P.

Prayer and Petition, With Thanksgiving

Prayer and Supplication (4/14/15)

This morning during our international team meeting, we had a sweet time applying Philippians 4:6 together. We have been studying Philippians for a few months now and since Dave (who normally teaches) was out, Brian (who led today) decided to spend some time thinking about what we’re thankful for and what we need prayer for. We did this by writing things we’re thankful for on pink and purple Post-Its and then our petitions on yellow and blue ones. The result of the dozen of us there this morning is what you see in the photo above. It was a neat time and I enjoyed praying with our team as well as seeing this visual reminder in the office which will stay up through the summer. There’s a lot of ministry starting up here in the next month or so and our team won’t be meeting for a while. There is so much to be thankful for and so much we need to pray for. Praise the Lord He can handle all of it!

Park Time (4/14/15)

This afternoon Bethany took the kids to the park. As always they loved it, but today they did something a little different and collected rocks during their walk. The kids were really excited to tell me about when I got home and we even spent some time this afternoon playing with the rocks in the driveway. Avery named them “Mommy Rocky,” “Daddy Rocky, “Sister Rocky” and so on. I”m glad they had a good time and here’s a few photos of their time.

Park Time (4/14/15)

Park Time (4/14/15)

Lately the kids have really gotten in to these Steve Green “Hide Em’ In Your Heart” Bible videos. Bethany knows them for her own childhood and our kids are starting to love them. Below is really short video of the kids doing the motions to Luke 2:52 “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (NIV).

Bible Song from Shay on Vimeo.

I’ve been thinking a lot today about a college friend named Bjorn. We haven’t had much contact (if any) since college, but I’ve been able to follow his life via Facebook since then. Bjorn is a godly man and was definitely example of Christian character to other men at college. During college his girlfriend (another friend of Bethany and me) was killed in a tragic car accident. I will never forget hearing Bjorn speak at a special memorial they had for her at Master’s and he was a testimony to all of us of Christ-likeness during that trial. More recently, however, his niece has been battling cancer and watching from afar has been hard. As we’ve watched post after post roll by on Facebook about her story, we have just been amazed at the faith of him and his family. And this past week we saw the news on Facebook that Bjorn’s brother was tragically killed in a skiing accident. When Bethany told me about it I think I just paused. I think my first words were, “Are you kidding me? That’s unbelievable.”

Last night Bethany and I watched a video sermon/message on trials and suffering. One of the repeating elements in that message was that “Life will come at you,” or said another way, “Life is going to go wrong.” The speaker then went on to outline a Biblical response to trials using the acronym G-O-L-L-D (or “Go for the Gold!). His outline reads:

G – God Doesn’t Make Any Mistakes! (Job 23:10)
O – Operate With Eternity’s Perspective! (2 Corinthians 4:16-17, 1 Peter 3:14)
L – Live One Day At A Time! (Matt 6:31-34)
L – Look For A Blessing In Each Day! (Philippians 4:8)
D – Do Something For Someone Else! (Matthew 25:40)

This was only the first half of his outline. He went on to describe a specific plan for responding to trials, including the acknowledgement of God’s sovereignty and even refusing to grumble and complain during a trial. It was a great blessing to be reminded of the truth of God’s Word during trials, even though I can’t say that I’m experiencing trials like my friend Bjorn right now. At the same time I want my heart to be prepared when “life comes at me.” I want to respond rightly to trials, much like I have seen Bjorn do. I want to respond the way Job did in Job 13:15 “Though he slay me, I will hope in him…”

It’s with that in mind that I leave you with this video that has blessed me often. It’s a song based on Job 13:15 and trials, along with a little excerpt from the preaching ministry of John Piper. I hope it ministers to you as it has to me today.

O.

Our First Thanksgiving in Czech

Our First Thanksgiving in Czech (11/27/14)

Above is the view we woke up to this morning. We’re staying at what is called Hotel Malenovice. This building has a story of it’s own, but it’s basically the Josiah Venture training center where all of our major training events are held here in Czech. As I type the sun has gone down, and this view has turned in to sparkling lights over the city. We just finished our big Josiah Venture family Thanksgiving meal downstairs and it was a wonderful time. Dave Patty, president of JV, led us in a little devotional out of the Psalms and we spent a few minutes sharing with each other how God has been faithful this year to each of us. Before we started eating, Dave also led us in prayer and the singing of the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” Here’s a little video I took of us singing.

The food today was incredible to say the least. It is a rare moment where you can gather so many people from so many different places and enjoy home made food from each family. Most of the people here this week are American missionaries so they all brought their own family’s traditional dishes and let’s just say I did a little sampling. Oh, and the turkey…amazing. There’s a local guy here in Czech that cooks the turkeys every year for JV and they are delectable. I don’t know how many turkeys it takes to feed 100+ people, but here’s one of them in it’s glory.

Our First Thanksgiving in Czech (11/27/14)

I also got this photo of Bethany and the kids as we were finishing up our meals. Clearly, Avery is not finished yet.

Our First Thanksgiving in Czech (11/27/14)

Here’s a couple photos of the kids playing outside today. Avery loved the swingset, and you can see Titus with his toy light saber while playing with the other boys (who were hiding from him).

Thanksgiving in Czech (11/27/14)

Thanksgiving in Czech (11/27/14)

What you’re seeing in the photos and video above are about as much as I was involved in today’s events (actually less because Bethany took the photos of the kids playing outside). Pretty much every other moment I was laying on the bed in our room. Even though I went down for breakfast in the morning, I came right back up and slept. I remained in bed right up until we went down for the Thanksgiving meal at 1:30. Today was just the worst of my sickness. I’ve got antibiotics working their magic, but the sinus pressure and overall energy sap really did me in. It really bummed me out and I was sad to miss the football game they had outside and just spending time with my family and other people. In some ways, I feel like I missed Thanksgiving and that’s definitely not fun.

The night ended with a talent show put on by all the third culture kids (TCKs), where they performed and sang in front of everyone. Think of it like a recital, but not as serious. The kids were great and there was a lot of amazing talent up there and definitely a lot of laughing going on. Our kids were pretty tired afterwards so we rushed them upstairs to bed where I’m finishing this post while they are fast asleep.

Besides being tucked away in bed most of today, I’m thankful to have been here. It really is a special time where a lot of families can just be together while they are so far away from their own families. That’s really just a testament to God’s grace for bringing so many like minded people together, in a land far away from their own, to share the Good News of Christ to such a dark place like Central and Eastern Europe. God has a big vision for bringing more people in to his family which involves all of the families here today. Now that’s something to be thankful for.

A.

A Doctor Visit and Two Days Away

After much prodding on behalf of my teammates, I finally saw a doctor for the first time in the Czech Republic. When you can barely talk, that’s usually a sign you need to see someone about your health. The doctor I saw today was fantastic and he speaks great English which makes the entire process just a lot easier, not to mention lifting the burden of trying to find someone to come with me an explain the situation in another language.

Doctor's Office (11/26/14)

He asked where I was from and when I told him California he started to share how he visited the San Francisco area two years where his uncle lives. He was actually asking me because he was curious if the weather in Czech was affecting my health and there’s definitely some truth to that. But after a few minutes of discussion and listening to me breathe the doctor was sure I have an infection, probably a sinus infection. He graciously prescribed some antibiotics and I left with a smile. It’ll probably take a week to clear up but I look forward to getting my real voice back and feeling better.

Tonight started our mini getaway with some of the Josiah Venture family. Every year Josiah Venture puts on a Thanksgiving event for the missionaries and we’re invited to stay at the training center (in Czech), have meals together, and just enjoy the holiday together. Since everyone is away from their families in the States, it’s an opportunity for the JV family to be together and give God thanks for all we have and what He’s doing in our lives. Bethany made her family’s famous green bean casserole and some deviled eggs and other families brought their own traditional family dishes. I’m excited about the meals tomorrow and hopefully getting some time to rest and take a break. We’ll be here until Friday morning, so hopefully I can get some photos of where we’re staying and what we’re doing when the sun comes up tomorrow. The weather is supposed to be cold but sunny so we praise the Lord for that too!

A.

A Little Full

We’re full, and no, I don’t mean from all the turkey. We’re just full from life.

We spent the Thanksgiving holiday with Bethany’s family this year in Washington. It was a great time away and it’s really fun to see our kids get to know their grandparents more and more. Most of our time was spent just being together at home, and it was nice to have a change of pace (like getting to bed early!).

It’s impossible anymore to not think about the fact that us leaving for Czech Republic means (at least partially) that our time with family will be much different in the future. These are the kinds of things I think about when I consider “counting the cost” of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Leaving family will definitely be hard, but we hope and pray that the time we do have together is as much a blessing as it was this past week.

A few photos (more can be seen here):

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

We also gave Avery a little mini 1st birthday party a few days early.

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2012