Monday, March 27, 2017

A Little Bit of Paradise

Thirty years ago, we made our way across Austria, west to east, skiing in several locations.

When I think back to those days, I almost can't believe I did that on our honeymoon! Maybe it shows how much I loved my new husband, that I was willing to join him in one of his all time favorite activities!

Well, I love this husband more now than I did then. So much so that I encouraged him to ski on this trip, as we celebrate that joyous event all those years ago.

But this time, I let him go by himself!

Oh, but don't think I didn't head up to the top of the slopes with him! No way would I miss out on another adventure together.

At the top of this ski area, which is open for its very last day of the season, Dave tucked me in at this darling restaurant where I could read, write and soak in the gorgeous scenery.

Oh yeah. And enjoy famous Austrian "apfel strudel" and cappuccino while he makes his way out to the slopes!

He came in to check on me every few runs, and I was happy to tell him that I was more than fine, and say, "Enjoy yourself on the slopes, even if they're foggy!"

While he's in his little bit of paradise...

I'm in mine!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Anniversary on the Zugspitze

A number of people have asked me if I was preparing a special gift for Dave to celebrate our 30th anniversary. They've also asked me if I knew what Dave was preparing for me.

In answer to those questions I said, "While we both enjoy gifts to and from each other, what we like even more is doing something together."

So this anniversary week-end is all about creating some new memories and having a great experience with each other.

And one of those experiences is going to the top of this mountain!

The Zugspitze is the highest mountain in Germany, 2,962 meters above sea level - that's 9718 feet!

It sits right on the border of Germany and Austria, and you can get to the top from either side. We chose to go up on the Tiroler Zugspitzbahn. And oh wow!!! What a ride up to the top!

I was both giddy, and a little sick to my stomach, as we gained a whole lot of altitude in the bahn car that holds 100 people, and reaches the top in just seven minutes.

The giddiness won over the sick feeling! It was absolutely spectacular being at what felt like the top of the world!

You have a 360 degree view from this unbelievable engineering feat that allows you to be at the top.

While it is starting to feel like spring in the valley, it's definitely still winter up here.

There were still hundreds, if not thousands, up here skiing on this amazingly beautiful day.

While Dave wouldn't have minded skiing (and in fact, has skied there before I even knew him!), I was content to walk everywhere around the top, soaking in the spectacular view.

And yes, that's me with my arms outstretched, marveling at God's creation!

On the top we walked into Germany.

And back into Austria!

We walked over to the far side and saw the marker that is actually the top of the Zugspitze, loving the fact that it was such a clear day and we could see for so far in the distance.

To say this adventure to the top of the Zugspitze was a highlight is an understatement! I've driven by here many times over the years, but never had the joy of going to the top. And now I have!

As we traveled back down in the bahn car, I was still pinching myself that it was all real.

All of God's creation is amazing and spectacular in its own way. But this. Wow. This part of his world kind of got an extra dose of "amazingness"!

My heart rejoices in the Lord most High, who made it all.

Ended the day on this bench, praising God for 30 years of marriage and the loveliness of his creation!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Finding Berwang

Dave and I left the GYI conference in Prague to get away for a very special week-end together.

We are celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary in Austria!

Months ago when we began thinking about where we should celebrate this special occasion (how are we old enough to have already been married thirty years??!!) we ended up deciding to return to the area of Austria where we honeymooned all those years ago.

And specifically, we knew we wanted to return to this quaint Austrian village.

Thirty years ago, we didn't have internet, mobile phones, or GPS. Nor did we use a travel agent to find places to stay. Instead we did it the way that was always done before: travel the roads and look for a place!

And that's how we ended up here for three days.

We both had memories and vivid pictures of what it looked like here, but had never returned in all these years. So we thought it would be fun to come back and try to find the place where we stayed.

Which turned out to be easier said than done! We only have one picture of our time there (back then I wasn't in the habit of picture taking yet) but didn't have it with us. So we parked and set off to walk around the town in search of the place we both thought we remembered.

After quite a walk, we finally found it!

We'd walked by it several times, but neither of us remembered it being named "Hotel Axx". We're funny...but we both knew we most likely wouldn't have chosen a place with that name!

However, after walking all over town and not finding anything else that looked like we remembered, we inquired back inside this hotel. The man working there told us it was sold five years ago and renamed. He showed us the original key fobs with the name "Hotel Rose" and finally we knew we were in the right spot!

It was just SO much fun to be back in this place after thirty years of life since then: ministry in Germany, a move to the Czech Republic, starting Josiah Venture, three children, and a whole lot more of life since then!

We're still as crazy about each, probably even MORE so than we were thirty years ago!

What an amazing adventure it's been since we started our married life. And HOW VERY GOOD our heavenly Father has been to us all these years!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

GYI in the Prayer Room

For our last day of the Global Youth Initiative conference, we were give three options of how to spend the morning: in a high school English class, at the Jewish quarter of Prague, or the Strahov Monastery library.

Yes, I chose the monastery, which also included one last view overlooking Prague. Even on a cloudy day, it's still beautiful!

Martina and I were the only girls to go with the group of GYI guys!

What a blessing this dear friend is. She serves on the international JV team as the conference coordinator, which includes events like this one. She cared for SO many details along the way, making the trip smooth and uneventful both at Malenovice, and on our tour as well. Thanks Martina!

The group gathered for one last hour together in order to finish our time in the Josiah Venture Prayer Room.

What a powerful hour, hearing people from all over the world pray out loud for our JV team!

I so deeply appreciated their enthusiasm and earnestness in prayer, asking God to move mountains, tear down walls, and change lives here in Central and Eastern Europe.

It was a fitting end with this group of godly men and women who are praying for the same things in their corners of the world: Africa, Asia, South America, North America and Europe. It's a privilege to partner and join with them in asking God for a movement among young people throughout the entire world.

If you have yet to join us online in the Prayer Room, I invite you to come "Join the Watch" for God's movement in our part of the world!

You can click here:

Josiah Venture's Online Prayer Room

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Hidden Seed

Despite rain, a chilly temperature and dark skies, we headed out into Prague this morning with our GYI conference participants.

Today's plan was a walking tour of Prague, but not just of the typical or traditional sights. This is one where Dave likes to give the historical spiritual heritage of this country, and how it fits into what God is doing in this region of the world today.

After visiting the Jewish section, we headed over to Bethlehem Chapel, where John Hus preached of Jesus in the early 1400's.

And for that faith, he was burned at the stake in 1415. But that would launch approximately hundred year cycles of spiritual revival, or devastation, here in this land.

As we soaked in the beautiful sights of Prague (and I mean that figuratively AND literally!), we continued to walk through those spiritual hundred year cycles.

In 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 93 theses to the wall in Wittenburg, Germany, beginning the reformation. In 1620, the Battle of White Mountain right here in Prague took place, killing many nobleman and replacing the religious landscape of freedom in the Czech lands with oppression... oppression that didn't lift until 1918 when it became a nation.

Of course if you know your world history, you know that freedom didn't last for long. Czechoslovakia fell under Communism in 1948, and it wasn't until 1989 that the Velvet Revolution took place and it was finally freed from that oppressive government, which opened the door for freedom of religion after nearly three hundred years.

We moved here in 1993 and have been part of God's movement to restore a spiritual vibrancy in this land, one that we continue to pray for and work towards.

In case you're wondering, one of the other hundred year cycles of spiritual revival took place in the 1700's, and involved the Moravians who, under religious persecution, fled from Czech to Herrnhut, where we were visiting yesterday.

One of the things they prayed for as they fled was that God would protect the "hidden seed", which they believed was first planted by John Hus, and then through those who came to faith in the three hundred years after that, despite persecution and oppression.

As we walked the streets of Prague today, I thought about what a miracle we are living in today: that we have open doors like never before to proclaim the Gospel, and disciple believers to maturity in their faith. Oh may those doors STAY open!!

It's crazy to stand on this street corner, where it wasn't all that long ago, in fact, within my lifetime, that Russian tanks stood in this very place to suppress the uprising of people in 1967 who wanted freedom in this land.

And today, we are living in that very freedom that they wanted so desperately. We can be here with our GYI conference participants and talk about what more can be done, in all parts of the world, to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to those who don't yet know him.

May God raise up more young people across our know Him, to follow Him in obedience, and to be the next generation to lead the way towards Him.

What joy to be with people who have been that generation, and are all about training up the next one to carry on God's work.

We pray that the hidden seed of long ago will be brought to full maturity, so that many will see and know our great and almighty GOD!!!