it's all grace

a journey with the Thomason family

Category: Christianity (page 2 of 8)

A Trip to Prague

Travel to Prague (12/23/14)

Oh, you know how it goes. You spend two days packing and making sure everything is ready to go. You stay up late the night before the big trip just to make sure you’ve packed everything. A few things get added to your luggage, you mark off your packing list, and then you zip up your bags and put them by the door for an early departure. Then, you barely make your train. But barely is still making it!

Travel to Prague (12/23/14)

The train ride today was a lot of fun and I’m actually really glad we got to experience this trip in this way. It’s 4 hours from our place to Prague, but we had our own little mini room with four seats and plenty of space for our all of our stuff. The trains here are incredible and come complete with free coffee, free juice for the kids, and even free WiFi–not to mention pretty reasonably priced tickets. It’s just really nice to be able to sit and relax on the train and let someone else do the driving.

We are staying tonight in a hotel by the airport and will depart early tomorrow morning. Our Czech friend Martina sat with us on Sunday to explain just where to go and how to get around Prague and we had no trouble figuring it out with her directions. To get to the hotel we took a train, a bus from the main train station, and then a shuttle to the airport. It was a lot of maneuvering of baggage and kids but we made it work.

Travel to Prague (12/23/14)

One of the highlights was on the bus from the train station to the airport where we talked with a young college student from Instanbul named Umur. He’s studying mechanical engineering in a town near ours but was traveling back to Turkey to see his family for the holiday. He was a really nice guy and was laughing and smiling with our kids. We talked about Turkish kabobs, which he told us were the real ones, and just chatted about different cultures and language. Near us were some young girls who gave their seats to our kids and they were from Portugal. Since everyone spoke English we had fun chatting and joking. It’s so fun to be around so many different cultures and people from different nations. I truly do praise God for the opportunity to talk and meet these young people today.

We had a simple dinner tonight and are getting prepped to give the kids baths and get a short night of sleep. We’ll be up early tomorrow (around 4:30/5:00am) to get to the airport for our 7am departure. Hopefully we’ll get good sleep and be ready for the big 17+ hours of travel ahead of us!

Here’s a bunch more photos from today.

Travel to Prague (12/23/14)

Travel to Prague (12/23/14)

Travel to Prague (12/23/14)

Travel to Prague (12/23/14)

Travel to Prague (12/23/14)

Travel to Prague (12/23/14)

Travel to Prague (12/23/14)

Thy Perfect Light

Driving home this evening I saw a lot more houses and trees with Christmas lights. From what I have been told, Czechs usually don’t decorate until Christmas Eve or a few days before Christmas. Based on what I saw tonight, that’s definitely true because even our own landlord had Christmas lights hanging from her balcony and a little wreath on our shared front door (shown below).

The Door (12/22/14)

I made a stop at the grocery store when I got town and the place was crazy. There were a ton more cars than normal and people were in super shopping mode. Christmas Eve is the day they open presents here, so I guess I was just caught in the middle of the last minute gift shopping. Everything was on sale, so I honestly don’t blame them. I actually made a stop at a second store for some other items and it too was full of people, and both stores had vendors outside selling live carp (that’s fish), which is a tradition here.

But as I was out, I was listening to the carol “We Three Kings” as sung and arranged by Steven Curtis Chapman. I’m sure I’ve heard the song a thousand times, but the words just really sank in tonight. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m aware of just how spiritually dark Czech is, but the song ministered to me as I saw the flickering lights and Christmas shoppers.

The carol walks through the life of Christ from His birth, death, and resurrection. The refrain ends with a line that just stuck with me today that says, “Guide us to thy perfect light.” I think I’m interpreting this correctly, but the light here is Christ. The imperfect star the kings are following is just leading them to a perfect light, the source of light, the Light of the World.

As I listened, my heart was heavy for the Czech people. So many will hang lights and celebrate this year without any knowledge of the True Light, Jesus Christ. My heart was filled with compassion for the many around the globe who will exchange gifts and travel to see family, again, without an understanding of the gospel of Jesus. My prayer tonight is that God would guide the lost to the Perfect Light this Christmas. I hope He uses me to do it, and I hope He uses many others around the world as we celebrate the birth of Jesus.

All Packed!

It’s very possible we’ve gone mad over here, but we’ve been packing pretty much all day. I just weighed Bethany’s bag with our trusty bag weighing thing-a-ma-jig and it was 51.3 pounds. That’s 1.3lbs over the limit so we’re moving things around to make it work. Why so heavy you ask? Well, we’re trying to take things back with us that we just don’t need over here or want to leave in the States. For instance, we have a 2.3lb bag full of American coins and we’re taking it back (I think it may have been from the kids’ piggy bank?). We have old VHS movies, a hair dryer that doesn’t work on European power, and a few gifts to take back as well. All that to say, we’ve got big, full suitcases that we’ll be hauling around the globe here in the next couple days.

All Packed! (12/21/14)

Basically, our plan is to have 4 large suitcases since we are allowed 1 bag per seat at no extra charge. On our way to the States we’re hoping to only take 3 and pick up another suitcase for our return. With Christmas presents and other things, we’ll probably have a lot more stuff coming back to Czech so we’re trying to plan well on this end. In the photo above the kids thought it was hilarious to put pillows and lay in our in one of our large suitcases. In the photo below, Bethany has laid out all the kids clothes to make sure we have it squared away. Since we’ll be at church 3 times and also attending Bethany’s brothers wedding, it’s actually a lot to think through for all of us. I realize a lot of people take big trips like this, but we’re just trying to be prepared.

All Packed! (12/21/14)

All the travel will be a lot on our family, but that doesn’t bother me nearly as much as jet lag. Since we just came over here in June, we’re definitely familiar with the toll jet lag can have on the body. It’s a weird feeling trying to eat a meal at a certain time when your body thinks it should be sleeping. Lord willing, it won’t be too bad, but we are prepared for some interesting days in the coming week. Jet lag or not, we are definitely excited about visiting family and being able to attend Bethany’s brother’s wedding. That’s worth all the packing, jet lag, and travel any day!

A Love Story

One of the great joys of working with Josiah Venture is being part of seeing lives changed, especially among the youth of Central and Eastern Europe. The above video was created for our annual conference back in September and it’s one that has always stuck out to me from the first time I saw it. This girl is from Slovenia, a spiritually dark country, and her short testimony is one that’s full of life and joy. I find myself often quoting this video because there’s a line where she says, “I love love stories” that has always stuck out to me. More than anything it’s the heart of a teenage girl putting the pieces together in her mind of God’s love for her. She sees it as a love story and that’s exactly what it is.

I just reading about love last night in John 17. At the end of Jesus’ high priestly prayer he talks about it. Here’s that last part of the chapter and Jesus’ prayer,

I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.

I’ve bolded the word “love” for emphasis. Verse 23 is so clear: God the Father loves Christians the way He loves Christ. I say Christians because it’s clear from verse 20 that this is about “those who will believe in me…” That’s the context and those are the people of whom Jesus is praying. One of the most famous passages in the Bible says the same thing. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” There’s no doubt about it–it’s a love story.

Mostly tonight I’m just thankful to be part of that love story. Not only did God show His love toward me by saving me, but He continues to pour out his love of many all over the world. Like the young girl from Slovenia, Christ continues to transform lives and change hearts in a way only He can do. It’s that great love that compels me forward daily and gives hope for the future.

Candy, A Little Pain, and Reformation Day

At this moment I am pretty bummed out. I’m sitting here in an empty house and my family is at our friend’s house just enjoying some fun together for the evening. Czech doesn’t celebrate Halloween, which I’m actually very thankful for, but our American friends here decided to do a little mini thing at their house. They have a three story house here in Czech and I think they were planning on doing different activities with the kids on each floor. I guess I’ll find out the details when they get back home. So wait, why aren’t you there? Good question.

From about noon today until now I’ve had a very weird pain at the bottom of my ribs (on my left side). This afternoon it was really bad and I thought maybe it was my stomach so I got some lunch. Nothing changed. I came from a little earlier today and I was still really uncomfortable and it was almost like my back was out of whack or something, but it was affecting my rib. I have no clue, but no matter what position I sit, stand, or even lay down, I’m still feeling a pain there. It has subsided a little bit, but it has had me a little freaked out tonight. Even as I type I’m feeling a little bit of a sharp pain there. I’ve searched around online for any kind of answers, but nothing seems really accurate. Tylenol has helped a little, but it’s weird that it has been going on for quite a while now. Hopefully it’s nothing serious because I don’t know what would be more painful: the pain in my side or trying to figure how to see a doctor in the Czech Republic.

While many will celebrate Halloween today, the bigger celebration should be that of Reformation Day. That day when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church in Wittenburg, Germany, protesting the sale of indulgences and thus igniting the Reformation. In the above Tweet that I sent out this afternoon, I quote Martin Luther talking about another man, John Huss. Huss, who we’ve written about before, is considered a pre-reformation reformer who wrote about similar issues with the Catholic church during his life time as a preacher here in Czech. The only difference really between him and Luther is about a century of time. As a preacher in Prague, Huss, like Luther after him, bravely stood for the Truth of the Scripture. I don’t want to take away from Luther’s bold faith in the face of the Catholic church, but it’s interesting that Luther considered Huss a hero of his (as the quote above reveals). Other things I’ve read talk about Luther going through the writings of Huss and saying, “I was overwhelmed with astonishment. I could not understand for what cause they had burnt so great a man, who explained the Scriptures with so much gravity and skill.” What he means by “burnt” there is a reference to Huss’ martyrdom when he was burned at the stake.

More than anything, I’m thankful for men like John Huss and Martin Luther who boldly defended the Truth and faith in Christ amidst great opposition. Reading about them is like reading the book of Acts and seeing the courage and faith of the Apostles in the early church. We have much to be thankful for in all of these men. I’m reminded of Acts 13:36, “David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers.” David, the Apostles, Huss, and Luther served the purpose of God in their generations, and then they died. Now the question is this: will I serve the purpose of God in my generation? My prayer to that end is simple: Christ, make it so.

P.S. The family just came home. Here’s a few photos Bethany got of the festivities tonight.

Four on a couch.

Candy Night (10/31/14)

The next two are of the kids playing a little bean bag toss game.

Candy Night (10/31/14)

Candy Night (10/31/14)

The kids did trick or treating in the hallway while the adults were inside each room with a bowl of candy.

Candy Night (10/31/14)

Candy Night (10/31/14)

Candy Night (10/31/14)

And for good measure here’s one I got of Avery before they left tonight.

Playing Dress Up (10/31/14)

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