Thursday, August 25, 2016

No Better Than This

There was a time when vacation was no better than this.

Or this!

When our kids were 3, 5 and 7, we started vacationing in Croatia - and it just stuck! We never wanted to go anywhere else. Spending all day at the beach, riding bikes, sleeping in a tent, cooking over a little charcoal grill, and just having long days together...there was nothing better!

Well, except maybe the ice cream! :)

Even on cloudy days we found things to do, like take a ferry ride to another island.

Or play mini golf on funky little courses!

Mostly we just loved being in sunshine, playing together and making memories.

This year Dave and I heading off, once again, to our beloved Croatia for some vacation time. We'll think about our kids and remember those special days, while making some new memories of our own, I'm sure.

One of which will be some vacation days with this guy...and his family!

Towards the end of our vacation time, Tyler, Lara and Judah are flying in to Croatia to join us for a few days before we head back home to Czech.

The Lord is kind that way. While our kids have been long gone, there has actually never been a year where Dave and I have vacationed completely alone! Somehow there has always been one of our kids around to be with us for at least part of our vacation. And we like that!

We're excited that this time it also involves a certain little grandson. :)

Until then, Dave and I are off to have some much needed rest and refreshment with each other. I'm looking forward to that too!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Package in the Mail

Driving home last night after a long day out, I stopped by the mailbox and was surprised to see a package in there. We don't get many these days so they feel special when they come.

But I didn't have my glasses on, and it was getting dark so I couldn't see who it was from, or who it was to until I got back into the car and turned on the dome light.

And then I recognized what it was.


Wow, what a surreal moment to hold it in my hands!

This is a "proof" copy, sent by my agent, the handler of this whole project so that I can take one last look at it before it becomes available for purchase. Don't look for it on Amazon yet! It's not there, but will be soon.

This represents three years of work for me. Oh how the Lord has seen me through this proces, as well as my husband and our agent friend! They've all been so very patient with me.

You might read it and say, "What was the big deal to write that??" But oh my...if you've ever written a book, you know what the "big deal" is! There are so many more steps, and lessons, involved in a project like this. Maybe it would go faster on a second book. Or maybe not. And who knows if I'll ever find out!

But I'm proud of this one and happy it's almost finished and in print.

And I'm praying it will bless many people who read it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Last First

Long ago, in what feels like a very far away land, these three had a first day of school here in Czech.

If I remember correctly, it was Caleb's first day of first grade. Tyler would have been heading into fourth grade, and Claire was finishing up školka (kindergarten) that year.

Somehow, a lot of time has passed and now we're at this point: Claire's last 'first day of school', her last semester of college!

Tyler and Caleb are finished with school. Well sort of! Tyler is busy writing his master's thesis and will graduate in December. But he's not on campus so doesn't have a 'first day of school' picture to send me!

So, Claire's picture represents the end of an era for our family. We and they DID IT!!

They each completed thirteen years of Czech school (more if you count školka!) and now they've almost all finished college and even graduate school.

How thankful I am for the ways they've grown and developed, for the richness of education that they've had, and for how they're living their lives today for the Lord.

That's the best part!

Monday, August 22, 2016

A Happy Ending: Answered Prayer

Do you believe in the power of prayer? I would definitely tell you that I do.

But I'm also still learning, and have many questions about it.

What are the conditions to God answering prayer? Why pray if he already knows what will happen? Are there some prayers that are considered selfish? If he doesn't answer yes, did I pray wrong? Why does he answer some of my prayers and not others? How long should I keep on praying for something? Is anything too small to pray for?

Oh yes, these and so many more are the questions that I ask.

And yet, I still pray. Because God's Word tells me to...over and over again. Even if I'm not sure I'm praying the right thing, I go ahead and pray, in hopes that when he answers, I'll get to give him glory and honor for it.

That is my utmost desire today.

I sure didn't expect to be standing in this train station today.

Oh I'd prayed that I would! Well, not for this particular spot, but I prayed with faith for days and days that God would hear my prayers for something very specific. I didn't know if he would choose to answer, so I kept on praying, even when the situation looked pretty bleak.

But now I'm here today to tell you that he graciously and mercifully answered!

Sam, the daughter of JV missionaries who live here in Czech, arrived to visit her parents today:


In exchange, I'm holding a bag of gluten free goodies to trade her for my computer! Yes, I'm happy to generously reward her for going to pick it up from Claire in Chicago, and for bringing it in her carry-on so it would stay safe. THANK YOU SAM!

The rental agency wrote a personal letter to me last week saying that the next renters of the car that I'd left the computer in, found it, kept it the whole week they had the car, and then turned it in when they brought the car back.

PRAISE GOD!!! I give him the glory and honor for sending honest people to rent the car after me! I had prayed so specifically that he would keep his eye on it for me, and bring it back to me somehow.

That was a hard prayer to pray when I knew that it was my mistake that brought about this situation. Oh praise God for his grace! Giving me what I don't deserve. How many, many times he has done that. I am so grateful for his kind and loving care for me.

I wish all my prayers had such a happy ending. I always tell him that I'd give him all the praise for his answers! But I know he knows better than me what the best answers are.

So for the many, many prayers still on my heart, I'll keep praying and hoping for his best answers, the happy endings of his choosing.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Suchdol and the Moravian Missionary Movement

On a wet and cold summer Sunday afternoon, Dave and I headed out for a little trip.

If you literally translate the name of the town we were visiting, it would be "Dry Valley". It was anything but that today!

This is the museum of the Moravian Brothers in Suchdol nad Odrou. We're here today on a research trip in preparation for our JV fall conference.

In September, we'll have 350 people at our fall conference, to study movements of God that changed the world.

The story of the Moravian Brothers is such a movement. And in fact, we believe it's part of the reason why we're here.

This movement started in Moravia, the very area where we live.

This man, Daniel, has given his life to documenting and displaying the story here in Suchdol of the Moravian Brothers, to share what they did to bring the Gospel to the world.

The story is nothing short of amazing! I wish every one of you could go through this museum and hear the story.

Dave will be recording it in English so that it's downloadable for our conference when we take a tour this fall around Moravia to some of the significant sights of this movement, such as the Jesus Church in Těšín.

In order to flee religious persecution, the Moravians, led by Christian David (who came from the town of Ženklava, just a half hour from where we live), fled to Herrnhut, Germany in 1722.

In the village of Suchdol, 250 of its 700 inhabitants were among those who left.

Their names, ages, occupations, etc are all documented here!

After walking 350 kilometers, an eleven day journey, they arrived in Herrnhut where they were taken in by Count Zinzendorf, a man of deep spiritual conviction.

It was in Herrnhut in August 1727, that during a baptism and communion service, the Spirit moved among the people who had taken refuge there.

As is written in an article HERE, differences dissolved, all embraced one another in forgiveness and a spirit of love, and Christ became central to their thinking. They established a twenty-four hour around-the-clock prayer vigil which lasted one hundred years. The fervent prayers resulted in the sending out of missionaries to many lands--the first Protestant missions outside Europe and North America.

The far reaching places they went to is simply staggering. Greenland, West Indies, Africa, the the Indians, to the Eskimos, to those in the new colonies of what would become the United States, and more.

Within twenty five years, the Moravians had sent out over 100 missionaries, more missionaries than the Protestant church had sent out in total over the previous two hundred years. And over the next 150 years, they sent over 2000 missionaries to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to the world.

There is SO much more to this story, so many twists and turns, triumphs and griefs (as you can imagine, many died serving the Lord).

But the good news is that they brought the Gospel to millions, and we are continuing with their legacy as that is the hope and vision of our ministry with Josiah Venture.

The seeds they planted right here in this region hundreds of years ago are still in the soil.

We are some of their fruits of their labors!