now.
Biblical Texts for Kindles
Suggestions and links to various Biblical texts for Kindle.
Kindle Bible Study on OSNOVA web-store
The collection of Bible Study materials on OSNOVA's web-store.
Biblical Greek for Kindle
About the value of Biblical Greek and various resources how to learn it.
"Your word is a lamp to my feet 
and a light for my path" 
Psalm 119:105

About the author:
Oksana Antonenko is a follower of Christ, a wife, a mother and an integral part of OSNOVA.
OSNOVA is a small family company, established by Illya Antonenko in 2009, for the purpose of publishing high quality Bible resources for Kindle and Nook.
The word OSNOVA means "foundation" (in Ukrainian, which is our native language). One of our favorite Bible verses, found in 1 Corinthians 3:11, says that Jesus is our foundation. Through our work we want to proclaim this truth and celebrate His lordship in our lives.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Liberating Power of the Gospel

Freedom is precious. Hundreds of thousands of lives are sacrificed for freedom, billions of dollars are spent to preserve it, countless books, songs and poems exalt it. Freedom is a desire of every human being. Yet not every kind of freedom is true.  There is a true Freedom - freedom from sin and death - offered freely by the One who has already paid the price.

Jesus, through His Word, the Bible, has the power to "proclaim freedom to the prisoners" and "to release the oppressed". We as His followers have the privilege to partake in sharing the Good News of His redemption.

Here are just a few ministries that through the Word of God bring freedom to those oppressed by sickness, addictions, and sin:

1. OneHope is a ministry, spreading God's Word to millions of children and youth throughout the world. One of their video testimonies tells about a young boy from Russia whose life was completely transformed by the Book of Hope:

Runaway from OneHope on Vimeo.

This video is close to our hearts as we are from Ukraine, next door to Russia, and the children in our country face the same problems.

2. George and Sarah deVuyst are an example of a sacrificial ministry for the sake of God's Kingdom. They have chosen to abandon the comforts of American life and suffer the inconveniences and "absurdities" of life in Ukraine along with their three children, so the Word of God is spread and instilled in the lives of Ukrainians.  We have been friends with George and Sarah for over 10 years now.

Here is a little video about Ukraine and the ministry of this amazing family we love dearly:

Read Sarah's blog to learn more about their life in Ukraine.

3. Spring of Hope Kenya is a ministry we heard of through Paul Steinbrueck's blog, Live Intentionally.  SOHK provides a care center (orphanage) for children who have no extended family to care for them. They also work with at-risk children, who have been either street boy or girls (homeless) or children who, due to poverty or abuse, would not receive an education without outside assistance.

Through these faithful people, God has touched and transformed many lives.

Please pray for these ministries and ask God how YOU can be a part of His liberating work!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Happy 10th Anniversary to My One and Only!..

I am one of the happiest women in the world, because I am married to my soul mate, Illya Antonenko. Today we are celebrating our 10th year wedding anniversary. God has led us in the most amazing and unique ways. I want to share our love story with you and give glory to our Lord and Savior for His faithfulness and loving kindness.

Early in the morning on March 11, 2001, my phone rang. After a couple of words, the familiar voice popped a question, “Would you marry me in May or August?” There wasn’t really a “yes or no” option – only “when”. Of course, I still could say “no” – after all, I had never seen the person on the other side of the phone line!..

Ours is a crazy story. Perhaps, one of a kind. But then, whose isn’t?!

Illya and I “met” on the phone. Being an event coordinator for a youth ministry in Ukraine, I had to call youth leaders in our city to remind them of the upcoming network meetings (there were no Twitter and Facebook then:)) Illya (which, by the way, means "Elijah") was one of the youth leaders I called about once a month, usually afterhours since he came home late after studies and work (he didn’t have a cell phone). We both grew to look forward to those conversations, but our busy schedules prevented us from meeting face-to-face. Eventually, Illya was admitted to the Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, moved there, and our friendship seemed to end there.

Two years passed. I never really thought of Illya, my life being busy and all. Then one day (December 14, 2000), there was a phone call to our office that turned my life around! It was Illya Antonenko, calling from the States (at 4am his time!) under a pretext of looking for somebody’s phone number and along the way “to find out what God was doing in [my] life”. I thought my heart would jump out of my chest! The roller coaster of non-stop emails and phone calls was about to begin! By Christmas time I knew I was in love – with somebody I had never met!..

I was extremely curious of why Illya called me on that day. He knew a lot of other people he could call, so why me? Talking to my Grandma once, I mentioned this long-distance thing. My Grandma was and is a true woman of prayer. She and my Mom always prayed for me and my sister as well as our future husbands. So she told me one thing she hadn’t shared with anybody until then – for two weeks prior to Illya’s call, the Holy Spirit moved her to pray for my future husband that God would “remind him of Oksana”. Of course, now I had to ask Illya about his part of the story! Apparently, God had heard my grandma’s prayers and took away Illya’s sleep that December night. Feeling lonely in a different country, Illya began looking through his old phone book, and my name “popped out” and brought all the good memories of our conversations.

As I mentioned, we emailed each other. The number of emails we exchanged is in the hundreds, if not more. Many of those emails were pages long.
“My attraction to you is not a mathematical formula that numerically satisfies my “wish list” but rather a prayer answered.” (Illya, February 2001)
“I think it is a very special gift of God that He gave us each other and this relationship. I am not losing sight of the right things but I think sometimes there is a place for surprises, unforeseen steps of faith and crazy stuff. God creates everything new. Our God is unthinkable – Isaiah 40:10-18” (Illya, March 2001).
In short two months we felt like we’d known each other for ages. Our friendship grew into courtship. Of course, we wondered if our long-distance relationship could be a solid enough foundation for the commitment of the marriage. But then there were Isaak and Rebekkah who didn’t have even that, yet they are one of the star couples of the Old Testament. And there are also couples that live together for years “to try it out”, who marry and then divorce in a year or two because “the marriage hasn’t worked out”. So it wasn’t about how long or even how well we knew each other but how much we trusted God and how serious we were in our commitment to Him and to one another.

Both Illya and I sought God, His will and direction. We prayed separately and together (chat rooms can be very spiritual, too:)), we asked for wisdom and discernment, we sought advice from people we knew as spiritual leaders and mentors. Surprisingly, all our family members and close friends were cheering us on and rooting for our future together. I come from a Christian family, my grandfather was imprisoned for his faith, barely surviving the labor camp in Siberia, later he was the head of the Baptist Union in Ukraine. So, naturally, my family, especially my grandmother, really wanted me to marry a fellow Baptist. Illya was a Pentecostal. And in Ukraine Baptists and Pentecostals traditionally didn’t mix. I personally never understood the issue, but there still was my family whom I loved and respected. So when Illya proposed to me, the first person I talked to was my Grandmother, since she was the one who prayed for us and she was the oldest member of my family.
“Grandma, I’ve never met the guy in person. Maybe I should wait till he comes and then give him my answer?” – “Oksana, do you LOVE him?” – “Yes!” – “Then don’t make him wait!” – “Well, he’s a Pentecostal. How do you feel about that?” – “Dear, I’ve prayed for you, I know he is the answer to my prayer. If you follow him to his church, I bless you. Just say yes!”
My Mom was also very supportive, and my two younger sisters didn’t want a better brother-in-law than Illya. All this served as another confirmation of God’s clear direction and His blessing.

Illya was a poor student. So for us to meet in person required a miracle, considering the airfare and other travel expenses. We prayed. God provided. A friend, who heard our story, bought Illya a ticket to fly to Ukraine and meet me. We met two weeks before our legal wedding in May (in Ukraine only a state wedding is legally recognized, so Christian couples often have two weddings: one at the state office and one at the church). We didn’t consider it THE wedding, but had to do it in order for me to get my new passport. In August 2001, Illya came to Ukraine for the second time, and that’s when we had our real wedding before God and people.

As we are about to celebrate our 10-year anniversary, we thank God for His amazing, wonderful, and unique ways of blessing our family! Even in times when we struggled, He remained faithful and kind. Even when we had our doubts, He never let go. He blessed us with a son, Bogdan (“God-given” in Ukrainian), then a daughter, Daryna (”gift”), and then a baby Matthew (from Hebrew “Gift of God”). In 2009, God inspired Illya to take upon a project to format and publish a Kindle Bible that would become a blessing not only to us but to many Kindle users. Now Illya spends most of his evenings and weekends working on the books for Kindle. God was faithful to provide him with a job in sunny California, and although we dearly miss our home in Northern Virginia, we trust God to lead us so we can fulfill the beautiful plan He has for our lives.