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)


Friends and Stickers

The day started early with one of Titus’ friends coming over for the first half of the day. Beni showed up a little before 8:00am and he and Titus had a ton of fun playing together. Linda, Beni’s grandma, has been taking care of Beni and his brother Caleb for the past ten days or so while their parents have been in Israel. Today Linda had to go to the Foreign Police because she’s been have issues with her visa, so Bethany asked if she could help watch the boys and hopefully help Linda focus on that. Since Caleb had school today, Beni was the only one who came, but of course Titus thought this was a wonderful idea and even when I got home this afternoon he was still talking about how much fun he and Beni had playing outside and being together.

Stickers (10/30/14)

A lot of what I do for Josiah Venture (JV) is really fun, but one of my most recent projects is a little extra special. Right now JV has people across the United States on what we call the recruiting tour. Our staff goes around to a lot of different Christian colleges talking about Josiah Venture and recruiting students to come over for the summer and do an internship. My team was asked to help create materials that could be used while on the tour and one of our ideas were these 4×4″ stickers that could be passed out to students on campus (shown above). Along with the stickers is a card (shown far left) that has some additional information and ways they can connect with us further and apply. What I love about the stickers though is that they are just bits of Scripture that students can stick up in their dorm or wherever they want and hopefully be reminded about what God is doing over here and around the globe.

Bethany and I worked with college students for four years in our church before coming here and at first I really didn’t like. Quite honestly, I loved working with high schoolers because they seemed more open to change than I thought college students were. But after a while I realized that college students are at such a key part of their lives where they are going to make crucial decisions about friends, jobs, churches, missions, etc. that will effect them for a very long time. During that time they need a lot of help, training, discipleship, and mentoring. Obviously a sticker isn’t going to magically make someone want to do missions, but it’s about the conversation that happens when our staff hands that person a sticker and invites them to join us in the work going on over here. There are a tons of needs here, especially in the summer months, and I hope that these little pieces of Scripture and the conversations that go with them will be a helpful tool to bring more young people here to serve and be part of God’s movement in Central and Eastern Europe. You never know, maybe one of those big decisions college students are making will be coming here full time to tell others about the Greatest News there is.



We have a children’s album called “To Be Like Jesus” from Sovereign Grace Music. It was released back in 2009, but it was only this past year that we bought it. Originally, we just purchased the title track so Titus could perform the song with his Faith Kids class in the States last year at our church. Somewhere along the line we bought the whole album and lately I’ve had more time to play and listen to all the songs. Sometimes I will turn it up loud and let the kids dance around with me. But a song that has caught my attention is a slower, softer song called “Peace.” Tonight I started to really listen to the lyrics and I heard Titus and Avery try to sing it and I was just blessed. I think I listened to to it six times tonight and learned how to play it on my guitar. Musically it’s intentionally peaceful and the song could probably be a song adults sing on Sunday mornings. I love the lyrics to the chorus which read,

Peace, You give me peace
When the storms come and I’m afraid
Peace, You give me peace
When I trust in the words You say
You give me peace

I encourage you to listen to the entire song by playing the video below.

I guess today that song just kind of, as Bethany put it, “struck a chord with us.” As parents we definitely want our kids to have a Biblical understanding of peace. I mean, I know it’s a fruit of the Spirit but I don’t know if it’s a word we discuss much. Peace is such a strong theme in the Scripture. Think about the Psalms:

Psalm 4:8
In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

Psalm 29:11
May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!

Psalm 34:14
Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

Psalm 119:165
Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.

Peace is even a name of Christ:

Isaiah 9:6
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Those are just a few passages, but it’s used throughout Scripture and it’s clearly an important topic in the mind and heart of God. And even though I don’t feel like we’re not at peace here right now, it was just the simplicity of the song and those words that reminded me that peace is something we need to model as parents and is an important fruit of being a Christian. We’re people of peace. Ephesians 6:15 even says our feet are fitted with the gospel of peace. The gospel, the message of the Christ, is what brings true and lasting peace and I need to wear it out like a pair of shoes. I don’t know if the Lord is preparing our hearts for something this week or this month or next year, but it was a nice reminder tonight to think on peace. I love how God uses little things like our kid’s Bible or their worship music to remind me of how I need to think. Thank you, Lord, for bringing peace to my heart at salvation and in my life each and every day “…when I trust the words You say.”


Winter Wheels and Good Meals

Winter Wheels

Today was Czech Independence Day from when they became Czechoslovakia back in 1918. Like many American holidays, in observance of the holiday many stores and shops were closed. Our team in Czech follows the Czech calendar so our office here was closed as well. With the extra day I had hoped we would be able to get our new winter tires on the car before this Saturday because November 1 is the date you’re supposed to have winter weather tires. We bought them a few weeks ago, but I’ve had them sitting in the garage for a moment when I can go get them switched. Thankfully, I can see the tire place from our house and it’s a 30 second walk to get there. While looking out the window today to see if they were open I saw their gate was unlocked and cars were driving in. Score! Titus and I packed up the car and coasted down our street to get them changed.

Winter Wheels

Winter Wheels

Titus thought it was great fun. For him, changing tires is just like the movie Cars and a pit stop with Lightning McQueen and honestly the guys today were about as fast as little Guido is in Cars. In about 8 minutes they had our car in and out with the tires on and ready to go. The guys at the shop are really nice and the main guy spoke really good English which was so nice. I don’t expect it and when it happens it’s an extra blessing, especially with the technical stuff like tires and auto repairs. They told me we probably need a few new tires for spring time, but we’ll get those fixed at a later date. And in the end the total charge was like $11 for the work. All in all it was a great little errand and I’m thankful to have those guys so close and be so helpful.

Winter Wheels

For lunch we decided to do a little picnic outside on the grass. The weather was cooler for sure, but the sun was shining and it was actually very nice outside. We basically did leftovers from last night’s chicken and drop biscuits. Bethany brought a little blanket out and all four of us enjoyed lunch together. It was nice just to relax a bit and be still.

While we were eating lunch Avery started to collect these leaves with long stems and turned them into a bouquet of dead leaves. She was really proud of it.

Winter Wheels

Tonight we had dinner with our friends, the Stephens. They invited us out since it was a holiday and we were excited to join them for a big family meal. The food was incredible and we enjoyed these fully loaded, barbecue grilled quesadillas! When we walked into the door Brian was still prepping them on the counter to get them ready for the grill and I snapped a quick photo. Mmmmmmmm.

Winter Wheels

The Stephens have a daughter, twin boys, and another boy on the way in November. Our kids had a lot of fun just playing with their kids and later in the evening they enjoyed playing the Wii in the living room. Brian and Aliesha are a blessing to chat with and wealth of knowledge on helping us continue to maneuver the Czech culture and transition here. As well, they were our regular support and Skype friends for the past few years before we came over here and I don’t know what we would’ve done without their help. Thank you, Stephens family, for having us over again and for the wonderful evening and great food!


That Drunk in the Headlights Look

This week the Czech Republic is celebrating their Independence Day. I guess they have two, but this week’s celebration commemorates their first back in 1918 when they declared their independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Titus actually has the first three days of school off this week and the Josiah Venture office here will be closed tomorrow. That’s all well and good, but there’s only problem: all the drunk people.

I don’t know if it’s just the holiday, but I can’t imagine a regular Monday night being a big drinking night for most people. But going to the grocery store was an event tonight. When I pulled in to Tesco where I planned to shop tonight, I saw a guy walking towards the car of an older lady who was putting her groceries in. He was talking to her and she was not responding. I had the kids in the back seat and was just kind of keeping an eye on things as I parked the car. I watched as he kept talking with her and she continued to not respond and he stood behind her car and she tried to back out. Eventually he moved out of the way, but was talking the entire time and finally hit her hood as she was backing out. I don’ think he did any damage, but for me that was enough for me to head to another store. Listen, I’m sure I could take a drunk guy in a fight if I needed to but with two kids you think twice about pulling everyone out of the car with this guy hassling customers in the parking lot.

I drove over to Kaufland (another grocery store) which is just around the corner from Tesco. Things went pretty well for the most part, except the place was just absolutely packed with people. Maybe I don’t shop on Mondays enough, but my goodness, this place was hopping! I only had to grab a few things, and I had Titus and Avery in the cart. Titus wanted to sit where the young kids usually sit so I put Avery in the main part of the cart. As I was checking out the woman at the register was clearly upset at me and kept looking at Avery. “OK Shay… what is she saying to you?” I was thinking to my self. I tried to ignore it and just keep unloading the cart. I’m not trying to be mean, but I just don’t understand enough Czech at this point to figure it out. She said something to me again and I looked at Avery and realized, “Oh… she probably doesn’t want Avery in the cart!” I picked up Avery and put her down and the lady said, “Thank you” in Czech. Whew. Dodged a bullet on that one.

While driving away from Kaufland I noticed a heavier than normal police presence with cops walking around casually in the parking lot. I wonder what that’s all about? I kind of blew it off until I got a little down the road and almost hit a drunk guy walking directly in the middle or the road. That’s true. Turned the corner and….drunk guy, walking sideways with a plastic bag in his hand right in my lane. I slammed on the brakes, he had that drunk guy in headlights look, and maneuvered his way around our car without a scene. Whew. Dodged a drunk guy on that one. I didn’t put it all together, but as we pulled in to the driveway it all clicked: oh yeah, it’s a holiday week and maybe that has some connection with all the craziness I have seen tonight. Honestly, I have no clue if that’s true, but that’s my explanation in this moment and the best I can do!

In all seriousness though, I think it’s all really sad and I genuinely felt compassion for both of the men I saw tonight, especially the second man who just looked really messed up. Both of them are made in the image of God. Both of them are in desperate need of a lot more than alcohol, that is, they need a relationship with Christ. That is not something I take lightly and as I write tonight my heart is heavy for Czech Republic. There are still so many that have never heard the Good News and I pray they will get to hear it and respond in faith before it’s too late.