Monday, February 29, 2016


I've spent the day scurrying around in order to be ready to leave tomorrow morning bright and early.

Where are we headed this time?

Dave and I, along with teammates Mel and Amy Ellenwood, are leading a trip to Israel for our single JV missionaries!

On top of the regular conferences we do every year to train and shepherd our team, we also do a care conference - something specifically designed to replenish, refresh and nourish our staff, and even our kids. We always do a JV Kid's camp, and some years there is a women's retreat, a marriage conference, or something for our single women or men.

But this year we're bringing the single men and women together, a total of 41 Americans and nationals from eight different countries, to tour through Israel studying the life of Christ and the way he made disciples.

A beloved tour guide, a Belarusian Jewish man who lives in Israel who has led many trips for GYI (Global Youth Initiative, a partnership organization) will give the historical perspective throughout the week, while Dave will teach the spiritual content along the way.

I can hardly wait to leave in the morning. I feel a little like a child on Christmas Eve who can barely go to sleep. I just want morning to come!

These photos are from four years when I visited for the first time. I hoped then that it would not be my first and only time there as the trip had such an impact on me. Oh how thrilled I am to be going back, and with such a wonderful group of people to share it with.

We take a train to Prague early tomorrow morning, catch an afternoon flight that goes through Istanbul, and get into Tel Aviv at 11:30 PM. We'll catch a few winks at a hotel before going back to the airport to meet up with everyone at 11 AM. And then our tour will begin.

But more importantly, we'll be in Jesus' homeland. I so look forward to walking in his steps again.


Sunday, February 28, 2016

Amazing Design

Two weeks ago, on a Sunday, we walked with friends along the Cathedral Rock trailhead just outside of Sedona, AZ.

Have you ever been there? If you haven't, you might stumble across these if you were to walk that same path.

No, they're not God's creation, but creation's of people's imaginations!

Called cairns, we found so many of them along our walk.

While fascinating to me, I read up on them and found that others are annoyed by them. Some feel it takes away from the beauty of what's already there.

But that wasn't my opinion! I don't know if I'm in the minority or the majority, but I thought they were fun, adding to the already spectacular ambiance of the surroundings of Sedona.

When we came to a whole "community" of cairns, it made me think of people. Is that weird?! It looked like a little village to me!

And reminded me of how unique all people are, put together in millions and billions of different ways, no two alike.

Coming from a family who taught me to value people, I guess I see the world, even a rock world, through those eyes!

We experienced such a sweet Sunday back home here in Czech today - full of wonderful people and meaningful relationships: from our church body, to friends we met for lunch, and other dear ones we met with to pray in the evening. Every one of them unique, created with beauty and distinction, but best of all, made in the image of God.

I treasure the people we get to be in life with, and delight in God's design of those people.

As well as in all of God's amazing designs!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

A Celebration, of Sorts

For over two years, I've had a puzzle going on in my brain.

I haven't worked on it every single moment of every day for those two years. But it's been like a program running in the background on a computer...spinning and spinning, yet never getting to its end.

I've prayed and talked to others about it. I've pondered and tried out all sorts of solutions to it. I've tried leaving it for a month and coming back to it. I've woken up in the night thinking about it. I've sat for extended periods of time trying to figure it out.

In fact, I've walked, run, sat, laid down and nearly stood on my head, all in hopes of being able to figure it out! All to no avail.

But today. When I least expected it. After yet another attempt to solve it. It came.

The puzzle is solved!

Before saying what the puzzle was, you might ask "Why the picture of cookies?"

For one thing, it's a great new gluten free recipe that is definitely worth a try if you're needing something sweet! I haven't baked in ever so long so took my time finding something that was worth the effort today. This one definitely is!

Check out the recipe for Almond Oatmeal Cookies here. She added dried cherries, but I replaced that with dried cranberries and a little bit of chocolate. So delicious!

The reason I baked cookies this afternoon? To say thanks to my dear husband, Dave, for his help on the puzzle.

The puzzle of a title for my book.

"How could you write a whole book and not know the title?" you may ask. Well, that is a little strange, I admit. I've honestly felt like a mom who has a two year old child, who could never come up with a name for her. That's been an awful feeling.

My book has several beautiful (I think!) themes, threads that weave throughout the book. But I never found the right title to tie all those themes and thoughts together. Certainly not for lack of trying! You can't imagine how many titles this book has had thus far. But none ever settled into my heart as the right one.

Until today.

I woke up this morning with such a pressure on my spirit to work on it. But that's against the backdrop of having spent several hours on it just yesterday, when I made no progress. So the fact that I woke up and felt a sense of urgency said something to me. I sensed the Lord telling me, "Don't give up, keep at it, it's there for you to find."

So after breakfast I asked Dave if he would think about it with me once again. He kindly answered yes (as he has many times in the past), and after several hours, when I least expected, the title came shining through, out of his mouth, as if it had always been there.


So sorry to say I'm not able to share it yet; it has to go through the proper channels of being confirmed.

But in my heart, I'm sure this is it. My 'baby' has a name. And so I celebrate today!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Beautiful Home

We arrived home from the States yesterday to a beautiful winter day.

And to an even more beautiful evening up at Malenovice.

Dave had the joy of sharing the JV story, vision and mission for nine new staff members who are spending a week together at JV orientation.

But these are not North Americans...these are our newest national staff from four different countries here in central and eastern Europe!

Representing Bulgaria, Czech, Hungary and Slovakia, these are courageous, faith-filled men and women who love God and want to serve him full time in the countries where they are from. All of them are already involved in ministries such as Exit Tour, School of Leaders, KPM (leadership training in Slovakia) and camps.

But in order to go beyond volunteer status to full time they must take a huge step of faith and trust God to provide financially through gifts, prayers and encouragement from supporters who will stand with them.

Raising support in their own country is often quite challenging as there has not been a history of giving towards missions in this region of the world. So one of the things they'll talk about and work on at orientation is how to best share the vision with their family, friends and churches.

Of course there is always the possibility for them to be supported through the generosity of Americans too.

If you're interested in supporting a national, take a look at our newly designed Josiah Venture website and read through some of the bios on our nationals to see if God is asking you to be part of their support!

It's great to be back in our part of the world where we absolutely love what we get to do, investing in the next generation of leaders to reach this part of the world for Jesus.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Colorado Week-end

Dave and I are at the Chicago airport, waiting for our flight back across the ocean to Czech. But before we go I wanted to get in one last blog post!

Yesterday Dave had the privilege of preaching at his home church in Littleton, Colorado - the church he started going to with his family when he was just seven years old. Who would ever have guessed that the little guy who used to pick gum off the pews would be a guest preacher there many years later?!

After the sermon there was a moving introduction of young adults.

This church has sent out SO many short term missionaries over the years! And this summer is no different. There are eight young people who will serve on five of the seven continents, bringing the light of Jesus to the people they've been called to.

That includes a young woman coming to serve with JV, as well as my niece and nephew, Jonathan and Kyrie!!

Speaking of JV...after the service, this dear couple came over to meet me and tell their story.

Serving as Josiah Venture summer interns in 2013, they met at Malenovice for their training and then went on to spend three months in Estonia with our JV team there. And they fell in love! They're now engaged to married this summer. That's some pretty fun fruit from a JV internship!

This morning, I had the joy of seeing my dear friend, Jerri, who I served with in Germany the first time I went on a summer mission's trip. She was later my maid of honor in our wedding, and a very treasured friend for 32 years. So thankful for this wise and loving friend!

We also had two days with Dave's mom and dad, enjoying our time with them. So thankful for the family we were able to see on this trip to the States!

Our plane to Munich is about to board so I'll post this and head on to find our seats for a nice, long flight!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Boy Trip

Yesterday I posted about my girl trip to Colorado Springs with Haley, my daughter-in-law.

Today it's about a boy trip!

While Haley and I were spending time together, Dave and Caleb were down in the southern part of Colorado skiing and snowboarding at Wolf Creek, the area with the greatest amount of snow in the whole state!

Can you guess who was on skis and who was on his snowboard?

After four years of not having his snowboard, which has spent too much time alone in our hall closet in Czech, we brought it with us to the States so that Caleb could enjoy it now that he lives in Colorado!

The four of us met back in Fort Collins where we spent the night and then had some time in the morning all together.

All too soon it was time to say goodbye to these dear ones. But I'm so thankful that we were able to see them in the place that will be home for a while!

"Love you so much Caleb and Haley!"

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Girl Trip

We flew in to Colorado on Thursday afternoon and met up with these sweet people!

Dave's birthday present to Caleb this year was a day of skiing down in the southern part of his home state, and the state that Caleb and Haley now call home! After a quick bite to eat near the airport, the two of them took off for Wolf Creek.

That left Haley and I to begin our girl trip!

We've both been anticipating this mom(in-law!)/daughter trip for weeks so happily took off for our own special time together.

Traveling down to Colorado Springs, our pre-determined destination because neither of us have ever spent any significant time there (and where it wasn't too hard or far to drive from Denver!), we simply had the sweetest two days together.

Fun hotel, gluten free pizza, a movie downtown in the Springs, coffee date, pedicures, a little shopping and a lot of talking. I can't imagine how we could've had any better time!

So often during our 24 hour girl trip we expressed hearts of thankfulness to the Lord for giving us a beautiful time together, made all the better by spectacular views and weather. I'm getting my fill of sunny winter days on this trip, that's for sure!

"Dearest Haley, thanks for letting me spend those days with you! I love all our memories together and am thankful for YOU!"

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

California Dreaming

For the past two days Dave and I have had the joy of being in sunny California where Dave is teaching on Adaptive Leadership at North Coast Church.

While he's been in the classroom, I've been spending time enjoying the delights of California with a dear friend.

Strawberries right out of the field in February?? This is a taste I only dream about! We do get strawberries in Czech, but there is something special about getting them on the west coast of the US. From California to Oregon, these are something extraordinary!

And driving around in February with the windows rolled down and a happy dog hanging out? Perfect!

Meet Bailey, my friend's golden lab. Took a five mile walk with her down the beach and back. She didn't break a sweat in 85 degree, record breaking heat for the day!

As the sun set, with palm trees on the horizon, I thanked the Lord for a little bit of paradise in February.

We're off to another type of wonderland tomorrow...Colorado!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Otherworldly in Sedona

Over Valentine's week-end, dear friends of our invited us to go with their family to Sedona, Arizona, a place I've never been before.

It was an invitation to quite an "otherworldly" place.

Hiking up to a mesa the first day, we could see the red rock formations for miles.

As I sat there gazing out over the fantastic view I kept thinking, "I hope someday in heaven, the Lord will push "rewind" and show us how He created all of this!"

Our friends have amazing kids who hiked up here with no problem...well, except for a little help from mom and dad for the smallest one! :)  What a special time of sharing in God's creation together with these dear ones.

All of us were riveted by the spectacular view, and you couldn't help but stare intently at it, trying to imagine how it came to look like this. The varied layers, the brilliant colors, the huge formations: it's an incredible feast for the eyes.

After three hikes in three days and precious time with these friends, I'm nourished in body and soul by this brilliant part of the world that God created.

And so thankful to get to do it with this wonderful man on Valentine's week-end!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

On this Valentine's

We are in the States for a few weeks right now, but our thoughts, especially on this Valentine's Day, are never far away from home.

The ministry of Josiah Venture, the mission God called us to twenty three years ago, beats in our hearts as we think of the people across Central and Eastern Europe that we know and love.

And especially for those who don't yet know Jesus.

The vision God placed on our hearts all those years ago was to see thousands of young "Josiah's" raised up to know and follow Jesus, making a difference in their country and for their generation.

Take a look here at our newest JV video that tells about who these young Josiah's are, and what we hope and pray for them!

King Josiah from Josiah Venture on Vimeo.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

On the Go

It's not often that I don't open my computer for a week, but this has been one of those weeks.

We flew into Phoenix on Sunday last week and have been on the go ever since.

JV winter board meeting brought us to Phoenix, but we've done a lot of other things along the way. Morning to night. Just been one of those weeks!

And now we're here. Any guesses where it is?

That's Dave and I, in the shadows, looking out at the landscape of Sedona, Arizona. My first time to see it. More on that later!