Wednesday, October 31, 2012


There are some things that even I struggle to describe. As much as I love words, words fall short. But since words are all that I have, I will do my best. 

When we arrived in France just over two years ago, we met a Dutch family with whom we felt an instant connection.They are a young couple with two young boys. Just a year before we met them they had buried a beloved baby girl. The first time I went to their house, I sat on their sofa and cried as I listened to my friend tell her story of grief and tragedy--yet, she had joy and hope. They had walked through the valley of the shadow of death, but their faith was strong. This family quickly became very dear to us, and over the past two years, we have only grown in love and admiration for them. 

You can imagine the excitement they felt when early this year they discovered that they were expecting a baby girl. While they were overjoyed, there were, understandably, some fears. But through the entire pregnancy, they chose to trust God. They consistently prayed, "Lord, this is your baby, and we pray that you would be glorified through this pregnancy, no matter what happens!" 

I was sitting with them at the breakfast table last Friday morning, just before they left to go to the hospital to be induced. After praying for the day and for the delivery of the baby, their very wise eight year-old boy said, "But I don't want her to be born today because then she will die today." He remembered the birth of his other sister, and couldn't imagine a different ending. 

"My friend," I said to him, "she might live."

"Yes," his mother added, "most babies live."

Still, they made no promises. For those who have lost something so dear, the possibility of such a loss is all too real.

So Friday and Saturday, while our friends were the hospital for the delivery, I hung out with their two boys and their nanny. We danced and played and watched movies. And then we got the call.

Amiée was born. Alive. Aimée means "beloved" in French.

And David and I are her god-parents. We are honored to be a part of this wonderful family in such a special way. I never dreamed that we (Americans) living abroad (in France) would have a Dutch god-daughter! Isn't God's family amazing!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Un Peu Classique

I am in a town north of Paris visiting some friends and I had a few hours to kill. Since I needed a haircut, I went to a local salon and waited for an open stylist. She politely asked me what I wanted her to do, and I politely told her that I just wanted a trim. I then showed her (using my téléphone portable) a photo of MYSELF with my hair the exact way that I wanted. She shrugged.

Shrugging is considered a response in French, though I am never exactly sure of its meaning.

She washed my hair, conditioned my hair, and then did something else because she simply wasn't satisfied. That "something else" cost me an additional 12€, so I hope it plated my scalp in gold.

Finally she took me to her cutting chair and began combing my hair with a perfectly French pout on her face. Then she picked up the scissors.

For 20 minutes straight she attacked my head with a ferocity like I have never seen. Hair was flying in every direction. She seemed like a cross between an octopus and Edward Scissor-Hands! Just when I thought she was finished, she picked up the thinning shears and kept at it, fast and furiously. There seemed to be no method to her madness, and I began to wonder if she was even a stylist at all. I contemplated asking to see her license.

Eventually she put down the scissors and picked up a brush and a hairdryer. Again, her technique was aggressive, to say the least. She yanked and tucked and tousled. She applied the hair gel, and (with a flourish) held up a hand mirror to show me the back of my head.

I must have appeared a bit shocked because she finally spoke.

She stated, in no uncertain terms, that my previous style was "un peu classique" (translation: "outdated") and that now my haircut was much more fashionable. "NOW" she announced, "you are pretty."

At last she smiled, triumphant. I think she expected applause.

"And," she added, leaning down, as if letting me in on a secret, "It's very easy to style. You will think of me tomorrow when you fix your hair." She got that right!

Seriously, I cannot ever remember having as little hair on my head as I do at this moment. Let the clamoring for photos begin! I'll post some once I'm over the shock.

In the meantime, I 'm letting yet another lesson in French culture sink in: The stylist chooses the cut, not the client!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Two words: MAKE and TAKE.
Deux mots: FAIRE et PRENDRE.

They do not mean the same thing; yet, they can cause a lot of confusion!

In French and in English, we TAKE a picture (prendre une photo). This one is easy!

However, in English, we MAKE a decision, but in French we TAKE a decision (prendre une decision).

In English, we TAKE a walk, but in French, we MAKE a walk (faire une balade).

In English we MAKE an appointment, but in French we TAKE an appointment (prendre un rendez-vous).

In English we TAKE a cruise, but in French we MAKE a cruise (faire uns croisière).

So there's your French lesson for the day!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Jack in the Box

I call this photo "Jack in the Box."

What would you call it?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A "Normal" Week

Ministry is nebulous. Honestly, the most meaningful interactions that we have in any given week are not usually the result of a planned meeting. For that reason, we intentionally leave some blank space on our calendars. Some examples of how our "blank space" got filled last week? I babysat twin three-year old boys for three hours one morning so that their mother could look for a job; David (along with the boys and a few others from church) helped a woman and her small children move to our village; I took a friend's daughters to swimming lessons. And that was a slow week--having been sick and all.

Nevertheless, we do have some "regularly scheduled duties." Two weeks ago David preached in BOTH the English and the French services at our church. Last weekend I preached in French and David led worship.
Just before that service I helped to train two young women to disciple their friends. 

 On Monday I met with some women who are helping me to plan a women's retreat. I also did a pile of administrative tasks related to the planning of that retreat! David had his small group on Monday morning and then spent the rest of the day working on a Hermeneutics class that he is teaching at church.

Tuesday is my fullest day! I have a small group that meets on Tuesday mornings, followed by a weekly meeting with Marie, who I continue to disciple--while she continues to help me with my French! On Tuesday afternoons I go to a knitting group--which I joined to 1. Learn to knit, 2. Practice French, and 3. Make friends in the community. David is helping a guy from church learn to preach, so they have been meeting on Tuesdays. And then on Tuesday nights we all sing with a community choir.

I leave Wednesday mornings open. Of course, the market in our village is on Wednesday mornings, so I usually do a little shopping. If nothing else comes up, I use it to work on homework for our Church Planting training or to prepare for any preaching I have scheduled. Wednesday morning is study time for David, too. On Wednesday afternoons I get trained in a discipleship process. After the training I spend an hour or so with a friend who teaches English in the Junior High. If I need help with something that I am writing in French (I occasionally write articles for our church website, or book summaries, etc.) she helps me with that. If I don't have a project, we speak in English to help her prepare for an upcoming certification examination. David has just started teaching a beginning guitar class on Wednesday afternoons. Graham is helping him, and they have 7 students.

Thursday mornings are the same as Wednesday mornings--open, but used for study is nothing comes up. Thursday afternoon are reserved for time with my husband. We do ministry planning, talk about personal issues, and sometimes go out for a cup of coffee. I love Thursday afternoons!

Every other Friday, David and I are visiting different villages to begin to discover where God may call us to plant a church. We make ethnographic observations, talk to people, explore, and pray. The remaining Fridays are dedicated to housekeeping, marketing, and connecting with friends. Yes, this means I only clean house twice a month. No one in the house seems to be bothered by this but me--the joy of living with boys!

Monday through Friday we meet at the church for prayer from 7-8 in the morning and from 6 to 6:30 in the evening. This marks the official start and finish of our days.

Saturdays are our Sabbath, and we take it very seriously around here. All of us on the ministry team here in Loches work 6 days a week-but on Saturday we rest. We sleep in! We typically spend a few hours playing games together. I like to read, knit, and take walks. We watch a movie in the evening.

Hope that gives you glimpse into our week. Of course, all of it is always subject to change--according to the leading of the Lord. He gets to plan our days; we are available to Him.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Give careful thought to your ways...

I've spent some time over the past few weeks in the book of Haggai--an Old Testament book which I barely know how to find, with a name I certainly don't know how to pronounce. Nevertheless this obscure, oddly-named prophet wrote words that have convicted me, challenged me, and in some ways haunted me.

God sent Haggai to the people of Israel after they had been freed from captivity in Babylon and returned to the city of Jerusalem. They had been free for many years, and were living rather prosperous, comfortable lives. But in their great effort to realize the American Israeli dream, they seemed to have forgotten something:
Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: "Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in paneled houses, while [my] house remains in ruins?" 
Apparently, a 'paneled' house was pretty high class. It wasn't a basic dwelling, it was, you know, fancy. In other words, the people of Israel had taken great pains to make nice homes for themselves. At the same time, the Lord's house had been neglected. It was literally IN RUINS. The temple was not a priority for the Israelites, even though it was a priority for God.

And there-in lies the conviction/challenge of Haggai. In this tiny book of TWO short chapters, the prophet implores God's people to "give careful thought" to their ways. He repeats this exact phrase FOUR times. "Give careful thought to your ways..." Which has caused me to ask, "Are God's priorities MY priorities?"

Notice, God does not rebuke His people for having nice things. There is nothing wrong with having nice things. The problem was that they were living life on auto-pilot, going about their daily activities without thinking. They forgot to be intentional. They forgot to take account. They forgot that they were called to live beyond themselves. So they paneled their houses. Meanwhile the very work that God ordained for them--THE WORK THAT THEY WERE CREATED TO DO--was being neglected.

They. Were. Missing. It.

And tragically (but hauntingly familiar) they found that all of their self-satisfying efforts were disappointingly unsatisfying.
You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.
God made us to find satisfaction in living for Him. Real fulfillment comes from a sold-out commitment to His priorities. Oh, but the flesh cries for its needs to met and its wants to be pampered. And we give in to ourselves without even thinking...which is why the Lord calls to us and says, "Give careful thought to your ways...."

In other words, get out of the rat race. Take a breath. Look at what you are doing, and question why you are doing it. Ask the Lord what He wants you to do. Listen. Obey.

Expect to be satisfied.

Monday, October 8, 2012

I never get sick.

Almost never.

Here's hoping this flu is the 24-hour variety.

I've put oil on my feet. I've drunk orange juice. And water. And tea;

Jack and Gemma have been my constant companions. I think they're enjoying the heat emanating from my fevered body.

David went to the pharmacy to get an assortment of medications that should make sleep possible. Or perhaps a mild coma.

Please pray that the rest of the family stays healthy.

I'm off to bed....

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Another Baby Blanket

I had so much fun making this baby blanket for a friend. The pattern was free, and you can find it here.

A quilter once gave me some interesting advice, which I applied when choosing these colors. She insisted that you should choose mostly colors that you LOVE, but always add some colors that you HATE. This produces a blanket that has rich harmonies, rather than a blanket that is monotone. It is so hard for me to choose colors that I don't like, but I do think that the quilter was right. I love all of the colors in this blanket, except the yellow and the mauve. But crocheted together with the other colors, the end result is rich. I think there is a life lesson in there somewhere....

I had just enough yarn left over to make a hat. After looking at all sorts of flowery, girly patterns, I ended up choosing this silly thing. Because every girl needs a little whimsy in her wardrobe. This, too, was a free pattern. You can find it here.

Monday, October 1, 2012


Every now and then, we get these amazing reminders of why we are here. Yesterday was just that sort of day. The church was packed, as friends and family members came to show their support for Carole, Jerôme, and Samia--the three who would share their testimonies. After hearing their stories and praying for each one, the we all loaded into cars and drove to a nearby lake, where the baptisms would take place.

Samia was baptized by her husband, Renel and my dear friend, Christine. Graham has been in a small group with Renel over the past year and prayed for Samia. What a joy to see her come to faith! Christine was in my small group, and she is currently discipling Samia.

Last summer we arrived in Loches just in time to see a teenager named Héloise get baptized. Yesterday, her mother, Carole took the plunge. Carole was baptized by our pastor, Raphaël and our friend and colleague, Becca.

And this is Jerôme! Jerôme came to faith  last spring (he can tell you the exact day and hour!) after  being befriended by many in our community. He was baptized by Hélène--the university student that  told him the plan of salvation, and  Raphaël, a colleague who has been discipling him.

After the baptisms we had a barbecue at the park. It was like a great big family celebration. 

What joy to be a part of this community of faith. We are truly, truly thankful.