Saturday, January 31, 2015

Shhh, Don't Tell My Kids

Ever wondered what our kids, raised here in the Czech Republic, miss from home?

We're on our way to the States tomorrow and these are a few of the things that will be in my suitcase for them.

What's so funny about this is I remember when my parents would come to visit us with suitcases full of things that I missed from the States. What a fun day that always was to unpack familiar items and put them on the shelf, or eat them right away!

But now I have kids who were raised here in Czech and these are the kinds of things that they miss from home.

Czech honey, bouillon cubes (different than in the States), Czech/European chocolate, organic millet, gluten free treats, chocolate covered rice cakes and cranberries, tea (yes, there's tea in the States but it's different than what we have here), and little suckers from the pharmacy that are like nothing I've ever tasted in the States.

Now I get the fun of bringing treats to them from their home.

"Thank you Mom and Dad for all the times you brought suitcases full of things for us! I'm following your example and doing it in reverse for our kids now."

We had a beautiful snowfall last night, so just have to add in a few pictures from home for our kids, and all who are reading, to enjoy!

Friday, January 30, 2015

The Charm and Work of Winter

I just came in from a rousing game of "shovel the driveway".

While it's that wet, heavy type of snow which gives me quite a workout as I shovel for an hour, it sure was gorgeous outside. I can actually say I was glad Dave was gone tonight so the job fell to me!

It's good for the body, mind, soul and spirit to be outside on such a night as this.

Taken earlier today, but you get the gist of how it's snowing!

He's been up at the JV Leadership Academy teaching and meeting with people all day, and will be up there again tomorrow.

In the meantime, I've had my own meetings with people, but am also now turning my focus towards getting ready to leave for the States. It's time for winter JV board meeting so we're headed to Phoenix on Monday morning.

But until then, I'm going to take a few more walks in the snow and enjoy it before we leave for a very different climate.

Have I said how much I enjoy a snowy winter?! Yeah, if it's still snowing in April I may feel different! But for now, it's gorgeous and I'm loving it.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Leadership Academy and Creme Brûlée

Two hundred and fourteen young leaders are all up at Malenovice right now.

Packed into the hotel, they fill the downstairs meeting room for the main meetings, as well as an upstairs video venue. It's a full house, but we like that!

It's so exciting to see these emerging young leaders taking part in our JV Leadership Academy this week.

Our team is hard at work leading them in how to work in teams, and giving them opportunities to grow as they each attend specific learning tracks for skills that will make them more effective in ministry.

Terry, our Fusion International Director, spoke tonight on how to pass on what you know by directing, coaching, supporting and delegating. It was super practical, interactive and memorable. I know he wants nothing more than having people actually do something with what he taught, which I think they will!

After the evening session tonight they opened up a round of what we call "Creme Brûlée". Started a few years ago at a fall conference, these are the "dessert on top", extra sessions which are meant to be fun and more discussion oriented. Tonight's topics ranged from how to do latte art, to preparing for a marathon!

They also asked me to lead a Creme Brûlée on prayer, a topic I'm passionate about.

I gave them three secrets to an effective prayer life, and enjoyed the time of interaction with them so much. They were a great group to talk with!

For the last part of our time together, I had them put into practice the secrets (I'll have to write a separate post on that some day) and was so delighted to pray for them as they prayed.

This is a powerful week of input for these young leaders. I'm praying it will bring about transformation in their lives, as well as in the ministries they are a part of across Central and Eastern Europe.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Miracle of Life

At 5:30 PM today, the world and all its cares faded into the background.

Nothing else but a hospital delivery room and the immanence of a baby's arrival was in sight or mind.

I have only been at the births of my own three children, which were of course remarkable and unforgettable.

But it is completely different to be at a birth not of your own children, but of someone else's where you are one little step removed and a witness to the miracle of life emerging into the world.

The depth of emotion I experienced in this room was supernatural, delightful, all consuming and overwhelming in its depth. There were times when I cried, smiled, laughed, felt deep compassion, felt deep pain and wanted to sing to the Lord in joyous praise.

What a holy experience, to see the creation of the Creator appear!!

This sweet baby girl arrived at 7:48 PM, born to adoring parents and two little brothers who will become her playmates and protectors one day!

I'm sure I'll share her name and more photos as time passes. But for now I just want to revel in the sacredness of what God blessed me with tonight: welcoming into the world His precious, much loved, beautiful, darling baby girl.

Truly, I will never forget being there to witness that miracle.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Waiting on a Baby

While the weather outside was a tad bit dreary, I spent the whole day with friends whose baby was due today.

After a drive into Ostrava, I sat with them inside one of those doors for a check-up to see how the baby was doing.

Then went for lunch in town when we got the news that baby is fine, but that the contractions aren't strong enough yet. We were all hoping that a good walk and lunch out would bring them on.

The creativity of a barista brought a smile to our face, but alas the contractions stopped and we eventually headed for home.

We spent the whole evening together, but they've now gone home to try and get some sleep. And I'm going to do the same.

I'm on call until I hear that it's time to head back to the hospital to be there for the birth of their baby. I'm so excited!!

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Ministry of Malenovice

On a fall day in 1995, I first set eyes on this place, having no idea how significant it would be in our lives, and in the lives of thousands of others.

Of course it looked much different twenty years ago, when it had just been restituted back to the village of Malenovice.

As Dave searched for a facility that would serve as a home for the movement of Josiah Venture, Hotel Malenovice was his first choice, and it was the first place he brought me to so we could pray and ask God if this was "it".

It took three years, through many twists and turns, before we had the keys in our hands and knew it was indeed the place God had set aside for His work in this region of the world. Today it stands as a beacon of light to reach people with the good news of the Gospel, and to train leaders to bring it to them across this part of the world.

I seriously never tire of seeing it nor of thanking God for it! It's a place full of His presence and so many lives are changed here.

This morning I had a meeting up there so parked down below and walked up since the road to the hotel was icy and snowy. Memories flooded my mind as I remembered parking below many years ago, when there wasn't even a parking lot and we just parked alongside the road!

Our family walked up and down multiple times a day for three years because we actually lived at the hotel.

It's probably no exaggeration to say I've walked by this view, in all different seasons, thousands of times.

With a few minutes to spare this morning, I walked around to the back of the hotel, to the door of the apartment we lived in for three years when two of our kids were very ill. This place was a refuge to our family in those days as they healed and we sought God's plan for a new home.

I learned so many things about the Lord and myself during those difficult years. I'll forever be grateful to Him for all He taught, showed and changed in me while we lived there. Though we were so excited when our new house was ready to be moved into eleven years ago, I also remember feeling sad to leave the hotel.

It had become very dear to me, and to all of us, during that significant time in our lives.

There is still such a sense of peace and rest when I walk in those doors, and I love nothing more than sitting in the restaurant soaking in His presence or having a good conversation with someone.

I'll be back up there later this week for JV Leadership Academy where over 200 young leaders will gather for training, and then a few weeks later I'll be there for an event with some of the JV women.

Once again, lives will be impacted in this place for the sake of furthering God's Kingdom.

"Thank you Lord for all you're doing in the lives of those who walk in the doors of Malenovice!"

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Finally Winter

When I woke up yesterday, I quickly looked out the window to see if it had snowed like the weather forecast said it would.

I was disappointed when that's all I saw at 8 AM. And even at noon, there wasn't much more.

But this morning, I had my reward!

I've always wanted to take those kinds of pictures to see the progression!

It's been snowing all day, and still is this evening. Now I'm especially glad I moved the wood pile on Friday.

From there to here! It's sure a lot nicer to get wood when it's not covered in snow.

When it snows this much it means I shovel a path around the house for our little doggie so she can go outside. She wouldn't make it very far in even that relatively small snow accumulation!

She hasn't actually been very interested in going out (I don't blame her) so she and I are tucked away inside this evening, staying warm by the fire and eating homemade tomato soup (try this recipe by Pioneer Woman - it's delicious!) and a toasted cheese sandwich with some incredible cheddar my brother-in-law Josh gave to me when we were in Slovenia a few weeks ago. Aw, the simple pleasures in life.

And by the way...Kaylee and I are both staying warm by the fire but I'm the only one eating the soup and sandwich, though she certainly wishes she was!

Dave is gone until late Tuesday night, spending a few days with his long time friend and mentor who will be the speaker at next week's Leadership Academy up at Malenovice. If the snow sticks around, or keeps going, he'll be surprised to see the change when he returns.

We've finally got winter!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Precious Afternoon

As snow fell gently outside, dear ones sat in my living room for an absolutely precious, long, wonderful afternoon of girlfriend time.

Experiencing one of those "glimpses of heaven", we talked for hours about our lives, our kids, our hearts, and the Lord whom we love - all with no regard for time, thanks to their amazing husbands who were watching their kids!

We spent a special time in prayer together as well, praying for each other and for this country we all love so much.

I am so thankful for these precious sisters in Christ who I have the privilege of walking through life with here in Czech.

"Thank you J and L for the joy of sharing life with you!"

Friday, January 23, 2015

Dave's World

If you know Dave, you know that there are a lot of things he loves: his kids and daughter-in-laws, his wife (tee hee!), leadership, caring for the Josiah Venture team, evangelism, casting a vision, strategic thinking and chopping wood. Yep, it's right up there on his list!

But one of his other great loves is teaching the Word of God.

He enjoys everything about it: the study beforehand, the time of teaching, the connection with people, and the transformation that happens in their lives as they're impacted by the Word.

This week he got to combine several of his loves as he taught the KAM staff up at Malenovice.

He taught, led, cast a vision and cared for the JV team. It was a good week for him, and hopefully for them!

Although I could list many more of the things he loves, I would add that he deeply loves to pray and seek God for transformation in people's lives. That powerfully happened this week too.

Thanks for praying for him this week. God answered your prayers in abundance!

Thanks to my friend, Martina, who took pictures for me so you could have a glimpse into Dave's world this week. "You're the best Martina!!"

Thursday, January 22, 2015

An Evening's Work

I've waited much of the evening for Internet to come back on. It's one of those strange evenings when Dave is gone and things go wrong (albeit a very small thing in the big scheme of life). It doesn't surprise me anymore when that happens.

So how did I occupy myself for part of this evening?

I moved a wood pile! I heard we've got snow in the forecast for the foreseeable future and I really don't like to dig wood out of the snow to have it to keep our fireplace going.

At first I was just going to bring in some wood so it would be dry for the morning (the forecast says it will come in the night). But then I thought " Why not just move the whole pile onto our covered porch?" And thus began the move!

After an hour of carrying wood, I'm ready to call it a night! But I'll be thanking myself in the morning (or whenever it starts to snow) when I have dry wood and don't have to go digging it out!

Hoping this posts using Internet from my phone. If not, it will wait until morning!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Where's Dave Today?

I could've taken a photo of Dave in his office where he was hard at work today.

But this one is way more fun!

Part of Dave's work today was in preparation for the next two and a half days, so I want to ask you to be praying for him.

Late this afternoon he headed up to Malenovice, our training center, where he'll be teaching many of the KAM staff (our Czech JV organization) until Friday afternoon. He's excited about it, as always, and feels the spiritual pressure, as always, too. He takes the responsibility to teach spiritual matters very seriously.

With hours of teaching ahead of him, as well as conversations with people, please pray for:
  • Spirit empowered teaching
  • Wisdom and connection in conversations
  • Transformation in the lives of those participating
He has another set of teaching next week as well, so while you're at it you can pray the same things for that time as well! Your prayers means the world to both of us.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

It's Caleb's Birthday Today

Happy 22nd Birthday to our Caleb today!!!

There are so many different qualities, characteristics and gifts in Caleb that I love and value. So I went hunting for old photos this afternoon to illustrate some of those! These are for you Caleb, the things I treasure in you.

Fun - Wherever you are Caleb, you make it fun for everyone around you. Whether that's camping in Croatia, or at home for an evening with the family - it's always a lot of fun when you're there!

Adventurous - Ever since you were a little boy, you've had an adventurous heart and soul, and are never afraid to venture out into the unknown. Love that about you!

Hard-working - You are not only hard-working, but you like to work. That's a great man quality and characteristic!

Dare-devil (but with enough safety to keep your mom happy!) - Yes, I love this part of you. It's resulted in some great stories, memories and character building!

Great perspective - not only do you have awesome artistic perspective, but also great perspective on so many other things in life. I trust your opinion and value it.

Persevering - you have had a lot of tough knocks in life, from a broken leg when you were a baby, to a lot harder physical challenges later on. But you just keep persevering through it!

Tough - speaking of tough, you ARE tough!! All of your life experiences have built a toughness into that makes you who you are today...strong, capable, able, hearty. All really great qualities about you!

And why did I use this next picture to illustrate that? You had just started 1st grade and left the second day of school for a ten day outdoor camp with your class. Little did we know that you broke your arm a few days into the camp and no one told us until you got back home! They said you were really tough about it and didn't ask to call home. Not only are you tough, but brave too!

Understand suffering - days, weeks, months and years, you have endured suffering. Yet it's tempered you and developed some other incredible qualities in you: compassion, tender-heartedness, and an ability to endure hard times and hard things.

Persistant - You never give up, like the time you taught yourself to ride a bike! I remember coming outside and finding you going down (falling down!) the driveway time after time after time until you could do it stay upright. Look at your face there! That's the face of persistence.

Love your dad - I think it's so awesome that you have such a good relationship with your dad!

Close to your siblings - it brings me so much joy to see you in close relationship with them, enjoying time together and valuing them even today.

Deep appreciation for Tyler - it was not always easy between you two, but you made it through those years and into today when you're best friends. I praise God for that!

Great caretaker of your little sister - you were always her protector and playmate, the one who made her laugh and took care of her when she was crying. I love that you're still there for her today!

Inventive - how many things do you think you built in our garage over the years?? You're so creative and like to come up with new that about you!

Know how to make people happy and get them to laugh and smile - what a good trait this is in you! And you know this is one of my all time favorite pictures of you because it captures that trait so well!

You love your mom! I'm sure glad you do, and I love you back like crazy!!

You're a great husband! It's so special to watch how all of these character qualities and gifts have matured in you and made you the husband you are today: one who loves, cares for, treasures, provides for and cherishes your Haley. I love seeing you as a married man!

Hope you have an awesome birthday today Caleb!! I'm thinking of you, and praising God for the gift that you are to us!!

The beginning of your super hero powers! :) LOVE YOU!