30 November 2010

My Week in Pictures

The grand lighting of the Christmas tree in Old Town Square

My Thanksgiving dish, broccoli casserole

Christmas markets in Prague, hot wine and sausages galore!

Banana Cranberry Bread

My roomies and I at Thanksgiving Dinner hosted by Bridge Community Church

Reading, journaling, sipping warm vanilla milk, and eating Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Almond muffins

29 November 2010


by William Blake

He who binds to himself a joy

Does the winged life destroy

He who kisses the joy as it flies

Lives in eternity's sunrise
I subscribe to a poem-a-day from http://www.poets.org/ to get my daily dose of poetry, both contemporary and historical. I wanted to share this with you. It's just so lovely!
By the way, IT'S SNOWING IN PRAGUE! More to come later....

22 November 2010

Freelance Missionary?

A few weeks ago I was asked to help out at an English Retreat that a local church was hosting in a small village outside Brno (the 2nd largest city in the CZ). I agreed and asked my friend, Megan, to come along and teach too. I really had no expectations leaving Prague. I planned a little, but I wasn't really sure of the students' English level, so it was all loose planning. All I knew was, I was happy to get out of the city and get into nature. I was excited to help out a church (I mean, I really came to the CZ with the intention of following where God leads). And I was thrilled to meet more Czech people to perhaps understand their culture better.

So, I got on a train, alone. (Megan came later in the weekend). The ride went by nicely, but as I checked the station signs at one particular stop, I was convinced that it was the one I wanted. I grabbed all my stuff that lay over the chairs and ran for the train door. It wouldn't open. I anxiously asked someone to help me. Apparently the door opens only to pulling and pushing and lifting numerous levers at once. At this point the train was moving! I didn't know what to do...the train would eventually gain speed and it would be impossible for me to get off...so I jumped off the moving train! Whew! The station guard gave me a funny look. I laughed and shrugged my shoulders. When I got all my stuff together and finally put on my coat in the station I learned that it was the wrong one. I got off one too early....all that for nothing. So I waited for the next one.  
morning mist outside my room window
At the retreat there were five native speakers teaching various levels. I taught the beginners. And let me tell you, teaching any beginner class is enough to make you want to pull your hair out. The first few lessons were tough. There was lots of translation by my Czech helper. There were lots of sighs and shaking of the head. There was lots of acting (on my part) and stick-figure drawing on the white board. By the last two lessons, though, we were having conversations and talking and asking questions with one another.

My class was a group of middle-aged women. So we laughed a lot. And we had some funny remarks. One woman said she likes to talk to her husband on the weekends. I asked her if she didn't talk to him the rest of the week? The class roared with laughter. Another woman asked me if I had "boyfriends". I said, "like one, two, three, four?" They couldn't control their laughter. We compared Florida with the Czech Republic and they were shocked to learn that a Florida winter = a Czech summer. They laughed in surprise when I told them that what I was wearing consisted of my "winter clothes".

the walking group, bundled against the elements
The time away from the city was much needed. On Saturday afternoon we took a walk into town to visit a "sweet shop". And when I say a walk, I mean we walked for a while through a field in the middle of nowhere to a town that we could hardly see because of the thick fog. It was cold, but so lovely. I kept thinking of Pride & Prejudice and the poets in the Lake District of England and how walking has such a large presence in history.

In the evening the Czech church hosted a discussion about God. They printed out quotes by people in history, from Marcus Aurelius to Gandhi to Abe Lincoln to Einstein. Each person chose one that they agreed most with. Now, many of the people there were unbelievers and many of the quotes were by Atheists. The discussion and quotes were all in Czech, so my Czech helper translated for me. For the next hour and half I sat there in complete shock. I didn't know whether to run out of the room sobbing or to laugh hysterically at the cleverness of Satan. I heard things like we are what our government decides to we are just a product of the culture we are born into (15th c. people believed in God, but 21st c. people do not) to "we are unimportant people living unimportant lives on an unimportant planet" to churches and Christians are hypocritical and the cause of so much suffering to there are many paths to God.

Yet, everyone was calm and even-tempered. Everyone knew there were both believers and non-believers in the room and they respected that fact. It was a safe environment to share your thoughts in. There were no drastic changes in anyone, nor was there any crying or confessing. I left there with the sole thought that truly only God, only a supernatural being, would be able to right the wrongs that have been committed in humanity. Only through a change of heart, which only comes from God softening the heart, can cause a person to change paths and believe something so out of the ordinary. Satan has confused and lied and has used some big powers on earth to really inflict chaos.

taking walks is good for the soul
I left the retreat with the sole conviction that I need to be praying more often for God to intervene and soften the hearts of his people. In hearing their thoughts about God and the universe I could detect some running themes that are from the Kingdom of God, universal truths that they follow without completely understanding.

It was a powerful discussion, one that really opened my eyes to how the Czechs think and what they have faced over the decades and centuries. This place is steeped in history.
My English class. They were so good to me.
On another note, I was asked numerous times, "what organization are you with?" As many of the other volunteers were full-on missionaries, they assumed I was one too. When I said that I just kind of came to the Czech Republic on my own to teach and to see where God led from there, they were surprised by my independence. One missionary said, "so you're kind of like a 'freelance' missionary." Well, I guess that's one way of putting it.

17 November 2010

Isn't this the sweetest thing ever!?

 I just love travel and world related things.

16 November 2010


I went to the US Embassy today to get an affidavit stating that I have no criminal record in the US signed and notarized. I need it for my Czech work visa I'll be getting next week in Bratislava. I went in and...
spoke English!
And couldn't get the ridiculous grin off my face! I felt like such a fool, but I literally felt as if I was back in America. Weird how embassies do that to you.
I spoke to other Americans.
I saw the American flag (and almost said the Pledge of Allegiance, but I withheld).
I saw American soldiers and metal detectors.
I was brimming with happiness. I love Prague, but there's something about Americans that no other nationality has. We are easy with one another. We talk to strangers and share stories. We give advice and smile and shake hands and laugh and compare states. We perhaps ask too many questions, but we're a curious bunch. We tell jokes. And when we leave one another, we genuinely hope the other has a good day. We travel the world, but when we meet a fellow American, our faces light up and we're instant friends.

This was my experience today. I think I'll visit the Embassy more often. :)


23 things I miss about my 23 year old daughter::said by Dad::

1. Her smile

2. Being in church with her and glancing over to see her fully engaged in worship

3. Her 2010 relationship with blue and green dragonflies

4. Her curly hair

5. Her friends

6. watching her find a recipe, moving into the kitchen with her laptop, music and apron and producing a dish ( green pea pesto UGGHH)

7. Smiling as she gets indignant at a coffee shop if the espresso sits for more than 30 seconds before being mixed

8. Anthropologie… enough said

9. Her little red Honda

10. Her leaving in her little red Honda with a wave, smile and two beeps

11. Her little red Honda missing two huge trees by inches at 60 plus miles per hour… Thank you Lord

12. Discussing books with her

13. Barnes and Noble for an afternoon with dad

14. Watching her paddle off in the canoe with her Bible, journal and books for the afternoon

15. Her at five dancing with a handful of teddy grams…. Ok I’m 52 and miss my little girl!!!

16. The Flagler College years

17. The C. S. Lewis weekend together

18. The Sarah Mclachlan and James Blunt concerts… Hello Disneyland!!

19. Her frustration with me when I come into her room and sit on her perfectly appointed love seat

20. Her sense of fashion, see number 8 again

21. Her getting ready for a bath… I think her candles were a source of global warming

22. her indignation before she left for Prague if asked about finding her husband there… she didn’t know he was lost

23. Her kiss on both cheeks when she said goodnight, hello or goodbye… the last one is special

14 November 2010

November 14th, 2010

Winter is almost here.
The sun still shines, but the leaves swirl downwards,
escaping the trees
that neglect to hold onto them.

It's so easy to just let go.

The trees are about bare now.
Twisted skeletons
reaching for the sky. Bare, brittle branches
but clothed in fog
at dusk when the sun falls

5pm and it's midnight.
10am and it's dinner time,
but I'm drinking coffee and confused
and my spirits fall downwards
only to be gathered the next day into a tight bundle
of delicate leaves

as I look out onto a city of spires
and breathe in
and out
as the wind whips fall away into the past.

08 November 2010

a history of LADYBUGS

I have always loved ladybugs. Always.
I can remember when I was a little girl sitting down by the driveway in the grass near the drainage pipes that ran underneath the concrete. I sat there mesmerized by the little bugs as they opened and closed their wings, fascinated that they always seemed to want to climb onto my finger. The day was sunny and breezy.
I was small. And they were tiny.
Sometimes Sweet
Years later there was a time in my life where she would always seem to find me wherever I was. Journaling on the beach, she found me. Getting out of my car, she found me. Walking down the street, she found me. Inside a museum,
she still found me.

And even now, in this chilly weather, I climbed a hill and admired a view and there she was, reminding me that I am loved and a part of something special. I love that throughout life objects and people and themes and words and even tiny creatures follow us, connecting us to our Creator. Sometimes we miss the connection, but it's nice when we can recognize that we are a part of something bigger, that God is sovereign and weaves our lives through those around us, creating significance to our lives.

Warm Pears

A ladybug landed on my sweater one day while I was hot and sweaty. She stayed for a while, then flew away, landing on a small girl wearing a hat and gloves. She walked away, not noticing the little creature. But I saw, and watched as she carried my friend farther and farther away. Off to a new place carrying the thread of meaning to more little girls.

02 November 2010

600 Year Anniversary of the Astronomical Clock

The 600 Years from the macula on Vimeo.

What a way to celebrate!
October 9, 1410-October 9, 2010
I wonder how they'll celebrate it in the next 100 years!

Issuing Visa Issues

Well, yesterday I spent most of my morning in the Foreign Police Department. I went to the High School that hired me to pick up my contract, then they sent me to the Foreign Police to apply for my visa. They said it would be simple, I'd have to wait a while, then I'd be able to send off my paperwork for a work visa. Once this was done I'd be able to start teaching, something I've been waiting to do for about three weeks now.

It's never that easy in the Czech Republic.

I arrived at the Foreign Police after taking an uncountable number of trams and metros. I waited with a mass of bodies surrounding this computer that had a sign on it. The sign was in Czech, so I had no idea why we were surrounding it or what we were waiting for. Not one offical person was in sight. Not one sign was in English. Finally, a lady came out of a locked door to issue tickets with numbers on them to us from this computer. I waited some more. And some more. And some more. Meanwhile people from all over the world were in this room waiting for something. I started to wonder why I wanted a work visa in this country. I was the only American in the room. Why does an American want to work in the Czech Republic? Well, I guess there are some questions that are unanswerable.

So, my number was finally called...after sitting, standing, The Count of Monte Cristo, an instant cappuccino, three bathroom trips, and time spent people watching. The lady behind the desk was upset that I hadn't registered as a tourist. Who knew about this? Aparently, people have to register within three days of their being here. Who wants to do that when they're on vacation? She gave me some grief about that and asked me some questions about when I arrived. Then she goes on to say, in broken English, that I have to go to a Czech Embassy outside the country to apply for a work visa. What!? That is not what the school said.

So I left with nothing accomplished and my teaching date pushed back further.
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