A Summer to Remember – August 2019

Hi everyone,

The last time I mentioned my book project was back in March, but things have moved along since then and Rachel finished her beautiful sketches for potential illustrations in late June. So I sent it out digitally to 11 different publishers with a cover letter describing the void that this amazing book will fill and am awaiting replies this fall. One rejection has already come in, so I have officially joined the ranks of thousands of authors! I have plans to write another children’s book with an Alsatian theme once we have moved. “Just keep writing,” as my nephew writer says. I think I will.

At the same time, I was getting emails from a BFA graduate who had reached out to Rachel, needing a safe place to land in France while running from church/family trauma. So for the next 3 weeks I got to be a mother again, making sure she took care of herself physically, while coming against all the lies she believed emotionally from the victim spirit. It was nice to have another young lady in the house, but she wasn’t ready for inner healing and needed to get a job back in her hometown to try to support herself. I hope to see her again when she’s ready to forgive…

During this time we were trying to pre-order our new kitchen, but things really slow down in France in the summer, including our house. Exact measurements were impossible to obtain, (incorporating the tricky roof slope and angles) until the drywall is up, but at least I’ve picked out my styles!

In August, when everyone’s schedule is lighter, we enjoyed lots of relational time with new and old friends and my energy levels seem to be getting better with the help of abundant sunshine! This was a good thing, since there were 2 big pushes to do before the end of the month:

  1. Get Olivia moved into her own apartment for her last year of school (and before our move, where she won’t have a room of her own.) She found a nice roommate in a lovely place and David was able to get the job done in a day with the help of a pro mover from church and a rented van.
  2. Put together as many Lego models as possible to sell at the local flea market, along with lots of other toys from our attic, on Sept 1st (the day after returning from our vacation!) We learned that vintage Lego sells for decent prices on-line, and I was motivated to earn some money, since my part-time work dried up over the summer. Discovering that we still had most pieces to create 35 models was more satisfying than I expected, despite the physical discomfort of digging through drawers and following instructions with heads down intensity. It ended up being a real bonding time with David as well. He could find pieces that I could not and became my superhero many evenings.

Night view from the terraceAll of the above made us very ready for our annual anniversary getaway and Italy had been on my bucket list for many years. We found an Airbnb with a balcony in a tiny village far from tourists 4 hrs away for 30 euros/night and grabbed it. We really needed quality time apart as a couple and it was really special. Knowing French helps to decode Italian, so the language barrier wasn’t as bad as we thought it might be. Instead of touring museums or churches, we went to the best grocery store in the region – Wow! We also discovered the joys of electric bikes, renting 2 to ride around a lake.  We might just need them and use them once we move “up the valley” (hopefully before the end of the year).

Marco's KitchenThe romantic finale was 6 hours at a personal chef’s house for a cooking class and then eating the meal in his backyard woods at a fancy table for 3. (Unfortunately, the mosquitoes were eating us at the same time!) But what a treat to eat pasta you’ve rolled yourself with white pesto you mixed with a mortar and pestle! Lots of conversation with a real Italian chef in English was a great bonus. This was followed by sausages, polenta and Portobello mushrooms. And while he went back to the house to prep the raspberry coulis for the chilled panna cotta, we renewed our vows there at the table. Reciting our vowsThen David gave me a ring that belonged to my grandmother to replace my engagement ring that broke (and stone lost) over Easter – a little detail I failed to mention in my April newsletter! And guess what he presented it in?

A little hinged box that he made of Lego bricks. 🙂


Anniversary ring in lego boxI was undone… and with our vows still echoing in our heads, we’ve been acting like newlyweds ever since.

Love,

Angela

Striking Structures – May-June 2019

Though the Notre Dame fire is old news now, I’m going to keep my promise and talk about it this month, since buildings seem to be the theme since my last newsletter.

When the tall spire of Notre Dame cracked and fell over, most of the world was weeping. But my spirit leapt, as I witnessed the dismantling of a “high place” where freemasonry artifacts were stored as a spiritual lightening rod of protection over the church. I have visited the church a few times, and though it is glorious on the outside, the inside felt like a cold, dark tomb. Are you aware that during the Revolution, the goddess of reason was actually erected on the altar of the church and worshiped?  There are no records that this act has been repented for by the Catholic leadership, so for me, this fire is one that is cleansing strongholds and prophesying revival fires to come!

As our church has always had an apostolic/prophetic emphasis, another detail about the fire also spoke to us: Here you can read about the statues of the 12 apostles that were removed for cleaning, miraculously timed during the week before the fire.

During this time, our church council was reading the book The Apostolic Church Arising by Chuck Pierce and Robert Heidler, where there is a great image of how the church should operate in a non-hierarchical way as a five-fold ministry described in Ephesians: The evangelist is the one birthing babies, bringing new Christians into the church, but follow-up is not his strong suit. That’s when the pastoral gifting needs to step in to nurture, comfort and protect this baby. (Many churches with a pastoral leader are stuck here.) But the prophet is needed for the next step in a Christian’s growth by giving them a vision and calling out their destinies. Then the teacher is needed to step in and show them how to walk that out practically. The apostle is overseeing the whole process and decides when to launch that person into ministry. And when that assignment goes awry, as it often does, the pastor comes back around to shore you up, the prophet reminds you not to give up on your calling, the teacher clarifies any confusion that came from the experience and the apostle eventually sends him out again.

Our council wears many of those hats at once as we heal, prophecy, and disciple those in church. We are not actively inviting people to our church until the first phase of our renovation is complete, but if we believe revival is coming, we should be getting ready to welcome lots of new babies! So seeing the spire of independence and pride fall, while the apostles were sheltered, was a confirmation to us that we are on the right track. June was a big push month for getting our church ready for inspection. Though I can’t contribute to most of the labor-intensive work, my personal vendetta continues against the invasive knotweed in the parking lot.

Soultz Parking-Lot Barn Fire

Our New House Newly Painted

We had our own mini fire drama right across the street last month when an empty barn sitting on the back end of our parking lot caught fire. It didn’t even make the local papers, but thank God it happened during the summer months when there are fewer cars vying for parking spots.

Our house project has also really moved forward since my last newsletter:  the new roof is on, the facade is painted and the extension is going up! We visit regularly to pray for the contractor, who handles weekly roadblocks with aplomb, as well as protection over the property and the workers and to connect with the neighbors, who are happy to see this eyesore be transformed!

Our final fun news is that in 10 days Le Tour de France is going right through our daily life: Starting at Mulhouse (our closest city), it continues to Bollwiller (our closest train station), Guebwiller (where the church and school are located), Soultz-Haut-Rhin (us) and Buhl (where we are moving to!)

2019 Tour de France Stage 6 Map

2019 Tour de France Stage 7 Program

A sizzling summer has started early for Europe – praying for cool breezes!
Angela

Spring Joys – April 2019

While David has been fighting discouragement about his job search this spring, this doesn’t negate the fact that this is always my favorite time of year and I’ve been getting lots of encouragement!  Let’s start with 2 special birthday gifts from Jesus last month:

We have a French friend from church who is currently at a helicopter pilot school in Montreal. Out of the blue, she wrote and asked if I wanted to do conversational English via Skype with a fellow French student (a 40 yr old single man) who needed to improve his fluency to pass immigration tests. I hesitated, wondering if we would have anything in common to talk about. And then I had a dream that it went really well. So I said yes, and it has turned out to be a part-time dream job providing pocket money for this season in life, handed to me on a silver platter!

The second gift was being able to wear earrings on my birthday night out and the details are worth telling! My friend Christi had given me a purple hand-me-down designer dress and my mom had sent my grandmother’s amethyst earrings to Olivia. Except that she doesn’t have pierced ears. I do, but I haven’t been able to wear any metal in my ears for the last 20 yrs.  But since they were gorgeous and matched the dress, I prayed for healing, put them on, and wore them all evening feeling like a princess!! The next day I tried on an old pair of my grandma’s diamonds, but the burning and swelling was immediate. Time to visit a jeweler and get to the bottom of this, to see if it’s more than a Cinderella story!

Soon to be our living room, office and kitchen
Soon to be our living room, office and kitchen

This month, the most encouraging activity has been weekly visits to our future home! The interior has been gutted, the outside walls re-plastered and the old roof tiles removed. The debris has been mounting inside and out because large trucks can’t get into our narrow street to deposit dumpsters. Talk about motivation to pray! But just today we got city approval to create temporary access via the fenced and raised county road that our cul-de-sac end butts up against. God is literally making a way where there was no way! The other beautiful thing is that the neighbors on our street are incredibly friendly and eager to chat each time we show up! This has not been our experience in Soultz, so we are ecstatic. (And my parents also seem to be riding on our breakthrough as they just bought their new house to downsize to – Yay!)

My Easter also held emotional breakthroughs: I usually have high expectations of myself to make this day special, whether it is by decorating, cooking or having an amazing Sunday school lesson. The trouble was that no one else did and that made it heavy. This being the first Easter since my fatigue set in, my expectations were re-booted. I felt impelled to attend the local mass on Saturday night and cried through most of it, as I simply received. I attended church Sunday morning empty-handed and left the cross bare. No children were in attendance, so there was no worry about how they were engaging with the holiday. Olivia had been sick all week and was just perking back up, so we ate leftovers after church and watched some of our favorite series together while I slow-roasted a leg of lamb for Easter Monday, also a holiday here. We had invited a retired pastoral couple over who had just officially joined our church council and she had an immobilized right shoulder post-surgery. All I had to do was compose some salads and roast some veggies to go with the lamb. I had ordered dessert from our local bakery. It was simple and lovely. That evening Olivia went back to school and I discovered a TV series about the gospels called The Chosen – Incredible!! As we become more aware of the pagan roots of our holiday calendar, it feels good to let the trappings go. Maybe next year I’ll attend a Seder!

Thoughts on Notre Dame next month!

Love, Angela

Advancing in Weakness – Feb 2019

I spent much of February fighting a virus, so God continues to emphasize my need for a season of rest while He accomplishes things for me! Let’s start with the Valentine’s Day party as an example:

When I started feeling sick Thursday the 7th, I knew it was Spirit-led when I had started cutting out hearts in January! In fact, all of the party details were organized by the time I was bed-ridden, so the only concern was having the energy to pull it off. God made good use of that week to talk to me about a lot of things, like “What’s my motivation, esp. if no one shows up?” That’s when I realized that I had to be doing it for Jesus first and let it go. He was also talking to Manuela, the pastor’s wife, about my situation (being attacked for wanting to celebrate brotherly love after my 3-month hiatus in America) as a highlight of relational issues in our Body that need intercession!

So on Thursday the 14th, David decided the best Valentine he could give me was an afternoon of “gifts of service” on a ladder to lighten the decor load, hanging a dozen garlands 2 days in advance. He also single-handedly hauled over everything from our house that was pink or red and stacked 100 chairs. My coughing fits were louder than any thoughts of romance, but I’d never felt more loved.

Thankfully, Olivia would be home just in time to help me and another young lady decorate the tables on Friday, while David perfected the background music playlists and PowerPoint presentation. My tortured lungs also decided that Olivia would make a great MC for the evening. (Essential oil capsules recommended by the pharmacist were not a miracle cure…)  

Saturday we arrived early for last minute details and waited to see how many would show up. I had planned for 8 tables of 6. We filled 5 tables of 4. And none of my good friends were able to make it, with the exception of Pastor Luc and Manuela. But the ones that did come overcame lots of obstacles to be there and they felt very loved. They brought an abundance of red and pink aperitifs. They expressed appropriate awe when learning that Americans buy 1 billion Valentine cards per year. And they participated wholeheartedly in my original candy heart game. It felt like a cozy home group during the remaining time spent nibbling and sharing around the tables.

I have to say that David, Olivia and I made a really good team and after their final cheers of thanks, we announced that we were too tired to clean up. It could wait until the next day. But everyone insisted that we go on home, while most of them stayed late to do it themselves!  All we had to do was come by later and gather our pile of personal stuff. They also left us a big group thank you note and all the leftover drinks and chocolates! So the love went both ways that evening… and I think Jesus enjoyed it too!

On another topic, I have mentioned wanting to write a children’s book, but though I was motivated, I struggled with the actual content. But the first draft fell into place easily last month and I am even happier with my 2nd draft that happened in just a couple of sittings this month. Self-publishing isn’t an option for me because I want it to be a multi-sensory, multi-lingual board book. But I’m encouraged to learn that France has a strong publishing market, that many publishers are actually accepting manuscripts and that none of them mention the word “agent”!
I believe I’m in the right place to take on this little dream, one step at a time, as God continues to lead and inspire me.

In the same vein, I started my French Sunday school blog exactly 2 years ago and posted my final post last September. It wasn’t until last week that I finally got my first comment from a very complimentary teacher in Strasbourg. She wanted to use my Lord’s Prayer craft for her confirmation class, but spotted a typo and wanted help fixing it. My weekly hits are also slowly climbing – encouraging timing as I start to identify myself as an author!

The last week of Feb was the best one: my coughing stopped and I felt well enough to get outside and enjoy some unusually warm, sunny weather and…
we finally got an email with an appointment to sign for the house!!
It’s hard to believe that it’s actually going to happen after 15 months of feeling powerless to move things forward any faster. Luc and Manuela had it worse: They just lived 9 of those months without a bathroom in their apartment in the chateau (and I never heard them complain once!) The house was gutted last week and today we met together to pray over the renovation phase. Tuesday we will sign the papers and a couple of weeks later, we will meet with the general contractor.
Here’s hoping that this is a prophetic sign that our church building will follow suit!

Resting and trusting, Angela

Joyful January – Jan 2019

We couldn’t have asked for better weather during our short, but sweet visit to Indy this month for the funeral. It allowed for a very good turnout and what a joy to see so many people from our distant past all gathered in one place! The ceremony was beautiful and the highlight was definitely David and Olivia singing “Good, Good Father” as a duet.

The other highlight was experiencing Rachel’s first solo artist exposition of her light and sound creations at a local gallery. We helped set up, attended her opening night and then a private live performance with the rest of the family a few days later. At the same time, she’s launching out on her own this year as a freelance designer – Have a look around at her website majuscule.co !

We want to especially thank our friends, Tom and Wendy, for blessing us with their lovely home, a car and a pantry full of food that made this trip so affordable and comfortable!

Back in France, David continues to juggle the regular ministry responsibilities at church and the House of Prayer with the occasional IT job on the side. His participation in the November 11th WWI Armistice commemorative day of intercession with Germans and French stirred his heart again for European reconciliation work. Recently his search for more steady employment has unearthed the real possibility of working in nearby Germany.  He just tested at a B1 level and would need to be at a B2 to really survive in a German work context, but it’s a challenge that entices him since this was the language he studied 7 yrs in school. However, a remote job would be less taxing at this season of life, so we’re continuing to pray in the best position for him!

I have been in a real creative flow since my return: editing my children’s book (that my girls will collaborate on,) restoring my mother-in-law’s vintage dolls for display and preparing the first Valentine’s Day party for our church. The goal is to redeem this holiday from the erotic “for lovers only” reputation that it has in France. So I’m making garlands, creating a PowerPoint of the history (400 AD to today) and a game challenging them to translate Brach’s candy conversation hearts. Everyone will bring snacks and we’ll sit in small groups at tables and reflect on 20 questions about spiritual and relational love in our own lives, followed by prayer ministry as desired. I’m kind of excited about it.

All these activities accommodate my lower energy levels, but I’ve also come alongside the new cleaning team at church, as well as babysitting in smaller doses. I’ve also been fasting the news for several months now, replacing it with more prayer and viewing testimonies and the exciting prophecies for 2019. This has given me a real joy boost, especially as our church building and house project are in stagnation mode. I am convinced that a positive and hopeful outlook is spiritual warfare all by itself, especially in today’s world and in French culture in particular!

Happy New Year,

Angela