Saturday, November 29, 2008


David Graham Williamson--my firstborn son and the on-going answer to the longest prayer I ever prayed--turns 13 today. I remember the day he was born like it was yesterday. As the youngest of five daughters, I really did not feel equipped for the job of raising boys. To tell you the truth, I still don't. But it is a job that I love more than I ever imagined I would, and every day it only gets better. I am so thankful for the privilege of being Graham's mom. He is growing in every way, from glory to glory. Those of you who have known me for 13 years or more bear witness to the fact that parenting Graham has not been an easy endeavor. His intelligence, strength, and depth have presented discipline challenges on a grand scale. Those same traits, however, make Graham the responsible, helpful, and insightful young man that he is today. He is made of steel, and as he allows God to shape him he is becoming an unstoppable force for the Kingdom. Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Roommate Phase

Every so often, David and I get going on the treadmill of life and unwittingly end up in a place we call "Roommate Phase." Roommate Phase is not violent or ugly. There is no screaming, no fighting, and very little tension. We are not angry at each other. But somewhere between life's required to-do lists and our individual pursuits we have lost touch with each other as friends, soul-mates, and lovers. Roommate Phase is the result of marital complacency, and since it is somewhat comfortable we run the risk of settling into it rather than fighting it with all we've got. We can go for weeks living under the same roof, eating at the same table, sleeping in the same bed, and never connecting. After spending our emotions at work and with our boys, we are simply too tired to engage with one another beyond the surface. And besides, we're married for life, so we figure we can put it off for a day. But days become weeks, and weeks become months, and before we know it we are knee-deep in Roommate Phase.

Well, today I woke up (both physically and mentally) and realized that David and I have wandered aimlessly into Roommate Phase once again. Getting into Roommate Phase is completely effortless, but busting out of Roommate Phase requires something similar to a "Shock and Awe" campaign used in warfare. We both have to acknowledge where we are and agree that we don't want to stay there. We have to be relentless in pursuing each other, silly in our expressions of love, and completely willing to forsake EVERYTHING else (save Jesus!) until our passion is restored. We have to play games, take walks, have sex, and share our hearts in much greater frequency and with much greater intensity than we have in the past few weeks. We have to choose NOT to believe the lie that "things are fine" and get down on our knees and ask God to help us. We need to seek forgiveness for not cherishing each other, and purposely move towards each other even though it would be easier to stay where we are.

So, David, while I enjoy being your roommate, I am passionate about being your wife. I am dedicated to loving you, to learning from you, and to seeking God with you. Roomies no more--I will settle for nothing less than CRAZY IN LOVE with you!

Sunday, November 23, 2008


I woke up this morning feeling mad and irritated for no apparent reason. Bugs Bunny would tell me, "Ya got no music in your soul, sista." A quick glance at the calendar reveals that I am in the throws of my monthly reminder of the consequences of original sin. Yes, that time of the month when I can bite your head off if you look at me funny. Be nice, and I'll yell, "Don't patronize me!" Your only hope is to shut your mouth and offer me chocolate. David has been keeping his distance and throwing m&ms at me all morning. It's not a bad tactic.

What I don't get is how a mature, rational, easy going woman like myself can turn into a rabid, evil, psychotic devil-woman with the influx of just a few hormones. It makes me feel like such a push-over. Some months are definitely better than others, but no matter how I INTEND to fight it, the hormones always win.

All I can say is, I, too, am learning to keep my mouth shut. Silence is a method of damage control--the storm is still raging, but it helps to batten down the hatch! As my boys like to tell me, "Silence is golden, Duct tape is silver!" So if I am sporting a little duct tape over my mouth today at church, trust me when I tell you, it's for your own good.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Citizenship Test

Yesterday on Facebook I took the test that is given to new immigrants before they are granted American citizenship. I got 100%. But one of the questions got me thinking. It asked, "Why did the Pilgrims come to America?" The correct answer was, "For religious freedom." We all know this to be true. The Pilgrims were being persecuted for their Christian faith, and so they fled. We have all (hopefully) learned that our country was founded by people of God who desired to live according to the ways of the Bible. What I hadn't ever thought about before was this: The continent from which the Pilgrims fled was Europe! In other words, in the 1700s Christians were making a mass exodus FROM European countries such as England, France, and Germany TO the New World. Most believers left Europe--pushed out by humanism, rationalism, and post-modernism. No wonder France is so secular! Now I am not saying that the Pilgrims should have stuck it out. I believe that God allows persecution sometimes to get His people to move, and I am thankful for this country and the blessings we are still enjoying because of the faithfulness of our founding fathers. But I am seeing a cause and effect for why Europe--filled with catherdrals and birthplace of Christian giants like Martin Luther, John Wesley, and Blaise Pascal--is now a spiritual wasteland.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pray for Hannah

My niece, Hannah, is in the hospital this morning, having suffered several seizures last night. Hannah is a beautiful girl who lives with Rett Syndrome. For those of you who have never heard of Rett Syndrome, here is a description that I found on the International Rett Syndrome Website:

The child with Retts is usually born healthy and shows an early period of apparently normal or near normal development until 6-18 months of life, when there is a slowing down or stagnation of skills. A period of regression then follows when she loses communication skills and purposeful use of her hands and slowing of the normal rate of head growth become apparent. Soon, stereotyped hand movements and gait disturbances are noted. Other problems may include disorganized breathing patterns which occur when she is awake and seizures.

Hannah is an only child, the of treasure of parents' hearts. She is a very brave little four-year old who inspires joy in just about anyone she meets. I don't understand much of the suffering that God allows in this world, but I pray that He is holding Hannah and her parents tightly in the palm of His hands today.


Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8

As avid Dave Ramsey fans, David and I have been anti-debt for about 3 years. But the Bible speaks of one debt which we should never be able to mark “Paid in Full.” We seem to owe one another an on-going debt of love. For me, the burden of this debt has become increasingly clear as we have begun to receive financial and prayer support from so many. I know that we could NEVER repay what we have been given. Actually, I know that these gifts are not even given to us, per se, as much as they as they are given to God. And while the financial gifts are tangible, we fully believe that they are given with great love—love for US, love for GOD, and love for the FRENCH. I am convinced that each time one of you writes a check to Greater Europe Mission, you aren’t just fulfilling your pledge obligation; you are making payments on the great love debt. In return, we are feeling such overwhelming love and gratitude towards all of you, that we are eager to find ways to make payments on our ever-increasing debt of love. Oh that this one debt might keep us living in hot pursuit of it! May we all attack it with gazelle-like intensity.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Roughing It

Now, in the words of our president elect, "Let me be clear." This post is in no way meant to be a complaint. I have not picked up the French penchant for whining. I just want to share with you the living conditions at Camp des Cimes. Ours was the uppermost chalet. We would climb the stairs on the side, go in a door, and then climb another flight of stairs to our third floor room. Upon arrival we were given four sets of sheets and four bath towels--circa 1968 by my best estimation. Each cot was supplied with a pillow, a charming (albeit threadbare) quilt, and a scratchy wool blanket. Our beds might have been perfectly cozy save this one minor detail: they were all somewhat damp. In an effort to warm our room and dry our cots, David turned on the wall heater. This ancient little unit sounded like a dental drill on steroids and produced the heat of a small candle. Our first night I was so cold that I was having chest pains. For survival (really!) David and I pushed our cots together and snuggled.

The next morning David was up at the crack of dawn because he was leading worship at the first conference session. He gathered his things and went down to the bathroom, which was on the ground floor and had two toilets and two showers. There was a wooden sign that said GARCONS (boys) on one side and FILLES (girls) on the other. We were told that the procedure was to turn the sign to your sex when entering the bathroom. David, finding the bathroom completely unoccupied, put up the GARCONS side and got into one of the showers. A few minutes later he hears the door open, and a woman's voice say, "I'm coming in!" You need to know that my husband is the most modest human being on the face of the earth. He barely gets naked in front of me--his wife--so you can imagine his horror when another woman announced that she was getting in to the next shower. I'm sure he did everything he could to seal the seams of his shower curtain to the wall while cowering in the far corner of the stall. He waited in the shower for the woman to completely finish bathing, dry off, and leave the bathroom. Only then did he dare to reach out for his towel, dry off, dress, and emerge from his stall. He was completely traumatized by the incident. I was completely amused.

David and I are not the type who enjoy roughing it. (Okay, I do realize that people who actually "rough it" would not even put this experience in that category. I don't suppose wall heaters, cots, and indoor toilets are generally part of the "roughing it" accommodations, but for us this was downright primitive!) Even in the Alps, camping is not our thing, and Camp des Cimes was definitely pushing the edge of our comfort zone--save this: the food was incredible! The meals were served family style, one course at a time at a slow and very French pace. Each repast was simple, but tasty. Fresh, colorful, and chocked full of flavor.

Greater Europe Mission owns Camp des Cimes and uses it for summer and winter camps for kids. All things considered, it is a great facility.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Our Super Spiritual Sons

The day before we left for France we spoke in a Sunday School class at my parents' church. Our boys were with us, and we gave them the camera and asked them to take a couple pictures of us while we were up front talking about mission stuff. is the ONLY picture they took of either of us. It is a picture of David giving them "the eye" while I was speaking.

So why was David giving them "the eye?" Well, let me just share with you the rest of the pictures that were taken during that Sunday School Class.

No, I don't know what that is coming out of Graham's nose, but I'm pretty sure it's not what it looks like. And I don't know what this says about David and I as speakers, but I'm pretty sure it's not a vote of confidence from our kids.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Full Redemption

Over and over, laced through conversations with missionaries, French pastors, and even local shopkeepers, we heard a recurring theme: Shame is the tactic most used in raising children in France. Shame produces adults who, though outwardly successful, are inwardly wasting away. They are afraid to take risks and carry a heavy burden of insecurity and discontent. Oh how I long to see the Gospel of Redemption unleashed in France!

Today in my Bible Study I read Colossians 2:13-15, which says:

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

The French people are burdened by their codes, both written and unwritten, and shamed when they do not live up to the expectations of others. But Jesus cancels the code! What a concept to be grasped. I am so grateful to serve a God who chose forgiveness over condemnation. I pray that the Holy Spirit will blow through France afresh with this blessed message!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Pink Poodle in the Palace

Let's play a little game I learned on Sesame Street. It is called, "One of These Things is Not Like the Others."

France: The Art Capital of the World, place of inspiration, beauty, and style.

The Palace at Versailles: Famed for extravagance, elegance, and grandeur.

The Pink Poodle: A modern art sculpture depicting a balloon dog of scary proportions.

This sculpture (and many others by the same artist) were on display throughout the historic Palace at Versailles during our visit. One sculpture looked like a silver Mylar balloon bunny, another was just a plain blue Mylar balloon. The piece de resistance? A sculpture of Michael Jackson with his monkey, Bubbles, graced the King's Parlor. Can we file this under "What were they thinking?"

At the same time, I see a spiritual parallel. No, really, stick with me. I think the Pink Poodle stands for the Post-modern, "enlightenment" philosophy that the French embraced so thoroughly in the late 18th century. At the time, those beliefs seemed reasonable, wise, and advanced. But when integrated into real life--those same beliefs are as unreasonable as a giant pink poodle in the drawing room. They make a big statement, but the statement they make is neither living nor true.

Some day this exhibit will move on, and Versailles will be free from artwork that actually detracts from its beauty and value. Some day France, too, can be free from the burden of modernism, and open to embracing something that is both living and true: My Jesus.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Five Randoms About France

We learned some interesting tidbits about French culture on our trip, and I wanted to share just a few of them with you:
  1. In France, your bread (which is served at every meal) does not go onto your plate, it is placed directly on the table. It is perfectly acceptable to mop up your dinner plate with a crust of bread.

  2. The French school system is not meant to be fun and teachers use shame to motivate the students. For example, many teachers return graded papers beginning with the highest grade and ending with the lowest. At the same time, academic achievement is quite high.

  3. Evangelical Christianity is considered a cult, on the same level as Jehovah's Witnesses. Some French parents will forbid their children to befriend Christian missionary children.

  4. Whining is a national pastime, depression is epidemic, and the French tend towards hypochondria with a strong affinity for pharmaceutical drugs.
  5. There is a new openness to the Gospel--the French are more willing to hear and accept the message of Jesus Christ than they were 20, 10 and even 5 years ago. This was communicated to us most passionately by the indigenous Pastors, who eagerly welcomed the help of expat missionaries.
  6. I know, I know...this is number six, but I found it very interesting to discover that the French do not exchange Christmas Cards. I scoured the country for them, and finally discovered that they send "Bonne Annee" (Happy New Year) cards instead. The New Years cards that I found resemble secular Christmas Cards--they are decorated with trees and gifts. I saw none--NOT ONE--with a spiritual bent, such as a manger or wording that celebrates the birth of Christ. I also found it intriguing that a box of cards contained a whopping 5 cards--as opposed to the 25-50 cards in a box in the US.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jog

This photo, taken by my father, is a perfect depiction of how we felt after the long trip home: bleary, dazed, and ready for a shower! Still, David and Chandler had smiles for the camera, reflecting our joy and satisfaction. It was a good trip.

And so where do we go from here? Our heart's desire--and I use "heart" in the singular because there is perfect unity in our family about this--is to be living in France as soon as possible. We believe this is God's desire as well, and so we look forward to seeing how He is going to make that happen. Over the rest of this month, I will be sharing stories and photos from our trip. I hope that YOU will be encouraged as we tell you what we learned about God's work in France. I also hope to hear how God has been working where you are, because WE are so deeply encouraged by each of you.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Chateau de Vizille

About forty minutes away from Camp des Cimes is a small village called Vizille which boasts an old chateau that is now a French Revolution Museum with a large and beautiful garden. We had a half-day break between the "Role of the Family in World Evangelism" seminar and the "Organic Church Planting" seminar, and visited this tucked-in-the-Alps treasure. We look forward to many more such discoveries when at last France is our place of residence.

We have only been gone from the States for about a week, but in some ways it feels like a lifetime. While I can't wait to hug my parents, teach the Coders the new card game we learned, and share our adventures face to face with friends, I am grieving having to leave France. All four of us are reluctant to depart, convinced even more that we are called to this place. There is much more to say, but my mind is so full I have not yet found the words to convey what God has done and what we believe He will do. I guess it will all ooze out of me in His time. For now, I treasure this experience in my heart. I am thankful.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Camp des Cimes

Someday, when an Internet connection is not such a luxury, I will wax poetically about the beauty of the Alps, the friends we are making, and the goodness of the Lord. I will entertain you with stories about all of our faux pas, including forgetting to pay our property taxes (due 10-31) before we left the states, learning to adapt to a culture of co-ed bathrooms, and mistakenly arriving at the wrong home when attempting to find our hosts for a night. But for now I will simply tell you that all is well.

We are settled in the Camp des Cimes (Camp of the Peaks) which is located in the French Alps and dusted with snow. Our chalet is high on a peak, complete with log beams, wood floors, and comfy bunks. The heater in our room was struggling to create warmth, so David and I scooted our bunks together, cuddled up, and slept peacefully!

David led worship this morning, and he did a wonderful job—it was fun to see him back in that role once again. The boys have made friends with the oldest son of the conference speakers, and are enjoying everything from the sessions on the Role of the Family in World Evangelism to the foosball table in the basement of the lodge to snowball fights.

I love each moment, but I am struggling to find the time to process all that I am seeing and hearing. My love for the French people continues to grow—God has endeared them to me. But my realization of the challenges of ministry here has grown as well. I am so glad that I serve a God who is up to the challenge. He is a great God, and He has a plan of redemption. I can’t wait to join Him in it.