Psalm 23 Remix

Our Ps. 23 Christmas TreeOur village invites residents to decorate their windows for Christmas and this year I signed up and did a Ps. 23 theme. I covered a tree with sheep, candy canes, snowflakes, and the first 3 verses on paper ribbons to remind passersby of the goodness of God. This newsletter will catch you up with us in the same vein…

The LORD is your shepherd, you lack nothing.

It seems that I don’t feel a lack until God is ready to provide it. Whether it is home renovation or a haircut, just when I reach the end of my rope, He provides for it. We’ve lived with one high performing desktop computer all these years and it has been adequate until recently. With my approaching 50th birthday, and the invention of the tablet computer, my soul began to feel the void that this device could fill. I wanted something light and portable of my very own without having to wade through all of David’s virtual clutter, but the iPhone was too small. Olivia was also fed up with her limping machine and started encroaching on our time on the desktop. During the holidays, while Noah was home and David was not working at school, it came to a head when we were playing musical desk chair almost 24/7! I let David know that "the cobbler’s children needed new shoes" and waited for provision. It came flooding in from many sources just after Christmas.

So last week, my husband surprised me w/an iPad, Olivia got a new laptop (that she will share when we travel) and with Noah back to school, life has become very serene in the evenings! 

He makes you lie down in green pastures, He leads you beside quiet waters, 
He refreshes your soul.

Noah and SethThis verse is a good image of our holidays. It started with a great Thanksgiving hosted by the Richards. Though Rachel stayed in Indy this year, we had a sweet time with guests on Christmas eve, with each other on Christmas Day, and then we welcomed 3 different friends of Noah’s in the following weeks of his vacation time. We refreshed ourselves with lots of outings that we haven’t had energy, money or time for in the last several months. (And if French films are shown near you, don’t miss Untouchables -  a blockbuster here that is full of hope and joy and has the power to annihilate any traces of racism in your heart.)

He guides you along the right paths for His name’s sake.

We continue to seek God about marriage ministry here. Our pastor is asking us to keep working towards this and as we initiate discussions with the Love After Marriage leaders in the States, we come up against the same French hurdles – translation of materials, a poverty-mentality, and fear of transparency – in order to come up with enough couples in leadership nationwide who are willing to be transparent, can afford to attend, and have a workbook in French! Only God can pull this off, and when he does, it will demand our full-time focus. We need the timing to be right, with so many other things pulling for our attention. In the meantime, I take solace in the Sozo ministry that is healing individual hearts so that ministering to their marriages will be more effective.

Even though you walk through the darkest valley, you will fear no evil, for you are with Him; His rod and His staff, they comfort you.

Looking back, I believe that all the gains we made last March at the marriage seminar were to hold us together for the turbulent months that followed with David’s declining health. How wonderful it is to have my husband back, with new and improved emotional and physical energy available for us again (as long as he stays away from raw cauliflower!)

He prepares a table before you in the presence of your enemies. 
Despite the above mentioned setbacks, serving good food continues to be my favorite way to bless others. I volunteered to donate dessert for 60 at this year’s teacher Christmas banquet. Lucky for me, the French appreciate small portions and I had it covered with 2 pumpkin cheesecakes and 2 pecan-date tarts, both new taste sensations for them!

He anoints your head with oil; your cup overflows.
Olivia's reactionOlivia was spoiled for her Sweet Sixteenth birthday this month: We bought her some clothes, took her out to eat, and then presented her with a card announcing that she was going on an 8-day father-daughter trip to Ireland! (We tried to capture the moment here.) She’s visited a lot of countries, but this has been her dream destination for a long time. They will be attending teachings on the spiritual history of the land at a YWAM base there and then intercede on-site in Dublin and Belfast. (David will get to hook up with an old friend from his Up With People days one evening as well!) If you feel led to pray for their trip, the dates are Jan. 22-29th. I will also relish my week alone w/no one to worry about except the cats!


Surely His goodness and love will follow you all the days of your life, and you will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Relaxing with my new toyI am now living this out concretely with my new toy: the only worship music I listen to now is from the International House of Prayer live and archived on the internet from Kansas City and it cannot be downloaded easily. Living in a house with thick walls and lots of closed off rooms meant that I could only worship in our den, sitting in front of the desktop, which is very limiting (and distracting) for a housewife. Now, my favorite worship troubadours follow me all around the house! No more housework in silence, long sleepless nights, or neighbor negativity invading my kitchen! "Practicing His presence" just got a lot easier!!

Happy 2012! Angela

Angela and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Month

"Consider it pure joy, my brethren, when you face (terrible, horrible, no good, very bad) trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

If your kids were born after 1970, you are probably familiar with an award-winning children’s book resembling my title. Being a children’s literature fan, I couldn’t resist borrowing it to describe where my last newsletter left off (as if that wasn’t bad enough.)

In the subwayBut let’s start on a happy note: (In late Sept.) Olivia and her 4 classmates had a ball in Budapest. Let me remind you that there was only ONE Christian high school in all of France until we opened up a 10th grade class a couple of years ago. Can you imagine how ostracized these kids feel here? So it was a breath of fresh air to hang out with kids from 30 other mainly eastern European Christian schools for 4 days. The English-only leadership conference didn’t bother them at all – just warmed them up for my class that started when they got back.

This is the teaching job I’ve been waiting for my whole life: no discipline problems, only 2 teaching hours/week, and free to create my own curriculum based on a children’s book! How I’ve missed transmitting my passion for books to children here. So I chose The Tale of Despereaux as our text for the first semester, reading most of it aloud, and they are eating it up! I supplement with worksheets I’ve created to help them see the Biblical truths hidden throughout, while mastering vocabulary related to the world of mice and rats living in a castle. This setting makes remarkable parallels to the Protestant church in France! Read it and weep. As you will see, this class has been one of the few bright spots since I wrote last.

The grand total for Sept.’s gall bladder nightmare (5 consultations, endoscopy, blood work, ultrasound, 2 ambulance rides, laparoscopic surgery, 6 nights, and meds) was under $800! However, David started going downhill again last month and this time the culprit was a UTI. Not wanting to feel left out, I got a yeast infection, my sozo team leader started fighting appendicitis symptoms, and our head intercessor was battling terrible side effects after hip replacement surgery. Hopelessness hit David in a rare attack, and I’m sorry to say that with a well-timed string of migraines, I went down with him! Thank God the Richards were arriving mid-month as reinforcements, providing daily worship/prayer coverage that has helped strengthen all of us, despite Janet’s own physical struggle with a broken wrist.

Towards the end of this trial, (which we were not considering "pure joy," my brethren,) my pastor’s wife called to ask if I would keep a visiting Australian director in Christian education for a week. I was her last hope, so what could I say? God gave me the grace to accommodate him and his easy presence lifted our morale. But towards the end of his stay, a tragedy hit that brought us down again. I was happily decorating the church to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles for our next 4 hr. worship tabernacle. Then my cell phone rang and we learned that a father of 3, whose extended family I’ve mentioned here before, had died of a sudden heart attack at work. So much for celebrating. The mother of this man and his daughter and nieces all came to worship that night anyway – what a beautiful sacrifice of worship that was for all of us.

Our guest wanted to take the school leadership team out to dinner the following evening before he left, but David and I weren’t feeling well enough to attend. Disappointed in missing the chance to enjoy a restaurant meal, we were taken by surprise when handed a monetary gift from him after his departure, in US dollars! It is tucked away for our trip back next summer to move Noah over.

Then our terrible, horrible October finally ended… with an alarmingly small support deposit. Enough to eat on, but the bills would have to wait. We had also planned to visit Noah on the 1st, after 2 1/2 months apart. I wanted to celebrate his 18th birthday a month early, while the fall leaves were peaking and the sun was shining. A visit to the Basel Zoo was at the top of his wish list. (And fortunately, I had bought his birthday gift (red t-shirt below) far in advance!) With one glance at the bank acct., David was nixing all expenditures except the gas to get there. A head v. heart argument ensued that the enemy wanted to snowball, but then we got the victory: The HS convicted me of my wrong attitudes in the argument and I apologized. Happy 18th!Then I blessed his head while he blessed my heart. Then I laid our plans on the altar. When we arrived at BFA, Noah admitted he had a lot of homework and the zoo sounded like too much to bite off. We smiled at each other and drove to a beautiful park with a pedestrian bridge that spans the Rhine River where Switzerland, France and Germany meet. We fed a bevy of swans, enjoyed an ice cream cone and watched the kids run and jump and climb on every available surface. We got him back early to start homework before dinner and stayed for a free meal at the dorm.

The rest of the week, money trickled in daily: a computer repair job, a small property tax refund, web site work for an old client, anonymous cash in our mailbox, a paypal donation. And the icing on the cake today was receiving our national identity cards for the French health system with a chip that streamlines the processing of any medical treatment!

Here’s hoping that we have passed all the perseverance testing scheduled for 2011!!

Love, Angela

Dear Diary

Apologies for the 3 month silence – it took some time to recover from all the highs and lows we’ve experienced, (especially the lows) and our roles for this new school year are just starting to take shape. Here are my diary highlights:

July 1st: Just returned from my last all-school mountain camping experience with 100 kids. No quaint wooden cabins here. Just another rundown, spartan hotel structure with a confusing maze of hallways, obviously conceived so that one could hose the whole place down after a group came through! My roommate was a deaf mother, lucky woman. Every whisper resonated off of the tile floors and plaster walls. When I tried to find a sympathetic ear, everyone laughed me off and said that this was the stuff of wonderful childhood memories for them! The fun started by making the kids hike 4 hours to get to the place. Then after eating poorly and staying up most of the night, lots of kids were too sick to hike back. They can’t wait to do it again next year! This was the last hurrah for Olivia’s ninth grade class, (they got to sleep in tents) many of whom have been in class together since she arrived at age 7. All but 5 will move on to public high school/trade school settings.

July 20th: David and I are “worshipping with the Word” together during the week at church and I am starting to get new revelation about Jesus as we sing “new songs” based on a section of scripture. David has another blood test and ultrasound due to increasing discomfort. Results show that the culprit is his gall bladder. What a relief to finally have a diagnosis!

fruitfulness 017July 30th: Enjoying several days of painting at the school to spruce up the neglected primary building with “toxic” paint I bought a yr ago at 1/2 price. Changed my mind about using it on my stairwell and am migraine-free as long as I am outside. I had only planned to paint a couple of doors, but the paint went a long way, and I ended up doing 12 doors, a bench, and the walls of the play hut before the cans were empty. I’ve asked to be let go of my Janitor for Jesus role, and this is my final offering.

Aug. 18th: We schedule gall bladder surgery in Colmar for Sept. 6 and David gets pain meds so that he can enjoy our up-coming getaway. We receive a large gift that really helped with dr. bills and back-to-school shopping and check-ups for the kids.

Aug. 26th: Happy 50th to David – He’s in good company with our pastor and his wife also born in 1961!

I am attending my first YWAM staff conference with David and really enjoying it with him, despite sleeping on the floor and eating on cheap plastic for 4 days. YWAM France has had a huge growth spurt in the last year, so there is lots of young energy here with new implantations after years of stagnation with aging staff at the 3 bases. Now that these French-speaking teams have met us and know where we are, we hope to welcome them in future outreaches to help with our school and church needs.

25thAnniv 002Aug. 29th: We are leaving the conference a day early in order to celebrate our 25th wedding anniv. tomorrow. On the way to our B&B, we drive around Verdun to see some WW I sites. Now I know where all the fathers of France are buried – there are hundreds of thousands of them here.

Aug. 30th: Our romantic getaway was all we’d hoped for and the luxuries were so much sweeter after roughing it at the conference. God’s hand stayed my PMS migraines and David felt good. Thank you, Jesus!

Sept. 6th: David’s surgery reveals a very sick gall bladder stuck to the liver, so more invasive probing was needed. He will stay an extra night. Happily, a friend at church is a nurse at the hospital, which is 40 min. away, and she conveniently transports him during her commutes. My friend Helen (that I help weekly) is also rushed to the hospital with blood clots.

Sept 8th: Helen and David come home (and his surgeon goes on vacation.) I learn that Olivia’s class doesn’t have an English teacher and can’t figure out why no one has told me about it. After talking to the director, I decide to accept the position for the first semester, but will not start until the end of the month, after their class trip. This turns out to be a smart decision…

Sept. 11th: The devil seems to be partial to this day. At 1am David wakes up with increasing chest pain and I call an ambulance when it becomes unbearable. He spends the night in the local emergency room and an x-ray reveals a chest full of gas bubbles. His care is delayed without his surgeon available and slower test results on Sundays (?!) I go over after a few hours of sleep and try to comfort him – I have never seen him so miserable and the morphine is not touching it. I can’t believe how well he is communicating in French in the middle of it all. In the meantime, Helen was up all night praying for us without knowing why.

He is transferred back to Colmar at 11am and I go straight to church from there with a tear-streaked face. Announcements are being made and I am called up to the front immediately for prayer and hugs. I learn from another nurse that these gas bubbles are a side effect that is very painful, but they must pass out of the body naturally. I go home relieved, and when I visit him with the pastor that evening, he is much calmer and feeling better.

Sept. 12th: We learn that he will stay for testing and observation for 3 more days. See his blog for the gritty details!

Sept. 14th: I make 3 dozen Hungarian cookies for Olivia’s fund raiser to go to Budapest. I notice that the cat is scratching his ears too often. I attend a Sozo team meeting to organize new recruits who need to start observing sessions.

Sept. 15th: David has been brought home when I return from a heavy Sozo session this evening and he needs to unload. I listen for one more hour. Olivia has a terrible cold 4 days before her departure and found a louse on her scalp. The cat definitely has ear mites. Noah is wanting to come home for the weekend. My PMS has started. I am running on fumes. I douse the cat with vinegar water, smear mayonnaise on Olivias head and pop her a Nyquil, refuse Noah’s request, and go to bed until my exhaustion, migraine and depression passes a few days later.

And that brings me to now. I put the photo of David serving me coffee at our B&B on our desktop to remind myself that this was not a dream.

You may be asking, “How would you rate your first socialized hospital experience and how much did it cost?”

“Did Olivia survive her trip? Is teaching English to 5 sophomores easier than keeping a chateau clean?”

Well have more complete answers for you very soon, so stay tuned till next month!

Love, Angela

4 Trials Worth Following

Hate v. Love :

Our school here has remained France’s best kept secret for 25 yrs until we came under the French media spotlight last week: A beloved teacher and church member of 10 years who had renounced his homosexual lifestyle, secretly starting living it out again last summer. When reconciliation was impossible, the school had to let him go. He had found a job in the public schools, but suddenly decided to take his story to the press and file for discrimination. When interviewed by the press, our pastor was very honoring and respectful of Cyril as a person while still drawing a distinct line about the values we could and could not support as a private Christian school. Yesterday, Cyril sent an apologetic e-mail to our pastor, not realizing how far it would go (hate mail from the public, re-opening the wound, twisting of the story by the time it reached the French AP, etc.)

So during our Sunday service, we worshipped victoriously – Love had won!

The free publicity has put our school is on the map – Will we draw more families with hearts to support our values and efforts?

Our pastor also forwarded to us all the e-mails of support from Christians and pastors all over France, Belgium, and Switzerland. God is using this to separate the sheep from the wolves and build unity to strengthen the French church for future attacks!

And the timing of passing this “test” the same week that we gained ownership of our church building was not missed by our pastor either. We celebrated crossing the Jordan and possessing the land! Details below.

The Kingdom of the world v. The Kingdom of God

In 2007, a Christian businessman bid on an abandoned 4-story building and won as the only bidder. He was willing to rent it to us, and we managed to renovate one floor for our sanctuary. When we needed more space, but we weren’t willing to invest anymore as renters, and he wasn’t willing to sell…until the economy collapsed a year later. Then a small group of capable church members set to work on how we could finance not only the purchase, but the renovation as well – not an easy sell to the banks, considering the size of our church. After each meeting, it felt like they had taken 1 step forward and 2 steps back, but 2 yrs later, (covered by lots of prayer and faith declarations,) the purchase is complete with the bank willing to count the sweat equity already invested as a large part of the down payment for the loan. Our intention is to create 3 stories of multi-purpose, rentable spaces, generating the income needed to pay back the mortgage.

We sit in an industrial zone of ugly buildings that are empty or being rented by a humanist organization, a Muslim mosque, and 3 mechanics (whose cars fill up our parking lot space.) So after a final hit from the enemy on the school side last week, God hit back with a KO that stood for Kingdom Ownership! And with that comes authority and advancement not only in our little zone, but for our region!

Death v. Life

The Sozo ministry has had its heavy moments for me with teenagers in particular. When they spend years in our Christian school and still carry a spirit of death, you know they are hiding something. One girl, recently baptized, had had 3 sessions and had stopped cutting herself, but still struggled spiritually and emotionally. Because I knew her family dynamics, I wondered if it was worth continuing, knowing it would be a miracle if her father would ever seek help for his issues that were hurting his daughter. Then lo and behold, after her last session where she finally confessed her darkest secrets and we finally gave a death blow to her self-hatred, her father walked in to pick her up and asked if we knew how to break off a death curse that was put on him! “Why yes sir, we do! When would you like an appt.?” But it gets better.

Her troubled guy friend finally got expelled from school 2 weeks before the end of the year (and his absence really helped seal her last healing session.) After all I had heard, it was all I could do not to march into the principal’s office and set him straight – we had to stop accepting students from families who wanted us to fix their kids without fixing themselves because at this age, they were a terrible influence on other vulnerable kids like this girl. This boy’s father was also on my radar screen all year, but now that they were no longer at the school, it seemed too late to help them, and I’d said, “Good riddance.”

Well, Thank God Jesus is on the throne and not me. He has used it all to His glory. It turns out that the boy’s expulsion got his dad’s attention enough to admit that he doesn’t know how to love his son and he is asking for help now. The boy saw such a change in the girl the next time he saw her that he is considering a session as well. And the girl’s father and another friend of the family both admitted that her transformation in the last few months has accounted for them wanting help for themselves. I thought a girl’s life was being sacrificed on the altar of male egoism, but like Jesus, her sacrifice is bringing 4 people to life! (In fact, I found out later that it was prophesied over this girl at birth that she would be the key to her dad’s healing!)

Now weren’t those better than the State of Florida v. Casey Anthony? We’ll keep you posted on the developments as they unfold!

Our summer has just gotten started and I’m trying not to think about this being our last one with Noah. It also marks the end of jr. high for Olivia, which is capped in France by passing a nationwide exam on the year’s learning. After a year of constant harping by the teachers and 2 formal practice exams, this hand-written test is graded by a human, but not returned, nor given a precise grade when results are viewed on the internet. Just “passed,” “average,” “better than average,” or “very good.” (If you fail, they don’t even bother to list your name. In Olivia’s class of 17, 2 failed, several only passed, and only 1 did very well.) Olivia did “better than average” and our “baby” will be the first to tackle 3 yrs of French high school. We’d like to reward her with a set of books she’s been drooling over: the Anne of Green Gables series.

Because they are expensive in euros from amazon France, we thought we’d ask if any of our readers had copies that they would like to pass on to her? She would also like to sell the first 11 books in the Mandie series (great Christian mysteries for pre-teens, like new.) Are there any takers for $30?

Until September, we’ll be having fun with a few family day outings, sprucing up the primary school building, installing new (used) computers in the lab, continuing 2 hours of mid-week worship, getting Noah ready for his senior year, and attending the annual mandatory YWAM staff conference in Champagne at the end of August, while simultaneously trying to celebrate David’s 50th and our 25th anniversary!

Our readers have been pretty quiet this year – Do stay in touch!

Love, Angela

Healing Happens

Imagine attending a church where almost everyone grew up in a dysfunctional family.

Now imagine that half the congregation consists of older single women. This reflects a particular dynamic in France’s history where everyone was married in the Catholic Church, but many were not living out any kind of real faith. If the woman, who is typically more spiritually sensitive, had a born-again experience, she was often rejected by the family and depended on the evangelical church for emotional support after the marriage dissolved. Those who converted at a younger age have lacked godly young men to choose from, and also remained single. Those who were born into an evangelical family are rare indeed.

Next, imagine most of the married couples struggling so much that only one spouse attends regularly, and the pastor never teaches on marriage for fear of putting off all the singles. (And we’ve noticed that any seminars offered occasionally by ministries in the area are lightweight weekends that do not address serious issues.)

Now picture the behavior of the children of these single moms and limping marriages.

Finally, imagine that same church without a paid, trained family or children’s pastor on staff.

Welcome to the average French church, ours included.

Yes, I have bragged about our radical worship and our big faith for our big building, but our body was still full of hurting people in self-protection mode and our vision to impact our city would go nowhere fast unless some healing happened. Well, we turned a corner this month , and I am so honored to be one of the drivers. It’s time to tell the whole story…

12 years ago, when we were being sent out on the mission field by our church, I received a prophecy that I would be involved in counseling. Like Abraham’s wife Sarah, I laughed. I wanted breakthroughs for myself and others, but not enough to go back to school in order to be qualified. I also hadn’t heard a single person say that counseling changed their life, but that it simply facilitated a lifelong process.

During our 2 years running YWAM schools in Scotland, I saw that pastoral care was such a necessary component that students with those giftings took on the role for other struggling students when they saw it lacking in the staff. I started getting hungry.

Then 2 years ago, Janet Richards brought the Sozo inner healing ministry from Bethel Church to our church and trained some of us who were around during the summer and could follow English. (This is a Greek word meaning “saved, healed, and delivered” used in the Gospels to describe Jesus’ impact on people.) It turned out to be exactly what I was looking for. The tools were simple to learn and use, and after a gentle 2 hours or less, most people experienced an intimate encounter with the Trinity that started them down a new path of walking in confidence as a beloved child in the arms of their happy heavenly family, whose every need will be met. And for a culture who had no emotional needs met as children, this kind of healing must follow salvation in order for them to be a healthy part of the Body of Christ. (And now you know why the Parisians have such a bad reputation!)

In the last 9 months, as the first Sozo team in France, we’ve led 30 other people down this path, and we have a 3-month waiting list. We’ve offered these sessions without charge to our body,

and I fully expect that we will have ministered to almost everyone at least once, by the end of the year. And as it expands outside the church walls, I anticipate this as a source of additional income for us as people recommend us to friends and family members.

That corner I mentioned, was turned when we held a Sozo testimony night at church recently. I had already testified about my personal victories over rejection and our healed marriage, but that night, I had something even better: I had just returned from visiting my family in Phoenix and had the privilege of doing sessions with my parents and my brother. I tearfully announced that my brother was healed and delivered of the shame and guilt that had plagued him his whole life, and our relationship, that was stolen over 30 years ago has been completely restored!! He celebrated his own resurrection on Easter Sunday this year and I am completely undone every time I think about how God aligned everything that allowed me to be part of it.

This was followed by several more testimonies and by the end of the evening, there was a definite shift: Up until that night, we all had to be very discreet and people were ashamed to admit they needed help and kept the experience to themselves. After the service, people flocked for an appt., and at a gathering the next day people talked freely about their specific struggles with me that they hoped we could address. FREEDOM!! Another person remarked that love was growing in the atmosphere in the church!

We are offering training next month in order to enlarge our team and better equip those who pray for the sick in our healing rooms. We’ve also just started to invade the school by leading groups of kids in “heavenly encounters” (quality time with Jesus through visits to heaven in their imaginations) and doing mini-group Sozo sessions to close doors of fear and hate in their lives. It beats the heck out of a flannelgraph story.

Do you sense an acceleration towards the end of the age with increased instability, natural disasters and shifts in economic and political powers? But at the same time, God is releasing more effective evangelism through media and technology, greater supernatural gifts, and quicker inner healing so that we are ready to be victorious in our assignments that will hasten Christ’s return!

Are you getting ready?

Love, Angela

PS: The other goal of my trip home was to have Noah do some college visits, and God set this up as well: Not only did Noah firmly decide on the School of Informatics at IUPUI (Indianapolis) to study an aspect of game design, he also met a soulmate at Rachel’s young adult group who will start his studies there next year in the same program! They both got prayer and prophecy for their futures and want to impact gaming for the Kingdom of God. He also benefited from a Sozo while home and will finish his junior year wearing his first suit to the big school Spring Banquet with his first date.