Monday, December 31, 2018

Ringing in the New Year

And just like that, I'm back home again after my quickest trip to the States ever!

I went home to gather things and then headed up to Selah, the JV retreat house, for our annual New Year's celebration!

Every year it's some combination of Ellenwood's, Hash's and Patty's who come for a special evening together.

This year we had two generations of Hash's, and three generation of Patty's here to celebrate!

It was so sweet to see Asher and Judah after having spent six days in a row with them. I'd missed their sweet smiles and humor!

Judah is doing his impression of cousin Charlie's look when you say "Smile!"

Tyler's gift from Dave arrived by mail this afternoon, all the way from China!

If you know Tyler, you know his expertise about all things to do with coffee! Dave decided to give him a coffee bean roaster so that he could use that expertise to dial in a perfect roast. Tonight was his first try!

It's been many years since either Jacob Hash or Tyler has been here at Selah for our New Year's celebration. So fun to have both of them on the JV team, thus making it possible for them to be here tonight.

It was such a sweet evening of friendship for us all.

After putting the kids to bed, we gathered for a few rounds of "Code Names", the game developed by a Czech man! If you haven't played it, you need's a great game!

Fireworks started happening across the valley well before midnight, but the real show started at 12:00 to ring in the New Year!

It's not a coordinated show, like it might be in the US on a 4th of July celebration. Rather, it's just normal people shooting off gigantic fireworks for everyone to see and enjoy!

If I had to guess, I say there are around a thousand different fireworks going off over the space of a half hour after midnight, making it truly one of the most spectacular shows to witness. And seeing it from halfway up the mountain, with a view of the whole valley is particularly special!

So glad we got to spend this evening with these fun people!

I have lots of anticipation about this coming year! There is much we're praying for in terms of the ministry of JV, lives of young people being impacted, and needs that only God can fulfill. I can't wait to see what happens!

One Million

While I was somewhere over the ocean, between the US and Europe, a significant event occurred here at Living By Lysa.

On this last day of 2018 ... the millionth (is that a word?!) viewing of my blog took place!

When I started it in 2006 I didn't have a plan for how I wanted to utilize it. In fact, for the first five years, I only posted a few times every month!

It was in 2011 that I took some time to pray and think about it, making the decision to blog more often in a journalistic style, capturing our life and ministry here in the Czech Republic. Contrary to what I thought (that I would run out of things to write about!), I not only kept going, but blogged more and more often, with this year being my strongest year.

Recording the joys and difficulties, peaks and valleys, happy and sad times of life and ministry has been so cathartic over the years. It helps me to process what we're experiencing by taking time to write about it.

While there is a lot that I can't write about (maintaining good boundaries of privacy about those we minister to and with), I know that if I write something I will remember how beautiful or tough times were, and how God saw us through them. Most of all with this blog, I want to recognize God's touch in every aspect of life, and give him thanks, honor, glory and praise for being with me through it all.

Thank you to everyone who has visited me at Living By Lysa sometime in the past twelve years!

May the coming years give the Lord more glory for what He's doing in this region of the world!

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Quickest Trip

After a quick night's sleep near the airport, I'm back just a few hours after I was here last night upon arrival from Poland!

I'm in the middle of the craziest trip I've ever taken: flying from Europe to the US and back in less than 24 hours.

I came to deliver all of our Christmas mailings so that it could be sent from the US rather than Czech. Doing so saved $700 of the Lord's money given through his faithful ones who support us. Wanting to be wise stewards I agreed to be the courier, making this "quickest ever" trip to the States.

Amazingly I did sleep last night, and am very curious if I'll experience any jet lag after only being here for a few hours.

I'm about to find out as I go get on my flight back home!

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Saying Goodbye and Taking a Trip

When we bought this table 26 years ago at a second hand store in Switzerland, I never imagined all the joy that would occur around it.

For the past six days we have sat down at this table together for delicious meals, rich conversation, and heartfelt laughter. It's the first time that we've turned the table this direction to make room for everyone!

How I praise the Lord for giving us our children, their spouses and their children to fill our home with joy this past week. It has been such a very rich week.

But it's time to say goodbye, for now, and let everyone go on with their lives. Tyler and Lara will head back to Ostrava, Caleb and Haley will catch a train for Bratislava to go see Haley's family over the New Year, and Claire will make her 8 minute drive back home to Celadna!

Dave will stay home with our little dog, while I too take off for a few days.

In an odd turn of events, I am getting on a plane in Katowice, Poland today.

And doing something I've never done before.

Coming to the States for less than 24 hours to deliver a suitcase full of all our Christmas packages that will get mailed to our faithful family and friends who stand with us in the ministry.

I arrived this evening into Chicago where I dropped off the suitcase at a friend's office who works here at the airport. He will take it to another friend who will mail them for me after the new year.

This year's Christmas mailing is a bit different than what we've done in the past as we wanted to celebrate God's faithfulness to JV for the past 25 years.

Unfortunately the change in what we were mailing meant it went into a different price category here in Czech, and would have cost $15 per package. When we realized that a few weeks ago, Dave had the idea that, if I was willing, could save us money on the mailing.

Airline tickets are usually not cheap during December, but the day that we decided to explore this option, a ticket was available that was the cheapest we've seen in ten years! I checked with my friends in the States to see if they could help me (so I didn't have to rent a car and take the packages to mail myself) and when they said they could, I bought the ticket.

Unbelievably, it saved us $700 to do the mailing this way!

So if you happen to get one of those little packages, you'll know why it has a US postmark on it. And you'll know that it came with a lot of love from us, hand delivered to the States so that you'd get it before the holidays were completely over!

Friday, December 28, 2018

Special Lunch and Special Photos

While our family is with us for this Christmas week, we've experienced a mixture of hanging out at home and doing something special each day to mark this significant family time.

Today was a little trip down the road to a favorite restaurant for lunch, thanks to a gift from my mom and dad to make that possible!

Thank you Mom and Dad for giving us this fun experience!

One of the wishes on my list for this family time was getting a photo of everyone together. Since we were already going to be out today, it seemed like the best time to make that happen.

With Claire and Caleb's help to go scout out a place up in forest near where she lives, Claire then set up her tripod and had it all ready for us when we showed up.

This photo is the most "real" since in reality it was really cold outside today, not to mention foggy, muddy and a bit drizzly!

But in my mind I had a different picture for what I wanted this to look like...something more like this.

You can't tell that it's cold can you?!

We did leave coats on the little boys, though had their moms and dads take off their hats so it looks more like a late fall photo than winter. And as Dave said to me many years ago when we took wedding photos on a cold March day, "If you don't act cold, you won't look cold in the pictures."

I think we achieved that well today for this family photo!

This one turned out to be my favorite of all!

It captures the joy of these days together, of the love between us, and God's kindness of knitting us together into a family.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Impromptu Photo Shoot

While in the States this fall I was at Target looking in the little boy's department since I have these three precious little grandsons.

Seeing handsome shirts reminded me that I could get matching ones for them and hope to get a picture of them in those shirts at Christmas time when they were all together here.

I'm not sure if Lara and Haley coordinated, but all three boys were in their matching shirts this morning, which led to an impromptu photo session with them, Papa and I.

These boys MELT MY HEART!! I had no idea that having grandchildren would be this much fun!

And it's even sweeter having them all together during these days, watching them interact, play, wrestle, laugh and talk with each other and all of us.

In hashtag language this is definitely #nonnieshappyplace! 😂

Guys and Girls

By today there wasn't much snow left from our beautiful white Christmas. 

But that didn't stop the boys from their plans today!

When we started out our days together a few days ago, we all talked about things that we would love to do while together. One of those things was to have a guys and girls time, and that was today!

They had to drive a ways to find snow, but find it they did!

They hiked up into the mountains with sleds, and then took turns flying down the hill!

When they got back Judah told me that Papa went "really, really fast". I can believe that! But I'm also sure it was all under control and just enough speed to make it adventurous, but not too much! I think they all had a great time!

While they were finding snow, we were finding Claire's apartment!

She had invited us over for coffee and sharing time, which was so sweet with these dear ones.

I sure love these daughters!

Claire and I dropped Lara and Haley off in town for lunch with their husbands, while we went home to join Papa in caring for the boys.

These are very memorable days of sharing life together.

I'm soaking in each day!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The Boys Tell the Story

"Hey Charlie, since our moms and dads are gone skiing and Nonnie's hanging out with us, what should we do today?" said Asher with his cute little laugh.

"I know! Let's take turns climbing on the bear she got for us! It's so soft and cuddly!"

"How about we give her lots of smiles and grins so she'll take pictures of us?" said Charlie with a chuckle.

"Oh and let's eat really good for her at lunch...and maybe ask for seconds and thirds of leftovers??"

"Hey guys," said Judah, "Let's lick our plates from the french fries she made in her new fryer - that will make her really happy!!"

"Judah!", called Charlie, "Quick! Grab Nonnie's phone and start taking pictures of her dancing while we eat lunch!!"

"Got it", said Judah. "And I got her kissing on you too!"

"Don't forget to take a picture of me making my really silly it goes...take it now!!"

"Oops. She saw you taking pictures and now she's looking all normal and everything..."

"Ha! She's at it again...hurry up and get the picture Judah!"

"YAY! You got her...good job cousin!" says Charlie.

Asher: "Let's call Papa on our make believe phone and see if they'll send a picture to us from the ski hill."

Judah: "I don't think they're having as much fun as we are at home with Nonnie making silly faces for the camera!"

Charlie: "Mommy and daddy finally got home and they're all tired from skiing and snowboarding. Hope they'll take us when we get bigger! But for now...I just want daddy to read me a book."

"Oh wait! I need to go check on mommy who's making a really yummy dinner for all of us tonight!"

Judah: "While you're in there with your mom and Aunty Claire, me and Asher are telling daddy about our day with Nonnie!"

And so went the day after Christmas...such a happy day for all!