Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Another French list

 Different things Laura's seen in France:

  • mail man delivers mail by bicycle
  • people say au revoir to the bus driver when they get off the bus.
  • tiny refrigerators  (most without freezers)
  • trees whose bark looks splotched (like an impressionist would paint)
  • eggs & milk that don't need to be refrigerated until opened
  • more kinds of pork than we know what to do with - seriously!
  • a small pack of sliced sandwich meat: chicken (4 per pkg is the only way to buy it)
  • no mac N cheese in a box of any kind
  • the man purse!
  • men wearing scarves - not so odd when it's cold - odd when it's not

Picture Post 2

Lots of great things lately...
  • Nice fall hike with the family of one of Claire's copines (female classmates)
  • Melva (PBT teammate already serving in West Africa came to visit)
  • New teammates arrived in France to learn the language (means we get to build our team dynamic for Africa)
  • Brent graduated from IFALPES (Institute Français of the ALPs) Laura to finish next week.
A Picture is worth a 1,000 words...

Picture of our town in the valley - taken from the summit of our hike

"Aunt" Melva painting Claire's toenails - first time ever
"Aunt" Brittany - new teammate

All the girls on our team (L-R): Laura, Shelly, Claire, Brittany
Snuggling up on the couch on a wintery night

Brent & friends graduate from IFALPES

So proud of you, baby! Brent gets his IFALPES "French" diploma Dec. 2011

Picture Post

Haven't posted pictures lately, and I'm not one of those regular bloggers with their trendy "Word-less Wednesdays" either... not to mention it's Tueday *grin* SooOOooo, I figured I'd just post some recent pics with captions to give you a visual into our world lately. Enjoy!

Made snowman with a homemade playdough recipe from Pinterest

Brent's mom sent a package that included stickers & Claire went crazy!

We made a paper Nativity set printed out from Pinterest - Claire plays with it regularly for 20 mins at a time!

Made a book Christmas tree (see disclaimer at end) and a paper Advent Chain - ideas from Pinterest
Here's our Christmas decor this year - left over from previous residents *smile* 
Disclaimer: Only one useless book was harmed in the making of the paper Christmas tree. I treasure the written word, but this book quickly turned south and though I finished it, I would not pass it on to anyone. So I joyfully recycled it in the best way I knew how! ;)

The Call keeps calling...

I've been called to be a missionary since I was 14 years old. I've got my BA in Missions and Bible. I currently live in another culture (I live in France! Mind you I don't live in an underdeveloped country, well at least not yet). I am headed to West Africa with my family in 2012. You would think that by now I would have an undeniable handle on this calling of mine.

I am passionate about the task of missions, don't get me wrong. I believe that all believers should be involved in the Great Commission (Matt 28:19-20). Involved by giving, praying, or going. A firm: yes.
This year, as before in other transitional periods of my life, I have struggled with the idea of going.
Can I do it? Can I not just survive, but thrive? Am I good enough to take care of my family overseas where we will lack certain things like running water and electricity?

I question often.

Some days it doesn't bother me at all and I am actually happy about the idea of going and getting to be the person who connects with a Bible-less people and the one who helps transform their lives by bringing the power of God's Word into their language. Thrilling!

Other days I struggle. I have a bad attitude. I look at the times with my family in the States... Times that our kids will miss out on. It's hard and some days I need an attitude correction. Like today.

Well, a few days ago, Brent and I sat down to discuss our ministry goals - what we really want to see as an effect of our presence in West Africa. It was hard to do. I didn't like it one bit. I'm not the best planner because I really have no concept of time, and this year I have seen that I can be a bit of a pessimist if left to myself. So looking forward to the future and the end "product," if you will, was... scary. I can only really envision 2 years at a time, in a very general way. I can see us moving to Africa and some things we may do and then having to move back to the States for a few months of Home Assignment (furlough) to raise more partners and prayer support. I can also see the times of isolation and times of being way out of my comfort zone when on the field and traveling. I keep thinking, "I've been camping once in my entire life and I had running water and showers then! And I plan on moving out into the middle of no where?!? Is this crazy?" I turn inwards and run into the depths of my soul... looking for a way to escape whatever may come.

I tend to forget that God is already there - in West Africa - in my future - waiting for me. I still run. His call lovingly pursues. After breaking down crying before Brent, expressing my fears and feelings of inadequacy (I always feel bad when I do that, by the way.), the Lord worked out some tough knots in my soul in the next few days. Today, I "just happened" to come across a video of our friend, Greg Pruett, the PBT President, and a sermon he gave at Compass Christian Church. It was entitled, "Imagine A World Where Everyone Has a Bible." I watched the whole thing and was once again enthralled with the passion of the call; enthralled with the amazing transformation in lives that is possible with access to the Word in a language that local people can understand.

OK, I must admit I have been slacking in my devotions lately. Yes, it even happens to missionaries. I think it happens to me especially during those times (usually when I get really busy with moving to another continent or something!) when I am weakest and my defenses are down and the enemy knows it. We have a sneaky enemy who wants to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). The thief will swoop in when your defenses are down, with the intention of accomplishing these three things:  1.) Stealing your joy in the Lord [your strength]; 2.) Killing off your confidence in God and the gifts that He's enabled you with to fulfill God's call on your life; and 3.) Destroying God's plan for your life. I find that if I let myself wallow in self-pity, that's just what happens. I need to remember to cast my cares. Cast here means to throw (like casting a fishing net into the water) 1 Peter 5:7-97 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

I need to keep my focus. I need to be willing to suffer it all because of my LOVE for God and my desire to see others come to love Him too. After watching Greg's sermon video, I felt compelled to turn my attitudes right again. To turn to God and face my calling which thankfully keeps pursuing me. So I knelt down in my pajamas on the cold tile of my dirty kitchen floor (next to my computer) and imagined myself at the feet of Christ. Weeping in reality, while imagining hugging and kissing his perfect, nail pierced feet. Asking His forgiveness for my "unhappy heart."

I regularly tell my kids, " Go back and do it again with a happy heart." Hebrews 4:12(NIV) 12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. This time I was the one who needed a correction and thankful that hearing God's Word brought it to me. (Makes me think about those that have no way to hear His Word.)

It's one thing to follow His call, and another to do it with a happy heart. I regularly need this sort of heart check to make sure I am not doing this task begrudgingly. Hebrews 11:4 By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead. I want my offering of my life to be a pleasant gift to my Lord - I want it to be the best of my life. I'd like for my life's work to still speak even when I am dead. I'd like to hear, "Well done, my good and faithful servant." I want to be able to forsake all lovingly for Him - not bitterly. It's a tender thing to be corrected by the Lord and even more amazing is the flood of forgiveness that washes over a downtrodden soul bringing life and right relationship with Him again. I am so thankful that God continues to pursue & lead even me, Miss Bible Degree Girl,  the one who thinks she has to and can do it on her own, sometimes (and often finds out that she can't!). I'm very thankful He still uses imperfect people like me to fulfill His purpose. Until next time, I'll be working on "Becoming Holy & Happy-Hearted at Home (wherever that may be!) for the People I Heart."

PS- If you're interested in watching Greg's sermon video, here's the link. 


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Parent Help for different learning styles in young children

My kids are a lot like me. They are kind of all-over-rover =Very creative with a wide variety of interests.

It also means that they are easily distracted and hard to direct sometimes. They are young and will learn how to manage these things, but in the mean time it is my job to help direct them.

It's a hard job and  it reminds me of that verse in the Bible where God directs the heart of kings just a He directs a watercourse (Prov 21:1). It clues me in that it has to be God who helps us direct these little ones because we certainly can't direct their hearts like He can. Brent & I have a good sense of humor; when we get stressed and frustrated we say to each other, "At least it's better than trying to herd cats!" *wide grin*

I think of my parents at times like those too. I can remember them telling me not to "lallygag" through most of my primary years on up through high school.  I was a huge procrastinator, off in dream land & they had a hard time trying to motivate me because I was motivated to do other things. I see some of these characteristics (and other great ones too) in my kiddos, so I've started to look for ways that I can help myself, help them.

I am not often impressed with psychology and the ideas of parenting presented in secular realms (I am cool with some types of Christian family counsel though), but what I found, I hope will be some helpful information  for some folks. It's presented by the retired Dr. Heller (you can check out his home page to find out more about him after reading the link). 

What impressed me in this link were some of the great visual and tactile cues to use with children with different learning styles. It was some practical tips, for once, to train them to listen and to be on a schedule and to start some self-control. Hope it helps other parents too. Enjoy!


Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Good quote from the movie Kung Fu Panda (though I think some Greek philosopher said this first) - Master Oogway says:

One often finds his destiny in the path he takes to avoid it.

Disclaimer: I do not recommend the movie Kung Fu Panda for young viewers. It's great for adults for sure, but there's plenty of martial arts violence in it - things I won't let my 6 year old watch.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cherish the Magic Moments - Cleaning House Simplified

 Ok, I've been looking online for ways to de-clutter and to maximize my time. I'm not good at time management so I decided I had better start working on it. *sheepish grin* It's hard to keep a home running smoothly with two young kids when time management is not my forte.

#1. I found some great tips at Hannah Keeley's website http://hannahkeeley.com/
(Magic Moments in her mom's free 3 Day Boot Camp).

#2. I found more tips at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam's website: http://beautyandbedlam.com/speed-cleaning-join-me/ . (Setting a timer for 10 or 15 mins of productivity = so effective!). 

#3. A pin I found on Pinterest (ok, I know what you're thinking. I already check FB and Blog & now I got sucked into another online time consumer! but pics online are less physical clutter in my home and I find joy in it. I just be sure to limit my time usually. I'm off from school this week so why not!) The pin had a pic of a list: 40 bags in 40 days. You can find it on my Pinterest board: http://pinterest.com/
Or from Little Lucy Lu's website: http://www.littlelucylu.com/2011/03/40-bags-continued.html

#4. Also some great tips from the Fly Lady's site: http://flylady.net/pages/FLYingLessons_CrisisCleaning.asp
(How to clean quickly. I like a shiny sink. It really helps.)

So I borrowed a little from each of these sites and have been rockin' it in my own home (or at least it feels that way for me. *smile*).

Some of the links above are self-explanatory, but here's a description for the ones that might not be so clear.

So the Magic Moments from Hannah Keeley: I've been doing this tip. You basically try and do a little here and there and mentally count it as a Magic Moment. Her concept is to get rid of negative thoughts (about how I can never get this house clean and be a good mom). Replacing negative ones with positive ones is key. I liken this to taking every thought captive to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).  To put it into practice, for example, I would now think: I have just had a Mom's Magic Moment = I picked up those dirty socks I kicked off in the middle of the night and put them in the hamper on my way to do something else productive for my family. Yay for me! I add my own little theme song when I realize I am doing this and it helps me feel giddy (which is one of my cherished sentiments, btw). Theme song: This Magic Moment by the Drifters. *wink*

The pin of 40 bags in 40 days from Pinterest and Little Lucy Lu: is basically a list of spots where clutter collects in one's house and an idea to de-clutter in forty days. You pic a spot on the list and grab a bag and start filling. I adapted this a bit in my own home. (We have to get rid of everything including furniture by Jan. 2012 since our apt. is listed as unfurnished). I sat and made a list in like 15 minutes flat. I listed all the places that clutter collects and where I could find things to toss or recycle or donate. Then I picked a spot and started. Since we still need some things before we move out of France back to the States, my list will be gone over twice at least. I call this the double purge! I put a dash next to each of the items I've already de-cluttered. Next time through I will place a check on top of the dash to say that area is completed (or emptied in our case). This list idea works well for my family. My husband and I can pick some different areas to tackle and we feel less over-whelmed. My hubby loves organization and this is a simple way I can help fit that bill. Glad I didn't have to come up with it on my own. Not my area of creativity, but could begin to be. Hmmm. Art in organization and de-cluttering? I like it!
Our lovely French apt bldg that we have to leave in Jan. Time to De-clutter!

Anyway, I just thought why not share the wealth, right?
I love finding helpful hints for household management! Hope you enjoy & join our family in cleaning out the negative clutter in our minds and the clutter in our homes. Making Home Happy for all the people I Heart.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

John Piper E-book for FREE

I believe in marriage. I believe in reading. I believe in FREE e-books. I believe in sharing them. *smile*

Found this link with an e-book (192 pages) from John Piper. I haven't read this e-book yet, so don't shoot me if it doesn't have good counsel in it. Take everything you read with a grain of salt (unless it's the Bible). I haven't actually read any of his books, but I've read some good quotes from John Piper that I liked.

For example, in a different women's devotional book I found this quote by him from A Godward Life: "With God at the center - like the 'sun,' satisfying a woman's longing for beauty and greatness and truth and love - all the 'planets' of food and dress and exercise and cosmetics and posture and countenance will stay in their proper orbit." (underling is mine). 

Enjoy the free book! Hope you find it useful.

Here's the link to the John Piper e-book, This Momentary Marriage

Surprizes about France

 Here's another list of things I found in France. Some good, some bad, some just normal now though they used to seem odd. Hope you enjoy this look at my little coin (corner) of France :

  • Classy older ladies carry natural wood, wicker baskets to the market and the supermarket.

  • Live birds (and dead ones too) at the market. Not to mention bunnies on the menu. (But go figure this is the country that eats frogs' legs - haven't tried them yet).  

  • In 9 months of living here, I've seen two men wearing berets (stereotypical French hat). They are not common here. Someone actually told me they are from Belgium (where they speak some French too).

  • There are not many easy options for donating gently used goods/furniture, so people often set their donations to the side of the recycling and other people pick them up and put them to good use.

  • It's hard to find larger size shoes, plus sized (larger than an American 12) clothing, and tall clothes in general. Surprised to find tall clothes and plus sized (larger than my size) at Kiabi - for decent prices!

  • Old ladies in bikinis, flab, wrinkles and all. Funny. No one-pieces except mine.

  • Dog droppings everywhere - especially on the sidewalk! Je deteste la crotte! (I detest the droppings!)

  • Caring French people. It's a stereotype that French people are cold. They are actually pretty kind and once you get to know them they are very sweet and caring.

  • French friends. Being able to connect in another language. Laughter, tears, and all.

  • Over 365 types of cheese. Mmm! (Some not pasteurized either - didn't know, haven't gotten sick or died yet.) 

  • Intricate apple or pear tart at small group. French church's small group gathering in our home. Fun times in French!

  • Christians, even non-Catholics, drink wine for communion and with each dinner meal. C'est normal! (It's normal!) Have only seen a drunk on the street though (homeless). Makes you think - in general it seems they do not drink to get drunk here. 

  • People smoking everywhere. More in this city than I would expect than in a small city in the States. Even saw some people rolling up old fashioned tabaco cigarettes. Made me feel like I was living in a different era.

  • People say Bonjour!  to the bus driver when they get on & then  Merci, Au revoir!  when they get off the bus. I kinda like this level of politesse (politeness).

  • KFC in France! Instead of the typical sides (mashed potatoes, green beans, biscuits) you get fries and you could get a lemon tart for dessert. A lemon tart at KFC!!

  • People are fashionable. Nice shoes too. It's neat to see what they come up with to look good.

  • English songs in stores (including uncensored ones). Songs a few months to a year behind the States. (Same thing with French dubbed US movies).

  • Styles from the 80's in the US making their way here. Makes me smile. Big neon sunglasses. Plaids mix-matched.

  • For the first time in my life I've seen people pee outside. Walking along (4 different times) and  I see the back of a grown man and realize: OH! and try to walk quickly past. Is that normal here? *shrugs* More practice for Africa.
  • Never realized I would learn so much about my language while trying to learn another. We use certain verbs to explain things that they have specific verbs for and vice-versa. It's amazing.

  • There's a grocery store here that has special weeks with products from the featured country. Funny to see what is offered during American week. What is sandwich sauce anyway?

  • I love walking and riding my bike here. Who knew exercise could be enjoyable!

Hope you enjoyed my list about the differences I see when I look at France through my cultural glasses. :)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Hair Help for Hopeless Homemanagers (that's us: moms/wives)

I think God blessed me with an incredible color for hair (red!)... maybe He did that because He knew I wouldn't know how to do anything with my hair. I have never been able to style it. My mom succeeded in making my hair look great for my wedding though. Otherwise, if I wanted it to look like I did anything more than just brush it, I would have to go get it styled or have some chic haircut that would be low-maintenance (AKA little or no products or styling required.) My hair is thin but there's a ton of it, so that makes it thick and hard to put up because it's heavy and slips out of most things. It also doesn't hold a curl unless you use an entire can of hairspray - it's just too heavy.

All this said to tell you, there's hope for my hair - and maybe yours too if you are needing a tip. 
I hate looking frumpy, but when you can only throw your hair up in a ponytail everyday that's what you get, frumpy. I never could figure out how to do fancy ponytails or braiding much either.  Just to clarify, I'm not too worried about appearances but I do like to look a bit put-together for my hubby and my kids. I'd rather not look like I did nothing to myself to get ready for the day. If momma is ready to take on the world, so is everyone else! So time to try something new with my hair to wave bye-bye to frumpy.

Thank goodness for You-tube in times like these! Mind you, You-tube can have some weird stuff on it, but it can also be a useful tool for learning "how to" stuff (and it can even be used for the Lord's purposes - I love how even technology can be redeemed). Anyway, I found this blog link that has a 3 min. video tip for making your hair look cute in a "sock bun". I tried it. I'm wearing it now - took me 5 minutes and it worked on my first try. I didn't even have all the right tools. That's simplicity. Love it and now instead of looking Hopeless, I can look "Happily put-together at Home for all the people I Heart".

Let me know if you have any other video tips like these. I'd love to know.

Here's the link: http://www.defrumpme.com/2011/09/perfect-bun-in-3-minutes-or-less.html

Friend's perspective on Africa

My friend knows that life in Africa can be hard and that you have to look on the bright side. She sent me a list of her top reasons why she loves Africa. I think I'll agree with her. Good to keep some perspective and enjoy some of Africa even if there might be some lack of comfort and possible sacrifices along the way. If I look to those things too much I'd get all glum. May as well look at some inspiring reasons why I could see myself enjoying Africa instead.

picture from Wikipedia - love the colors and smiles!

By the way, today is an "I love Africa" day for me. I've been trying to get to the missions field since I was 14 years old. I am so looking forward to going and being a part of something bigger that God has for my life. The day is coming soon. Enjoy reading my friend Melva's "Tops."

Things I love about life in Africa…
The clothes are bright...and don’t have to come even remotely close to matching.
You can be a millionaire with just a couple hundred dollars.
My new appreciation for the beauty of a rainstorm
The AMAZING star-gazing—more stars than I’ve ever seen.
The complete freedom from ridiculous “safety” laws.
You can park anywhere.
The inspiring people you get to work alongside of while you’re here.
The contagious, courageous faith of the persecuted locals.
The absence of city lights and traffic noise.
The slower pace of life.
The fact that you can afford to help your friend by hiring them to do your laundry.
The heightened joy in the simple pleasures—like banana pancakes.
The connections with people back home—and the means of introducing them to the need for missions.
The way little kids get so excited when you wave at them—the plus side to being a celebrity.
Eating healthier because there aren’t prepared foods available.
There’s fresh baked bread available just around the corner.
The thunderstorms are incredible.
An appreciation for simplicity—especially in church with the bare building (if any) and plain wooden benches.
You’re forced to adopt a slower pace of life—which has some huge advantages.
You’re evenings are family time—cause there aren’t a million different activities.
Home is the center of the social system.
The mangoes are delicious.
The better perspective on our home culture—the good and bad.
The skyline isn’t cluttered.
You’re constantly driven to pray.
The incredibly generous hospitality.
People always take time to pull up a chair and invite you to sit awhile.
You can eat with your hands…and have to wash fewer dishes.

Coping mechanisms: Make Friday night movie night and watch a movie that makes you laugh. Hire someone to do your shopping for you. When you do go shopping, plan on it being a half-day social event so it doesn’t stress you out that it’s taking so long. Celebrate small victories. Spend time looking at the stars. Sing praise songs. (Thanks, Melva! Love ya, girl!)

Enjoy what you have and praise the One who gave it to you. 

Blogs good for feeding our spirits

The Word is life-giving and feeds our spirits best when we have His word hidden in our hearts.

Love, love, love these ideas from the Blog: WHEN YOU RISE.


These are super cool ideas for helping memorize scripture. Let's face it, it needs to be in ya! If it's in my heart it's helpful in the split second moments of trials. (There are great lessons on this Blog for teaching kids Bible truths too - good for home church for missionary kids or homeschool.)

I'd like to add, a perfect place to memorize scriptures is... ahem... "on the john." That's right, when you're a parent, sometimes the only quiet moment you get is in the bathroom (OK only a few quiet moments there because the kids seem to know when you've left the room and they come searching!).  I stick up whole lists of one-liner Bible phrases (in a sheet protector = easy to change without taking it down) that I'd like to know or pray for each day of the month. You can Google: "31 prayers for your children" (or husband) and find a printable list from Bob Hostetler at Revive Our Hearts. Or I also find it handy to stick up Bible index cards that focus on a principle that I need help learning (and that could benefit the kiddos too - if they can read it, they will!).

Another great tip came from one of my favorite Blogs: WOMEN LIVING WELL

It's handy to keep track of all your index cards by putting them in the slots of an inexpensive photo album. Keep blank index cards in the slots in the back.

Hope these help & that you enjoy them.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Choosing a Constant Change of Focus

I haven't felt like writing much lately. I've been busy and well, kinda distracted -AKA: worrying about the future. The Future for me is a list of many unknowns and the things that I do know just happen to be trials that I know I will face. I'm heading to Africa with my family for a long time. That means goodbyes, lack of comfort items like A/C and hot showers, etc. Anyway, thinking too much about these things makes me really stressed and sad sometimes. I've been focusing on my future without recognizing that God is going to be in it to help me through those daily trials.

I found a great Oswald Chambers devotional entry that helps put things into perspective:
(Please read this part because I comment on it afterwards.)


If ye love Me, ye will keep My commandments. John 14:15 (R.V.)
Our Lord never insists upon obedience; He tells us very emphatically what we ought to do, but He never takes means to make us do it. We have to obey Him out of a oneness of spirit. That is why whenever Our Lord talked about discipleship, He prefaced it with an IF - you do not need to unless you like. "If any man will be My disciple, let him deny himself," let him give up his right to himself to Me. Our Lord is not talking of eternal positions, but of being of value to Himself in this order of things, that is why He sounds so stern (cf. Luke 14:26 "If anyone comes to Me, and does not [by comparison of his love for Me] hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple".). Never interpret these words apart from the One Who uttered them.

The Lord does not give me rules, He makes His standard very clear, and if my relationship to Him is that of love, I will do what He says without any hesitation. If I hesitate, it is because I love some one else in competition with Him, viz., myself. Jesus Christ will not help me to obey Him, I must obey Him; and when I do obey Him, I fulfill my spiritual destiny. My personal life may be crowded with small petty incidents, altogether unnoticeable and mean; but if I obey Jesus Christ in the haphazard circumstances, they become pinholes through which I see the face of God, and when I stand face to face with God I will discover that through my obedience thousands were blessed. When once God's Redemption comes to the point of obedience in a human soul, it always creates. If I obey Jesus Christ, the Redemption of God will rush through me to other lives, because behind the deed of obedience is the Reality of Almighty God.
by Oswald Chambers

Laura: Ok, so did you see there that verse about "hate" your family and your own life?? Extreme, huh?

This has been the torment of my soul since I've seriously been preparing for serving in Africa. I miss my family.  I go through ups and downs when I struggle to be happy with the idea of serving in Africa - so far from my family and things that make my life so much easier. I've been asking myself on and off for a few weeks, "Is it really going to be worth it? Can I make these sacrifices?" No matter how many tears drop from these lids, each time I ask this question of myself I find the same answer even if it takes a few days here and there to find it - it's the same answer. It will all be worth it. (see underlined above in Chambers excerpt.)

I just wish the struggle to see this could be a one-time-thing where I finally get it and can obey without the war against my flesh, but if that were the case, I'd be perfect AKA: dead and standing perfect-ed in heaven. So, OK I'll answer the same question regularly with tears (or without - sometimes it's an easy answer!) as long as it helps me turn my focus once again to being right with Him and going where He wants me to go because I love Him.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ethan sings in French! SO Proud of him!

Quand Dieu est là, je n'ai pas peur quand il est prèt de moi .
Je n'ai pas peur quand Il est en haut,
quand haut, Il est en bas,
quand bas, Il est à gauche,
À gauche, Il est à droit.
Je n'ai pas peur quand Dieu est là.

Here's what it is in English:

When God is here, I have no fear when He is close to me.
I have no fear when He's up high,
when He's down low,
when He's to the left and
when He's to the right. I have no fear when He is here. 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Progress! I love it!! good day!

Sometimes language learning makes me feel like I'm a fish out of water somewhere floundering on the shore.

Other days I am completely floored at how much I can understand and express! Today is one of these days.

We recently went to our Bible study group here and we've been going through some "get-to-know-each other" type questions. I was amazed that I was able to describe where I've been and where I'd like to go and why. I also was able to describe my birth order (2nd kid of 4 - 1st girl) and a bit of what my family is like. Wahoo! I was so stoked that they understood me. :)

Do you realize that..
When we first got off the plane in France
I did not know how to ask: 
"Where is the bathroom"!?!

And now... Voila!! I can say that and a whole bunch more!

I took a test in school last month or so that they usually give students at the end of their studies to see how much French they know. It's called the TCF here. Kinda like we have the Test for English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) back in the States. Well, I didn't do too shabby. I tested at a level 3 of 5. I was never so stoked to see a percentage in the 40's in my life! It sounds like a low score, but I did well for taking the test that they give to level 5 students. I was so relieved to realize that some of this language is soaking in as I am here in France  - swimming in French. Immersion really is the best way.

There's a HUGE difference between the French I could learn in a class in the States and the amount of French I can learn here in France. 

I am so blessed to be given this opportunity to be right where I need to be to learn what I need to learn for the next step in my life! Thank you to everyone who has supported me and my family through praying and giving to make this a reality. You have no idea how much of an impact this time here is making on my life. God is using this time for language learning to teach me some other things along the way in addition to learning language. What a gift!
Thank you.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Comfort in dreams

It's amazing how dreams work.  

Most of my life, I have had "inspirational" dreams we'll say. Dreams that have not made sense at the time but have helped out later in life. Dreams that I feel were a gift from God. Dreams that informed me of something to come. Dreams that I could do nothing about but wait and watch for them to happen. 

Some dreams have woken me up from a dead sleep - the kind where you have to catch your breath as you jolt awake and are finally sitting up in bed. Some dreams have been peaceful and happened while I was fully awake (these visions are different, but still from the Lord). I have "regular" dreams too - the kind that no one can understand, the kind where you're flying. Sometimes I have nightmares. These types are different than the rest of the "telling" dreams that I have. I can usually tell a difference when I have one that means something.

I know we're getting into weird stuff here, but when your whole life is filled with weird stuff like this it really becomes less weird.

Regularly weird begins to equal normal. 


Here are some of my "telling" dreams:

I had a dream about my children before I was married. My doc told me I probably couldn't have kids (I never told many people). The Lord gave me a dream about a little blond haired boy (about age 2) sitting on my lap while I was pregnant with a little redheaded girl (I could see her in the womb in this dream). Voila!  In reality I have my two kiddos, Ethan my blond haired boy when he was a toddler & Claire my very redheaded girl. 

I had a dream about meeting my husband. In the dream he was tall with very long brown hair. In reality, when we met he had longer hair than mine - past his shoulders. (Don't worry, I didn't tell him about the dream until after we were married.)

Dreams I've had, have called me to Africa. More than just dreams, of course, have called me there, but the dreams confirmed it - even directed parts of it. Dreams that I'll understand better way in the future when I am there. 

I have moments when I know something is wrong with my family when we are miles apart - not always, but several times I have known to call and check on them. Sure enough they'll had something major going on. 

No. I am not clairvoiant - I can not predict the future. So don't ask me to. God really just tells me certain things to help me through it or to have me pray.

God wakes me up to pray for people. My friend went into labor early once and had a long (24hrs) hard labor. God woke me up in the middle of the night to pray for her time of labor. All went well finally. 

I've been woken up by a dream about an car accident in my neighborhood only to actually hear the accident happen 10-15 minutes after waking. I was already praying. No idea how it worked out, but I know I did what He wanted me to. 

I've had a dream (months ago) about my dad going to heaven. My dad looked young (about 20) and so happy in heaven. He looked so healthy and handsome. He wanted to let me know he was alright. The dream was happy and made me sad when I woke up, but it gave me a HUGE peace. In reality, my dad is fighting terminal cancer (without treatments - just vegetarian organic diet & no sugars). He's in his 10th month of a one year prognosis. He also has major heart problems. (Today he's in the hospital for chest pain - so far all is ok).  All of our days are numbered and only God knows how many for each of us. 

Today, I had another dream. I never know when I have a dream if they are one of those dreams.  Will it come to pass? Who knows. I just wait and keep living life in the mean time. Sometimes I forget about the dream until it comes to pass and I am oddly reminded like that very strong kind of  deja vu  feeling (By they way, deja vu is French for "already seen").  

So in today's dream I received an email, letting me know that my dad had finally lost his battle and went on to be with the Lord. In the dream it seemed like it was way in the future. There were some people there that I did not know but we had a mutual missionary friend. I will not share who was in the dream, but one thing I will share is this song that we were singing as I was reading the news about my dad in this dream:


In Him We Live And Move

by Randy Speir

In Him we live and move
And have our being
In Him we live and move
And have our being

Make a joyful noise
Sing unto the Lord
Tell Him of your love
Dance before Him
Make a joyful noise
Sing unto the Lord
Tell Him of your love

© 1981 Integrity�s Hosanna! Music 
Strange song to be singing in a dream about your
dad dying, right? No. It made sense to me. 
It brought joy & peace. 

I know that it is only through 
God that we even have our being here. The 
celebrating in the song is thankfulness for the 
gift of life that He shares with us - the eternal 
life that will continue when we are in heaven dancing 
before Him. Why not dance now? 
Dance because He's with us.

It's crazy, I know. It's just a dream. 
I will REALLY miss my dad 
when the time comes, but I have more peace now.
These dreams have brought some comfort.

I wanted to write all this 
to be able to look back at the song whenever
that fateful day occurs. 

I'll look back to remember 
all the tough things God 
has walked me through.
I am never alone.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Incredible boy!

The Parr family. From left to right: Elastigirl, Mr. Incredible, Violet and Dash. Bottom: Jack-Jack.

Picture thanks to Wikipedia & Pixar 2004 Movie The Incredibles.

I think this movie is so fun! Definitely a great "grown-up movie." We're waiting for the kids to be a bit older before letting them watch it again.

Anyway, the point of bringing up this movie is to because I really would like for someone to invent that indestructible sort of clothing/shoes that the character Dash requires since he creates an enormous amount of friction. Seriously! Can someone help us out with something like that?

Ethan loves to be on the move. He's bright and full of energy that I'd love to bottle. He's my incredible boy!

This school year we've gone through two pairs of sneakers (ok, well, three since we designated one for church).  This last pair got some good use but lasted maybe only 3-4 months. Take a look.

Yes that's light shining through. No it hasn't been this way for a long time. 
My boy is incredible for sure! Always on the move. Even when he's reading. Home school at work for the active brilliant types.

Yes, reading upside down is allowed at our house. Fun!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Taffy, anyone?

France is a wonderful place.

Yummy food! I once told Brent I'd move here just for the food. And voila! Here we are.

Oh, and it is gorgeous! Mountains and natural beauty everywhere.
Prettily dressed people too - a la mode. O la la!

Not to mention a beautiful language - it really is romantic and so nice on the ears!

So, yeah, France is GREAT!

I expect Africa to be hard.  
Sometimes... I really don't want to go - there I said it.

No running water, no electricity unless we make our own solar electric. No church among "our" people group. Hard life yet to come, perhaps? Can count on it.

This is what a local "nice" kitchen looks like in our future African location. That's right, no sink.

When I look at the problems
Instead of His face,
That's when I think Africa will be hard.

So, yeah I expect Africa to be hard at times. It's a bit of a roller coaster for me. Some days I am so excited about finally getting to the mission field. Finally getting to start in ministry that I have been called to since I was 14 years old. Some days, though, I freak out about the unknown... and then there are days when I am totally secure again, able to rest in the grace that God will give for those unknowns. Well, with something as big as Africa in the future, I never quite imagined that a year in France would be hard at all. I mean, come on, it's a first world country right, how hard can that be?!

I never expected for this place to be hard.

France, This grand European land - hard. Ahh, but it is hard at times. Or maybe it's that God is allowing me to be stretched so it's not as hard on me when we get to Africa. Or maybe Africa will be harder but by then I will have learned how to Trust Him.

He purposes what the world means for evil and turns it to good. Believe it. (Talking to myself here, but if it helps you- then great!)

Stretching...  Like taffy.

Oh, I remember this one brand of taffy when I was a kid: Laffy Taffy.
Delightful because it is stretchy and still sweet. I used to play with it a bit (I was a kid after all). You can make just about anything out of something that flexible.

Stretching times give me a choice:

Get hurt, retreat, and become bitter, hard.


Learn a lesson, keep going, and
Grow by staying soft (flexible)
And sweet... knowing He's there for me through hard times and will gently help me up, hold me in the palm of His hands - LOVE me through it.

I wanna be Taffy.
Help me, Lord. It's not easy.

Things I did not expect about living in France that God might just be using to help me work through Trust issues:

Feeling lost while using public transit - we're talking panic attacks - feeling helpless.

Making hard choices about important things - time away from family while the kids are young.

Time away from dad who is diagnosed with terminal cancer and has heart problems.

Time away from my home church - No easy access to times of refreshment in the Lord (I have to seek Him myself -brilliant! thought I had a handle on that one though). No church here in my heart language. (Hmm. Motivation for working in Africa, but a hard lesson).

Rough times when your child is sick and you don't know the language well. Trying to figure out scarey things on our own (don't worry we're fine).

So, yes, I feel the pain of the stretch. I am tempted to be bitter sometimes and some days when I break down in tears I think about giving up. If I do that who wins?
Then when I realize I can not do it on my own, the strength comes!
All these trials and all those to come will be worth it one day - maybe I'll only see it in eternity, but it will not be in vain.
This is Why I keep on keepin' on. 

There are really awesome things that I didn't expect about my time here too:

Encouragement from unexpected places - Look out for Veggie Tales - they've spoken to me in my time of need more often than I can count (and I've seen these a hundred times before with my kiddos!)

Nice French people who make you feel welcome, befriend you, and work with your inability to speak the language.

Help from strangers while traveling (multiple strangers helping foreigners - only God can orchestrate that!)

Inspiration and encouragement from my hubby when I would have expected him to be disappointed in my lack of faith.

Realizing I'm not alone. Realizing there are believers everywhere - and they glow in dark places. So amazing how bright it seems when we gather together in Christ.

Thanks God, for stretching me a bit. I know you have a plan for even the things the enemy means to use against me. Thanks for Your goodness. Let me remain sweet & stretchy like Taffy. May I never become hard or sour.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Homeschool Fun - Counting Activity for little ones

We're trying to teach Claire how to count & she's got 1-5 down, but beyond that it's fuzzy for her. What can you say! She's just turned three in February. She's doing great. She picks up on a ton of things we might not even notice, but numbers? Not yet.

Here's a fun tactile tool we're using now:
Egg Crate Counting.

I learned this from someone else, but can't remember who (sorry & thank-you!). You put numbers in the bottom of the egg crate and let the little one fill them up with the right amount of items (dry beans, popcorn kernels, buttons, etc.). An older one can count correctly for them while the younger drops in each item being counted.

In France we can get eggs in a crate of ten (not 12) and that just happens to be perfect for what we want her to learn! Since the egg carton is clear, I used colored dots stickers (the kind you can find at an office supply store- they are useful for so many things!) to help the number show up. It worked nicely because I was able to use one color for the first 5 numbers and another color for the next set of 5. Once she learns the basics, we might just have to get a set of 18 or 30 eggs. :-)  Here's some pics:

Family fun - bonding over math! Counting basics 1-10.

Putting one kernel in 1, two kernels in 2, three kernels in 3, etc.
You can also just put one in each number slot and then dump them out and count them up at the end. 

She did great up to 6 this time! We'll keep working on the others as long as she enjoys it.

Homeschool Management - Organized School Books

Organizational Tip/Activity: (good for the kids and my sanity!):

Let's face it, life at home runs better when it's a bit organized (I know some of you are cringing!) and when there's less visual clutter.  At least life runs better in my home this way. *smile*

Well, for each school year, there are a ton of books that come from Sonlight (this is the curriculum we plan to use in Africa - it's easy to mix with other things, so we've heard - you can find the link at the bottom to see for yourself).


To keep the chaos to a minimum, we color-coded our books (another helpful home school tip I learned from a Sonlight mom). This helps us keep track of books we're currently using and ones we're done with for the year.

It helps keep clutter at bay when the kids can easily help put things away.

The kids can even help put the stickers on. This is where those lovely dot stickers (pictured above in the egg crate counting game) come in handy. You can get them in a lot of colors. If you want to do more than maybe 6 colors you might consider using the white dots and having your kids color them certain colors - we put clear tape over all the dots to help them stick to the book binding.

Here's How To Label Your Books:
Each reading level (or grade level) gets it's own color sticker with the grade number on it. At the end of the year, if the next child is not using that level, you put all the grade 2 books in a grade 2 box, for example, for storage until the next child reaches grade/level 2.

Our  Level 1 (basic little kids read to me books/ just learning to read books) ended up with a yellow sticker.

Our Level 2 (I can read for myself but might need help books) ended up with a blue sticker.

Our Level 3 (I can read simple chapters books) ended up with a red sticker.

And so on... You decide what categories work for you.

This color coding helps the little kids be able to help put books back in the right place too. They don't need to know numbers to help put books back on the shelf. They just put the yellow dotted ones in the same spot and the red dotted ones next to other red dotted ones. It's great! Here's a pic of some of ours. 
This might sound overboard for some, but if you literally end up with hundreds of books - it helps!

Disclaimer: The books pictured above are not from Sonlight. We started labeling our own collection and had it done when the box of Sonlight books arrived so it wasn't as overwhelming. This idea of color-coding books could work well for any library for home-schooling though.

If you want to see what Sonlight is like you can check it out for yourself: http://www.sonlight.com/

We have not started the curriculum yet - two years worth of it, for each kid, is already packed for Africa (ready to go into our shipping container)! We got lots of recommendations for this one from fellow missionaries.

Homeschool Management - Easy Labeling Tip

Easy Labeling Tip: (stop the squabbling over home school tools)

Our kids need to feel a special ownership over their home school items. Kids who leave the house for school have special stuff (backpack, pencils, lunch box, etc.) why not home schoolers too?

Well, someone a long time ago on a blog shared with us a nice way to help our kids feel a sense of ownership and keep track of their items too. It involves colored electrical tape. Bizarre, I know - but it works.

(Again, sorry and thank-you to whoever came up with this. I'm going to start paying attention to who writes what in order to give credit on my blog.)

Each kid gets their own color tape (we bought ours at a home improvement store in the States).  Every school item, pencil, tape, scissors, notebooks, etc. gets a strip of their colored tape. They learn their color and recognize their items around the house. They feel happy to see their color and know it belongs to them. It really helps with squabbles over whose is whose too.

Claire's color is purple - This is her pencil.

For older kids, there's the possibility of building even more responsibility for their items when the items need to be monetarily redeemed from the Lost & Found basket. If an item is laying around, it gets picked up by a parent and put away in the the L&F basket. When the child finds he/she needs it, they have to pay a nickel to get it back. Our kids are not old enough for this yet, and we have not yet introduced ways for them to earn money, but when they are older we might try this. For now, we simply say, "It has your color, you are responsible to put it away".

Homeschool Fun - Tactile Tracing

Tracing Activity: (for the tactile learner)

We're working on tracing capital letters. Introducing one a week. Younger kids are not ready to write yet, but you can begin to work their smaller fine motor skills muscles by tracing in a large space. (Play-dough is good to build those muscles too.)

You can have them trace one letter that takes up a whole sheet of paper or have them trace it with their finger in a pan of sand. We use rice, because it's on hand. Here's a pic of Claire tracing over the letter "N," that I made, with her finger. 

Homeschool Fun - Heart Chart Lessons in Virtues

The kids are learning a lot. Ethan goes to French pre-K to learn French (and they are teaching him French cursive!) and he seems to be doing great. Claire is completely home-schooled (she's 3 and will go to French pre-K in September to learn some French too, but we might just do a half-day). She's currently learning the letter "M" and is starting to recognize some numbers and letters here and there. I'm so proud of my kiddos! They are so curious and excited to make friends. They had very little adjustment to work through in coming to France. Praise the Lord!

So this is my first entry about some of our homes school projects or ideas. I want to remember them and maybe others can profit from these posts too. I like to be creative and think I have some capability, but really I don't have a ton of time to invent new things for the kids to do, so I quickly search things online (using my creative juices to choose good projects). A lot of what we do, I've borrowed - I can not take credit for it.

This first one comes from the Women Living Well Blog (I have a button for it on my site - check it out!).

So a Heart Chart is a way to track your child's progress pertaining to a certain virtue. I made a grid by using colored electrical tape on a dry erase board.

Our virtue last month was Kindness. They had to work together as a team. If they were kind (polite, helpful, caring) they could earn a heart that they would draw in one of the squares on the dry erase marker board. If they were mean or rude, they would lose a heart. By the end of the month, they filled the chart and earned their reward. They got to choose what kind of ice cream pops they wanted.

Claire age 3 & Ethan age 5 (almost 6).

This month we are working on Obey Right Away. It might be a long month, but it will be worth the effort. We're in the process of sculpting souls. Ministering to my kids is important - it is well worth the effort.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

BIG Need for Ministry - Vehicle for Africa

Here's something to add to your prayer lists:

The Brollier fam is in need of a serious vehicle for when we arrive in Africa.

Actual photo from in "our" country

We'll need it travel between villages to get supplies and to travel up country to the capital (a 2-3 day drive because of the roads and the distance) for branch meetings three times a year. Part of our traveling in country is made hard by heavy rains and pot holes the size of hippos and trucks! (No kidding! You'll get to see pics).

We have asked our branch what they recommend for such travel, and they gave us a serious answer.

We will need a 4-Wheel Drive Vehicle which we're estimating will cost close to $50,000. 

This is a big need, but God can meet our needs in whatever way He sees fit. 

I know you're thinking, "Why does it cost so much?"
We need a reliable vehicle - one that won't break down much. We're not mechanics & we don't want to get stuck out in the bush in between our village town and the capital. That means we need to buy a new vehicle - not a used one. Something kinda like this:

Our branch leadership also requires us to have some very specific features for this vehicle:

- a snorkel (pipe pictured above - helps the engine can breathe when we drive through high water during rainy season)

- a winch (a crank with line to help pull the vehicle out of mud when we get stuck - we're told we will)

- space for enough gas (spare tank) to make the full trip to the capital because there are fuel shortages in country.

- a 12 seater to fit our family (4) and possibly other teammates (2+). The remaining fold down seats will be space for cargo crates that we'll bring from the shipping port up in the capital. (These crates contain our set-up supplies for getting our African style house live-able and workable: pipes, wiring, solar panels, battery cells etc.)

Our family & teammates in the 1st two rows - cargo for the rest

In addition to these features, we will need to include in our fund raising, customs fees/ taxes for importing such a vehicle from Japan.

Since the vehicle will be coming from Japan, we need to get a jump on raising support to have this vehicle pass customs and be in country waiting for us when we arrive late Spring 2012. The branch expects there to be some delay with imports from Japan because of the recent devastation from the tsunami. They regularly estimate at least 4-5 months to get the vehicle in country so that means we need to place the order well in advance of our arrival.

Although Brent & I grew up in Assemblies of God churches (AoG), we can not benefit from the Speed-the-Light Vehicle program because we are not AoG ordained missionaries. We are commissioned to serve with Pioneer Bible Translators (PBT) and we're required to raise funds for a field vehicle before departure for the field.
On the road  (no it's not a river) to our village town

Will you pray with us for God to move this mountain? 

Will you pray for provision... like only He can provide...

For something that's seemingly out of our reach?  
He is able & He is amazing!

Please PRAY that God would provide for this need.

If you'd like to donate
towards our PBT Africa Vehicle Fund...

Checks can be made out to PBT 
And mailed to our Stateside forwarding agents:   
 M & C Shell
 1502 NE 11th Terrace
 Cape Coral, FL 33990 USA

To Donate Online Right Now,
Scroll Up & Click on the yellow Donate Now button on the Left and...
  Select "Projects" and
 Choose "Brollier Vehicle"

We know that not everyone can give, but
  Everyone can pray. 
We know that your prayers make a huge difference because PRAYER is POWERFUL!
Thank You for Praying with Us!!!!!

Actual pics from trucks stuck in the roads in country


The unpaved road on a good dry day

More roads in country

Holes the size of Hippos (spans the entire bottom of this pic)

Please consider being an advocate for us - share this need with your friends and your church. Thanks again for praying!

Traditional French Lunch

We had the opportunity to be invited over for lunch after church by some French friends who have children the same age as ours. It was a delightful day & we were so excited that they extended an invitation to us since they know we do not speak a ton of French yet.

The day was lovely! Traditionally if you are invited for lunch, you should plan on spending the whole afternoon. We read up on what it could be like before we arrived. We made sure to bring a gift since that was recommended. That was interesting to try to figure out. It's recommended that if you bring wine, you bring a good French wine. We're not wine experts so we avoided bringing wine. It's recommended that if you bring flowers you bring an odd number but not 7 or 13, and also certain flowers signify different things and so do their colors. We avoided bringing flowers too. It's safe to bring chocolates, and I was comfortable with the idea of bringing a dessert, though I did not want to show up my hostess if she had prepared one. So we brought fancy chocolate tea cookies (biscuits) and some Disney character chocolate or strawberry filled cakes (reminded me of twinkies) for the kids. Turns out we picked a good thing to bring. They were a hit with the kids and the adults. :-)

So the main idea of a meal is not just good food. In France the idea is to sit and talk and taste and talk some more. It was fabulous! We started at about noon and finished the day with our friends at 6pm. The first course was an apertif, or pre-dinner drink. It was some sort of hard liquor, maybe Vermooth (I don't even know how to spell that!). We sat sipping this strong drink while talking and munching on pistachios and chips (pronounced: sheeps). Then the kids were called in for the meal and we sang & clapped a prayer.
It went something like this (pardon my spelling and lack of accent marks):

Le pain de hier etait dur. (Yesterday's bread is hard.)
Le pain de demain n'est pas cuit. (Tomorrow's bread is not yet cut.)
Merci Pere, pour le pain d'ajourd'hui. (Thank you Father for the bread of today.)

Then they poured water into one cup and wine into another and we all toasted: A votre sante! (To your health.) All French people, including Christians, have wine with meals. It would almost be unheard of to not have wine with a meal. Wine is used for communion and at the potluck meals at church too. It takes some getting used to.

There was a delicious chicken and a special regional potato and cheese dish for the main course followed by bread and three types of cheeses and then a salad (which is traditionally just lettuce with a dijon mustard dressing).  We spent lots of time talking and laughing, and stumbling over our French. It was great and they were so patient. After dessert, strawberries with chantilly cream (whipped cream), we went to the lake. They drove us out to the lake near Chambery simply because they had asked if we had ever been and we had not -what hospitality! The lake was stunning with the Alps in the background. I wish we had brought our camera. It's the largest natural lake in Europe. The weather was perfect and the water was cool. Our kids loved it! When we came back we had icepops. I'm pretty sure the evening would have continued but Claire suddenly started feeling ill (the start to her flu), so we went home. We plan on having our French friends over for an American experience soon. :-)

We were so glad to be able to experience this so that we could prepare a traditional meal kind of like it for our friends who visited from the States.
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