Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Prayers for the Summer

Even when I'm here, in the suburbs of Chicago, I'm thinking of and praying for our Josiah Venture team across the ocean.

Within ten days, the season of camps will be in motion for our 24th summer!

This means...125 camps, with 6000 students, over 1000 short term workers, 105 interns, and many of our staff...too many to count!...on deck for spending a week sharing their lives and the Gospel at camp.

It's our most intense season of the year, and typically our most fruitful for the Kingdom of God.

Pray for a great harvest this summer of young people who will go from darkness to light. Pray they will become serious followers of Jesus, disciples who will make disciples.

Pray for our team, for physical and spiritual strength as they pour our their lives for the sake of the Gospel.

And join us in the JV Prayer Room HERE! If you're able, consider taking an hour once a week this summer, to bring all of these people before God in prayer. Stand with us in prayer for God's power to sweep across Central and Eastern Europe this summer!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Living Normal Life

The last time Claire and I lived normal life together (by that I mean seeing each other every day) was when she lived at home with us in Czech.

But of course for the past four years she's been in Chicago going to college at Moody Bible Institute, and working during the summers. So our "normal life" became seeing each other when we came to the States for various meetings and events, or during Christmases when she came home.

Now for this season of life, post graduation, her "normal" is living in the suburbs of Chicago while raising support to serve with Josiah Venture. And because I'm here with Dave for some of those meetings and events that we regularly come for, I'm getting a taste of that "normal life" with her!

In between both of our schedules, we've had the joy of meeting up every day, even if it's just been for an hour!

We've been to her favorite coffee spot, I took her to my favorite breakfast place, she's made me dinner, and I helped her move (our church family here is caring for her by providing new homes to live in every two months). And we've talked!

One of these days she'll be on the other side of the ocean with us, serving in ministry with us to the JV Kids. That will be very special and a new normal.

But for right now, it's meaningful to share this "normal"!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Our Growing Family

Oh how purely delighted I am to share these photos that recently came my way ... of our growing family!

Haley just entered her third trimester with their precious baby, due at the end of August in Colorado where she and Caleb live.

All babies are miracles, there is no doubt about that. But this one especially falls into that category since a year and a half ago they miscarried their first baby. While I didn't write about it on my blog at the time, Caleb and Haley have not shied away from talking about how God met and cared for them during their time of grieving, a loss we all grieved.

In God's perfect timing and sovereignty, he blessed them with this child almost an exact year after they lost their first precious one. They've been filled with love and praise for the Lord with that news, just as they were in their loss despite how painful that was.

I admire them so much for how they walked through that time of loss, as well as how they're embracing this time of new life.

And here they are now, just a little less than ten weeks away from birthing this much beloved little one, their SON!

You can imagine how much we all are looking forward to meeting this little fellow!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father's Day with our Girl

I am pretty sure the last time Claire spent Father's Day with her dad was four years ago, before she left home for college in the US. So today is special!

After being at Grace Church of DuPage this morning (with Dave preaching on "How to Pray for your missionary", which is already on line HERE!), we headed to Naperville for lunch to celebrate Father's Day.

Truth be told, if these two could have chosen something to do today it would've been a hike. But a walk along the river after lunch had to suffice!

In all the time we've been in and out of this area (even having lived here twenty five years ago), we've never been down to the river or to the park which has this well-known landmark.

The Millennium Carillon tower actually houses a very special set of bells (72 to be exact) that span a six octave range. This is the fourth largest carillon in North American, and one of only 600 in the whole world. A very cool feature to this amazing park!

Standing at the base of the tower!

We watched boats and canoes in the little lake and river nearby, filled with dads and their kids, all celebrating Father's Day, as we were!

How thankful I am for this wonderful man who loves his kids (and grandkids!) with a deep passion, and continually invests in them with all his heart, soul and mind. He's always got them in this thoughts and prayers, and they (and me!) are his greatest treasure!

So glad to celebrate him today in Naperville!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Time-Honored Tradition

What better way to get Father's Day week-end started than heading to an Auto Parts store?

But the greater significance of this is that it's the first time Dave has ever gotten to help his girl take care of her car.

Since our kids grew up in Czech, and didn't have their own cars there, Dave has never had that time-honored tradition of helping his kids out with car issues. But now that Claire has her own car here in the US as she's support raising, he got to step in and help her out today.

And teach her a few things, like how to check the oil!

And how to change her own air filter. This is one of his favorite ways to teach...not doing it for her, but guiding her in how to do it!

I don't know why, but this was one of my favorite moments of Dave helping Claire.

Checking out a small leak together
They were back and forth into the auto store, getting the necessary supplies, with dad completing another time honored tradition: paying for his daughter's car parts. 😊

And Claire completed her part of the deal, not only doing the work alongside her dad, but getting the time-honored smudge of dirt as well!

All tasks were completed successfully! Proud of these two for a job well done.

And one more time-honored tradition before moving on with our day!!

Your dad loves you so much Claire, even filling up your gas tank!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Smooth Travels

From the Krakow airport at 5 AM....

To dinner with Claire in the Chicago-area at 6 PM...

To bed at 8 PM! Been a long, but thankfully smooth traveling day. Thankful to be here!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Heading Out Again

Lysá hora, the mountain my blog is named after!

It's the tall peak in the middle, with what looks like a tiny dot on top. In reality, that's a HUGE communications tower! But from a distance, the size is sure not evident as the whole range sits there looking so majestic against the blue sky and white clouds.

June can be one of the prettiest times of year, making late afternoon walks purely delightful in our neighborhood.

I took our little doggie for one last walk before taking her to our friend and "Kaylee sitter". We're leaving today for Krakow where we'll spend the night and leave on a 6 AM flight tomorrow morning for Chicago.

Someone asked me yesterday how I feel about leaving again so soon (since we only returned from there less than two weeks ago). And you know what? God's worked such a miracle of time these past 12 days, stretching it out to feel more like a month, maybe even two. I don't know how he does that. But I'm thankful. It's been so wonderful to be home for a few days.

Today I wrote a prayer request for the Prayer Room (have you been in there?? If you haven't, please try it out HERE!) so that people can be praying for us. Will you pray too?

Dave and I leave Czech on June 16th, to head to the States for two weeks. Dave has a JV executive leadership retreat and a JV board meeting next week, as well as preaching at our sending church in the Chicago area. We'll also be visiting some foundations and supporters to share updates on what God is doing through their investments. And last, we'll be visiting our son, daughter-in-law and grandson in Chattanooga to meet Asher, our newest grandson born on June 12th!

Pray we'll stay under the leading of our good Shepherd, and be attentive to all the assignments he has along the way for us of bringing joy, hope, love and peace to all we encounter. Thank you for lifting us up to the Lord!

Looking forward to all the Lord has for us in the coming weeks, including seeing these two little fellows!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

In Honor of Asher

Years ago, when our daughter was born in Germany, my mom, who lived in Vancouver, Washington, bought flowers, made a special meal, and took a picture to show me how she and my dad were celebrating Claire's birth.

It meant so much to me that I've held on to that idea and thought, "If I'm ever not at the birth of one of my grandkids, I'll do the same."

And so I did last night!

Given that orange was the only color other than pink at the store, that's the flowers I bought to celebrate our newest grandson, Asher David, who was born just two days ago, on June 12th in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The morning after his birth, I read in Genesis the blessing that Jacob gave over his twelve sons, with Asher being one of them.

"Asher's food shall be rich, and he shall yield royal delicacies." Genesis 49:20

So to honor that blessing over the namesake of our new grandson, we had a wonderful meal together, talked about our precious new little Asher, whose name in Hebrew means, "happy, blessed", and prayed that his life would indeed be that!

Can't wait to meet him, and see his mama, daddy and brother in two weeks!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Gift of Life

Waking up to these photos today was THE BEST!!!!!

Taken just five minutes after Asher David's birth!

This little man made his entrance pretty fast last night; weighing in at 6 pounds, 13 ounces, Lara's literal labor of love brought him into the world with just five minutes of pushing. WOW. Amazing how God made women for such a task. SO proud of Lara for being such a champion mama!!

They say Asher is a cuddler and snuggler, and pretty peaceful so far, even letting them get a few hours of sleep last night. You take every bit of those blessed hours when you have a newborn!

This morning, Lara's mom and dad brought Judah, "No. 1 BIG BROTHER", to meet his little brother.

At almost exactly 19 months, Judah will never remember when Asher wasn't in his life. That's a sweet thought! I had a good time of prayer this morning, praying over those brothers, that God will establish a deep bond of love and friendship between them that will last all of their lives.

They definitely look like brothers don't they?

Asher on the left; Judah on the right!

The four of them had a little family time at the hospital this afternoon as Judah checked out this new person called "brother". He actually called him "baby" and noted that he was wearing a "hat"! Oh just think of all the new words Judah will learn having this little guy around!

What fun these two are going to have growing up together.

Tyler, Lara and Asher will be going home from the hospital tomorrow, to Lara's parents where they've been living during this season of support raising to serve with Josiah Venture in the Czech Republic. What a huge gift it's been to be there with her parents, especially now as they get to share this special event of Asher's birth!

We'll visit in two weeks, and get to meet Asher and see Tyler, Lara and Judah soon. But for now, I'm just so happy to see pictures and know that all is well.

"Thank you Lord for the gift of life!!"

Monday, June 12, 2017

Welcome Asher!!!

We are all smiles today, full of delight and joy!! Why???

Asher David Patty, son of Tyler and Lara, made his appearance this evening, June 12th, at 9:29 PM, Chattanooga time!

After three hours of intense and sacrificial labor by Lara, he arrived safely into his family, joining his mom, dad and big brother, Judah!

I was out to dinner with my long-time friends, Amy and Laura, when we got the news that he was on his way. What a sweet moment to share with them as we prayed for his imminent birth.

Though I'm not there to see him (I will be soon!), I'm already in love with that dear little boy. What a gift he is to Tyler and Lara, and what a blessed addition he is to our whole family!

"We love you so much Asher David!!! Nonnie will hug, kiss and cuddle you in a few weeks!!"

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Best Kind of Sunday

Just one picture from today that represents our heart and calling here in the Czech Republic.

We sat in this spot today for eight hours, meeting with two different couples for two different reasons.

Both couples love Jesus, are open to his leading, have teachable hearts, and want to grow in every aspect of their walks with God.

And we got to be part of their journey today.

What joy to open God's word together, to dig in and find out what he has to say, to pray, listen, and act in obedience...and experience such sweet fellowship together.

It was the best way to spend a Sunday...and the best way to spend our lives!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Wedding Today: Spencer and Terka

With dark clouds threatening rain, I arrived in Valašské Meziříčí (yes, it's as difficult to pronounce as it looks!) this afternoon for a wedding.

Though we've had beautiful weather and warm temperatures every day this past week, the forecast has called for rain on Saturday...and it was supposed to be a lot.

But in God's kindness, the clouds began to part as the outdoor wedding began.

And the gorgeous bride, our friend Terka, walked on her dad's arm, towards her groom with sunshine beginning to peak through.

What a radiant bride this dear one was!

I gulped back emotion watching her dad reach out to her mom as they passed by.

As is often tradition here, the bride and groom took their seats as the ceremony began.

Terka was once a student at BMA, the Christian high school here in Frydlant that our kids also went to. For the past two years she has worked there, giving of her time and self to discipling students and helping to create and care for the family atmosphere that BMA works so hard at.

I loved that she asked this group of BMA girls to lead in worship at her wedding!

Paul Till, a teacher at BMA for the past 12 years, gave a fabulous message to Terka and Spencer, her groom.

Martina, Terka's dear friend and fellow BMA student, served as her maid of honor, praying over them, as did Spencer's brother, the best man. It was such a sweet moment listening to their heartfelt prayers.

Spencer, a missionary kid (now obviously grown up!) from Czech, gave his vows to Terka in English, and she gave hers to him in Czech.

And then, in that wonderfully timeless moment, they were pronounced man and wife, and kissed each other for the first time as a married couple!

They will be heading to the States in a month, for Spencer to finish up his schooling in Minnesota at University of Northwestern.

After that, they're praying about what God would have them do in the future.

Whatever it is that God leads them to, I know he'll use them powerfully! They both love the Lord, come from families that love the Lord, and have on their hearts the desire to serve the Lord in whatever way He leads them.

What a joy to celebrate today the union of Spencer and Terka Steele!

PC: Jonathan Lobel