Sunday, April 30, 2017

What No One Else Sees

I've been meaning to write this post for quite a while.

And I wished I'd taken pictures all along the way in order to remember. But perhaps this one taken today will be enough illustration of what I want to say.

See those feet poking out through the glass doors from our kitchen into our living room? Those are Dave's feet, propped up with his computer in his lap.

If I've seen this scene once, I've seen it a thousand times, maybe more.

He's not checking Facebook, reading the news, or working on his to do list.

He's finishing his preparation for teaching at JV Spring Conference this next week. He has spent hours and hours and hours in this very spot, studying God's Word in preparation for the seven talks he'll give on what he's learned from Psalm 23.

And today he's doing it while not feeling well. He went to bed with a fever last night, and still has it. He slept 12 hours through the night, and another three today. But now he's back in his spot, persevering and preparing.

Will you pray for him? JV Council starts tomorrow with dinner so he'll need to be finished with all the last details of his teaching by then. He's sacrificially given up time recently for the sake of others, when he'd planned to finish this preparation. So now here he is, not feeling well but being diligently obedient to the calling of God on his life.

I love and admire him so much!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

When it's Noticeable

Almost two weeks ago it began to rain here in Czech.

And rain. And rain. And rain.

I don't have a quick place to go check the facts to find out just how much it has rained. But I know it's been much more than usual.

That's why yesterday while in my kitchen, I noticed THIS.

Yes, sunshine. When you haven't seen it in quite a while, you NOTICE!!!!

I honestly just stood there gazing at it for at least five minutes, shining in and catching that little glass bird so perfectly.

We're all feeling the fact of having been cooped up inside for far too long. Here's to hoping we'll get to "fly and be free" soon!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Where in the World is Dave?

Through the years I've written posts with this same title: Where in the World is Dave?

But for the life of me, I can only come up with two of those posts from the past! HERE and HERE. The search button on my blog isn't quite up to par since it's not pulling those posts! Oh well. On with the latest edition of where Dave has been!

While this could be mistaken for Croatia, it's actually Albania. And that's where Dave's been the past three days, visiting our Albanian friend, Juljan.

He first met Juljan last year at the European Leadership Forum, and was immediately drawn to his vibrant faith and commitment to do whatever it takes to reach students in his town for Christ. He's got an amazing testimony of how he came to know the Lord, and of what God's been calling him to over the past years.

Juljan joined us on our JV trip to Israel in March this year, and after conversations there, Dave made arrangements to visit him and see what's going on at his church where he leads the youth.

In his town of 250,000, there are 2 1/2 churches (not sure why the half!), and in his church he runs three different youth groups, with about 110 students involved.

Dave loved the vibrancy of the young people, and Juljan and his wife's care for them. After the youth meeting, ten students came over for dinner and didn't leave until midnight!

We're looking forward to seeing how we can partner with and be of help to fanning into flame God's movement in this area.

On Dave's drive down and back from Tirana, the capitol, he noticed a lot of sheep. Since he's spent months in study and preparation for teaching out of Psalm 23 at this year's JV spring conference, sheep and shepherds catch his eye more than usual.

Do you notice anything unusual about these sheep and their shepherd?

They're grazing in town, in front of the local mall! And as you can see, one of the sheep apparently doesn't know the danger of cars on the highway!

So the shepherd "left the 99 and went after the 1" (Luke 15:4) ...a principal very near to our hearts in this part of the world, though in our case it's flipped around.

Since there are so few Christians, we say there is just one sheep in the fold so the Shepherd must go after the 99.

How kind of the Lord to illustrate this in yet another way while Dave was in Albania!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Velvet Ashes

Until about four weeks ago, I'd never heard of Velvet Ashes.

It's an online community for women doing life around the globe. Its name is derived from a tree of the same name, and has a fascinating story about how it connects to women like me.

Through a post I happened to see on Facebook, I clicked into their website and found it to be an absolute hidden gem with a winsome, humble, godly spirit, full of helpful stories, tips, information and resources.

And they were advertising an online retreat.

Having absolutely no idea what to expect, I signed up, put it on my calendar and set aside a personal day at home to participate, curious what it would be like.

Little did I know what a special impact it would have on me today.

This morning I woke up with a sense of anticipation, having never done anything like this before (I'm usually the one planning these kinds of things!), but excited for someone to lead me in receiving what the Lord wanted to give today.

While the retreat is going on for three days (you can still sign up if you have time!), today was my day to spend eight hours with the Lord through this guided online retreat experience.

It was everything from a speaker, to extended time in the Word, to prayer, to testimonies, to creative activities and even to a wonderful session of Pilates!

And I can't remember the last time I used CRAYONS for an activity! Glad Claire's were still in her room!

It was deeply personal, spiritually enriching, creatively fun, and obviously bathed in much prayer if my experience was anything like anyone else's! WOW. It was just so nourishing to my heart and soul.

I read on their website that last year's retreat saw women from over 90 countries participate. I hope they had/have women representing even more countries from all over the world this year. It was so worth turning everything off today, focusing on the Lord, and being intentionally led in time with him.

I'm already looking forward to next year's retreat!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Most Refreshing Hour

As I sit at my computer today here in the Czech Republic, I know that right now someone is praying for our Josiah Venture team.

And this happens every day, 24 hours a day!

In case you missed it, Josiah Venture is in the middle of something really special this year.

On January 1st, we began a 24/7 online Prayer Room, where people can sign up for an hour of prayer for the needs of our staff and the young people that we're reaching with the Gospel here in Central and Eastern Europe.

When a week looks like this on the calendar, we pray that people will come to pray.

And they do!

We have had over 3400 hours of prayer, and are averaging 29 hours a day.

And from our built-in stats collector, we know that over 70,000 specific prayer requests have been prayed for!! That's a lot of prayer going up to the Lord on behalf of young people in this part of the world.

If you haven't already joined us, would you consider taking an hour of your day to spend with the Lord, and in prayer for our JV family? Based on what others are saying, it could be the most refreshing hour of your week!

To sign up for an hour, go HERE to log in and find an hour that works for you to join us in prayer.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

God on the Move

This past week-end our JV team lead three large evangelistic outreach events in three different countries: Ukraine, Slovenia and the Czech Republic.

Ukraine finished up another week of EXIT Tour in Lviv, seeing hundreds of students come to the final concert, and several putting their faith in Jesus that night.

Thanks Christy O for the photo!

Slovenia put on their first Fusion festival for choirs around the country this week-end too, seeing 99 students come, which is huge in a country with so few Christians!

Kristy P, did I get this off your FB page? If I did, thank you! :)

And here in Czech, at the same time, a Fusion Day was held for all the choirs on this side of the country, in Moravia and Silesia.

Dave and I popped in to see our staff, give words of encouragement, hug people, and cheer on the choirs who performed.

I haven't heard the final report about it, but know that there were 269 signed up to be there!

God is on the move. And we continue to pray for mountains to move, walls to fall, and live to change.

Honestly, it just keeps getting more and more exciting here as we see God on the move!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Ten Years of 'Catch It'

Ten years ago, a retreat began at BMA, one of the high schools here in Frýdlant, our home town.

Our oldest son and a friend had been at a conference earlier in the school year, and were challenged to make a difference for Christ in their school. That challenge blossomed into "Catch It".

"Catch It" is a student led retreat, with peers reaching peers through sharing their own faith. They plan for and provide an environment for their friends to ask questions, discuss spiritual topics, see faith in action, as well as just have a lot of fun together!

Each year they ask a speaker to come in and share on a topic that the student leaders have prayed about. This year, they asked Dave and I to come and talk about what's beneath the surface in all of our lives, the hidden things that no one sees.

The event was held at Malenovice, with 50 students from BMA. That's almost half the school population! This is really a testimony to these kids who want to share Christ with their friends.

On Saturday morning, after Dave spoke to the group, he took the guys to another cabin to have time with them, and I stayed with the girls. Aren't they a beautiful group?!

I got to share my story of coming to Christ, and then answered their questions for an hour.

The next section of the day was just fun!

Everyone was involved in some kind of, art.

Drama, in preparation for the talent show later on in the evening!

An incredibly talented group of singers, preparing a few songs for the talent show as well.

And then...there was the sport's group.

Given that the weather was a little less than ideal, to say the least (we'd had a snowstorm earlier in the week), they didn't get to have their annual baseball game, so stayed in shape by playing a game where you had to drop and do pushups if you said a certain word! So clever!

Despite the cold, damp, icy weather outside, the attitudes of these kids was really something special!

Not a word of complaint, and in fact, perhaps an even sweeter atmosphere since they were all collected together much of the time in the big cabin at Malenovice.

This dear one was a graduate of BMA several years ago, and has been working for them ever since in administration, creating family among the BMA students, and providing spiritual oversight for the many girls in the school.

Terka is a dear friend of our daughter's, and goes to our church, so I get the joy of seeing her often. But it was really special to join her here this week-end in reaching out to the students with the love of Jesus.

We know of at least two students who put their faith in Christ during the week-end! Our prayer had been that there would be some who would hear the Shepherd's voice calling to his sheep, and he answered that prayer!

Over the past ten years, we know that many decisions for Christ by BMA students have come as a result of their time at the Catch It retreats. So we continue to pray that God will work in their hearts, and that they will respond to the call of the Shepherd who loves them and wants to lead them.

What a privilege to have been part of this very special week-end.

Friday, April 21, 2017

KAM's 20th Anniversary

It may have been snowy and cold up at Malenovice, our training center here in the Czech Republic...

But the atmosphere inside was nothing but warm, cheerful and inviting!

What was the occasion for this gathering??

The 20th anniversary of KAM, our Czech JV organization! (an acronym for "Křesťanská akademie mladých", or in English, "Christian Academy of Youth").

I remember the celebration at our home in Havířov, twenty years ago with just a handful of people, when the organization was formally started. We'd already been living and doing ministry in Czech for four years at that time, but that April 1997 saw the beginning of KAM as an organization.

Today, there are nearly 70 full time workers in KAM, all serving young people here in the Czech Republic.

The evening was full of stories and reports about what God is doing through them across the country.

As well as hearing the five priorities of KAM from our current director, as the team continues to work towards bringing the Gospel to young people: Building more partnerships with churches, providing personal mentoring to youth leaders, training in core values, bringing young people into the church, and greater spiritual faith for the building of God's church here.

We rejoiced in the resources that God continues to be so generous at providing.

And we heard personal testimonies from young leaders who are continuing the vision that KAM established twenty years ago.

Dave shared the story of JV's beginnings, and of our early days in Czech as we prayed for and worked towards a movement of God among youth in this country.

The picture is Dave and Caleb, on our first day in country, November 1993! 

We worshipped under the leadership of Cory, who leads Divine Attraction, the band that tours with the EXIT ministry here in Czech.

And we laughed and celebrated over many things, including awards that were given during the evening together.

My heart was utterly full of praises to the Lord for what he has established in this country.

We came all those years ago with hopes, dreams and prayers, believing that God had led us here to be part of what he wanted to do among the youth.

Being at this celebration confirmed that he indeed had a plan! What amazing things he's already done. And he is STILL at work here to accomplish his will of drawing young people to himself.

We pray that KAM's work will continue to thrive and grow for many, many more years!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Blessing times Three

Our Caleb and Haley are coming up on their three year wedding anniversary next month.

It's been so beautiful these past three years, watching them grow in their love for each other, in their walks with God, and in living out their faith in Fort Collins where they serve the Lord in many capacities in their local church and in their jobs.

But do you know what is coming their way soon???

Yes, it's true!! They are expecting at the end of August!

And they know it's a BOY!!!!

That means by the end of August we will have not just one grandson, but THREE!!! Tyler and Lara are also expecting a boy in June.

Our joy is more than we can recount!! How grateful we are to the Lord for the blessing of our grandson,  Judah, and now for the other two precious bundles headed our way!!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Remembering Sunshine

We are back home after spending a really lovely Easter on Hvar in Croatia.

Quite a contrast from what we woke up to today.

Yes, it started snowing last night as I was on my way home from an event at Malenovice. Wearing boots, coat, and scarf last night, I trudged through snow to my car. My mind didn't want to believe that it was really snowing!

Last week Kaylee was loving our walks on dry paths.

But today's venture outside was a tad bit different. OH MY!

Down south, the vineyards are coming alive.

While here at home, well, you get the gist of it!

Because I've been having problems with my computer, I didn't get to blog while we were there and record the beauty at this time of year down south.

One morning I went out early for a walk with Kaylee and just soaked in springtime.

She and I walked through empty streets of the village that morning, listening to only the sounds of the roosters crowing!

Later in the afternoon, Dave and I took a walk down to the edge of the harbor - a favorite spot for many years!

It's always reminiscent of years gone by when our family camped nearby, and brought the kids here to jump off the wall into the deep, clear blue water.

But that day, it was quiet, except for birds chirping, and the sound of the waves lapping at the edge of the pier.

With snow, gray, cold and ice outside here at home, it's nice to have these photos to remember that spring will soon be on its way, just like it already is in Croatia!

I think the sudden change in weather affected me as I've spent the entire day in bed with flu-like symptoms. I'll be glad when those go away.

But until then, I'll remember the warmth of sunshine, yet enjoy the feeling of being snuggled under the covers here at home, trying to stay warm and get well.