Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Rare Day

With Dave in Norway for some meetings about church planting, I flew back into Prague alone after our week-end in Latvia.

The original plan was for me to take the train home from here and Dave would follow when he was done with the meetings.

But after those plans were made, some long-time friends from the States contacted us to say they were coming to Prague and could we meet them there on Tuesday night, which was perfect timing since Dave was to arrive then as well.

But it meant a day by myself in Prague before they all arrived.

What a gift to me!

I can't remember ever having a day here by myself, with nothing to do but just wander and enjoy the city.

Sleeting when I first woke up, it at least turned to rain by the time I was ready to head out this morning (the forecast said it was going to snow, so I was thankful that didn't happen!).

A while back Tyler sent me an article about the coffee culture that's growing here in Prague so I decided to wander the city today, looking for a few of the coffee shops mentioned.

Forgetting to take a picture, mostly because it was so cold, windy and rainy, I hit the first coffee shop, Tricafe, for a take-out latte. It kept my hands warm for a few minutes anyway as I braved the rain under a newly purchased umbrella since it was seriously a downpour!

After wandering through sections of the city I haven't ever been to, I found my way to the second shop: Mama Coffee.

I felt a connection here for one funny little reason: my Instagram name. I go by 'mamapatty' so this coffee shop just seemed to resonate with me.

And now even more so for their really delicious coffee and jablečný závin (apple strudel).

The skies were still cloudy and gray by mid-afternoon as I walked across the city, noting one pretty building after another. I never get tired of the beautiful details!

Old Town Square has the Easter market set up right now, so I wandered around there for a while.

I might have had something to eat from these guys.

Then it was off to Vinohrady, yet another section of Prague, to find LaBoheme Cafe. I don't have a good picture of the inside that does it justice, but I will say this was my favorite place of the day! And I think my barista boys would approve of the coffee I had there.

By the time I left, sunshine and blue sky had appeared outside!

Walking down from Vinohrady, I passed by the national museum and enjoyed all the signs of spring along the way.

In the meantime, Dave was stuck in the Amsterdam airport by 120 km winds, and our friends were stuck on trains and busses as the storm blew trees across tracks and roads on their way to Prague from Munich. A five hour trip became a nine hour one.

They eventually made it here this evening, and Dave should be here by midnight. I'm glad they're all safe from their blustery travels.

And I'm thankful for a rare day in Prague by myself!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Coming in November

It's been all I could do to contain myself from writing this post since we first got the news a few weeks ago. I immediately wanted to shout it from the rooftops as it's truly the sweetest of news.

But of course it wasn't only my news to share.  The news first needed to come from the original source!

Which came out HERE a few days ago.

So now I can finally shout it out!

Our precious Tyler and Lara are expecting their first baby!

What an unexpected rush of emotions and joy swelled through my heart when they told us the amazingly good news. I had no idea I'd feel that strongly about news of a grandchild coming into our lives.

These two are going to be awesome parents!

Then again, it shouldn't have surprised me.

I truly loved, and still love, being a mom to my three (and now five!) kids, so the joy of becoming a grandma to their children is somehow twice as sweet! Oh what fun days are ahead with this new little one; I can seriously hardly wait!

Oh how I praise the Lord for the precious gift of new life coming to our family in early November.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Equipped to Share Their Faith

What a powerful conference just finished up here in Riga, Latvia!

Built on the theme of "Come and See", Dave was in his sweet spot this week-end with a hundred young leaders as he taught on evangelism.

Leading them biblically and practically through topics like "Crossing the Four Barriers" and "Telling Your Story and His Story", he gave them great tools for sharing their faith.

Dave is not a lecturing kind of teacher who just stands up front imparting information. He likes to get them thinking, dialoging and working out what they're hearing. So they had lots of opportunity to interact with him and each other throughout the day.

But the most practical, and powerful, moment came when everyone was sent out into the city to share their faith personally. They knew from the beginning of the day that they'd be doing that so were very attentive to his teaching in order to be ready!

Yes, it was scary. There's nothing harder than opening up a spiritual conversation with a stranger (one of the things Dave says is, "If you can do it with a stranger, you can do it with a friend!"). But oh the stories that came back after they were done!

Dave told them ahead of time, "You don't need ideal conditions to share your faith because it is God who is seeking those who are lost and He's not blocked by imperfect conditions."

And sure enough, they weren't blocked from having conversations. There were people prepared by Him to have conversations about faith, even on a rainy day on the streets of Riga.

Each group that was sent out had an opportunity to share afterward what it was like for them, what kinds of conversations they had, and what they learned from it.

After just an hour and a half on the streets, there were a total of 104 spiritual conversations with people! Out of those conversations, twenty six included one of the young leaders telling their story of faith and/or sharing the Gospel, while seven people were even ready for and given some type of challenge to faith. Pretty cool!

In the evening Dave spoke about how to answer difficult questions when sharing your faith, and about what the work of the Trinity is in evangelism. Later we had a time of prayer for the people in our lives that we are praying will come to know Jesus, and some more great worship by the History Makers band.

What an awesome day!

It would've been special to be here with these dear Latvian leaders anyway, but was even more so to be with them on our 28th wedding anniversary!

There's nowhere we'd rather be than equipping the next generation.

We are praying that these young leaders will be active in sharing the Gospel, and will equip their youth groups to do the same. And that many will come to faith in Jesus because of their willingness to be bold in sharing about Him!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

A Golden Anniversary

There is a golden anniversary, and then there is a GOLDEN anniversary. No, we're not celebrating our golden anniversary of fifty years together...yet!

But we are celebrating a golden anniversary of sorts. Twenty eight years of marriage on the twenty-eighth day of this March, 2015.

I stood at the altar in Speyer, Germany on my dad's arm twenty eight years ago today, waiting with delighted anticipation for what was to come.

Just minutes later, my dad gave me away to Dave and our beautiful wedding continued in the Gedächtniskirche on March 28, 1987.

A magnificent organ came to life and presided over our wedding day with rapturously beautiful music. Dave sang to me. We sang to each other, songs we'd written. Our bridal party sang over us from the balconies, and to us standing there at the altar. We sang for our parents. And Dave's dad was our pastor that day as he performed the wedding ceremony.

We made vows and promises to each other that have stayed true to this day.

Oh what a day it was, a memory sealed into my heart and mind forever!

All those precious people standing with us at the altar, our dear family and friends who came from near and far to celebrate, and a groom that I love and adore to this day.

For me, it was the wedding of my dreams.

When the church bells chimed out across Speyer at noon just as the wedding ended, it signaled the beginning of our lives together, a fantastic and amazing adventure that has thus far spanned 28 years with this very dear man!

Who knew back then what all was in store for us as we walked from the church to our reception in those first minutes as husband and wife?!

Twenty eight years later, as we celebrate this anniversary in Riga, Latvia at a youth conference with our JV staff here, I am infinitely thankful for the Lord's plan in bringing Dave and I together. What an incredible journey it's been since we said "I do" in Germany. Who would've ever imagined back then where our lives would be today? Only the Lord!

While we don't know what the future holds, I pray it is at least twenty eight more years together if not even MORE! I love this life that the Lord gave to us to share together.

And I love this man more today than ever!!!

"Happy 'golden' 28th Anniversary, Dave!"

Friday, March 27, 2015

Come and See...in Latvia

The Latvian Youth leader conference, "Come and See" got started tonight here in Riga!

Kelly Hargan, our JV Latvia country leader, introducing Dave

After some great worship with the Latvian band, "History Makers" (who led at our JV fall conference this past year), Dave began speaking.

While most of these young leaders speak English, Dave's working with a translator, which is actually nice sometimes...it slows down the content so you can soak it all in!

He's got four sessions tomorrow so pray for him! We'll get started in the morning and go until 10 tomorrow night!

It's been so great to meet some of these young leaders, and I'm excited for what's ahead for them tomorrow as Dave speaks about boldly sharing Christ in their country.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Adding a New Country

Standing in the Prague airport this morning, I'll admit I was a little giddy with excitement. Why?

Today is the day I got to fly to Riga, Latvia for the first time!

While we've had JV staff here for many years, it's the first time I've been able to come with Dave to visit them. This is a very special new season of life where I can travel with him more often!

We're specifically here for a youth conference that the Latvia team is leading this week-end, and that Dave is speaking at starting tomorrow evening. Pray for "Search and Rescue", their leadership training event on evangelism. May it result in much fruit across this country.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Prayer Prompts

It started with one short conversation many years ago with my dear sister-in-law, Joyce.

Driving with her in Denver, she shared that she always prays when she sees and hears an ambulance. At least that's what I remember; I'm curious if she remembers telling me!

It stuck in my mind after that day, resonating as one way to "pray always" so I started doing it too. I would not only pray for the person in the ambulance, but also let it remind me to pray for people I knew who were in difficult or desperate circumstances.

She had a bulletin board in her house too, with missionary prayer cards from all over the world. I adopted that from her as well, making it a focal point in our house as a prayer prompt for missionaries I know and love.

If you've been in my kitchen, you've seen this! If you're not on here, send me your prayer card!

Over the years more things became prayer prompts, easy reminders in my day to "pray always".

A pretty blue travel coffee thermos? Prayer prompt for a particular friend in the States.

Pictures on my piano? Reminders to pray every day for my precious kids.

Dave gave me this painting for Christmas just this year and it's my reminder to pray for a movement of God in our region of Czech since it's a view of Lysa Hora and our surroundings.

While there are literally thousands of churches dotted across the country, there are not a lot of believers. So whenever I see a church, I pray for the people who go to it, and for the people who live around it.

When we first moved here to Czech, and I felt so overwhelmed by how few believers were here, the Lord gave me a very precious way to pray. His instructions were, "If a child in the grocery store catches your eye, pray that they will come to know me."

I suppose I've prayed for thousands of children here in the Czech Republic over the past twenty one years. It will only be in heaven that I'll find out how many came to know Him. But it's my joy to pray for those children every time I'm in a grocery store.

Photo from Google Images

I have more prompts than this, but you get the idea. I love to pray and this keeps me praying throughout every day.

Hope it inspires you to choose some prayer prompts too!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Heading Out Again

In the midst of a lot going on, that cute little face brings me a lot of joy when she's waiting for me at home. How can you not love that face?!

Dave and I are headed to Latvia tomorrow where he will be speaking this week-end at a youth leader conference led by our JV team there.

We are actually saying goodbye to Kaylee's cute little face for a few weeks now as we'll be on the road until mid-April.

So thankful for our dear El for once again taking care of her while we're gone. It's a huge blessing that I get to go with Dave, and I'm so excited to see our team in Latvia and all that God's doing there.

Monday, March 23, 2015

With All My Heart

From my home here in the Czech Republic, THANK YOU with all my heart for visiting here today!

Photo Credit to František Procházka

It's a milestone day for my blog, Living By Lysa (Lysa being "Lysa Hora", the mountain I see out my office window, and pictured above in this gorgeous painting that I wish I owned! I'm thankful to Google Images for that picture).

Since Google Analytic started keeping track in 2011, you dear readers have visited me 500,000 times. Bless you! Thank you! That means so very much to me.

I started blogging in 2006 as a way to keep my family up to date on what was happening in our lives and ministry. In those early years, I was lucky to get a blog post out a few times a month!

But in 2011 I committed to blogging regularly and haven't looked back ever since.

I've hit the "Publish" button on 1,343 blog posts over the past eight and half years. And each time I make a post it's my desire to record with genuineness and honesty the joys, difficulties, delights and trials of our lives.

Yet most of all, it's my hope to communicate the grace, goodness and faithfulness of the Lord as we share our lives and the Gospel through the ministry of Josiah Venture here in Czech, and throughout Central and Eastern Europe.

Aside from my family and circle of friends, I don't know how, why or when you found your way to my blog. But I'm thankful you did! My hope is that you'll find something here to encourage, challenge, motivate and strengthen you as you walk with, trust in or seek the Lord in your own life.

Thank you again for coming here today and every other day you might have visited me here at Living By Lysa! I look forward to sharing more of my life journey with you in the months and years ahead.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday Morning Surprise

The last morning at KPM, the youth leader conference we've been at in Slovakia this week-end, started out as usual: seven hundred participants coming in to find their seat; sleepy chatter as people sat down with anticipation for the morning session; and Dave getting up to speak.

But then, everything turned upside-down.

Of course it did! That's been the theme of the conference: The Upside-Down Kingdom.

It was announced that in place of a closing morning program everyone would be heading to church instead.

That sounds so normal for a Sunday morning, right? But it's the first time in 22 years of KPM that it's been done!

Two churches were "in on the secret" and had a special program prepared at each location where the conference participants could choose to attend.

Once given the go ahead, 700 young leaders took to the streets of Zilina and headed for church together.

While it would've been fun to walk with everyone, Dave and I drove to the Evanjelický kostol of Žilina where we were attending with Maruška, the KPM director, and a very dear friend and JV teammate. (See HERE and HERE for more about her!)

What people didn't know was that Dave would be giving his final conference talk in this church, while another young man would be giving a similar one in the other church (he and Dave had coordinated their messages).

What a sweet morning it was, worshipping with nearly 600 believers in this beautiful church!

Photo Credit: Lubo Bechny

Dave and I were seated up front, so I was a bit self conscious to take pictures once we were seated since I was in view of everyone. Yikes! I put my camera away, but used my phone to quickly take a few photos to capture the moment because, well you know...that's how I love to remember and enjoy those special, good and precious moments.

The pastor of this church, Marián Kaňuch, is a dear friend of Dave's and it was absolutely delightful to be under his shepherding this morning. He was so creative, genuine, warm and pastoral as he led the service and gave the first message.

Then it was Dave's turn.

He shared the last, and most difficult, secret of the Kingdom:

I wish you could've heard it (maybe some of you who are reading DID hear it?!) - it was powerful. He spoke about losing your life for the sake of the Kingdom...that if you try to save your life, you'll lose it; but if you give your life, you'll find it. That's a very simple explanation of a profound truth, one that I've heard him preach before and continue to strive to live out.

The service ended with a very meaningful "three generation prayer" by three individuals. The last to pray was this woman below, representing the older generation of believers. Many, including myself, had tears in their eyes when she finished. There was such a sense of unity between all the believers, at all stages of life, who were there this morning.

One last dear, winsome and oh so delightful moment of our Sunday service together: can you see what the pastor and his wife are doing together up front in the church?

He said it had probably never been done before: A "selfie" of him, his wife, and as many as he could fit in as possible!

"Thanks for sending me the photo Marián!"

How fun is that?! I grabbed my phone to get one too (though I missed me in the photo!)

And then tonight I saw this picture on Facebook by someone who had their camera and thought to get in there and capture this.  How I love seeing all those people gathered together.

What a beautiful way to end a Sunday morning spent with believers of all ages, as we wrapped up an incredible KPM conference.

May the truths that were taught be remembered, and more importantly, lived out, for many years to come.

**A beautiful four minute video of the two Sunday morning church services for KPM, thanks to Lubo Bechny!**