The kindness battery

The other day, Caleb came home from school and had a really hard time having anything nice to say to his brother. He picked at his weaknesses, ridiculed him, and was downright mean. I had to take Caleb aside and call a time out. What the heck?

And this is how that conversation went…

Me: “Caleb, we all have weaknesses and things that we are not good at. It is just not ok to be so unkind and hurtful to your brother. You have things that are hard for you too, and he is not picking at those. He does not deserve this kind of treatment!”

Caleb: “Well, I am going to have to use a metaphor that I hope you understand. I have this battery of kindness. It is pretty full when I get to school. All day long, I use up bits of my kindness with my classmates and teachers. By the time I get home, my battery is nearly empty. I guess it is all the way empty right now.”

Aside: We had Jeff the behavioral therapist come to Czech and stay with us for about a week when our kids were younger to help us with some things. One of the striking things that I remember him telling me is that kids with Aspergers are pretty good at explaining themselves if you give them a chance. Word!

Me: “Caleb, I am so happy that you are able to explain yourself like this. It makes perfect sense. But, you are not trapped by what your battery can hold. As a follower of Jesus Christ, you have the Holy Spirit inside of you and you have access to a whole lot of kindness from God to refill that battery whenever you need to. You just need to remember to ask him, God is all about giving you the fruits of the Spirit. You just have to ask him for them.”

Real life: Every person in our little family has a hard time focusing and we often forget that things can be easier if we just ask God for help. I do it all of the time. I would say that Casey and Beni either have larger kindness batteries, or they are way better at asking God for help. When I used these words with Caleb, I was speaking to myself too. How often do I rely on my own batteries?

With my Bible study group in Czech (that I have had to complete from Poland), we started the Priscilla Shirer Bible study called Gideon. I love anything by Priscilla. Something that has really stuck with me from this study is that “our weaknesses are the key to God’s power.” When we realize that we are weak in an area and actually give it to God to help us, his power shines. It is great if we are good at something and give glory to God for the great ability that we have (all good things do come from the Lord), but what about the people that are terrible at things and God gives them the ability to overcome? How much brighter does God’s glory shine in those places?

Now, to remember to ask God for that “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…” (Galatians 7:22-23).

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Church at our house

We have been so blessed to be a part of our Polish church on Cieszyn. We love the community that it brings to our lives, the thought-provoking talks and sermons, the friends we have made, and we are even learning some new Polish words. I (Kristin) have even gotten to the point where I can translate pieces of the sermons into English for Casey. I do not understand everything but I am at least understanding most of the larger concepts that are being talked about and I can follow along pretty well. We have been wanting to contribute to our church in some way and this last weekend was our chance.

Our church is a church plant that does not yet have a permanent building. We normally meet in a local hotel’s conference room but that was not possible this week, so we hosted church in our home.

Did you understand all that? I did! I was so excited.

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Spring Conference 2019

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Even though Casey and I did not have the pleasure of attending JV’s annual 4.5 day Spring Conference in Malenovice, Czech Republic, our kids did! Thanks to the tag-team effort between our friends Fanny, Jessica, and Rach, our boys were able to attend the conference, participate in all of the amazing kids’ programs, and see all of their friends that they pretty much get to see once a year at the conference.

I was able to contribute in a small way by editing the booklet that each attendee used during all of the main sessions. In so doing, I was able to get a sneak peek at what was being taught. JV’s president, Dave Patty, taught on the topic of ancient idols as described in the Bible, and how many of those idols have a hold on people still today. The Title was “No Other Gods.” We heard from a few attendees that, as a result of some of the information taught at Conference, they were able to pray through some really tough things that they were holding on to and got freedom from things that they were letting hold them back from God’s best for their lives. If you would like to hear the talks (there are several sessions but well worth your time) you can listen to them by clicking here. I actually just checked the JV website and they do not have the talks for Spring Conference 2019 posted yet but they will be coming soon! If you would like to listen to something education and spiritually uplifting now, there are many talks on the JV website that are well worth your time, and those ones are available now at that same link.

IMG_4794The boys showing us some of the songs that they learned during the kids’ program at Spring Conference.IMG_5967

Caleb explaining his epic LEGO creation on Family day.

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Beni getting lots of social time with friends.

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So what were Casey and I doing during Spring Conference? Taking advantage of the fact that we had no kids and no dog for 4.5 days, that’s what. We headed to the mountains. Praise God.

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I can’t believe that we took our dog on a ski lift

A few weekends ago, Casey and I decided that the weather was nice, so it was high time that we should check out our Polish surroundings and do some hiking. Somehow, Casey and I had not connected our own dots when we brought our dog along and chose a hike with a ski lift to get us to the top of the Wielka Czantoria mountain (it’s a thing here). I am totally afraid of heights so holding on for dear life and holding the dog was not something that I could fathom, so Casey offered to be the one. Haley is a very well trained border collie but she is still a border collie (an energetic nut), so we did not know what to expect. Much to our total amazement and joy, she was perfect. And we had a great day of hiking. No one slid down any mountains or got injured. Yahoo!

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The Trail of Blooming Magnolias

There is a street in our little town of Cieszyn, Poland that is famous all over this area for it’s blooming magnolia trees in the Spring.  The effect is quick because the trees are only in full bloom for a week or two out of the whole year.

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Aren’t they pretty though? Each one is numbered and there are about 14 of them in total. I never loved blooming trees or early Spring flowers so well as I do now that we are living in a place with really dreary and smoggy winters. When the Spring comes and the flowers bloom, you can feel the joyful praise in the air. I cannot help but praise God for seasons, beauty, sunshine, and the joy they bring.

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JV Edge Sports Writing Summit in Milan

We are so thankful to say that the JV Edge Sports writing summit that we did in Mid-April went really well. We had coaches, JV Edge country coordinators, writers, and designers present from Romania, Ukraine, Estonia, Czech, Poland (Casey and I), Bulgaria, and Hungary. We spent our time formulating, as a team, what constitutes an Edge Sports level one coaches’ training all the way through a level 3 coaches’ training, and what would be included in their training manuals. A few years ago, Casey conducted a similar summit in Prague and the team was able to line out what a level one Edge coach would learn at their training. Now, after a few years of experience, and a larger team, coaches were able to give input based on experience. I was in a group with Gabe (Bulgaria) and Eric (Hungary). We tackled what it means to be an Edge level two coach, what such a coaches’ qualifications must be in order to attend a level two coaches’ training, what they will learn on and off the soccer field, and how we would test them for competency after the training is over.  There were three teams (one for each level) and we worked for 3.5 days. Each time a level would complete a big portion of their writing, the work would be presented to the group for feedback. With the amount of experience in that room, Casey said that there is no way he could have done so much quality work in such a short period of time. I asked him if he thought that the group had exceeded his expectations and he said, “no, because I had some really high expectations. I am very satisfied by what was accomplished here.”

Casey giving direction to the group on our first day.IMG_4348IMG_4418The super tiny elevator to take us to the flat where we had all of our meetings on the 8th floor!IMG_4426

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IMG_4412Even though Olya’s main role is actually with JV Fusion in Ukraine, she came to help Andriy (Our JV Ukraine Floorball coordinator) to translate all of Andriy’s contributions from Ukrainian to English. Even though Andriy’s main coaching role is for JV Floorball, his experience in coaching a team was invaluable to the group, and pretty much all of the concepts are transferrable between the two sports.

Something that I love about all of the work that was accomplished in Milan, even though the first sets of manuals will be geared towards soccer, these materials can easily be transferred to other sports. We are so excited to see how these manuals, once formatted and completed, can help trained JV coaches to train other coaches and help this ministry to expand and bless many churches in this part of the world.

Fun on the town after a long workday. Below: Olya (Ukraine), Kata, and Fanny (both Czech)IMG_4423Almost the whole crew (Kuldar and Ranno, from Estonia, were not with us)img_4723-e1556107867177.pngDuomo di Milano (Milan’s famous cathedral) with Gabe and Melissa (Bulgaria)IMG_4358IMG_4359IMG_4360IMG_4433We had the pleasure of visiting this cathedral on our last day in Milan and it was during this time that Notre Dame in Paris was burning. I guess it made us appreciate this cathedral all the more!

Milan, as you might imagine, has some of the fanciest stores and, for sure, fancy prices to go with them.IMG_4363I would turn into a hippo if I lived there long term. Some sweets are not even a temptation for me but cookies? All the temptation.IMG_4368And all of the things below were made of chocolate!IMG_4397IMG_4398IMG_4400

We are excited to see what ripple effect these coaching manuals will have in the hands of the churches and their coaches all across central and eastern Europe. Praise God!

 

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Easter Monday

In America, this is totally not a thing but in Czech and Poland (probably other countries in this area as well), they celebrate Easter Monday. What does one do on Easter Monday, you ask? Well, first of all, it’s a day off and secondly, it’s a day for shenanigans.

In Poland, it is most commonly celebrated like this:

A single boy or a band of boys go around and throw water on girls (sometimes also old cologne that no one wants anymore) and the girls are supposed to respond by giving the boy(s) an egg, alcohol, or some other gift.

In Czech, it’s most commonly celebrated like this:

Water is not commonly used but boys will hit girls on the butt with willow branches that are braided and tied with ribbons. The girls are, then, expected to respond with gifts much like in Poland.

My friend Rachael and I tend to stay indoors or away from crowds on Easter Monday because…no thank you! I do not believe age or marriage status makes any difference on which lady is a target.

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We took this picture a few days ago when we were driving home from Zakopane, Poland on Easter Monday. The drive home went through Slovakia and Poland, so I am not sure where we were when I took this picture. It looks like these boys were doing all the things (willow whip and buckets of water/cologne). We saw several bands just like this on our drive. Watch out, girls!

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