Monday, January 20, 2020

Patty's in the House

Today is a special day in two ways!!

First of all it's Caleb's 27th birthday today!

What an amazing man of God he is becoming through these years, raising his family in the context of ministry (they live in Albania and serve with us in Josiah Venture), going hard after the language (they've been there a year and a half), discipling students and the director for summer camps to reach Albanian teenagers.

I am so proud of this tenacious, persevering, joy-filled man who brings an element of strength, but also fun, into whatever he does! He has weathered a lot of suffering in his life, but has come through it with faith refined like gold.

I love this Caleb of ours so much! Happy Birthday my dear son!!

Second of begins the first week of Caleb, Haley and Charlie living with us for the next few weeks/months as they await the birth of their daughter here in Czech!! She is due February 22! It is THE SWEETEST to get to live some life together with them here in our home.

Since Caleb left for college he's never lived back at home, and except for visits over the past eight years, we haven't lived life in close proximity. So this is very special!

Feeling deeply thankful today for all of God's blessings,  which include a precious wife, a special son, and a soon to come treasured granddaughter - and all of that from the Father's hand through our wonderful son, Caleb!

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Freshly Squeezed

For Christmas I gave Dave an unusual gift this year.

I adopted an orange tree in Spain for him through something called CrowdFarming!

According to their website, CrowdFarming® is a "new, transparent and sustainable way to source food: adopt a tree, an animal or part of a garden, and receive fresh food cultivated just for you straight from the farmers and help fight food waste."

Our first box of oranges from our "Patty family orange tree" arrived this week directly from Spain.

I started reading about CrowdFarming a few months ago and was so intrigued by it. You get to be part of sustainable farming by investing in small family farms from around the world: Spain, France, Italy, Columbia, Austria, Germany, Hungary and even the Philippines (that one is for a chocolate farm!).

By using this method you're introduced to your farmer and get to buy directly from him/her. It helps them to generate funds and provide jobs in rural areas, as well as helps them plan ahead and avoid overproduction and fight food waste. I like that!

And I loved introducing the goodness of fresh squeezed orange juice to our grandsons today!

Each of them took turns making their cup of juice with me this morning, but I only remembered to have pictures taken when it was Charlie's turn!

He helped me pull the lever down on the orange half and let the juicer do its work as all the goodness dripped into the bowl, which was then transferred to a cup.

Those boys wanted more than one cup (and got it!), that's for sure. They loved every last drop of that orange goodness in a cup.

Over the next few months, we'll get a few more boxes from "our Patty family tree" in Spain. What a fun way to continue helping our little guys learn about where food comes from, and how nice it is to have it fresh!

And by the way, oranges have been one of Dave's favorite snacks since he was a boy. So it's a huge treat for him too to enjoy fresh ones!

Friday, January 17, 2020

Movement of Prayer

I arrived at Malenovice late this morning, just as Dave was finishing up the last main session of JV Winter Academy, our staff training event that's been going on this week.

But before this week of training ended, I got to have time with our team to talk about our continued vision for the Prayer Room, a project that's very dear to my heart.

No movement of God in recorded history has ever not been accompanied/preceded by a movement of prayer. I'm so encouraged by all the prayer that has already been prayed over our team, and believe we're seeing more and more of God's movement, as we've prayed for all these years.

At the beginning of the Prayer Room's fourth year now, we've had 28,000 hours of dedicated prayer for our JV team since January 1, 2017; in 2019 we even exceeded our goal of 8760 hours by 1424 hours!

If you ever want some encouragement about how God is moving because of those prayers, go HERE to see our answered prayer wall in the Prayer Room. There are so many awesome testimonies to how God has been at work.

I look forward to seeing what the fruit of prayer will be again this year as we press forward with the equivalent of praying 365/24-7 which is 8760 hours of prayer.

Maybe this year we can double our amount of EXCEEDED hours in 2019, from 1424 to 2848! Definitely a worthy goal to pray for!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Film Crew in the House

Last night we had a fun visit at our house from these Slovak friends!

They are all here for JV Winter Academy, but asked if they could come over to film Dave for an upcoming event that he'll be speaking at in March in Slovakia.

They wanted to show Dave in his home environment (Christmas decorations and all that are still up! 😂) and have him answer some fun questions about himself so people can get to know him.

They wanted me in the background of the video, just doing what I do (reading and drinking a cup of tea!) so I had a front row seat to the filming.

I'll be so curious to see this video when it's all edited and ready for showing at KPM, the youth leader training event where it will be shown in March!

(By the way, it's all in Czech/Slovak - the questions were asked in Slovak, and Dave shares the answers in Czech! Maybe they'll let me post it after KPM just so you can hear and see it!)

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Lessons from the Journey

This afternoon I headed up to Malenovice to join JV Winter Academy that's in progress right now.

For the past three years, our training team has been hard at work bringing our whole team up to speed and competence in all the various JV training materials and tools.

Every JV staff person now goes through two consecutive years of training - a week a year - to be equipped in these areas.

This afternoon Dave and I had a session with the group who are year one - missionaries who have been on the field less than a year. 

Our topic today was "Lessons from the Journey" - things that we learned (sometimes the hard way!) in our first few years here.

While we could say so many more things about practices that helped us, we chose ten that we felt were significant for these new missionaries, and took turns back and forth, sharing what God taught us along the way.

I don't know if you noticed that ever deepening sunset that was happening outside as we talked!

I seriously wanted to go over to the window and take a picture the whole time we were up there. 😂But I restrained myself...and was happy to find afterward that Rob, one of our JV staff, captured it for me!

Want to know our ten lessons from the journey? Here they are!

1. Don’t doubt in the dark what God told you in the light

2. As you are going, make disciples

3. Let your difficulties sanctify you.

4. Cultivate a thankful spirit.

5. Try everything, build lots of relationships.

6. Pray without ceasing

7. Don’t ignore relational problems

8. Renew yourself

9. Imitate before you emulate

10. Trust God!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Tests in Vienna

My day started off with an early morning tram ride in Vienna, sitting next to Judah (with Lara across from us, taking the picture!).

The three of us came to Vienna last night so that we could be here in time for early morning testing appointments, like here in this beautiful ultrasound center. 

When Judah was two months old he was diagnosed with a digestive system deficiency. Under the guidance of doctors, Tyler and Lara have been tackling it with dietary restrictions over the past four years. But Judah still regularly complains about stomach pain. So that's one of the reasons we're here getting him tested.

Lara has suffered from chronic migraines for years. She's also tried different dietary restrictions, but those haven't resulted in a long term solution. She's also experienced regular digestive pain for the past five years. So we're hoping that these tests will help our doctor in Vienna to find a path to healing for both of them.

Traveling with Curious George throughout Vienna to our different appointments, was just the cutest all day!

We took the underground metro to our next appointment, coming up the long escalator to get back to street level.

The next round of testing was at a clinic our doctor calls her "secret weapon"! I've been here for testing before, and the results that come back are the most in depth I've ever gotten in my life! They can test all the way down to the mitochondrial cell level.

Lara was first up to give blood samples, while Judah and Curious George watched.

All was well as Judah's turn came next, and he climbed up on his mom's lap to get the "poke" in order to have his blood taken.

No matter how much explanation his mom and dad had done ahead of time, that first moment of being poked brought on quite a reaction.

He couldn't calm down, and the needle came out, which meant the nurse would have to do the poke again.

She quickly realized that Judah needed time to recover so let him go out to the waiting room while she brought him tea!

As he stirred in some sugar, I sang that famous song from Mary Poppins, "Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down..."!

The nurse wisely decided to call in the doctor to do the next poke, and she was quite fast and efficient at collecting blood into all the vials.

Judah still cried, but it was over in a flash and before he knew it, he was rewarded with a Batman bandaid!

And even Curious George got a bandaid for his part in helping Judah through that traumatic event!

By the time we got to lunch, we were all ready for good food. Need a good, easy and healthy option  in Vienna? Try Vapiano's! Judah highly recommends the spaghetti bolognese, especially after a trying morning of tests!

He was such a trooper the whole day, hanging in there through all the walking and testing. We're sure praying that these tests will give the doctor a path forward to helping him feel better.

Even though we were only here for medical reasons, it was such a sweet day with both Judah and Lara, and I loved getting to be with them, and help navigate the way through it all.

The testing results won't be in for a month, so it will be a bit before they hear any news. In the meantime you can be praying for clear results that will bring healing to their bodies.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Adventures with Judah

This afternoon I met up at the train station with this cute little man!

Judah (grandson, in case you don't know!), Lara (his mom!) and I headed to Vienna to spend the night. We have doctor appointments first thing tomorrow morning so needed to be here in time for those.

A Monday evening in January seems to be a good time for riding the train! We had a compartment to ourselves most of the way, and empty seats in the compartments around us too so it was quiet.

It made for a very pleasant three hour journey together!

We walked right out of the train station and to our hotel across the street, which gave Judah a great view from the 16th floor!

After a McDonalds picnic on the floor of our hotel room (we'd picked up food in the train station and brought it over here) Judah set about enjoying every bit of our adventure...including heart shaped carrots from his Happy Meal!

The front desk clerk had given him a few kid surprises so he eagerly tested them out. Who doesn't love a kaleidoscope?!

He loved putting his carton of apple juice into the mini frig for whenever he wanted to go take a sip. Oh the simple joy of small things!

He and his mom put together the little puzzle that came with the hotel kid perks...

And he loved testing out the bounce factor on his bed! 😂 😂 😂

Lara had brought a bedtime book so he and Curious George even got to enjoy their regular nighttime routine.

Knowing that tomorrow's testing may not be so enjoyable for Judah, Lara let him make some good memories of our night spent in the hotel room together!

Tomorrow will be a big day for him as he has various tests done to find out what's causing pain in his tummy.

But for now, all is well and we hope to get a good night's sleep before then!

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Prayer for the Tills

Across the valley from our house, lives a missionary family in need of our prayers.

Paul and Sharon Till moved here 16 years ago to serve at BMA, the Christian high school here in Frýdlant nad Ostravicí. God has used them and the school to see many young people put their faith in Christ over these past years. Not only that but they are a vital part of our church family here, serving in many different ways.

Shortly after Christmas, Paul had an emergency appendectomy. It did not go as routinely as we would expect.

He developed serious infection and an obstruction, leading the surgeons to do a second, and then a third operation, which was done this past Friday. He has been in the highest level of intensive care following that surgery. They performed an ileostomy (which they hope will be temporary) and say he is on the most potent antibiotic that exists in the world.

Our church family spent time this morning praying for the Till family, and talking about practical ways we can serve them during this time.

Sharon was diagnosed with bronchitis just a few days ago, so is also suffering. They have one child still at home, a 13 year old boy, who is in need of prayer as well (two of their older children live in the States, and one lives here with his wife and baby daughter).

I have been on my knees in prayer for these dear friends often this past week, asking God to hear our prayers for healing for both Paul and Sharon, as well as for the needs of their 13 year old son in the midst of this difficult time.

If you know Paul and Sharon, you know they are hearty, faith-filled, sincere believers. I don't know why the suffering is so intense right now, but I ask for prayer on their behalf, that God would see them through this time of great trial.

Having walked a road something like this in our family, with health issues, I know the pressures of these kinds of things, and how relentless the testing feels. I'm praying God's supernatural protection over them to weather this storm, and come out on the other side with faith that is refined like gold.

I would never have said that their faith needed this kind of testing, but I trust them into God's hands and pray for his good, kind and sovereign will to be accomplished through it.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Mandatory Rest

Twenty three blog posts written in the past two days...whew! I'm caught up on life!

From December 21st until yesterday I didn't blog because I was living in the moment, enjoying family, friends and the celebration of Jesus' birth.

But blogging is my way of processing life, remembering the joys, working through the difficulties and just keeping track of our full and rich lives. So I always get back to it...even if it takes me a while to do so!

The fact that I've been sick since Saturday (with "only" a cold...but one that has zapped me hard) has given my body time to catch up to all that's gone on these past weeks, and to spend extra time in prayer as I always do when I'm sick.

A friend who knew that wrote me today saying, "...God seems to require mandatory rest for you at times and I know how powerful those times are for prayer, although not easy." So true! Thank you friend, for knowing me well. That was encouraging to be reminded of.

We're still in the midst of a very mild January, with no snow in the forecast any time soon. But it's been absolutely beautiful outside as I've watched sunrises and sunsets from inside (and on occasion when I've ventured out to take a photo, like today).

There is so much to be thankful for these days, even for being made to "lie down in green pastures and lead beside quiet waters."

He is refreshing my soul.