Monday, April 29, 2013

Ten Totally Trivial Tidbits

  1. About the saga of the blue balloon: everything came out well in the end. The balloon was green when it resurfaced, but it was fully intact. It was David who made the discovery, and his efforts paid off! Had we not found the balloon within 48 hours, we would have had to take Gemma to the vet for an x-ray and possibly surgery. Praise God for the functioning digestive tract of our dog!
  2. About Chandler's birthday present: we ended up getting him a video game AND something he did not ask for. But not red skinny jeans. We got him a new Bible. His old Bible was literally falling apart at the seams, and it was more of a kid's Bible. His new Bible is a leather-bound men's devotional Bible, and he really likes it. 
  3. About David's birthday present: we (meaning me, the boys, and my parents) got him a one-hour flight in an ultra-light, where he will fly over 6 châteaux in our belle region. He has not yet scheduled the flight, but hopes to take it on a lovely summer morning. That pilot of mine needs some time in the sky!
  4. About the weather: Last week was beautiful every single day, except Friday--when I had planned a barbecue to celebrate David's and Chandler's birthdays. Friday it rained, and our party was forced indoors! We are again having gorgeous weather this week, and I am SO thankful!
  5. About our summer vacation: we (meaning I) just booked a week at a cottage on a farm in the countryside of IRELAND! We will drive there (taking the 12-hour ferry across the Channel) at the end of August. I found our lodging in National Geographic's list of the the Ten Best Places to Stay in Ireland, and was shocked by how INexpensive this place is. It is called a "self-catering" cabin, which means we will have a small kitchen and can prepare all of our own meals. At the end of our stay at the farm, we will drive to the Dublin area and stay with some GEM friends/colleagues for a few days--this way we can see the Irish city-side, too. I am SO excited! 
  6. About our crazy schedule: it's still crazy. Lots of visitors, lots of projects, lots of fun!
  7. About Marie--the friend of mine for whom many of you are praying: She is starting the 7 Signs of John (an evangelistic Bible study) with her neighbor this week! This is the same study that I did with her a year ago. Marie is growing in her faith, and eagerly sharing with her friends. How about you? Are you eagerly telling your friends about what Jesus has done for you?
  8. About my book: I am on track to have a proposal completed before David restarts his MDiv classes on the 12th of May. I am so thankful for those who are helping me in this process! It is daunting.
  9. About what I'm reading: I just finished a book called Divergent. Futuristic, sci-fi-ish, better than Hunger Games, in my humble opinion. Not everyone would like it. But I thought it was a good read. Book candy. For those looking for something meatier, may I recommend Godly Servants, by David Teague? It is written specifically for missionaries, but I think any believer could benefit.
  10. About my  projects: I put my cardigan knitting project on hold so I could start working on a baby blanket for a friend who is due in a month and a half--creativity is good for my soul.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Birthday Party

Games that involved 228 Skittles, 587 raisins, and 396 Peanut m&ms +

17 adults, 12 kids, and 2 languages +

3 kilos of ground beef, 3 kilos of potato salad, and 3 fresh baked apple pies =

1 swell birthday party for 2 Williamson boys!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Dear David,

You really are my best friend. You are that and so much more!

You are my dearest love, my biggest hero, my fiercest advocate.

You know how to be strong without being harsh; how to be gentle without being weak.

You are one of the funniest people I know, and your quiet, quick wit still catches me off guard and makes me smile.

You are book smart and situation wise, but you are never superior in your interactions with others.

When you play your guitar it makes me swoon, when you parent our boys it makes me proud, and when you hold my hand my heart still skips a beat.

Today, on your birthday, I celebrate you! I delight in you! I shout your praises!

But my words are just a humble reflection of the Lord's: He rejoices over you with singing! I hope, today, that you hear him.


Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Tale of the Blue Balloon

All three of us saw it at the exact same time.

I was sitting in the armchair. David was standing at the edge of the room. Gemma came in from the hallway.

The limp blue balloon was on the carpet under the coffee table, and all three of us saw it at the exact same time.

I slowly started to get up, David lunged for it, but Gemma charged and got there first. She picked it up with her mouth and quickly ran under the foot stool. I grabbed for her from one side and David blocked her from scooting away, but it didn't matter. We were too late. She had already swallowed the balloon.

What did people do before the Internet?

Within minutes, David had googled "my dog ate a balloon" (file THAT under:Things I Hope I Never Have to Google). He learned more than he ever wanted to know about the digestive system of a canine. The long and short of it is this: we'll be examining excrement for the next 48 hours hoping that the blue balloon finds an exit strategy. Yes, I have the dog doo blues!

In the meantime, I'm reconsidering party decorations for David's birthday....

Friday, April 19, 2013


On Fridays I have been linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday, where bloggers are given one word as a prompt, and then encouraged to just write for five minutes straight with no editing, tweaking, or self-critiquing. To quote Lisa-Jo, we are to “Write like you used to run. For the pure joy of it.” 

Today's prompt is: Jump


Back before iPods, when music came mostly through the radio, there was song called, "Jump" by a band known as vanHalen. When I was in 7th grade I loved that song!

All of my friends knew that I loved that song and whenever it came on the radio, they would call me and tell me, so that I could turn my radio on and listen to it. Or the last half of it anyway.

Hey, it's not like I could have bought the song on iTunes! Heck, I didn't even have a cassette player. All I had was a ladybug record player, which was practically worn out from repeatedly playing my Grease album. And so whenever someone called to tell me, "Jenn, 'Jump' is being played on KQXT!" I would drop whatever I was doing, turn on the radio, and sing along!

A few years ago, while in an office building, I heard the song, "Jump" come over the sound system in the form of muzak--you know, wordless, soft, and synthesized. It was so bad! What's worse is this: Nothing ages a person like hearing a favorite song from youth turned into elevator music.

I'm wracking my brains to find some great spiritual lesson in this whole silly trip down memory lane, and I wonder if it's this: Wouldn't it be great if someone could call to tell us when we need to tune in to the Lord to hear what he has to say? Wouldn't it be great if we were so eager to hear from him that we would stop whatever we were doing just for the thrill of hearing his voice? Instead, I wonder if we tune him out like the muzak in the elevator.


Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Birthday Blues

Today I threatened to buy my teenage son red skinny jeans; which, by the way, may be his greatest fear. No matter how much he integrates into the French system, he will not succumb to colored pants or man-bags. The boy has his limits!

And actually, it's not that I want Chandler to wear red skinny jeans. It's that I want Chandler to tell me what he wants for his 16th birthday, and he can't seem to come up with anything. Since 16 year-olds can't drive in France, he is (thankfully) not dreaming of a car. He likes video games, but claims he has enough of those (What!?!). He reads a lot, but doesn't have anything on his wish list at the moment. He enjoys music, but tends to be happy with what others in the family buy. I've known and loved the kid for 16 years, and I can't think of anything to get him for his birthday!

The real problem is this: Chandler is content.

In a world where many live always wanting more I have been blessed with a son (two actually) who rarely want anything. What is a mother to do? Of course it is a beautiful thing to know that they have already figured out what Paul meant when he wrote, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." But I am a first-world mama in need of a first-world birthday present for my third-culture kid! I love that he doesn't want anything, yet I can't not get him something!

Or can I?

What kind of radical parenting would that be? Probably a better option than the red skinny jeans. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Balance is Shifting

On the sidebar of my Facebook page there are 5 advertisements in French and 1 in English. The balance is definitely shifting....

Today I received 3 e-mails in French and 1 in English. The balance is definitely shifting....

Today I wrote 4 e-mails in French and 0 in English. The balance is definitely shifting....

I am in midst of reading 4 different books right now. Two of them are in French. The balance is definitely shifting....

Text messages on my phone are about 50/50 French/English. The balance is definitely shifting....

When I listen to the radio, make a telephone call, and dream, I am often unaware of which language is being spoken to me--unless I have to respond. Then I am aware. 

The other day I was translating for some Americans during our morning prayer time. Suddenly our Pastor switched to speaking English, but somehow my mind did not register the change, and I continued offering translation--English to English. Brilliant.

Still, I think that it is good sign that the the balance is shifting.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Here am I

Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

I didn't actually want to be a missionary. It's not that I was opposed to the idea, it just wasn't on the top of my list. I wanted to be president. 

Then one day I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" and without giving it a second thought, I raised my hand, and said, "Oh! Pick me! Pick me!" The voice of the Lord is awfully compelling. 

So here I am, in France. 

But the question keeps coming; day after day, hour after hour, minute after minute:

"That woman needs encouragement, whom shall I send?"

"That child needs care, whom shall I send?"

"The church needs cleaning, whom shall I send?"

"That family needs a place to stay, whom shall I send?"

"That student needs a ride, whom shall I send?"

"That project needs funding, whom shall I send?"

Everyday I have unlimited opportunities to say, "Here am I, send me!" Sometimes, though I hate to admit it, my response is not so eager. Sometimes it is even reluctant. Sometimes it comes out whiny. Sometimes I think, "For heaven's sake, couldn't you send somebody else?!?" 

Then I remember that Jesus, the sent one, has sent me. And he keeps sending me. It's why I am here.

Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


We live in a beautiful historic medieval village, complete with a château, a dungeon, and a stone church. Among all of that beauty and grandeur lies a little eyesore called, "Magiland."

Magiland is a brightly colored merry-go-round made up of hideous kid-sized hot rods. As if its appearance were not horrific enough, it blares, and I mean BLARES the most obnoxious techno-disco-pop music I have ever heard. You could say that I am not a fan of Magiland.

Yet there it sits, atop the lovely cobblestones, under the watchful of eye of the statue of poet Alfred de Vigny, right in the middle of the square. And while I am repulsed by Magiland, children are drawn to it. They see the flashing lights and the moving parts and they are mesmerized. Captivated. Enchanted. Who could possibly care about an ancient castle when Magiland is calling? "Dungeon, smungeon, I want that pink corvette!"

As I jogged past Magiland the other day (sadly, it cannot be avoided!) I realized that it stands as a great reminder of how I can go through life. God, in his great care and wisdom, fills my days with deep meaning, rich experiences, and valuable treasures. But rather than recognize the extravagance of his gifts, I can respond like that kid in front Magiland, stubbornly demanding cheap thrills. 

How many sunsets have I missed because my nose was in a catalog pining away for a new sofa?  How many sweet children have I failed to cherish because I was intent on wiping fingerprints? How many opportunities to serve others have passed me by while I was planning my next vacation? 

Are you living your life for the good stuff that God has for you, or are you chasing the florescent flames of Magiland? The medieval village of Loches has been around for over 1000 years. Magiland is not going to make it that long. Neither are the luxuries of this world that scream for our time, money, and attention. But the things of God will last forever.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Col. 3:2

Monday, April 8, 2013

Chez Williamson this Spring

Life is clicking along here in Loches, and we are continually overwhelmed by God's goodness! We marvel at what he is doing in and around us each week. But right now we are in the midst of a particularly exciting season, as we sense God leading us to focus our energy on a few special projects. For example:
  • Chez Williamson-a Bed and Breakfast! Between March and June, we will have had seven different families/groups of people staying in our home, each visit lasting between 3 and 8 days. Most of these guests are coming from across the pond, and the ones who have already been here have been profoundly touched by what they experienced during their stay. This is not because we are such fantastic hosts--it is because they have seen the amazing things that God is doing in our midst and they cannot help but feel inspired. These visits are a  great encouragement to us as well, and we feel blessed to share our community here in Loches with our loved ones from the States. 
  • Chez Williamson-an Educational Institution! The spring has been a time of purposeful teaching and learning! On the teaching side, David and I have been charged with training up and coming preachers and worship leaders in our church. It has been so fun to see church members develop and use their spiritual gifts. On the learning side, we are delighted to report that because of a new supporter, David was able to register for classes this Spring to continue to work towards his Masters of Divinity degree through a distance-ed program at Liberty University. Also, Graham is prepping up to take the SAT and an AP History exam. All in all, there is a lot of learning going on at our house these days.
  • Chez Williamson-a Writer's Workshop! After a smidgen of prompting from others, a healthy dose of holy fear, and a great deal of prayer, I have decided to write a book. Actually, I am not in the process of writing the book right now; but a rather, the process of writing a book proposal, which will  be sent to possible agents and/or publishers. It is a huge learning process, and quite frankly, I feel like I am in way over my head. But each day I sense God gently nudging me onward, and so I write. A formal book proposal is a major undertaking, and one that I am trying to accomplish before David's classes start up in May. Prayers are greatly appreciated!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

And Jesus Stopped

We live in community. Which means that our lives are woven together with those around us in very practical ways. Day by day. Hour by hour. It makes life very interesting!

Take Friday, for example When we woke up, we had TWO items on our agenda for the day: Clean the house and finish our preparations for the Good Friday and Easter services at church. Two do-able things.

However, at morning prayer I was asked if I could host twin three-year-old boys at my house for lunch while their mother was at a doctor's appointment.

Then David was asked if he could take a neighbor to the food bank--she doesn't have a car and it is too far for her to walk.

Just as he got home from the food bank, our friends called, needing a ride home from the hospital in Tours--which is about thirty minutes away.

David was a taxi service. I was a child care. This is our life. And we like it!

By the end of the day, the house got cleaned (enough) and the church services got planned (mostly). We are learning to tolerate embrace the interruptions that come with living in community. Because that is what Jesus did.

While he was on his way to Jerusalem, someone interrupted Jesus. A blind man named Bartimaeus was begging on the side of the road, and he heard that the Nazarene was passing by. He began to cry out fanatically. Shamelessly. He was making a spectacle of himself, and the crowd was embarrassed by his antics. They tried to shut him up, but he shouted even louder.

"Son of David, have mercy on me!"

And Jesus stopped.

Jesus--the most important man in history, during the most important week in history--stopped. He set aside his own agenda, and took time to care for the needs of another. He did not shun the interruption, he honored it. And this wasn't a first for Jesus. He often stopped for children, foreigners, and sinners.

He is my model for what it means to live in community. With Jesus, people always come before plans, tenderness trumps tasks, and interruptions are embraced.

Oh, I am not there yet! I still bristle when I sense that my day has just been rearranged to accommodate the needs of those around me. I bristle, and then I think of Blind Bartimaeus. And I remember that Jesus stopped. And I ask him to stop me. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Inspired by St. Francis of Assisi, David has started preaching to the animals around Loches. It hasn't resulted in an actual church plant yet, but he does have about five new "disciples," most of whom are of the feathered variety. It turns out that the gospel really is for the birds!

As for me, it looks like I'll have to cut back on Dance Dance Revolution for a while. Its not easy being 42 and pregnant.

Chandler will be laying low for a while, too. He recently sprained his coccyx in badminton tournament at school. The French play rough. On the bright side,  he won third place!

Graham has been exploring possible career paths for his future, and he is having a hard time making up his mind between two compelling professions: Puppeteer or Somalian Pirate Hunter? His SAT scores may be the deciding factor.

Turns out Jack should have been named Jacqueline. We woke up to find a litter of kittens in our closet this morning. I thought he had put on a little weight, and I wondered why the 'diet' cat food wasn't working.

Well, that's about all our news for the day--just one more thing:

April Fools!

Please note--NONE of the above is true. I AM NOT, I repeat NOT pregnant!