Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Czech and it's beauty part 2...in pictures

Well, I am still trying to figure out if God is calling me back to Czech again this summer. I am not sure if it is even an option with my work, but it is something that is so dear to me. The thought of not being able to see students like Pavla, Adela, Ondra, Jana, Hani, and so many of the others just makes my heart break. In fact, it makes me think of a song I used to sing..."where or where has my little dog gone, oh where oh where can he be?"...Okay so it doesn't really make me think of that song, but that song DID randomly pop into my head, and I do feel like I have lost something, so I wanted to share it with everyone! BUT, maybe it makes me think of something more like the game "Duck, Duck, Goose" and I am wondering if I am going to be the goose that gets to go and "run around" or the duck that sits and watches everyone else go. ANYWAY...while I am still thinking and praying about this trip, I thought I could share some of my most favorite pictures that I took of Czech with you all.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Czech and all it's beauty...

As I sit here in Colorado, thinking about the fact that Aaron has handed out Czech trip application, and having heard just recently from so many of my friends in Czech, it makes me think about how much I love that country, the people, the scenery, and the way God is moving over there. Everything in my body wants to go back so badly. If I could live half of my life there and half of my life here, I would do so. And in fact, I feel like I already do that in a way. My home and my heart are split between the two countries, the families I have here and the families I have in Czech are both so dear to me. In fact, when I got married, I was so nervous to have Aaron meet my friends in Czech because they mean so much to me. It felt like I was introducing him to my parents or something. And they all loved him and he loved them!!!
But as I sit here thinking and praying about if God is wanting me to go back again this next summer, I want to reflect on some of my most favorite times in Prague and in Czech.

My Top List: (in no specific order...they are all top)
1. Returning my second year and feeling like I was "back home"
2. Staying with the Lipus family and eating European cheese and drinking Czech beer
3. Hearing Jumper tell me "The cool thing about you is that I can tell you are not here just to do a 'mission trip thing' and check it off some list. You actually love the people and care about it here and that's awesome"
4. The moment when the Czechs stopped calling me Seleny Americanka (Crazy Amercian Girl) and started
calling me Seleny Ceska (Crazy Czech girl)
5. Sitting in the pub with Cilco and Georgey
6. Talking with Osvald about Heaven
7. Singing with Adela and having her in my english class
8. Hiking and talking with Radek and Boris
9. Going to a Czech hockey game with Cilco
10. Watching Ondra accept Christ
11. Seeing Daniel accept Christ and then watching him lead the next year
12. Introduing Aaron to everyone, specifically Jumper and Osvald
13. Staying in Cesky Tesin with Jumper and his family
14. Going to a concert put on my Jumper and then catching a train with Lukas, Darius, and Petr at about 2 in the morning
15. Going to a cajovna
16. Sitting on the trains watching people or going past sunflower fields
17. Having Cilco request "It's a Beautiful Day" by U2 for me on the radio and all the sudden hearing the announcer say "Americanka Cheryl" over the radio and then having the song played!
18. Listening to Dave or Nate or any of the other missionaries talk about what God is doing.
19. Eating Hot Raspberries with Lenka
20. Spending New Years Eve in Brno...CRAZY
21. Having discussions with my class from 2006 where I was also able to have Georgey as my translator.
22. Getting coffee with Monica
23. Hot Chocolate in Malenovice
24. The blueberry fight I had with Jumper, Lucka, and Tomas
26. Watching the American students grow
27. Going on the morning walks with Cindy
28. Talking with Pavla in the pub
29. Coming back again and again and again.
30. The friendships that have turned into family

Osvald, me, and Jumper after I introduced them to Aaron and we got to sit in a pub for a while and just chill.

My Class from 2006 (Georgey and I are in front)

At the top of Serak after the hike we do with the students!

Daniel back at camp as a leader!!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Snow Days

There is nothing like waking up in the morning and seeing that the ground is covered in fresh, beautiful, powery snow. It is such a soft and gentle reminder to slow down, remember that each day is new, and that each moment we can make a fresh start, fresh tracks in life.

And I don't feel like there is anything right now that I want to cover up or need a fresh start with in the sense of something bad needs to be redeemed specifically, but even the idea that every day I get the choice to love Aaron more, to have more of a servant heart at work, to take a new picture that was never taken before...it is like a blank canvas waiting to be painted. Oh the idea of it is wonderful.

I remember as a kid when it would snow my brother and I took simple spray bottles and filled them up with colored water. We had bottles for red, yellow, and blue, and then sometimes we would get creative and make colors like teal, violet, or amber. We would take all these bottles, turn the spray setting to spout instead of spray and we would decorate the snow. While all the other yards were perfectly white, we would take our spray bottles and make our yard...well stand out to say the least. And the beautiful thing about it was that it would either melt or it would be covered by fresh snow every time. We were able to create master piece after master piece. Each one new and unique. Every time it snowed we had a fresh start, a blank canvas. And while sometimes our art was a little less desirable, sometimes it was absolutely beautiful.

At least for me, I believe that snow is meant to remind me to live completely each day, and let go each night. As it even says in Scripture...

Matthew 6
33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

May every day be a "snow day" where we embrace the kingdom and not worry about what will happen tomorrow until tomorrow becomes a new snow day.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Erasers: I WANT ONE

I love, and have loved for a long time, a good solid eraser. Seriously, what awful thing it is to be writing with a pencil, then you mess up, you turn the pencil around, and the eraser is hard and crusty, or even worse, it is flesh with the metal part and scrapes if you use it. AWFUL I tell you. I like erasers, I like to be able to just go over the things that I don't want and get rid of them. Any mistake, and thought, any reality...POOF....gone! What a great feeling that is. If only that could happen in real life when I make a mistake. Let's just erase that and pretend it didn't happen. However, God didn't make us with erasers attached, sadly. But what I find interesting is that HE is our eraser. It is through Christ that we can have our mistakes and screw-ups erased. What a beautiful thing. And he never wears down, you never need to get a new one.

And truly, to run with the analogy, if we let him be the one to write our story, we don't even need erasers. How crazy is it that Jesus is our eraser, our lead, our writing utensil, and yet, the only reason that there is an eraser attached is so that he can take away the mistakes when we try to write out how we want things to be. He takes away our mistakes when we try to mess up his story.

Now as a writer, I can't imagine how I would feel if I was trying to write this amazing story and someone kept coming in and trying to take control and change it. I can see my eraser wearing out very quickly, much like my patience and grace. But God lovingly erases and waits for us to ask him to be our author again. Man, what a hard thing to comprehend.

But thank you God for ERASERS!!!

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Things I have learned from missionaries and missions organizations:

1. The amount of courage and trust it takes to leave everything behind is absolutely a beautiful and amazing thing. If only I can let go of the possessions, that aren't even mine to begin with, in the same way that missionaries do I think I would worry a lot less and be more focused on what God is asking me to do.

2. It is a great thing to be able to minister with your husband. I have thought about this a little bit now, and truly, what a blessing it would be to be able to be my husbands side kick (like Batman and Robin...only maybe Robin would be changed to a female...so like Cyclopes and Jean Grey) and to also get paid for being his side kick so I didn't feel like I had to make the choice sometimes between working to pay the bills and working in the same ministry field as my husband. And I would have to say this is especially true for Aaron and I where we have the same passions and same education...what a blessing it would be to work in the same field and both get paid so that our bills were covered!

3. Missionaries sometimes are really brave to eat some of the stuff that they do!

4. I love the world perspective that many of the missionaries I know have. There is just something great about seeing how God is moving in other parts of the world. Even if I am not passionate personally about going to a certain place, it is still amazing to see how God uses people and works.

5. What a great thing many missions organization do when they focus on actually doing "Missionary Care". I wonder why so many churches haven't followed in the footsteps of some of these missions organizations and really set up a team to do Pastoral Care. Speaking as someone who was a Junior High Director for 3 years and then as someone whose husband is now a youth pastor, I think Pastoral Care is a great need.

6. Follow-up is something that is so needed for so many different areas in life, not just after a mission experiance but after so many life experiances. What a great thing it is that Missions organization understand the importance of follow up and process time. Why can't we put more of an importance on process time for all big events in our lives? I think that would be such a helpful thing. Maybe not always practical, but definately helpful.

7. I envy the travelling that many missionaries get to do! I love to TRAVEL!

8. If you are a missionary, you pretty much HAVE to have a passion for what you do. When you are being supported, away from your family, living in a foreign environment, not getting the praise (because you are giving it all to God), there can only be a few things that keep you in your job...Passion, Calling, and a Love for the Lord. Yet, when you live your life based off those things, focused on those things, and because of those things, there is this fulfillment that is undescribeable. What a beautiful thing it would be if everyone was living for a Passion, a Call, and a Love for who God is and what he is doing.

9. Many missionaries, especially younger ones, are REALLY great photographers.

10. The passion for people and for Christ in the lives of many of the missionaries I know is one of the most beautiful and amazing things. I think that almost every missionary could have a very interesting book written about them to tell their story. Talk about having a real adventure.

Here are some of the missionaries that I love and admire (which if any one is looking for some where to spend their money or time, I am sure they would love your support and prayers!)

Josiah Venture Missionaries:

Daniel Johnson: We grew up together. He is a few years younger than me, just got married, and is going to be going back to Czech with his wife Kim in a few months. He runs the Youth Ministry at a Church in Orlava, Czech Republic. This guy has an amazing heart to see the church youth ministry grow. He also loves basketball, has two crazy younger brothers, and has some pretty funny stories if you ever get to sit down and talk with him. Ask him specifically what he means when he says he has a "sweater on his teeth".

Nate Hughes: This guy is a RIOT! Nate currently does a whole bunch of stuff, some of which includes training teams from the States that are in Czech to run English Camps. Then him along with two others on his team travel from camp to camp to camp to camp to camp...(Seriously it is insane how much he has to bump around during the summer). Nate has a freedom in Christ that I hope continues to ALWAYS be contagious. He appreciates art and creativity and good things in life!

THE PATTY'S: This is a family that has one amazing stroy. Dave grew up in what is also my home church. Dave was obedient and God grew an amazing ministry through him...which is now what is called Josiah Venture. Dave and Connie have moved their family and embraced the Czech culture with arms wide open. I actually knowabout them more because Dave's sister and parents go to our church and I mentor his niece, but I also enjoy being able to chat with him quickly whenever they are in Colorado or when I am in Czech.

There are many, many more like Matt and Hailey Kingsley who work for Greater European Mission, Josh and Jen Hamilton who work for IDRAHAJE, Weston and Heather Tripp who work for Campus Crusade, The Guidarians who work in Papua New Guinea and the many who work for OMF International. The list could go on and on and on. But what a great example and blessing these people are.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Ahhhh moments:

1. waking up to a fresh snow
2. Drinking a good, hot cup of coffee or Chai
3. Staying up late talking with friends
4. Watching Aaron talk with guys like Nate about comic books and stuff I can't hold a conversation with him about!
5. Stepping off the plane in Prague
6. Listening to Norah Jones while driving in the mountains
7. Eating at great mom and pop resturants like Jans in Buena Vista
8. Being behind the lens of a camera
9. Sitting at a pub with Georgey, Cilco, and Aaron
10. Laying on my white couch while it is raining and the french doors are open
11. Painting in my messy room
12. Writing ANYTHING
13. watching a student "get it"
14. Putting on warm socks on a cold winter day
15. Laying in the Hammock on a cool summer evening
16. Gardening with my husband
17. Picking grapes off our grape vine and eating them
18. Playing old school NES and eating corn dogs
19. Going on a long walk around the neighborhood
20. Giving gifts to people who I know will enjoy them
21. Investing in lives of leadership and letting them know how grateful I am for them
22. Watching Jadon and Jami play
23. Eating Swedish Meatballs and opening Christmas presents
24. Laying in bed and talking with my husband about his day
25. Reading something in the Bible and having it hit me in a whole new way

AHHH Pictures

In the Czech Republic under that Charles Bridge

In South Carolina's hills while it was drizzling

In North Carolina after a major rain storm

In Budapest on a Dinner/Boat Cruise

In the Czech Republic on a hike with Valdek, Kuba, and Marta

In Hawaii watcing the sunset and looking for the "green flash"
(Which we say, but it isn't really a flash)

Thanks to Laura for these two pictures!!! Man what I would give to live in Hawaii during moments like these. I am jealous of her!

A Sunset Laura saw on Thanksgiving

The same day!

Thursday, November 15, 2007



Main Entry: 2perspective
Function: noun
Middle French, probably modification of Old Italian prospettiva, from prospetto view, prospect, from Latin prospectus — more at
1 a: the technique or process of representing on a plane or curved surface the spatial relation of objects as they might appear to the eye; specifically : representation in a drawing or painting of parallel lines as converging in order to give the illusion of depth and distance b: a picture in perspective

2 a: the interrelation in which a subject or its parts are mentally viewed ; also : point of view b: the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance

3 a: a visible scene; especially : one giving a distinctive impression of distance : vista b: a mental view or prospect

4: the appearance to the eye of objects in respect to their relative distance and positions
— per·spec·tiv·al
\pər-ˈspek-ti-vəl, ˌpər-(ˌ)spek-ˈtī-vəl\ adjective

What is perspective? What does it mean to view things in their true relations or relative importance? I want my perspective to be something so much greater than it is. Today, my perspective looked like this:

When really my perspective needs to be this:

Why do we so often forget what we need to focus on? Today I was talking with one of my mentors and kept chatting in circles about how much I am struggling and how hard life is and how I need a better perspective, more discernment, more friends...blah blah blah. But then as I thought about our time together, I realized, that really I need to change my focus. I want a better perspective , but I still want it to be focused on me. I need to view things in their true relations and really gain a better, more clear understanding of who I am and who God is. All I have seen is the rain, the struggles, the trials when really I need to see the sun rays, the mercy, the grace. Who am I to ask for so many gifts and for all the answers? Who am I to expect things from God and have the opinion that he owes me because I have been obedient? Romans 6:13 says "Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness." Is not life enough reason for me to obey? Is not his sacrifice reason enough for me to be greatful? Woe to me. Woe to me. I am a greedy, selfish child who throws a tantrum at the outcome that is not my own instead of accepting where God has me and asking him to give me his strength and do his will whatever that may be. May I have a perspective like Paul. May I understand the gift that I have been given and stand firm that it is enough for me!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Have you ever felt like you knew you were supposed to be doing something great with your life, but you didn't know when the greatness was going to come upon you? Oh the dreams I have. Oh these fantastic, facinating dreams that I have to do so many awesome things. As I laid in bed last night I was thinking about all of the things that I want to do, want to pursue, want to study, or just want to have as a dream job. Here is my list...

1. Work for a travel magazine and explore the world
2. Go back to school for photography
3. Go back to school for graphic design
4. Write a book
5. Work with the really affluent students and help them understand God's real love for them
6. Live in Czech for a few years
7. Be a mom
8. Learn to sail and take a trip up one of the American coasts
9. Go on a cruise to Alaska

So then the questions I pose...does greatness come upon us? Do we have to live for greatness? Do the dreams we want just come true or do we have to chase them? And I guess the real one I think very often is, will I recognize it when I am living in it?

I think so many times that I am focused on so many other things that I am unable to see what amazing things I have right in front of me and the greatness that God has given me in my life. Granted, right now my job is marginal, and sometimes rather boring. And if I focus on that I am unable to see that when I am not at work I am able to write, to paint, to work with students, to teach students, to do photography, and I may even be able to dabble in some graphic design and photography classes. And my work will also help Aaron and I to buy a Kayak at some point and also will allow us to get rid of debt in case we do want to go to Czech for a little while. So the question is, IS THIS THE GREATNESS I YEARN? And I just can't see it because my perspective is on the wrong thing? I work for an organization that works with countries in East Asia, my husband works for a church that goes to Czech and Ethiopia and the Ukraine. All of which I would be able to travel and not just be at some snooty resort, but I can actually work with people and love on people, which is really what it is about.

And while I would love a job that was maybe a bit different, this one is allowing me the energy to do so many extra things. And it would be nice to have it part time, but once again I am able to get money to do the things I love. It is interesting to me to think about all of these things that I desire to do, and when I get the right perspective, I think I am living in the dreams, living in the greatness, and I just don't allow myself to see it or embrace it. It's a pitty and a shame when I forget how to see the world and see my life because it makes all the difference in living out an ordinary life and a great life!

Here are some GREAT LIFE MOMENTS...

This is a picture of some surf boards in Hawaii

These are some students in the Czech Republic at an English camp in 2006

This is a photograph I was able to take when I was in North Carolina. It makes me think of childhood!

This is my husband and I being the toughest snowshoers anyone has ever seen!

Friday, September 21, 2007

As I walked around the mountains streets with some of my dearest friends, we talked about community, about what it would look like to live with other believers in one place and live life together. THIS...this is what I think it would look like. Or what God would want it to look like. A little bit messy, beautiful, unique, distinct, together, GLORIOUS! I have been thinking about what community really truly means. I don't think it means being in a bible study, I don't think it means having coffee, I don't think it means asking how one another is doing. I think that all of those things are a part, but I think it truly means living life with one another.

How many people TRULY live life together? How many people open themselves up and really let others in day to day life? Honestly I have had a few tastes of what community is...what this picture represents. And let me tell you it is a beautiful thing. Just like this building in Vienna that I saw, I believe that people would flock to real community. If there was pure, true community I would even think that you wouldn't even have to advertise for it like people do for these tourist attractions because it would be so important that words about it would be buzzing around. Love, fellowship, true living and giving and being.

For a church to have community I see people watching TV together, cooking together, doing a race for the cure together, engaging in life. I see bible studies, accountability, spiritual discipleship being a part of community only if life is involved in it. To just study because it is what is supposed to be done is to community what paying bills is to a marriage. They are important things, but only under the idea of loving others, caring about others, and LIVING with others.

What does it look like for the church to have community? Without programs or activities or any agenda, I would say it looks like this building. To me, this embodies community.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


What does it mean to surrender? What does it mean to truly take up your cross? What does that look like? How can I truly follow what Christ has asked me to do? So many books, so many commentaries, so many opinions. But the small voice I hear in my head tells me that I am not to do anything except to really listen every day. Surrendering one day may look completely different another. I may have to surrender one thing one day and the next day it is fine. I guess that is the funny thing with surrendering and taking up your cross. It deals with the heart which changes. What really does this look like? Arms spread wide. Unable to move without the Father willing it first. Truly what it means to surrender is something do different that I think we can even begin to understand. Maybe we are not fully meant to understand it. Surrendering to Christ cannot be put in a box. And the truth is, if Christ were to say, "Cheryl, this is what it looks like to surrender to me" I would probably do that one thing and nothing else. But it isn't just one thing. It is a lifestyle. And that means that I am to live like this picture. To live with my arms open wide under the protection of the Father and listen intently.

Surrender, sometimes it means swallowing my pride. Sometimes it means going to the mountains and taking pictures even when someone is demanding my time. Sometimes surrender looks like painting a picture instead of napping, and sometimes it looks like napping instead of doing. It takes many different forms, but I guess it is always in-line with the Cross.