Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The square's troubadour. I wake up to him most mornings.

The annual VIDE GRENIER - COURS SEXTIUS - an amazing flea market

My most treasured courtyard. It used to be a mansion of some French Aristocrats - and now serves as apartments.

The view out of my present apartment at about 9am. Thriving market!

Bursting at the seams

I'm moving again tomorrow. I’ve been doing this quite often this summer. Each location Ive been in brings in a new season. And as I said at the beginning of the summer - I am going to embrace each and every one of those seasons.
Some have been much much harder to embrace than others. But complaining about where your at does you no good at all. It dampens your spirits, and then everything looks grey.
I refuse to have a grey life.
Is been beaming with color while I’ve been in Provence, and I bask in the brightness of it!

So tomorrow I wrap up another season, and move to a new apartment. I will remain in the city - but will escape the ruckus a bit - that was talked about in ‘ New Rhythm‘, and for that I am pleased!

Then on Monday the real madness begins! Everything has been escalating to these next two weeks. All the preparation, anticipation and the prayers directed towards the camps will unfold. And God will move.
That is garentueed. He is invited into each and every second of these camps, and He will show up and move deeper then most of us involved will ever know.

I leave for Adventure Youth camp on Monday. Were we will be spending a week with 30 teenagers doing ropes course, white water rafting, caving, canoeing and laser tag, while teaching them about Gods grace through a different parable every night!
Please partner with us in prayer. For safety!
Most of these students don’t know the Lord, and rarely have the opportunity to. Pray that an intimacy with God will take root, and become apart of them for the rest of there life. This is such a crucial time in these kids lives, as they start to deifier through what faith looks like, and how they choose to interact with it and allow to affect their daily lives.

The following Monday is our Kids camp. Aixcalibure! This is the camp I was a counselor for last year - and really is what had me come back to live in Aix this summer. We have about 50 kids coming, and have started to have to waitlist kids! And no, those 50 are not coming from within the church. Most of them again, are kids from the community. Kids at the schools, children of local restaurant owners, anyone we know around town this last month has a child has gotten a flyer!

Let the children come.

Please pray that everyone working this camp will reflect Christ. That connections will be made with families. And that bridges will be built from ICCP to the parents - because many of these parents WILL not step foot in a church. Or publicly call them selves ‘on the fence’ about their faith - but they will bring there kids to camp, and invite 4 other kids to come along as well!
God moves outside the church, and we embrace that during camp!

Then I got back to the states. Not knowing when I will ever return.
God is moving in my heart quite a but the last few days. Sleep hasn’t really been an option - for He has kept me up. Or woken me up after I’ve finally dozed off.
I’m continuing to rest in Him, although its not as natural as it was when I first arrived here. He is sovereign, and I need to walk in that. No need to be anxious - for the God of peace that surpasses all understanding will guard my heart and mind. (Phil 4)

My time here is starting to wrap up - while at the same time It’s bursting at the seams.

Thank you for all your prayers and support.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Just Love

Sometimes we are more in a hurry to save the world than Jesus is. Ministers make the mistake of forcing a 3 point sermon and alter call to get all those lost and dying souls saved and on their way.
I do believe that souls without Christ are lost and dying an eternal death, but one mustn’t forget the importance of walking with someone through life; vs. shoving them out the front door with their new found religion.
Introducing someone to Christ here in France takes time. Not because Jesus is unapproachable to them, but because Christianity is. It’s this way with many people across the globe.
This religious intuition often looks like a cult to them - and is the furthest from what they are looking for. They don’t need another institution to follow and be trapped in - and that’s also not what Christ has set up for us.
Everyone on the face of the earth, young and old is looking for joy and love. Those things can be found in Christ Jesus.
It is therefore our role as followers of Christ to model those elements.
Not just talk about them. But live them.
Give love, and show the eternal Joy that God almighty produces in your life.
This is the most effective way to minister.
Live as Christ lived.

The problem with this is that sometimes, we feel like we aren’t doing our job when we don’t talk about our Jesus. The ministry I am doing in France is very ‘passive’ compared to say, street evangelism. Because that form of ministry would NOT work here, you have to get settled into a city, meet the locals and become apart of the community. This is what I have been doing for the past month. This is what the missionaries I work with have been doing for years.
I have been living life with these people, and constantly praying that my life is reflecting Christ.
The God of peace the transcends ALL understanding will guide your heart and soul (Phil 4)
His peace is evident in my life. I have never felt His peace more then I do right now.

Let me assure you that God is moving in France. Through interactions with the young girl at the café, the man at the local restaurant I visit often, the children I play with on recess, the college students I meet in the pub and on the street, the couple that owns the Italian restaurant, the kids that come to youth, the girl at the local bookstore. He is moving. He is evident.
Amazing conversations are happening with people that would never step foot in a church.
Relationships are being made and nurtured with the love of Christ.
If they wont come to church, then we will go to them, and be a light in their dark world.

Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness, Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-control.

This is how you show Christ. Embody His fruit. Allow the Spirit to move in and through you.

If you’re a Christian, here’s a question to ask yourself about your relationships with those who don’t know Christ:
Would I love them even if, in the end they didn’t accept my God?

People can tell if they are being used as a project. I encourage every follower of Christ (myself included!) to have unconditional love for ALL. No matter what the end result of your love is.
Just love. For Christ loves those who will accept Him in the end or not.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

New Rhythm

Tranquility to bustle
Once secluded and at peace;
Allowed to breath in silence
Now a constant roar is among me

Town was at the distance of a long peaceful walk
Crowded, twisted streets now are my only ways of escape
Unless the chaos is rejected;
By means of dingy white shutters

I close them and I close out the world
I now direct my own again

They’re my only means of escaping the raucous

But wait… the stairs take me higher
Past the once used store mannequins
Beyond the French chest and book self
Higher still I go
With the height comes light

I pause

And look through the inglorious stain glass door
It leads nowhere

One more flight, higher yet I go
Through the small wooden door there - there is my escape
Four stories high and the roar is now but a whisper
An afterthought

The wind takes over here
He moves me to a fresh tune
A faster song he sings; he directs his own
And allows me to breath in a new rhythm

Sunday, June 1, 2008

It is well

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

We sang this tonight at church, and I barley made it past this first verse. While not realizing the great impact these words would have on me, my eyes started to swell and I was overcome with a strong sense of nostalgia, history and meaning. My eyes just acted upon memory and started to weep.
This song is so powerful. The lyrics yes, but the way the words flow with such great power and heart is what really makes this hymn epic, and brought me to tears.
I think I sang this song very soon after a friend of mine died.
That’s why it moves me so.
The struggle with saying ‘It is well’ while facing death is what I believe I was re-experiencing.
Horatio Gates Spafford, who wrote this song wrote it in the midst of dealing with the sharp sting of death as well. While doing some research on this hymn tonight, and read something that caught my eye. Soon after the loss of many of their children, and much of their fortune his wife recalled a friend saying; “it's easy to be grateful and good when you have so much, but take care that you are not a fair-weather friend to God." That is the heart of this song.
No matter what scenario you are in, one is always able to say ‘It is well with my soul”.
It is well. Its is well because our soul still has a place with our Father. He is our refuge and strength in a time of need (Psalms 46)
It is well because we can find rest in Him.
It is well still because although pain has hit us here on earth we have eternal hope.
We have hope in what is to come.
We have hope in the Prince of Peace.

In the midst of everything
Its is well, it is well, with my soul.

Friday, May 23, 2008


I made it to the park finally!
I had been planning on it for days… weeks it seems like, but the weather kept on getting in my way. Turns out all the storms were a blessing… they say Aix is never this lush! The park was gleaming green. All that rain made it worth the wait.
Tuesday was my first staff meeting. We have staff meetings every Tues from 9am-12, then the staff took me out for a welcome lunch! Then we had another meeting, for our upcoming kids camp afterwards… so after being in meetings ALL day long I went to Michele’s, bought watercolors, and a stack of paper, and heading to the park were I painted for hours.
It seems that my entire trip has been a perfect balance of work and relaxing. My heart hasn’t longed for this much alone time ever; but I am soaking up every ounce of it! I live alone, about a 30min walk outside the city. I do most things alone. I knew this would happen, and before I left for my trip I was really dealing with the fear of being secluded so much.
I don’t feel lonely though. I feel rejuvenated. No, I feel like I’m on my way to getting rejuvenated! I have gone through a lot, emotionally and physically this last year and it has done a toll on me!
I had become exhausted, and sick.
This time I have in France is just what my heart has been longing for.
On Tuesday I was with the amazing staff of ICCP talking about ministry all day long, and in the evening I sat under a tree and painted at the park. I feel like God is handing me the vary thing I need on a golden platter, and allowing me to just feast.
I am feasting on the intimacy of Christ. He is constantly reminding me that I am His beloved, and is renewing my soul. He reminds me that He loves me to the extent of wanting my soul to be flourishing, not just surviving.
I have space here to breath. And Think. And just be.
This is a very unique time in my life.
I am in a time of renewal now. I am basking in the goodness of love. “I am in love Himself” (The Great Divorce, C.S Lewis)

The Staff I am working with is amazing! I am so fortunate to be with them this summer, and doing ministry along side of them. I am so looking forward to all the times I will get to spend with them.

Through everything point to Christ. That is the truth I have been sitting in. Rejoice in your sufferings. Paul’s letters have been speaking so much more truth to me recently. I have been going through a lot medically, and through that I am reminded that “Suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope.” (Romans 5:3-4)
I am allowing this time of pain to sill reflect the goodness of God. I will reflect Him through it all.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Getting lost in the City

I did this for the first few days here unintentionally, but today I got lost on purpose. I allowed myself to stroll through the city, with no particular place to go. With my eyes wide open I soaked in this unique city more than I had ever before. When I first got here, I felt as if I was walking through the narrow streets with tunnel vision. But with this new intent to notice I found more that the city had to offer.
Just by my favorite art store, ‘Michele’ there is a passage way leading into Le Palis De Justice, which is the towns courthouse. I hadn’t noticed the passage until today. Its easily overlooked with its small arched stone entrance. Just down the passage I found Sperpa, I felt at home right when I walked in! This was a little hippy/earthy store that posses some of the most gorgeous items I’ve ever seen! So I bought four of them! I bought three oversized handkerchiefs, that act more as wall décor, and a scarf. I’m getting exited to decorate my room next year at school. The lady that works there was very generous with the little French I know.
After walking around Center Ville (the center of town) for quite some time I made it back to a book store Kerri took me too a few days before. The ‘Book and Bar’ is a English book store, which serves coffee and tea! I will be finding myself there a great deal I think. This time I found myself overhearing a book club discussing their current adventure book. The club was full of English speaking international adults anywhere from 30-50 years old. A new dream of mine is to be apart of such book club in a foreign country one day. It was just brilliant to listen to them… all extremely interesting, well traveled, full of life and intrigued with literature.
Right before I started on my thirty minute walk home I stopped and energized myself on some good ol’ American Ben and Jerry’s. Horrible decision…. One small scoop of cherry Garcia later I spent over five US dollars. I should have just gotten gelato.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The begginings...

Its raining here, which is quite odd! It rained a bit yesturday as well while I was walking around town, but its been windy and rainy all day today! I was planning on going into town - getting some water colors, and heading to the gorgeous park to paint, and write. But the rain has changed my plans.
Instead I have been organizing things here at the apartment, and have been reading ALL morning long (Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers) . My glorious jet lag woke me up at 5am... so Ive had quite a bit of time on my hands! This is wierd for me.
Im use to consantly working, and staying busy.
It's really refreashing.
Julie (Julie and Darren are the head pastors/missonaries of iccp) told me yesturday that I need to take advantage of the space I have now, and relax without feeling guily! Soon Ministry will pick up, and I will be more busy.
I have a feeling that it will still be a slower pace than what I am used to though.
Shops dont open till 9am... same with peoples front doors. They take nice, leisurely lunch's, and arn't moved as much by the high pace society I am use to... being a full time college student along with all my other responsibilities.

Yesturday (my first day in Aix) I met up with Kerri (another missonary) and she took me through town. I was in a juxtapose of everything feeling so familiar from last year, and everything being so new and foreign! Aix is breathtaking! One of the main streets is lined with tall lush trees that automatically take your gaze straight up toward the heavens. It's the city of fountains. There are fountians everywhere around town. That with the cobble stone, narrow paths it makes Aix such a perfect quaint little city! I am going to have such a unique summer!

I will be meeting with Megan (the missonary im interning under) in the next few days, and will talk about my responsibilities this summer. So far I know that we have staff meetings on tues, youth on wed and church on sun. Along with doing the youth adventure camp, and the kids camp in a month.

Ill find out more soon!
I can feel God preparing me. He seems to have His hands very securely around me right now - I can feel Him. He has been sitting with me all morning - relaxing my spirit; preparing me for what is to come.
I have never enjoyed being alone so much before. I thought I would be restless. But I am cherishing it. Yet I know that 2 months of this might rub me a bit. :)

My goal is to embrace the seasons I will be going through in the next couple months. Embrace them as Christ would.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Norwegian gods

I was flying among the gods, with Sillia, the goddess of music to my left and Thor the god of thunder and lightning to my left. For ten hours I basked in their wisdom that seemed to surpassed the ages.
After we all exchanged the meaning and history behind our names she corrected my crocheting skills. “All you Americans do it like that. It is as if you are stabbing it to death. You will never be able to crochet silk in that manner my dear. Here…”
At that she took away my hat, or as he liked to call it my “egg warmer”, and showed me how to do it proper.
Thor and I chatted about his time in the Norwegian military. He had trained to be an officer, but got out of the service soon after his time was up. Thor let me into glimpse of his world throughout the whole flight. I could see him slipping in and out of consciousness while we were talking about his youth.
“I remember when Germany had invaded Norway. They complexly took over, and we were under their rule for quite some time“
“War is a scary thing” I said.
“Yes, it should always be the last result. We shouldn’t ever have to end in war.” he remarked, while fading off into his memories.
Sillia was writing Thor love letter during his time in the service. The thing that gave him hope. His goddess had left the country while she was in High School and was off studying abroad in Medford Oregon, become very fluent in her English.
“It looked a great deal like Norway. Very green and beautiful. I enjoyed it very much. Yes, I was very pleased with Oregon” I agreed with her, I long for Oregon quite often now.
They thought things were getting better when they were my age.
“I remember when the Berlin wall fell. I thought then, ‘now its going to get better‘. Equal rights… no more rape. I thought the world was getting better.” Sillia said to me through her thick accent.
“Humanity is still innately the same though” I said “We will always deal with those issues, because there will always be evil in the world we have to fight against.”
We then went on an awfully long tangent about the current day sex trade industry.
Two women very passionate about fighting the evil in the world, exchanging titles of books we’ve been reading about the issue, and encouraging each other in the war against injustice.
“We cant stop fighting though, just because it is getting worse. You know, I really believe that - it is getting worse. The world wasn’t this bad when I was 21. We just have to fight harder.”
We went on and on about world issues, politics, religion and our pasts. I felt right at home, sitting in between the gods of Norway while flying to Amsterdam. I wouldn’t have started my trip any other way.