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!

Henckel Wedding Day!

Wedding day for Hayley and Austin is here!!

We arrived to the wedding venue just as family pictures were finishing up. I'm glad I made it in time to at least capture the Ellenwood side of the family!

First look for Hayley and Austin had taken place earlier in the day, along with family and bridal party photos.

Amy, mother of the bride, radiated with joy and delight over the goodness of this day, her precious daughter's wedding.

As the wedding party went to get in place, the guests took theirs outside under the sunny Colorado skies, where not fifteen minutes before there had been a huge thunderstorm, complete with buckets of rain!

Thankfully this is Colorado, where you only have to wait a few minutes before the weather changes.

This outdoor wedding venue set such a beautiful atmosphere for a very happy wedding day.

At 3 PM, Austin ushered his mom, Leslie, down the aisle, with his dad, Randy, close behind.

Amy came down with Noah, glowing with such a beautiful radiance! I know her heart was full of deep joy for God's goodness in bringing Hayley such a wonderful man to be her husband.

Sweet little cousins came in after the bridal party had taken their seats, just before the moment we'd all been waiting for.

The glorious bride, Hayley!!!

Oh to see her on the arm of her dad, our dear friend, Mel, glowing as only a bride does!

After answering the question, "Who gives this woman to be married to this man," Mel replied, "Her mother and I," and placed Hayley's hand into Austin's. What a sacred moment!

As Hayley and Austin stepped up into the gazebo, Mel followed to deliver the wedding message to them.

If you noticed Hannah, above, dabbing her eyes during her dad's message to her sister and soon to be husband, you can imagine that it was a preciously emotional message full of heart, love and the Spirit of the Lord. He encouraged them to keep three things in mind: To be kind, forgiving, and considerate to each other.

To make it easy to remember, he gave them (and all of us!) a simple way keep that profound wisdom tucked away as a reminder of God's truth: remember three letters made famous by a place you pass by in nearly every town in America: KFC...Kind, Forgiving, Considerate. I like those words better than what we previously knew them to stand for!

Mel ended by praying for them, finishing with the words, "Father, when people talk about the Henckel's, let them talk about the love of Jesus displayed through them." What a beautiful prayer, one that we all join him in praying for these two dear ones.

Pastor Brad Jensen, from Faith Evangelical Free Church where Hayley and Austin attend, led the rest of the ceremony, leading them in their vows and the giving of rings.

As they braided three cords together, to symbolize their commitment to being in their marriage with the Lord, Hannah and Noah sang gloriously about being one with Christ.

After the braiding was complete, Leslie and Randy, Mel and Amy joined them in the gazebo for a few minutes of prayer together while Hannah and Noah's voices lifted musical prayers over all of them.

And then, after being pronounced husband and wife, Austin was given permission to kiss his bride!

I love the looks on their faces as they came down the aisle! Happy triumph at becoming Mr and Mrs Austin Henckel!

Husband and wife came back down the aisle to release the guests, giving them an opportunity to personally greet each person who'd come. I loved this moment of Hayley's Nana (Amy's mom) loving on her granddaughter.

When it was our turn to be released, I was ready. "This one's for the blog," I told them!

Thanks for indulging Aunt Connie, Austin and Hayley! 

While they greeted their guests, Dave and I got a few minutes with the parents of the bride, our dear friends, Mel and Amy. What an amazing young woman they've raised!

The reception was held inside, just a few steps away from where the wedding had taken place. Look at the happy couple coming in as the Henckel's!

Toasts were given by the father of the groom, the best man and maid of honor, and by the mother of the bride. I could hardly take this picture as tears streamed down my face listening to my friend's loving words to her daughter and now, son-in-law. So much love in this room!

After a yummy dinner, Austin and Hayley took to the dance floor for their first dance as husband and wife.

They are amazing swing dancers so it was delightful to watch them tenderly dance together, already in sync as they begin their lives together.

Hayley had a sweet dance with her dad afterward...

And Austin danced with his mom in such a loving, tender way too. These two love their moms and dads, and aren't afraid to show it!

The evening went by too quickly, as happens with all weddings, as we celebrated the joining together of Austin and Hayley.

All too soon it was 9 PM, and time for them to go.

While it doesn't look like it's 9 PM here, it is!

Tucked away in the car, just the two of them, they waved goodbye to all of us, and to the life they've lived separately up until now.

From this point forward, they will live their lives as one: Austin and Hayley, Mr and Mrs Henckel, husband and wife.

"Dearest Austin and Hayley, 
We all wish you God's richest, deepest and most tender blessing over your marriage, 
every day, every year, 
forever and ever.