Friday, July 31, 2020

Date Night with Friends

Date night out with friends? Yes!!

We serve alongside Dušan and Danča in Josiah Venture (Dušan is the JV country leader for the Czech Republic), as well as attend the same church here in Frýdlant.

But more than anything, we are friends.

Sharing our lives with each other is so meaningful and rich! We sat here for four hours, talking about our walks with God, what He's teaching us, and what we're praying for these days. These two are bold, faith-filled believers who daily live out their trust in God. They're inspiring to be with, and an encouragement to our hearts.

We love you Dušan and Danča! (and we love their two girls too, who are vacationing at their grandparents house this week!)

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Beacon of Hope: Malenovice

It's a very different summer up here at Malenovice, our JV training center here in the Beskydy Mountains of the Czech Republic.

While there are a few camps taking place here during the summer, it's not the same as usual when it's filled with young people.

But we are moving ahead with some renovation projects this fall so I was up here this afternoon helping to make some decisions about various parts of the project.

We still don't have permits to begin work on an event center down below -- we've been waiting almost three years to get those, but keep being blocked by neighbors who don't want it built even though the original permission for it came 15 years ago.

So we keep praying and believing God for his perfect timing, as well as working on other projects to keep making it more efficient, and as beautiful as possible!

One day I'm sure we'll look back on this process of waiting, and see how God was building our faith muscles, and teaching us that his ways and timing are perfect, even when we didn't see the path clearly as we waited.

Malenovice has been such a beacon of light and hope to this region these past 22 years, and we look forward to God's future plans for it!

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Let's Talk: Conversation Starters for Dads and Daughters

If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know I have a best friend of 40 years named Michelle Watson...who is now Watson-Canfield as of June 20th!

She is an author and speaker who cares deeply about dads and daughters. A few years ago she published a book called, "Dad, Here's What I Really Need from You: A Guide for Connecting With your Daughter's Heart."

And now, she's written a new book called, "Let's Talk: Conversation Starters for Dads and Daughters".

I highly recommend this book to you, or to anyone who is a dad with a daughter! I can't write a better description of it than what's already on Amazon:

"Many great father-daughter books highlight the benefits of being an engaged father, cite statistics about the impact fathers have on a daughter's life, and give practical advice about how to foster such relationships. But once the stage has been set, many dads don't know what to say or how to approach conversations with their daughters.

Using her decades of experience in counseling young women and coaching fathers, Michelle Watson has created a step-by-step template for having conversations that build a stronger bond through laughter, vulnerability, honesty, and self-disclosure. Let's Talk is filled with dozens of scripted questions that walk fathers through the levels of creating a heart-to-heart connection with their daughters by communicating the right way. Through this easy-to-read guide, dads will learn how to listen and build trust as they move from get-to-know-you chats to deep discussions that dive into their daughters' struggles, hurts, and hopes

You can pre-order the book on Amazon now, and receive it right after it's released on August 4th. 

Happy reading!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Mall Meet-up

Lara wrote this morning saying that Tyler needed to have a meeting at their home around dinnertime, so asked if I wanted to meet up with her, Judah and Asher for dinner at the mall.

Of course!

The boys' choice? Ikea!

This was the very spot where we first went out for lunch when they arrived 2 1/2 years ago to live and serve with JV here in the Czech Republic.

These boys have grown up a lot since then!

Asher was just six months old when they arrived.

After dinner we headed over to the dinosaur play area in the mall.

It was closed for months due to coronavirus restrictions. And even now, no parents can sit inside on those purple benches, nor on the outer edge's seating area either.

But that didn't stop the boys from having fun, or Lara and I from having good conversation while standing and watching them have a great time!

These two brothers are so great with each other!

And do you know what Tyler and Lara just announced? They're having another Patty boy in December! Lara is already halfway through her pregnancy!

Gelato is good for growing boys, isn't it?!

While Lara did a little shopping, the boys and I hung out at the red bus in the mall. What is it about those little rides that go just up and down, that makes them so much fun?!

While we were hanging out here, Caleb called from Albania so we all got to talk for a bit; I wish I'd taken a screen shot of Charlie talking to his cousins!

So thankful for an evening at the mall!

Monday, July 27, 2020

Yes to Suffering

These past four months have been a study of suffering for me.

A lot of light; a lot of dark. A lot of beauty; a lot of pain.

And a WHOLE lot of God, my Father meeting me in those places. Any picture I take right now feels like He's right there with me...maybe beside me, maybe taking the photo! Do you see him?!

It's honestly been a beautiful season of living inside several passages of Scripture.

2 Corinthians 3:18: "And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image...".

1 Peter 4:12-13: "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed."

A part of me has wanted to downplay this suffering, because it's "just" physical (I've had pain in my body for four months). I'm not being persecuted for my faith, living in poverty, or dealing with a life threatening disease. But as I've been walking through this time I've realized there are different types of sufferings, and different seasons of life where you experience it, and that there is no comparing "sufferings".

I read an article that talked about ten different types of biblical suffering: Creation, Grief, Consequential, Victim, Empathetic, Collective, Preventative/Discipline, Holiness, Opposition, and Missional. Of course that's not a comprehensive list, but it does put suffering into some categories.

These categories help me with understanding that there are different types, with each one having its own way in our lives, and potentially, purpose, if we're willing.

While I am starting to feel better physically, I'm still pressing in to all that God has for me during this season of suffering. It's not been easy, but I am growing to know Jesus in ways I've never known before, and wouldn't trade this season for anything. I know him more deeply as the most powerful One, who is graciously, kindly, lovingly, tenderly and fiercely leading me nearer to Him.

One other thought about this as I've contemplated suffering. Someone I read gave this definition.

How do you know if you are suffering? Simple. Just ask “is this a trial? Is this something that can tempt me to discouragement? Is this frustrating?” Anything that feels like a trial is a trial. Anything that can tempt you to discouragement and complaining is a trial. Your faith is being tested in the small things as well as the big. Small things are real forms of suffering.

We all experience suffering on some level; we can receive it and go through it for whatever purposes God has in it for us. Or we can push it away, downplay it, make light of it, reject it or even become bitter from it. 

I am definitely choosing the first option! I want HIS way!!

One of my great heart desires is this: To "...know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life." 1 John 5:20

This is the Gospel! And this is eternal life: to grow in knowing God, till the end of our lives, into eternity. 

If suffering is how I get to know Him more, I'm saying "yes" to it.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Afternoon Drive

This afternoon Dave and I took a little drive into the mountains nearby.

It wasn't a drive without purpose though! We headed to Mlékárna Čeladenka, near Čeladna, the little town where Claire lives.

Up in the hills, where you'd least expect is, is a dairy farm that not only has milk "on tap" (as you can see below), but makes and serves THE BEST ice cream!

People come from all over to stand in line and wait their turn for ice cream that reminds me of my childhood, when it was made in a hand crank ice cream maker.

I have an intolerance to casein, the protein in milk. But for some reason, this ice cream doesn't bother me at all. Good thing because it's something so incredibly special; and everyone around here seems to agree!

There's really no place to sit down at the Mlékárna after you've received your order, so most people just stand outside, or return to their car, like we did!

There we sat, hardly saying a word to each other. This kind of treat is best enjoyed one delicious bite after another, without interruption while looking out to our beautiful mountains in this valley!

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Week-end Guest

During the coronavirus quarantine of March-May this year, we had family spend the night here at our home every week-end.

But when Caleb and Haley were able to return to Albania, and we moved on to more normal life here in the Czech Republic (though still with restrictions), the overnight stays discontinued. That's what made it so special to have Claire come and spend this week-end with us!

Her roommate was hosting a bridal shower party at their apartment this week-end, so she came to stay with us. Such a blessing to have her!

We watched a movie together last night, made great meals, had fun conversation, attended an online webinar just for fun, and took a walk this evening!

While she and I "played", Dave was out chopping wood all day today!

Notice his clever opening for plugs that we use when we sit outside and work on computers at our table!

I'm sorry I didn't take a picture of him working so hard to get us prepared for the winter, but it's sure nice to see a big old wood pile on our patio now!

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Creating Memories

Monday, July 20th, was Tyler's 30th birthday!

We had celebrated over the week-end with him, but on his actual day of birth, he brought Judah and Asher over to spend the morning with me while he had meetings at the office in Frydlant.

Our blueberries are ripe so first order of the day was a picking party!

We don't have so many that we "pick to save", so we just "pick to eat"! What's more fun than that?!

Our July weather has been pretty rainy, but this morning was glorious and allowed us to be outside. I wish I could put a video here of their little happy voices calling out as they run in the yard!

I had big paper leftover from the sign we made for Tyler's birthday, so we colored for a while together, and then moved on to coloring a box, and turning it into a space ship, complete with buttons colored on it by Judah!

How I love their imaginations, and delight in the simple things...even just sliding down the stairs on blankets! 🤣

Even lunch was an imagination station as they created "salami-blueberry" sandwiches. You don't even need bread for those!

After lunch they were eager to head outside again, so off we went towards the garden.

I often wonder what they'll remember from these early childhood days of playing at our house. They probably won't remember specifics, but I hope they'll remember the joy of summer mornings being outside in the beauty of God's creation.

Do you have memories of your grandparent's houses?

I remember my grandparent's cherry trees and blueberry bushes, and the grape arbor at my other grandparent's house, as well as the different kinds of treats each grandma had for us when we'd come over!

I think of my grandparents often when my grandkids are here at our house, and the specific memories I have with them, even from when I was very little. I am trying to be purposeful about making those kinds of memories with my own precious grandchildren even now when they're still young!

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

In His Shelter

If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know that for the past nine years I've posted nearly daily, sharing and documenting our life serving with Josiah Venture, living in and traveling out from the Czech Republic.

But I haven't posted for almost four weeks now.

When I last posted on June 26th, I mentioned that I have been in a lot of pain for the past few months. I've seen doctors and therapists, and had tests and blood work done, searching for answers about how to stop the pain.

What I didn't realize was how valuable pain is.

It has opened up doors and windows into my soul, and body, showing me where I needed Jesus' healing touch on both a physical and spiritual level. I wouldn't trade these past 4 months of pain for anything because of how the Lord has met me so deeply and personally through this pain journey.

Our grandsons, Judah and Asher, were here on Monday this week, spending part of the day with me.

It felt so good to be outside with them as I remember in the spring when I had a hard time even walking outside because of the pain, hurting so much that I was not able to fully engage or enjoy them and the rest of our family, though I certainly was trying to.

My journey through the pain has involved every part of me, spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. There hasn't been just one thing that has been the answer, but rather a combination that has begun to bring healing.

Like anyone else would, I wished and prayed for a quick answer when the pain began back in March. "If only there was a pill to take that would relieve it", I remember thinking.

But Jesus had something so much better for me! He opened up my heart and soul to tend to places that needed his touch as he had something so much greater than just physical relief. He wanted to lead me into an intimacy and closeness with him that I had yet to know.

It's been a very personal journey (not one that involves anything that anyone should worry about!), one that I probably won't speak about in a public way as it's been very holy ground. If you've ever been through such an experience you know what I'm talking about.

I'm not done yet (are we ever DONE?!), but I wanted to break my silence and let people know that what's happening, even the pain, is very good. Some days are much better now, and some days are still difficult.

But I feel tucked in under the Lord's covering in a way I've never experienced before.

And the truth of Psalm 91 means more to me than I could ever imagine or explain.

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare of the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety, he is my God, and I am trusting him."

I may catch up on this past month with a few blog posts, mostly so I remember the journey and special things that happened along the way. But most likely I won't talk about the pain in every post - that's too wearing on me and anyone reading!

But know that God is GOOD! He has shown that over and over and over again these past months as he's revealed more of himself to me. Even through the pain, I wouldn't want it any other way.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Afternoon in Hukvaldy

Tyler, Lara and the boys continued the birthday celebration for Tyler this week-end (his birthday is tomorrow, the 20th), and invited us to come join them in the afternoon in Hukvaldy, a cute town just a half hour away from our home.

The coffee shop is in the building to the right of the church

A new coffee shop, Kavárna fara Hukvaldy, run by our favorite roaster, Father's Coffee in Ostrava, opened this week so we were all excited to try it out!

And they did not disappoint! What a great setting for fantastic coffee!

We headed across the street afterward, just to walk in the gardens of an old villa on this beautiful Sunday afternoon.

Judah ran ahead and came back with a gleam in his eye...

...excited to give his mommy some daisies!!

Caught this sweet family photo of Tyler, Lara and the boys!

And one in the other direction of Claire and I!

Unfortunately Dave had an emergency Skype meeting with one of our JV country leaders so wasn't able to come with us this afternoon.

Sad he had to miss some good hanging around time. 🤣 🤣 🤣

These boys love their adventures, and Tyler is so great at making them happen!

I forgot to take a picture, but while in the gardens we saw just one other family across the way - which was how we knew it was okay to go inside (plus there had been no sign telling us otherwise).

We hadn't been in there more than a few minutes when Claire got a text from her roommate asking, "Is that you across the lawn?" She and her family were the other ones in the garden! 🤣 🤣 🤣

I've known her and her parents the entire time we've lived in Czech...nearly 27 years. They were at the first church we served in, in Havířov. What a sweet surprise to find them there. I hadn't seen them in years.

And what a sweet afternoon with our family, enjoying sunshine and time together.