Sunday, December 4, 2016

Finishing in Vienna

Morning arrived especially early today for mom, dad and I.

Though it was just my dad blinking, thus having his eyes closed in the picture, it's appropriate for how sleepy we all felt since we'd already been up several hours in preparation for their departure from Czech today.

But after an easy three hour train ride together, we'd all perked up!

I brought them to Vienna for our last day of their trip, since they're flying out of here tomorrow.

We trained from Czech together, arrived into the main station, took another train out to the airport hotel so they could check in and leave their things, and then were on another train headed back into the city for the day!

In all the years we've lived here, and all the years they've been coming to visit, we've never gone to see Vienna. Not sure how that happened, but today was the day to amend that mistake!

After a subway ride from the main train station, we popped out at St. Stephen's square, to see the magnificent church built between 1137 and 1147. Yes, you read that right! It's 879 years old.

We then began wandering the streets of Vienna, enjoying the rich architecture and fun Christmas decorations.

The great thing about visiting Vienna right now is the cheery Christmas markets throughout the city. The one by St. Stephens made a great place to pick up a yummy lunch of their typical bratwurst and hot gluhwein!

But that wasn't the market that I wanted them to see.

We set off for a walk through the city in search of the one that has been a favorite of our family through the years. After a few detours because of 1. getting lost, 2. seeing other markets, and 3. stopping for coffee, we finally made it to the best Christmas market of all!

The "Wiener Christkindlmarkt am Rathaus" is definitely a special one. Located at the magnificent town hall (Rathaus), it's loaded with atmosphere and delight.

For more info on the Vienna Christmas markets see HERE!

I was so happy to share the festive, happy atmosphere of this market with my dad and mom!

Given that it was a Sunday, there were LOTS of other people there enjoying the same atmosphere.

We tried on hats...

Enjoyed Viennese pastries...

And enjoyed wandering through all the different stalls with their beautiful wares on display.

The temperature, which hadn't been very high to begin with, began to fall as the sun set, making it pretty chilly. But my parents were troopers at enjoying it all.

Feeling a bit frozen, we took one last selfie in the market before heading back to the train station.

And enjoyed one last view of the rathaus in the setting sun.

My dad says that Vienna is now one of his most favorite cities that he's visited. Which is saying a lot since he's been to many! Even though I might have worn them out with trying to see so much in one day, he really was glad we came even though he looks so tired here!

After a quick dinner at the train station, it was time for them to take the train out to their hotel at the airport, and for me to take the train back home to Czech.

Because goodbyes are never fun, we waited till the last minute and then hugged and kissed goodbye before they got on their train first.

I'm so thankful they came to share life with me for these three weeks. They have been incredibly sacrificial all these years, willingly and trustingly giving up their daughter and family to live a long ways from them.

While we haven't lived everyday life together for a long time, we've made some spectacular memories through the years when they've come to visit. They are incredible parents who love their kids and grandkids well, and do all they can to support and encourage us.

Thank you for another wonderful time together, Dad and Mom! I love you, am so thankful for you and blessed by all you do for me!!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Ostrava Zpívá Gospel

With a bit of snowfall in the area these past few days, the sunset was all the more magical from Malenovice late this afternoon.

Mom, dad and I headed up here to see a special event taking place at the hotel.

A final rehearsal for the annual Christmas concert of Ostrava Zpívá Gospel (Ostrava sings Gospel, in English!) was in progress.

With my friend Amy as soloist!

In its fourth year of existence, this choir of 120 people and band of 11, from around the city of Ostrava, practices for two months before putting on an absolutely outstanding Christmas concert!

Since I won't be here next week-end for their concerts, and wanted my mom and dad to hear them too, we snuck in for a sneak preview of what they're doing this year. And let me say...IT IS AMAZING!!! The energy, joy, talent and message in the songs is something very special.

Led by Terry English, one of our JV staff, this is one of the coolest outreach events of the year in this area.

Next week-end they'll give three concerts in Ostrava, and 1650 tickets are already sold out for those concerts. (Sorry to those who live here and can no longer buy tickets!).

Terry says next year they plan to be in a bigger venue since this is such a popular event that more people want to attend.

It's not only an outreach for the Gospel into the lives of those who attend, but also to those in the choir.

Just one third are believers, while the rest have not yet made a decision to put their faith in Christ. Over the past few years, a number of choir members have and we're praying that more will this year!

Pray that the true message of Christmas penetrates the hearts of those in the choir, and those who will be at the concerts next week-end!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Fun with Mom and Dad

With only a few days left before my mom and dad leave for home, we ran into Ostrava today to do a few errands and have one last Starbucks together!

The evening found us at Mel and Amy Ellenwood's for our annual JV iTeam Christmas party.

We were missing many of our teammates for various reasons like home assignments in the States (two families are gone), a new baby (who arrived on Wednesday this week!), and a leadership conference in Poland (that's why Dave is missing). And two couples had already gone home before we took the picture because of babysitters needing to be relieved!

But it was sure nice to be together with those who could be there. And also nice to have my mom and dad meet and spend time with more of our dear teammates who we serve with.

It helped too that we had a photographer to capture the group photo.

While she took a picture of us, I took a picture of her!

I love how much my mom and dad have been able to experience of our lives and ministry here!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Father God: Daring to Draw Near

As you can see by faces looking in other directions, no one saw it coming.

Just a few seconds after I took that photo, Dave made the reveal of his first book, Father God: Daring to Draw Near to the JV iTeam staff during our weekly meeting here in Frýdlant!

The day before, a package had arrived at our house, shipped express from the States.

In it was the very first copy of his book...which is NOW ON AMAZON! 

You can go HERE to order it!

Dave's book is over ten years in the making as he studied the Bible to understand God as Father.

"You don't have another Jesus, or another Holy Spirit, but you do have another father, and your experience of him shapes the way you see God." 

He studied the topic for several years, teaching it for the first time in 2005. After seven years he taught the material in 2012 to our entire JV team at a spring conference. As we saw people's lives impacted by it, he decided in 2013 that it would be the topic of his first book. On our sabbatical, he began writing, honing and refining the material into book form.

His writing is winsome, clear, passionate and firmly rooted in God's Word. It's had a powerful impact on my life, and on many, many others.


It's the kind of book that you'll want to read multiple times, underlining as you go. When you read it the first time, you'll be moved by the stories of redemption and transformation.

But when you read it a second time (or maybe you'll be one of those people that takes it to heart and does the work the first time!) you'll be amazed at the transformational impact it can have, leading you into a deeper, more intimate relationship with your heavenly Father.

With Christmas coming, it would make a great gift. It's a book for EVERYONE who wants to draw near to the Father.

Go ahead and click HERE to order your copy!!! It's in paperback, and will also be available on Kindle soon.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sharing My Favorites

With the past two days having been office work days for me, it was time for some play with my mom and dad today.

We were headed over to Poland, but made our first stop in nearby Frýdek-Místek, to visit my favorite gluten free bakery there. Even if you have no need for GF, Labužník Celiak is really one of the best bakeries in our area!

Next stop: Sfera mall in Bielsko-Biała.

As it turned out, today was a day of sharing my favorites with mom and dad. The gluten free bakery, the mall in Poland, the chocolate cafe - all of those fall into that category of favorite!

And what would a fun day be without some of my favorite coffee?

Of course I had to join dad in trying it out. 😉

It's so great to have mom and dad in my world, sharing all sorts of different aspects, especially the fun ones!