Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Know that He is Lord

Since last October I've been doing a chronological read-through of the Bible using an app called Bible Box. This app calculates how many chapters of which books I need to chronologically read each day, so that I can finish in a year. I'm 72% of the way through the Bible as of today!

What I've loved in doing a chronological read-through is gaining a new perspective on the whole sweep of the Bible. I've been reading since I was young, and have read through it many times. But somehow I'd never done a chronological read-through. It's been awesome!

I just finished Joel and am on to Daniel today. And if there's one thing that I've read over and over in the past weeks (through Jeremiah, Lamentations and Ezekial) it is this phrase:

"Then they will know that I am the Lord", or some version of that.

It's not always coupled with the nicest things that precede that phrase. Such as in Ezekiel 33 where it says, "Then they will know that I am the LORD, when I have made the land a desolate waste because of all the detestable things they have done.'"

We can't know for sure why it was so hard for the Israelites to remain steadfast in their trust and love for the Lord; for sure the pressures of society and the gods of other nations pressed in deeply on them. After all I recently saw in Greece and Turkey, and from what I've seen in Israel, I can understand a little better how hard it was to stand firm in faith when everything and everyone around you is enticing you to worship something else.

I've been thinking about how much I want to "know that He is Lord", and NOT find out through those kinds of dire circumstances!

That means sticking to the basics...spending time with Him, reading the Bible and living according to it, praying without ceasing and giving thanks in all circumstances.

When you write it out like that it doesn't seem so hard to do! But we know from history that it's not usually the big blow out that gets you off track, but rather the slow leak.

So today is yet another day of "raising my ebenezer", committing to remember how God has come to the rescue of his people, even to me, when they humbled themselves before him; and committing to live for Him, by His Spirit, doing all that He asks me to do.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Happy Moments

I once heard a quote that said, "A good life is a collection of happy moments".

Today I had one of those happy moments.

Ever since having grandchildren I've been thinking about making our patio into a better place for gathering with them, and their parents. But until now I haven't seen a table that fit our space, where we could all sit together for a meal, or just hang out and color pictures or build Legos!

But last week I stopped by a store nearby to run an errand, and lo and behold, there was this table...ON SALE! I've never seen anything like it here so was rather ecstatic about my find.

I came home with pictures of it to show Dave, but knew he'd need to go see it in person (and wrestle it in the car if he deemed it the right thing for us!).

Today was the day he had time to go see it, and...happy for me...he said yes, that it was the right thing to get!

So tonight I'm feeling so very thankful to the Lord for hearing the cry of this Nonnie's heart, and leading me to the right table. It might be a small thing to someone else, but to me, it's huge!

Life feels so good tonight!

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Discipling the Next Generation

Today was one of those "oh so perfect" mid summer days here in Czech!

The sun was shining, the air was crisp, our garden is growing and we had a friend over for the afternoon.

Dave has known Josef for 12+ years, from his years as a high schooler, and then as the youth leader in his church here in Czech.

One of Dave's favorite things to do is disciple young leaders, so the two of them had a great day talking about the Lord, his Word and what's next for Josef.

I love seeing Dave doing what God created him to do, and pray that there will be good fruit from it in Josef's life!

Friday, July 12, 2019

Afternoon in Vienna

Every six months now I have to take a trip to Vienna to either pick up a prescription or see my doctor there. Or as is the case today, do both!

This time I invited Claire to come with me, even though we've just been together for two weeks in Greece and Turkey on an Early Church study tour. What can I say? I enjoy any and all time I get with my daughter!

Since the appointment wasn't until later in the afternoon, we stopped by the Albertina art museum, because it's a favorite of Claire's. Plus, you never know what traveling exhibitions will be there, so it's fun to be surprised by different kinds of artists.

One of the exhibits was by a Viennese artist named Nitsch, who is known for his use of color and abstract paintings.

They're huge! And there were so many of them.

Claire and I were sitting on a bench talking about the above paintings when I heard my name called.

Who could possibly know me here??

This is Kaja, from Slovakia! I've known her for several years now, having met up with her through the years at KPM's and Fusiondary. I didn't know the young man, but he knows us because he's from one of our supporting churches in Colorado! What a truly small world it is!

After time at the museum Claire and I made our way to the pharmacy to get my medications, and then headed for the doctor's office.

I had a silent prayer that my doctor would be willing to see Claire, even though she's not currently taking new patients. But I thought if I brought her with me there might be a chance of her getting in.

Thankfully, my prayer was answered! The doctor is willing to do the kind of testing on Claire that she did for me two years ago, finding out precisely what foods she's intolerant of or allergic to, as well as what she might be missing in vitamins and minerals.

This made my heart sing with praise to the Lord for hearing my prayer and caring to answer it through this doctor!

Claire isn't sick; I don't want to give that impression! Rather, I just know what a help it's been to me to find out those things and think Claire will benefit from it too.

What a perfectly lovely day in Vienna with my darling girl!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Down by the River

It took me longer than expected to get over the food poisoning/stomach flu (still not sure what it was) that I brought back from Istanbul.

But this morning I was feeling better so headed into Ostrava to surprise some little people.

Tyler told me that they were down by the river while Lara was at her Czech lesson. So I parked and set off to find them!

If I hadn't been so anxious to hug and kiss them, I could've stood here for a long time, mesmerized by the charming beauty of these little boys feeding the ducks down at the river!

I managed to get pretty close without them knowing, and took this photo just before Judah recognized it was me!

Lots of hugs and exclamations of "NONNIE" poured forth (doing my heart such good!).

After we'd fed all the bread to the ducks, and thrown in enough rocks, we headed back to their home.

Little brother is enjoying older brother's scooter!

A picnic lunch on their porch, and reading books brought from the States was just about as idyll of an afternoon as it gets!

Asher took a fall a few days ago, not seeing the lid to a pump at some friends' cottage, and face planting right into it. He's going to be one tough guy for all the times that he gets bumps and bruises like this!

My mom had bought these books for the boys when I was visiting her and my dad in June, so it was fun to deliver them and get to read this afternoon to those book loving boys!

Love you Judah and Asher! I'm glad to be home so I can see you, hug you, read to you and some over to visit whenever I can!

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Catching Up with Charlie

Dave, Claire and I didn't arrive home until almost 3 AM last night after our flight back from Istanbul.

And unfortunately along the way, I developed the same symptoms as Claire and the others in our group who had gotten sick in the last two days.

Let's just say traveling in that state is tricky and not optimal.šŸ˜³

So today was a "flat in bed" day . . . except for when this little cutie called!

There is nothing like Charlie's sweet face, and his mom and dad's cheery voices, to make you feel better!

It was so good to catch up with them from these past weeks, and hear about what's been happening in Albania this summer. They've already seen over twenty young people put their faith in Jesus at the first camp they did! We're praying that the next camp, which will be with even more students, will bear fruit like that too!

Thanks for cheering me up today Charlie! A cheerful heart is definitely good medicine for Nonnie!

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Treasured Last Day

Our last morning in Istanbul started off so delightfully!

These are long time friends, from our early days of ministry in Germany, who now live here in Istanbul. They came into the city to have coffee and fellowship with us this morning! What a treasure to get time together with them.

Next up for the morning was a planned rendezvous at what we thought was going to be a Turkish towel shop. But when GPS led us here, we thought we'd gone to the wrong place.

Amazingly, we were the ones in the wrong, not Google maps! Who would guess that this is waiting for us inside?

Inside those doors are three floors of the most beautiful Turkish cotton products, woven on old-style-shuttled looms using natural materials.

If you are ever in Istanbul, this place is SUCH a treat to see, whether you buy or not!

Jennifer's Hamam, is a very unique store with so many beautiful hand-crafted cotton items. As it says on her website:

Jennifer's Hamam works with these artisans directly to create beautiful hand woven organic Turkish towels, pestamel, peskir, kese, robes, bedcovers, blankets, throws, table & bed linens in a quality that you can no longer find in the world. Our designs are unique and most are limited edition.

You can find her in the Arasta Bazar market with a small selection, or come to the showroom for the real treat!

I'm putting in this picture, which is across the street, so if you ever go, you know you're in the right place!

We finished our time together with Steve, Polly and family at a restaurant overlooking the city.

Our guide, Aydin and his apprentice, Deniz, joined us too in this beautiful spot with a magnificent view.

Unfortunately Claire had gotten sick with whatever it was that three other people in our group already had as well. So she didn't get to join us for this last lunch.

Overlooking the Blue Mosque

It was fitting to follow Aydin one last time back to the hotel - what an amazing guide he's been during this trip! We've been on many different tours, and he gets the #1 prize for best guide of all!

Ginger came to the room to say goodbye to Claire...and give something special to her.

It's the scarf that was made by the woman in the Cappadocia region! What a treasure for Claire!

And what a treasure this entire trip has been!! It will take weeks, if not months, to absorb all the teaching, sights, and beauty that we've witnessed and experienced. Truly, it's been a trip of a lifetime.

And now, we're headed for home, back to Czech, full of such richness from the Lord these from past two weeks!

Friday, July 5, 2019

Istanbul by Night

Dave finished up his teaching this afternoon on the Early Church study tour that we've been on for the past 12 days.

He ended with "The Gospel and Your Witness", starting from the first chapter of Acts, where Jesus challenged his disciples, and us, to be his witnesses.

What is a witness? Simply someone who talks about what they've seen, heard and experienced!

He then took us to the end of that book, chapter 28, where it talks about proclaiming the Kingdom of God and gave us four ways to be a good witness for Jesus: be bold and don't skip talking about Jesus; be gentle and always prepared with an answer; be respectful and honor the person you're sharing with; and keep a clear conscience, not hiding what you really want to talk about!

What a great note to end on as we prepare to go our separate ways, back to the places God has called each of us to be witnesses in!

For Polly, that's back to Jackson, Wyoming where she is the headmaster for a classical Christian school in a challenging environment. They have faced many difficulties over the past five years, but God continues to pave the way for them to "cultivate within their students the wisdom and virtue necessary to discover their God-given potential and contribute to a flourishing and free society." She does an amazing job at standing firm in faith for her faculty and students!

It's been so special for Dave and I to get to be on this trip with Claire! She'll head back to her JV ministry with the JV Kids, preparing for their upcoming annual kid's camp in August.

This brother and sister will soon be reunited with their younger brother and sister as the family meets up together to finish vacation all together.

I pray they'll take what they've learned on this trip and begin to integrate it into their lives as they live out their faith in Jesus.

It's been a joy to have this much time with our dear friend, Manjola. Originally from Albania, we share a special bond with her as sisters in Christ, and because Caleb, our son/brother and his family, live and serve in her country!

For an hour, our group sailed down the Bosphorus, also known as the strait of Istanbul, which connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara, and, by extension via the Dardanelles, the Aegean and Mediterranean seas. It's an important waterway, with some beauty and interesting sights on its shores.

I don't know if there is any significance to the red color, but it adorns many houses along the water's edge, as do fancy buildings from years gone by.

As we've been in Turkey for the past week, I've noticed that they seem to fly their flag more than any other country I've been to, with the exception of the US!

Ginger caught this photo of Claire and I, back to back to support each other, commenting on and taking in all the different sights, houses, buildings and boats along the way!

What a pleasant way to begin our last evening together!

We made our way to the Kumkapı district, an area famous for its many fish restaurants, which is where we're dining for our final time.

The temperature was just about perfect this evening, making it possible to sit outside and enjoy the atmosphere of this quarter of the city.

We ate at Capari Restaurant, which I wanted to take note of because it was so good!

In most other places I took pictures of food to remember what exactly we had; but not tonight!

For one, there were so many different things that I'd have way too many photos to share (we had a lot of bites of different things, instead of huge portions - I loved that!). And for another reason, it was so much fun taking in all the sights, sounds, tastes and smells that I didn't think to take those photos of food.

But I did get other pictures! Oh how I love doing life with this man!!

Dena is a new friend from this trip, who was most enjoyable! I'll look forward to seeing her when we're back in Jackson sometime.

At the end of our meal, Aydin brought out special baklava that he'd gone to pick up earlier in the day; he said it was the best, and he was right!

Here he's giving us a lesson on how to properly eat, and enjoy, baklava!

Turkish musicians (really good ones!) came and serenaded us at the table, even coaxing one of our gals to get up and dance with them!

Next door was a famous ice cream spot, so we stopped there after dinner.

One of the guys in our group was given the chance to work with this unusually sticky ice cream to see if he could manage it as well as the owner.

As you can imagine, it's more difficult for novices!

We got back on the bus for one last ride ride through the city.

As the driver wound through the city, each person in our group, as well as our guide, had a chance to get on the mic and share what had been significant about the trip.

And we got to say some thank you's to those who made this trip possible: Steve and Polly, and Aydin, our guide!

Before we knew it we were back at the hotel, having to say our good-byes to part of the group who are leaving at 1 AM for the airport.

They won't get much sleep tonight! But for sure, none of wanted to miss one second of our last day together on this amazing trip together.

There are trips that mark you, and change the way you see life. This has been one of them. I'm grateful, so grateful, for the opportunity to spend these past days learning, growing and experiencing so many amazing sights, sounds, smells and tastes in Turkey and Greece.

Again Steve and Polly, thank you for the privilege of bringing Dave, Claire and I along with you. It was a joy and honor to share in these weeks with you and your team!