it's all grace

a journey with the Thomason family

Month: July 2014 (page 1 of 7)

A Refreshing Day

Today was unexpectedly refreshing. Even though it was a pretty foggy, rainy, and physically darker day, the Lord reminded me of why we’re here.

It’s been a pretty full week at the JV office as we have a lot of new projects rolling and the new created team that I’m part of is just really starting to understand how to work in a new place with new people. I’ve been helping organize different projects, working on some graphic design for the training center/hotel and now I have my hand in a few other things as well. After leaving a meeting this afternoon I returned to the Creative Communications (cTeam) office where our video guys and Dave Patty were sitting, watching interviews of young people from this summer’s camp ministry. Although I had other things I was working on it was impossible to continue to work as I could hear the amazing stories of changed lives in the background. Finally, I stood up and began to watch them myself over the shoulders of the others guys.

The Last Day of July (7/31/14)

My eyes began to tear up as I listened. “All I want to do is tell everyone about Jesus” said one young man. “Jesus changed my life. Now I have a Bible and I’m going to read it” said another student. One after another, story after story, of young people at camps who have come to grips with their sin, repented, and are seeing the Savior for the first time. Then I got a phone call.

The Last Day of July (7/31/14)

Our Czech friend Katka called me because she is helping us with some details regarding our visas and when she was finished asking me a few questions she said, “Do you have a minute? I have to tell you about this guy who got saved at camp last night.” “Sure!” I replied. Katka began to share how she had been praying for this young man for three years but admitted that she thought he was pretty hard hearted and hung out with the wrong crowd. But last night, during the “gospel night” this young man bowed his knee to the Savior. Katka shared that he even woke up this morning and told his cabin leader that “I feel like a new man. I read the Bible you gave me and it talked about the Jesus that saved me!” Wow. “That’s amazing, Katka!” I said, trying to keep my emotions in check on the phone. If that doesn’t refresh your soul, I don’t know what will!

It’s stories like that young man that our team gets to communicate. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to share on the blog some of the amazing video our team captured and for you to see first hand how God is radically moving in this part of the world. Not everything about graphic design, videography, and media work is easy or even fun. But today in the office I think we all had a wonderful reminder of why we’re here and how God is using the ministry of JV alongside local churches to see young people come to Christ!

Saying Good (7/31/14)

Tonight we had plans to hang out at a friend’s house but our plans changed late in the day and we ended up throwing together a dinner at home. I believe this was Divine because it gave us the opportunity to spend one more night with Lindsey and Kailey who have been staying with us the past few days. Tomorrow morning they leave on an early train for Prague and then on to Frankfurt to visit their family. They have blessed us greatly the past few days and have been such an encouragement to us. Our kids love “the girls” as we took the above photo tonight before the kids went to bed.

Lindsey has plans to return to Slovakia next year and continue ministry there. Kailey is definitely leaning that direction, but needs to finish college and see what the Lord would have. Please pray for them as they travel the next few days and definitely pray for their future. Our hope and prayer is that God would continue to use them and maybe one day they’ll both be back in this part of the world serving full-time!

Our First Date Night

First Date Night (7/30/14)

Thanks to the help and kindness of Lindsey and Kailey (our house guests!), we were able to have our first date night here in Czech!

As we walked away from our apartment tonight to head to the restaurant Bethany said something to the effect of, “walking to the restaurant on date night is a first.” Yes, it is. But there’s a great place here in town called “Da Capo” that our friends introduced us to that we just love. No one that works there really speaks English, and even though we’re working on it we don’t speak Czech, but we somehow used what little we know to order our meals, get some water, and even have a little zmrzlina (ice cream) for dessert. You’d be surprise how stressful it can be just to try and order a meal when you don’t speak the language. We always feel bad when they are talking and we have no clue what’s being said, but our waitress tonight was very gracious, spoke slowly for us, and for the most part it was a huge success.

Da Capo serves Italian food and Bethany ordered bruschetta for an appetizer and I ordered the cream of broccoli soup. Here’s a few pics. Check out that sour cream (I think that’s what it is) on my soup!

First Date Night (7/30/14)

First Date Night (7/30/14)

First Date Night (7/30/14)

For the main course we both ordered pizza with meat on top and we topped it all off with some vanilka (vanilla) ice cream. At first we said, “dva vanilka zmrzlina” which is a rough way of saying “2 vanilla ice cream” and when our waitress repeated it back she pointed to each of us and said “dva… dva” as if to say, “two for you and two for you?” Being the good language students we are we quickly figured out that she was going to give us two scoops each but we were able to clear that up and only have one scoop each. Score “one” for language lessons (see what I did there?)!

First Date Night (7/30/14)

After dinner we tried to find a coffee place that was open but it looks like the whole town basically closes up around 6pm and we were too late. So we did a casual walk around the town square (photo above) and I’m still amazed and what we get to see. The old buildings and the European feel here are still new enough to amaze me. Finally we took a casual stroll home and walked off a little of that zmrzlina.

It was nice to get away for a bit and we’re so thankful to Lindsey and Kailey for watching our kids. At one point during dinner Bethany said, “Does date night include a nap?” I laughed in agreement. We have been going, going, going for over a month now and even still we have boxes we’re unpacking. It’s a lot of work right now and we definitely need time to rest and just enjoy each other. Lord willing we’ll be able to get some consistency with date night so we both don’t feel like we need a nap!

Visitors From Slovakifornia

Slovakifornia is not a real place, but it’s the best way to describe where our wonderful visitors came from today. Kailey and Lindsey Richardson are two young ladies that we have known for a long time from our home church in California. They have been serving in an English camp ministry in Slovakia for the past month and today they took the train to come stay with us! Catching up with them today and hearing their stories was such a blessing. Actually, the Lord has done incredible things in their lives and they are documenting some pretty great stories on their own blog so definitely check it out.

Visitors (7/29/14)

It’s absolutely incredible to me that they are in our place in the Czech Republic right now. They rode on the train for more than 5 hours this morning and although they had a few different connections they made it here without much of a hassle. Bethany literally walked over to the train station to meet them and they all walked back to our apartment.

Tonight at the dinner table it was just a blessing to hear about their ministry in Slovakia and how God has been working in the towns they are serving in. These girls have a passion for Christ and the gospel and I’m sure they will see much fruit from their time there. They may be staying with us a few days and then eventually head over to Germany where their uncle serves as a missionary.

One of the neat things they are doing is reading their late mother’s diary who also did some traveling through Europe thirty years ago with one of her friends. I believe they are trying to visit some of the same places she did when she was young and read her thoughts along the way. They shared that often they laugh at some of the things their mom wrote. Karen (their mom) was a special women who loved Christ and we were blessed to know her. These girls definitely have a lot of their mom’s heart in them and talking with them tonight was such a joy to our own souls. What a joy to have see some familiar faces in a place that still feels so unfamiliar.

Rain, the Sandbox, and How to Dad

Lightning struck, thunder rolled, and it rained a lot. They say that in July is the wettest month in this region. I believe it. Today’s storm packed a punch and when the lightning started it didn’t stop for a while. I shot the below video today while at the JV offices. We have those ceiling windows which made it fun to look straight up at the raining pouring down. If you watch closely a white lined appears about 3-4 seconds in and that’s actually a flash of lightning that my iPhone can’t seem to handle.

When it rains we pretty much have to keep the kids inside, especially when it comes down like it did today. But after I got home this evening things had cleared up so I took the kids to the park while Bethany went to the store. We have some visitors coming tomorrow and Bethany wanted to make sure we had enough food while they stay with us. More on that in tomorrow’s blog!

Titus wanted to take some sand toys to the park so we carried (well, Avery carried) the buckets over and we walked down the street to the closest play area. Even though it was a little muddy the kids took their shoes off and began to dig. Titus said, “Just like the beach!” so I just went with it. We packed the buckets as much as we could and started to build a castle fortress. That’s what dad’s do, right? Our job is basically to up the awesome in whatever we’re doing with the kids (sometimes to the chagrin of mom!). So I got down in the sand and we filled up some buckets and built ourselves a castle. I actually had a lot of fun. It was wet, my hands felts weird from the sand, but the kids were laughing and loving it and that made it all worth it.

Rain Day (7/28/14)

Rain Day (7/28/14)

Rain Day (7/28/14)

Later tonight the kids had a little snack at the table and I was finishing up some of my own Bible reading and just happened to be in Proverbs 4. I told the kids, “Let me read to you from my Bible.” In dramatic fashion I was reading to them from that passage which is a chapter written from a dad to his son. When I got to Proverbs 4:7 I said, “Get wisdom!” Bethany then brought me a little book we have called “Get Wisdom!” that is written as a little study for kids and parents so I flipped to the first section on “Listening” and the kids and I worked on their listening skills. Then we flipped to “Orderliness” and we started cleaning up the room and putting all the toys away.

During those moments I was reminded how important it is for dad to be dad, especially when it comes to spiritual things and leading my kids. It’s not that I didn’t know that, but I just had a fresh reminder of it tonight. I need to be able to play with them in the sandbox and practice with them in our house. I need to be able to “Wraskel” (wrestle) with them in our bed and then work with them and help them grow.

That’s probably why I was so impressed today by a commercial that Cheerios released on YouTube this past week. For the first time in a really long time it’s actually in praise of dads. So often in advertising the dad is seen as inferior to mom and kind of an idiot, but in this ad Cheerios actually praises fatherhood. At one point the dad even says, “Dadhood isn’t always easy because when a rule is broken we’re the enforcement…but when a heart is broken we’re the reenforcement.” Now that’s a message I can get behind–that’s how to dad.

Parenting and Doing Church in Czech

Today we enjoyed our fifth Sunday at our new church here in Czech. For the most part the services are very similar to a church service in the States with music, announcements, preaching, prayer and sometimes a testimony or two. Today they did a baby dedication for a little baby named Matthew. It’s the second one we’ve seen and it’s always a joy to watch the care the pastors have for the families here and as we listen through a translator we can tell they truly care about these parents and the children. Even this morning the pastor reminded the parents and the rest of the church that children are a gift from God (see Psalm 127:3-5).

Church Day (7/27/14)

We probably needed that reminder more than the parentings dedication their baby today. For whatever reason our kids just didn’t want to be in church today. Now, granted, it’s different for them right now. Everything is new, they are having to sit with us through the whole 2+ hour services, it’s hot, they’re sweaty, and it’s just generally a little hard. But we really are trying to work hard at teaching and training them to listen, obey, and be respectful of everyone else during the service. They only usually last about an hour (at most) before the “breakdown” as I’ll call it. Today I think it was only 30 minutes before Titus was bursting out crying and Bethany was carrying him out of the building. Avery lasted a little longer with some distraction, but soon she was bolting for the door saying, “Mommy! I want mommy!” For a while we were in and out of the service and just kept switching. It feels like those wrestlers who stand outside the ring waiting for a hand slap and then they’re in and the other one is out.

For the summer months the church doesn’t really have Sunday school classes for the kids. A lot of people are on holiday (vacation) and even though there are still a lot of families around they just don’t do classes for the kids until the fall months begin. So you can imagine the challenge for us as we try keeping our kids behaved while listening to the service through a translator ear piece and hopefully not be a huge distraction from the worship. Thankfully the Czechs seem to be very forgiving of us, but it’s like flying with screaming kids…you just feel the burden of it as a parent. For the last 20 or so minutes of the service Bethany finally resorted to taking both kids outside where a few other families were as well (shown below playing in dirt).

Church Day (7/27/14)

Really what we need right now is prayer specifically for church and Sundays. We need patience, grace, wisdom, and love for our kids. Our desire is to stay calm, be understanding, but also help train them during this process and transition. Sundays are important to us. There’s a lot going in as we learn the culture, meet new people, learn the language, and try to participate in the worship service on Sunday. But today those things were definitely put on the back burner as our kids really just needed us to work with them. Please pray for us as we learn and grow in all of this.

Church Day (7/27/14)

Beyond church afternoon was actually really restful. Chris spent most of the day with us and had to leave for his meetings around 4 o’clock this afternoon. It was such a joy to talk with him and hear his heart for the people of Slovenia. We’re thrilled that God has called the Wick family to they very needy country.

Later Avery and I played a little game of Candy Land and it was fun just spending a little one on one time with her.

Church Day (7/27/14)

Tonight Bethany made home made pizza and we just spent time together as a family. We tried Skyping with Bethany’s parents but there was something wrong with their connection and all of our troubleshooting just didn’t seem to fix it. We try to Skype at least once a week with them and usually Sundays are good time for that. Hopefully we can figure out the technical glitch and get another time in with them this week.

Church Day (7/27/14)

As I was doing the dishes the faucet just kind of came off the pipe (shown above). That has never really happened to me and I genuinely starting laughing out loud when it did. “Bethany!” I yelled from the kitchen. “The faucet just fell off into the sink!” She immediately started laughing too. I don’t know why I was laughing because honestly that would really frustrate me normally. Maybe it’s just because we kind of expect that kind of thing to happen now? Things don’t always work like the way we think they should here in Czech. That’s just life right now.

But God is still in control and He cares as much about how I respond to my faucet as how I respond when my kids are loud and crazy in church. A lot of it is a change in my attitude. I should expect that it’s going to be hard in church and not normal for our kids. That’s OK. With a few cranks of my wrench I was able to get the faucet working again and with a lot grace, patience, discipline, love, and the Lord’s help I hope we’ll be able to sit through a Czech church service as a family. God is in control and that’s enough for us today.

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