Saturday, March 30, 2019

Current Trouble

Last night at Malenovice, our JV conference center nearby, one of our beautiful log cabins caught fire.

Thankfully no one was injured. But it was sure a shock to see that picture.

A guest staying here had flicked a cigarette into a pile of wood that was stacked near the door. It smoldered and then caught fire. We don't allow smoking inside, but I guess we need to be even more specific about rules for it outside.

Our log cabin builder came to inspect it today and thinks he can repair it without damaging the integrity of the building. How we pray so!

I thought of this verse after I had heard the news: Psalm 46:1-3 "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble."

In times of trouble it's easy to get scared and think of all the things that are going wrong. But instead at times like this, I choose to remember who God is -- our refuge and strength -- and stand in faith that He will lead our team to the best solution for this current trouble.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Laborers for the Harvest

In beautiful Zilina, Slovakia this week-end, we're at KPM, an annual conference for youth leaders that has been going on for 26 years!

This conference has literally impacted an entire generation of youth leaders, and teenagers, over these past years, rippling out across the country through youth ministries far and wide.

The leaders who are here this week-end lead youth groups throughout the year, will put on camps all summer; they direct Fusion choirs and tour with EXIT in schools. They lead Edge sports teams, they disciple, pray for, and encourage young people; and of course, they share the Gospel year round.

They are an inspiring bunch, to say the least!

Our dear friend, and co-founder of JV, Dan Hash, was also part of the team bringing messages to these leaders this week-end.

It was so good to hear him teach!

In case you're wondering why there are two other people on stage with him, it's because he spoke both in English and in Polish (since he lives and serves in Poland) so had separate translators into Slovak!

My afternoon was full of wonderful connections with people, like my JV teammate Kim, who brought me to her house for lunch after the morning sessions!

It was also so good to get time with my friend Amy, who is not only a JV teammate, but a fellow grandma to our shared grandson, Charlie! (our kids are married to each other!)

I wish I would have stopped to take pictures of each meaningful conversation I had throughout the day, and of all our other JV staff who are here serving...including the amazing TCKompas team putting on this event!

It's such a privilege to share life and work alongside these people who are laboring for the harvest that we pray so diligently for in this part of the world.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

KPM 2019: Face to Face

On this night of our 32nd wedding anniversary, we are in Zilina, Slovakia, at our JV Slovakia team's KPM - a conference for youth leaders across the country.

Backstage before it started, we gathered with the production team to get instructions about the evening, and to pray for the opening night of "Face to Face" - this year's theme about facing off the enemy.

Dave had the joy of giving the opening night talk to 600+ youth leaders from across the country.

He set the stage for this topic that will be expanded on all weekend by reminding them that they are in a spiritual war. He talked about how important it is to know your enemy, know his tactics, and to fight with weapons that God provides.

After he finished, both of us came on stage for the opening night of "Book Club", which is an introduction of authors with books available at this conference.

I don't remember exactly what I was laughing at, but it was so much fun to share my heart about my book, No Less Than Yes, and give them a picture of what it's about!

As the evening program wrapped up, we got one anniversary picture backstage, which was just so apropos for our lives together these past 32 years: on mission, together, loving each other and the people around us.

As soon as the program finished we headed out to the bookstore to meet with people.

Dave's book, Father God, was just translated into Slovak so was available for purchase in the language of those attending the conference!

He got to sign copies of it for many people tonight.

I signed some of mine too, but the sweetest moments were seeing all the people that I've come to know and love at KPM through the years.

But this one surprised me!

Kristina Jones is a JV Kid from many years ago. Her parents started ministry to young people in Slovakia just a few months before we did in 1993, and came on our team a few years later. I remember when Krissy was born, but haven't seen her since she was just 6 years old as her family moved back to the States then.

Unexpectedly just a year ago, her mom and dad came back to pastor a church in Bratislava, and she got to move back with them to live the Slovak life her other seven siblings had lived into their teenage years. What a delight to see her all grown up (and to see her mom and dad as well!).

I also got to see Rob, another former JV missionary who left the field a couple of years ago to go into the pastorate. But this year, God moved the hearts of he and his wife to return to JV, and they are now at 70% of their fundraising and hope to be back in Czech, with their two little girls, in just a couple of months!

One last joy to the evening was going to the cafe, where people will meet throughout the week-end after the sessions.

Each year a team of people labor over its design, trying to think of how to create the warmest environment for people to talk and process what they're learning with each other.

And do you know who was responsible for its design and creation?

Gwyneth, who is also a JV Kid! She lives and serves with her family right there in Zilina! She led and worked with a team who thought up this year's theme, and executed its creation. Not bad for an 18 year old!

The week-end is off to a great start!

Thirty Two!

Today marks thirty-two wonderful, happy and precious years of marriage to Dave!

But why do I share this picture on our anniversary?

Because it's actually from March 27, 1987, the day we were FIRST married! ๐Ÿ˜‚

If you can read German, you can see that we are at the Gemeinde Sankt Leon-Rot Rathaus, the town hall in the village we lived in. According to German law, we had to be married here as our legal wedding before we were married on the 28th in our church wedding.

So here we are, being congratulated on our wedding (with my maid of honor, Jerri, looking on!) by the man who married us . . . whoever he was!

He signed our legal marriage certificate and off we walked through our town, married in the eyes of the law, but for us, not before God!

It's kind of a funny part of our wedding story, that we actually had two ceremonies.

Since we didn't consider this our real wedding day, we didn't invite anyone except our legal witnesses (my maid of honor and Dave's best man), and Dave's brother Josh, who accompanied us to take photos!

From here Dave and I had lunch at a nearby restaurant, and then went to our wedding rehearsal in nearby Schwetzingen! I wrote about our wedding a few years ago. You'll find that post HERE.

The Lord gave us a very special wedding that day, everything I'd ever wanted for my wedding day.

And life with Dave has been incredible all these years. My heart rejoices in God's goodness today at bringing us together thirty two years ago. ❤️

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Healing, Covering and Protection

The subject of this blog post didn't, understandably, want me to take a picture of him so I captured what's outside today instead.

But the real news is that Dave has been really sick this week with something like bronchitis.

He came home from a conference in Germany late Sunday night, feeling miserable.

Earlier in the week he'd been in Bulgaria to see our JV team there, then had continued on to Germany, feeling absolutely fine the whole time.

But as he landed in Prague and began the train ride home, something hit him like the proverbial 'ton of bricks'. And he's been sick ever since.

This is out of the ordinary for Dave as he just doesn't get sick that often.

While this is most definitely of a physical nature (listening to him cough will tell you that), for sure there is a spiritual element to it as well.

Tomorrow, we are due to leave for Slovakia where Dave will be teaching at KPM, our JV Slovak team's largest youth leader training event. He has the opening session tomorrow night. And the topic??

Spiritual warfare!

So is it any surprise that he's this sick?? No, not really.

On top of that, we leave on Monday for Israel where we'll be leading an Old Testament study trip with 40+ JV missionaries.

All that to say . . . we need prayer! Dave has been at home all day today, and spent a good portion of yesterday resting too. He's starting to feel a little better, but we need prayer covering for the days ahead!

Thank you for asking the Lord with us for His healing, covering and protection!

Monday, March 25, 2019

He's Writing Their Stories

Oh what a difference a few hours makes!

After yesterday's idyllic day with Judah and Asher, I was up at 5:30 this morning with them, and by 6:30, Asher had fallen off a chair and gotten quite an "owie" on his eye. He slept in my arms for an hour after the crying subsided.

This is my worst nightmare while having grandsons on my watch.

It isn't that my kids never got hurt when I was parenting, but that felt different since they were my own kids. These are someone else's!

Thankfully this injury (which happened in the one second I turned my back after having had him next to me for 15 minutes while I was putting something into the crockpot) did not turn out to be serious, though it certainly didn't look good.

But after his little snooze in my arms while he recovered emotionally, a little Peppa Pig got him out of the chair and over to his brother.

Watching him eat breakfast was never so enjoyable!! How thankful I was to see him functioning normally, albeit with a black eye.

And he happily tottered off to play with toys afterward.


Judah was a champ while all of this was happening. He tried to comfort, brought me things for Asher while I held him, and didn't complain once about breakfast being delayed.

His reward? Soccer outside while little brother napped later on!

I know we can't control everything that happens, much as I'd like to when it comes to the grandkids!

But I certainly did cry out to the Lord when Asher fell, and had a huge praise session later, thanking Him for His protection. I'm as vigilant as possible when they're around, but also know that ultimately these grandsons are under the Lord's care, just as my own kids were.

He's writing their stories, and using all sorts of situations and events to shape them into the people He's made them to be. I may have gotten a few more gray hairs over this particular one, but I'm grateful it was relatively small in the big scheme of things, and that Asher was fine by day's end.

"But please Lord . . . can we not repeat that for a while?!"

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Balls, Books and Baths

Tyler and Lara returned from their trip to Albania last night, after nearly 12 hours in transit.

But as planned ahead of time so that 1. they could get some couple time and 2. so I could get some grandson time, they were here by early afternoon to drop off these little guys for the night!

I'm so thankful the sun was shining so we could go outside and walk the yard, as they love to do!

We dreamed about the summer, and daddy's garden that will once again grow in this spot!

And looked forward to warmer days when we don't have to wear coats when we go out.

It's always hard to imagine long summer days when the sun still sets rather early, and you can't stay outside for long.

So we came inside for sticker books . . .

. . .  french fries from Nonnie's french fryer she got for Christmas!

. . . and giggles on the floor (when Asher suddenly climbed on me as Judah and I lay on the floor reading a book!).

While we all live just a half hour apart, I don't get to see these boys so often, given my travels and their busy lives. So being together is a privilege and joy!

Especially getting to capture such moments of their childhood!

We did take one more little trip outside to kick a ball, and then notice the little doggy that now sits outside the kitchen door, ready to welcome the boys as Kaylee once did.

But then it was back inside for more play . . . who needs toys when you have stairs to proudly practice going up and down on?!

And then time for dinner with Aunt Claire who came over to join us!

Food tastes so much better when holding Aunt Claire's hand while you eat!

Then, of course, the day ended with their beloved bath time!

Maybe I was in too much of a hurry at bath time when my kids were this little as I don't remember these kinds of prolonged play sessions in water!

Then again, maybe this is the privilege that comes as a grandparent! You can just linger over balls, books and baths and enjoy their sweet faces as long as possible when they've come for an overnight!

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Charlie Called

My sweet Charlie boy called me one day this week.

He wanted to tell me that special guests were at his house in Albania!

And that he was having a good time with his cousins, playing in his newly discovered fountain in his bathroom. ๐Ÿ˜‚ ๐Ÿ˜‚ ๐Ÿ˜‚ ๐Ÿ˜‚

He also told me that his dad, a second born son, was having some bonding time with his nephew, also a second born son!

That would be Asher!

And that his Uncle Tyler and Aunty Lara had not only brought his cousins to visit, but also a group of interns from the far away country of Czech Republic to see and learn about his world in Albania.

PC: David Hejret (Journey intern on location in Albania!)

He said everybody was having a great time together for the week, especially his daddy and uncle!

PC: David Hejret

I'm so glad Charlie called to tell me about this special first visit from his cousins, aunt and uncle, and the Czech interns. Sounds like it was a great visit!