Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Little Surprises

After a visit with one of our Josiah Venture partners this morning, Dave and I made our way to the airport to start heading home.

We fly into Prague, take a train to Ostrava, pick up Dave's car at the train station, and drive home to Frydlant.

With all that luggage.

Never a dull moment with this wonderful man!

We found our terminal and sat there listening to a young woman exquisitely play her viola! I was so enchanted that I went over to tell her how beautiful it was. She told me she was on her way to an audition for a symphony!

I love little surprises like this when we're traveling.

Another surprise? Dave and I are not traveling home together.

Because Dave went back to Czech, and then returned for this past week-end of events, he and I are on different itineraries. So he left an hour earlier than me to fly back.

I was unexpectedly in Indianapolis for several hours longer than anticipated. We sat here on the runway for nearly two hours, waiting for a storm somewhere else to pass in order for us to be given permission for take-off.

Finally, we were given permission and I'm now in the air, writing this through the internet onboard. How is that even possible??!!

"See you" on the other side of the ocean!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Finishing up in the States

These past weeks in the States have been such rich and special ones.

But you know how you feel after something that is so extraordinary is done? A little let down.

That's how I feel today. There's that twinge of sadness that it's all "over".

Which of course we know is not true! Only the events are over...but the relationships and calling of God go on forever! It's at times like this, on a day like today, that I find myself looking forward to heaven, when we'll have all the time (well...will we even call it time since it will never end??) we want to be with the people that we love.

We said goodbye to Claire last night, as she headed back to Chicago to continue on her support raising journey. We'll see her again in just a few weeks when we return for JV board meeting. But it was honestly still sad to say goodbye to the very extraordinary time we just spent together.

For that reason, I was sure glad I had Dave with me today!

We treated ourselves to some special coffee downtown Indy at a place called "Coat Check". I'm telling you, those coffees are not your ordinary coffees!

A twist of orange peel oil through a flame, along with a bit of butterscotch flavoring in a latte? Yes please!

We picked up boxes of our books today that had been shipped to us in order to take them back across the ocean. Have I said how much I love Dave's packing ability??

And his playfulness?! Seriously, he can pack anything and make it fun!

We'll be on our way back home to Czech tomorrow, with extremely fond memories of how God met us and showed his love to us in such a myriad of ways!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Poignant Moments

On a beautiful Memorial Day in Indianapolis, these two - Jacob and Becca - said their "I do"s" and became husband and wife!

It was one of those precious, poignant moments that will forever be sealed in my memory, listening to this young man pledge his life to this beautiful woman.

Why? Because Jacob Hash is like family to us.

In our lives since the moment of his birth, we have loved him like a nephew. As soon as he and our son, Caleb, were old enough to understand friendship, they became friends, even.

If I had access to all my old photos, I could literally produce at least a thousand with Jacob in them! The memories of him in our lives are seemingly endless.

Today, the day of his wedding, this picture showed up in my Timehop photos. It was Caleb and Jacob two years ago, running JV's version of the Amazing Race as summer interns. Jacob wasn't dating Becca yet...but soon would!

And now here we are, gathered together with so many dear friends to celebrate he and Becca's wedding!

Minus our son Tyler, these are the seven friends who grew up together, vacationing each summer with our three families!

Before the wedding began we snapped a few photos to mark this significant occasion. Oh these dear friends! What joy to share life, ministry and children together with them!

The three moms of the seven vacation kids!

And how I rejoiced in seeing friends like Susan, who served on the Poland team for twenty years. She too is an honorary "aunt" to Jacob, and came all the way from California to be here for this day.

There were SO many hellos to say as friends and family gathered! The amount of love in this space and time was nearly overwhelming, and yet you couldn't get enough of it.

As Jacob welcomed all the guests, family and friends, it was again one of those most poignant moments when time stops and you enjoy the sweet occasion as if nothing else in the world is happening.

Watching my dearest friend, Laura, hug her son just before standing at the head of the aisle to wait for his bride was definitely tear-inducing!

Dan, Jacob's dad, led the ceremony, sharing rich words with the couple and leading them through their vows.

Becca's great-uncle...a man who loved his niece so much that during her last two years as a high schooler, took her to breakfast once a week...prayed over them as he has done for many years, with great delight.

And then, they were pronounced husband and wife and Jacob kissed his bride!

The moment in time was over, but never to be forgotten on this perfectly beautiful spring day.

Here's a crazy, wonderful part of Jacob and Becca's story.

This is Dave and our friend, Jerry, Becca's great uncle. These two met 15 years ago at a European Leadership Forum. A friendship began that opened the way for us to visit Jerry and his wife some years later and share about Josiah Venture with a group of people in their living room.

That led to a group of those people deciding to invest two weeks of their summer at an English camp in Poland. And guess who went on that trip? Yes, Becca! She would go to several camps over the next years, as well as serve as a summer intern for two summers, if I'm remembering correctly.

And that's how Jacob and Becca met!

So Dave and Jerry were feeling pretty proud of their part in the love story between those two!

The wedding brought people from all over the world, including these JV Poland teammates, many of whom were there when Jacob was just a little guy! It's been years and years since they've all been together in one place. What an incredibly gifted, wonderful group of people they are!

As I said earlier, Jacob and our Caleb have been best friends for their entire lives, so it was with great joy that Caleb accepted Jacob's request to be his best man. And so it was Caleb who gave the best man's speech and toast to the new bride and groom!

Again...another poignant moment of great joy to see that friendship having endured.

Fun fact: at Dan Hash's wedding to Laura twenty five years ago, Dave was his best man! Even more poignant that Caleb served Jacob in that same way today.

The wedding also brought many JV Kids that Jacob grew up with.

The two in front, Blake and Andrew, along with the girls around the table, were all part of each other's growing up years in Central and Eastern Europe.

I'm so thankful that Amy managed to get all of them together in one picture!

All too soon the incredibly special evening was nearly finished, as Jacob and Becca made their way to say their goodbyes.

I happened to be right by the door while everyone else lined the sidewalk to cheer for them. It's one of my sweetest memories of the evening...watching them in that moment, alone, husband and wife, ready to begin their lifetime together.

As they walked through the streamers and glow sticks, being cheered for and loved on by all those friends and family, I couldn't help but think about the life that is ahead of them that looks a little bit like this...

A great cloud of witnesses...both present and those who have gone before...people who stand in love, strength, encouragement and joy at cheering on two who have been joined together for God's Kingdom purposes. Jacob and Becca are embarking on a whole lifetime together to love each other and love God...and serve him out of that love.

I can hardly wait to see what will happen because God has joined these two together!

And off they go, into the life God has planned for them!!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Family in Indy

Whoever would've guessed we'd get to be in Indianapolis with these people today!

Caleb and Haley drove here from Colorado for the wedding that we're all celebrating tomorrow. But before that gets going, someone has a birthday to celebrate!

Our darling Haley, six months pregnant!

Oh how we love this precious woman. She adds so much to our family! What a special afternoon we had together, sharing our words of love for her on this day, her birthday.

Later in the afternoon, we headed over to a wedding rehearsal party for these two!

We have literally known Jacob Hash from the very first day that he was born. His parents, Dan and Laura, started Josiah Venture with us and we've been living life together ever since.

Tomorrow, Jacob will marry Becca, a delightful young woman he met on a team who came from Indianapolis for English camp in Poland a number of years ago. Isn't that just the best story?!

I didn't take many photos this evening as it was an unbelievable reunion of so many that we know and love, which made it hard to stop talking long enough to take a photo. At least I have one!

L-R: me, Amy Ellenwood, Jerri Kayll, Heidi Carlson, and the mama of the groom, Laura!

There were people there from Dave's childhood, from our Malachi days, and from 23 years of JV history! It was honestly just like what I imagine heaven will be someday, being reunited with all the people you've known and loved for so many years here on earth, but don't get to see nearly often enough. Awww...what a precious gift to have so many dear ones in our lives.

We came back late to the hotel, and stayed in the lobby talking with people for a while. And then Claire and I settled in to get a bit of work done.

Since we'd traveled from the Northwest, we were three hours off in our time. Thus, when it was only 10:30 PM in Portland, it was 1:30 AM here!

The blurriness of the photo is directly tied to how we were feeling!

With the replay of the Indianapolis 500 going on in the hotel lobby, and not another soul around, Claire and I laughed until we could laugh no more at the hilarity of staying up so late!

But after having spent two incredibly special weeks together on her support raising trip, it just seemed right to have one last evening with each other (while Dave, who was seriously jet lagging, slept!).

Honestly, I'll never forget that evening and I don't regret at all, staying up so late with my girl!

"Love you Claire! And so thankful for these past two weeks of living life together!"

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Airport Love

Claire and I had one last sweet meeting this morning.

At the Portland airport!

Shauna served with Josiah Venture in Slovenia, and now lives here in Portland. What better place for us traveling girls to meet up than at an airport?! Shauna not only served on our JV team, but also as one of the counselors at JV Kid's camp, so she and Claire both share that love of JV Kids! It was great to hear Claire share her vision for JVK, and for Shauna to affirm her in that.

All too soon it was time for Claire and I to head for our gate, which happened to have one last piece of the old PDX carpet. If you don't know what I'm talking about, go HERE and you'll understand!

Claire and I settled in for a long day of travel, through San Francisco and on our way to Indianapolis.

We were both sad to leave the beautiful Pacific Northwest!

After a nice, uneventful flight (I love those kinds), we landed in Indy...on the very week-end of the Indianapolis 500, though that's not why we're here.

Not only did we land, but we found someone else in the airport who had just landed.

Landing within five minutes of each other, we were happy to hug Dave who had just flown in from Prague.

We're back together here in Indianapolis to celebrate a very special wedding.

More on that to come!

Friday, May 26, 2017

There's Always a First Time

This morning found me here, at a most unexpected place.

Don't recognize it? That's okay! I'd never been here either.

My best friend of 38 years, has a radio program on KPDQ called "The Dad Whisperer". It's on air two times a week in the Portland area, on Mondays and Saturdays.

Her programs are geared towards dads, with specific steps they can take to build better connections between them and their daughters. You can listen to past podcasts HERE!

Today she was interviewing two dads from the Abba Project, something she leads for groups of courageous dads who are ready to commit to “kicking it up a notch” with their teenage and/or 20-something daughters over the course of a year in her life.

She is SUCH a good interviewer! It was a joy to be present today as she "did her thing" on radio!

But she didn't just interview the dads. She interviewed me too!

My topic? "How moms can support the dad-daughter connection". It was both incredibly exhilarating and terrifying to be interviewed (though thankfully it's not live; it will be aired in July).

In the end, I'm so glad I did it, and pray it will be helpful and useful to moms as they come alongside their husbands and daughters to help them have the best relationship possible.

"Thanks for having me on the show Michelle!"