A.

A Picture Book

Book (4/15/15)

One of the projects my team has been working on for a while now (I think it’s gotta be eight months?) is a photo book to commemorate twenty years of ministry for Josiah Venture (JV) in Central and Eastern Europe. When you do design work, and work on designs that are literally going to print, there’s nothing quite like getting the finished product in your hand. For my team, that day was today when we finally got to see this photo book and feel it with our own hands. When the printer dropped off the books today at the office my heart was pounding because of the amount of work that went into getting this thing just right (I was probably nervous I would find a typo!). We really wanted this book to be something special for the many donors who have faithfully given to Josiah Venture over the past twenty years, but more importantly as a testimony to what God has done in the lives of young people during that time.

Book (4/15/15)

Ministry continues to ramp up for Josiah Venture and there’s a bit of a buzz in the office as we prepare for the upcoming Spring Conference. The conference is an annual event for Josiah Venture missionaries and this year’s theme is “Family on Mission.” Our team continues to work hard on all the conference graphics and materials and I’m excited as well for that project to come to fruition. There’s so much that goes on behind the scenes that I hope will eventually bless all of the missionaries who will attend.

The weather was just incredible today and it really couldn’t have been more perfect. Bethany took the kids outside a lot this afternoon and it was just one of those days where you could take a good book and enjoy reading in the sunshine. As the days warm up there are just a lot more people out walking the streets and getting some sun which is a nice change from the cold, overcast winter. We are continuing to see more and more flowers and trees blooming which add color and life to the landscape. We’re praising the Lord for his goodness in the weather change and for all that He’s doing in our lives!

T.

Three Crockpots, Twister, and a Gospel Devotional

I joked with the family that it felt a little like Thanksgiving today. No, we didn’t eat turkey and to my knowledge there wasn’t a football game on, but there were three crockpots full to the brim with stew. Somewhere along the line, we (the collective family) decided to have a big meal for dinner. When the decision was made, the kitchen went into overtime peeling carrots and cutting potatoes. Someone had to run to another house to pick up extra crockpots and eventually everything was slow cooking throughout the afternoon.

Three Crockpots and Twister (1/6/15)

While the crockpots worked over time, the kids found the game Twister and we did our best to have a family game. I joined a game already in progress and when I asked Titus if I could play he said, “Dad….it’s a kids game!” and abruptly me showed me the box cover adding, “See, it’s for kids!” (the cover had a picture of kids playing the game). I convinced them it would be awesome if I joined in and they obliged. The game lasted about 90 more seconds before Avery couldn’t reach across the board and Titus couldn’t figure which was left or right. Needless to say, I won!

Three Crockpots and Twister (1/6/15)

Things are starting to heat up with the wedding approaching this Saturday. We picked up dry cleaning today and are working on getting Titus’ clothes hemmed to size. For Bethany’s family this will be wedding three of three and will marry off the last sibling, Bethany’s brother. The kids and I have been practicing our dance moves in the living room which mostly consists of flailing our arms and jumping up and down. By Saturday we’ll be ready to own that dance floor.

Three Crockpots and Twister (1/6/15)

On a lot more serious note, we’ve been reading out loud from the book New Morning Mercies by Paul Tripp. The book is a daily devotional and it may be the best one I’ve ever read. I realize that throughout history there have been many such books, but I think Paul Tripp has a way of applying the gospel to all of life that is unlike any author I’ve read. We’re only a week in, but I have been blessed and challenged by the devotions and I can’t help but recommend the book to everyone. And as a bonus, the title of the book has caused me to have the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness” stuck in my head all day. I have been walking around singing “…morning by morning, new mercies I see!” and been contemplating that truth. Praise the Lord that His mercies are new every single day!

Such a helpful tool for preaching the gospel to yourself every day. Thank you, @pauldavidtripp, for this book

A photo posted by Shay Thomason (@shaycam) on

H.

Heaters and Envelopes

Our radiators (heaters) are working again! The funny part about it is when I’m trying to communicate with our landlord I usually just send an email that I use Google Translate to put in Czech for me. I have no clue how it sounds when she receives it, but apparently it worked because she brought Bethany a space heater today and said something about calling a repair man. When I got home this evening our landlord took me down to the basement and showed me all of the equipment. Here are the words I understood: “light,” “bad,” and “reset.” I think what she was trying to tell me was that when the red light is on, it’s bad, so you have to hit the reset button. Or maybe it’s “hit the red reset button and the light will come on?” Ahhh! Either way, the heaters are working right now. And as our landlord was leaving me tonight she pointed to the space heater in our house and said, “provizorní.” Immediately I thought, “She must mean temporary.” After checking online I was right! Whew… Let’s just hope this communication barrier is provizorní.

Opening October (10/2/14)

We put the kids to bed last night before opening our monthly envelope from our Bible study in the States so we waited until today. If you’ve been following along with us then you know these envelopes were sent with us when we moved and we get to open a new one each month. This month’s had an autumn theme and came packed with magazines, gum, a Hello Kitty blow up beach ball, coloring books, instant oatmeal, and some Airheads candy. Oh, and a $15 iTunes gift card…woohoo! The kids always love doing it and it’s been a fun monthly tradition since we’ve arrived. Here’s some photos:

Opening October (10/2/14)

Opening October (10/2/14)

In the photo at the top of this post you’ll see a second envelope (the brown one). I found it on our doorstep today and brought it inside. It was addressed to Bethany from our home church in California! We decided to open it tonight after we opened the other envelope. Inside was an update on the women’s ministry at our church along with the book they are currently reading. What a blessing to have our church care for us in that way by sending us the latest information along with a good, Biblical resource. Here’s Bethany opening the envelope:

Opening October (10/2/14)

Opening October (10/2/14)

Tonight we had a special treat. Bethany made BBQ chicken and mashed potatoes. But…she used Stubbs Spicy BBQ sauce. The other day I was doing some shopping at the local grocery store and on the end cap where they have the sale items I saw the Stubbs bottles. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had heard about Stubbs in the States because it’s made in Austin, Texas. The bottles were marked down over 50% so I bought them both for just a few bucks. I’m pretty sure they were way too spicy for the Czechs so that’s probably why they were on sale. Even though it was definitely spicy, I was so excited to eat something more familiar over here. It was a fun treat.

Opening October (10/2/14)

I had the joy of video chatting tonight with a good friend. It was encouraging and a blessing to chat with him and just share about what we’ve been doing and how God has been working in our lives over here. I’m reminded tonight that we need friends in our lives to challenge and encourage us in Christ. As we continue to lay down roots in Czech I’m hopeful for more friends here who can do the same. And while I’m on the topic of friendship, I picked up a highly recommended book tonight called Relationships: A Mess Worth Making that is FREE today on Amazon.com (for Kindle). The title alone makes me want to read it…and apply it.

T.

Taking In Another Sunday

Sunday Funday (9/7/14)

We had a bit of a different morning at church today as the children’s ministry started back up with Sunday school. As we walked into church our friend Casey told us we could take Titus to class, but that he wasn’t sure about Avery since she’s only two. I stayed with Avery and Bethany took Titus downstairs to the classroom. When they got in there it was pretty full and Titus went and sat by his friends, Beni and Caleb. You can see them all sitting next to Kristin in the middle against the back wall in the photo above. Bethany ended up staying down there with Titus for the whole service and she said he did pretty well, all things considered (new class, new language, etc.).

Meanwhile, back upstairs, Avery read books to herself and played with stickers while I tried to figure out what was going on in the service. I didn’t get a translation device today, but from what I could tell we were installing a pastor or thanking him, I’m not quite sure. There were a lot of different men speaking and I saw flowers being handed to the pastor and his wife a few times, but when you can’t speak the language all you’re doing is making observations.

Sunday Funday (9/7/14)

I can count on one hand the number of times I remember actually working on a Sunday. Granted, I’m not counting the countless Sundays we have worked at church doing ministry or I have taught, or led music, or maybe been at a youth camp, but today was one of those ministry “working” days. It was necessary in order to finish the leadership training manual we’re creating for our upcoming conference. Myself and the team at JV have all been working very hard to finish this book which has been a bit of a battle with many people traveling during the summer months and us going through a few rounds of edits.

The blessing, however, is that our family went over to Dave and Connie Patty’s house and I worked with Dave on the book (photo above courtesy of Connie) while Bethany and the kids played outside. We had great weather today and the Patty’s have a trampoline and a little playground area that our kids just loved. Since it was taking Dave and a I a while to work through the edits to the book, Bethany ended up driving and exploring the town where she found a new toy store. Below are a few photos and some captions below.

Sunday Funday (9/7/14)

Sunday Funday (9/7/14)

This this store Bethany found that she said was great. She ended up getting the kids some $2 toys, a pinwheel for Avery and some tiny hand cymbals for Titus.

Sunday Funday (9/7/14)

Bethany took the photo (above) because she said that toy was basically identical to something she grew up but hadn’t seen in a while.

Sunday Funday (9/7/14)

There were some toys for the kids to ride on so they took advantage of them.

It’s almost midnight as I write this and I’m pretty tired. I’ve got the live Dodger game on in the background and they need at least two runs to get back in to it. Tomorrow I’ll meet with our communications team and hopefully get that book out to the printer once we do a final review. Dave reminded me today as we were leaving how thankful he was for all the time we’ve put into this and that he believes this will be a book that has the potential to affect many lives and many leaders. That’s a good reminder and not something I want to just overlook when I’m a little tired at the end of a long day.

P.S. Adrian Gonzalez just hit a three run home run to put the Dodgers in the lead. I’ll take it before I hit the hay.

E.

Excerpt: What is the Gospel?

What is the Gospel?

When you stand before God at the judgment, I wonder what you plan to do or say in order to convince him to count you righteous and admit you to all the blessings of his kingdom? What good deed or godly attitude will you pull out of your pocket to impress him? Will you pull out your church attendance? Your family life? Your spotless thought life? The fact that you haven’t done anything really heinous in your own eyes? I wonder what you’ll hold up before him while saying, “God, on account of this, justify me!”

I’ll tell you what every Christian whose faith is in Christ alone will do, by God’s grace. They will simply and quietly point to Jesus. And this will be their plea: “O God, do not look for any righteousness in my own life. Look at your Son. Count me righteous not because of anything I’ve done or anything I am, but because of him. He lived the life I should have lived. He died the death that I deserve. I have renounced all other trusts, and my plea is him alone. Justify me, O God, because of Jesus.”