Sunday, October 1, 2017

These Are The Days

This may not be the season for regular everyday-style blogging and photography, but it is the season for...

Crisp air.

The best Sunday school class of 4-6 year-olds.

Jobs in the city (remember the food demos?).

Testimonies of God's work and the JV Kids.


"Krtek" (Little Mole) key-chains shared with friends.

"Deep Dive" research with the JV Kids.

Church family.

The Lord's grace and power.

It is a season to grow in faith and trust in the Lord, and also one to soak in and breathe deeply into. These are the transition days before moving to Czech in not very long -- these are the months in between. And I am learning to lean in.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

When My Brother Became a Dad

If you have been an aunt, uncle, or grandparent, then you know how sweet it is to see someone in your family take on a whole new role: father or mother. I can't even begin to say how special it is to see my brother Caleb be a dad, and how beautiful Haley is as a mom. 

And then there's Charlie. 

Dear Charlie Salem, you are deeply loved, cherished and adored! You're handsome too. I echo the prayers of your mom and dad: I pray that the Lord raises you up as a strong man of peace, one who leads confidently with kindness and love, and with full assurance of Christ's truth and grace. 

There is much life to catch up on, but amidst support raising travels, one of the sweetest gifts was getting to meet Charlie and see Caleb and Haley. Mom and I spent a few days with them in Colorado when Charlie was still in his first three weeks of life. 

I love all three of you, Caleb, Haley and Charlie! 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Oregon Through the Eyes of a Toddler

There are some days when you realize that even in the midst of "ordinary", you are actually witnessing the extraordinary.

We packed up after a slow morning and managed to all pile into my grandparent's van - all eight of us. Tyler and Lara and their two boys, my Uncle Mike, Grandma and Bapa and I took the familiar drive from Eugene up to the coast. Tyler and Lara haven't been to the Oregon Coast since they've been married, and it is quite spectacular that the first time they came together was with their two boys.

Judah experienced sand and the ocean for the first time on this day. We walked along the blustery shores and soaked in the salty air. The sun warmed us, but the wind had an autumn bite, which meant that Lara and little baby Asher couldn't stay out for too long.

Before I knew it, it was just me, Tyler, and Judah left on the beach, and we meandered about, exploring the ins and outs of what might be interesting to an almost two-year-old. Judah loved the dogs on the beach the best, as well as the stick we found for him to draw in the sand with. He ran and ran and the coast had a new wonder and charm through the eyes of a toddler.

We found some Oregon blackberry bushes close to where we parked and made a pit-stop to pick them. Judah calls berries "buddies", and he can't get enough of them. 

"Thank you for taking us to the coast, Grandma and Bapa (and Uncle Mike - somehow I didn't get a picture with you!), and for being such amazing great-grandparents to these two cuties!" 

It is so sweet to share this support raising journey with family along the way. As I had meetings with supporters in Eugene, I also got to spend time with my grandparents before I move across the ocean. Oh, how I cherish and treasure this time! And Tyler and Lara, I can't wait to be on mission alongside you all over in Czech very soon! I can't believe Judah and Asher are both my nephews and JV Kids!

Monday, September 4, 2017

JV Kid's Camp 2017

It amazes me the way that time works. These past few weeks have been a cultural mish-mash, and the Lord's grace has abounded throughout each of these transitions! It was the greatest gift to get to be at JV Kid's Camp this year. Even though it was a quick trip over to Czech and then down to camp in Croatia, the Lord completely ordained that time and answered so many of your prayers!

There are countless stories to tell that I hope to share in person with you someday if ("when", I hope!!) we sit down for coffee or share a meal. From early mornings to late-night campfires, nutella to peanut butter, water games to "ultimate what" (ultimate frisbee, but played with food items instead!), Bible teaching to sword drills, small group time to worshiping our Lord and King together - it is the week that the kids look forward to all year.

Though we may not be catching up over an aeropress coffee (my personal favorite!), here are some photos to give you a glimpse of camp - some of the highlights.

Oh, and God works in the hearts of children. He truly does. And it's the most beautiful thing ever. Thank you for praying!

If you'd like to read more stories of the JV Kids, what God is doing in Central and Eastern Europe, and what's ahead for me in ministry, sign up for my updates! Fill out your info in the box in the right column of my blog (the one that says, "you can receive my updates!").

I may not be showing direct photos of kids' faces here on this post, but I hope you get the feel of the camp through all the in-between photos too! 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

122 Steps Closer


That's how many steps it takes to get to the top of that the Svatojánská Věž ("Holy John's Tower") in Frýdek-Místek.

In this time of preparation for JV Kid's Camp (I leave tomorrow with the team!), I have a few days with my parents to get over jet lag, catch up with the town's happenings, run errands, and pray. 

We also got to finally see something we have wanted to see for years - the view from the top of the tower, which is only open during quite random hours of the week. To get there, we walked past shops and parking lots, my favorite antique bookstore, and other familiar sights. 

This particular verse written out in stone and placed at the top of the stairs stopped me in my tracks. 

The verse reads, "'I tell you,' he answered, 'if they remain silent, the very stones will cry out." 

To see that written here in this little region of the world reminds me that the Lord is at work, and he will accomplish his purposes. The question is, will we join in the joy of proclaiming alongside other believers that the King has come, and he is Lord?  

"As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, 'Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!'"

I leave for camp tomorrow. Wow. Soon I will be with the JV Kids, and I absolutely can't wait. I will only be here in Central and Eastern Europe for two weeks this time, but it won't be too long before I move here!

These past few days here in Frydlant have been sweet, but I sure am ready to head into what I came here for. At the same time, I recognize all the more these days that I can do absolutely nothing without Christ. 

I texted back and forth with my mentor (in Wheaton) today, as I was feeling the spiritual battle and weight of my own sinfulness, and her words of prayer meant more than I can even say. Would you pray this for me, my fellow staff at JV Kid's Camp, and the JV Kids this next week? 

"My prayer is that... when all is said and done, your life and your actions and your heart will glorify Him alone. What a wonderful gift it is that God created us to be able to do that for Him."