Friday, October 31, 2014

It's a Special Day

Not only is Dave's dad, Dick, home from the hospital after open heart surgery (he went home on Wednesday), but it's a special day for another reason.

Today is Dad and Mom's 59th wedding anniversary! HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!

There is just so much to give thanks to the Lord for in this picture!

A lasting, happy, rich marriage.

A healing, safe-at-home, grateful husband.

A relieved, joyful, healthy wife.

"Oh thank you Lord for your goodness and faithfulness to mom and dad all these years!"

And yes, they got married on Halloween! The back story is that they were in the Philippines (as missionaries) and there'd been a mix-up with their marriage license that made them postpone the wedding date. When the license came through, they got married shortly afterward. And it was Halloween.

It's sure a memorable date for an anniversary!

They're tucked away at home in Denver as they celebrate today, with a big old pile of wood outside their door that dad chopped before his surgery so that they'd stay warm by their fireplace in the weeks to come as he recovers.

SO thankful for my dear in-laws and all the ways God has cared for them through the years!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Memories: A Party and All That Flannel

As I drove home from spending the day in Poland with a friend, memories flooded my mind.

It must've been something about the deep red sunset, the smoky sky, the dim light as the days are growing shorter, and of course, that fact that I was driving in Poland.

The memory was on my mind so much so that I had to come home and go digging for photos from exactly twenty years ago.

Recognize us??

We were just about to leave our house in Havířov and head over to Poland to our first costume party as relatives of "Al" from the old US television program, "Tool Time".

(And just to set the record straight...I've got pillows underneath all that flannel I'm wearing!)

Remember Al, his beard, tools and flannel shirts?! Here are a few of his relatives.

The classic "I don't want to be in this picture" photo!

Caleb looks less than pleased to be in that scratchy homemade beard, though I have to say I was pretty proud of my resourcefulness back then in being able to make beards for my little family.

That day twenty years ago we traveled over to Ustroń, Poland for Jacob Hash's first birthday party.

Dan, Laura and one year old Jacob

Our teammates, Jim and Lina Miller (who now serve in Germany with JV), were there as well, with their children Nathan and Emily. I remember laughing together when we all showed up in flannel!

Notice Claire's pearl bracelet, just to make sure everyone could tell she was a girl?!

And then there was the famous artist, (aka Susan Ellis, who still serves on our JV team in Poland along with Dan and Laura), who showed up at the party too!

Awwww, those are sweet memories from our early days here!

I had to laugh at this last photo that I found next to the party photos. On the back it said, "Some happy boys with their new gloves, hats, and green pumpkins".

Who knows where we found those pumpkins way back then. Maybe at an outdoor market sold by a farmer? It's not like there was a pumpkin patch to go to back then (nor is there today!).

But we made do and enjoyed what we had. So fun to enjoy these memories today!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Dad's Recovery and A Recipe from Mom

Last Thursday in Denver, Dave's dad had open heart surgery to replace his mitral valve.

While it hasn't been easy since then (is it ever easy the first days after major surgery?), he's making progress towards recovery and we're all so thankful for that.

The latest news this morning from Dave's sister is that he may get to go home today. Of course he still has weeks of recovery ahead of him, but at least it will be in the comfort of home, and eating mom's food!

If you've ever eaten a meal prepared by my mother-in-law, you know what a great cook she is! In our early years of marriage, when we lived down the street from them in St. Leon, Germany, I learned so much from her about cooking.

And I'm still making her recipes today!

One of her most comforting meals is Hamburger Chowder. I have made it countless times over the past years and every time it reminds me of her and her servant's heart to literally feed thousands over the years.

What a blessing that gift has been to so many.

Paired with this recipe for Carrot-Apple muffins (no kidding - very possibly the best ones I've ever made, and they're gluten free!), it was comforting to cook while thinking of, and praying for, mom and dad as they walk this road of recovery.

Want to enjoy mom's Hamburger Chowder too? Here's the recipe:

1 lb hamburger, browned
1 onion, chopped

3 cans chopped tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1 cup cubed potatoes
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup shredded cabbage (I think this is the secret ingredient!)
2 cups water
3 cubes beef bouillon
1 TB parsley
1-2 tsp seasoned salt (I use Lawry's)
Pepper to taste

After browning hamburger with the onion, add all other ingredients and let simmer for 1-2 hours. Serves approximately 8!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Butterfly Phenomenon

They arrived a few weeks ago.

Four or five of them. Every day.

When the sun is shining on our porch.

Maybe I've never noticed them before, or maybe they've never been here. But it's like our porch is a little butterfly sanctuary right now.

A few weeks ago I almost took out the fading summer flowers from the pot on our porch. Good thing I didn't! This is apparently why they come.

To drink the nectar.

It seems late to have butterflies. I think of them more in the spring and summer, not in late fall. Especially when we've already had frost and snow up on Lysa.

But there they are every day, fluttering and hovering, in and out of the fading flowers when the sun is shining.

I honestly can't get over the beauty of their details. God DID NOT have to do that!

Look how the edges of their wings are scalloped, and the two dots on both sides of their wings are perfectly proportioned. And then the color! So very beautiful.

Do you notice the antennae, arms and legs too? So thin and delicate.

Doesn't it look like this butterfly is lovingly caressing the flower for its nectar?

For sure I'm leaving those flowers in their pots until the butterflies are gone for the winter.

We'll enjoy another one of God's amazing creations while they last.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Complying with the Law

With only five days left, Dave and I hurried to our late afternoon appointment today.

Why the rush? If we missed the appointment and didn't get in by the end of this week, we'd be at risk for a hefty fine.

And the place we were headed to is one busy place these days so you definitely don't want to miss your slot.


From 01 November until 30 April vehicles in the Czech Republic are required to be fitted with winter equipment. This means either winter tires or radial tires with a minimum tread depth of 4 mm.

Failure to comply results in on-the-spot fines so you don't want to be caught without them! Thus our trip to Pneuservice (otherwise known as the tire service shop!).

Is this a law in the States too?

Yes this is a picture from today, even though it looks like it could've been taken 20 years ago!

Notice my "a little less than high quality" photos? Ha ha! Yes, there's a reason.

After two weeks without my phone because it was sent in for repair, I got news about it today from the gal in our office who sent it in for me:

"So they delivered back your iPhone, because the Find my iPhone service is on. I was gonna try to turn it off, but it needs apple ID password – will you have a chance to stop by this week to do it?"

Aaaagggghhh! That means no phone for at least another two weeks.

I honestly miss it most for taking "on the go" photos on days like today when I don't want to have my just seems weird to take "real" photos at a place like this!

So what did I settle for instead?

My iPad! But oh did I feel funny pulling it out while waiting at the tire shop. I was trying to be sneaky so no one would see me and wonder what I was doing! You've got to admit, taking photos with an iPad just looks funny.

But I think I managed to pull it off.

Desperate times called for desperate measures!

I'm happy to say that both Dave and I are compliant with the law now, and hopefully will be safe with our "winter equipment" back on for the next six months!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Change of Time, Change of Season

It was bound to happen sometime.

On the very day that we left Daylight's Saving Time and went back to Standard, we woke up to our first frost this morning.

So long warm fall days, hello chilly winter!

But thankfully, as you can see, the sunshine wasn't far from melting the first frost. It didn't stick around long and ended up being a beautiful day.

Maybe we've got a few more nice fall days still coming?

If you look closely you can see that there's already snow up on Lysa Hora!

While Dave was in Olomouc teaching yesterday, Kaylee and I took a crisp walk up our favorite road, the sight of many walks through the years such as this one. It was my first time to do it alone now that the kids are all in the States.

Yes, I missed them...especially Claire since I think she was the one who walked there most often with me.

Had to get creative at taking a photo of me and Kaylee since we were on our own!

While bright sunshine required sunglasses yesterday, a chilly wind also required my winter coat...and made for messy hair while trying to get a selfie...with a dog. Not an easy task!  But it's a memory (..."and I mostly did this for you, Claire!")

Kaylee and I made the most of our walk, and she was even willing to give me the traditional "flying ears" photo as she flew up the lane.

Okay it's true...I get a lot of delight from this silly little girl!

Not sure when this will all become snow-covered (and I actually won't mind when it does - I like the changing of seasons!), but am enjoying our lingering fall days for now.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Nudge, and a Friend from Long Ago

When we moved to the Czech Republic in 1993, we began praying for a lot of different things.

That we'd meet young people, that we'd get to share the Gospel with them, that many would trust Christ, for opportunities to disciple them, and that a movement of God would sweep across Central and Eastern Europe.

But there was something else we prayed for too.

Friends for our kids.

Starting with Tyler, we put our kids in Czech public school from the beginning and asked God to send friends into their lives, even though in the beginning they didn't speak a lot of Czech. But we so longed for them to develop good relationships and feel like they belonged in this new culture God had called us to.

I clearly remember hearing about Tyler's first friend, Vojta. The teacher had seated them together right in the front row on his first day in class, and a friendship began. They shared that same seat together for four years, and were in the same class of children for five years.

Oh how thankful I was to hear Tyler talking about his friend each day he returned home from school. I so appreciated Vojta, that kind little Czech soul who reached out to our American son.

A gifted violinist, even at that young age, he once came and performed at our church around Christmas time (the sister of a young man in our youth group was his violin teacher). I never forgot how good he was, nor his tender heart and dear friendship with Tyler.

However, we moved when Tyler was in 6th grade and didn't see Vojta again.

Until yesterday.

While Dave got a haircut at the mall, I was out doing some shopping. Walking past a cafe, I debated whether to go in, but decided not to and walked on past.

But then I got the nudge. Do you ever get those? You know, when you just have a sense you should go back? I've learned to listen to these nudges, and I'm sure glad I did this time!

Not wanting caffeine that late, I pointed to some macarons in the glass case and asked the young man behind the counter for two of them.

In English he replied, "That one's coffee - would you like it?"

I was kind of shocked that he spoke English to me since I'd spoken Czech to him. Then he looked at me with a gleam in his eye and asked, "How's Tyler?"

I could not have been more shocked!!

He then said, "You know, we sat next to each other in elementary school for four years. I'm Vojta!"

Even now as I recount this story, I feel tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. After all these years, there he was, Tyler's first friend, just as kind and dear as he was in first grade! I couldn't believe he recognized me (he said I look the same as I did way back then!) nor that he spoke up and said something when he realized who I was. I'm sure glad he did.

He went on to tell me that he rarely works at the cafe as he normally works in an office for the company that runs the cafe. But occasionally he takes a shift and there he was last night!

I didn't have my phone with me (it's still in for repair) so had Dave come back with me to say hello and take photos.

He loved hearing that Tyler was married, and was a barista like him. He told me that he has a daughter, and that he still plays his violin. And that he hopes to see Tyler when he comes for a visit next summer.

What a precious surprise to see the young man that was an answer to our prayers all those years ago!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Post Surgery: Update on Dave's Dad

Thank you so much for your prayers for Dave's dad.

I know it meant the world to mom and dad that many across the world were standing with them as dad headed into surgery. Bless you all who were praying for them.

Friend and pastor from Bethany EV Free, Kevin, with mom at the hospital

The good news: God was merciful and gracious to Dick yesterday as he successfully came through mitral valve replacement surgery.

Dave's sister, Joyce, was with mom at the hospital throughout the five hour surgery, and David, her husband, joined them soon afterward. Together they gave us updates throughout the day which meant the world to us. It's not fun to be so far away from family at a time like this.

The last report was waiting in my email this morning when we woke up.

Final update for Thursday night (Good morning Europe family)…

Everything is going well with the recovery so far.  They took the breathing tube out around 3 hours ago.  His color is better and his temperature and vitals are all doing well.  Bleeding has slowed significantly.  We haven’t been in the room when he’s been awake, but the nurses and doctors have talked to him.  If the night goes well they will try to get him sitting in a chair in the morning.  Your mom did great, and she is home sleeping tonight.

We all feel the prayers of God’s people.

Good night.


Yes we DO feel the prayers of God's people! Again, THANK YOU!!

And it's such a relief to know that dad is on the other side of surgery and showing all the signs of having come through it well.

I love mom's smile in this picture as she's at dad's bedside - thankful to Joyce for these photos

As we well remember from Dave's surgery four years ago for the same reason, it's not just surgery that's challenging. These next few days of dad's recovery are critical as well. So we continue to pray.

Joyce wrote this on her FB page last night:

Thank you for your prayers today. Dad's valve replacement surgery went very well. The very difficult work of recovery has begun. So far he is stable in ICU. Please keep praying. All day I've had this chorus going through my mind: "Christ alone, Cornerstone. Weak made strong in the Savior's love. Through the storm, He is Lord, Lord of all."

And shortly afterward she received this from her daughter, Kyrie, who is away at college:

The VERY song that was on Joyce's heart throughout the day, playing on Kyrie's playlist! I love it!

Yes indeed, through this storm, He has been, is, and will continue to be, LORD OF ALL.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Prayer for my Father-in-law

My father-in-law, Dick Patty, is on my heart and in my prayers today.

This morning, he'll have open heart surgery.

Love this photo of him with our nephew Luke, taken last summer shortly after Caleb and Haley's wedding!

He's having mitral valve replacement surgery at 8 AM in Denver.

I hope it's okay to say that dad is 88 years old! Other than the need for this valve replacement, he is healthy and active, and steadfastly walking with God.

We'd sure love to see him continue on that path for as many more years as the Lord would give him.

So what to pray for?

Being a man committed to the Word for many, many years, I think Dad would most love it if you'd pray from Scripture for him. So here are a few suggestions:

1. For peace and thankfulness: "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." Colossians 3:15

2. For strength and help from the Lord: "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

3. For God's will: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Matthew 6:9-10

4. In faith, that the Lord will raise him up and heal him: "And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will lift him up...". James 5:15

Thanks for praying with us for this man we love so much!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Curiosity at the Letiště

I keep waiting for the weather to turn cold here in Czech. But instead they're saying:

Zbytek října bude neobvykle teplý, slibují meteorologové. Or rather, the rest of October will be unusually warm, promises the meteorologists.

That's sure okay with me!

There are others who are enjoying this weather as well. Some that I've never seen around here.

The noise they were making outside was deafening. Wondering what was going on, I stepped out to see what it was.

A gigantic helicopter flying RIGHT over our house!

Not one to miss out on something interesting, I headed up to our little airport to find out what was going on since it seemed to be flying over that way as well.

It seriously looked like an alien aircraft hovering over the grass airstrip as I walked the airport road.

As I got closer I could see they were practicing some sort of maneuver.

All of a sudden this came into view.

There were people rappelling out of and being lifted up into that helicopter!

I stood and watched for quite a while as it was fascinating! I couldn't ever get close enough to see who it actually was, though my neighbor thought it was the Czech military.

In any case, it was quite a bit of excitement at our normally very sleepy little airfield in Malenovice.

I'm glad curiosity got the best of me on this unusually warm fall day!

** I wrote this post yesterday when it was as beautiful as fall ever gets here, posting it in advance to today.

And now today is a whole other story!

Awake in the night, I heard "Gonzalo" as it pounded outside. Originating as a Force 2 hurricane over Bermuda, it's now bringing heavy rain and wind our direction for the next few days. So much for the unusually warm weather that the newspaper predicted!

This is what they say is happening up on Lysa Hora right now:

I'm glad I captured the beauty of fall in case that was the last of it!