Sunday, December 2, 2012

Trip to Lyon: Recap

Last month I was able to go with our team leaders to Lyon, France.  We were the first "eyes on the ground" for the team and hoping to get a feel for the city and understand what it will be like to live there a little more. 

Tuesday was a travel day for the team leader's wife and her five year old and myself.  Our traveling was relatively easy and we all got to watch movies and catch a little sleep.  I am so so thankful that we made all connections and our luggage made it with out a single issue.  If you know anything about me and travel, you know this in and of itself is a miracle!

Wednesday we arrived in Lyon to find a local from Lyon (a business contact) holding our name on a sign.  JP is a true gift from God.  I am already hoping and praying for his salvation and for the ways our group can love and serve him in the years to come.  He took us to our hotel, walked us all around downtown Lyon and even bought us dinner.  He even had a toy tiger waiting for the little one in the car... this tiger was also to accompany us every where from then on (with out getting lost!).  We should've taken pictures of all the places that tiger went.  We were exhausted and stayed in a hotel and slept... a little too well.  

Thursday we were to meet F_ at 11am to go to the apartment we were renting in Croix Rousse (CR)... we got a call from the front desk at 11 saying he was there... we were all still asleep.  We threw on clothes and went to the apartment... which was amazing.  Then we headed straight out again to walk the streets and see if we could find our way around some of the places JP had taken us during our travel hang over the night before.  We did it.  We literally walked all day.  We managed to navigate the metro (we are all pros by now, including the littlest), and find a great cafe creme, kebab, and other treats... namely bread and cheese.  We only got slightly lost trying to get back to the apartment in the dark... we were about a block away the whole time but couldn't get our bearings b/c we didn't know which way was North or South and everything looks so different in the dark!  We found our way though and decided to eat in the apartment and get to bed.  Team leader hub arrived that night.

Friday littlest was going to attend a local school but that didn't work out.  We did get to go to the school for our area (CR) and meet with the head of the maternelle (3-6yrs old).  She was super helpful and gave us a tour of the school.  They go to the Opera and invite artists and singers in to teach the kids and put on mini concerts for the kids.  There is a cute little gym and playground and really seemed like a great place over all.  It is just a stone's throw from the actual elementary school and about a 10min walk from our apartment.  
I personally felt really encouraged and overwhelmed here... though it was great and all, it really hit me hard that I would actually be sending SJ to school next year and lose so much time with her and not really be a part of her development as much.  However, I was comforting that they seemed totally ok with kids just going for a half day for a while and gradually working up to a full day.  She said they would meet with parents to help them know how their kid is adjusting.  After this we walked some more and TLW (team leader wife) and I had an AMAZING dinner out on the town.  

Saturday afternoon we met with a local pastor/church planter (American nationality but raised in Africa and France) and his wife (who is French) and their three boys (and one on the way).  They were super friendly and talked to us a lot about transitioning and what their church is like.  They highly recommended bringing furniture and everything from the States b/c it's so much more expensive in France... we however don't have a lot worth taking so TLW and I briefly mentioned maybe all of our team sharing a part of a crate thingy and splitting the cost.  The wife talked a little about how there are not a lot of stay at home moms and that there is not a lot of community.  This seemed specific for their church simply b/c every one lives far away from each other and far from the city center, so it is difficult for many to make the drive many times a week.  Then you factor in kids and school etc etc and it's nearly impossible.  
Their church meets Sundays for one service and kids stuff is during the preaching.  They meet throughout the weeks in smaller groups that are in the process of becoming church plants.  Not as much a community group as a church plant it seemed... wasn't really clear on how this looks and works out.  It was a long long-term plan.  The pastor was SO generous and obviously has a vision for his church and a passion for the people and for church planting.  
After we met he took us up to the Basilica to see Lyon by night.  It was amazing and sad to look over a city so beautiful and so lost.  He gave us a complete history of Lyon and Christianity in about 30 minutes and it was heart wrenching for me.  Lyon has seen a repeated cycle of Christian growth and vitality marked by tragic suffering and persecution.  The Basilica was actually built to worship Mary.  It's hard to think about if we are a part of a resurgence of the faith... will our children or even ourselves then be a part of the persecution.  I'm not proud of this, but that scares me.  

Sunday we went to the church.  The main thing I will say is that the people were so warm and friendly.  We had a couple of invites to meals from complete strangers and many offered to help us as we plan and prepare to move.  There were a lot of N. Africans and a good mix of Swiss and French.  
More eating and walking after...
While at this church is really hit me: we have to learn the language to survive.  I was worse than a toddler there, I was a mere infant, unable to communicate anything more than a basic hello or goodbye and a friendly smile.  It's hard not to feel stupid and embarrassed in these moments... so I am channelling all those feelings into language learning!

Monday we met with two pastors from Acts 29 Europe (who are in Paris) and another local church pastor.  The pastor is Lyonaise but his wife is from Ohio.  We chatted over lunch.  I have no idea what the guys talked about but the ladies talked more about schooling and their church.  They encourage small accountability groups between men and women (separately) and have community groups through out the week.  They also have women's ministries just beginning at their church.  They have two grown daughters and a grown son, all who were raised in Lyon.  They all went to public school until middle school ish and then attended the international school.  She expanded a little on the stay at home mom issue but said she really tries to promote it when she can.  This is a much bigger church than the other but there were a lot of things about it I resonated with.  They do not have many N. Africans but a good amount of West Africans and then a mix of French and a few other Americans.  Then there was a lengthy convo with the Acts 29 guys.

As far as where to live...Lyon is divided into 9 arrondissements ... we (I think it's safe to say we) are still a little confused.  The 6th is very beautiful and seemingly family friendly with wide sidewalks and easy access to the center of town and metros.  I fell in love with CR, which is the 4th but it is on a hill and that could be really hard for a double stroller and/or new babies... but we're not ruling it completely out b/c it is more affordable than the 6th.  We didn't love the 3rd but it was close to the churches we visited and cheaper still.  1st is downtown and super pricey.  JP said the 9th and I think 7th or 8th are no good.  Many families live quite a ways out of town but I think we agreed we felt a little stronger about living in the city and having better access to metros etc.  
Thankfully JP has mentioned helping us find a good apartment (he was very protective of us ladies) as well as the pastors and other believers we met. 

I'm sure I'm leaving out a ton but I hope that gives a grasp for some of what we did.  In all that walking around we were pricing home goods and clothes etc too so we can have a better grasp for the cost of things ahead.

Friday, November 23, 2012

So Where Are We Now?

So what do you do when the dust settles?
What did Isaiah do after the coal touched his lips and he said, "Here am I, send me".
After the angels receded and the daylight returned... what did he do next?
Life keeps going, keeps ticking.
Plans have to be made and planned and replanned and then executed.
Something that I didn't expect was that it would be harder to start undoing all that we have been doing than saying yes to going.
When we first came to Louisville, we didn't know a soul.  Our first life-line to community was a random community group we were invited to.  These were our first friends, our first church family in Louisville.  I watched their babies come into the world, ate countless amounts of chick fil a, cried and laughed, celebrated holidays, babysat, learned to be a wife and a friend, dealt with conflict and watch the Lord call each of them away.
All that to say, we "got" community.  We really loved the vision our church had/has about living life in community scattered (community groups) and community gathered (Sundays).
Soon we were apprenticing to become leaders, then we had a group of our own.  For a few years that grouped morphed from a random group of college students, to singles, to newly married... all friends and all family.
We love community group!
Then we became coaches, the people who try and love and help community group leaders.
We love seeing the Lord work in each of our community groups.  We see immature Christians mature and flourish.  We see people with out a vision begin to serve and sacrifice.  We see a lot of love.
All that loving takes a lot of time!
It's hard b/c we are having to make time for new things:  French class for all three of us, France Team Meetings, School of Missions, preschool, going through and getting rid of all our stuff etc etc...
So we have to begin stepping out.
But how do you step out of something you love and enjoy and where there is a huge need?
So right now we are walking a very tight rope.
We are trying to faithfully love and serve our groups and other ministries, while at the same time starting up and faithfully beginning this new journey.
So, that's where we are.
Busy... but full of good things.
Stepping in and stepping out and needing a lot of grace to do both!
Realizing that the journey ahead will have bumps in the road but that the mission is worth any pain!

Friday, October 26, 2012

I Can't Believe She's THREE!

Dear Stella Jane,

Before I gush and tell you how much you mean to me and all the things I think are wonderful about you, I just want you to know one thing.  If you forget everything else, remember this.

I love you.

This last year has been full of so much JOY!

I am so thankful that I get to be a part of your life and see you grow and learn.

You have changed from my baby, to my toddler, and now to my little girl.
I still remember when I felt your first kicks inside of me and I couldn't even imagine who you would be or how much laughter and light you would bring to our family.
I had no idea some one could be so like me and yet different.
You are beautifully and wonderfully made inside and out.

With every day and every challenge and every memory, I love you more and more.

You are smart and curious and have a heart for other people, especially those smaller than you.  I love watching you care for others as you share with out prompting or offer a gentle hug or kiss to a friend.  You are always so concerned when some one is hurting or unhappy.  It makes my days when you whisper you love me or that you want to be friends (sitting together) or simply hold my hand or take a hug.  You are such a sweet girl.  A true blessing.

I pray that you would continue to grow in mind, heart, and strength and that you would use all of those things to love the Lord.
I pray that you would know HIM more and have a heart that desires to love and serve Him each day.
I pray that you will be a true light to this world.

I also pray that I would be able to know you and speak to your heart as you grow.  That you would always know I love you and love the Lord and that those two things shape the decisions I make each day.  And though I will sin against you and misunderstand you, I love you so much and am so so thankful that God entrusted you to our family.

I am thankful for you daughter.


Monday, July 30, 2012

Processing #6

If you are just now reading, I would encourage you to go back to Installation #1 and start reading at the beginning of the journey!

Thankfully we were advised to take time and process the trip aloud with our spouse whenever possible along the way during our trip.
The funny thing was trying to figure out WHEN to process.
Maybe at 1am when we got back from dinner  or maybe first thing in the morning?  hmmm
I wouldn't say that I love mornings but I wouldn't say that I'm not a morning person either.  But for as long as I can remember, I do not talk in the mornings.  I remember my mom and dad trying to talk to me in the mornings before band practice in high school and getting made fun of for my variety of grunts.  Give me 30 minutes to wake up and get ready and then I'm perky and ready to go.  But right when I wake up, please be quiet.
One other problem we had was brain overload.  Neither Drew or myself are the most outgoing or most introverted but we both felt over-peopled each day.  Talking and getting to know people, while also taking in a new place every few days plus praying about difficult things going on back at home and then figuring out whether you feel "called" to move here permanently was a little overwhelming for the brain.
So we did process a little together on the trip but mostly I just felt like my brain was in stunned silence.
When we got back to the States I did my best to share with friends and family but I didn't feel like I could journal or really dive into any of it even on my own.  My brain had switched off and wouldn't even let me in.
After about two weeks, life was returning to normal and Drew and I had time to sit and talk and finally I felt like my brain was turning back on.
To sum it up, we both loved France and felt like we really could see ourselves fitting in a place like that.  We both felt the huge need that was there and desire to see people brought to Christ.
Neither of us felt that we would be disobeying if we didn't go or if we did go at that point.  We felt at peace to just sit and pray and ride out the process and see what happened next.
Well, we didn't have to sit very long.  Before we had even been back a month Drew was offered a job/internship with a new company.  No promises were made but there were some really good possibilities that this company would be interested in sending us, along with two other families on our team to France.  WHAT?
This may seem small and insignificant to you but it was pretty huge to me.  Over the last five or six years Drew has applied to COUNTLESS jobs.  We didn't tell people most of the time b/c we didn't want to get people's hopes up and then have to tell every one we didn't get it... again.  Turns out that was really wise b/c we didn't get any of them.  Drew was #2 again and again... as I previously mentioned.  We were open... we applied to Texas, Colorado, California, Kentucky, Indiana etc etc....
So for Drew to basically put in no effort and then get offered a great job that wanted to possibly take us to France.. was HUGE!
We had to wait a few weeks for Drew to finish well in his previous job... and to get a big quarterly bonus that will basically enable us to take the internship pay cut.  That's right... pay.cut.  As in, can't pay your bills cut.
So there was a little bit of faith leaping in there too.
So, we went from only mildly interested in our friends missions plans, to on a plane, to in France and now into a new job that Lord willing will have us in France fall of 2013.
And did I mention that I have been praying praying praying that the Lord would give Drew a job where he could wear jeans and chacos?  Well, this job does!!  He would've taken it regardless of dress code but it is AMAZING to be able to dress casual to work... I can tell a difference already in his energy and happiness when he gets home from the new job.  Today he even got to ride his bike to work!
Now you are pretty much caught up on our journey thus far and I would love for you to continue to follow and pray for us as we ask God to do big things in the next year to take our team to France and then for more big things once we are in France.
We will be doing language school, missions school, figuring out insurance, getting rid of most of not all of our possessions, preschool, and then normal church life and family life and trying to soak in all of our "lasts" over the next year.
There is a good chance this blog will also be going private really soon... there are some that I know follow the blog that will be notified if a password is put up but some of you may read this from time to time and really want to keep stalking and I want you to... but you'll have to let me know how to get you the password.
My main concern is not endangering any current or future missionaries and protecting our children from unwanted predators (they are all of course unwanted).

Thursday, July 12, 2012

5 The Trip Two

                          (Nimes, France)

 So we were loaded up and in the air, across the ocean and on new land.  France!
I have to admit that we were a little predisposed to like France.  Here we had been traveling for a day.. inside a dark airplane full of recycled air and terrible food and no sleep.  Then we were cooped up in the Paris airport, which was hot and cold depending on where you were and very dreary.  Then we took a short flight (where we all miraculously slept for an hour or so) and came out in Marseille, full on sunshine and warmth.  
We crammed into a couple of taxi cars/vans and drove the half hour or so to our hotel with the windows open flying down the highway, watching the coast of the Mediterranean the whole way.  Ah, fresh air and sunshine... two of my most favorite things in life!  I am pretty sure I exclaimed "I LOVE this place" at least a few times in the first hour.  
We drove into the city and found our hotel right between two metro stops and among apartments and bakeries and banks and normal life.  It wasn't a tall separate building but instead build right into an apartment-looking building.  The only thing that made it recognizable was the neon sign and sliding doors.  
I was pretty freaked about our accommodations b/c I am TERRIFIED of bed bugs and Europe is infamous for them.  We quickly discovered that this was a brand new hotel and that the assistant manager had become a believer through missionaries coming through like us.  There was free internet, the rooms were AMAZING with a kitchen and huge bathroom and drying rack and organic tea and sugar!!  Did I mention, "I LOVE THIS PLACE"?!
So, despite long and uncomfortable travel, I was fond of this place right from the start.  
Then we met the missionaries and they were each so sweet and kind and easy to talk to and REAL.  
The fact of their life and our trip is that there is spiritual attack and they are waging war in what might look like a losing battle to the untrained eye! 
The day before we got there some of the Ms had been robbed of all their summer finances.  Right after we got there the wife of the leader of the M team got really sick and then so did her daughter.  
However, despite many hiccups we settled in and got rested for the next day.  
The next day we scouted out a new area of town for them to distribute DVDs and other info about Christianity.  We sang in a couple of parks and some of the ladies did free henna (telling Bible stories through their art) and we prayer walked and distributed DVDS with Bible stories.  
Later we were able to go to one of the Ms apartments to get a feel for real life there and they were really open with us about finances and life there, which was great for us since we were really thinking about what it would be like to live there with our family.  
Did I mention I fell in love with the Ms?  
I don't know what it was but they were all so wonderful and genuine and interesting.  I loved hearing their stories and praying for their work and thinking about how our long term team might fit in with them, partnering to bring light to France!  
And we had amazing food.  (that would take a whole new post)
By late afternoon we were all bushed so they let us relax and take a ferry ride to a little island off the coast.  We walked (some hiked) and put our feet in the Mediterranean.  It was very refreshing. 
The next day was my favorite day of the whole trip.  
They told us to dress in our most modest outfits (we were already told to bring long skirts and shirts etc) and we went out to the North African market.
It is a market that is only once a week and it's like you've walked into Africa.  People are selling everything from trash to treasure on mats along the street and then you get into the actual market and it's teaming with N. Africans.  
Pretty much all N.Africans are muslim and many very conservative.  
So we broke up into teams of three and stationed ourselves along the entire street in front of the market and handed out DVDs of the prophets from the Bible.  
We handed out 800 DVDs in less than 2 hours.  
Our team rocked it out!!  
I was so so so nervous at first.  
I am not an in your face type of person and definitely not a solicitor.  But they assured us this was normal and acceptable in this culture... even to be a little pushy.
The first one was the hardest... who to ask first?
Then I lept.  
I just jumped out of myself and found myself speaking our three little French phrases and passing out DVDs faster than they could keep me stocked!  
I only spoke to women and some humored me but some were actually interested.  
I prayed for every single person I spoke to and some that I didn't speak to.  
I prayed for the hands that received those DVDs and the children tagging alongside those long flowing skirts.  
It was a thrill and an eye-opener.  What a see of deceit.  
The enemy has so many people completely blinded to the truth.  
Some of the teams even met open hostility while passing out.  
I know that the trip was not about me, but about helping these missionaries and encouraging them but man I was so blessed by this experience.  
To get outside of myself and feel the Holy Spirit working to give me courage and boldness and to prompt me to pray pray pray with genuine love for a people that honestly, I've always been afraid of.  
Those eyes, those hands.... they are human just like mine.  
They are sad or glad or mad or bored or excited just like the many people I pass in my every day life.  
That was Sunday so that night we led worship for the Ms at one of the local churches and heard from one of their pastors.  He is French... not really born there I'm pretty sure he was Belgian or something by birth but has been all over and in France for a long time.  More French than us for sure!  
His message was so stirring that if I ever had to pick a time I felt "called", it would be that sermon.  
The next day we went to Montpellier to meet up with a couple that had recently been sent through our church and the IMB and was still getting settled there.  They were there with one other family and not much was established there for us to do.  So we did a lot of prayer walking and exploring and it got cold and dreary and we got tired and over stimulated and more people got sick. 
The team leader of the Ms wife had to go in for emergency surgery and their daughter remained really ill and then the daughter of the leader in the second town was really sick and then the last day in the second place a guy on our team started to pass a kidney stone and got really ill and our plans continued to unravel and change every minute.  
Finally we stopped in Nimes on our way back to Marseille and it was amazing.  There was a Roman colosseum and other ancient artifacts and places and it was so quaint and full of personality.  But we were only there for mere hours.  
We also saw the full extend of segregation going on in France in Nimes.  The French and North Africans basically live in two different cities right next to each other and they do not mingle and they both call it Nimes.  It was overwhelming how huge the N. African part was and that there was no Christian presence at all.  It felt dark.  
We spent one last day in Marseille, filling up on our favorite foods and pastries and helping the Ms get work ready for all their summer project teams and saying goodbye.  
Then we left at 3am and started the long long journey home.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Four: the Trip

Deciding to go on the trip was relatively easy it seemed compared to the task of raising $6000 in support to go on the trip.
$6000 is a lot of money... like two months of living expenses, a really nice vacation or several nice vacations, more money than I have seen in cash ever before!
I really had basically no faith that we would actually be able to raise the money.  None of our friends or family are rich and honestly we don't have a ton of friends to even ask!
Thankfully our community group really called me out on my lack of belief.  They encouraged me to ask boldly from the Lord and from others and to trust the money would all come together.
So we took some family pictures, wrote letters, addressed envelopes, prayed and sent out about fifty support letters.
The funny thing about the letters... there were people we knew had money or knew loved missions that we were pretty sure would support us and then there were other people that we just wanted to keep updated on what was going on with us, who we would be thrilled if they could give $10 or just prayer.
However, when money started to come in, we were surprised over and over again at the generosity of people we never expected to give.  Family and friends both sacrificially gave to our mission trip and I was humbled again and again.  I can't tell you in words how thankful I was to the Lord for providing and to our friends and family for being so willing to join with us for this crazy journey.
Another awesome fact of the fund raising is that we had one specific deadline halfway through and got just enough money right before it was due.  Then there was a long period where we didn't get anything at all.  We were thankful for reaching the half way goal and were prepared to use tax refunds or savings for the rest and then the week before the final amount was due people generously stepped up again and we met our entire goal right in time.  Not a minute too soon but not a second late!
I am still in awe of how good my heavenly Father is and that even raising this money was a part of His plan to help me trust in Him for an even bigger plan.
We are also blessed with two sets of parents that helped us keep SJ while we were gone.  They are true champions (though I think they would gladly kick us out to keep SJ any time).
Leaving SJ was an even bigger fear for me than the money issue.  However, SJ did amazing.  We started talking about the trip just a few days before we left (we tried earlier but she didn't get it at all) and she was great with it and excited for her gparents to arrive.
However, two night before the trip she started screaming in the mornings for her mommy and I was pretty sure that was her little mind trying to cope with mommy leaving and a little spiritual warfare mixed in too perhaps.  It was so hard on my heart and then right as we were leaving she started crying that she wanted to go with us.  My heart actually broke I think.  I almost completely lost it and thankfully my mother-in-law stepped in to cheer SJ up about going to the park etc and so she was fine and then so was I.  I figured I would lose it after she left but I didn't.  My heart was totally at peace.  I knew she was happy and loved and going to have a blast and I was so thankful to be on this journey with Drew.
Praise God, she didn't wake up crying a single time while we were gone and never melted down for mommy or daddy but was then SUPER excited when we came back and was all love and cuddles for a few days.

So, we were paid up and loaded up and in the air... ready to meet France!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Scene Three

So, here we are, finally making a few new friends and whack... they hit us with the news that they are all (two couples really) planning to move to France in the future.
Honestly, when Drew and I talked about this I think we both (but definitely me) really thought about just dropping these friends.  Of course we would still be friends with them and do community group with them but we wouldn't really invest or dive in or seek them out for deep relationships, knowing they would just leave.
But that didn't really work because we really liked these couples and we saw them on a regular basis and you couldn't help but become a little attached.  We got to see each couple have a baby (or two) and then watch those little ones grow and change.  Drew got to know one of them men better at work and then the guys started cycling together.  They just weren't going away!  haha
I think a few times they mentioned to Drew, "you guys should just come to France" or something along those lines.  But it was always with out any real pressure and mostly joking it seemed.  So we just laugh, "yea...right.".
However, we had also started talking about all of the opportunities we had had in the past and all those we hadn't had as well.  Drew had been actively seeking out jobs in the Christian camping world and though in my eyes he is overly qualified and perfect for every position he applied for... door after door were closed.  He seriously made it to #2 on a  number of jobs and then they'd give it to some one else.  Super discouraging.  So, after a trip to the camp to talk to some people in person and still no open doors, we decided that maybe we needed to pick a new dream to pursue because it seemed God just wasn't letting us get into the camp world.
Shortly after some discussions along those lines and more talks about dreaming big and trusting God, our church announced they were going to have several summer mission trips and that one of them was to Southern France.
We were just talking about maybe sort of slightly thinking about maybe seeing what it might be like to almost kind of look into what our friends were thinking about France.. maybe.
So, what better way to check it out than to GO?
But, no.
We don't have that kind of money.
We've always wanted to go on a mission trip but going to France seemed like a pretty lame place to go on a mission trip to (shows what we knew).
Also, I'm not sure what I think about short term missions.
I have friends (well I think they are my friends b/c I blog stalk them) who were missionaries in Haiti and they really talked about how short term missions can be a waste of money that could be put to better use and how they often are more detrimental to the people and culture than helpful.  She is actually having a whole discussion about this now so check out Heather Hendrick in my blogroll.
Then there was the fact that they were encouraging only future missionaries to go on the trip and we had noooo idea if that is what we would be led to do and we weren't even leaning one way or the other.
Plus, we are goobers and not super spiritual, holy amazing missionary type.  We are sin every day, barely remember to tell ourselves the gospel much less tell any one else... trying to survive people.
Thankfully, we met with the guy who overseas missions at our church and was leading this trip and we were very upfront and honest with him about who we are and what are motives are etc etc.
He straight up told us, we were exactly what they were looking for.
I'd say their standards are pretty low but I will also say, I was flooded with a sense of peace.
No one was deceived about who we are.
We could be ourselves.  Be real.  And be accepted and welcomed on the short term team.
So, we went from pretty positively NOT going on the trip to filling out a CRAZY LONG application overnight and turning it in at the last second of the deadline.
So... we were going to France for 10 days.
We had no idea what to expect from the place, the people or the trip but we were going completely open.
We figured we had nothing to lose b/c at the very least we would know how to better pray for our friends going long term and we could encourage the current missionaries there.
At the very best we might find God's next step for the plan he is working out for us.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Numéro deux d'installation

Woah... are you blown away? Installation number two already?!
Now let's see where did we leave off?  Oh yes, printers and printer friends.
At this point I will back our story up a bit and come at you from a different direction.  You know where we were with work but that is only a small part of our lives.
The major part of our lives is/was community.
We believe and strive for Gospel community.
Right when we moved to Louisville and started attending Sojourn we were dropped into an amazing community group.  These people were our home away from home.  We celebrated holidays together, babysat each other's kids (for those that had them) and did life together.  It was pretty easy b/c no one had a lot of kids and the kids were babies and most of us were working part time, going to school and/or staying at home.  So we had time together.  These guys were amazing.
Sadly, our group got really large and we had to multiply and then didn't see each other quite as much.  At the same time, people started graduating from Seminary and thinking about jobs and futures etc etc.  A large part of the group decided to church plant in Texas.
Hmmm... we are from Texas... we truly love these people.... maybe we should go too!
We talked and fiddled our thumbs and talked and joked and ultimately, it just didn't work out.  We were still so attached to our church and didn't feel ready to leave... and I was still in school full time here and south Texas wasn't really our number one ideal place to live (more like dead last).  So we didn't go.
To be honest, there have been multiple times that I look back on that and wish we had gone with those friends.  But I am pretty confident that it just wasn't where we were supposed to be... though it would've been so nice.
But we still had some of the group and were starting a group of our own and meeting new people and trying to make friends and it seemed like the more we tried the more people moved away.
A couple of our dearest friends joined a church plant in the northeast and we considered that move too but in the end we found ourselves here... alone.  Literally, we are the only people from that original group left in Lville.
The next season was a long season of trial and struggle with friends and community.  We were hurting and lonely a lot of the time but still leading and serving.  Then a big trial came and knocked the wind out of us and then Stella was born.  We didn't feel like we even had time to get our legs under us and we were handed this beautiful baby girl.  We were so happy she was here in the midst of a long, hard season of trial.
Then she started crying.... screaming really... and didn't stop for months.  I think I broke.
At the same time Drew took on an extra leadership position at our church and we were asked to lead as community group coaches.  We didn't see it then but oh how clearly I see it now... we were crazy and needed to just say no!
We kept pushing, through sickness, depression, loneliness and sad to say... despair.
When we became coaches we were no longer a part of a community group but leading and helping the leaders of community group.  So we had no one to lift us up it felt at times while we were bearing so many heavy burdens of others.
THANKFULLY!!  God is so so good to us.  Though we were more than likely driven by pride and the need for approval (why else did we overload ourselves so much?) he saw our state and sent us some friends.  Specifically he sent me a friend and mentor who was able to help walk with me through and out of post partum depression.  (not to mention my fabulous OB who kept me sane with perspective)
We stepped out of a lot of leadership and started working on getting back into community!
Oh and Stella finally stopped screaming!  whew.
But it has been a long process.
We finally found a few people like us, in leadership and lacking community and accountability and care and so we became a community group.  We only met every other week and always have a meal.
This idea caught on and more people joined our group and more people started groups like ours.
A couple that joined in on the group was this friend (then more of an acquaintance) that got Drew the printer job. Drew started to become friends with him (that sounds really girly... sorry dudes) and a couple of other guys and we started to hope we would find another close community... then one night we found out... they were all already planning to move to France.  (cue clanging gong).

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pictures to Match

I guess I was a little too long winded in that first installation... here are some of the views we had in France that I wanted to post with it....


Here we are! Back from France... (sorry.. blogger won't let me add photos) All I can think to say right now is: Wow. Wow God. Many of you who read this blog were also a part of the updates we sent out... or mostly Drew sent out. So I don't want to bore every one with the details. Over the next few months this blog will more than likely be dominated by the word France. I want to document all the Lord has done and will do as we journey through this France thing. So for my sake, more than yours, I am going to start at the semi beginning and process this journey on the blog... it is also so that I can have this conversation with you all at once instead of repeating the whole process again and again b/c honestly sometimes I just can't share it all again.. it can wear me out! This way most of you who care will get the basics here and can then ask questions or for specifics as they come up! And if you know of people interested in our story you have a clear place to send them. So... here we go... installation #1. How far back do we go? Once Upon A Time.... We have been living in Louisville for what will be six years this October. Louisville was a surprise... like the kind of surprise when some one gets you something NOT on your Christmas List but is the best present you got and just what you needed. Who goes to Kentucky? Who wants to live in Kentucky? That's what we thought coming to this place. We will get some schooling, spread our wings and then we're gone. But then we fell in love. We fell in love with four seasons and trees and the small town feel in the midst of a city life. Most of all we fell in love with our church. So we settled down and prepared to stay. We have been holding our mouths open to the fire hydrant for five years... soaking up everything our church and community had to offer. Taking every class or training possible... trying to learn and grow in the gospel as much as possible. However, in the midst of all of this amazing community and spiritual growth there was a big thorn. In order to stay in this city we love Drew was having to sacrifice every day. He worked for years at ERAC and I can safely say it was mostly miserable. The Lord totally blessed his time there and he was very successful in getting promotion after promotion and the Lord made it painfully obvious that that is exactly where he wanted Drew to be... but it was hard. It was long hours with little pay and even less respect. It was suits and ties and rules and regulations and paying dues to "the man" every day. It was hard. For the first few years we applied to other jobs in Louisville and every thing that seemed promising fell through. But we weren't really willing to leave and so we just stuck it out. Then, in the last couple of years we finally felt like we could let go of Louisville if it meant Drew could have a job that was a better fit for him. So we applied and applied and absolutely nothing has worked out. That was maybe harder (for me at least). Why God? What is going on? This is so unfair. We have watched friend after friend get their dream job and yet we felt that our job situation was getting worse and worse. We prayed and prayed and begged God for a new job and a better fit... we will go ANYWHERE! Drew finally got another job, by no means a dream job but at least fewer hours and we were praying for confirmation if this in fact was where we were supposed to go and then out of no where... right after Drew got the offer from the new job he was fired from ERAC... Fired? WHAT?!?! They should be groveling at his feet for working two jobs for the price of one and always working hard when every one else slacked off and patiently waiting for that promised raise etc etc... It was shady and unjust and unexpected and yet... so freeing. I felt incredible joy the moment I found out Drew was fired. I felt so secure knowing that God knew we needed an answer loud and clear that we were finally released from our time at ERAC... So our time began at the new job.. selling printers. Not much more glamourous than selling cars but Drew got to see his daughter every day... a luxury he didn't have before and he had a friend at work who loves Jesus and went to our church, who we are even in community group with now... another luxury. Little did we know.....

Friday, May 4, 2012


Well, our France trip is finally here. Not exactly but pretty much. We have every day planned between now and take off and so I know it will fly by. Praise the Lord, the giver of all good things! We have officially been gifted the entire amount of our trip... that is $6000. I had a really hard time believing that we would be able to raise that much support. If that is the amount given in dollars.. I hope the amount of prayer given is ten fold! We feel extremely blessed by all of our family and friends who gave so generously and sacrificially. People we never expected to give gave over and above. We are truly thankful. We will be flying from Louisville Airport to Philadelphia where we will get to see two dear friends during our layover. I am just as excited to see their faces as I am about going to France. Then we fly over night to Paris, France and from Paris to Marseille. We will spend three days in Marseille and then travel to either Nimes or Montpellier, where we will spend a couple of days and then head to which ever we haven't been to yet and then back to Marseille. We will be ministering to and working with several missionaries on the ground in that area as well as trying to meet with businesses and get a feel for the cities in order to report back to the long-term team that is hoping to move there to do business and help start churches. I am so excited and yet with so many things to do between now and then it almost seems unreal. I still need to pack and do laundry and cook and clean and and and.... Most of all I am soaking up every single moment with Stella. We are going to parks and reading tons of books and eating all her favorite foods so that we can savor happy moments together before we depart. For her part, she could not be more excited for Susie, and Gigi and Gigi's Papa to come and stay with her while mommy and daddy are gone. We are planning to leave her some fun surprises too so she will know mommy and daddy are thinking of her and love her. Ten days is a long time. It hurts my heart to even think about it. One major thing that caused a little hiccup for me and some of the other ladies is dress code. We were told knee length skirts with t-shirts would be fine and then it became long skirts with long shirts and what at first seemed like a million other details. This threw a big wrench in my getting ready mode. So, I've been sewing skirts and dresses and trying to find deals on long skirts (thank goodness they are in fashion right now) and I still have no clue about the shirt situation. I'm thinking t-shirts with cardigans just in case. I'm also trying to figure out what shoes to wear. I know it sounds trivial to care about clothing when you are going to preach the gospel but when all you are taking is a backpack for ten days... everything you pack has to be appropriate and durable and useful. We will more than likely be on our feet from morning til night so I also don't want something as silly as shoes to be distracting. If you are praying for us please pray for our health as we travel. We have both had minor health issues lately but mine seem to be compiling. Currently I have a double sinus infection and a back problem. Please also pray for Stella and our parents as they take care of her. Pray for opportunities to share the gospel and boldness to do so with love and care. Just pray for us! I am so excited to get there and see what it is really like and see how the Lord moves through this trip! And for your viewing pleasure... more pictures of the two and a half year old!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Two and a Half

Next month Stella will be two and a half. I probably won't have time to write then and so I'm going ahead and updating you all on her now.
Stella is 40 inches tall and weighs a little over 35lbs. According to the internet, that's about the stats of an average 4-5 year old!
She wears 3T and 4T clothing and a size 9 shoe.

Our girl is a talker! I can't even remember all of the cute things she says and does because there are so many! We are really enjoying this stage in her growth because she is so fun loving and interactive.
Some of the funny things she is saying these days...
When referring to Drew and me she always calls us "You guys".
So a recent conversation went like this,
"Where we going you guys?"
"Do you want to go to Costco?"
(after a minute) "Let's go you guys!"
Stella loves to go on outings. As noted in the conversation above... every morning when she wakes up she says "where are we going" or "what doin'"? If I say that we don't have any thing to do today or aren't going anywhere she gets a sad look on her face and says "but I slept a long time!". Apparently good sleep earns fun outings.
And good sleep there is! Stella is sleeping from 730/8pm to 9/930am and taking a 2-3 hour nap most days. Every now and then we'll hear her talking and singing through out her whole nap.
Stella is also a really good mimic. She has very well behaved dolls too. Today while on a walk I heard her tell her babies in the stroller not to ask to get out and not to fuss. Later she told them they had to say hi to people that passed because it was sweet, kind and nice. HAHA. Those are obviously two lessons we are learning right now.
Every morning SJ wakes up with "friends" in her bed and they are always her friends in real life... with the occasional Bible character thrown in. Sometimes Moses is in there with a paci or Jonah and water and always Layne... her current BFF. They go with us in the car and on the couch and in the bed. They always have an imaginary paci too. She is also usually accompanied by her pretend phone in her pretend pocket and she calls her friends, their moms and her daddy a lot. It usually sounds like this...
"HEY! Yea. Ummm. Yea. Yea. We going to _____. Yea. Ok. Bye."
Another common phrase we hear is "cuz?" and when that gets no response she says "may I please ask why?". I had no idea the "why" phase would come this early!!
SJ loves sunglasses but hates if the sun is shining in her face.
She loves to play at Pottery Barn Kids with the jogging stroller, babies and big girl desk and kitchen.

(busy getting work done at PBK)
We love to walk and play at the playground a lot too. Slides are the current favorite.
Stella also had her first admirer the other day at the playground. This little boy from our church followed her with in inches at all times and even attached himself to her going down the slide. He would throw a ball to her and if she didn't catch it, her friend Layne would grab it. When this happened the little boy would cry to his mom, "I don't want to play with THAT girl... I want to play with THAT (SJ) girl!". It was so so so hilarious. Stella was definitely playing hard to get. The attention sort of freaked her out.
SJ also loves to do "exercises", which consist of push ups, crunches and arm circles and sometimes high knees.
Her favorite foods are still basically the same... mac n cheese, avocado, sweet potato, bread, pizza, pouches, any crunchy salty food, apple sauce and yogurt.
Stella also LOVES to sing. She tries to pick up on the words to any song. She can sing pretty much all the words to an entire kids praise CD, Oh No You Never Let Go, Jesus Loves Me, ABCs and a few choice elmo songs. She likes to make up songs too. I love to hear her singing to herself while she takes care of her babies or when she is in her own world in the back seat of the car.
We are also in the do it yourself phase. She can put on her own shoes, help get dressed (and pick out the clothes), get in her carseat and booster seat and help buckle, get her milk from the fridge, and feed herself most foods.
Our girl is not a baby any more but we are really loving our big girl!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Savoring the Silly

Stella has been growing so fast, it's hard to catch any moment much less every moment. She has already out-grown almost all of her Christmas clothes, potty trained and hurdled herself head-long into the "two-year-old phase".
I can't believe how fast she potty trained. I was fully dreading it and it went by so fast and easy I can't believe it.
She cracks me up every single day.
Lately when I get her up in the morning she is either "Mary" holding her baby "Jesus" (the blanket) while "Joseph is at work". Or she is "Ellie" holding "Charlie" (the blanket) while "Chris is at work" (daddy).
Most recently she said "I'm Ellie and this is baby Jesus, Joseph is at work and YOU are my wife!". HAHA. When Drew is home he is either Chris or Joseph and her babies are either Jesus, Eli (the boy we babysit) or Charlie (cousin) and I am always her wife. Cracks me up every.single.time.
Tonight we were having a bedtime snack and she was pointing to the "pretend berries" on the table and said "I have some berries in the refrigerator, their applesauce berries... they are hiding". Hilarious!
She also tells me all the time that it's time to "go to Costco". She loves that they have samples.
We really love our Stella Jane!