So I can’t manage my own personal timeline…#alreadyknewthat

If you were following that nifty little countdown clock that was featured for the past two weeks on the right side of this blog…you may have been the only one. I obviously was not keeping track of the clock that was intended to (huh.)

But just incase you have some “beaver” in your personality and you are looking at your calendar and making obvious eyes between me, your calendar, the countdown tracky thing, back to me and then insert a stage dramatic sigh to make your point…I GET IT!

I’m late.

And as I process this failure or ‘opportunity for growth’ I think of ‘Future Lauree’ and what I recommend for her next time. Interesting, Future Lauree is screaming at me, “SHOW ME DA MONEY!”

Seriously – that would probably work, right now I’m working on projects for people that are paying me. Tyranny of the Urgent becomes Tyranny of the Gotta Pay My Bills and I defer to paying clients.

So what does this mean? Well it means I can’t plan my time well between client projects and sitting in San Francisco right now waiting to board a plane to Czech for the next 2 weeks, I didn’t really plan this ‘launch’ very well. BUT…

I hope this only builds suspense of what is to come! Stay tuned – Euro adventures are right around the corner, I’m sure, and then I’m coming back to Portland to move into my new little place in the Hawthorne district with reading lists, dreams and goals (I’m sure there are some good blogs in just the mess ups alone!)

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When You Know That You Know

February 12, 2008 I stepped on to a plane bound for Krakow, Poland without any CLUE as to what God had in store for me. He knew.
Mel and Dave asked if this was where God was calling me and for how long. I asked how long other people commit to when they move here. 2 years. I had no idea what I was saying, “Great, then I’ll do 2 years too.”  He knew.


Speaking at our small church in Havirov in 2008

I had no idea what the culture was going to be like, how cold the winters would be, how dark the days become, how rare some vegetables are to find.  He knew.
He knew.
He knew the hardships, the seasons of loneliness, the depths of intimacy and vulnerability.  He knew the place that I had just walked through with wounds and scraps and a bleeding heart, and He knew where He needed to take me.
My God knows me. And He knows my absolute confidence when I say that my life, my heart, have been utterly transformed because of this crazy leap I took almost 5 years ago. I sit here with tears streaming down my face because I am in awe of the privilege I have been afforded to share life and ministry with the Josiah Venture family. For whatever hardship I have experienced, it is easily eclipsed by the glorious glow of relationships within JV, the experience of working alongside churches, ministries and in homes, and the joy of seeing a lost heart being made alive in Christ! Oh the joy of our lives that we get to live!
The past 4.5 years have been cherished days, and God has given me every reason to continue to trust Him and His plans for me. And with that confidence, I know the next step He is asking me to take. It feels like I’m taking another crazy leap, but man….if it could be anything like this last season…I’m taking a running leap!!!I know that my season here in Europe with Josiah Venture is coming to an end and I will be moving back to the US the first part of January.

I know that this is a good move for me, and I’m incredibly excited about what He has in store for my future. But when it comes at the cost of having to give up the privilege of living life here…it hurts.  This place, this family, this ministry has become home. It’s hard to leave home.
But I look ahead to the family that I have back in the states. The richness of relationship, the community of beloved people who have taken this journey with me. You, who have faithfully and generously supported me in finances and prayer, God has used you so powerfully to bear witness of his greatness and love in my life.  I look ahead to the opportunity to tell you this face to face but for know I say, simply and from the bottom of my heart, thank you for everything!

There are so many things that I want to say, holes to fill in, reasons to explain, but I think for now I’ll leave it here.

Posted in Life in Czech, Ministry, My Heart on my Sleeve, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Gift of the Fierce Mama

I know that I don’t yet have kids of my own but I do have an imagination. And with all the nephews and nieces I have in my life I have a pretty good picture that when the day finally comes when some little kiddos are mine…I’m gonna be a fierce mama!

I am going to want the absolute best for my kids.  I want them to have the best education, be active in music and sports or activities.  I will cook them healthy and nutritious foods.  I will growl at bullies on the playground that would threaten the fragile identity development of my child. I know that every parent says it, but my kids will know it that Mama knows best. And when I require helmets and knee pads for tree climbing sessions there will be no wavering or doubt because they know: Mama knows best.

Now, I don’t need an imagination for this model of mothering. I have had an incredible mom and model that has raised me well.

Now Mom and Dad are on to the next generation!

I don’t have too many childhood memories absent of my mom. I remember standing next to her side in the kitchen with my own apron on as I would help her prepare a meal or bake cookies. I remember having monthly themed decorations on the walls in the kitchen so we could learn about the solar system, animals, history as we would enjoy our meals together. My mom drove countless hours back and forth from school to home to fields or courts or gyms for our sports and activities. She was a fixture in my classrooms, Sunday school classes and campfire clubs where she volunteered and served. My friends knew her, loved her, and felt very loved by her.  My mom thought it best to teach her country bumpkin daughters how to walk down the street like a bad a$$ and make sure no one would try to mess with us, y’know, just in case we ever found ourselves on the big bad streets of a city or college campus :) While she also taught us how to sit like a lady and proper etiquette for tea parties.  My mom was a force.

And when I think that someday I would have a child that is all mine to love and raise I think of a LOOoooonnnnng list of things that I need to make sure that I do, so that I have the best child possible and I am in contention for the Best Mom Ever award.

That last bit was just a joke :) unless there really is an award like that…

Making memories with her grandchildren are some of her favorite things today!

Today I think about my mom as she celebrates her birthday and I am immediately reminded of one of the greatest gifts that my mom gave me. And the older I get and the more the desire for motherhood is embedded in my heart I glimpse the cost of this gift.

My mom is fierce. She is protector, teacher, disciplinarian, comforter, safety zone, creator, cheerleader (no seriously, she was actually a cheerleader…she never understood why her daughters sought out sports that had us slide-tackling and hip checking people) wife, sister, daughter, friend. She is master of her domain.

And she gave it all up.

She has created these kids (Dad you will get your credit when March rolls around for your birthday), she has created their home, their world.  And she saw that it wasn’t enough. Her love, her protection, her plans were never going to be enough for us.

And that is why in her humility of spirit she acknowledged where her role of mother ends and where the great and awesomeness of God begins. That for her daughters to truly be safe, secure, protected we needed to be before our God, Creator and Savior.

My mom introduced me to Jesus. And she has remained faithful in the battle to trust me to His hands. I know that it’s been hard. She has wanted to rescue, protect, advise a daughter that has a strong and independent personality. To stifle that feeling of Mama Knows Best…whew! That takes a strong woman!  And she has rescued, jumped in, inserted advice, panicked and protected – and I’m thankful for her heart to show me love. But she has also given me the example of her humility that has told me, “That wasn’t the right move. You needed to fall. You needed Jesus.”

We are kids, we grow up, we scrap our knees and touch hot surfaces and get our hearts broken and it must be agonizing to watch as a parent. But the lessons that are learned from the pain, the bumps and bruises, teach us and mature us. We can’t live in the mama bubble our whole life (well let’s be honest we could probably identify one person in our life who is obnoxiously unaware they are still bubblefied with their mom!)

The greatest gift that my mom gave me was Jesus. She pointed me to God and trusted me in His hands and purposes.  And Mom…I’m so thankful.

Happy Birthday to one fierce mama, whom I love and deeply respect! Have a stinkin fantastic day to be celebrated by all of your friends near and far that love you!


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Breakfasting with a Bat

Last night around 11 Nate, Em and I called it a night and started to make our way to bed. I gathered up my things, called the dogs to me and walked upstairs to the attic apartment that I’ve been living in this summer. Normal night.

Set my things down, walked toward the window to shut it for the night and had something flutter past my head!  I turned to see a wing of a bat fly to the top of the bookcase and land. I kid you not, I dropped. Dropped to the floor, straight on my back, making freaked out muffled yelps of “oooohhhhh Sh**&^*&$*&$!” Emma and Sadie were crawling all over me thinking that this was their chance to get some extra snuggle time.  I quickly made my way downstairs urgently whispering down the hallway to Nate and Em’s room to alert them…who I am kidding, it was to alert HIM, alert Nate of his current “man of the house” duty of bat catcher.

We came upstairs with skittish guns blazing…or mops and curtain rods waving wildly in the air. I felt the need to create some sort of bat-catching-suit so as to prevent any direct contact with said bat at the point that we would collide in his attempt to get out the window.
It was a whole lotta poking into bookcases, behind TVs, underneath couches. After 30 minutes we figured that the little bat had found it’s way out the cracked window in the kitchen. We Googled “Bats in House” and found out that they don’t like light, they have excellent sense of direction and can squeeze into the tiniest of places.

It was concluded that the bat had either already found it’s way out of the apartment or sometime during the course of the evening be drawn to the open window and fly away…

SIDENOTE: we had turned the lights out to try to create a sense of peace that the bat would feel comfortable to fly out into the night sky, when I walked over to the large windows that were open into the night sky I was witness to a storm of bats flying in mad circles right outside the window (shuddering now at how close I came to losing my life…or sanity at least).

When we had semi-concluded that it would already be outside Nate made one last suggestion to go check my bedroom.

“NO!” I shouted. And then sheepishly told him that I hadn’t cleaned and had piles of laundry everywhere and would die if he saw the state of my room. I should mention that these are piles of clean laundry, give me credit for getting the job halfway done :)

“Besides,” I said, “the door to my room was closed anyway, there’s no way that the bat was in my room.”
This morning I woke up to the sound of something scratching near my ear…
I looked at my pillow and saw THIS BAT next to me!!!!!!!!

Again the dropping, jumping, shuddering, muffled panicked cursing all exploding from me.  I stood frozen, well nearly frozen, I took the time to find another bat-catching-suit of a towel, oh and to take a picture of the sucker, blah!

I swung the window open hoping that Google was accurate when it said that bats will find their way out…it took the blasted rat-with-wings 15 dreadful minutes to stumble around all of my clean laundry, get stuck in the basket, attempt to fly back and forth across the room, climb back on my bed, walk around a bit, sit and shudder for a full 2 minutes. And finally I had the guts enough to throw my bat-catching-towel-suit on to the blanket that the little bat was nestled in and pitch the entire swaddling mess out the window onto the roof below. I slammed the window shut and slammed my face up against the glass desperate to lay eyes on the bat and confirm that it was in fact in that blanket, which confirmed that it was no longer in my room, near me, in my breathing space, on my pillow, laying eggs in my laundry basket (I don’t even know if they lay eggs or birth babies, I don’t care, I just wanted it gone!)

Confirmation of Bat Eviction Complete.

It was a strong cup of coffee this morning. Could have been stronger.

I am still shuddering 3 hours later. Praying that those bat eggs don’t hatch.

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The Summer has Officially Started!

The past few weeks I have been getting some great time with all of the new interns that have flown into Europe ready to partner with local churches, run camps, encourage youth ministries! It’s always an exciting time to feed off of their energy and excitement and be reminded of the times that I stood still with a huge grin on my face taking it all in like they are!

Here is a great video that our Media Intern put together of our Amazing Race 2012! It was a mad dash as each intern landed in Krakow, Poland to be introduced to their team and then head out for 3 days, 2 countries, 15 pit stops of total fun :)

Please be praying for each of these interns.  That as they serve this summer, they would bring glory to our great and mighty God. And that they would take very opportunity to say ‘yes’ to sharing Christ!


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Birthday Greeting Wars!

So it all started on a nice little lake at the base of the Alps at the annual JV Women’s conference…where the Lord decided that Amy Hartman, Brooke Stevens and Lauree Austin should be in a small group together. Well I don’t know if you remember back to Jr. High or have chosen to block out that time of awkward bangs, awkward attempts at mimicking the style of older sisters and awkwardly fabulous best friend necklaces.

But I DO! And at this time want to give a shout out to a phenomenal counselor who helped me work through it all…you know who you are (but other people can’t cause of client/doctor privilege- sorry, this would be a great plug for you…only if people think you did a good job with me)

Anyway, retreat, Amy & Brooke, jr. high – ok I’m back.  So do you remember those awkward trios of girls? It never worked to have a three way friendship that was completely equal in nature. It had to always be three together otherwise the triangle would get out of balance, someone would feel out of the loop, left out of the after school play dates, feelings hurt because they didn’t get a chunk of the best friend necklace that was just purchased at Claires (but you did feel avenged when the cheap necklaces would turn their necks green!) Threeways are hard.

(sidenote, I hate that our modern culture has ruined the connotation that I’m trying to make here, so disregard and keep focused on the content of what I’m saying, k?)

So when we had a small group of three of us, it’s inevitable that someone is going to feel out of the loop. And Amy was that girl. It wasn’t like Brooke and I planned to brush our teeth at the same time, or make our way to the breakfast buffet together…it just happened. Amy’s feeling were hurt when she would come upon us in the bathroom mid-toothpaste-foamy-mouths discussing the days events, what shampoo we are liking these days, how did we sleep the night before, etc. In our feeble attempts to make up for the perception for our small group compatriot we even attempted a small theft from the kitchen and slipped the unnamed item into her pocket for a later time and enjoyment…nothing helped.  Our Amy was feelin like the third wheel. I don’t know why :)

Well! That does not happen on my watch and I knew that something needed to be done, some affection needed to be showered, some battle waged for the heart strings of our dearly beloved friend! You have to understand that Brooke and I are not always the flowery, poem writing girls – we played years of sports, knew how to spit in the dirt, wipe away the blood and stare down our opponents before we slide tackled them…so it wasn’t about Brooke and I coming together on this, it was a battle.

And this is how it went down-(cue the wild west whistle as the camera pans over the deserted and dusty road…)

Day: April 17, 2012
Significance: Amy Hartmans’ Birthday
Mood: Trigger Happy

I grabbed my weapon first and fired off the first shot

Not more then hours later – the response is heard echoing from the valleys of Slovenia

Despite being distracted  and going up against heavy ‘cuteness factors’ (no thanks to Kinsley Jane for being so darn cute!) and in a meeting I could not let it be done so regrouped and fired off my final shot

Tough Blow! There was a lot of executive power in that shot :)
But Brooke is a fighter and pulled out all the stops and a hot musician husband to return fire:

That final little shoulder shake from Kins was all I could take – war over! Mission accomplished!

Amy we love you and are available to fight over you for any other holidays, anniversaries, bat mitvahs and Quinceañeras.

(side note said in stage whisper…my birthday is comin up ladies :)

Posted in Childhood, Friends, Funny Stories, Life in Czech, Video | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Standing in Awe of My God’s Call to Me Four Years Ago

I never envisioned this day coming – to be honest I was ready to throw in the towel at the 6 month mark.
Four years ago today I got on a plane.
I was excited. I loved long plane rides with free movies, what’s not to love about that?
I was excited to say that I lived in Europe, c’mon that’s pretty rad!

I had just sold my trusted car “Truman”, had a garage sale, or rather a “Send A Girl To Czech Sale” sold my life’s possessions, and was still in deep shock and grieving my cousins sudden death the month before.

To say that I was naive and numb is hitting the nail on the head.  I had no idea what was coming, none!

It feels like a lifetime ago. I’ve been crying all morning (regretting wearing any makeup today and learning that Covergirl liner stings!) thinking about the girl that got on that plane. She feels like a character I knew but disconnected from me, the me of today.



I knew that God had closed the doors for me to be in Africa.  I knew that God had said “Go” and was pointing toward a small little Eastern European country that was cold and dark in the winter, where everyone was white. A place that offered a community that liked to live life in a raw and transparent way.

I thought I could beat it. I could be the triumphant missionary that succeeded beyond all expectations, or training, a wonder-girl that slipped into the country unnoticed and thrived in the culture, the language, the community. Buaahhh!

I remember my first Spring Conference, it was only 4 days after I had moved to Czech and I had my mask of self-sufficiency on lock-down with a big smile and helping hand to offer anyone that looked my way. But when the speaker asked the entire conference room to break up into groups of three or four to pray for each other and share what had been going on in their lives…I fled.  Literally! I mumbled something about desperately needing to use the ladies room and went to hide in the toilet.  And when my time in the ladies room exceeding what was adequate for the ladylike business of #1, I even came up with some important business that I needed to attend to a back closet somewhere.  I did NOT want to be in that room.  It felt too intimate, too vulnerable.  I didn’t fit in there, although that broom closet wasn’t exactly comfy either.  I was just here to do work (the 2×3 tour) those were the ‘real’ missionaries.  I was just hired staff.

And 6 months later when I sat in the apartment with Mel and Amy and cried and told them that I was done, I wanted to move home, I was clinging to that mask.  I did not want to ask for help, I did not want to need help, I wanted to do it all and to kick some a$$ at it all. My identity was so wrapped up in what I could do that I didn’t know who I was beyond it.  And at that sixth month mark I was at the end of my strength and I didn’t want to find out what happens when I slipped up and someone saw me, behind the mask, just me.

I have cried countless tears while living here. And I’m thankful that even today as I cried on a skype call with Mel he still has a sense of humor with all of my tears and emotions.  He and Amy have led me so beautifully in these past four years, they have prayed for me, over me, with me.  They have given generously to me in so many ways, they have brought me into their family and given me a place here in Cesky Tesin and in the Ellenwood home.  They have been models of a beautiful marriage.  One that serves one another, honors and respects each other and in the moments when they don’t do it right they are full of grace to allow the other person to try again. And most importantly, they have led me to the feet of my Heavenly Father.  They have believed  for me when I didn’t have enough to believe for myself and they have witnessed so much of God’s work in my life.

This journey of four years has been full.  And today as I sit amidst boxes and pack up my apartment and prepare to move for the fourth time in four years I am filled to overflowing with thanksgiving at all that God had prepared for me as he pointed toward that little country in the middle of Europe. My God is so sweet to pull me out of the place that I was living in my head and heart and put me in a country, in a job, in a community that has not allowed me to live an ordinary life with the Lord.  But has pushed me to see beyond myself, my flesh, and to witness the miraculous love of my God.  An extraordinary life I have been blessed to live here in Czech.  So the tears – they are still falling, but I taste them on my lips and am content to sit back in this moment and be reminded of the great and awesome God that I love and the ways that His thoughts and plans are above mine.  He knew what I needed and where I needed to go. He knew.

And He knows…

Happy 1 Year Anniversary Blog

Posted in Life in Czech, Ministry, My Heart on my Sleeve, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments