Saturday, December 15, 2018

Thankful for Sunshine

Growing up in Oregon, rain was a way of life. Umbrellas? Never used them! Rain is normal, and even comforting.

While the record amounts of rain here on Hvar this past week was unusual, it's been beautiful.

We finally left the house today to run some errands in Stari Grad.

Lo and behold, the gray clouds began to change, literally as I sat in the car waiting for Dave!

And by the time we got to Hvar Town, it was as if there'd never been any clouds or rain, ever!

No matter how much of an Oregonian I am, used to rain and clouds, it's amazing how sunshine and blue sky perk up a day. Even in December, when Christmas trees adorn the square!

I had to chuckle at the dog, out taking himself for a walk. No owner in sight. Maybe he needed some sunshine today too!

The sunshine was out in full force by the time we walked onto the square.

Mind you though, the temperature was around 45 F./ 7 C. So it's not warm unless you're standing directly in the sunshine!

We admired the work going on at the old Palace Hotel, undergoing a complete renovation. I found this article about it - it's going to be amazing when it's finished!

We needed to film a short video for one of our supporting churches, so wandered down the back streets to find a quiet place to do that.

I can't believe we didn't think to take a picture after doing it! This will have to do - a "still" from the video!

Wandering back down to the riva, we could see everything was sparkling in the afternoon sunshine!

It's almost as if the town itself sighed in relief to be sun-drenched instead of rain-drenched (you can see the water still lingering on the stones from rain earlier in the day).

Oh how pretty it was to see blue sky and wispy white clouds again!

We've never been to the top of another one of the hotels right there on the riva, so went up today to have a look.

By the time we came out, the town was sparkling in a different way.

In all the Decembers that we've visited here, I've never seen all of the palm trees decked out in Christmas lights!

It was so much prettier than my phone camera can capture!

We ended our day with dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in town, Mizzarola.

They've changed locations since we were last here, but the food and service were just as wonderful as always!

I try to find things to be thankful for every day, and today it was definitely for sunshine and blue sky cheering our bodies and souls!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Six Christmas Playlist Favorites

When Dave and I met 34 years ago we were musicians. In fact, that's how we got to know each other, through a summer of evangelism on a singing team in Germany!

We did a lot of musical things through the years, including writing all the music for our wedding and  producing albums for Malachi, the group Dave led for ten years. In our first years in Czech we continued our musical efforts by doing our best to learn Czech worship songs and serve on various worship teams. I still do that at our church in Frydlant.

But the crazy thing about us is that we didn't always enjoy listening to music! When driving in the car I preferred conversation with the family or quiet if I was by myself. And when at home, I preferred listening to my kids make music or play the things they enjoyed. But if it was up to Dave and I, we almost never turned on music ourselves, preferring silence if we were home alone.

Except for at Christmas! Then the music played loudly!

We've changed and now listen to music throughout the year (Thanks S & P for making sure music plays throughout the house!) But in case you're wondering, here's what we're listening to in preparation for this Christmas this year!

Christmas is not complete without this album! Dave gave the CD to me as a gift back in 1997, the year after it was produced in connection with Prison Fellowship.

Among many other things they do, Prison Fellowship provides Christmas gifts for children of inmates in the US. Some of the children vocalists on this album were those children. Believe me, this album is a treasure! The orchestration is gorgeous, and the children's voices, precious. And by the way, any gift you give right now has a doubling match.

This is another favorite this season.

Put together by the Gospel Coalition, it is seven+ hours of worshipful Christmas music! They write:

The songs on this list include both centuries-old classics and recent originals. Many are somber and contemplative, appropriately subdued in the face of the majesty and mystery of the “God with us” incarnation. Others are jubilant and musically maximalist, appropriately grandiose in the face of the “Gloria in excelsis Deo!” worship that the birth of Christ demands.

You can't go wrong with that!

Being a pianist, I love to listen to instrumental piano because it's inspiring and soothing. This playlist for Christmas is so lovely.

Need some soft jazzy background music for a Christmas party, or just an evening at home? Here it is!

My Christmas list wouldn't be complete without this music!

When this movie came out for Christmas 2003, it became a family favorite.  I haven't watched it yet this year because I'm waiting to do it with Claire!

And the last favorite? A throwback to my childhood.

I may not have seen the movie when it first came out in 1965 as I was just four then. But I'm pretty sure I watched it most every year from the time when I was in elementary school. Hearing the music at Christmas brings back so many warm family memories.

So there you have it! My Christmas playlist favorites. What are you listening to this year?!

PS. You can click on any of the photos and it will take you to Spotify to listen!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Hearing from Pam

I had a visit from one of my dearest friends today.

No, she didn't visit me in person. That would be quite difficult for my friend, Pam Reeve.

She's already in heaven, getting ready to celebrate her sixth Christmas in person with Jesus.

I didn't know I would see Pam only one more time after this picture was taken in 2011

I was doing a Google search (so thankful for that miracle tool that lets you find people!) of her dear friend, Joyce, pictured above, to see if she was still living. If she was (and I think she is!) I had it on my heart to send her a little Christmas package and tell her thank you for the years she and Pam prayed for, and even visited our family in Czech.

What I discovered after clicking on a link with Joyce's name in it was a shocking, but fully delightful surprise.

Someone wrote a book about Pam!!

Another very dear friend of hers, Linda Wright, published this book in March 2018. I bought it immediately on Kindle and began to read, so touched to "hear" Pam's voice again.

Little did I know...there was more of her voice to be heard!

When Dave took a break from his writing, I excitedly told him the news about the book and how much it meant to read about this woman who had such a profound impact on my life. (See HERE for my description of her years ago).

His eyes began to twinkle and he said, "Do you want to hear her speak to you again?"

I looked at him puzzled, not understanding what he meant.

"I have a recording on my phone that she made for you six months before she passed away."


During a visit with her some years ago, I recorded some things she wanted to share with me, but have since lost that recording. I did not have any memory that there was another one.

She made this one for me when Dave went to visit her in February 2013, six months before she would pass away in August. I had absolutely no memory of that recording.

As Dave played it, I sat, completely enraptured by the voice of this godly woman (she would have laughed to hear herself called a "Protestant Nun" as she's called in the title of the book!) who left me a 13 minute prophetic message, speaking into my life six years ago, as if she were talking to me right now!!

It is a little piece of heaven on earth today.

My Father KNEW the day I needed her voice! I could never have imagined it would come today...or ever!!

And yet, I heard Pam's cheerful voice, sprinkled with her bubbling laughter, speaking to me loud and clear, "God's plans won't be thwarted. He is about His work right now. As you walk closely with him your joy will be all the more found in him. And your life here is all in preparation for what's to come in heaven!"

How powerful to hear that, knowing that's the very place where she is now.

I feel like I just celebrated Christmas early! What a gift to hear from my dear friend, Pam.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

No Electricity

One of the crazy things about coming to this side of the island in the winter is that you are guaranteed to experience electricity outages. And no, we don't really understand why!

Sometimes they are for just a few minutes; sometimes they are for the whole day.

Good thing it's beautiful to look outside even if the electricity is off.

Today's outage turned out to be five hours long. By mid afternoon it was getting cold so Dave made a fire to warm us up as we worked!

I'm enjoying these days, even if there isn't electricity, as I write Christmas letters to all of our supporters who stand with us in ministry.

We are incredibly thankful to this group of people (you know who you are!), many of whom have been with us for even longer than we've been here in Czech (during our years of ministry in Germany).

But this is an especially significant year to send words of appreciation to them since we're celebrating twenty five years of Josiah Venture. I hope they like what's in those envelopes! 😉 Most of all I hope they know the joy of what God is doing through their prayers and gifts that keep us going.

The electricity finally came back on at 4 this afternoon, just as the sun was setting under those dark clouds.

Heavy rains are forecasted over the next few days so we'll have extra reasons to stay cozied up inside, working on our various projects.

Even if the electricity goes off again (which it probably will!), we've got all the "light" we need to keep us warm!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Man After God's Heart

Few people get to have the view that I do, of this man who pours his life out for the sake of the Gospel.

He continually speaks, leads, writes, travels, counsels, and prays on behalf of the young people of Central and Eastern Europe, and our JV team who minister to them.

Right now his pouring out comes in the form of writing eight lessons that will be part of two more four-week studies in the "Gro" series for following up new believers here.

He has no idea I'm taking pictures of him, or writing about him!

He wrote the first four week study this summer, and now is in the middle of writing these other two which will form the final product of twelve studies, grouped into three 4-week studies, to help our new believers grow in their young faith.

They'll eventually be translated into all the languages in the countries we work in.

He let me read the studies he finished today and they are so good! He has four of the eight finished, so will continue on in the coming days with the other four.

Pray for him will you? These studies are hard to write! They take an incredible amount of concentration, biblical study and heart. But they are such a needed element in our follow up of new believers.

How thankful I am for this man who is after God's own heart -- "who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." 1 Timothy 2:4