Monday, January 23, 2012

When you lose your ride in France...

Sometimes when in France, your ride calls and says they can't pick you up. Since you really hate figuring out which buses you need to take, and detest waiting at the bus stop, you decide to walk instead. This seems like an especially good idea since you were just thinking about how you didn't exercise that day but probably should have.

So you leave your house at 4:50 knowing that you're supposed to be somewhere at 5:00 and it usually takes twenty minutes to walk there. You reason that you should probably just walk faster and that being five minutes late is fashionable in France anyways.

About two minutes after you've left the house you've realized that you forgot your umbrella. While five minutes late is fashionable, nine probably isn't, so you decide to proceed without one. It's cloudy, but it probably won't rain.

Two minutes later a tiny rain drop falls on your face. You think about finding the nearest bus stop, but you're not really sure what bus you need anyways. Probably you can beat the rain, so you just keep walking. Unfortunately for you, though, you still bear the New Mexico curse (which means it always rains the one day you opt against an umbrella), and it, well, does start raining. Except for it's more like a mist, and you're not getting completely soaked, so you just walk faster. This is a good thing anyways. Since you hate most cardiovascular exercise, you were tempted to slow down as soon as your heart rate sped up, but the rain makes you walk faster.  You also feel glad that you didn't succumb to a rare urge to straighten your hair that morning, seeing as it would now be a giant mass of unsightly frizz. You do, however, decide to pull out a bright red headband from your purse so that you can keep your ears warm even though it really clashes with your pink and yellow scarf. The French people passing by stare at it strangely, but you don't care because your ears are warm and you're walking fast to get out of the rain.

The major downfall in the whole scheme, however, is that once you make it to your destination, you walk inside and wonder how the entire country of France suddenly got so hot. This, of course, is not what had happened. In reality, walking fast made you exercise more which made you much warmer and a teensy bit sweaty.

The point of the story, one might ask? Clearly figuring out bus lines and waiting at bus stops must clearly be avoided, and carrying an umbrella is still quite optional. The moral of the story is that one should not walk any faster because of the rain because it makes you unusually warm and especially because it stopped raining as soon as you arrived at your destination.

Friday, January 20, 2012


The day is so cloudy that I have to use the lamp on my bedside table even though it's not yet five o'clock. It's cloudy and drizzly, just how I tend to like my days best. The noise from the television which so often invades my room and disrupts the peacefulness is silenced. Everything about this afternoon is stillness, peacefulness, listening, prayer.

One of the women I usually meet with every Friday afternoon is probably sitting in a funeral service as I write this. She just lost her grandson, who was never able to take his first breath. Her daughter was only five months pregnant with him, and he is gone before he had a chance at life. My heart hurts for this family. She's even asked me for prayer, this woman who has carefully avoided the topic of religion better than anyone else I've met in France. I am praying, for her and her family. I'm praying that through this experience they will come to realize their need for God. I'm praying that I will have an opportunity to share the Gospel with her when next we meet.

My head is finally beginning to feel less cloudy this afternoon too, now that I seem to be recovering from the cold my body's been fighting the last few days. With the absence of noise, of distraction, and with the presence of peace and listening, I find myself swimming around in deep thoughts.

I've been coming to this one question over and over again since September. Do Christians need a 'special' calling to the mission field, or has the Bible already given us all the calling we need?

In truth, I had that question answered in my mind long before I asked it. We have every reason in the world for missions, namely, every single soul out there who has never heard His good news and never will unless we go to them, like He came to us. This peace, this joy, this life, this mercy, this forgiveness, this Salvation that He's given to me.... it should be shared. I should not keep silent. They need to hear, they need to know. Whether they accept it or deny it is not in my power to determine nor is it my responsibility. So then what is my responsibility? To go. To tell. To love like He loves. And all because He loved me and so I love Him.

So that answers my question. Do Christians need a specific, special calling? No, though sometimes God in His grace gives them to us.

I tremble at this reality as well, because now I've had a taste of the sacrifice and self-denial involved. I know that when one crosses those borders for the sake of evangelism, one is still the same person that left home. I know that every day there are still choices to be made. I know now that working with the title of 'missionary' can bring a person face to face with their own sinful flesh in a way no one wants to experience. I know that it requires, every single little day, even the ones when one feels sick or tired or lonely or whatever it may be, it requires picking up a cross and denying oneself. But then... that is not only the requirement for missionaries but for all who desire to follow Christ.

I think about these things as I watch the sky darken until it is night, and I don't come to any conclusions. I don't know where God will take me much past July 31st of this year, except that it will be only into further levels of self-denial and communion with Him. I'm tempted sometimes to worry and to plot and plan, but He lulls me into a restful trust. When the time comes to make a decision, He'll make it clear to me. He always has before.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Four Months and Counting....

I'm not going to write about how fast the time is going by, or that I can't believe it's already four months, because then I'd be writing that every single month and that would be a bit repetitive wouldn't it? What I will say is that, though it sometimes may not feel like it, God is using every second of my time here to count for something. He has purpose in this, in me being here, in my ministry, in my life.... When I stop to think about it, that thought blows me away. Sometimes I don't see the purpose, but every now and then He allows me to catch some glimpses and I am reminded all over again to trust Him. He really knows what He's doing.

This last month has been full of all sorts of blessings. I'll name five. Okay, six.

1. Visiting with my family....

Photos taken by my brother-in-law Jon. Edited by moi.

I've got about a gazillion pictures I could share of all the fun we had. Plus my nieces are the cutest nieces in the whole entire world ever. Just sayin'...

2. Having Kate come to visit me in France....

This is especially great because God has used us in each other's lives to further lay the burden of France on each of our hearts.

3. Our trip to Ireland....

It was good. Really, really good. I want to go back there, I liked it so much. And God used our time there in a way to give me fuel for coming back to France.

4. Getting better connected with Frenchy friends.

Kate and I did some good quality hanging out with some of them, which is really how the first gospel seeds are planted here. There's one young woman in particular who really opened up to me on Sunday, thanks to all of God's magnificent orchestration of course. She doesn't believe in Jesus, but I have a feeling that He's softening her heart.

5. And Him. There's always the blessing of Him. A blessing so awesome I can't really comprehend it. Just when I feel like I've received all the grace I can, He goes and dishes out some more for me. His presence is the sweetest thing. I crave Him more every day.

Going home for Christmas was something I needed after all, and He knew that, so He provided a way. It was a short break somewhere near the middle that made it so I didn't have to go ten months straight through without familiarity. I know people do it all the time, but I think He's having me do baby steps. I'm okay with that.

And coming back to France? It was a bit hard. A bit harder than I expected, certainly. I'm more impatient than I would have liked to think, and so it's hard for me sometimes that ministry in France is so slow going. I was starting to get discouraged that I wasn't going to have anything to show for my time here. Where are the dozens of new contacts? Shouldn't there be at least one new believer? Why is learning French so hard? All these different questions kept popping up in my head and I began to doubt the point of being here. But He reaffirmed me, like He has so many times before. He has a plan. He has a purpose. He used different people and different circumstances to remind me that He's the One that's really doing the work, not me, and that sometimes I can't always see it.

And after all those sweet reminders, blessings, and refreshers, He gave me an added bonus.

6. A new contact! I found a website... and received an email from a woman who wants to practice English... and she came to Café Anglais yesterday. It sounds like such a small thing, I know. But it's a little victory for me, a milestone, a gift from God. It's like He's winking at me and saying, "See? I'm still working." Work away, Lord. Work away. :)

And in the coming months, I have a lot to look forward. Like more visitors, more French skills, more friendships, more opportunities to share Him, and more of His presence. When it's all put into perspective, I can't imagine not serving and worshipping Him. Isn't He so good?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

I. LOVE. Ireland

I'd like to tell you a story, that begins with me looking at those handy and highly entertaining screens which show you approximately where your airplane is currently located and then the story ends in a lot of pictures.

"Hey Kate, let's go to Greece."


There were so many places listed on the map, and I just couldn't sleep.

"Hey Kate, let's go to Switzerland."


"Hey Kate, let's go to Holland."


"Hey Kate, let's go to Ireland."


"K cool."

And three days later that's where we found ourselves.

That's not exactly how it all went down, but it's pretty close to the truth. That handy and entertaining and dangerous little map that they were displaying on the airplane got me thinking, and since we were planning on going away from Paris for the weekend anyways, and since it was surprisingly inexpensive to fly from Paris to Dublin, and since neither of us had gone there before, and since they speak a form of English in Ireland... Well you get the picture. The itch for travel and adventure which had struck us while together so many times before took over again, and I was in for an unexpected treat.

love Ireland. A lot. It was surprising how much. I was expecting to just appreciate the fact that they spoke English and have it be nothing more than that, but what I found was so much more. I had never given Dublin or Ireland much thought before, but it's a really great place.

It's kind of like the opposite of France. That doesn't mean I don't love France, but a girl can love opposite things right? The French are private, serious, fashionable, and quiet. The Irish are outgoing, hysterical, much more casually stylish, rather loud, and so much fun. We found a couple leprechauns, a couple street preachers, no fairies, and some international friends while we were there too.

And I must say, the street musicians? Amazing.

And we also went to a dinner titled 'Food, Fairies, and Folklore.' It was well worth the money we paid. The guy playing the guitar in the picture below, Ollie, gave us a lot of history about, well.... fairies and folklore... while we ate food. And we also had the opportunity to get to know the five Brits and two Danes at our table.

 And it just so happened that while we were walking along the main shopping street we came across a street preacher. I'm fairly certain that God orchestrated the entire thing, because at that very moment we realized that it was necessary to stop and wait at that exact location for a while. We went up to the preacher afterwards to thank him for preaching the word and he invited us to church the next day.

So we went. And clearly God knew I needed to be there. We learned more about the church in Dublin, met quite a few Irish believers, as well as a German couple, a girl from the Chicago area, a girl from Bulgaria, and a French woman married to an Indian man.

Here's what I learned. The Irish believers really want their fellow countrymen to come to know God, but very few do. I'm still not certain of actual statistics, but the vast majority of the Irish are strictly the type of traditional Catholicism that never hears the gospel preached. It's kind of hard to believe that there's an entire nation of English speaking people that has such few true believers.  I'm glad to have learned how better to pray for Ireland, and hope to find out more about the state of the church there soon.

 Another really great part about visiting that little church in central Dublin was meeting the French woman, Cristelle. It was so encouraging to hear a French believer's story of salvation, and to be reminded that it takes time for seeds to be planted and watered in France, but that doesn't mean it's useless. She told me not to be discouraged, not to give up, that God is still using all of His ambassadors in France. Amen!

And to top it all off, it was a wonderful time with my friend Kate, walking around the city, seeing the sights, thinking about things, and feeling grateful to God that He gave us such an opportunity.

We really like old buildings and stuff. 

 And I really love city life. All the people. The music. The excitement. The crisp air. The thrill of travel.  The different accents. The foreign smells. Wonderful. It's all wonderful.

My Jesus really knows how to show me He loves me. :)

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Weird things happen.

And you wake up with your hair "really dark brown," or, as some say... black.

But the funny thing is that even though you didn't intend it to be 'really dark brown,' you kind of like the end result anyways.

Weird things, alright.

P.S. You may or may not be hearing things about Ireland in a few days time. Maybe.

Monday, January 2, 2012


I'm not sure what it is about that one little number at the end of the date that changes once a year.... but it always causes a surprising amount of reflection, dreaming, hoping, and remembering. Everyone tends to think about what went wrong, what went right, what was good, and what was bad about the last year, while resolving to do something different for the next. I'm no different than the others. While I've only ever come up with a New Year's Resolution for the sake of being able to have something to talk about with other people, I find myself this year spending a little more time in reflection about what God has done in the last. 

The last year has been... predictable and unpredictable all at the same time. It's been as expected, yet so very unexpected. It's been hard at times, so unrealistically easy at others, and always good. 

I finished up my time in Colorado, and said those bittersweet goodbyes to the people I grew to love so much. It was unexpectedly hard, and unexpectedly wonderful too. There's something beautiful about seeing so many people you love sent out to do the work God's called them to. And then there was this summer, which was nothing I could have ever expected. Losing Gideon will be something that I will never forget, and always be changed by. I learned to love a little deeper, care a little more, and hope a little higher. I learned that sometimes we can't see it, but God is always good. And I spend most of the summer fundraising for France, which at times was fun, exciting, encouraging, and faith-building. But at other times it was hard, discouraging, frustrating, faith-testing, and grace-growing. I can't say I'd want to repeat that process in a hurry, but I'm glad I went through it. And then there was France.  It's been hard. It's been an adventure. It's tested my faith and grown my love. It's caused me to stop looking so much at the things I always depend on and instead to look at Him. I expected all those things, but it doesn't make them any easier when you're actually going through them. I've come face to face with idols in my heart I didn't know existed, and I've had decisions placed in front of me every day that challenge my faith, my belief, my love for God. It's the same as when I'm in the USA, really, except for there's something about being in France that just gives you a different perspective. 

And right now? How am I starting the New Year? Not in France, but at home, in New Mexico, with family. I've been here two weeks now, and I head back to France tomorrow. It's been two weeks of rest. Two weeks of time with family. Two weeks of my own culture, which is a much bigger deal than one ever realizes until they're in another. 

I'm thankful that God gave me this year. I'm thankful that He's given me opportunites every single day to experience Him, to love Him more, to be loved by Him. I'm thankful for the hard times and the easy times. I'm thankful that He's never left me. I'm thankful that He's guided my every step. And now? Now I look forward to what He's got planned this year. I now know from experience that He'll guide me, that He'll love me, that He'll be there with me. I'm eager to meet the people He'll bring across my path, to learn the lessons He has in store for me, to receive His gifts, to accept the challenges He puts in front of me. It's the most wonderful thing in the world, knowing that I can trust Him even when I don't understand, knowing He's in control when I'm not, that He has grace and mercy and that He never changes. 

I'm learning more and more about Him, and the more I know, the more I like Him. Twenty twelve. Wow. It's going to be better than 2011, and I'm looking forward to it.