I have a confession to make â€“ I am a self-professed â€œhopeless romantic.â€ Itâ€™s true. My family knows it. My friends know it. I am one of those rare guys that actually enjoys those sappy romantic comedies. (case in point: yesterday I bought and watched How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days) And you know what? Iâ€™m alright with it. Really I am. Iâ€™m comfortable in my identity in Christ and I am also comfortable with my sexuality to know that it is okay to enjoy these films, within reason of course. Now donâ€™t get me wrong, some of these films irritate the heck out of me and I would, almost, always go with an action or a big sweeping epic before going with a clichÃ© â€œchickâ€ flick.
But I bring this up, not to simply let you in on a part of my life, but to share with you something I have been learning over the years. To be honest, I donâ€™t feel like I have a lot to offer here (that is advice about dating, courting or whatever the heck you want to call it), because I have dropped the ball many times. I have dropped the ball enough to toy with the thought of writing a book entitled, the misadventures of dating: life lessons learned about what not to do. I canâ€™t say that Iâ€™ve had any publishers banging down the door to get a hold of the manuscript for that one, but through the few misadventures Iâ€™ve had, Iâ€™ve continued to learn about trusting God with every area of my life. Yes, even the opposite sex. And I hope that sooner or later, my misadventures will pay off and Iâ€™ll actually do something right, by Godâ€™s grace, and end up in the relationship and partnership with the woman Iâ€™ve prayed for for years, again by Godâ€™s grace, because Iâ€™ve seen I need a ton of it!
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Wow! Today 2009 will come to an end! I can’t believe it! Where did this year go? Not only does today, the 31st, close out another year but also a decade! It’s been more than a decade since I left my parent’s home and ventured out into this big world to live this thing we call life! It’s been a decade since God cornered me with his relentless love and I couldn’t help but give my life to this God. As I sit down to begin to write this and share some images and thoughts that made up the year 2009, I almost considered trying to do a “Decade in Review!” But since this decade didn’t start off digitally like we are ending it, I don’t have any pics from, nearly, the first half of the decade in a digital format! Crazy! So here we go, a year in review will have to do…
off to a fun start
Last year, at this time I was in America, after the biggest bomb-digity-dank-sneak-attack surprise of the decade! (Haven’t seen it yet, click here) With that said, I got 2009 off to a great start with my family (minus Megs) in the LG (Lake Geneva) to roll in the New Year. It was so much fun to dance with my littlest sister, my mom and also watch my parents dance! It was probably the best New Years I’ve ever had and I could not have started off the New Year any better than spending it with those whom I love and whom love me dearly!
The New Year brought me many new cool opportunities but one of the coolest had to be four guys from Rutgers University coming and partnering with me for a week over their spring break! As I look back over 2009, their week with me in Prague marks the start of a wave of momentum with my guys and with football that I have never seen here before. It was a HUGE blessing and I look forward to seeing where God takes things as I continue to ride out this wave of momentum and also I’m stoked to see more people join me in loving on the American Football world of the Czech Republic this year and for years to come!
visitors & a new life
The longer I live here in Prague, I see more and more visitors pass through. Which is always a blessing! This last spring I had the opportunity of having Aaron Slusher visit me. It was so much fun to have him hear and see what God has done in his life since I met him at Wilmington College, while I worked there for a year a half before coming back to Prague. I was so encouraged to see the growth in his life and how he still desires to grow in his walk with God. It was a nice reminder for me that God is at work, even when I forget it, as I live in a city where we see little “fruit.” Thanks for swinging through Aaron!
I also was so excited to welcome little Izaak Stewart’s (of Mark & Joanna) arrival last spring! Living so far away from my family is certainly tough on me (and very tough on my family as well, thanks for the sacrifice you make guys!), but it’s so cool to see how God provides people and a second family of sorts through His Church, well the Stewarts are part of my second family and I love being a “pseudo/faux uncle” to their little boys. So I was “pseudo/faux uncled” once again this Spring with the arrival of Izaak! (Megs & Tom when do you think I will be real “uncled”? Maybe nine months after the wedding? 😉 Hahaha….)
saying good bye
One of the toughest things about living in Prague is that in many ways this city is a revolving door! We are constantly seeing people arrive today and it is as if they are saying, “good bye” tomorrow. Well 2009 marked me saying goodbye to two dear friends (one who happened to be a dear co-worker as well). This year, I said hard “good byes” to Jason & Erin. Jason, was one of the unexpected blessings when I moved back here to Prague. He quickly became one of my best friends and closest confidants here. Mark still makes fun of us, because the first night Jason and I met we were at a concert of a friend, and instead of listening to the concert we stood in the corner and talked (sorry Ondra) about life, vision and etc. Mark said we were like “junior high girls.” Either way, Jason was a good friend and it was hard to see him leave, but I’m confident that God will use him in the next step of his life.
Then on top of saying “good bye” to Jason, I also said “good bye” to Erin, who was on staff with AIA here for about three and half years. Erin and I grew to become good friends and tight co-workers over the nearly two years we shared time here, even in the midst of differences. I think I saw how the Gospel should explode into communities and produce love, trust, respect and more, through my relationship with Erin. This is way exciting, because in the past I don’t know that I would have got to the place with Erin, as friends and co-workers, because I wasn’t living the Gospel out as much as I had to learn to live it out over the last two plus years. Thanks Erin for being used by God for this! Know you are missed here in Prague!
One of the things that’s tough, but sometimes good 😉 is that I live overseas and it keeps me from the many, many weddings that I could go, to what seems like, nearly every month. I hope that doesn’t offend any of my dear friends, who’s weddings I’ve missed. It’s just as a single person, who loves weddings and is a hopeless romantic, weddings can be very dangerous for me (i.e. zach can become bitter, anger, single guy)! However, this summer I got to attend two weddings! The first being the wedding of the Ernsters – Matt & Leanne. Matt (or Ernie) was my roommate for nearly two years here in Prague, after I moved back. It was so much fun to celebrate their marriage in Washington this summer.
Then the second couple was Lauren and Ondra, who had two weddings this summer/fall. They got married in the States and then got married again here in Czech with Ondra’s family. Ondra is a living encouragement for me in so many way, as he was the first guy, who I got to watch God bring to Himself and also because he continues to grow in his faith. Since May 2005, when Ondra came to faith, God brought a beautiful girl from America over to Czech and the rest is history. It was so much fun to join them for wedding #2 and celebrate with them. Please pray for both of these couples as they grow in their relationships with each other and with God.
my first furlough
This summer also brought my first furlough to the States. I put in thousands of miles crisscrossing America, I spoke or shared at churches 6 Sundays, had many dinners, many meetings and much more in a mere 6 weeks! I was so blessed to see old friends and ministry partners who loved on me, listened to me, fed me, prayed for me and plain and simple showed me what the Gospel played out in relationship should look like! Thank you to each and everyone of my ministry partners who gives and prays to make it possible to be here and see God move in the hearts of Czechs! Thank you, you are prized and cherished by me!
my sister & live in the same city?
For the first time in 10 years, my sister, Megan, and I live in the same city! A third of the world away from where we last shared an address! Crazy! While our jobs have completely different hours, and we don’t get to see each other as much as we would like, it has been so much fun having her here and sharing life with her. It is really a special time in both of our lives and I’m hoping and praying I don’t take it for granted! In November we got to take our first adventure together since Megs moved here! It was to Barcelona. More on it to come in the future, as I have a zhtv in the works about our trip, but I wanted to share the picture you see above of us in a Tapas restaurant in Barcelona with you. This is one of the things I love about Megs and when we hang together. We spent three hours at one of the more notable Tapas restaurants in Barcelona and after three hours we were friends with almost all the servers and the hostess too! Megs has the ability to connect with anyone is just amazing and beautiful way! I learn much from watching her interact with people. Megs, here’s to more adventures before you leave!
a new role, new lessons, new guys & a championship!
This fall brought a new role and opportunity for me – that of a head coach. Being the son of head coach, I thought I was prepared, or groomed to a degree, for this, but that was so far from the truth! I learned that my dad (and all head coaches out there) do far more than I could ever have imagined. It was tough but I loved it! Every moment of it – the ups (winning the final) and the downs (having 13 guys at practice)! As promised a blog series will be here sooner or later about what I learned this fall, so stay tuned for Missional Lessons from the Gridiron here at zACHhARROD.com!
the year closes
As this year closed I celebrated the holidays with one of my “second families” here in Prague – the Crossans (Billy serves as the AIA Czech Director & he is pretty much a stud of a friend and boss!). I had so much fun with them over Christmas, and I’m so privileged to serve with a family like them, or I should say to be served by them, because let’s face it that’s the truth. They are great. It’s so much fun to serve as a “pseudo/faux uncle” to them as well and also to be that “crazy uncle.”
Well… There you have it a quick flyby of the year, that was 2009, in a few words and pictures. There is so much I left out, but I don’t want to write a novel today! I hope you understand (If there is anyone still reading this, at this point!). I’ve been utterly overwhelmed as of late as I reflect on much of life and the happenings of this life. God’s grace is so evident and the fact that you are reading this is evident of His grace too! Thank you to you out their in worldwide-web-land who follow these happenings here at zACHhARROD.com, who join in the adventure and revolution with me! You are unbelievable! Here’s to another year, full of more memories, evidences of God’s grace in our lives, and living out the revolution that is the Gospel. Happy New Year! Št’astný Nový Rok!
Today, Prague is a major destination for expats or would-be expats in search of the Europe that exists only as an idea in literature and pop culture. Prague attracts eloping couples and honeymooners with its multitude of romantic hotel hideaways. Individuals seeking serious nightlife can enter dark and intimate jazz rooms or party with a club scene that never sleeps. Many youthful backpackers experience their first real sense of independence in Prague, while established individuals savor Prague through its food, art, and shops.
Prague’s mystery, beauty, character, and history make it a must-see city. However, because Prague serves as the permanent or temporary home of sophisticated music lovers, spies, romantics, and the inspired, Prague’s inhabitants – real, imaginary, or historical – are what create its aura of sex appeal.
Hmmm… This isn’t why I’m here, but then again it is. Prague has had steady growth since the fall of communism and is once again on the verge of becoming a world class city, that will make a cultural impact in central Europe and the whole of Europe. Which would make it a reason, why I’m here. So I live in a sexy city. Yay!
(HT – ABC Prague)
A SHORT LOVE STORY IN STOP MOTION from Carlos Lascano on Vimeo
Oh my…. This is unreal! Thanks for posting this on facebook Christy! What is even cooler is you can head over to A Short Love Story in Stop Motion to see pics and read notes about how it was made. I watched it several times. Yes because I’m a hopeless romantic at heart, but also because it is so beautifully creative! It makes me want to go and create! Ah… The tension. I love what I do, but I wish I could dig into something this beautiful. We shall see. I hope you enjoy it as well! I want to watch it again, but I have to do my homework for Czech class. Tak, na shledanou…
Today, believe it or not, is the one year mark for my return “home” or back to Prague! I can’t believe it’s already been a year! So much has transpired in the last 365 days that as I thought about a year in Prague and putting something on my blog about I didn’t know where to start or what to do. How do you attempt to sum up a year like I’ve gone through, or any year for that matter, in the last year. As I sit here looking back and reflecting over the last year I’m so grateful for what God has done, both in the ups and the downs. I think one of the biggest things that hits home with me as of late is what God taught me about my “romanticized view” of returning to Prague, that I included in my May/June monthly prayer letter. I wrote:
I have a confession, while I was away from Prague, I had a “romanticized view” of the many things back here, especially with the Lions. I think this is a common epidemic amongst human beings; we do it in a variety of ways – marriage (if we’re single), kids, singleness (once we are married, looking back, or so I’m told), and much more. Well, this year wore out my romanticized view of the Lions and has brought a HUGE degree of reality to my life and ministry with the team.
As I sit looking ahead, over what God would do, could do, in the next year I sit with a much more grounded view, but yet I’m so very optimistic to see what God is going to do. As I include pics that attempt to sum up the last year, I wonder what images will sum up the next year of life in Prague. It should be exciting to see what transpires! Thank you to each of you who pray and support what WE (that is you and I partnering together with God) do here in Prague, Europe and beyond!
Back in Prague with new friends – my roomdawg (Ernie), Mark and Jason.
I was so excited to see how God had moved in Ondra’s life while I was gone and I also dove head long into learning Czech in a class room that consisted of Chinese, Koreans, a Swede and myself.
I loved jumping back into coaching and loving on my junior team guys! Pray that God would move in their hearts!
Last fall was interesting, because I was waiting, and waiting for my shipment to come with all my stuff, it came 4 months after it was scheduled and I was so very happy that it arrived! I also was blessed to spend a week on holiday with dear Crusade friends in Athens, which was a much needed break between semesters of language class.
The second semester of Czech class brought presentations, these pics (with Gustav’s [me Swedish classmate who used to play] try to represent my attempt of trying to explain American football in Czech!
It was also a blast attending the Story of the Soul conference and working with my Polish friends on a presentation about being “World Changers”.
It was awesome to partner with my teammate and friend, Šimmí, as we taught 15 or so kids how to play American football. It was also so much fun to celebrate Gustav’s birthday with him. He makes me proud to say I have Swedish blood in my veins!
This summer also brought a visit from my very dear friends, Andy and Chelsey Garrett, that was so very refreshing. Then of course, work took me to the “Far East” which I could have never have imagined.
The Chinese loved us foreigners, it was strange feeling like a rock star! I was blessed to take my friend and teammate, Honza, with me for a life changing couple of weeks! Lastly, a short lay over in Moscow, just made me scratch my head and wonder…
Thanks for sharing the last year of life with me! May God bring a revolutionary next year!
The First of May or the “Day of Love” is upon us, and it really doesn’t mean anything more than a day off of Czech class for me and I guess getting some work done (tear, sniff… Not really.). Maybe some day, I will join in the festivities, but until then I will enjoy it as a day to sleep in and get some work done. So where does this “Day of Love” come from? One of the most renowned, if not the most renowned, Czech poets, Karel Hynek MÃ¡cha, wrote a poem entitled, MÃ¡j (May), and for the last two centuries this poem has led to much love. Today, I wanted to share a piece of this Czech literary gem with you on this Day of Love. I’ve been told, and read, that the majority of Czech students are required to memorize the beginning verses of MÃ¡cha’s poem. Here is some information about MÃ¡cha and his famous poem from myczechrepublic.com:
On May 1st, lovers gather at the statue of Karel Hynek MÃ¡cha, the Czech Romantic “poet of love”, in Prague’s PetÅ™Ãn park where they lay flowers and spend a few moments. Then they kiss under the blooming cherry trees of the park. Karel Hynek MÃ¡cha (1810 – 1836) was a great Czech Romantic poet and author of the epic poem MÃ¡j (May). The poem, written in a remarkably beautiful style, tells about the tragic love of two young people and has become a poetic masterpiece of the Czech Romantic period and Czech literature in general.
And now to the poetry. Click here to read more.
Late evening, on the first of Mayâ€”
The twilit Mayâ€”the time of love.
Meltingly called the turtle-dove,
Where rich and sweet pinewoods lay.
Whispered of love the mosses frail,
The flowering tree as sweetly lied,
The rose’s fragrant sigh replied
To love-songs of the nightingale.
In shadowy woods the burnished lake
Darkly complained a secret pain,
By circling shores embraced again;
And heaven’s clear sun leaned down to take
A road astray in azure deeps,
Like burning tears the lover weeps.
A haze of stars in heaven hoversâ€”
That church of endless love’s communionâ€”
Each jewel blanches and recovers
As blanch and burn long-parted lovers
In the high rapture of reunion.
How clear, to her full beauty grown,
How pale, how clear, the moon above,
Like maiden seeking for her love,
A rosy halo round her thrown!
Her mirrored image she espied,
And of self-love, beholding, died.
Forth from the farms pale shadows strayed,
Lengthening longing to their kind,
Till they embraced, and close entwined,
Coiled low into the lap of shade,
Grown all one twilight unity.
Tree in the shadows writhes to tree.
In the far mountains’ dark confine
Pine leans to birch and birch to pine.
Wave baunting wave the streamlets move.
For love’s sakeâ€”in the time of loveâ€”
Anguished goes every living thing.
“You won’t open presents by yourself will you?” Those were the concerned words of my parents a couple of weeks ago. It’s a valid concern. Since this was only the second Christmas in 27 years we have been apart and the last time was 2004, and I was with 40 other interns in Switzerland and more than a little distracted. Even without having the Swiss Alps looming outside to distract me from being away from my family during Christmas I was very, very blessed to see my “family away from family” here in Prague make it a blessed Christmas. So even though my stocking (see above) was empty Christmas morning, my heart by the end of the day was over flowing with love from my “Prague family”.
My Christmas celebration began on Christmas Eve at Mark & Joanna Stewartâ€™s for dinner and a gift exchange. As I sat there with some of my closest friends in Prague, I felt that being there was the only gift I really needed. See the Stewarts and my friend Jason McFarland have been among the biggest gifts and surprises of my return to Prague. I knew a lot of people that were here, but I had no idea that I would have the Stewarts and Jason, so it was a beautiful time to celebrate the birth of Christ with them, a Christmas gift that arrived in Prague while I was back in the States.
Then I ran back to the flat to exchange gifts with my goofy and all too lovable roommate, Ernie, and no my nickname isn’t Bert! See Ernie was leaving our flat at 4:30 am to catch a Christmas flight back to the Great White North of South Dakota. We had a fun time exchanging gifts. I got Ernie a teapot so he can drink more than one glass at a time and he gave me a great set of stained glass candle holders (it’s the hopeless romantic in me, I love candles!). They are great. Then it was a goodnight to Ernie and off to bed…
Christmas morn came and so did Erin, my teammate/co-worker with AIA, in her car to go up to Billy and Adrianne’s, my director and his wife, for Christmas breakfast and opening gifts with them and their three kids. It was a beautiful morning. Even with Levi using my gift that I got him to try to cut my head off, he plays David and Goliath a lot! Usually I’m Goliath. The joy of children on Christmas morning is infectious, I love it. It was such a blessing to be with the Crossans. They go above and beyond to love us as their team, but also as their family. I can’t get enough of being called and feeling like I’m their Uncle. Thank you for a great morning Crossans!
Then from there I came back to my place and slept for 30 minutes before going to the Davis family Christmas celebration. Phil is my pastor, friend and confidant here in Prague with our church, Faith Community. He and his beautiful, and very pregnant wife, Shanna (She’s due next month and the running joke is if their little girl comes quick they will just call me, the son of a midwife, to run to their house, which is 5 minute away, and catching their little girl. My mother has taught me more than I want to know over the years, but I don’t think I could handle it!) are great at opening up their home and loving on many here in Prague. We had a great time of hanging and the “Kitchen Elves” did a masterful job with a delectable meal! Thanks for loving well Phil and Shanna! You are appreciated more than you know… My night wrapped up with some calls from great friends back in the States, praise God for Vonage! There you have it, my 2007 Christmas. Sheer Beauty and Love. I pray you had a blessed Christmas and I pray for a blessed 2008 for you as well. Here are two of my favorite random pics that came out of my camera…
Yesterday I received an email from Highway Video about their newest released DVD and I was once again blown away by what they produce. Nearly four years ago a friend of mine got me hooked on Highway and Iâ€™ve been a fan ever since. They produce videos that can stand by themselves or compliment a talk or message. Iâ€™m excited to use them in the context of ministry at the schools I work at here in Ohio over the next year.
I was personally impacted by one of the new videos, on Volume 18, as I checked out their website yesterday. The title of this video is Purity and it is extremely relevant for people in the same life stage as me â€“ a single, twenty-something that desires to be married sooner or later. Here are the words to a section of the video that really hit me.