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

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

life begetting life

4.C's senior prom! This year some of our core students are graduating (Kaakushe, Eva, Jana)...they've come a long way, baby, from cute, sometimes silly 16 year olds to beautiful, wise 19 year olds who influence others for good.

Jana (14) reading Ephesians at a sleep over sponsored by the aforementioned Kaakushe and Evicka (see that good influence?)

Kaakushe's band Average and their first performance at a village pub. Fun times were had by all and Jesus even came up in conversation.

Iva, like a spravna Krestanka, brings her Czech and English Bible to small group. I wish you all knew Iva and the young women in our group, they rock--they serve our youth group like crazy, love the Lord and go through tough situations with faith. Growing with them is a privilege.


Saturday, February 07, 2009

Why 34 Rocks

Okay, here's the thing. We only have so much time on this earth and birthdays are a definite marker of the end advancing. Sorry, but it's true. At a certain age we start evaluating: am I happy? Am I who I want to be, who I should be? Am I achieving what I want, does my life have meaning, am I going the right way, etc...I think for some of us these questions start around the late 20s, and by the time we're into our thirties we're feeling the answers (or lack thereof) with more weight. It's still not too late to change course, but the fact is that we've already made many of those big choices and are living them out.

When I was about 27, I remember waking up one morning with this strong sense of my path diverging from everyone else's. Dana had 2 kids and was really a mom, and I was getting closer to 30 with no prospects in sight, and for sure no motherhood in sight. Of course, my dear sister isn't necessarily "everyone else," but you know that feeling probably. Like everyone's still on the highway and you're taking this exit that you're not sure you want to.

When I turned 30, I wasn't excited about it. You know what helped? Two things: Anastacia and Connie. Anastacia the singer. I heard that Anastacia said that she loved her thirties because she feels more confident in who she is. For some reason that struck me. Then, Connie and I once prayed together about me being who I am, a woman and not a girl. That was an important turning point for me, and I felt like I could totally let go of my 20s and embrace--not just endure--my 30s.

And it's true, what Anastacia said. I feel like my 20s were a lot about figuring out who I am: what's my personality, who are my friends, who am I in ministry. My thirties are--so far--about if this life I lead matters, what are my priorities, how can I pour my self out for the greater good, for God's glory. I wonder sometimes if I'm doing it right, if my life is too irresponsible--I don't own anything, my mvp is this 5 year old mac with Runaway Bride stuck in the dvd player--and I'm not trying to advance professionally or anything. But I DO have this strong sense of call that supersedes even my harshest criticism. In the middle of tension, doubt, restlessness remains a core of peace and joy. And that, my friends, is why 34 rocks.


Monday, February 02, 2009


I woke up before my alarm but didn't get up. Martina, visiting from Pisek and sleeping on the couch bed, got up and started getting ready. I was kinda sleeping, kinda thinking--I'm not going to the wedding, but not on purpose, kind of on accident, er, default, really. But I have a date with Mrs. Bělohubá and for some reason spending an hour of so with her every few weeks is of great importance. The wedding is too, but...I didn't wanna cancel. (I hate it when I so willingly follow the path of least resistance.) I got up and talked to Martina while she did my dishes. She assured me that it's normal here to buy deodorant and body spray for someone else as a gift. Autumn woke up, Martina left to get ready for the wedding and I asked her to hug the bride for me. Feeble. I got ready, went to town to mail cards and buy the birthday present. As I sped through the park I thought about Jesus, that he really is with me, even though the gray sky wants to blot out hope. The post office took forever, but I saw a girl from the high school, whose name I can't remember. She said she's going to celebrate her boyfriend's birthday and made him a cake--she had a picture on her phone, it was shaped like, uh, breasts--I sent off my stuff and raced back home to bake brownies for Mrs. B. I thought, if she's not there, if she forgot, maybe I would get a ride with Alca and Martin to the wedding. Five after 11, I grabbed the pan from the oven and took the whole thing, oven mitts and all, to the lunch.

Mrs. Bělohubá lives about 5 minutes from me and two houses down from her son. I found this out one day when I was visiting her before an English lesson and forgot which of the identical buildings her house is in. I'd rung her son's bell accidentally. He'd set me straight, and I'd wondered what he thought about me visiting his mom. But today and I got it right the first time and Mrs. B was there, even shorter than I remembered and wearing purple plaid on top and red & white plaid on the bottom, so cute. We use the informal form with each other, at her request, but the formal jumps to my mouth first. Today we talked about my new roommates, the Quad Cities, my family--I tried to explain that my sister works for facebook, but it sounded like Bex's a cosmotologist. Mrs. B is 82 and tack sharp, she speaks German and English. She got married at 34 "or 35." When I asked her if it was hard to wait that long she said, "Wait? I was too busy to get married before then." A year and a half ago her husband and her best friend died. We watched a Slovak Catholic TV program and I got teary when they were talking about poverty in Cuba. I like to hug Mrs. B, she totally reminds me of my Grandma C. I think that's actually why I started to cry.

After lunch I came back and talked to Autumn, messed around online and walked through the drizzle to take the train to dance club. Strakonice skies. Sometimes I get angry at those skies, so dull and draining. On the train, I thought about the wedding and a conversation I had with my dad once. "Distractions, everyone has to have a distraction--it's all about distracting ourselves from the reality of life." My dad's pretty philosophical. "Uh huh." "Even religion can be a distraction, Leah." "What if religion is the reality?" I'd asked. But I think about that. Sometimes my "religion" does distract me, or can, I guess. Staring out the dingy train window at the dingy landscape, I thought about that can of Adidas spray I bought. Did third world child laborers made the plastic lid? How many years it will take to decompose? What if I started composting? I had an urge to beat this reality with my hand until it shatters...and then slowly...

...what if the reality of life is a distraction, distracting us from glory? I suddenly wanted to scratch away the film with my nail, scratch away the train window, the rain, the dirt. Under that, Reality revealed: glowing forms having their being in the one holding it all together, thrilling battles being fought over the unsuspecting, like that kid listening to his mp3 player, everything pulsing with a light more sunny than the sun. Should I shake that kid, "Hey! Do you know you're eternal?"

Walking to dance club, I smiled at thoughts of the temporal nature of the temporal world. And started praying.