We love how much the organization and the people who trained Haley to be a service dog care deeply about our family’s success with her. Not only are there training meetings once a month in Prague, they also run a dog camp once a year. last year it was just outside of Prague. This year, it was an hour or two North of Prague (When you already have to drive 4 hours to get to Prague, what’s one or two hours more?). The place was pretty dog friendly except that we had to walk completely off the grounds for our dog to relieve herself and they were big grounds. Doable but…We loved how much focused attention they gave to Caleb. We always learn something new when we are with the trainers.
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When I went back to the States in October, the main purpose of my trip was to go to Kelly Askine Turner’s funeral but God covered me in blessing after blessing. And, I got to celebrate the life of a dear friend that ran her race to the finishline and crossed it. I really truly pray that when my flame goes out, that I would have been faithful to the end, like Kelly. I will miss her so!
First feel of warm sunshine on my skin! With the ugly airport in the background, I just had to get a selfie of that!Yummy Rubio’s fish tacos with my bestie cousin Anna and her boy Diego. He’s younger than Caleb. Unbelievable. I hope he likes basketball. Oh the Warners of awesomeness. My mom nannied these boys along with our boys so they are close and have known each other since the diaper days. They can’t wait to all play together again.I brought a Czech memory game (Pexeso) with European street signs on it. Oh the fun of finding out that these boys are superior to me in all things memory.Stephanie (the boys’ mom and a very dear friend of my mom’s and mine) who shared her love of Calligraphy with me and outfitted me with supplies. I am excited to get started. I see non chicken-scratch in my future!Trader Joe’s, just…thank you!A surprise meeting with the Enns’ and Peeshy that was full of remembering college group days when Dave and Koreena lead us and joyfully recalling days gone by with our Kelly.You would not expect these kind of smiles after a memorial service but we had them. During the memorial, someone said that Kelly will be dancing in heaven. Yep. I can see it now. Last selfie with Kelly…sort of.Remembering Kelly was such a joy and being reminded that we will see her again was precious. We miss you Kelly but you will NEVER be forgotten. You are precious to us!This picture was taken at the reception. Shawn and Annie, some of Kelly’s oldest friends, shared some really fun and heartwarming stories about her. She surrounded herself with awesome people. What a blessing to know her and to know them. That lady in the middle with the black dress on (Kate Hamernik) opened her home and family to me for my stay in CA. Her daughter, Josie, gave her room up for me, and even made me a sign to welcome me. Those Hamerniks are raising some others-focused well mannered kids. And they have 3 of them. I will just go ahead and say it for her…”you are welcome, world.”Oh Heather Miller. What a lovely walk on the beach we had. This lady went to Romania with Casey and I on our first short term trip that we lead with the North Coast college group. Oh the adventures we have had. And we rescued a snake on our walk. Seriously, the adventure never stops. When I say “we”, I mean that I said that we had to save it and I took pictures while she saved it. I call that team work…sort of.
My accountability group. God used these women to rescue me from myself when I returned from a year trip to Ecuador after graduating from high school. They met with me weekly for years. We laughed, cried, prayed and were there for each other. We still are. Kelly was a part of this group. These ladies have helped shape me. I am so thankful for them. Us trying to get a picture with the Vinaka coffee shop sign and pretend that there was not a rail and a big drop between us.You DO look good! Becky, Julie, and I have done a lot of life together and I am so thankful that we had a few hours to get real about life. I still have not tried Kumbacha, guys (the place was out). I am going to make it a goal. The next time I see Kumbacha, it’s going down (the hatch).The Pistones! We have known each other for years and got really close in small group. Their Son, Roo, is Caleb’s oldest friend. Love these guys.
I am so thankful for the time with these ladies. We had a delicious breakfast at the Oceanside harbor. I only really went close to the beach twice on this trip (this being one of the times). Thanks Melody and Julian. It was lovely!Love these guys! Always ready for a laugh and a deep or silly conversation. Take your pick. They have all supported us for years and both Ilise (middle) and Shane have been to Romania with Casey and I on Josiah Venture trips. Their dogs snore epically and they are just epic in general. Dave is a real pastor. What I mean is that he genuinely pastors his flock. I met Dave when I was in my “ok, I am totally committed to follow Christ for forever and…oh crap, how am I supposed to do this again?” phase. He was my high school and college pastor. I worked for him and babysat his kids. I have met with him countless times to hash out life and how to really live for Christ. He married Casey and I. He has been a huge encouragement in all of our missionary journey and still is. He is even super encouraging when I get off stage after sharing about our ministry in North Coast Live, because he knows how being on stage is NOT my thing. This trip was the first time that I did not feel like barfing on account of being on stage. I look relaxed in this picture because this picture was taken after all the getting on the stage stuff was over for this trip :). Yay!My lovely mama took me out for birthday breakfast (I turned 40 while in the States). She even gave me her bacon. That’s some motherly love right there.That night, I went out for Mexican food, laughs, and fun with some of my favoritests. The great “horned Jesus” was across from our table so of course we wanted a picture with him/it. The waiter was not sure what he was supposed to represent (I for sure asked). The horned Jesus-like image will remain a mystery.
On my last full day in the States, I said goodbye to these kids (Kate’s kids). They are world famous kids you know. I know because I live on the other side of the world and I see them in their mom’s blog all of the time (highlightsalongtheway.com…great blog if you have a family, children, you eat food, you like to be frugal…etc). Yeah, I know these people. We had a great time together.So thankful for the way that God ministered to me through friends, supporters, and family. I tried to get selfies with everyone that I met with but I had a few meetings where I realized way after that we never got our selfie. Dope! So, not everyone is in this post but you are all appreciated. Thank you for this lovely visit. It was not supposed to be all about me but I sure felt loved. Even the memorial was refreshing for my soul. Thank you, Lord, for that.
This week (Wednesday – Sunday) Casey is helping the JV Estonia team lead an Edge Football coaches training. Our Friend Alan Nixon is coming from Northern Ireland to do the lion’s share of the on-field training and Casey, along with Mark (serves in Hungary) and Kuldar (Estonia) will be teaching most of the theory.
Casey is really pumped about this training because Estonia has a healthy football ministry and we are hoping to see them strengthened and growing.
Monday through Friday will be focusing on Level One training (see all of the levels and their meanings below) because there will be 8 football coaches new to JV (did not attend the last training). Saturday will be focused on testing those that were present for the last training to see if they can pass level two and move on to level three. Estonia currently has 4 people on their Edge Sports Football leadership team (Kuldar, Ranno, Indrek, and Siim). We anticipate that all 4 of theses guys will move on to level three this week.
One of Casey’s hopes for this, and future training weeks, is that each JV country that has Edge Football will eventually raise up leaders with sufficient training to be able to do training in their own country without outside help. As a result, we would be able to replicate these trainings and even have them going on simultaneously in multiple countries.
Bulgaria is sending Gabe to come to the training this week as there will be a JV Edge Football level one training in Bulgaria next Spring. We are just so jazzed how this ministry is growing.
One: Intro. to coaching and how to do the sport.
Two: How to coach the sport, how to teach players to see the game as a whole, how to strategize before and during the game.
Three: How to mentor other coaches.
The weekend before Fall Conference started, Casey and Landen lead our first ever JV Edge Fitness Training for 18 people serving in 6 of the JV countries. This is so exciting because for some of these countries, there are so few believers or the churches are spread so far out, creating individual evangelistic fitness clubs is way easier than trying to create sports teams and a league.
The Czech President Milos Zeman came to our little town of about 30,000 people (well, we live in a village just outside of town but anyways…) a few weeks ago. I was sure that on this drizzly day, my boys would not want to listen to him and we would be here for 5 minutes tops but we had to come for at least that long! Caleb ran to the front of the crowd to hear him better and I did not see him again until Mr. President was off the stage. I was surprised how much I understood of what he was saying and he is pretty darn good with entertaining crowds. Caleb especially liked listening to him talk. I am so glad that my boys had this experience. Mr. President is the elderly man standing right next to the man with the light blue tie. One conversation that I heard with the crowd was one lady asking how the president will make Cesky Tesin safe (everyone in the crowd laughed) and he basically said that Cesky Tesin is safe and she watches too much tv. I may have understood that one wrong but I would like to think that I understood correct because I thought it was funny. There are also elections coming up and all the banners and billboards have so many people with gleaming white teeth that he said he was not sure when they are selling toothpaste or running for office. He also said that he wanted to make some great improvements for the local theatre and I was thrilled because we love going to plays and puppet shows there. We may never get to see any American president but we did get to see a president. So rad!
During the summer, while just Beni and I were home, Sunday rolled around and I did not want to go to church. Why, you ask?
During the summer at our church, the lovely, kind, and patient people who teach the children’s Sunday school classes take a break. I do not blame them. However needed that is for those kind people, it certainly makes things a little more challenging for parents of small children.
Beni does not like to sit in the congregation. If I cannot sit in the congregation and hear the sermon and I am not completing some other useful service for the church, it makes me wonder why I am there. I was trying to wrestle this one out with God on that Sunday and I really felt like he wanted me to go. I had this exact same situation a few years before, decided not to go, and I heard God’s voice in my soul afterwords telling me very distinctly (but kindly so I knew it was Him, not the mean inner voice that I use for myself), “If you had gone, I would have blessed you.” From that point on I have tried very hard to go no matter what. I think that voice dimmed for me over time but I knew He wanted me to go this time too. So, I went and He did bless me.
Beni refused to go into the sanctuary. To avoid a loud tantrum in front of everyone, I begrudgingly was led by my son to one of the empty children’s classrooms thinking “ok God, I am so waiting for this blessing.” We arrive upstairs and I see two other kids alone in the room playing already. Beni easily joins in and has a ball with those kids (pictured above). They were perfectly fine, but I did not want to go far, so I walked across the hall to a different classroom and turned on a speaker from the sanctuary, and was able to sit and listen to the sermon. It was a great lesson that day too. Then, another mom from the church went into the kids room where the kids were, taking her son. She, then, organized a game for them all to play and then they really had fun. To top it off, the mom said that she was fine with the kids and shut the door. I not only was able to listen to the sermon, I was able to listen to it in quiet while my son was joyfully occupied in his own version or church fellowship.
As a result of that Sunday, Beni was not reluctant to go into his Sunday school kids class once school started (not my typical experience from my sweet boy). This was all because God spoke to me with his still soft voice and I obeyed. Baby steps. Praise God.
This school year, we signed our boys up for gymnastics. I have been wanting to get them into gymnastics for some time but there were no options near us. We are so thankful for the opportunity this year. I was not sure what to expect. We tried to put Beni in kids’ Brazilian Jiu Jitsu a few years ago. It was a no go. Beni found some random punching gloves and that was the end to him listening to instruction. I was praying that this attempt at an exercise outlet would work out.
During the first training session, Caleb almost let out an audible scream because of how uncomfortable stretching was and Beni came over to tell me that he had cried a tear and if I would just go over to his mat, I would be able to see the tear on his mat. The boys told me that they wanted to quit right then. Casey and I decided beforehand that they would at least have to commit for a half-year period (which we already paid for). I agree with the philosophy but living it out for twice a week training sessions with frequent sensory over load tantrumers, I was expecting a storm. Of course we want to be sensitive to our boys’ needs but we also want to push them some.
Day two of training rolled around. I went into the gym and told the trainers that maybe they would want to keep my boys separate (they might fight…) and that I would read in the boys’ dressing room if they needed me. I fully expected to be needed. I was not. The boys ended their training by saying things like, “That was ok, mom.” and, “I learned that if you work hard, you can get better at stuff.” What? Holy blessing from heaven, Batman. Praise God. And that experience went straight into my thankfulness journal. Darn straight!
Since that first week, we have had a full second week under our belt with no behavior issues at all. I will be thankful while this lasts and continue to pray for similar situations in the future. Praise God for the little (big) things!