The Good, the Bad and the Hopeful!

I’ve been looking forward to connecting with you all on this my birthday weekend, giving myself the luxury of spending the whole afternoon in self-expression. Birthday greetings fill my inbox and here is my favorite, written in adorable English by a French woman who attends our LAM cell group:

Hello Angela,

Sorry for my late! I hope that it was a great day for you, yesterday!

Thank you for who you are! Thanks for your giveness …your joyce, your faithfull, your fire! You’re so precious for France and for the church!

One hundred kisses!

Marie-Claire

PS : All my family say to you : "Happy birthday, Angela!"

cheese curlerAt our Sunday dinner table today, I was struck by the wide range of European delights represented: the main course was an Alsatian spaetzle hash with veggies and sausage. My birthday gift from David supplied the cheese course – a Dutch-made cheese curler made especially for my favorite Swiss cheese called Monk’s Head. On the box, it states: Enjoy life~Explore cheese! Will do.

On Friday, Anna had made me Emily Dickinson’s Coconut Cake, so we had a slice of American history on my English Wedgwood plates for dessert. This was accompanied by a cup of instant German chocolate cappuccino mix served in the matching English tea cups with some French dark chocolates on the side. I am feeling VERY European as I embark on my 52nd year!

Now that I’ve got you salivating, let’s talk about my job… I haven’t mentioned school since September and it’s time for an update, esp. since this was the theme of this year’s supporter thank you cards. (We wanted to mark our ten years of volunteer ministry at Daniel Academy that will come to an end this year for me with Olivia’s graduation.)

To be honest, it’s been a very rough ride for us middle school teachers. The question comes up every year: Are we a MASH unit for the wounded or a bomb shelter for the healthy Christian kids? This year the scales tipped toward those who have no fear of God or man at the tender age of 14, and have even scared away two healthy kids from our school! Out of 65 middle schoolers, we have had to expel 2 students, and had 3 pairs of kids leave campus without permission for hours at a time (since they go outside between classes and during lunch break, it’s easier to run off here than in the US.)

So in essence, we are operating a hospital without qualified staff – our Christian volunteers are only comfortable with happy, motivated students like they once were. They react with shock and anger at the rampant disrespect, but punishment only adds fuel to the fire. This is the first year where the kids are expressing strong resentment towards the teachers and the school. (Thankfully at the high school level we only accept soft-hearted kids that want to be here.)

Recess posers!

I am teaching 7th-8th graders who lack motivation to tackle the 2 mandatory foreign languages demanded during these squirrelly years. (I was given the privilege of starting French in 7th grade as a good student – what a difference!)

So I end up doing triage with my inner healing tools from the moment they walk into my classroom, bleeding all over everyone. To cleanse the atmosphere, I play worship music and bind spirits before they even enter. I celebrate good responses with high fives, kisses and smiley faces. I hand out candy for good behavior and play lots of games. I deal with bad behavior by looking them straight in the eye and addressing their spirit and soul, calling out their best rather than using shame and anger. I pray for them before every test and have even given a few private sozos to one student.

I even reduced my class size: two girls moved to a higher level, one student was expelled, and my Oceane had to return to her local public school when things went downhill with other host families. I have also started sending weekly emails to parents with attached homework assignments and behavior concerns so there is no excuse for lost homework and warning slips that need to be signed.

That leaves me with nine students who do not hate me or my class. Half of them have even spent time in my home. But they still don’t do their homework and I still have to send an unruly student out of the room every week. I have been reviewing the same limited set of vocabulary all year and only 2 students passed the last test. Ouch.

I have told the director that the best use of my energies in supporting the school in the future will be to focus on inner healing and marriage ministry. And I hope our administration will start insisting that families applying to the school get counseling if their child is struggling, rather than looking to the school to make up for poor parenting. Christian French families need a new paradigm and Danny Silk’s book on child-raising is something I want to start promoting. Thank God it willl be released in French next month!

But let me close with an encouraging testimony: A shy Christian girl transferred to our school as a junior this year in hopes that smaller class sizes with believing teachers would help her with her lifelong struggle with school. When nothing had changed by Dec., she started spiraling into depression about her future. When we were asked to "keep her in prayer" during a teacher meeting, I got mad. Learning that neither the family nor learning disabilities were the main problem, I hunted her and her mother down and asked if they would be interested in a sozo session. They eagerly agreed. It felt like a light 45 minutes of forgiveness, but a week later, she was beaming. Olivia and the director both testified that she had become an outgoing class participant. (Tho’ Olivia just reported that she may be ready for a second one, and I hope we can go a little deeper!)

encart-objectif-france-2014The spiritual climate over France isn’t helping with intensifying attacks on traditional families and private education options. However this persecution has motivated Christians to start primary schools in record numbers this year, but we are still only one of two Christian middle schools in the country and it feels like we suffer alone. But we can do more than weep and gnash our teeth.

Are you ready to pray for France? Well, it just so happens that the annual 3-week prayer initiative has just started and PrayforFrance.org is ready to send you a daily e-mail that includes all the above issues and more in English, that David helped translate!

Believing for breakthroughs, Angela

To My Valentine

We met with our Love After Marriage couples this weekend and handed out 55 different ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day organized under the five different love languages. (I’d include them in this newsletter, but it’s in French!) By checking the ideas that each one likes the best, they discovered their love languages if they hadn’t already. Then they had time to discuss their differences and how best to celebrate this year. Afterwards, the husbands have something concrete to refer to for future special occasions!

The American celebration of Valentine’s Day is very different from the French, which is reserved for lovers only and focuses more on "eros" than "phileo" love. It was a revelation for one couple to realize that this holiday could be sanctified and redeemed for married couples! It was a big hit, esp. with tables for two set up with heart-shaped candles and cheesecake brownies to enjoy during their discussions.

I already know that one of David’s love languages is "words of affirmation," so I’m going to do just that in this newsletter as my Valentine gift to him.

"27 Reasons Why I Love David After 27 Years of Marriage"

DavidSingsAtOurWedding1 Our combination of strengths and weaknesses make us a good team.


2
As a worshipper, he is living out his Biblical namesake as he brings people into  God’s presence when he plays and sings.


3
I admired him behind the drum kit at age 14 and I still do!


4
He has a good reputation and has never burned a bridge.


5
He lets me know that he is still attracted to me.


6
He does not take for granted everything I do for him.


7
He is constantly deepening his knowledge of things that are important to our family and our mission.


8
He grew up in one house and dislikes change, yet was willing to move 5 times in 6 years with 3 kids in tow in order to be where God wanted us.


9
He has given up job security and grown in his faith in God as provider.


10
He manages our little world of international finance without getting grumpy and has kept us debt-free for the last several years.


11
He has always paid the tithe first and given generously beyond that. (Thank you to his parents for being role-models!)


12
He knows how to put his own wants on hold and make do until God provides.


13
He can handle any computer crisis.


14
He buys me flowers when I’m low.DavidReadsWithKids


15
He has taken the kids (plus other’s kids) to school almost every weekday for the last 10 years, allowing me to stay in bed.


16
He tells his children regularly that he loves them and is proud of them.


17
He has modeled the love of Father God accurately to our children so that they have few hindrances in their own relationship with Him.


18
He prays over me regularly and blesses my spirit and body.


19
He is not comfortable when we are disconnected and is quick to reconcile disputes.


20
He has washed the dishes by hand almost every day since we left our dishwasher in America.


21
He can make me laugh in 2 languages.


22
He is in active pursuit of his dreams, visions, and personal growth.


David_XMAS_2014_Instagram23
He helps me see the bigger picture, the cup half full, and other points of view.


24
He is vulnerable and transparent with me in every area of his life.


25
He is slow and steady, dependable and thoughtful.


26
I can always spot him in a crowded room.


27
He has made my dreams come true.

"Agape" love to all of you,

Angela

The Six Joys of Christmas

I introduced the 12 Days of Christmas to my English students last week and thought I would continue the theme here!

"The first joy of Christmas was Olivia’s text to me… that she passed her the-or-y."  Her driving "code," as it is called here, was originally scheduled (by the local government) at a bad time for her and she was nervous about passing. Then the test was cancelled due to teacher strikes (proving that God can use anything!) And when it was rescheduled a week later, Olivia was ready! Can you spot the verse hidden in her last practice test sheet where she only missed 4 out of 30? (You can click on all photos to enlarge.) Now she gets behind the wheel!

Learning the driving rules

"The 2nd joy of Christmas was when Nadine said to me, ‘2 Sozo trips!’" This is a photo of Honfleur, Normandy, where we ate dinner along the port on Thanksgiving evening before 2 full days of sozoing. 2 weeks later we drove to Chavornay, Switzerland, coming back laden with chocolate. Great timing for earning some Christmas money and my "clients" were equally blessed with some beautiful breakthroughs. Unfortunately, our team attracts some physical attack after these trips, but this only confirms that we are considered dangerous by the enemy!

Honfleur port at night

"The 3rd joy of Christmas was when Unaferm installed… 3 new windows!’" The remaining single-pane windows were in the den (L), the living/dining room (R), and in our bedroom. Since we live in those rooms during the holidays, the ambiance was always affected by draftiness, neighbor/street noise and condensation. The difference is already palpable with new roll down shutters as well ~ snug as a bug in a rug!

The new windows

"The 4th joy of Christmas was when Anna said to me, ‘I’ll decorate!’" She comes from the Saxony region in Germany where all the traditions of the holiday  must have surely originated. She received several sentimental packages from home to insure her daily dose of Christmas: no less than three Advent calendars, mini Advent candles, wooden and paper décor, Stollen Christmas cake (below) and myriads of other German treats. She is shocked and dismayed at the number of French houses lacking Christmas decor and the cold blue and white lighting that predominates in France. The school is lucky to have her this year as she was the only one with the desire/energy to decorate, and her hands have been very busy adding warm Germanic Christmas touches to the Chateau!

Beautiful German packaging

"The 5th joy of Christmas was when Rachel said to us, ‘I’m com-ing hoooome!’" She paid her own way to come and will even take Olivia on a little Norwegian adventure while she is here. Last weekend we sang in 4 parts "Lo How a Rose ‘Ere Blooming" for the church Christmas party talent show. It was divine to relive happy high school choir moments with my own girls! (Noah is staying in Indy where he has just gotten another round of excellent grades, has applied to attend Bethel’s ministry school, and has just nabbed a job for the spring as a graduation photographer!)

"The 6th joy of Christmas was when Olivia sang to me, ‘Ave Maria!’" As music lovers, a free concert at a local cathedral is always a highlight of the season. In addition to Olivia’s performance at the music school recital yesterday, our American missionary buddy Alana also directed her adorable children’s orchestra, and I got my dose of live Messiah with 3 solos performed by the mature female voice students.  Here’s a post-concert snap taken by Alana:

Angela, Anna, Olivia, David, Rachel

(For dinner afterwards, I whipped up a festive meal of frog legs and snails so that Anna could say she had tasted them before she heads home today bearing gifts of cheese and local wine!)

Hoping your joys are just as numerous, beloved readers!

Angela, David, Rachel and Olivia

Parking Panacea

Picture1This month I want to give you an update on the "Markedly reduced parking" concerns that I wrote about last June. I am thrilled to report that those worries were completely unfounded and wanted to share God’s amazing intervention…

If you will remember, parents picking up kids at school had to wedge their cars (on packed dirt) between huge beech trees, whose massive trunks also created blind spots when trying to back out onto a busy street. And because it rains a lot, the area was often one big mud puddle by the time 4:30 pick-up rolled around. We had also begged the mayor to install something to slow traffic at the entrance of the school to make it safer for the kids to cross (and cars to back out during rush hour) but to no avail. I dreaded pick-up everyday for the last 10 years because of this miserable combination.

Well, the new bike path has literally changed our life! Everything they have done to coddle cyclists benefits our school with no cost to us:

  • It does not use up all the parking space, but just narrows and defines it, so that Picture2parking is more orderly than before.
  • Visibility has been improved with the decision to remove of two of the trees!
  • They also spread a new bike-friendly surface over the dirt that resembles a mixture of sand and concrete – No more mud!
  • Our family has also benefitted personally because this bike path continues halfway to our village, making biking to school a safe and pleasurable option for the first time.
  • And for the grand finale, they installed speed bumps at the entrance of the school!!

The other parking problem at church isn’t resolved yet, but I had a ball making a dent in it a couple of weeks ago. Let me describe the nightmare in greater detail: 

  • The lot is being overrun by Japanese knotweed. The Brits call it the most invasive species of plant trying to overrun the whole country. It can grow 10 feet in 10 weeks. Cutting it down without immediate herbicide treatment will encourage it to spread underground. It is billed as the biggest problem facing the UK construction industry today because it will grow through concrete and brick. I recently asked the pastor if he was aware of this menace to our building and he had no idea.
  • The 4 mechanics that share our parking lot fill the spaces that are legally ours with cars to repair, along with empty jugs of motor oil, beer cans, air filters, broken glass, windshield wipers, bench seats… You get the picture.
  • To make matters worse, a clothing donation bin was also put there and it seems to be a magnet for people who want to dump unwanted stuff around it. The creepiest thing was a bird cage, dead bird included!

Well, as I’ve mentioned, I’ve taken on Sunday school at church and the love is mutual. To teach the kids the joys of servanthood, I wanted to take them out to the lot to collect the trash, but I needed a good weather day. A big motivator was that one of the mechanics had recently cut down a ton of knotweed and left them in huge piles, making it easier to see and access the trash. (And it already looked better with the jungle eliminated temporarily, as I doubt he invested in the gallons of Roundup it would take to kill it for good!)

Picture3So last Sunday morning it was warm and sunny. I didn’t expect many kids during fall break, and no other lesson was gelling in my spirit. So I grabbed some extra gloves and trash bags and looked forward to enjoying one of the last days of a beautiful fall. I asked the kids what they thought about the parking lot and told them that God memorializes every kind deed done on earth in heaven, so we’d be creating something beautiful in heaven at the same time that we picked up trash. I prayed for protection from injury and then we joyfully went at it, even happier when we came upon little creatures whose habitat we were improving with every sack filled. They even got to practice their recycling skills, putting bottles and cans in one bag and car parts in the other!

When we were done, we stood in a circle and said prayers and sang songs to blessPicture4 the mechanics and the land, and blew bubbles to prophecy future beauty and symbolize our prayers going to heaven. Then back in the classroom, we had a snack where between the 9 children, they could count our crackers in 5 languages! I love Europe. Then I had them all lie down with pillows and quietly ask Jesus to take them up with Him on a cloud to show us His view of the parking lot. They saw beautiful things. During that time, the sun vanished in a rainstorm and as we left the church, a magnificent rainbow filled the sky. I know at least one little girl received it as a confirmation of God’s joy over their servant hearts that day. 

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for decent parking, for they will be filled."

Love, Angela

The Hills Are Alive…

images I think I’m living The Sound of Music. It was a family favorite while the kids were growing up and the true story is equally fascinating. We need to hop over to Austria and do the  tour someday. But in the meantime, I am currently relating to Maria on many levels.

As you may recall, I was delivered from menopause symptoms this summer and saw a lot of healing in Oceane last year. I had been a tiny bit critical of teaching/discipline methods at the school last year as they affected Oceane, and I wanted to put my money where my mouth was, as over the summer, I discovered some innovative teaching methods on the internet that convinced me that learning can actually happen in a middle school classroom!

Then I got a Holy Spirit download for a new way to do Sunday School for our handful of 5-10s that attend sporadically. This has been a very weak area of our church because all our energies go into the school week and "teachers" needed a Sabbath too. But I knew parents were getting frustrated and it kept our church from attracting new families. So I proposed my ideas to the elders and they were thrilled. Another mother said she would alternate Sundays with me, so I have dropped worship-leading and cleaning in exchange for this new role.

When I learned that our school is teaching languages by levels this yr and they needed an extra teacher, I let them know I was up for the challenge! So 2 days before school started, they decided to give me the lower level 7th-8th grade class to teach 3 hrs/week, along with my hour of conversation with the sophomores. (I also volunteered to be study hall monitor for 24 sixth graders.) Even though they are not familiar with the film, my students can now sing, "So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, good-bye," because I sing it whenever I need to send a kid out of the classroom! (Oceane is my best student and should move up a level, but she doesn’t want to leave me!) So like Maria, I am feeling suddenly surrounded by children under my influence several hours per week! And even though I am creating all my lessons from scratch, I am operating in a new grace and wake up in anticipation most days!

AnnaOur new boarder, Anna-Elisabeth, arrived by train from Dresden at the end of August and she also reminds me of Maria: conservative, servant-hearted, positive, and full of songs! As a walking German dictionary with a desire to master English and French, she is a perfect companion for Olivia! Her presence has lightened my housework load and made it easy to run off to Lucerne without Olivia feeling abandoned…

Lucerne giftshopI had organized housing and tourism this summer for a couple from Indianapolis who wanted to visit during the 2nd week of school. At the end of their time, they wanted to treat us to a weekend in Lucerne before going on to Italy. This is German-speaking Switzerland in the Alps, where young guys are riding the city bus dressed in "Lederhosen" to go to work for the tourists. It might as well have been Salzburg. On the way back, we stayed at a retreat center where the hills came alive with the sound of cowbells echoing off the mountains – the most magical and calming sound in the world for me. David had lost his Swiss army knife the week before, so he had the thrill of buying a new one there with free engraving. It was a total 3-day escape from the back-to-school stress that we both needed and our belated anniversary celebration.

The Sound of Music shows the struggle against evil and finishes with a wedding. Last week we felt equally harassed before our first Love After Marriage cell group. Just a few days before, not only was our pastor hospitalized with kidney stone pain, but our LAM co-leader also had her 2nd big MS flare-up and was suffering from the side effects of the cortisone treatment. Yikes! We started the meeting letting the enemy know that we would not be intimidated, and I think everyone left feeling encouraged!

"Lay-dee-oldel-lay-dee-odel-lay-hee-hoo!"

Angela

The Greatest Show on Earth

tentLadies and gentlemen, children of all ages! Welcome to the Greatest Show on Earth!

Miracles are happening daily here in Alsace, so ignore all the bad news and have a seat under the Big Top!

Our first amazing act is Olivia the lion tamer!!

Yes, after getting excellent grades on her first year of Bac tests, her next amazing feat will be the only one in the family to take French driver’s ed.! This daunting task includes: Submitting 6 pieces of identification to the local government along with $65, several weeks of learning theory by DVD for $250, taking the $100 theory test, taking at least 21 hours of driving lessons at $50/hr, and finally taking the $100 driving test. Because passing the tests are difficult A_Tiger_and costly, they also offer a 3 hr cramming session just before the theory test for $40 and practice tests for $16. If the adage is true that "you get what you pay for," she should be the best driver in the family (at least on French roads.) You can be sure that Angela will be gleaning from her expertise before Olivia moves to Strasbourg for college. Unfortunately, by the time she has gotten her permit next March, she will have turned 18, which will set off a new round of administrative paperwork to make her a legal adult and possibly a dual citizen!

sword swallowerAnd now please welcome Christie the miraculous Gluten Swallower! Increasing wheat allergies in France may put our beloved bakeries out of business one day, but the Holy Spirit chose to heal one of our American visitors of her lifelong allergy a couple of weeks ago so that she can really enjoy her visit! Angela has also embraced gluten/dairy-free recipes in order to bless her increasing number of friends who haven’t yet been healed.

Sozo the clown also brought amazing healing to Angela last month. Her joy from the marriage seminar was quickly stolen with another round of pre-menopause symptoms. By June she was experiencing almost daily migraines, almost hourly hot flashes, and depression. After watching Hot Flash Havoc, she booked a gynecologist appt. immediately, but it would be a three month wait. In the meantime, she booked a Sozo to treat it as generational curse, since her own grandmother and mother had suffered so badly. clown

It worked.

In July, she and David ran a Nerf gun shooting game stand at the school fete for 2.5 hrs and had a ball. She sat through boring teacher meetings to restructure foreign language classes by ability rather than age group. She got up at 6am for seven days to serve healthy breakfasts to an international short-term mission team. Then she sat through a six hour parent meeting with a mediator/coach in order to create something resembling PTA.

In little wooden student chairs.  Without a break.

If you know Angela, you know this is nothing short of miraculous.

-strong-man

And finally, we present the stupendous House of Prayer Strong Man! The vision that we have carried for altars of worship in France is coming into full fruition! At least a dozen have popped up all over the country this year (lining up with a prophecy by Chuck Pierce) and our eight hours of worship per week has jumped to 20 with the implication of the Swiss family that started worshipping together every evening from the moment they landed. David is part of the leadership to get our Tent of Meeting, (as we are calling it) organized and he does a 6-8am set twice a week. Angela is attending a couple of evenings a week just to soak. This is creating momentum in lots of other areas that were stagnating! God is building His worshipping army to be victorious over the tide of evil as we declare His will over the earth!!

Are you ready to runaway to the circus?  Love, Angela

Olivia’s Bac-O-Rama!

My "baby" is forging her own scholarly path by being the only one to tackle the Baccalaureate – those ominous European tests that are your only proof that you didn’t sleep through high school. This year she had to take the science and French "épreuves" (the term for the different subjects tested for the Bac, translated as a hardship or ordeal.) And at the end of her senior year she’ll do philosophy, English language, sports, history/geography, German language/literature, and French Lit part 2. I found the details so enlightening that I wanted to share her experience with you from Olivia’s perspective.

In French, you "subir" an exam, which can be translated as to endure or suffer, as well as undergo, and you will see that this is most appropriate. The pressure-cooker started in January this year with the creation of the "TPE" – a personal research project on a topic of your choice combining 2 subjects and presented creatively. It was presented in written and oral form in March. I chose English and literature to write and illustrate a tale called Murophobia in the defense of the rat. The most nerve-wracking part was finding my way around a new public high school (our school isn’t certified to do testing) with minimal directions and feeling like an outsider. I think I did well, but my grade will appear as part of my total Bac score that I won’t see until July, on-line.

This year in biology/physics, literature-track students like me studied eyesight, sustainable agriculture/energy issues, and human reproduction. For the Bac in June, three of the four topics were tested in 90 minutes with short texts and diagrams provided for reference. I wrote an essay about water quality, answered questions about fertility tests, and checked multiple choice questions on fuel and thermo-nuclear energy. No sweat.

The French épreuve consists of a written and oral part. In preparation, I studied eight different topics during the year, analyzing:

  • political theater index
  • characters who fell in love in novels from the 17th century on
  • the history of humanist education
  • the history of theater from the 12th century on
  • the French novel "Le Grand Meaulnes" 
  • the quest for meaning in poetry from the Middle Ages on
  • feminist issues from the French revolution to Simone de Beauvoir
  • how the Greek Andromache myth has evolved throughout history

Here’s how we attacked them: my French teacher extracted 30 excerpts from France’s mountain of literature on these topics and asked a pertinent question for each one to debate or analyze. We also learned the author’s biography and historical context, and then created an outline on which to base a 4-page response. I had to memorize all of this information as a literature-track student, while my friend in the science-track only had to learn 20!

So at the same hour on the same day, I and all the other 11th graders in France faced 3-5 new excerpts from one of these above topics and were given 4 hours to write a clear and organized two-page essay comparing and contrasting the texts and then writing the well-practiced 4-pager on the question, “Do you think that every literary creation is in some way a copy of former works?” I chose to debate the answer, which means I answered for both sides and then closed with a synthesis.

Clément MarotLast week I took the oral portion of the exams. A copy of the thirty excerpts I had studied was sent to the examiners ahead of time for them to choose one, which was a poem by French Renaissance writer Clément Marot. He then gave me 30 min. to collect my thoughts and I had 10 min. to give an oral analysis in a polished manner. Then he spent 10 more min. interviewing me about the Romantic period, asking me for specific dates and kings I didn’t know, until another poet I had studied was brought up, and that’s when I impressed him.

O closeupNegative Bac pressure from public school teachers can make a lot of students physically ill from the stress, and this year a 50 yr old mother even made the news by trying to sit the English épreuve for her daughter! But as the only 11th grade literature-track student this year, it was easy for my Christian teachers to be supportive and encouraging of me. The grading can also be unfairly subjective for the essays, however my examiners were kind and attentive and the Holy Spirit gave me the words I needed to write. So, I’m facing next year’s "ordeal" with confidence, or in the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, "I’ll be Bac…"

Happy Summer from a proud mother!

M is For May-hem

>What a topsy-turvy May we’ve experienced – God is shaking us up and I’m going to challenge myself to describe it with M words in honor of the month!

M is for Moche \mush\: This French word describes the ugly weather we had all month (as in, "Il fait moche!") Cold rain has dominated, translating to snow on the mountains, so the ski slopes are still open! I am having flashbacks of Scotland.

Martin and Gayle Scott

M is for Martin Scott who came through and shook our church up with his words for Europe. After a serious time of repentance and questioning of our vision, we are still talking about it, as our building plans become a noose around our necks. Could it be God, rather than the enemy, putting on the brakes? We will meet in July to hear the Lord’s voice more clearly.

M is for Ministry in Nantes: Our Sozo team flew to the other side of France to do a training weekend there for 50 people last weekend, half of whom got a personal session. It was a privilege to serve a group of people who shared the same values that we do: community, healing, worship, and intercession. The bonus was that our free day of tourism fell on a clear, sunny day – What a beautiful city!

M is for Mother’s Day: I was celebrated 4 times this year! My mother sent a thoughtful package that arrived early in the month. On the DAY, I got calls from Rachel and Noah. On French Mother’s Day, the 26th, Olivia had the house cleaned for me when I returned from Nantes. And on the 27th, I had a greeting from Oceane waiting for me on the breakfast table. I am blessed.

M is for Miracle: I was beginning to despair that we’d had little impact on Oceane this year when every Friday last month she would turn into a monster with the arrival of her aunt to take her home for the weekend. (She had returned by train most of the year.) A sobering sozo with her aunt revealed why she takes abuse by Oceane, and it won’t be a quick fix. But last week Oceane’s hospital check-up revealed that her kidneys were miraculously improved and she is no longer considered underweight! She is also off of her anti-anxiety meds, thank you Jesus.

M is for "Manif Pour Tous." This is the name for the historic, record-breaking demonstrations for traditional families that continued in full force around the country this month, shaking people into action. Happily, an initiative to propagate the theory of gender neutrality in the schools has been shelved for the moment.

M is for Markedly reduced parking: We don’t actually have a safe pick-up area for our 150 students at the school, which may come as a shock to our readers. Parents wedged their cars between huge trees across the street in an undefined parking zone along the river and crossed a busy street to enter the school grounds. Last month that area was being transformed into part of a village-wide bike path, eliminating most parking. Our church parking is also a huge issue as 4 mechanics surrounding our building fill most spaces in a central lot with wrecked cars and trash. What is God saying in this parking mayhem?! I can’t wait to find out. On a lighter note…

M is for Mary Poppins: Hadn’t seen it since I was a child. Hate old musicals. Bought it on sale as a joke. Watched it and cried. What a perfect picture of the Holy Spirit invading so many spheres of society. The spiritual parallels are so abundant that I may have to write a Sunday school curriculum around it!

 

And finally, M is for "le M": The freshest McDonald’s hamburger offering I’ve ever tasted – enjoyed a few this spring!

Maternally, Angela

A Dream Come True

The perfect team - TOP: Hostess, Translator, Finances BOTTOM: Technician, Our speakersDo you remember my newsletter that listed all the major events in my life that happened to fall on the month of April ?

Ummm… it happened again.

Our marriage seminar last week was truly a missionary’s dream come true:

Isabelle (center) recovered with supernatural speed after her hospitalization. She finished the written translation and printed the manual in the 2 remaining weeks and was able to translate the speakers smoothly all week with no drop in energy! She also broke off lots of lies that were holding her and her marriage back.

As expected, the couples came with a big fear of vulnerability. It was banished within the first hour of the seminar because the Byrnes model transparency in their teaching in an atmosphere of Holy Spirit-infused love and safety. The small groups we put them were a perfect fit and couples bonded quickly!

Most couples arrived desperate for help with depression, ministry burn-out, anger, shame, hopelessness, loneliness, and lack of intimacy. All 18 couples became fully connected emotionally and spiritually, allowing them to receive a personal plan from the Holy Spirit at the end of the week to begin physical oneness as well.

Our pastor and his wife even participated fully and the 3 other women on our leadership team who had been struggling physically for years were restored and radiant by the end of the week.

Spring blooms on the table represent new life in the couples

The weather was glorious, much to the delight of the Brits! They grabbed their chairs and ran out into the courtyard that was in full spring bloom for every group exercise, basking in the sun while ministering to each other. Another British couple that had already benefitted from the course sent 1000 pounds to bless any European couple who couldn’t afford it. We gave it to a couple that had been coming for sozos from Belgium, but now needed to work through their issues as a couple in order to make further progress. Their identities were completely restored from broken victims on anti-depressants to valiant warriors taking their thoughts captive!

Our couples in love!

And speaking of money, the hopeless couple I described last month tried to back out at the last minute because they still couldn’t come up with the small percentage we asked them to pay. We said they could pay installments afterwards, if necessary, but we really felt that they needed to seed into their own marriage to get breakthrough, since finances were such an issue for them. During the seminar they got an unexpected refund check from the government that covered it and they have come to life!

Three men coming with the most broken marriages humbly volunteered to get inner healing on stage for issues that were affecting their marriages negatively. In 1 hour, the childhood root was highlighted, healed, and tearful reconciliation with their wives washed away years of pain in that area.

Celebrating French-styleThe groups took their meals together at the restaurant every day and towards the end of the week, they were buying wine to toast to each other’s breakthroughs French style with singing, laughing, and dancing while other diners looking on!

Sunday morning was devoted to all the beautiful testimonies, as at least a third of the couples in our church were affected. During worship they were all dancing like newlyweds. After the service, they were all surrounding and praying for others as couples! This huge injection of healing will transform our church and this nation!

And myself? In normal life I am hard pressed to get up early every morning and go 14 hours, 5 days in a row. That week, as hostess for the event, it was painless. David manned the sound and recording table and that was also glitch-free. The joy and love in people’s eyes as they thanked us for bringing this ministry to France was the most satisfying thing I have ever experienced.

We’re already planning another seminar for next year and include their course for singles. We hope to film it in order to create DVDs that can be used all over the country so that the Byrnes can devote their time and energy to plant it in other countries. (The unique principles taught in the seminar are also available in their excellent book!)

Mission accomplished, Angela

Chasing Foxes

It’s that time of the year again when I turn another year older and those springtime verses in Song of Solomon 2 start dancing through my head as sweet birthday wishes from Jesus:

"Get up, my dear friend, fair and beautiful lover – come to me!
Look around you: Winter is over; the winter rains are over, gone!
Spring flowers are in blossom all over.
The whole world’s a choir – and singing!
Come, my shy and modest dove,
leave your seclusion, come out in the open.
Let me see your face, let me hear your voice.
For your voice is soothing and your face is ravishing."

And I reply in verse 15: "Then you must protect me from the foxes, foxes who would like nothing better than to get into our flowering garden."

FOXFox #1: Infirmity. Our Love After Marriage preparations were going smoothly until the other day. Our co-worker Isabelle is in the middle of translating the materials and will be our translator for the seminar. Last week she went into the hospital with facial paralysis and is undergoing testing. The enemy aimed well, as he knows that we cannot pull off this event without her, so this is not a surprise. Also, David was diagnosed with advanced arthritis in the shoulder that he drapes over his guitar, just when our church decided to expand our House of Prayer sessions! He is compensating by buying a flat electric and a tiny travel guitar, but daily pain and reduced range of motion continues. We refuse to worry, but to join with our intercessors and worship God in faith that He is taking care of these visions that He planted in our hearts for France. He will see it through.

FOXFox #2: Insecurity. Like many introverts, I have always been uncomfortable with my social skills and so I give God all the glory for the advances I have made in helping people feel safe enough to confide in me for inner healing. A girl in her 20s even asked me to be her spiritual mother for a season, and this is the generation I relate to the least! But there were still some fears in this area that were niggling me, so I had a Sozo colleague give me a session for it recently. I have quickly gained a new confidence in lovingly confronting lies that people are believing about themselves and God, without nerves shutting me down, (even during one hostile encounter!) And rejection doesn’t seem to come into play for either side! I have also had people tell me that I’m more radiant lately. Could it be that at last "my voice is soothing and my face is ravishing" to more people besides Jesus?? 

I know David is appreciating it the most, as we are enjoying a time of supernatural grace for each other’s weaknesses, paired with a deeper appreciation of and dependence on each other’s strengths. We are nourishing each other with physical affection several times a day and speaking out more words of encouragement than ever before. Combined with the training we got at Bethel last summer, we had the gumption to come alongside another couple being stalked by…

FOXFox #3: Hopelessness.

He grew up without parents and had been depressed for 10 of their 11 years of marriage. He looked like the walking dead and since past counseling/deliverance hadn’t helped, he thought he would just have to live with it.

She had grown up under an abusive father and had to be the strong one her whole life. She was empty and lonely, and there was no way she could continue to "live with it."

Their kids were car-pooling to our school from the big city, and once her husband got his driving license a couple of years ago, he found a steady job and they were able to start attending our church. Last fall they moved to a cute apt. in Soultz.

Then she asked if she could help me with my Janitor for Jesus duties and slowly started sharing her pain and asking for prayer. It was obvious that moving to an idyllic village, regular church attendance, and new jobs weren’t making them any happier. I was getting eager to get to the roots, but she was skittish.

Then one day, when her husband brought up separation, she was at my door in tears and ready to deal with her stuff. After her second Sozo and hearing enough about their marriage to be concerned about her keeping her healing, I asked if we could meet with them as a couple to see where he was at. (This was a big step for us to actively intervene without relationship with him!) A few minutes later, I crossed him at school and boldly asked if he would be okay with us coming over, and he agreed!

Hopelessness was the fox that was destroying their garden, and we chased it out that day with our own testimony of healing. She learned that he didn’t want to separate after all, and we asked them to verbally commit to each other to choose the path of healing and restoration. We asked them to hold hands and say positive things to each other. Their marriage started in YWAM with a heart for missions and it was brutally stolen from them, so we also declared a restoration of their one-flesh destiny. He’d lost his wedding ring 7 years ago and never replaced it, so we prayed that it would be restored as a prophetic symbol.

Before we left, we asked them to ask forgiveness of their children for planting the fear of divorce and prayed for favor from his boss and the provision to attend the seminar, (as God has already provided the childcare!) We reduced their fees to make it more accessible to them, and when Rachel sent in an offering towards this ministry, we gave it to them a few days later.

A week later, he had his first Sozo and he said it was like no other ministry he’d gotten before, and friendship with David will grow because David is training him in sound booth duties. She is ready to continue sessions with me until the roots of her anger are completely severed, and her cleaning help at church really blesses me in return, not to mention her expressions of gratefulness for our investment in them.

These same foxes are also attracted to our "foster" child Oceane, but our fences are strong and high, at least while she in in our garden, and we are seeing positive changes in her. My latest healing has removed fear of her manipulation and I can face her stuff head-on and smother her with kisses at the same time.

I recommend it as a good tactic for broken kids and as well as broken couples.

So our marriage ministry is "springing" to life at last. I see a home group in our future, post-seminar, to keep the couples in our church moving forward.

I think we should call it "Foxbusters." 

Stay tuned for next month’s testimonies from the seminar!! Angela

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