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!
In another incredible adventure we have made our way today back to Prague. I never thought we would end up here as much as we have, especially in the past few weeks, but it’s been really fun and crazy all at the same time. Just like we did a few weeks ago, we made our here today via the train station right by our house. We walked there this morning, caught an 8am train and got into Prague about 20 minutes after noon. Below are a few photos from the train ride, including the one above. In the photos below we walked to the “kids car” and played for a bit. These aren’t are actual seats (those were in a different car), but the kids made a little friend while we were in the there.
When we got in to Prague we made our way down to the Metro (subway) and accidentally got on the wrong side of the tracks, took the elevator back up and over, and finally got to where we needed to be. We packed really light this trip since we’ll only be here one night so it wasn’t too bad getting around with all five of us. The Metro took us to a transfer station where we caught another Metro headed towards a lunch place that we made reservations at. There is a burger joint in Prague that supposedly has the one of the top five burgers in Europe and a friend had recommended it. Since burgers are my favorite thing on the planet and they are not super common here, we had to go for it. I’m STOKED we did because it was amazing and my Father’s Day belly left full and happy! Here’s a photos of the kids and Bethany as we walked.
What I never understood as just a tourist, but now understand so much better, is if you’re going to stay in big European cities…rent an apartment. Tonight we are staying in a literal castle view apartment that is about a stones throw from the U.S. Embassy (which is why we’re here this weekend) and it’s costing us less than you’re cheap Motel 6 in the States. Not only that, but this is a large 2 bedroom apartment with a full kitchen! Check out this view from one of our windows.
Here’s a few more shots from around the building.
Here’s a view of the American flag that we can see flying above the embassy from the other side of our apartment (small flag in the upper left).
Tonight we (unbelievably) had dinner on a boat on the river, in Prague, with a view of the Charles Bridge and the castle. I’m not kidding you. I never in my life thought I would ever get to say or write that, but it’s another recommended, affordable restaurant that was walking distance from our apartment. The only issue we had was that the kids kept asking why the boat wasn’t moving! Here’s a few photos from the place and then a shot of it from the bridge.
The restaurant is in the middle boat (dead center) next to the wall (in the photo below)
Our appointment for Karis’ U.S. citizenship, passport, and social security card is tomorrow at 9:00am so we’ll be up early to get packed up and make sure we get to our appointment early. I’ve tried to check and re-check every document that is required and we’re really hoping the process will go smoothly. I no reason to doubt that it will, but I’m always weary of government things like this, even ones that only involve the U.S.! Pray for us as we go tomorrow that things would be in order and go smoothly so we can get Karis’ documents and then take the next step towards getting her a visa.
Well, that’s not a bad way to spend a Father’s Day and not a bad way to end this post. Good night!
I decided to take Titus with me to the office today to give Bethany a little break. She can definitely handle the kids on her own, but because the office is a little more quiet during the summer months I figured it would be alright to bring him and let him hang out. He actually did really great, spending most of his time playing on our iPad, but also playing with the dinosaurs and toy cars he packed in his back pack. Going to work with Daddy also included going out to eat with daddy and the rest of my team. We have been showing our interns a few fun places we like to go so Titus got to come along today and he really liked that. Later in the afternoon he actually helped Rachael with a little bit of work and below is a photo she got of him “helping” her. She said he actually did help and was sorting buttons for summer camps this year. I like that the little dude is getting some work done!
Speaking of Rachael, we ended up just having the same dinner she made for us last night again tonight. We had plenty of food, so it was just kind of nice to be able to not have to prep anything again because quite honestly both Bethany and I are really tired. Having a new baby is a little like getting over jet lag. You just feel really tired at weird parts of the day. Tonight I’m barely keeping my eyes open as I write this!
After dinner I ended up showing the kids how to make snowflakes with paper and scissors. I realized that it’s been way too many years since I’ve done that and I’m terrible at it. At one point I tried to cut out circles and ended up making these sweet glasses that you see Titus and I wearing in the photo above. The kids and I got better as time went on and more paper was wasted, so that’s good. In the end we were coloring pages and then making rainbow snowflakes which Avery thought was great fun.
Normally I do my Bible reading right after I finish the blog, but today I did it right when Titus and I got home and while I was holding Karis for Bethany. I had a feeling I would be really tired tonight and that turned out to be true. The clock is just about to strike 9pm, but my body might as well think it’s 2am. With that I’m signing off for the evening. As always, thanks for reading!
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!?
We walked to the post office today. It was just Bethany, Avery, and me because Titus was at school. I was surprised that Bethany came considering she’s in her final week of pregnancy, but when I asked her why she wanted to come she replied, “just to get a little exercise.” It did feel nice to walk, even in the cool mid-fifty degree weather we had today. Avery couldn’t make the entire trip and finally said, “Daddy, can you carry me?” I guess those little legs of hers aren’t quite up to Czech standards yet. We’ll have to work on that.
Titus did a little walking today too with his preschool class. They went to the local theater to see some kind of performance and I was pretty surprised that they walked. After checking on Google, I found out that’s a half a mile walk, one way. For a group of preschool age kids to go a mile to see a one hour play is pretty impressive. Apparently they weren’t walking very fast because when Avery and I walked to pick him up, there was no one there except a bunch of parents hanging out around the school building. As each parent would approach the building I would hear them saying in Czech, “No… theater…” or at least those are the words I could pick out. About fifteen minutes later we saw the kids walking down the street and when they arrived Titus’ teacher told me in broken English that they were going to eat lunch and it wold be another fifteen minutes. I said, “no problem” and Avery and I just played in the school yard for a little bit together. I took a few of photos of the fun (below).
We’ve been counting down the days until Papa and Nana (Bethany’s parents) arrive for their first trip to Czech. They will arrive some time on Sunday and we’ll go across the street to the train station to pick them up (that’s still so cool to do and say). The kids are so excited and both of them keeping reminding us that it’s only “2 more days” until Papa and Nana come. We actually sent Nana a little video message today because this trip also marks the beginning of her retirement! Today was her first day “off the job” so to speak so we took the kid to the back yard and made a short video of them telling her “Happy Retirement Nana!” We hope you had a great day today and we’ll see you soon!
Today was the second day of Spring Conference and again I sit here tonight tired and worn out, but also super blessed. This morning was actually an extra special blessing because I had the privilege of leading music with my friend Zach. Zach and I have known each other since the fourth grade and been friends ever since. It’s an unbelievable blessing that we get to serve the Lord in the same organization and in the same country of Czech Republic today. It’s an even more incredible blessing that I got to serve with Zach this morning by leading music for the Josiah Venture family. In the photo above taken by our mutual friend Landen, you can see Zach and I playing guitar with another missionary, Christy. We did more of a “coffee house” feel for music today and it was a true joy to serve with Zach and to lead others in a time of worship.
But if that wasn’t sweet enough, I had the second joy today of taking Titus to his first ever hockey game here in Czech! Oh, and it just so happened to be Team USA playing against Belarus! I’m still energized by the fun we had this afternoon at the game and I honestly can’t believe that the USA was playing just 30 minutes from us. Above is a photo of us walking at the arena with Titus wearing a paper “helmet” that they were passing out to the kids. You can see how excited he was by the smile on his face.
The USA was playing Belarus today and sadly this was their first loss in this World Championship tournament. Despite the loss, however, we had a really fun time and it was quite the experience to see an international hockey game in Czech. Zach and Kara were the masterminds behind getting the tickets for us and putting the plans together and we had a ton of fun cheering for USA. Below is a little video I caught of the action and you see just how close we were to the ice!
There were a surprising number of fans there supporting the United States, including two guys completely covered head to toe in American flags. I loved this guy sitting behind us that had an American flag draped across himself and the chairs.
Titus and I got up during the first period to get some food thinking we could just come back in and continue enjoying the game. But I guess the rules are different here because after loading up on hot dogs and sausage we weren’t allowed to take our food into the stadium. So we ended up eating and watching the game on the screens near the food area. Here’s a shot of Titus where I perched up on these standing tables.
I think the absolute highlight for us tonight was when we got this photo on the big screen at the arean TWICE! Look at Titus sporting his new USA scarf.
Here’s a couple more photos we got as we were leaving the game.
We made it back this evening to an excited Avery who literally ran down the hall to see us and give me a hug. We had an extra hat from the game that we gave to her and this is the photo I got.
What a fun day! So glad we got to make a memory like that today and enjoy rooting for our home country. Thanks to my friends Zach and Kara for inviting us with you today and for being awesome. It’s a joy to serve with you (and watch hockey games)!
It’s 1:09am. If that doesn’t tell you what kind of day it’s been, well, I’ll just say it’s been full! From start to finish this day has been non-stop, but we’re doing good. Above is a photo of our kids literally climbing the walls of our apartment. I feel like this photo just kind of embodies today. Our friends Jenny and Landen had come over tonight and the kids found their way out of bed and ended up doing this (thanks Landen for the photo). This is the first time we know of that the kids did something like this and don’t think it’ll be the last.
I would love to expound on this glorious Monday, but my bed is calling me. Tomorrow is a big day with a doctor appointment for Bethany and then setting up for the Josiah Venture spring conference. We’ll be staying at the hotel that JV owns from Wednesday through Sunday so that should be a fun time! I apologize for the short post, but’s now 1:25am (yes, it took me that long to complete this post!). Bed time!
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!
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.”
His baseball cards had three Dodger players!
We let Titus stay up late tonight and build his new Lego airplane. Why was he up late, you ask? Keep reading!
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.
By God’s grace our kids were feeling a little bit better today than they were yesterday. Both of them got good sleep last night and Titus will probably go back to school tomorrow. We were pretty concerned about Avery’s cough and congestion but that seems to have gotten significantly better today which is such a blessing. It’s always hard to hear your kids cry over their sickness which is exactly what was going on last night for Avery.
Tonight before dinner I took them both outside to play. The weather has been staying in the low 60s and with the sunlight sticking around later in the evening it makes it much easier to do that while Bethany makes dinner. Above you can watch a little video of Titus hitting the baseball in the backyard. He was actually the one who initiated the play time outside. Earlier today Bethany took them to the park to play and he had so much fun outside that I think he really wanted to go out again tonight. Our kids are definitely enjoying being outside more of late. The rest of the week is supposed to be rainy and colder so it was nice to get some time outside tonight.
275. That’s how many days we’ve been in Czech and how many blogs we have written since arriving. It’s really hard to believe that time has gone by so fast these past nine months. Life here has definitely been an adjustment, but I can’t help but be reminded how good God has been to us. Every so often I have to remember why we called this blog “It’s all grace.” Titus 2:11 says, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people…” I didn’t deserve that grace, but the Lord saved me despite my sin and gave me the righteousness of Christ! And 2 Timothy 1:9 reminds us that God, “…saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began…” I couldn’t work for that amazing salvation, but it was simply an act of His grace. These are just two of many verses on God’s grace, but they are a sweet reminder to me that each and every day–especially the past 275 days–God’s grace has been poured out in a sweet and full way on me and my family. I hope you too can be reminded of the Lord’s grace today on your life.