Today was much needed. Actually, I think the last two days have been what we have needed for a while. I don’t know if it’s because we have been so busy, but just some time as a family doing fun things and being together has been good for my soul.
The last few weeks have just been busy. We have had a lot of ministry things going on of late from different conferences to special services, and it’s just been hard to have some focused time as a family. Some of that just comes with the territory of ministry, but it’s always my desire to make sure we get time to be a family and enjoy each other.
I want to brief, but here’s a few photos from Friday when Avery decided to open a lemonade stand. She talked about it for a couple of weeks and did a great job of helping prepare everything. It was actually a lot of fun and she saw about 17 different customers (that’s by her count) and we had fun helping sell cookies and lemonade. Here’s a few photos.
And today (Saturday) we had the joy of joining some friends at their house to meet their new baby goats and spend some time playing by the King’s near right near their house. It was such a fun and relaxing time and I’m so thankful for it. Here’s a few photos of our time today.
But watch out for snakes! (photo below)
Thanks friends for being so nice to us and letting us hang today!
It was a joy to be back at church today as we were out two weeks ago when Karis was born and last week there was actually no church (well, it was in another town, but that’s hard for me to explain). Today it was just Titus and I as Bethany stayed home with Karis and Avery. For the first time Titus stayed in his class without my or Bethany’s supervision and according to our friend Kristin, he did a really good job! This was really encouraging and I was impressed when I dropped him off because he was totally willing to be there by himself and the teacher was so kind to him. Back in the main service there was a baby dedication which included a bunch of special songs from little kids which were great. I wasn’t tracking with everything that was going on, but it’s very similar to what you might find in the states. I think the pastor prayed a special blessing on the parents and there were about four or five babies being dedicated.
The sermon today was out of 1 Peter, but to be honest that’s about all I got. There was a lot of prayer during the service today which I think is really cool. Often on a Sunday morning there is open prayer time for the body to stand and just pray. Even though I can’t usually hear the prayers, I’m always encouraged by how the saints pray. After the service, the pastor stopped me at the door and in broken English congratulated me on the birth of Karis. He told me to send his regards to Bethany and that they were excited for us. It was really kind and I was glad he stopped me to say that.
After church Titus and I did a little shopping for mommy and the girls and most Sundays we end up getting donuts at the store. Today we found donuts for everyone, including a tiny one for little baby Karis. We were really proud and when I got it home Avery was jumping up and down with excitement and couldn’t believe they made tiny donuts for babies.
The kids love Karis right now. Titus especially has been doing a really good job of being gentle with her and talking sweet to her. Today I caught him lying on the ground next to hear talking “baby talk” with her and I got the above photo. It was only a small moment in time, but it one worth capturing.
Even though it was in the low 90s today, we still found time to go outside for a little bit. Here’s a few photos.
Late this afternoon we went out to a friend’s house to say goodbye to our friend Katka. Early tomorrow morning she is leaving Czech and moving to Latvia as a missionary. Katka has a pretty amazing story as she’s a Czech national who is now being sent out to another European country as a missionary to serve the people there. It was a sweet time this afternoon just hanging out and enjoying some barbecue with her and a bunch of her friends. As a bonus, she got to meet Karis along with a few other people who haven’t been able to see her in person yet. Here’s a few photos (with captions beneath each).
Katka holding Karis.
Here’s Lauren holding Karis. If you don’t remember, Lauren was our doula at the Czech hospital and a huge help! This was the first time she had seen her since she was born.
During the afternoon Avery decided to start collecting pinecones and putting them in our stroller. She was really proud of it.
The pinecone collection.
The little boys started a soccer game.
Here’s everyone hanging out (especially that guy on the right). We hope you were blessed today, Katka! We look forward to hearing what God does through you in Latvia.
We may have had a major event in our lives this week with the birth of our third child, but that doesn’t mean that life here has just stopped. I had this realization today as I took Titus to school and picked him up today. His teacher handed me the photo above of his class which you may remember from the day they took his class photo a little more than a month ago. As I quickly found Titus in the top row middle, it was as if I just realized we have three kids. They are all at different places in their lives, especially Titus who plows ahead with Czech schooling and learning tons of new things. Avery continues to make us laugh, especially with all her new questions about baby Karis. As for Karis, she just loves to eat and sleep but I know it won’t be long before her preschool teacher is handing me a photo of her class. Life keeps moving.
Bethany’s dad (aka “Papa) and I spent a ton of time today mapping out our plans for the next week. Papa and Nana we will heading back to the States next Saturday and we are still hoping for them to see a little more of Europe. They have thoroughly enjoyed their time here, but Nana’s birthday is on Sunday so we’re going to try and take her to Krakow to celebrate. It’s only a 2-hour drive from here so we figure we can make that happen for her, even with a newborn. We’re hoping to leave tomorrow at some point so you’ll just have to read that blog and see what happens!
We had a handful of visitors today who came to see Karis for the first time. A few of our missionary friends came by to meet and hold her, many of whom came bearing gifts as well as our landlord who came down with flowers, new clothes, and a winter outfit (shown below). I love having all the pink flowers in the house and it was just nice to see our friends and even have the opportunity to introduce them to our family. You’ll also notice in the photo below a little card from our landlord which we couldn’t completely understand but was so nice (I should also note that along with the clothes and card, she handed me a bag with a bottle of champagne). Again it’s just fun to have people here in our home celebrating with us!
Karis is doing great and again gave us some good chunks of sleep last night. It’s never easy to adjust to a new baby sleep schedule, but Bethany has been incredible this week and I’ve been doing my best to help her. It’s a little different this time around as I still feel the pressure to spend time with Titus and Avery while also helping Bethany take care of Karis and this is just part of the transition from two to three kids, I guess. It’s definitely nice to have the help of Papa and Nana and I’m doing my best to convince them that they could adjust well in Europe.
Papa and I took Titus and Avery for a bike ride / run this evening and we discovered a great new place at the end of our street. I’ve never gone down to the other end of our street (barely two blocks), but tonight we went there and discovered the river and Polish border. We’ve been to the river and border many times but not right at the end of our road which was new and fun. The weather was perfect of a bike ride and I grabbed a few photos. The first photo is literally at the end of our street, about a 1/4 mile away from our driveway.
Finally, Titus found his kid-friendly razor and shaving cream that he got for Christmas and all day has been talking about “shaving” or saying “I gotta shave.” Tonight he finally convinced me to let him (note: it’s just this Spiderman themed foaming cream and plastic razor–no blade). So in keeping with tonight’s blog title that “life keeps moving,” I present this photo of my five year old. How is it that my third child is born and my five year old starts shaving in the same week!?
Today was the first full day of Papa and Nana in town, but without the arrival of baby #3 it’s business as usual in our home. Titus was off to school this morning and I was off to the JV offices for a few meetings. I still continue to battle sickness for some reason and today was actually kind of a harder day for me (at least the first half). After my first meeting this morning I ended up coming home around lunch because I had a very bad sinus headache. I did my second meeting on the phone with my teammate but just was battling what was the most severe sinus headache I’ve had in a while. Coughing was actually the worst because it just made my head pound, so when I got home I took two Tylenol, ate a quick lunch with the family, and took a nap. That seemed to help but it still took another hour or so to get relief.
Papa and Nana got good rest last night as they begin the process of getting over jet-lag. With a nine hour difference from the West Coast to here it’s definitely hard to get adjusted. Nana was up at 4:00am, which is hard, but Papa was able to get a little more rest this morning. It’s almost 9:00pm here right now and they’re still awake which is a good sign!
Tonight we enjoyed dinner at our friends the Stephens house. They had wanted to have us over before the baby came and we were able to make it happen tonight, even with Bethany’s parents in town. Brian (who’s house we were at) has his parents in town as well so we had a great meal together and enjoyed just hanging out. Brian’s wife Aliesha just had a baby in Czech six months ago, so they are a big help in navigating some of the Czech health system and were answering some of our questions tonight. I had kind of forgotten about all the other paperwork items related to a new passport and social security number for the baby which we’ll end up doing in Prague shortly after she is born. The weeks ahead will be full and tiresome, I’m sure, but we’re continuing to look the Lord for strength and energy!
In the suitcases that Papa and Nana brought was a new book called Big Truths for Little Kids which is a children’s catechism that one of our supporters bought us. Papa read it tonight to the kids and I’m really like the question and answers as well the stories that go with it. Avery seems to be very interested in it and asking her questions like, “How many gods are there?” (answer: 1) and “How many persons in the Godhead (answer:3) is just fascinating to me. Without her understanding everything, she is able to begin to get her little mind our the Trinity. Above is a photo of Papa reading to them.
Every night I read to the kid from their Big Picture Story Bible. Above is a rare photo of all four of us tonight that Papa took while I was reading. It really is a joy to read and teach our kids the truth of the Scripture.
Finally, when we got back tonight from dinner I decided to let Titus park the car in the garage. Here’s a video Papa got:
OK OK, he wasn’t really parking the car by himself. He was sitting on Daddy’s lap!
Beneath the small children and balloons is me. You can see a little bit of my shirt between the pink balloon and the chair I was sitting in and we were in the middle of a game I made up on the spot. I don’t really have a name for it, but basically the kids gave me “pickles” (aka balloons) to eat and after “eating” them (acting it out) they told me, “No, they’re not pickles, they’re balloons!” to which I would immediately begin to spit out the pretend yucky tasting balloon and make a weird face. This was all part of the birthday party we went to today for our friends the Yorman’s son Caleb. He turned eight yesterday and we had a fun time celebrating with him and all his little buddies today at their house. The party was mostly a fun hangout time for the kids, but with a Star Wars theme and a whole lot of Legos. They even had a home made Star Wars Ewok pinãta which Titus took a couple whacks at. Here’s a little video:
Bethany had kind of a rough night last night of sleep. She had a bad headache that kept her up really late (I think past 2am) and the baby was moving a lot which made her uncomfortable. She’s definitely in the home stretch here, but it’s the literal stretching the baby does inside the womb that can also cause significant discomfort to Bethany. Pray for her tonight as we’re hoping she’ll get better sleep and be more recharged. The hardest thing would be to have little to no sleep and then for her to go into labor. If that’s what the Lord has, so be it, but sure would be nice to have rest before things start getting more intense. Even tonight she was having some pains after dinner which weren’t really contractions, but painful enough!
We talked with Bethany’s parents tonight on the phone and they are sitting at the airport in Seattle, ready to take off for their final destination of Prague. We are so excited to have them here and can’t wait to pick them up at the train station tomorrow!
You might say the day got off to an early start because at 4:30am we were up and at em’. No, weren’t catching a plane or train or going on a trip, but we were “meeting up” with with friends via video chat this morning. Since California is nine hours behind us, we had to get up early to try and meet them before they go to bed. Above is a photo I quickly took with my iPhone of us all “gathered” together, but we enjoyed a sweet time talking with close friends from our church in the States. It was actually the firs time we had done something like this with them and we’re hoping to do it more often in the future. They asked a lot of great questions and were just an encouragement and we ended with a time of prayer which was really nice. As always, we’re super thankful for the technology God has provided for us to connect in this way. It was great to see you, friends!
We ended up having time to go back to bed for a bit this morning, but the kids were awake not long after we fell asleep–such is life. Bethany made pancakes, bacon, and eggs this morning and we ended up having more of a brunch than a breakfast which was kind of fun. The kids were playing in the living room and were “camping” so I joined in on the phone while Bethany was doing laundry this afternoon. She also took a few photos, one of which is above as we were “sleeping” under the stars. The kids’ imaginations continue to grow and grow and I just love joining in on the process.
Titus got a letter today! He was pretty stoked when he opened our front door and found it sitting on the steps. I think it got a little rain on it, but there was no damage. We let him open it and inside he found $5 bucks (above are two photos of him opening it)! His aunt, uncle, and cousins are so nice to send this to him for his 5th birthday and he was excited to “buy a toy” with his new wealth. Obviously, American money isn’t accepted here in Czech, but I was able to exchange it for him at a very reasonable rate at the Parental Exchange (e.g. my wallet). Since I needed to go to the store anyways, this afternoon I took him along and allowed him to buy something from the toy aisle with his money. He ended up getting a new, small Star Wars lego set and I even let him buy it himself at the check-out line.
This evening Titus and I went to the youth group at church, but we arrived a little late because we didn’t know they had changed the start time again. The main church pastors were there sharing their testimonies and the whole topic tonight was on the Spirit of God. Our friend Martina helped translate a majority of their messages and Titus did a pretty good job of being self-controlled and sitting next to us. It seemed like the night went a little long and I had to take Titus home during their small group time at the end of the night. The youth group was going to be watching a hockey game after that, but I wasn’t able to go back tonight to join them. However, it was nice to be there, but the language barrier is still so hard and that’s often discouraging.
As the days continue to get longer and longer, the sunsets here are just incredible. When we pulled in to the driveway tonight, the church next door was so beautiful and golden. With a few puffy clouds above it in the blue sky, it just glistened so I had to take a photo (above). This is just an incredible time of year in Czech and if you’re ever coming to this part of the world try to come at this time of year. The weather is mild (not too cold, but not too hot) and even though there was a little rain this morning it cleared up beautifully this afternoon and evening. As much as I love California, I’ve enjoyed the new experience of weather here in Czech and am definitely thankful to the Lord for the beautiful sunset we saw tonight!
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).
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.
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.
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 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!
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).
For the past five days we have had the joy and privilege of having our friends Steve and Judy with us here in Czech Republic. As has been true of our sending church for many years, they sent us Steve and Judy this week to be an encouragement and to just spend some face to face time with us. We have know Steve and Judy for a long time, but we’ve never had the kind of time with them that we had this week. It was special, fun, encouraging, and they leave us with our hearts full of thankfulness.
Since today was our last day with them, I really wanted to make sure they get to see where I work and meet more of the Josiah Venture (JV) team. This morning we went in to Frydlant where the JV office is and did just that. In typical Steve and Judy fashion, they were meeting people, asking lots of questions, and I think just trying to be an encouragement. Anyone who knows this wonderful couple knows that they just love to encourage others and I think that happened today. I snapped really candid moments of them talking our office today which you can see below. I love how Steve has his notepad and is taking notes (no doubt so he can pray for things) and Judy is talking with my teammate John. A little later they gathered everyone in the office just to pray for us and for the ministry here. In the best sense possible, I can honestly say that whenever I spend time with Steve and Judy I realize just how much my prayer time is lacking! They are truly an example of a couple who prays.
Speaking of prayer, that’s exactly what we spent time tonight doing with them after dinner. We put the kids to bed and talked for a while, but then we just prayed. Every Christian knows you can’t pray enough. We are in a constant state of reliance upon our God for everything in life and prayer is one way do just that. I’m reminded of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Steve and Judy are without a doubt an example of a couple who prays without ceasing, but I would add that rejoicing and thankfulness are also very characteristic of them.
Earlier this week Steve asked us, “What are you thankful for?” and I’m still thinking about it. I was able to list off a few things, but I even realized this morning I left out our new daughter that’s due in a month! How could I not think of our baby girl on a list of things to be thankful for?! Steve again reminded us tonight to be thankful. In fact, he challenged me with Proverbs 31:28 “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” He was reminding me to vocalize my thankfulness for Bethany and all that she does and to make sure I teach and train our kids to do the same. Such a helpful reminder from God’s Word and from a man of God who is an example of this.
Steve and Judy, we are so thankful for our time with you. Thank you for taking the time to be with us and for sharing your lives with us. Thank you for the parenting help, the reminders to pray and pray often, and most importantly pointing us to Christ through His Word and your example. We are blessed to know you and call you our friends.
We enjoyed an incredible day today at the zoo with our friends, celebrating both Titus’s 5th birthday along with Gabe and Alex (twins) who turned 4. The weather couldn’t have been better and I’ve even got a little redness on my arms and neck to prove the sun was out. The day started at 10:00 at the zoo and we stayed until a little after 2:00. We brought cupcakes and met a bunch of other families “near the goats” inside the zoo. Everyone joined in singing happy birthday to Titus and then we did another round of singing for Gabe and Alex. After cupcakes and singing everyone headed in to the park and we mostly lost the other groups because we grabbed lunch with our kids, but we still had a great time with Steve and Judy and just walking around enjoying the animals. I got a ton of photos, so here they are!
Let’s pause here a moment for a little story. Above is a photo of Titus eating a hot dog during lunch. Shortly after he was playing on the playground behind him. He had brought a toy car with him that he got for his birthday and was taking it up and down the slide. But then he started crying and came over to use saying he lost his car. I asked him what happened and he said, “That big boy took it.” I asked him which kid and he pointed, so I walked up to the kid and said, “Kde je auto?” or “Where is the car?” He immediately said, “Nevim! Nevim” or “I don’t know. I don’t know.” We walked around and looked for a while, but were unable to find the car. I consider it a lost cause and even if the boy had it, I wasn’t going to dig through his pockets to get it. But that didn’t sit well with Bethany so she walked over and asked the same questions, except she found another little girl to help her talk to the boy. Finally, after a few minutes the boy went to his backpack and gave back the car. I joked that Bethany was in “mom mode” there for a minute and no language barrier was going to get in the way of her getting that car back!
Ok… back to the photos
Titus’ friends Beni and Caleb got him gifts that we opened in the parking lot just before we left. Beni had been talking about it all day and was so excited to give Titus a present. It was really sweet and both Caleb and Beni were asking Titus, “Is this the best day ever?!” It was fun to see them all so excited about Legos and Spiderman and Titus was really blessed. Thanks everyone for making it such a special time for Titus and our family!
What a day! It’s just before 10pm here and I’m sitting her with a smile on my face. I’m looking over some of the photos I got from today and am just thankful for God’s grace and excited about the next few days. Here’s a little summary of the day:
First, we had to divide and conquer this morning because we found out yesterday that it was picture day at Titus’ preschool. Bethany had a doctor’s appointment (baby check-up) this morning at the same time that picture stuff was going on at the Titus’ school, so I stayed home with Titus and Avery while she went to the doctor. I got the kids all dressed and we walked to Titus’ school around 10 to get ready for pictures. I didn’t know if they were doing just a class photo or individuals, but we were ready for anything! It was an absolutely gorgeous day outside, and they ended up doing just a class photo outside under a beautiful blooming tree. Here’s a few photos:
I spent some time watching the other boys interact with Titus and also watched Titus’ reaction, but I can confirm that language is still a battle. The other kids are trying to talk to him and he’s still confused about what they are saying. I also noticed that they were kind of copying him, but I don’t know if they were being mean or just playing? It’s so hard to tell. At one point Titus hand his arms out like an airplane and was spinning around. The other kids joined him and were saying, “Ja jsem Ty Ty! Ja jsem Ty Ty!” which I understood as “I am Ty Ty! I am Ty Ty!” (the kids call him Ty Ty, not Titus). I just assume they were being silly? Speaking of silly, here’s Avery walking home today staring at her own shadow.
This afternoon we finished cleaning up the house in preparation for our friends, the Severances, arrival! Steve and Judy are from our sending church in California and Steve is one of the pastors. They actually flew to us from being in Israel the past week or so. They had a flight from Israel this morning, a cab ride from the Prague airport to the train, a 3.5 hour train ride to us, then a short car ride back to our town. Needless to say, they are troopers! We picked them up from the train station around 5:30pm tonight and it was such a joy to see them. We ended up taking them to a nearby mall for dinner and coffee and just had a sweet time catching up with them. It’s seriously such a joy to see them and we’re so thankful to Placerita for sending them to us for the next few days. Here’s a few photos from tonight. The first is of Avery and Bethany playing a little clapping game while we were waiting for the train to arrive, the second is one that Titus took of us with Steve and Judy at the mall, and finally there’s one of the kids playing at the mall’s play place.
Tomorrow is Titus’ 5th birthday! The smell of a baking cake is wafting through the house as I type and we’re excited to a do small celebration with him tomorrow. On Saturday we’re headed to the zoo for a more formal party, so we’re all looking forward to that. I’m excited about what the next few days hold!