Wednesday, February 29, 2012

C'est Magnifique

There is an older gentleman who is often at the track the same time that I am. He is the only person on the face of the earth who I have ever lapped. Today during my 10 laps, I actually lapped him twice. The second time I passed him, I asked him how many laps he runs. He answered, "twenty." Then he dared me to guess his age. I had no idea, so he told me, "Eighty-three." So there you have it. The only person that I know of who runs slower than I do is a man who is twice my age that goes twice my distance. I think it is pretty safe to say that I will never become prideful about my running.

I could, however, become prideful about my dog. She may well be the smartest, the cutest, and the most loyal dog in the whole wide world. After one week, she's practically house broken, she is unbelievably affectionate with her family, and whenever we take her out she makes friends all over Loches. Today at market, one gentleman declared, "Elle est magnifique!" I couldn't agree with him more.

You know what else is magnifique? The salmon that I made for dinner! I will post the recipe and some photos next time I make it. Flavorful, beautiful, and simple to make, I'm sure it will become a regular menu item in our home.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Unexpected Escargot

Alternatively Titled: "Why I Wash the Spinach"

Sunday, February 26, 2012

My Word for 2012

On the day that the house flooded, I had begun writing a blog about my "word" for 2012.

Most years, God draws me to a word that becomes my focus for the next 12 months. Like the melodic theme of a symphony, this word or idea shows up repeatedly over the course of the year, as God directs my attention to His purposes. The word often speaks to some aspect of Christ's character or to something that the Lord wants to teach me. Throughout the year, as the word pops up in scriptures, in songs, in sermons, or even in day to day conversations, I receive new insights, and I am changed.

I have been on an interesting journey in words. Notice the progression in the words that the Lord has given me in recent years--from "humble" (as in "humble yourselves before the Lord" James 5:10), to "decrease" (as in "He must become greater, I must become less" John 3:30), to "nothing" (as in "your attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus...who made Himself nothing." Phil 2:7).

Humble; Decrease; Nothing.

"What comes after 'nothing'?" I asked the Lord.

And I waited for His answer.

As usual, His answer surprised me. It defied my logic. It challenged my thinking. It upset my fruit cart.

My word for 2012 is "Victory".

It seems almost contrary to the direction I have traveled the past few years. Have we turned a corner; or, is this idea of "victory" the next thing in the progression? Jesus made Himself nothing, which resulted in His crucifixion on a cross, which resulted in victory over sin and death. Hmmm.

Humble; Decrease; Nothing; Victory?

I was just about to write this very blog when I received the news that our house flooded. That felt like a defeat, not a victory. I began to wonder if I had heard wrong. Was the word "victory" just wishful thinking on my part? Perhaps I had been mistaken. Maybe the butter had slipped off my noodle. But then I had this thought (or perhaps it was the voice of God): Victory is not about feelings.

Victory is not about feelings. Nor is it about temporary circumstances. Nor is it about me.

Victory belongs to the Lord. He wins it. He lives it. He shares it with His people. It is the reality of my condition because of the grace of God. I cannot earn it. I cannot lose it. I can choose to deny it, or I can graciously embrace it.

Let them praise his name with dancing 

   and make music to him with timbrel and harp. 
For the LORD takes delight in his people; 
   he crowns the humble with victory. 
Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor
and sing for joy on their beds.

Psalm 149:3-5

I can "rejoice in this honor"--the honor of His victory! This year, I hope to learn what that means.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

English Service

This is the English service in which I preached (shared? spoke?) last weekend.The video is of the entire service, right down to the announcements! Rachel is the worship leader, and she does a great job; however, if you wish to skip straight to my message, go 22 minutes into the video. My part runs from the 22 minute mark to the 45 minute mark. So if you have a spare 23 minutes in your day, grab a cup of coffee and join me for a gander through Romans 12: 10-13.

Watch live streaming video from anzenberger at

Sunday, February 19, 2012

There's No Place Like Home

She's in constant motion, so most of the photos we have taken are blurry, but we are loving our blurry furry Gemma!

Her first twenty-four hours with us have been delightful. We have limited her access to the house at the moment for two reasons: 1.) it is a lot of house for a little puppy, and 2.) this allows Jack to have some "personal" space from his zealous new friend.  For the time being Gemma is allowed in the kitchen, the hallways, and the game room.

She didn't have any accidents yesterday because we have been diligent about taking her outside frequently. We have read that the fewer accidents that the puppy has in the house, the quicker she will learn to go to the bathroom outside. So accident prevention--even if it is OUR doing--is still a good policy.

She slept in a crate next to our bed. When we first put her in, she cried for about 5 minutes, and then she calmed down and went to sleep. She woke me up at 2 a.m. for a potty break, and after a quick trip outside where she did her business, she went right back into her crate. She whined again for another 5 minutes, and then went to sleep until 8 a.m.!

We have been reading that Cairn Terriers are VERY closely related to wolves, and we can see a strong resemblance, particularly when Gemma is exploring outside. She's captured our hearts and we are head over heels in love with the newest member of our family.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Mon Premier Article en Français!

Here is a link to an article that I wrote for our church's website. Oui, c'est en français. If you do not speak French you can cut and paste it into google translate, but just be aware that google translate is not always accurate. 

Pretty cool, you know, to be able to do something I LOVE (write) in another language. Yes, I DID have some help--my dear friend Christine acted as editor in chief!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Lessons I'd Rather Not Learn

Some things we learn by choice--like knitting! I have recently been working on a new stitch called a Baby Cable. I enjoy expanding my knitting knowledge and abilities. Even though I am trying to be very careful, I have already made several mistakes in this plum colored Baby Cable knit shawl. Some mistakes could be corrected, other mistakes were irreparable. Nevertheless, the end result will most likely be pleasing even if it is not perfect. Knitting is something that I am learning by choice.

But there are other things we learn  out of necessity. The first time our house flooded, David and I earned a Ph.D in insurance policies, water mitigation, and reconstruction. It wasn't stuff we particularly wanted to learn, it was stuff that life demanded that we learn. Some of that reluctantly earned knowledge will be transferable to our current situation. 

However, now we have a whole new dimension thrown into the scenario. This time, while applying the knowledge gained from our last flood, we have to learn how to be long-distance landlords negotiating a crisis that has affected not just us, but another family as well. Like my knitting, we've made some mistakes. We will do our best to fix the mistakes we can fix, and we grieve the fact that some mistakes just may be irreparable. Most of all, we will keep on trying to learn.

Part of the problem is that it took us a couple of weeks to realize that we had gone "back to school." We flunked a few tests for which we were clearly unprepared before we woke up to the fact that we needed to get busy and learn some things. We didn't choose to take this class; life simply enrolled us in it. We'd might as well start taking notes.

And while I learn these lessons that I would rather not have to learn, I draw inspiration from many who have gone before me into much more challenging schools of life. My mother had to learn to bury a daughter. My sister is having to learn to care for a disabled child. One friend is having to learn to manage her son's mental illness. Another friend is having to learn to be a single parent. Still other friends have had to learn to bury the dream of ever becoming parents at all. My long-time prayer partner has had to learn to live with MS, and she would say that that lesson is a piece of cake compared to other lessons she has been forced to learn.  

None of those people would have chosen those lessons, yet all have learned or are learning what God has put before them to learn. They have faced some of life's ugliest challenges, and they have done it without losing their love, their grace, or their senses of humor. I want to be just like each of them as I learn these lessons that I'd rather not learn. No, I never wanted to learn how to be a long-distance landlord during a crisis situation. I DO, however, want to learn how to engage in this learning process with hopefulness and faith. In that way, maybe God will make something pleasing out of this mess, despite my imperfections.

Monday, February 6, 2012

An Ordinary Day

I am often asked how we spend our time on a day to day basis. Ministry is a difficult thing to quantify, but I will tell how TODAY was spent, and perhaps that will give you glimpse of the wonderful chaos that is our new "normal."

Let me start at 10 p.m. last night, when we received a text message from our pastor, Raphaël, asking David if he could lead prayer in the morning. It seems that an unexpected snowstorm would prevent him from getting home at a decent hour. David replied, "no problem!" and changed the alarm from 6:15 a.m. to 5:15 a.m. We had been debating about whether we were going to stay up late to watch the Super Bowl, and decided then that we ought to go to bed.

David woke up at 5:15, showered, and came downstairs to prepare the morning's worship set. That involves choosing 3-4 songs and creating a sort of power point presentation for their lyrics. Then he packed up the computer and his guitar and headed to the church to set up. I dragged myself out of bed at 6:45 and arrived at church just as the worship was beginning. There were 8 of us this morning. We did what we do every morning: we worshiped, we read a passage of the Bible (today we were on Genesis 24:1-14), we meditated on the passage, and we prayed about what God showed us in His Word. Next we spent some time praying for the persecuted church (today the focus was Belarus). Finally, we asked for prayer requests from those who were there. We prayed for assorted needs, including health, friends and neighbors who need Jesus, and safe travels. Then we went our separate ways for the day, expecting to see each other again at 6 p.m. for evening prayer.

Normally I go running right after prayer on Monday mornings, but because there was about 10 inches on snow on the ground and because I had a doctor's appointment scheduled for 9:15 a.m., I opted to go home for a cup of tea. I spent an hour checking e-mail, playing Words with Friends, and making a quick shopping list. At 9:05 a.m. I set out for the doctor's office on foot. His office is about a block and a half away.

While I was in the waiting room, Julie, a friend from church, called. It seems that one of the young mothers from Magnificat--a home for women in crisis--was going to arrive in Loches by bus at 11:20 and, because of the snow, had no means of getting back to Magnificat. Julie, who lives quite a ways outside of the village, asked if we could pick this young woman and her baby up at the bus station and bring them to our house until someone could figure out how to get her home. (Snow in this part of France is a bit of an anomaly, which means roads are not plowed and people have no idea how to drive in it.)

Just then the doctor came for me, and seeing that I was on the phone made some sarcastic remark that could be translated, "I am so very sorry to interrupt you, but I am ready to see you now." I told my friend that I had to go, but that she could give the young mother my telephone number and we would work something out.

I was examined by my doctor, who exclaimed that I was extremely healthy for someone whose blood work is  as messed up as mine. I am still anemic and I still have horribly low thyroid levels. He adjusted all my prescriptions accordingly and told me to go back to the lab to have my blood drawn again in three months.

At 9:45 I returned home and told David that I needed to do some grocery shopping as it appeared we may be having a guest for lunch. The only grocery store in walking distance from our home is closed on Monday mornings, so this meant we would have to dig our car out from under the snow. We ran to the store and just when we arrived home I received a text message from the young mother, Valerie, saying that she and her baby would be at the station at 11:20, and would it be too much trouble for us to pick them up? I replied that my husband would be there to meet them.

At 11:15, while David was on his way to the bus station, two things happened at the exact same time: 1.) Graham informed me that he needed to take an Algebra test (which requires parent supervision) and 2.) My friend Christine called to tell me that she could stop by my house to help me with an article that I had written in French for our church's website. I did not want to delay Graham in his schooling, neither could I put off Christine's help because technically, my article was already past-due. So I told both, "Okay!"

At 11:30 David arrived with Valerie and Léa, her 3 month old baby. He took over the supervision of the Algebra test while I worked on making the mother and baby comfortable. Valerie made a bottle for Léa while I made a cup of tea for Valerie. Just as mama and daughter were settled on the sofa, Christine rang the doorbell.

I waved her in and saw that her two youngest, Sebastian (4) and Elodie (2), were tagging along. Of course they were--schools were closed because of the snow! In fact, the snow was what made Christine's visit possible, as she is a junior high school teacher who normally would have been at work on a Monday morning.

Greetings and introductions were made all around, and then Christine and I went to work on my article. Sebastian and Elodie were perfect little visitors who were completely captivated by two wonders in my home: the precious baby with her bottle and our cat, Jack, who patiently endured the hands-on love of his small admirers.

Christine corrected my article with the care and efficiency of a junior high teacher, and then proceeded to tell Valerie that I am horrible to speak to on the telephone. It is still difficult for me to talk on the phone in French, so I tend to be very curt. Apparently French people consider this to be rude, so even though Christine is forgiving and knows why I am not very verbose on the phone, she loves to tease me about my lack of telephone etiquette. Valerie quickly joined in the ribbing, telling Christine that she should make a point of calling me every day, just to chat. I should have thrown them both out, but I didn't. They are much to dear to me.

Christine did leave fairly quickly, however, because Chandler came in asking about lunch. By then it was 12:30 and Graham had finished his Algebra test. We all sat down to simple lunch of soup and baguette. During lunch Valerie explained that her time at Magnificat was almost up and that she was looking for a place to live in Loches! This delighted me because our church has been praying fervently for Valerie and Léa. They spent some time in our community over the holidays and they have been coming to Sunday services whenever someone is available to transport them to and from Magnificat. Léa, who has downs syndrome, has worked her way into all of our hearts. I can't wait to share this bit of news at evening prayer. Valerie is one for whom we had prayed that very morning.

After lunch David offered to brave the roads to take Valerie and Léa home. Over lunch we learned that Léa had a doctor's appointment at 2:30 p.m., and David thought that he could get them there in time. They packed up and headed out into the cold.

Meanwhile, I glanced at the clock and panicked. It was 1:30 p.m. and I had a huge house to clean before my weekly meeting with Naomi--my French conversation partner. I tried to call Naomi to see if, given the snow, we were still going to meet. She didn't answer, so I left a message and started cleaning.

I started in the bathroom that the boys share with guests because tomorrow at noon we have a guest arriving. Sara, a French Bible student, is coming for ten days to do an internship at our church. She is a brilliant young woman that David and I met at church planting conference in Frankfurt. Since David and I are passionate about supporting and encouraging French believers to reach their country for Christ, we were thrilled when Sara e-mailed us last month to ask if she could do an internship at our church. She arrives tomorrow on the 11:20 bus, and I want the house to be warm and welcoming for her.

With Chandler's help, we had the house in pretty good shape by the time David got home. It was close to 3 p.m. by then (Valerie and Léa got to their appointment on time!) and I was guessing that Naomi would not be braving the snow for our regular appointment. So I made a cup of tea and sat down to send my freshly edited article to the church for approval. Raf quickly replied to my e-mail declaring that the article was "brilliant" (he was being kind) and asking if I could take a photo to go with it.

We needed a photo of the dungeon to go with my article, and fortunately, we have a great view of the dungeon from Graham's room. David went upstairs and took the photo, and I sent it on to Raf. I'm sure you can imagine how it felt to check something off my list. Article for Website: Check!

It was just after 4 p.m. when David took off for the church. He went there to meet with Raf about sound equipment that they need to buy for the church and about a hermeneutics class that Raf wants David to create and teach for eight eager lay-people in our church. Back at home, I started writing this blog, folded a load of laundry, and prepared two chickens to roast.

Suddenly it was 5:45 and time to head to church for evening prayer. When I walked in I saw Raf handing a guitar to David and asking him to play. David took the guitar and asked, "What song?" Raf had already chosen Béni Soit ton Nom (Blessed be Your Name). The 10 of us who were there joined in singing and then Raf asked the same question that is asked every evening at prayer: "Où était Dieu aujourd'hui?" which means, "Where was God today?"

We shared our story about having Valerie and Léa for a few hours and David shared about God's protection in driving back to Magnificat. Others shared about divine appointments, special blessings, and some plain old ordinary things that are often taken for granted. We then thanked God for all He had done for us. After praying we discussed how we would house and feed a group of nine people who were coming to visit our church this week, and then we parted ways for the evening.

Now we are back at home, and the timer on the oven just went off, calling me to baste chickens, mash potatoes, and steam Brussels sprouts. It is 7:30 p.m. and we will eat dinner at 8 p.m., which is pretty typical for us. After dinner I will probably knit a few rows, and then we have our family devotions and prayer time. I realize that I didn't have a personal quiet time today--that happens sometimes. But other than that, I'd have to say that this was a pretty typical day for us, here in the lovely village of Loches. God is always at work, and we just try to do whatever he puts before us each day.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Snow Blankets the Medieval Village of Loches 

Evangelical Church in Loches Featured in Le Monde
Read the full article here. Attention! C'est en français.

Spangle House Floods
Puppy is Named Gemma
The breeder sent us this photo last week!

So that's our news. What's up with you?