Saturday, February 28, 2015

If I Could, I Would

On this very gray day as I'm still recovering from the flu, this funny little one is keeping me company.

I can't tell you how many times a day she makes me laugh! Where would we be without our faithful doggy companions?

Speaking of love for a dog, this is such a sweet little video about one dad's love for his family, and his dog. It's worth the 3:27 to watch (if you're a dog lover!).

If I ever had to leave Kaylee in a kennel, I would do that if I could! Because seriously, who could leave this sweet face in a sterile cage??

Thankfully we've never had to do that. And I suppose it would be a bit much to actually go to the lengths that he did in the video.

But if I could, I would!!

Happy Saturday to you all!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Lifting My Spirits

When I walked outside this afternoon and saw this, I couldn't help but chuckle!

For my first time out in nine days, it was just what I needed to see: a happy, cute, and a tad bit dirty snowman made by my two little neighbor boys (ages 4 and 2!) before the snow melted.

Both Dave and I were finally feeling better today. Hallelujah! And we both needed to get out of the house. I honestly can't believe how long I've been in here. Has it really been nine days??

While the snow has again melted, the only sign of spring is at a building supply store nearby. But I'll take the cheeriness of these flowers any day.

And my treat while we were out? A little apple cake and coffee from good old Starbucks. I told Dave I'm a cheap date!

I was actually sitting there texting my best friend in Portland, Oregon whose mom was going in for open heart surgery today. She's been on my heart and in my prayers all day today, and thankfully I just got news that her aortic valve replacement went well. That lifted my spirits today too.

Dave was cheery as he's recovering from this flu virus as well. We sat at Starbucks reminiscing about his open heart surgery four years ago, and how he's the picture of health these days! :) How I love doing life with him, even if it's being sick together!

I'm not yet back to my full strength, but I can feel my body healing and I'm grateful for that. Praying it will continue as I have a big week next week (more on that to come).

Praying for my dear friend Jan too, that her body will recover from this major surgery she endured today.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

For Fun: Throwback Thursday

Today is the eighth day I've had this flu bug.

While most of the symptoms are gone, I'm really weak. My body is taking its time in recovering, that's for sure. I'm sleeping long hours at night, with naps included during the day (something I never do!) and don't have much energy or strength. So I'm following the advice of many and just resting at home. I haven't been out of the house since I got sick last Wednesday.

This week someone asked me for photos of the early days of English camps so I went upstairs to dig through photo albums to see what I could find today. While I found a few of those photos, I found some others as well!

Claire was three and a half during this ski trip to Slovakia many years ago!

Since it snowed here last night, these skiing pictures seemed appropriate for this Thursday's throwback.

What a little cutie!

Love and miss you Clairey! Those were sweet days of your childhood here in Czech!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Honestly Speaking

Honestly, my heart is heavy today.

Just two hours south of us, a crazed man opened fire in a pub yesterday killing eight people, then himself.

How does this sort of thing happen??

While you sadly read about such things in the news often these days, it doesn't feel real until it's close to home.

Thus my heart is hurting for the families of all who lost loved ones right here in the Czech Republic yesterday. How many knew Jesus??

And I hurt for the fear this places in the hearts of people in that town. And perhaps across the country tonight.

I tend to focus on the positive and look for the good: "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." It's one of the passages in Scripture I try to live by.

But I also acknowledge that evil is absolutely present in this world, and that we can't turn a blind eye to it and think it will go away. It won't: "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." 

How utterly grateful and thankful I am for this truth though: "But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

I don't know how you deal with what's in the news these days. The only way I deal with it is through the hope of Christ and His victory. I'd be lost without that hope.

Claire wrote a meaningful blog post on this same event. You can read it HERE.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Now It's His Turn

First it was me. I have no idea where I picked up this tenacious flu virus, but I didn't even make it home from the airport last week before I knew I had something. I haven't recovered yet, but I'm at least headed in that direction.

Unfortunately, now it's Dave's turn.

It hit him like a ton of bricks yesterday and he's down for the count now. And that doesn't happen very often.

Because of that he's had to cancel his upcoming trip to Estonia. That doesn't happen very often either.

But at least he's at home, can rest and be cared for by me. We'll just be two sickies here together!

Two of our dear friends have brought us delicious soups, groceries and a wonderful Czech "babovka". We feel loved and taken care of, despite feeling so wiped out.

"Thank you dearest Ingrid and Danča! "

Monday, February 23, 2015

JV Men in the Alps

Ever see a picture that perfectly describes you? That's how I've felt for the past five days.

I took that photo off of Dave's phone tonight when he returned from being gone to Hallstatt, Austria this week-end.

He spent four days with our JV single men on a retreat, speaking to them about five pledges that can make you a mighty man. Sounds interesting!

He says they had an awesome time together talking about the Lord, snow-shoeing in the Alps and just having guy time.

Though it was a hard week-end at home for me with being sick, I'm so glad Dave could make that investment in our JV men.

Finally today I'm starting to feel a little better, though can feel the result of five days of this nasty flu bug. I'll lay low for the next few days to make sure I recover all the way.

Pray for Dave though! He's starting to feel the same symptoms as me. And he's due to leave for Estonia on Wednesday morning.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Until Further Notice

Long, hard day with the flu and all its symptoms. I'll be back when I'm feeling better.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Where Did That Come From?

Sitting on the plane yesterday as we flew from Chicago to Vienna, I literally felt a full-blown cold come on me in just a matter of minutes.

What a strange feeling it was to go from feeling completely healthy to being miserable. If only you could peek inside your body and see how that happens so quickly.

I managed to make it through our time last night at national missionary orientation, but today has included a lot of time in bed, multiple cups of tea, Sudafed, Aleve and perhaps the best remedy of all: chicken soup.

Don't worry, I'm not doing any food photography today. It's just an image I found online, but I'll give credit HERE. I didn't use their recipe, but it looks like a good one.

Seriously, I am so glad the Lord prompted me yesterday to get the fixings for soup when I was at the store. All I had to do was throw the ingredients in a pot and let it simmer for hours today. It definitely hit the spot tonight.

I'm feeling worse right now, but am heading to bed in hopes my body will skip jet lag and just let me sleep off this cold. Despite feeling so rotten right now, I'm infinitely grateful to the Lord for keeping me so well during our two weeks in the States. It would've been a huge bummer to have been sick like this during that time.

God knew what I needed then, and knows what I need now.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Courageous Missionaries

After a nine and a half hour flight from Chicago to Vienna, and then a four hour drive, we safely arrived home this afternoon. It sure felt good to pick up our little doggy, get a few groceries from the store, and drive to our house.

No matter how good a trip is, it's always good to get home.

After just a couple hours of unpacking, Dave and I headed up to Malenovice for a very special evening.

This week is orientation for JV staff who are nationals. Coming from Bulgaria, Czech, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine, these nineteen new missionaries will be serving as missionaries in their own countries.

Dave shared the JV story, vision and mission with them, and then together we had a question and answer time.

We are so proud of these dear ones who are courageously trusting the Lord as they move towards full time ministry with our team.

Please pray for them! They don't have the challenge of learning a language or operating in an unknown culture. They don't have to learn their way around, or struggle to find things in stores. And they already have relationships with people.

What they don't have is a network of people who will support them. Fundraising for missions is a fairly new concept in Central and Eastern Europe so people are not used to giving towards it. It's a huge challenge when they are obedient to God's call on their life.

Despite that, they're stepping out in faith believing God has called them to His work of reaching young people with the Gospel. We're so encouraged by their faith.

If you are interested in supporting one of these courageous believers, you can click on their names below and it will take you to their bio on the JV website. Not all of them are on the website yet so for now I'll just include those who are. Thanks for considering an investment, no matter how small, in one or two of them!

Jene Pospisil
Ondra Szturc
Filip Szturc

Indrek Tambek

Anna Racenaja

Sara Wala

Daniel Harcar
Lenka Simockova

My friend and JV teammate, Shay, wrote a great blog post from his perspective about these brave ones. Take a look at it HERE.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Coffee and Goodbyes

On my last day in the States, what could be better than going out for breakfast with my girl?!

With snowflakes gently falling, we walked from Moody to Fabcakes, a great new cafe owned and run by a woman from Poland.

Her food is tasty, healthy, creative and fresh. The coffee possibilities were delightful as well. I can recommend the Vanilla Rose latte!

An hour and a half went by all too quickly before it was time for Claire to return to class and take an exam in philosophy.

Dave was waiting in the Commons at Moody so he could say goodbye to Claire. I snapped a picture of them together and then off she went. As far as we know, we won't see her again until July. Yes, my mama's heart felt a big tug of emotion as she left. Goodbyes are never easy.

We headed upstairs to Joe's, the coffee shop that Caleb works at Moody. He lovingly treated us to coffee from his tip jar. How nice is that?!

But all too soon it was time to say another goodbye. Thankfully we'll see these two a little sooner since they've just been accepted with JV to do an internship this summer!

They will be out at the end of May for intern training at Malenovice before they head to Bulgaria where they'll spend the summer sharing Jesus with young people You can read about what they'll be doing, as well as their support needs HERE. We are so excited that they want to serve with our JV family!

Dave and I then headed off to the airport where we are right now, waiting for our flight home.

This has been such a rich, full, special time here in the States these past two weeks. I'm grateful for all the face to face time we had with so many dear people, and leave a part of my heart here with all of them.

Yet I know, and love, that our place is back in Czech and we're anxious to reengage with all the Lord has for us there.

But I won't kid you. There was a bit of wistfulness as I took one last look at Moody and Chicago, knowing that some of my most precious ones are in this part of the world.

While I wish that I could see our five children more often, I know they are where they need to be. And we are too. So I trust the Lord with that. And feel grateful that we had this sweet time together.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Full Day in Chicago

When you only have a few days in one place, you make the most of it!

Such was our day in Chicago today. It started out at Caleb and Haley's apartment where they graciously hosted us for two nights in their darling apartment on Mozart street. This was definitely one of the highlights of our time in the States, getting to stay with both of our married children in their homes.

Dave and I traveled out to the suburbs at noon for a four hour lunch with friends who are considering joining JV, then made it back into the city just in time to pick up Claire.

She wasn't at Moody, but rather at her PCM (practical Christian ministry) where she serves each week. Located in Logan Square, she tutors students for New Life Center with other Moody students.

Assigned to this ministry when she started Moody a year and a half ago, it was so fun to step into the classroom where she spends time with kids, not only tutoring but loving them and reaching out to them with the love of Jesus. It was so great getting to see her world there.

Because it was President's Day, there were only a few students that day, but it was still great to get a feel and picture of where she's making an investment each week.

From there we drove over to the lakefront, near Moody Church, and had dinner with Claire at a favorite restaurant of hers: Elly's This particular location is known for being open 24/7 and serves breakfast at all hours, but we settled for soup and sandwiches and had such a good time being together.

Tyler was closing at Intelligentsia where he works as a barista while he's getting his Master's degree at Trinity, so we stopped by to pick up coffee beans to take home with us. If you've never tried their Black Cat coffee, you need to!

I especially loved seeing Tyler's chalk art in person while at the shop!

With coffee in hand (end of the day so it was free!), we took a couple of pictures and then headed on to our final destination for the day.

Claire organized an event for the girls on her dorm floor and the guys on her brother floor.

How we loved being there with those college students! Dave gave an awesome talk on the "theology of your future" and I filled in with stories. It was a privilege to share, especially because it was in Claire's world, with people she loves and cares about.

By the time we made it back here to Caleb and Haley's at 11, we were tired but happy. If you're going to have a full day, that's the best kind to have!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

You'll Be In My Heart

On a cold Chicago morning, I woke up to this.

And this!! So happy to be in Tyler and Lara's home this morning!

But the day kept getting better and better. First, Caleb, Haley and Claire arrived.

And then Dave made it! He took an early morning flight from Portland this morning after staying an extra day there.

And all the while, the snow kept falling until there was enough for this!

Despite the chilly weather (when I woke up this morning it was 1F, -17C), we stepped outside and got a few family photos to mark this special day of being together with all our kids.

What delight these five bring to Dave and I!

And what a precious afternoon with all seven of us today, the first time since last May.

I'm not sure when we'll all be together again, but my heart is very full and happy for those sweet hours that we shared today. Every hour is a gift.

To my dear ones: "Don't forget my favorite song: "You'll Be In My Heart...Always"! ~Tarzan~ HA!!