Sunday, December 28, 2014

We Wish You A Merry Christmas

Joyeux Noël et Bonne Fête etc etc....

I haven't had the space to blog.
I am sure I could carve out the time but when I put my foot on the gas I realize the tank is empty.
Closed for the day...every day.

To catch you up...

November 2013 (wasn't that yesterday?)
We packed up our entire life and moved from our favorite place in the world, Louisville, KY, back to our roots, Texas.
We were so blessed to be able to live with family while we waited for apartment approvals and visas to come through.  This ended up taking four or so months longer than expected.  (SO thankful for those generous in laws that housed us that entire time!)  This was a sweet season for us to have extended time with both sides of the family (Texas Our Texas....), friends from childhood and college.  It was especially wonderful for Stella, and for us to watch her really bond with our family (she usually sees them 2-3 times a year for a few days each).  I would not trade those months.


March 2014: The Big Move
We finally nailed down an apartment and finalized our Visas and hopped onto a plane and the next thing we knew our lives were permanently changed.
With in a week SJ started public school at the maternelle (like preschool but public... all children start the year they turn 3 and have 3 years in maternelle before going into first grade at 6yo).
With in the month Drew and I were also in school and Drew was back at work (from home) and we were figuring out how and where to get groceries and sheets and lamps etc.
It was a beautiful time.
Everything was exciting and fresh and new.
All of God's timing and work seemed to clear and so right and we felt safe with Him as our guide.

It was also hard... mostly for SJ, which in turn was hard for our parental hearts.  She did not adjust well to school (read: cried every.single.day) and making friends is quite hard for her even in the states.
Then came summer, the end of school and the beginning of "The Sickness".
I can laugh about it now but it didn't seem super funny then.
We all seemed to get the "ick".  Where you just don't feel right and you don't know why.  Mild stomach issues for weeks and weeks,  severe stomach viruses and strange fever episodes and "the.rash"... the head to toe, doctor stumping, 10-week-long rash that mysteriously took over every waking hour.. which was every hour, b/c sleep could not tolerate such itching.

Consider the honeymoon cancelled. over. terminated.

In all honesty, even though it was really rough, we still managed to have a pretty good summer and truth be told, still loved France and our new city.
The fall was full of re-entry: back to working overtime, back to daily school for me and SJ and back to trying to parent the introverted english-only tantruming child.
Add to that VISITORS!
We had so many wonderful visitors in the fall, it was refreshing and draining.  Prepping for the arrival of, then hosting in the midst of struggling through our own culture shock and daily duties, then the goodbyes and trying to re-find "normal" and help our child to do the same.
Our family discovered that we do best with routine... our family also discovered routine is not to be found in living a cross-cultural life.
And with a skip, a hop and a nap... it's CHRISTMAS and we've been here 9 months!
(Pregnancy was truly easier. )


Hence the hiatus on the blog.
After rallying the troops in the morning and getting SJ safely into her class and then walking down hill to my class (breaking my head open with French) and then up hill to get SJ again, lunch prep, back to school for Stella, walk to the grocery, figure out French groceries and lug it back, head to pick up SJ, make it home, get dinner ready and get child in bed... my brain is blank.
A blinking cursor with nowhere to go.

Also, I HATE to sound like a complainer... and sometimes at the end of a long day that's all I have left.  But don't you feel like that too some days?  Even in the states life gets HARD or dark or busy and some times at the end of it all you just need some one to decompress with who knows that all of the hard and dark and busy doesn't cancel out the answered prayer, the joy, the victories!

So if you've made it to the end, whew, you are a champion.
I'm hoping as this new year rings in to decompress a little here.  Join me if you are so inclined.  There will be exhausted rants and there will be stories of joy.
That's how all true stories go.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Why We Keep On Singing

Bonjour!
We made it (more on that another day).

Now that I am in France I find myself disconnected.  Disconnected from friends and family and disconnected spiritually.  The spiritual food was free and free flowing in the land that I come from.  Now I have to forage for my own food because even the places serving here are speaking a tongue my heart can't recognize (YET).

So this new situation finds me a little more frequently in the land of social media.  I am a little more inclined to read the articles that circulate on Facebook if they are posted from a trusted friend.

The other day I found myself in just such a situation, reading a blog that was entitled Stop Singing Oceans or something to that effect.  I have sung that song so I opened it up for a read.

The author makes a good point that many people sing words in songs at church that they do not mean and that they never intend to follow through with.  This is her main point and I have no argument with the need to search our own hearts as we come to worship and that the words we sing should mean something.  (What follows is not an argument against her thoughts but where my heart has taken me since reading. )

Today I found myself thinking as I hiked back from class with my favorite Sojourn tunes blaring in my ears... what if I stopped singing every song that made me a hypocrite?  What if I stopped singing the songs that were hard for me or that I had blatantly contradicted with my thoughts or actions?  What if my struggle with fear and unbelief were put on a scale and weighed with the strength and passion of the words I sing?

I would have nothing to sing.
Sunday mornings would be mute.
People with their heads bowed low in shame... or no people at all because their half hearted attempt was exposed... why waste time faking it if you can't do it right?

We cannot do anything for God that He cannot do himself.
We have nothing to offer.

One thing I loved about Sunday gatherings is the idea that it is a time to remind ourselves of who we truly are.  
During the week you might do any manner of things that make you believe something about yourself... failure, weak, ugly, disappointment, selfish etc...
You and I are people with acute amnesia.
We need to meet together and remind each other of who we really are.

We are children of the one and only God.
We have been called and justified and LOVED.
We are being sanctified, renewed day by day, forgiven.

No matter how messed up you are, even if you can't muster up the strength to pretend you care, if you have been saved by the blood of Christ you can sing out.

Maybe for only a millisecond you truly mean with your heart what you sing... God can.
God can move you... even if you don't mean it!
God is bigger than your passion or lack thereof.
God is stronger than the clutch you have on your wallet, unbelieving boyfriend, identity.

I can say this with confidence b/c look at where I am!!
I prayed hundreds of times growing up that God WOULD NOT call me to overseas missions.  Maybe this is because I felt the nudge or just b/c I was terrified to be taken so far out of my comfort zone... As I grew up I felt I had a say in my destiny and so I no longer felt the need to pray against such a calling.
Then after years of struggling and uncertainty I opened my hands and in a short and simple prayer (not really even for myself as much as my hubs) I told God I was completely open, asked Him to reveal his will and I would go or do whatever.
Ummmm... two years later I was moving out of my house and waiting for Visas to move to France.
What the what?!

So brother.  Sister.  Raise your hands and sing out.  Open your heart as much as you can to your God. Ask the Spirit to help you.

You won't do it perfectly.
You will struggle to stay focused.  You will be distracted by that girl's super cute cardigan or that guy's awesome voice or that missed keyboard note or the cold or the hot or your whatever....
You can't worship right.
You can't make yourself holy or presentable before the sovereign God.
You just get to come in your rags and allow some one else to cloth you with their righteousness.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Counting Down...For Real

We have a date!
Not the same kind of date we have had in the past... where we were hoping that by a certain day we would be able to go.
More like we are actually leaving on this specific day!  (Lord willing, of course)

Our visas have arrived at the French Consulate in Chicago!
This is the movement we have been waiting on for MONTHS!!
Now, we will have to travel to Chicago to have a final interview and turn in the last bit of paperwork and then we should receive our Visas!

Our teammates in Louisville are actually interviewing tomorrow and we should interview some time next week!
Thus, they hope to leave by the 10th of March and we will follow on the 18th!

It is hard to believe that this is real after so many delays and bumps in the road.
It's hard to believe we are going to begin living in France in just a few short weeks.
It's extra hard to believe our little SJ will begin French school only a week after we arrive!

Our lives are about to be turned upside down and inside out!

AND WE ARE SO THANKFUL!

We are ready to jump in with both feet.

Just as having a baby/child is WAY harder than being pregnant and yet you still yearn to deliver that baby after 40 weeks... we have been waiting and praying and looking forward to this new step even though we know it will be harder than we can imagine or prepare for.

Please join us in praying for the weeks ahead and our transition!



Monday, January 20, 2014

At the RIGHT Time.

Guess where I am?
In Texas.

Were you getting excited, did your heart start to race thinking about us finally in France?  We know how you feel, it's sort of disappointing right?

At this point, our departure has been delayed at least four times.
Four times we have begun to pack and say goodbye and four times delayed.

Some times the delays are frustrating.  For me, the first delay was the worst but once my expectations were broken down, each new hurdle is less and less surprising and therefore less upsetting.
However, as the days tick on, though I am not distraught or frustrated, I am beginning to feel worn down and a little blah.

Fundraising is a trial as well.  We got off to a great start with very faithful family and friends.  Then there was a lull and then another big push.  Then, things seemed to come to a screeching halt.  We would check our account and there would be no change again and again.  We began to wonder what God was doing and how the rest of the funds would be raised but we also knew, there was basically nothing else we could do but wait on the Lord to provide.  When you've asked every one you know, and every one they know and some people you don't even know... there's not much else to do.

So we have been waiting.

My sweet and godly Nana has reminded me over the last year that God ALWAYS provides but that often it is at the last minute, when we've stopped trying to do it ourselves, when we've almost given up.

I know this is true but it's hard to grasp when you approach the end again and again only to get an extended stay.  So when exactly is that "last minute" when God will act.

So we have been waiting and praying.

Oh man that sounds so godly and missionary-like... ha.  And we have waited and prayed but we've also cried and gotten mad and stomped our feet and thrown up our hands.  But after the tantrum, we still have to wait and what better to do when desperately waiting, than pray?

Today the clouds seemed to part and God brought in some last minute hope!
We found out that our remaining financial need is lower than we previously thought.
We have made some amazing community here in TX and they have faithfully prayed for us and one of these couples is using their frequent flier miles to book all three of our tickets to France... saving us thousands of dollars.
We also had word from the people who have our Visas that they will hopefully/probably/maybe be sent to the states THIS WEEK, which will enable the rest of our team to pack up and book tickets!
We are anticipating a new launch around the end of the third week of February!
We will be official leasers of a French apartment THIS WEEK!
My health is slowly but surely improving.  I am actually breathing out of at least half my nose right now!  (chapped lips rejoice!)

And to top off all of this wonderful news, it is 70+ degrees and sunny today and it's our first tantrum free day with the little one in over a week!

As I have been reflecting on the lessons all of this delay has brought, a verse pops into my head...

Romans 5:6   While we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.

I am so thankful to God for his saving grace and again and again He is showing me that I am still helpless and weak and that He does things at just the right time... His timing.

So even though I am sure there are more bumps in the road ahead and more tantrums and delays... Christ died for me at the right time and continues to work out His plan for His glory in His timing.

Praise be to God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

When It Rains It...

Pours.

As I grew up I heard this phrase a lot.  My "bad luck" was infamous among family and friends and still comes up as a joke quite a lot.
When I married Drew he disliked this jargon.  He was quick (and right) to point out that our lives are not marked by luck and bad luck and that God's hand is not to short to ordain each moment and day.

Then in a class it came up again when the prof talked about how God will do everything and anything it takes to conform you into the image of Christ.

I latched on to this idea and has brought me comfort in hard times again and again
.
This sucks... but am I looking more like Christ?
This suck... but there is a loving plan.

However, there are times when trial after trial comes and my faith begins to quiver.  I begin to compare and complain in my heart.

I struggle to see people who seem to have a charmed life with out bump or bruise (I know it's not pretty!).  Things just go right for them.  I can't understand why this seems to be true based on the every day evidence and yet doesn't seemed confirmed in Scripture that talks about God's love for all people and his plan in my personal formation.

I want to feel his gentle love flowing over me in every moment but sometimes I don't.
It doesn't mean it's not there... but I'm numb.

So what now?

I retrace my steps... back to the Bible and in an instant my heart is humble again, soft again, refocused on what truly matters... not others... but Christ.

I am thankful that this season is all about focusing on Christ.
It truly is a wonder to think about GOD coming as an embryo and then tiny babe in the womb and then born in a manger and raised by humans... WHY WOULD HE DO THIS?!?
The only thing I can think of is love.

Not because some one told me the answer is love but because it makes no sense otherwise.

Why would he go to such lengths to save a hardened and sinful world.
Why would he sacrifice himself for some one like me that struggles and sins in the same ways again and again?

Love.

And in that word, in that truth, there is a sigh of relief...


____

Please pray for us this season!  We are on the cusp of leaving for France and many days it seems like if it can go wrong, it does!
We need financial support, health, and a place to live in FR and the patience to wait for each of those things to unfold in their time.

Blessings this Christmas.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Sorting

When we arrived in Dallas, a day later than planned, we dumped everything from the truck into the "front room".  Boxes and bags hang over arms of chairs and lean on each other, creating a maze of chaos.
We were able to extract the boxes full of kitchen spices, pans and food and load them up in the kitchen.  (Yes, my mother in law is a patient patient woman... and I cook her dinner =)  )
Then you have our room, clothes and blankets and pillows spilling over and under every surface.

Chaos.

It is often said that the way we respond to those we love or events in life reflect our relationship with our Lord and Savior... they reflect where our heart is.

"For out of the abundance ofthe heart the mouth speaks."  (Matthew 12:34)

As I began to see emotions bubbling out of my soul I started to try to look deeper and met with static.
You know that fuzzy screen you got back when TV channels were turned manually and most of them didn't work?

Just as my stuff is mixed and jumbled, so is my heart.

Away from my rhythms and routine, away from all the things that make me feel like me, who am I?
When I am not feeling on my mark and ready to sprint across the ocean, am I qualified to be a missionary?
When my child doesn't like me and is struggling and my husband is stressed and overworked and I still respond poorly, how can I call myself a Christian wife and mother?

Grace.

Ah, breathe a sigh of relief here.

When an angry mob, full of adrenaline and blood-lust rushed to Jesus and threw a woman at his feet, ready... wanting to kill her and trap him at the same time... what did he do?

Pause.

Grace.

"Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." (John 8:7)

Where are the accusers? Gone.

Gone.

I am not accused.
I am loved.

Just thinking about the peace and calm Jesus had during this exchange brings peace and confidence to my heart.
This is the Jesus I am following and trusting.
This is the Jesus I want others to know!

I am blessed beyond words.

I am so thankful for all of the blessings I have had in Louisville (and still have).
I am thankful for a wonderful place to stay in the meantime and time to spend with family.
I am thankful that even when life turns upside down, my Savior is there with peace and grace for my wayward heart.

Today I sorted through some boxes, literally and spiritually and am feeling a little less chaotic.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Little Bruise




The day after driving from Louisville to Texas I bumped my knee and fell to the floor sobbing.
Granted, I did bump it very hard and there is already a bruise, but I have a feeling the tears were not about the bump.
I barely slept the night before, waiting for my daughter to wake up crying in the night, sweating through my clothes and not knowing where I was.
I never sleep well the first night away from home.
Then I woke up to a very needy and moody preschooler, who was ready for the day long before the sun.  And despite this wake up call, I was still managing to run late for our new preschool appointment.  It is twenty degrees warmer here than the home we left and thus I have nothing to wear... nothing that isn't packed in random, unlabeled bags and rashly packed boxes.
So, it was sorting through just such a bag or box that I managed to totally abuse my knee and fall into sobs.
Up to the day of our departure I shed nary a tear.  I was happy, excited about our new journey.  I was confident each of my amazing friends would stay in touch and continue our friendship (and still hope).  I was amazed at the opportunities already being presented for us to meet people and get SJ into school.  I was too busy to bother with tears.  It was obviously the Lord!
However, packing up our truck on that gray day was more sorrow-filled than I was ready for.  But even then, in the hustle and bustle I only shed a few quick tears and then was forced to carry on.  So, bumping that dreadfully boney knee was my first chance to let the flood gates open.
In those five minutes of tears I mourned not seeing my fellow mom friend every day as we take our daughters to the same quirky preschool class.  I mourned our fabulous fridays filled with other moms and their kids and the amazing fall weather of Louisville.  I mourned my home with my kitchen and my room and my stuff organized my way.   I mourned our amazing community church where we had been served and served.
Then I got up, changed clothes...again, and headed out the door to begin our life for the next two months.  Our life in-between two worlds.  That weird blank page after the last page of your favorite novel that is between you and your next story.
Despite all the bruises, I am actually relieved to cry and let it out and admit that there is sorrow amidst the joy and excitement.  I am praying we fill this blank page with meaning and memories and that there will not be a single page wasted.