Sunday, June 28, 2020

Joey and Hannah: Wedding Day

Many years ago, while vacationing on the island of Hvar with our three vacation families, Ellenwood's, Hash's and Patty's, the three adult women had a conversation with our three girls about weddings, and even the possibility of having a wedding there one day.

It was Hannah, the Ellenwood's oldest daughter, who said, "I'd love to get married on Hvar someday!"

That didn't end up happening.

Instead, she was married in California today! But when I told her I'd be here on Hvar on her wedding day she replied, "Then I'm kind of getting married there after all!"

As with many other weddings these days, the majority of us who would've been there are instead online for Hannah and Joey's wedding today. Because it was an evening wedding in California, it started at 3 AM for me here on Hvar this morning!

But oh how I wouldn't have missed at least being here online for this precious young woman whom I've loved since she was just a little girl!

Her dad walked her down the aisle, sat by Amy for a bit, and then came back up to give the wedding sermon before turning it back over to their pastor to lead them through their vows.

I have been to a lot of weddings, but have to say - this one was the most tender of them all! Their vows, their smiles, their tears, and their intentionality in every part of the ceremony made it such sacred, holy ground.

The wedding was held in the backyard of Joey's parent's house, where he grew up. This was not the place where they planned or expected to hold their wedding, and in fact was about Plan K (rather than just Plan B!).

But in the end, it was so perfect.

Although there were so many things that didn't turn out like they expected (not least of which was Hannah's brother, Noah and his wife, Jill, unable to come from Montenegro because of coronavirus), there was an exquisite beauty about their wedding that only comes through surrender to God for his perfect will and plan.

Joey and Hannah did that SO well. And God blessed them deeply for it.

I cried so much watching their wedding! I cried tears of sadness for not getting to be there (in normal circumstances I would have flown to California for it), but mostly I cried tears of joy for God's bringing together of this special couple, and their willingness to lay down all of their plans, and receive God's best plan for their wedding. I know He must have been smiling over them for that! I truly believe that they have set a precedence for their lives as a married couple (submission and obedience) that will bring great blessing to them for years and years to come.

As the wedding finished, sunrise was happening here on Hvar, where Hannah had once dreamed of getting married.

What God had for her and Joey there in California was so much better because it was fully God's plan being worked out!

Friday, June 26, 2020

Sea Therapy

This afternoon was the first ever JV Board meeting online, due to the fact that no one could travel to Chicago for the regularly scheduled meeting.

The good news is that Dave was able to be here on Hvar for that meeting, and afterwards take me down to the sea for a swim!

I'm sure every country has their tried and true, non-conventional, answers to various health problems, and yesterday when I went for a massage and it didn't help the pain in my back, I was "prescribed" Croatia's answer: a swim in the sea!

And it was definitely soothing, in more ways than one! The sights, the sounds and the feel of the very salty ocean water holding you up as you float was perfect.

It didn't take away the pain in my upper back (as nothing has for the past month), but I'll go back again and swim just for the joy of being down here!

Oh how I love this part of God's beautiful creation!!

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Unusually Quiet

For the past month I've been having upper back pain that hasn't been solved by any solutions, medicines, therapies or doctors yet. So today here on the island of Hvar, I'm off to try yet another possibility from a gal I've seen for massage in years past. 

It was shocking to see how few people are in Hvar Town, and how many shops are not open.

Normally these streets would be FULL of vacationers, but today they are very quiet.

There are a few restaurants open, with fewer tables than usual out on the square. And just a few shops are open along the well worn streets normally packed with people.

But most shocking of all was the riva, the waterfront, that's normally filled with yachts and tour boats.

Today it's so peaceful you can hear the water lapping at the edge of the sea wall.

You definitely feel the impact of the worldwide pandemic that has reached all the way here to this pretty place in the middle of the Adriatic.

And did my massage help? Not really. ๐Ÿ˜ข

While it was pleasant, she wasn't able to release the pain using her usual methods. I'll keep praying for healing, and for God to reveal His answer to my cries for help.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Hvar Arrival

When I see this view out my window, I know we're almost there!

Where is "there"? Split, on the coast of Croatia!

Dave and I are headed over to Hvar where we, and several other families, have a house, so that we can prepare it for the summer season. Thankfully there are still guests coming, despite the fact that there are not a lot of tourists coming yet to Croatia.

You don't have to wear masks here, but you can see the woman behind me is wearing hers. This is my first time out in public, in an enclosed space, not wearing one since March!

There were not many passengers on the ferry this afternoon. Normally this would be packed.

Hvar Island has only had two cases of the coronavirus, and those were months ago. They opened back up to European travelers a few weeks ago, but it's still pretty quiet here.

Being outside in sunshine was so nourishing this afternoon as we sat at a favorite restaurant on one of the Stari Grad squares.

We were the only ones sitting outside, but there was someone else nearby who came right over after I took this photo, to see what we might have to offer! ๐Ÿ˜…

She wasn't very interested in my salad. ๐Ÿ˜‚

The drive to the south side of the island brought us "home", where we'll be for the next days. It's always good to be here in this part of God's beautiful creation!

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Traveling Again

For the first time since February, Dave and I left home and headed south.

This has been such an unusual season of being home due to coronavirus, when we would normally have been traveling a quite a bit. But the change of pace that the stay-at-home orders have brought into our lives has been so good - a reset of sorts. We've actually been thankful for it (despite the chaos it has brought to the world).

Today we are changing work locations for a few weeks, and heading down to Croatia since the borders are now open.

This is not a border! Just a cool looking bridge under construction on the way.

The house that we built with our friends years ago on the island of Hvar, needs to be opened up for the season. Thankfully, despite the pandemic, there are still guests coming! But we haven't been able to go until now to work on it because of all the restrictions in Europe.

It felt really strange crossing over the border just after I took that picture of Mikulov castle in southern Czech. I can hardly remember a time over the past 26 years when we haven't left Czech every now and then for some reason, even if to just cross into Poland for a hair appointment!

The skies are beautiful and clear (not filled with any airplane streaks!), the colors are vivid (you have to wonder what less emissions has done for the land), and the roads are much emptier than usual.

We have been driving down to Croatia in the summer for over 20 years, and I've never seen so few people traveling as right now. It was strange to pull into a gas station and see just one car there, and no cars in the parking lot behind it.

This would normally be packed with people sleeping in their cars before continuing their journey down south.

We are spending the night in this rest area hotel (too old for sleeping in the car now!), where there are no other guests besides us. The doors were locked when we arrived, and had to be opened by someone working in the kitchen!

It's hard to think of what this is doing for the tourism industry, not just here in Croatia, but around the globe. So many people make their living but it. I know beauty can come from ashes - that's biblical. But it will be interesting to see in years to come how this pandemic affected something as simple as gas stations and rest area hotels...not to mention all the other industries affected by it.

Just Stopping By

Yesterday mid-morning I was in our kitchen, on the phone with someone, when Dave whispered to me, "Jim and Lina will be stopping by in 10 minutes."

Jim and Lina are long time friends, and long term JV teammates who serve in Germany. They've been here in Czech all week-end with a team of people they work with in Germany, going through ministry foundations with Dave. But because I haven't felt well, I wasn't able to be with them. I was so happy they were stopping by!

But before they arrived, I didn't get a chance to ask Dave what they were coming for, or how long they were staying!

About a half hour into their visit, I asked how long they were going to stay. Dave replied for them, "Until we finish our debrief of the week-end!"

I then asked if they wanted to stay for lunch...because amazingly, I had ingredients for a meal! We were planning to leave for Croatia today, but I'd not only bought things for dinner on Monday night, but miraculously bought extra...I don't even know why, except that the Lord had led me to do that.

Now I know why!

We had such a wonderful afternoon with these dear friends and I'm glad the Lord worked out all the details for their "stopping by" visit.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Leading Through Coronavirus

This morning I came downstairs to our kitchen and found this happening.

No, that's not Dave. He was in his office.

But he and his brother, Josh (who is here from Slovenia right now) were on the same Zoom call this morning with all the country leaders of JV, spread out across Central and Eastern Europe!

During these past 3 months of living in lockdown because of COVID-19, these two have been meeting every Monday morning with all the country leaders to lead them to lead their teams through this unusual time.

People have asked Dave if he's enjoyed a break during the pandemic; but the truth is, he's worked harder than ever to lead through this challenge. He and Josh both care about God's mission here, and have gone to great lengths, and personal sacrifice, to up their leadership care during this time.

I'm so proud of both of them, and thankful for their godly wisdom and determined tenacity that keeps them going though the circumstances of life that God sends their way.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Father's Day x 30

On this rainy first day of summer, Dave and I came here to celebrate his Father's Day.

This is where Claire lives, about ten minutes from our home. And today she's making lunch for us, to celebrate her dad!

This is his 30th Father's Day celebration, which began with Tyler who was born in July 1990, then Caleb in 1993, and finally, Claire in 1994!

While Dave is a leader, and president of Josiah Venture, his greatest joy is in being a dad! He has made so many investments of love into our kids all these years, and it didn't stop when they left for college! He continues those investments to this day. I love that about him.

Claire made Pho (Vietnamese Noodle Soup), which is a labor of love and purely delicious!

We had the sweetest afternoon at her house, being blessed by her hospitality, and celebrating this dad who we all love so much!

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Ken and Michelle

When your best friend of 40 years gets married, for the first time, and you can't be there, you watch every second online!

My dear friend, Michelle, who I first met in the summer of 1980, married Ken Canfield today in Portland, Oregon. Because they are under restrictions, only 25 could be in the sanctuary at a time which meant being creative so that some of their family could be inside to watch.

Three of their granddaughters walked down the aisle with the others in the wedding party, and stayed there during the first worship song, a Sarah Reeves song called, "Just Want You".

This song is such an anthem of truth for these two, with the chorus saying, "I don't want it if You're not in it, I just want You". If anyone lives this way, these two do!

Michelle also sang during their wedding, a song she wrote 25 years ago, and sang for the first time publicly today for Ken, as a surprise!

When she wrote it, she had no idea she would sing it for HER wedding!

One of Ken's daughters, and her husband, sang "The Blessing", a powerful worship song that came out this year, and has been sung around the globe during the pandemic. It was such a fitting song to pray over Ken and Michelle as they begin their life together.

Finally, Michelle's pastor of many years, pronounced them husband and wife, and the first kiss took place!

I love seeing Taylor's uplifted arms here! She is Michelle's "adopted" daughter who took my place as matron of honor when I wasn't able to fly to be there. She was just married this past November, with  Michelle "mother of the bride" (Taylor's parents both passed away many years ago so God gave Michelle to Taylor, and Taylor to Michelle, to be mother-daughter), so it seemed perfect that she could serve her "mom" in  this way!

Michelle has been one of those uniquely content single women, who wrestled it out with the Lord years ago and submitted her will to His (which was singleness for the past 60 years). But I remember her telling me that if EVER God changed his mind and had marriage for her, she wanted to walk down the aisle with her husband to the "Hallelujah Chorus".

And so she did!

I am crazy happy for Michelle and Ken, knowing that this a great blessing from the Lord that He has brought them together, and that they will be a powerful couple for His Kingdom; but also it's beautiful to see that they already love each other with what I've call a "thirty year love". Look at their faces here to see what I mean!

These two! I couldn't be more happy to have witnessed the coming together of their lives as husband and wife, and pray for a lifetime of rich love between them!

Michelle sent me this picture later on, when they'd gone out to take their photos overlooking the Willamette River and the city.

The Lord bless you
And keep you
Make His face shine upon you
And be gracious to you
The Lord turn His
Face toward you
And give you peace