365 Czech Republic

Please Sign Receipt

Man am I dumb. I honestly have no idea what I was thinking, but what is done is done. In the words of Kronk in the Disney movie The Emporer’s New Groove, “I hope that doesn’t come back to haunt me.”

Tonight I needed to to go to the store and pick one item: a metric screwdriver. I decided I would take the kids with me, get gas, and then hit the store. I went to the local Kaufland mainly because (to be honest) I was avoiding the drunk guys hanging out at the other store I usually go to. Everything went great. We found the screwdriver, it was cheap, and then I got the kids some gummy bears just for a fun thing to do since we were out. I wen through the checkout stand, paid, signed the receipt and off we went. As we walked to the car in the parking lot I said, “Who wants a gummy bear?!” to the kids who both said, “ME!” Oh I wish it ended there.

As I was buckeling Avery in to her car seat a store employee came running outside to me, yelling at me in Czech. The only things I could understand was “kartu” (which means card) and “podpis” (which means signature). I pulled the receipt out of my pocket and showed it to her but she kept motioning for me to come back inside. I told her “moment!” and got the kids out of the car and went back in.

Card Problems (2/11/15)

When I got back to the register where I paid there was a huge line of people and now three different employees who were visibly upset and trying to fix the computer which apparently had frozen after I left. My total was still on the screen and it read “Please sign receipt” on the card reader. Again, I showed my receipt to a second employee who was now picking up a phone and calling someone (you can see her in the photo above trying to get the computer to work). Titus said to me, “Daddy, are we done?” Of course, I couldn’t answer him because I really didn’t know what was going on. After a few minutes of button pushing and a phone call the lady finally came around and got under the register to where the cables were (see photo below).

Card Problems (2/11/15)

I think she reset the computer or something because a few minutes later they cleared the screen and said I could go. During all of this I had said to myself, “I’m not showing them my card again,” mainly because I had an authorization code on my receipt and I didn’t want to be double charged. They told me I could leave and as I was about to step away the lady said, “Chislo! Kartu!” which literally means “Number! Card!” Apparently, she wanted my card number. I said “Ne chislo!” and showed my receipt but they weren’t going for that. So in a moment of confusion and just not knowing what to do I pulled my card out and that’s when they started writing it down on the back of another receipt. I told them I was upset and didn’t like it, but couldn’t communicate that well. The clerk who spoke a little English said, “You don’t have to worry” which is theologically accurate but didn’t really calm my worry in the moment. So now my debit card number is on the back of some receipt at some store in Czech.

After rushing home, I put a hold on my card and will keep it that way for a few days. I’m actually kind of a freak about that stuff to the point where I don’t even share passwords, numbers, or just about anything over the Internet or on paper. If I absolutely have to write something like that down, it ends up going through the shredder. Even in our home I find myself whispering that kind of info to Bethany because you just never know who’s listening! Unfortunately, I just can’t cancel my card because having one shipped to Czech is even more difficult so I will just have to trust the Lord. Lord willing, it won’t be misused and hopefully will be thrown away! Like I said, I’m dumb.

New Print (2/11/15)

Ironically, I hung the above frame and print in my team’s office at Josiah Venture today. It says, “Never Stop Learning.” It’s really a philosophy I live by and am applying tonight. I thought “never give your card number to a stranger” was a given, but when you’re in a new place and unsure what to do you can find yourself doing weird things. Hopefully I learned something tonight.

365 Czech Republic

Celery and an Early Valentine’s Day

As happens often I have to go on a hunt for a single food item. Tonight that item was celery. Bethany was making potato soup and needed a few things from the store. I went straight to the store that I thought would surely have everything, but for some reason they either didn’t have celery or they were out.

Broken Bottle (2/5/15)

My quest was actually complete at the second store I visited. But while in line someone dropped a large bottle of some kind of alcoholic beverage. It smelled weird and went everywhere. I’m not sure if it was the girl that was in front of me or the guy in front of her that was at fault, but not a single person did a thing about it. Everyone acted as if nothing had happened, including the check stand lady and security guard standing right there. It was all very confusing for me because we just all began stepping over and into the liquid, making a bigger mess. No one was coming to clean it up and I honestly would’ve done it but trying to explain that in Czech would have proved more confusing than the situation itself. Spill on aisle 4 anyone? How do you say that in Czech?

Early Valentine's Day Cards (2/5/15)

On a happier note, I got home from the store and the kids told me “Daddy, we have a surprise for you.” They both brought me big red cards that they made with stickers and drawings (shown above). Avery also brought me that cat frame which she painted and added jewels to. The cat actually came with the frame. Bethany told me that Avery said, “Daddy will like that.” She is right.

On the back of the cards were lots of fun phrases that I will share with you here:

From Titus:
Why do you love Daddy?

“Cause he “raskles” (read “wrestles”) us a long time.”
“He’s our friend”

From Avery:
Why do you love Daddy?

“Daddy likes to play Candyland”
“Daddy likes to “raskle” me”
“Because he has an ‘A’ in his name”
“Daddy likes to give me a kiss.”
“Because I love him.”

It’s never too early to get a Valentine’s Day card for your kids.

365 Czech Republic

Red Cheeks and the German Occupation

It continues to be a winter wonderland here in Czech even though it really didn’t snow too much today. The snow was piled high on the sides of the roads and sidewalks and while walking Titus to school today I saw multiple moms pulling their children on sleds. After I got Titus in to his class, I realized I forgot his bag so I ended up making the walk back home and then back to his school. When I returned I saw Titus sitting at a table alone, really focused on whatever he was coloring. I approached him and said something to him and he jumped. I saw a tear in his eye, like maybe he had cried after I left? It was a weird moment and I was reminded how hard this must be for him to be in school and not really understanding much of the language.

When Bethany picked Titus up in the afternoon, his teacher asked another mom who spoke English to translate. She wanted to tell us that Titus had been doing much better in class. This was good news to our ears as we have been really working with Titus on different things at home, especially listening and first time obedience. We tell him daily to listen and obey even if he’s not exactly sure what’s going on (which I’m sure is often). As a bonus, Bethany was excited that she met another mom who spoke English. She told me that she sees that mom often, so now she knows she can talk with her and maybe build a relationship.

Lots of Snow (1/26/15)

Bethany let the kids play in the snow this afternoon after Titus got out of school. Our Czech friend Misa came over and was spending time with Bethany and the kids. She brought some presents for the kids and a few things for us which was really nice. While they were playing Pani Musilova (our landlord) saw them playing and knew that Misa could translate for us, so she talked with them for a while. One thing Pani Musilova mentioned was that it was good for Avery to get “red cheeks.” After some really basic research (I asked 3 Czech friends), this may have 2 different meanings:

1) It could be a reference to an old Russian fairytale. I am quoting our friend who said, “An old Russian fairytale when the ugly step sister put tone of red blush on her cheeks to get the queen to look.”

2) It could be a reference to good health. From our understanding, and we could be wrong, Czechs will often let little babies take naps outside in the cold. Sometimes you will even see a stroller outside with a baby bundled up, but their little face exposed. It’s possible they think the cold air is good for the babies and small children?

Or maybe we’re just really confused? That’s very possible.

Red Cheeks (1/26/15)

Another interesting anecdote from that conversation which Bethany shared with me was about our landlord’s name. They were talking about Bethany’s pregnancy and baby names and Pani Musilova (Mrs. Musilova) explained that her first name “Helena” is actually the German version of the Czech name “Helenka.” She explained that she was born under the German occupation of Czech and they were only allowed German versions of the names. I’ve shared before that Czechs have their Czech Name Day where every day on the calendar is someone’s name day. All that to say, it was just crazy to think that she was born during the German occupation of Czech! I think Pani Musilova is really pulling for us to name this next baby with a Czech name, but I guess we’ll just have to wait on that.

365 Czech Republic

The Sunday Dichotomy: When The Church Service Goes Long

When was the last time you were at church and the guy announcing an outreach ministry begins with a story about someone attempting suicide? That’s what happened this morning at our church in Czech. The man sharing was introducing a ministry called “Alpha” which, from what I could I gain through our translator, is designed to help people share their faith with those in their workplaces and neighborhoods. The story he was sharing was from his own work where a mom asked to leave work early because her son was trying to commit suicide. He continued that people at his work know he’s a Christian and are willing to share things with him. As well, he shared that in the case of the woman he asked her if he could pray for her son before she left and she said “OK.” This man encouraged the body to continue to tell others about Christ and the gospel, and invited them to “Alpha” where they can gain training and tools to aid in their own evangelism.

Watching the nationals in our church is so encouraging and spurs our own missionary family on towards gospel ministry in this place. Lord willing, more people will come to Christ because of that ministry, our church here, and the faithful witnesses of Christ.

Church today went almost three hours long. Our kids did exceptional, but we ended up going outside around the two hour, fifteen minute mark. There was a lot going on, including an entire group of students that recently came back from camp who shared about their experience and sang a few songs (video above of one part of one song). We also had a guest speaker, communion, and an extended prayer time. School will start here tomorrow (Sept. 1) and the pastors wanted to pray for all the kids in the church so they asked them to come forward and the pastors and elders prayed individually for students, teachers, and families. The place was very full today so the lines for prayer went all the way to the back and we watched as the pastors would place hands on the families and students and pray (photo below).

Neděle in Czech (8/31/14)

Bethany and I talked during lunch about how to respond to a longer service. We feel the burden of living in two worlds now: World #1 (the more American view): Being on time is right and good. It honors God to be on time–church services should end on time. World #2 (maybe a more Czech view?): Spending time with your church family is right and good. If the service goes long, it’s just extra time for prayer and fellowshipping with other believers which is a joy and encouragement–it’s OK if the service goes long. It’s a Sunday dichotomy. Both feel right and good, but you can’t have both at the same time.

I like what one friend told me in the States. On the possibility that the service might go long on a particular Sunday he told me, “Hey, you really don’t hear people complaining when the football game goes into over time.” I think he’s right. Often we (Americans) make exceptions in our minds for sports and entertainment, but not so much for church. I know I do this and am guilty of complaining when church doesn’t end when I think it should. Maybe I do need look at the other side and learn from my Czech brothers and sisters that spending a little more time at church might just be a joy and not a burden. It’s like what our Czech pastor said today about the service running long, “We love our children and our teachers. This is the wisest thing for us to do.” Amen, brother.

Neděle in Czech (8/31/14)

Above is a photo of Titus with his hands in his pockets just watching the service. We like that kid.

Neděle in Czech (8/31/14)

Towards the end of the service there were a lot of kids outside. The boys turned the grass area into a scene from Braveheart, each boy for himself with a stick for a sword. We had no clue where the other parents were.

Neděle in Czech (8/31/14)

Finally, our two little ones which seem to betting bigger every day. Thanks to Bethany they always look so nice when we go to church.

365 Czech Republic

A Lack of Understanding

Weird Food and Fun (8/7/14)

There’s a lot of things about Czech I don’t get and often I am confused. For instance, I’ve hit my head five times in the past two days on low ceilings or objects. Today I nailed my head on a tuba that was hanging from a ceiling where I had lunch. We were having a lunch with Jacob (one of our interns) because it was his last day before flying back to the States (photo above; Jacob is on the right). As soon as I stood up… bam! Right on the noggin. Earlier I hit my head on the top of a door post. Yesterday I hit my head on the same low ceiling two times and then on the ceiling in the stairwell. I guess I just don’t fit here?

But there are other things I don’t understand. Another example is John’s lunch from today. He ordered the fish (by accident) and that’s exactly what he got. It might sound funny, but when I think of ordering fish it usually comes battered or flat like a steak, but John’s fish was the whole fish with the head, eyes, tail and bones (photos below). Does all fish in Czech come like this? I have no clue.

Weird Food and Fun (8/7/14)

Weird Food and Fun (8/7/14)

And what’s the deal with mushrooms? According to friends here the word mushroom is actually a verb. You can go “mushrooming” here in Czech. This might explain why there were wild mushrooms from the grass in our sitting in the front entry way when I cam home today (photo below). As I pulled in there was a gardner working in the yard so I assume he was the one that set them aside for our landlord. Will she eat the mushrooms from the yard? I don’t know. I do know that when I saw those in the yard the other day while playing with Titus that I thought I should kick them and throw them away. So glad I didn’t.

All of that to say there are definitely things to learn about Czech. Every day is an opportunity to learn something new. I’m just not sure I’m read to commit to mushrooming yet.

Weird Food and Fun (8/7/14)

Tonight we were invited to a dinner at the Yorman’s house which was really fun. Our kids and their kids love to play together and the Yorman boys showed Titus and Avery a new game on the Wii. They had a ton of fun playing and laughing and we enjoyed a great dinner together with a few other people on the JV staff. It’s fun to get to know every one on a deeper level and even just shooting the breeze about movies or whatever else might come up during the dinner conversation. There was even talk of doing a regular dinner together to give our kids some time to play and us to just hang out which would be a blessing.

Weird Food and Fun (8/7/14)

That’s all from me tonight. I’m tired and honestly my head is still hurting from all those bonks!


On Youth Ministry

March 2013 Tabeltalk Magazine

A quote from Burk Parsons in the March 2013 Tabletalk magazine:

“The problem today is not so much that young people have consciously rejected ancient biblical values but that they have not been taught what they are, much less been trained in them.”

Later he adds,

“…we have neglected God’s call to train up the next generation of young people in the way they should go. If we are to redirect the current paths of young people, we must begin in the church by taking up the charge to come alongside younger men and women, and teach them the old, ancient values of God’s Word.”


A Christian Manifesto

I realize many people don’t like reading anything long-form online these days. It’s a plague that I hope will one day be cured, because there is so much we can learn from spending the time and listening to well crafted arguments. That’s why I think you should spend the time reading this address from Francis Shaeffer that he gave at a church in 1982. Maybe you have read his book A Christian Manifesto which is basically summarized in this talk, but I think it’s worth your time either way.

Even though he shared this 30 years ago, it’s urgency is still relevant. It’s probably one of the best discussions on culture I’ve ever read and I commend it to you for your sanctification and growth. Here’s a snippet that I thought was worth sharing, but definitely take the time and read the entire thing (remember this is 1982):

The January 11 Newsweek has an article about the baby in the womb. The first 5 or 6 pages are marvelous. If you haven’t seen it, you should see if you can get that issue. It’s January 11 and about the first 5 or 6 pages show conclusively what every biologist has known all along, and that is that human life begins at conception. There is no other time for human life to begin, except at conception. Monkey life begins at conception. Donkey life begins at conception. And human life begins at conception. Biologically, there is no discussion — never should have been — from a scientific viewpoint. I am not speaking of religion now. And this 5 or 6 pages very carefully goes into the fact that human life begins at conception. But you flip the page and there is this big black headline, “But is it a person?” And I’ll read the last sentence, “The problem is not determining when actual human life begins, but when the value of that life begins to out weigh other considerations, such as the health or even the happiness of the mother.”

We are not just talking about the health of the mother (it’s a propaganda line), or even the happiness of the mother. Listen! Spell that out! It means that the mother, for her own hedonistic happiness — selfish happiness — can take human life by her choice, by law. Do you understand what I have said? By law, on the basis of her individual choice of what makes her happy. She can take what has been declared to be, in the first five pages [of the article], without any question, human life. In other words, they acknowledge that human life is there, but it is an open question as to whether it is not right to kill that human life if it makes the mother happy.

Read the whole thing here.

Articles Books Christianity Family Video

Catering to the Kids

“All the world’s a screen”. At least that’s what my prof from college argues page after page in his book Meaning At The Movies. He also writes, “God made us in his image, and we make movies in ours”. So true. Sometimes the reason why movies (or television shows) are so entertaining to us is because it’s like looking in a mirror. We see our lives, emotions, thoughts, feelings played out before us and it’s very attractive and revealing about our own hearts. For more on this idea, pick up a copy of Meaning At The Movies, but in the meantime I wanted to show you this clip from a recent episode of The Middle that Bethany and I watched with great laughter and appreciation as it revealed a little bit about the human heart and parenting. If you’ve never seen this show, it’s about a “middle” class family in “middle” America. It’s a classic family sitcom, but it’s narrated from the viewpoint of the mom Franki (Patricia Heaton) to give us an insight in to her feelings and thoughts about being a mom and having a family in “the middle”. Here’s the clip:

The rest of the episode goes on to show just how the parents “take back their lives” in a pretty amusing fashion. The furniture in the living room is rearranged just the way mom wants it. The dad and mom are high-fiving every time they “take back” another portion of their lives, be it the kind of pizza they order, taking a parent’s night out with friends, not dropping everything to cater to any one of their kids specific/immediate needs, etc. Bethany and I were just laughing in agreement as the parents actually start to rule the home and not let the kids run the place. The kids of course are completely taken back that their parents are now saying “no” and their efforts to plead with the parents to go back to the way things were before simply creates hilarity throughout.

It all reminded me of a blog I read just this week from Jay Younts of the Shepherd’s Press blog titled “Go to Sleep!”. It’s a critique of a new book that tries to humorously discuss why kids just won’t “go to sleep” and are annoying their tired and frustrated parents. The problem is, as Jay Younts argues, “Children were never intended to be installed as rulers of the universe…“. And often this is exactly what they are in families today, rulers of their own schedules, bed times, toy selection, and the like. But there’s already a ruler of the universe–his name is Jesus. And when children begin to rule their own universe (e.g. parents, household, etc.), and when parents reinforce this sense of dominion in the child it will only frustrate everyone involved. That’s why we need the Gospel. Without the Gospel, Jesus doesn’t rule in our hearts and stake the claim He rightfully owns (paid for by His shed blood) in our homes, children, and families. What we end up with is a war for authority of which each little battle is often won by the children who finally win the war.

By the end of the episode both parents finally “give in” to one of their child’s needs and basically go back to their old ways. The furniture is rearranged to the way it was, the parents drop everything to meet their children’s needs, etc. Honestly, they needed balance in their approach, but it’s still sad that they couldn’t stay committed to ruling their home as the authority in the kid’s lives. In the final scene, Franki (the mom) goes outside to get the mail and another mom with a toddler in a stroller are walking by. The child is obviously not happy about something and you hear the other mom saying “What is it honey? Whatever you need I’ll get it for you.” Franki quickly approaches the mom and says, “Don’t do it! Don’t give him everything he wants!” It was a last ditch effort to keep her dream alive of helping another mom change her ways before it’s too late! The concerned mom just gives Franki an odd look, helps her child, and keeps walking down the sidewalk. As Franki stands there watching them walk away we hear her say “She won’t listen”, as if to say “It’s a lost cause. In the end, the kids win. Parents lose.” You’re right, Franki. If parents keep letting their kids rule the universe, it’ll be a lost cause to try and rule your home. It’s only when parents see that their children were designed for authority and limits that blessing will come.

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The Beginning of the End For Marriage?

© Shay Thomason

I got married at 21. Next month my wife and I will celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary–I couldn’t be happier. But apparently I’m not the norm. At least that’s what the Associated Press is saying in a new article out today with the tagline “Is marriage becoming obsolete?” I offer you this snippet for your own discernment:

As families gather for Thanksgiving this year, nearly one in three American children is living with a parent who is divorced, separated or never-married. More people are accepting the view that wedding bells aren’t needed to have a family.

About 29 percent of children under 18 now live with a parent or parents who are unwed or no longer married, a fivefold increase from 1960, according to the Pew report being released Thursday. Broken down further, about 15 percent have parents who are divorced or separated and 14 percent who were never married. Within those two groups, a sizable chunk — 6 percent — have parents who are live-in couples who opted to raise kids together without getting married.

Then there’s this gem just in the middle of the article:

The changing views of family are being driven largely by young adults 18-29, who are more likely than older generations to have an unmarried or divorced parent or have friends who do. Young adults also tend to have more liberal attitudes when it comes to spousal roles and living together before marriage, the survey found.

via Four in 10 say marriage is becoming obsolete – Yahoo! News

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100 Years of Boy Scouts

"This American Boy" - Photo ©Shay Thomason

I read this morning that the Boy Scouts of America are celebrating 100 years. 100 years is a milestone for any organization–I definitely praise their accomplishment. I read the “Boy Scout Oath” this morning and couldn’t help think if something like this could ever be written in today’s culture–100 years later. It currently reads:

“On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”

No doubt if this were rewritten today it would read something like this:

“If I can, I will try to help all countries and obey the Scout Law; to help other people, animals, and the Earth; to keep myself from becoming obese and/or having diabetes, to play video games to keep my mind awake, and know that morality is something that’s different for everyone.”

I really hope it doesn’t come to that–I really do.

Photo © Shay Thomason. All Right Reserved.