…who has God and the companionship of good books.”
~Elizabeth Barrett Browning
This nice little quote sums up our summer very well. With no major departures or arrivals planned, our family was able to settle into a rhythm that restored our souls. It started every morning at 9 am for family time. I picked out 2 books that David and I had read, but I knew that the kids were each ripe to receive something from both of them. The first was Rick Joyner’s Final Quest and the second was Praying the Bible by Wes and Stacey Campbell. Rick’s book had them on the edge of their seats, while the Campbells hammered the title home, leaving us no excuse to stay in our prayer ruts. It was a grace-filled time that is producing an autumn harvest. Rachel has returned to school to find many friends and staff with the same desires to see God move more strongly in the school. Noah is committed to reading the One Year Bible and is much more content about his classes this year. David hung a swing in the attic for Olivia recently, and it is now her favorite private place to pray aloud to her Heavenly Father. I decided to test the book’s theory by joining David in his thrice-weekly prayer times at the church. As you may recall from my confessions last year, this was a big step for me. But we applied what we learned, and they were the most liberating prayer times I had ever had in a public setting!
This comes on the heels of our church expanding to the building next door, which housed lots of different spaces, including a nightclub. The youth are working towards making it a place where life-giving music is played and produced on weekends, and that we could use as a house of prayer and worship during the week. We look forward to teaching how to pray the Bible to the youth in this context!
Our English bookshelf also served to refresh a single South African friend named Helen this summer. She has lived in France for many years as a Huguenot returning to her homeland. Her mortal body has been her struggle since childhood, but American missionaries had a huge impact on her spiritual life. She felt called to teach at our school after coming to intercede one weekend, but she had a very difficult year, esp. living in one room in the chateau without an elevator for her handicap. This summer she became a foster mother for Emilie, who is Olivia’s age and whom she’s known since birth, while the mother finishes a prison sentence. She also moved into a place of her own, for the first time in 4 years. All of these events involved our help, whether with childcare, the move, or just loaning a good book or movie. Some of these books, authored by Francine Rivers, were given to me by friends last spring. They have touched the hearts of not only Helen and myself, but also to a French friend who speaks English well and wants to get them translated into French!
One day we got our noses out of our books and had an adventure together while David and Rachel were prayer walking. I had agreed to do a friend a favor and drive to Besançon, an hour away. I decided to ask Helen and Emilie to come along to spend the day there with us to see the sights while we were there. As someone with a poor sense of direction, the trip would have stressed me out, but with Helen beside me, it was “easy peasy.” Olivia and Emilie also bonded that day, making it easy to give Helen a break and keeping Emilie whenever needed. We know that God is using this difficult time to enable Emilie to attend our Christian school, keeping her on the path of life when she could easily go astray in all of her pain right now. (Here are the girls spending lots of time at the fish petting exhibit!)
Helen returned the favor by keeping Olivia for us so that David and I could get away last weekend to minister 3 days and nights in Germany with French and American friends. This was another big step for me: One look at the calendar told me that this was physically the worst weekend to have quality time with my husband. On the other hand, I knew that God wanted me to start accompanying David on trips like this. (Read his trip report here) With Olivia graduating to middle school, I realized that my kids are no longer an excuse to stay home. My mothering days will soon be over and David and I would only grow apart if didn’t start joining him, migraines or no migraines. So I responded to the voice of the bridegroom in Song of Solomon who says, “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come along.” I decided to trust Him. And it was magnificent – David and I really enjoyed each other’s companionship, and I had no migraines. Comfortable beds and good food was provided by the hosting church, who were released in dance during the tri-lingual worship times. (This photo, taken on Sunday morning, was a beautiful image of the international flavor of the church.)
On our return, books came to the forefront again. All the kids’ schoolbooks have to be covered in protective plastic, and a dozen makes an evening’s work!
In parting, I leave you with a hilarious must-see on YouTube that shows how people in the Middle Ages reacted to the first book, similar to our reactions to computers. (In Norwegian with subtitles) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQHX-SjgQvQ
More back-to-school news on our re-designed web site next month!