Monday, June 18, 2018

Back to Colorado

Up bright and early in San Antonio, Texas, I was in Denver by 10:30 this morning.

Why? Because this little guy was picking me up!

Well, and his parents too! 😉

Back in April Caleb called me to ask if there was any chance I'd be free for a couple of days during this stateside trip in June. While we usually have our schedule fully packed, there were exactly three days that were unspoken for...and they were the exact days he was asking about! Seriously, only God could have arranged that.

So they picked me up at the airport this morning and we headed to the mountains.

For the past two and half years, Caleb and Haley have been part of Mountain View Community Church in Fort Collins, a church that began in 1993 and has birthed a movement of churches across the nation called "Crossway Chapel".

Each year they gather together the pastors and leaders of this movement for a time of encouragement and refreshment, and this year they invited Caleb and Haley since Caleb has been serving in the church part-time, and they are being sent out of this church as missionaries.

The "Huddle", as they call it, is in Beavercreek, Colorado so that's where we were headed. Or at least, were trying to head.

If you've ever driven I-70 through the Rocky Mountains you know that there is really just one way over them; if there's an accident or construction, you can be stuck in traffic for a long time, which is exactly what happened this afternoon.

We felt a little bit like this dog hanging out the window of his owner's car as we all inched along, for an hour and a half - ready to be done!

The slow drive was worth the wait for the pretty view we encountered upon arrival!

And the reason I'm along with Caleb and Haley? To take care of Charlie so they can fully participate in the program with the others who are here for the huddle!

I've not only got Charlie, but another staff member's five and half month old baby as well. So it will be the three of us hanging out for the next couple of days.

I brought a bag of musical instruments for these little guys to enjoy, and that sure captivated them this afternoon while their moms and dads were in meetings.

I don't know if it will keep them busy again tomorrow, but I'm sure excited to be here with them, especially getting time with my dear grandson, Charlie!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Happy Father's Day Dad!

Just a month ago, I got to be with my dad in Oregon for his 80th birthday celebration. 

While I didn't get to be there today, on Father's Day, I'm thinking about my dad and all the ways he has impacted my life.

My dad is one of the kindest men you'll ever meet. He knows no stranger, and is always interested in people and their stories, which ends up blessing them time and time again because someone wants to hear those stories!

He's hard working, and taught me the value of that, whether he was mowing the lawn, washing his car, or being creative and making one of his very cool birdhouses!

He is loving, supportive, encouraging and caring, always quick to give me a word of blessing whenever we talk.

He gave me so many adventures as a child growing up in Oregon, and is still always up for a drive to the coast, or anywhere else that we happen to be!

My dad loves his family so mom, my brother and I, my kids, and his whole extended family. He is the ultimate family man!

So I'm celebrating this amazing man today, wishing I was there to share a cup of coffee with him!

"Dad, I love you and as always, you are the best dad in the whole world! Sending you love, hugs and kisses today on this Father's Day!"

Best Burgers in Austin

Dave preached this morning at a church on the outskirts of Austin, TX, speaking on a topic dear to his heart on this Father's Day: God the Father!

As always, it touches people's hearts as he teaches on the four things that God's Father heart desires to give us: identity, love, pleasure and place. Haven't read his book on this topic yet? You can get it HERE!

After church, we went with our friends to get lunch. Little did I know what a treat we'd be in for!

First of all, if by some chance I had to live on just one type of food, it would be a burger! Of course I wouldn't want the same one every time, so I guess it wouldn't be just one food since I like the variety getting a burger with different things on it.

Today I may have encountered the best burger selection yet here at Moonie's in Cedar Park, Texas!

I looked it up (of course I did...I love to research things!) and found it's been in business for 12 years, and is named after Grandma Moonie. I don't know who she is, but her inspiration for a good burger place paid off!

I ordered the "Farmer Val" a lamb burger with grilled onions, goat cheese and an aioli sauce made of garlic, rosemary and lemon zest, all on a bed of lettuce with sweet potato fries. Pure bliss! This is seriously the best burger I've ever had...not kidding. I'll be comparing all other burgers to this one until I come back sometime!

It was delightful to be here with our friends, Dave and April Jamerson. Dave is a former NBA player, who was a mission's pastor at a church in Indianapolis when we met him years ago. Now a church planter here in Austin, he also serves on the JV board.

After saying goodbye to them, I dropped Dave off at the Austin airport.

When we booked our tickets months ago, we thought we had a meeting in San Antonio tonight so had booked our flights in and out of there. But that meeting fell through, and we ended up changing his ticket to fly out of Austin.

So we said goodbye for now, and I headed back to San Antonio to fly back to Denver for a few days, while he heads towards Chicago for JV board meetings later this week.

We'll reunite on Wednesday night! Glad I got to spend Father's Day with him, the very best dad ever to Tyler, Caleb and Claire!

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Blessings upon Blessings

After a beautiful wedding celebration for our friends' children, we had to be up bright and early this morning in order to make it to Denver Airport in time to catch a flight.

Unfortunately, we thought we were leaving Colorado without Dave's phone. 

When we got home from the wedding last night, it was missing. He drove all the way back to the wedding venue, big heavy-duty flashlight in tow, hoping to find it. But it wasn't there.

Having an early breakfast with our dear friend, Linda (who hosted us with her husband the past few days in Fort Collins), we talked about how strange it was that it had disappeared as Dave remembered having it with him the whole time of the wedding.

We hugged Linda goodbye, saying we'd let her know if we heard anything more about it, and drove off towards Denver.

Ten minutes down the road my phone rang. It was Linda,

"I think I found Dave's phone!" she exclaimed. "I'll drive and meet you half way to give it to you."

So we turned around and met up in a parking lot, greeted by Linda's happy face and one missing phone.

Where was it?

Down in a crevice of a recliner at her house! When we left she "happened" to hear a "pinging" noise and followed the sound. Sure enough, somehow the phone had gotten wedged deep down in the side of the chair. We have no idea how, nor any idea how it was "pinging" because it was out of battery. Dave must have had it in his pocket when we returned last night, and it must have slipped out though he has no idea how.

What we can say for sure is this is God's mercy and blessing to Dave! It was such a relief to get it back, especially since we were headed on to Texas today.

This evening we met in the home of one of our JV board members, Dave Jamerson, who is planting a church in the Austin area called "Renovate".

We met with some of their leadership team to share our story of beginning Josiah Venture. Since they are in the early stages of their development, Dave wove principles in about things that might be of help to them as they press into new spiritual territory in this part of the country.

It was not only a delightful evening with them, but we got to see some of our JV missionaries who are in the process of raising support to come to Czech soon!

Geoff and Martina Hammond live in the Austin area, but have a heart for Czech because Martina grew up there, and Jeff taught school there many years ago!

We are delighted that they'll soon be joining our team to share their lives and the Gospel with young people in the country we all love so much.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Love With All the Extras

Weddings are some of the best events as they bring out "love with all the extras"!

It was just a little more than four years ago here in Fort Collins when we were here for another wedding...Caleb and Haley's! Now here they are, with Charlie, coming to Austin and Hayley's wedding in the same city. I love that!

We've been "doing weddings" for a long time with Dan and Laura! They were both in our wedding, and we in theirs. Plus, we've been to each other's kids' weddings and now two Ellenwood weddings. That's some deep love!

It's beautiful to see parents with their children on the day of a wedding; but it's even sweeter to see the new in-laws loving and connecting with each other. They are family now!

This just cracked me up, seeing our Caleb and Claire hanging out with their "Uncle" Dan after the ceremony! They've been doing this their whole lives, and will probably continue to for many more years to come. They love him!

What was even funnier was literally turning around and seeing "Uncle" Dave with Noah and Jill! I love that we all share our kids, loving on them in many different kinds of ways, and over long periods of their lives.

With it being just two days away from Father's Day, it seemed appropriate to get these three together on this happy day. A dad with his son, times two!

One very loving element to Austin and Hayley's wedding was the JV contingency that lovingly came to celebrate.

This amazing bunch of people are: current JV staff, former JV staff, JV Kids, kids of former JV staff, JV A-team members, JV board members and spouses of JV Kids! That group represents an incredible amount of love right there!

And these two besties? They've been loving each other for twenty years, and will continue to the rest of their lives, I'm sure!

Brian and Aleisha, who serve with us in leadership of JV, have been in the States for four months and still have two months to go. It was SO good to see them!!

This sweet little trio made me giggle!

This is Caleb with the kids of Nate, a former JV staff, who was an important person in the lives of Caleb, Noah and Jacob. How I loved seeing the next generation of young men, hanging out with Caleb in the parking lot, collecting balloons after the bride and groom had driven away!

Leah is another former JV staff who now lives in Iowa, but came for the wedding. She was not only JV staff, but an intern many, many years ago; she remembers Claire when she was just a tiny little girl!

Laura and I have been doing life together for 34 years now, first with ministry in Germany, and then beginning the work of Josiah Venture together with our husbands. I love her a lot!

And these two...there's a lot of love between them after having grown up together for twenty years. I know they're looking forward to many, many more years of serving the Lord together and doing life with each other's families.

And finally, friends from Wisconsin that we love a lot too! They were in Mel and Amy's church before they came out with us to JV twenty years ago. Now they're serving with JV on our "A-team", people who pour into our staff in a variety of ways. We are so thankful for and love Paul and Barb, and glad we now know them and get to do life with them too!

The occasion of Austin and Hayley's wedding brought such richness and love to all of our lives these past few days.

I have a feeling more of that will happen around Austin and Hayley as they begin their life journey together - they're the kind of people that bring out love when you're around them!