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. 


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