Monday, October 31, 2011

Giving of Life

Every once in a while an opportunity comes along that is just really cool. This is one of them!

God gave three guys a passion and a vision for something they call "Giving of Life" - helping out people and ministry organizations who are "giving life" to others.

He also entrusted them with resources to pass on to those people. These guys want to hear how others are giving life and help them give more with no strings attached or hoops to jump through.

Josiah Venture is one of the organizations that are a part of their vision, and YOU have an opportunity to make a difference for us as we seek to give life to young people across Central and Eastern Europe.

If you click here, we have an opportunity to receive up at $50,000 from these guys!

You can click it once, and it will register a vote for JV. If you sign in to their website, you can get an additional two votes. And if you have a Facebook or Twitter account, you can sign into those accounts and get one more vote. Cool huh?!

It doesn't take's something you can do in a minute...and it might make a difference for eternity.

If you want to read more about this project, you can find their info and their hearts here.

Voting ends November 4th so if you're going to vote, do it now!

**Update on November 7, 2011 - Josiah Venture is in the Top 20! We'll find out in mid-December if we received anything. Thanks for voting!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Heading to the States

Caleb and Dave are off to the States today.

It doesn't seem like too long ago that this was what they looked like!

Ah, but life moves on. Now he and his dad are off to check out colleges.

Caleb graduates from Czech high school this coming spring and plans to be somewhere in the States for college next fall.

We're praying for God's specific leading on this trip as he visits schools in Colorado, Michigan and Illinois.

It's an exciting time of life for Caleb!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Baby Shower Today

One of our dear JV ladies here in Czech, Emily Hughes, is pregnant with her first child.

Using her amazing gifts and talents for hosting, Kim Johnson, another one of our JV ladies, had a baby shower for her today

What a gift she gave to all of us as we celebrated this new little life that's coming soon!  Doesn't this look like something out a magazine? What a treat it all was!

After that very yummy food, it was oh so fun to be together with girlfriends, laughing and enjoying the time with each other.

Really, who doesn't love a baby shower?

Especially when there are fun gifts! Audrey, another one of our JV ladies, made baby bibs from past JV English camp t-shirts - what a brilliant idea! They were perfect as her husband, Nate, has been running the English camp team here in Czech for a number of years! He'll feel right at home putting those bibs on his boy!

Emily is due January 5th, so it won't be long before there will be a little guy in her arms to wear those bibs!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Back in the Saddle

A week of no posting on my blog??!! Almost unheard of!

But I'm back in the saddle again...and couldn't resist posting this cute picture (complete with saddles...ha ha!) from Dave and Claire's dad-daughter date last week-end when they went horseback riding in the mountains.

It was such a beautiful fall day to go riding in the mountains - one of their favorite things to do together.

Dave and I were in Prague for two days before that - great time of catching up after he'd been gone for nearly a month.

But now he's leaving again! This time with Caleb as they do a college-search trip together. They leave on Sunday night (fly early Monday morning) to head for Colorado, Michigan and Illinois. I'm praying that God leads Caleb to just the right college He's already prepared for him!

While Caleb will be gone just a week, Dave will be gone two weeks altogether as he heads to speak at the mission's conference at Master's College in California after his time with Caleb.

So we're all in the saddle these days...riding along on the journey God has for us. It's definitely not boring!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Scoop

Caleb got back safely from Rome on Monday.

Dave got back safely from the States yesterday.

After three months away, Caleb got his repaired computer back - one of those months it was lost in a UPS office in Oregon!

Dave and I are off to Prague today: 1. to get some time together after being apart nearly a month, and 2. so he can be in some meetings tomorrow morning!

I'll be offline for a couple of days

If you want to read some fun updates from Claire, click here - she's always got fun posts on her blog!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Our "Almost" Daughter

 When Tyler first told me her name, I had one of those strange mom moments that is unexplainable.

In the space of the time he said "Lara", to the next moment's thought, it occurred to me: "This could be his wife".

I know, crazy! And I didn't know for sure...but I had a hunch. And that mom intuition turned out to be right! She's the one I've been praying for all these years for Tyler!

Tyler and Lara will be married on June 8, 2012 in Chattanooga, TN. We are SO excited about them joining their lives together!! See their wedding blog for more details about them and their wedding.

Before we went to the States this past summer, I had another thought - to ask Lara if she could come to meet us in Oregon. Again, I didn't know for sure but I had a hunch that if we didn't meet her then, Tyler could propose in the fall before we'd even had the chance to meet her (which turned out to be true as well...he proposed on September 18th!).

It was a very brave girl who got a plane in Tennessee to fly across the States to meet people she didn't know...all without Tyler by her side (he was already in Czech for his JV internship).

But she came! And honestly, from the moment she stepped into our arms at the airport, she stepped into our hearts. I had the sense that evening as we left the Portland airport that my other daughter was "home". Kind of a crazy thought since none of us were really home! We were staying with dear friends there who hosted us through our days with Lara.

It was a whirlwind three days, where she bravely came into our world with her whole heart. She graciously met lots of family and friends, went to the Oregon coast with us, and did all sorts of other things along the way.

And along that way...we all came to see why Tyler had fallen in love with her! She's perfect for him, and we adore her!

They are coming to spend three weeks with us at Christmas. I'm so happy to think of having my son and "almost" daughter here for those days to get to know them as a couple, and to enjoy more time being together with our newest family member!

We love you Lara! (And Tyler too!)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sleep Help

I had a friend over this morning who has not slept through the night in one and a half years.

That's because she has a daughter who is one and a half. And she also has not slept through the night since she was born a year and a half ago.

I'm sure there are a myriad of reasons for this, but today I thought to tell her about white noise makers. It's something that we got for Claire years ago because she was a very light sleeper.

It's made a huge difference for her to sleep with some white noise in the background, whether it was a fan or the actual little device we eventually bought for her.

I thought everyone knew about the benefits of white noise...and maybe you do too! But just in case you don't, it can be a huge blessing to those who struggle with sleep. I am praying it helps my friend's little girl so they can both get some much needed sleep.

**Claire's noisemaker beside her bed...been there for at least seven years now!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Our Tree

Who knows how or when we found it.

But it's one of those things that has become a tradition for Claire and I.

Every year we drive up into the mountains to see a tree. Yes..."a" tree. But it's not just any tree! It's a tree that turns the prettiest shades of color each fall.

We have lots of gold, brown and orange around us in Frydlant...but not a lot of red.

This tree is unique in that it has branches with all the colors! I have no idea if it's a tree that was grafted or planted specifically by someone, or if God just made it that way. But it's so unusual that we go see it every year just to marvel at its beauty.

Claire and I were alone this week-end (Dave is still in the States, Caleb is in Rome) so it was the perfect way to spend part of a Sunday afternoon together, visiting our tree!

**Thanks to Claire for the photos of the tree.

Friday, October 14, 2011

First Fusion

I wish I'd taken photos on the way to Fusion last night! It was so fun to watch groups of kids walking through Frydlant, heading towards the place where our church meets. I knew that they were all going because of the Fusion concert yesterday!

When we left the concert in the afternoon, I prayed that students would be drawn by the Lord to the first Fusion practice later that day.

Generally they say getting 10% of students who were at a preview concert is considered a good showing.

But, I prayed for 60 students, about 20% of those who were at the concert. Can't hurt to ask for that!

After dropping off Claire, I again prayed, all the way home, asking the Lord to send those students. I could hardly wait to go pick her up afterward to find out how many were there.

As I drove up two hours later, I saw our friend Petr, with his three little children, coming out of the building. He and his wife, Lauren, are on the team for our Frydlant Fusion. Seeing him with their three children reminded me of all our years of leading youth group when our children were small!

I rolled my window down and asked, "How many??" Petr's face lit up as he said, "59"!!

There were FIFTY NINE new students who came to the Fusion practice! There were 79 there altogether, which included some of the Havirov team, as well as the new Frydlant team.

I don't know where the 60th student was that I prayed for! :) But maybe he or she will show up next Thursday night for Fusion practice!

**Thanks for the photo Claire!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fusion in Frydlant!

This summer I wrote about Fusion camp here, a unique, exciting and fruitful ministry of music, drama and dance within JV.

After much prayer and preparation, today was a significant day here in Frydlant.

It was the beginning of the Fusion ministry here!

Over 300 junior high and high school students from Frydlant and neighboring towns came to a preview concert to hear what Fusion is all about. Thanks to the Fusion choir from Havirov, a city nearby, they put on a concert, along with the team here in Frydlant. This team will be starting Fusion TONIGHT!

Bogdan, the Fusion leader, and Maya, one of the student leaders (and a classmate of Claire's at BMA) invited the students to come at 5 PM to experience a Fusion practice, and see if they'd be interested in joining.

As all the students came for the concert this morning, I was praying that God would lead many of them to salvation through Christ. That is the point of the Fusion ministry!

Terry English, the creator, heart, soul and brains behind this ministry, was here to watch today. THANKS TERRY for all you and Hanka have done to start this amazingly fruitful ministry here in the Czech Republic!!

As students left the concert, Claire and others handed out flyers about tonight's Fusion in Frydlant.

I hope you'll join me in praying that some of those students you see here will come tonight...and that their lives will be changed forever!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bus Ride to...


I took Caleb to the train station in Ostrava this afternoon.

He rode 2 hours to Brno with his BMA classmates, then they got on a bus.

That bus ride will last 21 hours.

But then they'll be in Rome!

For three days. Then it's another 21 hour ride back. But all worth it!!

AHHH ROME!! It's been almost five years since I've been there and took these pictures.

I know Caleb and his classmates will love being there for their senior class trip!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Flying Apron

In my never-ending quest for recipes that are good for our family's gluten free needs, I stumbled upon a cookbook last year that has been a great one.

It might look like it's all about dessert - and I gotta say, there are some good ones in there! But it also includes lots of other yummy things, like the lentil soup I put in the crock-pot today - totally different than other lentil soups I've made.

Back in July, Claire and I were in Seattle with Dave, waiting in the office of a church where he was in a meeting. On a whim, I asked the secretary if she could look up the Flying Apron Cafe to see where it was. I knew it was somewhere in Seattle, though it could've been anywhere given how big the greater Seattle area is.

As it turned out, we were right down the street from it! :) Claire and I drove just five minutes and were in the Fremont district of Seattle.

For Claire especially, it was a treat to go to a bakery where she could get absolutely anything! She loved what they had written on their sign behind the counter too:

"Obviously it's not about what you CAN'T eat." That's now one of our favorite sayings!

That day Claire got to have the very cupcake that is featured on the cookbook we have - a chocolate delicacy with peanut butter frosting...all "legal" for her!

This is the cookbook I made her pumpkin pie from, and the apple pie from her birthday last year. It's a good one if you are looking for something different in the gluten free, lactose free arena of cooking.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Morning Latte, Morning Prayer

When Tyler left for college two years ago, I prayed about finding a way to be intentional and daily with my prayers for him.

Since he and I like our coffee, I decided to make my morning lattes a reminder to pray for him. Give or take an hour or so, I'm usually praying for him here at our house at 11 AM (4 AM Chicago time!) as I go through the latte making process. It's such a fun connection to him, and is a pretty sure guarantee that he'll get prayed for every day since I'm not likely to miss my latte!

As a side of my all time favorite lattes is with pumpkin spice syrup, especially in the fall.

But last week I ran out of the last drips of syrup that had come from the States. While I have some other flavors around, I decided to make my own from a recipe by the girl at Elm Street Life (a very fun blog I like to read).

It turned out AMAZING!! Now I'm hooked on my own, homemade syrup!

Pumpkin Spice Syrup
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
2 TB cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add sugar until it dissolves, then turn heat down so it simmers. Next, add all spices and stir or whisk them into the sugary water mixture. Let this simmer for 5 minutes, then take off the heat and let cool. Once cool, strain the mixture through a cheesecloth (we used a nut bag, you could also just use a thin, cotton kitchen towel), then pour into a container, and keep in the frig.

I use 1 TB of syrup for my lattes - it's close to perfection!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Celebrating my Girl

 My sweet Claire turned 17 today!

I am so delighted by this joyful, caring, helpful, loving young woman who is truly a ray of sunshine in our lives every day.

We had such a great day celebrating her. Bless you Hayley and Ashley for joining us...and thanks Ash for the treat at Coffee Heaven!

In honor of Claire's love for baking, I celebrated her by baking a gluten free, lactose free pumpkin pie!

It was a wonderful day honoring, loving and celebrating our Claire.

And ended with a rousing game on the Wii between the brothers and sisters! :)