Monday, May 31, 2010

Commissioning and Caption Contest

Yesterday our family was commissioned at our home church of Life Center. This was a momentous occasion, as it marked our official launch to France. We felt very loved, very supported, and very grateful.

Before he prayed for us, Pastor Joe interviewed us about our call to France. Apparently, I talk with my hands. Apparently, I talk a lot. But do you notice how attentive David looks all the time that I am talking? What a doting husband!


When David did finally get a word in edgewise, I showed him the same love and devotion that he showed me. I most certainly did not look distracted or bored while he spoke.

Okay, maybe I did.

Anyways, David and I both think that this photo is in desperate need of a caption. Can you help us? Leave a comment stating what you think would best fill the thought bubble over my head. Maybe we'll even award a prize for our favorite caption.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Beware of Geeks Bearing Gifts

My boys (all three) just returned from a five day school trip to the Oregon Coast. Because they love me and missed me so severely, they came home bearing gifts. Thoughtful, romantic, personal gifts. Like this:

Who doesn't need a "Speek Squeek" button? This was particularly personal because my boys know that I have an irrational fear of small rodents, especially squirrels; and, they know how fond I am (not!) of creatively misspelled words. The blue and yellow are OH SO FRENCH--I am sure I will be at the height of fashion with this beauty pinned on my lapel. I honestly do not want to know what "squeeeky cheese" is. Some things are better left as mysteries.

The second gift they brought me was this:


It's always nice to know that someone thought of you when reading a label like this! Again, it has that wonderful French-y flair, for in Provence truffle hunting pigs are worth their weight in gold. I am not complaining. It was delicious. And cute, too!

Best pork I've ever eaten! And while those first two gifts were more than enough to make me feel special, they didn't stop with rodents and pigs. They finally got me the pony that I've always wanted:

POKEY! Gumby's trusty steed will set sail with us in fifty-some days. I can't wait to share their adventures with you.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Excited?

At least once a day a dear friend asks me, "Are you excited?"

I know the answer should be, "Yes!"

After all, we heard the call to France way back in 2007. We were appointed by Greater Europe Mission in the Summer of 2008. We began the arduous (and still incomplete) task of fundraising in the Fall of 2008. This move-to-France-to-become-missionaries-thing has been a long time in the making. Now that the moment in upon us, now that a departure date is set, now that the dream is about to become a reality, don't you think I should be excited?

I want to be excited. I'm trying to be excited. I will be excited.

But in order to get to the point where excitement is possible for me, I have to face the reality of my disappointment.

"Disappointment?" you ask. "I thought that this was what you wanted."

And it is.

I knew this day would come. We did not make this decision lightly. We are certain that God has called us to France. At the same time, I am leaving a job that I love. I am leaving a home that I love. Most importantly, we are leaving friends and family that we love.

I will be excited as soon as I get over this mountain of grief.

I saw the mountain in the distance. I knew it was coming. I knew that it stood directly in the pathway to France. Indeed, I knew it was part of the call. Knowing a mountain is coming doesn't lessen the pain or make the climb any easier.

Today, I am struggling to leave well. I am looking to my Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of my faith. For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross. My grief pales in comparison. Nevertheless, there is a level of pain I must endure in leaving.

I see the joy on the horizon. And I promise to be excited when I get there.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

What Would You Bring?

Next Tuesday I am going to a brunch where each person has been asked to bring something tangible that represents God's work in her life.

I am not much of a collector and I hold on to very few tangible representations of anything; nevertheless, even I have a few items that would fit the bill. One immediately comes to mind.

There is a flower that has been firmly pressed between the pages of an old Bible of mine for about 15 years. It was given to me one night when I went to a prayer meeting with a houseful of total strangers. I knew only the hostess, who had casually invited me, but she had no idea of why I might be interested in coming to her prayer meeting. I went to the prayer meeting because I was desperate for one thing: a baby.

I had been trying to conceive for over a year, and I was going to ask these strangers to pray for me to get pregnant. Unfortunately, I got there late and everyone was already in small groups praying when I arrived. So I quietly joined a group, listened in to the prayers that were prayed, and wondered if I had missed my chance. An hour later all of the groups had said "Amen" and I was getting up to leave, having not spoken a single word since I entered the house.

As I moved towards the door, a woman I did not know who had been praying in a different group than my own approached me, holding a flower. She said to me, "I don't know you, and I hope this does not sound too strange to you, but when you came in the door, I believe that God told me that you were going to have a son this year." She went on to say that whenever God gave her a prophesy for someone, she gave that person a flower to press in the pages of their Bible to remind them of what God had said. She handed me the flower and walked away.

I was stunned. Speechless. And ran out the door before bursting in to tears. No one had ever prophesied over me before and I really did not know what to think. Of course I wanted to believe it was true, but after a year of disappointment I was afraid to hope.

That was February of 1995. David Graham Williamson, MY SON, was born in November of 1995. Though it is dry as a bone and falling apart, I still have that flower.

What would you bring?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Family that Plays Together

David and I have always been the type of parents who LOVE to play with our boys. We don't play with them because we should. We play with them because we think that they are fun, and we enjoy spending time with them. It is actually purely selfish.

It started when they were just babies with peek-a-boo and tickle monster. We later endured that horrific phase of CandyLands and Chutes & Ladders--eternal inane games made tolerable ONLY through the delight of our children. Once the world of cardboard spinners was fading in our rear view mirror, we found ourselves spending entire weekends building Lego masterpieces...a pastime that remains a part of our lives still. We have added board games like Settlers of Catan, RISK, Clue, and Monopoly, as well as numerous card games to the family repertoire.

Beyond games, we play music together on a regular basis. Loud music. Fun music. Worship music. And virtual music...as in Rock Band on the Wii. Which brings me to playing video games! We have had bowling tournaments, tennis matches, and all varieties of battles through the Play Station, the Wii, and the computer.

We play outside just as much: tossing a football, taking a hike, skiing, snowboarding, or kicking a soccer ball. We just LOVE to play together.

And then there is the OTHER side of playing together. The dark side. The sneaky side. The shared love that we all have for a good prank. This is, perhaps, the arena where we come alive as a family. Our sweet spot, if you will. Oh how we thrill to the classic toilet papering escapade. We can spend hours dreaming up ideas, imaging how much fun it would be to saran-wrap someone's front door, to leave a live goat tied to friend's car, or to serenade an unsuspecting stranger.

In fact, I think I knew I was going to marry David on the day he and two friends solemnly placed their hands over their hearts and began singing the Star Spangled Banner in three part harmony while waiting in line for lunch at college. I quickly noticed that their patriotic demonstration was due to the fact that they were standing behind a girl who had mistakenly worn red and white striped underwear underneath white linen slacks. "Oh say can you see?" Takes on a whole new meaning at a moment like that. I knew I was in love.

So given that kind of parentage, it shouldn't be any big surprise that earlier this week, when all the Junior High girls were spending the night at the principal's house, our boys felt the need to Carpe Diem, if you know what I mean. David and I believe that it is part of our parental duty to school our boys in the fine art of prank-pulling. To that end, we willingly aided and abetted them in their endeavor.

Lest you are concerned (as were some dear friends of mine) that we are contributing to the delinquency of minors, I can assure you that we do our best to ensure that no animals are harmed, no laws are broken, and no friendships are destroyed. We do have some standards, after all. Fun need not be a felony. In fact, it could provide a community service. Indeed, this prank surely did.

You know all those annoying signs that clutter medians, street corners, and embankments? We picked up a few of those. NO! Of course we weren't STEALING them. We had no intention of keeping them. We simply planned to REDISTRIBUTE them. To another part of town, or say, someone's lawn.

Just a few.

Okay 30.

And some spare school t-shirts and boxers.



Since we were BUSTED when we did it (the silly girls were sleeping--or should I say NOT sleeping--outside on the porch!) David and the boys went back the next morning to survey our handiwork. I think it is a thing of beauty.

Williamson Rules for Proper Sign Redistribution were followed. They include:
  1. Never remove a sign from private property. For Sale signs are off limits.
  2. We are an equal opportunity sign redistribution outfit. We do not discriminate based on political party, sign color, or quality of graphics.
  3. If you have been "signed," good signing etiquette requires that you add to the collection and continue the redistribution process.
  4. It is absolutely FORBIDDEN to commit redistribution retribution. (No backsies! Pay it forward)
  5. ALL signing must be done in a spirit of love and mutual admiration. Don't sign angry.
  6. Bonus points for funky yard art (Gnomes and Flamingos) and Avista Accessories.
  7. Strict adherence to Colossians 3:23 "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord, not for men."
P.S. We love you, Mrs. Bauer!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Dear Libby,

I am not sure how to even begin this letter, dear friend. I have always been able to talk to you about anything and everything, but suddenly words escape me. Thankfully, you have also always been the one who understands my heart without me having to say a word. You are a good friend that way.

If I were looking out for my best interest, I would take you to France with me. I would crate you up and cart you over and coop you up in a tiny apartment so that I would not have to do without your faithful friendship, your eager companionship, and your lavish love. And you would probably handle every bit of it like the trooper that you are. But I just can't do that to you.

I want you to have a yard. I want you to be able to go to the bathroom without having to go down four flights of stairs and walking three blocks to the nearest park. Mostly, I want you to have a life more like the one you have now. You would adapt to life in France, I know you would. Yet I fear that you would be sacrificing too much for my benefit. Because that's just the way you are. You would do it for me, but I can't ask that of you.

So I have found a new home for you, beloved dog. A home where you will be cherished. A home where you will be a spoiled only child. A home with a yard and a promise that you will be loved. I made sure that you would be loved.

I know that you will be as good of a friend to Bethany as you have been to me. Make sure to be a lady and use all the manners that I taught you. And try to keep away from the chocolate. I know you like it, but it always makes you sick.

I will be forever grateful for our time together. You have been a better friend to me than I ever could have deserved. You love so unselfishly, you forgive so readily, you play so passionately, and you give so freely. You are a beautiful girl inside and out, and my life is so much richer for the joy of knowing you.

Thank you for being such a great dog. You will always be in my heart.

Love, Jenn

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Presenting....

CHANDLER as LONG JOHN SILVER!
video

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Death by Cucumber

I know that I am prone to exaggerate, but I honestly had a moment last week when I thought I was going to die. I was at the women's Bible study at my church, where I was scheduled to speak later in the evening. Having not had time to eat dinner, I was enjoying the snacks that were available while socializing with a dear friend. Suddenly, I inhaled (rather than swallowed) a thin slice of cucumber, which landed smack dab on the top of my windpipe.

I could not breathe. I was stunned, confused, and scared. I looked at my friend with wide eyes, wordlessly trying to communicate my distress. Thinking I was just being my normal dramatic self, she continued our conversation and asked me a question that I could not answer.

In my silence, the gravity of my situation dawned on her, and she frantically asked, "Are you choking?" I nodded vigorously, and began doing the most unladylike contortions of my body that I have ever done. Pride is worthless when you think you are dying.

My friend called out into a room full of women, "Does anyone know the Heimlich Maneuver?"

Three women standing nearby thought she was joking. Hmmm. That sounds like how I would've responded, had it not been me who was in desperate need of a breath. Note to self: NEVER joke about needing the Heimlich, and ALWAYS assume that someone calling for it is in genuine need.

One woman did come over to me to perform the Heimlich when, by my own efforts (and probably divine intervention) the wicked sliver of a vegetable was finally dislodged from its deathly destination.

I lived.

But in the moment of terror, I actually thought that I could be the victim of death by cucumber. I could just hear Eliza Dolittle telling Henry Higgins how I reached my demise:

"Them says it was a cucumber that done her in!"

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Guest Author in Honor of Mother's Day

Today I will publish the work of another author. One who wrote the following about me. It was written last week, and it blessed me beyond belief. It's okay if #8 doesn't make sense to you. It's an inside joke.

Mom...Here are 10 reasons why I love and appreciate you:
  1. You are smart
  2. You are the best mother
  3. You loooooooove football
  4. You're a rockin' chick
  5. You are so cool
  6. You are the most awesome mother ever
  7. You care about me
  8. You shout at me when the vacuum breaks
  9. You love me too
  10. You bothered to read this (but you read a book a day, so no problem)
I don't think a teenage boy ever penned something more sweet, profound, and touching than this. May I just share what I LOVE about his list? Ten things! (Hey it wouldn't be Mother's Day if I didn't get the last word!)
  1. He ADMITS that I am smart!
  2. He thinks I am the BEST!
  3. He knows what I looooooooove!
  4. He knows what kind of music I listen to!
  5. He thinks I'm cool (which is not INSTEAD of respecting me, but in addition to it!)
  6. He thinks I am AWESOME--the ultimate teenage compliment.
  7. He knows that I CARE, knowledge that could get lost in our sometimes volatile exchanges.
  8. He forgives me, even laughs at my mothering mistakes
  9. He knows that he is loved.
  10. He inherited my self-deprecating sense of humor.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Dear Friends,

David and I sat down to make a to-do list. The list was four pages long. I am officially overwhelmed. Delighted. Grateful. But overwhelmed.

I thought that the day we bought our tickets to France would be the day that the whole adventure finally felt real. I was wrong. If anything, it feels more surreal than ever.

I cannot begin to feel the emotions that I know will eventually overtake me because the tasks before me demand my attention. The feelings lurk under the surface, biding their time. Oh, but they are there.

In so many ways, I am in uncharted waters. For this reason, dear friends, I need to ask you for one thing: Grace.

I've never done this before...by "this" I mean "leave all that I know and love to move halfway around the world." I don't know how to leave well, but I want to. I promise that I will do my best, but unfortunately, I am sure I am going to make mistakes, hurt feelings, fail friends, disappoint people, and drop balls. I don't want to do those things, but I probably will. In fact, I already have.

I am so grateful for those who will tell me when I have let them down. I DO want to know. When you help me see the error of my ways, I can learn from my mistakes and hopefully, I will get better as time goes by. After all, I have two and half months of leaving left to do and I certainly do not want to leave a wake of relational destruction behind me.

There are no words to express my gratitude for your support through our journey thus far. I hope I get the opportunity to look each one of you in the eye and thank you. And hug you. And cry with you. And laugh with you. This is my highest hope.

I love you, friends. And since I can't put you all in my suitcase, I want you to know that through this blog I DO feel like we are traveling together. And I don't think I could do it without you.

Love, Jenn

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Bloomsday 2010

Bloomsday, the famous 12K road race, has been one of my favorite Spokane traditions since we moved to the Inland Northwest 9 years ago. Today Graham ran it with some of his friends and I ran/walked it with some of mine. We met up at the finish line, and shared a hug for the camera. Not sure when our next Bloomsday will be, but I have the feeling we will do this again someday.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Our Extravagant God

Spoiled. That's what we are. Spoiled, but hopefully not rotten.

When we first compared fares, a transatlantic crossing by sea was running about $1200 per person. One way airline tickets in coach class were priced at $1038 per person. Our travel budget is $1000 per person.

We prayed. We sought the help of a travel agent. We waited.

Lo and behold, one week later, the very ship on which we were pricing fares before--the only one making a transatlantic crossing on the date we needed to go--had a new deal: Kids Sail Free. "Kids" being everyone under 17. All of the sudden, the entire package, including airfare to New York and Chunnel tickets from England to France, came to (you guessed it) $4000, or an average price of $1000 per person.

It doesn't seem right, but the cheapest way to get to the mission field happens to be the most luxurious.

It doesn't seem right in our economy. But in God's economy, it is actually par for the course. He is, indeed, a lavish God. Consider the lilies of the field....

And then, basking in the overwhelming goodness of the Lord, another thought came to me. Two years ago, my son Graham (who truly asks for very little) after watching a cruise commercial, said, "Mom do you think it would be possible for our family to take a cruise before we leave for France?"

Not wanting to squelch his dreams, but keenly aware of our financial limitations, I replied, "Well, I suppose God could do that for us, but I am not sure how."

God knew how. He had planned it before Graham even thought of it. He gives us the desires of our heart when we keep Him at the heart of our desires.

Details on our remaining needs:
  • WE STILL NEED to raise $1000/month in monthly pledges of support. This may be in the form of 10 people or churches giving $100 month, it may be 4 people or churches giving $250/month. Please pray for us to reach our support goal by our departure date! God knows who the finishers are. We trust Him to reveal their part of His plan to them and to us.
  • WE STILL NEED about $17,000 in special gifts to cover all of our one-time out-going expenses such as moving costs, tuition for language school, and other settling fees. This sounds like a HUGE number, but those who are already giving monthly are (and have been) helping to build this fund. And just for a point of reference, in the month of April alone we received $19,536 in donations, so it is not unreasonable to think that God could bring in another $17,000 in the next two and a half months.
  • WE STILL NEED renters for our beloved home. Yes, we have decided NOT to sell. We would love to get it rented by word of mouth, so if you or anyone you know is interested, please get in touch with us.
Details on our Departure:
We leave from Portland, OR on a red-eye flight to New York on July 18. We embark on the Queen Mary 2 from Brooklyn Harbor on July 19. We arrive in Southampton, England on the morning of July 26 and take the Chunnel to Paris that same day.

 
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