Friday, October 30, 2015

Ten Totally Trivial Tidbits

  1. We have this new app on our phones called Vivino. All I have to do is photograph the label on a wine bottle, and the app then gives me all of the information on that wine--such as where it's made, how it ranks, any distinguishing characteristics, price, and where I can buy it. It also creates a wine database for me for future reference. This is a very cool app to have when one lives in France.
  2. I was in the States for ten days for my classes at George Fox, which was super fun, as always. In my missional leadership class we were asked to look at our hand to see if our ring finger was longer than our index finger. My ring finger is significantly longer than my index finger. And apparently, that's significant. Curious? Here and here are some articles I found on the topic.
  3. Apparently, all buildings in Old Lyon are susceptible to rat and mice infestations. (Don't tell my mother, or she'll never come visit me!) Yesterday some building manitenence guys came by to place traps in our home. Fortunately, I think Jack and Gemma keep the critters away. So far, I haven't seen any unwelcome rodents. Which means I haven't seen any rodents, because no rodents would be welcome in my home.
  4. David flew a plane this week. Hoping to be able to say the same next week.
  5. I've been working on creating surveys for missionaries and mision agencies to get some information to help shape the organization that I want to create to help missionaries transition to the field. All I have to say is this: Google Docs Rocks!
  6. We still don't have a church building, but that's not keeping us from being the church in our neighborhood. Today some local YWAM students came to our neighborhood to help with our outreach efforts, engaging people with a faith-realted questionaire. We will use the information gathered to shape another outreach event that we are planning for December.
  7. I'm thinking of starting a photo collection called "French Men and Their Pants." Because I never cease to be amazed at the various colors of pants that French men wear. Yesterday at the Metro station I saw I guy wearing chartreuse-colored pants. The kicker was that his conservative looking grey blazer had elbow patches of the exact same color. I'm still smiling about it.
  8. It's chestnut season! I had a chestnut mousse yesterday afternoon that knocked my socks off !
  9. While in the States I was telling my dad about our regular ministry activities, and after telling him about our daily prayer meetings he asked, "Do you do prayer meetings in English or in French?" I thought, "What a weird question. We live in France. We work with French people. Of course we do them in French!" But apparently this is not something that Americans would assume. So just to be clear, we do 100% of our ministry in France in French. We pray in French, we worship in French, we preach in French, we plan in French, we evangelize in French, we teach in French, we train in French, we share meals in French, we encourage in French, we joke in French. We do speak English in our own home--but only when we are home alone as a family. When our French friends and neighbors come over we speak French. This is even more true in Lyon than it was in Loches because in Loches we lived and worked with several anglophones. Here we are the only ones on the team. And we like it that way.
  10. Our coffee maker got broken in the move to Lyon, so after doing some research, we finally bit the bullet and bought a Nespresso machine. Oh la la. I now start every day with 20 minutes of silence and a fresh cappuccino. Because spiritual formation and coffee just GO together. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Lord's Slave

While in Madrid, I found myself  in a conversation with a man I know fairly well (we work together in a different setting) and a man I had just met. The man I had just met asked how I was connected to the people who were leading the conference, and before I could answer, the man I know said, "She is the personal assistant of one of the men on the team."

My jaw dropped.

My eyebrows furrowed.

My heart sank.

I felt sick to my stomach.

I fought back tears.

And in utter confusion I said, "No I'm not. We are friends. Colleagues. Coworkers. I am not nor have I ever been his personal assistant."

A week later, I still feel angry as I think about the exchange. (I'm not bragging, I'm confessing.)

I have been trying to figure out how a man with whom I have served on a team for over two years has come to the conclusion that I am the personal assitant of another on the team. And I am starting to wonder if it is because I sincerely try to practice servant leadership. And when a woman takes the role of a servant it is easy to assume that that is who she is. Especailly when (as is often my case) she is the only woman on the team.

For example, this man will often email me with logistical questions about arrival times and reimbursements. I answer these questions because I am trying to be helpful, not because it is my job. But suddenly I'm realizing that he has been emailing me these questions because he thinks I am the assistant--that it is my JOB to take care of those things. So every time I've reserved a taxi for the team, or coordinated meeting times, or sent out reminders, this man thought I was simply doing my job as the assistant when in fact, I was doing things that needed to be done in an effort to serve.

How can a woman be a servant leader among men without being relegated to the role of an assitant? It seems like when a male leader demonstrates a willigness to serve it elevates him as a leader, but when a woman leader demonstrates a willingness to serve she is simply seen as a servant.

But then there is a deeper issue that surfaces, one that has me even more bothered: Why do I care?

Is my identity tied to being recognized as someone important? Do I need to be known as an equal? And if so, what does this say about me? 

It says that in some ways  I am still serving for the glory of me rather than for the glory of God. It says that I want my contributions to be recognized more than I want God's kingdom to be built. It says that I still care about my name, when really I exist to make His name great. Otherwise I would take joy, a secret delight, in being mistaken for someone's assistant.

So while on a global level, I want to advocate for the equality of women, on the personal level, I want to be like Jesus, who being the very nature of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing. 

Jesus, help me to have this same attitude! To make myself nothing. And next time someone thinks of me as an assistant rather than an equal participant, may my  heart leap with joy. For I am the Lord's slave, and so it is only right that I should be known as a servant. 

Saturday, October 3, 2015


The largest hotel in Europe
Every now and then in this missionary journey, I find myself in places that I have no business being. I sit at tables among giants, keenly aware of the reality that while the others have knowledge and experience that makes their presence at the table something to be desired, I am merely a guest. I did not earn my place at the table. But for some reason Jesus pulled out a chair and invited me to sit down. And so I sit, aware that I am on holy ground.

This was my experience in Madrid,

Eighty Christian leaders from 16 different European countries representing a broad spectrum of denominations came together to talk about leading national processes for church planting.

The conference was a Learning Community. What that means is that rather than operating like a traditional conference, where all of the information and expertise comes from speakers at the front of the room, participants are given an active role to play. Only about a third of the time is dedicated to the presentation of information. The rest of the time is spent in groups of 5-8 around tables, processing, understanding, and synthesizing the content of the presentations. And in the end, national teams are given time to make plans of action, considering how they might actually apply or implement the things that they have discovered through the process.

What's even more inspiring is the fact that as we come together as believers, the Spirit of God is also among us, leading us, helping us, correcting us, and challenging us. The organizers build time into the schedule to stop and listen to Lord, inviting Him into every conversation, giving Him authority over every decision, trusting Him at every turn. We worship together. We pray for each other. We study the Word. The facilitators do everything in their power to make sure that Jesus is on center stage, all the time, no matter what. And as these men and women lifted up their gates, the King of Glory came in.

Please don't interpret my wonder about what happened as ignorance concerning the complex issues facing the evangelical church in Europe today. The diversity between countries is much more pronounced than any similarities they might share, and what works in one nation may not work in another. There is no pat answer, no one-size-fits-all method that will result in healthy churches popping up on every corner. But this same complexity might also be a strength, allowing for multiple streams of success and promoting cross-pollination. It also keeps leaders from seeking a "magic bullet" and gives them permission to wrestle with the challenges, imagine creative solutions, and seek dynamic partnerships that have never before been considered.

I have been in the midst of the faithful, the fearless, and the forward-thinking. They can see a future where the Kingdom of God is expanding in the continent of Europe in tangible, redemptive, and transformative ways. And they want to go there together.

My role was small (miniscule, really!), but I felt privileged to play it. I was invited to lead the daily meditations, or times of spiritual reflection, on the subject of unity. I love it when the Lord speaks clearly, and in my time of preparation, I did have a sense of the Spirit's leading. But oh, the overwhelming sense of inadequacy as I stood before some of the best leaders and theologians on the continent and dared to open my mouth.

"Who am I," I kept asking myself, "that I should address such a room full of wisdom?"

"The least among them," came the response.  And I could almost see the hint of a smile play around the mouth of God as the words entered my head. "The very least among them."

Yes, isn't that just like God? The one who welcomes children, who dines with sinners, who seeks and saves the lost. Of course He would be able to speak through the most unlikely person in the room. Of course He would. For in this way, He would be seen. Not through my titles or diplomas or authority--for I have none! But through my weakness and my brokenness.

Yes, I am convinced that the Lord had his way in Madrid. And He could have done it with or without me, or any other person in the room, for that matter. Only He invited us, each one to the table. And in faith, with fear and trepidation, we sat down.

I can't wait to see what happens next.