Happy New Year!

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Even though there seems to be a rule in the Netherlands that you can only wish people a Happy New Year until January 6, we’ll just go for it: all the best for 2017!

Love from the Blijlevens

Rianne, Reinier, Noélani, Loïs, Luan, Zeph

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Exploring Slovenia on a daddy & daughter trip

While we enjoy living in the heart of the city of Amsterdam sometimes our brains and bodies need a little bit of green. According to an article in National Geographic, being exposed to nature makes us healthier, happier and smarter. That is why we love taking a break from the craziness of city life and get some family time in the woods or the mountains. This summer we were blessed to be able to stay in a cabin in the mountains of Switzerland. One night, as we were looking up to the stars, dreaming about other beautiful places in Europe, Rianne and I started talking about Slovenia and couldn’t stop thinking about it for the next few days. We felt that it wasn’t just because we were craving nature and had heard these stories about the beauty of this nation, but we felt that this might be something that God is putting on our hearts and were wondering what to do next.  Read More

“It’s just a season??”

As I push the stroller back home I watch Zeph struggling to find his thumb. The little guy needs that tiny finger to suck on and help him fall into a much needed sleep as I’m walking back from a coffee date with one of my close friends. She is a great mom, bakes the best cookies, loves Jesus with all her heart and has this never disappearing smile on her face. And we laugh together. So hard. I love her. 

Even though my YWAM life is marked with many – too many, I am tempted to say – goodbyes, the beauty of this revolving door of relationships is that God keeps giving me great friends in every season of this journey.  Read More

Zeph Ceder is born!

Friday May 13, 2016 the time had FINALLY come! After the long, long wait Zeph Ceder was born at 03:22 in the morning.

The plan had been ready for weeks: we were anticipating a home birth, but in case we would need to leave for the hospital last minute, we made sure the Maxi-Cosi was ready, the bed in the guest room was prepared for the ones that would be taking care of the other kids and our car was parked closer by, rather than in the ‘long term parking zone…’

For several weeks the kids had been waking up with this question: “is the baby there yet?” and slowly this question had changed to: “is the baby still not here yet?!”

At about 05:30 AM the midwife left through our front door and right at that moment Luan’s bedroom door flung wide open. A little sleepy-eyed he looked into the hallway, having no idea what all just happened. The girls were waking up slowly and before breakfast they were allowed to just ‘give mommy a little kiss.’

One by one they quietly walked into the bedroom and what they saw next… they literally couldn’t believe their eyes! After some attempts at trying to look for words Luan finally said: “I first thought it was fake!” And Noélani added: “I thought it was real, I just didn’t think it was our baby!” And all that Loïs could do was giggle a little nervously, filled with unbelief that after this long, long wait the baby was FINALLY here!

We are all so happy with our beautiful son and brother! We are so grateful for his life and we’re looking forward to getting to know this little man. We are so curious to find out who he will look like – outwardly, but also in his character. We’re so curious to find out in what ways he won’t look like anybody, but how he will be completely unique. Curious to find out what his interests will be, what dreams he will develop… But what we already know is that his Maker has the most amazing dreams for him. And it’s our prayer that he will learn to dream the dreams that God has for him.

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Click the above picture for more. These pictures were taken by our talented friend and colleague Samantha Aantjes. You can see more of her incredible work here: Shine 1.21 Photography on Facebook.

Signpost

Whenever we need to explain to people where we live we often refer to the blue neon letters on the top of our building. They read ‘Jesus Loves You – God roept U.’ The words in Dutch mean ‘God is calling you.’

This sign was first put on the building when this building was used as the headquarters for the Salvation Army and even William Booth had stayed here at some point during those years. Later in the 80’s when YWAM pioneered in the city and got this building they added the words ‘Jesus Loves You.’ It is always an easy landmark for people to navigate to. For the teams that we host in our building, for the speakers that pass through, the parents from school, the backpacker that wants to stay overnight to see what YWAM Amsterdam is like. It pretty much always seems to work.

But of course the main idea of these words never were to be an indicator for direction, a landmark or a signpost. At least not just for physical direction. They are put there as a continuous statement of truth over the city and its people.

The ‘Kalverstraat,’ Amsterdam’s main shopping street, has about  100,000 visitors every day. A good chunk of those people come from Amsterdam Central (Train) Station passing by our building on their way to the 700 meter long shopping street. Some of those people miss the words, others see it but maybe ignore it because it makes them feel uncomfortable, others mock at it but every now and then those words are the words that open someone’s heart for truth and it brings a change in their journey. We believe those stories happen more often than we tend to hear about them, but sometimes we do hear the stories as well. bblog15

Not too long ago I read one of those stories from a dear friend and faithful coworker of ours here in YWAM Amsterdam, Carolyn Ros. I asked her if I could share this with you as a testimony of how God works and to lay down the challenge to continue to pray for this city and it’s people.

These were her words:

“...We live in a city where many prodigal sons and daughters come on their journey to the ‘far country’. Each day, our prayer has been, Lord, lead us to those who are so in need of Your embrace, Your grace, Your forgiveness and Your hope.

This afternoon, we had our weekly prayer time in the YWAM prayer room called the Tabernacle, we were praying very specifically for those who needed an encounter with the Father. We were asking Him to bring them so that we would recognise whose heart was ‘open’ to the Father.

As I was praying with someone else, a man entered from the streets. As he made his way into the room, I started praying for him and had a sense that the Lord wanted us to pray with him personally.

Together with my prayer partner, we went up to him and asked if we could pray for him. He said yes. As I prayed I had tears running down my cheeks as I sensed God’s Father heart calling him back to himself.

I shared my impressions with him and he concurred that that was exactly what was needed in his life. By this time I was overwhelmed by how God had orchestrated this ‘divine encounter’.

This man had a 4 hour lay-over on his way to Asia and had come into the city to look around. He felt compelled to come in to the prayer room as he had seen the Jesus Loves You sign on one of the other YWAM buildings and had received directions to the prayer room…”

How convenient the blue neon letters may come in at times to have people directed to our building, in the end these are the stories that testify that they really are put there to be a signpost to put people into the right direction spiritually!