Leah Cox's blog of youth ministry in the Czech Republic with Josiah Venture (plus stuff)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Why Europe Rocks: Reason #19


one of the many Christmas markets in Vienna...I don't know if you can tell from this picture, but the whole building is made to look like an advent calendar.

the Christmas market in Cesky Tesin, not quite like Vienna, but still festive.

the Christmas carp, enjoying his last day. On the 24th he'll be breaded and fried and next to the potato salad. That's the food here on Christmas (which is celebrated on the 24th), preceded by fish soup and at least a week of little fancy Christmas cookies that make ours look massive and dowdy by comparison.

Christmas is a time of family, love and tradition...lots of traditions. For example, if you don't eat until dinner you'll see the golden pig and during dinner keep a window open for Jezisek (little Jesus) who brings presents. After dinner you can cut an apple to see if you'll be healthy, throw your shoe to see if you'll get married, and examine walnut meats to see what the next 4 seasons will bring.

Merry Christmas from the Czech Republic!


what is beautiful

Miss World 2006, Czech Republic

I've been thinking about beauty ever since the Venus of Willendorf. Back in art history at Augie, Dr. Kirn flashed her up on the screen and explained this little obese sculpture was a fertility talisman. As we blew through thousands of years of art in that class, it dawned on me that for most of human history, larger, more stately women were the epitome of beautiful...until the modern era, when, correct me if I'm wrong, I think it was the 1920s when those scrawny flappers started to be considered beautiful, or at least, en vogue.

Ingres, Le Grande Oldalisque 1814

Twiggy c. 1960

One comment that Dr. Kirn made was that with the growth of Christianity, Mary became "the new Venus," reigning as the queen of feminine beauty. I wondered why...not why Mary and not Venus, but why at all. Why do women's forms and faces dominate art, is it really because most artists were men? I don't think so. I think the answer is, briefly, that women are beautiful. But we, as "the crown of creation," have a jealous enemy and beauty is a sensitive topic for many.

I have way more thoughts on this than you care about, but basically I want to ask you to pray. January 5-6 we are hosting a women's conference at Malenovice, and the theme is Beauty. 140 women are coming from all over Czech, with 5 of them coming from Christ Community Church, Elgin IL, to serve. We'll be talking about not only physical beauty: also relational beauty, spiritual beauty, realized beauty.

Thank you for praying. !


Wednesday, December 06, 2006


I don't have any pictures of JV Thanksgiving, but here's one of our team: Nate, Brad, Greg, Daniel, Trevor; Breanne, me, Lucka, Cassie. *holiday highlight*: almost winning to 13 year old Meagan Jackson at "Rage."

Our Friday night grown-up Thanksgiving party: Katka, Jane and Martin and Amber were some of those who came to our flat. *holiday highlight*: playing this charades game in Czech and rolling around on the ground (with Amber) acting like pieces of straw.

Our big youth group outreach Thanksgiving party Saturday night, here Jola and Eva display their first ever pumpkin pie filling.
*holiday highlight*: making Thanksgiving dinner for 60 people with both Daniela's and my small groups.

Monday, December 04, 2006

from now until March

Dec 8-9: English Camp team retreat
Dec 13: Breanne flies to CO :(
Dec 24: Czech Christmas at the Zagoras
Dec 25: US Christmas with the Ellenwoods
Dec 26-31: Pisek winter English camp
Jan 5-6: Women's Conference 2007, Malenovice
Jan 11-Feb 8: Me in the US
Jan 26: Johanna's wedding day!!!
Jan 25-26: Setkani weekend (2nd of 4)
Feb 26-March 2: JV Women's Conf


a confession...

There's nothing worse than a spoiled child. You know, kids who always think they're right, who compete with everyone, who are sneaky and unkind and, mmmm, uhhh...

Sometimes, I'm this child. In socially acceptable ways, of course, you know, in adult ways and even in (*gag*) Christian ways. It's amazing how I can disguise complaining as venting, gossiping as sharing, and how I can say little things just to dig at someone else or do anything to prove that I'm right, that I'm smart, that I'm in the know. Yep, that's the truth. And what's worse, is that as much as I indulge in these behaviors, I am the first to judge someone else for doing these things.

That's why, today as I thought about things I'm thankful for, I realized anew how thankful I am for DISCIPLINE. God's gentle discipline: how he allows me to experience the repercussions of my sin, so that I'll come to my senses...discipline that doesn't leave me drowning in hypocrisy but shows me where the sin is...and helps me out of it. By having to apologize, rebuild trust, or make amends I'm submitting to his discipline. Sometimes I think grace=not being disciplined, but really, without discipline I could never understand grace. Because Jesus died for spoiled kids like me, too. And I'm so glad!!!