Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Winter Academy Day Two

Although I'm at at JV Winter Academy at Malenovice, some little faces greet me each morning before I make a snowy drive there.

Instead of being at home in Ostrava, Tyler, Lara, Judah and Asher are all staying at our house this week while Dave and I are at Academy.

Winter Academy is a required event for all JV missionaries, which means that if you're a parent, you have to figure out childcare so that you can be there.

Some couples choose to go on different years, with one parent staying home while the other attends. But this stretches out the process to three years since one parent attended last year (year one), the other parent is attending the first week of Academy this year (year one for that parent), and then will swap with the other parent next week which will be Week 2, for all those who came last year, (which is Tyler and Lara), and for another group of all those who are brand new on the field (which will include Caleb and Haley). But for the parents who are going separately, the parent attending this week will still have another week of Academy next year.

Hope you followed all that. It took me a while to work it out in my brain too!

Tyler and Lara offered to care for the daughter of their friends in Ostrava, Cory and Anissa, who serve in our EXIT Tour ministry. So while they are with me at Academy this week, their daughter is spending the week at our house with her little buddies!

In the meantime, her mom, dad and I are trudging up the hill every day to get there by 8 for our first session!

It is an absolutely beautiful winter wonderland up here! Today about six inches of snow fell throughout the day as we sat inside. I'm glad we had windows to look out at it!

The schedule throughout the day is full of many different teaching sessions, of all different sorts of topics related to our spiritual growth as people and growth of our ministry skills.

This morning we started off with a devotional from Ondra from Czech, about being good learners, as Jesus was a learner. Have you ever thought about the fact that he was the author of the Old Testament, from heaven, and then came down to earth as a baby and had to learn it all over again in the Jewish synagogue?

Another special part of Ondra's teaching is the fact that I've known him since he was five years old! I used to drop Tyler off at kindergarten with Ondra when we lived in Havířov! He is one of our trainers today in Czech, and is a very good, and sought after, teacher. I loved sitting under his teaching today!

Among those here at Winter Academy are some special people who are part of our JV A-Team - accelerators and ambassadors for JV. Two couples are here for both this week's academy, and for next week's as well. That is commitment!

Barb and her husband, Paul, have a daughter in the States who is just about to release her first book called Uncluttered.  They asked if I'd be willing to be on the Launch Team, which meant getting a digital copy of the book to read it ahead of time, leaving comments about it on various websites (that helps get it into the market) and sharing about it, like I'm doing with you here!

I not only enjoyed reading the book (Courtney has great humor and fun stories!), but even more so it had a big impact on me through her message of uncluttering your life in order to live in greater freedom...both in the physical and spiritual world. I've already started applying some of the truths from it and plan to read it again, this time with a pen in hand so I can write notes to myself!

To break up our long day of learning, we had some more levity in the afternoon with another "Minute to Win It" challenge of balancing a cookie on your forehead and using only your facial muscles to get it into your mouth!

A fascinating session on the 16 Personalities followed the game (I was literally so engaged in it that I never thought to take a photo, but it's one of those sessions that I'll think on for a long time!), then dinner and finally two more sessions that were led by my brother-in-law, Josh.

He was illustrating how we sometimes choose to identify ourselves in a national way that can elevate our culture and put down another, when really we should all be living out of our identity in Christ. 

This was another rich day of being trained, taught, inspired and motivated to be all of who God wants me to be, which includes being well equipped to lead in the areas that God has called me to.

I am loving being here at JV Winter Academy this week!

Monday, January 14, 2019

JV Winter Academy 2019

This morning I made my way up to Malenovice, plowing through the slush and ice, barely making it into the parking lot down below the hotel.

But the hike up the hill was rewarded by this view!

I'm up here this week for our JV Winter Academy, along with over 100 other of our staff, including Ermal from Albania who serves with Caleb and Haley there!

The Academy began last year as a means of bringing our entire team up to date on all of our training and core competencies so we are well equipped for ministry.

It is broken up into two week long courses that take place over two years time. Half of our staff started last year, and the rest are starting this year, which includes people like me and Anicka, who serves here in Czech.

Dave is doing a heavy amount of teaching this week and next when the other half of our staff are here to continue their second year of training. He told he he'll be teaching 25 times!

While this is more like attending a college course for a week (we start at 8 AM and go until 9 PM!), there are little breaks along the way, including "Minute to Win It" moments like this!

They have a minute to pick up cotton balls with their noses and transfer them to another plate! 

There are a number of people teaching this week, including my dear brother in law, Josh. I always love it when those Patty men teach!

It snowed off and on all day, but the sky opened up in the late afternoon to give us a beautiful view of the sunset (albeit through the window since we were still in "class"! )

Dave finished this evening with a session on "What is the Church", giving us a biblical view of God's heart for the church, something that we are passionate about.

We want to see the "bride of Christ" prosper, so every bit of our ministry ties back to the local church as we serve them as missionary teams (which, as Dave pointed out tonight, is also the Church!).

This is going to be a very rich, full, intense and helpful week as we systematically go through many different subjects that will be useful and enriching for our lives and ministry.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Making A Choice

It was a beautifully moody winter day here in the Beskydy Mountains. 

But instead of winter beauty winning today, winter moodiness took over.

Dave, on his way to meet me for lunch (we'd taken separate cars to church this morning since I had worship practice early), slipped off the little farm road near our house.

Between thick, slushy snow, and icy patches on the road, it was not a good recipe for driving today.

Our friend Petr, who so often comes to our rescue, came first to help solve the problem. Then a neighbor came by with his four wheeler.

But after many attempts, and two hours trying to pull the car out, it was still stuck in the ditch.

Thankfully the tractor/snowplow made a pass nearby and Petr flagged him down! It was just a matter of minutes and the car was safely back on the road.

Once Dave had brought the car back home to meet me, he asked, "What do you want to do now?" to which I replied, "Get lunch!"

So off we went...albeit on a different road...and had a nice lunch together.

The car is no worse for the wear, and we know now not to take that little road for the next few days!

But it was Dave's comment to me over lunch that really struck me.

"I guess God had other plans today. I'll accept that!"

He then said that the conversation inside his head had started with his flesh, which wanted to rant about what had happened and fling all sorts of accusations around. But because he's been teaching recently about what it means to put the flesh to death and turn towards the Spirit, he chose the latter. And because of that what could have turned our day into a bad one, kept it a sweet one.

And after all that, he said, "And I'm glad I got to meet another neighbor!" 

I appreciate Dave's cheerful choice to listen to the Spirit today!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Spring Cleaning in January

For some people, springtime is their "go to" for getting spring cleaning done at home.

But for me, it often tends to be January when that happens. And today was one of those days.

But this time I decided to try some less harsh methods for getting a few jobs done since I'm sensitive to chemicals, especially for this sort of a grimy job.

Ever tried that "recipe" for cleaning your oven? I happened to have some Dawn dishwashing soap thanks to friends who brought it for me a few years ago.

Believe it or not, the combination of those things actually worked! I had to give it a good scrub with a non-scratch scrub sponge. But that did the trick and it looks a whoooooole lot better now!

I tried another natural recipe for cleaning grout, and while it worked somewhat, it's not a "win" so I won't post that.

But I'm happy to have a clean oven, and the benefit of no fumes during or after its cleaning!

If you're local to me, and need a few drops of Dawn soap to try this, ask me and I'll bring you some!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Snow and Visitors

Oh the delight of lots of snow out our back door! I love a January like this.

And the delight of having unexpected visitors this morning!

Tyler, Lara, Judah and Asher have been up at Malenovice all week with the group of interns that Tyler is shepherding this year in the "Journey" program, an internship program that Dave started over twenty years ago!

While Tyler's been teaching during the day, Lara and the boys have been playing inside and out at the hotel.

Tyler sent this picture earlier in the week of them making the trek up the hill, in the snow, AGAIN! They are all troopers!

It absolutely thrills and blesses me to see them being "family on mission" together, giving and sharing their lives for the sake of growing God's Kingdom here in this region of the world.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

More Hygge

I passed by this local cafe a few days ago and noticed something new.

The main wall used to be across that open space just past the table, which made the cafe very cozy, but small. So small that I didn't want to go because you couldn't really have a private conversation there. It was more like a living room to hang out in, which is fine if you don't mind if everyone hears what you're saying!

I found out that just three days before Christmas they opened a new section that lets the cafe "breathe" now.

While the new section is full of easels and photography right now, it will eventually be more seating when it's completed.

With a friend, I sat at the long table this morning, enjoying the warmth as well as looking outside and enjoying the snow covering.

I hadn't stopped to notice the snowmen when we walked in, but did when we walked out. They made me smile!

Do you see that his nose is made of a cucumber and his hair is the top of a pineapple?!

This next one especially made me smile. What a happy little snowman on a cold wintry day in the mountains!

When I got home a package had arrived from my friend Laura in Poland. She'd told me she was having a book sent to me for Christmas, and it arrived today, after just experiencing the heart of it at that cafe this morning!

I wrote about the concept of hygge, a Danish term, four years ago, in January 2015, and then this little gem of a book came out in 2017. I've seen it in a bookstore but haven't read it. I can hardly wait to dig in and find out more about how to create hygge during these cold months. Thanks Laura!

This afternoon's attempt at it included candles, lights turned on, hot tea and a snuggly dog curled up beside me as the snow continued to fall.

Here's to creating more hygge this winter!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Setting Aside Today

Weeks ago I set aside this day to be at home. All day.

I knew I'd need it after months of travel, in order to put life back to normal and have some time to think and process on all the gifts and blessings the Lord has graciously given in these past months.

During these past two weeks, I haven't kept up on my blog because I didn't want to miss one moment of His goodness in the moment! But because I tend to remember best if I have some memory pegs tucked away, I wanted to set aside time later to think on those moments, look at pictures and capture those memories in posts for my blog.

So that's what I've done for hours today! I don't think I've ever posted more in a day than I did today: fourteen posts in all!

Right now I think I won't forget all the details. But when I look back to past years at what I've written and pictures I've taken, I'm amazed at how limited my memory really is. I DO forget! So my blog is a way to remember and not forget.

There are numerous places in the Bible where God speaks about remembering and not forgetting like Exodus 20: "Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God." I never want to do that! Writing regularly on my blog helps me to not forget.

This leads me to Colossians 3:2, "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." When I focus on Him, turning my attention towards Him, it keeps my perspective in the right place. Then, even if I'm just looking out my window at a snowy scene, my heart goes towards Him.

It was the sweetest day today, recounting all His blessings and recognizing Him in so many places and people of the past weeks and months.

That would be my prayer for this new year. That I will have eyes and ears to see Him everywhere I go, and be in tune with His heart so that I can bring it in any ways, to anyone, He asks me to.

As that patch of blue sky appeared this afternoon, I just stood at my window enjoying Him shining through the clouds.

I expect I'll see that a lot this year!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Meetings and Appointments

Today's first Iteam meeting of the new year was kicked off by Dave's teaching on the theology of time!

As we start afresh in 2019, it was appropriate teaching to be reminded of God's perspective on time. We had such good discussion on the Scripture and thoughts Dave covered.

Though I can't tell you everything, I CAN tell you his five points!

From Genesis 1: The limitations of time are good
From Ecclesiastes 3: The purpose of time is to make things beautiful
From John 7: God has right times for me
Ephesians 2: Time brings me the good works God has prepared for me
Ephesians 5: I need to be wise and redeem the opportunities God brings.

While the meeting continued, I had to slip out and head into Frydek for another doctor's appointment.

Just seems to be that time of year to get things taken care of! This time it was seeing my endocrinologist to get the results from my yearly lab. All is well with my thyroid (thanks to medication) and I don't need to see her for another year.

While I didn't manage to get a photo while I was in with her, I did feel a little bit like Helen Levitt (see my post from yesterday when I went to see her exhibition!) taking a photo without him knowing, just to capture a tiny slice of normal life in the waiting room before going in for my appointment.

I wished I'd taken a picture of the woman who asked me to watch her fur coat while she went in! 😉

Monday, January 7, 2019

Vienna Today

After a good night's sleep here in Vienna, Claire and I headed out to my lab appointment here in the city.

I was here a little over a year ago, and the results of it changed my life.

When my doctor read the results from my lab work last year, giving me a diagnosis and prescribing a course of action, it set me on a road that has brought me so much relief.

I'm happy to be back here for another round to see where I'm at now, to figure out what's next.

In case YOU ever happen to come here, the button for getting in needs to be pushed DOWN! I stood here for much too long trying to figure that out! 😬

After finishing there, Claire and I headed onto public transportation to go get breakfast.

We came out from the underground, and there in front of us was the only person we know who lives in Vienna!!

She was a classmate of Claire's in high school, who is now working in Vienna. Out of 1.8 million people who live here, she was in our path today, heading to the train herself to go on a trip. How crazy and wonderful to have seen her for just a few minutes!

We went on to our favorite place to get breakfast.

And then to a coffee shop to get some work done today.

It's actually hard to find a coffee shop in Vienna where it's okay to work. Vienna has a very strong coffee culture where you are just social in the shop. That's great! But in our case, we both needed to work today even though we're here in this beautiful city.

If you need to work, want some good coffee, and maybe even a "zimtschnecke", this might be your place!

Hornig Coffee Roaster

We sat at the counter facing the window, and I seriously could have stayed there all day!

But Claire and I had decided to do one last thing before we took the train home.

Back in 2010, for Claire's 16th birthday, we brought her to Vienna to see the Albertina Art Museum. I think she came back with school one time (or had already come then?), but needless to say, it's been a while since we've been here!

But we are remedying that today, since art museums are among Claire's happy places to be!

While we'd get to the famous artists soon, we first went to see an exhibition that is here for a limited time.

Helen Levitt was an American photographer who first began in the late 1930's. Most of her work was done in Manhattan, near Brooklyn where she was from. She remained an active photographer for 70 years!

But do you know why I liked her?

With a secret camera hidden in her coat, she took every day pictures of every day people on the subways of New York City! That work was done in the early 1940's, and then again in the 1970's when she did it openly! That sounds like something I would do (well...maybe what I DO do!) just to capture the normal things of life!

We continued on through the gallery after taking in her wonderful exhibition.

Sometimes the Albertina has exhibitions of Monet, but it's not there right now. At least we got to see something from his work!

It's always so interesting to see what paintings "call your name", if you know what I mean. This was one of those for Claire.

And this was one of those for me! Any ideas why?!

I love color, I love landscapes, and I love the simplicity that allows my imagination to wander!

I don't remember seeing a Marc Chagall the last time we were here, so this was fun to see.

When I went with Claire to the Chicago Art Institute a few years ago, I got to see some of his stain glass work. Both that and this painting were spectacular to see in person! LOVE the colors!

All too soon it was time to go. But I'm so glad that we had some time here today!

Art is so subjective. Everyone loves something a little different. Which is why it's so fun to go see it with someone! I loved seeing what Claire enjoyed, and I loved pointing out what I liked.

Somewhere inside of me I feel like there is an artist! I haven't figured out how to get it out yet, but in the meantime I so love to enjoy other people's works...especially the ones who use color so brilliantly!

What a sweet time, soaking in beauty in the arts here at the Albertina with Claire!