Friday, March 29, 2013


"Fix it, Mommy!" he begged, handing me the broken toy.

There would be no fixing. It was demolished. Beyond repair. Couldn't he see that?

"Fix it, please," he said, shoving smashed plastic into my hands. Who does he think I am?

"I can't, bud. It's ruined. I'm sorry." I could see his confidence waning, but he didn't lose faith completely.

"TRY if you can fix it!" he encouraged me.

"Try if you can..." was a phrase of his own invention. He used it often to spur on my efforts. "Try if you can open this for me," "Try if you can reach it," "Try if you can like it."

But trying would be no use. I shook my head, at a total loss. "I can't!"

He had one last hope: "Maybe Daddy can fix it!"

It wasn't a bad idea....Of course he was talking about David, but his faith in his earthly father was just a reflection of a greater, truer truth. If I could teach my boys just one thing about brokenness it would be this: Take it to your heavenly Father. He can fix anything.

How often have I handed him the broken pieces of my own life? He has a knack for fixing things.

Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

In Weakness

It would have been a difficult conversation in English, there's no doubt about it.

Even if I had been able speak in my mother tongue, I would have spoken slowly. I would have used carefully chosen words, praying with every breath, hoping to say just what needed to be said. I would have used gentle phrasing and deliberate diplomacy to address a tender subject. Even if I had been able to draw upon my English vocabulary and verbal acuity, it would have been a really difficult conversation.

But the conversation was in French. 

As rudimentary words fell from my tongue they rang harshly in my own ears. I sensed the sharpness of my message but had no means with which to soften its blow. I spoke the truth, but I wondered if the love was lost in translation.

Tears fell down as her defenses came up. She gave no indication of understanding. Was I doing more harm than good? Was I the wrong person to be doing this? Would it have been better to ignore the problem?

Ministry is messy. And sometimes I hate it. Most times I feel inadequate. At all times Jesus is faithful.

Somewhere, somehow, my clumsy words eventually rang true. By God's grace (and despite my ineptness) repentance, forgiveness, and redemption were found. To him be all the glory!

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Monday, March 25, 2013

When Ministry Gets Messy

"Sometimes I hate ministry," I sighed, walking out the back door of the church and turning towards the bakery.

It was the first sunny day in weeks, but a dark cloud loomed in my spirit. It would be a day of hard conversations, and I was weary from it before even uttering a word.

Ministry always involves people, and as one of my dear mentors is fond of reminding me, "Where there's people, there's poo poo."

Today was a day of dealing with the poo.

I don't like the poo, but I deal with it just the same. I do it because I love the people. I do it because God loves the people. I do it because Jesus died to deal with our messes. All of them. Even the poo.

And if I am honest, I have to admit that I have made my fair share of contributions to the mess that humanity brings to ministry. There is a stamp in my passport that actually serves as a reminder of this little fact. Maybe you have one too. It says, "Admitted POO." David has the same stamp in his passport. So do the boys. We all have "Admitted POO."

So when, on days like today, I have to deal with other peoples' messes, it good for me to pull out my passport and remind myself of the many times that others have had to clean up after me. 

Friday, March 22, 2013


Every year on our anniversary, David and I take time to remember the mercies of God.

Jenn graduated
David got promoted
We began saving for a house

David draws a timeline, and then we draw little altars on the timeline and label their significance.

We bought our first house
We were comforted after leaving a church

He got the idea from the Old Testament, where God commanded the Israelites to build altars of remembrance.

Pregnant!- a month after the doctor told me that I was infertile
Birth of our first miracle child

Each year we marvel, because His mercies never cease.

God provides for a new roof in a miraculous way
Surprise! A second miraculous pregnancy
Deliverance from a sin that had gripped David for years

It is easy to get lost in the trials of today and forget the eternal faithfulness of God.

A grace filled conversation with my sister--our last one before she dies
Birth of our second miracle child

So we build our altars of remembrance to remind us of His goodness. And the list goes on and on....

Five Minute Friday

Today, I am linking up with Lisa Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday, where writers are encouraged to just write for five minutes on a given prompt, without editing, over-thinking, or backtracking. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Which do I choose?

In my Bible, he doesn't a have name.

He has power.

He has prestige.

He has potential. 

But he doesn't have a name. He is simply called, "The rich, young ruler." 

Though he is a man of influence, he approaches Jesus with childlike eagerness.
As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him...
He demonstrates humility and respect.
...and fell on his kneebefore him.
And he asks a sincere question:
“Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Most educated Jews came to Jesus with answers, not questions. I can't imagine they ran to Him. We certainly never hear of them kneeling before Him. Jesus replies, perhaps playfully, at first.
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”
As Jesus recites the law, I imagine the man was encouraged. Jesus was telling him something he already knew. There was nothing shocking or unexpected in the first half of Jesus' response. Perhaps the rich, young ruler dared to breathe a sigh of relief as he declared,
“Teacher, all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
Oh, the weight of the silence that followed. This faithful, religious man--this law-abiding, righteous-living man, waiting for his verdict. Hoping he had done enough; hoping he was good enough.

He is looking for a judgement. But Jesus is looking for a relationship. The next words in scripture leave no room for doubt:
Jesus looked at him and loved him.
Jesus loved him. Jesus loved his eagerness. Jesus loved his respectfulness. Jesus loved the sincerity of his question. Jesus even loved his passion for righteousness. But above all that, Jesus LOVED him. Knowing every second of this man's past, Jesus loved him. Knowing what was about to happen, Jesus loved him.

Here is where the story starts to hurt. We modern Christians have become Jesus Salesmen, always trying to make it as easy as possible for people to come to faith. Jesus never made it easy. In fact, with Jesus it is always an all or nothing proposition.
 “One thing you lack,” he said. Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.Then come, follow me.”
I'm pretty sure that this assignment wasn't about the money. I'd even wager it wasn't about helping the poor. It was about relationship. Jesus wanted a fully devoted follower. Jesus wanted an unencumbered disciple. Jesus wanted more than good deeds and law-keeping. He wanted the rich, young ruler's whole life. Why?

Because Jesus loved him. 

And the fact that Jesus loved him tells us no one was more grieved by the rich, young ruler's response than Jesus.
 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Jesus loved the rich, young ruler. Jesus died for the rich, young ruler. But the rich, young ruler went away sad, choosing his creature comforts over eternal life.

And so I have to ask myself, "Which do I choose?"

Monday, March 18, 2013

Why we are Here

Yesterday we drove 45 minutes to go to a church in a village called Chinon, where David gave a message on Church Planting. There are 5 churches of our denomination in our region, and together they decided to dedicate a Sunday to Church Planting. Since the church in our village has a church planting training center, leaders from Loches went to each of the other churches to  1.) Explain the NEED for more churches in France, 2.) Share what is already being done, and 3.) Invite people to participate in the work.

I was impacted on so many levels! First, most of you know that our goal is to have 1 church for every 10,000 people in France. Today there is one church for every 30,000 people, so we have a long way to go.

But even then...consider this: The church in Chinon, which has been around for several years, has about 30 members. It is the only evangelical church in that town, which has a population of 8000. That means there are just thirty  people to do all the work of running a church. Thirty people to reach their own community. And those thirty people, with so much on their own plates, STILL caught the vision for church planting. They were engaged, asking questions, moved to participate in some way!

Then this morning I drove to the house of a friend from church. I had never been there before, so I did not realize that it was 30 minutes away. She and her family drive 30 minutes to get to church every Sunday, and they do not pass a single other church on their way. They are not being picky, they are going to the nearest possible church! In fact, three years ago, before this church was planted in Loches, they drove an hour and fifteen minutes in the opposite direction to get to church.

Over these past two days, I was reminded of the value and the importance of this church planting work in France. My passion to reach this country for Christ was once again inflamed. I felt the heartbeat of the Father, who desires for ALL to come to faith. And I felt His pleasure in our participation.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Rhythm of His Rest

The more I engage in the work of God's kingdom, the more I am learning to abandon my agenda and embrace the rhythm of His rest.

MY agenda is focused on goals, benchmarks, and achievements. I don't like wasted time! I want to see progress!  I plan, I work, I strive. Tasks reign supreme.

HIS rhythm is focused on relationships, daily disciplines, and small private victories. He redeems time. He transforms people. He engages, He empowers, He inspires. He reigns supreme.

MY agenda leads to busy-ness and fatigue; HIS rhythm leads to redemption and peace.

MY agenda seeks accomplishments; HIS rhythm brings satisfaction.

MY agenda is performance-based and glorifies self; HIS rhythm is grace-based and glorifies the Father.

My agenda screams and clamors for attention; His rhythm remains steady and sure, like a heartbeat. And when I abandon my agenda, I find the rhythm of His rest.

Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Click on over...

Today I am the guest blogger at The Lord's Lass, where my niece, Sarah (the author) is celebrating the second anniversary of her blog. Won't you click on over and join the fun? The theme for the week is "Blessing" and I'm sure you'll be blessed to discover the blog of this delightful young woman who is the oldest of 10 children, an accomplished violinist and pianist, an avid reader, and best of all, a devoted disciple.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Don't Forget my Feet--a mother's plea

As we sat around the lunch table, the conversation turned to toenails.

I don't tend to worry much about the future, but lately I have one nagging concern that eats at me in the wee hours of the morning when my body refuses to submit to the solace of sleep: When I am old, senile, and decrepit, who will clip my toenails?

I know my adoring husband would do it, but chances are he'll be dead by then!

Since the dilemma weighs heavily on my mind, I broach the subject with my children. We are having a nice lunch when I ever so subtly bring up the topic of toenails.

My older son, completely disgusted, shakes his head in disbelief. Knowing he really is not suited for care-taking, I suggest he look for a wife who might be up to the task. I imagine a courtship questionnaire that we could use for screening purposes: "Question 6: How do you feel about foot care?"

Before I can compose follow-up questions, he says in no uncertain terms, "I am NOT going to ask my wife to clip your toenails." Emotions mingle as I reply, "You're right, that might be asking too much." I feel sort of proud that he is already protective of this girl, though he knows not who she is.

Older son offers a different solution: he nominates younger son for the job.

"You don't actually have to do it yourself, just hire someone to give her a pedicure."

Younger son assents. He's used to being exploited. Older son promises to oversee younger son in this endeavor. Big brothers are good at oversight.

I just might sleep better tonight.

While I feel grateful to know that the future of my feet is in very capable hands, I wonder if I need to get their assurances in writing. It's easy to forget your mother's feet.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Home: A Confusing Concept

When we arrived in the States last month, our friends said, "Welcome Home!"

And I did feel "at home" in the States.

But when we returned to France, our friends here said, "Welcome Home!"

And I do feel "at home" in France.

So what is "Home"? For me it is a confusing concept.

Often, when I am shopping in our village, a shopkeeper (upon hearing my accent) will ask, "Where are you from?"

I hate that question. I hate it because I do not know the answer. I hate it because the answer is, well, complicated.

My first thought is always, "I am from Loches! I live right up the street!" But I know that is not the answer that they seek because it does not explain my floundering French. However, if I respond, "I am from the United States," I have not accurately represented my current living situation.

I have settled on a two-part response, which goes something like this: "We are Americans, but we live in Loches."

Citizens of the United States. Residents of France. Home in two places.

Truth be told, while I hate the "Where are you from?" question, I love the reality of my response; because Jesus lived the same way. He was a citizen of Heaven who became a resident of earth. Home in two places.

And the more I settle into the craziness of cross-cultural living, the more I marvel at what Jesus did when he left one home for another. He went from fame to obscurity. He went from speaking the universe into existence to barely being able to babble. He went from a place of authority to a place of servitude. I think He can understand how I feel. Which is why, no matter where my address is, my home is with Him.

Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Are you buying it?

As we waited in various airports over the past few weeks, I spent a lot of time perusing book tables. Despite my seeming addiction to literature, I was feeling rather illiterate. Years ago, I would have been familiar with just about any title available at the airport. Surprisingly, I was hard pressed to find anything I recognized, save the names of a few select authors.

I particularly noted the number of memoirs that were displayed. Over the past two years I have been reading a great number of memoirs, but I thought this was a personal preference thing; I did not realize that it was a new trend. The memoirs that I read are (most often) written by Christians, and they are steeped with the redemptive power of Jesus. The memoirs that I picked up in the airport bookstores were starkly different.

While the endorsements proclaimed certain works to be "bravely self-revealing," I found the parts that I skimmed to be tragically disturbing. What good is authenticity if it fails to point us to our desperate need for a Savior? How can people come to terms with their own depravity and be satisfied? Or worse, pleased? And why would any reader wish to read disgusting self-disclosures when redemption never comes?

I suppose this is reality-television for the avid reader, but I am as turned-off by it as I am by shows like The Bachelor. The sad thing is, these works would not be so prevalent if they were not popular. People are buying this stuff. Reading it. Watching it. Giving it room in their lives and access to their souls. I am shocked, not so much by the sin that is exposed; but rather, by the fascination that we, as a culture, have with it. At the glorification that we give to it. At the prominence that we accord it.

Oh Jesus, I thank you for dying on the cross for all that is wretched and unholy! I thank you because your grace makes salvation possible. I thank you because you can redeem anything. Won't you free us from a morbid obsession with our own depravity and make us hungry for your holiness?

p.s. If you are looking for a good memoir, may I suggest Surprised by Oxford, by Carolyn Weber; Digging Ditches, by Helen Roseveare; or The Holocaust Diaries, by Nonna Bannister? In these rich stories, fallen people are called out of darkness and discover what it means to live in the light.

Have you read a good memoir? Tell me about it!

Monday, March 4, 2013


David is teaching a guitar lesson in the next room, and I am swooning. There is just something undeniably attractive about that man when he wields his Takemine. I'm a sucker for his strumming, and I always have been.

But as much as I adore his musical moxie, it is nothing compared to his faithful friendship, his servant leadership, and his quick wit. I'd be lost without that man!

Over the years I have only grown in my appreciation of who David is--the more I know of him, the more I am amazed by him. He is totally capable, yet he never insists on his way. He is crazy smart, yet he always listens to what others have to say. He could do anything he wants, yet his greatest joy is seeing others succeed. 

Perhaps that is why my mama always says, "Jennifer, you be good to David!" Because everyone can clearly see how good he is to me. Every. Single. Day.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


Our trip home was long, but completely uneventful--even through Amsterdam. We are thankful.

Our animals were very happy to see us.

I was very happy to see my bed. I climbed in and slept for about 12 hours straight. Best sleep I've had in years! Seriously. Maybe long-distance travel is the answer to all my insomnia issues.

Today, before we re-enter the fabulous vortex of ministry in Loches, David and I are going to sit down and look at our calendar for the rest of the year. We will plot out his Masters of Divinity course schedule, our dates for scoping out villages for a potential church plant, the rotation of foreseen visitors (with the understanding that many are yet unforeseen), and upcoming travel for retreats and conferences. Once those events are slotted into their proper places, we will determine where our margin is for a new project on the horizon.

This sort of thing is extremely overwhelming to me, but with a good cup of French coffee and David's gentle leadership, I think I'll get through it. Nevertheless, you might want to pray for David. He thrives on planning and list-making, and I just get grumpy. I am a big-picture person, and details make me dizzy--even when I am not experiencing jet-lag. The sad thing is, he is doing this more for me than for himself. The "new project" is mostly mine, but like his Masters program, it will require cooperation and coordination on both of our parts.

He has the coffee ready, the calendar printed, and 14 colors of highlighters in hand. He looks just like Gemma looks after hearing the word "walk." Eager.

I'm going in, people.

Lord have mercy!