Thursday, September 29, 2011

Giverny- Home of Claude Monet

It was my birthday the other day. Yup. In France. I was surprised to find out on my birthday that I really didn't care all that much about my birthday. Not like I did in previous years. When I was 18, it was the end of the world (I have to be grown up now! Why? Why meeee?!). When I turned 20, the attitude was denial ("I'm not 20, I'm still a teenager. 19. No that's a lie, I feel bad. I'm 20... Sigh.") That line had to end when I started to forget how old I actually was at the ripe age of.... 20. When I turned 21, it wasn't really all that exciting, except for the fact that I was apparently old enough to have foster kids. That's kind of cool. But now.... at 22. Well.... I'm really just indifferent. Can't get back lost time, but I sure can appreciate the time I've had and the time I will have.

Luckily for me, Jay and Nancy cared a little bit more about my birthday than I did. We started off the day with church. It was all in French, so I didn't understand 99.5% of it. You'd be proud to know I stayed awake the whole time.

Next they took me out to lunch to this creperie. Amazing. I like French food. 

And then... this is the best part, because what I was really longing for on my birthday was sweet time in the presence of Jesus, and He gave it to me in a special way. Jay and Nancy took me to Monet's Jardin (garden) in Giverny. It was gorgeous. 

The weather was perfect. 

Half of France thought so too, considering all the people that were there. 

But I hardly noticed. I was too in awe of God's creation.

And I really began to understand how this guy was so inspired all the time. 

I also discovered that I really, really like his work. His paintings are beautiful. Not that I got to see all that much at his house though....

Because apparently all his work is in museums, and only his personal art collection is at his house. 

It's all oriental art that he collected, by the way. Who would've guessed that one of the most famous impressionist artists ever was really into oriental art? Quite different styles if you ask me. But what do I know? 

I know these flowers sure are pretty. I could've spent weeks in that garden. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Oh How I Love Beginnings

Well... I’m in France! 

Have I mentioned yet how thankful I am for all the prayer, encouragement, support, and just plain love from the body of Christ as I’ve begun this journey? It’s been overwhelmingly wonderful. 

My flight arrived in Paris around 11:30 am on Saturday morning one week ago. (I can’t believe it’s already been a week! I can’t believe it’s only been a week either!). I was determined NOT to take a nap that day, and instead stick it out so I’d sleep well at night and get over the jet lag asap. So I didn’t take a nap, even though it had been more than 26 hours straight of traveling and I didn’t really get much sleep on the plane. And you can tell when you look at pictures from that day. But I’m so thankful to be here. 

Jay and Nancy picked me up from the airport and brought me back to their house where the hours stretched on and on as I tried to keep myself awake. Then they ended up taking me out to see some sights.

It’s beautiful out here. There’s all these little treasures tucked away in the countryside waiting to be found by me. And everything is so old! It’s marvelous. 

I live about 45 minutes outside of Paris by train, and I’m even closer to Versailles. Both places are calling to me, but I haven’t really explored them yet. My place of residence while in France is in this charming cluster of seven little towns somewhere in between the City of Lights and the Hall of Mirrors. Sometime soon I’ll go explorin’ with my camera and take pictures to share.

This last week has been full of orientation on various things. Like grocery shopping. And French customs. And worldviews. And trying to get cell phones. I’m currently staying with Jay and Nancy, but I move out on Monday. I’m renting a room from a kind woman who lives near the University. 

I just sent out my first Newsletter by email. If you didn’t receive it, first check your spam folder. If it’s not there, next email me and ask me to send it to you. :)

We did a little sightseeing to Giverny today. It's where Monet lived. It was pretty awesome, and a really good birthday. I'll share about the day sometime very soon. 

There’s so much else that’s been on my heart to share as well, but another date, another time!

In the meantime, keep praying for the spread of the gospel in France. Oh how they need Jesus! 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Best Layover Ever!

Seriously, best layover. I took a one hour bus ride into DC to walk around and see the sights. Have I ever mentioned that I love DC? Cause I do.

It was so wonderful walking around for a few hours and seeing all sorts of monuments and people. And the weather was beautiful. Perfect.

If my next destination weren't Paris, it would be SO hard to leave. I console myself by saying I'll come back someday. After all, it worked for France. :-)

My flight leaves in approximately one hour!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Thank You

I could never express how grateful I am to everyone who has helped me along my way to France. You have all blessed me more than words could possibly express, and I find myself trying to express it often. Lately, it is not uncommon for me to find myself overwhelmed with how many people I desire to express my gratitude towards, and quite frankly, that's a wonderful problem to have.

I've learned so much through this whole process. So much that if I never actually made it, all the hard work would be worth it because of the lessons I have learned just getting where I am right now.

I've learned how many wonderful people I have in my life who are available to whatever God might ask them. I can only imagine the sacrifices that some have had to go through in order to send money for this ministry. What I love the most is that the financial sacrifices prove to me that people are invested in this ministry and will likely labor in prayer with me. That's priceless.

I've learned how important it is for the body of Christ to work together. Yes, we are to be dependent on God alone. And yet, we are called to support, encourage, and pray for one another as if we were all one big happy family. It's beautiful. I've definitely experienced that to a greater extent these last few months.

And lastly, and most importantly, I've learned how faithful and capable my God is. At times, it was hard to put myself out there and trust that He would provide. What if I had misread things and He didn't really want me to go to France? But He called, and He provided in ways I never expected. It's funny, but the ways that He provided the most were ways that I could never have orchestrated myself. He made it clear that HE was the One doing it all. I am SO happy He did!

It doesn't feel real yet. I've been telling people that all week. And it's true. I feel so bad when people give me tearful goodbyes and I'm still smiling and content as always. Perhaps I've just said too many goodbyes in the last year. I feel like I'm just going to Colorado for a month or something. But I'm not. I'm going to France for at least nine months!

I can't believe it! 

So I'm sorry if I wasn't sad when I said goodbye to you. It just hasn't hit me yet. But be sure that when it does, I'll probably cry a lot because you're not there. 

My flight leaves Albuquerque at 8 am tomorrow! I arrive in Washington DC and have an 8 hour layover there. Soooo long. But I think I might take advantage of it and go see the sights. :) After all, I've always said that DC is my second favorite place in the world after Paris. How cool is it that I'll be in both within the same 24 hours?!

I'll then be leaving DC at around 9:30 pm Eastern time to arrive in France 11:30 am the next day Paris time. It will be approximately 26 hours of traveling total. It could be so much worse, but still.... Pray for strength, patience, and JOY for my trip! Jay and Nancy are picking me up from the airport, and I'm really excited to meet them! 

France, here I come!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

What's the Point?

Today I can't help but think of how fleeting the human life is. Truly we are as a vapor. I think back to 10 years ago, and it doesn't seem real. I couldn't comprehend the gravity of that situation when I was not quite 12 years old, and I still can't comprehend it now. Three thousand human beings, just like me, are gone from this earth forever, and it seemed to happen so quickly and so easily.

I wonder how many of them exercised, and ate healthy, and went to the doctor regularly, and did everything they could to ensure that they would live long on the earth. I wonder how many considered the possibility of death that day. I wonder if their families ever imagined them being gone forever.

“One generation passes away, and another generation comes; But the earth abides forever.” (Ecclesiastes 1:4)

In the grand scheme of things, 3,000 is a minuscule number. There are all sorts of people dying every day, from all kinds of causes- whether it be murder, accident, or their bodies deteriorating. I was reading Ecclesiastes last week, and it can be depressing how futile all of it is. All of your wisdom, knowledge, hard work, money.... everything will one day pass away. You cannot keep it when you die.

How many of those 3,000 left that day to meet their Savior? How many left that day to find that there is One God and they will suffer eternal torment for denying Him? My mind cannot comprehend, but my heart aches at the thought.

And today, as I think of all those people ten years ago, all of those people today, who have and will meet death, I am challenged to walk this earth with an eternal perspective. One day, life and the earth as we know it will be gone, what will we have then? What am I really living for?

The matter is summed up for us quite beautifully at the very end of Ecclesiastes.

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.”

Lord, I thank you for Your Son, and that I will not have to pay the price that I owed because He paid it for me. Help us to walk with the reality in mind that every person we come across will one day stand before Your throne. You've offered salvation. I ask that You would enable us to boldly proclaim the Good News to everyone we can. You're the point of it all.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Adventures in California

Thanks to the crazy requirements needed in order to get my visa for France, I was able to spend a few days in Santa Barbara with my friend Bri. It was beautiful. And wonderful. And lovely. And perfect. I didn't want to leave. 

She lived about a two minute walk away from the beach. Of course,  I did have to climb down a precarious, steep, and frightening dirt path.

But once I made it to the ocean, it was well worth it. 

It was rough out there, let me tell you. 

And look, my hair does crazy things in the humidity. So. Much. Volume. 
I can hardly think of a better way to spend an afternoon than at the beach with a Bible in hand. It was such a sweet time in the presence of my Jesus.

We also went on an adventure in the mountains to see some ruins and take fun pictures. It was beautiful.

 I didn't want to leave.

But eventually, I had to go the French consulate in LA to apply for my visa. It was scary. So scary.

This older black French security guard let me into the always locked door, and then made sure I had all my paperwork while asking me weird questions in this unnaturally calm and slightly amused manner. And then I had to go in the other room and wait for a few minutes before I got called up to this counter.

She didn't smile. Not once. And asked me for all this paperwork. And then when she had to get my fingerprints, it wasn't working. She got so angry. I wanted to cry. And then finally she got everything sorted, and told me they would make their decision within 7-10 days. And then I left and found coffee to make myself feel better.

And I rested in the knowledge that clearly God wanted me in France for a while, because why else would He provide that much money?

And, of course, He did come through. My visa showed up 8 days later. And I leave for France really, really soon. Pray for God to change the hearts of those I will encounter in France. :)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Meet Abby

This is Abby, the newest addition to my family. I came all the way to Nashville to meet her.

She has tiny little legs still.

And she makes the most adorable faces

And everyone just loves her to pieces, including Big Sister. 

 Remember Big Sister? I'm sure you've heard me mention my wacky, fun, adorable, and sweet as sugar niece before. I love her.

She just turned two. Normally sixteen year olds get cars for their birthdays, but I think my brother figured if he bought her one now, he wouldn't have to later. I dunno. 

Kate also likes to play on my computer. Can you see those smudge marks on the back? Yeah, that's where she licked it. She keeps us on our toes, that one does.

And she absolutely loves showing affection to Little Sister, even if the little doesn't quite appreciate it yet. 

But she knows she has to be gentle ("duh-doh!"), despite the fact that she's not quite sure what gentle entails yet. 

Nieces are the best. things. ever. Promise. If you don't have a niece, you should go find one somewhere. And if you do? Go love on her. Right now.