Friday, August 16, 2019

Prepping for Camp

When I needed to pick up something from Claire today, I asked where I should meet her. This was her answer!

She's at the JVK garage in Fr羸dlant, where all sorts of things are stored for conferences and such.

But this collection of tubs and suitcases is going somewhere special in just two days.

JV Kid's Camp!

She, along with Mel and Amy Ellenwood, will lead this year's group of 58 kids, between the ages of 8 and 18, at our JV camp facility in Poland.

It is often the highlight of the year for many of the JVK!

A fantastic group of JV staff will also be there as counselors to love and invest in these kids as they lead discussions, play games, make crafts, worship together, and have oh so much fun!

This is also a highlight of Claire's year as she gets a whole week to help shepherd the JVK into deeper relationship with the Lord, through teaching that she'll be doing (along with Amy and Trish Wynn), and lots of personal time with the kids.

When I specifically asked her what I could pray for next week she said, "...that kids will get to be themselves at camp, among a group who knows, loves and understands them in their uniqueness as missionary kids; and that I'd have the Lord's eyes and heart to know who specifically needs some extra care, love and investment."

Claire, Amy and Trish will be teaching through the passage in Ephesians 6 on spiritual warfare - how to take your stand and put on the armor of God. So she definitely wants prayer for that too - that the kids learn how to "stand firm" and be informed, prepared and equipped soldiers who follow Jesus no matter what the cost. 

I said goodbye to Claire and she literally walked off into the setting sun!

We won't see her until after camp is over since we're leaving soon for vacation. But she and all the JVK, along with our staff who will be there, are already in my prayers for next week - August 19-25th. Pray for them too - for God's protection over them all.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Thank you Lord for LIFE!

This is where a nearly perfect day ended!

And this is where that day began.

My birthday is in two days, but today is the day we get to celebrate.

And how glad I was that today was the day everyone could come, given that this is the only day in the forecast this week where it said only sunshine, no rain!

Before the celebration, while Dave was gone for a meeting, Claire was prepping for JV Kid's camp and Tyler worked in the garden and studies for the class he'll be teaching soon in ForMission (that's a blog post for another day!), Lara and I hung out with the kids, enjoying so many different places and things they wanted to do here today!

During most visits to our house, there are a certain number of things that are a given for the boys; one of those is playing the piano with Asher! He really loves music, and can often be found playing on our little keyboard, blowing into the recorder, shaking a maraca, or singing into the Karaoke microphone!

Judah, on the other hand, loves making up stories...with cars, with animals, with Legos...with anything, really!

After naps (theirs, not mine! ☺️) we took a walk in search of something in particular.

We were looking for blackberries that usually grow near us.

That picture was of me giving Judah the one and only berry that's ripe right now! Hopefully we'll be around when the rest of them ripen.

What a view from the blackberry bushes in the field next to our little road.

It wasn't too long after that when Papa came home to join the party!

Claire had arrived earlier too, so it was fun to all be here together enjoying this gorgeous day.

Meanwhile, the boys found yet another location for fun...our back steps!

While Judah was making up another race car story, Asher was taking a phone call. 不

Lara brought snacks to us back here so we could replenish ourselves after all our hard play!

Around the corner, in the the garden, more fun was taking place - the harvesting of our second watermelon!

Our neighbor lady gave the vine to us earlier in the spring, saying she thought our grandsons should have watermelon straight from the garden. She's actually come over almost every day to water that vine. She says it needs lots of water, and we weren't always around to give it what it needs so she took it upon herself to do that for us. She's so kind!

Asher took it upon himself to make sure it was clean!

And if you don't have any more watermelons to wash off, why not wash the top of the well?  不

Since dinner was in the making, and Judah knew it was about time to get the party started, he suggested we put on our hats so my birthday party could get started.

And then we wore the hats for the next hour while we were still at play!

Sure, we can make animals out of Legos and play zoo in the sauna! 不 不 不

Claire and Lara were hard at work in the kitchen, getting dinner and dessert ready for us.

Claire and Lara, thank you for an incredible meal

We had an incredible feast outside on our patio, on this warm, beautiful summer evening.

While we could've sat out there for a long time as adults, Judah was excited for me to move on to my presents!

And what fantastic presents they were! Who doesn't want to get marshmallows for their birthday?? I love these that came from Judah and Asher (via the Tiger store in Ostrava...they have the best ones!)

Tyler and Lara fulfilled a wish of mine to have new glasses for our kitchen...they're so pretty!

Claire gave me a really special book called "Face to Face" by Kenneth Boa.

And Dave fulfilled another wish of mine - a ring, with seven pretty little diamonds on it. WOW! I feel so loved!!

There were other special gifts too...they know my love language! I definitely felt loved by all!

And then the finale...blackberry cobbler birthday "cake" from Claire!

With frozen blackberries from Makro since we don't have enough on the bushes near us!

Oh, is my love tank full after such a beautiful day!!

I was writing some girlfriends I've been connected to since my early 20's and said to them, "I turn 58 soon - such a good age, though I’m actually already looking forward to 60! Honestly, I like aging…well, not everything about it - ha! But I like being older, wiser, more grace-filled, patient, and faith-filled. So bring on the 60’s…and the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s!" 

Birthdays are an opportunity to thank the Lord for his faithfulness, and pray that I'll continue to walk faithfully with him in the coming year. Which is definitely what I plan to do!

It's also a time to thank the Lord for my family - my mom and dad, first of all, for having me! And to thank him for the family He's entrusted to me. I love all of these people so much, and feel a deep gratefulness in my heart to the Lord for giving me His abundant life, which includes dear ones like these!

Too cute of a picture not to include!

 Thank you Lord for LIFE!!!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Hakuna Matata

Dave had to be gone this evening, so I asked Claire if she wanted to run some errands with me, have dinner and see a movie together...something we haven't done in ever so long (the movie part, that is!).

We tried one restaurant downtown Ostrava, but it was completely full. So went around the corner to try Hogo Fogo Bistro. That was a seriously good decision!

Best gluten free bun I've ever had here in Czech!

While we were eating, I told Claire that this was the beginning of my birthday celebration as it's never too early to get started on one's birthday!

Mine isn't until Saturday...but why not start early?!

After Claire took the picture she laughed because I'd just had out my red wallet, next to my red phone case, while sitting at a red table on a red chair. Do you know what my favorite color is?! 不

We made our way over to the Futurum mall where the movie was showing - the only place in Ostrava that has it still playing in English. While doing errands we ran into one of our JV staff, Shelby, and had a wonderful time catching up with her about the summer (she's been leading a Fusion international intern team).

When it was time for the movie, we headed over to that part of the mall, meeting up with Lara who we'd invited to come too.

Hang with me here...this is about to get funny!

Lara had never been to this movie theater, so as we waited in line to get drinks Claire and I told her about how this was the first multiplex to come to Ostrava when the kids were young, and how special it was to come to movies back then.

As we continued talking, we made our way over to the person checking tickets, and I pulled out my phone to show the ones I'd bought on line ahead of time for the movie.

Only to be told, "You're at the wrong movie theater"! As in, I had bought tickets for Cinema City, and we were at Cinestar!   

I seriously don't know how I got that mixed up. There are only these two theaters in town - and I know which one is which...or rather, thought I did! I was SURE that this theater was the only playing it in English...but I was wrong.

By this time it was 7:35 and the movie was starting at 7:40. At a different mall in Ostrava.

Knowing there would be at least ten minutes of previews, we raced to our cars and headed to the other mall, arriving at the theater at 7:48. I know because I was watching the time, laughing at myself
for having made this mistake, and wondering how close we'd cut it to getting there in time.

We sat down just as the last preview finished, and the lights went down so this movie could begin.

Yes, our girl's night out was to see the new version of "The Lion King", whose original version came out the year Claire was born in 1994!

I don't know how many times I watched the first version with my kids, or how many times I've sung out loud, or in my head, "Hakuna Matata" or "The Circle of Life"!

The movie was delightful and we stayed until the very last credits finished, with no one else in the theater by then.

Hakuna Matata - " means no worries, for the rest of your days!"

Well...that's not a great life philosophy or way to live your life. But it was definitely a great movie, worth seeing again after all these years, and made all the sweeter by seeing it with my dear Claire and Lara!

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Return to Czech

What a happy greeting this evening from these two sweet girls!

They, along with their parents, Rob and Audrey Chestnut, just arrived yesterday from the States to serve again with us in Josiah Venture!

Rob and Audrey served here in Czech for five and a half years, and then have been gone for three, serving at a church in Florida.

We are overjoyed that God moved in their hearts to return and serve on our training team out of the JV office in Fr羸dlant!

While they search for a home, they're here, at Mel and Amy Ellenwood's home while they are in "exile" (Social Security exile, that is). Teta Tina (Aunt Tina to Rob and Audrey's girls, but also known as our dear Martina!) has been here since Mel and Amy left, so all five of them will be here together enjoying their time of reconnecting.

We brought dessert to enjoy with everybody tonight; these two look the most ready of all to enjoy a famous Marlenka honey cake!

It feels so right to be with all of them, back here in Czech!

We're thankful for the ways that God keeps building our JV family, filling in holes on our team and making a way for us to keep moving forward with the Gospel and building God's Kingdom through evangelism, discipleship and leadership training.

I'm so glad that part of His provision is through the Chestnut family's return to Czech!

Monday, August 12, 2019

Ten Years Later

This showed up in my Timehop phone app today.

Timehop pulls pictures from various places that I've given it access to, and then sends them to me on "the day of" - whenever it happened in years past. Sometimes I've saved photos from other years, and then it posts it to me again - which is what happened with this photo.

So as you can deduce, it actually took place TEN YEARS AGO! As did this one.

This was the day we took Tyler for his last family dinner together before his flight to the States to begin college.

What an emotional day that was for all of us, as our family dynamic changed in a matter of minutes when we waved goodbye to him, and sent him off to a life that we wouldn't be a part of on a daily basis anymore.

Oh how I cried that day! And each time after that when it was Caleb and Claire's turn to go as well.

And now, it's already TEN YEARS LATER! Tyler and his family live back here in Czech, serving with JV. Claire lives ten minutes away from us, also serving with JV. And Caleb and Haley, live in Albania - yes, they too are serving with JV. This still astounds and delights me, that God called them back to serve Him here.

But that night at the restaurant ,when we had our last dinner together as a family unit who had lived and experienced life together for 19 years, I felt very sad knowing that it would never be the same again. I grieved each time one of our kids left, asking the Lord to help me through the change of our family dynamics.

Ten years of perspective has taught me that while life truly never was the same, it became something even more beautiful. If I had tried to hang on to what "was", I would never have experienced the beauty of what "would be", and what "is" today.

And though those first 19 years were so good, the next ten were even better! And I'm sure it just keeps going like that when you don't try to hang on to the past, but let God move you into what His good future is.

I'm thankful He was patient with me then, tending to my heart when I was grieving, but also leading me into what He had for me in the future. I'm glad I didn't resist! And I'm so grateful for what His future held for all of us!