Monday, September 29, 2008


"Life shouldn't be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather, to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly shouting,'Wow! What a ride! Thank You, Lord!" --Beth Moore

I have been pondering this quote by Beth Moore for about four days. It truly is the deepest desire of my heart to show up at the gates of Heaven completely spent. I know that nothing I do can add to the grace I've been given through the blood of Jesus. Its just that the grace I've been given is so amazing that I am compelled to respond to it with everything I've got.

And then my old sin nature rears its ugly head. I choose convenience over caring, money over mercy, worry over worship, and self over Savior. I am easily convinced that self-preservation is a reasonable goal in my day to day life.

But day to day becomes week to week, and week to week becomes month to month, and finally, year by year I seek my own best, deceived by my selfishness to believe survival is the goal of life. A goal that no human being has ever been able to attain since, as my father used to say, "Life is a death sentence."

And so while I tarry on earth, outwardly wasting away, I want to choose to spend my life for Jesus. Ever, only, all for Him. I will daily seek to slay the dragon of self, for there is no greater prize to strive for than this: To hear my Savior say, "Well done!"

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. Mark 8:35

Saturday, September 27, 2008

YOU so totally ROCK!

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:3-5

I'm sure the modern day translation for this scripture is, "You so totally rock!" And I am beginning to understand why Paul feels this way. As we walk the path of support-raising, we are being continuously and overwhelmingly blessed by amazing people whose love for God inspires us! People who are missionaries right where they are, prospering in the place that God has them, trusting Him the face of a national economic crisis, and eager to help us shine the light of Jesus into the darkness of France. David and I look to God and take itty bitty baby steps of faith in seeking support, and then we are blown away by His faithfulness in supplying our needs. As of today:
  • We have all of the funds we need for our entire exploratory trip to France next month--Glory to God and great gratitude to generous gift givers!

  • We also have pledges for 23% of our monthly support--Praise the Lord for calling His faithful to reach France.

  • We have a 26 prayer partners lifting us up--Thank you Jesus for the intercession of these mighty prayer warriors!

I just have to say it again: YOU SO TOTALLY ROCK!

Our goal (hopefully a God-inspired goal) is to have 50% of our monthly support pledged before we leave for our exploratory trip on October 27th. This is a humanly impossible goal of insurmountable proportions. My favorite kind--since my God is the God of the impossible! You can monitor our progress on the fund-raising thermometer in the right-hand margin.

We are SO thankful!

Friday, September 26, 2008

First Soccer Game

On Wednesday the boys had their first soccer game. It was not only the first game of the season, it was the first game of their lives. Many northwesterners probably consider it child neglect that we have not had our boys in soccer until now--but I guess you could say, "Better late than never!" Graham played forward, and Chandler was goalie. I know nothing about the game and have a lot to learn, but it was fun to watch. The Southside Christian School Lions lost, but they played well.

Warming Up

Graham Charges the Goal

Chandler Blocks a Penalty Kick

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dear Costco,

As a loyal member of your lovely wholesale warehouse, I feel it is my responsibility to inform you of a gross error in your merchandising department. Your women's clothing buyer seems to have either delusions of grandeur or a cruel sense of humor. I purchased a simple v-neck top last week, which fit beautifully and was very comfortable. But when I went to throw it the wash today, I noticed that the tag, which was hidden deep in a side seam, said "hand wash only."

Perhaps you are unaware of the fact that women like me--women who buy their clothes at Costco because they don't have time to go to a department store--certainly do not have time to hand wash their clothes. This shirt is not made of silk or wool. It is not linen or rayon. It is a $14.95 100% cotton knit top. I am not asking for upscale shopping accommodations like dressing rooms or mirrors. But would it be possible for you to place flashing warning labels on any clothing items that are not machine washable? Or are you in cahoots with Woolite?

Honestly, I do not think you understand what hand washing requires of me. First, WHERE should I hand wash? I could hand wash in the bathroom, but then I would have to scrape the toothpaste off the side of the sink. I could hand wash in the kitchen sink, but then I would have to make sure all remnants from last night's dinner were gone. I'm lucky last night's dinner was even made! And then there is the whole "lay flat to dry" thing. By the time I get around to hand washing and air-drying that shirt it will be out of style. Seriously, with all of the technology available in the fashion world today--we have shoes that can become roller skates, stretchy jeans, and even machine washable silk--how is it possible that a "hand-wash only" cotton top is even created? You must have scoured the earth to find such a rare item!

Well, knowing that hand-washing wasn't going to happen, I bravely threw that top in the washer on the gentle cycle, and you know was FINE! It looks great, it didn't fade, it didn't shrink, and it didn't unravel. That shirt is TOTALLY machine-washable, which is great news for a bold soul like me, but it makes me wonder how many direction-following women out there are needlessly scrubbing the toothpaste from their bathroom sinks today so that they can hand wash their new Costco top in Woolite. What a cruel deception you are sponsoring! And you call yourselves "social-minded!"

There are many reasons why I appreciate the Costco fashion department, not the least of which is the ability to sneak clothing purchases in to my grocery budget. However, if you wish to cater to people in the "I have time to hand-wash" world you have completely blown your marketing strategy.

Sincerely devoted to buying machine washable clothes,
Jenn Williamson

You Made My Day!

Today, just before picking the boys up from soccer practice, I ran in to Safeway to grab one thing: a bottle of wine to go with dinner. I headed to the express lane and pulled out my cash, ready to pay and go. But I was stopped by the cashier, who politely asked, "May I please see some i.d.?" I was confused for a moment. I wasn't using a debit card, why did he need i.d.? Then I realized I was a being carded! Yes, folks, that's right! I was being carded to make sure that I was old enough to purchase alcohol. I thanked the cashier so profusely that I think I started to make him feel self-conscious. He then explained that he had to card anyone who appeared to be under thirty! UNDER thirty! This still made me giddy with joy. I'm sure my youthful appearance is the direct result of my new found commitment to waxing my mustache. Who knew a trip to Safeway would provide me with one of the happiest moments of my 37-year-old day?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Reality Check

So, I'm going to France in October...lah tee da! Oh what I suffer for Jesus! I never thought we would be taking our children on a European Vacation--I mean Mission Trip--before they were even teenagers. What does one wear in the French Alps? Will I be packing my super cute black boots? The passports are current, the airline tickets are purchased, the rental car is reserved. We all have haircuts scheduled for the week before we go.

Yes. I know. I DO think of everything, don't I?

And so my thoughts went last week, bouncing through la la land. Then, WHAM! It hit us. On Saturday the boys were at each other's throats. By Sunday we were all arguing--all of us but David were in tears as we pulled in to the garage after church. David would not let any of us leave the car until he prayed. Even then, stuff kept coming. Two of us are fighting colds, two of us are fighting discouragement, and all four of us are fighting fatigue. Why does it take attacks from the enemy to remind me that we are NOT simply headed for a pleasure trip? Now don't get me wrong, I would be a bald-faced liar if I did not admit that we plan to take a great deal of pleasure in our exploratory trip to France. But we truly are on God's errand, and He has plans for us that we cannot begin to fathom. Plans that can alter eternities, change the course of generations, and perhaps even challenge the very gates of Hell. How in the world can I be concerned about haircuts when so many more important things are at stake?

I ask this of you with pleading...PRAY FOR US! Pray that we stay focused on Him, in tune with His Spirit, and devoted to His purposes. I am so stinking easily distracted from the things that really matter. Pray that we will be united as a family, fully trusting God on each step of this journey. God will have the victory. He is mighty to save.

Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:11-12

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Reason and Adventure

A plaque in my friend’s kitchen reads: “Every so often let your spirit of adventure triumph over good sense.” As I read it, I giggled, because what my husband often says to me, with pleading in his eyes, is essentially an inversion of that sentiment: “Every so often let good sense triumph over your spirit of adventure.”

Like the time I almost missed my flight. Okay, its times…plural. The times I almost missed my flights because something else was much more exciting than getting to the airport on time. I’ve never admitted to my husband that sometimes, as they closed the door of the plane just as I got on board, I was actually a little disappointed that I had made the flight, because missing it would have led to another adventure!

Often I get delayed by inspired ideas that require my immediate attention, unplanned encounters that lead to deep conversations, or spontaneous escapades that lure me away from my original agendas. All of these regularly keep me from arriving at my intended destination until sometime after my scheduled ETA. Cell phones have alleviated much of the worry such detours can induce. David will someday just put a homing device on me and connect it to a satellite GPS system on his cell phone, and let me roam.

On our honeymoon in Hawaii, while on a hike, I stripped down to my altogethers, dove into a cool pool filled by a cascading waterfall, and convinced David to join me. When we heard voices coming through the woods and realized we had no way to dry off and no place to take cover, I bet David began to understand that I find it hard to let good sense triumph.

And how many times has he had to come to my rescue? Well I can’t really count. But he has met me in snowdrifts, paid my traffic tickets, delivered my forgotten necessities, balanced our bank account, packed my suitcases, e-mailed my invoices, programmed my cell phone, and found my keys more times than I care to admit.

David likes to plan ahead. He counts the cost. He thinks first, then jumps. I actually love that about him because I appreciate the stability and safety with which he surrounds me. It is why I can risk. He is my anchor, I am his ship.

This is how the whole missionaries-to-France-thing is even possible. I was swept away by the possibilities, the challenges, and the excitement of moving to France to share our love for Jesus. But GEM would have completely lost me when the 47 pound packet of paper work they called an “application” arrived at our door. David was delighted. He nursed me through the administrative portions, patiently encouraging me to complete each form, sign each document, and fill in every blank. I never could have done it without him. Even now, he is thrilled with the spreadsheets and expense reports. I would have been paralyzed by this part of the process, but David thrives in it.

Isn’t it wonderful that God links us together with another human being who is blessed with such different gifts than we ourselves posses? Sometimes those differences create challenges, but mostly they enable us to successfully overcome them. We need each other, David and I, Reason and Adventure.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

All I Needed to Know I Learned from Telemarketers

Not. Actually the reverse is true. Telemarketers have diligently taught me how NOT to win friends and influence people.

Today David and I begin to call potential donors to set up appointments with them. We hope to schedule face to face meetings with people to share our vision for France, build relationships, and yes, ask for financial support. Missionaries call this process is "Ministry Partnership Development."

David was taught at his fundraising "boot camp" the importance of being a minister in the context of raising support. In other words, these face to face meetings are not just something we want to go to to GET something. The desire of our hearts is to be a blessing to every individual and couple with whom we meet, regardless of whether they become a donor or not. To this end, I make the following promises. Hopefully, after reading this pledge, you will choose to answer the phone when our name shows up on your caller i.d.:

We promise NOT to call you during the dinner hour.

We promise NOT to talk for ten minutes without giving you an opportunity to respond.

We promise to speak English.

We promise to honor and respect your boundaries.

We promise to be lighthearted, transparent, and sincere.

We promise to care about you, love you, and want God's best for you.

We promise to listen.

We promise NOT to record the call for quality purposes.

All joking aside, we begin the hard-core part of fundraising with fear and trembling. We can only move forward because we are certain that God has called us to reach the lost souls of France and we believe that where God guides, He provides. We do welcome your input/ideas/feedback about how YOU would want to to be invited to participate...and mostly, we covet your prayers!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Four Explore France!

This is our itinerary for an exploratory trip to France, which we booked through Expedia today:

Flight: Portland to Paris
Traveler names: David Williamson, Jennifer Williamson, David Williamson, Chandler Williamson

Portland (PDX) to Washington DC (IAD) 10/27/08 7:55 am - 3:47 pm United 250
Washington DC (IAD) to Paris (CDG) 10/27/08 6:20 pm - 6:35 am Lufthansa 9377 Operated By: UNITED AIRLINES

Paris (CDG) to Frankfurt (FRA) 11/06/08 6:40 am - 8:00 am Lufthansa 4237
Frankfurt (FRA) to Portland (PDX) 11/06/08 10:00 am - 11:55 am Lufthansa 468

We had been going back and forth about when exactly we should go over with the boys, but God made the dates clear for us over the weekend, when we learned that the entire GEM France team is going to have a retreat the first week in November, and we were strongly encouraged to attend. There are several advantages to scheduling our trip to coincide with this retreat:
  1. We will get to meet the entire GEM team of missionaries who are working in France.
  2. We will get to be in on the vision casting and strategic planning.
  3. We will get a first hand view of what is being done and where we might fit in to God's plan for France.
  4. Part of the retreat is dedicated to the topic of the role of the family in world evangelism--which is absolutely central to what we feel God has called us to as Four For France. The speaker for this portion of the conference is Rob Reinow, the founder of Visionary Parenting. You can visit his website by clicking here .
  5. The other main focus of the retreat is church planting, which is central to GEM's vision for reaching France. The speaker for this portion is Neil Cole, author of Organic Church: Growing Faith Where Life Happens.
  6. The cost for the entire week-long retreat, including room and board, is only going to be 50 Euro per person--which is what we would expect to pay a day under normal traveling circumstances.

After a weekend of prayer, both David and I felt like God was nudging us to go to France for this retreat. Thanks to some very generous special gifts that have already been given by dear supporters, we have the funds in our GEM account to do it. We will head over a few days before the retreat so that we can visit the language school that David and I will attend and the public school that the boys will attend in our first year in France. We will also give the boys a two-day whirlwind tour of Paris. The retreat is at a camp that GEM owns that is nestled in the French Alps, so we will have a six-hour drive from Paris to the retreat center.

If you are wondering why we are traveling in and out of Portland, OR, the reasons are that we saved over $200 per person on airfare and my parents (who live in the Portland area) agreed to keep Libby, the dog, while we are gone.

We hope that you will join us in praying for this trip. Please pray that our boys will have a deepened sense of God's call on their lives. Pray that David and I will get a clearer picture of our role in God's plan. And pray that our love and passion for the French people will continue to grow.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Harvest Festival

Yesterday was the Harvest Festival in the town of Spangle. This annual event is the epitome of small town celebrations complete with a parade (mostly cars, a few horses, and one float that comes every year from the next town over), vending booths (when the parade announcer said, "Be sure to visit all of the exciting craft booths," my mom and I looked at each other and said in unison, "All four of them!"), and friendly neighborhood competitions (a bike race, a pie eating contest, and a home-run derby). My parents were here for the weekend, and we all enjoyed the fabulous weather, which made the parade worth enduring! My dad, in an effort to protect his bald scalp from sunburn, wrapped my sweater around his head. I wasn't phased, because to the same end I have seen my father wrap everything from t-shirts to scarves to pants around his head. Graham, however, was mortified, certain at that point that he was adopted. Here are some pic's:

Friday, September 12, 2008

Open House

Last night David and I went to an open house at the boys' school. Since this is Graham's fourth year at this school, we are pretty familiar with the teachers and friendly with the other parents. It's a great community of people.

So when the P.E. teacher (the only male teacher on staff) was describing how he was teaching the younger kids to throw a ball the correct way--as opposed to throwing it like a girl--he got a lot of guff from the parents and other teachers. But he just kept digging deeper and deeper into the hole.

Later, after we had been dismissed to our children's classrooms, the two middle school teachers were handing out behavior reports on all the kids. There were like 20 behavior categories, where the kids were given marks of "always," "mostly," "sometimes," and"never." "Always" is the best, meaning they are "always" exhibiting the good behavior trait that is being assessed. Well our boys are good, but let's just say we had a lot of marks in the"mostly" and "sometimes" categories. One of the teachers explained that 3 students, all girls, had received all "always" marks.

David didn't miss a beat, but quickly asked, "Yeah, but can they throw?"

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Another Stone Down

When I said that I was going to cooperate with God's plan to tear down the little wall in my heart, I didn't expect Him to be so hard at work right away. After all, He does have a universe to manage: hurricaines are blowing, wars are raging, politicians are pursuing power. Besides all that, I assume that I am not the only saint struggling through this sanctification process. Nevertheless, Jesus keeps patiently pulling the stones down from my wall, one by one.

Last night I was at my writers' group, and a dear woman shared the heart-wrenching story of how her seven year old grandson was killed in a boating accident at Riverview Bible Camp two summers ago. Again, I wanted to emotionally check out. After all, I had heard about the tragedy when it happened, this wasn't new to me. Again, God implored me to engage. By the end of the story, there was not a dry eye in the room. Me? I was sobbing and shaking and sniffing uncontrollably. My gut hurt. I wanted to scream. I hate pain. Long after the others had stopped crying, I was still trembling with a salt-water river pouring from my eyes. I didn't understand why my tears kept coming. A friend gently put her arm around me, which somehow let me know that I didn't have to stop. The grandmother who wrote the story looked at me with compassion. That sent me over the was her loss, but she had compassion on me???

Then she said, "Thank you for your tears."

Well no one has ever said that to me before. Probably because until now I pretty much only cried tears for myself. Pathetic. But this is what I am apart from Christ: a selfish, pathetic wretch. A wretch who does not feel so much pain, but one who is also missing out on the fullness of His love and the depth of His joy. I didn't realize that my tears could be a gift to another person.

Can I just say that this is hard?

As I walked to my car to head home to my empty house, I once again saw Jesus gently removing another stone from the wall I had built in my heart.

And why was I going home to an empty house? Because both of my boys and David were on an overnight class trip--at Riverview Bible Camp.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Stepping Up

Today the women's Bible study begins at my church, and I am ready! We are doing the Beth Moore Study called Stepping Up and it is a study on the Psalms of Ascent. The Psalms of Ascent are found in chapters 120-134, and these are the songs that the Israelites would sing each year as they made their pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

I do sort of feel like it is the first day of school for me, though. I'm wearing my new Fall shoes. I wonder who my teacher (small group leader) will be and who will be in my class (small group). I wonder if there will be snack, and I hope I have the right supplies. I'm a little nervous, but mostly excited.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Are you ready for some FOOTBAAAAAAALLLLLL???

Because the Seahawks aren't! Bummer of an opening game for our favorite team, but we are so happy that football season has finally arrived. Every Sunday we bond as a family over at least one game. We attend church around the Seahawks' game time. We yell at the refs. We root for our team. We analyze the plays. We love every minute. And just in case you are wondering, this is a true WE. I am not a football widow--I love the game! I may be the biggest fan of all. I have favorite teams, favorite players, favorite coaches, and favorite commentators. I wish I could be the chick reporter that gets to go down to the sidelines and talk to the coaches at half time:

"Coach Holmgren, what do you need to do in the second half to shut down this Buffalo offense?"

I can call plays and penalties. I know the referees' hand signals. I even know what it means to "be in the pocket," "run a bootleg," and "blitz the quarterback." I realize this is not normal for a girl. Especially a girly-girl like me. In my defense, I did grow up in Texas, where football isn't a sport, it's a religion. I have learned through the years, though, that Super Bowl Parties are out. I hate them because I am usually the only woman who actually wants to watch the game, and all of the other women try to have conversations with me and then think I am the rude one when my attention is on the game and not the gabbing. Football favoring females are few and far-between!

Enough about me, back to the game. So how about those new NFL rules? No more forceouts....15 yards for a facemask...and one defensive player gets a headset. It will be interesting to see how many defensive lines can call plays ala Urlacher.

Such a bummer for Tom Brady--out for the season---it changes everything for the league. And how weird was it to see Brett Favre in a Jets Jersey? The Chicago rookie, Forte, was looking like a running back that could make some miles. The only thing looking good for the Seahawks today was Mare, the much-needed new kicker, who is a guy that can find the uprights!

Ahhhhh. I love Fall.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Wall in My Heart

Today I am going to write about something that God is working on in my heart. If you are here for the laughs--this is not your day. You might as well just stop reading now because what I have to write about is not funny at all. It may just be more than you really wanted to know about me. It could even cause you to examine the condition of your own heart, which is probably in better shape than mine, but still might have some room for improvement. The good news is this: God is a great heart surgeon. No matter how severe the heart disease, because of Jesus...the prognosis is always hopeful.

A few months back, while I was on a retreat, the Lord began to show me a little wall that I had carefully built around my heart. It is a nice, neat stone wall, not too high, entirely circling the place in my spirit where my emotions are seated. I built it years ago, while growing up with a terminally ill sister. It was a coping mechanism that allowed me to go about living my life while I watched my sister lose hers. It was a barrier that allowed me to feel some things, but protected me from feeling others. My sister died 11 years ago, but it wasn't until last April that I heard God say to me, "Mrs. Williamson, tear down that wall!"

My first response was, "What, that little thing?" After all, I am a sensitive person, often called tenderhearted, my heart must not be in too bad of shape. "Besides, it's a cute wall. See the pretty flowers I've planted around it?"

That wall is keeping you from fully knowing me. I'm going to take it down.

Next I tried reason. "But God, It's sort of a structural thing. If I take down that very little, unobtrusive, sort-of charming wall, I'm not sure what else might tumble. Really, what is it hurting?"

That wall is keeping you from fully obeying me. I'm going to take it down.

So then I thought I would appeal to God's sense of justice."God, my wall is not nearly as big as other people's. Shouldn't you be more worried about them? Mine is just tiny. Hardly noticeable. Not worthy of your attention."

That wall is keeping you from fully trusting me. I'm going to take it down.

I made my last appeal, raw before my God. I revealed my deepest, darkest fears: "Lord, I don't want to go through the pain or loss that I will have to go through in order for you to tear down my wall. I am afraid of losing my husband or kids. I am afraid of losing my faith."

That wall is keeping you from fully loving me and fully knowing my love for you. I'm going to take it down.

I still did not surrender. I just stopped having the conversation, hoping that if I ignored the subject it would go away. I know. Not very smart, but that was my response. Nevertheless, the truth of God's words was eating away at me. I wanted to fully know God, to fully obey God, to fully trust God, and to fully love God. All my life I have sung songs to Him like, "I Surrender All" and "It is Well with my Soul" and thought I really meant the words. I wanted to mean them.

So I began to analyze my little wall. Why is it that I will allow myself to enter only so deeply into another person's pain? Fear of pain. Why do I shut down my emotions at a certain point? Fear of grief. What would happen if I just gave my heart to God without reservation? I don't know. But that is what He is asking of me. Finally I began to pray this little prayer. It wasn't much, but it was all I could do:

Lord, show me what is on your heart today, and help me to care about those things.

That was it. That has been my prayer all summer. Sometimes I even meant it. It was really a white-knuckle prayer for me, because I would pray it, cringing, and then slowly open my eyes, expecting my world to have crumbled as a result. I assumed God wanted to destroy everything and everyone I ever loved so that I could become more compassionate. I believed that any minute He would take His giant sledge hammer and pound it fiercely into the wall around my heart, inflicting me with tremendous pain and agony. Then He would expect me to "consider it pure joy" as I "walk through the valley of the shadow of death fearing no evil." Really, who wants that? Not me. I wanted the trust, the love, the good stuff. I just didn't want to endure what I thought would be God's methods for bringing it all about.

But God, once again, surprised me. His ways are not my ways. I will never cease to be amazed by the gentleness of His Spirit and the tenderness of His grace. Last Friday I went to my kids' school to work on a grant. Or so I thought. When I had been there five minutes, one of the teachers received an emergency phone call from her husband. After taking the call she came in to the office, where I was working with the principal, closed the door, and burst into tears. She had just learned that her brother had committed suicide. At first, I wanted to sneak out. This was none of my business, and there was nothing I could do. But God held me to my seat. Finally, the principal, who had been hugging the devastated teacher, invited me to join them to pray. I got up and slowly put my arm around the woman who had been my son's teacher last year, and I let her sobs become my own. We wept, not Hallmark commercial tears, but gut-wrenching, chest- heaving, snot-snorting, heart-breaking tears. And then we prayed. But really, we didn't need to use words, because as I held that teacher, I knew that God was holding us. He was weeping, too.

At that moment, I think I knew God a little more. I trusted Him a little more. I loved Him a little more. And I felt His love for me a little more.

Driving home, I was dazed, still praying for that teacher, amazed that I had been in the room at that life-changing instant. Holy ground. Grief-filled, pain-inducing holy ground. And then a picture flashed in to my mind. It was a picture of Jesus, carefully taking down one stone from the wall of my heart. No sledge hammers. No dynamite. Jesus is going to do this all by stone at a time. And I am going to let Him.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Gifts of Encouragement

So, as we wait on the Lord's timing for our departure to France--which could be in six months or six years, all depending on fund raising--there is plenty of time to question and doubt the call. We have everything from "are-we-sure-about-this?" moments to "what-the-heck-are-we-thinking?" moments. I admit they aren't our most spiritual moments, but we have them. More often than not though, just as we are wondering if we are on the right track, God sends us a gift of encouragement. Sometimes it comes through a sermon. Sometimes it comes through something we read. Sometimes, most times, it comes from dear friends who probably have no idea how perfect their timing and how profound their impact. Let me share just a few:

Food and Friendship!
On Friday night we were invited to dinner--a lovely French themed dinner, complete with bread and wine. The family that graciously hosted us is a family that we met through our son, Graham, who considers their son to be one of his best friends. This amazing family is from Germany, and they had relatives visiting from Europe that we were blessed to meet. The relatives were from the Netherlands and France. All were believers, so we had that instant affinity with one another that comes through the Spirit of God. The conversation flowed unbroken from 7:30 p.m. to midnight, and even then, we stood at the front door for half an hour, finding it hard to leave the wonderful friends we had only just met. We learned much about the Spiritual Climate of Europe, and specifically France in the region where we will be working. Although they come from a continent where less than 2% of the population are believers, we felt so inspired by the light that shone brightly from these Christian brothers and sisters. They encouraged us to continue to follow God's lead, and helped us to believe that God really could use us to help reach the lost of France.

Happy Reminders!
Last week my dear friend and prayer partner gave me this little children's book that she picked up at Powell's Book Store on a recent trip to Portland. It is a sweet story about a little girl traveling to Paris, and the artwork is SO precious. It depicts all the great Paris sights, and it instantly reminded me of my new-found love for all things French. What blessed me the most, though, was that my prayer partner THOUGHT of me when she saw it. It's God's ways of keeping the call in front of me, helping me not to become too distracted by the hurdles that loom between us and our destination.

Faithful Equippers!
I have a special friend who is called by God to "Equip the Saints" and boy does she take her job seriously. I think she has single-handedly given me more gifts than my own mother. Some of my favorite pieces of "equipment" are colorful scarves, a hand-made satchel for going to the French market, and the book French Women Don't Get Fat. For Christmas she gave us a French Phrase-a-Day calendar, which has been a source of on-going fun and encouragement.

Another essential piece of equipment was provided by a couple we call our "Mission Mentors." These friends are experienced missionaries who meet with us on a regular basis for prayer, support, and, well, mentoring! They share wisdom, speak truth, and positively radiate joy. A few months ago they blessed our boys with passport applications and the money to cover the application fee. Such a fun and tangible gift, reminding us that in EVERYTHING God will make a way.