Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Living in Paradox

We had a couple of bike riders show up at our house this afternoon!

Every Wednesday, since they moved down to Frydlant, Caleb has been coming over to take a walk with Dave to talk about life and ministry as they look forward to returning to Albania.

Today, he rode his bike over with Charlie, they walked with Dave (even though the skies were threatening rain), and then they headed off for home.

But that wasn't the end of seeing them today! They'd invited us to come for dinner at the apartment they're staying in until they can go home.

Even though we left our house just shortly after they did, they beat us down here!

This apartment belongs to one of our JV missionaries who is away right now. They'll be able to stay here until the borders open and they can go back home to Albania.

Haley prepared a delicious meal for us, and Charlie kept us entertained while she was finishing it!

He's enjoying their new space, but also missing Albania. He hasn't been there since December 23rd, and yet there is never a day when he doesn't mention that he misses it - his home and their friends.

It's so beautiful that God has put a love in his heart for Albania at such an early age!

Jenna is her sweet self!

She's two months old now, as of Monday the 27th! I'm still soaking in all the precious moments with her as we watch her grow up close.

It was a strange, but wonderful feeling, getting in the car to go home (all four minutes of the drive) after our evening with them. We never expected to "do life" with them when they came with JV to serve in Albania, and yet God's kept them here so that we can for now!

As we were leaving them this evening, Dave said, "We sure love having you close to us!" And then followed it up with, "And we will happily send you back to Albania when God opens that door."

So there's the paradox we are living in right now. We are SO glad they're here! And yet, will be happy to send them back to their home and calling when the time is right.

There is both joy and sorrow mixed into that paradox. We love them being here; and we love them doing what God's called them to do.

It reminds me that the Father understands this paradox; for sure it was hard to send Jesus to earth and not have him nearby (though of course they could always communicate, as can we!). There's something about the day to day life that is extra special. And there's something even more special about doing God's will.

For now, this is God's will and we're thankful! We will enjoy it for as long as we have it, and enjoy God's will for them when they leave to go home.

Monday, April 27, 2020

JVK Zoom Party

Since quarantine began across Europe in mid-March, Claire has been doing something special for the JV Kids every Monday afternoon.

She gathers the JVK, and staff who are at JV kid's camp in the summer, on a Zoom call and they have what she calls a "JVK Party"! She's done all sorts of different activities for them these past weeks, to  encourage and perk them up during these weeks where they're at home with just their families.

She invited Dave and I as guests today, to each share a fun JVK story!

I went first, telling about how our family moved into Malenovice, a place the JVK are all familiar with. But not many know that our family lived there for three years!

I told the story of how we had a party in the elevator on an April Fool's Day one time, surprising all the Czech interns during one of their week-long intensives! I also shared about how our family would go into the restaurant for Friday night homemade pizzas! This is what we looked like during that time!

Dave told the Zoom party a story about he and I going to JV Kid's camp in the summer of 2012.

His story was about how HOT it was that summer, the fun he had trying to teach the JVK how to waterski behind our boat, about zooming them around on a big tube and making them fly off, and about how we dressed up for Wild and Wacky Night!

It was such a fun connection with today's JVK, and so great to see their faces in their homes across the Central and Eastern European countries where they and their families serve!

Saturday, April 25, 2020

The Patty Orchard

Every week-end that our family has spent together during this time of quarantine, has had something about it that "marked" it.

Today, it was tree planting!

I can't remember who had the idea, but someone in the family thought it would be great to plant a tree with each of the little boys to mark this time we've spent together. So today, trees were bought, and holes were dug!

And even though it felt more like a fall day, everyone came outside for the "festivities"!

First tree in: Judah's cherry tree!

While he'll hopefully remember the fun of planting it with Papa, what he'll probably remember more is the fun of jumping in the holes! 😂

Maybe all three of them will remember when they fit into one hole!

Next up was preparation for Charlie and Asher's trees.

Charlie got a piece of the action helping daddy out with the digging!

And into the ground went his plum tree!

Asher was up next with his matching plum tree!

We debated whether or not to plant a tree for Jenna, but decided she would probably rather do it when she's more aware of what's going on!

So Claire got to plant an apple tree as "her" tree!

This was a dream fulfilled for her as she's always wanted an apple tree in our yard!

It was such a special time, making a memory that's going to last, and result in true fruit, for years to come!

We envision planting more trees in the little "orchard" as more little ones come our way!

Sweet Jenna

For all the grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends, just a little post about sweet Jenna!

She was 8 weeks old, on Thursday this week -- and officially turns 2 months old on Monday, the 27th. How have two whole months already gone by with this darling girl?!

One of the things we're all curious about is Jenna's eye color! Do you see how blue they are in that picture above? And if I could take a picture looking straight into them, you'd see what an unusually pretty shade of blue they are!

The curiosity is if they'll stay a shade of blue, like her daddy's, or if they'll change into brown like her mommy, or turn hazel like her brother (whose eyes are a fascinating shade of green, brown and grey!).

We won't know for a while, but it's a fun curiosity to speculate about!

One thing is for sure: she is the sweetest, most peaceful baby! And we're all crazy in love with her!

Green and Yellow

This morning I was upstairs in our new playroom (that we recently reclaimed from being a storage area!) with the three little boys, playing with cars, reading books, and enjoying their silliness!

I happened to look out the window and was reminded that I'd noticed this yellow field earlier, and was curious about it.

Normally at this time of year, everything seems to be some shade of green, though sometimes we do have canola fields around us that turn yellow.

But the yellow field out the window is definitely not canola. And it's like nothing I've ever seen here. So Claire and I decided to go for a quick drive and find out what it is.

This is one of my favorite places, just a few minutes from our house. It's always a spectacular view, but especially right now!

We carefully walked into both the green and yellow field, looking at the crop to see what was different, as usually they plant the same thing in these fields.

It does look like the same plant; but obviously, something's happened to the yellow field; while the yellow one looks like it's dying, the green one is flourishing.

Later on in the day, Claire posted an Instagram story about it, asking if anyone knew what the crop was, and why one side is green while the other is yellow.

Some said it could be crop desiccation, but that's usually done just before harvest, to dry out the crop.  Others said it had been sprayed with a fertilizer that ended up "burning" the grass because we haven't had as much rain as usual. Why they would have sprayed one side and not the other, is a mystery.

So for now, we are just taking note of a curiosity, and enjoying the beautiful range of colors right now here in the Beskydy Mountains!

Friday, April 24, 2020

Weekends with Grands

When the quarantine orders here in the Czech Republic came into effect in March, and we decided as a family that we'd quarantine together (at our own houses, so that we could gather on the week-ends together knowing we'd all been safe during the week), who knew how long it would last?

But here we are, on our seventh week-end, hanging out in our yard on a beautiful spring afternoon!

It's been amazing to see each other every week-end, watching the kids grow up before our eyes, for one thing!

I just looked back at pictures from March and am amazed at the changes that have come in just these short seven weeks.

This afternoon as I sat out in our yard while Judah and Asher played, and we waited for Charlie to arrive, I was positively tickled at the thought that I'm "that" grandma (Nonnie), that gets to have her grandkids over on the week-end!

Never in my wildest dreams did I envision this - not when we moved to Czech 26 1/2 years ago; not when my kids began to leave for college eleven years ago.

Nor did I imagine it when God called Caleb and Haley to Albania. I was just thrilled by the fact that they were serving in our same organization, and that we'd see them at conferences and such.

But here we are, getting to live life alongside them, as well as Tyler, Lara, Claire and all of the grandkids!

After dinner Dave went outside to play with the little boys. How cool of God to arrange for him/us to get to spend this much time investing in our precious little ones!

Judah is just about 4 1/2 now, so it's possible that he'll have real memories of these times together.

Asher, Charlie and Jenna most likely will only have memories from pictures (which is partly why I blog!), but we'll for sure tell stories of the time that we all got locked down together, and made so many sweet memories with each other.

For sure there are hard things about these times we're in; but there is a lot to be thankful for too. And that's what I'm choosing to do!

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Grandma's Underlined Verses

The Lord has been gracious to give us an unusually beautiful April, with so much sunshine every day to cheer our hearts. Sunrises and sunsets are truly lovely these days.

Do you notice anything amiss in the photo though, taken at the end of our driveway this evening?

The mountains are sturdy and in their usual place; the sun is setting to the west as always; the farmhouse stands firm as it has all the years we've lived next to it.

But the tree. The tree that's leaning to the right, up against the house. Do you see it?

I have a feeling that's a little bit like how some people might be feeling during this season of lockdown. You're still standing, but leaning at the same time. You may not have the same strength you once had to endure whatever is happening in your part of the world. Or you may feel like you're even about to fall over.

I've had days of that here and there during these past six weeks, feeling weary of the uncertainty of what's ahead for us. While Czech has a five step plan in place for re-opening the country by June 8, it's all dependent on if the cases of COVID-19 rise or fall; and it's dependent on how the countries around us do, in terms of opening up the borders.

I recently came across my Grandma's Bible that our family let me have when she passed away in April, 1992. I remember when I first received it, I was so captivated by the verses that she'd underlined, wondering what it was that struck her at the time to make note of certain verses. This one stood out to me when I thumbed through the pages recently, a verse that she had underlined twice!

"Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:3-4

Meditating on that for the past two days has given me strength to stand up straighter, trust the Lord, and actually enjoy the safe pastures that He's given to us right now. I don't need to know the future, worry about it, or try to make sense of it. I know the One who holds it, and He is trustworthy. I've committed to do more dwelling in his land and enjoying his safe pastures, as I live in these coming days and weeks.

I think my Grandma would be glad that I too chose to underline this verse!

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

JV Prayer App

An app for your phone, that takes you into our JV Prayer Room, is finally moving forward and going to happen!

From my glamorous bedroom office, complete with clothes hamper as my desk, I met with my technical team today by Zoom and laid out what the Lord has given to me in these past months.

It's been exhilarating and excruciating, all at the same time, waiting on Him for the download of everything from the vision statement to what each frame of the app could look like.

I am SO grateful to the Lord, for hearing my cries and answering them over these past months/years while I've waited on Him for the vision and details - we first started talking about it in January 2019 so this has been a work in progress for a while now.

I love that the Lord is in the big things, and the small, and that in His perfect timing, He showed me the way so that I could give it to our team who will execute this vision.

My prayer is that it will be ready to go on January 1, 2021, though it wouldn't bother me in the least if it were done sooner! Who knows, but the fact that we're all working from home these days, might actually open the way for it to be completed earlier than expected.

There are some new aspects to it that will be different from the online web version, with one in particular being REALLY cool to me! Stay tuned for more news on that one.

Pray for us as we continue the development and design - that this app will result in more connection with God and more prayer for his movement here in Central and Eastern Europe!

Want to join us in prayer for what God's doing here right now? Click HERE! We have a new 15 minute guided prayer time if you want to try it out.