Saturday, December 29, 2012

Resolutions, Anyone?

Well, my friends, it is that time of year when it just feels right to set some new goals, to revisit dormant dreams, and see if the needle on the scale needs some adjusting. Yes, I am talking about the much anticipated but seldom achieved New Year's Resolutions.

Oh no, of course I am not talking about YOU!

And honestly, I typically try to avoid the "resolution" band-wagon, reasoning that If I want to set a goal, the calendar does not need to dictate WHEN I do it.

On the other hand, I DO like goals, and I have had the sense that the Lord is giving me both the inspiration and the motivation to enjoy the blessings of some increased discipline in my life. NO, that was not written with a sarcastic tone! I really do believe that tremendous JOY and fantastic freedom are found in the form of godly disciplines--when they are done in His strength and for His glory.

Therefore, I, Jennifer Ann Williamson, do hereby resolve to (with God's help!):
  1. Memorize one scripture verse in FRENCH every week of 2013.
  2. Eat healthier (less sugar and caffeine, more fruits and veg) and continue exercising 5 days a week. (Lord willing this will result in the loss of 5-10 unwanted kilos!)
That's it. Two simple New Year's resolutions for me. And you have my permission to hold me accountable!

How about you? 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

For Christmas...

...we all got new slippers! 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Abnormal Noël

Nothing is normal. I have forgotten what "normal" is. 

Here it is, the 21st of December, and we have not yet had time to watch some of our favorite Christmas movies. Normally, we would have watched each of them twice by now. I have JUST today baked my first batch of Christmas cookies. Normally, I would have made multiple varieties by now. And I have not wrapped one single present. Okay, I'll admit that one is pretty normal for me. But in most other ways, this has not been a normal Christmas season at all. 

And we are not normal. In France, they don't have stockings, candy canes, or an obsession with Christmas music. Our home is a bit of a novelty this time of year! But God has been giving us opportunities to use our "abnormality" to talk about the true meaning of Christmas.

David was interviewed for the local newspaper about our "American" Christmas traditions. Here's the article, where he describes how he makes homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast on Christmas and how we give each of our boys three Christmas gifts, representing the three gifts of the magi.

I took some of my stash of Candy Canes to the ladies in my knitting group. Besides being an American novelty, I explained how the candy cane was invented by a candy maker who wanted to share the true meaning of Christmas--the shape represents the Shepherd's staff, and when turned around it is the letter J for Jesus. I explained that the red stripes represented the blood of Christ, which was shed to save us from our sins. They were very receptive, and I was thankful for the opportunity to have a spiritual conversation.

Different is our new normal. We're embracing it!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I'm never lonely...

...when I sit down to read my Bible.

I have a couple of faithful lap-warmers who like to be in the Word with me.

In it or on it. Whichever.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Phone Rings, Part II

8 p.m. Saturday evening. Phone rings.

"Jenn, can you have a family of four to your house for lunch tomorrow?"

I open the freezer door to see what I have on hand. I'm stalling for time. I already know what my answer will be.

"Sure. No problem. Happy to do it."

We are learning the true meaning of the word "hospitality."


noun, plural hos·pi·tal·i·ties.
the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers.
the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.

We have a lot visitors to our small church in Loches. Because we work with a well-respected, visionary leader who has a philosophy of ministry that is working in France, many pastors, missionaries, evangelists, and potential church planters want to come and see what he is doing. In order to really grasp what is going on here, these people often stay for several days and live in community with us. "Living in community" is harder to explain than one might think, even though it is the call of every believer! We pray together daily, we serve our neighbors and each other actively, and we do life together! We we do not simply "have" church, we "ARE" the church in Loches.

And so when people come to experience this dynamic, they are not sent to the local hotel and given the name of a few good restaurants; they stay in our homes and they eat at our tables. We extend true hospitality so that our guests are absorbed into our community and they get a sense of what it means to BE the church.

Hospitality does not demand that I open up my Martha Stewart books to see how impressively I can fold a napkin, but it does demand an effort! True hospitality is an attitude of the heart. An attitude that says, "I want you to know that you are valued and loved. I want you to be served in a way that acknowledges that you are child of God. I want you to feel safe and cared-for." Hospitality has nothing to do with "showing off," but everything to do with  honoring others--which means extending ourselves, being generous with what we have, and serving others.

Hospitality is an opportunity to die to self! When I open my home, I set aside my agenda and yield to someone else's. I sacrifice my comfort for the comfort of others. I share all that I have and all that I am, even if I'd rather not. And I do this NOT just for beloved friends and family. I do it for total strangers.

I Peter 4:9 says, "Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling."

This verse leads me to believe that the concept of "hospitality" is not what our modern minds make of it. We think that if we have a dinner party and invite six of our dearest friends we are being "hospitable." Yes, that is a form of hospitality. But in Peter's time, the more common occurrence was having a weary, hungry, dirty, penniless stranger arrive at your door RIGHT after you had finished feeding your family and had washed all the dishes. Peter is saying, "In that moment--that unplanned, un-budgeted, unpleasant moment, show hospitality without grumbling."

The modern equivalent? Perhaps out of town relatives, annoying neighbor kids, or new-comers to church. When was the last time you invited a veritable stranger to dinner? Who might you be able to invite? Would you open your home over the holidays to an elderly neighbor? Some single guys from your church? A needy family? Will you choose, this holiday season, to practice hospitality?
Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Romans 12:12

Monday, December 10, 2012

Phone Rings, Part I

8 p.m. Saturday evening. Phone rings.

"Jenn, can you have a family of four to your house for lunch tomorrow?"

I open the freezer door to see what I have on hand. I'm stalling for time. I already know what my answer will be.

"Sure. No problem. Happy to do it."

I say those words in faith. Because honestly, I do not feel one bit happy about it. I know what having unexpected guests for lunch means. It means a trip to the only store that is opened on Sunday morning. It means that my already strained grocery budget is about to go bust. It means that the time I had hoped to spend reading a good book would be spent tidying the house and preparing a three course meal. It means making conversation (in French!) with perfect strangers when I'd rather not be conversing at all.

"Sure. No problem. Happy to do it."

 My response reflects what I wish my heart was feeling. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

And so I wake up early Sunday morning, wondering what to make. I rehearse recipes in my head while reminding myself that I really DO like to cook. I grab a shopping bag and head to the market. Fall veggies, frozen salmon, a local white wine and strawberry sorbet all find their way into my cart. I realize I am enjoying myself.


Back at home, the table is set, butternut squash soup (my chosen appetizer) simmers on the stove, and I find that I have a 20 minute window of peace and quiet before I need to prepare the salmon. I pick up the book, Digging Ditches, by Helen Roseveare and read:
Matthew 11: 28-30, 'Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest, take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.' The yoke - that heavy, unwieldy wooden bar that holds two oxen together when ploughing, looks like an instrument of torture rather than something that is light and brings rest, until we remember that unresisting compliance to the pressure of the yoke makes possible a sharing of the load that more than halves the weight involved. The ox suffers no pressure sore on its neck if it keeps in step with its partner, and does not seek to turn to right or left. In other words, the yoke causes no pain when the ox works with it in quiet submission. So as we agree to be yoked to Christ--what an indescribable privilege!--submitting to Him in unquestioning obedience, He takes far more than half the load and guides us to plough a straight furrow.
The timer rings, calling me back to the kitchen. I go happily. I am no longer resisting the pressure of the yoke. I thank God for sharing the burden--and for turning the work to which He has called me into joyful service. I submit in unquestioning obedience.

I am blessed. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Culture Shock in Reverse

Today we watched a Christmas movie, and I experienced a really weird sort of reverse culture shock. An American grocery store looked foreign to me, as did a typical American neighborhood, American cars, and a shopping mall.

I spent most of my life in the United States, and after two and half years in France, I don't remember what a ten dollar bill looks like. The other day we had a conversation about American Speed Limit signs because I couldn't picture one in my head. And would someone please remind me how much a US postage stamp costs?

There are moments when I still feel like a complete stranger here, but I did not expect to ever feel that in relation to the US. Sometimes I struggle to pray out loud in English. Sometimes I can't remember how to spell English words, even though I used to be a good speller. Sometimes I dream that I am in Spokane speaking French and I can't figure out why nobody understands what I am saying. What does that mean?

My food preferences have certainly taken a turn towards the French. For example, it seems scandalous to drink a soft drink at dinner instead of wine and it feels downright wrong to have a meal without a baguette. I love that cheese gets its own course and I appreciate delicacies like foie gras. Paté is a staple in my refrigerator and I can't imagine living without cornichons or lardons.

On the other hand--I am deeply grateful for the 96 full-sized candy canes that my in-laws brought to us. Candy canes! My American soul sings for joy with each peppermint stick. There I found it--a deep connection to my roots in the sugary Christmas confection that I adore. I am still an American after all!

***Photos of Loches were taken by my dear MIL, Janica Williamson!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Mes Beaux-Parents

We had the most wonderful visit from David's parents last week! 

David took them to a Vouvray Cave, where they did a little wine tasting.

My mother-in-law (who once detested dogs but is now a fan), bought Gemma her new favorite toy--a squeaky ball. She and Gemma were fast friends!

We had the opportunity to do ministry together! How cool is that?

And both Len and Janica helped us decorate the church for Christmas!

We were so completely blessed by their time with us.

Thank you, Lord, for family!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Ooooh là là !

As they say in France, "Ooooh là là !" Boy, do I have a lot to tell you!

Today the rain is pouring down, David is sick in bed, my dear in-laws have begun their long voyage back to the States, and I am trying to get my brain around what God is doing here in Loches.

Last week we had a television film crew with us--"us" being the church. They are doing a special report on Protestantism in France, and our little church was chosen as the focal point of this special. The two-woman team of journalist and videographer filmed everything from our church planting training class to an evening prayer time to our Sunday service. They did interviews with our pastor, with our colleagues, with various church members, and even with the mayor of our town. Will you pray first of all for the two women who are making this news report--they heard and saw the Gospel this week, and they were clearly moved by what God is doing among us. Pray that this experience will lead each of them into a personal relationship with Jesus. And secondly, please pray for this news report, which will air at the end of January. Pray that people all across our region of France will be drawn to salvation!

Last week we also had the joy of welcoming a new brother in Christ into our church family. For almost a year we have been praying for this amazingly NICE single guy who lives just around the corner from the church. After being befriended by some people in our community of believers, he started coming to worship services. In the fall he agreed to do a weekly Bible Study with  our pastor. Last Monday night he finally made the decision to follow Jesus! Every time someone comes to faith, I get overwhelmed with gratitude. God is undeniably good! But wouldn't you know it--the rest of the week was fraught with challenges for this new believer! Yesterday he totaled his car in a freak accident. Please pray for Didier (not his real name!)-- that he would not be dismayed by the difficulties of life. Pray for divine protection over his fledgling faith!

Finally, the spiritual warfare has been a-raging this week. I know. Why am I surprised? Still, after 15 months in Loches with out any major attacks, TWICE in the past week I have been asked to pray with/for people who needed deliverance of some sort. The two instances were completely different and totally unrelated. But seriously--nothing for 15 months, and then TWO doozies in a week?!?!  We need your prayers! And so I invite you to suit up in your spiritual armor and join us in the battle. Major strongholds are coming down in this little village, and the Spirit of God is obviously on the move. Its exciting, and in all things, our Jesus is victorious!

To Him be ALL the glory!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


In the midst of a reasonably full week of ministry, we are thoroughly enjoying a visit form David's parents. In a few days I hope to be able to sit down and process all that has been going on! In the meantime, will you forgive me for not blogging and take some time to pray for us? God is doing some awesome things in Loches, but it has been a bit intense.




All of these have happened in the last three days! Pray, pray, pray! We need your support!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Quotable Quotes, Thanksgiving 2012

"How is that we have so many wine glasses, but no two are the same?"

"Um, David, the turkey has a head."

"Daaaaaaa-viiiiiiiid! What do I do with the head?"

"I'll  take care of it. Wow. That thing is really on there good!"  
"How did they kill this turkey anyway? Don't you normally kill a turkey by cutting off its head?" 

"Seriously, Mom, no more pictures! Let's eat already!"

"Becca, why did you bring all of those marshmallows?"
"So we can play 'Chubby Bunnies', of course!"

"Chubby bunnies!"

"Chuwwy wunnies!"

"Shuuuey Ooonies!"

"Uhwy ohnie!"

Monday, November 19, 2012

Trouver un équilibre dans une vie bien remplie

I spent the weekend at a women's retreat with 19 amazing women of God. Our theme was "Trouver un équilibre dans une vie bien remplie" which translates "Finding balance in a full life." I worked with a gifted team of women to plan the retreat, and we were so blessed to see the many ways that God worked.

Meals were delicious and the hours spent around the table were rich with fellowship. There were women from four different churches in our region, and it was fun to meet new people and make new friends.

Our speaker was a gifted Bible teacher who shared rich insights. She spoke with wisdom, authority, passion, and joy--her messages were full of hope and challenge. We offered opportunities for each woman to engage with God one on one, as well as times in small groups. I am not exaggerating when I say that lives were significantly changed over the course of the weekend. Strongholds were broken, hearts were healed, and saints were encouraged.

One of my favorite parts of the weekend was the worship! Our worship leader was a talented young mom with a heart of gold and a love for the Lord. She led us right to the throne of God! I realized this month --after time at a missionary conference where worship was done in English followed by this retreat, which was completely in French--that I have made another cultural crossover. I actually prefer to worship God in French. It somehow resonates more deeply in my heart. I'm not sure when the switch happened, but I am keenly aware that it has.

One of my joys in ministry--maybe my greatest joy-- is helping people to discover and use their God-given gifts for the Kingdom. My heart was F-U-L-L this weekend as I watched my small team of leaders using their gifts to serve others for the glory of our Lord. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Choose Life

There is something new and deep being worked out in my heart. I hesitate to name it, because I can't exactly get my mind around it. It has to do with obedience and humility and contentedness and freedom. Is there a word for that? Whatever it is, I have the sense that it is really, really great. I can't name it, but I want it.

At the same time, it is hard! Daily, I find myself faced with choices that I know are either going to take me closer to this thing or draw me away. Inevitably, my gut reaction (my flesh reaction) hits first, and it is bad news! But if I pause, the gut reaction is redeemed, and I discover the Spirit response.

The Spirit response always costs me something: a fleshy death.

Death to self.

I hesitate.
This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life...Deuteronomy 30:19-20a
The lord IS my life. Life in the flesh is my death. The Lord is my blessing. Life in the flesh is cursed. To choose to die to self IS to choose life.

I would be embarrassed to tell you the petty details of the daily decisions with which I wrestle. The  moment by moment stuff can seem so trivial on the surface. But what God is doing in me is nothing short of a miracle.

He whispers to my heart, in each mundane moment, "Choose life, Jenn! Choose life!"

And when I do, I feel His pleasure.

Monday, November 12, 2012


I just finished reading What's so Amazing about Grace, by Philip Yancey, and it was exactly what I needed!


Being across the ocean, most of the political commentary that I read over the past few months was on Facebook. I don't mean to sound critical, but wow. Some of my Facebook friends--people I know to be genuine, loving, positive people--got downright snarky over the elections.

Don't get me wrong; I am not at all against passion. I honor patriotism. I even like a good argument. But must we reduce ourselves to the level of poo-slinging apes?

And at the end of the day, those of us who call ourselves "Christians" MUST care about the means as much as the end. That is to say, HOW I speak about a subject is as important as WHAT I have to say. Kindness counts. Respect matters. Truth spoken in harsh words, devoid of love, is, well, a "clanging gong," to borrow Paul's words.


Now that the elections are over, why not close our mouths and roll up our sleeves? Pro-life voters, do everything you can to be a pro-life person over the next four years! Volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center. Take in a single mom. Live your conviction!


If you are concerned about the economy, first of all manage your own money well. Work hard. Be generous to those in need. Model the way for a lost world!


Finally, pray for our president. And remember what your mother taught you: "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." Keep the debate on the issues. Write to senators. Go ahead and get involved in the process. But snarkiness and disrespect are not appropriate responses. No one likes a sore loser.


It was poured out on me by Jesus. I do not deserve it. In fact, based on my wretchedness, Jesus should turn His back on me and walk away. I am repulsive. I am more offensive to the perfection of Jesus than the vilest politician could ever be to me. YET, Jesus has grace. He loves the unlovely. Its scandalous, really. But in pouring out grace on me, He calls me, empowers me, inspires me to have grace for others. Grace for political rivals. Grace for snarky friends. Grace for enemies.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Ten Totally Trivial Tidbits

  1. I received a pound and a half of candy corn in the mail! Color me happy!
  2. Gemma went running with me for the first time this morning. After three miles she wasn't even panting. I think she could have gone farther, but I was beat!
  3. I'm hooked on this creamy honey that I buy at a store called Lidl. 
  4. I haven't ordered a turkey for Thanksgiving, and I'm hoping its not too late.
  5. I'm reading a book on apologetics in French. I can handle about 12 pages in a sitting.
  6. I'd like to get back in the habit of memorizing scripture--I think I feel a New Year's resolution coming on....
  7. We're super excited about some special people coming to visit us at the end of the month.
  8. I believe that we are (finally) a flea-free house again.
  9. I just finished reading Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet. I loved it, and I am wondering if the sequel is any good. Has anyone read World Without End?
  10. I've started knitting a blue mohair cardigan. Its going very slowly.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Some Time Away...and the Haircut

We are in the French Alps at a GEM France retreat, where David is leading worship and prayer times. It is a lovely setting, and we are being trained, encouraged, and blessed. We are thankful for this time away.

So, now that I have had some time to relax, I can deal with letting you all see my new haircut. I don't hate it, but I am still a little surprised by it. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Un Peu Classique

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So there's your French lesson for the day!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Jack in the Box

I call this photo "Jack in the Box."

What would you call it?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A "Normal" Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Give careful thought to your ways...

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

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

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

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

They. Were. Missing. It.

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

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

Expect to be satisfied.

Monday, October 8, 2012

I never get sick.

Almost never.

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

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

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

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

Please pray that the rest of the family stays healthy.

I'm off to bed....

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Another Baby Blanket

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

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

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