Thirty Eight

As of Today Bethany is 38 weeks pregnant with baby #3 and she got a good report today during he second to last check-up. After next week’s appointment, she’ll be transferred to the care of the hospital who will see her for week 40 should that be required. Things work a little bit different here in Czech for these kinds of appointments, but I would say overall it’s been a pretty similar experience as to what we’ve had in the States.

Outside Sillyness (5/12/15)

Following her appointment this morning, we headed over to our friend Lauren’s house because she’s the one helping us with all the details at the Czech hospital and will be Bethany’s doula as well as translator. She just wanted to nail down all of the details and make sure everything was ready to go in regards to paperwork and the birth plan. There are still a few things left to fill out and seems that there’s always a lot of paperwork to do in Czech, but we’re excited to be nearing the finish line and meet our new daughter!

Since Lauren and her family live near the JV office, I decided to just go in and work for bit even though the office was mostly closed today. Usually everyone takes the two days following the conference for a little time off because of just how busy things are and the big push leading up to conference. It was nice and quiet there today and I had about an hour to get some emails out and follow up on a few outstanding items from the week. Everyone should be back in tomorrow and we’ll keep rollin’ with projects and all the other things going on.

I try to keep a book with me when I’m out and about, just in case I get a moment or two where I’m waiting or have time to read. When I went to pick up Bethany her meeting was going a little longer so I ended up reading in the car which I had parked in the shade. I’m really enjoying this book Gospel-Centered Counseling and it’s focus on how the gospel changes how we help people. There is one quote in particular that stood out to me today that I think is just helpful. Bob Kellemen writes on pages 34-35,

Typically we ask God and seek help from each other to change our feelings and our circumstances. God is in the change business, but a very different type of change–heart change, Christlikeness–presenting everyone “perfect,” or mature, in Christ (Col. 1:28).

Listen to the song of eternity–it’s about celebrating Christ’s victory and the Bride’s purity for God’s glory! We look at our lives and want instructions or explanations. What we need is imagination and vision to see life today in light of eternity..

I quoted more for the context, but it’s that last sentence in particular that stood out to me. We do need to be able to see our life today in light of eternity. That takes work to do, but if we look at each day through the lens of the gospel narrative we will begin to see our story as part of the greater story that the Lord has written which started with Creation and ends with Consummation. When we view our lives as part of the greater story we get a bigger picture of what the Lord is doing and can see His hand more clearly in the details in our lives. I need to take those truths to heart and remember that God is working in all the details of our lives in light of eternity. That’s a wonderful truth and a great reminder to me today.


Looking to Easter

Looking to Easter (3/22/15)

I sat by myself up in the second story of church this morning because everyone in the family is sick. With the kids having coughs, sneezing, and runny noses we weren’t about to put them in to their classes and Bethany hasn’t been able to stop coughing all day. It probably doesn’t help that it was rainy and about a high of 35 degrees today, but needless to say the sickness continues. I’ve had a sore throat all week, but today was my best day yet and I really didn’t want to miss church. I did my best to follow along with the message and all I can say is that I heard the word for “now” a lot. I’m not exactly sure what that was all about it, but I’m glad I was there with God’s people.

Looking to Easter (3/22/15)

Back at home, however, Bethany didn’t really want to lose the entire day so she spent some time with the kids decorating for Easter. When I got back they had hung up a big sign that our church in the States made for us which says, “He is risen” in Czech. It was up above our couch and now we get to see it and enjoy it. Also, the kids put up little sticky letters on one of our doors which says, “Happy Easter!” Above is a photo of the big sign and below is a photo of the kids with their door decorations, including the little egg basket above them and the little sticky eggs you can see behind them.

Looking to Easter (3/22/15)

It’s always a joy to look to Easter. Even though we won’t be celebrating the risen Savior in our own language, I’m looking forward to seeing how our Czech church will celebrate. And I had the added joy of listening to Avery today as she talked about how “Easter is about Jesus rising from the dead!” It’s such a simple truth coming from her lips. Jesus did rise from the grave. He has power even over death! It’s those truths that have changed the hearts of many and by His grace will continue to be proclaimed to the nations. I’m really looking forward to Easter Sunday. It’s one of the best days of the year and I’m thankful that my family was helping me prepare my heart for the celebration of remembering our risen Lord.


Making Us More Like Jesus

Only seconds after publishing last night’s blog, I heard Avery cry from the room her and Titus were asleep in. They had been a sleep for a few hours by that point and I really didn’t think much of it. I closed the lid of my laptop and heard her crying again and then I heard Bethany’s voice calling for me. “Avery just threw up all over the bed,” she told me as I entered the room. That was around 11:30pm.

Before Zach and Kara left the flat we were staying in last night, we made plans to join them for church. Zach was going to meet us around 9am today and help us manage the trams over to their church. But as soon as we began to get Avery out of bed and into the tub where we could clean her up, I realized it was going to be a long night. I texted Zach that church was probably not going to happen, and I’m honestly glad I did. It took us about 30 minutes to get Avery cleaned up, her hair washed, and all the bed coverings taken care of. Avery was in a better mood and said she was hungry. We had some bananas and pretzel so she ate some of that was happy. She laid back down and went to bed but we still had all these dirty clothes that we were hoping to wash. It was now just past midnight.

Last half-day in Prague (3/1/15)

Since we were in downtown Prague I figured I would go down to the little shop at the bottom of the building and buy some laundry soap. Amazingly, it was open and so I purchased the soap and ran back upstairs. Upon inspecting the German packaging some more (and translating it on my phone) I realized I had actually purchased fabric softener. So went spent some time researching shops near us where I could find a brand that I knew was actually soap. I went back outside and walked down a few different streets and blocks and nothing else was open so back to the little shop I went. I spent a good amount of time staring at the bottles and trying to figure out which one was not fabric softener, made my selection, and bought a second bottle of soap. I went back up to the 5th floor where I did more research only to find out second time that I just bought another bottle of fabric softener! A little defeated and sad we decided it was just time for bed and we would deal with it in the morning. That was 1am.

Avery threw up again at 2am and then at around 4am. We repeated the same process at 2am that we did the first time with a clean up but at 4am she didn’t have much on her stomach. Titus and Avery were both awake for the day just after 6 and I honestly think the most sleep we got was from 6-8am when let the kids watch something on the iPad because we were exhausted. When I did wake up I went back down to another store that I recognized, bought the soap that I knew was correct, and we started washing everything this morning. The lack of sleep hurt my cold sickness recovery and I just didn’t feel well at all and went back to bed for another hour.

Last half-day in Prague (3/1/15)

We made plans to have lunch with Zach and Kara as well before we got our train back to home today (I’m actually writing this post while on the train). I wasn’t feeling great, and we missed our first tram, but we did end up joining them. The food was delicious and I was really glad we got to spend a little more time with them. This afternoon they helped us get packed up, played with our kids, and then get checked out of our flat on eventually on to the train that we’re now enjoying.

Last half-day in Prague (3/1/15)

The day is ending much better than it started and for that I’m grateful. It was a hard night but for now it’s over. I’m sure I had nights like Avery’s when I was little. By God’s grace we make it through and you spend a train ride thinking about how hard it was, but also how gracious the Lord was. We had a great weekend and really sweet time with our friends and for that we’re very thankful. You never know how the days will go, but I guess that’s part of the “fun” of life! We’ll be home in a few hours and maybe another long night is ahead of us, only the Lord knows? What I do know is that God is using it all to sanctify us and make us more like His Son. And when I think about it like that, it makes it all worth it.


Czech After Dark

I should probably stop going to the store here at night. It seems that every time I do something eventful happens.

Tonight I took the kids to the store and it actually takes me longer to get the kids into the car than to drive there. You could almost walk, but it’s just far enough to make it worth taking the car for a quick trip. As we were driving, there was one car in front of us that was about to turn into the same store parking lot. All of a sudden they swerved left as if to avoid something. I wasn’t following them closely so I slowed down, but through the headlights I realized what they were trying to swerve around: a woman.

Praise the Lord, they missed her but it definitely shook them up because I saw them hit the brakes and pause for a moment while I was coming up behind them. The woman was stumbling around the edge of the snowy sidewalk with a large purse and as we passed her I realized quickly that she was drunk. There weren’t many other cars around so I stopped my car not far past her and turned around to watch her in hopes she would get back on the sidewalk safely. To my surprise, she did the exact opposite. She walked in to the middle of the road and began raising her hands and walk straight towards the oncoming traffic. I could see headlights coming down the road and because of how dark and not well lit the street is I thought I better turn around and do something!

I flipped the car around at the store entrance. Titus said, “Daddy why are we going back?” and I can’t really remember what I told him because I was a little worried in that moment. My plan was to either warn the oncoming cars by flashing my lights or try to think of something else so nothing terrible would happen. Thankfully, by the time I got back on the road she had moved herself toward the sidewalk but was struggling to stay standing. The kids and I drove by her again and I just watched to make sure she was going to stay off the street, which it looked like she was. I genuinely thought in that moment that I was going to witness something horrific which is why I turned my car around. Praise the Lord, nothing happened.

I realize in some sense that drunk people are relatively common around the world, and I’ve seen my share of them in the States. But I have definitely seen more here in the past 8 months than I’ve probably seen in my life time. According to some sources, Czech is ranked 6th in a list of “alcohol consumption per capita.” On Thursday morning I went to the store at 10am and it was very busy. The one thing that stood out to me was that 80-90% of the shopping carts had numerous large bottles of beer or some kind of alcohol. It’s very prominent here. I also realize that beer and alcohol aren’t the problem in this country. They are simply the manifestation of a bigger problem, a heart problem the Bible calls sin.

Whether sin comes out in drunkenness, anger, selfishness, lying, or pride, it’s all the same in the eyes of the Lord. It’s universal for all men, including me. In fact, outside the grace of God, I’m really not much different than a drunk woman playing a horrific game of chicken with oncoming traffic. But that’s the beauty of the gospel of Jesus! He gave his own life for all of that sin. One of my favorites verses in the Bible is in John 19 when Jesus says, “It is finished.” Those are His dying words, but they mean life to the world. “It is finished” means that sin has been conquered. Every sin that has ever been committed in the past, present, or even in the future has been paid for by the blood of Jesus. As one songwriter wrote, “It is finished. It is done. To the world Salvation comes. Hallelujah, We’re alive. Hell was silenced when You cried “It is finished.

After leaving the store with the kids, I found myself scanning the sidewalk for the woman. I didn’t see her and hopefully she made it to where she was going safely. I don’t know where she stands with the Savior, but if it’s true that this is one of the most atheistic countries in the world then it’s likely she doesn’t have a relationship with Jesus. This is just a deep reminder to pray for her and this country. It’s also a reminder for myself to continue to push hard into the language so we can communicate the truths of the gospel with the people we meet and come in contact with or even the ones we see stumbling down the street.


A Good Work

In Philippians 1:3-6, Paul writes these words after his initial greeting to the church in Philippi,

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Those words rang loud in my heart tonight as I writing a few different emails to some of our supporting churches in the States. I sat here tonight praising the Lord for the many different people God has used to send us to a place like Czech to bring the gospel of Jesus. There is a “partnership in the gospel” that amazes and humbles me. And then there’s a promise that a “good work” is going on in our lives and the lives of our supporters that God promises to complete! This too is amazing and humbling. I praise God tonight for the work He is doing around the globe to not only call others to Himself, but to work in the ones He calls to make them more like Jesus every single day.

Poland, Czech, Poland (2/12/15)

We had the joy today of going to another doctor visit as a family where we got to hear the baby’s heartbeat. Titus thought we would see an ultrasound, but that wasn’t on the docket today. The doctor gave us a good report that everything looks normal thus far. Praise the Lord for his continued grace with our third child.

Poland, Czech, Poland (2/12/15)

Poland, Czech, Poland (2/12/15)

I took a short trip with my team and another missionary to Poland today to, believe it or not, look at some t-shirts at a printer. Next month we’ll be ordering around 4,000 shirts that will be worn by as many young people around Central and Eastern Europe and our team was asked to meet the printer in Poland and pick out a nice shirt. These are for this summer’s camps where thousands of young people will hear the gospel for the first time. It was a fun little trip and even though picking a shirt sound trite, I know that they represent an opportunity for some young man or woman to come to Christ. That is my prayer and I will ask you to join us in praying for the hearts of these young people to be open and ready to bow the knee to Jesus.

Poland, Czech, Poland (2/12/15)

This afternoon we had our third day in a row of language practice with our friends Jenny and Landen (you can see them in the photo above). Today was a very encouraging day because by the end of it we could hear a simple sentence and know what’s being communicated. For instance, Jenny could say “I went to the post office by car” in Czech, and Landen, Bethany, and I could understand. Then, we were able to build different sentences ourselves and say them back in Czech. It’s a little to explain the process of how we could come to that point so quickly, but we were even surprising ourselves that we could do it! It’s weird how just speaking the simple sentences over and over you start to hear the nuances of the language and can kind of just, for lack of a better word, feel the right words come out. Like I said, it was really encouraging and I’m excited about our progress in such a short amount of time.

Our language lesson went a little late tonight so we decided to actually go back over to Poland tonight with Jenny and Landen for a quick dinner. They had never been to this fast food place that has cheeseburgers and chicken, so we decided to all go together. It was a great finish to a full day and I’m just happy tonight as we get ready for bed. God is so good and so faithful. It’s such a joy to serve the King.