it's all grace

a journey with the Thomason family

Tag: presents (page 1 of 2)

The Last on the First

The First of May (5/1/15)

Today is kind of a special day. Almost twelve months ago our church family in the States brought us a box full of envelopes and each envelope was marked with a month and was packed full. Actually, I remember the night they brought them to us because it was a day or two before we loaded our shipping container that was headed for Czech and they wanted to make sure we were able to ship them to our new home here. We were instructed that we weren’t allowed to open them until we moved to Czech and that we should open one a month for the first year. So for the past year that’s exactly what we’ve done. Sadly, though, that all comes to an end today. We opened the May envelope tonight which is our last one and it feels like it’s the end of an era.

What made today’s envelope double special was it was marked as coming from Steve and Judy who were just here visiting us! I don’t think they knew when they packed this envelope that they would be visiting us just a week prior to us opening it, but it was so fun to see the gifts they sent, read the letter they wrote, and know that we are loved by them. I also don’t think they thought this would be our last envelope because well, it wasn’t supposed to be. Inside were many fun things and it was really fun to tell Titus and Avery that this was all from our friends who were just here visiting us. So without further adieu, here’s some photos of us opening our last envelope (captions beneath each).

The First of May (5/1/15)

Avery was especially excited for this envelope because it was colorful and “really heavy.” She was literally jumping up and down before we went and got it in our storage room down the hall. Both her and Titus assumed their normal positions on the couch and gave a big “cheeeeeeese” smile.

The First of May (5/1/15)

After helping them get the envelope open, the kids found alphabet stickers, construction paper, and new crayons! Bethany was especially excited that the pack of construction paper had the color brown because she was saying she didn’t have any during Thanksgiving when her and Titus were trying to make a little paper turkey.

The First of May (5/1/15)

Titus was thrilled for his new Lightning McQueen toothbrush. Here you can see him smiling and oozing with joy. He made sure we let him use it to brush his teeth tonight and he asked he if he could use it every night. When I told him, “Sure, bud,” he yelled, “Mom, I can use it every night!”

The First of May (5/1/15)

The one thing I love about Steve and Judy is their love for good books. We had a great time this past week talking books with them and swapping titles of what we have read and they have read. It came as no surprise that inside our envelope tonight were three books that they wanted us to have. There was one for the kids, one for dad (me), and one for both Bethany and me. The books are (from left to right in the photo above): God’s Wisdom by Sally Michael, Being A Dad Who Leads by John MacArthur, and one we discussed this past week which is Name Above All Names by Alistair Begg and Sinclair B. Ferguson. Fewer things bring me more joy than the gift of new books. Thank you, Steve and Judy!

Notes (5/1/15)

Outside the envelope, there were other gifts that Steve and Judy hand delivered us this past week that we are just spending time looking at tonight. These are physical gifts as much as they are the gift of words. We have a pile of cards and letters that we’re reading tonight above is just one photo of many which are handwritten notes of encouragement. Even as I type Bethany just opened a card that was from the senior’s Bible study, again with words and short notes of much encouragement. These are a special joy to us and we’re so very thankful for a sending church that deeply cares about their missionaries. This past week we have been overwhelmed by their kindness in sending Steve and Judy, the year-long envelopes, and even these kind words. To our friends and church family at Placerita, we love you and think of you often. There are no better words that describe how we feel than what Paul wrote to the church at 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” (Philippians 1:3-6).

An Early Birthday and the Trinity

Titus Open His Birthday Present from Papa and Nana (4/18/15)

Titus got to celebrate his birthday a little early today. Technically he doesn’t turn five until next Friday (the 24th), but since Papa and Nana sent him a package in the mail yesterday, we asked them if he could open it today with them watching via Skype. So with everyone gathered on or around the couch (and Papa and Nana watching via video), Titus dove in to his presents today with full throttle excitement. He ended up scoring (baseball pun intended) a pack of baseball cards, foam baseball bases for the yard, and some new Legos! He was pumped about all of them and here’s the photos of the “event.”

Titus Open His Birthday Present from Papa and Nana (4/18/15)

Titus Open His Birthday Present from Papa and Nana (4/18/15)

Titus Open His Birthday Present from Papa and Nana (4/18/15)

Titus Open His Birthday Present from Papa and Nana (4/18/15)

Titus Open His Birthday Present from Papa and Nana (4/18/15)

His baseball cards had three Dodger players!

Titus Open His Birthday Present from Papa and Nana (4/18/15)

Titus Open His Birthday Present from Papa and Nana (4/18/15)

Titus Open His Birthday Present from Papa and Nana (4/18/15)

Titus Open His Birthday Present from Papa and Nana (4/18/15)

Titus Open His Birthday Present from Papa and Nana (4/18/15)

We let Titus stay up late tonight and build his new Lego airplane. Why was he up late, you ask? Keep reading!

I Taught Youth Group Tonight (4/18/15)

Tonight I had the opportunity to teach on the doctrine of the Trinity at our church’s youth group. There were about twenty-five students tonight and I had the help of one of the girls who translated for me. This actually proved to be much more difficult for me than I originally thought. It’s really hard to keep any kind of cadence to your speech when you have to stop after each phrase for translation. I never really felt like I found a rhythm, but I’m hopeful that the things I was able to teach were communicated clearly. I told Bethany afterward that I thought it was really difficult and I struggled to communicate what I wanted. Not only is the Trinity full of words that we rarely use in English (e.g. “Godness”), but I just never felt like I could expand on what I was saying because of how long it was taking to translate. Nevertheless, I did enjoy it for what it was and I was able to have some good conversations with some of the guys after regarding the Trinity. I have been very blessed this week to have been thinking on this wonderful doctrine and my study was worth it, even if it was to answer some of those questions.

Lastly, I will just mention that it tried very hard to snow today. I did see a few flakes here and there as the weather took a dramatic change from the beautiful spring air we had earlier this week. Titus and I played outside for a bit, but it was honestly too cold (mid 30s!) to stay out there very long. I guess we’ll just keep our jackets out of storage a little longer.

That’s all for today. Dobrou noc!

Opening the April Envelope

Opening April (4/4/15)

It has been on our agenda this week to open up the April envelope which is the second to last envelope we get to open. This one was signed by our friends the Millets and it was full of lots of fun things. As you can see in the photo above, the wrapping itself was something special and the kids loved trying to figure out how to get in to it. I took a lot of photos of the process today, so here’s the story in pictures (with captions beneath some photos).

Opening April (4/4/15)

Opening April (4/4/15)

Opening April (4/4/15)

It took the kids a bit to unravel the string and the large white plastic table cloth that the envelope was wrapped in.

Opening April (4/4/15)

Opening April (4/4/15)

Alongside the envelope was a big frame celebrating both Titus’ birthday and our resurrected Savior (Titus’ birthday is on the 24th). It was really fun to open this on Easter weekend!

Opening April (4/4/15)

Avery was pretty excited to find some colorful Tic-Tacs at first grab in the bag.

Opening April (4/4/15)

Opening April (4/4/15)

Opening April (4/4/15)

Titus found a present with his name on it and immediately got to work opening it. We were proud of him because he opened the card first and tried to read it, as well as asked if it was OK for him to open it even though it’s not his birthday. Since we were having so much fun, we though an early birthday present would be alright.

Opening April (4/4/15)

While Titus was opening his present, Avery was finding all kinds of things in the envelope.

Opening April (4/4/15)

Opening April (4/4/15)

Insides Titus’ gift were special markers with Bible story books! We love these kinds of books because the markers are special for this kind of paper and usually don’t cause a big mess. Titus was definitely excited about this one.

Opening April (4/4/15)

Titus got right to work coloring. I had been distracted by the other books that Avery had pulled out of the envelope and Bethany nudged me to take a photo of him coloring all by himself. He was very focused and as usual he picked the color red (his favorite color) to start with.

Opening April (4/4/15)

There were a ton of books and stickers inside, along with a sticker pack for the Passion week and Easter. The kids spent a lot of time working with their stickers and we had fun talking about Jesus and the tomb. We are so blessed to have friends from the States who were willing to sacrifice their time and resources to bless us like this. As always, thank you!

Beyond the envelope, the only other thing we did today was take the kids to the play place at the mall. This has become more of regular thing, but it made a lot of sense today because the weather was cold and mixed rain and snow. We talked about going to the zoo, but I’m glad we didn’t because it was just miserable outside most of the day. The kids had a fun time at the mall and we were able to do a little grocery shopping while we were out. Tomorrow we’ll have the Easter service at church and a bunch of missionaries are getting together for a pot-luck style meal in our town. Bethany is cutting veggies and prepping food as a type and I’m looking forward to celebrating the risen Lord tomorrow!

Refried Dreams Come True

January Fun (1/23/15)

It’s 9:17pm as I am beginning to write this and this is the latest we’ve been up in over a week. Last night we went to bed at 8:30pm and it’s been earlier than that every day since arriving back in Czech. I’m thankful for the progress but still really surprised how long it has taken our family to readjust.

January Fun (1/23/15)

Above is a photo of the Mexican food that I found at the store today. I’m sure I have written about this kind of thing before, but I drove 20 minutes to another town to get these things because, well, that’s what you do when you’re desperate for familiar food items. I actually only intended to buy black beans (yes, I was willing to drive 20 minutes for black beans), but when I got there they had so much more! One thing we have literally never seen here are regular refried beans, hence the four cans I brought home. It’s a refried dream come true (har har)! In the back you’ll also see Mission tortillas. I believe we have found those one other time, but I was able to buy them again today which was fun. Our local store hasn’t had much selection in the area of Mexican food so it was fun to stock up.

Often in Czech you’ll find grocery stores that are inside little malls. That was the case of the store I went today and when me and the kids entered the mall there were these giant, metal art installations (shown below). The first one is of Iron Man, which is all well and good, but the further back we went, the weirder they got. I turned the corner to toward to store and they had more of them and they were honestly very creepy and scary. The kids seemed OK, but it was just one of those things you probably wouldn’t see in any American mall.

January Fun (1/23/15)

Since we weren’t here at the start of January, and because we’ve been jet lagged, we hadn’t opened our January envelope! Tonight we were finally up for it and as always it was fully of fun goodies for the whole family. I laughed as well because Avery said, “Daddy, first we take a picture and then we can open it!” Apparently we’ve done this before! Below are some photos of the fun.

January Fun (1/23/15)

January Fun (1/23/15)

January Fun (1/23/15)

January Fun (1/23/15)

January Fun (1/23/15)

Inside there were note pads, a hand written card, a party hat, sticker books for the kids, crayons, an activity set, a puzzle, and a family favorite iTunes gift card! Thank you, friends, for your kindness to us. These envelopes have been a special blessing to us and come June it’ll be depressing that they’ll be no more.

Here’s a photo of Avery enjoy her box of mostly pink colored crayons.

January Fun (1/23/15)

Lastly, tonight we had some friends over for dinner. We weren’t really sure we would be able to do it considering how tired we have been (and truthfully, we cancelled dinner plans last night with other friends because we just didn’t have the energy). But we had a fun time and enjoyed the company tonight. We yawned a lot around 8pm, but I was able to stay awake through dinner! Our dinner guests are missionaries in Poland and they’re actually heading to the States next week to look at colleges for their oldest daughter. Personally, I’m a little jealous because they’ll be in California where they can enjoy an In-N-Out burger. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll figure out how to teleport In-N-Out back to Czech in the next week! Hey, a guy can dream, can’t he?!

Christmas in Yakima

Christmas in Yakima (12/30/14)

Today we celebrated Christmas in Yakima with Bethany’s side of the family.

I’ve been writing for the past few days that there’s been a bit of a delay with Christmas as we’ve been waiting to get the entire family together. Everyone was here this morning bright and early, and we enjoyed breakfast and cinnamon rolls on the floor by the tree. Bethany’s dad read Luke 2 and we enjoyed opening presents and giving gifts to each other. We had a great time together and we were blessed to receive lots of new books, clothes, and toys as a family.

Christmas in Yakima (12/30/14)

Christmas in Yakima (12/30/14)

We alway start the present opening time with stockings and work from youngest to oldest. The process takes a few hours, but it goes quickly and is great to watch all the responses. Everyone in the family keeps a wish list active that the rest of the family can pull ideas from, so it’s always fun to open presents and things that you may have added to your list a while back. I’m especially excited about the new books that I got this year. Everything from new Bible commentaries to business books to poetry, all of these will keep me busy for years to come. The kids were also blessed with books, along with a Buzz Lightyear costume for Titus, and a Jessie (from Toy Story) hat for Avery.

Christmas in Yakima (12/30/14)

Christmas in Yakima (12/30/14)

After presents we took a break (and naps!) and rested in the afternoon. Besides some snacking, we skipped lunch and planned for a big meal out together at a local restaurant in the late afternoon early evening. We reconvened about 3:30pm to take a family photo together. For all I know, it’ll be a few years before we get to do another photo like this again.

Christmas in Yakima (12/30/14)

Dinner tonight was incredible. We haven’t had a big, American style dinner out in six months. I was so excited to eat a cheeseburger with real American cheese! We had fun being loud and enjoying the family time out. The restaurant is a new place that’s only been open for a few weeks here in Yakima (shown below). The food was delicious and I ate way too much. On the bright side, I shouldn’t need to eat for a couple of days!

Christmas in Yakima (12/30/14)

Our time here has been sweet, restful, and fun. For me, I think this has been a recharge and a God-ordained trip to just think and rest. Czech is not the easiest place, but I’m so thankful for what God is doing in that part of the world and how he continues to stretch and grow us in order to use there. Tonight as we were driving home from dinner I actually missed Czech. It’s our new home and even though we have had a lot of fun here, I look forward to being back there and continuing to pursue all God has for us, good or bad.

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