Monday, November 29, 2010

Getting Ready

Every year as I'm packing up the Christmas decorations, I vow to put them up earlier next year. It just seems like there is never enough time to enjoy them as the holiday season speeds by.

Of course one of the perennial problems is getting a tree that will last through the season. That's often reason number one for taking the decorations down early around here.

Years ago, when we first moved to Czech, it was next to impossible to get a nice live tree - no Oregon Noble firs of my childhood to be found anywhere! Oh there were live trees...but they looked like they were more on the "Charlie Brown" side of things - not what I envisioned for gracing our home for the Christmas season.

So we opted for a fake...errr...artificial one (that sounds much better than fake!) for many years. The one time that a friend of ours actually went out into the woods and cut one down for us, it died literally within a idea why. I had to put the artificial one up anyway, just to get us through that Christmas.

Now here we are...rolling into the 2010 Christmas vow from last year tucked away, as usual, in the recesses of my mind.

Last night as we got home from church, I was just thinking about what to make for dinner - the thought of Christmas decorating was no where in sight.

But our kids had a different idea...and six hours later, with the vow pulled out from its dusty place in my mind, willing and helpful family members hard at work (Claire even baked cookies!) and our favorite Christmas CD playing in the background ("Angel Tree Christmas" - awesome CD!)...our house was transformed into a Christmas paradise in NOVEMBER! Granted it's almost the last of the month...but this is a first in our house!

And you know...I like it!

Especially since it snowed last night. A lot. We woke up to lots of snow gently falling, the scent of a fresh tree wafting through the house (which we chopped down from our yard...yep, we did! Well...Caleb did. But I stood there and photographed the event!), and decorations everywhere. It honestly happened so fast last night that it felt almost as if an elf came in the night and did it all for us.

Of course this elf was up finishing things until 12:30. But still! It was such a beautiful sight to wake up to.

And now I feel like I have time to enjoy this Christmas season, perhaps like never before. I'd love to be like the Shepherds of old, who upon having seen the baby Jesus, returned to their normal lives glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen.

That's my Christmas wish for myself this year!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving JV Style

In 1993 we had only lived in Czech two weeks when Thanksgiving Day arrived. Days before that, Laura Hash (she and Dan had moved to Poland at the same time we moved to Czech) and I decided that we should do a meal together to celebrate...but neither of us had ever cooked a whole Thanksgiving dinner before!

After a flurry of phone calls back to Germany (to my mother-in-law and to Jim Miller, a friend of ours who is known for his cooking skills!) we attempted the meal with fairly good success. I must add that turkeys were hard to come by back then, so our little bitty turkey that year was found by Laura in the deep freeze of a Polish grocery store, and who knows how long it had been there!

Yesterday as we gathered at Malenovice with 72 JV staff and kids (which is just a quarter of our team now), I had such thankfulness in my heart for all that God has done during these years since then...and for large, fresh turkeys that we now have (takes four big ones to feed us all!).

We loved life back then, but we love it even more now! Our team has grown many times over since 1993, and that's a huge blessing and delight to us. We have much to be thankful for these past 17 years!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Preaching in Prague

Back in May when Dave had his heart surgery, there were a lot of things on his schedule that got cancelled or put on hold.

Since then, a few of those things have been added back into the schedule, one of which was this week-end. Dave had the privilege of preaching at the Dejvice church in Prague on Sunday morning.

After the service, we were invited to lunch with the pastor, his wife and some dear friends from our Havirov days, and their spouses, who now live in Prague - what a treat to sit around the table with these dear ones, some whom we've known for nearly 17 years!

When we met them, one was in junior high, two were in high school and one was in college. Several of them trusted Christ through our ministry, one was in our internship program, one served at English camps...and all are walking with the Lord today.

"I have no greater joy than this, to hear about my children walking in truth." 3 John 1:4

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Beautiful Evening

I've written about this before so if you're a regular reader, you may remember what "šluskolona" is. But in case you don't know I'll just say it's one of my favorite cultural events here in Czech! High school kids take dance lessons in the fall for about 10 weeks, have one ball halfway through, and then have the final one at the end of those weeks.

Last night was Claire's "šluskolona", the final event of her dance lessons. From the moment the 35 couples made the promenade into the cultural center, to the end of the was a beautiful event!!
Claire with her dear friends, Hayley and Lucy

And yes, I admit to a few tears throughout the night! When they danced a waltz to Doris Day's "Que Sera,Sera" and I heard the words, "When I was just a little girl, I asked my mother what would I be..." it just took me back to when Claire was a little girl (not that I ever sang that song to her, or she ever asked the question!) - and now, seemingly in the blink of an eye, here she is a beautiful young woman.

She and her dance partner, Noah Ellenwood (one of our JV kids who attends high school with her here in Frydlant) danced nearly three hours...the jive, waltz, cha cha, polka, country dance, mazurka, valčik, tango, fox trot, and rock and roll.

During the presentation, moms and dads are "required" (I guess you could decline if you wanted but we didn't!) to participate with either their child or their child's partner.

Noah and I danced two dances together, with him leading me in steps I didn't know! As we danced it made me wish that I'd had this experience when I was in high school so I could learn all those great dances!!

After the official presentation is over, they open up the dance floor to everyone. Moms, dads, grandparents, siblings, friends...everyone takes to the floor and you can barely move around without running into someone! But it's so fun - we wouldn't miss out on it for the world!

This was one of those nights when I was so glad I get to live in Czech!

By the way, this week we celebrated 17 years of living here!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Monday Night Thoughts

Sometimes I just want to update my blog because it keeps track of life for me...what's going on, what I'm thinking about, what I'm thankful for. And it lets you into my world a little bit! So...going for the "thoughts" post again tonight!

Outside my's dark, 10:20 PM, and WARM! The weather has been crazy warm these past's 60 degrees tonight. Honestly, sometimes we don't have it this warm on summer nights! I love it!

I am thinking...about Dave and Caleb who should be on a plane back from London right now. They left yesterday morning, very early, with Dan and Jacob Hash, Mel and Noah Ellenwood, to head for London to see the Denver Bronco's play the 49ers! It was Jacob's 16th birthday and this was his very cool celebration with his best buddies and their dads...who are also best buddies! After seeing the game yesterday and spending the night, they hung out in London today - not even sure what they did! But I'm sure I'll hear all about it tomorrow. They get home about 2 AM so I won't see them tonight.

I am thankful...for a friend's words of encouragement today. water to a thirsty soul!

From the kitchen...broiled salmon and a balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, garlic and olive oil dressing on a salad of roasted veggies and fresh spinach. Claire and I were eating good tonight while our men were away!

I am wearing...nothing very exciting! Though I do have on my cute pair of Libby Edelman flats that I stumbled on last year when we were in the States and they're still my FAVS!

I am reading...a new issue of "Runners" magazine. I always get SO inspired when I read that magazine! I'm getting in about 10-12 km a week these days. Not a lot...but it's something!

I am hoping...that God will do a miracle in the heart of a friend of ours who is finally open to listening to Him. I am also hoping my parents will come for Christmas (hint hint, mom and dad!!)

I am a Bteam meeting tomorrow. I love our Bteam who serves the JV family! By the way...have you checked out our new JV website?? It's so beautiful and has lots of great info and news about people and things happening here!

I am creating...lots of yummy food these days! This fall has been another tough run for Claire and Caleb's sensitive tummies. We're mostly back to our original diet from two years ago of just eating meat, fish, veggies, fruits and nuts to help them heal I have to be really creative to keep us from getting bored in our meals! It's a challenge but I actually really like it. I love it best when Dave says, "Wow...this tastes like it's from a fancy restaurant!" That's my best compliment.

I am hearing...the crackling of the fire downstairs...yes, I have a fire even though it's warm outside! There is just something about a fire in the fireplace on a fall evening that I can't resist!

I am praying...for our long time friends who are getting on a plane tomorrow to come see us and check out JV...we're hoping the Lord gives them clarity about their future, and that He leads them here! We love them and would so enjoy serving alongside them here.

Around the house...our lawn looks the best it has all year! We have had SOOOO much rain this year that much of the time our yard has been a doesn't drain very well because of our clay soil. So we haven't had our regular 'park-looking' lawn for quite some time. But after all this dry, beautiful fall weather it finally dried up enough to mow on Sunday (which Caleb and I did!) and looks beautiful. Kind of crazy that it looks this nice in November...I missed it looking nice all summer!

One of my favorite things...being with girlfriends! Two friends came over for lunch yesterday and we had the best time just being girls together!

A few plans for this week...hear about the guys' trip to London, pick up our friends coming from the States at the train station on Wednesday, give them a "living in Czech" day on Friday where I'll show them all about life here...looking forward to that! 

A picture I am sharing...of my new favorite cookbook! It's not an "everyday" type of cookbook - but it's a great one for special occasions. And it's where I got the recipe for tonight's salad with roasted I guess it WAS for an everyday meal! Anyway, it has the most gorgeous photos and recipes that just make you want to cook and bake. She also has a website that's fun to look at if you're into gluten free cooking (and even if you're not!). Here's the link: