strangely dim & glory and grace

Today is Easter Monday–Czech traditionally celebrates Easter on Monday. But, we’ve been celebrating all week. This Monday begins the sixth week of me staying with Martina. Though neither of us anticipated my stay to be this long, God knew. And He’s provided every step of the way. On my first night staying at Martina’s place we both decided we’d end our days by praying together. God knew that this would be a significant time to commit to pray.

This Monday is full of sunshine and rain, some of my favorite weather. The team I’m serving with now gave us Thursday through Monday off so I’m thankful for all the time to rest and recharge. It’s been a significant time for me to surrender my plans and thoughts to the Lord. In this awkward, in-between, “life on hold” season for all of us, it’s been incredibly easy for me to start planning in my head, thinking through the hundreds of scenarios, worrying, dreaming, etc. I’ve been reminded time and time again that the Lord has good plans for me and I can trust Him in all of these unknowns. He knows what’s up ahead. He goes before me and for that I am grateful.

I loved listening to Annie F. Downs Holy Week read throughs this week. Her reading of the gospel accounts of Jesus’ resurrection yesterday brought tears to my eyes. How Mary Magdalene must have felt when Jesus said her name and she realized it was Him… the joy, relief, shock and hope that must have flooded her as she ran to tell the disciples that He’s alive.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

I’ve missed my walking route back in Zagreb but it’s been kind of fun to discover new paths here in Cesky Tesin and not know where I’m going. Most days I take a different route and see where I end up.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Cooking is such a joy for me. After being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease last month, I’ve had to make quite a few changes to my diet. At first, it was overwhelming but I quickly realized I already follow most of these dietary restrictions. It’s been so fun to make food that will nourish and heal my body. I loved making these chickpea oat crackers. I’ve also been loving making chicken shawarma…a little taste of Israel. Processed with VSCO with hb1 presetProcessed with VSCO with hb1 presetProcessed with VSCO with b1 preset

FaceTime bed time stories with sweet Phoebe continue to be a highlight of my day. I’m so grateful for this sweet girl. I’m so thankful for my friend’s beautiful kiddos. Fills me with joyful anticipation to have kids some day. Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

I’m not quite sure what these are called but they are everywhere on my walks. I always think of the home I grew up in seeing these. These lined our house and were always such a happy sign of spring coming. Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

I’ve been diligently taking all of the medicine my doctor prescribed for the last month. Truthfully, I don’t notice a huge change yet but I’m expecting it to take some time. One of the things she’s having me take is iodine…apparently it’s extremely good for the thyroid. So I look a bit like a crazy person with yellow arms. I’ve recently started taking it orally which has been nice to not have crazy yellow arms all the time.Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

The day before all of the malls closed in Czech I managed to buy a french press…praise God because otherwise we’d be without coffee!! I’m thankful for my cozy mornings.Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

Is it strange that it feels a bit like Christmas when I get a new face mask? Martina’s friend made these homemade masks for us and they’re the best ones we’ve gotten.

Jesus is enthroned

It’s been three weeks since I last wrote on here–though I haven’t stopped keeping track of God’s goodness in my life. It’s actually been quite the opposite. When all of this started (meaning COVID-19 sweeping the world) I started “joy reports” on Instagram. I challenged people to share the things that brought them joy everyday; whether it be corn bread or sunshine. Whatever brought them joy, I wanted the world to know.

These last three weeks I’ve in Czech; well actually for over a month now! Two weeks ago the Czech borders closed, making it impossible for me to return to Croatia. A week ago Zagreb experienced a 5.4 earthquake (the biggest in over 140 years) and tremors still continue. So Zagreb’s airport has no closed and travel is banned. Needless to say, I am currently living in Czech until further notice! The older I get, the more I’m realizing my life is never boring. Whether stuck in a country, earthquakes or something else, it’s always an adventure. And through it all, I’m seeing God’s intricate details and loving care. He is taking care of me.

The last three weeks Martina and I have been quarantined and making the most of it. In this season I’ve really sensed the Lord inviting me to slow down and wait. Be patient, know that He is God & that I don’t have to “figure it out” but allow Him to lead. During the last three weeks I’ve also gotten some diagnosis from my doctor; at first hard to hear but now I’m thankful to know and have some answers. Let’s get on to the thankfulness and God’s goodness…

  • face masks (these are mandatory here in CZ but I know there is a major shortage worldwide)
  • the ability to quarantine/stay home (I’ve been incredibly grateful for the health care professionals, grocery store workers, pharmacists, etc.)
  • Martina (it’s been a true gift for both of us to have this community in this uncertain time)
  • God’s Word
  • peace that surpasses my understanding
  • God sits enthroned
  • the amazing team of people God has provided to do this life with…so grateful
  • all the amazing worship albums that have come out this year
  • God’s sovereign hand and control…just reflecting on how He’s orchestrated this season of my life so specifically
  • sunshine almost everyday
  • almost daily FaceTimes with Phoebe Grace
  • all the FaceTimes with all the babies
  • praying friends who weep with me
  • God is a safe refuge and provides
  • a comfy mattress to sleep on
  • flowers on sale at Lidl every Sunday (truly a sweet gift from the Lord)
  • medicine and insurance!
  • FaceTime & Zoom (even though I’m honestly missing seeing people face to face! and 7 hours of Zoom calls is exhausting!!)

I’m certain I’ve forgotten and missed some gifts over the last three weeks. They’ve been rich, hard, sweet, and foundational. Jesus is enthroned.

two for one

Yes, I did in fact miss one week but that just means we get a two for one this week! Reflecting on God’s goodness from March 8 back to February 23, there is quite a bit to say. I’m currently in Český Těšín, a city in the Czech Republic. I’m staying with a few other JV missionaries during my time here and it’s been sweet to be a part of their community. I’ll be here for the next couple of weeks for a trial period in a new role with an international focus. I’m so excited about this door God is opening and it’s been a journey trusting Him in the process. It’s amazing looking back at the way He’s weaved my story even over the last few years and how this is now His perfect timing that He’s inviting me into something to use me and glorify Himself.

Two weeks ago I spent the week watching Phoebe and Jadon while Ben and Sarah were at JV Marriage Retreat. I love their kids more than I could say so it was honestly a joy watching them while Ben and Sarah got to invest in their marriage and rest. Spending the week with their kiddos gave me a whole new level of respect for parents…now I understand why they never sleep! Processed with VSCO with hb1 presetProcessed with VSCO with hb1 preset

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

On Sunday, I took three trains (one from Usti to Prague, one from Prague to Ostrava, one from Ostrava to Cesky Tesin) and made it here! I arrived, Kata and I talked for quite awhile, and then we made ramen with Fanny, Jenny and Landon. So fun. Cesky Tesin actually borders Poland so you can walk right into Poland within 10 minutes. I was in the office Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and it was so fun to be a part of the team. Friday I went to Vitkovice and took some time to be creative, take photos and reflect. This morning we rested and Fanny made koren pancakes…so fun!

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset478Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 preset

flower markets & blood tests

Following Jesus is always an adventure; full of His presence, kindness, and comfort. This week was full of lots of travel & medical tests. I’ve been having digestive health issues for the last 8 months and I’ve been completing round of tests to determine what’s happening in my body. For the sake of time, I’m keeping this week of God’s goodness to list form. I’m currently spending this week with two of the sweetest kiddos I love so dearly; Ben & Sarah’s kids, Phoebe and Jadon. JV puts on a marriage conference for all married couples every 3 years so I came to watch the kids. Somehow, I got both of the kids to go down for a nap at the same time!

Thankful this week for…
-cuddly kiddos and teaching them about Jesus
-God’s strength when I am weak
-God’s friendship and comfort when I’m afraid or in the unknown
-planes, trains, cars, and buses…so many modes of transportation this week!
-flower markets on a rainy wednesday night
-jesus story book bible
-good mexican food in europe (!!!)
-sunshine…ooo sometimes it is rare in europe
-outdoor naps for babies
-bright pink scrunchies for 4 year old girls
-coffee, on 5am mornings…yes, thank you Lord
-God given friendships

Processed with VSCO with hb1 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with hb1 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 preset

never too late

It may be Tuesday but I still have time to give thanks for last week! & another week in list form (and zero photos)

-dear friends, technology, and the ability to catch up
-(almost) one. year.
-my bed; maybe silly but when you spend a lot of days traveling or on the road a lot, home and a safe place is such a gift
-sunny days! i’m so thankful for all the sunshine we’ve gotten
-boldness and security in Christ; this season God has really brought me so much freedom as a result of being secure in Him. when we operate from approval and security as opposed to for in it, we have nothing to fear
-valentine’s day spent with junior high youth group, chocolate fountain & talking about God’s love…not your average valentine’s but wouldn’t have it any other way right now
-my parent’s neighbor (who i’ve known since probably age 8 or so; they knew my grandparents) was on a trip in croatia. i got to have dinner with her last week and it was such a treat. we both said who would have thought two midwesterners would be in zagreb, croatia. i kept thinking how proud and happy granny would have been; and of course, her iconic laugh.
-r e s t and prayer. there are many moments that can be full of anxiety or being overwhelmed but i’m thankful that i don’t walk alone, that God sees me and knows me and cares for me. God is good, He knows my needs and my thoughts, my fears, my joys, my sorrows.

joys and thanksgivings

Sometimes it’s more fun & spontaneous to make lists of the joys and thanksgivings from the week. So for this week…

-long walks in the mornings & evening, prayer time and silence, surrounded by beautiful scenery
-a competitive roommate who pushes me to get my steps in and win the workweek hustle 😉
-beautiful tulips from lidl for 20kn
-LOOK study in Croatian and long talks about Jesus being our “once and for all” sacrafice
-going through Leviticus this week and seeing the beautiful symbolism of it all
-a day with Jesus, painting and reading the psalms
-the butcher by my apartment that has the chicago bulls symbol in it’s logo
-friday night art competitions with molvar kids and their creativity
-honest but hard conversations
-the Lord’s guidance and clear provision
-laughing till we *almost* cry on monday nights w/ ema
-finding an affordable matcha at the mall, seeing if it’s easier on my stomach!
-amazing friends, supporters, and teammates who point me to jesus
-late night convos with em, aleana, & others

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with hb1 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetIMG_8060IMG_8062IMG_8078IMG_8090IMG_8099

for the simple things

Processed with VSCO with hb1 presetProcessed with VSCO with kk2 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with hb1 preset

 

This week I’m thanking God for the little, simple things. Like mandarins in a cute little box from Lidl, fresh lemons, homemade almond milk, paleo baking, coffee in the mornings. Taking joy in creating beautiful things, whether it be food or websites or images. Seeing the young kids walking home from school and greeting the dogs who hang outside all day in their yards. All the sunshine we had this week. Late night conversations at Činkica with some yummy treats. Good books and slowly burning candles. Hanging out with Esther, talking about school (junior high is already tough enough but this girl is doing it in a foreign language!), walks to the mall. Thanking God that He is my refuge and strength in times of trouble, giving me delight in the simple joys of life.

Some joys and thanksgivings from this week… Monday night dinner with Molvars & Dutch blitz, bjela kava, the neighbor across the street who greets me on sunday mornings on my walk to church, Friday night girls night/movie night turned into a broken down car in a parking garage. A kind samaritan jumped the car and we got out, got ice cream and called it a night. More memorable this way 😉

Palm of Your Hand

What a whirlwind of a week…momentous, fragile, eyes opened…grateful this week for God’s presence and that when we seek Him, we shall find Him. He is near to the brokenhearted, binding up their wounds. He holds us in the palm of His hand and we can trust Him.

Another year & the beauty of being pruned…

This Monday I turned 27…reflecting on this last year and all that 26 brought is overwhelming, amazing, and downright humbling. I never expected all that this year brought. God stripped me, refined me, and showed me how deeply I really need Him. For my birthday, Ema, Debi and I went to Varaždin, a city about one hour away from Zagreb, shaped by destruction through the ages. It’s a beautiful city; of course with a castle because…Europe. We got coffee, explored, had ruby chocolate…it’s fun exploring with them. After having lunch together I went to get my nails done. I had some really interesting spiritual conversations with the girls there and am hoping to go back to hopefully have gospel conversations at some point. I’m asking God to keep my eyes open and be bold and faithful to walk through the doors He’s opening.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Josiah Venture Prayer Room

Thankful for this gift, resource, and tool. Grateful to spend time with Jesus in this way and pray for His movement in this part of the world. What a good gift… If you’d like to pray in the prayer room, you can go here.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Struja & Rising Leaders

Thankful for this new junior high group, the people He’s bringing and the people He’s raising up. If you’re wondering about the second photo…Ema had a genius idea for the game-“Grandma made alphabet soup and you have to write her a message using the letters.”

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 preset

Ćinkica, good conversations & open doors

Thankful to live right by this little spot, early mornings here & the sunshine coming in. You just can’t beat a croissant and bjela kava for only 11kn (about $1.50). This current season and the season up ahead seems to be one of refining in the fire, not knowing what the next day will bring and depending on Jesus for His leading. The realities of this past year have hit me more this week than expected but I’m grateful that I don’t walk alone, I’m not abandoned and He is with me through the wind and the waves.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with g3 preset

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

Holy Ground

Wow…what a week. I think this is a week I’ll look back on as being a turning point, a critical shift, an opening of doors, a stripping/deconstructing of myself, a noticing of the very good gifts the Lord has for me. I’ve sensed that God has many things in store that He wants to restore, heal, redeem and change in me this year and that surely happened this week. I’m still processing much of it but many conversations, prayers and clarity was given in this week.

This week I was in Czech for our Winter Academy, a week of digging into God’s Word, studying Jesus’ model of ministry and discipleship and walking alongside others who are on the same road in over 15 countries. It was definitely a tiring week with sessions starting at 8am and ending at 9pm, but every minute was worth it and rich with resources, wisdom from Jesus, and deep community.

On the list of God’s goodness for this week…

Processed with VSCO with kk1 presetProcessed with VSCO with kk1 presetProcessed with VSCO with kk1 preset

God’s glory and beauty on display… 

It was a breath of fresh air (literally) to see this view this week. In the midst of a season of many trials and hard things, to see God’s beauty in the sunsets and sunrises brought peace and comfort to my oftentimes weary and anxious heart. As we spent our morning devotions in Psalm 91 I was reminded of God’s pursuit of me and His protection.

My Refuge and My Fortress

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,

ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked.

Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge—
no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Friends, Mentors, & “holy ground” conversations

I had many conversations with dear friends and mentors this week over meals at this table. Many of them were some “holy ground” moments. God has been moving in my heart in unexpected ways and I’m so very thankful for the people in my life who point me to truth, support me in hard times, and pray with me through big things. I’m so thankful that God gave me Ben and Sarah, Geri and Dave, Kyle and Amy, and Amy. There are many more to mention but these are just a few who I got to share big things with this week.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 preset

God’s goodness in allowing me to be a part of His movement here

Throughout the week, I kept coming back to this…I am so thankful to be a part of Josiah Venture, a team, family, and group of people who are passionate about seeing God move in this part of the world, equipping young leaders to fulfill Christ’s commission through the local church. There was so much to take in, training, teaching, and so much more but I am so abundantly grateful for our leadership, the God-honoring excellence that goes into this…I was consistently reminded of 2 Timothy 2:15

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved,a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

Pressing in to Trial

It’s 7:32AM on a Monday where I am right now. Where am I, you ask? I’m actually in the Czech Republic at our Josiah Venture headquarters for our weeklong training seminar of Winter Academy. For a week each January we have a week of diving into our systems, discipleship tools, and the life of Christ to prepare and train for the work we have set before us. Honestly, it’s a pretty full and exhausting work; but for the purpose, it’s more than worth it. We drove here yesterday right after church. With only one stop for a hip-hop (gas station) coffee and McDonalds (truly the only option on the road; I’ve eaten more McDonalds living in Europe than my whole life combined), the drive was only 7 hours from Zagreb to Malenovice.

This week was an unusual one…and I have a lot to be thankful for. I saw God’s goodness, presence and friendship in new ways. The funny thing about life in Europe is you can be in multiple countries in just a matter of hours…that’s what my week looked like.

IMG_7774Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetIMG_7765

Health Problems & God’s Help

Last week, I may have shared that I’ve been experiencing some medical problems. This Monday-Wednesday I had to travel to Vienna to see a specialist and doctor to look further into my health problems. The road ahead is long but I’m really grateful for this doctor and her care. Dealing with health problems on your own is never fun…but to do it in a foreign country is another battle. I often travel on my own for work and I’m used to “dealing with things on my own”. It’s easy for me to have this “I’m strong and independent” kind of attitude. But I started to realize the ugliness, self-dependence and pride that was in that. So lately my prayer has been that I would be dependent on Jesus, asking Him for help and aware of my deep need for Him.

In this, I saw God’s goodness in His evident presence, reminders that He’s my strength & good doctors. I’ve sensed this year will be one of deeper dependence on the Lord in ways I don’t expect.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with hb2 presetProcessed with VSCO with hb2 presetProcessed with VSCO with hb2 presetProcessed with VSCO with hb2 presetProcessed with VSCO with hb2 preset

Adventures, Beauty, & Enjoying

This week I had many opportunities to enjoy and rest. Whether it was through my daily walk & thanking God for the sunshine and scenery or art, I was filled with so much thankfulness this week for the opportunities I had to spend with Jesus. There’s many experiences, adventures, and daily-life activities I often do alone so I really only get to share those with Jesus…and it’s a great joy 🙂

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

Good food & fun encounters! 

Cooking is such a stress reliever for me. I love cooking for other people, I love getting creative in the kitchen…it’s such a joy. On one of the nights I was in Vienna for my doctors appointments, I grabbed a quick dinner in a little hole in the wall place. I journaled & wrote while I was there. Two older gentlemen from Russia sat down next to me, probably in their 50s and 60s, and we spoke broken Croatian and Russian to each other. Croatian and Russian are somewhat similar so we could understand each other a bit. I love these fun encounters that often happen on a daily basis.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetIMG_7729A231599B-B9C2-4DA8-8307-0EA10633B45BIMG_7779

Biblical resources, training, sermons, etc.

I’m so so thankful for podcasts, biblical teaching & resources. My church is 100% in Croatian, so being in process of learning Croatian, I don’t get much out of the weekly sermon. So every week I carve out time to listen to a sermon or do something to be spiritually fed in that way. I’ve also been loving this album from Leeland. I’d highly recommend these podcasts and resources!

Thanks for tuning in to another week, being a part of this, and giving thanks to God with me!