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!
"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!
"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 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!
"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:
(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
This 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 parking 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!)
So 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 bless 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."
The Hills Are Alive…
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!
Our 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…
I 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!
The Greatest Show on Earth
Ladies 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 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!
And 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.
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.
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
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
- 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.
Last 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.
Negative 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.
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!
A Dream Come True
Do 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.
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!
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.
The 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
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."
Fox #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.
Fox #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…
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
Kiss the Son, Lest He be Angry…
Have you heard the news? French Christians are coming together in unity for the first time in history, Jesus is clearly starting to woo His French bride, and she is responding!
Let me back up by saying that our own marital relationship continues to benefit from the Love After Marriage seminar we attended 2 years ago. Our pastor was asking for our help in this area, but because we knew that entering a marriage ministry is like picking a fight, we didn’t want to push anything in our flesh and be without God’s covering or outside of His timing.
Then when we were given a generous gift by a couple in our church, we knew it was to be used towards going to California last summer to have more extensive contact with the leaders in the ministry. They saw the Holy Spirit highlighting France and agreed to bring the seminar to our region the following spring! In the fall, we started meeting and praying with another couple in our church who have sensed a call to marriages and they experienced the seminar in Switzerland a few months later. It took 4 months for us to find the ideal place to host, house, and feed 30 couples for a week at the lowest possible cost and the bilingual email invitations went out last week to hundreds of couples in England, Belgium, Switzerland and France.
God was clearly in this timing because just 3 weeks ago, people of all faiths from all over France jumped on buses and headed to Paris to demonstrate their solidarity behind God’s definition of marriage and family. Friends who attended said it was well-organized and joyful. There was no hostility or incident the entire day. When one group got too chilled and left, another group would arrive to take their place. Attendance estimates ranged from 400,000 by antagonistic journalists to 1 million by those that took into account continual arrivals throughout the day. Here’s a 3 min. video summary.
Our new liberal government still seems determined to make France the 12th country to give marriage status to homosexuals, but this quickly leads to surrogacy and adoption issues that alarm the majority of the population due to historically strong traditional Catholic family values. (Surrogate parenting is still illegal here except for married couples.) French psychiatrists, who enjoy a revered status, also support a child’s need for a mother and father, so the reaction is more out of concern for the well-being of children rather than against homosexual rights.
We believe that Christians can only have a voice on this issue if their own marriages and families are a light and a testimony. And that is why the timing of these events is so beautiful: the state of families is on everyone’s mind and living out a joyful marriage covenant will affect the spiritual atmosphere over a nation far more than a demonstration! Have you kissed your spouse today? So we are moving forward on seminar organization with confidence with intercessors covering our backs!
At the same time, we are starting to see houses of prayer and worship (HOPs) spring up at an increased rate in our corner of Europe. This also highlights marriage and the bridal paradigm in the Bible because it is here that spiritual intimacy is developed through quality time set apart to focus solely on the beauty of the Lord. European believers are seeing the urgency of the times and responding by worshipping more, striving less, and watching God fight our battles for us. (An excellent book on this topic is called Bridal Intercession by Gary Wiens.)
Our church has focused more on a monthly tabernacle of extended worship, but after we gave our pastoral couple a book we read 6 years ago called Praying the Bible, translated into French just last year, (another confirmation!) they have jumped on board. We now have the church open for an additional 8 hours during the week so that people can come to be in His presence.
To add more fuel to the fire, our body will also be welcoming back a French Swiss family in May who sold all to spend 2 years at IHOP in Kansas City. Their emails report that they (with their 5 kids) have gone from being dry and overworked church and Christian school leaders to being completely filled up and passionate for Jesus alone, ready to come back as missionaries to their home continent.
Have you kissed the Son today?
We Swiss You a Merry Christmas!
Season’s Greetings, dear readers!
There’s nothing like a snowstorm in the Alps to put you in the Christmas spirit! Here are the highlights of last weekend’s Sozo training seminar adventure:
Our team of 5 decided to arrive a day early to enjoy a little tourism in Annecy. We drove 4 hours south through Switzerland to get to this picturesque French town. It was perfect: we avoided the weekend crowds at the Christmas market on a Thursday night and the snowstorm didn’t arrive until the next day. We shared a cheese fondue dinner in a beautiful restaurant (on the left in this photo of an ancient prison that sits in the middle of the canal.)
The wife of the pastoral couple has a psychology degree, and she wanted to make sure their young church got off on the right foot by offering inner healing seminars each month. "The Sozo Method" was the final seminar in the series. Friday we had personal Sozos scheduled for morning, afternoon, and evening, plus the first session to teach, but snow throughout France created havoc for attendees. A group from Normandy cancelled and a couple that drove from Paris missed their afternoon appts. Instead of twiddling our thumbs all afternoon, we used them to send messages to our intercessors. And lo and behold, by evening the temps hadn’t dropped and the roads got cleared, allowing us to squeeze in some late night ministry sessions and have a full house for the teachings on Sat.
Those of us that did 6 2hr personal Sozos sessions in those 2 days in a building that had serious heating issues were given a lot of grace! My French flowed well and fatigue was minor, even during a 9-11pm slot! One favorite was a woman who got to the root of her hate and saw flames burn it up completely. Another was a man with fear about the future, and after tearfully forgiving his brother, he departed an hour later with a smile on his face, saying that he got exactly what he came for! Another young woman had to confront the lie that she and her family did not deserve to suffer the death of her beloved brother. Jesus gently showed her that He did not deserve to die either. That death opened the door to fear that her husband would also be taken from her, and she heard Jesus promise that she would never be alone, even if she lost him. She was also struggling with infertility without any physical reasons, so she couldn’t wait to hear my testimony in that area, and now that she has a renewed trust in Father God, I’m expecting her uterus to respond accordingly!
I got home before midnight on Sat. night and Oceane returned from her weekend home on Sunday night. We dumped her suitcase and ran over to the cathedral for a free concert by a boy’s choir, hoping to get some rare Christ-centered entertainment. And indeed, the finale was the Hallelujah Chorus, which is a Christmas tradition that I miss terribly here. I could barely sit still since I’d learned the 2nd soprano part in high school choir and they were singing it in English! However, the French audience was so unfamiliar with it that they started clapping before the final "Haaaa-leeeee-luuuuuu-jaaaaaah!!" It was a glorious end to my Christmas weekend, but along with hearing hours of family pain and abuse, it was also a sobering reminder of the society we are living in.
We are starting to see the realization of some hopes and dreams that I have written about over the last several years. I’ll update you on those in the new year!
Christmas blessings, Angela
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