Tuesday, July 31, 2018

On A Summer's Night

After being gone most of the day, I arrived back home with just a little bit of daylight left in the sky.

A certain little somebody was much in need of a walk after her boring day at home, and I was happy to oblige her on this warm, summer evening.

As I walked our regular route up to the little local airport, I felt like I was having a private showing at an art gallery!

The sunset was long, slow and so absolutely magnificent.

Can you see the lone star that was out, over the mountain? Maybe it's a planet, I don't know; but it was so pretty!

My only regret in walking was not having anyone to share this glorious evening view with!

Kaylee was happy to linger on the road, in no hurry herself to get back home. So we walked slowly back, catching a last glimpse of the sunset on this last day of July.

By the time we headed back towards home, it was almost dark but I still managed to capture a picture of our house, across the field.

Technically you could cut across which would be much quicker. But the field belongs to our neighbor so I never do that.

Instead I enjoyed a few minutes more of walking back in the quiet of the evening, enjoying that glorious feeling of being out at twilight on a summer's night!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Psalms in the Summer

Our church here in Frydlant has two traditions in the summer.

One is to meet at a different location for a few months.

If you're a regular reader you know this is Malenovice!)

And second is to preach through Psalms. Since there are 150, it will take us many summers to make it through them all!

If the weather is nice, like it was today, we meet down at our amphitheater, by the cabins, for worship; people are free to choose benches, the grass, or shade to enjoy the service from!

With a teaching team of our pastor and elders, it's always someone different preaching each week. And today it was Dave's pleasure and privilege to preach!

He walked us through one of his favorites, Psalm 40. One of my favorites too (I memorized it years ago when I lived in Spain!), it especially resonated with me in regards to waiting patiently for the Lord. There are a number of things we are waiting on right now. If we looked at them through our human lens, we would say nothing is happening.

But that's not true!

Dave talked about how the word "wait" in the first verse of Psalm 40 is actually "Wait, wait" in Hebrew. The first wait has to do with desire for something and the second on endurance for it. We don't have to be passive in the waiting process; and God FOR SURE is not passive!

No matter what the situation looks like, we know from God's word that if we're crying out to him, he's at work. There is always something happening while we're waiting!

It was encouraging to hear a testimony at the end of the service, about our youth group's English camp two weeks ago.

Our youth group has been doing camps for over 15 years, and Honza said this one was the best one yet! Spiritual interest was great and they're having good follow-ups every Friday with the students.

I remember the days when we had no high school students at all in our church! How many times we prayed, and waited, for youth to come. God was at work all that time; he called Honza to himself years ago and now he's the one leading camp!

We never know what God is doing while we're waiting; but if there is one thing I've learned through the years it is to trust him that he IS doing something, even when it looks like nothing is happening!

Dave's sermon from Psalm 40 was a good reminder of that today.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Gotcha Day

This photo popped up on my Timehop phone app today from seven years ago (add 5 + 2 years and you get 7!)

On this day seven years ago, our sweet little dog, Kaylee came into our lives.

A few weeks earlier in July 2011, we'd lost our first dog, Lily, to cancer. Our hearts were broken and we all grieved her loss.

But then, unexpectedly, a new puppy came into our home and hearts much sooner than we could ever have imagined. And she has happily been loved and treasured by us all ever since.

She is the sweetest little dog, giving herself kindly and generously to almost everyone she meets. Even a little boy who randomly sits down beside her when we're traveling.

She has a huge capacity to love and be loved, and is THE most flexible and adaptable dog who will go anywhere, as long as she can be with us!

She's amazing with children.

And adored by our grandsons!

We can't imagine our lives without this sweet little girl who brings a smile to our faces each and every day.

And her happiest spot? Right up next to me as I sit with my computer!

Happy "Gotcha" Day to our dear Kaylee girl!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Family Connections

This afternoon I hopped in my car and drove the half hour into Ostrava so I could then jump on a bus with these dear ones.

We were headed to the Ostrava zoo!

I haven't seen my sweet ones for two weeks so was more than happy to be giving lots of love and kisses to them today as we wandered one of the best spots in the city to hang out with kids.

I hung out here with our kids "way back in the day", when the zoo wasn't as snazzy as it is today. How surreal to now be here for the first time with my grandsons!!

The flamingos are still at the front of the zoo like they were back in 1994 when we first visited after moving here.

I can guarantee that I didn't have one thought in my mind back then that I'd be back here one day with grandkids; but oh how glad I am that the Lord saw that one coming!

They have made so many improvements here through the years, though still making it a very "hands on" zoo (as much as you can with animals!). I love that you can still go into the goat pen and feed them a handful of the 5 Kc (25 cents) goat food!

I don't recall if this guy was here 24 years ago, but he has the look of an old man who kindly lets any and all little ones come close to him.

Of course since big brother came close, little brother (who is even more fearless!) had to come check him out too.

You might have noticed that there was someone else in the first photo taken on the bus. Her name is October and I've known her since she was a baby!

In fact, I've known her mom since she was in grade school; and her aunt was the flower girl in our wedding 31 years ago! Her grandparents were our closest friends when we served in youth ministry on the military base in Karlsruhe right after we were married. We've stayed connected to them and their children all of these years since then.

And now, October has come from the States to serve Tyler and Lara for a couple of weeks while Lara did intense language learning. What an awesome full circle!

It was delightful for me to be with everyone today, enjoying the animals at the zoo, but mostly the people! :)

I do have to say that being this "up close and personal" with the animals is one of the things I love most about this zoo. Almost all the enclosures are "barred" rather than glassed (except for the lion and the bears!) so you feel like you're able to "know" the animals more. Today I was particularly fascinated by the giraffes, and maybe have decided they are my favorite animal!

See what I mean about being up close and personal?!

Asher napped while Judah was awake, and then Judah fell asleep just as Asher woke up. That worked out perfect as it gave us focused time with each of the boys along the way. Loved seeing their different personalities come out!

The black bear enclosure is a new one, and one that I'd never seen.

They've done a fantastic job with it, making it much more realistic and pleasant for the bears. We enjoyed hanging out there for a bit!

The one thing about the Ostrava zoo is that it's all downhill to the end...and then all uphill back to the entrance! So it was a good hike, with my fitness counter on my phone saying we logged 5 miles today!

It really could not have been a more pleasant five miles with this bunch!

With Judah still asleep, we got back on the bus and headed to downtown Ostrava, where we'd started from.

It was pure delight spending the day with not only family, but with dear October, who's been such a help to Tyler and Lara these past two weeks!

I love that the body of Christ reaches far and wide, so much so that October would come all the way to Ostrava to serve my family.

I love that her family (including her grandparents!) and ours are still connected after all these years.

I love that we're all part of God's family together!

Thanks for a wonderful day together dear ones!

Monday, July 23, 2018

Stormy Weather

As we were going to bed on Hvar last night Dave said to me, "There are supposed to be thundershowers tomorrow morning...I'm not sure we'll be able to leave."

This is because our mode of transportation back to the mainland this time is by our little boat! And you probably know that you don't want to be out on the sea in a lightening storm. So we went to bed not knowing what would happen the next morning.

But when we woke up and checked the weather information, it looked like the thunderstorm wouldn't happen until 11, so we worked as fast as we could to gather our things to take down to the dock.

Since we have no car (this past week we'd been using the rental van that our friends brought over, but since they left two days ago, haven't had a car), we asked our friend in the village if we could borrow his jeep to take our things down to the boat. He's on the mainland right now, but said yes...with the caveat that the jeep is finicky and doesn't always run well.

We loaded everything in and hoped for the best!

Since there was no room in the jeep for Claire and I, we took Kaylee and made the 15 minute hike down the hill to the marina.

The skies were looking better by now, with a bit of sunshine peeking through. That was reassuring as I sure didn't want us to be out on the sea in a storm!

At 7 AM it was quieter than we expected at the marina, and no boats were going out, except one little "putt putt" fishing boat. All the sailboats were still moored, though that could have just been that they didn't want to get up early and sail!

Dave had unloaded everything by himself by the time we got down, and said as he passed by "The jeep has already died four times coming down the hill...pray I make it back up!" And away he went.

Claire and I moved everything to the pier and then waited for Dave to come back.

All the while, Kaylee is as "chill" as can be, having no idea what's going on!

Once Dave returned (he did make it back up the hill!) we loaded in everything as quickly as possible, hoping that we were beating the storm, and said goodbye to our little village and marina as we set off in the boat.

A ray of sunshine burst through as we began our journey back to the mainland, and I sighed in relief.

But that relief was short-lived. By the time we got to Hvar Town to put gas in the boat, it had started raining.

Thankfully I'd put a raincoat in my bag, so slipped it on as we headed back out to the sea.

The temperature dropped significantly, and while it looks calm in the picture, it actually wasn't.

Rain fell steadily as we bumped along, with dark clouds on one side of the boat, and tiny rays of sunshine on the other.

By the time we could see Split, the sky looked dark and menacing.

And had the feel of lightening coming at any moment as we motored on in rain.

And all the while, Kaylee laid calmly in my lap, without a care in the world!

Getting our feet back on land was a huge relief, and we pulled the boat out of the water quickly thanks to marina guys who happened to be at the lift right when we arrived (this never happens).

Except for heavy traffic on the roads and at the border, we had a blessedly uneventful trip back!

Our regular pitstop at McDonalds for dinner on the outskirts of Vienna refueled us for the rest of the way home.

And we were all glad to arrive safely at home just past midnight, after our long day of travels!

It's always good to be back at home!