It’s Half-Term!

I’m really looking forward to this week – just got back from an inspiring and, dare I say it, life changing weekend in Germany and Poland with the YMCA and now it’s just me and Anya at home together for the whole of half-term!

It’s going to be a great week, I have one or two ideas for what to do but I thought I’d ask Anya what she wanted to do.  Bless her, her answer was, “You know when we go to the cash and carry….can I ride on top of the trolley!?”  I’m really proud of her that she is satisfied with such simple pleasures.

We’re off to go and get an extra ingredient for baking now and I will do my best to give her a wonderful, memorable week.  I really believe that some of the best gifts we can give our kids are shared memories together.  They can be simple, silly times together but I think they are worth so much more than expensive presents.

We’re also both looking forward to having the luxury of time so that we can do some Bible study and praying together.  Such a privilege to be a dad and I really don’t want to take it for granted.

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Some things I miss

There are 3 things that I miss at the moment:

1. Aleksa – when we were worshiping yesterday evening I had my eyes closed for a couple of minutes.  Then I opened them to check where Aleksa was.  I half expected him to be at my feet with his arms held up waiting for me to pick him up.  I really wanted to give him a cuddle.

2. Anya – I would love to just watch her here.  There is so much for her to learn from the people here and I know she’d be just going around doing her own thing, picking up information and storing it away for when it would be useful.  She’d love the big house we’re in with all it’s nooks and crannies to hide away and I know she’d go down a storm with everyone.

3. Rada – I really miss talking to her.  The internet is not great so Skyping attempts have been really frustrating.  It’s a long way from the 20p a minute phone calls we used to have to settle for just after we met but that thought doesn’t help.  I want to tell Rada all the great things that God is doing and all the details about the people here.  More than that I would love her to meet them all she would love it so much with all the languages and cultures and crazy people.

Ah well, I’m having a wonderful time.  Enjoying it immensly but missing the family.

Kids and Church Planting

Tim Simmonds has blogged about Planting Churches with Ninja Children.  It reminded me how much I take for granted how versatile and giving kids can be when it comes to the disruption and lack of routine that come with church planting.

It is a real privilege having our children share the church planting journey with us.  It is inspiring to have them with us at midweek group, they are great company in the car and in general it is simply nice to do be doing something productive and worthwhile together.  It also gives children great opportunities to improve their social skills as they meet new people and gain an understanding of the wider world – Anya regularly interacts with people from all sorts of cultures and is confident talking to with people with disabilities and addictions.

But there is a cost that church planting demands of children.  Sometimes it requires a change of school and they won’t get to hang out and make friends with as many children their own age as they might at bigger churches.  We are told time and again that children, and especially babies, need routine but when you’re taking the kids along to evening meetings and out all day on a Sunday then a routine can be impossible to keep!

Nevertheless, all these experiences do help a child to learn resilience and interdependence – essential skills for life.  I was wondering though, and would welcome input from those who may have had similar experiences, what areas or experiences would it be helpful for us to be particularly purposeful about providing for our two children?  Is there anything that it would be wise to put in place to make sure they don’t miss out on any specific area of spiritual or social growth?

Aleksa

I’m proud as punch.  I can’t actually believe I’ve got a son.  The birth was incredible.  Rada was wonderful, it is unbelievable how traumatic birth is but she persevered right to the end…and now we have Aleksa 🙂

Welcome to the world Aleksa

He arrived at 1.30am so I only got a couple of hours sleep the first night but I am not complaining one bit.  There’s stinks to change, crying in the night, loads of extra work but it is worth all of it and much more.

Anya has been a star too.  It’s no easy task being the only child for nearly eight years and then suddenly becoming a big sister.  But she’s working hard at adapting and being incredibly helpful.  She has great character and I can’t wait to see how Aleksa’s develops too.

I’m so thankful to God for my family and for the health of all of us.  Something never to be taken for granted.  I can’t wait for the adventure ahead!

Relaxing at home after a big night out

I’m in a daze

I really can’t take it in.  I’m back home.  Sat in my bed.  The house feels fantastic.  It was so nice to have such a warm welcome from Dan & Cath.

I’m pretty speechless to be honest but it feels great.  It was a great trip but when I woke up in Frankfurt this morning and it was grey and rainy and the hotel breakfast was crowded with businessmen and the shower was cold…I just wanted to get home quick.  So we rushed to Dunkerque abandoning plans to call in on Maastricht and managed to get the earlier ferry.  The M25 was grim but we drove into Solihull at 9.20pm.  Anya has been a star.

Rada’s dad had his major heart op today.  It was successful and he’s in intensive care.  They should be waking him up tomorrow morning.  Please pray for him.  Rada will be back home in a couple of weeks.

Graz – Schwarzenegger and Tesla

I’m sat in a hotel in Graz, Austria.  The birthplace of Republican hero Arnold Schwarzenegger.  The city which taught the worlds cleverest man – the Serb, Nikola Tesla.

Had a great evening with Anya.  We went up Schlossberg (Castle Mountain) in the middle of the old town and then had Cevapcici at a Bosnian cafe.  I’m grasping onto the Balkan culture as long as I can.

Then I got lost trying to get back to the hotel.  Anya said she felt she was let down.  Now Anya is reading in bed and I’m faffing around on the internet.  48 hours till Blighty.

Schlossberg

Precious Times

Yesterday me and Anya started on a bit of an adventure together.  The only shame is that Rada is not with us to enjoy it.  But it is great to get some precious time with Anya.

We left Montenegro in the morning.  We got over the Montenegrin border with no problem having a laugh and a friendly greeting with the border guard as he was from the same village as Rada’s family.  Half a mile later and the Croatian border were not so friendly.  The border police didn’t take kindly to my not understanding the Croatian for ‘car registration documents’ and sent me off to empty the boot and one of the suitcases for Customs – first time that has happened to me – I was a bit nervous because I forgot to declare our bottle of Amaro Montenegro liquor but he didn’t find it.  Phew.

100km later and we were stood in a traffic jam for 45 minutes while a land mine up the road was disposed of.  Never fear, we had The Last Battle on audio book to keep us company.  Alas, environmentally conscious I had turned the engine off but kept the lights on and the CD player going.  Not an ounce of power came from the battery once the explosive ahead had been cleared.

I was just getting my trusty reflective triangle out to warn traffic behind that some egit was stuck in the middle of the road, and was about to don my high visibility vest, when a vehicle recovery van stopped by.  He didn’t have any jump leads but he pushed me to a layby with the help of a passing policeman and woman and then called his mate from the last town to come with the jump leads.  While we were waiting he was telling me how he hated Montenegrins because they burnt his house down during the war for no reason.  I obviously sympathised but felt a bit uncomfortable – so I quickly changed the subject to the successes and failures of Croatia footballers who’d played for Aston Villa.

Once the car was up and running again I tried to give them some money then tried to give them the Amaro Montenegro but they refused both and wished me well.  Anya and I arrived at the hotel just south of Split while it was still light, had a great walk up the beach and then stopped for a pizza and beer (Anya had cola).  A great day….looking forward to the rest of the trip home but wouldn’t complain if it was a little smoother.