Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Ringing in 2020 at Selah

I think our New Year's tradition at Selah started on New Year's Eve 2010, ringing in the new year of 2011.

But I can't find pictures of that night spent with Ellenwood's and Hash's at our JV retreat house on the flanks of Ondřejník, the mountain on the other side of the valley from Lysá hora, above our town of Frýdlant n.O.

But we're back here again this year, for the sixth time in the last ten years - at least that's what I can find blog posts about!

Out of our original vacation gang of long ago, we're only missing Hannah and Hayley Ellenwood, who live in the States, as well as Dan Hash who is in Denver helping his mom move out of her home and into his sister's house.

Everyone else is back living in Europe now, serving with JV. Noah and his wife, Jill, are the newest ones who just arrived yesterday from the States - they're headed to Montenegro within the next couple of weeks to begin a new ministry there!

For us, it's sure sweet to have all of our grandsons here tonight!

With little ones around, I didn't take a lot of pictures ... just enjoyed them and everyone else!

Those with kids left at 10, while the rest of us stayed until the fireworks display all across the valley. It never fails to be epic, year after year!

And no cell phone camera can capture the beauty of it! 

Mostly for myself, but in case you're interested in seeing how hairstyles have changed and kids have grown, here are past years of celebrations at Selah!

2012 - 2015 - 2017 - 2018 

Monday, December 30, 2019

Merry Christmas Later!

Merry Christmas morning...a few days later...from the Patty family!

Yesterday our family arrived to spend the next four days together, celebrating Christmas and the New Year. Caleb and Haley have been in Bratislava with her family for the holiday, so we set aside these days to celebrate with our side of the family.

After a quick breakfast...because really, who needs food when there are presents to open???...

... we dug into stockings!

Our tradition is to trade names among the adults, but everyone also buys a little something to go in everyone else's stocking. It leads to lots of fun, laughter and hugs for thank you's!

Coffee for the grown ups, genuine goldfish from the States (not available here!) in stockings for the boys, and nephew jokes with the uncle are also part of the celebration! 😂

We moved slowly through our morning, cherishing gifts and taking plenty of pictures.

I'm sparing you about 1053 other photos! 😂 😂 😂 

One of my special gifts to the boys were handmade "friends" that I ordered from the Czech version of Etsy, called "Fler". There are some beautiful artisans on that website and I found exactly what I was looking for, for each of the boys.

The smiles and joy continued on through the morning as gifts were happily given and received.

Caleb's dream of solar panels for charging things when he's in the mountains!

Then it was time for a lunch break...

Along with a snow break!!

The boys actually went down for naps after that which gave us adults time to linger and enjoy our gifts and the beauty outside.

More sweet gifts continued once the little boys were up...like money for coffee for these two!

And an unexpected surprise from my parents for the three girls!

It was one of the most leisurely Christmas Day we've ever had, enjoying each other and all the good gifts that were given.

What little boy doesn't love a race track with controls! 😂

The funniest part though, was in the evening as the boys played...that the biggest hit was carrying balls upstairs in buckets from the ball pit I've had for them for two years, and throwing them all down the stairs to their joy-filled giggles!

Who needs new toys when you have all the ball you want, and a Papa giving bear rides?

What a fun, happy, loving Christmas Day we all had!

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Lucy Comes to Visit

After putting the three little guys down for the night at Papa and Nonnie's house, the rest of us stayed up for "Christmas Eve" enjoying being together.

It might not look like those are happy faces! But trust me, there was a lot of laughter!

Not only are sons, daughters and grandkids here, but there's another family member for our Patty Family Christmas as well.

Meet Lucy, the flop eared bunny! She belongs to Judah, who got him as his 4 year old birthday present from his mom and dad. And she has come to stay for Christmas too!

It didn't take her long to discover the tastiness of the Christmas tree. Who else knew that rabbits eat the needles off trees??

She's a cutie though, and very good-natured! It will just add to the fun and chaos of having everyone here for the next four days for our family celebration of Christmas!

They're in the House!

Dave and I left from church today to head to the train station in Ostrava. We've got some special people coming in!

Caleb, Haley and Charlie!!!

They've all been in Bratislava with Haley's whole family, celebrating Christmas there. Her mom and dad serve with Josiah Venture too, while her sister and husband live in Ireland, her next brother is going to Bible college in Ireland, and her youngest brother is in his second year at Moody in Chicago! So it's super special that they could all be together this year.

And now we get to have them!

We last saw Charlie in person when he was here with his mom and dad in September. When you're two, a few months makes a big difference!

If I had to pick one toy that has been played with more than anything else from what I have, it would be this funny little Fisher Price monster! I don't know what it is about it that draws them back, time and again! But sure enough, it was the first thing Charlie went to find in my kid's corner!

Since Charlie doesn't see us in person as often as our other two grandsons, I try to make sure he and I get some special connecting time whenever he comes. Meanwhile, grandson number 2 climbs up on the coffee table, unbeknownst to me taking the picture at the time! 😂 😂 😂

Everyone arrived in time to make dinner together, and we're having our traditional Patty Family Christmas Eve dinner of fajitas and Dr. Pepper!

It's so special to be all together again for this Christmas celebration!

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Shirley, Goodness and Mercy

If you looked closely at the title of this blog post, you probably thought I made a spelling error.

Shirley should be "Surely" since it seems those words refer to a well known verse in the Bible.

But in our case, Shirley is the correct name for the lady moose who lives next to the fireplace at our house ... alongside with her companions, Goodness and Mercy!

Two years ago I bought Shirley for Claire when she moved here to Czech, thinking she would fit into the apartment she was going to rent, and be something fun for JV Kids who came to visit her.

But when that first apartment fell through and she eventually got another one, Shirley didn't find a home there, so stayed here with us to entertain our grandsons.

As time went on I realized that I should actually capitalize on this learning moment and find her partners, Goodness and Mercy so I could teach the boys that verse in Psalm 23. So I've been on the hunt for them ever since!

I found "Goodness" earlier, but just couldn't seem to find "Mercy"... until today!

I was out doing some last minute Christmas shopping (since we start our Patty family Christmas tomorrow!) and there he was...at Kik right here in Frýdlant! He was the last one, and on sale (this 'having Christmas after Christmas' thing is working for me!!).

So now when the boys get here, I'll be able to introduce them to all three characters who now live at our house and will "shirley" make appearances many times in our grandsons' lives! 😂

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23:6

Friday, December 27, 2019

Judah's Answer to Prayer

It didn't snow for Christmas, but it's snowing today!

I sent this photo to our daughter-in-law, Lara, today so she could show Judah and Asher, as I thought they'd be excited about snow. She sent a video back of Judah telling me that he'd been praying for snow!

I'm so happy that God's answer is continuing to happen into the evening.

Maybe we'll have a white Christmas during our Patty family celebration in two days!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Holiday in Czech

If you're living in the States, you've probably gone back to normal life today on this "day after Christmas".

But here in Czech, today is still a holiday! All the stores are closed, and people are still in celebration mode.

Typically today is the day you visit your relatives here in Czech. But I took to visiting a different "relative" who lives in Switzerland.

This is my little "sister" of over 40 years now!

Isabel came to live with our family as an exchange student for a year from Argentina when I was 16, and she was 15. Amazingly we have stayed connected all these years, while she made moves to Germany and Switzerland and got married, and I moved to Germany and the Czech Republic because of our ministries!

We caught up this afternoon and had a good long chat about her kids and mine, and all the other family members that we "share". We hope that one of these years we'll get to see each other again!

Then tonight was a visit from friends for the evening.

Tomorrow I'll begin to get things ready for our kids who will all be here on the 29th for our Patty family Christmas celebration.

But for today, it was good to soak in one last day of holiday here in Czech!

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Timehop Remembers

While Christmas is being celebrated today, Timehop is working to give me some memories of Christmas past!

The Christmas that Lara and Tyler visited when they were engaged!

I'm not sure why only the "even" years showed up today, but it was a fun walk down memory lane!

The Christmas we spent in Denver - Caleb and Haley were engaged  but she was with her family in Slovakia!

By 2015, it was just Dave, Claire and I for Christmas in Czech as the others celebrated in the States.

Christmas Day at the Ellenwood's here in Czech

Two years ago it was just the three of us again too, as Claire came to join our JV team and had just arrived.

And here we are today, about to leave once again for JV Christmas at Ellenwood's!

We had a sweet time together at home this morning, reading the Christmas story, finishing up our gifts, and enjoying breakfast with each other.

We'll be with the rest of our family in just a few days; but for now, we're having a precious holiday with each other, celebrating the birth of Jesus today!

Hallelujah, What a Savior

It's Christmas Day! One of my most favorite days of the year as we celebrate the arrival of Jesus, who came into the world as a baby to live and die for us, that we might be saved. 

Every year we ponder this mystery, "God in flesh" who humbly came from his home in heaven to live among us. Immanuel.

I never cease to be amazed that His love for humanity compelled Him to do this - to leave heaven, live, die and be resurrected so that the cycle of sin and death would be broken, and thus a way would be made for us to be in relationship with him, now and for all eternity.

Do you know this Savior? Jesus, who we celebrate today: the One who came to seek and save the lost. 

"...if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." 

Romans 10:9 states it clearly ... confess, believe and you will be saved!

"And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord."

Hallelujah, what a Savior! Happy Birthday Jesus!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

A Different Christmas Eve

It looks like this is a Christmas of firsts for Dave too! (see my post earlier today on what my "first"  was ☺️)

Dave is known for a lot of things: being a visionary, a pioneer, and a leader. He's a great teacher of God's Word, a discipler of young men, and a man who seeks after God's heart. He's also an awesome husband, dad and Papa to our grandsons!

But among all other possibilities that could be on that list, you will never find cook, chef or baker. 😂

Oh he can make eggs, and heat up leftovers! But Dave making something from scratch never, ever happens in our kitchen.

Until it happened today!

With the same challenge as everyone has who goes to Mel and Amy's for a JV Christmas Day celebration, Dave had to make a gift for the name he'd been given. After exhausting possibilities, I came up with a most unlikely gift idea for Dave...to make something in the kitchen.

One thing I can say, with 110% assurance, is that Dave is ALWAYS up for a challenge; and he accepted this one!

I found two recipes for Christmas treats that I thought he could make on his own; of course that doesn't mean he can't have a sous chef alongside him. And that was Claire! But all she did was get out ingredients and give instructions. He did the rest!

His two recipes were Chocolate dipped peanut butter pretzels and Candied orange peels, chocolate covered.

Dave added so many new words to his vocabulary in this process, like double boiler! And he handled the challenge like a champ!

This was one of the most memorable Christmas Eves, doing something completely different than normal! We laughed, ate, and sang along with Leslie Odom Jr to his new Christmas album, "Simply Christmas" the entire evening!

Oh, and Claire and I spent an hour and a half untangling Christmas lights!

Note to self: don't buy 720 lights on one strand next year 😂

We didn't get our tree decorated, yet, but the lights are on, and our homemade gifts for tomorrow are almost finished!

It's the eve of celebrating the birth of our dear Savior. What a precious way to spend it.