Monday, October 03, 2011

Blake at Ledina

Last month Blake started high school as a 10th grader at Gimnazija Ledina.  That one sentence has a LOT behind it!  But what it mostly has behind it is the Lord's hand!

If you've been tracking with Blake you may know that he's faced some challenges in regard to school over the years.  He's got the whole "American speaking a second language for his primary education thing" going for him.  And then you add to that his dyslexia which isn't severe, but does seem to plague him at the most inconvienent moments.  Throw in the fact that he's been the only Christian in his class and in a society where living out your faith in every day real life is...well, weird.

As I explained in an earlier post, here in Slovenia as in other European countries, kids are slotted toward vocational schools or college prep schools after the 9th grade.  So our daily prayer for the past year has been that the Lord would direct Blake to just the right school for him.

The story is a long one.  I think because the Lord wanted it to be obvious that it was His work and His placing of Blake.  It has many intricate details and things only the Lord could have orchestrated.

In the middle of June, sign ups for high school happened.  We'd left for the states not knowing what God was going to do but believing he was going to do something.

Our friend Metka went in our place to the school sign up with all Blake's papers ready and prepared to do her best for him, not really knowing what that might entail.  She said that when they took her info she was immediately greeted by a friendly lady who said, "Oh yes.  We are all prepared for Blake!  We got a letter extending  permission for him to attend this school and receive extra tutoring in the area he needs it.  The education department believes that he has all the intelligence neccessary to attend this school but may need extra help because of his dyslexia."

You know we asked the Lord for just the right school for Blake but I think the Lord gave him more, down to just the right class.  He's in a great class of kids that he really enjoys. (A bunch of firstborns like him!) He is doing well managaing the school work load and doesn't have that lost feeling that seemed to perpetually follow him.

Thank you for your prayers for him and for us along the way in this process!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Celebrating 10 years in Slovenia with the Jackson family!

 Maybe you've already seen this shot since I posted it on facebook and Josh used it in an update but I just never get tired of looking at these cutie pie kids grown up into such enjoyable teenagers and that Luka is added in the mix now!  But 10 years ago the above picture is what the Jackson girls and the Patty kids looked like when they climbed off the train and entered their new home in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
 And this is the shot of them 10 years later in the same location after they'd spent a normal day in their Slovene public schools, doing homework, chatting with friends, taking tests...... What a sense of accomplishment.  They are doing it!  We are doing it!  We are "delighting to share not only the gospel of God but our lives as well"!
 A couple days later we got together and really celebrated!  We grilled and had lots of yummy things and laughed and remembered.
 I tried to get a shot of everyone.
 Some people got in there more than once.
 I won't say who but her initials are Laurel Jackson!
Even the Aria and Scout joined us!
Not sure what happened to Luke and Blake!  hmmm.  but they were there and a good time was had by all!  What a privildge and a pleasure to serve the Lord alongside our dear and loyal friends the Jackson family.  We love you guys!  So glad God sent us together!


A couple of weeks ago we celebrated one of my favorite baptisms ever!  Our dear friend Meta who came to one of our early English camps and was a part of the English Club that met at our house was baptised at our church!  

Meta told her story and shared how the Lord has been close to her during the ups and downs of life.  We've seen her grow and be transformed from a girl to a woman during those years.  She's been an excellent lover of God and lover of people.  She's invested her life in the lives of Jr. Highers at youth group and has even begun an outreach ministry to kids in a town 30 minutes from here.  And she's got the most beautiful and poetic heart you have ever seen!  

Meta really experienced a lot of opposition and threats as a result of her decision to be baptized.  But even in that her faith was strengthened and she allowed the Lord to lead her and teach her some wonderful things!  Look at the look on her face in this shot!  I just love it! 

Just before they went into the water Josh asked people in the church to call out a sentence or two saying in what ways they've seen Jesus in Meta's life!  Oh I wish you were there to hear it!  So dear and beautiful!  
After they changed clothes our pastor Zvonko and Josh prayed for Meta and then we sang a song that Meta had written the words for and another friend had put music to!  OH WHAT A CELEBRATION!  

Friday, May 20, 2011

Blake turns 15

We celebrated Blake's 15th birthday today!  (He's second from the left).  It's hard to believe how quickly the time has gone!  He's a great kid with a sharp wit and very perceptive about what is going on behind the scenes.  We're real proud of him.

The guys came over after school and played some xbox and then ate slopey joes before they headed out for  paint ball with Terry, David and Johnny.  We've introduced many of Blake's friends to new menu items like slopy joes, waffles with peanut butter, and other important life necessities!

Many of these boys have been at Blake's birthday party since first grade!  Although they will all head to different high schools this fall, I think that Blake will stay close to this group of guys.

I mentioned in an earlier post that Blake is chosing a high school this year and we would sure appreciate your prayers.  Please keep them coming!  This has not been an easy process.  We've learned a lot in the process and found that some of the situations we thought would be best for him are not lining up.

We believe that the Lord has his hand in this.  That He placed Blake in this country 10 years ago with a plan in mind.  And that he's going to lead us to just the right schooling situation; as well as to where he thinks Blake will be most effective for His kingdom.  

We are about 3 weeks from our visit to the states and we still don't have the school nailed down.   Would you please pray with us?  I'm praying for God's leading to be very clear and for Blake to have peace as he hears from the Lord.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Nick Vujicic in Slovenia

This time last week we were handing out tickets to our friends, neighbors, teachers and anyone else we thought would enjoy coming to this historic moment in Slovenia!  Nick Vujicic, a man born with no arms or legs, who has a very sweet and powerful ministry; came to Slovenia to share the good news in 5 cities in 5 nights!  

I almost don't know where to begin.  

There were so many sweet moments.  So many answered prayers and dear conversations.  So many times that the Lord did more than we could ask or imagine!  Things that Slovenia has never seen before! 

About 2 months ago we got word that Nick had been invited to come to speak here in Slovenia and tell his story.  He was born in Australia but is of Serbian descent.  His honesty as he talks about crying himself to sleep at night asking to wake up with arms and legs.  The not understanding and wrestling with the question of if God is good why would he do this to me?  Then the story that Nick points to as a turning point from John where the disciples ask, '"Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" " Neither this man nor his parents sinned" said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life."' And the work of God was displayed and in a way like we haven't seen in our 10 years here!

The churches in Slovenia have commonly wrestled with issues of unity.  But for this event many churches and mission organizations across the country came together to pull this event off!  Just that was a big deal for us!  But there was more!

Nick spoke 5 nights in 5 different cities here in Slovenia.  With such a demanding schedule he was exhausted.   Nick and his team along with the 180 member choir and the organizers drove all over the country to the 5 different venues.  Each city had rented it's largest venue hoping and praying that they would be able to fill it and have more people hear the truth.  

We launched a huge prayer effort writing daily updates and asking you all to pray for the different cities throughout our country.  And each morning as we sent the updates we were astounded!  Every night the venues were packed out!  Often with standing room only!  
Josh had asked our team a month before if they would be willing to drop everything and throw all our weight behind this event.  We have such a skilled and capable team!  They began writing, translating, taking photos, editing, drawing up drafts for a tract to walk people through the gospel, producing a friendly questionaire for obtaining information about those who would attend and developing a plan for follow up.  

  I confess that as I saw the different cities respond I wrestled with belief for our capital city of Ljubljana.  It's different in the city. But we had rented  Stozice.  Our newest and largest stadium where they had cancelled the European handball competion in order to house this event.  

All week long but especially on Saturday our 4 year old son Luke kept singing, "Greater things are yet to come.  Greater things are still to be done in this city. "  It was a clear reminder to me to pray for my city.  To say "I believe!  I believe in you God."  

We sat in the stadium that night with 7,500 or so people and heard the gospel go out in a clear, tight, professional way.  Nick was so warm and loving as well as logical and clear as he explained that Jesus paid for our sins.  And that he made you just the way you are and loves you as you are. 

 A couple of times during the night he spoke in Serbian and the crowd was delighted!  We really believe that Nick was uniquely positioned to share the gospel in a way that Slovenians could really hear.  

In the end there were 14,940 tickets sold!  In  a country where there are 1,500 people who claim to be evangelical believers!   

 And now begins the real work.  
Christians across the country are following up those who filled out the questionaire stating that they are "very interested".  Individuals are being trained in how to walk through a 2 week 4 lesson bible study (that Josh wrote :)) with their friend that they brought and communicated an interest in knowing more.  
Our team has taken on the responsiblity of modeling and training folks in the follow up process.  Would you pray for us?  It's an incredible undertaking.  We are in over our heads.  We are overwhelmed and thrilled at the same time!  This is an honor!  This is a priviledge!  This is crazy!

At our team  meeting this week one of our Slovene teammates said, "I'm amazed that it's so normal to talk about the Lord!  I don't know how long this will last but I don't ever remember there being a time when it was so easy to approach someone about the Lord!  I don't want to miss these days!"  

We feel how important this is and how tempting it is to sit back on our heals now that the event is over.  Take a break from all that work we just did.  While the truth is that there are many people with open hearts who need a kind friend to walk this path with them.   

Would you pray for us as we reach out to those around us?  As we continue to follow up this event and prepare for english camps and a full schedule of ministry this summer.  And as we live among these folks looking for opportunities to share the reason for the hope that we have?

Thank you and praise the Lord as the work of God was displayed in our country!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Blake's high school search

Blake is our first born and has had to pave the road in many ways for his siblings coming behind him.  This year has been an especially big one as he is choosing a high school for next year.  Here in Slovenia the school system works a bit differently than in the US.  1st -9th  grade is called your primary education years and then in 9th grade you begin to choose what direction you plan to head in your career through the high school you decide to attend.

Primary school can be very stressful those last 3 years as your grades on your report card determine what schools you'll be allowed to attend.  Some kids will head towards technical schools while others will go on to what is called Gimnazija.  What we would consider high school or maybe College Prep.

At this point in his life Blake is pretty sure that he'll head to the US for college and then make a life for himself in the states.  So really the only option for him is attending Gimnazija. He's applied for one of the local highschools here in Ljubljana but we are also looking into a possible International School program for him that conducts their lessons in English.

It's a great opportunity for us to trust the Lord. We don't know if Blake will have enough points to make it into the Gimnazija.  We aren't sure if the International School will accept him considering that he has done 9 years in the Slovene system.  They tend to prefer that you stay in the Slovene system once you are in. And even if they do accept him there is a school tuition.  Should we stick with public school or head this direction?

What we do know is that we are awfully proud of this kid!  He's attended all his primary education in a second language.  He's really taken responsibilites for his studies to a new level in the last few years and risen to the challenge.  He cares about his classmates and has been reaching out to them and inviting them to youth group and other events.

Would you pray for us and for the Lord's leading in this new area?  And specifically for Blake.  That he would sense the Lord's leading and direction and be at peace.  And for Blake's mom!  Who is trying to let her kid make those decisions and see the Lord at work as he grows to a man.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fried Chicken for Jesus

A couple months ago I was making fried chicken for a team get together.  Let me just stop right there and say, this shot isn't of me making said fried chicken.  This is a great Thanksgiving shot from when our dear friend Laurie Doden was here and we were cooking up a storm.  But, I felt like for this post I just had to have a kitchen shot!
So back to a couple months ago when I was making Pioneer Woman's fried chicken.

 I don't know if you've been introduced to Pioneer Woman but she is my new friend!  The kids bought me a couple of new cook books for my birthday this year and I have loved them!  I prefer to do once a month cooking, since it frees me up to be more involved in ministry when dinner is made and just needs to be thrown in the oven with a salad on the side.  But someone on facebook suggested The Pioneer Woman's cookbook and I LOVE it!  I love how she loves her husband and flirts with him.  I love the step by step pictures that give me confidence as I follow one of her recipes and her meals are yummy and feed a lot of people!

As I said, I was trying her fried chicken recipe to take to a team get together and I was thinking about how much Josh was going to enjoy this chicken.  I married a man who knows how give compliments!  He often comments on how thinly the tomatoes were sliced or how my banana bread is his favorite. He always notices the little additions or the new things I try.   I knew that we would come home that evening and he would tell me that my fried chicken was out of this world!

I sort of chuckled to myself because if you've ever made fried chicken then you know it is quite a bit of work and mess to boot.  So I thought it was funny that rather than just wait for a night when I could be making fried chicken for my family of 6 and get all the compliments from my husband with less work; here I was making it for 30 people and thinking all the while about how much the guy I cook for every night was going to like this meal!

I wasn't cooking for those 30 people, I was cooking for him and thinking how pleased he was going to be.

And that's when I started to smile and cry at the same time.

I smiled and cried because it was just then that I heard the Lord.

As clear as if he spoke out loud, which he didn't but it was still clear, I heard him say, "I wish it was like that with you and me."  Not condemning.  Not disappointed or anything of that sort.  Just a true and simple statement.

The thing is that I cook and bake all the time for groups of people.  I bake for bible study on Tuesday nights, I host lunch meetings and we have dinner guests often.  I cook for my family every night.  But the truth is that every time I make something I'm thinking about what Josh would like and the way he likes things.

What would it be like if it was like that with me and Jesus?

Well, I guess then I would lead meetings and not wonder if someone thought I talked too long or too much.  I would have my eyes on Jesus and if he liked what I said.

I guess I would speak the truth in love to people while we had coffee and not wonder if they thought I was too spiritual or had good things to offer because my eyes would be on Jesus and I'd be thinking about how he loves it when his people focus on him.

I guess I would lead bible studies thinking about what Jesus was strong about and what things he gave grace for rather than what these people's denomination teaches.

I guess I would speak to peoples needs without worrying if I was being too "preachy".

I guess, that at the end of the day I'd climb into bed waiting to hear the Lord's opinion of what I had done that day, expecting kindness, truth and delight.   Just like when I cook for Josh I'm quite certain he's going to love it and tell me mine is his favorite!

And even if he had to tell me something I did that day wasn't his favorite or didn't line up with His will, I'd be so safe and enjoyed by him, that it would bless me as well.

Whatever I did or didn't do, I'd do it with my eyes on Jesus because I wanted to make or do something that I knew he would love and enjoy.  

I wish it was like that with you and me too, Jesus.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Celebrating Christmas 2010

I confess that I was fighting with blogger and I lost. I have to say that it took the wind out of my sails and I just couldn't get back into the spirit of the whole thing.  But the holidays have come and my family is so fun that I decided to lay down arms and start posting again.  Plus my mother and mother in law have told me it's time and they want to see pictures of their babies again.  So here's a shot of Teenager decorating the tree this year.  I told him to try not to look like he's trying out for the role of "I just killed a man" and the following is what I got.....

 Me: "Try to sparkle a little son."
Blake: "How's this?"
Me: "Ah, just a little less maybe."

 Here's our teenage girl asking the question, "Should we tell Oma that the ornaments she sends us every year are quite strange? " 
 And preteen Kendra is asking, "What message do you think Oma is sending me when every year my ornament from her is a chubby little person?"
But Luka is just pleased with the whole process and doesn't insist on taking weird pictures for me to put on the blog.  Cutie pie kid!