Friday, January 31, 2014

Cause for More Celebration

Dave sent me this photo just a few minutes ago, from up on the mountain at Jackson Hole. What's he doing up there today, besides having a good skiing day?


Well, I dropped him off there this morning after telling him I thought he deserved a celebration day on the slopes because...


He finished writing his book last night!


Even though I was still in the midst of excruciating pain from the migraine, I couldn't miss out on getting a photo from my phone as he was nearing the end.

And a photo just after he typed the last word.


Nine weeks of writing, 176 pages, 69,000 words, and the first draft of his book on connecting with the Father heart of God is complete. 

Definitely cause for celebration!!!!!!


Our friend here in Jackson wrote me this morning after hearing the news and said, "The world needs to hear what God has put on his heart to share!" I couldn't agree more with her.

While other things have been written about God as Father, nothing comes close to what Dave has written. It's the result of study and practical application for the past ten years. It's powerful!

Now we're praying for all that comes AFTER you've finished writing a book. The editing process, figuring out how to publish (he just got a "no" from a major publisher yesterday), and seeing it through to completion...all of that still lies ahead.

But for today, he's up on the mountain, having a great day of celebration for this first milestone in the process.

There's nothing like finishing your first book!

** Three more causes for celebration today**
  • this is my 1000th blog post!
  • my migraine broke this morning after 48 hours of debilitating pain...recovering now
  • our friend is working to get me connected to a doctor in a world renowned neurological clinic in Arizona, where we're headed next. Continuing to pray for the Lord's leading towards help for me
One last photo from Dave about the JH ski area, which is something similar to what I'd say about his book: it is nothing like you've ever read before!

Fuzzy Picture

If this picture looks a little fuzzy, it gives you a window into my world today.


Another day, another migraine.

But there is a ray of sunshine in my day. While at the doctor for another round of testing on my arm for the pain I've been experiencing (I went despite the migraine since we're short on time here), he saw my condition and decided to order another MRI, this time on my head.

If you're a migraine sufferer, you know that in the back of your mind you're always wondering if there is literally something lurking there.

I'm so grateful to the Lord that I had the test, and that they read it within a few hours. The doctor I've been seeing here called Dave with the results: All Clear.

That's a relief.

It doesn't explain the mystery of what's been going on in my body for the past eight months. But it does rule out some big things. For that, I'm very thankful.

Praying this tonight: "Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow." Ps 25:4

Thursday, January 30, 2014

At the Grocery Store

It's been snowing like crazy today here in Jackson: a "white-out" this evening as the light fades.

While the wind blows and the snow piles up, it feels great to know we'll have a few more snow days before we leave! And since we've no place to go, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. (hee hee)

But I did need to get a few groceries for the next couple days so drove to a store five minutes away earlier today.


With all the snow, it was definitely easier and more convenient to go there than driving fifteen to twenty minutes into Jackson.

But it was also a comfort.

This is where my true confession comes in: It's been hard shopping in American grocery stores.

The first time I shopped in the fall so that I could cook while we were in New Hampshire, I was a wreck. It's true, you can ask Dave.

Why? Other than shopping for things to take back home to Czech, I haven't grocery shopped in the States for over thirty years.


Oh, of course I've walked the aisles of grocery stores, picking up items here and there when we're in the States. Even shopped for all the food for a family reunion a few years ago (albeit with the help of my mom, thank goodness).

But I haven't shopped here to cook every day.

And honestly, it's been overwhelming.


I was truly paralyzed for several weeks in October. I. Could. Not. Shop. I just couldn't go in the door of a grocery store and figure out what to buy. Therefore I didn't cook.

Which is so strange. While I'm not Rachel Ray or Julia Childs, I do like to cook and feed people. I've spent years doing it and I think I'm pretty good at it!

Plus I've lived in Spain, Germany and Czech, shopping for food to cook in all of those and more countries (camping vacations through the years made me hunt for groceries all across western and central Europe).

So why couldn't I figure out shopping in the States?


Partly I think it's that there are so many choices, and I don't know which products to buy (when there are twenty different types of coffee, which one do I choose?)

I also don't know what a good deal is, or where to find things in the store so it ends up taking me a long time to shop. I've gotten a little flustered at the cash register too when they ask if I have "their" card (to get their discounts). When I say "no" it reminds me that I don't belong there.

Beyond that, when I do shop and end up cooking, it tastes different than what I'm used to at home.


So here's the crazy thing: this is what it's like for every missionary or person who has ever gone to another country and tried to shop and cook, and feed themselves, or a family. It's hard!

Maybe it even happens when you move from one part of the U.S. to another. It's just difficult when you don't know your way around, yet have to put a meal on the table at least a couple times a day, every single day. (Or you end up eating out a lot).

It was just a shock that it happened to me in reverse when I came back to the States.


I've made the adjustment now, though you'll think it's funny that I get excited when I find products that are from "home" here in grocery stores in the States! See the "Ecover" products in the picture above? That's the same dishwashing soap I buy at the DM drugstore at home in Frydlant! Oh that made me happy to see today!

So why was it comforting to go this particular store today?


First of all, it wasn't very big, thus there weren't as many choices. That helps me! And then of course I'm now better at knowing which brands to buy, where things are, what's a good deal and what's not.

This store also felt a little European, more like a store at home. It was quiet and the displays were small. The aisles were narrow, and the produce section was small! Of course we do have big stores in Czech so it's not like they're all little. But the ones I typically shop in are on the smaller side, so this felt more like home today.


For my missionary friends who have been through this adjustment on the other side in a foreign country, or maybe are even still going through that adjustment: "I understand and feel with you!"

I'd spent so many years living in Europe that it was hard to remember what it was like to have everything be so unfamiliar (while you can't even read labels in the beginning when you're in a foreign country, I must add that it wasn't all that much help here since there was just so much to choose from and I could spend hours doing it if I took the time).

But now I know that feeling again firsthand.

It's been good for me to have this experience, even if it was a reverse culture shock and happened here in the States. But the principle is the same: it takes time to adjust.

And you will adjust! But it might take a while. Eventually though, you'll figure it out and shopping and cooking will all be normal (albeit with a bit different flair) once again. You do have to give yourself time and grace though. It doesn't happen quickly.

I'm happy to say I made a delicious meal tonight for Dave and I. And it tasted "like home"!

I think I've finally made the adjustment at the grocery store.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Surprise at the Front Door

Yesterday afternoon I needed to mail some things so decided rather than getting in the car, I'd walk the 1.5 miles to the post office near where we're staying since it was such a beautiful day.


It was something I've been meaning to do ever since we got here because it's just so beautiful and I wanted to walk it so I could slowly soak it in.


One of the things that has delighted me is all the color, in the middle of winter! Deep blues, vibrant golds, warm greens, vivid reds...I wanted some pictures to remember how colorful it was here.


I stopped at one point on the way back and set the camera on a post so I could take a picture to look back on and remember that I really was under sky that blue, in the winter, while in Wyoming.


There was one concern niggling at the back of my mind as I walked, but being caught up by all the beauty, it stayed in its place. For a little while, at least.


As I headed down this street, I remembered what I'd seen on the road just the day before.

"Hmmm," I thought, "what will I do if I see it there again today? I guess I can always call Dave if I need his help."


I passed safely by the spot and promptly forgot about my worry.

Until I turned the corner and headed towards the house we're staying in.

Right there. At the front door. Where I LEAST suspected.

He stood!!!


A HUGE moose looking straight at me as he munched from the bushes near the very door where I needed to go in!!!

I grabbed my phone to call Dave, only to find that I was out of battery. UGH. And YIKES! What to do?

With my heart pounding, I thought through my options, looked for an escape route, and then pointed my camera to start clicking. No way was I missing this opportunity!


He didn't seem overly concerned about me, but there was sure no way I was going to the front door with him standing just steps away!

While he was fascinating to look at it, I knew better than to get any closer than I was, so slowly edged my way around the house next door, hoping to go to the back of our house and call out to Dave inside. I still didn't know how I was going to get inside with that moose at the front door, and if Dave couldn't hear me.


With snow trickling over the edges of my boots as I made my way through the drifts behind the house, I was captivated by the beauty of the Tetons (so clicked the above photo), even though my heart was still pounding hard from the encounter with that big guy.

Coming around the back of the house, I could see through the glass into the front where the moose still stood. Can you see how close he was to the front door?!


Just about to start calling out to Dave, I noticed that he decided to move on his way so stayed quiet and just took a few photos.

By this time, with two panes of glass, and the house between us, I was feeling safer anyway and wanted to see what he did.


He wasn't a very agile fellow, and it took him a bit to climb out of the bushes and amble on his way.  But thankfully he did and I was able to walk back around the house to let myself in, rather quickly, I might add, just in case he decided to come back that way.


My heart is still pounding a bit as I reflect back on my afternoon surprise yesterday. What a shock to see a moose standing at the front door!

On the other hand, now that I'm safe, how cool it was to have seen him so close with my own eyes!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Home Stretch

With this being our last week in Jackson, Wyoming, Dave has one more week to make progress on his book project.

After that we're on the road for several months so he won't have concentrated time to write again for quite a while.


His goal this week? The last four chapters in his book. No small task!


I tried not to disturb him as I snapped a few shots of him writing today. He's pretty much "in the zone" so I don't think he even noticed!


I believe his book has potential to make an impact on many lives. Because of that I am praying for him in these final days of writing, that the Lord will give him just the right words to write.

We both want them to be words that will speak to the hearts and souls of those who will read, so that God can bring about transformation in their lives.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

How To Celebrate

What to do when you've just finished writing the first draft of a book?

Go out on Friday night for a root beer float at "Betty Rock" in Jackson!


What to do for an encore celebration?

Go to St. John's Hospital for an MRI the next day.
 

Oddly it was comforting to walk the halls there, knowing the Lord has led me to seek help here for the neck, shoulder and arm pain I've been experiencing since May (you may have wondered if it happened from all the hours at the computer while I was writing, but actually it started months before I began the book).


Since it was Saturday, it was quiet at the hospital as I found my way to the MRI department. The calm in the halls reflected the peace in my heart as I went through this door.


After changing into a gown and walking through a metal detector (they take security seriously here!), I walked through that door to the left and soon found myself in the MRI tube with headphones on to mask the sound (it didn't...it's loud!).  The imaging lasted about twenty minutes and then I was done.


I'm praying that the radiologist's report, along with the wisdom of the doctor who will read it too, will give us a clue as to what's causing the ongoing pain, as well as the restless, sleepless nights. I'll see the doctor on Tuesday to hear what they find.

We've walked this type of medical road often over the past twenty years, trying to determine what's going on in one of our family members' body. It's usually a long process so I'm not expecting all the answers on Tuesday...it rarely works like that.

But it will be the next step in the puzzle, and that will be helpful I'm sure.

I am celebrating the Lord's presence with me in the finishing of the first draft, and in a visit to the hospital!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

DONE!

From the home where we're staying here in Jackson, Wyoming, with this as my view today...


I typed the last words in my first book this afternoon.


Two hundred and twenty three pages, ninety thousand, one hundred and forty nine words later...

I AM DONE!


I haven't been well this week...three days of a migraine, two sleepless nights, pain that seems like it's coming from a pinched nerve in my neck (I have an MRI tomorrow after visits to the doctor here in Jackson already - this has actually been going on for over six months so it's time to figure out what's going on)...so I wrote while in bed today.

Yet still! The Lord gave me the words and strength to finish this project.

Of course it's not "done"... there is much more work before it's actually in print. But oh wow!!! It feels so amazing to have the first draft finished.

What did I write???

Well, it wasn't what I expected. I had three other projects in mind. But while we were in New Hampshire back in the fall the Lord simply said to me:

“I want you to write this story because it’s the foundation.”

It’s actually my story: how God took me from a small town in Oregon, to serve him for thirty years in Europe.

Along the way, he taught me what it means to:
    listen to his voice, 
    follow him in the dark, 
    trust in his faithfulness, 
    obey his Word,
    walk through suffering,
    pray without ceasing 
    and to give thanks in all things. 

Throughout these years I drew strength from the inspiration of missionary women who have gone before me as I read their stories. I pray now that in some small way, my story will be source of encouragement to the next generation of missionary women behind me.

Thanks for praying for me during this season of writing! It's been thrilling, grueling, delightful, hard, thoughtful and meaningful. 

And I have LOVED IT!!!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Jackson Hole Classical Academy

We had an absolutely delightful and inspiring evening, attending the roll-out event of a new type of school being started in Jackson, Wyoming.


Our dear friends here have been in the process of developing a classical school for the past three years. They have given deeply of their hearts, time and energy to bringing a new style of education to this area.

Starting out small, they have run their school for three years with just a few students. But all that is changing! Last night and tonight they had events in Jackson to share their vision, passion and plan with the town for opening a K-8 classical school.


In partnership with an exceptional and inspiration model in Arizona called "Great Hearts", they plan to open all grades at Jackson Hole Classical Academy in the fall.


Being at their event tonight, where our friends and the leadership from Great Hearts in Arizona shared their hearts and vision for the school, was truly inspiring!! I was ready to sign my kids up! Their model for education is simply one of the best I've heard of.


Parents and townspeople had the opportunity to listen to their vision, as well as interact with them in a Q & A afterward. If I lived here and had kids, I'd be signing them up after this event!

Their desire to see hearts and minds shaped through rigorous, classical, liberal arts education in order to prepare them to be "great hearts" people for the next generation sent shivers down my spine. Oh how I pray that godly leaders will be raised up in this school, and go out to change the world!


We've spent hours with our friends, praying with them for this new venture and all that God has in it for them, for their family, and for the town of Jackson. It was truly a blessing to stand with them tonight and cheer them on! We believe that God is about something even greater than we know here in Jackson.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Clairelyseen Photography: Open

When did I start to love photos?

I know that at most of our family events growing up, someone had a camera... for sure my mom, or one of my grandmas. I'm pretty sure my grandma Kimball snapped this classic family photo of us in 1966!


I remember the little flash cube sitting on top of the Kodak camera, temporarily blinding us all as the photos were taken, and how that intrigued me. And I remember the fun of getting photos back to look at them, and putting them in albums or scrapbooks so we could look at them over and over. I loved all those photos.

Many years later, in 1984, I bought my first camera...a little "point and shoot" so that I could capture my life in Spain when I moved there to teach school for a year. Maybe I had one in Germany earlier that summer when I served there, but I don't remember...I just remember buying that first camera myself and being so excited I had one of my own!

When Dave and I married, I inherited his Pentax film camera, and then kept trading and upgrading; Dave's love for photography, and my love for photos made us a camera/photo loving family, especially once the kids arrived!


Seriously, I think the Kodak camera store in downtown Ostrava was in business because of me and a few other missionary moms who frequented them OFTEN. I can even remember running into each other there a time or two! I developed an awful lot of film at that store through the years.

Then came the digital age - and more photos! I didn't have to be as careful about what I snapped then, knowing I could just delete what didn't work. I loved that too, snapping to my heart's content.

During all those years, our kids learned to enjoy it as well. They were great about posing, smiling, and letting their mom record their lives through photos. And they even began grabbing the camera and taking photos themselves, and continued on through their high school years. Wish I had a few of those early photos of theirs to post, but they're on my computer back home in Czech.

It made me happy that they grew to love photos like their mom did! We would spend hours pouring over photos from vacations, from trips to the States with grandparents and cousins, photos from overnights with friends, of our sweet dogs, and birthdays and holidays and school days and lots of just normal days. Every one of those moments, captured forever in a photo.


Still, I was never a "photographer" - I just took photos!

However, somewhere along the way, our kids became photographers - taking photos with any eye for the art and beauty of it, not just preserving moments. That made me happy too!

And then, just a few weeks ago, one of the kids took it a step further.


Claire developed her own website for a photography business while she's in college.

Take a look HERE at Clairelyseen Photography!

I don't think it's just a mom enjoying her daughter's photos. I honestly think the Lord has gifted her with an ability to see, capture, and bring out an unspeakable joy in her photos. And that really delights me!

She's developed that ability and gift on her blog for many years, and now she's taking it a step further. 

If by any chance you're in the Chicago area, and you'd like some photos taken - she's your girl! I can't wait to see what the Lord does with her vision for capturing the lives of others through her gift of photography.

Deepest and Most Heartfelt

I called my mom and dad this afternoon to chat, and somewhere along the way my dad said, "We went out for a special lunch today."

Without stopping to think I asked "Why?"

It was their anniversary today! Look how beautiful, handsome and happy they were on their wedding day!


One of the reasons I was calling them was to tell my mom how great she looked in this photo she sent me today.

They are as adorable now as they were on their wedding day (though Claire wasn't there to get my dad to smile his "famous" grin!! See HERE for a fun post about that!)


When I was visiting them in November I captured a photo of them in Newport, Oregon - it's one of my all time favorites! This totally captures my parents' marriage and love for each other.


They've ever only had eyes for each other! There is hardly a time I call that my dad doesn't tell me how beautiful my mom is, and how glad he is that they're married. And my mom feels the same way about him.

What a great example they've been to me my entire life, of a couple who truly love each other in the deepest and most heartfelt way.


Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!!!